Amtrak Train Station–Lamy

If you live in Northern New Mexico long enough eventually someone you know (or yourself?) will want to travel west or northeast on the Amtrak train that stops near Santa Fe. That will take you to Lamy, a small historic village about half an hour from central Santa Fe. It has that lost historic feeling of a place that once was more than it looks and feels now, but without being falsely cute. After all, it still has a very real purpose.

I admire this old adobe house, for instance, right across the street from the train station (and its parking lot). It appears to be currently occupied and well tended. You can imagine that those who choose to live here are enjoying the remoteness, the coming and goings of the train, and the sense of history.

I think it was a year ago that I first drove to Lamy to meet the train and this historic place near the train station was closed. But this time it had recently reopened and I noticed somewhere that they were advertising evening entertainment and dinners by reservation. I believe there is also a museum attached to it. The Legal Tender has a website you can see for more information. Looked interesting for sure. I believe they’re open Thursday through Sunday.

Had to include at least one photo of the train pulling into the station. This is my “all aboard” photo. I liked the fashionably dressed, but thoroughly prepared, girl in the foreground. I didn’t count the number of folks boarding but there could have easily been 20. This train was heading to Los Angeles. My friend’s ticket cost $90. This is an overnight trip. You board mid-afternoon and arrive in the early AM.

Have to make a comment about how sad it is to realize that the big-shots of the oil industry must have had a political hand in the near-extinction of passenger trains at some turning point in US history. I’ve traveled by high-speed train in France and know that when it comes to trains we are just plain backward. Of course France was never an oil-producing country that thought their oil would never end.

A couple of weeks ago the property where I live got it’s first drink of acequia water for the season. In this photo you can see how areas are deliberately flooded. I suspect this is one of the apple trees, which at the time had not begin to bud out (smart!). Just behind it you can get a glimpse of my house. As the water continues from left to right it enters an area that has lots of wild plum bushes. Last year, due to one very cold night about this time, they, and just about every fruit-bearing tree or bush, experience bud freeze and there was no harvest of the native plums. I am not the only one keeping my fingers crossed this year.

This is a closer shot of the previous scene. It has a Monet-like beauty, from my perspective, so I included it.

I want to acknowledge that it’s been awhile since my last Taos Blog. I’m sure all bloggers like me who try to be regular in their postings have times like this when for all kinds of reasons life just doesn’t seem to allow the time to give it the required focus. The mind does suggest that it’s TIME, but the spirit does not arise. I enjoyed putting this one together today and I’m glad I waited for the blogger in me to return to what is a joyful task

Bye,bye, Mr. Cartwright. Thanks for coming.

More Spring Marching

Yes, this is a tulip I discovered at the Hanuman Temple last Sunday. I was a little shocked to identify it. I love the mandala arrangement of colors. The day was perfect for eating outside. A friend of mine even brought a blanket for “picnic style” dining. It was a good day for counting blessings.

This is the temple property’s vast garden area. It looks like preparations for the new season are at hand. The greenhouses to the left are part of the garden but the property line to the north ends just before those residences visible on the upper right. Not only are the food and flowers grown here used “in house” but when there is sufficient excess the garden staff have a booth at the Taos summer farm market.

Wish I could remember the name of this flowering bush that blooms in early spring. Not the greatest photo, but it reminded me of my Oklahoma childhood home. I was in Santa Fe on Monday delivering some new paintings to the Gallerie Corazon and saw lots of bright yellow Forsythia bushes also blooming, another bush I recall bloomed around Easter time.

This is my favorite Taos tree, an old apricot along Placita near the turn down Ledoux. The first summer (2010) I lived in Taos it even bore fruit. Last year, sadly, there was no fruit to be had anywhere. I can only wish this tree the “luck of the draw” this spring. At 7,000 feet it’s hard to be overly optimistic.

Just a week ago I took this photo of the aspen tree near my house. No one would be surprised to see some nighttime snow again before long. Our night temperatures have been consistently just below freezing, while the daytime temps this week are in the high 60s and low 70s. I’ve been taking advantage of the warmth and spending more time outside getting ready for the gardening season. Today I transplanted several early annual flowers (bachelor buttons) that are coming up from seed. And speaking of changes I attended my first tennis clinic of the season on Tuesday morning at the Southside Taos Spa.

Taken yesterday– the very old apricot trees in the orchard just to the west of my house. They too are hearing the call to make fruit. Notice the s-shaped acequia ditch in the grassy area just to the left of the trees. Like last year there is not much snow up on the Sangre de Christo mountains so we can’t expect a good year for water from the acequia system.

One of the new flower paintings–White Rose, 10X10

Marching into Spring

Hello! yes, thats a tiny pile of snow on the left and a flowering spring crocus next to it. I can always count on the Hanuman Temple to provide these early signs of spring. They have flower beds next to a south-facing adobe wall–a perfect situation for the earliest blooms I know of here in Taos. Here in my own garden areas there are also signs of green emerging, notably bachelor buttons and the blue flax that grows so well here. It will be time before long to plant those delicious peas I like to grow. They don’t mind a degree of cold.

While at the temple I walked around to the back of the building and took this photo of the snow melting off the roof. Just to my left along the path is the dry acequia ditch. I expect the flow will be returning soon.

About a week ago I noticed this young aspen tree starting to bud out. We don’t see many aspens in Talpa. I presume this one was planted as landscaping for the house in front of my casita. It seems to be finding what it needs to thrive.

Here’s a closeup of the aspen buds opening. It reminds me of Ketchum, Idaho, where there were so many aspens, both in the wild and planted for landscaping.

Moving to Taos from Ketchum has made for some interesting comparisons, so much alike and yet so different. Skiers can really appreciate the similarities I’d guess. Up on the ski slopes things probably seems pretty much alike. But here in Taos the ski area is not accessible directly from town (free shuttles), like in Ketchum, nor is it visible from anyplace I’ve been. So Taos does not appear to be a ski town, though it might have that identity to those who frequent the slopes.

This is a recent sunset photo taken from the drive in front of my house. I don’t have the best view for sunset photos as there are trees and bushes or telephone lines just about everywhere you try to point a camera. Still some evenings the light is so compelling you just have to grab your camera and rush outside just to see what you can see.

That same evening I took this. I had fun positioning the moon just so among the branches of this apple tree near my house. There’s always an opportunity for a photo like this a couple of days before the actual full moon, as the moon rises in early evening to the east of my house.

Speaking of east of my house, I took this photo a couple of weeks ago at the same time of day, toward dusk. Now that’s a strange cloud. For me it kind of epitomizes what you’d expect to see here in Taos, but perhaps after you live here awhile you start to think our skies are uniquely mysterious.

Last summer’s dried marigolds and zinnias.

Aztec Dancing in Taos Plaza

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the Taos historic district and a friend and I had just parked in the lot in front of El Gamal. Getting out of the car we heard the sound of drums coming from the Plaza so walked the block away to see what was going on. I took my camera. There was a sign that said “Huitzilopochtli Traditional Aztec Dance Group.”

I searched online but couldn’t find an official website for the local Aztec Dance Group but learned that there is such a thing and that they perform at special events in the region. You can see some YouTube videos of their dancing. They are also part of a collective of groups in this country, all of which serve to connect both the dancers and their audience with the ceremonial roots of Mexican culture.

A week back I took a friend for her initiatory walk around the property I live on. We followed a loop that starts at my house, heads back through the alfalfa field with its view of the three next-door-neighbor llamas, then cuts west across a little bridge over the properties main tributary of the neighborhood acequia ditch. This direction leads to the horse barn and reveals the old orchard to the south.

This is my favorite tree in the orchard, an apricot. These trees have survived long lives thanks to the care of humans who’ve over the years distributed the available acequia water to them. I was once told (and I’m repeating this I know) that they are as old as I am, more or less.

This somehow relates to the fact that I just celebrated my 70th birthday last week. Perhaps this photo symbolizes my honoring of the way these trees have survived and even thrived by the grace of their nurtured location. I seem to have had a similar lucky destiny in life and I feel gratitude to everyone who loved and nurtured me along my way.

And here’s the venerable horse. Wish I could remember his name. He gets to eat the alfalfa that is grown and harvested on the property. As you can see from the way my friend is dressed, it was not a very cold day. This warm winter trend continues. The high today is expected to reach the low 50s. We are starting to have a windy day here and there. Wind is a typical pattern in the spring and it feels like we’ll be entering that territory soon.

My friend and I continued our walk through the orchard and took an easterly direction on Maestas Road after that. Here’s an old postal box. I don’t think they deliver mail to these here anymore. I liked its Wabi-Sabi aesthetic, proud marker of a more trusting time.

A new flower painting delivered to Gallerie Corazon

Rio Grande Gorge–February?

This is the spot where the Rio Pueblo flows into the Rio Grande. All that water flowing down from the Taos Pueblo’s sacred Blue Lake, and through the pueblo, for who knows how long, ends up here. All the little creeks and rivers that accept and channel the melting mountain snow (many divided into acequia ditches), join the Rio Pueblo and become part of this convergence. This place, the certain geography of this concept somehow captures my imagination. So this past Saturday I took a friend new to Taos along the path that dead-ends here allowing our view.

 Along the path I looked for visual interest in the desert monotony of a dry winter. I’m no cactus expert so can’t offer a name, but this one appears to be reacting to the exposure to sun and cold with a lovely purple skin color.

Here’s how to find this trail. From Hwy. 68 out of Taos take a right turn at Pilar and proceed along the river until you get to the bridge (several miles). You can either park along the road on the right just after you cross the bridge or you can park in the lot just before the bridge and enjoy the walk over it. Finding the path is easy.

This interesting rock formation is one of the sites along the path. My friend seemed to know what type it is but all I recall is the word, “black,” which is pretty obvious. She got closer to photograph it herself. As you can tell we were not dressed in the down jackets that we left in the car. It was probably in the high 40s/low 50s and mostly sunny.

As I type this several days later it has been snowing on and off (lightly) for two days. We took advantage of the warm weather when it was available. This winter we are being lulled into the belief that these warm days will be back soon. Hope it’s true.

I mentioned a few blogs back that there was an unexplored “other” old truck on the property of the Overland Complex in El Prado. This is one of the shots of it I took last week.

I like this complex of businesses for several reasons. It includes Envision Gallery, an admirable gallery where I have a couple of paintings now, and the Tea Shop (Ancient Rituals Apothecary), where I hung 5 paintings last Friday, one of my favorite stores in Taos. Plus the complex has a scenic location next to the Taos Pueblo, thus a good spot from which to take those mountain photos in all seasons and weather conditions.

And not that far away this photo was taken on the grounds of the Taos Pueblo farm market which has been providing greenhouse-grown produce for the public this winter. They are generally open on Wednesdays and Fridays, but the Wednesday I was there they were closed for some reason. This agricultural complex has sprung up in the past several years and shows everyone that growing food in winter can be done with the right equipment and determination. Kudos to the Pueblo for leading the way!

I have decided to be available for astrology readings at OptiMysm Wednesdays from 2 – 5 PM. On the 22nd, though, I’ll be at Ojo celebrating my 70th birthday.

Look for a new Owl Woman card where my cards are sold in Taos.

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.

January Beauty


I took this the night of the full moon, from a friend’s house, but couldn’t get to the camera in the car fast enough to actually “shoot” the moon. It’s there somewhere. Where I live there are too many hills and trees obscuring this view of the Taos mountains so my blog doesn’t often include this magnificent perspective which comes gratis to so many. Location, location. I believe this neighborhood is called “Los Cordovas.”

A few days later I was out visiting the Tea Shop in the Overland Complex in El Prado and took this facing south from that end of all the buildings. It reveals our current lack of snow. I hear the situation is different up in the Taos Ski area, but they would like to see some fresh snow. This land in the photo is part of the huge acreage belonging to the Taos Pueblo. As you drive through El Prado much of this beautiful land is visible from the highway and I would say everyone living in the area is deeply appreciative of it being basically a land preserve.

Between the parking lot and the building where the Tea House lives (next to Envision Gallery) there is a man-made pond with a bridge and appropriate plants around it. Very charming as a concept and I’m sure lovely in other seasons. It being January I tried to capture some unexpected beauty and was pretty excited about some of my results, like this one where the rings of the shallow water reflect the sky’s dusky light.

I fell in love with this photo when I saw it on my computer. The black tree branches are so distinct and yet are reflections, and I love the way the fragile ice carves a border for the dark water, like a visual container. I am so grateful for my blog this week. It got me out and about finding beauty in the less obvious places.

And here’s the last of this pond series. I love the way the one tall leaf in the center provides both drama and color.

I took this photo this morning in my back garden area.

Ah, reflections.

Comanche Dancers–New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day here in Taos was bright and clear with the temperature soaring into the low 50s. I met an old friend at the Hanuman temple and he suggested we go to the Taos Pueblo to catch the holiday’s Turtle Dance there. I was eager to take him up on his idea and the experience was very special for me. No cameras are allowed when there are ceremonies such as this at the Pueblo so I can’t share what I saw, as much as I’d like to!

After that we drove out to my neck of the woods, Talpa, to see if we could locate a group of Comanche dancers. I blogged about this tradition (with photos) last year this time and just looked at this year-old blog. I felt it did a good job of explaining the intent of the dancing. The light conditions were different and I liked those old photos better than the ones I took this year.  So here’s a LINK to that post.

The Comanche Dances start around 7:30 AM at the famous St. Francis church in Ranchos, about 2 miles from my house. In these dances there is a blend of American Indian and Hispano traditions. Back in the days before the Spanish even arrived in the Taos area the strongest nomad tribes of the day were present, the Comanche and the Apache. They both had horses before other groups and this gave them an advantage. Through interactions with settled natives, who were at the time Mexicans since this was before New Mexico became part of the United States, the two groups intermarried and shared their languages and traditions. The dancers travel as a group to homes of families named Manueles and Manuelitas and other community elders. The drums can be heard from time to time during the day and they stop at sunset.

I also found a great video online that uses story and video shot here in Taos (2011) of the Comanche dances. Here’s a LINK to that I highly recommend.

Turtle dancers at San Juan Pueblo (old photo from internet)

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