Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our Year in Review, Month by Month

I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.
            ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Our year was made up of simple moments and simple pleasures. We welcomed friends from far away, we became travelers ourselves, we improved our surroundings, and, perhaps most important, we got chickens. 
~Mrs. Zee


I learned this trick from another blogger (Nan, was it you?)--To look back on the doings of the year, just take the first lines posted at the beginning of each month. It's as good a way as any to look at the things that happened. 

Here is just one more thing that I would like to share with you about Christmas as we experienced it in New Mexico this year. We have a wonderful blend of cultures and traditions, and I think that this video expresses the diversity and experience quite beautifully.

We love the idea of eating fresh, organically grown vegetables and fruits.

As I mentioned yesterday in the post titled Fixer, many of the more tender cacti around town have been killed off by our spell of bitter weather this winter.

Having finished knitting a hundred sweaters for Knit for Kids (more about that later), I've decided that a person can accomplish a hundred of almost anything. 

There is probably a life lesson here: Wonderful, loving moments may happen too fast for us to focus on them properly.

Remember those cute little chicks we brought home a few weeks ago?
Chicken Coup (for spelling fans, this is about a chicken uprising, not poultry housing).

Happy Fourth of July!

A few weeks ago, I showed you this yarn, the Bodega Bay colorway of Mini Mochi, which I got from Jimmy Beans Wool.

A week or so ago I took a little break from blogging, ostensibly  to work on some fiber projects. While I was knitting, Beez and I took a train trip across the country.

On our last full day in Boston, we had a lovely sidewalk breakfast at a little bookstore on Newbury Street called Trident Booksellers & Cafe.

Way down in southern New Mexico
In a green valley 
Along the Rio Grande

There is a pecan orchard

And in the middle of that orchard 
You will see a little adobe house
And a little adobe garage

And next to the adobe garage sits a little chicken house...

Yesterday, I showed you the "before" color in the mostly unused room at the front of our adobe house. 

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice


Long nights.  

Cold mornings.

 We do what we can to make the winter days and nights warmer and more colorful

 with bright quilts and blankets

 and colorful, cozy woolen socks;

 with family laughter and warm friends

while we are waiting for the light.

Here's to light and color and warmth and family and good friends.

Happy Winter Solstice to you all!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Story

A weary stranger on the road, seeking shelter and warmth and safety. It sounds like a Christmas story to me.

He was cold. Cold and very hungry, and so thirsty. The days were long and dangerous enough with all the honking cars, but the nights seemed to last forever. He didn't know where to go, but he knew he had to get away from those mad singing coyotes and the big owls hunting in the orchard. He wasn't sure how to deal with the huge roaring monster of a train that came through every few hours, and he had crossed the track several times.

But, oh, he was so cold and lost and afraid.


We live on a road that runs between two heavily traveled streets. Although our place in the orchard is fairly quiet, there is a railroad track about half a mile away.We first saw the little dog when we were on our way out to breakfast and were worried that he was so near the road, but then he headed off toward a fenced yard and we figured that he had just been out for a little stroll.

Many hours later, I spotted the little guy once again. This time he was outside our fence, visiting with our dogs. I was worried about the traffic, and enlisted Beez's help. Grabbing a package of string cheese, I went out to see if I could get him to come in to safety.

It took over an hour of signalling cars and trucks to slow down and go around, and calling softly to Beez for more cheese. We learned early on that he was frightened of people, but terrified of men; so Beez stayed way back. Remembering the lost pup's lack of fear of other dogs, I got Little Pete to help. That did the trick: The little wanderer came into the yard to see Pete and to get another bite of cheese, and Beez materialized behind us and closed the gate.

Little Pete is always willing to help out

People began arriving for supper. My sister almost wept when she realized that this was the same dog she had tried to call to safety two days before. She had been haunted by the thought of him out there on his own, but he had been too frightened to come near. Now he seemed to remember her voice.

My husband, that good Beez, spent another hour out in the yard, getting the little guy to trust him enough to come into the house before nightfall's below-freezing temperatures. This is the man who earlier had put together his rightly-famous white lasagna and got it into the oven, while still managing to work patiently with the little wildling. Our dozen dinner guests quietly cheered him on from the living room until he arrived with the cold, tired pup cradled in his arms.

Once inside, with access to plenty of food, water, warmth, and comfy laps, the terrified and exhausted little pup underwent a pretty amazing change. He asked Helen to lift him up and hold him. He snuggled right down and fell asleep, safe at last. He was sleeping so hard, that first Jeff and then Jean took over the pup-holding duties, and he didn't even stir.

Around the big table, we smiled at each other and talked quietly of Christmas miracles.

Safe at last

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Those Little Whatcha-Call 'Ems

This is our house during our recent big snowstorm. We had hours of fine snowfall, a pretty brisk wind throughout, and temps down in the single digits. The snow started in the afternoon and continued most of the night. Sustained precipitation of any sort is rare, but very welcome, here in the desert. When we woke, we found that the highways in every single direction going out of town were shut down.

In this part of New Mexico we get a bit of snow every winter, but people like to say that it is gone by 10 AM the next day, and that is usually the case. This storm encased our plow-less roads in ice until at least 11:30 AM, but after that, all was well, the sun was out as usual, and the roads were clear and dry. In the meantime, we just put some fragrant piñon logs in the kiva fireplace and had a lovely day.

A fire in the kiva, a glass of wine, and some bread dough rising--what more do we need?

See those little outdoor lights in the first photo? They are the electric equivalent of the holiday lights traditionally made with candles set in sand inside paper bags. Around New Mexico there is a very geographically-based disagreement over what they are called. Up north around Santa Fe they are farolitos; down here in the south they are luminarias. [I'm telling you, I'm struggling with that automatic spellcheck thing, which tried to change the words in that previous sentence to frailties and luminaries!]. Folks in the northern part of the state use the word luminaria to describe the small vigil fires made along the road side during the nine nights of the celebration of Las Posadas, which culminates on Christmas Eve.

We have a very witty friend who believes he has solved the whole controversy by renaming them candle-baggios. We love it, and candle-baggios is what we plan to call them from now on, making a nice new New Mexico Christmas tradition for our friends and family.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Advent Calendars

An advent calendar is a card or poster with twenty-four small doors, one to be opened each day from December 1 until Christmas Eve. Each door conceals a picture. This popular tradition arose in Germany in the late 1800s and soon spread throughout Europe and North America. Originally, the images in Advent calendars were derived from the Hebrew Bible.

Considered a fun way of counting down the days until Christmas, many Advent calendars today have no religious content.

Read more: Advent: Dates, Traditions, and History —

* * * * *

My Advent calendar is a little cupboard full of drawers. I know you are probably getting tired of hearing this after all my recycled furniture stories that I have been telling you, but this little cupboard also came from the much-loved Swap Shop in our old New Hampshire town. It has brought delight to many, many children, as I used to take it to school with me every year so the kids could take out one ornament a day and place them on our little library tree. There were always plenty of helpers available to take the tree down, carefully wrap each tiny ornament in bubble wrap, and find the right drawer to place it in. 

The cupboard with the doors closed

With the cupboard doors open, the 24 little drawers are revealed.
Here are the ornaments for the first three days of December, ready to hang on a little tree

Detail of the drawers
The Advent tradition continues each year at our adobe house here in southern New Mexico. I've always wished that I could thank the person who left this little cupboard at the Swap Shop (where the sign over the door says "Take It or Leave It") with all the ornaments wrapped so carefully. It has brought joy to many.

If you would like to see a very different sort of Advent calendar, you can bookmark the site for the 2011 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, which features beautiful (beyond beautiful, actually) photo stories of Hubble images of the wonders of our universe; one for each day of December. 

For a traditional religious Advent calendar, with daily "reading, meditation and prayers based around Mary's journey to Bethlehem, from her meeting with the Angel to the first Christmas in Bethlehem," see Advent 2011, with an introduction to the calendar here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The "New" Dining Room

Yesterday, I showed you the "before" color in the mostly unused room at the front of our adobe house. 

Here is a little hint of the color to come. I wanted colorful curtains and found some fabric that would have done the trick; alas, it would have cost way more than any curtains should ever cost. Instead, I bought some screaming yellow broadcloth on sale and sewed yellow and green and orange ribbon along the edge. Just having those heavy, dusty old wooden slat blinds out of the room was a huge improvement, and the yellow curtains are very cheery!

The rocking chair in the corner was rescued from the dump in New Hampshire, as was the little green table next to it. Now that I think of it, the picture frame, brass lamp, and lampshade all came from the same place--the Swap Shop at our old recycling center. I love this kind of recycling. 

The chair has been named The Beth Chair, in honor of Beth in North Carolina, a blogger I have only met via the Internet. She writes Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl, and I hope you'll go right over and say hi. That Beth Chair will be painted the same green as the woodwork in the room, which you may or may not be able to make out in a later photo. 

The sweet little stained glass fan lamp was made by my wonderfully creative sister, Auntie Bucksnort. The two framed pictures on the windowsill are closeup photos of a mural in Santa Fe, taken by another creative relative, my very own son Benjamin.

You've already seen both the chicken cabinet and Gracie the cat on this blog before. That tilt-top table/bench belonged to my parents. It gets refinished once a generation, and I just completed my turn a couple of years ago. You can see in this photo that the room is a nice, sunny yellow. It was meant to be a faint buttercream, but fate apparently had other intentions. 

I put this not-so-good picture in so you can catch a glimpse of the green trim, there to the left. There isn't a lot of woodwork in an adobe room, so I figured that the green wouldn't be overwhelming.

This side of the room still needs some attention. Those bookcases, painted melon for our last house (and blue for the house before!), will get painted a nice light yellowy green. The pictures will get hung up, no easy task with our rock-hard adobe walls. That little cabinet is from Mr. Bean at the Las Cruces Farmers Market. We have so many of his pieces that we are running out of places to put them, but I love his wonderful color combinations and always want just one more.

This picture (actually a notecard by Diana Bryer in a frame) of a woman rolling out tortillas used to be in the kitchen, but the color is just perfect for the new room. 

Here is a closeup of one of the pictures that has been hung. The print is from the Farmers Market, and that is the frame from the dump, now spray painted and hung back-side-out, because I like it that way.

Yet another picture to be hung; it's a print mounted on a flat basket tray that came from... you guessed it! The dump!

Here is a quick snap of the new dining room, ready for action on Thanksgiving. It was a potluck, with Bucksnort doing all the turkey/stuffing/gravy/potatoes, etc. in my kitchen, and friends bringing along the side dishes and dessert. All I had to do was paint! We hadn't quite finished setting the table when I took this picture. I really should have waited until moments later, when the table was surrounded by a dozen good friends; laughing, eating, toasting each other, and talking as though they would never run out of things to say.

I used to read this book to the kids in my New Hampshire library, explaining to them that I would someday live in a house hecha de lodo, made of mud--and, I do!