New Mexico

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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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A journey to New Mexico in celebration of twenty-eight years since our first date. Our first stop was Charlie’s Spic and Span in Las Vegas, of course, for a stuffed sopapilla (carne adovada for me and chorizo for the hubster) and an apple fritter as big as my head. Oh gosh, do I love that place!

The Montezuma Castle, built in 1899 and originally a luxury hotel serving the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. It is now a private boarding school (Armand Hammer United World College) and only available for viewing on specific tour dates. We were a day early, rats!!

my best love

travel by train…

Virgin Guadalupe

work in progress

Traveler’s Cafe – get your coffee on!

The Range Restaurant inside the Plaza Hotel. The best  prickly pear cactus margarita in the land, kindly and attentive service (thank you, George), and really good food. The portions are huge, so do your best to save room for dessert!

Here we are!

Greg tries to get Juniper to greet me on the street. The windows!!

How about that headboard? Though we’ve eaten at the restaurant and enjoyed the gift shop on several occasions, this was our first stay at the Plaza Hotel. It did not disappoint!

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Santa Fe

In celebration of the twenty-seven magical years since our first date (!!!) as well as the first road trip we ever took together, we spent the weekend in Santa Fe. Our first stop, of course, was La Choza, and then a stroll up the tracks to the Railyard on a sleepy Friday afternoon.

How’s that for a mural?!

First ever mansard roof sighting in Santa Fe. Fancy!

Hummingbird – which reminds me of one of my favorite books, The Hummingbird’s Daughter, which I first saw in Santa Fe.

A picture of a thousand words if ever there was.

Sweet nappers…

Juniper Beulah, tin roof style.

Enjoyed our anniversary dinner at La Boca – the grilled arugula salad one magical mess o’ lettuces, New Mexico grown pistachios, fennel, and golden raisins. The jamon iberico and Cava weren’t too shabby, either.

Not pictured, but most worthy of note, our dear friends Michael and Mary were in town (YAY!) and we met for a wildly wonderful lunch at Loyal Hound. Mac and Cheese with green chile and fried chicken and waffles the height of yumminess.

Also, I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t encourage the devouring of a carne adovada burrito at Tecolote. If they ask, get the bakery basket – you’ll overload on carbs, but will enjoy every morsel.

We never tire of adobe.

The Plaza, cheerfully lit.

First Presbyterian Church, 150 years old and ever so lovely.

Back at the Railyard for the hullaballoo of the Farmer’s and Winter markets. We enjoyed all manner of goodness (chiles, tarts, tortillas, jerkys, jams!) and friendly vibes.

 

Apropos…

Love this sky…

and this fabulous neon Zia. Eeek!

Sunday morning, we awoke to much, much needed snow, the whole of Santa Fe, and our route homeward beautifully blanketed.

The Treasures:

Turquoise Zia t-shirt from Marcy Street Cards + positively intoxicating sweet sage bundle from a kindly street vendor + Heidi’s Raspberry Red Chile Ginger jam + Santa Fe Spirits Atapino – a sip of the scent of New Mexico + pinon plantwater purchased at the fabulous Red River MercantileCasa Blanca Red Chile beef jerky – for lovers of dry, not at all sweet jerky, like me! + Zia pinon kola – the best kola EVER and an even better mission + An exquisitely crafted brooch bought at the Winter Market + Deeelicious chile powder, smoky and mild + Coyote America from my favorite Santa Fe book shop, Collected Works + Look closely, a tiny Raven (my spirit animal!) fetish from Keshi, carved by Calvert Bowannie + Beautiful woven table mat from the Five & Dime on the Plaza. Oh, Santa Fe, your fine purveyors and makers, my heart overflows…

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