Loving

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In Albuquerque now, enjoying a  most fabulous lunch at Pueblo Harvest inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Greg enjoyed a stellar pre-contact meal of bison, asparagus and yucca mash with walnut milk gravy. My salad was very tasty (red chile in the dressing!) but not as cool in concept or execution.

The center lies on what was once the Albuquerque Indian School, where native children were forcibly taken from their families to learn white ways. In the beginning, it was an appalling practice, where children were forced to cut their hair, speak only English, and forget native ways. Only later were the schools adopted by Native people, as institutions where children could learn and thrive and celebrate their heritage.

Taos Pueblo, 1890s –  Smithsonian

Pojoaque Pueblo, circa 1899

photographed by Adam C. Vroman

Do you know the book Are You My Mother? It tells the story of a baby bird whose egg hatches while it’s mother is away. It leaves the nest to search for her, asking the question of every animal it encounters along the way. I feel like that bird as I dive down the rabbit hole of my native ancestry. My Grandma Tillie told my dad Comanche, but as I research, I am learning my relatives were born all over Northern New Mexico (and a few in Mexico, too), and may have also hailed from Pueblos like Pojoaque and Taos. The wonder…

For our anniversary, we dined at Campo at Los Poblanos, a beautiful historic ranch and organic farm on the western edge of Albuquerque (If you’re not traveling with a dog, you can stay there – lucky you!). While every bite and sip was pretty darn fabulous, our favorite dish was the Blue Corn fritters! Elevated carnival fare, with quince jam mixed with other magic for dipping. Eeek!

A nice saunter along the Rio Grande (looking a little poco), where cottonwoods past their prime have taken on new life as magnificent sculptures. As we walked, I was especially struck by the fact that this was my first trip to Albuquerque since my Grandpa died. As we drove the streets of his neighborhood and stopped in front of the house where he was raised and my Nana and Bampoo died (looking utterly foreign to its beginnings), I missed him terribly and had so many questions he could no longer answer. Did you play along the river when you were a boy? Where was Bamboo’s office? Did Nana ever work outside the home? Where? Did you walk to high school? Where did you and Grandma live as newlyweds, New York Avenue? And on and on…

the beauty of Old Town

Juniper learns a pig isn’t always a pig.

Muy delicioso BBQ (the Experience) at Matanza

Homeward bound, and reveling in our great luck, to be together for these twenty-eight years, to love and be loved, and know the great privilege of travel. Here’s to US!

 

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My DNA Story

 

My DNA Story. Pretty cool, right? I spit in a tube and made a map of my world. When the data came back, much of it was a surprise. Much less German than I expected. More of every bit of the United Kingdom. More Native American. And who the heck did I get the Norwegian and Swedish from? Is that you, Great Grandma Mary?

And now I wonder what it REALLY means. All I know is my life and my experience. Save the times when I have been an ass (few, I think, hope), I have never been ashamed of who I am. I feel like my life is a fine line drawing that just got a sweet watercolor wash. Vibrancy.

I am connecting dots, perhaps making sense of the mystical. I like to think my Native DNA called me to Southern Colorado, and has been calling me to New Mexico for the whole of my life. The Irish, Welsh, English, and Scottish might also explain my deep affinity for the velvet green and gunmetal skies of Portland. Then again, I don’t know.

What DO I say of it? The Native that is virtually invisible in me, that only my DNA sees. That is like the Native stories I read – the struggle to be seen and invisible at the same time. Invisibility has the perk of not being abused, ridiculed, or assumed to be, drunk, poor, or BOTH. I don’t imagine my life changing much. I will not be flying flags, participating in pow wows or St. Patrick’s Day parades.

I read somewhere that family is like a rope, each person a knot. Upon death, the knot loosens but the section of rope remains connected. Maybe my need is for the rope only. To feel it in my hands: smooth, rough, imperfect, bound. To say “Grandma.” To perhaps, imagine my Great-Great Grandfather Bill, whose occupation on the 1880 census was COWBOY, lasso-ing my family together for my eyes to see, the whole and the parts, and appreciate it for the disparity and beauty. My human story. Yes, as the tears well, I do believe that is so.

Blessing

Having somewhere to go is home. Having someone to love is family. Having both is a blessing.

Unknown

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Epiphany

Have you ever felt so drawn to a place that it defies explanation? Round a bend of highway where you have never lived and felt the most incredible sensation of home? That, to me, has always, always been Southern Colorado and New Mexico. For fellow travelers who know where I-25 bends just south of Larkspur to reveal Greenland, this is the where my heart goes positively aflutter. I had always thought it was the anticipation of visiting New Mexico where my Nana lived most of her life, and my Grandpa and Mom were born. It turns out, there’s more.

In conversation with my dad last week, talking about family, he casually mentioned that my Great Grandma Tillie was part Comanche – she is second from the right, with her mother to the left, and her siblings Clifford, Henry, and Lula.  Her mother’s maiden name was Serna, so I always assumed that part was solely Mexican (or Hispanic or Latina, depending on your persuasion). But, as a Catholic, her family had taken a Spanish name, so it’s difficult to know much there was of each in her. But that knowledge!  I am part Comanche! What a delight to think upon my ancient sense of home when rounding that bend. My ancestors of the Comancheria had likely made camp on the very spot.

And today’s photos, of last Sunday, spent with our cousins Brent and Bronson, sharing more of our history, along with delicious food and even better company and that incredible view of the Spanish Peaks – home to my heart and ancestors, the ancient and recent.

Oh, the chill we’ve had as of late! But how a pretty frosted landscape makes braving the icy winds worth it.

Cuddling with my favorite newborn!

Made this beautiful cheesecake (those are vanilla bourbon apples on top) in celebration of the little one’s parents and grammie visiting. I gilded the lily by dousing it in caramel sauce. No one complained.

 

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