New Mexico

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New sage growth filled the air with its intoxicating scent and had the hubster and I swooning.

Our wonderfully cozy digs (and sweetest dog, ever). Greg and I have never been so enamored with a rental, envisioning, were it to come on the market, how we would make it our own.

The Taos Museum of Art at Fechin House. Every bit of the woodwork hand carved by Nicolai Fechin (feshin) in the first half of the last century. My photos pale in comparison to the in-person beauty. The artwork was pretty stunning, too, featuring Marjorie Eaton and Juan Mirabal (student and teacher to one another).

Well worth walking to their our of the way location on Kit Carson, tea.o.graphy serves and sells a stellar selection of tea. I also bought a fantastic mug with an old school pick-up on it, handmade in Taos, of course. If I can’t drive the truck of my dreams, I’m gonna drink from its likeness.

The above two photos are from the Mabel Dodge Luhan house, which was also owned by Dennis Hopper. It has quite the history!

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church

One of the most photographed buildings in the world gets its annual spruce up. How lucky we were to see it in progress. Sad to miss the interior, however. Next time!!

Year round hollyhock beauty! Now that is a thought. We have a massive volunteer in the back yard and a few in the front that I am hoping will bloom this year.

The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in the Moreno Valley is a deeply humbling and moving space created out of a father’s deep and abiding love. Doc Westphall began the memorial after his son David was killed in an ambush in 1968. It was the first Vietnam memorial, dedicated in 1971.

When we were there, the Angel Fire Garden Club was busily and quite cheerfully creating beautiful garden beds on the grounds. I was touched to see such an out of the way place so filled with love for those who gave everything in Vietnam. There is so much good in the world, peeps.

More dazzling green! Our nephew Tyler came for a visit last week, and we chuckled that some poor person might move to Colorado or New Mexico believing this is what spring looks like on the regular.

Red River reminds us of Colorado mountain towns of our childhood.

La Veta Pass greening up after last year’s massive fire. Hope springs eternal…

A final glimpse from the road, with gratitude for the best way I can conjure to celebrate the start of my 48th year!

 

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Mt. Maestas

Blanca Peak & Mt. Lindsey

When Greg and I were first together, a woman we knew had a rather curious comic taped on her refrigerator, front and center. It read: “It’s not a vacation if your husband goes with you.” I imagine her snickering while carefully clipping it from the paper. Then, with precision, taping around its border, ensuring it would rest for ages and ages on the freezer door, in the direct gaze of her husband of more than twenty years. How funny it must have been to her. How cruel it always seemed to me.

Our trip to Taos was initially one Juniper and I would take without Greg. His schedule at the time of planning was fluid, unknown. It would be fine, of course. I am an excellent traveler, with or without him, and Juniper is so easy going. But I didn’t really like it. Not because I feel completed by him or “need” him. No, I am my own person, solidly so. Perfectly complemented by him, yes. Two synergistic beings in rotation round the sun. I didn’t like it because I love his company. His wit and wisdom. His kindness. His gentleness and strength. His ability to make me laugh and feel comforted. And, boy howdy, that handsome face. So easy on the eyes.

So when his schedule definitively opened, we jumped on the chance to travel together. And what a marvelous time we had!

The Plaza at Costilla, New Mexico, which lies just over the border from Colorado. My Great-Grandparents (times three), Maria de Jesus (a partial source of my Native ancestry) and Aaron Williams, lived here at the time of the 1860 Census. She kept house, and he was a Wagon Driver (note his horse shoe tie pin!). The Plaza is much as it looked when they lived there, the building dating to the 1850s. I continue to feel awed at each layer of history as revealed to me, that they lived and died more than a century ago, yet I feel incredibly close to them. They are in my dreams and on the air, a pulse in my very veins. A marvel, truly.

Oh gosh, how I wish you could see the vivid emerald flush as it appeared to our eyes. We were treated like never before to green on this trip!

This little guy or gal, a cicada, I think? Long since dead, but still clinging to it’s final resting place. Nature really is a wonder.

The Claret Cup Cactus and Opuntias put on quite a show for us.

ponderosa

We hiked to the bottom of the Rio Grande Gorge (a rift zone, actually), 680 feet, and thankfully not straight down!

Good Juniper. Not so great Colleen.

Not so great Juniper. Good Colleen.

We are none of us models!

Greg hides behind a most delicious post-hike burger at Taos Diner. It was well earned!

Manzanita Market – where I, of course, bought another wonderful selection of Dryland Wilds products. The cottonwood bud hand balm is the scent of my childhood springs (!) and super moisturizing.

Chokola never fails.

My people!

Back with more tomorrow…

 

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Absurd

The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – the longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.

Fernando Pessoa

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When we visited Santa Fe last year, I bought a Dryland Wilds Sagebrush Plantwater, so I could mist my face with one of my very favorite scents on the daily. After using it a short while, I wondered what other wonders I was missing. To my great luck, the lovely Robin Moore and Cebastien Rose make much more than plantwaters. They are high desert wild crafters, sustainably foraging native and invasive flowers, leaves, and resins, and harvest plants that would otherwise be discarded to make the most exquisitely intoxicating scents of New Mexico.

It’s no surprise I became a huge fan. In addition to the sagebrush, I purchased pinon plantwater, luxurious soaps, evening primrose and copper mallow lip balms, and beauty oils infused with willow and loosestrife, sagebrush and snakeweed, rosehip and thistle. Each is evocative, efficient, and positively uplifting!

Imagine my delight upon learning they offer a perfume making class. And what great luck to have the date correspond with our anniversary! So we planned our trip to Albuquerque around a Sunday afternoon. Cebastien is a fantastic teacher, educating about the various perfume notes, and encouraging us, via scent combining exercises, to try what would normally make us run for the hills. It culminates in the exciting creation of our own scented oil.

I call mine High Desert Morning. An infusion of ruby red grapefruit, balsam fir, honey mesquite, and labdanum. Initially, it only contained the first three, as I imagined peeling a grapefruit to the rhythm of the rising sun. It was lovely but lacking. So I pondered Cebastien’s teaching and decided to go for a run-for-the-hills essential oil. I tried the labdanum, and that drop on my perfume card made it all come together, for the missing element was Greg. Labdanum is on the musky side and reminiscent of his sweet bearded cheek. Crazy fantastic!

So if you need a reason to head to Albuquerque besides fabulous food and turquoise, treat yourself to a class. If you are less adventurous, try a soap, beauty oil, or plantwater, and inhale the magic of the high desert.

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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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