the echo

just a bit north from the Ghost Ranch, is the Echo Amphitheater. within the sandstone cliffs is a natural concave formation, and it makes for some incredible echos. you take a short trail up through the trees, and gradually come to the wall of the theater, a cliff hundreds of feet high.

Speaking normally, our voices boomed.

this Canon Retumbido, towers in layers of red siltstone and fine sandstone. the thick yellow & orange are an ancient layer of sand dunes. and even more layers, of grey gypsum and more sandstone, siltstone and mudstone in reds, yellows and whites.

the formation was caused by water, cascading over the cliffs in the past of eternity.

I read that a legend exists that the large stain running down the wall into the theater is the blood of Navajo warriors, executed en masse on the top of the cliff. the blood having been soaked into the stone, and now a permanent stain.

though geologists say it is actually a "desert varnish", or a "rock rust", caused by the oxidation of the rock minerals after a sudden, overflowing, rain storm. (clay that is brought in with the wind, mixes with rain & the tiny amounts of manganese in the stone, and the dark varnish forms)

we take these adventures so that we can both explore. for me it is also to continue to gain a sense of place here. I grew up knowing where the dirt would begin to change color, understanding the power of a kansas sun overhead and knowing the best places to plant a seed & watch it grow.
and those things are all different here. and the more we see where it is we live, the more I can feel centered whenever I put my feet on the ground.

and yelling into a huge echo was fun too.


great things list #20

I haven't posted a great things list since May of '11.
Am sure I've seen & heard many great things since, but dropped the habit of posting about them.
So I think I'll try it again.

A simple one, afternoon sunshine on the geraniums.


ranchos de los brujos y georgia

the artist

saturday, we decided it was good day for another adventure. our first stop of the day was the Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu (about 50 miles to the south & west of Taos.)

the Ghost Ranch is most famous for having been a home of Georgia O'Keeffe. Also known as Ranchos de los Brujos, it got its name from the wandering spirits said to haunt the canyons looking for hidden gold.

my front yard - autumn, 1941, O'Keeffe

O'Keeffe started visiting New Mexico in 1929, staying with friends in Taos. her curiousity was piqued by this tucked away place (at the time, it was a dude ranch). in 1934, she began renting a cabin & spending her summers there. she eventually bought a crumbling adobe on the property, called Ranchos de los Burros. and this became her permanent summer residence. she claimed she knew it had to be hers the moment she had seen the place. and that its one room was empty except for a ghost.

"I wish you could see what I see out the window--the earth pink and yellow cliffs to the north--the full pale moon about to go down in an early morning lavender sky... pink and purple hills in front and the scrubby fine dull green cedars--and a feeling of much space--It is a very beautiful world." She wrote in 1942 in a letter to a friend.

view from the cabin at ranch entrance


overlooking the ranch

white bone on adobe 

cerro pedernal

O'Keeffe's works have resonated with me since I was a teenager. It was the late 80's, just after her death, and during a bit of a new awareness of her work. And while much was being made of the feminism & sensuality of her images, I found myself simply fascinated by the boldness of her curves and the richness of her colors. I liked the world she saw. So of course, it was meaningful to now stand among her landscape, and see such inspiration. the famous cliffs, the Pedernal & all those colors in reds, purples, blues and browns. the starkness of white.

red hills and pedernal, 1936, O'Keeffe

purple hills, 1934, O'Keeffe

we can't visit her actual home as it is off limits to the public. which makes sense since she was famous for desiring her solitude. (reading this old article is fun though.) we were told by a museum guide that if we were to climb a mile & 1/2 up to the Chimney Rock, we'd be able to look down and see the house. (and we just may do that on some nice hiking day.)

but we walked all over the Ranch. saw some dinosaur bones which had been discovered there. listened to the trees. and wondered just how awesome it would have been, as a dude ranch in the 1940s. or as a guest of O'Keeffe.

red & yellow cliffs 

road to the ranch, 1964, O'Keefe

(click on captions for links)



moon, bean & moth by kawanabe kyosai

gentians and full moon, shibata zeshin

crow on a branch, watanabe seitei

19th century japanese woodblock prints from the Freer Gallery online collections.

what a world in that we can view museum collections from all over.

(click on the pictures for the link.)


winter shoes

we rented some snowshoes & poles, and took an afternoon stroll. a couple of hours on a mountain trail.

this was my first time. i'm new to snowy mountain sports. and i've been hesitant to put on skis. but snowshoes sounded like a good idea, and I was curious.

we had clear skies with the bright, warm sun. and a few cold breezes. (and we put on sunscreen, mom). the snow wasn't very deep. and the snowshoes scrape & swish as you step along. we were the only people on the trail.

we debated over the animal tracks we saw in the snow. beer, deer, elk, possibly a fox or raccoon. definitely a lot of rabbits.

and it was a very lovely walk. with just the quiet sound of the wind in the tall trees. and it was fun, trying something that was new, as well as something that is an important part of what makes him happy here in the mountains.


sunday's bread

a reason to spend time in the sunny kitchen this late winter afternoon.
baking some bread. finding nourishment in the time & outcome.

the oatmeal bread from the more-with-less cookbook.
a cookbook that is like a secret password, if you know what it is, then you know what it is to grow up eating with mennonites.

a good bread, with only a little sugar & butter, and this time I upped the whole wheat flour a bit. ever on my quest to make sure what we eat tastes good, but is healthy for us too.

now for the high-altitude part. keeping it from rising too fast. getting the oven real hot. wondering if it is done, even when it looks done.

when we first moved in, I had a hard time with the lime-green paint job done by a previous tenant. I had plans to paint.
i realize now how I've gotten used to it, along with this old adobe. it has become our cozy first home.

but it will be fun to find the next home. hopefully with more sunny rooms than just the kitchen.



a few favorite vintage valentine's cards. from here.

and the card I received yesterday. handmade by mi corazon bueno.


root of the root

post-snowball fight

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-by e.e.cummings

i've been on many different journeys of the heart, but it wasn't until I accepted, truly accepted, that I deserved true, equal & honest love in a partner, that I was able to find this love I have now.


steel & velvet

Abraham Lincoln, in Springfield, 1860.
Born february 12, 1809.

happy birthday dear, great man. 

"Not often in the story of mankind does a man arrive on earth who is both steel and velvet, who is as hard as rock and soft as drifting fog, who holds in his heart and mind the paradox of terrible storm and peace unspeakable and perfect." Carl Sandburg (great poet & Lincoln biographer), 1959, in a speech to Congress on Lincoln's 150th birthday.

found the image here.
and sandburg's speech here.



illustrations by Yan Nascimbene, which he created for the stories of Italo Calvino. Nascimbene was an italian artist who drew over 250 book covers.

i love the simplicity of the lines, and the deep, rich colors. 

see other articles and information here.


sunday's day trip

we don't always share a full day off from work, so this past sunday, with one ahead of us. we took a trip up north into colorado.

up north are the snowy covered crestones and lonely old volcanos. the crestones are more jagged & dramatic than our part of the sangre de cristo range...which to me appear worn, soft & wise.

also, there are vast agricultural fields, and towns with wood frames instead of adobe.

the afternoon grew late & cloudy, but we took a long lonely stretch of a highway to the great sand dunes national park.

we climbed mountains of sand & felt the air get colder.
known as the tallest sand dunes in north america, they cover about 30 sq miles of land at the base of the sangre de cristos. the wind changes the shape daily.

we were the only visitors there, and could hear only the wind on the sand and the swish of our shoes as we walked. it was other-wordly.

I picked up a pocketful of rocks. some of them so bright green, they appeared alien to the soil.

on the way home we stopped at a polish-owned stop shop, where I bought what I thought was a polish milk chocolate bar (it wasn't, it was a chocolate/coconut bar, & it was full of liquidy, suntan oil tasting coconut). and d. bought mexican pepsi in a glass bottle.

and then the sun hit so brightly, we were blinded for a moment as we drove.


saturday coffee, adobe & art

saturday morning my laziness & indecision about breakfast led to a suggestion by d. that we head out to eat.  so we made our way out to one of our prettier restaurants. and were seated by the fireplace.

though we'd had coffee at home, my first instinct when out for breakfast is for another hot cup. when d. didn't order any, it seemed odd to me that he didn't want anymore. (then after we got home from the restaurant, he poured himself another cup from our pot. why pay for coffee when we had some at home, he says. and this is an example of a difference between he & I. for me, the coffee was part of the enjoyment of the experience, for him, a drain on the pocketbook. we will work through this.)

we ate well & warmly. and the coffee was delicious.

just across the street, in the ranchos de taos plaza, is one of the landmarks of Taos. famously photographed by ansel adams, and painted by georgia o'keefe. and though i've driven by it many times, this time we took a walk around the courtyard.

built over two hundred years ago under the direction of the franciscans, it appears very elegant in adobe.

a little mary in the courtyard, protected by her own adobe enclave.

we stopped into a corner shop near the church, & found ourselves in a tiny old adobe, dusty & smelling of mothballs, and full of treasure hunting. the friendly, story-telling shopkeeper warned us that he wasn't even sure what was in all the nooks & crannies. I picked up a sweet little basket which he proudly told me was made out of yucca by the Hopi of the First Mesa. and I was sold. and when I told him I'd like to buy it, he said he may cry....as he loved the basket and didn't think anyone had taken it from off the wall before.