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.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Bite at Bobcat's

Eric and I decided to go out to lunch in the early afternoon. Our first choice: Bobcat Bites for their famous Green Chili Cheeseburger. Bobcat Bites is located on the old Las Vegas highway which had once been part of historic Route 66. Bobcat's has been a restaurant since 1953. The diner got its name from the bobcats that would come down from the hills and were given treats at the back door. The current proprietors, John and Bonnie Eckre, are committed to sustaining a tradition of family dining, rustic ambiance and ample portions. So how about those burgers? One of the best I have ever had. Fresh ground beef free of hormones and antibiotics cooked to order smothered with cheese and green chile on a homemade bun. Bonnie stopped by our table to chat and told us that we should plan to return next Sunday. They are expecting a television crew from Food Network to stay the entire day at the restaurant, interviewing owners, chef and customers. Bonnie said she has been interviewed many times by TV shows and magazines like "Gourmet", but she still gets nervous and afraid she will get "tongue tied" in the presence of the interviewer. We'll return Sunday to give her moral support - and enjoy another delicious burger.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"Another Kind of 2,000 Mile Journey"

We began our motor trip in Harrisburg, PA January 29th. We knew it would take at least a week to get to Santa Fe, NM, with many stops along the way to exercise our two Beagles Mitzi and Daisy. They were good little travelers, sleeping mostly in their crates in the back seat of our Volvo sedan. We traveled through "the Virginias", Tennessee (where we hit the worst rain storm), Arkansas, Oklahoma (lots of those Danish windmills), the panhandle of Texas and finally into New Mexico. When we reached Santa Fe, we had driven a total of 2055 miles. Just yesterday, I read about a man who had made a similar 2,000 mile journey to the "City Different". The only thing we had in common were two dogs. John Wayne Haynes quit his job in southern Michigan, left all his worldly possessions, and traveled with two border collies while riding one Appaloosa with another in tow. It took John, age 55, 6 months to reach Santa Fe. I believe what we all now share is best summed up in this quote from Eric Garduno, an art gallery director here in the city: "Close your eyes. Breathe in the clear mountain air laced with notes of juniper and leather, Hear the hot crackle of pinon on cast iron, Feel the spice of rich red chile on your lips, Now open your the most beautiful sunset in the world."

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Welcome to Santa Fe!

What a welcome! After traveling over 2,000 miles from Pennsylvania and checking into our beautiful home (thanks to Eric's cousin Sharon), we get back in the car again and drive to the ER of the local hospital. After umpteen tests, I was diagnosed with a kidney stone infection. The hospital stay was my first chance to meet some local residents - the hospital caregivers. All were friendly, skilled, well trained and provided for my excellent care during my illness. My only regret during my three days at the hospital was having to watch the Super Bowl on a very small screened RCA suspended from the ceiling and even worse, MISSING DOWNTON ABBEY! One of the most memorable individuals I met in the hospital was my roommate whom I shall call Valencia for privacy reasons. I am not sure why she was there, but that was secondary to the story she told me about her family and her place in the diverse culture of Santa Fe. Valencia is a proud Native American, now in her late '70s, who was eager to tell me her family history. She related that her ancestors had originally come from Spain. Her father had been a cattle driver on horse back his entire life. The family ended up living on a reservation on the outskirts of Albuquerque. Her parents died and she had no siblings, so she continued to live alone in a tiny house on the reservation. She said about 8 years ago, the government discovered uranium on the reservation. Each member of the community was offered a million dollars and then ordered to leave the land. Valencia took her million, paid cash for a small home in Santa Fe, and put the rest in the bank. I felt a sense of sadness leaving her to go to my home. Valencia cannot go home and has no family. Was relocating her from a community she knew her whole life worth a million dollars?