Sunday, December 8, 2013

Posole and Farolitos

True to my blog's name "heart in Santa Fe", I miss the "City Different" and New Mexico most of all during the Holiday Season. It is at Christmas time that one experiences the true magic of Santa Fe. One year when I stayed in a casita on Canyon Road with my mother, we had a snow storm like no other on Christmas Eve. We had tickets to a chorale concert at the Loretto Chapel, but the roads were impassable to the Plaza. So we joined some neighbors around a back yard bonfire to sing Christmas Carols and drink hot cider.

The second Christmas in Santa Fe, I experimented with making Posole for my family on Christmas Eve. It is a stew with meat (traditionally pork) green chiles, hominy and vegetables. When researching the history of the stew, I learned that the early Aztecs served the stew on special occasions. To my horror, the meat used was sacrificial human flesh! The heart was a particular delicacy.

After our Christmas Eve supper, we all joined hundreds of revelers taking part in the annual Farolito Walk on snow covered Canyon Road. A farolito is a simple paper bag filled with sand and a candle. The little bags line adobe walls and roof tops on Canyon Road and all over the city. The origin of the farolitos dates back centuries to a trade relationship between Spain and China, when the Chinese lantern became the model for the New Mexican farolito. The Farolito Walk treats participants to a carnival like atmosphere of pinon bonfires on the street corners and hot drinks at galleries and businesses along the way.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

History Before My Eyes

When my mother passed away in 2005, she left a history in family photographs and memorabilia that was stored in two large crates (the large, 25 gallon size) and a copy paper box. Most of the photos were stored in the envelopes from the film developing companies.

The pressure was on me to review the contents of the crates before our pending move to New Mexico. I was also spurred on to sort the pictures, because the Groupon offer I purchased for transferring a thousand photos to a disc was about to expire.

So for the past 3 days, I have sorted hundreds of photos from the 1920's to 2005. My mother also kept a large stack of letters I had written to her on air mail paper on a weekly basis when I lived in Europe in the early '80's. The letters are a chronicle of events of daily life in a foreign land - travels, children's activities, coping with a foreign language, etc. (Do I see book in the offing here?) I also found a stack of Mother's Day cards I had sent to her over the years.

The thousand photos are now carefully packed in a 12x12x8 box ready to be shipped to California for scanning. Thanks for the all the wonderful memories, Mom




Friday, September 13, 2013

Coffee Tasting

I am not a big coffee drinker. In fact, 1 cup is my daily limit. I always thought I would be more of a coffee lover if I knew more about it. So I was intrigued by the announcement that our kitchen here at Los Poblanos Inn was having a coffee tasting this morning.

Eric and I sat at a small table and were given a score sheet and a "Tongue Flavor Map", a bookmark shaped piece of paper that had a drawing of a tongue indicating where you might find the tastes of bitter, sour, salty, and sweet. Then we were given two cups containing ground coffee, one light roast and one dark.

 Before the actual tasting began, we were given the following information by our instructors, two brothers who own a coffee plantation in Columbia. They grow and roast their own specialty coffee called "Villa Myriam".

-Specialty coffee grows at higher elevations, is shade grown and hand picked. It is only 10% of the world's coffee.

-Only the Arabica bean is use for specialty coffee.

-Before the coffee can be shipped out of Columbia,  the coffee must be graded as specialty coffee. There are only about 1,000 people world wide who are specialty coffee graders.

-One bad bean can spoil the whole 150 pound burlap bag of coffee beans and would therefor disqualify the batch as specialty coffee.

-The more oily your coffee beans are, the more likely they are to spoil. Dark roasts are used to hide defects.

-NEVER put coffee beans in your refrigerator or freezer. Coffee will absorb flavors of other foods in the fridge, and the humidity will degrade flavor.  Keep the beans in their original bag in a dark place.

-A good coffee is only as good as the brewing method. French Press is the best. The brothers prefer the Aeropress. I am so glad that Eric gave me one last Christmas!

So armed with all this information, we were now ready to smell and taste the light and dark roasted coffee. Our comments: light roast smelled like cocoa, carrots, and fish (!) Dark roast smelled like cigarette butts and petroleum. Infused with hot water, the light roast tasted like molasses and dark roast tasted like chocolate (yummy!).

Our instructor from Columbia

Tasting Paraphernalia

The Smell Test

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Trio of Unique and Talented Artists

We are nearing the end of our stay in Santa Fe and will soon be moving on to Los Poblanos near Albuquerque. I consider myself very fortunate to have been in the company of three amazing artists on this trip.

The first was Katherine Schilke with whom we stayed in her comfortable home and studio on South Saint Francis Street in Santa Fe. Kat rents a room with private bath through Airbnb for those who are interested.

I met Kat last March when I purchased her hand made one of a kind handbag. Kat has been so successful in selling her bags in all shapes and sizes that she is now reaching across the ocean to Paris, where she hopes to sell her "bohemian" design bag shown in the photo here.

I also was pleased to meet Roseta Santiago. She, Kat, Eric and I spent time together in Kat's garden one night sipping Kat's home made lemoncello. Roseta had just arrived from an art show at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis called "Quest for the West" where her oil painting "Forever Young" was featured. The beautiful figurative painting captures a moment in time where two Native American young girls are playing with dolls.

The third artist I met was Douglas Magnus. Not only does he own the Cerrillos Turquoise mine, but he crafts the blue beautiful colored stones into some of the most exquisite pieces of jewelry that I have seen in the Southwest.

Kat making a Bohemian Bag

Roseta Santiago

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Flea at the Downs

I couldn't wait to get back to the flea market we had visited last winter during our stay in Santa Fe. During the Spring and Summer months, the market moves to the Downs, an old horse racing track on the outskirts of the city.

Eric and I arrived at the market around 9:30 a.m. The first booth we saw was one that sells Native American jewelry. I am always on the look out for pieces of jewelry to add to my collection. My favorite pieces are Petit Point turquoise stone settings that are primarily crafted by the Zuni jewelers.

Sam manages this booth, and she told us the history of her collection. She and her Native American husband, who is now deceased, formed a cooperative of artisans on several reservations. The couple would bring jewelry to the flea markets and turn the money from sales back into the cooperative.

 There is a high prevalence of diabetes among Native Americans. Over the years, Sam has seen many of the artisans lose their eye sight as a result of the disease. Sam said that fewer young people are willing to learn the craft of jewelry making from their elders.

I chose a silver bracelet with coral stones in a beautiful, floral like setting. I am mindful of the fact that perhaps one day, this type of jewelry making will sadly become a lost art.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Conrad Hilton's Dream Becomes Green, Modern, Yet Traditional

After a long, weary day of traveling to NM from PA, we checked into the Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque. The hotel was the first hotel built by Conrad Hilton, a native New Mexican, in the 1930's. It is now a national historic landmark. It was the tallest building in NM, the first to be air conditioned and the first building to have an elevator. It has housed many presidents, famous scientists and movie stars.

Now in the 21st century, the Andaluz is becoming the most sustainable historic hotel in the nation. It is now "green by design" after undergoing a 35 million dollar renovation project. The hotel has an award winning energy management system. Seventy per cent of the electricity used in the hotel is renewable. The live plants in hotel are being watered with captured rain water. Most of the furniture is made of bamboo or rubber wood, both rapidly renewable resources. The carpet, carpet padding, paints, stains and adhesives in our room were chosen to make the room environment as healthy as possible.

As an art lover, I was pleased to learn that even the debris from the renovation project was carefully recycled. For example, the hotel's old cast iron tubs and sinks did not go to a landfill. They were donated to a local college where they were melted down and recast as works of art. We applaud the Andaluz for providing a peaceful, sustainable oasis in the middle of a busy city.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Moving On

Preparing for a move across country can be a daunting experience. For weeks now I have been cleaning out closets and files and files of papers. Thank goodness for the local Goodwill that shreds papers at $6.00 a box.

I have sorted through hundreds of photos that my mother left in envelopes. I still have another 2 large plastic crates of photos to organize and then send them to a company that will put them on a computer disk.

One of the most rewarding tasks was to say goodbye to two of my old plastic dolls from my early childhood. They were in an old suitcase for years and years. Their hair was coming unglued, but their sweet faces were without marks. Their eyelids still open and closed over clear blue eyes.

So I listed them on Ebay and they were sold to a lady named Maria in Brooklyn, New York. She wrote and told me how much she was looking forward to their arrival.

The dolls "before"

 When the "little ladies" as she called them finally reached her home, Maria sent me the following message:
 "Oh Nancy - Your dolls are coming to the best home. One of my most treasured hobbies is revamping old dolls and restoring them to their original beauty. Knowing they are your childhood dolls makes them even more special to me. Remember the story of the Velveteen Rabbit? When a doll is loved it becomes "real".

I was so pleased to get photos from Maria of my dolls that she is now restoring. I know that Nancy Lee and Nannette have found a good home. I will treasure these photos as I move on.

Friday, July 19, 2013

"Creativity and Madness"

Every summer, Santa Fe hosts the "Creativity and Madness" week long seminars that provide continuing education credits for health professionals like myself. The conference organizers invite anyone who is interested in the psychology of artists and the creative process.

The workshop titles sound fascinating to me. Some examples offered at this summer's conference are: Self Images as Thru Disease and Disability: Frida Kahlo, Mexican Artist; The Creativity and Madness of Edward de Vere, the Man Who Wrote Shakespeare; Was Crazy Horse Crazy?; Technology Meets Poetry:  Psychological Reflections on the Creativity of Steve Jobs; Alfred Hitchcock:  Storyteller of Fear and other Expressions; Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton:  Pride and Passion on the Plains:  The Midwestern Regionalist Painters; and Healing the Self Through Self Portraits.

A bonus night out at the Santa Fe Opera is also offered during the week. I'll be waiting for next summer's conference to attend as a resident of Santa Fe!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

"It All Starts With A Lump Of Clay"

One of the experiences that Eric and I have put on the "back burner" until we return to New Mexico is making micaceous pottery with Felipe Ortega. Mr. Ortega is an Apache medicine man who uses the coil and scrape method of building beautiful clay pots from the mica rich clay indigenous to the Madera, New Mexico region for 400 years.

Until I learn from Mr. Ortega at his studio, I decided to try working with some clay that will be fired in an outdoor "firing pit" using cow manure for fuel right here in Central PA. Thanks to the invitation of artist friends Vivian and Gabriella, I am looking forward to joining them in firing my clay creation. Vivian gave me my block of clay and said, "work with it".

I used to observe children work with clay when I was a Play Therapist. It wasn't so much the end product that mattered, but how great it felt to have  clay to pinch, pull, stretch and mould.

 I wanted to become inspired, so I put my block of clay for a short time next to a beautiful
sculpture of a different kind - a glass flower by Ona Magaro in my garden. The creative juices are flowing, and I am ready to go to work. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 26, 2013

On The Road Again

I drove from Pennsylvania down to Northern Virginia for business/pleasure. It was a beautiful drive, because the Red Bud trees were in full bloom along the highway. The Red Bud

 is one of my favorite harbingers of Spring. The tree has vibrant magenta pink blossoms. In some mountainous areas in the Eastern U.S. the green twigs are used for seasoning wild game in cooking and is nicknamed the "spice wood tree."My friend Christine has a beautiful specimen of the tree growing in her lush garden pictured here.

One of my favorite places to dine for breakfast is Anita's New Mexican Style Restaurant in Herndon, VA. The green  chili on my breakfast burrito was mild in comparison to what we had recently eaten in Santa Fe. But nowhere in New Mexico can one find a restaurant with a beautiful pink Dogwood tree behind the parking lot!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Birthday Thanks - and My Motto"

A heartfelt thanks to all my family and friends for their Birthday wishes today. Several of you wished me well in my new life year, and I could not help but make a parallel to a young fruit tree we planted last Fall at our farm.

When we drove to the farm for the first time after our trip to Santa Fe, we noticed that only a few trees were beginning to leaf. Yesterday, I noticed for that one of the little
fruit trees had blossomed overnight! It reminded me of my motto that I have had since post college days. New life experiences, challenges or surroundings? "Bloom Where You Are Planted"

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"End of the Trail"

We arrived home safely in PA after another 7 hour day of driving. In the end, we traveled nearly 4,000  miles round trip in our 2001 Volvo sedan (we are going for the "Million Mile Club") across eleven states. Thanks to all you readers of my posts (over 800 of you).

Instead of traveling in a car, the next step will be navigating spaces of change. This will involve cleaning out spaces in two homes, designing spaces in our new desert dream home, and keeping spaces in our hearts for friends old and new.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Bandits, Caves, and Highway Digging"

A sure sign of Spring - miles and miles of highway construction to lengthen an already 7 hour drive. Of course, lots of stops along the way for doggie walks with the Beagles at highway rest areas.  At one rest stop in Missouri, I met a woman walking her three small dogs. She was on her way from her home near St. Louis to meet her sister in Pittsburgh. Both women were separated as children, and she was driving to PA to be reunited with her sibling after 44 years.

We passed by two noteworthy historical sites. One was the Maramec Caves in Missouri. The caverns were reported to be the hideout for the notorious bandit Jesse James, who died on this day (April 3rd) in 1882. The other site in Illinois is the Cahokia Mounds. Preserved at this site are the remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico. Pictured is the Monk's Mound courtesy of Wikipedia.

Another long day tomorrow. Port Royal, PA or Bust!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"The Sixty Six Parallel"

Our journey today took us from Oklahoma City to Rolla, Missouri. The I 44 East runs parallel to the historic Route 66. We were amused by the Billboards along the 66, beckoning us to leave the road and shop, eat or sleep. Here are some of the more interesting ads we saw along the highway: Walnut bowls, knives, fireworks, candy, fudge and chocolates, pottery, cheese, Zippo lighters, army surplus, picture frames, wine, chicks (at the Cackle Hatchery), 50 cent chicken wings (!), and Humble House motel rooms at $19.95 a night, not by the hour.

Speaking of hotel rooms, we have to put in a plug here for the Drury Hotel chain. We can't say enough about their friendly hospitality which includes free "Happy Hour" drinks (of the alcoholic kind) and free food like hot dogs, mac and cheese, baked potato, chicken and salad. Best of all, Drury is pet friendly and the rates are low. Did I mention the free hot breakfast too?

Monday, April 1, 2013

"Day One - Oklahoma City"

Oklahoma City was the destination for day one of our trip back to PA. The most memorable part of the drive was the 2 hours we spent on the 104 in Southeast NM. For two hours in early morning, we were the only car on the road. We marveled at the vistas like the one pictured below - mesas and large cattle ranches as far as the eye could see.

We passed hundreds and hundreds of those elegant, giant windmills in the flat fields. We saw the long circular irrigators that make those large crop circles that one sees from the air when flying over the Southwest.

Billboards were amusing, like the one that had a picture of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. It read, "Visit liberal Kansas".  There was also a billboard advertising a restaurant where one could eat a 72 oz steak FREE. That is like nine 8oz steaks! What they don't tell you is that you must eat the whole steak, including fat and gristle, before it is a free meal.

There was a line of old Volkswagen Beetles  painted with graffiti buried halfway into the ground. And who could not notice the white cross as tall as an 8 story building against dark storm clouds.

Only in America...Love it!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Our New Back Yard"

We are only a few days away from our long drive back to PA. We are sad to be leaving this beautiful land of desert, mountains and 'Big Sky' that is always sunny and never grey or dreary. We like the pueblo architecture, the New Mexican food, and the focus on art in Santa Fe, the third largest art market in the U.S. We made new friends and re-connected with friends who had moved out here from the East Coast.

We are happy to report that we have purchased a piece of land very close to where we have been staying these last two months. It is a 12 acre plot (but no grass to mow:) with a 360 degree view of all the mountain ranges. We have found a home builder we admire and trust, and Eric will be working with him to design our new home and studio.

A big decision, a new beginning with a promise of more adventures in this "land of enchantment".

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Have an 'Owl - of - Sight' Day"

We had just seen a feature on CNN about Travel and Leisure Magazine's Top Breakfast Places in the World ( Low and behold, number 17 on the list is the Tecolote Cafe here in Santa Fe. Since Guy Fieri of the TV Food Network made his appearance there, the lines of people waiting for a table are notorious.

 We went on a week day and only had a five minute wait for a table. The word "tecolote" means "owl" in Spanish, and there were owls everywhere - owl paintings and drawings from patrons of all ages, ceramic owls, and owl earrings on our friendly server. Right next to the large autographed poster of Guy Fieri on the wall is a map of the US with hundreds of pins showing where visitors have come from. We put our pin in Central PA. The New Mexican food was as good as it gets. I particularly enjoyed the basket of home made muffins and cinnamon rolls placed on each table along with the entree.

I can't say that I have been to others on the list such as Cristalli de Zucchero in Rome, Mr. Minsch in Berlin, Ten Belles in Paris, or Morning Call in New Orleans. Let's leave those for the next travel adventure.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"A Zebra in a Cactus Garden"

Eric and I had the pleasure of having lunch with Lara Nickel and her husband Nicholas at the Pantry in Santa Fe this afternoon. Even more of a treat was a visit to their home and studio in the Historic Eastside. Their apartment is part of the compound that houses the Nedra Matteucci Gallery and unbelievably beautiful sculpture garden.

Lara, an native of Santa Fe, describes herself as a "concept artist". Lara paints floor to ceiling canvasses  of cacti and other plants. She has a life size zebra painting that is grazing on a separate smaller painting of straw. Lara's art work, when completed, will be looking for a place in a gallery or home with very large walls.

Nicholas, a native of France, is a young man of many talents. His knowledge of New Mexican plants is extensive. For example, the flowers of the chamisa plant attract bees that produce a very fragrant honey which we tasted. As we were leaving the home, he pointed to his bee hive on top of their pueblo roof! He has plans for many more hives for honey production.

Thank you for a very enjoyable afternoon, Lara and Nicholas!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Attack of the Junipers"

Most of the greenery here is in the form of large juniper bushes/trees. They provide shelter for the wildlife and a buffer against the strong winds. A few days ago, I took a photo of one of the usually green junipers near the house. I was amazed to see that the green had turned brown. This is not what we are accustomed to seeing in the East. The dull, brown/grey trees of Winter become green in the Spring, often blooming with flowers. To my surprise, I learned that the junipers here are now full of brown pollen. During the high winds of the last few days, the normally crystalline blue sky is now a brown haze. The pollen is so thick that our usual spectacular view of the mountains from the road has disappeared. Allergy sufferers beware!!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Le Pod"

Eric and I were looking for a quick bite to eat between appointments in Santa Fe. We discovered "Le Pod", an Airstream trailer aka gourmet "food truck". It was parked in a lot on the Old Santa Fe Trail. The owner and Chef Jean-Luc Salles describes his curbside cuisine as "A hip, retro eatery on wheels serving French street-food with a New Mexican twist."Side dishes and specialties" include Escargots cooked in butter served in the shell with crusty baguette. We preferred our baguette wrapped around a "Frog Dog", a French style hot dog served in a hollowed out warm baguette. Another unique food experience in this great city!

Friday, March 15, 2013

"Eric the Intrepid Food De-Coder"

It is always fun going out to eat in a restaurant with Eric. After his menu choice is served to him and he takes the first bite, he closes his eyes for a few minutes. Then he starts "de-coding". For example, we had a delicious salad at El Farol on Canyon Road. Eric tasted the dressing, and said, " olive oil, honey, but not quite sure about the vinegar and one other ingredient". When he asked our friendly server  for a list of the salad dressing ingredients, she confirmed the olive oil and honey as well as sherry vinegar and piñon nuts.

At another lunch outing with our visiting Seattle friends Bill and Deb at La Boca, Eric ordered a steak with an amazing dark, rich caramel sauce. "Foodie" Eric just had to have that recipe, and our server was happy to give him the list of ingredients:  butter, brown sugar, pimenton, (a hot smoked paprika) and a special smoked sea salt.

Eric found a shop called the Spanish Table that specializes in imported Spanish food, spices and cookware. He asked Ana, who works there, for the two ingredients pimenton and smoked sea salt. Eric explained that he was going to try to duplicate the steak sauce he had eaten at La Boca. Ana smiled and said that La Boca purchases those ingredients at her shop. She not only has them in stock, but she gladly offered Eric the restaurant's recipe for the steak with the sauce!

Last night, we had a dinner party with our new friends and neighbors, Russ, Amy, Glenn and Rita. The following is the menu that Eric prepared based on his new tasting experiences at several different restaurants in a tribute to Santa Fe:

Starter: a brick of cream cheese topped with home-made jalapeño jelly and crackers.

Soup: Roasted tomato soup finished with a dollop of Mexican crema and sour cream

Salad: mixed greens, iberico and manchego cheeses, pear slices poached in sweet wine & piñon nuts with a vinaigrette of Spanish sherry vinegar, honey and olive oil.

The main entrée was grilled hanger steak with a caramel and smoked sea salt sauce plated with a risotto of wild mushroom and apricot.

Dessert was an orange chocolate creme brulée garnished with whipped moscarpone, candied orange peel and shiny panned chocolate almond pieces.

As you can see by the photo, a good time was had by all, with rave reviews for the chef and the cuisine!

Monday, March 11, 2013

"What a Difference a Day Makes"

We are learning about the different weather changes that occur here in Santa Fe. One acquaintance told me that the windy months are March and October. We are talking HIGH winds here, folks. On a previous drive from PA to Santa Fe in March, we were blasted by winds as we crossed from Colorado into New Mexico. I remember wanting to stop at a rest area to let the dogs out of the car for a break, and we could not even open the car doors because of the force of the wind.

 One can actually watch the storms come over the mountains here. Yesterday, we awoke to a steady snowfall, and we drove through nearly white out conditions to have brunch with our gallery owner friends Larry and Linda. By the time we left the restaurant at 2:30, the sun was shining and the snow had completely disappeared!

  Mark Twain wrote "If you don't like the weather in New England, then wait a few minutes." In these times of extreme climate changes, his statement could apply to all 50 states.

 Twain was no doubt smiling with us at the beautiful sunset we witnessed this evening over the Cerillos Mountains. A promise of 70 degree weather by the end of the week. Love this place!!!!  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

"Chasing the Tale"

Eric and I were delighted to be able to attend an opening at the Matthews Gallery on Canyon Road last evening. Linda and Larry Matthews are featuring the works of Jamie Chase, painter and graphic novelist, for one weekend only. The exhibit "Chasing the Tale" features original art from "Hound of the Baskervilles". Jamie was chosen by Dark Horse Comics to illustrate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous story. I purchased my own autographed copy of "Hound of the Baskervilles" as well as an iconic pen and ink drawing of Sherlock himself, signed by Jamie.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"What's in a Door?"

We made a visit to "La Puerta" out on Highway 14 late afternoon yesterday. We were drawn to the place when we saw from the road a large lot full of all kinds of recycled materials like doors, windows, chairs, canoes(?), corbels, etc. "La Puerta" helps to preserve our valuable natural resources by re-cycling wood and other reclaimed building materials, like antique grillwork. Eric and I took a tour of the large yard and were awed by the collection of 6,000 old doors, columns, corbels, shutters, timbers and reclaimed wood from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. All these recycled materials will be fashioned into beautiful objects for the home by the talented designers and hand craftsmen at "La Puerta".

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"A Visit to Trader Walt's Flea"

Eric and I decided that we would get an early start to our Saturday in Santa Fe. We had breakfast first at Clafoutis French Bakery and Restaurant - two orders of Eggs Benedict with a box of lemon Madeleines to go. We then drove in the direction of the Railyard District, an area with upscale shops, a farmers' market and art galleries. Then we found our destination - Trader Walt's Flea Market. Once we stepped inside the large building, we knew at once that this would be a treasure hunter's paradise. Endless booths of jewelry, antiques, vintage Western wear, something for everybody. Our favorite vendor was Roberta's Jewelry Designs. The sign over her booth reads, "If you can't see it from the highway, why wear it?" Her famous gaudy necklaces are fashioned from turquoise, coral, sterling and semi-precious gem stones. Roberta clearly loves what she does and definitely lives up to her motto, "I do Gaudy Best!"

Friday, February 22, 2013

"Santa Fe, Art and Inclusiveness"

On my first visit to Santa Fe many years ago, I could not help but notice the welcome sign at the entrance to the city:  "Welcome. We are Building an Inclusive Community". I thought this must have been true since the city's very beginnings (Santa Fe celebrates birthday number 403 this year), when Spaniards, Pueblo Indians and Anglos co-existed and later influenced every aspect of the city's art, cuisine and architecture. This multi-cultural city is an eminent center of contemporary art (third major art market after Los Angeles and New York), while traditional, regional art continues to flourish. Art is not only a business, but a way of life here. Art is what gives this small city vitality and has allured visitors from all over the world. Santa Fe became the first U.S. city to be chosen by UNESCO as a Creative City, one of only 9 cities in the world to hold this honor. It is certainly fun for me to see my artist husband be excited on a daily basis with new ideas for cuisine and visual art work. He has proclaimed several times, "Nancy, they speak my language out here. I feel included and happy."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"My Wearable Art Treasures"

I received a phone call from artist Kat Schilke who told me that the handbag she had made for me was finished! Kat invited us to meet her at an estate sale in Santa Fe where she and other artists and vendors were selling wearable art, antiques, jewelry and a variety of other treasures. Eric and I found Kat and her handbags in a room talking to a woman who was introduced to us as Cindy, the writer of a very popular blog called "Chasing Santa Fe". Then Kat presented me with my handbag, and it was exactly as I had pictured it to be. We chatted for awhile and then Eric spied a gorgeous hand painted soft red suede shirt hanging on a door. He said, "That is you, Nancy! Try it on." I did and it fit perfectly. I consider myself a lucky lady to have two amazing one of a kind pieces of western wear, thanks to Kat and Eric.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Our Visit with Blue Swallow Woman

Eric and I visited artist Kat Schilke in her Blue Swallow Woman Studio today. I had seen a pin on Pinterest that featured Kat's hand made bags and luggage that are fashioned from old Navaho blankets, horse tack, beads, leather fringe, and other "bling". I called Kat at her Santa Fe Studio and arranged to meet her there this afternoon.

On the wall, arms held open by a sapling, was a stunning and obviously very old Indian leather dress.  The beadwork was intricate and beautifully made. To my amazement, Kat told us that she had made the dress herself as part of Mountain Man rendezvous – a deeply immersive re-enactment of the old fur trading days.  She and her boyfriend gather with hundreds of other enactors to re-live the lifestyle of old times, wearing Native American dress, carry tools and weapons from the hunting and fur trading era, and live with other Rendezvous enthusiasts in the mountains. As “Blue Swallow Woman,” Kat wears the leather dress for the Rendezvous.

Kat had samples of her stunning bags, hanging on an old ladder. I tried several on for size and then selected the Navaho blanket that Kat would use to fashion my one of a kind bag.

We asked Kat for a recommendation for a good, neighborhood place for lunch, and she immediately replied, "Tune-Up Cafe", a former gas station turned restaurant. She suggested we try the Cubana sandwich. We found the cafe and were delighted with the food and service. The Cubana sandwich lived up to Kat's rave review. Eric had a buffalo burger and proclaimed it one of the top 10 burgers he has ever had. Guy Fieri featured the "Tune-Up Cafe" on his Food Network program, "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives", which can be seen on the following link: 

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Love of Turquoise

From our house, we can see the Cerrillos Hills, a famous area for turquoise mines. Historically, mining dates from prehistoric times long before the Spanish conquistadors came to Santa Fe. The Cerrillos district is the site of the most extensive prehistoric mining operations known on the American continent. The primitive Pueblo people considered turquoise to be pieces of the blue fallen sky. Until 1889, New Mexican or American turquoise had only trinket value. At the end of the 1800s, New York jewelers acquired control of the mines and successfully marketed New Mexican turquoise as a gem stone. One of these companies was Tiffany, whose signature gift boxes remain the color of turquoise to this day. I love to wear my turquoise jewelry, including what I call my "boot bracelet" pictured here. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Eric's Art and Harry's Roadhouse"

Eric and I went to Harry's Roadhouse for lunch yesterday. Harry's is also on the old Route 66 and is a favorite restaurant of tourists and locals. We have eaten there several times before on other trips to Santa Fe. On one of these visits to Harry's several years ago, Eric took a photograph of a wall sculpture on a blue background. The sculpture was a tree with brightly colored birds and fruit. About a year later, Eric began his Transformation Art Work, which involves taking a photograph and transforming it into an abstract image. Here is Eric's description of his Transformation of the wall sculpture at Harry's into his artwork "In the Beginning": "The source image was a primitive iron and color sculpture on the wall of Harry’s Roadhouse in Santa Fe, NM. Colorful elements in the image became tendrils that seem to disappear into the distance or resolve into clarity in the foreground, all emanating from a primal, unseen source. The innate simplicity and spiritu- ality of the original transformed for me into a visualization of the beginnings of time and life itself."

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Dog Paradise

The Beagles love it here! Occasionally, a rather large western jack rabbit will slip through the fence and come into the back yard. Mitzi and Daisy will dash out into the yard only to be frustrated by a fast disappearing rabbit. I imagine it is the law of survival for the rabbit, since it must constantly be
on the look out for coyotes, bobcats, and in this case, howling Beagles. Our couch potato dogs for the most part are exercised on leashes back home on pavement or grass. Here, we must carry a pair of pliers in our pocket in order to remove rather large cactus stickers (similar to the one in the photo here) from their feet when they are taken on a trail walk.