little patch of lettuce

The hollyhocks, which I planted last year, are about up to my shoulder now. There are dozens of buds all over the plant. Hollyhocks love northern New Mexico, they grow all over town like weeds. Very pretty summer weeds. 

Now that June is ending, the tomatoes are starting to actually grow. It takes getting slightly warmer nights for this to happen. My marigolds are getting busy, which makes me happy. I like the clusters of marigold oranges, yellows and greens throughout the garden. The self-seeded cilantro is tall and about to bloom. I've been eating fresh cilantro on my evening salads, and tonight we threw a handful into our turkey tacos. 

These are the cosmos, which also self-seeded from last year's blooms. They are so very green & whispy.

Now, the afternoon breezes are summer soft & warm. The papery Aspen leaves flutter all around the house. We've been enjoying sits on the front porch. Libby comes out with us and chases grasshoppers. 

Yesterday J. from next door brought me a bag of freshly picked salad greens, mostly kale and chard. Delicious, and considering the abundance he has planted, it will be a fortunate summer to be his neighbor.

My own little patch of lettuce is just now getting big enough to pick and eat. This first-time lettuce growing experience has not been very satisfying. 

I applied for another job, and I've been told I'm the final candidate, and have a start date of 7/14. I'll be working for a non-profit. I'll be the admin assistant for the Director--and my job will involve grant writing, organizing fund-raisers, working with the press and other basic admin stuff.  It has been so long since I've been challenged that I'm a bit intimidated, but I'm also excited to have a job that I have to really think about and care about. 

Tomorrow, a massage (last year's birthday present from T., which I'm finally taking advantage of) and some outside time, some laundry on the line time, some sewing time, some cleaning the house time. 


petunia called picasso

today I put some shade cloth over a few plants. I think the sun is draining them. I recall being worried about this last year, but I don't recall it seeming quite so bad. they just seem sapped of a happy green. some shade should help. and the garden looks like it has ghosts in it now.

I always want to buy lots of marigolds and I never do simply because it gets expensive. but this year I started them from seed, and they were the easiest thing to grow. and now I might have too many. 

I bought this petunia for two reasons, one it has flowers hot pink rimmed in green and two, it is called a "Picasso petunia". and we may officially have too many plants now. 

flowering sweetpeas are the most darling things. I'm growing some but they aren't flowering yet,  these I picked from the greenhouse. my neighbor J. offered them, and he referred to them as the "wedding peas".

I drive into work each day trying to keep a positive attitude, I drive home exhausted from trying to stay positive. the place has too much chaos, mess and lack of processes for me to deal with, either emotionally or professionally. it gets in the way of me feeling like I'm doing a good job. but I have no input on changing it. I know lots of people work jobs they aren't happy in, I know I even work with some of them. I'm going to do my best to find a better one.
for months now I've been hearing about a job from a friend, and she said it might get posted this summer. and it was just a few days ago. so I've been working on my application this weekend. This is the kind of job that would actually use my capabilities & my degrees. I'll probably be more stressed out by this job, but I'll also be happier. so fingers crossed on this one.

D. is off camping with other boys. he'll be home tomorrow. and though I used to live my life this way, alone each day & night, and I'm quite okay with alone-time,  I'm so happy to know that he will be home tomorrow. when you get used to having someone around to talk to, or just, be near, there is quite a gaping silence when that person is gone.  


june garden starts

I spend the first few weeks of my garden season fairly certain it will all fail. But then the roots begin to take, and new leaves begin to sprout, and I realize that once again, I know how to plant things. And every year something is new and something dies and something thrives.

This year, just outside the living room window, I have a bed of spinach and lettuce growing. Safe from munching bunnies.

And since the neighbor is building a house next to our back yard, our back patio isn't as inviting as it used to be. We're accommodating by making the front porch a pretty place to sit too (lots of plants and some camp chairs).  And though we have a few too many wasps buzzing around the front porch, we still find it more relaxing that sitting within view and earshot of the neighbor and his construction. 

Also outside the living room, we put in a flower bed. Though some leftover tomato and pepper plants have landed there as well. By Summer, I should be able to see blooming flowers while sitting inside on my couch. (Notice the rock wall inspired by Chaco.)

The hollyhock is already up to my chest. And last year's herbs (chives, sage, thyme & oregano) are already bigger than they ever were last year. All the garden is planted. Now we wait. And also now I have to investigate the little black bugs I'm finding on the tomatoes. 


where people lived

Somewhere driving through the Santa Fe National Forest, while driving to Chaco Canyon, we drove through a tiny town named Coyote which seemed so remote, and so hard to get to, and so closed in by cliffs, that we realized there are places in this country that are truly far away from the rest of the world. Our drive took us through desert mesas, red cliffs and forests of Ponderosa pines.

This is a place we'd been talking about going to for awhile. And when the subject of "something fun for my birthday" came up...this was D's suggestion.

The Chaco Culture National Park, otherwise known as Chaco Canyon, is a shallow canyon 10 miles long  in the northwest corner of New Mexico, at least 50 miles from any town. You take the 550 highway up along the Navajo reservation, turn left at the Nageezi gas station, and spend 20 miles on a bumpy dirt road. Along the way it is flat, and wild ponies run and you pass by the occasional hogan or trailer, none of which look inhabited. And you think again about what it is like to live so far away from what you think the country is.

Chaco is considered to contain one of the most important collections of ancient ruins north of Mexico. The now-crumbling ruins were built between 900 and 1150 AD and it is believed to have been a major cultural center for the pre-Columbian peoples. Built by people we now call the Anasazi, it was likely used as a ceremonial center which people would travel to from hundreds of miles away. It isn't just one ruin, it is at least 15 "great" houses, only some of which has been excavated.

We arrived in the evening, with the wind picking up and a possible storm on the way. Our reserved camp site looked like the worst one there, but luckily, some other folks had left scared of the rain, so we got a much better site after all. From the camp site you can see La Fajada Butte, which excited both of us. We knew that beyond the Butte were the ruins, and that we'd have to wait til the next day to see them all.

La Fajada Butte towers above the canyon at 380 feet high. There are ruins of small structures on the Butte, showing that someone once lived up there. And astrological markings on the Butte show its important to the people in tracking the stars. The Navajo believe that a witch (la bruja) lived in the great house, called La Una Vida, nearest the Butte, and that she kept her prisoners trapped up high & on top.

Whether because of climate, lack of food or simply a revolt of neighboring peoples, Chaco was abandoned by its population. It now sits at the edge of the Navajo reservation ("Anasazi" is the Navajo world for "ancient enemy"), and the area is considered sacred by the Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo peoples.

Whoever built these "great" houses did so with full knowledge of how to build them in alignment with solar and lunar cycles. They understood the sun, the moon and the eclipses. Faint outlines of the North and South roads which led from Chaco to the outside world, for hundreds of miles, still exist. We could see them while standing on the mesa above the canyon. It is said you can even see them from space.

We started the morning with the hike up the mesa to the Pueblo Alto (High House), which seems to have been built with a view to the north, sort of a watch-out house for the population in the canyon below. What continually astounded us was how much you can still see. The roads which they had built, still cutting through on the south & north sides. How evident it was that this was all so designed, and built with purpose. 

One thing about the Chaco ruins that has piqued so much interest, is that the buildings were created from rock, mortar and even wood. Pueblo peoples build with adobe mud bricks, and have for the past 1,000 years, but the Chaco people, built in stone. They meant to last forever. 

Once we climbed back down (had a picnic lunch in the truck, and put on our rain jackets), we began the walks around Chetro Ketl, Pueblo del Arroyo and Pueblo Bonito. The Pueblo Bonito house is the largest, it is estimated over 1,000 people lived in the Bonito spot alone. Apartments were built three-stories high.

Most believe that  Chaco was built for ceremony, probably a combination of religion & government. A place of pilgrimage for thousands, over hundreds of years. The people that lived here all year-round were the caretakers of the buildings, the kivas, priests & leaders. The number of Kivas at Chaco is a prime reason for this belief. The "great" houses themselves were likely more than houses, they were temples and palaces. 

I'm reading a book called "The House of Rain" which is an exploration of the ancient civilizations of the Southwest. In it the author, Craig Childs, writes that the structures  of Chaco were "ceremonial buildings that once stood out like cathedrals in the  desert."

a kiva


Chaco is for explorers. It is for those who relish in the mystery & stories of history. We of course are two of those people. 

We spent most of our trip in awe. Awe of the canyon, of the ruins, the trails and the petroglyphs. The magic, the ceremony, the religion and the faith that once resided here must have been powerful, because you can still feel something as you walk in the shadows of the walls that remain standing. As the author, Craig Childs writes, "something colossal happened here."