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Ruidoso resides at 7000 feet, ponderosa-forest cool.
Billowy gray cloud kachinas powwow
above Alamagordo and White Sands.

 

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With my Arizona cousins, I eat
burgers, dogs, potato salad and
something with too much cream-cheese.

 

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After 30 years and three days,
I make friends with the young ones.

The “young ones,” sons of my cousin Susie and her husband Watson, are now parents and grandparents! That’s Greg (above and below), in the red shirt, in charge of grilling. He’s an EMT and a firefighter.  He likes his Hatch chilies hot — too hot for me.

 

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That’s Gary, a nurse, whose hobby is buying treasures at garage sales and selling them on Ebay. He knows his stuff.

 

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Betty and her husband bought the land and built their summer cabin next to the Rio Ruidoso River many years ago. Later they built guest cabins and named the property The Riverdeck. Three cabins are rentable year-round to guests.

 

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My first cousin Susie and her husband Watson have known Betty (now widowed) since they were young and lived in Germany while in the military.

 

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Susie, Watson and Betty are on the porch of Betty’s house (above). Greg and his wife Vicki are in the lawn chairs, while Jim stands beside them obscuring Gary. The “kids” bunked in Betty’s house. Susie and Watson stayed out of town in their RV trailer while Jim and I rented the little gray cabin that we are fond of.

 

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Jim and I have rendezvoused with Susie and Watson here on three occasions. It’s been a family reunion destination for us. This time was special because the “kids” (now in their 50s) managed to pull strings to get vacation days and drive from Phoenix to visit with me and Jim–and Betty’s kids. Now that we know them better, we look forward to seeing them in Buena Vista–hopefully in the not too distant future.

 

 

 

 

Another kiva
This time in Bernalillo.
Down a ladder I climb stiffly. Stand with
thirteen others listening to a professor
with a New York accent
illuminate us about 100 years’
of a disappeared puebloan village.
I finally understand the housing configuration
for a family . . . imagine myself lying on a flat
adobe roof, star gazing.  I could have been
happy there . . . next to the Rio Grande River.

 

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Coronado Historic Site and the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo were located a couple of stoplights away from our Day’s Inn motel. As soon as we check in, drive to the ruins and tour the beautifully restored site.

We learn that the infamous Spanish explorer Coronado discovered this and eleven other pueblos in 1540. The native people’s ancestors had been living in this area for thousands of years. The Kuaua Pueblo had been established in 1325.  With a beautiful view of the Sandia Mountains within a few city blocks from the Rio Grande River, these folks enjoyed a prosperous existence. The early residents grew corn, squash and beans.The picture below is taken from the front steps of the visitor center.

 

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Before we can enter the restored kiva, a learned gentleman gives us a lecture about the wall art we are about to see. Excavation and preservation has taken many years. He tells us there were 17 layers of art. Each was painstakingly removed and preserved. What we will see in the kiva is a reproduction done by a Zia Indian of one layer. I took the following picture inside the kiva.

 

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Thankfully I also took the picture below showing the ladder. Jim stands beside me in shadow. The kiva is square in shape with pictures painted on all sides.

 

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I say “thankfully” because as I wrote this blog, something clicked in my mind. Below is a photo my father took of my mom around 1980. It’s been a favorite of mine for all these years and it hangs next to my bed. I’ve always wondered where it was taken. When I photographed the photograph, I did it practically in the dark to eliminate the reflection of the glass. The picture is lighter and brighter in reality.

 

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Eureka!  This is the same kiva I was in!  The man in my picture (above) is standing on the floor with the same wall art at his elbow as the wall art in front of my mom at the level of her thigh. Mom has climbed a few rungs, so the wall art behind her appears lower.

Subconsciously, on this trip, I was in search of the kiva where that photo of Mom was taken. That is why I wanted to enter the kivas at Aztec and Coronado. And without knowing why, I took the picture of the ladder at almost the same angle as my father had. Some part of my unfinished business is now finished!

Aztec Ruins–
I sit in reconstructed Great Kiva
hoping for a flashback to a past life
but only a recording of singing drums
and the sound of my breath pass through me
Later my fear of snoozing rattlesnakes
prevents me from crouching through
a string of stark rooms toward a distant
sunbeam

 

Our summer vacation started on July 22nd with a long day of driving over to Farmington, NM. Before checking into our motel, we drove to the Aztec Ruins, a National Monument site.

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From the National Monument info:   “Early settlers mistakenly thought that people from the Aztec Empire in Mexico created these striking buildings. They named the site “Aztec,” a misnomer that persisted even after it became clear that the builders were the ancestors of many Southwestern tribes. The people who built at Aztec and other places throughout the Southwest were called “Anasazi” for many years. Archeologists had adopted that word from the Navajo language, which they understood to mean “ancient ones,” and then popularized its use. Most Pueblo people today prefer that we use the term “Ancestral Puebloans” to refer to their ancestors.”

Jim and I walked through the ruins late in the afternoon. We lingered in the Great Kiva quite a while absorbing the feeling of what it might have felt like back when. A sense of sacred space was enhanced by a sound track of drums and chanting, played intermittently.  Windows around the perimeter bring in the light that appears in photos like giant torches.

 

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We learned that these and other southwest Puebloan ruins, such as Chaco, are not “dead sites.” But that “many Southwestern American Indians today maintain deep spiritual ties with this and other ancestral sites through oral tradition, prayer, and ceremony.”

Aztec Ruins is a well preserved site with many connected rooms. The doorways are low and require crouching to move through them. I took this photo (below) from the farthest room in the series, looking back the way I came. The walls, open to the sky, were at least 20 feet high and made of stone.

 

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But another set of rooms, I dared not enter alone. They were reconstructed with roofs overhead. Knowing that this is rattlesnake country, I imagined these cubicles would be a perfect place to hide and sleep, if I were a snake . . .

 

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Aztec Ruins is a place I’d recommend to anyone who loves the history and culture of ancient peoples. It is not nearly as well known as Chaco or Mesa Verde, but equally well preserved and mysterious.

 

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The WordPress format looks different this evening. I’ll go along with it.

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This blog is a quickie. In fact “quickie” seems to have become a primary part of my vocabulary of late. Time feels compressed, and I’m not so sure it’s because we are getting older. I think time IS moving faster. Some days we get little done. This wasn’t one of those days because Jim and I were up early. I walked half an hour around our circle. Then the two of us met a neighbor couple at 7:45 for breakfast at The Rooster’s Crow. After that we shopped for food, stopped by the nursery to look at annuals, came home, read the Sunday Denver Post a bit, put in some laundry, and thought about glazing pots—which is what we did next–until we lost our oooomph.

Today’s glazing included Jim’s working on his smaller pieces such as mugs . . .

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. . . and bowls. He made a number of stamps out of Styrofoam . . . thus the pattern.

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I glazed chip & dip platters. The colorful one in the right corner is a plate from several years back. That’s roughly what I was aiming for — that color pattern.

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We may finish loading the kiln tomorrow, but first I’ll need to glaze the dip bowls for the chip & dips and also the heart bowls requested by our galleries.

We shall SEE. My weekly writing group is taking a break for the summer, which gives me an extra day in the week to handle the day to day stuff.

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Here’s a close-up of one of Jim’s masks hanging on the side of our garage, which has become a display wall for our hang-ups . . .

Water, Water, Water

It’s been cool and rainy for a month. Very un-Colorado-like. Very much like the Amazon rainforest. Today Jim and I went to  look at the Town Lake.  Normally this waterfall is around a 10-foot drop.

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Cottonwood Creek feeds Town Lake. It exits at the above waterfall and flows under the bridge at Main Street.

 

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On the other side of Main Street, Cottonwood Creek resumes its course toward the Arkansas River:

 

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Sandbags are in place in case the tunnel under Main Street isn’t adequate to contain the raging waters.

 

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This was Mt. Princeton 3 weeks ago, heavily layered with snow.

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As I write this I hear thunder rolling off the mountains to the west. It will be another wet night. With the rain, most of the snow has melted. This is a picture of Mt. Princeton tonight.

 

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Melting snow and daily/nightly rain is causing extreme high water in the Arkansas River and tributaries such as Cottonwood Creek. Who knows what tomorrow will bring!

 

 

Jim had never been to the Royal Gorge, and I had not been there since 1986 . . . so you know a few things had changed. But not the canyon. Thank goodness the gorge had the good sense to stay put, except for maybe carving another fraction of an inch deeper. I took this picture of the gorge and bridge from inside the gondola.

 

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Here’s a picture of the two of us inside our gondola cabin. There were 5 of us in here and the other couple took selfies with a phone but we needed their assistance to take our picture with my camera.

 

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And here’s a telephoto picture I took later in the day from the bridge when the two gondolas were crossing. The gondola is free with the price of entering the park ($18 each for Jim and me).

 

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We did not find the gondola ride scary. It is a brand new addition to the park, after a forest fire devastated most of the buildings two years ago. The visitor center has been rebuilt. A few buildings are still under construction.

While I could stomach the gondola ride and the incredible gorge bridge, the zip line across the abyss and a giant swing over the canyon felt overdone and even grotesque. But people were lining up for the adrenalin rush. Here’s a picture of the swing apparatus.

 

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We watched while a man experienced the swing (not a free ride). He was trussed up and then pulled way up high and way back before being cut loose to swing over the gorge about 10 times. He was lowered slowly as he continued to swing until his handlers convinced him to grab a loop rope and dismount.

 

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This is a tourist trap that I can endorse for families. Normally I would hate the Disneyland kind of abomination being done to a natural wonder. I cannot imagine this being done at the Grand Canyon or the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. But somehow it works at the Gorge. The Gorge bridge is something I think everyone (who is not terrified of heights) should experience. Walking across the canyon on that extraordinary bridge is unforgettable. The structure itself is an engineering feat that makes one appreciate all the great suspension bridges in our country.We walked across during a high wind and could feel the floor undulate slightly under our feet.

 

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Going There

Jim and I “got out of Dodge” Thursday and Friday, returning Saturday (today). Our destination: Florence, Colorado, about 60 miles from home. Here are some images from the beginning of our trip.

We took some cash from the local bank. While Jim pulled the greenbacks out of the machine, I photographed Mt. Princeton through the newly leafed out cottonwoods.

 

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Our first stop–Salida and the Steamplant Annex flanked by spring-fresh Oriental poppies.

 

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We walked through the Valley Visions Art Exhibition in Salida and then the Challenge Show at the Salida Regional Library where my drawing (“The Cat Knows but Won’t Tell”) is displayed along side other art and poetry submissions. The challenge was to create a piece of art or writing with the theme of “something hidden.” What is hidden in my picture is the possibility that rocks have secrets they can tell — if a person knows how to listen.

 

 

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The irony was that as we drove Highway 50 from Salida to Canon City, we were stuck for nearly an hour waiting while a fresh rockfall was cleared from one lane of the highway. It struck me that perhaps the rocks knew when to fall so that no one would be hurt.

 

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