May Market, the Gorge, the Eclipse!

Oh yes, our Saturday Farmer’s Market is back in business. This vendor comes down from Colorado and she uses a greenhouse to get a jump on the summer season. I’ve just put my couple of zucchini seedlings (bought at the farm market) in the ground. It will be awhile before I have zucchini flowers, not to mention squash.

The geography of the Taos region allows a lot of people to live in a widely scattered area of which Taos is both a market center and a magnetic symbol. Living in or near Taos means many things to many diverse people. Here in the farm market season all that diversity shows up once a week and blends into a harmonious, abundant and cheerful whole. So get ready for another five months of my camera’s fascination with this enticing feast for the eyes and the soul.

I suspect I’ve taken many photos of the Rio Grande Gorge from this very spot. There was a woman setting up to paint from the same vantage point, so I was not alone in my car-stopping admiration. The view looks to the north back toward the length of the gorge that is most typical, like the familiar view from the Gorge Bridge. But at this juncture the sides of the gorge are coming further apart and a couple of miles to the south things open up (at Pilar) to allow the river to slide steeply west along Hwy. 68 down to Espanola. On a trip to Santa Fe last week I saw a lot of river rafting along there. Tis the season.

If you read this blog regularly you’ll guess that I was on my way to Ojo Caliente Hot Springs when I took that previous photo. That road crosses a bridge over the river then heads west in a steep climb out of the gorge up to this immense mesa. I’d say most people driving to Ojo take a different route that takes them over the Gorge Bridge, but either way you end up on this road. I’ve always wanted to take a photo of one of these cow signs, of which there are several along this stretch of road. Many, not all, have been stamped with this image of a UFO. If I were from outer space I think I’d pick this mesa for a hover spot. I’ve never seen a UFO but many here say they have.

And now for the return trip. This is where the road down into the gorge starts its slippery slope downwards and ultimately right photo-wise. Because I live on the southwest end of Taos it’s convenient for me to take this “back road” way over to the hot springs. I have an all-wheel-drive vehicle and it’s definitely the scenic road.

No photo can describe the magical Eclipse Party we had at OptiMysm (metaphysical store) Sunday night. At this point in the party/ceremony we have all come out to see what we can see of this important annular eclipse of the Sun. I got my favorite view using the green glass that my friend Sheila was looking through in the photo.

I post a monthly astrology blog at the New Moon and my last one describes the significance of this eclipse and discusses important astrological events in both May and June. I welcome you to check it out if you’ve never explored it.

Perfect yellow rose at the farm market



Frank Waters & the Spirit of Taos

I am almost finished with “The Man Who Killed the Deer,” a famous book by Frank Waters that was published the year I was born, 1942. Some long time ago I read it and liked it, but at the time had no reference to Taos, not like I do now. I can say it has helped me imagine how things were then, both different and perhaps much the same as in present time. It’s clarified for me many of the things that have attracted me here, most importantly the fragile but firm continuity with the pre-conquest past that lives and breathes today among descendants of native Americans living in the Taos region.

By the way the first photo was taken the October, 2010, at the Taos Pueblo and and shows Willow Creek, potable water that comes directly from Blue Lake and divides the pueblo into two parts. This sacred lake, and the pueblo natives’ desire to gain it back from the US government, was one of the themes of the book, “The Man Who Killed the Deer.”

The photo above was taken around the same time, obviously the Rio Grande. Many times in the book the author mentions the fact that once one has climbed some distance up into the Taos mountains it is easy to see the west side of the gorge cutting through the landscape.

This view of the Rio Grande gorge is familiar to anyone who has driven by on Highway 68, but I include it now to illustrate my mood of fresh appreciation for the dramatic topography and history of the place many of us call home.

I would like to recommend another Frank Waters book I recently discovered in the library (yes, they have a dog-eared copy of “The Man Who Killed the Deer”), The Woman at Otowi Crossing (1966). Though not about Taos per se, this book sheds light on many fascinating aspects of New Mexico’s remarkable history. The main fascination for me was the history of Los Alamos, how it abruptly sprung up from what was a boy’s school campus in an otherwise pristine landscape. But there was also an  established pueblo village nearby, the life of which was also important to the story. The main protagonist is an aging Anglo woman whom I found easy to identify with.

One more book by Frank Waters I can suggest is “Mountain Dialogs” (1981). It’s a collection of essays. The first part talks about Waters’ experience living in the mountains above Arroyo Seco when there were few Anglos doing so. He talks about being able to ride his horse across the mountains and down into the Taos Pueblo and was invited and encouraged to do so by his Pueblo neighbors at the time. His neighbors were there by virtue of Spanish land grants and at that time few had allowed their land to be purchased by Anglos. Anyone living in or near Arroyo Seco would likely find this early part of the book enlightening.

All three of these books I was able to find at the Taos Library. I had to wait for a copy of  “The Man Who Killed the Deer,” but the other two were on the shelves.

A year ago a long-time woman friend of mine passed. She is the first peer of mine to do so and it took me a long time to feel my way through the experience. I created a small collage to honor her passing, which I cropped (to make a square) and put here at the end.

Ada’s Passing

Momma Said…Days Like This

Took this photo yesterday on my “back way” to Ojo Caliente Hot Springs. Since I live on the south end of town I’m often tempted to take this scenic route down 68 to Pilar and through the gorge then up the hill to meet the West Rim Road. It was a beautiful day for the hot springs, not that busy this time of year, and the sun was peeking in and out of interesting clouds. There was a 60% chance of snow or rain today. When I started this blog the sky was clouding up. Now it’s snowing in a light and pretty kind of way that’s not likely to amount to much but is cheering.

Last Friday I was in Santa Fe and took a stroll around the Plaza. The weather was unusually warm that day. A friend of mine is in the process of moving from Taos to Santa Fe a car-load at a time and I helped her out by taking a load in my vehicle. Anyone who’s been to this Plaza will recognize the familiar scene along one side of the square devoted to native craftspeople. I’m sure the vendors (and the shoppers) were enjoying the comfortable temperatures. The last time I took a photo of the Plaza it was around 5 degrees (with wind chill factor). There’s no logic to this warm day.

On the same stroll I couldn’t resist this shot capturing the reflections of the trees on the canvass offered by the adobe wall. This must be one of the many reasons we love adobe buildings. I think it was around mid-afternoon so the shadows were still strong.

You might ask about the title of this blog: Momma Said…? I’m just having one of those days after my soak in the hot springs that leave me upended. It does show how addicted I am to having a sense of direction, of knowing what’s important, staying on track. I did some cooking for myself mid-day, something I guess I never do. And then someone invited me to dinner. A different kind of day…

This photo was meant to go into my last blog but I’ve been having some technical trouble getting photos to load into my WordPress blog lately. They made some “improvements” not long ago that have created new issues for me. This was taken on the south side of the Overland Complex in El Prado which has great views of Taos Pueblo land, this one among them. I was there the other day and noticed a similar truck but don’t know if it’s positioned well for a photo. Will check on that.

The good news is that I was just accepted last week into the Envision Gallery (located in the Overland Complex) and two of my paintings are on display there as we speak. Hooray!

This is the Divine Feminine Quilt painting, one of the two now in the Invision Gallery. It’s 24X24, collage, oil and encaustic on a cradled wood panel. Hope you’ll stop by there sometime and check it out. And while you’re there visit April in the Tea Shop next door.

Say hello to my granddaughter, Charlotte, 7 months old.

Tis The Season–2

It was around 4:30 when I walked by the Taos Plaza and took this shot. I had just stopped to talk to a man who was putting candles inside the stand-up paper bags (with sand in the bottom) that would become “farolitos” as soon as it was dark. He told me he belonged to a local group of vets and that each year on the night of the “Lighting of Ledoux Street” a different Taos group took charge of this annual task.

This is what they look like before they are lit. A block away from the Plaza is Ledoux Street and it was getting ready for it’s annual festive lighting, meaning there would be farolitos lining the street on either side. The only traffic would be people strolling along stopping here and there to warm themselves at a wood fire (luminarias) or exploring inside one of the many galleries along the street. The Harwood Museum of Art, at the lower end of the street, always welcomes townspeople to stop in this night and look around (something that usually costs money). I enjoyed the magic of the evening myself and ended up with friends at the Adobe Bar.

I believe this photo was taken the day before from the parking lot behind Moby Dickens bookstore. I’ve noticed how much I’m lately enjoying the shapes of bare tree branches backed by shocking blue skies or, as here, the mix of clouds and sky. The sleek black ravens add to the mix–a favorite Toas winter image.

I doubt this image would be as charming without the dusting of snow. Love the yellow part that looks like a hat. Somehow it all comes together looking like a friendly alien that escaped from a candy-land planet.

This photo, also taken in downtown Taos, (a railing in front of Geraint Smith’s new photography gallery) should have been included in my somewhat recent Wabi-Sabi blog. Yes, there was water from melting snow standing in puddles that made for brushstrokes of contrasting lightness. The peeling “Taos Blue” paint is so much more interesting than a fresh, even coat would be.

Driving back from Santa Fe with a friend a week ago we stopped at the Chimayo church. These farolitos will light up at the turn of a switch and are designed to look like paper bags but are really plastic. They are practical when placed along roofs, which is often the case around town for public buildings or businesses that want to contribute to the nighttime ambiance of the season.

Yes, I’ve been making regular visits to the Taos Folk show at the Stables Gallery, checking on my inventory. The show is having great success. My friend, Sybille Palmer, is making these amazingly cute owl tree ornaments out of felted wool. I’ve heard they are a popular sale item.

I’ve also heard that the Taos Ski Mountain has good snow now. That can make a town like Taos pretty happy. It’s six days until the Winter Solstice on the 21st. I’ll be celebrating it with a newly formed Shamanic Drumming Group who gathers once a month at the new metaphysical store, OptiMysm. It’s been a few years since Taos has had a metaphysical store and for many this opens a fresh door to useful spiritual tools and locally made gifts, among other things.

Winter Solstice Card

The Siren Song of a Santa Fe Gallery

Yes, my fine art has now found a home in a gallery in Santa Fe on the landmark street, Canyon Road. Friends from Ketchum, Idaho, who have seen my emergence as a fine artist these past 7 years or so will love seeing the logo of this gallery since the image of a heart found its way into much of my early work.

The owner, sculptor Heidi Kujat, considered the paintings on my website and liked my flowers for her gallery. Since roses are her favorites I agreed to paint four of them, all 12X12 oil paintings with a final layer of encaustic. And she thought November would be a good time to introduce my work so I had only a couple of weeks to complete it. But what’s a little drama when you hear the “siren’s call?”

This photo shows the entrance to the Gallerie Corazon, which is set back from the road, but easy to find if you follow the pink signs. In a blog three weeks ago I used a photo of the charming gateway to this courtyard. I remember the day I took it I was prepared to be impressed before I opened the door. I asked Heidi about this close-to-nature energetic feel to the space and she acknowledged it was all her doing.

Here’s a detail from one of the four paintings: Pink Rose #1. Years ago when I started making these flower paintings, which all have in common this “macro” perspective, I was just figuring out that I could make a close-up photo of a flower into a painting. I managed this by printing an enlarged version on rice paper in sections and then gluing these together on a wood panel. Some of these first paintings were small enough that it only took a single sheet of printed rice paper and many of these older pieces are now sold or given to family members who admired them.

We all know that the be-here-now present is where the magic lives and so I’m sinking into the present reality that a dream has manifested and I am changed by that, whatever happens next. Sing on seductive Sirens!

 As I write this blog we are having a wild weather day here in Taos. The winds are howling and some version of wet snow, sleet or rain is being whipped around on its way down from grey skies. Trees that had beautiful fall colors yesterday are bare now thanks to the high velocity of the wind. I am one of those people who love the summer garden time of the year best of all so this kind of weather feels like the combined forces of destruction (cold and wind) are tearing apart my ideal world order. Such is life on cyclical planet earth.

 Those who have lived around me closely know that I always grow borage. This last summer I bought a package of seeds and was determined to carry on this personal tradition. Only a few plants came up and those that did grew slowly. I pondered this and figured out that because of the succulent nature of this plant it did not like the dry heat of the Taos summer. With the rain we had in September and the days getting progressively shorter my two borage plants performed a seeming miracle and suddenly grew like weeds.

The lovely blue flowers can be lifted off their sepals and eaten (or added atop a special salad). They have a sweetness that is pleasing. Borage is considered an herb and is know to impart courage.

I’ve been admiring the last stand of this late blooming sunflower in the back garden and finally took a photo, which captures its surprising color combinations.

Pink Rose #2

Recycled Art Show & Tell

This fabric piece by Susan Faeder was my favorite. It’s not large or nicely framed, nor do I have any idea who Susan is, but it won my heart. So painterly, and her self-expression is so full of feeling. Yes, I’m blogging about last Saturday’s Arte de Descartes that I mentioned last week while focusing mainly on the organizer and originator of this 11-year Taos recycled art tradition, Melissa Larson.

Also greatly admired this wood and metal piece by Lydia Garcia. It takes the idea of retablo art to a new level. As the title suggests…glorious! And I won’t be able to show all the art that had a similar energetic quality to these first two, but I will say that this is the kind of art that I expected to find more of in Taos when I moved here, now 15 months ago–art that feels authentic, from the soul, and with its own inherent quality of liveliness and spirit. And for this reason I highly recommend any of you reading this who missed the opening to try and get by the Stables Gallery and see this show, a true Taos treasure. It’s open until September 11 and the hours are normal business hours.

This construction is by Sybille Palmer, a Taos local and art friend of mine. It’s titled Ceremony and is expressive of an aspect of one of my favorite themes, the Divine Feminine. The small painting to the right is my collage named Shakti Yantra, which expresses something similar but in a highly symbolic language. The juxtaposition of the two pieces feels harmonic.

Out in the courtyard during the first two hours of the opening was Reuben Medina and his band of several musical friends. It is my understanding that Reuben has a kind of open house at his place on Sundays for a musical gathering, but don’t just show up on my word please. He obviously loves music and the idea of playing in a spontaneous way in the context of a group. This approach lent a beautiful atmosphere to the courtyard where lots of folks were milling about, some in anticipation of the fashion show.

The recycled fashion show (called Glam Trash) started at 6 PM with a bang–this very relaxed and dramatic woman on stilts. Wish I had her name to offer. But this photo captures the excitement of the moment when she appeared to start things off. Also I love the way the photo reflects the natural beauty of this courtyard dedicated to art of all kinds throughout the seasons in Taos. It is an extension of the Stables Gallery which is basically a public gallery, operated by the Taos Art Organization, TAO.

There were, of course, many charming and delightful women who walked the “catwalk,” some in shoes that made walking in gravel a challenge–women of all ages and shapes and degrees of swagger and interesting outfits. But there were also many young girls and this one stood out in my photos. Her outfit was named, “Everything.”

And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the band that played for the fashion show. Each person walking down the path had her own individual music. As I hope you can see from this photo the kind of music played somewhat defies typing. Horns were a big part of the sound, I’ll say that. The complexity of the drums and percussion you can only surmise from the set-up on the lower left corner of the photo. The entire event–this celebration of recycling was a wake-up call to the spirit side of myself and I expect that was the effect it had on everyone. What a collaborative creation, a kind of art “happening” in the heart of downtown Taos! I’m proud to have been a small part of it.

My other collage in the show–Divine Feminine Yantra

Taos Waldorf School

The newly designated Taos Waldorf School was having a 2-hour open house today. I’ve been curious about this school, formerly called Taos Country Day School, so I attended the open house and was encouraged to take photos and blog away about my impressions. The school is proud of the fact that they are now able to meet the strict requirements that go with using the name, Waldorf. This first photo, with the budding lilacs on the left, houses the Middle School grades 5 – 8.

Back in my 20s I was impressed by the ideas of Rudolph Steiner and read several books about his concepts, especially regarding gardening and early childhood education.

Set out on a table in one of the Middle School classrooms were individual books created by the students. This is how they address a particular field of study, they create their own books full of illustrations, compositions and diagrams. You can see the different ways two students addressed the same task in these bits of moon phase charts. I took several photos of these books as I found them delightful. Better to make your own book than digest someone else’s presentation of the information. But then I have always been a very hands-on type. My kind of school.

I couldn’t resist sharing this shot of various illustrations of handwritten text. I have an 11 year old granddaughter, as many of you have heard, and so I was mostly interested in what was going on at the school for this age group. My tour guide addressed this. She mentioned that the older children are working on developing archery skills this year and showed me the outdoor area where sports and such activities take place.

Somewhat recently the school was able to annex three acres abutting the Taos Pueblo land and part of this provides the sports field. Just to the west of it as you walk towards the mountains you come to this willow tree on the right. It was once struck by lightening but survived, with its branches easy for children to climb and play on. My guide said that this is a favorite hike destination for them.

Just on the other side of the fence, marked by a row of trees, is a fairly large herd of buffalo. They are on the Pueblo land and roam around freely, so it was special that they were in the right spot for me (and you) to see them today.

I doubt you could run a Waldorf school without gardening classes. I hear that things are coming together now to get started planting up this greenhouse with future edibles. I mentioned that I am a passionate gardener and my guide said that they welcome volunteers from the community to come and participate in tending the gardens. The campus felt like a very warm and friendly place and would be a great place to volunteer if one had the spare time and the knowhow.

There were lots of chickens cruising around and such a variety of colors and sizes! Apparently it is the job of the younger children to tend to the egg gathering. Next to the chickens were goats and they were not just for petting. The older children actually milk them. I was pretty impressed by that. I liked everything I saw and had fun imagining my granddaughter attending the school. I had always wanted my own daughter to go to a Waldorf school but it never came together. So I guess I can dream on. I might apply for a substitute teacher job, or teacher assistant–a way to make friends with this lively and inspiring Taos institution.

Hanuman Temple on Sunday

There must be folks who are always here at the Hanuman Temple on any given Sunday. I’m not one of those, but I do think about it, am attracted to the place and always am glad I went when I do go. Today I did a double dip and first attended the 5-Rhythms dancing at TaDa (1 1/2 hours of continuous dancing) and then went directly to the Temple.

Hanuman is a monkey god in the Hindu pantheon and the temple was founded some 20 odd years ago by the efforts of Ram Das. Check the website if you’re hungry for more history and accurate info.

This male peacock must have his home here. I counted three females as well. I once lived in a community that had peacocks and have fond memories of the place and the exotic energy the peacocks added, not to mention the blood-curdling screams at odd hours.

The deal with the Temple residents is that they are dedicated to feeding people as part of their spiritual practice, so on Sunday at lunch time anyone and everyone is invited to share a meal that they prepare. The typical Indian food is always tasty and the portions generous. Dessert and their signature homemade chai are also included. In season they have extensive gardens which supply fresh ingredients. A spirit of beauteous bounty and generosity permeates the place and leaves you feeling more optimistic about the human experience.

I noticed this decal on a window depicting Hanuman, the magical monkey god, flying through the air. The reflections add context. The head of the monkey is hard to see, but is located in the center of the photo. My own spiritual teacher, Gangji, credits her enlightened state to Papaji, a Hindu sage who was a devotee of the more famous figure, Ramana. So her lineage is Hindu even though she, like Ram Das, was born and raised in the USA. In any case I feel at home at this ashram and often run into people I’ve met here in Taos when I show up on a Sunday. It’s becoming an integrated part of my Taos experience.

The weather today was a cloudy but balmy 47 degrees, probably pretty fair for March at 7,200 feet. These crocus blossoms, growing in a flowerbed at the Temple, lend hope for more spring-like movement in the plant world looking forward. I consider them blog-worthy harbingers of the spring equinox, March 20. The astrology of this day I plan to blog about on my “other” blog site, SoulSpeak.

While obviously not a “fresh” flower this fading blossom was sitting alone on a railing and its color and very presence shocked and pleased my dull winter sensibilities. It has a wabi-sabi quality, a reminder of how all beauty progresses into a fade. I particularly love the sprinkling of red on the greenish center parts. Very painterly.

Saving the best for last, let me introduce Zinnia, daughter of Meem. She and mom were walking up the path to the temple when I intercepted them. Zinnia was in the best of moods. Her hat is a family heirloom previously worn by a couple of her older brothers, according to Meem. I believe that’s an earthworm, the white snake-like shape on the hat. My kind of hat for sure!  I want to honor both Zinnia and the hat (and the worm) with my photo. I’m grateful to these subjects for their generous cooperation.

Winter Clings on–to life in NH

My granddaughter looks back down the street toward her house halfway down its length while we wait for her bus on a wintery Monday morning. The next morning I drove her down to the same spot because the temperature was 7 degrees (by my computer). Oh dear, I just looked at the forecast for tomorrow, my travel day. Snow and rain mix on the east coast. Hope I can get outa here.

This is the view over the backyard and into the neighborhood beyond. Gotta love the geometry of all those orderly angles and the monochromatic colors. As I’ve walked up and down the street to the bus stop I’ve seen and heard my favorite birds, ravens. Naturally they look particularly sleek in all this black and white order and their cry reminds me of my chosen home back in the less organized world of Taos. Yes, there’s a lot of contrast between the two places and it’s not an urban vs. rural or small town kind of difference. It’s a cultural difference, and for Taos culture means multi-culture. Folks here in New Hampshire seem to be more in step with one another, at least on the surface.

This was taken from a 2nd story window. As much as anything it illustrates the intertwining of trees and houses and again, the simple geometry used in the design of the homes. I liked the old-fashioned look of the crocheted window treatment and the way it frames the photo, accentuating the orderly repeating patterns in the houses. As you can see I was not wandering around much looking for great scenery but using what was at hand.

This might turn out to be the most interesting of the beach photos I took a week ago on the one “nice” afternoon that drew us to the beach. It’s kind of an optical illusion that my granddaughter is standing in water. The tide must have just recently gone out exposing a large swath of sand, so wet it looks like water. Wish I’d had the new polarizing filter I got for my birthday when I took this.

Weather permitting my passage through the air I’ll be back on New Mexico soil tomorrow night. Back to my cozy small home with no garbage disposal, microwave or TV. Back to work on my many projects. Back to blogging about life in the chosen land, Taos.

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.