Thursday, May 23, 2013

To Santa Fe and Back: Ten Happenings

There is only one easy way to cover what's happened since my last blog post. That way would be making a list. So here goes:

1. On Monday, May 14, ES and I took an afternoon flight to Santa Fe, NM. Easy trip. On the plane, I finished another Donna Leon Venetian mystery and read more of Henry James' Portrait of a Lady. The reason for our trip? ES had a storage unit filled with paintings from the last fifteen years - fetishes, Indians, New Mexico landscapes and waterfalls. Beautiful paintings that hardly anyone has ever seen. He needed to get them all back to Houston.
We stayed at Las Palomas, a sort of B&B/adobe hotel two blocks off the square, a convenient OK place with a testy desk clerk. I'll consider her part of the experience as well as the piped in breakfast music, which didn't make for lingering over a second cup of coffee.
In just three days, we ate A LOT of New Mexican food - all good, all too much - all with corn and gluten, which was not all good for me.
2. The afternoon we arrived in Santa Fe, we checked on ES's storage unit and I think he was surprised and happy that it contained so much. The happiness only came, however, after he'd considered dumping some of it. I was of a different opinion and soon, we were off to U-Haul to rent a 10 foot truck.
3. After a truck was secured for departure on Saturday, we drove to Don Redman's studio. Don is a long time sculptor friend of ES's. Their friendship goes way back to the early 1970s when Don was a student at HSPVA, Houston's High School for Preforming and Visual Arts. Don creates fine work, including kinetic sculpture, and has had several commissions from the State of New Mexico. He's broken into the realm of public art, but doesn't have a gallery representing him. I don't understand this, especially after eyeing some of the stuff on Canyon Road that passes for sculpture.
5. On Tuesday, ES and I drove the High Road to Taos. On the highway before 8:00, we arrived at Chimayo at 8:30, well before they opened. We had the place all to ourselves.
Lunch in Taos at Michael's Kitchen, a local place. More really good New Mexican food that included what I used to call Navajo fry bread covered with dollops of honey.  More gluten.
Saw a sculpture of Don's in front of the Taos Center For the Arts, and then moved on to explore the E. L. Blumenschein Home & Museum. We were enchanted with the place. Each room was very personal, filled with the family's belongings, books and artwork. Blumenschein was one of the group of artists who 'discovered' Taos and set down roots. His wife, Mary Shepherd Greene Blumenschein was a recognized artist, the second American and woman to win medals in the Paris Salon de'Automne in 1900 and 1902. Blumenschein met this talented woman in Paris and married her. They supported themselves through illustration commissions for American magazines. How they got to Taos is another story which you can read at this link.
What was maddening about visiting their home was that the home/museum shop had no book about Mary Shepherd Greene Blumenschein. The only information about her was on labels on household belongings. Once they moved to Taos, she devoted herself to family and domestic activities. A loss, it seems to me. She did design unique furniture for their house and she added decorative painting to adobe walls. Photos were not allowed, but I couldn't help myself. I photographed this wonderful storage unit she designed. I want to know more about this woman.
In a glass case, there was a children's book by Eleanor H. Porter for which Mrs. Blumenschein was the illustrator.  (BTW, Eleanor H. Porter is the author of 'Pollyanna.')  It was while pondering this book in the glass case that I read the words, "other books by Eleanor H. Porter include 'Just David.'  
Well, I have searched for this particular book for decades. Never knew the author's name, thought the title was simply 'David' and so could never locate it at on-line used book dealers. As soon as ES and I returned to wifi land, I ordered two copies - recent reprints of the book - one for the Kleban kids and one for the McGrady kids. I will read it to them in August, or they can read it to me.
And what is the magic in 'Just David'? I first heard this story, one chapter at a time, when I was in the fifth grade in Aruba, when, for several weeks, Mrs. Spitzer was our substitute teacher. If we behaved ourselves, she'd read a chapter every afternoon. The story has faded, but not the effect it had on me.  It was a bit like reading 'Anne of Green Gables' for the first or the fiftieth time. I can hardly wait to see if I feel the same magic rereading it 60 years later.
ES and I drove on to the Millicent Rogers Museum under magnificent skies filled with storm clouds. Rogers was a Standard Oil heirness and a devoted collector of things Southwest. We enjoyed our visit to the museum, but it didn't have the intimacy of the Blumenschein house.  And yes, there were several Millicent Rogers bios in the museum shop. I did not buy one. It was Mary Shepherd Greene Blumenschein about whom I wanted to read more.
6. On Thursday afternoon, Don drove us to Chama, that town in northern NM which we never really saw because we turned off at a gate into several hundred acres of tended and pristine private land, owned by Don's wife's family. The land and the views are spectacular and I was reminded of the trip that Mary and Queta and I took years ago in this same countryside. As we walked the land, Queta said, "How can someone 'own' a mountain?' How indeed?
Walked over 11,000 steps (according to my FitBit) in a day on this land filled with rushing water, acequias, birds and deer and at twilight, dozens of elk.
Here are Don and ES up on a high hill overlooking this special place.  I like seeing men friends together, joking with one another and talking about everything under the sun. In this case, the talk was about making art and  - imagine -  talk about their own lives and experiences. No sports or weather.
7.  On Friday, Don took us to Pagosa Springs, CO where he persuaded ES to borrow a bathing suit and luxuriate in a tub of 108 degree water. Hey, I borrowed a suit at Pagosa Springs, too. Just sorry I didn't have my own bathing suit with its reinforced, SPANX-like design that holds weak abdominal muscles IN.
8. On Saturday we drove back to Santa Fe, picked up the U-Haul at noon, hired a laborer and began to load ES's paintings. I think we were all amazed at the quantity. Perhaps as many as 60+ works spanning 15 years. Now ES has paintings from all periods of his career.
Bought home made tacos and a half dozen tamales from Don's favorite place and then ES and I headed east toward Lubbock, leaving that high altitude behind.
9. After much discussion in the truck, ES called ahead for a motel reservation in Lubbock. We had different views on whether to make a reservation. Finally, he couldn't help himself. But, I must say that  after we got to this brand new motel room, our earlier discussion melted away. We fell on those two beds with new mattresses and four pillows each. Woke up eight hours later and both of us were in love with the beds and the pillows. Slept soundly, comfortably, all night long. I vowed to get serious about buying a new mattress. Way overdue.
10. Texas is one huge state, far too big. It took us 12 interminable hours to drive from Lubbock to Houston, with a stop for a barbecue lunch. When I stepped out of the driver's seat at dusk, it was as if I'd been at sea. And my pedometer registered over 9,000 steps. That is one bumpy U-Haul ride.
That's it. Ten happenings.

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