Saturday, January 31, 2009


This past week was a great week.  Work: 4 days with Monte (always lots of good laughs), 1 day by myself, to make batts for the long overdue Etsy update.  Good workout at Pilates yesterday, great lunch at Maverick Cafe next door to shop.Canonbattery

Mercury went out of retrograde yesterday...always a huge help.

Husband unit went to work this morning so I can be alone...also good.

Sun is shining, dishes are done, laundry is started. 

Now, to photograph this week's booty for uploading to Etsy.


Extra camera battery and charger are still in CA, battery in camera dead.  I remember the day I plugged the charger and battery into the wall socket in our little kitchen, and thought to myself, gee Martie, if you're not careful, you'll forget this. 

Go buy another, you say?  Well our only photo supply store is closed on smart is that. update until later this week.  Guess that means I have more time to wash wool.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Am I a Luddite at heart?

Some days I feel really smug about the things I've learned about my computer these last few years.  While I'm not as computer friendly as many, at least now I can find my way around and do some other things I would never have dreamed I'd be doing six years ago (pre-Taos Sunflower).  Then, just when I'm patting myself on the back for all that I've learned, I remember the down side:  it's eating up my days...big time.

Now I know I'm not the only person who has noticed this.  I remember those long, technology free days, weaving, spinning, hiking.  Most of all, I remember writing letters by hand, often hundreds a year.  I miss that terribly.  I remember when the last of my friends who would hand write letters with me caved in and I would write and she'd respond by e-mail.  Somehow it just took the fun out of it.

This little video came my way a few days ago, and I thought I'd share it.  I think it's a great illustration of what I'm mumbling about here.

Download Technology1

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The gift of a friend

Last week, as I was busily whining about how busy my week was getting in San Diego, unbeknownst to me, my dear friend Vadan was in the process of living her last days here in Taos.  Saturday evening, as I was packing, I got an e-mail message from her family to come and see her one last time...but there I was, 1,000 miles away.  I don't need to tell you how that felt.

I met Vadan around 1995, when we both hung out weaving in Denise Miller's studio here in Taos.  We spent days weaving and talking, or sometimes dyeing our yarns in natural dyes under Denise's expert supervision.  Those were peaceful days.  I was pretty new to Taos and had few friends.  Vadan was the kind of person who took you right in like you were part of her family.  There were so many similarities between her and the sister I lost to breast cancer, it was almost erie.  Over time, I decided secretly that maybe she had been sent to me to help me make up for the years I had missed with Vicki.  They were so much alike...always the happiest person in the room, making everyone feel welcome and included.Angels

Sadly, there were more similarities than I wanted.  Shortly after getting to know her, Vadan was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Hers is a long story, a hard fought battle over many ups and downs.  It later resurfaced in other parts of her body, and at one point about 5 years ago, in a condition where I'm guessing many would have just let go, she fought it down once again. 

Through those years, we shared lots of great times together.  Long breakfasts with other friends, chatting over knitting projects.  Planning for and sharing our annual booth at Wool Festival was a fun time for us...she always brought the antiques and golden boughs of aspens to decorate our booth.  She never once complained about her fact, seldom mentioning it unless you asked.  She had a will of iron, a smile that never stopped, and as our friend Nancy wrote today, she always had an open shine that existed on her face...before and after the cancer events. Her eyes were always clear and glistening with living.  This was a woman with a very full life and no time for self pity.

I learned so much from Vadan, and will hold those lessons in my heart as my own life continues.  Not by her words so much as by her example.  She was a tireless volunteer in our community, and spent these last years lovingly teaching the fiber classes at our local Waldorf school.  She never had a bad word to fact, she just didn't have time for that.  She had an inner peace and sense of priorities that I have always envied.  No petty thoughts in her world...she knew, better than many of us, that life was just too short.  She lived an open, honest, happy and caring life.  She left behind two wonderful adult children and a husband who deserves a medal for his dedication, love and support throughout her illness. 

So today, a small group of us said good bye in a private chapel near their home.  It was an amazing experience.  The chapel was filled with adults and many of her students from the Waldorf school.  The singing was amazing, as though there were angels there.  A drum beat softly at the beginning, followed by a silent Tibetan blessing ceremony.  Prayers of all sorts were offered up, including a native American prayer to the four directions.  The love in the room was palpable.  I felt honored to be there, honored to have been part of her life.  She is my hero. last thing.  As we were driving east across Arizona Monday morning, I was captured by some clouds that were outside my window just before the sun made her ascent.  I was thinking I had never seen clouds quite like that before, and that I should take a photo (as best I could with my iPhone).  After taking my picture and staring at them so some more, I suddenly saw the shapes of angels flying north and eastward.  Think of me what you will...but I saw them.   I wondered, at the time, if they were headed to Vadan...can you see them, too?

Monday, January 12, 2009

The trip project

Here it is. I am loving it. It's Aracaunia Nature Wool in all the strange colors I rooted out of my stash. The best part is that you crochet it together as you go. The trip project

Saturday, January 10, 2009

An altered universe

We left Winslow on Thursday and drove to Las Vegas so Mr. Sunflower could attend the Consumer Electronics Show for a few hours.  While I see Las Vegas (or what purports to be) on television each week on CSI, it turns out that I haven't really been IN Las Vegas for some uncountable number of years.  Or...let's just put it this way...the only places I remember have long since bitten the dust and been replaced with some humongous luxury resort.

Driving over, we went by way of Hoover Dam...also something I hadn't visited in a gazillion years.  We stopped for a couple of minutes to see the progress on a new bridge that's being built to span over the water below the dam (estimated completion:  unknown).  This is apparently something that's a result of NAFTA and is supposed to make hauling stuff from Mexico to Canada easier in the future.  For now, since 9/11, crossing the dam is taken pretty seriously and there are some restrictions as to what kinds of vehicles are allowed to cross.  (No semis, tankers, etc.)HooverDam2

We hit Las Vegas mid-afternoon and checked into our not so swanky hotel on the east side of town.  I was actually pretty excited, thinking I'd try my hand at a few slot machines, grab a coffee from the lobby version of Starbucks, and then hang out and blog.  Boy, was I in for a culture shock.  It turns out that (at least in this hotel) the slot machines no longer take money, but rather you buy a little plastic card like a gift card and insert that.  Then...obviously not recalling sophisticated, electronic slots, I was horrified at the noise level.  They make an assortment of bizarre noises like the electronic arcade games you see once in a while.  It was the most bizarre world in signs of daylight...just oceans of machines, people making bets on horse races and watching them on little screens at their tables (and yelling), loads of buffet food opportunities, and tons of smoke.  I quickly ascertained that the average age was probably mine (not telling) or maybe even I appeared to have less grey hair than the average patron.  Next observation:  hardly anyone appeared to be having fun.  At one point, we walked past the entrance to a "club" (inside the dark ocean of slot machines) and spotted people dancing to the sounds of some sad little musical group with some guy singing Bobby Darin songs.  This, at 2:30 in the afternoon.  Boy, did I know I was in the wrong place!  (Caveat:  this is not a criticism of those who enjoy this type of's merely the observation of someone who just isn't much for crowds and noise.)

Leaving town yesterday morning, we drove out part of the Las Vegas Strip.  Wow.  What a trip that was.  It was like another sort of Disneyland.  I wish I could have taken pictures to share, but frankly, my jaw was hanging open.  I guess I felt a little bit like one of the Beverly Hillbillies, the first time they hit L.A. 

And when all was said and done?  I want to go back, stay on the strip, and catch a few of the great shows...Bette Midler and Cirque du Soleil, for sure.  Never say never.... 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Arizona in my blood

My parents were both from Tucson, born in the very early part of the 20th century.  They met there, married there, and lived there as they started their family.  My sister, Vicki, had such horrible asthma they were advised by their physician to move her to the coast for the moist air.  In 1943, they left their own families and friends behind and moved to Santa Barbara, where my brother was born the following year.  While I know they would never have done anything differently, there was, in retrospect, always the sadness of leaving Tucson hanging in the air in our home.LaPosadaEntrance

The promise of a better job moved them to the Los Angeles area after WWII.  I showed up a few years later, and I grew up listening to my parents' stories of the desert and all its magic and cruelties...the desert blooms in the spring, the clear skies (gone from L.A. by the mid-fifties), tales of Superstition Mountain and the Lost Dutchman mine, Arizona Highways Magazine, the horrid sand storms, flash floods, and the droughts that caused the ranchers' cattle to die in the desert.  I heard story upon story about Tucson, to the point that I felt I knew the town myself.  LaPosadaGreatRoom

From this comes my own love of the desert, and the Sonoran desert, in particular.  Maybe it's from my upbringing, maybe it's from the endless westerns I watched as a kid, or maybe it's because I always felt I was supposed to have grown up on a ranch.  Whatever it is, it's there, deeply ingrained in me.

Which brings me to one of my favorite places, where we stayed last night...the La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona.  The last of the great Santa Fe Railway hotels designed by the  famous architect Mary Colter, the La Posada is thought to be the jewel in her crown, as it were.  Not only was she commissioned to design the hotel, unlike her previous jobs, with the La Posada she was in charge of the whole show...designing furnishings and landscape as well as the hotel.  Opening in 1930 during the Great Depression, economic prosperity somehow never came to be for this glorious property, although it did have a hay day of its own right.  It was, at one time, a busy hub for both railway passengers and coast to coast airplane flights (in the days when they still had to stop somewhere along the way to refuel).  The local airport was designed under the watchful eyes of Charles Lindberg, and everyone from famous Hollywood stars of the day to Howard Hughes to Albert Einstein stayed there.LaPosadaPaintedWindow

Alas...time wasn't so kind.  After the interstate was built and Route 66 was bypassed, the La Posada closed her doors for the last time in 1957.  In 1959, an auction was held to sell off all the glorious furnishings.  Then another sad thing happened...although certainly this story could have had a worse ending...the Santa Fe Railway decided to occupy the La Posada as both offices and switching center, back when lots and lots of equipment was needed to do what we do with such sophisticated equipment today.  Entire sections of the hotel were either stripped out inside and/or covered over with acoustical ceilings and wall boards to make individual offices.  Some portions of the hotel were just closed off entirely.  

In 1997, the SF Railway moved out and the La Posada found her head on the chopping block.  A couple from California with incredible vision and love found her on a list of endangered historic properties and stepped up to meet the challenge.  This is another long story, but for now, the result is a grand old hotel well on her way to recovery and holding her doors open for you to come and visit.  If you plan to be in the area, I highly recommend you at least stop in, take a tour, and enjoy a meal in their fabulous restaurant....even if you can't stay the night.  (Or visit them now:  La Posada.)   Being inside her walls you can't help but feel the spirits of her golden age...I promise you.LaPosadaPortal

Monday, January 5, 2009

And then it snowed some more.

We got another storm yesterday and this one brought us at least 14" of new snow here...on top of what was already around.  I strapped on the snowshoes this morning and didn't get too's so fluffy I was still sinking about 18" everywhere I tried to go (=hard work).  I took some photos, as always, and then grabbed the snow shovel to help Mr. Sunflower with all the hard work. ManosShawlDetail 

I finished the shawl I was crocheting out of my stash of Manos del Uruguay yarns.  I rather like it, now that it's finished.  More importantly, it was just plain fun to make...easy and mindless but with lots of color...that's always my favorite

project. ManosShawl1