Moving 5–Unusually Green

I finally arrived in California over a week ago. First leg of the journey was Amarillo to Flagstaff; second was from there to the San Gabriel Valley of CA. I have crossed New Mexico many times, have crossed Arizona as well six times since last November. Usually it is dry and brown even as recently as June. Not this time. Green all the way until I hit Barstow, California. The following photos were taken from the car as I drove I-40.

New Mexico

New Mexico–the entire drive the atmosphere was quite hazy. Not sure the cause–perhaps wild fires or the extra humid weather so unusual for New Mexico and Arizona as well.

Near Flagstaff which was super green and lovely. Morning there was quite chilly.

Near Flagstaff.

Finally, in the San Gabriel Valley in northeast LA County.

Moving 4–Bittersweet

Today I made the first leg of my journey from living in the Panhandle of Texas to living in the San Gabriel Valley in LA County, Ca. I have crossed New Mexico many times at various times of the year. I doubt I will ever again drive all the way across it again. One thing was very different this time, green. Usually, by this time toward end of summer, it is dry and hot. Not this time. Emerald green contrasting with the red rock outcrops proved quite lovely and dramatic. The green prevailed all the way to Flagstaff. The hottest temperature today along I-40 was 83 in NM and briefly a bit above 90 for a few miles in Arizona.

Just before I left my daughter’s house in Amarillo, I took a few photos. I have been going to her house for more than 18 years. My 17 year old grandson has spent almost his whole life there until a month ago. Will I ever return? Probably not. Nevertheless, the lovely memories of their life in this house will linger for the rest of my lifetime.

Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico

At Tamaya Resort, this past week I attended a regional conference of the Alpha Delta Kappa teachers’ sorority.  Run by Hyatt, this resort resides on Santa Ana Pueblo land near Bernalillo, New Mexico.  Although the word pueblo is Spanish for town, in New Mexico its meaning extends far beyond town.

There are 19 pueblos in New Mexico.  Several are near Albuquerque:  Santa Ana, Santa Domingo, Sandia, and farther to the north, Taos Pueblo near the town which bears its name.  Many  pueblos have been inhabited for many centuries, e.g.Santa Ana since the 1500s and Acoma since the 1200s.  Each pueblo is synonymous with a particular American Indian tribe.

Santa Ana Pueblo land borders the Rio Grande River.  Tribal members number approximately 900.  Their children attend public school in Bernalillo.  The tribe’s income comes primarily from the Tamaya Resort and a casino. Employees at the resort come from all over the United States as well as other countries.  Our waiter at one of the four restaurants came from a small town in Yucatan, Mexico.


All the buildings show the traditional pueblo style.  The horno–oven–on the left in this photo is actually used.  The courses and activities for guests are extensive, including making bread and baking it in this horno.  Golf, horse back riding, hiking to the Rio Grande, swimming–there are four pools, jewelry making, bike riding, creating your own dream catcher, and many others options keep guests busy.  Their horse rescue center is the largest in New Mexico.


The trail to the bosque and river start just below the lounging and grill area.  Bosque (forest or woods) is another one of those Spanish words, here used specifically in relation to the forested area along the Rio Grande.  Like in most of the West, rain is always welcome.  It rained several times while we were there.



The intense blue of the New Mexico sky mixed with storm clouds make for perfect photos.


After approximately a mile of walking, the hiker arrives at the Rio Grande.  Because of the rains, it became higher and higher.


Looking down river.  The river was moving so fast that I could hear it rolling along.


Looking slightly up river.  Seeing this, it is hard to believe that by the time it arrives at the Gulf of Mexico, it is a mere trickle.


Early morning hikers on the bosque trail.


While hiking, I looked up and could not help it; I had to photograph the famous New Mexico sky which Georgia O’Keefe loved to paint.

The Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos

For years I had read and heard about this place, even attended a lecture by a descendent of one of her frequent guests who actually knew her when he was a child.  This past weekend good friends from Rociada took me there with my best friends from college years, friends from long ago, visiting from California.

I already knew something about Mabel and her friends, famous people who frequented her salon, created the artistic mystique that still hangs over Taos.  When I returned home, I wanted to know more.  Born into Buffalo, NY, high society, she had been married and widowed by the age of 23.  As a young woman she was openly bisexual; her memoir, “Intimate Memories”, provides a frank discussion of this part of her life.  Several years after her first husband’s death, she married the architect Edwin Dodge.  They lived near Florence, Italy, for seven years where she entertained such notables as Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Andre Gide.  After affairs and two suicide attempts, she separated from her husband and moved to Greenich Village.  Eventually, she married her third husband, the painter Maurice Sterne and became a patron of the arts.

In 1917, she and her husband moved to New Mexico.  This changed her life; she lived there until she died 45 years later.  She preferred Taos to Santa Fe, finding the latter “too civilized”.  She found New Mexico “alive” and fell in love with Pueblo culture eventually even cutting her hair to mimic Pueblo style.  Sterne did not find New Mexico to his liking and left.  After their divorce she married her long standing love, Antonio Luhan, a Taos Pueblo man.  They remained married 40 years.

Mabel entertained a nearly endless array of famous artists, writers, and intellectuals:  D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keefe, Willa Cather, Ansel Adams, Carl Jung, Emma Goldberg, Margaret Sanger, the founders of the Taos Society of Artists.  She introduced New York and the east coast to New Mexico through her columns in “The New York Journal”.  Mabel died in 1962.


A view of the main entrance and the largest portion of the house and grounds.


A small portion of the kitchen.  Cookies, coffee, fruit infused water, and tea were available in the dining room for hotel guests. Books with historical photos lay out for visitors to read in an adjoining room.

Dennis Hopper bought the house in 1970 and recreated her “salon” hippie style.  In 1977, he sold it to George Otero.  Because of years of neglect, it required extensive restoration.  The Oteros turned it into a non-profit where they held workshops.  The Attiyeh Foundation, its current owners, purchased it in 1996 and run it as a hotel and conference/retreat center.  It costs nothing to visit and wander around.


This photo was taken from the same spot as the first one, looking to the right instead of toward the entrance.


While standing there, I looked up into that incredible New Mexico sky.


A close up view of the entrance.


Look at all the bird houses.


Beside the kitchen, out a side door–patio and horno (traditional clay oven) shaded from the afternoon sun.



Friends chit chatting while I wander around taking photos.

For more details, go to:  This includes history, accommodations, workshops, etc.  The accommodations portion even tells the site visitor who slept in each room when visiting Mabel.




Roaming the Northeastern New Mexico Mountains–Day Two

While everyone else slept late, my host and I headed to their ‘wild’–a couple of hundred acres which they put in Santa Fe Conservation Trust.  The Trust requires land restoration and has a lengthy list of do’s and don’t’s one must follow.  However, if the owners follow these requirements, the results astonish.


The land is mountainous with meadows, ponderosa pines, and a few aspens and fir trees.  Before restoration it had been overgrazed at times and no streams ran year round.


This stream starts on a property to the north and ran only on rare occasions when it rained.  With careful riparian restoration, little waterfalls now gurgle here and there.


This is the view downstream where water is now running and new grasses and other plants that like water have begun to grow.


After following the other stream, we turned left and found this stream running from higher land to the east.  When the restoration began, this was like a ditch with not much growing.


Where there once was nothing, pools form.  To my friend’s surprise this one contained numerous fish.  They had not been there on his recent visit.



If my memory is correct, this is a type of wild onion in flower.  So many different kinds of grasses and flowers thrive now where only a few years ago there were few.  Even big blue stem grows in various areas of the property.


A grove of aspen in the shade on the north side of a rock bank.  The small ones in the foreground remain encircled in fencing to keep the elk from killing them before they have a chance to grow.  Elk like to rub against the bark with their antlers.


We climbed up to the highest points of the land.  Trespassers in the past, when the previous owner did not check on it, made a road.  Restoration activities slowly allow the vegetation to grow back.


From this high point, one can see Hermit Peak in the background.  Near here the current owner found many fir trees sawed off near the ground.  Of course, they died.  No wood was taken, nothing except the outer most parts of their branches which can be made into Christmas wreaths.  Luckily, they missed a few trees.


The view of the previous stream and pool from above. The fencing near the stream protects willows and cottonwoods which would normally be found near streams in this area if undisturbed and not subject to overgrazing.


Remains of such houses stand everywhere.  These people had a water catchment system with gutters running into a cistern.  Down the hill near the stream an old well could be used when the cistern ran dry.


More than any other this photo shows what overgrazing does.  On the left the land has been overgrazed for years.  Even though no cattle have been on it since last October, all that grows is sage and blue grama.  Cattle will not eat sage therefore limiting the food available for future grazing.  On the right is the Trust land filled with biodiversity.  It can be grazed, but to do so effectively requires certain grazing methods many are only now beginning to practice.


Later, after trekking around the Trust land for a couple of hours, I drove to another friend’s house nearer the actual town of Rociada.  This is the view from her yard.  We decided to take a little hike to an old cemetery, Santo Nino, Sainted Child (Jesus), located on the property of an old Spanish land grant.


We found graves from the late 1800’s as well as new ones plus a crumbling wall, the front of the long, narrow chapel of the original hacienda.


Finally, we headed home and as always there lays the fabulous view from 104 dropping down the escarpment.


Roaming the Northeastern New Mexico Mountains-Day One

Last weekend I went to three visit friends I had not seen in years.  These two sets of friends live in the mountains north of Las Vegas, New Mexico, a place which some people confuse with the other Las Vegas and quite to their surprise, end up in a small, quaint college town totally unlike the other Las Vegas.  While the place is always extraordinary, this past summer’s rains have infused it with an incredible endless green.

I awoke before everyone else, watched numerous species of hummingbirds through the windows then stepped out on the front and took these photos after sunrise.


Hermit Peak in the background–north of Las Vegas, New Mexico, near Rociada.



We decided to spend Saturday wandering around, visiting several wineries, enjoying the countryside.


Luckily my friend who lives there drove because I would have become lost on all the winding mountain roads.  The silvery vegetation near the fence is a type of sage.

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I took a lot of these photos from the passenger seat of the car as we wandered along.


Many trees like those on the right looked partially dead.  Apparently, last year while still in a drought many nearly died but now, with so much rain this summer, they seem in recovery.


We drove through mountain valleys, then up through mountains repeatedly.  This road goes to Sipapu Ski Resort.  Behind the simple lodge a mountain stream tumbles over rocks.



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For lunch we stopped here at Sugar Nymphs, a tiny, quaint restaurant in Penasco, New Mexico.  We entered the restaurant on the side looking down this simple street to a series of what appears to be residences.


Sugar Nymphs operates on laid back time.  If you want to hurry, forget it.  After lunch we headed to our first winery, my favorite, small, hidden, grapevines growing nearly to the door and up one side of the building.



The vintner was friendly, welcoming.  I noticed grapes of which I had never heard.  He explained that approximately 6000 different varieties of grapes are grown throughout the world.  Only a minority remain suitable for wine making.  Because of  winters in this part of New Mexico, they grow varieties that can stand the cold, e.g. Dolcetto.


We dropped down altitude and arrived at Black Mesa Winery on a more heavily travelled road which goes to Taos.  This colorful fence stands between the parking lot and the tasting room and wine making facilities there.  It is a larger winery with so many people on a Saturday that we had to wait our turn.


I decided to look around and play photographer while waiting.


You can see tiny grapes ripening on this trellis.


I selected my two bottles rather quickly and wasted time doing this while waiting on my two friends to pick theirs.  We kept seeing rain clouds and I predicted we would get rained on.  It rained while we were there.


Our wanderings took longer than we expected so we headed to our last winery of the day.


This particular winery has a sitting area outside and snacks to order.  They sell local beers as well as wine.  Since already running late, we made our choices and left.


Dramatic storm clouds and the smell of rain greeted us as we wandered home.

Blackwater Draw-Part Two

The ancients hunted here at the shores of a lake

nearly 12,000 years ago.  In 1929, an amateur

archeologist discovered an ancient spear

point lodged in bone.  I walk the mile long trail

down into the depths.   Caliche, gravel,

larger rocks strewn by millennia.  For

thousands of years Clovis, Folsom, and Portales

Man left remnants of their hunting life.

The scattered cottonwoods whisper in the wind,

timeless voices call me, beckoning.

Who were these people?

What did they look like?

Where did they come from?

In whose gods and goddesses did they believe?

Doubtless hunger drove them to this place of water

and plenty.  Columbia Mammoths, giant sloths, dire wolves,

saber toothed cats  gathered here for thousands of years.

The diggers found an obsidian spear head with a

bison whose horns spanned seven feet and

mammoths twice the size of elephants.

Saber toothed cats competed with these

ancient ancestors at this place, all driven by

hunger, thirst, and instinct.  I wonder how

these people overcame danger, fear?

I walk the mile long path, stand in the shade

of these cottonwood trees , read the signs that

tell me what diggers found at specific spots along the trail.

The cottonwoods whisper to me.  They

tell me ancient tales of hunger, strife, fear,

beauty, love, endurance.  I hear the ancient voices

calling.  They tell me ancient tales of woe, war,

weaponry, courage, and community.  My

skin tingles strangely in the summer heat.  Now

this land is dry, a desert, the water that sustained

teeming life evaporated in the crystalline air.

Twelve thousand years from now who will stand here?

Will this place exist?  Will someone wonder the meaning

of our bones, who we were, what we believed?


Sitting in the Children’s Museum,
trying to make time fly faster,
waiting on my daughter and grandson.
Still shocked and excessively annoyed:
This is New Mexico and
Laguna Pueblo is just down the road
more or less
and I can’t find a single Silko
book except Ceremony which
I already own and have
read repeatedly.
What’s the matter with people?
They don’t know a thing about
their own heritage except maybe
turquoise and Kachina dolls
probably made in China.
Then there’s me:
not a drop of Indian blood I know of,
obsessed with
corn maidens
puma fetishes
Indian fry bread
Navaho paintings.
The xeroscape garden between me and
the dinosaurs beckons.
If I leave this seat and
my grandson’s and daughter’s
stuff gets stolen…


I photograph myself in the distortion mirrors,

I read Yo, a book about family truth

if there is such a thing,

and think about how much

my sister hates me.


The Encounter Poems–Poem Two

Earlier this week I mentioned I would post a group of poems that describe various “encounters” I have experienced with individuals at different times in my life, some recent, some many years ago.  This is the second of that series of poems.

At the Mandala Center in New Mexico

A lady walks up to me,

“You look like you belong here.”

I sit writing,

listening to the wind,

the eternal driving wind.

It makes you stand firm,

rooted, strong.

This is no place for fragile people.