Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Car Games We Play

     Sometimes when we're in the car, Frankie becomes quite the little chatter-box.  He loves to spot "bac-cos" (back-hoes) and calls out whenever he sees one.  He also points out "koo-buses" (school buses), "cuckies" (truckies), and "orsies" (horsies.)  Sometimes his game is imitating or repeating something we have just said, often carrying it to the point of complete silliness.  Of course, we don't egg him on, or anything!

What's Missing from This Picture?

Here's a hint:  It's 12,000 feet tall and older than much of the life on this planet!  Yes, it's the same Taos Mountain in the Sangre de Cristo range which is usually seen from this vantage point in our front yard.  However, since the wildfire began near Los Alamos, less than 70 miles away, we have had days when the mountains are entirely obliterated by the smoke in the air, as in this picture taken just after dinner this evening. 

Our View on Clear Days

Taken on May 14 and April 27, 2011, respectively.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What's "Up"?

     We are sometimes asked how we are adjusting to the altitude here.  For the most part, we're taking it slowly.  We limit our hikes in the mountains to about an hour or 90 minutes.  And we learned very early on that we need to be very faithful about staying hydrated.  Everyone says that's a huge factor in avoiding altitude issues.  Esperanza was very good at reminding us, whenever we went out, to be sure we were taking water bottles with us.  I learned very graphically what happens when one doesn't heed this advice.
     About the 3rd week we were here, while still living with Esperanza, the 3 of us were in the grocery store.  I was leading the way toward the produce deptartment when I realized that I wasn't really in control of the direction I was walking--I sort of unintentionally veered off to the left.  Esperanza was right behind me and thought I was just moving over for her to catch up with me.  I leaned briefly against the cooler I had wandered over toward, thought the "light-headedness" had passed, and moved on again. 
     As I did, I began to tell Esperanza and Bob what I was feeling.  Just then, I felt the sensation again.  I was afraid I'd faint, fall, and get hurt, so I just sat down in the middle of the floral displays (a lovely spot, don't you think?)  Of course, as they were bending over me, I attracted a bit of attention--including from the manager who offered to get me any help I needed.  When I explained and said I was sure I would be okay, he left.  Right after that, we all walked out to the car where I proceeded to drink ALL the water in our water bottle.  Bob and Esperanza went back in and finished our shopping.  I was fine and never had another episode--but have become very conscientious about drinking water ever since!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oh, the Inexpressible Delight

Yes, pure delight.  To scoop up my little grandson out of his carseat where he'd fallen asleep on the way home, and have him wrap his little arms around my neck and snuggle into my shoulder.  Once he was in my arms he awakened a little, so we stopped for a while to "rock" in the front swing.  He'd stir a bit, check out where he was, and then nestle back against my shoulder.  There aren't words to express how gratifying this shared tenderness was, but I treasure it in my heart.

Why We Love Being Here

    Taos is world-renowned as a ski resort, an artists' paradise, and a spiritual mecca.  Although we expect we'll enjoy much of all of these assets while we're here, what we love about our new life here has nothing at all to do with Taos or New Mexico.  What we love is being part of moments like the ones in these photos.  
    Friends, family, and new acquaintances here (like the hairdresser yesterday) ask how we like New Mexico or living in Taos.  It's hard to answer--especially to local folk who are expecting us to comment on Taos' charm. The charm, for us, is in these faces--Esperanza's and Frankie's.  Whatever attraction Taos holds in store for us will forever be secondary to their pull on our hearts!  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Desert Delights

      In the morning and throughout the day, they bask in full sunlight and burst open like this:

 By evening, they seem to wither a bit as their energy wanes with the setting sun:

     You may already know--they are prickly pear cactus, abundant in our new environment.  We encounter them on almost every hike.  This particular patch is along the edge of our driveway.  They were just a spikey cactus when we moved in a few weeks ago.  One morning last week, I spied the yellow blossoms.  When I finally remembered in the evening that I wanted to photograph them, I discovered the change that occurs as the daylight fades.  Fascinating.

A Month Already!

(Just a youngster among these ancients!)
Can it be true?  Tomorrow, June 14, will be a month since the moving van arrived with our things!  In some ways, it seems longer than that, probably because we've been so busy--and not just with settling in, but with everyday things like grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning house, etc. as well as with spending time with Frankie and Esperanza, and getting to know our new hiking options in the mountains.  In other ways, it's hard to believe that we've already been living in New Mexico 2 full months.  I still find myself starting to write "Marquette, MI" when putting our return address on an envelope, or I reach for something in the bathroom where it would have been in Marquette.      
     We're not quite official residents of New Mexico yet, however.  We still need to get our drivers' licenses and vehicle registration changed.  That will probably make it official.  But we're getting awfully close--we not only have a NM address and phone number, we have finally also gotten our medical insurance switched.  Last Friday, Caryl received word of her acceptance with BCBSNM and today, we drove to Espanola to get Bob enrolled in the VA system in New Mexico.  (Espanola is about an hour and a beautiful drive away--much of the road travels along the route of, and sometimes parallels, the Rio Grande River.)  We stopped along the way a couple of times just for the view and were treated to the sight of some rafters in a rather calm section of their ride--which would have changed soon after we spotted them.
     Santa Fe is only another 45 minutes south of Espanola, so we decided to continue on our way and do a bit of shopping there.  Esperanza has been in Santa Fe a few times but this was our first time.  In fact, once we left Taos county, the entire trip was all new scenery for us; we enjoyed seeing more of our new state--including "camel rock," just north of Santa Fe.  On the way home, I recalled a remark Bob's sister Bette made recently--that whenever she has moved, it never quite felt like "home" until she went away and came back.  I'm not sure that's quite how I felt today--I still mostly feel like a stranger here--but it did feel good when we finally rounded a bend and recognized "Taos Mountain" ahead of us. 

Wish we could claim this was the 3 of us, but we were the onlookers!

Notice a bit of a "baby bump," almost 7 months along!

Looking north toward Taos.

Looking south toward Espanola and Santa Fe.

Surely you've guessed:  Camel Rock, north of Santa Fe.