Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Chilly Ending to October

I know Halloween is not over yet, but already I feel Thanksgiving. It has been chilly and wet, a constant drizzle reminiscent of forming snowflakes hit and glide down the glass. After the air conditioner quit the week we went to Santa Fe, the furnace quit this week as temps dipped at night in to high 30’s and low 40’s. It all is too much like winter for this one! But I am holding out that sometime in November, which starts on Sunday, an Indian Summer will show one more time before this autumn ends.

Men are under the house banging on replacing the furnace as I write.  DH has been sick a bit, and he gave into letting Lennox install new units. That is enough for Thanksgiving right there. We have always done everything ourselves, but it feels good this morning hearing voices under the house and knowing none are calling for me to be “go for” or my needing to respond to a banging on the pipes to bring something under the house!

Meanwhile table is set for company and a family meal. Birthday gifts from friends helped decorate for autumn this year. I already have a dash of turkeys out and about. I love the new white pilgrims, something different.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Another History Lesson

When #2 son bought the house in Pittsburg, we knew it needed much work. While structurally sound, it needed help and the dog needed a fence. After the huge fence job, painting half the house inside, DH began to replace all the hallway doors which had rough and battered paint job. This week he has repaired a wall of the garage before winter as it was never built right and needed repair. Next will be a gutter job, gutting a kitchen in midwinter, and re-siding the house in the spring if all goes well.

DH was staying there for a few days, and I drove over to help him take a break. We saw a movie on Saturday afternoon and had a late sandwich lunch. The local movie theater was smaller but nicer than our own, and it was cheaper! We saw Bridge of Spies done by Stephen Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks, a super combination.

The story is about the exchange of spies in about 1962 when the United States gave up a Russian spy for the return of pilot Gary Powers and an American student caught in East Berlin when the wall dividing that city went up. I have a faint memory of this historical moment as I was about eleven or twelve. My grade school had done a great job of making me fearful of Russians in the Cold War so I remember feeling anxious without fully understanding the situation. Bay of Pigs was in this time frame as well so I feared the end of the world.

The world survived, but the movie made me see again that fighting and lying and sneaking and being cruel, and making war are not new. If you read history, it is hard to believe that there will ever be a truly peaceful world. Growing up I believed that goodness would prevail, and we humans could make the world the wonderful place it was meant to be. It is hard for a Pollyanna to take off her colored glasses!

But despite what was going on in 1962-or now-Spielberg hammers it home that along the rocky paths and among the crooked men, one can find straight-arrow fellow humans that do the right thing for no other reason than it IS the right thing to do. The Tom Hanks portrayal of a good man is beyond wonderful, and one leaves the theater with a renewal of the belief in goodness in humans.

We left the theater feeling it was a great movie worth seeing and discussing among many people. Yet the lines buying tickets were longer for chainsaw, horror, and ugly movies. Sex and gross stupidity also sold well. We watched the crowd and thought: this is the public, the thinking public? This is the voting public who will decide our fate in a few months. Then we walked down the mall and heard two men, one a mall employee, discussing the power of guns, the need for guns. Alas, the world has not changed much for the better it seems, and I had to wonder if I wasn’t better off practicing my crawl under the school desk. It was a time of actually believing that a piece of board would protect me from evil!

Yet, I am going to continue to look for that Spielberg angle, if only in the movies!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Who Doesn't Love a Parade?

For over 40 years, we have helped celebrate the Maple Leaf Festival here in this town during a week when hopefully all the maples are dressed in red and orange. It is a week-long celebration ending with a huge parade in the morning and a band field competition in the afternoon and evening. Some years we have participated more than others. We have watched; we have herded cub scouts on to floats; we have gotten band students to the starting point; we have attended the field competition. We have gone alone; we have dragged babies and grandbabies; we have had relatives. We have set in cars with sickness; we have sat in the cold air on street curbs; we have stayed home due to rain. Some years have been trials and some joys.

The complication often has been my birthday as it falls right in the midst of Maple Leaf every year. My family often forgets so long as Mom makes the chili, had the drinks iced or hot depending on the year. My friends are faithful and never forget. I often just don’t have to time to honor their sweet thoughts. This year a lot of makeup luncheons will occur the week after, and I will reread my lovely cards now that the hubbub is over.

This year both sons could make the parade which is a first in at least ten years. This included two grandsons. The weather was a wee bit too chilly in the beginning, but it warmed up enough to be perfect with coats and blankets. The crisp air with a slight breeze made it just right for a snap of flags and the horns reflected the brilliance of an October sun. We snuggled in our chairs and enjoyed the parade, but did not venture among the crowd.

Rebecca Haines for Carthage Press

One of my former students works for the Carthage Press and took pictures along the way of the massive crowds while riding a float, and agreed to share them here. I was amazed at the number of people that lined the two mile route. One son who has been all over the country and abroad said of all the parades he has seen the Maple Leaf Parade is the best one. It looks like a few thousand people agreed!

Once home, we found the weather was perfect for lunch on the deck. Chili was hot in crock pots, hot dogs ready, and all followed by pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and chocolate pie. It is a seasaonal warmup for Thanksgiving! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Last Day Out

It was the last real day in New Mexico. I hated to leave the peace and the blue skies and the red rocks. It is no secret I feel great attachment for the prairies and the plains and I guess the high desert. I’ll admit I am just looking and not facing rattlesnakes and tarantulas and varmints.  Still…I am moved. 

The very last of New Mexico is marked by volcanic rock and beautiful red rocks. The red speaks of Red men, red blood spilled, and coppery red sunsets. I hated to say goodbye. But we pushed into Guymon, Oklahoma for a sleep before crossing the Oklahoma panhandle. There is a Super 8 there that has a great breakfast. We filled up on bacon, (real) eggs, and biscuits and gravy at 6:00 am and hit the road.

We decided to make no stops, but drove steadily.  I drove first and it was still a wee bit dark. As we drove east, we watched the rainbow of colors that announced dawn coming. When we finally saw the sun come up, the copper glow was like the bottom of a shiny Revere Ware pan! I had trouble seeing and squinting was making me sleepy as I had been awake since 4:30. So DH took the wheel.

I slept until I heard DH shouting, “LOOK, LOOK!” I opened my eyes and saw a camel on brown grass. How far east did we drive? The camel was with cattle and poor DH said he thought he was seeing the skinniest cow ever. We were only a few hours from home and it was definitely time to get off the road.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

High Road to Taos

We were in no hurry on this morning so we took the Sage Inn shuttle down to the plaza for one more time. I just had to see all the Native Americans and their jewelry again before I left. Enjoyed it immensely, talked with a few. One couple was still angry as losing their land long ago and we talked of how the world continues to have groups of people trying to rob, abuse, and overpower other groups. I bought one more bracelet for my arm to sit next to my Granny’s double silver thunderclouds. Once again my arm looked much like it had when I was eight years old.

L to R: silver and gold from years ago, Granny's double thunderclouds, silver and tourqouuise from a friend 20 years ago, silver bevel (Pueblo) this year and copper with silver in blanket pattern (Navajo) this year. 

Then we took out and headed for the High Road to Taos. Famous for its beautiful vistas, the road invited us to drive it one more time. The view changes a few times and here even the overpasses are decorated. I love that feature! Gradually we left the desert-like land and moved into higher mountains with forests. Loved the morning sunlight through the aspens….even the tree trunks were lovely! The road was twisty and curvy.

Then we came out down the mountainside to pass by the Cimarron River and turned north towards Raton. Spotted a herd of buffalo and had to stop.  I never tire of watching these magnificent animals. We began to see occasional pronghorns.  Once we reached Raton, we unfolded the map and found one of DH’s favorite roads. Part of it was new to us this year as we got on it earlier. This is on the high plains and leads you past scattered cattle and grazing grass. You pass some old cabins and few signs of life. You travel miles and miles and never see another human. Gradually the road turns to gravel for about 30 miles. This country has a beauty all its own.

We spotted the largest herd of pronghorns we have ever seen together; we counted 28. I love their black sloe berry eyes. They are skittish and you can’t get close. They hear your car slow down and come to attention ready to flee.  We stopped and eased out of the car and they tolerated us only so close. It was so silent up here! I wish everyone could hear the splendor of this silence! We parked in front of a gate that went to a ranch…but miles away.

Later on this same road we stopped for a lunch of snacks and drink standing in the middle of nowhere. Again the silence. It was one of the best sites of the trip, one to be remembered when the world makes so much noise in my head!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Slower Day

Thanks to Montezuma’s Revenge, we moved slower this day, but we did keep going. We went down to check out Canyon Road. This is a mile long stretch of artists and well known for the exquisite art shops. Originally this was a neighborhood of adobe homes. While the contents were interesting, it was the adobe rooms and design that held my attention.

We walked about a half mile looking in the shops…art, pottery, clothes and cowboy/cowgirl antiques. I found one thing I really liked, and it was a wooden vase shiny with wax and smooth from hand sanding. It had a price of $1100 so I guess you know it stayed in Santa Fe.

At that point a clerk recommended we eat at TEA HOUSE at the end of the mile. It was a plain square building. Inside was clean and sparse, no frills at all. But when I saw a whole wall of clear jars filled with loose tea, I knew someone was serious about their drink. The menu was full of new or different food combinations.  DH had a Classic BLT made with Burrata cheese, a new one to us. I had half a Panini made with Irish cheese and a spectacular salad. The salad was roasted pear, arugula, prosciutto, and a type of parmesan cheese…out of this world good!

After a delightful lunch we went to the capitol building, the only round one in the country. The building was quiet as legislators were not in session. The second floor is devoted to hallways lined with art work…the first floor is a place for special exhibits. We found art work here devoted to expressing some facet of the book or reading. It was a lovely and relaxing time in this building.

            Note buffalo made from recycled things like paint brushes and fishing reels.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Santa Fe Plaza

“Pretentious as it sounds, and as tough as it is to prove, there does seem to be something about New Mexico which not only attracts creative people but stimulates their creativity.”
                                                                                    Tony Hillerman, author

Yes, there is something specia about New Mexico.

After seeing Palo Duro we headed straight for the state line. We could see and feel New Mexico coming! The sky seems to wrap you in a blanket of life-giving blue like a huge turquoise shawl.

We have stayed several times at the Sage Inn in Santa Fe and we returned again. This time we took advantage of their shuttle so we did not have to move our car or fight to find a parking place in the center of town. The shuttle left every hour on the hour making only one stop directly to the town square or plaza so it was super convenient.

We have stayed several times at the Sage Inn in Santa Fe and we returned again. This time we took advantage of their shuttle so we did not have to move our car or fight to find a parking place in the center of town. The shuttle left every hour on the hour making only one stop directly to the town square or plaza so it was super convenient.

Of course the first thing I go to is the Native American market under the portico. Here juried Natives compete for spaces to sell. There is a lottery every morning and only a certain number win. So every day you see new vendors, new jewelry. It is an amazing collection of silver, turquoise, and other stones. I love seeing the silver spread across the woven blankets and talking with the people selling. This year it was extra fun as a friend sent her money and asked me to shop for her. How much fun is that, spending someone else’s money! But it was a responsibility and I had to look at everything to get it just right!

We also revisited the cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi. The first church on this site was adobe of course and built in 1610. In 1860 a French priest, Father Lamy, decided to build the present gorgeous structure. Willa Cather drew a picture of the priest and times in her novel Death Comes to the Archbishop. I do not remember being allowed to take pictures inside before, but many people were this day. So I did too, but the pictures do not capture all the beauty.

There is a side altar devoted the Virgin Mother Mary. The original statue has quite a history and was brought by the Spanish when they came in 1626. This Conquistadora is taken out once a year in September and honored with a parade to celebrate the conquering of the area by the Spanish. She has a full wardrobe of clothes that change with the church calendar.

In the church yard stands a statue of the saint Kateri Tekakwitha who was the first Native American saint. She was a Mohawk and her statue is gorgeous.

After walking all morning, we were ready for lunch. We ate on the Plaza Café where we have eaten several times. Simple in décor the food is wonderful. Waiters are young and quick New Mexicans dressed in crisp shirts that flatter their dark Spanish skin. The house tea is one they blend themselves of black tea and mango flowers. We were seated early and I had a wonderful Indian taco. By time we left, there was a long line of people waiting to be seated with a wait of 45 minutes.

We returned to our room in the afternoon and then went to eat that evening at the Cowgirl BBQ. It was a chilly night so we sat inside and while nice, lacked the special ambiance of talking with locals like we have done in the courtyard in years past. The food was very good, but we were very tired and did not linger. We were comforted passing the through the courtyard that the patrons were less numerous than in the past. Maybe we did not miss anything on this night! 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Ruby Slipper Hits the Road

                                                             Cheyenne Back Rest

The October calendar is packed after a September calendar that looked the same. We will turn around, (ah, it is already the middle of October this week!) and face November too soon. This last week was the only week we had left of the late summer and mid-autumn to work in a trip to Southwest. We made reservations for Biscuit at the kennel, loaded up the Ruby Slipper, and headed to our favorite places. The trips are becoming a little harder to do and soon we will have to choose other entertainments. But while we still can, we eked out some good road time.

We had to make some difficult choices this time in order to accommodate hitting couple of new sites. This meant we had to drive the interstate which is longer but faster…and more tedious. We drove to Elk City, Oklahoma on Hwy. 40. We got there early enough in the day to visit the Washita Massacre Site before checking in at the motel. I knew this would be a sad place, but after seeing Sand Creek last year I wanted to see this one too.

Chief Black Kettle and his wife lived through Sand Creek. (She was wounded in nine places!) The chief moved what was left of his people way down into Oklahoma trying to get away from the white man. But in the middle of winter no less, that valiant egomaniac Custer chased them down and killed Black Kettle and more of his people. Then he burned all they had; he killed their horses. When I think of the horses, screaming while being shot and the remaining Cheyenne listening to their beloved horses die, I cried.

Look at the area the army had to cover in snow and cold to get to these people. The land was bare and useless. Just an amazingly sad story in our history.

Palo Duro Canyon

The next morning we drove in to Amarillo and went out to Palo Duro Canyon. This is supposed to be second biggest canyon after the Grand Canyon. It was interesting and pretty. However, we found the Chaco Canyon and the Rio Grande Canyon more startling and more beautiful. West Texas is very monotonous country. But when we crossed the border into New Mexico, it wasn’t long before we watched the landscape change. By afternoon we had reached the road known as the Turquoise Trail leading up to Santa Fe. The vistas and landscapes were gorgeous!

We checked out two towns, Madrid and Cerillos. This area was heavily mined for turquoise. Madrid is a small, strung out village of artists and crafts people. We checked out some of the stores, but were anxious to get to Santa Fe. Cerrillos is barely a village. I loved the buildings, old adobe. It was here that some of the Spanish families fled after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Then we went to our room at the Sage Inn in Santa Fe. We have stayed there several times. We ate Ramen noodles and hot mint tea and collapsed by 8:00! The next day would be the Santa Fe plaza and we were going to try the Sage Inn shuttle for the first time! 

I loved this row of mailboxes in Madrid, New Mexico!