Posts Tagged ‘Taos New Mexico’

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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jumping jack wagon
Jumping Jack Wagon (in June), wagon at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, June 2008, photo © 2008-2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

and now…

jumping jack wagon in winter
Jumping Jack Wagon in March, wagon at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, March 21, 2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

-Related to posts Homing Instinct (in which the photo “Jumping Jack Wagon” first appeared) and Sunrise On Taos Mountain (Reflections On Writing Retreats), which includes a summary of several Taos-related posts on red Ravine.

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Do you remember the chair from the D.H. Lawrence Ranch? It’s an oversized chair for an oversized figure. Only the wood frame is left.

I sketched the outline of the chair when we visited the ranch in early February, but I didn’t color it in until last night, sitting in a council meeting.

d.h. lawrence sat here. and probably frieda and georgia and mabel and tony and and and…the leather is all gone all that remains is the oversized frame…for an oversized being.


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…as my guitar gently weeps on the chair at caffe tazza where a blond bitch freaked out at the mention of El Pinto in Albuquerque…well, el pinto tu puta bitche…

Doodling guitar on chair or is it chair with guitar
Doodling guitar on chair, or is it chair with guitar?, pen and ink on graph paper, doodle © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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Silent in Taos
Silent in Taos, map of Taos, NM, doodle © 2007 by ybonesy. All
rights reserved.

Bent Street: The quaintest street of Tourist Taos.

  • Dwellings Revisited: A couple talking. One the proprietor, the other an old friend. I can tell this is their daily custom–sitting, talking, gesticulating as if building a castle in the air. I am grateful for their consumption of one another and not of me. I walk to every section of the store. To the table with carved wooden fruit painted brightly. The section where Day of the Dead objects convene. Skeletons prefer other skeletons. I come upon the tin ornaments, religious icons, bags with Frida images. Each thing I come to slowly and stand, “Let it come to you” reverberating in my heart. My hand reaches up as if guided by a force, picks the purse off its hanger and places it on my shoulder. A store without mirrors yet I can see myself, bright and odd. I feel so new, so Mexican with Frida at my side. I touch her cheek. She is inside the bag, a small Frida wanting to see some of Taos. Adios, mujer. The words hang and I’m not sure whether I uttered them to her or her to me.
  • The Parks Gallery: Mr. Park is like any gallery owner. Assured and handsome. He wears a crisp white-blue striped dress shirt and gray slacks, his wavy hair swept back as if he just stepped off a biplane. He asks, “How can I help you,” and I can tell by the way he looks me toe to head that he thinks me not to be serious material. I wear a faux leather skirt, which could have been accessorized in an ethnic voluptuous sort of way, except I am layered for warmth: black leggings, ankle boots with wide rubber soles, a loud ski sweater from the 1950s, and a light blue down jacket soiled at the wrists and neck. It gives me pleasure to tell Mr. Park that I want to buy the Georgia O’Keefe pull puppet in the corner.

Paseo de Pueblo Norte: The main artery of Taos.

  • Artisan’s: A thin, caved-in man waits on me. He is medium height, my age but older looking. He has dark hair sprinkled gray and bad breath. As he leads me to each product about which I inquire — a watercolor paint set, paint brushes, white and black gouache, a portable paper tablet, permanent ink pens — I make up a story about him. He lives alone in a detached converted garage. It is cold in the winter and his wages barely cover rent and gas heat. He worries, and even though he eats well and has good hygiene, the worrying turns his stomach and breath sour. I once had a dog with horrible breath, even as a puppy. He was a blue heeler named Rudy. We used to say Rudy was a worrier and that he had “Broody Breath,” like brooding. After a while we called him Broody instead of Rudy, and we always said it in a high voice. As I wait for the man at Artisan’s to ring up my purchases, I say to myself in that same high voice, “He has Broody Breath.”
  • Taos Gems and Minerals: I walk the entire store looking for individual specimens — clear quartz or amethyst — to take home as souvenirs but I can’t find any. A stout man with a potbelly approaches. “Can I help you find something?” “I’m looking for crystals in the six-dollar range for my daughters,” I tell him. He walks to the center of the store, kneels before what looks like a big table and starts opening thin, wide drawers. Each drawer houses boxes and boxes of minerals. He opens one drawer with nothing but clear quartz. A few feet over he pulls out three drawers in succession, one on top of the other. The items in the boxes start at $1 each and go up from there. I eventually pick six from the $2 drawer. Later, at the cash register, the man says, “You have six daughters?” He looks at me from behind the counter. His eyes are round now like the rest him. I know what he’s thinking. “No,” I say, “six dollars per daughter.” “Oh,” he says slowly, “you have two daughters…OK…I was going to say…that would have been monumental for you to have six daughters.”

Ledoux Street: Tucked away from it all, as it should be.

  • The Harwood Museum: Someone is playing the piano in the next room. It is heavenly, the sound music makes in this gallery. Like a church or a concert hall. It’s a classical piece. Small keys and big, deep ones… I wish I had words for music. I’m conscious of a desire to close my eyes and rock my head left and right. I don’t want it to stop. Not the music. Not this moment. Not the silence. I want to stay here. I want to come again and again. And now twinkling notes. They remind me of snow falling. Winter in Taos yet it’s still fall. Now it’s over, the music. Soon it will be over, the music of silence, of acute noise in my head.

-related to post WRITING TOPIC – TAOS.

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