When you are reading here whether you found me intentionally or accidently, please take time to leave a comment and let me know where you are and what you are thinking. I love feed back. Vondi

Sunday, June 21, 2009

almost over

My days in New Mexico are numbered now. Rachael and Michael are arriving to pick me up next Saturday. In a way I’ll be happy to get home to my cats I left behind and to my cozy room. But I’ll also hate to leave the desert and the people here. I don’t think I will ever get over missing the desert. I really don’t long for the green grass and tall trees and lakes and streams of Ohio while I’m here, but I know I’ll miss the desert when I’m back in Ohio.

I'll always miss my family here, no matter how often I talk to them on the phone. Every day means that the kids get a little taller and a little more 'grown-up' And too many of their loving child-like ways will disappear before I get to see them again. I suppose that is what I hate most. Just like my own children, my grandkids will grow up too. I know that. But it doesn't mean I can't regret not being present for every day.

When Louie died someone gave me a poem about nothing being able to steal the memories we have secured deep in our hearts. I think that is the way the desert will always be with me. It is always just a thought away. And sometimes, when someone is burning pine wood in a wood burner in winter or for a bonfire in the fall, the smoke drifting on the softest breeze will take me back to Grandma’s hogan in the winter, with the kids sitting around and Mom talking quietly while the same fragrance drifts in the open door on every puff of wind.

And the same goes for the people. Keva will always be my fairy child who danced to her own tune and drew wonderful imaginary pictures and galloped around the lawn like a unicorn or some other magic beast. And Seth will always be the curly headed two year old imp who used to streak through the living room every time he got his bath. He loved to shock Grandma! Those pictures are indelible in my memory. These last three months have just allowed me to add to them: Keva smiling and happy with her first professionally styled hair-do, (she was such a lady with her hair shaped to fall around her face and curl in the back!) And Seth with his Mohawk. I always complained that Dad cut all of his curls off, so they compromised and left Seth a strip of curls on top of his head. I told him it looked like a fuzzy caterpillar on his head!

And of course, I'll remember the family trips through the desert. I sat in the van while the family trekked through the desert and brought me back pictures and momentos of the hike.

There is not much more to say. I guess. I’ll just be sure to sit for a while each morning in front of my open door and face the morning sun and breathe deeply of the breeze in my face. I’ll watch for the roadrunner in our front yard and listen for the mockingbird in the tree behind the house I’ll look out across the desert at night at the far lights in the distance along the interstate while I listen to the dogs in the valley. I'll gather the momentos the kids have brought me and make sure I have Kerra's recipes written down so we can make them in Ohio. Those things will never leave me, even though I leave them..

Saturday, June 20, 2009

road cruising

Last night we went road cruising. Now, whatever lurid images those words evoke in your mind, wipe them out. What ever you're thinking, what we did last night is entirely different. I promise. Let me explain. Since Notah was about three or four years old he has been a snake afficionado. He loves snakes and knows more about them than anyone else I know.

When he was four years old he woke his father out of sleep by shoving a garter snake in his face and saying, "Look Daddy, what I found!" Poor man. After working the midnight to seven shift, he had finally gotten his breakfast and stretched out In bed. He was just falling asleep when Notah hustled in from the garden where he had been ‘helping’ grandpa prepare the ground for planting. Poor garter snake had been calmly pursuing his own interests among the winter dead veggies and weeds until Notah and Grandpa found him.

Since that time he has read every snake book he can get his hands on and his collection of reptiles grew from little garter snakes and black snakes to many very large ones. One of his favorite pursuits is to spend his evening ‘road cruising.’ Just as dusk is falling he and whoever he can convince to come with him pile into a vehicle and spend the next two or three hours driving over country roads looking for snakes that have come out to hunt or soak up some warmth. Some nights are very successful and he may see several snakes. Other nights like last night garner only a couple and those have been hit by motorists.

He seldom catches these finds, but only to look at and then help them on across the road to prevent their being killed by uncaring drivers. The kind of snake doesn’t matter–tiny little snakes or bigger ones, plain old gopher snakes or rattlesnakes. They all get their share of attention and a careful escort off the road. Last night we found one dead gopher snake, one dead diamond back rattlesnake and a cute little six- or eight-inch glossy snake. Oh! And another rattlesnake in the weeds at the road side getting his picture taken. Forgot him.

The whole family went along last night. I got to ride shotgun because my knees don’t fit in the back seats. So I had a perfect seat, but seeing those snakes is hard to do. I would be riding along, intently watching the right lane ahead of me and suddenly Notah would slam on the brakes and come to a stop. He would execute a U-turn in the road and go back to where he had seen the snake. After the first time my reflexes kicked in and I learned to brace myself with both hands on the dash. I only saw one snake the whole evening and that was the tiny glossy that was just moving across the white line. The others I missed completely until we had stopped and Notah got out to pick them up. Snake-spotter I’m not. Kerra, sitting in the back seat, saw more than I did! Of course, she has had lots of practice.
Now, how many people do you know that go road cruising for snakes?
I know only a few. All of them are friends of Notah. I haven’t met any casually driving across town or at PTA meeting or while shopping at WalMart. They just don't grow on bushes!

The last thing I expected to see last evening were other "herpers" out cruising for snakes! We passed two cars of them. Well, we didn’t pass them at all because they were pulled over checking out something on the road. So of course Notah had to stop and check what they were checking. The first two guys were already out of their vehicle coming back to look at the snake Notah had just seen on the side of the road–a dead rattlesnake. They looked a little confused at a van backing up to put the snake directly in the headlights until Notah called and asked them what it was. Then there was an immediate rapport.

After a couple minutes of "What have you seen?" "Yeah, we saw that, too" "Where have you been?" everyone said, "Okay, see you" and we were all ready to drive on. But a state trooper pulled up behind us. He saw the two sets of headlights stopped by the roadside and stopped to see if anyone "needed help" on this deserted road. Upon hearing that we were looking at a rattlesnake he immediately abandoned any suspicion of illegal activity and looked around for the snake! Of course, there was the dead rattler just a few feet away where the guys had tossed it off the road.
Notah had been jumping in and out of the van after possible snakes and I don’t fit in a seat belt so neither of us were wearing them, but the trooper didn’t even notice. He was busy looking for the ‘mate’ to the dead rattlesnake lying in the dust and grass. He quickly wished us a good night and hurried back to his car. I can only imagine what he told his wife and buddies about this van full of crazies looking for snakes.

Then we came upon two more people by the side of the road. One was kneeling on a knee with a camera; the other had a snake hook and a head lamp. They had pursued a rattle snake into the grass and were taking its picture. Another discussion ensued of what have you seen and where, then we went on down the road toward LaJoya. That was the end of the cruising; there just weren’t any more snakes out except that cute little glossy. But I did discover that Notah had met two other herper-guys the same way, along the road at night with snake sticks and flashlights. He has become good friends with them.

I’ve heard him talk many times about road cruising for snakes, but this is the first time I’ve ever gone. And believe it or not, it is engrossing. I found myself sitting forward peering intently at the road ahead of us. I couldn’t see anything, but I looked anyway. If you can find another "herper" (from the study of snakes: ‘herpetology" and the person who studies snakes: "herpetologist’ --It is shortened to ‘herper") ask him to take you along with him. You’ll like it. Well, you’ll like it if you aren’t petrified of snakes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the effect of righteousness is peace

I was thinking this morning (come on, you know I wake up at the crack of dawn!) on the words ‘all things’ and how much impact they have on us as the people of God. When we are living for the Lord His influence is spread to ‘all things’ in our lives. We keep house in a way that we believe is pleasing to Him. We care for our children in a way we believe is pleasing to Him and we meet new neighbors in a way we believe is pleasing to Him.

As I’ve lived for the Lord I have seen changes in my own life. They often weren’t really conscious, but looking back I can see them and as I go about in the homes of others I can see the same things happening. I speak about wives and mothers because I am a woman. But the same things are true of men.

The concept of Peace is a good example. Isaiah tell us the ‘work of righteousness shall be peace and the effect of righteousness is quietness" The truly righteous child of God lives her life in a peaceful way. Her words to her husband are quiet and peaceful, slow and gentle. (and vice versa I might say) The household is quiet and when young children are boisterous there is still no atmosphere of chaos. Even in the face of crises, the woman of God is able to maintain a calm demeanor–not that she doesn’t get upset or unhappy, but she doesn’t become accusatory and angry and spiteful toward those involved.

The woman of God has tremendous influence on the atmosphere of the home. Are the children quiet and well-behaved? Look at the conduct of the wife and mother. Are the pets well mannered and friendly? Or are they vicious or cowed into submission? Look at the tone of the words used in control and discipline by the mother. Are the children and pets responsive to directions, answering quickly and responding quietly? Look at the attitude of the mother giving directions. Is the husband and father respected and appreciated when he returns from work? Or is he met with complaints and defiance from the children? And nagging discontent from the wife? Look at the attitude of the woman in the family. And I truly mean attitude. Many Christians give lip-service to the idea of righteousness and peace, but they don't possess or display it in the deepest attitudes of their hearts.

It is true in every area of the Child of God’s life. Hidden attitudes of discontent, selfishness and unrighteousness peek out in unlikely places. They show up in the lives of the youngest and most impressionaable among the family. The peace of God doesn’t just show in spiritual things but in every aspect of the way we live. If we truly have peace and submission to God in our hearts there will be no discontent, or anger or dissatisfaction or selfishness seeping out to be reflected in our families and on others in our sphere of acquaintance.

Righteousness in our hearts causes peace to overflow into the way we deal with neighbors, friends, grocers, co-workers, everyone. We don’t necessarily walk around spouting peace mottos and being all mealy-mouthed about issues, but we will conduct ourselves peaceably in all ways. The aspects of peace will not just apply during service, but also during our daily lives. It isn't just talking about it, it is living it.

I guess that is one of those things we only learn with age and experience and years of observation of the effect of God’s Grace in our lives. The effect of righteousness truly is peace and quietness and assurance, but we must have the righteousness deeply instilled for the effects to show up.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

a weapon of war

This morning I read a devotion that someone sent me. It talked about a soldier joining the service and being issued a gun. It talked of how that young man is taught to take care of the gun, clean it, protect it and keep it constantly with him, until the weapon become a part of him as natural as his hand. It talked of how the men may have had every other portion of their anatomy dirty, wet, or soiled but not their weapon. They used it until they could handle it with complete confidence and balance, always ready to wield it effectively without thought.

I knew that already. I’ve had family and friends who were in the service and spoke of weapons training. But I never applied the lesson to the Word of God. You know, some of us are familiar with guns but we don’t know them so intimately. I grew up in a hunting family. We often had game meat for meals and my father, uncles and brother enjoyed a day of hunting. My mother appreciated the free meat that resulted from their day in the countryside hiking over the hills.

So I was familiar with guns. I knew how to shoot and respected them as weapons. I wasn’t intimate with them though. I knew then and know still that they do come apart and that they must be taken apart and cleaned thoroughly to keep them in top working condition. But I’ve never dissembled a gun in my life. I doubt if I could even if I tried.

Now here is the lesson the Lord taught me. Many Christians are like me and guns... They have Bibles, they know what they are and how to use them. They know that they contain many promises, commands, recommendations and provide a path to glory. But they are not intimate with them. Like me and the gun, they pick their Bible up from time to time and use it. They are familiar with the different parts of it and can tell you what different parts are for, but still they are not intimate with it. They appreciate it and even love it but they don’t use it constantly. They have never taken it apart and looked into its depths.

Then there are the Christians who are like the servicemen and their weapons. They use their Bible daily. They read it; they study it. They know how all the parts are connected and how they support each other. They handle the Word so constantly and consistently that parts of it have become part of their memory. They can find different verses almost in the dark so to speak. Like the serviceman’s gun, it has become part of them. Their every action is influenced by the presence of that spiritual weapon. Every event in their life is referenced by a portion of scripture or precept they have ingrained in their memory. They wield its lessons and teachings without thought or concern. It is part of them.

For witnessing there is no need to prepare ahead of time. The necessary scriptures are right there ‘at their fingertips.’ For defense from the Enemy of Souls, the Word is on the tip of their tongue and at the front of their mind. Because of their familiarity with their weapon, the are always ready to give answer for the faith that lies with in them. Too many times we wonder at some of Paul’s directions and admonitions like this one, but the key to them all lies in being totally and completely familiar with the Word of God. We cannot give answer if our ‘answer’ is based on amorphous ideals that our parents taught us or that brother so-n-so spoke from the pulpit. Our answers can only be based on a thorough and complete, spiritually-taught understanding and familiarity with the Word of God.

What a fantastic lesson from a weapon of war.

I’m frustrated right now. My laptop is on the fritz and I can’t spend the long hours on it studying the Word and referencing the scriptures. Neither can I read my email or post on the discussion groups as I’m used to. If I miss a few days or weeks here that’s going to be the reason.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"t'sin sita"

When I was a girl I remember the old saints talking about ‘stakes’ being driven in their lives. The phrase was used to mean events and people who made deep impressions in their spiritual life and served to hold them secure in times of trial. I looked many times for a scripture that the saying had reference to and never found it. However the fact that I didn’t have an exact quotation did not hinder my understanding.

Today I can point to specific people and happenings that ‘staked’ my tent down in the spiritual sense. There were messages that clarified Biblical doctrine in my mind. There were the righteous men of God who preached those messages. There were the godly women who made no headlines in society or the business world, but who set holy examples before their children. There were the old saints who testified of miracles and God’s loving care in providing shelter, finances and even the healing of vehicles and animals. There were the trials that I saw no way through, around or over but the Hand of God made them evaporate after I had endured a while. There were the physical healings that I witnessed time and again, growths which melted away, children raised up from deep lethargy of fevers, women healed of appendicitis, cancer and physical failings. Each event drove a stake in my heart and when the storm winds of trial and fear and oppression blew strong around me, those things held me firm in my faith. They taught me I could depend on the Lord in every situation.

The Navajo have a term, “t’sin sita”. The words apply to the mileposts that the army installed along their routes of march to keep track of the distance. It is literally translated as “wood standing up in place” or “standing posts.” But I always liked the definiteness of the sound of the words as they are pronounced in the language. They sound so solid and so permanent. "t’sin sita” They remind me of the posts that have been driven into my heart that mark the way my life in the Lord has progressed. They are ‘set in stone’ and permanent. I can never forget them. I can never ignore them. And they are leading the way clearly to glory.

I worry sometimes that so many young people in the world today don’t have those stakes and posts to hold them secure.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

there are seasons and times

One of the sciptures these last few days have impressed upon me has been Ecclesiastes 3. When I was a young Christian and even on into my older years, this seemed a beautiful set of verses but no more. Now with some age and seeing how things change and evolved through my life they have become real.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
I have seen the travail,
which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
He hath made every thing beautiful in His time:
also He hath set the world in their heart,
so that no man can find out the work that God maketh
from the beginning to the end.
How fantastic is it that the Lord has everything laid out and planned out and how He keeps the reins secure in His hands. And yet Man keeps on trying to impose his own ways and order on the universe! How arrogant the human race is

Sunday, June 7, 2009

pictures from home

We had a family dinner on Saturday. lots of good things to eat and people came and went all afternoon. Some even brought presents! Keva took my pictures for me, not as good a representation of everyone who was there, but I guess she got the people who were important to her!

Helen was the supervisor of the whole thing. She has been feeding people for as long as I've known her! The young women all pitch in and help. Even Notah got commandeered as fire keeper!

And of course when you have food, there are always kids looking for handouts or just sniffing the good smells. DJ and Seth were no different!

Kathryn, Lenora and Notah on cooking duty.

Green Chilies! You always have to have chilies! Kerra said how many should I get and I said as many as we can afford. Everybody will eat a whole one, even the kids if they're allowed!
I ordered mutton. I've been wanting it for months--real southwest mutton, seasoned with sage and greasewood. It was too windy to build a fire to gille it, but Notah laid juniper and pinion wood wood across the charcoal to flavor it!

A lucky few got to eat in the hogan after the kids had finished

My sisters-in-law, probably the two people I love most in the world after my kids. Helen is 63, a year younger that I am, Dorothy is 71.

Helen, and Lenora and me with DJ, Seth and Keva. Can you find the white kid?
Maybe more of these later. Gotta go now.

we went home to Rock Springs

This weekend we went back to Rock Springs, to see Helen and Dorothy and all our family. It was so wonderful. I tried to phrase things in coherent sentences and paragraphs but it just wasn’t possible. I’m suffering from sensory and mental overload. Thoughts only come in poignant, evocative fragments, vignettes of memory and contrast. New sights reflected on the screen of memories. Catch the images. Don't look for sentences.

Smooth asphalt where there used to be washboard dirt, a graded road where there used to be two ruts between sage, a steel bridge where there used to be a deep descent into the wash and an angled ascent back up to the level. Frame houses where there used to be only open range. A gate across the mission drive. New buildings at the chapter house. Few roaming horses. No cattle. No Goats, no sheep. Power lines running through the community. Water piped to most houses. Very few out houses. The surrounding change but the vital things remain the same.

Helen, Leonard, Dorothy and Lenora, still working at securing the shade pavilion against the constant NM wind. Happy faces, weathered by wind and sun. Traditional gentle handshakes. Welcoming arms and tears of gladness. Memories recalled between loved ones. Shi k’is yaz, all grown up with kids of her own. Catching up on who is married, who has babies, where the kids live now. Where is this one or that one. The enclosing circle of the hogan. Rugs on the floor, beds on the sides, a round table with a lamp. A kitchen counter with sink, no running water in here. Kids running in and out. ( wow now it’s just Seth and DJ—used to be half a dozen grandkids) Puppy nosing on the floor. Cat being chased out the door repeatedly. Dorothy’s velvet blouse and tiered skirt. Helen’s twisted bun. The comforting sound of Navajo, flowing around me

Talking about family and happenings. A mixture of Navajo and English, forgotten words and phrases surfacing in my memory. Someone died, someone is in the hospital. Dave has three girls. Chester’s wife is living with Dorothy’s, their youngest was premature, still in the NICU in Albuquerque. Lots of people will be around, what will we feed them. How about tomorrow. Mixtures of traditional Navajo and modern anglo adoptions. ( Tonight’s menu: traditional cubed meat and potatoes fried together, tortillas, and pizza!) Everyone goes to cook, Kerra to pick up pizza. (Two large supreme, three medium cheese and pepperoni )

Me, alone, with orders to rest. That’s good. My knees hurt from the long drive and sitting on the bed with my feet down. Lying on the bed, puppy snuggled against my back. Quiet all about. Hogan, round and arched and white above me, enfolding. The open door and the direct view across the expanse of sagebrush juniper, rabbit brush and clumps of thread grass (what the kids called “dog tail” grass) in front of the hogan to the blue, blue sky above. Wind constantly driving, occasional bursts of sand and grit. The dog barking down by the house. How many days spent lying or sitting on a bed while the wind blasted around outside. Partial sleep; cat seizing the opportunity to come inside. No one moves. Cat strolling around calling inquiringly for company, wakes the puppy. I slap the bed and he hops down. Quiet again after the puppy settles back. I almost expect Louie at any minute.

Quiet is gone, the boys come clattering back, laughing and chasing each other flopping on the other bed, waking the pup. Soon Kerra and Keva return with pizzas. Kerra goes to help with cooking. Keva begins cleaning the accumulated grit off the table. DJ wants to dive into the Pizza, but has to wait. Bummers…

Sensory overload stills. Coherence picks up. Soon Helen, Kerra and Lenora arrive with food, OK. It’s home I am gonna eat tortilla! I’ll give the dogs the pizza crust, but I will not waste Helen’s tortillas!

Helen took Leonard a plate of pizza and fried potatoes. He prefers to stay in the quiet at the house rather being with a crowd of chattering relatives. Leonard isn’t really unsociable, just likes the quiet better. Of all the family, I noticed the years more with Leonard. His once jet hair is now an ash black color with some honest silver above the ears. His face is older but not deeply lined, only sagging some on the cheeks. His once confident stride has slowed even to a shuffle once in a while. Helen said he will be 71 in September. He and Notah share the same birthdate.

We all ate pizza and meat and potatoes with soda or punch. Helen’s tortillas are puffy and soft. I haven’t eaten such excellent naanesk’adi since the last time I was at her house! And once I leave I know I won’t again. Rachael and Kerra prefer to buy theirs ready made at Krogers or Smiths. Real naanesk’adi is a lot of work for busy modern women. I understand. I just think the ‘real thing’ is sooo much better. They think so too, it is just quicker to do the plastic bag kind. Seth and Keva literally stuffed themselves. I lost count of how many they ate. No one cared. Kids are supposed to love Navajo tortillas.

Dorothy had to leave before we ate. A couple of her grandkids came down to tell her that Sam was in a lot of pain from his stomach. He had been in pain the night before, but Navajos don’t give a lot of thought to pain until it is practically excruciating. When they came for Dorothy, they said he was hurting so bad he couldn't stop shaking. Just after Dorothy got home they took Sam to the hospital. He was admitted.

So we had supper together; then by and by other family stopped in, too. It is neat Navajo visits are kind of a progressive dinner… The people present at first eat, then as others come they eat too. If a staple runs out, a little more meat is fried or potatoes peeled. Dean and Kathy and their son stopped by and had pizza. Angeline and Michelle, (Monte’s wife) and Neesha came too and ate. Someone else stopped too but we had so many I can’t remember who it was. There was some pizza left that we sent home then with them for Angeline’s boyfriend and Monte when they got off work.

We were all worn out. Helen looked weary. Even the boys were calming down. Puppy was falling asleep where ever he stood until someone picked him up or tripped over him. Then he’d move and go to sleep again. Poor baby.

( Oh! I didn’t mention the new puppy before, did I? On Tuesday, June 2nd, Notah and Kerra bought a German shepherd pup. He was just short of six weeks old—a little fuzz bucket! Poor baby. He had spent his whole life in a horse barn with a mama and brothers n sisters. Now these people picked him up and hauled him around in a car for an hour, Then they brought him into a strange barn with fuzzy floors and strange dogs! AND THEN they tried to drown him with warm water and foamy bubbly smelly stuff. Goodness! He was so overwhelmed he jus sat still and stared into space.

But he learned fast and decided it was a pretty good deal. He got his own food several times a day and he didn’t have to compete for it. His siblings were gone but people were always ready to play with him. And when he fell asleep everyone made sure nothing othered him. Notah finally named him Thain, after Thorin’s brother in The Hobbit. LOL except if I stay too long he’s going to be “Train.” It just always comes out that way. )

Anyway, back to the weekend. We had made reservations to stay in Gallup because usually Helen uses the hogan for storage and I didn’t want her to go to so much work for only one night. We have always stayed there when we visit. Not only that, I’m up and down a lot at night and need special arrangements to keep my knees from aching so much I cannot walk.

I should have known my sister better than that! Somenone had been living there not too long ago so she had just straightened up the hogan anyway and put up a shade outside on the north side. It was good to be able to sit in there during the day on our visit, but we went into town to sleep. Seth and Keva were gratified to be able to jump in the pool for a few minutes before bed time. Not me. I washed up, fixed my chair and put my poor knees out straight! What a grand evening. And more to come tomorrow!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Did I tell you about our trip to the ghost town? I don’t think so.

The first week in May Notah loaded me up for a “ride.” It turned out we were going to a ghost town. New Mexico has quite a few of them scattered around. This one was neat.

When I think of a ghost town, it is an eerie, lonely, shadowed place. There may be a couple outlying houses, but mostly the whole town consists of a general store type building, a ‘hotel’, a combination stage station, post office and maybe a barn/blacksmith establishment and some connected houses all along a central street. The boards of the houses are weathered, the roofs are falling in and there are dangerous holes in the floor. Tumbleweeds pile up against the wooden walks and porches. Winds blow the dust along and sand has collected in the deserted wooden buildings. There are usually a couple twisted, dying trees somewhere long the street. The ghosts of long dead cowboys and pioneers drift in darkness through the doors and along the board walks.

Riley isn’t like that. This ghost town is scattered across the bottom beside the river with mine buildings on the hillside above them. The only wooden buildings were the ones used by the mining company offices; all the others were adobe or stone. There was no obvious ‘main street” The disintegrated and crumbled buildings seemed to be randomly placed until you came to the section along the river. Most of the ones there faced the road which paralleled the river.
Most were the remnants of mud brick corners standing on stone foundations.

Sometimes there was enough of a wall left it was evident where a door or a window had been. The adobe bricks have ‘melted’ back into the landscape and every storm washes a bit more of each one away.

The collapsed walls have left pyramids of dirt, rubble and wire scattered across the slopes.

Sage brush and rabbit bush have taken root close up against the protected area and those which may once have provided shade for the door yard have taken over the space.

The only building in any kind of repair at all is the church. This had obviously been cared for many years and has only recently been abandoned to the elements. The windows were gone and so were the doors. An empty belfry soared above the doors. From the inside, the roof was a mosaic of light and dark. Walking across the floor required a balancing act to avoid gaps in the boards.

How different it was from the shadow-y lonely place my imagination made of a ghost town! It sparkled in the sun. The contrasts were brilliant and the towering rocks all around embraced it in a bowl of light. And even though the buildings were nearly gone it was still a friendly place and we were welcomed visitors. There were only a few tumbling tumbleweeds and the trees were all bright green and not twisted or dying. A very un-ghostlike ghost town, it was poignant in its record of times past and men long gone. As I have many times before I wished I could have seen it a hundred years ago.

We followed the road along, then across the wide shallow river and back up the opposite side from the vestiges of the town. Still only two wheel ruts across the desert hillside, the road finally looped back on itself and we were headed back out (only two hours more) to the main road. Think four hours of dirt road with not too much maintenance work done on it. Think sore knees to start with. Think another two hours or so to get back home to my recliner. Yep, you have the picture. My knees took a few minutes to straighten out and decide to work… And my recliner looked and felt wonderful.

But the memories and the pictures were great! If you ever want to see a ghost town, don’t go to one of those that ‘everybody’ talks about and recommends. Find one that only a few people know how to find that takes at least a couple hours on crooked bumpy roads. THOSE are the ones worth seeing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Socorro Mountain

My father one time posed the question about a world where Adam’s and Eve’s counterparts had not disobeyed God’s directions in the Garden. He wondered what life would have been like in such a place. Of course we have no way of knowing how the world might have gone, but only consider the alternatives!

There is a series of short stories written by a lady named Zenna Henderson about The People. The People were a race of sensitive aliens, human in all aspects except their deep dedication and commitment to God and the psychic abilities which set them apart from human kind on earth. They fled the explosion of their home sun in a fleet of space ships moving the population of their planet. Their fleet made its way to Earth but were separated during a crash-landing on Earth. Many perished but over a period of years they came to find each other. The stories are beautiful in their portrayals of hardships, personal relationships and devotion to the Lord. Of course they are science fiction. But I always liked to think that such a society might have been an alternative had Man not disobeyed God

And…I’ve said all that to tell you about my afternoon drive on Sunday. Right after church Notah proposed a drive. I can’t hike or do any of the things I used to love, but as long as the trip isn’t too long and my knees aren’t too cramped I can enjoy riding through the desert. When they were talking about where to go I voted for Socorro—because that’s where the stories of the People were situated! I’ve always wanted to see the mountains and the land. So that’s where we went. It’s only about an hour’s drive south of Belen.

Notah has read the People books, too, and has been through the area before, so he had already given thought to the areas around town that Henderson might have used to describe various scenes. That’s what I wanted to see. Naturally I could only look from the van, but it was better than nothing.
The mountains around Socorro are much more craggy than ours closer to Belen and the rocks are a different color. (Don’t ask me to get technical about what kind of rocks, etc. I go by color. Lol I even buy cars by color. Never mind specific names.) There’s an a appealing southwestern town that has an historic mission, a pretty square, businesses, a few tourist souvenir shops and residences with Socorro Mountain rearing over it all. Like a lot of towns out here the historic parts and the commercial area and the residences are all mixed together. We drove down one street of houses and small businesses and suddenly straight across from us as we paused at the stop sign, there was an original trading post, still doing duty as a little quikstop type business. In a cubby on the roof stood the figure of a cowboy (very good carving) being attacked by a bear (not so good) And all along the false front were old, old tin signs. I noticed specifically a Phillips 66 and a Sinclair gas sign. They should be in someone’s collection of historic signs, instead, there they are out in the weather and the sun.
Notah remembered seeing a notation on one of his maps about a scenic location named “The Box” and he wanted to find it. Turned out, finding it was easy, but only because we were looking for the sign. It was smaller than the little county road number signs you see in the country back east. Maybe 12” x 15” We turned on to the dirt road and went maybe a mile to a sharp left U-turn and ended up in a box canyon! The walls went straight up; the rocks were cracked into huge blocks and there were caves tucked in all along them. The dry river bed in the bottom was probably 50 feet wide and the rock walls enclosing it were probably another hundred feet apart. I won’t even guess how far up the rocks went. The highway had taken the end out of it so it was no longer truly a box, but it was neat anyway. I wish I could have seen it a hundred hears ago!

We had no more pulled into the rough parking area when Seth was agitating to get out and climb up to look in the caves. I sat in the van with my book and the doors open while everybody else hiked. It wasn’t a large canyon and the hike was only 45 minutes or an hour long—not like their usual 3 or 4 hour treks into the Ladrone Mountains or Black Mesa—but long enough with Grandma sitting in the car.

Keva was the first one back. She had slipped and jammed her newly healed wrist when she caught herself. Everyone else came back a few minutes later. Sadie had gone along, but had to walk on a leash so she was the only hiker not satisfied with the walk. Sadie is a desert dog and doesn’t consider it exercise unless she gets to run ten miles.

We headed home with a short side trip off to see La Joya, an old mission town where the asphalt road and practically all others dead end in the town. There’s a post office and a church and not too much more. When I looked it up online it sounded like it was larger than it really is-literally a handful of houses and maybe two businesses. But that was more than compensated for by the history and scenery.

We stopped for ice cream on our way out of Socorro. I got an Oreo Sonic blast! Lots of carbs, but it tasted good. I couldn’t eat it all--too, too much sweet for my liking. I probably ate half of it. I saved the rest for Gable, but before he knew what he was doing, Notah tossed it in the trash… poor Gabe. But to be honest, he really didn’t need it. The good news is that even with the ice cream my blood glucose stayed at 126! I think I’m winning the battle.

We got home about six-something and when I got out of the van, my knees simply refused to work for a few minutes. They straightened out okay and held me up-with the help of my crutches- but they simply wouldn’t work at first. After I’d stood leaning against the van for a couple minutes they did decide to do what they were supposed to and I was able to begin walking toward the house. Then of course, there were the STEPS up to the door. I finally made it, but it felt so good to be able to straighten out my knees and put them up on the recliner.

I loved it! The trip, that is, not the recliner, although I'm partial to it, too.