Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When the simple becomes absurd

I'm probably going to step on some toes here, but I am going to say it anyway: sometimes it's just ridiculous trying to get things that should be relatively simple accomplished here in our fine state.

A few weeks ago, we had a classic experience. Our friend Ani returned from India to live with us. I took her to the MVD on Monday morning to get her NM license renewed (it had expired 3 years ago). We drove an hour to go to the office in Red River, because the MVD office in Taos is locally known for long waits and surly employees. In she went, with her expired license (that once proved who she was, didn't it?) and her passport in hand. Boy, were we barking up the wrong tree. This woman was not going to make this easy.

And so begins what would become a five day odyssey. First, a trip to the taos county tax assessor's office for a copy of Ani's tax bill for her very rural property, which turned out to not be acceptable for proof of residency, because it didn't have a 911 street address. Then, a trip to Santa Fe for a signed and stamped affidavit from the Social Security Administration (please note: your social security card is not to be used as legal identification, except, apparently, if you need a driver's license in NM). Then, another trip back to Red River...whereupon the "nice" MVD lady is getting testy because her lack of giving proper information in the first place has now cost three days' trips and yes, it's true...not enough correct documentation. She forgot to mention the bank account...yes, having a bank account will do the trick!

Back to Taos. Open a bank account. Get signed paperwork from the bank. Drive back another hour to Red River. OOPS! No dice. You must wait until the first statement is mailed to you, and bring that in. Oh, and I forgot to mention the trip to our lawyer's office for the required, notarized, affidavit signed by Roger, acknowledging that Ani lives with us and we know her to a good person.

I will not trouble you with the rest of the attempts to try to divine up what the MVD wanted. When they finally had it right, on day five (I was out of town by this time, and Roger had taken up the cause), the MVD lady says "Oh, do you want a driver's license? 'Cause my machine is broken, and I haven't been able to make them all week!" (This is now Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in Red River). A last resort trip back to the MVD office in Taos that afternoon yielded not only the only known nice, helpful, and polite person in the MVD office, but at last, a driver's license.

And this is a state that issues drivers' licenses to people who don't even have citizenship or passports. Not that I care, but how do they manage their way through this maze and get licensed?

My next gripe is from this week. I have been told repeatedly by my postmaster that ANY package over 13 oz. being shipped out of the United States MUST be shipped by Priority mail rates. I have had to charge obscene postage prices to my dear Canadian customers because of this (bad) information, and this week, I paid $27.50 in postage to send a 14 oz. package of wool to a customer in Australia. I had finally hit my limit when my Australian customer told me she had never paid more than $11.00 for a similar purchase from another U.S. vendor. Off I went to the wretched U.S. Postal system website.

There I found that yes, Virginia, there is a First Class International postage rate for packages up to 4 lbs., if under a certain physical size. Back I went to my P.O. yesterday, printed web pages in hand, to challenge my postmaster. She would not even look at them. I was trying hard to be diplomatic (not my strong suit when irritated) and explain my concern about this conflict in information, when she said..."and what's your point?" Her best and final answer: there is only priority mail over 13 oz., because her machine tells her so.

So today I went to another post office in our area...and guess what? They know about the much lower international shipping rate and will let me use it! Imagine that! I know the postal system is in trouble, but getting hosed unnecessarily on postage is not the way to fix the problems. Will I report her and this incident? No. It will serve me no good, and most likely, not fix the problem. That's just how it is here sometimes.

So IF you've stayed with me this long, and IF you happen to be one of my customers from out of country, please know that when I reopen my Etsy shop at the end of May, I will now, officially, offer international shipping at reasonable (compared to priority) prices. My deepest apologies to those of you who have gotten stuck, in the past, with high postage rates because of my Postmaster's lack of knowledge.

Thank you for putting up with my rant. Things are screwy here, sometimes, and often it's what we love about living here...but sometimes it just gets to be too much, and I need to get it off my shoulders. Please feel free to share your own, similar, stories with might be comforting to know this happens in other places.

Friday, April 23, 2010

High speed week

We returned to Taos last Saturday afternoon, following on the tail of a rain and thunderstorm. I took this photo to show you. As we drove up our own long, dirt, road, the sky was deep steel blue and the clouds were overlaid in silver tones. It was quite a sight to behold.

While we were gone, our friend Nyikhil was enjoying a visit with her Lama and his translator. He is Tibetan, and speaks no English, so our own communications with him were largely smiles and head bumps. He fell in love with Taos, and made the rounds...from the pueblo to WalMart...I wish I could have seen his wonder as he visited these places. Here's a photo of them, taking before he left for the airport on Sunday morning.

I missed my spinning terribly last week, but there's been little time to spin since returning home. I'm busily compiling a list of necessities to take with me when I return to the coast in a couple of weeks. I'm thinking this is the time to do some of that hand piecing and quilting I've been meaning to do for, well, maybe 18-20 years now. Oh...and take that yoga mat and exercise DVDs, since you just never know when the urge to exercise might strike (ha!). I'm also planning (operative word: planning) to get back out to the dye room before I go, so I can have more fibers to sell from my temporary Etsy location this summer. The funny part about all this is that no matter how long the lists get, or how many good intentions I have, I'm finding more and more that I only seem to have one speed these days...which predetermines what will be accomplished, despite lofty goals.

So here's a shot from this morning...snow again. Have a good weekend, wherever you are!

Friday, April 16, 2010

And now, back to my other life

These last nine days have just flown. Somewhere in there, I've visited with friends, eaten too many meals in restaurants, and gotten lots of hugs from a 4 year old.

My yarn arrived last weekend and I have knitted it, pulled it out, and re-knitted it several times. I finally decided to just fall back on an old favorite...the basic granny square. I'll probably put the squares together in a scarf, or if not, just put them in a pile and admire them. This is yarn I spun from 4 oz. of batts from Moonrover, my favorite batt maker. Her batts are exquisitely composed of the finest hand dyed wools and lend themselves to being spun into fine yarns, to be plied or not. She is a master with her colors...both simple and complex at the same time, if you'll forgive my using those terms in the same breath.

I'll be heading back to NM tomorrow. There is much to be done before I come back here in several weeks. Here's a photo of last evening's sunset. No matter how much my little town has grown in the 45+ years I've been around here, it still always makes me think of Grover's Corners in Thornton Wilder's classic play, "Our Town"...especially when I hear the bells clanging for the trains.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Note from my other world

I have been here for four, very busy, days. I have collected hugs from my family, seen my new grand baby via sonogram, and last night, enjoyed a long evening and dinner with the dearest of friends...the kind of friends who have become family over the years. I am content.

Somehow I managed to leave my knitting in Taos...horror of all Saturday found me visiting the little yarn shop near my home, Common Threads. I'm lucky to have such a sweet shop nearby. I ended up buying spinning fiber, which was pretty funny, since I have enough for a while at home. I decided it was double the bang for the buck...spin it first, then knit it. Keeping my hands busier for longer is always a challenge.

It's raining here this morning and I am thrilled. Sitting here at Mr. Sunflower's desk (in the room we affectionately refer to as The Bridge), the rain is coming in from the sea and running down the glass, giving my broad view of my little town, the palm trees, and the sea the feeling of a painting that seems to be melting a bit down the paper. Below me the train is heading north, transporting passengers to Los Angeles and points north. It's a sound I never tire of.

This rain will be great for our stand of bamboo, planted many years ago in my small attempt to block out the home built behind ours. That's the thing about being here versus Taos...getting used to the density. It will probably be one of my biggest challenges this summer.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Roadside snacks

Yesterday morning I drove my friend up to Red River to get her driver's license renewed. Along the road between Questa and RR, we saw these adorable goats busily ruminating on the roadside. On our way back, they allowed me to pull over not far from them to take these photos from the car.

Life is good.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Yesterday I drove to Albuquerque airport. As I was driving south of Espanola, I saw a few pilgrims walking along the side of the road, heading for the Santuario de Chimayo for Good Friday. I have, in years past, seen many, many pilgrims making this walk. I'm sure today will find many more along those roadsides.

If you aren't familiar with the Santuario, it is considered by many to be comparable to Lourdes. This history of this privately built chapel involves beliefs that the dirt there has healing powers. There is a room there full of crutches and other testimonies from those who have found relief from the magical combination of dirt and beliefs. While I am neither Catholic or religious, I have always enjoyed the mystery and ambiance there.

If you're really lucky, you might find some of the most incredibly painted low rider cars on display outside the chapel. The nearby town of Espanola is considered to be the low rider capital of the world. Of note: the Smithsonian actually has one of these magnificent cars in its collection in D.C. (see photo above of "Dave's Dream"). They're not just for teenagers anymore...

If you find yourself in Chimayo, be sure to visit Leona's burrito wagon and buy "holy" chile across the street...yum!