Trip to Ketchum, Idaho

I used to live in this house in Ketchum. Looking back I realize it marked an important time for me in two ways. I was very happy there and at the time I was “working” as a “granny nanny” to my granddaughter and we share many happy memories of our times together there. Secondly it was there I began the process of becoming a fine artist. I started out exploring oil painting (which I still love) and ended up doing mixed media art (and oils) on wood panels.

I took the photo from Ananda’s yard, looking up the hill. He is an old friend and when I lived there we were also neighbors. He admired my gardening efforts and would  walk through my back yard on his way to work at the nearby juice bar he owned. Now the tables are turned and in his retirement he has focused on gardening with amazing results.

Here’s a photo of one of his garden areas. It speaks for its self. There were lots of the wild raspberries that do so well in Ketchum here and there and ripe for the picking. He’s built himself a tower of sorts, he calls his “tree house,” used for sleeping outdoors. When I lived in the green house above none of this existed. It’s such a great example of how a person can transform his environment to mirror his values and desires.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this photo of the Ganesha shrine he has in his front yard. In his younger days Ananda was a Hindu monk and he continues to practice his unique spiritual path according to his inner promptings. He loves the concept of a temple. That’s one thing I know for sure.

But I digress…the point of traveling to Ketchum was the birthday of my granddaughter, Emma, who was turning 13, that mystical moment when you transform from a child to a TEENAGER. Emma was taking this seriously and I wanted to help her celebrate this milestone. She was also a visitor to Ketchum, where her dad has a second home. She lives in New Hampshire with her mom, stepdad and new sister, a year old. Her mom ordered this great cake for the birthday party from the queen of pastry in Ketchum, Mary Jones. Inside was Mary’s famous chocolate cake. Yum!

This was taken during the birthday party. I don’t usually publish photos of myself or even my friends and family on this blog but I can’t stop myself here. The urge must reveal how important Emma is to me in spite of the geographic distance now between us. To say that I am proud of her hardly coveys my feelings but would also be true. I know I felt that also about my daughter, her mother, so it’s partly a “mother” thing. They both give my life a depth of feeling, of connection, that is mysterious and compelling.

I love this photo taken a couple of days after the birthday. Emma was discovering that she could cantor with a comfort that she had never experienced. Could have been the magic of her instructor, Kelly, who worked with her off and on over the years when Emma was younger? I know Emma had some horse riding experiences also in New Hampshire when she first moved there a couple of years ago. In any case she was please with herself at the moment this was taken.

You can see from the trees where the Wood River runs along the bottom of those mountains in the background.

As I was driving home toward Taos on Hwy 64 from Tres Peidres I stopped at the Earthship Center and caught this moment of rainfall in the distance. I was happy to see the monsoon season continues on in the region. My garden watering angels had been  reporting lots of rain while I was away and the garden reflected that extra dose of nitrogen.

I’ll wrap it up with this parting shot of an earthship under construction, a celebration of our unique place here.

Fall Excursions

This was taken in the parking lot next to the Tesuque Village Market (ta-sook-ee). The Tesuque Pueblo tribal land north of Santa Fe is bisected by the highway between Taos and Santa Fe, so anyone familiar with that route passes through signs for the three (I believe) Tesuque exits. This is where I met up with my friend for a jaunt to Santa Fe to get some needed art supplies and take a stroll down Canyon Road, a popular place for art galleries. Neither of us had taken that art walk for years and felt it was time to freshen our impressions.

This is the season when the peppers ripen to reds and oranges and find themselves strung into ristras. We spotted this decorative use of fresh ristras on an archway leading to one of the galleries on Canyon. Note the use of marigolds strung together as well. The gallery was called Galerie Corazon and was set back a bit behind another place very near the street. The owner seems very set on creating a beautiful atmosphere both inside and outside the gallery. You could feel the “corazon” (heart).

The next day I drove over to Ojo Caliente (hot springs) after turning in the SEED3 paintings I’ve been working on more or less intensely for several months. My reward.

The stretch from West Rim Road over to Hwy 285 was magically strewn with Chamisa in full glory. I stopped briefly for this quick photo just so I could talk about the wonder of the drive right now. Make me think of the “yellow brick road.” I find Chamisa very uplifting, the way it blooms with such enthusiasm, a bright yellow, just when other plants are slowing down.

This is a view of Ojo Caliente from the direction of their hiking trails, west looking east. The building with the scalloped front faces is the original/historic main building which now houses the restaurant, wine bar and guest rooms. Soon all those Cottonwood trees to the east of the buildings will be a solid brush stroke of yellow.

Just had to add this dramatic photo I took on the way home down through the Rio Grande Gorge leading to Pilar. This was taken soon after I crossed the bridge and on the side away from the river. I could tell there was ample moisture there because there was a group of cattails nearby. Yes, I picked one of them, just starting to explode with its seeds, for the SEED3 show. In any case this is our friend Chamisa blooming next to a Cottonwood–nature’s authoritative description of the color yellow. At first I thought the Cottonwood was an Aspen, but definitely not, judging from the bark. That will be another, later blog–Aspens up on Taos Mountain.

These fallen Cottonwood leaves have found their final resting place just under the Chamisa plant in the previous photo.

And just to prove that I really did drive along the Rio Grande today I offer this river shot reflecting the bright blue sky of the day. The weather could not have been more perfect. When I got home I had a short visit with my landlord and he said yesterday it rained on the property pretty hard for a brief time. I would never have imagined it. He said he was in town coming toward Talpa and could see a big rain cloud over it, and sure enough it rained pretty hard for awhile, but not in town and certainly not at Ojo. So much for weather in the mountains of New Mexico.

Home again! Gotta love the Heavenly Blue Morning Glories next to those sweet blue doors I painted a year ago.

Mystery mandala plant I saw on my Ojo hike

Colorado & Back


River rafting was the big attraction at 3Rivers Resort where my family had a big reunion last week. The resort is situated along the Taylor River about 10 miles north of Gunnison, CO. My granddaughter was able to attend it and renew relationships with folks she hadn’t seen since she was 4. She celebrated her 12th birthday while we were there.

This shot captures the natural beauty of the resort and the way 12-year olds like to take photos with their iPhones. Sometimes she would switch over to borrowing my digital slr and give the iPhone a rest. We were a photographing team.

On the last full day of our time in Colorado we took a little visit over to Crested Butte, a small ski town developed 50 or so years ago. We both loved it. Even Emma, who grew up in the ski town of Sun Valley, Idaho, was impressed by the natural beauty of the landscape and the town itself. It seemed to have a sense of itself, how it wanted to look and feel, and as far as we explored there seemed to be consistency. There were many benches such as this one, along the main street, created to be functional works of art. They showed off the artistic, funky spirit of the town.

I’ll use this one photo to symbolize all the flowers we saw everywhere we went. Even along the main shopping street there was space for flower beds and displays. The sidewalks were wide, giving pedestrians a feeling of space as they walked around. I think the elevation of the town was around 7,700 so I know they have a short growing season so I suspect they achieved their flowers by using lots of perennials and setting out starts grown in greenhouses. The effect was truly inspiring and uplifting.

I saw somewhere that Crested Butte claimed to be the wildflower capital of Colorado. Many family members went on hikes and enjoyed the flowers.

In this photo you can see what I assume to be the Crested Butte that gives the town its name. These houses are typical of the local style. Not sure how you would describe it but seen at a distance it looks like a toy town. Snow is a major factor here and might explain these steep metal roofs, good for releasing accumulating snow.

On the drive back home to Taos we stopped at the Earthship Center located along Hwy 64 west of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. My granddaughter had never seen or even heard of an earthship so she got an eye-full. This Earthship World Headquarters location handles a lot of related activities, such as a school to learn green building concepts and techniques, and an earthship rental service (one night).

This shot accentuates the free-form use of adobe-like building materials and the incorporation of glass bottles for color and aesthetics. Gotta love that Taos plateau blue sky.

I loved the use of so much glass in the design of this wall and the pleasing shape of the opening. This was part of a project that was still under construction, but located near the center, encouraging visitors to look around.

Next on the Taos tour was the Gorge Bridge. I mentioned that the people of Taos were concerned about the recent larger numbers of “jumpers.” She felt there should definitely be a net below the railing. We looked at a recent copy of the Taos News the next day and saw that concern about bridge suicides was a headline. She was happy to see her concerns shared by the town.

Next day was Saturday and we went straight to the farm market for a palm reading by Bonnie Bramble who offers readings each week during the market season. Children’s palms are read for free, which is generous of Bonnie.

Aw shucks another lovely hollyhock.

Manby Hot Springs

Saturday a friend and I met at the farm market and found ourselves thinking of going out to the Manby Hot Springs, something we’d talked about a week before but hadn’t done due to the smoky air. It was my first trip. The photo above shows an early view of the Rio Grande flowing downstream, taken from the path down. A New Mexico hot springs guide book says it’s half a mile down on the path. It seemed longer than that to me, especially coming back up in the middle of the day, in hot sun.

We saw several of these small blooming cactus plants along the trail down. Exotic.

So where exactly is Manby, also known as Stagecoach Hot Springs? Well, if you were standing on the gorge bridge looking north it’s probably 2 miles upriver. It was once (in the 1890’s) a resort and the original way to get there was by stage coach. There was a bridge a little downstream of the springs and there was a switchback road cut into the west side of the canyon for access. From the springs you can see remnants of that road. Those were some brave travelers!

This was my first view of the springs from the trail. That raft on the upper left soon pulled away from the bank. They seemed to be stopping for some re-grouping. I can’t believe they would be launching from there. The pool we used is the one that’s closest to the center of the photo, furtherest to the left. Its water was coming from various sources inland side of the pool so was undisturbed by the muddier water of the river. It was not exactly “hot” but definitely warm and was comfortable for the warm day.

According to the water talk of the day the river has been running fast due to Colorado snow melt, which explains the muddy water. However it’s been dropping dramatically the past few days and will clear up as it slows.

This is a closer view of the pool we chose. We later met this girl and her brother and shared the pool with them for a bit. This is a clothing optional hot springs but I seemed to be the only woman there without a bathing suit. Oh well. A long history of hippy traditions had prepared me for the moment of truth. At one point I was the only woman in the pool with four similarly unclad men. All very nice men of course. I lasted about 45 minutes there in the hot sun with no hat and little sunscreen. There was no shade in sight.

I can tell you the way there from Taos. You head north and turn left (at the “blinking light”) like you’re going to the gorge bridge on Hwy. 64. About 4 miles down look for Tune Drive on your right. That turn is less than a mile past the Airport on the left. There are some possible turns off Tune Drive but I felt like it was clear enough which way to go forward to the eventual large parking lot at the end. The guide book says it’s about 5 miles, but I think it was more like 7 or 8, and it was not smooth sailing–not dangerous, but bumpy washboard for sure.

I kept my promise of a couple of weeks ago and went back where I took the photo of the peony bud and shot this fully opened peony. It is not the exact same flower, but the prettiest one of the bunch. More of the perennials that over-wintered around my house are starting to show their first blooms. This photo below is one. Can’t think of the name at the moment…

Chasing Spring in Taos

We drove over to the Ojo Hot Springs yesterday chasing a sunny, 70-degree day and were rewarded by the site of this hyacinth in shades of pale pink. You can see the effects of my improved camera equipment in this simple photo. Huge difference.

I can’t actually recommend everyone run over to the hot springs in this nice weather. It was crowded because this is the season of rolling spring breaks in schools throughout the region. There were lots of teacher types and then parents trying to sneak their kids into the adult-only pools, which I had never seen before.

This is the entrance to Ojo with the parking lot beyond. To the left is the hotel and the entrance just past the sign takes you to the restaurant and wine bar. Opposite (not shown) is the new building that you pass through for entry into the pools and spa. We had lunch in the restaurant before checking in, fish tacos and salad. The food is healthy, delicious and beautifully presented.

I spotted these daffodils in the bed along the side of the hotel you see above–warm, south-facing and protected. And, of course, all at a lower elevation than Taos.

Compared to winters of history apparently we here in Taos dodged a bullet this year. The down side is that there was also not much precipitation (snow in the mountains) and that’s where the waters of summer come from through those famous acequia ditches. So nothing to brag about in the larger picture…

I took a little loop of a walk around the property where I live and felt some hope seeing these young plants deciding it was time to make their move. Looks like they could use some rain though. Just checked the 10-day forecast and didn’t see much encouragement there, just more mild spring temps with afternoon winds and a low chance of rain.

On Sunday I will celebrate my one-year anniversary of the day I drove into Taos to begin my search for a house. I had timed it to coincide with the Spring Equinox, as it will this year. I’m planning to attend a Mayan Equinox ceremony here that day.

Again, thanks to the new camera, I was able to communicate the intricate beauty of this remnant of last year’s bounty in the orchard. Won’t be long before it’s replaced by buds producing their annual flowers and fruits. I love these Wabi-Sabi remnants reminding us that all phases of life have their beauty.

Let this photo be our honoring of all that life created in last year’s growing and fruiting, both in the plant world and in our personal lives. We have arrived now at our cyclical starting point, renewed and ready to begin in earnest again.

Tomorrow, this waxing moon in the photo, will be full, illuminating the orchard as it gets its signal from the cosmos that it is time to begin anew. May we all find the courage to honor our deepest truths and be the love we seek.

Winter Ways in NH

It’s still winter here in New Hampshire, so we’re inside the house looking out for the most part. The general landscape of this affluent town is dominated by fields and yards covered in smooth icings of white contrasting with stands of dark limbed trees. My drive to my granddaughter’s school is like a trip through a toy-like world of narrow curving roads through trees dotting open space between story-book box shaped  houses and barns.

From the science viewpoint of observing the driveway in front of my daughter’s home I can report the temperatures were below freezing last night but the trend is toward daytime melt that is shrinking the snow and ice there. I love the mysterious crystal shapes in ice and felt I should be quick to photograph it while I could.

This is the ocean view at the end the street where my family lives. Took it this morning on my way back from the school drive. It’s a scene of melting snow. This morning I saw what must have been a cardinal. It was a totally red and very handsome bird. Later I saw a self-satisfied robin who seemed confident that spring was on the way.

Trees are everywhere and I have an impulse to get a tree guide and walk around identifying them. I have never been to the east coast and I can only imagine the amazing beauty of the fall colors here.

Where there was a major fork in the road of my life history, (I started in the middle of the US, Oklahoma) I chose west over east and have never looked back. First it was California, the Bay Area, then branching out to different places within that state. For some reason, still a mystery to me, I have spent long stretches of time in the affluent and beautiful town of Sun Valley, Idaho. In between there were short spurts into life in Oregon and Arizona, and now New Mexico–all places clearly western.

This beach is only a couple of blocks away from my granddaughter’s house. We stopped by on our way home after school yesterday. Once we got to the beach she seemed in no hurry to get home. The temperatures were in the low 40s. No wind. Not too bad. I gave my new dslr camera a workout.

I am still switching back and forth between the two cameras. I keep the small digital handy in my purse and still tend to plan my outings with the larger camera, even though I chose to purchase a dslr that is on the smaller, lighter end of possibilities there. I’ll be in NH another 6 days so may blog again from here. It’s certainly photogenic.

Sweet in Sedona

On a sunny warm day #1 in my visit to Sedona I hiked up a fairly easy trail with two friends. Everything seemed exotic and beautiful. At the end of the trail was this tantalizing view. It was exciting to see from the light behind the column that the base was free-standing.

This is the bark of an Alligator Juniper tree. This I do remember. I was very taken by these trees which were fairly numerous along the same trail. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one before. They grew pretty tall by Juniper standards and seemed very happy in that environment.

This was taken at a park I do remember the name of–Red Rock Crossing. It’s a very special place but sadly is difficult to access unless you go by the book and drive in and pay a steep $9 fee (per car). We walked in for $2 per person, but finding a place to park is tricky (don’t ask). A friend and I visited here twice out of my total five days in Sedona.

This red rock face, with its distinctive chimneys, overlooks the creek (Oak Creek) at the base (seen in the previous photo). This offers drama as well as shelter to the park. I managed to get in a hike, or at least an interesting wild-ish walk on each of the 5 days there. My friend and I would meet up at a local cafe–Java Love. It seemed to be THE local’s hang out, as over the course of my days I often saw the same faces there. The staff seemed to know the names of the customers and everyone acted like they were very much at home. It was easy to feel included in this ambiance and I would highly recommend the place to anyone visiting Sedona. Wifi of course.

Part of Red Rock Crossing park is Buddha Beach. A favorite pastime here is building rock structures and I had to try my hand as well. I believe anything goes but the favorite style seems to be stacking as high as possible. There are some stretches of flat red rock next to the water and my friend and I chose to lie in the sun a while and listen to the sounds of the water. This general location is one of the many vortex spots in and around Sedona and is a feminine (yin) one. We let it have its way with us. Sweet.