Saturday, April 7, 2012

Been there, done that!

We're recovering from our trip to Seattle to celebrate Drayton's birthday with him.

But first, I went with a Friend to Paloma, Chihuahua, Mexico, who was transporting computers to and from an educational project down there. The first picture is of high school students at a computer lab in the town library, which had Internet connections; the high school does not. To go beyond elementary school, students have to pay so much a month (I think it's $25 ... in an impoverished city with VERY high unemployment, not many can do so). Step outside into the street, look north, and there's our border wall, just a few blocks away. The picture of the old Victorian house was taken with my new iPad; I think it will serve well as a back-up camera, as well as in other ways.

On the other hand, I thought I would get smart and upgrade iPhoto in my MacBook ... and now I have trouble linking to some of my more recent photos. I need a 17-year-old tech aide!

A wonderful revisitation for me was the Pike Place Market in Seattle. I remember it as an awesome place of sights, sounds, smells and people ... it still is. We did birthday supper at the Crabpot ... great seafood!

Sunday we went to Space Needle area (didn't go up) and, thanks to Sandy, toured the Pacific Science Center ... with LOTS of families. What a great discovery area it is, with very helpful aides all along the way. Very interactive

Palomas is associated with Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus, NM, just a few miles north. That brought down Pershing and the U.S. Army. I've noticed that Villa's statue in front of the Palomas City Hall, a few hundred feet from the border, always has a pigeon on top of it. Now I know why ... there's a nest in Villa's hat.

I haven't been back to the Pacific NW since I left for grad school in 1964 ... a lot has changed! This was Sandy's first trip to the area and, for both of us, it was our first trip around the Olympic Peninsula. On our first day there, Friday, March 30, Sandy kindly put up with me doing searches for past residences ... I found three of them, though the 8x42 trailer daughter Beth was brought home to is long gone (thank goodness!). I could hardly recognize Pacific Lutheran University, from which I got my undergraduate degree.

The prettiest place I lived was Steilacoom, and the downtown area still has much of the old flavor, though it's surrounded by subdivisions now. The ferries still go out to some of the islands in Puget Sound, including the federal prison on McNeill Island.

The Victorian house picture was taken with my new iPad, a device I'm hoping to use as my backup camera, now that I've dropped my little Olympus too many times. I think it will work. However, I'm finding some incompatibility between old and new versions of iPhoto.

On Saturday, Drayton and Sandy and I went to Bellingham (Drayton graciously loaned us the use of his car while we were there, as well as his bed) and had lunch with Grandson Seth Underwood. 'Twas rainy, but good to see Seth and see his town. On the way back, the sun cleared as we toured the Pike Place Market in Seattle. Such a wonderful experience!

Sunday was Space Needle and Pacific Science Center day. Didn't go up the Needle, but, thanks to Sandy, we enjoyed the discovery exhibits at the Science Center. Great interactive exhibits with lots of attentive staff to help the many families that were there. The mantis even moves! And the butterfly room was delightful!

The trip around the coast was rainy, but interesting to see. We did get to the beach in a couple of places. Stayed in Port Angeles and had supper with old Park Service friends Dave and Judith Morris. Sandy is SO patient ... when old parkies get together, they tend to talk NPS stuff!

'Twas nice to get back to sun and dryness, but it was a great trip and we enjoyed being with Drayton off and on for a few days. The airports and planes ... not so much. Necessary evils in this day and age, I guess. tv

Monday, March 26, 2012

Four years and glowing!

Sunday was our fourth wedding anniversary. We stopped to enjoy poppy fields in a couple of places on the way down to Bisbee on Saturday, then spent the night in the historic Copper Queen Hotel. Didn't hear any of the three ghosts alleged to inhabit the hotel, but slept well!

It was nice to get away and enjoy poking around Bisbee, enjoying each other's company and the fact that we got through the cancer year and came out the other side with flying colors, we're enjoying where we live and what we're involved with ... and we get to share daily laughs and joys.

Spring is with us ... again. The beautiful blossoms covering the tree in front of the house perished in a late burst of snow and frost. Everything's back on track now, but a lot of fruit probably got nipped in the bud, literally.

The Grant County Art Guild is starting to get active again for the 2012 season and we've got pictures in a show at the library and in a new, ongoing venue at a local hardware store. We helped put on a reception the day before St. Patrick's day and it went quite well.

The Guild was also involved when a camera crew from KOAT-7 in Albuquerque came to the Hearst Church Gallery in Pinos Altos in the process of doing a special on the Hearst family history. That got us all atwitter!

A trip to Las Cruces to pick up a new lens for my glasses gave an opportunity to visit with an old NPS friend and tour the plaza area of Mesilla ... a very pleasant set of shops. We'll probably be going back there for Christmas shopping.

So, we're getting through the month pretty well, staying busy. I'm going with another Friend to Paloma, Mexico, on Wednesday and then, on Thursday, we drive to Phoenix, fly to Seattle and visit Drayton in time for this birthday on the 3rd. While there, we also plan to see grandson Seth in Bellingham, tour Seattle and take a two-day jaunt around the Olympic Peninsula, just Sandy and me. It's been about 45 years since I've been in the Puget Sound area, Sandy's never been there and neither of us has ever been on the coastal side of the Olympics. Plus, we get to have supper with a couple of old NPS friends while we're in Port Angeles. Back home on the 4th. More then. TV

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring is here ... cough, sneeze, drip

n'sI can tell Spring came early this year; at least, the sinus symptoms did. The doctor's records show I was in a week earlier than last year with my Spring sinus infection. Yuck, yuck, yuck!

But, life goes on (or you wouldn't be reading this).

So far, March has been musical. A week ago, on First Friday, we discovered that one of our favorite group of young musicians was going to be playing at Isaac's. Amy Lopez Ross (aka "A Whiskey Girl") and her husband Derrick ("Nowhere Man") were playing with Dylan Charles and the Border Crossers (the "Border Crossers" are Sam and Danielle Panther). They're out of Bisbee and we first saw them at Pickamania! Lively, active, just lots of fun to watch and hear!

And we caught Bayou Seco and the Fiddling Friends (again) playing the courtyard of the Silver City Museum. The museum followed up with a performance of a play (one in a series) by a local author; this segment was about five Apache women who escape from their Mexican captors and walk a thousand miles north to get back home.

In between the two programs, I enjoyed the afternoon sun on the facade of the old theater that serves as the museum annex. Lots of little details to delight inWe went up to the Opera House in PiƱos Altos to hear Tony Furtado and Luke Price. Sorry about the quality of the pictures ... men in black with only two spots don't give much light to work with. They're great musicians - both two-time national award winners - but without the spark and verve of our young friends from Bisbee.

Spring is showing at home, too. The curve-billed thrashers posted themselves as sentries on the cholla behind the house ... actually, I think they were just soaking up the sun! And the deer have been wandering through, including this last year's fawn that was playing peekaboo with me.

Wednesday I went to the optometrist in Las Cruces. We got as far as Deming on the way back and both I-10 and US 180 were closed due to blowing dust. What to do? So, we took a roundabout road through Lake Valley and Hillsboro. This gave us a chance to "see" (through the dust) the new wind farm out there and to stop briefly at the ghost town of Lake Valley ... we'll definitely be going back to Lake Valley!

I end with a sign of the times. Yesterday, at the entrance to the Silver City Walmart, was this cowboy and his horse with the sign, "Need Day Work." Think on it a while. tv

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day

The calendar has given me one extra day to do another blog in February. Now (sniff) if I (blow) can (wipe) get enough (blow) relief from (wipe) my sinus (drip) affliction ...

Seems like the danged pollens are out a little early this year, but I'm for sure working on my spring sinus infection. Going through wipes by the box and feeling like I'm running on about 75% oxygen ... not ready for a tank and tubes yet!

We've been active, in both little and big ways. Around Valentine's Day, there was Chocolate Fantasia, with song and chocolate all up and down the town ... feet on the street and sweets to eat!

One of the neat things about Silver City is the amount of learning available in digestible bites. The former director of the Silver City Museum offered a Monday brown bag lunch illustrated tour of the eclectic historical architecture of the town. The WMNU library has been hosting a number of evening forums (usually followed by a free buffet of hot food, which ensures that students will be in the audience, as well as us old folks); this one was on race and ethnicity in the area, region and nationally.

And then, around Mardi Gras time, there was a Mardi Gras-themed impromptu parade of puppets and other, playing music while strolling down one lane of Bullard Street. Nice sunny morning, good fun ... one of the real treats of living here!

We went to a stirring performance of the Up With People group, after I documented one of their work projects, repairing a walkway out at historic Fort Bayard. Those kids have so much energy ... I was exhausted at the end of the show! Very positive message, well-delivered!

Another WNMU forum was on a plan to send "wetbooks" to Tucson ... books that were banned and removed from Tucson school libraries after their ethnic studies class was shut down by the State. Books like "The Tempest," by that foreigner Wm. Shakespeare and "Civil Disobedience" by that French radical Thoreau (that is a French name, isn't it?).

Maybe the most delightful part of the month was our test run with the Casita. It has sat idle for more than a year, so we got it "tuned up" with new tires and gas adjustments, put a hitch on the V8 Mercury Mountaineer and set out on a short test run. We went about 3 1/2 hours away to Dragoon, AZ, in SE Arizona to the Triangle T guest ranch, which has full hook-up sites for overnight of longer-term RV camping. VERY pleasant place to spend two nights with the dog (seen with Sandy on a morning walk through the rock outcropping). We sleep SO well in that Casita. Funny thing was, when we pulled in there was an almost identical Casita (17-feet, but newer) parked in the space next to the one we were assigned! Still odder, we learned that the other Casita had been bought in Silver City a week earlier.

We stayed two nights and, in the Thursday between, we decided to go see Bisbee, about an hour and a half away. We've heard a lot about it ... and it was all right! My impression was that it is like Telluride on steroids ... WAY more shops and stores than Telluride and lots feet on the street. With one way streets running this way and that, I never knew which way to watch for cars, but everybody is traveling slowly, so there's lots of opportunity to criss-cross the streets from shop to shop. Sandy observed that it really doesn't feel like a border town and I agree. Lovely, sunny day with lots of interesting and friendly people ... we're booked in the historic Copper Queen Hotel for our anniversary on March 25!

And then, of course, there's the "hole" ... the open pit copper mine that is Bisbee's reason to be. Basically, there's two revenue streams in Bisbee now - mining and tourism. And I suspect the town is pretty dead at the end of July!

And we got back just in time to get our pictures in a new gallery in a local hardware store. The art world goes on ... we're active in the Grant County Art Guild and the season is upon us again! tv

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's all gone!

No pics, no frills, no distractions ... just the good news: Sandy's checkup at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale yesterday went A-OK! The mammogram was entirely negative ... no spots of cancer remaining anywhere. The surgeon discharged her, with the admonition to have annual mammograms ... like she would fail to do that after what she's gone through. The radiation oncologist is a little more cautious; he wants to see her every six months for five years. We can do that!

She beat it! tv

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"This sure is an interesting town!"

I think you've seen that quotation before; it's something a man said on the sidewalk as I was photographing a parade with Grannies, Wolves and Little Red Riding Hoods.

We just got back from the "Spayghetti and Neuterballs" fundraising dinner for the PuppyDog Ranch rescue service. Music was Rat Pack ... Sinatra, Martin, Prima, etc. No pics from that.

Friday morning we were out at Bayard, where Sandy gave Kiwanis Terrific Kids awards to elementary school students. It was neat to see the moms lined up with cameras to take pictures of the little Pre-K girls with their certificates!

In the afternoon, we sat in on the performance The Ragbirds (out of Ann Arbor, MI) put on for about 500 school kids. Good fun.

That evening, we went to the regular (adult) show The Ragbirds put on at the WNMU Fine Arts Center Theater. BUT, on the way, we first went downtown to see what was happening on this First Friday of February ... the theme was the Year of the Dragon and there were Chinese lion dancers! And they went to The Lion's Den, naturally. The drummer kept up, down steps and up a bumpy street, without ever missing a beat!

The concert itself was good fun, high energy. Now it's just nice to be home, processing the pictures! tv

Monday, January 30, 2012

Oh, my goodness ... how the time goes by!

Another beautiful, sunny morning in Silver City, New Mexico! We are really appreciating the temperatures here, and lack of snow. Especially considering the 18 inches of snow our old home received in 24 hours recently!

We've had a busy January! Probably the highlight was attending the Bluff Balloon Festival for the fourth straight year. Sandy has described in her blog our fry bread fare and the fun we had (as always) at the school's benefit fry bread dinner and performance.

The first year we went, the Sunday launch was out at Valley of the Gods. The roads were too bad to go out there the next two years, but this year we were able to go again. It was a fabulous, other-worldly experience!

We got out there before the balloonists and before the dawn light really hit. We were treated to about five minutes of out-of-this-world red-gold dawn glow on the sandstone cliffs and spires! We just stood there, with our mouths open and cameras pointing, at the stunning beauty surrounding us. It only lasted about five minutes, but it was five minutes in we shared that awesome beauty the Navajos describe in the Beauty Way:
In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty"

And then we watched the balloons float through this beauty. The light wasn't as fantastic as it was in those first few minutes, but it was beautiful nonetheless.

After spending the morning frolicking in the desert, we didn't want to drive eight hours back to Silver City, so we went to Mancos via Hovenweep National Monument. We'd been there once before, on a very icy day. This was much nicer and we had a good hike around Little Ruin Canyon, including this shot of Square Tower ... a tower built in a canyon bottom. ?

A nice night at the Mesa Verde Motel, Sandy had her favorite BBQ sandwich at the Millwood ... and there was four inches of snow the next morning! On the way back from the MLK breakfast at the community center (lots of friends!), we enjoyed this snow-bedecked tree in the Bauer House yard.

The snow and slush was gone by the time we got to Shiprock, and we were glad to head back to warmer climes.

We've been busy planning ahead since then. Got a hitch put on the Mercury and got the Casita reshod with tires and did some more getting ready to go trailering. Now we need to locate a place that's a few hours away, warmer, with full hookups to give the new car-Casita combination a trial run. This also frees up the Jeep to put the bike rack back on, inflate the bike tires and oil the moving parts and do some biking!

After not being held last year, the Red Paint Powwow was held at WNMU and we attended one of the grand entries. Powerful and colorful! And fry bread! Hope we can take in more next year.

Sandy's Kiwanis Club does a lot for and with kids. Sandy got to do Terrific Kid awards at Hurley Elementary School. Hurley is a little (1,400 pop.) mining town east of here. She's enjoyed the school spirit and last Friday we got to go for the awards and also for the celebration of the school's getting an 'A' rating by the State of New Mexico. What a neat thing ... the town really supports the school and turned out to hold a parade to honor the school's educational achievement! If you don't think Hurley is a small town, note the midday traffic downtown!

And, yes, there's musical fun, too. Saturday night we treated ourselves to supper at the Buckhorn Saloon in Pinos Altos, where friends of ours were playing gypsy jazz! tv