Monday, August 26, 2013

What We Saw in Albuquerque

My sister and I spent a few days recently in Albuquerque. We don't know much about the city except for the medical parts that we visit, but we did have a little free time to drive around Nob Hill. It is a neighborhood of vintage bungalows, very charming. As we drove down this street, we noticed something different looming just past this little cottage, above. You can barely see it through the trees. 

Here's a little better view of the front and its metal sculptures. This is the Bart Prince House, which I learned about on the internet by simply googling "weird house Nob Hill Albuquerque." If  you click on the link, you will see some much clearer photos of the exterior, plus some tantalizing glimpses of the interior as well. 

I wish those sculptures had come out more clearly

Tile work

Once you drive around the corner, the house looks completely different, perched way up there. 

Not too far down the road, we stopped in at Masks y Mas, an art gallery and retail store which was mentioned in the August 2013 issue of New Mexico Magazine. It was colorful inside and out, and full of Day of the Dead art, masks, and all kinds of accessories. I encourage you to check out their website to get the flavor of the place.

I got this snazzy bracelet for my sister and she is having fun creating outfits to go with it. 

 Adios, Albuquerque. We'll be back..

Sunset from the hotel

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Our First Trip to Taos

We had somehow never been to Taos and stopped there for just a couple of days on our way back from the trip to the Pacific Northwest. I don't know what it was about that town that reminded me of Marin County, California back in the days when I was growing up there--the small town feeling, perhaps;  maybe the beautiful gardens and funky little houses or the relaxed vibe. We just loved it there. 

The first photo (above) is of one of the common rooms for reading and relaxing at the Hotel La Fonda de Taos, where we stayed right there on the Plaza. You can see lots more pictures of the hotel interior at their website. Our room was small but comfy and furnished like an old hacienda. The lace-curtained window looked right out on the Plaza, which was perfect when we were resting up from a day in the sun but still wanted to see and hear what was going on. 

The view from our window

And there was plenty going on. One night there was Native American drumming and dancing by a group from the nearby Taos Pueblo, and the next night was one of the free concerts that take place all summer on Thursday evenings. The Plaza was just starting to fill up for the concert, as you can see above. We heard a rousing performance by the local Damn Band, while having a takeout picnic in our room. Click the band's link and you can listen to some music while reading this post. 

Adobe building in the center of town; note the famous Northern New Mexican blue sky

Taos is a great place to take photos. On the way in to town on the road from Colorado you pass an outpost of the highly-imaginative Earthship homes, built off-the-grid with sustainability and creativity in mind. I didn't get any pictures of them but we have since found that we can rent one for a weekend, so we'll be back up that way for sure. 

Wall mural outside of a shop

After passing the Earthships, the road crosses the Rio Grande Gorge. The bridge is 565 feet above the river and that would have been a great photo op, but there was a movie being filmed there and we were waved through. I did my best to search for famous faces as we drove across--no luck, but there was lots of action. We'll have to go back there, too.

Adobe buildings abound

An interesting stay was made even more so when a cable was cut up in the mountains, taking out the town's Internet for a day. At first I thought it might just be relaxing--no constant checking of email or posting photos to Facebook. Then the little inconveniences started to make themselves known--no GPS or altimeter or map apps via our iPhones. We were still handling our day of stepping back into history (like the early 1990s, I guess), but then the bigger effects started showing up. 

We don't carry much cash when traveling, figuring our debit card is much safer, but that theory wasn't working for us that day. Want lunch? Sorry, cash only. Access to the cash machine? Sorry, no can do. Even the bank was locked up, leaving the arriving employees wandering around on the sidewalk. So, maybe we should just leave town. Guess what? No gas available, either. We started to feel like stupid fools, so attached to our technology that a little quirk could bring us all to a halt, but we had plenty of company. The poor owners and employees of the shops and restaurants, so dependent on the tourist trade, lost plenty of business that day. 

We "made do" with the lovely restaurant at the hotel, which put our meals on the room tab. But, oh, we wanted just one more ice cream cone at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory down the street.

The Internet was eventually restored late in the day and the town and its tourists all heaved a great sigh of relief. We have so many reasons to go back (carrying some extra cash this time); so many little back roads to wander, so many museums and galleries to visit, and so many ice cream flavors to sample...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Love Story

Way back when Beez and I first got married in 1981, we bought our first new furniture. My favorite piece was a small-scale wing chair with red Colonial plaid upholstery. It was the perfect size for me because I am short and the chair allowed my feet to reach the floor.

I sat in my comfy chair to read and to think. When we moved from Washington state to New Hampshire, the little chair came along and fit right into our 1770 Colonial home (see The House on High Street for more about that historic house).

Through the years, sitting in my little wing chair, I read about raising children, adoption issues, and going back to college as an adult. I studied for my classes in that chair; classes that helped me earn first a Bachelor's degree and then a Master's. I learned to knit there and made a lot of sweaters.

As I grew older, I also learned to take a quick nap while sitting bolt upright in that chair. Of course as I aged, so did the chair. An overenthusiastic puppy chewed the chair's legs and ate the upholstery right off one of the arms, so I learned to make slipcovers. Then I learned that slipcovers made out of thin fabric don't last. When the first yellow gingham slipcover got worn out too quickly, I made another slipcover out of a sturdy flowered fabric that I didn't like much. From that I learned that stuff you don't like just never gets any more attractive.

The third slipcover was made of plain and sturdy white canvas that I really liked. It lasted a very long time and went with everything, even this red room I painted in New Hampshire.

Red living room with dog basket and white wing chair

We moved to New Mexico and retired. By and by the white slipcover wore out, too, and the poor little chair looked so shabby. I threw a quilt over it but eventually decided, not too long ago, that it was time to say goodbye to my loyal and comfy companion. I asked Beez to please take it to the dump, right away before I changed my mind. He loaded it up and drove away.  

It was like deciding to put down a beloved old dog. I had really thought that it was the right time and just didn't have it in me to make another set of slipcovers, but I was haunted by the thought of my good little chair down in the pit at the dump, lying there at the mercy of the big bulldozer. 

That was almost a month ago. Today I came home from a morning at my knitting group and walked into my special little reading room. There, standing once again in its usual corner, was my beloved little chair--all reupholstered in fine new fabric, with its formerly scratched-up wooden legs refinished and gleaming.

And there was dear smiling Beez, who (after 30-some years) knows me better than I know myself. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Road Trip, Part 7: Back to New Mexico!

Let's get this road trip finished up! After we left Green River, Utah (Crossroads of the West) we headed down through some beautiful country: Red rocks, and even some arches. 

In southern Colorado, there was a cattle herd traffic jam. I took a video because I was trying to capture the sounds of the herd, but you can mainly hear Beez and me chuckling. The cowgirl (the one with the dog) said "Thank y'all" to us for waiting for them to get situated, but we owed the thanks to her and her wonderful herd, heading down the mountain.


And then, suddenly, we were heading down ourselves. From a high of 10,800 feet, we could see down into good old New Mexico. It had been a wonderful trip, but it was so good to be home again!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Road Trip, Part 6: Tacoma and its Glass

Something big has happened to Tacoma since we left in the mid-1980s: Glass as art, and especially the glass works of Dale Chihuly. A native son of Tacoma, Chihuly's influence is seen everywhere in the downtown area. 

A dilapidated train station when we last saw it, the refurbished Union Station is now leased by the Federal Government and houses federal courts, is also used as a wedding and party venue, and has an amazing display of Chihuly glass pieces in the rotunda. 

Because of security concerns surrounding federal court business, we were asked to take our photos of the higher parts of the dramatic rotunda only, so all my photos are angled upward. 

This hanging piece was immense! 

Just past Union Station, we strolled on to the famous Bridge of Glass, which is a 500-foot long pedestrian overpass that takes you to the Museum of Glass. My pictures do absolutely nothing to give you an idea of the scale of the glass pieces on the bridge, above: Each one was at least two to three feet high, and this is just a tiny section of the side of the bridge. Go to the Bridge of Glass website for some lovely photos. 

This is a small part of the ceiling of the Bridge--all Chihuly glass pieces--and it illustrates the thought that kept occurring to me: Tacoma's skies can often be gray and overcast, so the introduction of colorful glass that captures and changes the available light is the perfect pairing with the city's climate. 

The next two photos will illustrate my point--check out the gray clouds, then imagine all this glass lit up at night. 

Once we were inside the Museum itself, we spent some time admiring the creativity happening in the Hot Shop, where art is made from molten glass. 


Here is the interior of the Hot Shop's chimney, a 90-foot tall stainless steel cone that we could see from our room at the Hotel Murano.  As I may have mentioned before, the hotel itself was filled with glass pieces like the suspended glass canoe, below.