My Favorite Medical Museum

Around here, the proposed military base closings are big news. But the one that caught my attention was back in DC, the recommendation to close Walter Reed Medical Center.

It's the home to one of the oddest museums I've ever visited — the National Museum of Health and Medicine. Preserved organs in jars, artifacts of Lincoln's assassination, and Dan Sickle's leg. One of the first places I went to when I first moved to DC (it had recently been featured in the Hartford alt newslweekly), and sadly, never made it back to. Definitely a one-of-a-kind institution. There was talk of moving it down to the Mall; there, I fear, it would be moderninzed and sanitized for public consumption, and lose its weird appeal.


go Amonorzo!

Every one in a while, I hit the "next blog" button up there in the Blogger bar. Sadly, 8 times out of 10, it seems to pull up one of those non-blogs, filled with randomly-generated keywords, designed to increase traffic to some sketchy-sounding commercial venture. But eventually I'll hit actual blogs, written by actual people, and around the beginning of August, I came across this one.

As you can see, whoever was setting up the blog, was still in the "this-is-a-test-posting" phase, but what got me was that it was happening right then. I was witnessing the birth of someone's blog! I checked back on the 3rd, and! another new "test" posting! So I commented. Twice. (I decided later that my first post sounded too stern and/or could have used a smiley or something.) But since then, nada. I think I might have frightened him/her off.

Would anyone else want to post a comment? I think we should try to encourage Amonorzo to come back. This site is on my list of blogs I check every day, because now I can't help myself, and I HAVE TO KNOW how it turns out.


McCauley hot spring

Went on a hike Sunday, up in the Jemez Mountains. Although the volcano that made the Valles Grande Caldera — and the surrounding mountains — hasn't been active for 1.12 million years, there's still enough geothermal activity to create hot springs. We drove north, through Los Alamos, then up into the Jemez, past the Caldera.

The hike starts near the picnic area at Battleship Rock:

This was one of the more prominent rock faces in the canyon formed by the east fork of the Jemez River, which winds through the picnic grounds. The trail starts by the river, then climbs the side of the canyon, for about 3 miles and 500 feet elevation change. We could really see the different layers of rock as the hike progressed — grey pumicey stuff, white, then red sandstone. Lots of obsidian-looking black boulders throughout.

There were intermittent clouds, some sun, and brief showers upon reaching the hot spring.

Despite what the photo shows, there were many other people there, including one woman who told us that the water level used to be much higher. And a couple who hiked in from the Jemez Falls (about 2 miles in the other direction) with their 2 Corgis: Andy, a puppy, who, liked to swim, and Zephyr, his older "brother," who did not:

Not having brought swimsuits, we just soaked our feet. It's probably more accurately called a "warm spring." A little more rain on the hike back down. Here's another view of Battleship Rock, and the cliffs beyond, from the return trip. It's the light ridge about halfway down, right above the treeline:

On the drive out, more rain, making the Caldera look especially otherworldly:

Including this one view that looked like a castle on the Scottish moors, or something. Those little white dots farthest to the right are the visitor center buildings.

Back down the mountains into Los Alamos, we came through the leading edge of the storm, with lightning and hail! Clear again by the time we came off the mesa, and down to the Rio Grande on the way home.


Santa Fe, Looking West, From Behind The Cross Of The Martyrs

Coyote Waits

We've taken to heading to the Santa Fe Library for DVDs and videos; with some forethought (and if we can actually remember the movies we wanted to see), we can reserve them. Mostly, it's just making do with what's there, but when it's picked over (which it usually is), it can lead to some odd decisions.

Yesterday, though, got my hands on the murder mystery Coyote Waits, based on the novel by local deity Tony Hillerman. I remembered reading about it when it came out, that it was the first American-produced show for the Mystery series. We've never read Hillerman novels, but we thought that this was terrific.

And, even though it takes place more in the Four Corners area, most of it was filmed in Albuquerque and just past Los Alamos in the Jemez Mountains.


Y'know, I Used To Study Oil Paintings That Looked Like This

two Audreys

the one with 2 feet:

and the one with 4 feet:

[yes, it's the old "babies+puppies" ploy...
all together now: "aaaaaaaawwwwww! how cute!"]


The Épéeists Win

Just back from fencing this evening — two weeks off (due to facilty closure then AIGA meeting). And still no foil fencers around. Instead of just doing footwork (like last time — bor-ing), I gave in and actually suited up in some electric épée gear, something I haven't done in probably about twenty years. Not a particularly large turnout this evening, so I managed to insinuate myself in, perform respectably, have some fun, and feel my foil skills erode.


We Got Other Birds, Too

Because the hummingbirds have been getting all the attention recently, I figured our other feathered neighbors needed some equal time.

Right outside our patio is what we've decided is a white mulberry tree. It's a central gathering place for all the birds, but most amusingly the Robins*. When I first noticed them around, I was wondering how they found enough worms to eat — eventually, we discovered that they eat the mulberries. Not really being primarily tree-feeders, they do it less than gracefully, and, well, kind of humorously, lurching and tottering around and occasionally falling off the tree. There seemed to be two Robin couples, each with one speckled youngster learning how to live on its own.

The most numerous birds are, by far, the House Finches. They live under the Spanish-style red tile overhangs over the window, around the downspouts, and in other nooks and crannies on the apartments. Sometimes, they cling to the side of the adobe-type walls of the apartment. Their chirping provides a pretty constant soundtrack all day long.

The Finches seem to keep the House Sparrows in line. For the first time in any place I've lived, I think they're outnumbered. And they seem not to be too happy about it.

There's also been a couple sightings of a Black-headed Grosbeak, but it kind of comes and goes. And for a while, there looked to be a Say's Phoebe setting up a home, and I think a sighting the other morning. And, in the area, there's the obligatory Mourning Doves.

We also occasionally hear and even see some Crows around (tough to tell from a distance, but I'm almost positive they're not Ravens). We do enjoy Crows and their antics, so it's a little disappointing that we don't get to see more of them.

But when you're sitting out on the porch, and the hummingbird is feeding and hovering so close that you can feel the breeze from its wings, it's easy to see why we get so hung up on them.

* Should all the bird names be capitalized? I went back and forth on that. Seems correct, but it looks weird.

Crow visits the museum


Indian Market — Not As Bad As Advertised

Hopped on our bikes and headed to Indian Market this morning. Sure, it was crowded. But I've seen worse. Cloudy and cool, so the biking wasn't too bad (until the return trip up the hill). The scope of the usual sort of arts fair on the Plaza was expanded, so exhibits were all along and around a bunch of surrounding streets. It wasn't that bad — of course, if we actually were interested in shopping for art, rather than just taking in the whole experience, might have something different to say. Though the artwork on display, was, as expected, beautiful.

There was the promise of fry bread tacos. But also the fear of long lines, so we just grabbed green chile bagels on the way in. That meant there was room for some Taos Cow ice cream.


Indian Market Looming

So, tomorrow starts Indian Market. We've already seen all sorts of arts events on the Plaza in our few months here. But, Indian Market — it (supposedly) brings in about 70,000 visitors which, if you received our moving announcement, you know will just about double the population of the city. We've been warned away, we've been given tips on how to attend. It's just that a lot of stuff has come up this weekend, and, well, we might not even have the time.

Wednesday, to celebrate the anniversary, we decided to head out on the town. Our new town. Back and forth over what to do — it seemed worthy of a Café Pasqual's kind of outing, but is that overdoing it? In the end, the Restaurant Fates sent us over to another favorite, The Shed. A wait, but, a hearty, spicy dinner. And, 'cause we parked across town, got to enjoy a nice little stroll through our new town (in the light rain) after.

Last night was a big planning kind of meeting for the local chapter of the AIGA. It was outside a local design firm, in a courtyard, a big friendly informal event. A bunch of us new folks were made to introduce ourselves, and I was one of three recent escapees from DC. Got a Joel Nakamura shirt for for my efforts, though. Headed out after to Second Street Brewery for a beer and some good conversation with some of my fellow attendees.



Turn on the heat and relive the day!


Slow Weekend

We got out today to SITE Santa Fe's 10th anniversary celebration. A little festival, booths of various sorts, including one where you could put yourself in a famous work of contemporary art.

The museum was also free, so we got to see the current exhibit. Chicanobuilt was providing a soundtrack for our viewing. The DJ was filling in some gaps in the spoken word program, because apparently the New Mexico team had done really well (if not won — unclear) in the National Poetry Slam, and they were all celebrating too hard last night.


Bad Weather Makes The Best Photos

Of course, out here, rain isn't considered "bad."


rainy today

It started clouding over + raining yesterday. There was a nice rainbow in the late afternoon, mountains disappearing behind clouds:



Fencing tonight was overrun by epéeists, so I'm back home early.

As mentioned a few weeks ago, we've said goodbye to XM, and are learning our way around the dial. Blu still dominiates most of our time, but it can be a bit much and its future is far from assured, so we've expanded a bit.

KUNM is still our go-to for NPR (though still avoiding Morning Edition during the week), and every so often, in the evenings for their selection of music.

Other evenings, sometimes it's KSFR and whatever's going on there. It's a much more local, eclectic selection there, and I'm becoming quite attached to the homegrown flavor of it all. For my brief time in the car in the morning, I've taken to catching the (usually local) interview on Santa Fe Radio Cafe. I'd prefer not to start my Saturdays without the self-styled rants, Daily Show clips, and UFO conspiracy theories of Camp Lovewave. And their Sunday morning blues show sends me back to the days of Bad Dogs Blues on WITR.

Driving to fencing one night, I came upon The New Mega 104.1 out of Albuquerque. It's a lot of fun, good music for driving around and DJs who use "a'ight" and "shout-out" unironically. Luckily, soon thereafter, there was an article that explained just what it was we were listenting to. The weakness there is the play list — it is a Clear Channel station after all, and songs will start repeating after about two hours.

Working at the print shop, I liked listening to eD-FM, mostly 'cause they were good about playing some Duran Duran in the morning. It's a good mix of the stuff from the '80s that is just this side of embarrassing (and sometimes just over), with a bit of the same from the '70s and '90s. You really never know where it's going to go, but sometimes it's an unpleasant surprise. It just hit me a couple days ago that they have no DJs — just the deadpan announcer talking about "playing stuff we like," and making wry comments about needing to play ads to pay the bills. It got me wondering if this all just coming from some sort of eD Central. And then, emailing with Deb (about WRNR finally streaming), she mentioned WQSR out of Baltimore, which seems kinda familar . . .

Of course, the other night, we just needed to hook the laptop into the stereo and stream The Computer Guys on Kojo.


By request...

... some more hummingbird photos:

And a photo of the table since I painted it:

This was last week's project. Involved: running down to a locally-based, eco-friendly paint company for milk paint; disassembling the whole thing; countersinking the screw holes further; reassembling; gluing in wood plugs over the screws (because milk paint needs a porous surface); sawing off the plugs flush with the table; more sanding; taping/masking off the top; 2 coats of milk paint (Terra Santa red - not turquoise, Melanie!); and waxing the whole thing. Yeesh.


Santa Fe — The Next Marfa . . . ?

A column in The Santa Fe Reporter draws the comparison between Santa Fe and Marfa, Texas. I've been forwarded stories from The New York Times, The Hartford Courant, and The Wall Street Journal recently, all, in one way or another, talking about how much has changed in that little, out-of-the-way town. The art and design crowd has come in, along with big money, housing prices are out of control, and the way of life — at least the way of life residents have come to know in the past couple decades — has come to an end.

It was on a visit out to see Steffen at the Chinati Foundation years ago that we first "discovered" the West — an experience that ultimately led us here.


Back To The Mountain

Started at the Farmers Market. Still too early for tomatoes, apparently. But in time for a sausage breakfast burrito:

It clouded up yesterday, and the overcast skies continued into today. Looked even more cloudy up in the mountains, so we headed back up the mountain for a hike on the Borrego - Bear Wallow - Winsor Loop trail.

Up there, it's tough to believe that you're on the edge of the desert. Only the aspens really give away that it's the west, and otherwise it's firs, oak bushes — much more green than you'd expect.

The hike starts just shy of 9000' and drops down to Tesuque Creek, about 750' down, and then back up again. Four miles round trip. It's a fairly popular hike, there were maybe a dozen cars in the parking lot. We encountered few people on the way (and, sometimes, their dogs — "Dogs must be on leash or under control"), but for the most part, we were alone.

The trail crosses the creek at two points:

With waterproof boots, I took the lower path. We sat on a rock and had the sandwiches we brought along, and watched a couple who had been behind us find an easy crossing just a few yards downstream.

From the stream, it was back uphill, through more aspen groves:

Crazy-looking bee:

Clouds starting looking ominous as we were closing in on the end of the trail. Some thunder, a little lightning, and rain picked up just as we made it back to the car, after about two-and-a-half hours on the trail.


Sunday In The Plaza With Bob

Our former neighbor from Colonial Village, Bob (different Bob), was in Albuquerque on business, and so extended his trip and headed into Colorado. On Sunday, he stopped by on the way for a visit.

We headed out to Zia for brunch/lunch. And then headed downtown to the Plaza. It was Spanish Market, one of the biggest arts festivals downtown, but my work garage parking served us well.

It was crowded, sure, but nothing near what I feared. The Plaza and surrounding streets were filled with booths with displays of all sorts of traditional Spanish crafts. Particularly taken with some of the weaving — the patterns and the color combinations. Oh, and the restored 1951 Ford Pickup, only 200 miles since restoration, with the Virgin of Guadalupe on the door that they were raffling off. We took Bob on our tour of favorites spots in and around the Plaza, and headed back out through the market after couple hours. We needed some culture.

On to Museum Hill. A friend of Bob's had recommended a visit to the Wheelright Museum of the American Indian. Not only had we never been, but we hadn't been up to Museum Hill since moving.

The main exhibit at the Wheelright was of the work of Charles Loloma, who was doing jewelry design from about the 30s to the 60s. A pretty spectacular display, his work covered a lot of ground, to interpretations of tradtional to truly experimental. The material always went to back to his roots, but the work undeniably echoed the trends of the day. But it really stands the test of time.

After a caffeine break, pushed on to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, a favorite of ours. The exhibits there included a guide to the pottery of the pueblos, a rotating exhibit that, like in the past, focuses on a private collection, a retrospective, and a contemporary exhibit of two artists (which seems to be a standard). It continued to prove why we've always enjoyed going there.

We saw Bob off in the evening. Then we headed on to our local comic creators' group monthly meeting, to enjoy being (mostly) done with our anthology and with our Xeric Foundation grant application.

Saturday, Mountains

Saturday arrived; we were expecting a former neighbor from Colonial Village either Saturday or Sunday, and when he said he'd be through town on Sunday — after taking care of some stuff — we were left with a free afternoon.

Inspired by things like the picture from a few days ago, we drove up to the ski basin. It's about a 20-mile drive, elevation change of probably more than 3000'. Twists and turns, and though I've driven worse, I don't think I'll be taking the Golf Ball up there during the winter. Trailheads and overlooks on the way up:

You pass through national forest, state park, and then back to national forest (motto, from the sign, "Land Of Many Uses"). The state forest has a series of campsites and public use areas, and the centerpiece is an amazing lodge built by the CCC and recently restored:

It was being set up for a wedding reception as we were there.

The ski area seems to be administered as a part of the national forest by the Forest Service. The area was, of course, shut down, but you could just wander around and hike as you pleased. We weren't quite equipped for that on this trip, but did discover that the green areas we thought might be meadows from below were actually aspen. We'll be back in the fall:

Hey, we can see our house from here! Somewhere in there:

Evening, back home and off to a former co-worker's housewarming. A pleasant end to the day.