Monday, December 29, 2008

Santa Fe 3: Back to nice, warm sunshine.

What an interesting day Sunday was! VERY cold in Santa Fe, but with bright sun all the way back home. 

After attending the 9 a.m. meeting for worship at the Santa Fe Meetinghouse ... the old Olive Rush studio and home on Canyon Road ... we wound our way through town to the highway north, stopping by Tesuque Pueblo on the way. Tesuque bans cameras, cell phones and sketching materials, so no pictures to post. I was amazed at the amount of construction work underway around the plaza ... looks like a lot of new housing in the works, replacing the old room blocks that probably go back to at least the 13th century A.D. at their foundations. 

Ohkay Owingeh, formerly San Juan Pueblo, north of Espanola, is more open, so we were able to take a few pictures. The first (bottom) picture above appears to be a pun. The address of the Catholic parish residence is 182 Pope, and they feature a picture of the present pope of the Roman Catholic Church. However, the address is really on a street named Po-Pay, formerly spelled Popé, after the name of the Pueblo leader who was central to the Pueblo Rebellion against Spain in 1680. 

The cross atop the brick church across the street from plaza was a favored roosting- or sunning-place for a pigeon on that quiet Sunday morning after Christmas.

Over the Chama River and up the road a bit, I noticed three crosses on a knoll south of the town of Abiquiu. On a hunch, we got down into 4-wheel-drive again (the Jeep was missing it ;-}) and drove up a side-road in that direction. The penitente morada of Abiquiu is pictured with the three crosses, the Chama River Valley and the freshly snow-covered Sangre de Cristo peaks beyond.

The Sangre de Cristos appear again in the next picture up, with the Chama River in the foreground, above Abiquiu and below the Abiquiu Dam. Note the hardy angler standing in the left fork of the river beyond the bend.

Ghost Ranch looked SO much more beautiful and inviting in the sun than it did in the grey snow of Dec. 26! The new (2006) Agape Center had almost a warm glow in the bright chill, with Chimney Rock behind it.

And then we went back toward Santa Fe, across Abiquiu Dam and took the side road into Cañones, probably the most remote little town I've seen in the Lower 48. I was there once before, about 15 years ago, and it has changed, though not as much as it might wish. There are satellite dishes now, the road in is paved (though still narrow) and there appear to be some new homes built. It appears the Merced Comunitaria Juan Bautista Baldez is a Spanish land grant, the boundaries of which had not been set in modern times and parlance. It appears the New Mexico Legislature may facilitate a survey, after which the community wants to develop a waste-water treatment system and make other improvements to enable their young people to remain there. San Miguel Archangel is the nicely-maintained church there; we didn't see the bright blue dome of the Russian Orthodox mission that is also purported to be there. 

Well, it was running late, so we scooted across on NM 96, through Youngsville, Coyote, Gallina, Regina and La Jara, little Hispanic towns with deep roots in northern New Mexico. But, we still had to stop and enjoy the distant view of the San Juan Mountains above a butte and some rough country north and east of Nageezi on US 550. The lovely colors surrounded us on all horizons for some time. 

It was dark when we picked up the happy-to-see-us dachshund and came home together to settle in and be thankful to home, warm and safe. We hope all you readers are warm and safe, too, as we end this eventful year and edge toward ... who knows what. tv

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Santa Fe 2

Cold! And I was felled by something I ate the night before ... maybe something like this Apache mountain god was at work inside me. 

Nonetheless, it cleared up and we were able to be under blue skies and sunlight all day ... NICE! We got to the plaza and to a couple of the museums on the hill.

Hurrying this morning to check out, grab a bite, go to the Santa Fe Meeting and then head north. It's cold again, but sunny. tv

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Santa Fe 1

The worst weather we encountered yesterday was in the Mancos Valley. After that, driving conditions (road surfaces, mainly) got a little better and we had bare pavement from Ghost Ranch into Santa Fe. 

BUT, Chama had 23 inches of snow yesterday, so the weather was snowy most of the day. The critters with the old buildings are near Chimney Rock, on the way to Pagosa Springs. The folks at one of the galleries in Chama were keeping the walk to their door open, but it was like a canyon! A colorful doorway in Los Ojos caught my eye, as did the little building beside the road below Abiquiu Dam ... it's domed, with a carved door and a cross outside. ?

We looked around Abiquiu briefly ... it was starting to get dark and we wanted to get on into Santa Fe. The triple arch caught my eye; maybe someone will tell me what it's the remains of.

Canyon Road was all alit, aglow, atwinkle, etc., but not many shops were open. Those that were open, I kept my hands in my pockets or behind my back ... I feel like a bull in a china shop around art objects priced at $20,000 - $44,000!

El Farol, the oldest restaurant in Santa Fe (started in 1835) was as quaint and cozy as always, but I think this time the spices got me! Hopefully today and tonight will be better than last night. 

After breakfast with old friends, we off to Museum Hill. Later! tv

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Long day. Started with a plow going by on the highway at about 5 p.m., ended with a plow going by on the highway when we got home at 5 p.m. Those guys and gals really served us all today!

We had a quiet Christmas morning, with Christmas music and opening the gifts around the tree. Then we headed out into the snow, going up and down the streets of Mancos, taking pictures of the snow on the trees and everything. 

The trip to Durango was uneventful and we got to the Doubletree for our Christmas dinner at about 12:30. After a good and filling meal, we took our Jeep-full load of food and banana boxes out to Durango Friends Meeting, finishing up the collection of materials for food boxes the Meeting will assemble in early January.

Back into Durango for more trips up and down streets, enjoying the fallen and falling snow on everything. The bronze horses are resting in the snow at the train station; the other view is up Main from the train station. Finally, we started for home.

My bright idea was to go up the Lightner Creek Road a ways, looking at snow in the canyon. On the way back, about 3:30, I edged out too far and found out that the snow had been plowed further out than the road extended. In other words, the right front wheel was suddenly in deep snow ... hip-deep, I found when I got out and tried shoveling. Thank goodness for a couple from the Oklahoma City area, Toby and Leah, who came up the road in a vehicle capable of pulling us back out of the snow, and did so. Toby is the model of the kind of Good Samaritan we should all be in snow times ... stopped to ask if anything was wrong, helped size up the situation, pulled the Jeep out, smiled and talked confidently all the time and would accept nothing in return for his important help. A Christmas Good Samaritan! tv

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ho, ho, holiday fun!

Wow! It's great to have the cards and packages out, Olde Fashioned Christmas over (it's a happy community event, but it can get grueling for us oldies!), the food box materials collected (Durango Friends Meeting will assemble them into 15 two-box units for distribution to needy families in the Durango area right after New Year's) and no big Christmas event to plan and prepare for. We can just relax and enjoy the holiday season and, by golly, that's just what we're doing!

It will definitely be a white Christmas here ... 6-8 inches on the ground and snow falling now ("dawn" if we could see it) and expected to continue through tomorrow. We had a wonderful day yesterday, going to see the Nutcracker at the Fort Lewis College Community Concert Hall. Sandy loves the Nutcracker (and will, I hope, provide the commentary on the pics above), so we got seats early ... right in the middle of the front row! That meant we were only surrounded on three sides by awe-struck urchins, of which there were many dozens in the packed hall. And they WERE attentive; no noise from them at all. What fun!

Today includes a visit to the rec center (Christmas is hard on both the waistline and the joints!), work on a jigsaw puzzle (the cats are helping, of course) and reviewing pictures for some upcoming exhibits and a group that we plan to donate to the library for fundraising purposes. 

After eating out in Durango on Christmas day, we're really looking forward to the trip to Santa Fe on the 26th through the 28th. Santa Fe has SO much to see, we'll barely scrape the surface in our short time there. Reason to go back, right?

I'm actually almost as excited about what we may see on the way there and back. Weather permitting, it may be a wonderful time to be visiting the tiny Hispanic mountain towns and the Pueblos north of Santa Fe ... Chama, Tierra Amarilla, Abiquiu, Tesuque, etc.  Some of them have adobe churches that go back hundreds of years. 

Keep warm, feed the birds, pet the cats and dogs, love your family and friends and think positive thoughts about the new year! tv

Saturday, December 20, 2008

... and sunrise ... and snow

We not only get to see occasional blazes of sunset when the clouds open up the horizons in the west, we sometimes have the same effect at dawn, reddening the undersides of the clouds from the east, tinging the top of Point Lookout ... it's stunning (we manage to easily ignore the highlines and the power poles). 

But ... work goes on, even during the holiday season and after a heavy snow. The young cowboy down the road waits till it's time to move the cows to the waiting trucks. tv

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sunset Surprise

After days of snow and grey skies the sun burst through with beautiful color at the end of day.  We are so  spoiled here with so much sunshine, it is easy to forget to appreciate the Colorado weather that is clear and wonderful so much of the time.   As the rays of the setting sun painted the sky and landscape, I ran for my camera, putting on snow boots and coat, and was only able to take a few shots before it was gone!  But the moment was so enjoyed that I wanted to share it !   sf

And What's Under Your Christmas Tree?

Cats and Christmas trees.  What an interesting combination.  This is our cat friendly tree.  Kind of Charlie Brown-ish and we left anything breakable in the box.  No presents under our tree, just cats.  Presents would only give them a challenge and us something to rewrap.  The skirt is in constant disarray and what decorations that there are only a work in process for the two felines to accomplish the from tree- to- floor trick.  Fifi and Sophie's  favorite leisure spot seems to be under the tree.  Only they are very possessive about their space. (Sophie decided to do a "sleep-in"!)  I thought they would soon get bored with all of this and we could really decorate our Christmas  tree.   But . . oh well. . it's almost Christmas!  And what do you have under  your tree??  :)sf


Our much-needed moisture has arrived ... in buckets! On Tuesday and Wednesday, we got more than 10 inches of snow here at the house; this morning there was a cold, blowing rain coming down when I walked the dog at 5 a.m. Roads are gonna be murderous!

Fortunately, we only have to go in to Mancos today, to work our shift this morning at Artisans of Mancos. We can probably manage to cover the four miles each way without mishap. I've been in four-wheel-drive on the Jeep for the last two days. SWOS has gallery night tonight; we'll see how the weather is.

Yesterday we reached the turning point ... got just about all the gifts out and Sandy got her cards out. I've got two small items to mail today and some cards to write yet; will take them with to the co-op to work on and hope we're too busy!

The week of Olde Fashioned Christmas was a good one ... but it's nice to have it behind us. Now we can relax a bit and enjoy the holiday season. 

The nice thing about the snow is that it will end, and we will go out and enjoy the new snow in the bright Four Corners sunlight.

A headline on Google News caught my attention this morning, alleging a Canadian businessman had been approached to murder up to 60 people in Shawano, WI. Shawano's a quiet little farm town not far from where I grew up (at least, it used to be quiet), but apparently there's conflict around a naturalized citizen from India who settled there 30 years ago. One side says it's a closed community that doesn't like anything different (which sounds possible, from my experience); the other side says the head of SIST is a cult leader (which we've also seen before).

Browsing further in Wisconsin, I see from the Tomahawk Leader that two of the main companies in the area (just north of where my family lived) are doing temporary and permanent layoffs. Also that the county budget is so stretched that snow-plowing may have to be cut back. That's a serious impact in northern Wisconsin! tv

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Bazaar Day

Today was the day of the annual Lions Club Christmas Bazaar, the VFW Arts and Crafts Show, open house for Artisans of Mancos, Grand Opening for Veryl Goodnight's Western Art Gallery, the Town Christmas Dinner and ... two or three other things that escape my bleary, blurry mind. And we did them all!

We didn't sell a lot, but it was interesting. One person bought a card showing one of his Dad's cattle drives. Another person wanted pictures in the Town of Mancos. Still another liked the picture of the Summit Lake Community Church at dawn after a heavy snowfall, because her sister was married there.  So, it affirmed that people make a link with our pictures of local, familiar scenes and events. And we got some Christmas shopping done for ourselves, which I guess helps keep the money circulating in the community.

Good turnout at Artisans for the open house and for the music that Sandy helped schedule and lots of folks apparently did their Christmas shopping at the co-op. We also hope that folks who stopped by the co-op today and who came by our booth at the bazaar will come back at other times. TV

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas music

Once again we enjoyed an evening of joyful music and fun with our neighbors at a concert by the Mancos Valley Chorus. They're up to more than 30 members and they added flute, drums, bells and a bassoon this season to the cornet and keyboard they've had in the past. 

The Grinch was there, as was Lloyd McNeil, our resident whistler extraordinaire. All in all, a great evening with neighbors who like to share their joyful noise! tv

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday Night at the Bauer House.Victorian Style

The Victorian ladies(and one nice gent) were out in style Monday night at the Bauer House in Mancos.   Tours of the mansion were offered as well as refreshments and good company.   The snow was heavy outside but all spirits inside were light and in a holiday mood.  I came  home with a couple of nice gifts from the Visitor Center gift shop and a warm feeling of Christmas Cheer!  sf 

Another dawn

The dog is snoring against my thigh on the couch, Simon and Garfunkle are singing on iTunes, it's 14 degrees F outside and the sky is reddening along the southeast rim of the Mancos Valley. Looks like it will be a sunny day, probably warming up to be quite comfortable.

Yesterday I left for Torreon, NM, with the news that there was a winter storm warning for northern New Mexico. I was scheduled to take four food boxes to the Torreon Chapter for them to use in a Christmas party raffle to benefit the Torreon Community Store, an effort the Durango Friends Meeting has been supporting. 

The main problem was icy, slushy roads on the way down ... saw a few cars in the ditch and saw one pickup leave highway unexpectedly (no harm done). After I got to Torreon (26 miles west of Cuba, NM, on Navajo 9), I could see the storm coming in south of me and blue sky to the north, so I decided to come back by way of Pueblo Pintado and Chaco Canyon. I'm glad I did; it turned into a beautiful day for pictures!

For those who've never been to Chaco Canyon, it's mainly a set of 1000-year-old stone buildings built by Pueblo Indians in the canyon created by the Chaco Wash. So, I love the humor in the sign for a laundromat just east of Pueblo Pintado!

Pueblo Pintado, the ruin, is a set of beautifully built walls on a knoll to the west of the town of Pueblo Pintado ... it's like the ruins of a castle, standing there stark and alone. It's a Chacoan outlier (built in the style of the ruins in Chaco Canyon itself) and it is actually at the very head of the Chaco Wash. Drayton and I hiked there from Chaco one time.

As I headed on toward the south road into Chaco, a coyote was curious about my passage. 

Though I don't agree with the philosophy that you have to endure bad roads in order to somehow "earn" the Chaco experience, the south road is still my favorite route for its primitive character and the opportunity to experience the vastness of the San Juan Basin outside the canyon.

An American kestrel observed my passage from a rock outcropping at the south end of the road. A little later, I had a wonderful view of the road ahead, with only one set of outbound car tracks in the fresh snow (Fajada Butte is barely visible at the mouth of the canyon in the distance at the right). The clouds were beautiful, casting moving shadows over the scene and spotlighting sites, as can be seen on Fajada Butte in the closer picture, taken from just south of the park.

I did a very quick drive around the loop inside the park and again enjoyed the spotlighting effect of sunlight and scattered clouds. In the next to the top picture, Pueblo Bonito is at the right and a young couple can be seen on the top of the cliff at the left, looking down on Pueblo Bonito from the Pueblo Alto trail.

And finally, after finally getting gas near Bloomfield (a power outage had everything closed down in Cuba, Torreon, the park headquarters and highway 550 outside the park), I enjoyed a beautiful, clear late afternoon view of the snowy La Platas, looking north across Farmington from the NAPI area. 

A day of playing Santa Claus with wonderful side benefits! tv

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's snowing

It snowed about an inch last night; much of it has already melted away ... it's fairly warm out. Still, the dawn will be hard to see with more snow coming down, so we'll see what the day brings.

Saturday night we took in the Cortez Parade of Lights ... LOTS of people stood for a long time in the cold evening to watch about four blocks of floats go by. My favorite, of course, was the Habitat 4 Humanity float, which SWOS students helped with. There were SWOS students on and around the float and it was a joy to hear bystanders yelling support for SWOS as the float went by.

Before the parade was completely over, we dashed back to Mancos to take in a chamber of commerce event at the community center, which was ... interesting.

After meeting for worship yesterday, we had meeting for worship for business, which went on for several hours. We did approve a quick creation of food boxes to meet a swelling need in the Durango area ... another task at an already busy time, but Sandy has suggested a way to simplify the process, so we should be able to help 15 extra families by the end of the month. 

Then, later than anticipate, Sandy took me to see "Australia" as a birthday gift. It's a big, long movie, but we really enjoyed it! The photography was, at many times, stunning ... it should be an Oscar nominee for cinematography! A reminder, too, that right after Pearl Harbor was attacked, the Japanese attacked Darwin, Australia.

On the political scene, I'm so glad to see retired General Eric Shinseki nominated to head Veterans Affairs! He's a man of integrity who spoke the truth about post-invasion forces needed in Iraq and he got shunted into retirement for his courage. Now I'd like to see Major General Antonio Taguba, who called Abu Ghraib as he saw it and also got sent away for his honesty, have his reputation restored. tv

Saturday, December 6, 2008

FLDS note

For those readers who are interested in the ongoing saga of the FLDS, there are two Web sources I want to draw your attention to.

One is the blog by Brooke Adams of the Salt Lake Tribune:

Brooke has been covering the polygs of Utah for some time, especially the FLDS group that migrated from the Salt Lake City area to Short Creek (the local name for the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona) and the present controversies revolving around self-styled prophet Warren Jeffs. Her scope extends to the YFZ compound raided by Texas authorities and the properties owned by the group on the Front Range and she has developed a wide range of contacts and informants on all sides of the issue. I think she's a good source for understanding the complexity of the polygamous groups and the many issues involved.

The other site is the newly-revived blog of Winston Blackmore:

Winston was "bishop" of the FLDS believers in SE British Columbia until he was ousted by former prophet Rulon Jeffs, probably at the insistence of his son, Warren Jeffs. Now the little community they call Bountiful (Lister on the map ... and it is, indeed, bountiful!) is split between "Warrenites" and those who follow Winston or have, at least, been kicked out of the fold by Warren Jeffs. 

Winston's blog is focused on Bountiful and on the disputes about the UEP (the trust that holds FLDS assets in Short Creek and Bountiful), with less discussion of the larger picture. However, right now Winston is taking and answering questions posed to him about the FLDS and about him, his family and his community. A different point of view. There are also blog comments by various FLDS and non-FLDS posters on other subjects; that part (and the site) is maintained by Winston's brother.

Other links relating to polygamy generally and to the FLDS specifically are on both sites. It's interesting to see that, since Warren Jeffs was captured and jailed and since the YFZ raid, there seems to be more contact with the media and the outside world by FLDS followers. At one time, Warren banned TV, radio, newspapers, etc. (though I notice there's a little satellite dish on the railing of the big log house they hid in the canyon on one of their Mancos Valley properties!). tv

Mancos Olde Fashioned Christmas

Is there anything better than a small town Christmas celebration??  I think not!   The Christmas elves were plentiful and real cheerleaders for the event.   There were children of all sizes (and ages) just gathering around the bonfire and enjoying the company of family,friends and neighbors.  A big "Atta Boy",  or I think that in this instance "Atta Girl" is more appropriate, to the committee that has put the Mancos celebration together.  And last night was just the kick-off for a full week of events.  What fun!  Santa's arrival was the big happening for the children.  He was "mobbed" by the little ones, but with the help of Mrs. Santa(and the VFW,I understand) managed to hand out bags of candy,fruit and toys to all.   It was good to hear that those tending the shop at the Artisans also had a good evening visiting with shoppers and  those who just stopped in to enjoy the cider and cookies and chat for a while.  Happy holidays to all.  It's coming fast!  Enjoy! :)sf
P.S. Some of my  warmest memories of Newberry, Michigan were  of our Christmas "Night on the Town", very similar to the Mancos event.  Except it was freezing(the bone chilling kind), frequently snowing, Santa might possibly arrive on a dog sled and the first time we tried luminaries, the bags all burned! But wonderful memories ,though, of good friends laughing our way through it, snowsuit bundled frosty little people, the beautiful antique tunnel of lights that the residents proudly hung each year and took my breath away the first time I saw them, and most of all another very special small town that opened it's heart to all each holiday season.sf