Tis the Season

People were starting to gather at the Taos Plaza before the official Christmas parade and lighting of the tree last weekend. There were free cups of hot chocolate and cookies along with mild temperatures. This “lighting of the plaza tree” event seems to be the earliest of the many traditional Christmas celebrations for this ever-popular season. From down town there’s no snow visible on Taos Mountain now. The latest talk is that this Sunday there’s a good chance of seeing some.

While walking from the plaza to a nearby store I noticed this creative window design. I wasn’t clear which store it was advertising but I really admired it. Taos has its charm and the holiday season can bring out some inspiration on the part of store owners trying to lure customers. It can be another reason to get out and shop around and even take a look at the rich diversity of crafts made by locals.

Here’s another store window shot, this one belonging to Wabi-Sabi, a store that focuses on gifts, mostly imported from Japan. This store is dear to my heart because they have been carrying my cards for several years now. More recently they have some of my Goddess altars on consignment. You can always count on a cup of tea while you browse.

This Kuan Yin wood altar is one example of my work displayed at Wabi-Sabi.

I’ve got my eye on these painted wood (hand carved?) flying Hanuman ornaments on sale now at the little shop at the Hanuman Temple. They’re $15 and I really admire them. I’m assuming they are imported from India?

I you’re looking for a lovely Christmas shopping experience try Country Furnishings of Taos owned by Mary Shriver. I suspect some people go there to browse just for a pick-me-up. Those are my handmade tree ornaments, which Mary’s carrying for the first time this season. She also has seasonal cards of mine and a few retablos.

Another great store to get to know, if you don’t already, is Garden and Soul, just off the plaza. They specialize in cards and local art. You’ll recognize by now that my work is well represented there with an assortment of offerings corralled in one corner. The store changed hands some months ago. The new owners are a couple, Bob and Stephanie Deavers. I’m sure they’d love you coming in and introducing yourself. Tell them I sent you, as they say.

Because of the location of my house (blocked as I am by trees and power lines) I rarely catch photos of amazing sunsets, of which we have many. I remember when I first moved to Taos I was truly astonished at their nightly show which reminded me of times past when  I lived along the Pacific Ocean in one place or another (San Francisco, Point Arena and Encinitas, all in California, and then time spent in Mexico, especially Todos Santos). There’s no ocean here, but you sure do get the sunsets.

This one caught my attention as it seemed the whole sky was ablaze. I took this shot facing east away from the setting sun.

Wishing you all well as you plot your course through shopping, celebrating and getting those packages wrapped and cards mailed in a timely fashion. Tis the season!



Taos–Day After Christmas

One thing I’ve learned about winter in Taos, you never get stuck for long with big piles of snow (if they exist). The rhythm of transformation from snow to ice to water (think mud) is a constant hum. At least that holds for the valley areas where most people live. This snow melt photo was taken in the alley off the plaza that leads to the Alley Cantina, likely taken in the afternoon when the temps reached their warmest.

For this shot I was looking into a display window in one of the many tourist shops that encircle the Plaza. The morning light accurately reflected the Plaza behind me. Those toy horses make me think of the bygone days when real horses were a real means of transportation to the people who lived in Taos–present-day horse spirits perhaps. Taos is full of spirits.

For 25¢ you can try a ride on this wild-looking guy and see where that gets you. There are actually lots of horses grazing around in open fields here and they would make for great photos. This is as close as I’ve come thus far. I’ll work on it.

Do I ever get tired of winter trees full of ravens? Probably not. This crew were hanging around the back side of Michaels, a favorite main street (Paseo) breakfast spot for tourists (and probably some locals). I have heard that this is the best place for photographing ravens in town because the restaurant shares their leftovers with the birds. I can’t verify that, but I pass by this area frequently (my back way to the post office) and most always see ravens. Today I actually stopped and took some photos. Was wishing I had that expensive telephoto lens that I don’t have…

 The rest of these photos I took on a walking loop around the property where I live. And yes, I waited for the sun to approach the horizon for the best light. The thinness of these aging leaves makes for a kind of glowing light this time of day. There IS color out there this time of year if you look AND mind the right time.

Here’s another example, a marigold still holding its orange color but enhanced by the warm light at the end of the day. I grew an abundance of marigolds this year, meeting one of my goals, and was able to string them together at the end of the garden season into garlands that now decorate the interior of my house. I love them.

For many of you familiar with my blogs this will be a recognizable scene, the old orchard of trees on either side of a road. The road leads to a fine adobe house at the back of the property near the acequia ditch. On the left is an apricot tree that is one of two favored by the local gang of ravens. I’ve been told the orchard is 60+ years old. You can see the secondary ditch that keeps this tree happy.

Not much to say about this small fallen branch that must have come down in one of the many intense winds we have here sometimes. Without the snow for contrast it would hardly attract attention.

This nest is very near my house but I can only see it when I’m walking the orchard road. I’ve been told it’s a magpie nest. I’d like to catch some magpies nesting in it some day just to prove the theory. This is definitely the best time of year to see its structure.

Cosmos seed flower

Occupy Wall Street/Taos

I caught up with the Occupy Taos marchers/protesters last Saturday as they were heading for the weekly Farm Market. I believe there was an international effort that day to demonstrate solidarity with the ongoing Occupy Wall Street event in New York. I talked to one of the marchers and he acknowledged that there was no real enemy here in Taos to focus on, such as the Wall Street financial district which symbolizes an out-of-touch financial, corporate and political elite. In his opinion the marchers were mainly “preaching to the choir” here in Taos, but he was content with that.

It couldn’t have been a nicer day for a farm market or a walk around town carrying a sign. The temperatures were in the low 70s and there was no wind to ruffle feathers, no signs of tension in the air. At times the group sounded like a marching band, as they had some horn players along, and when they were along a street they suggested drivers honk to show support, which most did. One of the main themes of the people speaking through megaphones was that we (Taos citizens) are all part of the 99% of people in the US who are not part of the elite, those 1 % who benefit most from the current distribution of wealth.

Looping back through the John Dunn shopping area by myself I took this photo at an outdoor cafe. It was the kind of weekend in October that rewards the tourists who visit Taos this time of year.

I met up with the marchers again as I entered the Plaza. They were headed back to their position on the main street, which is also a highway and a constant source of slow-moving traffic–a perfect place to advertise your message. As it turns out there was a crew of civic-minded locals doing volunteer work to upgrade the Plaza. Interestingly they are installing a horse shoe pit in the spirit of a return to some time in the past when there was one and it saw a lot of use by locals.

There was a band playing in the bandstand ( in the upper middle, in shadow). I guess they were doing their part as volunteers as well. I’m glad I happened into town just in time to take these photos which illustrate a segment of the population mix of Taos out putting their vision of a better world, a better community, into action.

Can anyone interpret this Taos graffiti?

Last Dance for Plaza Music Nights

This was the last of the summer’s Thursday night “music in the plaza” events. When I first heard about them back in June it sounded like such a good thing, but I admit I failed to follow up, until just this last time. As it turned out the music was all Hispanic flavored and difficult for most people to dance to, so I made it a photo op and didn’t stay very long. Still the event and the plaza setting had an impressive sense of Taos community.

This youngster was really enjoying himself and the amazing face painting added to his sense of excitement and adventure for the evening. With his grandmother’s permission he posed for me to get this photo. I was told there were lots of different types of music all summer and so this evening’s focus on Hispanic music and songs, anticipated by most of the audience, was not typical.

Meanwhile all around the region we see along our roads a sage-like plant blooming: Chamisa. It seems to grow right next to the ubiquitous sage, and I suspect the less showy bloom of the sage is also happening simultaneously. I come here from sage country in Idaho and always have bad allergies from mid-August through September which I blame on sage pollen. I guess I can blame its companion, the Chamisa, too.

I spotted these pots of Chamisa for sale in the nursery section of YArt, an inspiring Taos business specializing in yard art, thus the name. I really like this Taos business and plan to blog about it sometime. I was there briefly a week ago Sunday as they were sponsoring a gathering of healers, there to give readings. Some were astrologers, some psychics or tarot card readers.

I came by to check in with my friends who offer the Oneness Blessing in Taos, Joanie and Mariah, but they were too busy to even notice me. I sometimes attend the weekly blessings and find them very helpful, especially in the way of staying calm and peaceful while meeting life’s challenges. If interested you can call Joanie, 758-2192.

And who could blog in early September and not mention Hatch chili roasting at the local grocery stores? Being a Taos newbie this is all, well, NEW to me, but I did bravely buy a little sampling of the product at Cid’s a week ago. It tasted way hotter than I was hoping, but by removing all the seeds and the roasted skin and running it under cold water for a bit, then chopping it up in tiny bits, I’ve managed to incorporate these much prized chilies into my diet.

At Smith’s one day last weekend there were people waiting for the burlap bags of chilies they had purchased to be roasted. The line of bags sitting in supermarket carts was very long and people looked like they were patiently settled in for a wait. I learned that the bag(s) of chilies are intended to last for the season. The purchasers freeze most of them for later use.

And where or what is Hatch? I’ve heard it’s a town in southern New Mexico. Get out your maps blog readers and see if you can enlighten the rest of us. All I know is the good chilies come from there and that is that.