farmington, new mexico

Thank you all very much for your thoughts and good wishes about my stupid ankle. I'm much better now, walking with a limp and possibly all right for some hiking. We finally have internet access after several days without. But I've been writing blog posts offline to post when possible. So to catch up...

Saturday, September 5, Santa Fe

While online at the Collected Works bookstore, I got email from our dogsitter with an excellent report. She’s having fun with the dogs, Tala is getting a lot of exercise, Cody hasn’t been anxious or frightened, and all is well. Hooray!

From there we drove down to Canyon Road, the famous art gallery strip of Santa Fe. Having seen the hyper-commercial crush of the downtown plaza area, I was expecting a similar atmosphere on Canyon Road, but was very pleasantly surprised.

There are dozens of art galleries along a narrow street, many with sculpture gardens in the front or alongside. It has a very authentic, non-commercial feel. Of course all the art is for sale, but as buying original art is a big purchase, the gallery owners don't have commercial expectations from most of the passers-by. All the doors are open, the owners greet and welcome you, and you can just wander through and enjoy.

You couldn't possibly go into every gallery, there are way too many. We just wandered into whichever caught our eye. In the middle of the strip, there's a Friends (Quaker) Meeting House with peace and anti-torture signs on the outside. I was happy that every tourist that comes to Canyon Road will see those signs.

There's a famous tapas place on the strip, very old and authentic, called El Farol. We were headed there when I heard the unmistakable panting and jiggling of a trotting dog behind me. I turned around to check it out, and see a beautiful tan pit bull trotting along, wearing a collar but not on a leash, and a woman walking beside it holding a small dog in her arms.

She said, "This is a lost soul! I don't know who he belongs to." She was clearly a bit afraid of the breed. We stopped to check it out, and the dog could not have been friendlier – instant greeting, ears down, tail wagging, happy as can be. Allan read her collar: "Nellie," with a phone number. Once we knew Nellie's name, she was super happy and friendly, wiggling and wagging and just the sweetest thing.

Allan got the phone number from Nellie's collar, and I called while he steered her off the sidewalk. While I was calling, the woman thanked us and quickly walked away. What we didn't realize is that she was a gallery owner coming back to her shop. I left a voice mail for the dog's owner, while we sat on the steps in front of the gallery wondering what to do. We couldn't just leave her to wander around. Not knowing the laws of the state of New Mexico, I was not going to call animal control services – if there are anti-pit-bull laws, Nellie might be destroyed, no questions asked.

As we were deliberating, the same woman reappeared from the gallery with a leash. She suggested we hook Nellie to the railing. She’d be safe, we could call the owner again and say where the dog is, and we could leave. There was a nice spot in the shade to which Nellie was only to happy to be tethered. The gallery owner got her some water, I made another call, and we headed down the street for tapas.

El Farol is wonderful – very good tapas in a very authentic Spanish atmosphere. The building itself has been a bar or catina since 1835. We were munching and sipping when my phone rang. It was the father of the Nellie’s owner. His son is at work but asked him if he could go over and get the dog. I explained where Nellie was, and we said he’d come out.

Fifteen or 20 minutes later, he called again. From the patio of El Farol, I could see him on his phone, and he said the dog wasn’t there, or he couldn’t find her. Allan took off down the street; Nellie was there (of course). The man borrowed the gallery owner’s leash to get Nellie in his truck, Allan said goodbye to Nellie, returned the leash and came back to the patio. A few minutes later we saw the man drive by, with Nellie at the window.

No surprise, the man told Allan that Nellie is an escape artist who is constantly getting loose and showing up in various places. That makes me so sad and worried, as the look of her breed will work against her. But she’s a beautiful and friendly dog. I hope Nellie has a long happy life of escapes, adventures and returns.

After a completely unnecessary second glass of wine and more tapas, we headed further away from downtown, towards Museum Hill. Several Santa Fe museums, all built with the same brown adobe look, are grouped together a few miles out of downtown, on a rise with a beautiful vista of desert foreground and distant mountains. I wanted to at least have a quick look at the Museum of International Folk Art.

Allan and I both really like folk art, and I read this place is very special. (If you find yourself in Baltimore, don’t miss the Visionary Museum!) There was an exhibit of Indonesian art that makes up puppet theatre, through which great epics such as the Mahabarata are told. There were puppets, instruments, props, and a brilliant interactive digital companion through which you could access more information about the characters, construction, story, music, and such. (There is also a Hispanic heritage wing, but it was closed for an exhibit change.)

We only looked briefly at the Indonesian exhibit, because the main attraction there is the Girard Wing, which displays the museum’s permanent collection. It’s an incredible array of folk art – processions, kitchen scenes, religious scenes, dia de los muertos art, masks, fiestas – you name it. This had to be really brief because of time constraints, but I was very glad we went.

Then we hustled back to the room to change, and called a cab to take us to the ceremony. We had already decided not to drive home from the wedding, so we could drink and not worry about finding our way back through dark streets and DWI checks.

The wedding was at the Randall Davey Audubon Center, which is built on a mesa surrounded by magnificent mountain views. You couldn’t have dreamt up a more perfect setting. For a moment during the ceremony, a hummingbird was hovering near the flower-covered marriage arch.

The wedding ceremony was the most moving I have ever witnessed. Both partners are very spiritual, and they’re also both in the healing arts. They met in massage therapy school, and are in Santa Fe to attend acupuncture school; she is also an herbalist.

The ceremony was a reflection of their spirituality and the deep partnership they share. It was a multifaith ceremony, bringing in Christian, Jewish and Buddhist elements, poetry, and an awesome set of vows that they each read to each other. Two female reverends, Universalists, presided. Everyone witnessing the gathering was so moved, even me, and I eschew legal marriage (for myself) and have exactly no spirituality. It was truly a celebration of the two human's unique and beautiful love for each other, and their desire to support each other as individuals within their partnership.

After the ceremony, we hitched a ride with some cousins back to Bishop’s Lodge for a great party. It was very special to spend time with our cousins from Florida, who we rarely see, my brother’s closest friends, who I haven’t seen in decades, and other extended family.
Everyone was asking about my ankle, the many health professionals there offering me all kinds of painkillers and giving advice.

I was trying to stay off my feet as much as possible, but at one point the dance floor was too much to resist. I’m not going to dance Hava Nagila at my nephew’s wedding?! The hell I’m not. So I completely abused my ankle for a while, then sat outside talking with various people. It was really an amazing night.

At one point at dinner, my sister spontaneously announced, How about everyone here, our table, has dinner together tomorrow night? I was disappointed to say we were leaving after the Sunday brunch. But a short consultation later, Allan and I decided to shift our plans and stay for that dinner. It’s my sister and brother-in-law, a niece and nephew, our Florida cousins and another cousin who I only see at these large events, and who recently lost his wife to cancer. I also rarely see my niece and nephew from my sister (the ones I usually talk about are my brother’s kids). So a change of travel plans seemed more than worth it for this great opportunity. We weren’t sure we could keep our casita for an additional night, but we figured we work that out somehow.

We cabbed back to our little house, to try and get some sleep before waking up very early on Sunday.

Sunday, September 06, Santa Fe

We started the day by meeting Judy and Cassie (my sister and her daughter) back at Bishop’s Lodge for horseback riding. I hadn’t been on a horse in so long, possibly since our trip to Yosemite National Park in the late 1980s. I’ve wanted to ride on other vacations, but it just never worked out. But as a kid I used to go 8 or 10 times a summer, and we’d ride on our Western family vacations whenever possible. I love being close to an animal, out in the quiet of nature. I find it so peaceful and just so much fun.

The wrangler was excellent, helping me mount from the left side so I could avoid putting weight on my injured ankle. There were six of us in the group – Allan, me, Judy, Cassie and two people we didn’t know – plus the wrangler. She gave us a brief lessons, which was a great refresher for me, and was more sensitive to the needs of the horses than many instructors I have seen. Then we rode off into the hills.

The world here is brown and green, much greener than many parts of the southwest, because of 7,000-foot elevation brings more rainfall. There are scrubby, low-lying bushes – juniper and sage are the only ones I can identify – and tiny flowering cacti, close to the ground. Some of the sage is in bloom, the distinctive lavender colour of the American west.

Once we climbed up onto a ridge line, we could see the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the distance, the last US ridge of the Rocky Mountains. Jennifer (the wrangler) pointed out a distant hill that’s in Colorado, as well as the Los Alamos Laboratories. In the near distance we could see huge vacation homes, built in the brown adobe Southwest style, with huge picture windows.

The trail was full of steep ups and downs, which is fun and sometimes a tad scary. It was wonderful to be on a horse again. I was also really happy for my sister. She used to be an accomplished rider, and I’ve been encouraging her to get into it again. She has both time and money, but motivational issues and depression have been holding her back from doing much of anything. I am hoping that a morning on horseback might serve as a kick-start.

Getting off the horse was interesting! Sore muscles, jelly-legs and groaning abounded. I wonder what I’ll feel like tomorrow!

We went back to my sister’s room at the Lodge to change, and around that time learned from our host that the casita is indeed available another night (which turned out to be half price!). Next up was the brunch, which was relaxed and informal, but totally extravagant in terms of food and service. We took a little break from the group meals and ate by ourselves, but also spent a lot of time hugging and gushing over groom, bride, their siblings, parents, in-laws, friends and such.

Santa Fe is packed today – it’s Sunday and there’s a huge fiesta in town. We’re not into street fairs, especially in the baking sun. We headed back to the casita to write and re-plan our next few days. I’ve been writing this in word, hoping that I’ll have an internet connection at some point to paste it into blogger.

[We just popped into our hotel room in Farmingon to post this, and are off for a hike among native ruins, if my ankle can take it. I will write more later tonight.]

Some of our photos from Santa Fe and Canyon Road are here.

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