Friday, July 30, 2010

Fun Friday: Abiquiu and More

For our third "Fun Friday" date, we again headed north from Santa Fe and made a brief stop at the Tesuque Pueblo Flea Market, which consists mostly of overpriced stuff for tourists, but we were lucky enough to find a woman selling good used clothes for a reasonable price. Score!

Leaving the market under ominous clouds and distant thunder, we again drove through good old Espanola (the aforementioned Black Tar Heroin capital of the country) and made our way as quickly as we could to Abiquiu Lake, another of those U.S. Army Corps of Engineers damming operations that provides opportunities for fishing, boating and swimming. The water was lovely, and as the storm clouds and winds moved through the area in the mid-afternoon, the waves made swimming almost ocean-like, and jumping off the rocks into the water was one of the highlights of Keith's day.

Before taking our leave of the lake, we met a vivacious and courageous young woman from New Zealand who has made her way across the country in a rented car from her starting point in Boston, and we had one of those wonderful conversations that only fellow travelers can have.

We returned to Santa Fe to attend an art opening at a downtown chocolate cafe, and returned to the Turner Carroll Gallery to catch the new Rex Ray show before it closes next week. Ray works with hand-colored cut paper glued to canvas with painstaking attention to detail.

Driving across town, we paid a long overdue visit to the Meow Wolf Collective to see their latest art installation of fanciful rooms and spaces, a show that closes tomorrow. With thunder and lightning increasing outside, Tina was very happy to be ensconced with us in these small, cozy indoor spaces that resembled anything from Hobbit holes to fantastical yurts and mirrored crawl-spaces.

Next stop was the Second Street Brewery for local beer, steamed mussels and salmon tostadas accompanied by free live music. And we capped off the night with a game of pool at a pizza place across the street from the brewery (Mary won, of course!).

Fun Friday is a new tradition that has already brought us great joy, surprises and serendipity, and we have no doubt will continue to do so. Exploring the area in this way helps us to maintain our "travelers' mind", seeking out adventure and novelty even as we create a more solid life here, for however long that may turn out to be.

Tomorrow, we drive to Albuquerque to see Over the Rhine, a band from Ohio who we have followed for many years, and whose performances at the fabled Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Massachusetts never ceased to entrance us. It will be great to see OtR again, and we look forward to a wonderful night of transcendent music.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, and expressing our deepest gratitude for the abundance of love, community, adventure and blessings in our lives.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Life (in Santa Fe) Goes On......

As summer evolves into what's known as "monsoon season" here in Northern New Mexico, we continue to explore our new lives here, even as we consider how long our Santa Fean (is that a word?) sojourn will last.

Working with my one-on-one elderly nursing client this week, I sat on his porch and watched storms roll in from a variety of directions. Lightning flashed, the winds howled, and the rain came down in sheets in various spots along the horizon, until the storm lashed his little house with hail that pelted the tin roof of the porch like so many bullets of ice. Driving home through the sticky mud, the windshield was spattered with brown dots that the windshield wipers had difficulty erasing, so I stopped at a gas station and cleaned the glass by hand.

Life in community continues to be pleasant, with kind neighbors and community meals that bind us together in various rotating social atoms. We're still newcomers, and renters at that, but there is a feeling of acceptance and welcome that is indeed heartwarming. This evening, we offered a free session of Laughter Yoga, and a hearty good time was had by all.

Settling into routines, I leave home for my various workplaces three or four days per week, and Mary keeps the home fires burning as she feverishly and happily prepares the official launch of her coaching business, a business that I will join when the time is right for me to pursue certification as a nurse coach.

The dryness of New Mexico is both a blessing and a curse, and the dry river beds and arroyos demonstrate just how much water is at a premium here. Driving forty or sixty minutes to find a clean place to swim in nature is no joke, and we realize that spending another summer so water-starved is not necessarily something we're willing to do, even as the community becomes more like home over time.

Biking around the city, I also yearn for a more bike-friendly town where we can tool around without fearing for our lives. Santa Fe has a long way to go in this regard, and bicycle lanes are a rare commodity here in a city where cars fill the streets at all hours. Still, how can one complain when you can drive across town at the peak of rush hour in fifteen minutes?

Santa Fe is a city of contradictions, in my view. While there is a burgeoning movement towards sustainability throughout the city, a movement that manifests in a variety of ways (community gardens, solar investment), there is also apparently unbridled development that surrounds the city and causes our little community to feel more and more like an oasis amidst the chaos of 21st-century consumerism. As an acquaintance wrote to me on Facebook about her experience of Santa Fe twenty years ago: "It's a magical place, despite all of the ugly and ecologically unsound construction and commercialism." She's right. The place is crawling with healers, artists, musicians and creative people doing amazing things, but there are aspects of the city that are simultaneously maddening, including the frustratingly high cost of living (even a simple burrito can cost almost $10).

So, until we decide that our time is up and the proverbial stakes are pulled from the ground, we will continue to make our best of the time we have and get the most out of being here. Santa Fe is an idiosyncratic place, to be sure, and we'll just see what our idiosyncratic selves can conjure up here as our New Mexican lives continue to unfold for as long as the unfolding feels right.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Santa Fe in Summer

The summer weekends here in Santa Fe seem to be filled with festivals, markets and other special events, with tourists and locals alike thronging the streets and sidewalks surrounding the Plaza.

Recently, we failed to check out the three-day Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, something many locals say is not to be missed. We also eschewed the annual Rodeo de Santa Fe in late June, another local cultural tradition. This past weekend was the similarly famous and popular (59th annual) Santa Fe Spanish Market, a celebration of the traditional crafts and arts of the Hispanic culture of Northern New Mexico. While we did stop by on Saturday morning, the crowds were so thick that we only skirted the edges of the event.

Still, Mary was able to stand in line and buy a delicious (and surprisingly affordable) bean burrito with green chili, a ubiquitous New Mexican standard.

And away from the madding crowd (with a nod to Thomas Hardy), we heard some lovely Spanish guitar at The Spanish Table, a store dedicated to the foods, literature, culture and cookware of Spain, and happily sampled some excellent paella prepared outdoors for many curious and hungry onlookers.

Back in the 1970s when I was a kid, they used to say that New York was a summer festival. It appears that the same could be said of "The City Different".


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fun Friday: Nambe Falls

Well, our second "Fun Friday" was as successful and enjoyable as the inaugural "Fun Friday" last week. This time around, we drove north of Santa Fe with the goal of swimming at Abiquiu Lake, but we took a spontaneous detour to Nambe Falls (located within the tribal lands of the Nambe Pueblo), and spent the better part of the afternoon frolicking in the water, having a riverside picnic, reading the paper, and spending time in nature. A cold beer and peanuts in the shell went a long way towards satisfying our thirst and the need for a salty snack on a hot day.

The hike to the falls was beautiful, moderate, and relatively flat, but I had to carry Tina upriver several times when the trail basically dead-ended in the water. She was a compliant good sport, and rested in my arms or on my shoulder when she had to be carried. We were told to watch for coyotes, but none made themselves apparent, although they may have been waiting in the shadows for a moment when Tina might be left unattended.

The Nambe Pueblo is picturesque, small and shady, with neat adobe homes, an old kiva in the central plaza and a lovely mission church. (No photographs of the pueblo are allowed.) The people of Nambe speak the Tewa language, and Nambe is translated as "The People of the Round Earth".

Driving through the pueblo, we took a wrong turn and ended up on someone's driveway, and the perplexed owner and his two dogs came up the driveway to greet us as they returned from a walk. I opened the van door and the dogs practically jumped in and covered me with kisses while the kind gentleman gave us directions for getting back to the main road. We remarked how beautiful the pueblo is, and he said "Yes, our ancestors chose well." That about said it all.

On the way home, we stopped at a local winery for a wine-tasting and admired the tidy vineyard. The proprietor invited us to bring a picnic any time and supplement it with a glass of their fine New Mexican wine. We will certainly take her up on the offer sooner than later.

After a brief rest at home, we went to a potluck birthday party here at The Commons, where we got to know some fellow community members a little better and feasted on delicious food and homemade cake.   And much to my chagrin, two little girls discovered how ticklish I am (thanks to Mary's prompting, of course), and we spent more than half an hour in an all-out tickle fest.

Fun Friday, indeed!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy Ending!

A very scared and wet yellow lab came to our window during this evening's thunder and lightning storm. He was persistently panting and pleading for shelter from the storm so, of course, I let him in. I knew right away he was not our resident yellow lab and the tag on his collar read "Samson". I left the owners a phone message and also Googled their last name. I came up with owners of Santa Fe Cafe. I called there to learn that the cafe is in South Carolina and the owners had just lost their dog! Different dog, but isn't that weird?

The storm blew in a scared, shaking Samson to be in our safe space with a terrified, trembling Tina. How misery indeed loves company! And lucky me, I had two panting, drooling, pacing, silly, scared dogs by my side, in my lap and like old friends together. It was such a gift, and felt to me like some kind of divine intervention.

The owner was beside herself when she called, telling me the dog was far from home, that the door blew open while she was away and that he took off in the storm. She was worried sick and immediately left to come pick up her baby of 13 years.

Funny how things work out and that this dog arrived to our doorstep, of all places. As many of you know, we used to have a yellow lab named Sparkey, our beloved boy, who grew up with Tina.

The moral of the story is...when opportunity knocks at your door, open the door and let it in!

Here is a fine reward for me doing so tonight:

"Dear Mary, Keith and Tina:

"Thank you, thank you, thank you. Samson and I are sending you a big hug and a lick for watching out for us during this very scary storm.  Please find me on Facebook and keep in touch so we can have you over to our place to properly thank you for saving Samson’s life.

"Much love and appreciation"


Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend Fun!

Just this past Friday, we inaugurated a new weekly tradition----Fun Friday! We decided that Fridays are going to be our (more or less) sacrosanct day for getting out into the world, exploring, and having fun together---no computers, no emails, no work, no Facebook, just time together enjoying ourselves.

So, our inaugural Fun Friday started off with a drive north towards the Rio Grande, our first spontaneous stop being at a sculpture garden and gallery in the little village of Tesuque, which is sandwiched amidst several Indian pueblos along a strip of highway dotted with casinos and related businesses that cater to casino-goers. The sculpture garden was lovely, and it was a nice way to start the day with an eyeful of art combined with nature. 

Skirting the town of Espanola (which we hear is the Black Tar Heroin capital of the country), we made our way to the area of Embudo, a small old town along the Rio Grande on the road towards Taos. Lucky for us, some neighbors loaned us some inner tubes and Mary had a fantastic float for a few lazy miles down the river, with Tina and I picking her up at our agreed meeting place several hours later. Slight sunburn aside, Mary had a glorious time and floated downstream accompanied by a blue heron for most of the way.

Due to Mary's adventurous spirit, we first stopped at a local winery for a tasting of wine and handmade chocolate, and later met a wonderful couple who showed us around their amazing homestead along the river. A number of years ago, they sold everything, bought an RV,  and spent 8 years ( ! ) on the road until settling in Dixon, New Mexico, just down the road from Embudo. They were exceedingly kind, and we hope to visit them again and spend some time on their lush and beautiful land.

Thankfully, our new friends in Dixon sent us down the road to a new cafe in "downtown" Dixon, and we hungrily ate a delicious meal before Mary drove our happy but exhausted selves back to Santa Fe for a good night's sleep, lulled by memories of many hours on the Rio Grande.

Saturday dawned hot and sunny, and after a morning at home, we decided to bicycle into town to check out an international dance festival at the Santa Fe Plaza. Making the intelligent choice to leave Tina behind to stay cool in our casita (with the windows closed and shades down against the heat and sun), we biked to the plaza in time to enjoy almost two hours of free entertainment, including belly dancing, flamenco, break dancing, ballet, mambo and salsa. Despite the heat and glaring sun, people were out in droves, and the audience and dancers were mutually enthusiastic.

On a tip from a neighbor, we then biked over to the Santa Fe Railyard park where the eighth annual "Taste of Santa Fe" was being held. More than forty restaurants were offering small samples of their various delicacies, and before we could consider buying a ticket (6 tastes for $15), a couple came up to us and generously gave us theirs, which allowed us to eat to our hearts' content, especially since most of the folks at the various booths didn't even bother to mark what we had eaten, anyway.

Being as thoughtful as she is, Mary offered our ticket to a homeless man who was hanging out and observing the scene. She approached him and said, "Are you hungry?" He replied affirmatively, and his eyes lit up when Mary gave him the ticket and instructed him to make his rounds of the booths. 

After using the ladies' room, Mary emerged to show me that she had found a "$50 unlimited ticket" for the event, and she hurried off to find the same gentleman, who was drinking Coca-Cola and eating a gourmet sandwich and salad just outside the event in the shade. Three female friends of his---possibly homeless themselves---were also watching the crowds eat their fill, and Mary and her friend presented these three ladies with the unlimited ticket which would allow them to eat a rapturous meal during the final hour of the event. A very happy ending for all. 

Coming home, we found Tina relatively calm despite being left alone for hours, and the day blossomed into a relaxing evening at home.

Sunday, we capped off the weekend with a celebration, labyrinth walk and potluck at the labyrinth in the park behind our house. It was a sweet and gentle ending to three very full days of enjoying the heat, sun and blue skies of northern New Mexico at the height of summer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Just one colorful shop window among a plethora of shop windows in Santa Fe, offering decorative and interesting things that you simply don't need.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Rene!

This past weekend, we were lucky enough to spend a a lovely overnight visit with two of our favorite people in the world: our son Rene and daughter-in-law Bevin. They came down from Taos last Friday after work and joined us for a concert by Modest Mouse at the inspiring and interesting Paolo Soleri Amphitheater at the Santa Fe Indian School, and then for birthday brunch on Saturday morning. It was great to be together, celebrate Rene's 27th birthday, and share delicious homemade quiche and chocolate ganache cake.

Happy 27th, Rene! May stepping into your late mid-twenties be a year of good health, fun, adventure, breakthroughs and a whimsical acceptance of all that is!

With love from yo Mama y tu Papa <3

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I just loved the play of light on this statue when I passed it by the other afternoon. It was so striking that I had to turn around, park the car, and attempt to capture it on film.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Play-Doh at Work

Now that I'm providing 12-hour shifts of nursing care for an elderly man at his home at the end of a long dirt road, passing the time constructively is important. At my behest, the social worker bought some Play-Doh so that we could try to engage the client in some therapeutic play. Unwilling to touch the clay, he was still able to enjoy watching me make a menagerie of creatures that brought a smile to his face and some color to his world.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

Only in Santa Fe?

The other night, we attended an art opening at the Skotia Gallery in downtown Santa Fe. The show, entitled "Naked", features a number of well-known contemporary figurative painters, and some of the paintings were quite impressive.

This young woman was lying supine on a table in the center of the second floor gallery space, covered with vegan sushi and naturally-sweetened chocolate from "Body", a famous Santa Fe natural foods restaurant and spa.

The juxtaposition of art and food was fun, and everyone in attendance (well, almost everyone) was quite respectful of the young woman's vulnerable position, offering her grapes and gratitude for her sacrifice for the sake of art. Marcel Duchamp may have appreciated this somewhat Dadaist affair.