Mable Dodge House Lives On

By some luck I was invited on a tour of the Mable Dodge house/complex. I had been scheduled to give a talk to a group staying there for a class on travel journal sketching but the group got a chance to take the tour at the same time. Thus I was included and gave my talk after. This photo shows the main part of the house as it was designed by Tony Luhan,  Mable’s Taos Pueblo native husband. He did a lot of beautiful and creative things with the adobe style of building.

I particularly admire the playfulness of these two square rooms at the top, the bedroom with windows all around, which I was able to visit last summer, and the room with the painted glass, which I’ve never been in.

Seeing this painting on glass 2 years ago gave me the practical idea that I could use the same technique to paint my two glass-paned front doors. The tour guide, Jane, mentioned the glass painting and said several different people, some famous artists, did the work, each pane an original.

This is the kind of charming detail that captures my imagination, part of a row of cut-out spaces in a wall that gives lightness to it, as well as a tantalizing view into an area of the house that I believe was for guests. Our tour was mostly outside. At the end we all sat around in what was the living room listening to our guide tell her informed version of the story of Mable and Tony’s life in Taos.

We were taken around to the back of the house, along the wall with the green lattice windows in the wall, to discuss the border line between the property on which the house sits and the Taos Pueblo land. According to the Pueblo the assumed property line was originally calculated incorrectly and there are special arrangements by which some of the  guest houses continue to be bought and sold and occupied. There was a road along this fence which allowed trucks to drive up and unload at a back door entrance to the main house, but that use has been discontinued due to conflict with the Pueblo over the property line.

While most Anglos feel Mable and Tony’s story is a valued part of Taos’ history, the people of the Pueblo were never very impressed by it for their own reasons. In some way we can see this boundary conflict as it moves along into present time as a symbol of the complexity that remains a part of Taos.

I mentioned last week the hollyhocks having their day in the sun here in downtown Taos. Well, as it’s turned out the sun has been brutally consistent lately, with daytime temps in the 90s. Here we see plants that are doing fine in the heat. They’re located beneath the innovative and new El Gamal sign across the lane from said restaurant. Beyond is a large parking lot that serves the shops on Dona Luz as well as the central Plaza a block away.

I believe this is a close up of one of the flowers in the previous shot. In the house where I grew up there were hollyhocks growing along the back fence each summer. No doubt this influences the emotional reaction I get when I see them to this day.

This is an unexpected siting of a very happy mullein plant growing in one of the beds at the Hanuman Temple. Mullein is more often found in the wild, ideally in places where it gets plenty of water. It has medicinal properties. Is good for lung issues. The leaves are softly hairy and can be used in lieu of toilet paper, or so I’m told. I’ve never tried it.

Happy first birthday on July 4th Charlotte!

Peas & Hollyhocks

Took this photo yesterday. Had to make an unplanned stop when I saw hollyhocks blooming along the main street of Taos. I guess when it comes to certain flowers I am a passionate journalist photographer. I’ll show you one of my small hollyhock paintings at the end of this blog and you’ll see the LOVE in it. My affection for hollyhocks is hardly new but it’s one of those unexpected and endearing things I love about Taos, they’re plentiful in the historic district.

While on the topic of flowers I found this beauty of a peony at the Hanuman Temple last Sunday. They have good perennial landscaping around their main building so lots of early blooms which adds to the charm of going there this time of year.

Here’s another photo of the grounds of the temple with its nice mix of trees, bushes and perennial beds. These great Oriental poppies will be history very soon, but they do make a wondrous statement when they appear. As you see they can thrive in the Taos climate zone, as will peonies.

Ever vigilant on the topic of seeds I offer this photo taken in my garden a few days ago. My peas are starting to make moves toward blooming and the resulting pea pods. It’s not too surprising as peas are the main crop at the farm market this week (and last). It’s a short season and the first big excuse people have for showing up at the market. Here the shelling peas offered for sale are called “sweet peas,” not to be confused with peas as flowers, which is what I’ve always called “sweet peas.” And yes, Virginia, peas are seeds.

Here are the farm market peas that are available now in huge piles and at good prices. If I were the “food saver” type I would buy up a lot of them and freeze them or something. They are very tasty and well selected for ripeness.

And to follow up on the “June grass” topic this is the state of the alfalfa field that is ready to be mowed I’d guess. The grass has jumped over the alfalfa in height, making it look like a field of “just grass.” Everywhere around my house I see different types of grasses, aware that they’re all trying to seed now. Same goes for some of those early weeds that pop up in spring. They’re rushing to reproduce their species before their roots lose access to spring’s moisture.

Toward the end of my camera-in-hand stroll through the market Saturday I spied this arrangement of nature’s beauty and bounty and asked if I could take a photo. I found I was meeting the two women who are Puddin’ Foot Farm and Jaguar Moon Sew Shop, now operating out of Arroyo Seco.

It didn’t take me long to realize these women were the friends of a friend from Boise who moved to New Mexico last year. Well, that makes four of us “called” here from Idaho in 2010. I was so excited to meet them that I forgot to write down their names but I can give you a link to their website: I plan to visit their new farm with my Boise friend soon (she used to belong to their CSA in Boise) and will definitely blog about it and provide actual names of the two adventurous women whose motto is “Know your grow-er, know your sew-er!!”