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Archive for April, 2007

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This is what Charleston looked like when we pulled in at dusk last night, after spending a lovely afternoon, night, and morning in Tennessee with my sister Michelle and her husband Scott. My town couldn’t have seemed prettier. Even before going home, I stopped the car at the base of the South Side Bridge, and Michael and I took my favorite Charleston walk up the Sunrise Carriage Trail. Dogwood and redbud are blooming. Daffodils are still decorating the riverbank. In my own yard, the trilliums are still in bloom, and lily-of-the-valley is just poking out of the ground. The red maple tree that Susie Wood gave me in the fall of 2005 has survived its second winter and put out many new leaves. It’s spring in West Virginia!

So, hello to West Virginia, farewell to New Mexico. And, for now, farewell to blogging. I’ll leave it up for a while, but probably won’t add to it after today. It has been great fun, and a great way to stay in touch with my friends, but this blog was never meant to be a permanent endeavor. Maybe I’ll begin new one in the future!

It has been a great adventure for me. Thanks for reading! Thanks for looking! Come and visit me in West Virginia.

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Magical Memphis

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We’ve crossed over the Mississippi, and here we are in Elvis’s town. We arrived just at dark: too late to consider Graceland, but just in time for Beale Street. It was fun to walk down this colorful corridor, only about three or four blocks in length, trying to decide which of many bars to visit. We finally settled on one, and enjoyed the music and a tasty bowl of gumbo.

Here’s another Beale Street view:

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We did not ride in this conveyance, but we stopped and admired it for a while:

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Today is the big day, and he’s looking pretty good for any age! Actually, this is how Michael looked a couple of days ago when we were hiking the Vista Verde trail in New Mexico. Now we are sitting in a Flying J truck stop in Russelville, Arkansas. It’s not what you’d call an extravagant birthday dinner, but you can’t beat the combination of great bread pudding and wireless access. You can even get a shower here if you want, and they announce it over the loudspeaker: “Shower number three is now ready.”

It’s wonderful to have Michael’s company on the long drive home, and I’m so glad he decided to join me. We had a really pleasant visit in Oklahoma City with Jane Taylor last night, and by tomorrow we hope to be in Columbia, TN, where my sister Michelle and her husband Scott have scheduled a special showing of “Little Miss Sunshine” as a birthday treat.

Michael’s new venture, Water Gap Retreat, is beginning to attract some interest, which is probably the best birthday gift he has had. Be sure to visit the website and tell your friends!

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Last excursions

Since Michael arrived, my New Mexico life has been a whirlwind of activity. On our way back to Taos from Albuquerque, we stopped at one of our favorite New Mexico landmarks, a noncommercial hot springs above Jemez Springs. It has changed since we first discovered it (now there’s a sign that says “Nudity Prohibited,” whereas on our first visit we encountered a skinnydippers’ paradise). But, even with swimsuits, it’s a pretty wonderful place, as you can see.

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The hike up the mountain to the springs is not too hard, and the view from the warm pools is spectacular.

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The springs comes from a little grotto or cave. This is where the water is warmest, and it’s a nice place to lie down and really relax, as Michael demonstrates:

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Then, yesterday, we took a lovely hike at the Orillo Verde Recreation Area, on a trail called Vista Verde, with my new friend Verena. We chose a beautiful spot near a juniper tree, and Verena gave us a “sound blessing” using her Native American drum, flute, and other instruments. The wind and the birds seemed to chime in at just the right moments. It was beautiful!

Along the way, we found petroglyphs, too!

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So tonight it’s off toward Oklahoma City. West Virginia, here we come!

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Albuquerque reunion

Michael’s in New Mexico! I picked him up at the Albuquerque airport this morning, after my final Rolfing session and a lovely evening (and Himalayan food!) with Vera.

So now we’re at Sheila Key’s and Richard Towne’s house in Albuquerque, enjoying a short visit before we head to Jemez and on to Taos:

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Here’s a quick introduction to Sheila. We first met in Charleston (long time ago!) when she and Rich worked for the public radio station in West Virginia, and have stayed in touch, seeing each other whenever we can. Now Rich is the general manager of KUNM-FM, my favorite radio station here in New Mexico. (Congratulations on the recent successful fund drive, Rich!) Sheila is writing a book, “50 Ways to Leave Your 40s: What to Do When Midlife Crisis Is Not Enough.” It’ll be the ultimate guide to the Big Five-Oh, and (having read some parts of it already) I know it’s going to be a fantastic book. Check out Sheila’s website to learn more.

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My neighbor, John Street, sent me this picture from my very own garden in Arlington Court. I love seeing that the red trillium is flourishing. Almost as much, I love seeing the blurry image of my neighbors’ houses across the courtyard. I guess I’m getting good and ready to be home.

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But I have one or two more fun things planned for the last few days in New Mexico. I’ll drive down to Santa Fe for one more visit with Vera this afternoon. Tomorrow morning Michael will arrive at the Albuquerque airport! We plan to drive back to Taos via Jemez and hope to enjoy the hot springs there on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, we hope to hike in Orillo Verde Recreation area. So…stay tuned for a final blast of New Mexico scenery!

P.S. My Taos neighbor Pilar saw the big bird, too! She saw it during the day, and was able to look at it for quite a while with binoculars. Then we consulted her bird book, and together we have determined, almost for certain, that what we saw was a Cooper’s hawk. Too wonderful.

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A mysterious visitor

Last night, arriving home from an e-mail outing, I saw that the nearly-full moon seemed to be hovering over my casita. “Oh, what a sweet goodbye photo,” I thought, and rushed inside to get the camera and, because it was getting dark, the tripod.

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Then, almost directly above my head, I heard what I can only describe as a strange, quite loud rattling sound. I looked up and saw a huge bird settling itself on a branch. Well, taller than a foot. Maybe 16 or 17 inches from head to tail. Because the light was really failing, I couldn’t really see it well — it was more of a big silhouette. I talked to it, and even walked over to the base of the tree and tapped on it, thinking it would be wonderful to see the bird fly. But it didn’t. It just sat there, watching me. Like a hawk, so to speak. I felt very special. Like the flicker that visited during the first few minutes of my arrival in Taos, this bird seemed to be there for a reason. (I know, I know. The reason was probably a mouse or a rabbit.)

Then I had an inspiration: the tripod! I turned the camera around and pointed it at the bird, moved the dial to the “manual” setting, and set the exposure for 15 seconds. Amazingly, the big bird hardly moved during that time. It’s not a great photo — by this time the sky was quite dark — but it’s clearly some sort of hawk or peregrine, I think. Bird experts? Any guesses?

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