Pop Chalee’s Shalakos and Mudheads is a large painting, about eight feet in length. I saw this painting a few months ago. I’m not for sure it is still on exhibit. You need to email or call to find out if it is still displayed. I am currently in Taos and may go to the museum today.
I retired from teaching in 2015 at Cisco College. I had been teaching college students since 1965, starting as graduate assistant at Texas A&M.
Currently, I am conducting research and writing historical monographs relating to acequias and Old Spanish metrics of measurement in the 16th and 17th centuries as applied to explorations in New Mexico.
I am also writing fiction and have an accumulation of finished short stories as well as some longer pieces.
I spend a lot of time writing and conducting research in Fort Worth, Texas, and Taos, New Mexico.
When I can I will post photographs and posts on Sage to Meadow.
Several ceremonies are scheduled at Taos Pueblo over the next few weeks. Consult their website for more information.
Snow on the west side of the Ranchos de Taos St. Francis Church is in the photograph above–although I am sure everyone recognizes the church. It snowed about five inches this morning. Junipers and piñon hold snow. The sun will come out and warm us.
Light rain has fallen in the field. Late fall temperature is 53 degrees, the grass remains green, but most of the pasture has gone into dormancy. The pecan tree has shed leaves and pecans.
I like the lane shown in the photograph above. Going east on the lane I leave the field, but coming towards me with the camera, I leave behind the traffic on the state highway and enter a different world of green lanes and a tractor that needs its engine turned over.
I send you Merry Christmas greetings from Taos, New Mexico, where I am visiting my family.
Snow falls today and Taos Mountain is obscured, yet clouds dash past and the peak emerges in sunlight.
I drove about this morning and Mass was being said at Ranchos de Taos and Old Martina’s Hall beckoned me to come in and warm myself, in time, at the bar again. I will go again.
Aspens grow high next door.
I split wood and keep the fire burning. This period of time, December 10 through January 20, is The Time for Staying Still, according to Taos Indian ceremonialism. Letting the earth renew itself is The Purpose, the reason for staying still. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Renew yourself.
(Contrary to the suggestion proposed by my daughter, Wendy, I will not be making the accompanying photograph in this post my latest profile picture.)
Bipedalism came first, then the large brain among the history of primates. The upright stance allowed man to scan the savannah, edges of forest and plains, or wherever he had wandered for food and predators.
I haven’t posted since December 27, 2011, mainly because I have had eye problems (really, only the left eye) since December 25th, Christmas morning, and a “Ho, ho, ho,” Christmas gift I desire to return, but can’t! I woke up that morning with blurred vision caused by a macular hole in my left eye. This last Tuesday, January 10th, I received a vitrectomy at Arlington Day Surgery Center, under the skilled hands of Dr. David Callanan (Dr. Wu administered the pharmacological agents — much appreciated).
I may still be bipedal, but I have assumed the position of a face-down recovery period lasting five days or more so that I neither can scan the savannah nor see the quacking ducks on my pond. I cannot have any hard spirits during my ten-day recovery, but that is not as painful as it may seem to some. I have this nature blog and like to go out into the field, but the only nature I see are house plants, two dogs and trees outside my living room window. I take a new interest in bugs that infrequently cross the floor.
I took a picture with my iPhone immediately after surgery and this is what I look like. I spend most of my days face-down in a specially-designed “chair” and a bedside rest for my face that is like those contraptions in massage parlors for your head as you get your massage. Dr. Callanan predicts a 90-95% recovery of vision in my left eye with another operation for cataracts in about a year (cataracts — Nile River, Egypt).
So, I will not be hiking the grove or taking photos of juniper any time soon. Medical technology and habitat adaptations, however, have come a long way since primates first scanned the savannah. I’m in a safe wikiup, been worked on by medicine men and women, have taken drugs and have nature outside my window. My hearing and tactile senses are sharpened. I listen for the Sandhill Crane that may fly overhead. I brush my canine that barks at strange sounds at the edges of camp. Although I question that human society has progressed, today with the skills brought to bear in my life I think in some areas we have progressed.
(Note: please do not show this photo to your children as it may cause nightmares or sleep unrest. Oh, go ahead, give the little primates a scare and make up a good narrative while you are at it.)
Electric lantern in central Texas with characteristic star, December 24, 2011.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! In the words of Abraham Lincoln, A fellow is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be. So, in the spirit of a great president who faced reality head-on, let us make up our minds a few times during the day to be merry and happy. I would be a lot happier if I didn’t have to hear Alvin and the Chipmunks sing Christmas songs, but it is hard to avoid if one goes into the city malls. Yet, to stay out of the malls means I might not run into my favorite seasonal character, Clark Griswold. Play ball!
(I will publishing a post later today about my favorite faunaflora coincident with Christmas and other events in my life: the juniper.)
Circulating around Christmas Eve and coming into Christmas Day, I have taken some photographs that illustrate rural and town life in central Texas. These photographs were taken near Mingus, Llano and Fredericksburg. Mingus is the town that is designated on my mailing address, although Hannibal (no longer having a post office) and Gordon are closer to my ranchito. (The Mingus post office is slated to be closed because of cost-cutting measures.)
My Uncle Floyd and Aunt Lennie had a ranch at Cherokee, near Fredericksburg. I spent summers and holidays with Floyd and Lennie as a boy and teenager. My Aunt Lennie prepared chicken-fried steak that was actually a recipe for wienerschnitzel (lightly breaded veal steaks) and serve beets that were purple and sweet and icebox cold. My cousin, Allan, and I literally begged her to prepare chicken-fried steak. Little did I know then that she obtained her country cuisine largely from the Fredericksberg German culture.
Christmas variety cookies at Fredericksburg Bakery, December 24, 2011.
The Fredericksburg Bakery has been producing cookies and breads since 1917.
Here is Dooley's Red Angus bull, my neighbor to the west (December 22, 2011).
There is nothing wrong with the drooling Red Angus. He has been feasting on shortgrasses and hay, perhaps a few Christmas cookies. He’s a very gentle fellow and will amble away when you approach him. The Red Angus breed is noted for its weight-gaining ability. I have considered purchasing some.
Red berries beside Highway 16 near Llano, Texas (December 23, 2011).
These berries look good enough to eat, but don’t! If you see berries or fruits that are red and you don’t know the variety, don’t eat the red! These berries are not to be mixed into any Christmas recipe for cookies or breads. Please refer to your favorite cookbook for ingredients in your cookies.
Texas boots on the last shopping day before Christmas (Fredericksburg, Texas, December 24, 2011).
Cottontail rabbit eating spilled grain, December 22, 2011.
I like this pre-Christmas Eve image. I had fed Star before dark and left the light on in the barn and stalls. When I went back down to turn off the lights, I saw this cottontail beneath Star’s feed and hay bin, delicately picking up stray nuggets of Horseman’s Choice 12% feed. I watched the rabbit for five minutes and snapped several shots with my iPhone, the one I include here being the best in low light. The rabbit probably favors a sweeter fare, like the Purina sweet feed for performance horses.
Heron and squirrel along Baron's Creek in Fredericksburg, Texas, December 24, 2011.
Baron’s Creek runs through Fredericksburg, Texas. I walked along the creek yesterday and today. This afternoon I spotted a heron in the water and framed the heron with the pecan tree on the left of the shot. When I looked at the results, I saw a squirrel in the tree. Do you see the squirrel? The squirrel had been gathering pecans, the heron waiting for the stray frog or fish.
Tomorrow is Christmas Day. I hope to have another post about rural and town life in central Texas as well as the flora and fauna. Be sure to note my attention to juniper on Christmas Day.
This post was published Christmas 2009, 2010. I have added some photographs to the original for this 2011 Christmas.
Christmas in California before the Americans came [1840s] was a season when all the grown people had as much fun as the children do now. And the children had so much fun that they never got over it and ever after loved play and presents more than work and hard bargaining….
One Christmas Eve, I remember best, there was a full moon. Over all the ground there was a glittering frost, just enough to whiten everything, yet not enough to even nip the orange trees which at this season of the year hang full of fruit and blossom both….
We had much music–guitars of the Mexican and Spanish type, made with twelve strings of wire, and mandolins. After supper there was dancing in the patio, coffee and cigaritos on the veranda, and singing everywhere. Someone said it was a beautiful night for a horseback ride over the valley to the Mission Santa Clara. The horses in the corral were soon saddled. There were twenty-five or thirty of us young men and women. Our horses were the best of the big herds that were attached to every rancho….The saddles, bridles and spurs were heavily covered with silver bullion ornaments, as in those times we put silver on our horses instead of on our dining tables; for Spaniards…live on horseback, and they eat but to live, instead of living to eat.
Riding out of the patio gate it was like a scene from the time of the Moors in Spain. As our horses snorted in the cold air they spun the rollers in their bits, making music that only the Spanish horse knows .
José Ramon Pico, “Before the Gringo Came,” San Francisco Call, December 1899.
Here are some selections of Spanish music with mandolin and guitar.
 José Ramon Pico, “Before the Gringo Came,” San Francisco Call, December 1899. From Sam Travers, Christmas in the Old West: A Historical Scrapbook, pp. 171-174.
Mission Santa Clara Asís established in 1777, was located a few miles south of San Francisco. This mission and adjacent Indian pueblo eventually grew into Santa Clara and San Jose. The mission is now located on the campus of Santa Clara University.
Frank Principe, silversmith from Lindell Beach, British Columbia, writes that many of the old California-type bits, such as the Santa Barbara, were designed with Islamic religious symbols. The symbols included seven buttons, half moons, and starts. This is traceable to Moorish occupation of Spain until the 1490s, the Cortez expedition to Mexico, and other adventures. He writes, “For the last one hundred years or so most North American bit makers have been using these designs without realizing their historical significance.”
Sweet Hija (Spanish for “daughter”), my black mare, has King Ranch breeding. Even today, King Ranch provides ranch horses for Mexican ranches. Of all my horses, Sweet Hija is the fastest and most energetic. After saddling Hija, I must run her about the round pen to work off her energy before she is ridden. She is the most alert and sensitive to her surroundings, spotting deer a half a mile away. I have to use binoculars to see what she sees.
Christmas in Santa Fe includes the traditional farolito stroll after dark along Canyon Road, the artistic thoroughfare that delights the eye. The luminaria is the wood fire. Farolitos are candles within paper sacks that light up the edges of sidewalks and walls along Canyon Road. For up-to-date information, consult the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper’s Christmas Day edition.
New Mexican Christmas celebrations rival Italy and Germany. Alessio Franceschetti, a very good friend of mine, sent me a montage of Christmas scenes in Italy. Do look at it: Natale in Italia 2010. This montage is moving and beautiful. Thank you, Alessio.
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