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Archive for the ‘Taos’ Category

motorcycle

Motorcycle In Taos – 2/365, Archive 365, Taos, New Mexico, January 2003, Tri-X black & white film print, photo © 2003-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


I miss black & white photography. I recently felt the old pangs for film when I ran into Tricia Vetrone’s work at Ingrained Photography while looking for peers for our Casket Arts 318 studio page (our brick and mortar art and writing studio. Would love it if you Liked us there). She shoots in black & white with vintage film cameras. Beautiful work.

Motorcycle In Taos was taken on one of my first writing retreats in Taos in 2003. It was a talking workshop, long before the silence befriended me. We were walking around the Mabel Dodge Luhan House with Natalie. I didn’t own a digital camera then and was still shooting with a Canon Rebel film camera and trusty Kodak Tri-X b&w.

It’s sad to me that Kodak declared bankruptcy this year. In a long history that began in 1888 with the slogan “you press the button, we do the rest,” George Eastman put the first simple camera into the hands of a world of consumers. He made a cumbersome and complicated process easy to use and accessible to nearly everyone. I’m sure in his wildest dreams he never imagined we’d be taking digital photos on our cell phones. Time changes everything; photographs capture time.


_______________________________

ARCHIVE 365: Since the completion of BlackBerry 365, I have missed a daily photo practice. There are so many photos from my archives that no one has ever seen but me. So I asked skywire7 if she wanted to do a daily practice for one year, taking turns posting an unpublished photograph from the past.

Archive 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

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letting go
Letting Go, one of the themes at the Natalie Goldberg silent retreat in Taos, December 2010,  collage made of magazine paper, wax crayons, and pen and ink in Moleskine journal, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

It was strange to find myself sitting in the zendo at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, our teacher Natalie Goldberg urging us to Let Go. I had just a few weeks before made the decision to leave red Ravine, although QuoinMonkey and I had agreed to wait until the end of the year to make the announcement. Though not intended as such, the week in Taos could be a test of how ready I was to let go of this special virtual space that had inspired and sustained me for so long.
 
mabel's houseIt was in Taos, after all, that red Ravine was born. The year—2006. QM and I, having already written together for some time, are both participating in a four-season Intensive with Natalie Goldberg. This Intensive is part of a bigger plan I have for myself, a wannabe writer-and-artist withering away inside the body of a corporate manager and breadwinner for my family of four. I am bored and unhappy. I want to write and do art, but I can’t seem to motivate myself to do much with either except to dream about it. QM and I and a couple of others hatch red Ravine over intense working sessions in Taos and through the phone lines while back at our respective homes. Setting up a blog is hard work, but it is also real. For the first time, I am motivated to do more than fantasize about writing and making art. red Ravine promises to be the impetus to actually producing. 
 
Those first two years of creating red Ravine, QM and I worked our butts off and had a blast doing it. The blog was a perfect outlet for the deep, low creative growl that the Intensive seemed to unleash within us. Some days we posted more than once, and often we had to make sure that we weren’t publishing over one another. For my part, I was making art like crazy. After years of being fearful of the lack of control inherent in a brush (as compared to a pencil), I took a workshop at Ghost Ranch and learned to paint. My corporate job changed around the same time, too. I landed an assignment that took me back and forth to Vietnam. I bought myself a slew of different colored inking pens and began using the long trips back and forth as opportunity to take on a doodling practice.

QuoinMonkey and I worked surprisingly well together. We were both committed to the idea of a creating a space where we would each be inspired and where we might inspire others. She brought to red Ravine and to me her strong values around Community and Giving Back. Her thoughtful and thorough turtle complemented my quick and often irreverent spirit. (What animal am I anyway? The brown bird, I guess.) We found ourselves in synch whenever we wanted to try something new or make a change. We pushed each other to do our best.
 
 
what I learned

 
mabel's house 2 for red ravineOne of the things I love about Taos and Mabel’s place is how they never seem to change. Here I am, early December 2010, and I’m crossing the same flagstone patio that I walked those years ago back when red Ravine was still an infant. Over the past several years, I’ve brought my daughters here, and my husband. I bring my father back each year after we clean his parents’ graves in Costilla, 42 miles north. One summer he laid some of these very flagstones,when he was about 16 and living on Morada Lane in a house with a storefront.

It doesn’t matter what I have accomplished, what roles I have taken on in the years since I’ve been back. Inside the zendo, Natalie reminds us to Let Go. For me this means letting go of my responsibilities, my ego, any self-assigned self-importance. Here, in Taos, I am zero. In my raw, stripped-down state I feel my sadness. It is deep inside me, under everything else I carry. 

My heart breaks open.
 
Letting Go in Taos means being able to clearly see that red Ravine was, in fact, the catalyst for change in my life. It means being grateful for everything I’ve learned as a result of opening up to others. Because of red Ravine, I’ve had a place to publish my writing, to experiment with and share my art, to meet other writers and artists. red Ravine has been Muse, sounding board, supportive audience, friend, family, mentor.

I started a fledging business because of the creativity that flowed out, thanks to red Ravine. Because of this blog I’ve learned to commit to and follow through with my practices; to make jewelery; to turn unpolished writing into finished pieces; to put my creative self out into the world. I used to think I couldn’t finish anything; it took having this blog to realize that I’m an actualizer at heart. 

Of course, there are downsides to setting and realizing intentions. Jim long ago gave up complaining when I’d spend hours socked away in my writing room. But I don’t take for granted any more, not since April of this year when he collapsed on the bed clutching his heart, that he will always be there waiting when I need to take a break. And my daughters—full-fledged teenagers! Just today I accompanied my oldest for nearly an hour while she drove us all around town, adding experience under her belt in preparation for graduating from learners permit to drivers license. I don’t have much time left to influence their lives.

 
 
letting go

 

la morada (taos)At the December retreat, we walk the dirt trail out at the morada, just down the way from Mabel’s place. Natalie often takes her students there. The day we go, boys and men from Taos Pueblo run past us in the cold air. I feel alone and sheltered in my layers of warmth, and for a moment I am homesick for family and our traditions

My parents are old now. They’ve passed from the stage of old-yet-mostly-healthy to being old-and-frighteningly-frail. I visit them every Sunday. All year long I struggle to keep up with everything I have on my plate. Some weeks it feels impossible to eke out even the simplest of posts.

QM is a rock. Her posts are—like her—consistently high-quality, thorough, and deep. I am honored to have worked with her for this long.

A good friend of mine who a few years back started up his own blog had this to say when I told him I was thinking of leaving red Ravine: “Blogging has no exit strategy.” Which is another way of saying that unless you’re getting paid to do it, blogging is a labor of love. This particular labor has born much fruit. 

It has so much more potential, so much yet to become. I’m going to be here, on the other side of the screen, cheering on QM to keep moving it forward. I know I’ll always be proud to say I was a part of creating it.

Thank you for everything you’ve done, QM. Thank you to the friends I’ve met here. So long for now. See you in Comments. 8)
 
 

 

self portrait
Self Portrait, December 2010, collage made of magazine paper, wax crayons, and pen and ink in Moleskine journal, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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sit walk write in Taos
Sit Walk Write Fly in Taos, pigeon coop at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, December 2010, collage made of magazine paper, wax crayons, and pen and ink in Moleskine journal, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.










Joy is s i t   w a l k  w r i t e
with Mabel’s pigeons in Taos
learning how to  f l y












-Related to posts WRITING TOPIC – JOY and haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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View from The Gatehouse,” Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos,
December 8, 2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 





Sleepwalking I arrive
but silence awakens me
to our suffering










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On this second full day of silence, something snaps. I thought I came here because: I had vacation time to kill, I wanted to give myself a gift, it had been a long time since I’d been to a silent retreat in Taos with Natalie Goldberg. Today I am reminded that this is not play. When I go into silence, pain emerges. I wake up.

A quick step out of silence to give you an update, QM. I am also reminded that I met you here, that our friendship was created in silence and through the humanity and compassion we find when we come here. I am grateful for you, for all the friends I have met through Taos, and for everything I have learned about myself through coming here.

I am not writing much since arriving. In fact, I have only thus far written in the zendo during collective Writing Practice. Outside of class, I have spent my free time in The Gatehouse, where I’m staying. I’ve read, slept, and worked on collages. After I publish this post, I might venture out for a walk. I crave the cold air in my lungs.

It is good to be here, to wake up to all of me. To be humbled again.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________




-Related to posts Sitting in Silence and haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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shadow auto 2

Moon Over Taos Mountain, Taos, New Mexico, January 2003, Tri-X black & white film print, photo © 2003-2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


December marks a time of darkness and silent reflection leading up to the Winter Solstice. Most Decembers, Natalie holds a writing retreat around the time of December 1st through 8th. In Zen, this time is called Rohatsu Sesshin and marks the enlightenment of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. For those heading to Taos to write, it’s a time of community solitude, an opportunity to go within.

sherpa 2 auto

Slow Walking, Natalie Goldberg, Taos, New Mexico, January 2003, Tri-X B&W film print, photo © 2003-2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

This week ybonesy and several other writing friends will be making the jouney to Taos to sit in silence. I find comfort in knowing they will be there under Taos Mountain. When they sit, they sit for all of us. The zendo casts a wide circle. Everything is connected. We can sit and write in solidarity.

There will be long nights under Mabel’s lights and slow walks into Taos. Some will walk the morada, visit the graves of Mabel and Frieda, soak up places that Georgia walked on her first visits to New Mexico. Notebooks will be filled with Writing Practices, later to be reread.

Whatever’s at the surface will fall away. What’s important is what is underneath.  Underbelly.


Sit, Walk, Write. With Gratitude to a long lineage of mentors and teachers. For all that has come before. And all that will be.


Note: ybonesy and I met in Taos at a Writing Retreat. We’ll be forever connected by that thread. And the practice that became red Ravine. We’ve written many pieces on our time spent in Taos. To learn more about Sit, Walk, Write or our experience of studying with Natalie Goldberg at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, check out the links in this post. Or click on any of the posts under Taos. With Gratitude to our readers, those at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Natalie, and all the writers and artists who keep showing up to brave the silence. We are all in this together.


–posted on red Ravine, Sunday, December 5th, 2010

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Pigeon Coops at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, NM
Homing In, Pigeon Coops at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, NM, June 28, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.
 


When Jim and I started dating he wanted to take me to two places. One was the cabin his grandparents built in the 1940s, in the Pecos Mountains. The other place was the Rio Grande Pyramid in Southwestern Colorado — at 13,821 feet above sea level, source waters of the Rio Grande.

Within our first two months together, we went to both. They gave me a sense of who Jim is in his core — wilderness, mountains and valleys, creeks and rivers, building things by hand.



      Little homes  Little homes  Little homes  Little homes  Little homes



This past weekend in Taos, then, it is no surprise that I find myself walking with my daughters one morning up the long lane to the Mabel Dodge Luhan House.

“Where are we going, Mom?” they ask.

“You’ll see.”

We reach the uneven flagstone patio in front of the house. Dee says she loves the roughness of the stones. She spies a big rock wheel laid on its side into the walkway and stands in its center, surveying all around her.

“Papa Leo helped lay these stones,” I tell her.

“He did?!” Her eyes are wide. 

My father worked one summer at this place. Mabel herself was gone, but an English author hired Dad to help put in the flagstone. Dad was 16 or 17 years old, scrawny and not a good laborer. He’s told me the author, whose name he thought to be Henry James or James Henry, was not pleased with his work. (I need to do more research on who this writer might have been. Author Henry James died just about the time Mabel Dodge arrived in Taos, so it couldn’t have been him.)

The next morning I return to Mabel Dodge Luhan House with the girls and Jim in tow. I lead them into the front door, show them the living room and dining room, point out the magical door leading to the library. It’s shaped liked a canoe that’s been sawed in half, the tip at the top. Jim and I each stoop to go through the doorway. Dee and Em stand beneath it, looking up at the strange arch. The door is made just for them.



Jumping Jack Wagon
Jumping Jack Wagon, Jumping Jack pansies at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, NM, June 28, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Homing in. We hold our homes in our hearts. I live in the Rio Grande Valley, next to the cottonwoods and the muddy river. This will always be more than just a place to live.

Parts of Northern New Mexico — Taos, Morada Lane and Mabel’s house, Costilla, Cimarron, maybe even the dying and not very attractive town of Raton — these are homes I will always hold inside me.

What places do you call home?



-related to posts Sitting In Solidarity, Mabel’s Dining Room, and WRITING TOPIC – A PLACE TO STAND.

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lifeline – the rio grande , C-41 print film, close up of the Rio
Grande River from the Gorge Bridge, outside Taos, New
Mexico, January 2003, photo © 2003-2009 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.



rivers pour like words–
geological fault line
the length of my heart


gully, gulch, or wash?
the mighty Rio Grande
started as a rift


who can heal the gap?
lost key dangles from the bridge
steady leap of faith











flying – the rio grande (with lens flare), C-41 print film, longshot of the Rio Grande River from the Gorge Bridge, outside Taos, New Mexico, January 2003, photo © 2003-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.





-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, September 19th, 2009

-haiku inspired by a Flickr comment on the approach

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), Are You River, Desert, Mountains, Ocean, Lake, City, Or None Of The Above?

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the key, C-41 print film, up on the mesa top, outside
Taos, New Mexico, January 2003, photo © 2003-2009
by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

frozen rusty lock
not knowing she has the key–
waits for the next turn

 








-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, September 17th, 2009

-related to post: haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Moon over Kitchen Mesa, the moon at dusk at Ghost Ranch, August 1, 2009, photo © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved
Moon over Kitchen Mesa, moon at dusk at Ghost Ranch, August 1, 2009, photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.










silent Moon hovers
dreaming of New Mexico
she sits for us all




off in the zendo
friends dancing in the middle
slow walk to the end




irrational mind
each day a new beginning
Summer wears your face









__________________________________________________________________________________

In honor of our friends sitting in Taos with Natalie this week and last; photo by ybonesy and haiku by QuoinMonkey.

__________________________________________________________________________________

-related to too many posts to mention them all, but here are few: Birthday Of Mabel Dodge Luhan, Sunrise On Taos Mountain (Reflections On Writing Retreats), Sitting in Solidarity, A Taste Of Ghost Ranch, and haiku 2 (one-a-day).

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Happy Birthday, Mabel Dodge, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Happy Birthday, Mabel Dodge, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007-
2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.







tombstone in winter;
knowing Mabel’s ghost lingers,
we write for our lives







I’ve felt the ghost of Mabel Dodge Luhan. She walks the adobe halls of the house at night, creaking on the steps leading down into her bedroom. It was pitch black the night of her visit. The dogs of Taos were howling in the distance. I didn’t look up from the hand-carved bed frame. The frame that I once read Dennis Hopper wanted to chainsaw into pieces and remove from the room. Someone must have stopped him.

Mabel would have turned 130 years old on this day. Those who benefit from her artistic vision sit on black cushions in silence; it’s the first week of what will be a year of study with Natalie. Whatever you think of Mabel or Tony (and you can hear an earful from the locals around Taos), together they created a pulsing creative space at the foot of Taos Mountain. One large enough to hold them both — and the rest of us, too.

Mabel’s grave is in a lonely corner of Kit Carson Memorial Cemetery. I visit there every time I am in Taos. Below is an excerpt from an article by Henry Shukman when he was hot on the trail of the ghost of D. H. Lawrence. It’s a fitting tribute to Mabel. Sometimes people are remembered most for the things they leave behind. Happy Birthday, Mabel. I hope you didn’t think we’d forgotten.



It was from the foot of Taos mountain that Mabel Dodge Luhan — heiress, patroness, columnist, early proponent (and victim) of psychoanalysis, memoirist and hostess — planned the rebirth of Western civilization. She moved to Taos from the East Coast in 1917 and fell in love not only with the place but also with Tony Lujan (later anglicized to Luhan), a chief in the nearby pueblo. She promptly left her second husband, married Tony and expanded a house on the edge of town, turning it into an adobe fantasy castle (what Dennis Hopper, who owned it in the 1970’s, would later call the Mud Palace), and began to invite scores of cultural luminaries. The idea was to expose them to the Indian culture she believed held the cure for anomic, dissociated modern humanity. After dinner, drummers and dancers from the pueblo would entertain the household.

Today her house is a museum, guesthouse and literary shrine all in one. For anyone on the trail of Lawrence, it’s the first of three essential ports of call. As I make my way up the groaning narrow stairs, the sense not just of history but of peace hits me: no TVs, no telephones. Instead, the deep quiet of an old, applianceless home. There are a bathroom with windows that Lawrence painted in colorful geometric and animal designs in 1922 to protect Mabel Luhan’s modesty, and floorboards across which Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe and Thomas Wolfe creaked. (In fact Wolfe stayed only one night. He arrived late and drunk, decided he didn’t like it and fled the next morning.)

- D.H. Lawrence’s New Mexico: The Ghosts That Grip the Soul of Bohemian Taos by Henry Shukman, from the NY Times, Cultured Traveler, October 22, 2006



Winter In Taos, Taos, New Mexico, November 2001, C-41 film print, photo © 2001-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Winter In Taos, grave of Mabel Dodge Luhan, born February 26th, 1879, died August 13th, 1962, Taos, New Mexico, November 2001, C-41 film print taken at my first Taos Writing Retreat at Mabel’s House, photo © 2001-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



In a cold like this, the stars snap like distant coyotes, beyond the moon. And you’ll see the shadows of actual coyotes, going across the alfalfa field. And the pine-trees make little noises, sudden and stealthy, as if they were walking about. And the place heaves with ghosts. But when one has got used to one’s own home-ghosts, be they never so many, they are like one’s own family, but nearer than the blood. It is the ghosts one misses most, the ghosts there, of the Rocky Mountains. …because it is cold, I should have moonshine …

— D.H. Lawrence from Mornings In Mexico


-posted on red Ravine for the 130th birthday of Mabel Dodge Luhan, Thursday, February 26th, 2009

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day)WRITING TOPIC — HAUNTED, The Vitality Of Place — Preserving The Legacy Of “Home” (with photos of Mabel & Tony and links to many of their contemporaries)

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Sunrise On Taos Mountain, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Sunrise On Taos Mountain, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.









welcome to Mabel’s
silent retreat in progress
foot of Taos Mountain




writers hone their craft
sitting in community
with nowhere to hide




silence changes you
in ways you have yet to know
let monkey mind be









A new year-long Writing Intensive with Natalie Goldberg begins Monday evening in Taos, New Mexico. Some of our writing friends will be there for the first week of writing in silence. They will return three more times with the same group of writers — in different seasons, with different books to read, as different people.

A year of silence changes you. ybonesy and I met in a Writing Retreat with Natalie and subsequently signed up for Natalie’s second year-long Intensive. red Ravine is one of the creative endeavors born of that time.

Gratitude to all the writers who show up to sit together, walk the moradawrite haiku, swim in the Rio Granderise for morning meditation. Who keep coming back. Who show up for each other through joy and pain, through laughter, tears — times when it feels like their minds are trying to kill them. Gratitude to mentors like Natalie who continue to teach us what they have learned about the practice of writing, no holds barred.

If you have any thoughts about writing or artist retreats you’ve attended, large or small – Iowa, Oregon, Georgia, California, Wisconsin, Paris, London, Nova Scotia  – we’d love to hear them. Below are a few links from writers who have shared their Taos experiences on red Ravine. We are all there, sitting and writing in solidarity.

Thanks to the Spirits of Mabel and Tony, and all at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House who work together to make these writing retreats possible. To the writers who came before us. And the quiet strength of Taos Mountain. Gassho.



‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾

Alone Together – The Beginning Of The Petroglyph Practitioners
– meet a group of women who first met at one of Natalie’s Writing Retreats in Taos and continue to write together. Read the story of the mystery of the Petroglyph Rock in Mabel’s courtyard.

A Letter To Agnes Martin And A Surprise Reply – the story of a writer who meets a great artist at the Harwood Museum during one of the Taos Writing Retreats and the conversation that ensues between them.

Homing Instinct — when he was 16 or 17 years old, ybonesy’s father worked one summer at the Mabel Dodge Luhan place. She said Mabel herself was gone, but an English author hired her father to help put in the flagstone. Read more about ybonesy’s journey.

Sitting In Solidarity – the experience of Taos on one December retreat with photographs of the zendo and grounds at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House. When you spend a year in community with other writers, it recreates the dynamics of family — for better or worse. Healing. Or letting go.

The Last Time I Was In Taos — The Great Mantra - when you sit with other writers over a period of a year, babies are born, mothers and fathers die, relatives pass on, people fight and forgive, all right here, right now. Silence creates space to receive, and let go. More about the Great Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra.

If You Could Go Back In Time – Mabel headed to Taos in the 1920′s. It was a New Age when many writers and artists were co-creating artists’ colonies and writing spaces all over the globe. A fotoblog of Mabel’s and some history about the writers and artists of that time. Explores the value of place and home, including Kiowa, the D. H. Lawrence Ranch just outside of Taos, New Mexico.


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     Welcome To Mabels, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Welcome To Mabels, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

  Welcome To Mabel’s, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2009
   by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Taos Mountain — the Mountain is sacred to the Taos Pueblo Indians. You can feel her presence always there, sitting, walking, writing — rain, snow, wind, and hail. Summer heat, freezing nights, spring mornings, cottonwood afternoons. She is there. You can see more of her in: haiku for the years , mountain haiku , Taos Mountain Haiku, Missing The Mountain. Or in the photo set Taos.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, February 21st, 2 days before the beginning of the 3rd year-long Writing Intensive with Natalie Goldberg

-related to posts: Make Positive Effort For The Good, haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Antique Stove (Fire), D.H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Antique Cooler (Metal), D.H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.View From The Lawrence Ranch (Air), D.H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Frieda Lawrence's 1930s Home (Wood), D.H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
Turtle Window, D.H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.OKeeffe From A Distance, D. H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Memory Of Georgia (Earth), D. H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Attention To Detail, D. H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Elements: Fire, Air, Earth, Metal, Water, & Wood, Kiowa, the D. H. Lawrence Ranch near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I have lived most of my life near major rivers: the Savannah, the Susquehanna, the Clark Fork, Bitterroot, and Blackfoot rivers that run through the deep mountain valley of Missoula, Montana. But for the last 24 years, home has been near the Mississippi in a Midwest state that boasts the river’s birthplace – Lake Itasca, Minnesota.

Liz and I explored Itasca State Park a few years ago and stood at the source, the Mississippi Headwaters, on root clusters of some of the oldest Red and White Pines in this country. Closer to my Southern roots, I recently started reading Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, part of The Family Twain published in 1935, an original volume bought at a garage sale last summer.

If you follow the river’s flow, you will gain a whole new respect for Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) who published more than 30 books, hundreds of short stories and essays, and gave lectures while touring the world. That’s part of the reason my ears perked up at a recent NPR piece, Finding Finn, when I heard writer Jon Clinch plea for financial support to help preserve the financially-strapped Mark Twain Home in Hartford, Connecticut.


Clinch, author of Finn, and a host of other writers gathered at the home in September and read from some of their favorite Twain books to show their support. The list of authors included such heavy hitters as Tom Perrotta (The Abstinence Teacher), David Gates (Jernigan), Arthur Phillips (Angelica), Tasha Alexander (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), Philip Beard (Dear Zoe), Kristy Kiernan (Matters of Faith), Robert Hicks (The Widow of the South), and Amy Mackinnon (Tethered).

Maybe you’re thinking, what’s this got to do with me?

Everything. Maybe for you, it’s not Mark Twain. But have you ever seen Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings, then longed to visit Abiquiú or the Pedernal near Ghost Ranch, New Mexico? It throws a whole other perspective on a lifetime of painted desert. What about Hemingway’s early days in Kansas City, Missouri. Or Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home in Savannah, Georgia.



D. H. Lawrence Cabin at Kiowa, the Lawrence Ranch near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Maybe for you, it’s visiting the home architect Frank Lloyd Wright built, Fallingwater near Mill Run, Pennsylvania, or a few nights in the Willa Cather room at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House (did you know ybonesy’s dad worked there one summer as a teenager?) in Taos, New Mexico. We had one red Ravine Guest who dreamed about the home of Frida Kahlo. It was such a powerful experience, she felt compelled to travel to Mexico and see it for herself.

Why? Because Place matters. Ground where writers, painters, architects, artists and visionaries lived, worked, and died matters. The places we call Home shape who we are, who we want to be, who we will become. North, South, East, or West, the geography of land, water, and sky influences our work, filters into our vision, helps us hone our craft, whether we are aware of it or not. And the preservation of these places is paramount to our own development as writers and artists.



Turtle Window, D.H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.OKeeffe From A Distance, D. H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Memory Of Georgia (Earth), D. H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Attention To Detail, D. H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



While researching On Providence, Old Journals and Thoreau, I stumbled on the Walden Woods Project which was founded in 1990 by recording artist Don Henley. At the time, 60% of Walden Woods – a 2,680 acre ecosystem surrounding Thoreau’s Walden Pond – was protected from development. But two large tracts of land were endangered when developers sought to construct an expansive office and condominium complex in the mid-1980s. The National Trust for Historic Preservation twice listed Walden Woods as one of America’s Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places.

But the story has a happy ending. The Walden Woods Project embarked on a national campaign to raise public awareness and the funds necessary to purchase and preserve the endangered areas. In January 1991, the Project bought the 25-acre tract that had been slated for the development; a few years later, the second tract of land was acquired. Since then, they’ve protected 150 acres in and around Walden Woods and provided quality programming for hundreds of researchers and more than 200 high school teachers and students.

Just Sitting, D. H. Lawrence Chair at Kiowa, the Lawrence Ranch near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I’ve walked around Walden Pond, stood in the doorway to Thoreau’s cabin. I’ve been to Hibbing, Minnesota, in the living room of Bob Dylan’s childhood home. And a few years ago, ybonesy and I took a day trip to Kiowa, the D. H. Lawrence Ranch outside of Taos, New Mexico. The place was given to Lawrence and Frieda by Mabel Dodge Luhan. Dorothy Brett lived there for a time using Aldous Huxley’s typewriter to type Lawrence’s manuscripts.

Georgia O’Keeffe sat under the giant pine outside the Lawrence cabin and immortalized it in paint forever. Would you rather read about the Lawrence Tree? Or touch its barky skin, slide your feet through the pine needle beds beneath it, stare upside down at the New Mexico stars and sky.


To be able to go back to the place a writer or artist worked and lived is an inspiration. The authors calling attention to Mark Twain’s home in Hartford are sounding the alarm. Not everyone has the resources to donate money, but we can all work to raise awareness by spreading the word. Or visit the homes of writers and artists in the areas where we live and travel.

Those who blazed the trail before us are our mentors. For Jon Clinch, it’s Mark Twain. He’s willing to donate time, money, and energy to save Twain’s home and preserve the literary legacy of place. Who is it for you?




New Mexico Homesteaders, D. H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Corrugated Ice (Water), D. H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Love Triangles, D. H. Lawrence Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



The Mark Twain House & Museum
351 Farmington Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105
860-247-0998



Other links to explore:


-posted on red Ravine, Friday, October 24th, 2008

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Taos Mountain, behind the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Taos Mountain, behind the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.











thousands of years pass
summer, winter, spring, and fall
where mountain meets sky











-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

-related to post: haiku (one-a-day)

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Calling all red Ravine writers and readers!



Today we’re over at the online poetry gathering place that is Read Write Poem. These creative folks are known for their love of poetry and collaboration.

Every Wednesday at midnight they publish a new Read Write Prompt. (What they call a prompt, we call a topic. You say tomato, I say tomahtoe.) Poets then make magic with the topic, and anyone who has a blog site can drop a link to said magic in the Comments section of the Read Write Poem post. Cool, huh?






This week we are providing the topic, and it happens to be one of our favorites. Before we could throw it out there, though, we had to explain why Writing Practice isn’t just about the writing. So please head over there; you’ll find the story of how QuoinMonkey and I met and how red Ravine came to be. (You’ll also at last see photos of the two of us. If you peer really hard into QM’s gorgeous shots of Taos. Unless those are the ghosts of Mabel and Tony that you’re seeing. We understand there is a resemblance.)

The best part? You, too, are invited to write on the topic, which you can get by clicking HERE. If you have a blog site, post your work and provide a link (at Read Write Poem and here). If you don’t have a blog and what you write isn’t too long, go ahead and reproduce it in Comments on this post.

Many thanks to everyone at Read Write Poem!

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Rio Grande Swimming Hole, July 12th, 2007, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Rio Grande Swimming Hole, July 12th, 2007, outside of Taos, New Mexico, at a Writing Retreat with Natalie Goldberg almost one year ago to the day, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.









cliffs rise, bodies howl
floating down the Rio Grande
swimming in July









  View From The Swimming Hole, July 12th, 2007, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.     Toward The Bridge, July 12th, 2007, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

  Leaving The Swimming Hole, July 12th, 2007, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.     From The Bridge, July 12th, 2007, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

View From The Swimming Hole, Toward The Bridge, Leaving The Swimming Hole, From The Bridge, July 12th, 2007, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




The Rio Grande is 1,885 miles long, the third longest river system in the United States. This is for all of our writing friends in Taos this week, diving into her river wildness — screaming, floating, swimming, wading — walking in the mist, getting wet.




          Dive In!, July 12th, 2007, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.       Dive In!, July 12th, 2007, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.       Dive In!, July 12th, 2007, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Friday, July 11th, 2008

-related to post, haiku (one-a-day) 

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Collective Soul at 2008 Taos Solar Music Festival
Collective Bliss, Collective Soul at the Tenth Annual Taos Solar Music Festival, June 28, 2008, photos © 2008 by Jim. All rights reserved.



Here are my souvenirs from Taos — numbness in my right ear and sore calves. Plus, that good kind of exhaustion you get from a night of dancing outdoors, near the stage, to the beat of your favorite band.

We spent the weekend at the Tenth Annual Taos Solar Music Festival. It’s a three-day, multi-band, two-stage event held in Kit Carson Park. Dee and Em’s first concert, not counting local gigs where no one would even think of lighting up a joint. No, Taos caused me pause — Do I even mention what that smell is?


Ed Roland from Collective SoulI didn’t. Instead, I danced to the fabulous band who in the mid-1990s gave us “December,” the song I swear I wanted to record so I could play it on continuous loop during labor.

Soulful. That’s a good way to describe lead singer Ed Gould’s voice. He hails from Stockbridge, GA, son of a Southern Baptist minister. And I couldn’t believe I finally got to hear him in person. Twelve years I’ve been carrying around those lyrics, buying up CDs, and belting tunes in my car.






Define bliss: (outside-of-ten-years-if-they’re-lucky) middle-aged singers reaming strings and throwing microphone stands, wearing tight jeans and blowing kisses to their (assuming-we’re-all-destined-to-be-centenarian) middle-aged fans.

I danced my socks off, shook like I was possessed, rattled my arms in the air, whooped, hollered, whistled myself and everyone around me temporarily deaf, and caused my children to wonder, Is this what they mean when they say someone is speaking in tongues?

My one saving grace? I wasn’t wearing a leather halter top.



Sweet Nectar

It was only natural that Jim, the Hummingbird Whisperer, would be mesmerized two bands earlier by the liquid flute of native son Robert Mirabal, who hails from Taos Pueblo. A man with a message, Mirabal thanked us for bringing our children. Not me and Jim directly, but all of us Glad-Bag-for-raincoats parents and grandparents.

Kids need music. “They hold the future in their hands,” he said. I shivered, stared up at the sky and wondered if the rest of the bands would get rained out.

Then he sang a Circle Song and laughed away the wind, bringing us a still night.


Robert Mirabal   Robert Mirabal
Circle Song, Robert Mirabal at the Tenth Annual Taos Solar Music Festival, June 28, 2008, photos © 2008 by Jim. All rights reserved.



Neither Jim nor I (nor anyone in the audience) could keep our eyes off of Silvana Kane, the Peruvian-born singer of Canadian band Pacifika. This woman was pure beauty, inside and out.

“Qué linda las mujeres de Taos,” she cooed. “How beautiful the women of Taos are, dancing in their skirts.”

We chanted back: “Qué linda!”



 

    
Beautiful Spirit, Pacifika at the Tenth Annual Taos Solar Music Festival, June 28, 2008, photos © 2008 by Jim. All rights reserved.



Swimming Down Morada Lane

We stayed at Casa Benavides — the Mabel Dodge Luhan House was full — and what a delight! Homemade granola, yogurt, and fruit as first course at breakfast, along with coffee so strong that even half-and-half couldn’t tame it. Baked goods, French toast, waffles, an egg quiche smothered in red or green.

And another round of baked anything-you-crave from 3-6 pm. Afternoon tea, Taos-style.

From our patio we could hear the music almost as well as if we were at the concert, so we took many walks down Morada Lane, from the park to the inn and back again.

The girls rested, played cards, watched cable, ate lemon bars and pecan pie. Jim and I walked, rested, rocked, rested. Besides the bands mentioned here, we saw or heard Latino sounds, reggae, hip hop, and more.

If you asked my daughters what they loved the most, they might not mention the music. They might say, instead, that they liked shopping the best. Window shopping during our many rounds back and forth, but even better were the Fair Trade vendors at the festival. Tye-dye and sterling silver earrings and beads. Girls love beads.

So in between ice cream and burritos and roasted corn — festival food — not to mention tea, my daughters visited all the vendors many times. Each round, Dee and Em would return bearing bracelets or rings, bought with their own money. I helped Dee pick out her first two single earrings, which is to say, earrings worn without a partner. As in a third piercing, perhaps. Hmmm.



                



I loved being with my family doing something we all enjoyed, together and individually. Jim danced his Grateful-Dead-inspired shuffle and it was as if our pre-children lives suddenly merged with our post-children lives. Why hadn’t we thought of this before?

My favorite moment? Me in the mosh pit (well, Taos-style) swaying and shaking with friends and strangers; Jim and the girls a safe distance, watching and doing bopping of their own.



        
Folk Mandala, yarn laid into intricate pattern, seen at the Tenth Annual Taos Solar Music Festival, June 28, 2008, photo © 2008 by Jim. All rights reserved.



“I love Collective Soul, Mom,” Dee tells me as we make our way back to our room.

“You dance like this, Mom,” Em giggles and wiggles her little body as she navigates the sidewalk, throwing her arms this way and that.

I can tell the girls see me anew. For once I’m not just Mom. I’m one with the music, one night in Taos.

That and shin splints.


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The Lawrence Tree, outside of Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The Lawrence Tree, Kiowa Ranch outside of Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 – 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






ponderosa heart
O’Keeffe shrouded leaves with stars
standing on her head






Full Dress, Lawrence Tree outside of Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 - 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.     Full Dress, Lawrence Tree outside of Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 - 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.     Full Dress, Lawrence Tree outside of Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 - 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

-related to post, haiku (one-a-day)

-inspired by post, lack of oxygen haiku



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