Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thursday, Nov 22-- Thanksgiving

We took a bit of a holday for Thanksgving Day —slept in and had a relaxed latish (for us)  breakfast at the Burro Alley Cafe, which has hired the French pastry chef from the defunct bakery in the alley and offers an eclectic menu mixing French with  Moroccan and New Mexican.  Here's Angela, very happy about her eggs Florentine:

We then drove south of Santa Fe a ways to meet up with Friends of A and Z's from Lawrence, artists one of whom has a 97- year-old mother they are visiting.  She lives out in the country with a gorgeous view.  I have a new ambition in life…Here's  link to John Hulsey and Ann Trusty's web site:

And here is a link to their blog:

Ann, John Angela, Jean, and Z

After a nice visit, we wandered back to Santa Fe through back roads, driving through Tesque, where we found a glassworks studio that was open and blowing glass — they don't ever shut the furnace down.

As seems to be the pattern on this trip, we started talking to the artists, finding out about their process and making friends.  I got a stunning bowl from Nathan, who took us on a tour of the back of the property, including visiting the peacocks.  Got to pet Wilson, the mean cat, for a while, until he finally lost it and had to bite me.

We got back to Santa Fe in time for naps before changing clothes for dinner.  Met for margaritas with A&Z's friends Nita and Kirk (Don't know what's wrong with me, I seem to like all their friends) before going out to Santacafe for a good but overpriced T-Day dinner.  Variations on the usual theme included cranberry chipolte relish and mashed potatoes wi green chillies.

Santacafe interior--very elegant

Santacafe Thanksgiving dinner

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wednesday: Nov 21: Magical Day with Potters in Santa Clara

This pic of customers acting silly captures spirit of Moon Rabbit Toys
What a day!  Started out rather slow, with some desultory shopping, sort of like filling up the last nooks and crannies after a huge meal.  I spotted a likely-looking toy store (Moon Rabbit Toys)  and went in looking for things for Chloe and James (I seem to be doing all my Xmas shopping here) -- found some good things, but then the mail man came in and the owner announced the arrival of a new shipment of a game called "Space Checkers."  I asked about it, because it looked like something James would like and that we could all play, and a family who were in the store volunteered that it was their favorite game.  Next thing I know, I am sitting down at the play table with the mother and two kids playing a round so they can show me how much fun it is and explain what slight changes to the rules make it even more fun.  It's the kind of store where people come in and play with all the toys.  It was just lovely.  And of course I bought a set; I predict it may replace bananagrams.  And Neil will love it as it is quite strategic.  

I wended my way on towards Keshi-- a store specializing in Zuni fetishes that Angela and Z told me about.

Bushy-Tail by Jayne Quam
Check out the website!  It is wonderland. When you walk in they explain to you that the Zunis believe that each fetish has a spirit energy that calls to particular people, and so the pueblo has asked that none of the cases be locked so people can open them and touch the fetishes they are drawn to. I was worried that since the shop was so specialized, the fetishes would be way expensive, but instead they were surprisingly inexpensive.  The artists set their own prices, and since the store operates for the pueblo there are no extra markups.  Santa Fe is such a strange mixture of conspicuous consumption, suspiciously new age fake spirituality, and genuine karmic connection.  I fell in love with the work of a woman named Jayne Quam— she has invented a technique called "overlay" that creates very intricate designs.

Ace and Z picked me up and we headed up towards the Santa Clara pueblo, stopping for another magnificent meal at a place called Gabriel's. Ah, the many different variations available on enchiladas…

We drove into the pueblo to visit with Debra and Preston Duwyenie.    
They welcomed us into their home so graciously.  They've knocked out the back of the house and are  in the middle of a major kitchen renovation, so everything was pretty crazy; they are also preparing for the big show that I am missing on Saturday.  Of course, given my recent experiences in  renovation, we had a lot to talk about. (They very much admired the couple of pictures I had on my phone of the bathroom).  But we all sat down for tea and talked for about two hours.   Both of them are sweet and radiate that peace that comes from living the life you were meant to.

Not my picture-- much of pueblo looks like a fairly ordinary
 if rather run-down and dusty suburban development

Interesting discussion of financing problems on the reservation.  Because it is tribal land, no mortgages are available, and its hard getting credit for cars or anything else, even when you are award-winning/ world famous artists.

But some of buildings are very old

One of Debra's tiny sgraffito pots
Eventually we wound our way around to the pottery laid out on the table. I'm so grateful to Mike and Patti for giving me enough experience that I didn't look like a complete dunder-head.  Fascinating discussion of processes and symbolism. Debra's work is delicate beyond belief, and I'm really drawn to the natural imagery, but Preston's pots have this Zen quality of utter simplicity.  I bought one, for a breath-taking amount of money (actually quite sharply discounted). It's pure white with an inset silver ingot, both silver and pot inscribed with a ripple wave-like design that he calls "shifting sands" but which he also associates with water as well.  

Preston is really… quite, deep.  He's got that Hopi intentionality that Tony Hillerman talks about, a deliberateness and carefulness about every action.  As we discussed what became my pot, I would timidly essay some feeling or reaction or interpretation, and he would smile and gently confirm.  I felt like I was passing some test.  I feel incredibly privileged to not only have the pot, but also the experience of talking to people who are true masters.  Quite intense.  But also gentle.

We came back home via another pueblo, just driving thru the streets— the poverty and depredation of everything is so sad.   Drove all the way around Black Mesa, watching the colors change as the sun slanted down (Posted a picture on FB). As we headed home, the snow on the tops of the mountains around Santa Fe began turning pinker and pinker, eventually the whole range flushed rose, with the snow fields becoming almost iridescent. We stopped the car several times to take pictures, knowing there was no way we could actually capture the intensity or subtlety. Behind us the sky was striated with gold.  Left us all just saying wow after wow.

Black Mesa

The road by black Mesa from Santa Clara to  San Ildefonso  Pueblo is where Jim Morrison has his first traumatic vision

Came back to margaritas and a long discussion of all the writers Angela has interviewed (Salman Rushdie, A.S. Byatt, Jamaica Kincade …) (Her radio show is called New Letters on the Air)

I felt chastened and stupid for not paying more attention to her work, but have signed up for the podcast and am hoping she'll send me some of the older interviews.  She just got a big grant to upgrade the web site so that all the back files can be accessed.

Wow again.  What a rich day.  Going to be hard to come down enough to sleep.

Tomorrow we've got a date for Thanksgiving dinner, but we so enjoyed driving around today, that I think we are planning another road trip tomorrow, just to see more of the country.  We're compiling a list of all the things we haven't had time to do and see and making plans for the next trip, which we hope will include some of you as well (Judy and Cynthia— this means you, especially).

Monday and Tuesday: Nov 19-20: O'Keeffe Days-- Museum, Shopping, Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch

Dear All--
Haven't written much because I've been too exhausted when I get back to my room.  There is so much to see and do, and all of it involves walking and walking… (18000 steps, 13000 steps). My knees are fine and even my feet recover after a hot bath, but with the altitude I just get so tired I cannot keep my eyes open.

Monday was the O'Keeffe Museum and shopping.  The current exhibition is O'Keeffe and Nature— not a very coherent show; the center is a big display of her camping equipment, set up against a large picture of the Black Place.  Nonetheless, there were a number of paintings I hadn't seen before, which is always fun as her color cannot be captured in books.   The most outstanding was a banana flower she painted in Hawaii— the deepest fuchsia imaginable with kelly green leaves, set against a cloudy background of lavender pink and silver.  A total show stopper— though frankly it looks like it needs to be hung in a very elegant powder room.

Tired but happy after extensive shopping
After meeting Z for a memorable lunch at The Shed, one of the oldest restaurants in SF — green chili enchiladas, only gave me a bit of a stuffed up nose — Angela and I spent the rest of the afternoon diligently shopping, mostly for clothes.  I won't bore you with the details— you'll see them when I get home. Needless to say, we had a hilariously good time.  I know Angela well enough to be a personal shopper for her and I think she found some good bargains that will make her very happy.  We would up at their time share where one margarita was all I could manage before I toddled off to watch the rest of the Dustbowl on PBS.
Origins: My favorite store in Santa Fe


Tuesday— was our day at Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch.

O'Keeffe's ultramodern living room--notice gorgeous old tamarisk framed by windows
O'Keeffe's studio, rearranged to suit her needs after she stopped painting

 At O'Keeffe's studio in Abiquiu we had a particularly good docent, very thorough and accurate (as opposed to the rather flaky woman who insisted at the museum that none of O'Keeffe's paintings were metaphors for anything).  

(None of these pictures are by me as you are not allowed to take anything but a bottle of water on the tour, but found these on-line...)

O'Keeffe's bedroom from outside

Nothing much new on the house tour, except that I fell further in love with the chamisa  which is in its winter phase: great soft explosions of yellow-grey fuzz; when the light hits just right, it glows.  Never thought I could be so besotted by a monochromatic landscape.  Also very much admired the sage brush  on O'Keeffe's property, watered well enough to get gigantic, and all trimmed into bonsai shapes which emphasize the deep grooves in the trunks.  They look like they are hundreds of years old, but still in bloom.

O'Keeffe's courtyard

Someone's picture of a mountain tree-- thesis what sagebrush in OK's courtyard looks like


Monochromatic landscape, near Black Mesa,


Z at Ghost Ranch wi Pedernal
The trip to Ghost Ranch was as wonderful as ever.  The guide said that O'Keeffe thought it was the most beautiful place in the world, and I can believe it. (this from someone who's deepest landscapes are all green: moss streams in the rain forest,  the Sussex downs)  Somehow all the colors were even more brilliant than before; Z says it's the angle of the winter light. Whatever it is, it makes me want to be a painter.  Photography is so frustrating— you  never take the picture your eye sees.  I suppose that's what you spend years learning how to do.   

O'Keeffe's "backyard"

Angela at Ghost Ranch

Guide at Ghost Ranch holding up O'Keeffe's Cliffs against the real cliffs.

It's Wednesday night now and I rushed thru writing this so I can get onto describing today's doings:  an even more magical afternoon spent with two potters at the Santa Clara pueblo who are so good I am rendered speechless (well, nearly) by their artistry.  And sweet beyond belief. I felt I was visiting long-lost relatives.  No, it was more, dare I say, spiritual than that.

Sunday: Nov 18-- Day One of Thanksgiving 2012 Trip

Dear All-- Back in my casita, curled up in the big many-pillowed bed and trying to rehydrate after a long happy day of walking and talking to local artists punctuated by awesome food.

 Everyone is chilling out/ napping before we meet back at Angela and Z's time-share for margaritas. I find it hard to imagine better travel companions: Z is amazingly knowledgeable about and interested in local Indiana art, especially pottery. And Angela and I have such similar tastes that wandering the craft booths and shopping has been tremendous fun.

 The rhythm of our wanderings is very loose and sociable, starting up conversations with everyone and thanking them as we leave.. We started out early, meeting at the Plaza Café for blue corn pancakes with piñon nuts and turkey sausage.

 As I walked the four blocks or so over to the plaza, there was no one else on the streets; felt like I had the whole town to myself. Everything seems cleared out for winter— a monochromatic canvas of soft adobe tan, with white accents in the form of window sills and picket fences, and astonishing spiky sculptures of dried plants, all their summer flowers desiccated to hay-colored thistles.

 After a swooningly good breakfast, we ventured out into the cold, crisp sunshine. The native American artist market on the north side of the plaza was just starting up, so we strolled through, talking to people about their wares — A and Z teaching me the names of all the stones. We hit some early-opening stores (it was only about 9:00), including one huge place having a pre-thanksgiving 60% off sale, where I did some serious damage…but just think of how much I saved.

See that funny little twist on the tip of the lily?  That's "attitude"
 A&Z decided they wanted to go back for showers and a bit of downtime, so I wandered back towards home. Stopping in the O'Keeffe Museum to update my membership and check out the latest exhibit (probably two dozen pieces I haven't seen before), I hooked up on a docent's tour and wound up making a new friend; Marcia, the docent, and I bonded big time over what she calls "attitude marks," the little twists of eccentric line OK is constantly adding in.

Barely had time to make it back to the casita to pick up the car (did manage to solve the Internet problem—they had told me it required no password, but it does) and then drove down to the railroad yards to go to the local artist's market, where I met an interesting guy who does hand blown glasses—the kind I like to put up in my new lit cabinets. Clearly I'm going to have ship a box home.

 Had lunch at a brew pub by the RR tracks where Angela downed four tasters of different porters (Z is worried he's breeding a cold, so left us for a girl's afternoon out) and a genius waiter suggested I have them just wrap the buffalo burger in blue corn tortillas. Santa Fe Is getting very gluten conscious; I noticed a new GF bakery next to the OK Museum.

 After a fruitless trip to track down a pair of adorable turquoise suede shoes we saw on someone at the artists market (they didn't have any left in either my or Angela's size) we went to the brand new museum of American Indian women artists, where we saw a tiny show on Pablita Velarde,
Old Father Story teller by Pablita Verlarde

 The potter we are going to visit at Santa Clara pueblo knew her. Over lunch, Ace and I planned out the whole week…quite an ambitious itinerary, visiting a bunch of places Ive never been. I am trying to make sure we have some time to relax in between. The big Christmas lights ceremony in the Plaza is Friday night, so that should be fun. Will make up for missing the P'ton tree lighting. Walked three plus miles today. I took a nap in the middle of this letter and am still whipped. But happy.