Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two Midwestern Authors to Read

The first two evenings of the Visiting Writers Series at PSU have been fantastic. Last year was first-class, and I think most were poets. So far fiction has been the genre this autumn. First up was Thomas Fox Averill, a Kansas boy. I had read of his short stories over the years, and I had heard respectable comments about his work. I was eager to hear him read and was not disappointed.

Averill was a spell-binding reader and speaker. He was also a humble writer, being frank about the difficulty of getting published these days. (If he has trouble, how can I ever make it?). He was honest to say he had about given up when a university press in New Mexico picked up his novel. This has been new life for his work.

His novel rode is based on the bluegrass song "Tennessee Stud". The song has been recorded by many country artists, and Averill sang it as a lullaby to his kids. While singing it, his mind began to ask questions, create scenarios. So he traveled to all the places the song sings of from Tennessee to Arkansas to Texas to New Mexico. I thought it would be an average western-styled story, but bought it anyway.

It turned out to be a very good story. Averill’s work is strong and fast-moving. The novel has a definite old western type voice. The author creates great descriptive language to hold the reader. For example, early on he describes early day Memphis as a fledging, but one only half feathered. Later he says people swirled on the streets there like water down the end of a funnel. Good images!

In October we went to hear Jo McDougall read from her memoir Daddy’s Money. The author had taught at PSU for about ten years during the 1990’s after growing up on a rice farm in Arkansas. Her work has been largely poetry, some of which I have read. Her poems lines are as sparse as a skeleton, the thoughts rattling like loose bones to haunt you in some cases.

McDougall was an outstanding reader; her pleasant demeanor and frank observations made listeners feel she was talking directly to them and individually. Her memoir recalls days of a WWII era of growing up in rice-growing areas of the Delta land, and it also is candid about the severed relationship that developed with her only sibling after her parents’ death.

I hesitated on buying the book because I still had not read rode from the month before and had many books waiting in my “to read” pile. However, knowing the PSU writers’ programs would benefit, I bought one, and I am mighty glad I did. The read was an exceptionally informative work about rice farming, something I knew nothing about. I enjoyed the era as a time of simpler and slower living. I was also moved by the poignant descriptions of the unraveling relationship she had with her only sister. As so often in families, two people drifted apart to the point of non-resolution over issues that were beyond both of them. While a disturbing part of the memoir, many readers will be able to relate to the angst the author reveals.

Both authors now live in northeastern Kansas, and their books are worth a reader’s time to investigate, despite their titles not being on the NY Times Bestseller List—yet that is!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A New Follower and Flame of Leaves


A big howdy to new follower Floyd of It Ain't the Gold blog.
Sitting in Ohio, Floyd happens to love old cemetaries and does great pictures there. Check him out  at http://itaintthegold.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-are-you-doing-today.html

After a blistering summer without much rain, our trees this autumn have been disappointing. There was just a tad of color here and there for our Maple Leaf Parade. Most of the colors we saw were muted and drab. We went to old favorite spots and the trees just weren't up to par.

But in the last week, we have had a 50 degree temperature swing! After a freeze for a couple of nights, it is now hitting the 80 degree mark again. The skies don't have a single cloud today. Yesterday we noticed that some of the favorite trees had a deepened color. Today these same trees are acdtually flamboyant! I grabbed the camera and snapped a few because I know these days won't last. Why do these days feel shorter than those 110 degree days of this summer?

But a strong wind is forecast for tomorrow so the trees will have another turn again as they will surely lose leaves. Each day and each change brings us closer to another solstice. I can wait! Now to enjoy such flames and light while I can!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hey, Let's Help A Fellow Writer!

Do you remember reading Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time as a kid? Somehow I missed it then, probably because I was not info sci-fi or fantasy. I tried reading it as an adult and it took a couple of tries. Somehow I avoided Miss L Engle’s work many times. But she pursued me (another story!) like a persistent house fly! Finally, once I read her Circle of Quiet, I was hooked big time and became a loyal fan.

The Bonastra discussion list of her works was the first online group I participated in, and I made many interesting connections there. I was teaching at junior high at the time, and these people were a nice balance for me after a day with boisterous twelve year olds. However, many admitted they had never lost their love for the fantasy literature of that age group.

It was L Engle’s nonfiction that was my favorite though. No matter what you read by this author, pertinent Biblical references, strong moral values, robust open-mindedness, and solid views of the Divine were scattered among the pages, all without being preachy.

Now her granddaughter Lena Roy has written her own YA novel, titled Edges. This book deals with substance abuse in the lives of teens. Set in Moab, Utah the main character Luke has left his alcoholic father to live in a youth hostel. While the main character is a male, several females take prominent leads as well, like Ava who is an 18 year drunk trying to make AA work. Author Roy is honest that her own early experiences with alcohol influenced her story. Her own enchanting encounters with Utah’s landscapes influence her setting.

Reviews were mixed for Edges, but the story is strong and valuable. Language is strong in spots, but typical for teens. The author echoes much of her grandmother’s teaching about being present in the moment and being aware of Nature’s beauty full of lessons for us. Roy’s writing is a good shot for a first time author, and her stories will surely develop with age and practice.

This brings me to my plea. A few days ago  Roy learned her publisher is not picking up the companion book after Edges, not because it was not good but because the sales of Edges were only respectable and not fantastic. Her web pages and blogs were not “hit” enough. This echoes the 26 or so rejections that Madeline L’Engle’s own book garnered in the 1960’s before becoming a well-known, well-loved classic. Look what the world would have missed!

As a writer AND a reader, I think it is a shame. I know publishing is a money-making business, but if the dollar alone is the criteria we use for art and for quality of story…well, think Reality TV for cripes sake!

So I am asking you to buy, read, and promote Edges for a fellow writer who is getting her wings clipped. Or can you just read and comment on her blog at http://www.lenaroy.com/. Lena Roy isn’t letting this setback stop her writing--yet anyway. With a feisty attitude, she wrote this on her blog this week:
Yes, publishing is a harsh mistress, but it is first and foremost a business, therefore, rejection is not about us, or about our books, but about people making wild guesses and backing authors with a built-in audience. (Like Snooki!) I know so many of you are beginning your own journey, querying agents and the like. Keep going! Persevere. The world needs your stories.

What goes around, comes around they say, and I just feel as writers, we need to help one of our own.

Saturday Centus/Social Networking

   Although the day is to be delightfully sunny and warm, the morning dawned crisp and downright cold. I wondered if the gal from Wilson Farms would brave it for one of the last Farmer's Market Saturdays. But she was there and everything looked so wonderful...a rainbow of large mums, pumpkins in many hues of orange, and so many squash. There were still plenty of cukes, tomatoes and peppers along with sweet potatoes and onions too. Hard to think the growing season is almost over.

When I returned, I put short ribs in the oven and then began to brown some beef for the evening meal. I looked around, thought I had a few minutes, and ran into see if I could do a tad of computer work. I wanted to write a book review and wondered if there would be time to participate in Centus since I had missed so many other writing events this week.

The fingers started flying over the keys and next I knew, a fragrance was pounding through to my mind. Ground beef!!! I raced the kitchen and with a quick turn with the spatula and a fast dash of olive oil, I save the ground beef. Thankfully it will go into an Italian casserole with some pepperoni and all will be well.

So Jenny's Centus prompt this week is I planted a little and I thought that a bit hard. But a wee scene came to mind and I hammered it out below. For more stories using this prompt and rules for playing Centus go to http://jennymatlock.blogspot.com/2011/10/saturday-centus-i-planted-little.html Now I have to go clean a spaghetti squash to go with those short ribs before I go read more Centus stories myself!

                                                 Social Networking
At first Nancy was hurt when she overheard the unkind girls chattering at their lockers. Tears pooled in her eyes, but she fought them back until she was alone under the oaks.

Now she leaned back on her bed pillow looking at her laptop screen. A sneering smile spread across her taut face, feeling satisfaction ooze through her veins. Call her Nasty Nancy and think they wouldn’t get caught? Think again.

“I planted a little tale that will make them rue the day they messed with me,” Nancy said aloud. Then she struck the Enter button and watched as chaos seeped out to Facebook.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thrifted Soup? (Plus Writing Ops)

I often read or write about thrifted things like tea cups, furniture, clothes, etc. But can food be thrifted? I think today’s soup will be called Thrifted Soup!

I looked in the refrigerator this morning and saw leftover salsa from the weekend. It was not very spicy, and I wondered how I could recycle those tomatoes. Then I saw some mushrooms I forgot to cover, and they were pretty dried out. Hum. Sighting of pieces of lingering turkey sausage...I knew I was going to try to salvage this collection into soup.

I put onions, mushrooms, green pepper and a fistful of garlic to sweat in a wee tad of olive oil. I added a dash of Worcestershire, a can of chicken broth, and the salsa. A little bit of a sip…yep, tasting fine! Now what additions? Two potatoes, a piece of surplus chicken shredded, the turkey, a very wrinkled zucchini, and a dab of frozen corn. While getting the corn, I saw a cup of frozen dried peas from New Mexico that I had cooked in beef broth. Bingo, they would add to the soup.

Oh, with a little grated smoked Provolone tossed on top of each bowl, this soup made an impressive lunch today!

Do you participae in Goodreads? This is a great place to record your own books read, to learn about new titles you might want to read, to keep up with what your friends are reading. It acts like a reading journal! Try it out at http://www.goodreads.com/  Sign up and make me your reading friend if you'd like!

Magnapoets is an 8.5" x 11" biannual print journal, published approximately in

January and July of each year. Submissions are now open til October 31, 2011 for

our January 2012 issue.
We are also reading for a special feature called Self Portrait. Full guidelines
found here:

The second annual print publication of ROAR Magazine, a literary journal

focused on supporting fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art by women,

is seeking submissions.

For Issue #2, we’re looking for:
fiction (short stories, flash fiction)
nonfiction (personal essays, memoir excerpts and profiles)
poetry (traditional, experimental)
digital visual art

For information about how to submit your work, please visit us
at www.roarmagazine.org. We accept submissions on a rolling basis, but
priority for the issue will be given to those received by Nov.15, 2011.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Very Disappointing Cowboy!

The day dawned with a sharp chill that warmed to a most perfect autumn temperature. It was my birthday, and I was grateful for the gift of one more sun-filled seasonal day. My birthday occurs amid busy harvest celebrations everywhere, people crowding in as many events as they can before winter arrives. My birthday always shares the week with the Maple Leaf Parade, Apple Butter Making Days, PSU Homecoming, often the War Eagle Mill arts and crafts, and many more. No way one can participate in them all.

Yesterday was a divided day. Some family came for the parade, a sandwich lunch afterwards on the deck, and in the afternoon DH and our friend made the PSU game while family and I went to the town square for local craft vendors. The morning’s parade was routine, less interesting than some years. Politicians bustled, more tractors tooted along than normal, and one team of gorgeous Clydesdales pulling a farm wagon paraded down the avenue. They were beauties, those horses!

Among the saddle clubs, mounted sheriff’s posse, and single riders, a middle-aged cowboy stuck out. His coal black horse with a glistening coat stepped high. His rider was outfitted in black Stetson over black leather vest. His narrow black tie was bowed under a crisp white shirt collar. But they were a trio because a blue-eyed cow dog marched at the horse’s hooves too. Intent to stay near horse and rider, the working dog was not distracted by crowds, other animals or any parade commotion.

Later that afternoon after visiting the square, my sister, niece and I walked back to the car a block off the square where we saw the splendid black horse tied to a light pole while the cowboy across the street talked to a man. The horse was distressed, pawing the concrete (Could he have been thirsty tied in sun?); the cowboy snarled at the horse and advanced. We all three slowed our pace while eyeing the scene, but I knew what was going to happen. I saw the mean glint in that booted stride. The dog knew too, as he whimpered, cried, and backed up--his throaty whimpers begging a quiet NO.

The cowboy, no the man doesn’t deserve the honored moniker, the rider took a leather strap and smacked the horse’s foreleg. The slap of leather to skin echoed and my sister said loudly enough, “That is so uncalled for.” We paused, the man turned and starred. It could have been the same tension as air just before the gunfight at the OK corral! He did not hit the horse again in our sight, but yanked on the reins while verbally scorning the horse.

The niece wanted to confront the man more, but I explained a man of that disposition would not listen to any reason. My sister endorsed my stand saying that more confrontation from us would make the man more angry causing the animals more pain and suffering later. In the long run, silent disdain was our best option. So our lovely day was marred by this scene that stuck with us for hours ahead. It is hard to see that a saddle and Stetson don’t make a real cowboy; they don’t even make a real man.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Centus/Message from the Past

It is Saturday Centus today, and I have missed so many lately. This morning is the Maple Leaf Parade, our town's salute to autumn. Family is coming and this afternoon is PSU Homecoming game for some of us. Arts and Crafts, outdoor air, and possible adieu to nice days ahead. But it is also my birthday today so I treat myself to a gift of Centus!

This week Jenny shows us a picture and asks us to use on 100 words and all our senses to write about the picture. For complete and more stories about the picture, please visit Jenny's blog at:http://jennymatlock.blogspot.com/2011/10/saturday-centus-literary-device.html

Message from the Past

Lucy, new to the Ozarks, spied the dwelling. Like a hundred other abandoned places in the Ozark hills, the rickety cabin stood waiting for its family to return. She heard the old screen moan in the slight breeze while mice inside scampered away when she stepped on the rotting porch. She wiped her hand across the siding wishing the splintered wood could talk. Musty air floated from the inside, reminiscent of old bacon grease and the smoky residue from the rock fireplace where many a meal had simmered in a cast iron pot. The walls sighed; were they speaking to her?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Blurb/One Son's Journey

I have fallen away from all writing it seems, and I feared it would be winter before I got my muse back. But checking in with Lisa's Book Blurb Friday, I saw a picture that spurred my imagination. Thanks, Lisa!!

Below see the picture by Lynn that Lisa posted and visit Lisa's blog for the rules for playing along in Book Blurb Friday. My blurb comes in at right on 150 words!


                                                  One Son's Journey

One Son watched the moon float over the kiva as he tried to read the future. His people had spent eons safely woven in the rocks like pieces of straw in a food mat. Now the rains were no longer appearing, and the gardens on the valley floor lay dead and brown, crisp as corn meal.

How should he guide his people? Where would they go? Could they find a land a beyond the enemy ranges, and before the enemy knew they walked on the crumbled earth below? Were there streams with life-giving water anywhere for his people? Or would they too die like the squash and corn, their bones disintegrating among the rose-colored rocks beneath his feet?

Soon when the moon hid his face so sun could guide their way, One Son would lead his people out of the canyon, but to what? Only Mother Sky knew for sure.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yielding to Autumn

I had to yield to the season this morning in more ways than one. It was so dark at 6 am making it hard to stay on my routine. When I heard the tires of passing cars slap the pavement in front of the house, I knew the street must be wet; I moaned. Not to rush autumn way, I knew all of this was harbingers of coming winter. I rolled out, moaned some more, exercised and tried to be grateful for moisture, for autumn. I sat with a book and turned on my S.A.D. light for the first time since last spring.

Then I figured I might as well cook on a morning I was confined anyway. I needed to make a batch of breakfast muffins that only I eat. Full of wheat bran, oat bran, and flax, they seem healthy to me. I like mine cold, the muffin top-sized ones, held in one hand and a warm tea cup in the other for dark winter mornings.

While we should give up sugar, salt, eggs, oil, and everything else that makes life tasty, we have only cut down. Autumn made me think of old fashioned pumpkin bread from days gone by and decided to splurge on the sugar. Everyone has a pumpkin bread recipe, but mine is nearly forty years old and came from some Headstart cooks. They made it in bulk and baked it in soup cans, passing it out to the classrooms for snacks. It was the best ever, and I think of them when I use their recipe.

I was a young college student and thrilled to be working at Headstart that summer. I loved the children and was still trying to decide what subject and grade level I wanted to teach someday. I was an aid to an experienced teacher and every day was interesting. I had two special boys I remember from those days.

Patrick was Afro American and Eric was Hispanic. They were getting to know each other one day by feeling each other’s hair! The different hair consistency amazed them both. My own hair fell down to the middle of my back and Patrick, who was terribly shy, often stroked my hair for comfort. In the beginning he was stuck to me and my hair since he cried every morning when his mother left. One day his mother told me to never cut my hair, as it was all Patrick talked about and was his whole reason for coming—to touch my long hair.

Another day Eric’s mother came to school furious. She talked to the teacher about my inappropriate language with the boys. This was long before I learned colorful language from all my student experiences! We all finally figured out that one day when the boys wouldn’t stop giggling, I had asked if they were sitting on tickling feathers. Eric had translated that at home as my asking, “Do you have a feather up your *&%#?”

This morning I baked the bread in pans, and though I never alter the recipe, today I threw in some milk chocolate chips I found in the cupboard. Although the recipe can’t be improved on, I wanted to use them. Later, after they cool completely and sit wrapped a spell, I will check out the taste. But what I really will taste is autumn and memories made long ago, revisited through pumpkin bread!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Storm Country Update

I just got word from Missouri Writing Guild president Deborah Marshall that she has posted pre-ordering info on the Storm Country site. She is trying to figure numbers for a run, so if you are interested please consult the site. Thank you! http://stormcountry.wordpress.com/

Friday, October 7, 2011


Okay, so it’s only books, but an addiction is controlling no matter what!

In mid-summer I vowed (again) I would get my books under control. I weeded the office shelf and closet. I lined up ones I had saved for re-reads and started actually doing it. I did not allow myself buy books. Things were going well until I had an email from a woman I used to work with at the junior high.

The local schools had a program working with a book titled 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher; librarians and teachers had written a grant for funding to bring the author to town next month. The former teacher, now administrator, wanted to know what I thought of the book, as she found it a little intense for junior high. The subject is teen suicide.

I had faded away from reading YA novels, but the asking for my opinion was too much to ignore. I told her I would get the book and read it. So when DH made his lab work trip to Springfield, I urged us by Barnes and Noble for the book. Unfortunately two other bargain books jumped into my arms: The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook who wrote Must Love Dogs and Claiming Ground, a wonderful memoir about woman’s experiences sheep herding in Wyoming.

The next day we pulled out for our trip West, and son only lives a few blocks from the famous Watermark bookstore, an independent that I love. I managed to walk out without a book since I had a whole bag in the car including the new YA. Things seemed to be under control.

Then on the trip we meet Napoleon Garcia in Abiqui who was selling his own little memoir. Brought his book home with us. Then when in Pagosa Springs, Colorado there is another very nice independent book store where the owner has lovely regional shelf. Home came Cowboys, Barbed Wire: the fence that changed the West, and House of Rain, a book that traces indigenous people of the pueblos.

Then when we rode the train to LaVeta and had that layover….I could not resist spending time in that lovely used book shop provided by the Friends of the LaVeta Library. Brought home a large WWII book called Liberators about the Black soldiers of that era, a book titled How to Read a Poem, and a Muffin cookbook. Oh, these were so cheap! But they still took up room in our expanding bookmobile!

Back in Wichita we made another stop at Watermark because they have a wonderful sandwich shop we like. One of their new sandwiches is called The Godfather and yum, it is on their homemade focaccia bread! DH had a meatloaf sandwich called The Great Gatsby on homemade sourdough. We both drank gallons of ice tea, as we were dried out from the West. Then can you believe it, but in ten days’ time there were more NEW books strewn about that store. DH went on to the parking lot and I quickly grabbed a small paperback titled Thunder on the Prairie about a murder and grandest posse of all time. I stuck it in my purse so I did not have to own up to my book sickness!

Last night we went to PSU to hear Jo McDougall read at the Visiting Writers Series. A five book poet, McDougall now has a memoir out about growing up in Arkansas on a rice farm. She was an entertaining speaker, but I should have left her book there. However—all proceeds went to support the writing program of PSU. Hum, I wanted to support that and of course, I should be willing to support a fellow writer. The book came home with us and rests on top of RODE from last month’s author (I haven’t gotten to reading it yet), and sits beside five books home from the library.

Meanwhile Thursday afternoon was my book club day where we discussed Unbroken, a wonderful read garnering ratings from 9.5 to 11 on a scale of 10. Highest rated book we have ever read, slightly ahead of last month’s Empire of the Summer Moon! We also exchanged with each other some good books, and I toted home a friend’s copy of Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey. My office is FULL!

Remember that Shel Silverstein poem, "Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout Wouldn’t Take the Garbage Out" and how the poor girl got buried in her own garbage as it piled up around her? Well, all I am saying is that if you miss me, please send a librarian to dig me out before it is too late!!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Abiqui, New Mexico

Georgia O’Keefe moved to New Mexico the year I was born. She is an interesting and controversial person. Known for her vivid paintings of flowers and of New Mexico landscapes, she lived at Abiqui, a tiny pueblo-like village.

A man living there now says it would have been a pueblo, but the US government would not label it so. The hamlet was populated by mixed Indians and the Spanish. It was a stop on the Santa Fe Tail. O’Keeffe painted here and in nearby Ghost Ranch area before losing her eyesight in old age. Her home can be toured, but reservations must be made a year in advance. Only a limited number of people are allowed to go through the adobe structure each year.

We had driven up the dirt lane leading into Abiqui once before where the lovely adobe church stands. Very threatening signs warned against any picture taking. There was no one in sight, but I felt like we were being watched and a gun barrel might appear from the crude structures if I lifted my camera. Down the road, in a tiny gift shop, the clerk said one of the locals had put up the signs and to ignore them. But I was a believer.

On this last trip, we again drove up into Abiqui and the signs were gone. I snapped pictures of the church, the only pristine building around. A couple of cars came and went, tourists mostly. We lingered and saw across the way a crude home with lean to additions and a hand lettered sign saying “Author Signing Today”. Another car pulled in, and so I was game to check it out too.

Inside was an elderly man with a Spanish accent, a storyteller for sure. He was a rascal you could tell right away. He had written the book and had them for sale. He had worked with Miss O’Keeffe, said he and she had planted the trees he pointed to. He pointed out a mile long circular road that she walked every day. He said we could drive it and see the scenes she saw. He said we could look over the adobe wall surrounding her house but to NOT take any pictures there!

I bought one of his books that he said had details other authors ignore about Abiqui. I let him show us on a map the history of the natives, of his Spanish forefathers. I listened to an explanations of the Catholic Los Penitentes, a lay confraternity of Roman Catholic men active in Northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

Mr. Garcia explained that during the Pueblo Revolt in the late 1600s, all the priests had been killed. So the men formed a lay group to pray, bury the dead, etc. The group still holds prayer services, prays the rosary together, prays over the dead, and does Easter services in the adobe morada which overlooks the Chama River.

                                                                The Morada

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Mexico Silver

Going to the Southwest means jewelry to me! But alas, it has a new meaning to me these days, more contemporary designs than in the old days when First People were known for their silversmithing.

I grew up with silver crawling up my arm provided by my Cherokee grandmother. We were new babies when she brought tiny bracelets studded with a turquoise stone, and our wrists were never bare from then on. The two matching twists in this picture were ones she gave me in grade school that I wore framed around turquoise stones. The double silver band in the center is one of her own bracelets I have worn since I was about ten. It is stamped “sterling” but is not signed as most pieces are now days. So I can date it as made in early 1920s or before. Natives did not sign their work as the metals and stones belonged not to them, but to The People. That changed when trains began carrying tourists to the Southwest and Fred Harvey opened up his gift shops in his Harvey Houses. Now artists sign their silver work!

I have always wanted a large squash blossom, but the prices were out of reach. That will never get better now. The price of gold and silver has not only driven the price of native silver work to astronomical figures, it has hampered the designs natives could afford to produce.

Four years ago, I could buy a little here and there, but last year I could afford almost nothing. The designs were plain too. Gone were my thunderbolts and arrows, and deep colored turquoise stones. So many stones were imported from Iran or Thailand. This year it was worse. I did not trust buying anything from an unknown store because sales were made by native people but for someone else, some from out of this country.

You can be safe buying under the portal at the Palace of Governors though. Those are juried vendors and each morning there is a drawing for who can sit there to sell. However, the first day I looked, again I saw plain and boring pieces. I could not see paying prime price for things that looked like they came from Macy’s or even Wal-Mart. I was told so many vendors bought the beads and then just strung them. I wanted a real silversmith to have crafted a piece I bought.

The second day on the Plaza, I took a half-hearted pass down the portal, and it was my lucky day! The pieces were a tad more interesting, but I found Wil and Vira Yazzie who had sold me their work before. They are a sweet young couple, have a telephone but no internet. Four years ago, they were trying a new design with both gold and silver encasing glass beadwork. Wil was selling along that day and Vira was home trying to design some matching ear rings. I thought the bracelets were lovely, but it was not what I wanted. I love the traditional, but was drawn back to Wil’s blanket. Finally, I brought home the glass beadwork done in arrows, rainbows, and feathers. I have worn it a good deal of the time.

When I saw them again, I showed them my arm with their work. Wil was so excited, asked if he could feel my braclet. He moanead with pleasure and said I had one of the “good ones”. Right after I bought the metals went up so much in price he had to make the bracelets in lighter weights to break even; it broke his heart to lessen his work. He shined my braclet and stroked it like it was an old friend. Vira had her ear rings this time and was working on a stud version, which is presenting her problems in weight and size. She said the price of glass beads any smaller than these really went up in price, again limiting what they could make and sell.

We had a good visit and I brought home a pair of ear rings while I could still afford them!

I also brought home a pair of glass ear rings made by a potter whose aging hands can no longer handle the heavy clay. She has carpel tunnel too so has gone to this lovely glass work. George has her work in the Santa Fe Art Museum’s gift shop as well as a friend’s pottery studio.

In my childhood, the bracelets never came off, but these days I change them often to enjoy the many different designs and choices. Some people never leave home without a watch on; I always have a bracelet—or two or three!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Teacup Tuesday One More Time

I have not posted on Teacup Tuesday because I had my cup/pot addiction under control. I did not NEED anymore; I had no room for more. But on our Western excursion, I slipped back into obsession mode with the urging of DH.

I think it was Walsenburg, Colorado where this tea set jumped into the truck. We had toured, ridden the train at Alamosa, and were starting the trek home. We came on a charming downtown district with a whole string of inviting antique stores. Before I could get beyond the front door of the first shop, DH called me saying I had to see what he had just found. It was a charming little set of pieces in a dogwood pattern. I didn’t need them, but I looked. It was nice I said, but…

DH said they were worth the money as they were so cheap. Cheap or not, I had no place for them. But they were from England he said. I did not succumb. Then he read on the mark that they were bone china and I was a goner. I had to bring them home; I would share the pieces with others I rationalized.

DH was excited over this incomplete set for some reason. There were no cups, but the egg cup was a sweet addition. When we got home, I washed them up and set them out to dry. DH came into the kitchen and asked me where I was going to set them. I waved my arm across the house and said, “You tell me.” Ah, there was NO place.

So I worked an egg cup in here, a pitcher in there and yes, it is too crowed in the hutch. The little tea pot sits next to some pink floral cups right now, and the pink dogwood compliments them nicely. So for now, we enjoy the dogwood until I can get around to dividing them and sharing with others the joy of bone china!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sisters of Loretto Chapel

Years ago on our first visit to Santa Fe and with two boys in tow, we visited the Loretto Chapel. This chapel was ordered built in 1872 by Bishop Lamy for a convent. The architect was French and the chapel shows French designs. But he died before finishing the chapel and there was no staircase built to the choir loft.

So the nuns prayed to St. Joseph for help. A ragged stranger appeared, said he had to be left entirely alone, and three months later a spiral staircase of unknown wood with no supports was finished without nails. The stranger suddenly disappeared. The Sisters of Loretto felt it was a miracle stair built by St. Joseph himself in answer to their prayers.

DH never believed this miracle as some others didn’t either. But on this last trip he was willing, in fact asked, to go back and see this helix of wood. He still has no answer for how it is made, but he is sure it is something of this world!

This chapel is beautiful without a doubt. The pictures do not do the insides justice. Note the tree of rosaries outside the chapel. New Mexico has had some rough religious times, some ugly happenings in the name of faith. No matter what your belief though, this northern corner of New Mexico is a spiritual place, full of devout people living an old dedicated path to God.