Hundred Mile Horizons


*click it to big it*
New Mexico: A high-contrast landscape under a cerulean half-dome; the inverse of the view of Earth from space. The air was thin and dry and fragrant with sage and juniper. That was my favorite thing, the aroma. It was the opposite of my forested southern home, heavy with verdant decay, dirt, sweet smelling flowers, and creek. Speeding along on the highway the colors seemed a homogenous dun; visual relief dependent on shapes and textures. But up close, the beauty is diverse and subtle. For a person that never has a view of uninterrupted sky, living shrouded in diffused and filtered light through ten thousand sparkling greens, the light and space was nothing short of a miracle.

The blood of cowboys and indians seemed to burst forth in the form of cactus flowers; the shocking pinks punctuated the spiny hosts with cheer. The grasses were tipped at times with tails as bushy as a coyote's. Others were crowned with whispy fans of white seed pods waiting to set sail over the desert. Lizards peered from behind rocks, and there was fencing everywhere. "To keep out" said Moi, "not to keep in". I fell in love with the coyote fences, made with saplings bound tightly together in upright rows. The uneven lengths and color variations were delightful, and I resolved to make a southern version for my garden.

the fires blending in with the clouds *click it to big it*

There was a fire. There were many fires. You could see it burning far away and you could sense it just beyond the horizon. You could also see rain several places at once all around you. Gray curtains were falling in a very small area while right next to it the sun shone through clouds like the eye of God. It was an endless flat vista dotted with globular green shrubs until a steppe would rise abruptly from the plain, and beyond that mountain ranges in blue cooled the eye. Moi told of imagining a Navajo youth having this entire landscape open to him; of course there would have been no notion of ownership, just a life on a land alive with adventure and danger. So uninterrupted by structures and power lines, the area we traveled is used for western movies because it actually looks as it did centuries ago.

the courtyard at San Felipe de Neri
In Olde Town we visited San Felipe de Neri, founded in 1706. It was Spanish but spare and very european in its decor. It seemed so formal in contrast to the dusty adobes outside. It opened into the town plaza, a green square surrounded by shopping and eating destinations.

We shopped of course. I was looking for a new straw hat to add to my collection. I selected a rather stiff hat made of palm in Guatemala with a perfect shape and a unique banding on the underside of the brim. I love it. I found plenty of small things that I liked; trinket like in price range but all having a quality that I found agreeable.

A collection of tin trimmed Santos

The bubble ring with the Blessed Virgin inside. I bought it and I am still wearing it.

Back at Moi's lovely home in the hills we were surrounded by chirping birds and plenty of hummers; titmice and western bluebirds; three species of doves and a gold finch with a black cap. The dogs were a study in contrast, the elder statesman Ivan with the regal and exotic face and Maddie the border collie with mad focus and a loving gaze. From the patio where we enjoyed our evening cocktails we could see collections of conifers, grasses and flowers, and the skeletons of cacti strewn about on a pastiche of rocky hardscaping.

Moi outfitted us with gift bags and mine had a special shot glass for me to enjoy my libation: a deer and a beer; which is a shot of Cazadores tequila and a long neck mexican beer. Her selection of a shot glass was an amusing choice - spot on humor -  and I am sure that she would never have guessed that it would now grace my dresser as a vase to hold sweet little blooms that keep the perfumes and bracelets company.

"cuz I, some how, some way, come up with funky ass sh*t, like, ever-ree-day"

Next: We go to the International Folk Art Show in Santa Fe.


  1. Ever think of becoming a travel-writer? I really believe you could. Loved your descriptions of the desert.

  2. Wonderful photographs and a great description of your new surroundings and adventures...I can almost smell that sage and juniper :)
    xoxoxo ♡

  3. Debora is right; I was with you on the trip and while I saw what you saw; your descriptions are beautiful. I'm glad you're still wearing the ring and I'm super impressed with your camera. I did NOT get the same colors. Love the interior of the church.

    I loved the ever changing sky; like a big river constantly moving. Wild.

    Part Two! Part Two!

  4. Only you would put Snoop among the 'fumes and flowers. But he looks good there. I like it.

    What a beautifully written and photographed homage to my 'hood—it made my heart clutch up. I love New Mexico so, this dusty and wild place, and it thrills me that it touched you.

    Y'all come back any time, ya hear? 'Cause we still need to hike and I forgot to show you the cemetery. D'oh!

  5. I often see southwestern and Mexican influences in your art, so this must have been like going home for you. I don't do the heat very well, and those fires are unbelievable, so I'm not sure new Mexico is a place for me. But I do like the "old west". Glad you gals had a good time. Snoop Dog - really?

  6. debora: i've thought of every job possible. recently we hosted travel writers in blue ridge, and after reading some of the articles, I think I could do it at least as well. are you hiring? thanks, friend.

    dianne: it was such fragrant air - and i was coming off that sinus infection. it was as healing as it was delightful. i loved it and now i am in air so heavy it saturates clothing making walking around "hard" its awful. on the news they are saying keep yourself and your pets inside. heat index over 100. and thats not a "dry heat". gah. xo

    boxer: are you sure its not the operator, not just the camera? grherhhaha. its a fine little point and shoot and i have learned to love it. I juiced the first photo a bit in PS and dropped the foreground levels in picture 3. the church. well, anybody that used a flash ruined their photo. It was spectacular wasnt it? the last time Moi stopped I was a bout to say "leave me here for an hour and come back and get me." i wanted to be 'alone" with it.

    moi: i do want to hike it, and it hurt me terribly to see your sacred place on fire. I know what that feels like. I really hope that you get to hike for E's birthday and that you have returned to the hills with the dogs. Moi, it really is very very beautiful and you have chosen well. I wouldnt leave that place - your perch has a commanding view of God's country. Thank you once again for sharing, and for being fun and chill and all the qualities I admire.

    Buzz: i know! I spent some time in Mexico and I always had an affinity for the mexican painters. In addition, I always loved how Spanish colonialism blended with the indigenous earth based religions resulting in interesting catholic art. Its a joke, but the dry heat thing was true. I was never really all that hot 'cept when getting in a hot car. Now, im like a fish on the shore gasping in this high humidity.

    and snoop? yeah, thats kind of a nod to my first incarnation on the blogs. I was a black (rottweiler) rapper. funny that Moi produced yet another shot glass with three people on it. I said "i actually know who these guys are" and Boxer said "who?" and I said

    "Dre, Jay z and Tupac". im not sure how i know these things.

    see, when i put Snoop with my girlie white girl schizz, its 'spossed to be "irony" grrrrrhahahahahaha.

    The next blogger summit is open to all. NYC 2012. that'll be a sure thing for you, right?

  7. btw. we are, us middle-aged wimmen, in full agreement that "em" is the best rapper of all time. jus sayin

  8. Amen to "EM" and yes.... NYC 2012 (September) is open to all ... as long as you want to spend three days eating and shopping. Empire State Building? Been there, done that. Consignment store shopping in SoHo? Oh, helloooooo!

  9. Lovely post.
    I really liked those tin trimmed Santos. There is something to be said for all the great art and architecture inspired by faith. The fact mankind has been doing this for centuries is ....affirming.

    Glad to hear you summiteers had some fun. It sounds like making the rounds of each others home patch has made real trump virtual. Wonderful isn't it?

  10. Hi! My name is . . . (what?)
    My name is . . . (who?)
    My name is . . . (scritch-scratch)
    Moi Shady

  11. welcome back

  12. boxer: and look at art and EAT. i still remember a great lunch i had at a korean grocery store.

    fishy: some of the best. WHen i think of the skill level i see now, and the horrific muses for modern art it makes me sick. the top selling artworks in contemporary auctions are very dark. I always respond to folk art that is drawn upon centuries of devotional creativity. I really enjoyed seeing Mois home, as I did boxers. you shall know them by their writing -and it may be a greater way to identify a friend then convenience or geography.

    moi: see? we coulda made a video. (im sure all the bloggers are glad that we did not!) on tap for tomorrow: your mix cds!

    troll: thank you! Its always nice to come home.

  13. Wow! I’ve been enjoying all the summiteers’ photos and observations, but the vividness of your descriptions in this post knocked me out! You are a woman of many talents, as are your summitting compadres!

    Hmm. NYC 2012. Eggy is intrigued . . .

    Looking forward to Part 2!

  14. I love love that one photo of the cactus flowers, and of course that scenery. I'm a Great Plains kind of girl so I appreciate those wide open spaces. Just beautiful. Your words are inspiring.

  15. P.S. A snoopdog shot glass is beyond brilliant.

  16. heh. ,

    Y'all did yoreselves proud

  17. Welcome back.

    I would very much like to see this light.

  18. Hope you don't mind if I borrowed your "forested southern home, heavy with verdant decay, dirt, sweet smelling flowers, and creek" while you were gone.

    Your spot at the farmers market had been usurped by some effete bath salt-sniffin' ne'er-do-well, and there wasn't an egg to be found! Did talk to a lovely organic gardening lady who sold me a small bag of her special "sea mineral salt" for the garden, though. Nudge, nudge, wink;) wink;) say no more!

    Let's not miss each other next summer, cool?

  19. Does the catholicism fit in? Is there something like a "catholic landscape"?

  20. Eggy: well you had me with north dakota! who knew? now i do and wouldnt mind visiting there myself. okay, so i can mark you down for 2012?

    pam: ive always wanted to see the prairie too - people say why? its like a whole lotta miles of grass. But I loved the spareness of Mois landscape. now in the soup again,,,its dark. but -its cool. but, its wet. but its green. grrrrrrrrah! The snoop glass! thats a funny little trifle isnt it? and there among the perfumes it is a perfect place for a gift from Moi.

    aunty: thank you. we really did and the time flew by of course. it wasnt long was long enough. see comment to heart on these matters is like a ping pong game

    63 mago: it was high contrast. My light is softened a bit - diffused by trees and/or atmosphere that is heavy with water particles. The sun seemed to be up much earlier...I havent looked at where mois is situated latitudinally but i was shocked at how light even night time is. night here is pitch black unless the moon is out.

    tripp! do you see everyone calling out for you at CFN? bored with K's tired old routine now - they are looking for content. I spect SBG will grow exponentially this year. I know - I hated to miss you - and I started driving to Florida on the west of 75 on 19. four lanes, no billboards. I cant take 75 south georgia. ugly ugly ugly. YOUR place looks great.

    effete. what a great word. on the farmers market - i stopped selling my food. its too hard to get it and i feel like each tomato is $10 or more. I just sell flowers and art now. I buy food from the fellas that grow 10 rows a 100 feet long -like my buddy said: leave it to the professionals.

    63Mago: yeah it fits. Its indian earth culture overlaid by spanish catholicism. It reminds me a lot of north spains high desert. The adobe style churches are nice - and the notion of Gods country is perfect because of the scope. It looked more catholic than where I live. This place is like...buck dancing holding a snake and praising Jesus country.

  21. Have you ever seen a lightening storm at night in those open desert spaces? Truly magnificent.

  22. Someday I would love to visit New Mexico. So very different than Florida.

  23. Ahahaha! Snoop dogg rulez! Too funny, girl. I love that you talk about the smells of a place, I'm a very sensual person and the smell of certain places evoke such strong memories and make as much impact to me as the visuals. Cool.

    Your story makes the desert sound beautiful and of course the photos support it. I used to adore religious art, esp. when I lived in Chicago where there are a lot of Mexicans. (believe it or not!) Also, I enjoyed the art from the local Ukranian Orthodox church, just gorgeous. Thanks for taking me with you on your trip, I wish I could have been there! xo

  24. Light is a true mistery. I would very much like to work with it.

  25. Sounds like a great trip - beautiful writing and pics to express it.

  26. Amazing trip and wonderful description. felt like I was back. Many fond childhood memories of the dessert.


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