In Chimayo, NM, there’s only one place to get your lunch. I’m not being figurative. There’s really only once place to get your lunch. So go to Ranchero de Chimayo and enjoy it. The Road to Taos is a long one, and you’ll need the fuel. And the guacamole. And the prickly pear frozen lemonade.
Backlogging through a summer’s worth of photos has me hankering…
Cookin’ up summer, all year round.
I haven’t thought much about ISV this autumn. A bit obvious, but life is real outside the boundaries of the internet, and sometimes it needs ones full focus. But the loving comments of those that read ISV, the awesome emails, y’all bring me back when I stray away. There’s still so much old, natural beauty lying around, enough to keep me interested in sharing things with you; I’m grateful to know that there are so many likeminded spirits out there with remote interest in the pretty little/big things and nuanced details that keep things real for me. Thank you.
In New Mexico in August my friend Ed helped me find this old Navajo squash blossom necklace. He tells me that the naja (crescent shaped pendant) and the smooth beads, along with the silver “blossoms” date from around or before World War I. The fluted, melon shaped beads date from the 1930’s. We suspect that the necklace belonged to a child, and when the child grew up, they added more beads to the necklace so that they might grow old together. Whether the stories are real or supposed, they’re what make things special.
The sky looks different out there.
Each sunset and passing rainstorm provides a textile of lights and darks, colors and shapes I sometimes forget exist in nature. To feel so often in awe, those evenings under the skies of New Mexico were rich with gratefulness and inspiration.
Call me sentimental, but “Made in USA” means more than built to last, polished with elbow grease. It means good vibes. My favorite sneaks of all time, the Vans Authentic, were once made in California–where good vibes come from. In 1994 Vans began manufacturing overseas.
Vans Authentics circa early 1980’s, and appropriately patriotic:
Here’s how you can tell an old pair of Vans from a new pair:
- Made in USA on footbed
- Made is USA on back heel
- More narrow, markedly pointier
Currently and happily working through my seventh pair of Authentics, each pair like a notch on my belt. Getting older ain’t so bad, really. Do you remember your first pair of Vans? Do they bring you back? If you haven’t, find yourself a trusty old pair and enjoy them. Wear them out. It’ll feel good.
Michael lives in Chimayo, New Mexico. He was born there, as was his daddy before him. In the 1970’s he moved to another New Mexico town, and another after that, but after his mother passed he returned to Chimayo to start his own family. Clover, at center below, “the cute one” as Michael calls her, is the matriarch of the brood. Her eight-week old grandpuppies will be sold for $100 each. Michael thinks he’ll call the one with white feet White Socks. As we said goodbye he took my hand and wished me “a beautiful day.”
Down the road I met Carlitos, from whom I bought some dried pepper and spices. He had me put a pistachio shell-sized helping of each different spice in my mouth along with a “Mexican Clam” (the pistachio nut itself) while thoughtfully heeding my warning that anything too spicy would send me running. He said that his photo hadn’t been taken since 1989 and so preferred to keep it that way. His son Adam, however, was much more inclined to pose.
Carlitos noticed my gray Chimayo purse and beckoned his sister over, a former weaver and current silver worker. She received her Masters in social work but chose to live in Chimayo and practice her traditional craft. She told me that their grandmother was a Chimayan weaver in the 1940’s, at the same time that my purse was woven in their town. Their shop and outdoor spice market is located across the the dusty way from the Potrero Trading Post and El Santuario, the town’s beloved shrine built in 1856. There you can scoop from a pile of Holy Dirt to use as you please. I didn’t scoop, but my friend brought some back for her grandmother.
There’s something about a one-horse town. You can spend a long time searching for its stories.
I found this row bracelet in a dusty little Nevada town last year. The deep blue-green of its turquoise stones reminds me of the Southwestern night sky in that moment just after the sun sets, the vastness illuminated just before everything goes dark.
The lady with whom I found it said she believed it to be a Zuni piece from the 1940’s. I think it looks more like old Navajo, with its crude bezels and rough character. It’s the imperfections that make things special.
It wasn’t until the early 1970’s that Native American artisans were caused to stamp their pieces with their initials or silver quality. If you’re looking for something old, remember this important bit as you go along your travels.
In Navajo symbolism the circle signifies life. I’ve written this over and over but it always feels good to do it again: turquoise protects the body and the spirit, and brings us health and happiness. Go on and find yourself a nice little piece.
I just received the happy news that I’ll be taking an impromptu trip out to New Mexico next week. That blue-green Southwestern sky is all mine. Land of Enchantment, here I come…