Saturday, November 15, 2008

Taos Plaza and Forbidden Art!

Diver called her husband from Taos Plaza while I ducked into Hotel La Fonda to see the forbidden D.H. Lawrence paintings. Who knew D.H. painted? And that they caused such a stir that they were banned in London and confiscated!?

They only show them at certain hours of the day, and even though I was 15 minutes late, the guy at the desk happily took my $3 and ushered me into the room for the viewing.

All very impressive: they're kept behind a curtain which he pulled open for me. The paintings are, of course, nothing to blink at today.

On the recommendation of some people we chatted with in a shop, we went to Doc Martin's restaurant, which is located inside the Taos Inn. Apparently, the good doctor was instrumental in welcoming artists and artisans to the Taos area. He was really a doctor, but he saw a need for a hotel, and turned his old offices into what became the Taos Inn.

View from the dining room.

A pretty door with a ristra--the hanging collection of dried chilies that you see around this part of New Mexico.

I really liked this guy!

Stopped by a nature center on the Rio Grande and enjoyed the view. This is what the ranger looks at out his window every day. And to think I settle for a leafy tree with red berries and birds. (Hmm, mine's not bad for Burbank!)

Taos Pueblo

The three greeter dogs outside the entrance to Taos Pueblo are our first indication that life is good for pooches on The Rez.

Taos Pueblo has been continuously occupied by the Red Willow band of the Pueblos for over 900 years!

I didn't even notice until I looked at a larger version of this photo that the stone at the bottom right has a petroglyph etched into it.

We had interesting chats with the vendors who have shops inside doors like these. Everything from native New Mexican herb teas, to jewelry to clothing is available. I bought a pair of coral earrings from a woman named Cornflower Blossom.

The sign by the door invites us to come inside for fried bread.

We learned that we should stack the wood vertically to get it to burn properly in the kiva fireplace. I told the man who advised us that I now know how to make 4 kinds of fires: in a kiva, in a flat fireplace, at a campsite, in a cast iron stove.

He said, "Now you have to learn like this," and demonstrated rolling a stick between his fingers, Boy Scout style.

We laughed. I said, "That's next! Maybe I can count starting a fire with a magnifying glass the fifth kind?"

He said I could!

We chatted with this woman while she made us fried bread. (That's her fireplace in the photo above this one.)

She had honey, powdered sugar, and cinnamon & sugar for toppings. We opted to try it all, so she put honey on half, and the other two toppings on the remaining quarters.

One of the larger buildings on the plaza.

A young man waits near the graveyard.

Like I said, great place to be a dog. This is the reservation's Catholic church. Something like 95% of the Pueblos are said to be followers of the faith.

Kind of impressive!

This was probably my favorite thing we did during our New Mexico adventure.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Santa Fe Plaza

Oddly, I didn't take any photos of Santa Fe Plaza after we passed through Burro Alley on our way in. It's under construction right now, and not as inviting as I imagine it is most of the time. We looked into the shops around the perimeter, but the best was the group of Native American artisans displaying their wares on blankets along one long wall.

I bought a lovely necklace from a woman named Geraldine. She seemed a little emotional as she handed it over. It's an image of a corn stalk stamped through a thin oval disk of silver. I told her that it called to me because I grew up where a lot of corn is grown and that I connected with the reverence the people here have for corn.

All the current political, economic and dietary misuses of corn aside, it's a crop that has helped people in hard scrabble times survive. My people counted on corn once, too, grinding it kernel by kernel in wooden mortars.

We lunched at a busy little restaurant, Cafe Castro. These are sopapillas. (Later, at Taos Pueblo, we'll learn that these are just like Indian frybread except that they are cut before cooking so they make puffed up pockets.) They are simply delicious, drizzled with honey from a container on the table.

The waitress grinned when I ordered my pork tamales Christmas style. I'd done my research and knew that that's how you get to try both the red chili and the green chili sauces.

The cashiers at Jackalope had told us about Cafe Castro. This is a great place to shop on a budget, and it has a really nifty history. When a local flea market closed down years ago, Darby McQuade invited the displaced vendors to relocate behind his shop. The result is a maze of vendors behind the well-stocked store.

The main store is kind of like Pier One used to be years and years ago, but with the added draw of offering the work of local artists on consignment. It's worth a look if you're in Santa Fe and have the time. I found out there's one in North Hollywood that I'll have to check out.

Back at the B&B...the neighbor's cat.

What a welcoming doorway. That's my hat on the wood. I'd decided against it on our way out.

Diver made a fire in the fireplace. Have I sold you on Dunshee's yet?

Momentarily Lost

We got all cocky and thought we knew how to take the back way, through the alley, back to Dunshee's. But we overshot and ended up walking an extra mile or so up and down a hill (at unfamiliar altitude.)

I didn't mind too much. I like to walk, and it was interesting to see more of the twists and turns of this Santa Fe neighborhood.

It was on this walk that it sunk in that one of the things I really like about the city is that they treasure their history even as it applies to their neighborhoods. They let desert scrub grow beside the streets. They let their wood age and their paint cure in the sun. When an adobe wall cracks, it's not instantly patched.

They must only stock one or two colors of exterior wall paint down at the Sherwin Williams, but the divine is in the detail in Santa Fe. It's in the old carved doors, the painted window frames and the bits of rusted metal.

Santa Fe - Canyon Road Arts

We got up bright and early on Friday morning and, after breakfasting on muffins and fresh fruit in our casita, walked down to the Canyon Road arts district which started just a few blocks away.

The B&B is off of Acequia Madre, which means Mother Ditch. This is the mother ditch, an irrigation channel that was built 400 years ago, around the time of the founding of Santa Fe.

I liked this stuff. Giant seed pods, and roaming moose.

I felt a great affinity for this guy, clutching his creation to him. Artist's dilemma: the best work is closest to the bone. Now you're supposed to share it with the world.

Nice, colorful sign.

Lovely and simple.

Diver and I both found this one a little disturbing.

Even more disturbing: the submerged woman.

One of the many fabulous doors of Santa Fe. I love how the colors of the houses and businesses are all very similar, but the buildings vary marvelously in the details. Doors, windows, hinges, all provide opportunities to make the place one's own.

Great spot for this statue!

A little wild art, Banksy-style!

My foot in Santa Fe.

We walked back part of the way on another street, with a sidewalk that wound along next to a creek. If you're not into buying really high end art--like I'm not--this is an excellent way to visit Canyon Road. We did the whole walk before 9 a.m., and had the sidewalk and road to ourselves...well, plus a few friendly joggers and dog-walkers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Getting There is Half the Fun

Even though I sat up till after midnight talking with the woman from Santa Fe, I woke up in time to see the blood red sunrise. Had breakfast with fellow travelers in the dining car and then settled into the observation car to watch the scenery roll by. Called Hydra and Kitty from here. The train tracks parallel highway 40 most of the way through Arizona and New Mexico, so there's cell reception. (Better than at my house!)

Roadside attraction, some where between Flagstaff and Albuquerque.

Some people like to live in really remote places!

I split a cab to the Albuquerque airport with the Sound Healing conventioneer. She was catching a shuttle to Santa Fe. I was meeting Diver at the rental car place.

She arrived soon after I did and we headed for Santa Fe. Funny, our hair is about the same length, and we have jackets that look so much alike that I grabbed hers one day by accident.

Click on the photo for my TripAdvisor review
(I'm CoyoteCousin over there.)

Our home away from home for three nights: Dunshee's B&B. Very well located near Canyon Road art galleries in one direction and Museum Hill in the other direction. Finding it the first time was a bit of a challenge, but it's well worth it to stay in a residential neighborhood.

I love the way the houses are all basically the same color and style, but are adorned with painted flourishes, metal details and lovely unique doors. I took lots of pictures of doors.

We took Susan's (the B&B operator) advise and went to the nearby El Farol for dinner. What a great way to start our Santa Fe experience. We indulged in a meal of tapas, trying 8 different small dishes. Yum. I think our favorite was the parmesan encrusted roasted artichoke hearts that came on the ceasar salad. Mmmm.

My lovely room! There's a sink in the corner and a skylight overhead. I wonder if this was used as an artist's studio at some point. There was a nearly full moon, and a shaft of moonlight stretched across the bed in the middle of the night.

Diver's room. The door leads out to an enclosed patio. It was a bit too cool to sit and enjoy that, but it looks lovely for another time of year.

We hit the hay fairly early. Yay, we're on the same internal clock!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Turn!

This time it's my turn to take the train!

I'm headed for Albuquerque on the Southwest Chief. Same route Kitty took home a few weeks ago. I'll get off at Albuquerque, though, and meet up with my friend, Diver.

She and I took one look at each other in kindergarten, decided we were the cutest kids we'd ever seen--we looked so much alike that our teachers mixed us up--and became best friends. We were very close all the way past high school, and then our paths diverged. She became a nurse and moved to Cleveland, then Florida. I became a theater person and minor league vagabond and moved to California.

We kept in touch. She came for a visit 13 years ago and we drove up the coast to San Francisco together. This year we decided it had been long enough, so we planned to meet up in New Mexico and explore it together.

I was so excited that I hardly slept on the train. Amongst the people in my car were a kooky guy that rambled in two different voices, a couple of brothers on their way to Chicago to get their mother to move to L.A. to be near them, and a woman on her way to a Sound Healing convention in Santa Fe.

I spent quite a bit of the evening in the observation car writing, and then talking with a woman who had lived in L.A. for 30 years and now lives north of Santa Fe. She and I both worked at Skylight theater in the 80s. She as a lighting designer, I as a lightboard operator. Not the same show, but that's pretty close! We had a great time watching the desert go by, glowing under a full moon, and chatting.

I think I'm in love with the train.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Men in Shirt Sleeves, with Guns

A big black Lincoln Towncar parked on the far side of the Starbuck's lot and three men got out. Men with well-maintained haircuts and unconcealed weapons, chatting amiably as they crossed the asphalt.

The guns were attached to their bodies via various bits of leather. The biggest gun was in a classic black hip holster. There was one on a belt clip, reminiscent of a cell phone case--but the wrong shape. The third guy used a criss-crossed rig that allowed a firearm to dangle underneath each armpit.

Probably FBI.

Yikes, it's weird to have people strolling around with any kind of obvious firepower.

Nothing happened, of course.

They ordered their coffee and were gone like the scent of freshly ground beans out the side door.

Are you kidding? You expected a photo of the men with guns? It was spooky enough just to have my little pocket Canon out in the same room with them! (This ain't no Mervyn's lingerie department, after all.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Aliens Are Watching

I know because I saw them outside the Studio City Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library this afternoon.

I walked softly, but I was too intimidated to pick up a big stick.

I just tucked my books under my arm and kept walking. It seemed the best course of action at the time.

Parrots Rights

No, he's not supposed to get into the kitchen drawers. Yet for some inexplicable reason he has been obsessed with just this act of defiance for a few weeks now.

Must enter drawer. Must remove random lids and toss them to the floor!

Must defend rights of myself and all parrots everywhere to ransack kitchens, via terrifying display of ruffled neck and back feathers.

You may well quiver, humans!