Sunday, August 31, 2008

Health Benefits of Chiles

Chiles are so good to eat that it is almost surprising that they are so good for us. Here is an article from the Las Cruces Sun, Aug. 20, 2008, called Eating Chile Peppers Can Be Good For Your Health:

Health benefits of the hot stuff:

• Capsaicin creams made of chile can help in pain relief.
• Anti-inflammatory effects benefit those with arthritis.
• Used in patches for sore and aching muscles.
• Cleans sinuses.
• Chile decreases cholesterol absorption, so more is expelled from the body.
• Chile peppers increase the enzymes responsible for fat metabolism in the liver.
• Chile burns calories by triggering a thermodynamic burn, which speeds up the metabolism.
• Chiles help thin the blood, treat blood clots and increase blood circulation.
• Chiles help treat hypothermia, frostbite and heartburn.
• Aids in many skin conditions, including psoriasis, itchiness and bruising.
• Teas and lozenges help treat sore throat.
• Chile peppers may help prevent the growth of certain cancers.
• A teaspoon of red chile meets the recommended daily allowance for vitamin A.
• One green chile pod has as much vitamin C as six oranges.
• Chile peppers are rich in vitamins E and B complex and a good source of iron, potassium and dietary vitamins, as well as antioxidants.

Source: Paul Bosland and Danise Coon of the Chile Pepper Institute at NMSU, "The Healing Power of Peppers" by Dave DeWitt, Melissa T. Stock, and Kellye Hunter

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wake Up, America!

Here is Dennis Kucinich's energetic (even athletic) speech to the Democratic National Convention, which you might not have seen or heard if you were watching the coverage on cable news.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Further Adventures of Auntie Bucksnort and Uncle Balls

Waiting to run through the sprinklers

Now that we live in New Mexico we are pretty far away from the little kids in the family, so when Auntie Bucksnort's kids and grandkids came through Clovis recently we snapped lots of photos, went toad hunting around the front yard fountain, took a trip to the zoo, and generally wore our old selves out.

It's been a while since we heard the sound of little running feet in our houses. Gosh, those kids move fast, and it seems like they can pick up and move every object in a room in two minutes flat.

We had so many laughs. Momashi pitched a big Terrible Twos fit one day and no one could get her calmed down. She kept grabbing at her teeth, shrieking "Stuck! Stuck!" It took a while to figure out the problem. "Is there something in your mouth?" "Do your teeth hurt?"

It turned out that she had watched Bucksnort take out her removable teeth and put them on the dashboard of the car, a regrettable habit among some of our family members. Momashi wanted to take her teeth out, too, and no one could convince her that it wasn't possible. For all I know, she's still working on it.

Toots and Momashi, playing in Bucksnort's fountain

My husband, Beez, who is called Uncle Balls by this little pair for entirely innocent reasons known only to themselves, has a gruff demeanor that is irresistible to little kids. When it was time for us all to see them off, little Momashi gave him a great big kiss and thanked him for the toad hunt. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What a Revelation!

I took the advice of many fellow-bloggers and switched from cable news coverage of the Democratic National Convention to start watching it on C-SPAN. What a relief! No more straining to hear speeches while scene-grabbing blathering "analysts" talk over the real action. Finally, a chance to hear what the convention delegates hear, in order, and without comment or incessant commercial breaks.

Those cable people think somehow that they are the news. Thanks to my blog friends, I had a chance to watch the real thing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Movies Filmed in New Mexico

Here is a list of movies shot at least partly on location in New Mexico. It comes from the book, Cinema Southwest; An Illustrated Guide to the Movies and Their Locations, by John A. Murray (Northland Publishing, 2000).

Northern New Mexico: The Man From Laramie, Cowboy, My Darling Clementine, The Legend of the Lone Ranger, The Light That Failed, Showdown, Groove Tube, Twins, The Hi Lo Country, Acoma, Way Out West, City Slickers, Silverado, Chisum, Wyatt Earp, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Natural Born Killers, Sundown, All the Pretty Horses, Wild Wild West, Easy Rider, Milagro Beanfield War, Lonesome Dove, Lonely Are the Brave.

Southern New Mexico: King Solomon's Mines, Hang 'Em High, Stagecoach, Salt of the Earth.

At the Very Large Array, west of Socorro: Contact.

The book also lists locations of movies filmed in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and Texas.

To read an ongoing online discussion of movies filmed in New Mexico, see Best Movie Made in NM on the New Mexico Forum.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to School

Grandchildren off to first day of school (photo taken by their mom)
It's time for children and their teachers to go back to school, and it's the beginning of my second school year of retirement. I love all the memories of working with children, but I love my days now, too.

I'm looking forward to resuming my volunteer job as reading tutor one morning a week at one of the local schools. I continue to enjoy the idea of no plan books, no staff meetings, no professional development outlines, and no classroom discipline issues. No dealing with the latest new educational philosophy, or the latest in a changing cast of administrators. (You can tell I was so ready for retirement).

No schedule. It's a good life.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Manifest Hope

Barack Obama Logo

The Obama campaign is surrounded by a grass roots movement that organizes meetings and funnels small donations in a way that we haven't seen before. There is another component to Obama support that has sprung up on the streets--on abandoned buildings, highway overpasses, and brick walls--it's street art or graffiti.

These rebel artists, usually operating far outside of the system, are supporting the idea of hope with homemade posters and stickers, and with spray-painted drawings that appear all over the urban landscape. held a contest among these artists and there will be a public gallery displaying the winners during the Democratic Convention in Denver. Here is what they have to say about their show:

Art plays a pivotal role in creating cultural momentum. The Manifest Hope Gallery celebrates that role and shines a spotlight on artists across the nation who use their voices to amplify and motivate the grass roots movement surrounding the Obama Campaign. The Manifest Hope Gallery highlights the central themes of the progressive grass-roots movement- Hope Change, Progress, Unity and Patriotism.

The Manifest Hope Gallery will be open to the public in Denver, CO at the Democratic National Convention, between Monday August 25th, 2008 through Thursday, August 28th, 2008 between the hours of 10:00 am - 5:00 pm.

The Manifest Hope Gallery, housed within Denver's Andenken Gallery, and an additional transformed warehouse space, spans 10,000 sq. ft. and will draw together a works as varied as the voices of the artists who created them.

Manifest Hope will showcase some of the finest modern contemporary artists, acclaimed NY painters and sculptors, activated grass roots and street artists, and present the most widely recognized pieces seen throughout the 2008 presidential primary campaign, as well as newly commissioned works and previous works on loan from some of the United States top artists.

Manifest Hope, along with its online partner, challenges the artistic world to engage their local communities in a significant and meaningful way, by inviting all artists to compete for a chance to present their works alongside these acclaimed and celebrated artists. Visit the online gallery for details.

Read more about the street art movement for Obama:
Graffiti Art Takes Presidential Race to the Streets

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hillcrest Zoo: More Animals

It's so hard to get a good picture of the white Bengal tiger

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hillcrest Zoo: Reptiles

Look closely to see the second boa on the left. It's hard to take photosinside the Reptile House.

Hillcrest Zoo: Monkeys

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hillcrest Zoo: The Birds

Black and white; one of my favorite photos ever

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hillcrest Zoo

I don't like zoos, although I do appreciate the trend toward larger, more natural enclosures for zoo animals. I just don't like to see animals in cages; and I feel embarrassed, awkward, and ashamed to be standing and staring at them. If you've read Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, you've experienced, along with the character Billy Pilgrim, the feeling of being in a cage at a zoo with your every move under observation.

However, we had company from out of town and the little kids wanted to go to the zoo. Clovis, little Clovis, is actually home to the second largest zoo in New Mexico, after the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque.

The Hillcrest Zoo is set on 22.5 acres within the 140 acre Hillcrest Park. We were surprised at the size of the zoo, as the small entry area just didn't lead us to expect such spacious grounds. It was a perfect place for little children--ours were 2 and 5--uncrowded and not very intimidating. The grounds were quite nice, with lots of shade trees, and grass, and water features. There were plenty of well-placed benches, too, which my knees and I have grown to appreciate.

Here are some photos of Sere and Geti, the young hyenas that were added to the zoo last year. I hope that there are plans for a more spacious enclosure. The local newspaper runs naming contests for the newest zoo animals, and the zoo follows through with a sign indicating which school child came up with the names--a nice touch for a very child-friendly place.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fahrenheit Relativity

Looking out the kitchen door; New Hampshire in February

Sometimes in the middle of a seemingly endless New England winter, there would come a sunny day. Even though the temperature might be only 35 degrees, it would be enough to melt the snow from the porch. We'd sit outside barefooted and in shirtsleeves, squinting as the sun bounced off the snowbanks. It would be a hopeful day, filled with thoughts of coming flowers and spring rains, even though we knew we'd soon return to weeks more of winter.

Now that we've experienced our second summer in Clovis, we've become used to week after week of 90 degree days and never ending sunny skies. Now, here in mid-August, we have started experiencing a series of cool, damp days and nights. We're bundling up with quilts at night and with long pants and sweaters during the days--days that might start out at (brrr) 60 degrees.

I guess we're losing our New England toughness. Maybe this winter we won't snicker when we see people wearing boots, parkas, and earmuffs on one of our "chilly" 50 degree winter days. Maybe we'll even wear jackets this year.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fresh Chile Time

Freshly roasted green chiles
I can't help noticing how happy people are at our Farmers Market here in Clovis--and why not? The sun is usually shining, there are friendly people all around, and the food is fresh and wholesome.

In August, when the chiles arrive, however, the happiness is cranked up a notch. Smiling people patiently wait in the line to buy their buckets of chiles, and then in the next line to wait for the roaster, all the while trading recipes and breathing in that wonderful roasted chile aroma.

Here is my recipe for a perfect Saturday lunch: Bring home some freshly roasted chiles from the market. On the way, stop at the tortilleria for some fresh, warm tortillas. Place a peeled and seeded chile in the tortilla, grate a little cheese over the top, and warm the whole thing in the microwave until the cheese is melted.

Eat. Smile. Be happy you live in New Mexico.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Product Placement

Product placement is everywhere these days, and I don't like it. You've seen those movies where the cereal boxes are carefully arranged so that you can see the brand names, or when the characters are carrying their expensive coffees with the labels facing the camera, and so on.

I just came across an example that was particularly jarring, and not a little disillusioning. I was reading Tony Hillerman's book, The Shape Shifter. I always enjoy his novels and feel that they give me a chance to learn a bit more about New Mexico and its native peoples. My enjoyment was interrupted when an old Navajo woman, pointing out where a neighbor's house was located, said something like: He lives right up there. You can see his house on the side of that hill. He's home, because I can see his big Dodge Ram truck parked there. Quite a truck. Very powerful. (I'm paraphrasing, as the book is now back at the library).

I thought that was curious, but I kept on reading. It happened again, and again--references to Dodge trucks, always very obvious, and very, very out of place. Later in the book Hillerman's character, Joe Leaphorn, is having coffee at a diner and thinks to himself that it is good coffee, but not up to the standards of Dunkin' Donuts' coffee. Now, that struck me as very odd, because Dunkin' Donuts is an eastern franchise and, although it may be moving west, there aren't any in Joe Leaphorn's territory as far as I know. Searches on the Dunkin' Donuts website didn't bring up any locations in New Mexico, although I couldn't be sure, due to an awkward location search interface. Perhaps you'll have better luck. [Note: Thanks to Val--see the comments below--I now know that there are Dunkin's in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.]

So now I am officially disillusioned. Why would Tony Hillerman, a successful and award-winning author, stoop so low? Does Dunkin' Donuts send coffee and donuts to him in New Mexico? Did Dodge give him a free truck? If so, I hope he's finding the gas mileage satisfactory.

By the way, another reader noticed the frequently mentioned Dodge trucks in Hillerman's book. See Bruce Tracy's review on Amazon. You could also read the Washington Post article, Read Any Good Ads Lately?, about marketers commissioning novels. Now there's a concept.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?

I can't imagine a more daunting task than that of the high school English teacher introducing hormone-ravaged teens to the great poets. For some reason, though, T.S. Eliot spoke to me in those youthful days and, over the years, bits from this poem would drift up to the surface of my mind. I would nod and acknowledge the beauty of the words...I shall wear my trousers the room the women come and go...the yellow fog that rubs its back...the eyes that fix you in a formulated I dare disturb the universe...measured out my life with coffee spoons.

That's how poetry works for me--the isolated phrases mean something, and perhaps that something shifts and changes as I move through life--but I really have no idea of the meaning of the whole. Or perhaps I do, but that, too, might change for me from moment to moment, year to year--a hundred visions and revisions (as Eliot says).

Long ago in a high school English class, the teacher passed out copies of a sonnet I had written for an assignment. The class read it and then the teacher asked me what I had meant. I was too young and too shy to put my thoughts into words--especially in front of my too-critical peers, but that moment has come back to me again and again over the years. You know how it is, you wake up in the night thinking about what you should have said. I suppose what I wanted to tell that teacher was that poetry is so intensely private, both to the writer and to the reader, that it should mean whatever that person thinks that it means. There is certainly no "right" or "wrong" interpretation, only meaning colored by personal experience.

That eternal discussion of the meaning of literature is what made my English majoring days so uncomfortable. People who love to read probably should choose some other major, as I learned. Once I switched to something more practical I was able to enjoy reading once again.

Since I hadn't read the whole Eliot poem in many years, I looked it up and read it once again. Here, you can read it, too.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. T.S. Eliot (1888–1965). Prufrock and Other Observations. 1917.

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo. *

LET us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherised upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question …

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,

The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes

Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,

Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,

Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,

Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,

And seeing that it was a soft October night,

Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time

For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,

Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;

There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate;

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—

[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—

[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]

Do I dare

Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—

The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,

Then how should I begin

To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—

Arms that are braceleted and white and bare

[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]

It is perfume from a dress

That makes me so digress?

Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.

And should I then presume?

And how should I begin? . . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets

And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes

Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. . . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!

Smoothed by long fingers,

Asleep … tired … or it malingers,

Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,

Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,

Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,

I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,

After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,

Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,

Would it have been worth while,

To have bitten off the matter with a smile,

To have squeezed the universe into a ball

To roll it toward some overwhelming question,

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—

If one, settling a pillow by her head,

Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.

That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,

Would it have been worth while,

After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,

After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—

And this, and so much more?—

It is impossible to say just what I mean!

But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:

Would it have been worth while

If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,

And turning toward the window, should say:

“That is not it at all,

That is not what I meant, at all.” . . . . .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,

Deferential, glad to be of use,

Politic, cautious, and meticulous;

Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;

At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—

Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

*According to Wikipedia, one translation from the Princeton Dante Project is:

"If I thought my answer were given
to anyone who would ever return to the world,
this flame would stand still without moving any further.
But since never from this abyss
has anyone ever returned alive, if what I hear is true,
without fear of infamy I answer you

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

I've just finished reading Three Cups of Tea; One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace...One School At A Time, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (Viking Hardcover 2006 / Penguin Paperback 2007). This is the remarkable story of a remarkable man, Greg Mortenson. Through a series of mishaps and a failure, he ended up in a little village in northern Pakistan. When he saw the children of the village holding school without a teacher, sitting on the ground and writing in the dirt with sticks, his life changed. He promised to return and build a school.

The book is the story of the fulfillment of that promise and the dedication of one man's life to providing education for children in Pakistan, especially the girls, and eventually for children in Afghanistan as well. It's a description of the way a single American won "hearts and minds," as we so often hear our government say it wants to do. It's a book that had me waking in the night to read just a little more.

Please find a copy of this book and read it--or better still, buy a copy here so that 7% of the purchase price will be donated to Mortenson's projects. Then tell other people about it, blog about it, and share your feelings about it. You can click on these links to find out more about Mortenson's Central Asia Institute and its Pennies for Peace school program that teaches American schoolchildren how they can have a positive impact on the world. There are lots more reviews here, just in case I haven't convinced you to read this book.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Knitting Time, Just Lying There"

Sweaters ready to ship to Knit for Kids, November 2007
Here's a rather longish quote (the title of this post is a shortish quote from the same source) that is meant to convince you to zip right over to Mason-Dixon Knitting and become a daily reader of "The Nation's Leading Bi-Regional Knitting Blog." The blog takes the form of letters, written back and forth between two knitting friends, Ann and Kay. Here's a sample:

Dear Ann,

Oh for Pete's sake! "How do I knit so fast?" The truth: I don't knit all that fast. I am an old-school thrower, still knitting the way I learned in Camp Fire Girls when I was 11 years old. (To my fellow Camp Fire alums, a hearty Wohelo to ya!) I throw so slow it's like a rope trick. Each stitch is an event.

For me, the secret to fruitful multiplication of knitwear is not speed, but focus. When, as occasionally happens, I find myself not knitting, I ask myself, "Why am I not knitting right now?" Looking at the world from this perspective, one is shocked at the senseless waste of the oceans of knitting time that surround us. Knitting time just lying there: on the subway, in the waiting room, in front of the television, when somebody's mom is talking about somebody else's mom, when a tween is showing pictures of all the things in the PB Teen catalog that would look awesome in her room. One could knit through it all, and nobody would be the worse for it. My ability to multi-task--i.e., to knit while listening to gossip, or to knit while not ordering stuff from PB Teen--is without peer.

Just the other day, I was deep in the bowels of the City government bureaucracy, waiting for an appointment. Everyone else in the waiting room was slumped in their chair, the will to live seeping out of their pores, listening to receptionists chat in that way of receptionists who do not expect to be calling anyone up for their appointment anytime today. I was knitting away, cheerful as hell. (Knitting and eavesdropping--what could be better?) When it was my turn, the receptionist called out, "Ma'am who's knitting?" I wish I could have heard the rest of the story she was telling the other receptionist, but at least I was at the end of my row...

I so appreciate the fact that Kay has explained in her own words how it is that I knit sweaters for Knit for Kids while still maintaining a life. I believe I'm on sweater #48 or 49--when I've gotten to #50 I'll be taking some photos to post here before boxing up the latest batch to mail away.

I used to be working toward a goal of 100 sweaters for this organization, but then I read about a woman who has knit 200 for them. I have no idea what my goal should be now, but my new motto is Knit Faster, Live Longer (or Else).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You Know You Are From Clovis

Sometimes the town of Clovis gets a bad rap. Disgruntled young airmen who are stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, or perhaps other young folks, restless and ready to move on, post critical comments online. There are some very ugly views of the town on YouTube, too. I do what I can to provide another point of view, with the My Clovis videos and with this blog. After all, in Clovis you can experience a quiet, laid back lifestyle that is practically stress-free. The sun is almost always shining, and the people are friendly. It's a very pleasant place to live.

I came across a nostalgic website the other day, set up for the sharing of memories and documentation of reunions for the Clovis High School's Class of 1959. After I had browsed through the photos and the memories, I came away with the impression of a group of people who love their town, their roots, and remembering the lives they have lived here.

I would like to share their list of things that make them so fond of Clovis. I did my best to find a way to get permission from the webmaster to quote a few things, but unfortunately there was no contact information on the site. If you know how I could get in touch, I would be grateful for that information. In the meantime, I'll give you the list and hope that they don't mind.

You know you are from Clovis when..........

Rainfall is measured in hundredths of inches.

You can start off the day wearing a coat and by afternoon you're wearing shorts.

An inch of rain causes streets to flood but it takes a foot of snow to close schools.

Friday night high school football is a sell-out and we win the majority of the time.

You think one of the major food groups is enchiladas.

The official town "bird" is an F-16.

You know what a Wildcat is.

You've ever dragged Main Street, made a u-turn and done it again.

You know Foxy & Twin Cronnies are drive-ins.

You think that opening weekend for quail and deer seasons are national holidays.

You find 98 degrees "a little warm," and 60 degrees downright freezing.

You think the only seasons are hot, @#%# hot, and winter.

You know if another person is from out of town, the second he or she walks in the door.

People are happy if a picnic gets rained out, even happier if it gets rained out twice.

You've seen dust, rain, sleet, snow and thunder all in the same storm. You consider trees & grass to be good things.

You prefer to drink tap water rather than buy bottled water.

You tell people you live in the brick house with a tan roof and attached two-car garage, and then realize that describes every house within a 2-mile radius.

You can see a million stars at night from your patio or back yard.

You don't feel out of place wearing a Resistol Cowboy Hat to the ballet.

You know where Ned Houk Park is.

You see more American flags in one residential block than you've seen in any Fourth of July Parade.

You've never seen smog.

You can see the sky from any vantage point in town.

You know the soil temperature on any given day but can't recall what you had for breakfast.

You've had to pull over and remove tumbleweeds from the grill of your car.

You've canceled golf games because of high wind & dust warnings.

Vacation means a weekend trip to Santa Fe or the mountains.

You know that the elevation of the plains is higher than the Hill Country down in central Texas.

You know barbeque! And pinto beans and corn bread.

People in passing cars wave to you--even if you've never met them.

You stop to watch the sunsets which are awesome.

You can lose your purse or wallet and a total stranger will return it.

When the sirens go off, you know it's a signal to go outside and look for the tornado or it's 4 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon.

You know that Hillcrest Park isn't on a real hill.

You know what a lion roaring sounds like from the city zoo.

You can go to the band concert and a country & western concert or fiddling contest in one weekend.

You've had several friends move off and move back within a couple of years.

You remember where the old high school was on Main Street.

Most of the vehicles on the city streets are pickup trucks, SUVs, tractors and the occasional horse.

Your folks know what you did before you get home.

Friday nite--dragging main street--you could find your kids--and KNOW for sure where they were.

You can stand on "Clovis Mountain" -- the railroad overpass--and view the entire town.

You want to go to Amarillo or Lubbock, but can't remember if you need to leave one hour earlier or later than your appointment.

The majority of the city streets are now 4 or 5 lanes--without the pavement width having been increased.

You know that Oasis Park has 2 trees.

21st Street is re-paved and four different utility providers dig it full of holes the next week looking for their lines.

A couple of teenagers don't need a ticket to ride the train to Amarillo. (thanks Lee)

You know you’re from Clovis if you know Bell Park isn’t a real park and there’s no bell there.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Place Names

When we lived in Puyallup, Washington, we laughed at the town name of Tulalip and wondered how that might be pronounced. But we were always grateful we didn't live in Enumclaw, Klickitat, Kooskooskie, Sequim (pronounced "squim"), Tumtum, Tumwater, or Walla Walla. Or, yikes!--the curiously named Humptulips.

On the way to New Mexico from New Hampshire we passed through Toad Suck, Arkansas. We didn't pass by Natchitoches in Louisiana, but I just learned from an online discussion that it is pronounced NACK-a-tush. Too bad we missed Lick Skillet, Tennessee, but I'll always savor its name.

Now that we live in New Mexico the names are sometimes easier to pronounce but they might have curious histories, like Truth or Consequences, Pie Town, and Elephant Butte. Here are a few that you might have trouble pronouncing--I certainly did, on the first try: Madrid (mad'-rid), Tesuque (teh-soo-key), Pojoaque (poe-waw-key), Dzilth-na-o-dith-hle (who knows?), and To'hajiilee (say Twahili, rhymes with Swahili; or "too-wattchillee"--my sources disagree).

Nearby Texas has a town called Hell, and another one called Uncertain (which always reminds me of Middlesex, Massachusetts). The state is also home to Muleshoe, Point and Shoot, Energy, Oatmeal, Rice, Noodle, Fink, Wink, and Zorn.

Meanwhile, Back on Jimmy and Jerry's Grandpa's Ranch

Today another story from The Zees will be published on The Elder Storytelling Place. You might remember reading it here some time back. It's the memory of a little San Francisco "cowgirl's" trip to a for-real ranch in Arizona, and it is called Tenderfeet.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Baby Blankets

I have a couple of knitting projects going all the time--sweaters for Knit for Kids, and baby blankets for some local charities. I started out crocheting the baby blankets...
but now am using them as a way to practice new lace knitting patterns, many from the book A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, by Barbara Walker. This means that with the more complicated pattern repeats I need to be alone in a quiet room with no interruptions, muttering to myself as I knit.

Lucky for me, the little newborns don't mind a few mistakes, such as the rather obvious one marching across the width of this blue and yellow blanket.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Speaking Locally

When I first moved to New Hampshire from Washington state I really had trouble understanding what some New Englanders were saying. A man was telling me about "Kearsarge" (the place) on the phone--it sounded like "keeaahsahj" to me and since I had never heard of the place I couldn't figure out what he meant. Asking him to spell it didn't help... K-E-A-Ahhh-S-A-Ahhh-G-E just didn't make any sense either.

An odd question I got when first working at a New Hampshire library sounded to me like "Wayah's a bubblah?" which I asked the kid to repeat a great many times until he gave up in disgust and went away. I couldn't begin to translate what he was saying and besides, had no idea what a bubbler (drinking fountain) was or where he could find it anyway.

My then 9-year old son earnestly got us all to agree that we would never get accents like "these people" in New Hampshire. Of course he considered himself accentless, as we all do. However, within a week or two he came home one afternoon enthusiastically asking for something called ottahpups, which he had eaten as a treat over at a friend's house. We had no idea what he was talking about until we discovered "Otter Pops" in the frozen food case at the grocery store. Still a weird name, if you ask me. Poor child, he was getting an accent faster than any of us, as we could tell when he referred to the "arthur and title" (author and title) of a book he had been reading. He could leave out and insert the letter "R" with the best of our neighbors.

When we left New Hampshire after 23 years and moved to New Mexico I had a whole new set of accent and language problems. I worked in a southern New Mexican school and while I was on my first lunch duty, a little boy asked, in Spanish, if he could go to the bathroom--which I somehow mentally translated to "May I have some more pizza?" That led to all kinds of trouble when I told him to go over to the lunch lady and she would help him!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Blackwater Draw

Right near Clovis is an incredible archeological site, where you can hike the trails up and down through time, stop at digs that are still in progress, and sit under a shady tree and picture the ancients going about their hunting and gathering. It's a place where mammoth bones have been found together with spear points within the mammoth's body cavity, indicating that almost 11,500 years ago prehistoric men hunted and brought down these huge creatures.

Blackwater Draw, located between Clovis and Portales, New Mexico, is a National Historic Landmark and is considered to be one of the most important archeological sites in the world. As with many archeological discoveries, it came to the attention of archeologists through a series of almost accidental events.

In 1929, a young man named Ridgely Whiteman found an arrowhead and a piece of mammoth bone there and sent them off to the Smithsonian Insitute with a letter. There wasn't much of a response, but the Smithsonian filed his contributions away. It wasn't until much later that he was recognized as the original discoverer of the Clovis Man site.

In 1932, when the highway between Clovis and Portales was being built, an articles on tells us: The State of New Mexico had secured a portion of privately owned property as a right of way and as a location for its material pit. The sand and gravel at this spot were quarried with a horse-pulled scraper and screened by hand. Many prehistoric bones were uncovered. They were displayed in the windows of Ed J. Neer's store in Portales, according to the Portales Valley News of Thursday, October 20, 1932, but were not considered an earth-shaking event but rather a curiosity.

Finally, later in 1932, archeological excavation began and it continues today. At the site of the gravel quarry, now owned by Eastern New Mexico University, you can travel down through time from the present to 9500 B.C. It's an exciting place to be--the next stone you see could be part of a wonderful new prehistoric find. There are at least 20 archaic wells on the site with, no doubt, more to be discovered. Current digs are protected with roofs; you can visit them to see down through the layers of time. The self-guided walking trail takes you to an area where the peoples of the past camped--a spot that has yielded thousands of artifacts and prehistoric bones.

Curiously, no human bones have yet been discovered at the site, although all kinds of human-made artifacts have been dug up. There are a number of theories as to why the bones haven't been found--one being that bodies were taken elsewhere to be buried; another that the discovery simply has yet to be made.

A few miles away from the Blackwater Draw Site itself you can visit the Blackwater Draw Museum, which contains displays that show the amazingly exquisite Clovis points made of colored chert, chalcedony, jasper, and agate; and that illustrate how the finds fit into the prehistoric timeline.

For more information, see's Blackwater Draw Locality 1 and Minnesota State University's page on Blackwater Draw, which includes some photos of Clovis points. The Eastern New Mexico University's web page for the Blackwater Draw Museum gives its location, admission information, and hours of operation; the page for Blackwater Draw Locality No. 1 gives the information for the archeological site.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ella Clah

For a person who loves to read, discovering a new author is a fine experience. I recently came across not one, but two--Aimée and David Thurlo--who team up to write the Ella Clah mysteries. What a find for me! Not only is this a series that takes place in Navajo country, but there is a whole shelf and a half of their books in the library for me to look forward to.

In the first of the series, Blackening Song, Ella is introduced as a young FBI investigator who returns to her family home on the reservation when her father is brutally killed. Publisher's Weekly, in their starred review, says Contrasting the high-tech and hyperrational methods of the FBI with the ritual world of the Navajo (native witchcraft figures prominently) the Thurlos ratchet up a lot of suspense.

If you've been reading the Skinwalker Tales on this blog lately, you'll be pleased to find many more details about skinwalkers in Blackening Song.

Because David Thurlo was raised on the Navajo Reservation, until he left to go to the University of New Mexico, the Ella Clah books are filled with information about the culture of the Navajo, or Diné, people. The overall theme seems to be finding a balance between tradition and modern life or, as Booklist puts it, "walking in beauty" (being able to find the balance between positive and negative forces in life).

Ella Clah series

Blackening Song 1995
Death Walker 1996
Bad Medicine 1997
Enemy Way 1998
Shooting Chant 1999
Red Mesa 2000
Changing Woman 2002
Plant Them Deep 2003
Tracking Bear 2003
Wind Spirit 2004
White Thunder 2005
Mourning Dove 2006
Turquoise Girl 2007
Coyote's Wife (Oct. '08)
Earthway (coming in '09)

Something New on The Zees

There's a new feature on The Zees Go West. It's My Shelfari Bookshelf, which shows the books I've been reading. Scroll down and you'll find it on the right side of the blog. Hold your cursor over many of the books and you will see a review.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

St. Joseph, Little Underground Realtor

(Not my photo)
Lately I've been collecting tales about New Mexican folk remedies and beliefs, and that made me remember St. Joseph. Now, stay with me here while I tell you this story.

Back when we owned the charming and terrible 1770 money pit farmhouse in New Hampshire, we sporadically tried to get out from under the crushing financial burden by listing it with yet another realtor. This went on and on (and off) over a couple of years--no one would come and look, the listing would expire, and we would give up yet again. Mind you, this was in the olden pre-HGTV days, and we didn't ever really try to give the house curb appeal--it weighed us down so with repairs, we could hardly get beyond hoping for functional, let alone attractive. However, we eventually got really serious about selling when Beez got a job offer in New Mexico. Still no buyers, until...

One day, in the teachers' room at my school, I said something like "we're just never going to sell that old house." One of the teachers spoke up, saying, "Well, you know all about St. Joseph and selling houses, right?" Of course, I didn't, but sat back to listen as this very Catholic lady explained that all I had to do was to bury a little statue of St. Joseph, upside down in the yard of the house facing the For Sale sign, and the house would sell within a few weeks. I'm sure I had that polite look on my face that one gets when listening to something crazy that someone else believes, but another teacher spoke up and assured me that it would work. Now this second teacher was an ex-nun, so I was just thinking that this was some weird Catholic thing when, suddenly, people--people of all faiths--around the table started relating stories of how the St. Joseph thing worked for them or for their cousin, etc. etc.

Well, we had nothing to lose. We went down to the Cathedral Store in Manchester, certain that lightning would strike us at any moment if we told anyone why we were there. We wandered around for a while and were about to leave because we didn't see what we thought we might be looking for, when the gentle and very saintly-looking saleslady inquired as to our needs. We were reluctant to say, but eventually and very sheepishly said that we were looking for a small statue of St. Joseph. "Oh," she exclaimed, "are you selling a house? We can't keep those little statues on the shelves. We just got a big shipment in--let me get you one from the back room."

Long story short, we took him home and wrapped him in plastic before burying him. I couldn't put his little face right into the dirt, could I? It was St. Joseph, after all. I felt that I might need him again sometime in the future, and being a frugal New Englander I thought that he might enjoy being recycled. I left a marker so that I could dig him up again at some future date.

I'm sure you're smiling that tolerant smile right now but, get this--within a month we had found the one person in all the world who wanted that house. He was a bachelor fellow, and so overlooked many of the details that had turned off other buyers (details like the single bathroom located on a different floor from the bedrooms, the old clapboards that needed to be repainted practically every six months, the resident ghosts, and the ceilings that had an inclination to fall down in the night) and saw only wide-pine floors, big Colonial fireplaces, and a house full of history that he wanted to grow old in. He signed an offer, arranged for financing, and booked a tour with me so that I could tell him all the stories associated with the house.

We dug up St. Joseph, who was later to star in another story about selling a little adobe house; we moved out, the bachelor moved in, and he happily lives there still.

This St. Joseph thing has become so mainstream that offers house-selling kits consisting of--you guessed it--a statue of St. Joseph, instructions for planting it, and a little prayer you can read if you can't make one up yourself. The mortgage website,, even has an article on asking St. Joseph to help you with selling your home in these tricky times.

And you thought that New Mexico was filled with unusual stories, strange happenings, and mystical beliefs...

Skinwalker Tales, an Index

Skinwalker Tales: Introduction, and the story of the newspaper delivery woman

Skinwalker Tales, Part 2: Anglo encounters with skinwalkers

Skinwalker Tales, Part 3: A shapeshifter dog, a dog snatched up by a skinwalker, and a shapeshifter in the bathtub

Skinwalker Tales, Part 4: The strange creature on the cliff

Skinwalker Tales, Part 5: Living with a Navajo witch

Skinwalker Tales, Part 6: Chased by a skinwalker on the way home from a party (ever notice how many skinwalker sightings happen on the way home from a party?)

Skinwalker Tales, Part 7: Tales from the City-Data New Mexico Forum

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Skinwalker Tales, Part 7

I asked the members of the New Mexico City-Data Forum what they knew of stories and beliefs surrounding Skinwalkers. Here are some of their responses, minimally edited for clarity:

1. I've heard a few stories that involve skinwalkers between Gallup and Shiprock; it is scary driving through the rez [reservation] at night knowing what goes on.

I used to live in Farmington and worked with a lot of Navajo women, they tried to teach me a lot about their culture and many of them have known someone that has encountered a skinwalker or died from one.I was told that they take the skin of an animal and wear it and they are basically witches, they kill you by making you sick or by another animal or snake bite. They can appear out of nowhere and run at fast speeds like an animal.

2. My uncle works with a Navajo man who encountered a skinwalker. The guy said he was coming from Gallup late at night. And he was about to fall asleep at the wheel, when he stopped on the side of the road to try and wake himself up. Right when he stepped out of the car, he saw something gliding across the tree tops like in the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He said he was scared stiff, then the skinwalker stopped and was just sitting atop the trees. He looked at the skinwalker and saw an old lady with a painted face. He said he doesn't know how he got home. Plus there are many stories of skinwalkers chasing cars. That's why I don't like driving from Gallup late at night.

3. The legends and stories I've heard growing up in NM, adds that it's dangerous/deadly to look a skinwalker in the eye. There are many stories of truck drivers trucking down the highway only to look out their side window and see a skinwalker racing along side them. I've also heard from a Navajo police officer that on two occasions he saw an animal/person and when he looked again it was a person/animal. One was in a rural area, but the other was right in the middle of Albuquerque.

Oh and also, the Northern NM Spanish (old land grant families), have similar beliefs in that one type of their witches (I believe there are 3 types, and this one is considered very evil and dangerous) have shape shifting abilities, mainly in the form of ravens and owls. There are particular roads and passes where one is more likely to run into one of these people/creatures late at night.

4. Skinwalkers are also talked about amongst the Ute Mountain Utes and Southern Utes. A couple of friends from the Southern Ute tribe and I talked about skinwalkers and they were telling me weird stories they have had driving on the rez. But they also told me, people outside of Native American descent have nothing to worry about, skinwalkers only mess with fellow Natives.

5. I've been in the Navajo Nation many times, day and night. Nothing untoward. A certain amount of luck, but I generally wasn't looking for anything like this. If Native Americans are more susceptible it is possibly because they have usually been raised to believe in such things as a matter of fact. If expecting something, sometimes you can find it. Something like opening a door; they can't necessarily pass through but if you do better be prepared for what is on the other side.

Anyone, of any persuasion, spending some time alone in the wilds of the rez, or at a place such as
Hovenweep National Monument in the dark of night might be persuaded of any number of things.

6. I have one more story. This person went hunting for deer early in the morning, before the sky went blue. This guy was sitting next to a tree with his camouflage on. He had a high powered rifle with a scope. While he was looking for deer, he spotted something running his way. This guy said he was going to shoot it, but he didn't. He was scared and just sat there. This thing was coming closer to him and he noticed the thing was running on all four limbs. He decided to stay there and not run. This thing came running about 10 yards from him. He saw an old man covered with animal skin and painted face, running at least twenty miles an hour. He watched this skinwalker run through a 2 mile open field within under two minutes. He got scared and ran towards his truck. He said he never looked into his rearview.

7. IT IS SCARY!!! Ok, I have another story. This recently happened about two months ago. This family was coming from the casino late at night. They were somewhere near Pine Hill when two skinwalkers came out of nowhere. One skinwalker ran back into the forest and the other one started running by their side. They sped up and eventually outran the skinwalker. About a couple of weeks after the incident one of the persons died. It sounds exciting, but it's not. There are strange things that happen on the rez.

8. I'm the kind of person who doesn't have weird experiences with ghosts and the like, but one time when I was a teenager and boy scout we were staying at the Navajo boarding school in Fort Wingate (near Gallup). It was in December and sometime in the evening we looked out the windows in the wing of the building we were staying at and saw that it was snowing. Throughout the rest of the evening we would look out the window to see if it was still snowing while we played. One of these times I looked out and saw a person walking out in the snow. I told my friends and we all quickly got flashlights and shined at the person. From what I could see, it looked like a older Navajo man very well bundled up and walking along the side of our building. As he got close to our window, we all turned our flashlights off and hid so he wouldn't see us. When we looked out the window (assuming he would have passed by then) there was nobody outside. We then ran outside and saw footprints in the snow that suddenly stopped. I've never been able to come up with any explanation other than he just disappeared.I don't doubt the existence of a lot of things that are reported to happen on the rez and I love hearing skinwalker stories. Keep them coming.

9. I am not really familiar with this legend as I'm not Navajo, but strangely enough a lot of the things that I read from that article basically made a light bulb go off in my head... And to those of you who are going out hunting for ghosts and such on reservations.....don't mess with what you don't know, sure you may not believe in some of the stories it doesn't mean there aren't things out there that you don't understand. For example, the San Jacinto Mountains where my tribe is located in Southern California, has plenty of stories of hikers that climbed Tahquitz Mountain and never returned and their bodies are found in strange positions (such as just sitting on a rock, dead). Anyone from my tribe knows not to go up those mountains since an evil Shaman named Tahquitz lives there and is known to eat souls of tribal members (and maybe a hiker or two). I know some of you don't believe in this stuff (though of course it seems a lot of you are willing to as well) but too many stories have been told to me and too many things have happened to make me believe that things we don't really understand exist.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Skinwalker Tales, Part 6

From Skinwalker Stories (minimally edited for clarity):

My cousin and I were at a party. We decided it was late so we wanted to go home. We asked our friend if he could give us a ride, but he was too drunk to walk. So we started to walk down the street and had that funny feeling that something was watching us.

We thought it would be safe to walk through the wash. We were staying at my grandparent's house about five to ten miles away from the party in the middle of nowhere. We knew the wash like we knew the back of our hand, but it was pitch black outside. We didn't care. So we kept on walking. After 30 min. of walking we had that funny feeling again. We turned around and seen a dark figure walking. It was about 100 feet behind us our so. The we heard it laughing. By that time we were already scared and didn't know what to do. So we started to walk faster and faster. Yet it was like we could hear it breathing right beside us. Then we took off into a sprint, trying to get away from the creature but it didn't work.

It caught up to us. At that point it was running with us just laughing. Then it stopped and we got a good lead on it. It would pop up in front of us laughing. It was to dark to make out the facial features but it hade long pointed ears with a pointed noise, its eyes were the same color as a dogs. Me and my cousin were praying as hard as we could, praying in the name of Jesus for the beast to leave. Yet every time we would start to pray it would just laugh and laugh as if we were fools. Then we stopped to catch our breath it was gone. We dropped to our knees crying and trying to remember some verses in the bible our grandfather had thought us as we were growing up.

It came back. Walked around us in the shadows. Leaving and then coming back. I don't remember what we yelled out but it had left for the time being. We reach our grandparents house. They have no electricity and running water. The ordinary Navajo house. We got inside crying like no other. our grandparents asked us what happened, and we told them of what had happened. They looked at us as if they seen it before, and they described it to us.

Later that night it had came back to us as we were sleeping. My cousin was the first to find out that it was running around outside. He woke me up and was whispering in my ear "He's Back" so this time I was so scared that I grabbed my 12 guage shotgun. We prayed over the house and for our protection and we opened the door and it was gone. We never seen it again.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Skinwalker Tales, Part 5

From The Mind of James Donohue:

This writer lived with a practicing black magickian on the Navajo reservation, and lives with a practicing black magickian today, and can tell you without reservation, the practitioner offers no outward signs until you either are the subject of the craft, or you are allowed to see.

In the case of the Navajo man and woman who took us in, it did not take us long to learn that we were living with a witch. This woman belonged to a coven of practicing witches that could not resist playing games with us. Our poor dog, an innocent little creature nearing the end of his days, became the subject of numerous attacks, and we often found objects with painted images on them either hidden in our room or under the seat of our locked car.

Then there was the appearance of the shape shifter. One windy afternoon, as the sands of the high desert were turning the sky yellow and partly obscuring the sunlight, we were at the house alone. The dogs in the yard began barking and carrying on. My wife looked out and announced that there was a wolf in the yard.

We both ran outside to look at the creature, only to find that it and the dogs had disappeared behind an old Hogan that was once used as the family home before the government built the conventional house we occupied. When we looked, we saw the large paw prints of the wolf, but there was something strange as well. The paw prints turned into human foot prints . . . small like the feet of a petite woman . . . before they disappeared at the wall of the Hogan.

It was clear that the wolf my wife had seen turned into a human after she was out of our sight. Then, miraculously, this person walked through a wall of a locked building. Since we did not have a key, there was no way to enter the old Hogan to expose her in her hiding place.

We believe we were visited by one of the witches in the coven that day.

As we stood there, finding it hard to believe what we were looking at, my wife suddenly came to her senses. “Quick,” she said, “run into the house and get the camera. Nobody will ever believe this if we don’t get a picture.”

I returned to the house and had to search for a while to find our camera and make sure it had film. By the time I returned to the site, the blowing sand had covered the track. There was nothing left to photograph.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Skinwalker Tales, Part 4

Quoted from Jim Conrad’s Spring Comes to the Desert Southwest:

The dogs are barking in the darkness outside.

"Probably it's just an animal passing by," suggests Diane Harris as the three of us sit talking after supper. "Recently I've seen Kit Fox tracks, and we've had Badgers just below us. But, you know, for a long time something very strange has been going on here. It began thirteen or fourteen years ago. We heard a sound, a loud, shrill sound, moving along the cliff behind us, but it was so dark we couldn't see anything. It was a little like the call of a Red-tailed Hawk, but much too loud, and not really the same. It moved too fast across the cliff to be any animal with legs, yet it was too slow to be a flying bird. If it'd been an animal with legs, especially moving at that speed, it'd have knocked rocks loose and we'd have heard them. But not a single dislodged rock was heard."

"Over the years we've experienced this sound on several occasions. Each time the sound is a little different from other times, and always it moves much too fast and calls too loudly to be an animal. Time-before-last, I made a special effort to fix the sound's point of origin, and visualize the route along the cliff it took. Next morning, I went out and systematically covered all of the sandy area around us over which the sound-maker would have had to pass, but there wasn't a single footprint, neither in the sand or on the cliff... "

"Last time it happened, we had sense enough to go get the tape recorder as soon as it began. But we had to go down to the hogan to get it, and exactly when we turned the recorder on, the sound ended. As we were walking back to the house we stumbled over Jason. Well, finally it occurred to us that, since Jason was a very good watchdog and always barked hysterically at the least hint of anything out of the ordinary, he should have been barking his head off. But he just sat there wagging his tail and looking at us in a smiling way, as if nothing had happened."

"Two or three days later, a couple of our young Navajo friends came over for a visit and we told them, laughingly, about this mysterious sound. The man said, 'On the night you heard this sound, that's the night when Hite Chee came back to his hogan and found that somebody had witched him. Somebody had taken a hatchet or knife and gone around and chopped notches on each of the big logs coming out of the ground, holding up his hogan's walls. And there were hoofprints outside, where somebody had ridden a horse around and around.' This couple suggested rather matter-of-factly that we'd been hearing a skin walker. The woman told us that skin walkers can tell dogs to be quiet."

"Well, skin walkers are evil spirits. They're people who have killed a relative, and when they're around regular people they bring very bad luck. If you have an enemy, you can hire a witch who will send a skin walker against your enemy. You've noticed that the hogans have an open hole in their roofs. The Navajos believe that skin walkers climb up the outside walls of their hogans and watch them through those holes. We've noticed that when the sun goes down the older Navajos are inside their hogans or houses and that's where they stay until the sun rises."

By the time the skin walker story is over the dogs have stopped barking. After exchanging a few more stories I go outside and lie in Henry [his camper]. Before going to sleep I tune the radio to station KOA in Denver. The Stock Market is up a little today.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Skinwalker Tales, Part 3

More tales, quoted from Ghost

Another time a person was working at another convenience store down the road and had just finished cleaning the parking lot when he noticed a huge dog walking by the pumps. Not thinking anything about it he ran over to the dog to chase it away from the trash cans. That's when he noticed it had no tail and it's eyes were glowing red. He ran back into the store and locked the doors. He saw the dog run behind the main trash bin and talked himself into going back out and downplaying it as imagination. He didn't want the "dog" to spread trash all over the place after all the work he had done. Behind the large trash bin is a sandy area with no bushes or trees, just sand. When he followed the tracks around the back of the bin he saw that the tracks just ended. He became extremely frightened and ran back inside. By that time he was pretty much convinced of what he saw. He kept the doors locked the rest of the night and only opened them to let customers in. When his shift was over he returned to his car and started to open it when he noticed huge paw prints all over the top of the was in plain sight. He never saw anything out of the ordinary that would account for the tracks. He had the night off the next night and was spending time with his young nephews outside looking at the stars. One nephew was old enough to walk while the other needed to be held. As they were looking at the stars all the night sounds stopped. No crickets, nothing. The older nephew grabbed him by the leg while the younger one wrapped his arms around my friends neck and started to cry. My friend took his nephews back to the house and as he sat him down on the floor he happened to look back and saw something huge sitting on the roof of his car. he turned to his brother in law and asked him to a look at what he was seeing. When he turned back to located it again, it was gone. Later on that night he was lying in bed with his window open trying to sleep. He had to window open to allow a breeze in. As the curtains were blowing back and forth he kept seeing something through the breaks in the curtains. That when he realized it was a face looking down at him with glowing red eyes. It stayed for about 3 minutes and then was gone. About 2 am the family was awakened by the sound of running feet across the roof of the house. They ran outside with guns but could never see what was causing the noise. Finally they called a relative who was a Singer to deal with the problem and the situation finally ended. He was told later by the Singer that he had somehow offended the skinwalker.

Another Friend who was half Zuni and half Navajo used to visit her relatives in Crystal New Mexico and she resided in Window Rock at the time. During one of her visits to her relatives she went to a get together and didn't have a ride back and decided to walk back to her relatives home. As she was walking she got the feeling someone or thing was following her. She turned to look and saw and immense shadow following behind her. It flowed across the ground a fleeing shadow. she started to pick up her pace but it kept up with her. Finally when she felt she could not go any further. Headlights appeared down the road ahead of it was her relatives coming to find her. They noticed something dark and huge racing into the trees when they drove up. Later that month she was home in Window Rock when she heard her dog tied a chain in the back yard whining and crying. As she looked outside she saw a huge creature reach over the fence and grab the dog chains and all and run off with it. She never saw it again. She moved soon after that.

A cousin of mine was at a 49'er
[a party with pow wow drummers] one night when he decided to walk home. As he passed an old home he heard something inside crying and mewling. Thinking someone was hurt he went inside not realizing it was a death hogan. When he came into the room where he heard the noise he saw one of the most horrifying sights he'd ever the bathtub was a creature in the process of was hairy from the waist down and seemed like it was melting...he saw the creature change from a human shape to an creature to this day he refuses to describe. Later on his home was constantly plagued by visitations from these creatures trying to get to him but luckily he had the place blessed earlier. There were times he would see dark silhouettes standing outside his window with glowing red eyes. They couldn't get in but the fear radiating from them weakened him so much he had to crawl out his room to get away...he wasn't able to walk. I saw him days later hiding out in a hotel room shaking like an old man. My brother had to perform a ceremony to help him overcome the fear and illness caused by the Naagloshi. These are just a few of he stories that I know of and I will share the rest later when it's daylight...night is coming and I don't want to continue this until daylight comes again tomorrow.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Skinwalker Tales, Part 2

Here are some more tales, quoted from the Daily Grail.

Although skinwalkers are generally believed to prey only on Native Americans, there are recent reports from Anglos claiming they had encountered skinwalkers while driving on or near tribal lands. One New Mexico Highway Patrol officer told us that while patrolling a stretch of highway south of Gallup, New Mexico, he had had two separate encounters with a ghastly creature that seemingly attached itself to the door of his vehicle. During the first encounter, the veteran law enforcement officer said the unearthly being appeared to be wearing a ghostly mask as it kept pace with his patrol car. To his horror, he realized that the ghoulish specter wasn't attached to his door after all. Instead, he said, it was running alongside his vehicle as he cruised down the highway at a high rate of speed.

The officer said he had a nearly identical experience in the same area a few days later. He was shaken to his core by these encounters, but didn't realize that he would soon get some confirmation that what he had seen was real. While having coffee with a fellow highway patrolman not long after the second incident, the cop cautiously described his twin experiences. To his amazement, the second officer admitted having his own encounter with a white-masked ghoul, a being that appeared out of nowhere and then somehow kept pace with his cruiser as he sped across the desert. The first officer told us that he still patrols the same stretch of highway and that he is petrified every time he enters the area.


One Caucasian family still speaks in hushed tones about its encounter with a skinwalker, even though it happened in 1983. While driving at night along Route 163 through the massive Navajo Reservation, the four members of the family felt that someone was following them. As their truck slowed down to round a sharp bend, the atmosphere changed, and time itself seemed to slow down. Then something leaped out of a roadside ditch at the vehicle.

"It was black and hairy and was eye level with the cab," one of the witnesses recalled. "Whatever this thing was, it wore a man's clothes. It had on a white and blue checked shirt and long pants. Its arms were raised over its head, almost touching the top of the cab. It looked like a hairy man or a hairy animal in man's clothing, but it didn't look like an ape or anything like that. Its eyes were yellow and its mouth was open."

The father described as a fearless man who had served two tours in Vietnam, turned completely white, the blood drained from his face. The hair on his neck and arms stood straight up, like a cat under duress, and noticeable goose bumps erupted from his skin. Although time seemed frozen during this bizarre interlude, the truck continued on its way, and the family was soon miles down the highway.

A few days later, at their home in Flagstaff, the family awoke to the sounds of loud drumming. As they peered out their windows, they saw the dark forms of three "men" outside their fence. The shadowy beings tried to climb the fence to enter the yard but seemed inexplicably unable to cross onto the property. Frustrated by their failed entry, the men began to chant in the darkness as the terrified family huddled inside the house.

The story leaves several questions unanswered. If the beings were skinwalkers, and if skinwalkers can assume animal form or even fly, it isn't clear why they couldn't scale a fence. It is also not known whether the family called the police about the attempted intrusion by strangers.

The daughter, Frances, says she contacted a friend, a Navajo woman who is knowledgeable about witchcraft. The woman visited the home, inspected the grounds, and offered her opinion that the intruders had been skinwalkers who were drawn by the family's "power" and that they had intended to take that power by whatever means necessary. She surmised that the intrusion failed because something was protecting the family, while admitting that it was all highly unusual since skinwalkers rarely bother non-Indians. The Navajo woman performed a blessing ceremony at the home. Whether the ceremony had any legitimacy or not, the family felt better for it and has had no similar experiences in the ensuing years.