Girl with magnifier

Monday, August 6, 2012


After a breakfast of blue corn pancakes I left my scenic perch high on the second hopi mesa and drove past Polacca and first mesa and the old Tewa area. I passed Keams Canyon and ambled along the lovely route 264 through Navajo or Dineh territory. The People. It was a beautiful morning and I kept going and didn't stop this time at the lovely and green area of Ganado, home to the historic Hubbell Trading Post.

When I got to the capitol of the sovereign Navajo nation, Window Rock, all hell broke loose, the heavens separated and I got dowsed in a torrential downpour that was coming down so hard I was afraid for a second that it would break the windshield. The town of Anthem had flooded the night before and I was listening to some emergency dispatchers talk about the danger of flash floods and the protocol for such an event as the water rose on my rented van's high wheelbase.

Luckily the rain gave way after a cit of serious clenching and I made it on to Gallup and finally to Albuquerque. I took a couple of pictures, nothing really special, have been spoiled by the beauty these last seventeen years, and couldn't bother to break up the flow and stop and capture any more of the spectacular thunderheads. When my hard drived crashed on the laptop a few months ago I never re installed Photoshop and my antiquated version of iphoto can't process raw image files so we will have to wait until I get back to see what I got.

It was hot as hell in Albuquerque, and a bit muggy, a definite change from this most perfect summer we Californians have been blessed with this year.  I checked in to my hotel and took a nap, then drove over to the fairgrounds to drop my stuff off. I have never done that well at this particular show but I manage to make expenses and have a lot of fun with friends, so I keep on doing it. Plus it has been helping a cancer charity and that is important to me. The promoter guilted me into making a donation for the endowment, and she was very good at it and I did.

Albuquerque is more of a card table cowboy show, an old time show, people driving in from as far away as Maine and Jersey and Missouri, mostly objects and artifacts from the old west and mexico and unfortunately that aesthetic genre is currently not resonating too well with the younger generation, who prefer to invest their money in things that run on batteries or adorn their skin. So the crowds and faces are mostly older and familiar and the money ain't what it used to be.

So I went in with low or no expectations and am happy to say that they were well exceeded and I sold paintings to some very nice people and some are repeat customers so it looks like I will keep doing it, being one of the few hard core art dealers at the show and having made a good start on achieving my goals for the trip of salting enough dollars away to go to Spain next month without regret.

The food was decent, mostly not worth mentioning, the company better, I get to see Lew and Michael from Colorado, two funny and smart people that I always look forward to breaking bread with. Heidi from Portland is another member of our food clan, this time we were joined by sweet Joan from Philly for one epic meal.

We went to Cosmos in Nob Hill for a tapas dinner. It was my second time there and just absolutely superb. Cosmos is owned by a Puerto Rican physicist who still works at Sandia and his Chilean wife who is half japanese and they cook Spanish food. Our excellent server Manuel is from Malaga.

We started with fried plantains and tempura avocado, which even for a Fallbrookian was incredible. Mouthwatering empanadas, delectable scallops, waves after waves of small dishes, all fantastic. We paired the meal with their reserve tempranillo, light and aromatic, so good that we ordered a second bottle. Everybody of course shared everything fairly and politely. Then the big paella entree came and it was delicious and rustic and honest, the rice sticky like a risotto and magnificently flavored.We closed the place down and talked long into the night, reciting the days battles and victories, finishing up with a special flan and a few more great deserts that now escape me. A great meal that I am sure all participants will fondly remember.


Besides making some dough, the show gave me a chance to meet some really wonderful and interesting people. Several come to mind now, a day later. The first people were a rancher and his gal, he about my age. He farmed southern New Mexico and they got to town about once a month. His father had 30,000 acres, mostly in herefords and angus but he was now down to 10, 000.  The government was paying a stipend not to farm because there was an endangered lizard on part of the property. I got the feeling times were tough, with the drought and other things. His very young common law wife was sporting a toddler. This guy had dirt under his fingernails and we just hit it off, me growing tree crops for these many years and having the same general disdain for civilization that he did.

He was looking at my sterling silver flatware service, Francis the first, the set we had inherited from Leslie's mom that we are now selling. He had inherited the same family pattern from his own deceased mother and had to sell it when things got tough. His wife had undergone brain surgery for tumors and now couldn't get insurance so they couldn't officially get married without jeopardizing her medical coverage and I tried to help them figure a way out. I really admired these people.

They told me that southern New Mexico had been inundated with Mennonite families now coming up from Mexico to live. I had seen one of these couples at the hotel and stood in a bit of wonder as they walked by, she in her bonnet and long dress and modest bearing, with her hand covering her mouth. I wondered why she covered her mouth when she walked into the hotel, as if she would not breathe the same air as the dirty heathen gentiles she was now forced to share space with. A stranger in a strange land, not wishing to be corrupted by the impure.

The other fellow I enjoyed was a recently retired evolutionary biologist Ph.D..who worked at Los Alamos. His wife was from Spain and we talked about my upcoming travels. His expertise was the mosquito, a funny coincidence considering the recent West Nile outbreak in the city. I asked him if the mosquito had made any valuable contribution to the world that I may not have considered and he said that it had. He said that malaria and mosquito infestation had kept some parts of africa off limits to humans and that had saved a lot of very valuable species, something I had never considered.

Met a very sweet dealer from Tulsa who got a text and photo of the area near her home burning up while we were talking and I hope that everything turns out okay. I have been there and it sucks.

 One of the cool things about being in these parts are the plumage on some of the native birds, both men  and woman. Being in New Mexico gives people the apparent freedom to dress like real dandies. I love the men who cavort like peacocks, competing with the the beautiful women in their magnitude of ostentation. Knee high boots, worn on the outside in the most electric of colors, leather shoulder bags, festooned with silver, hair like Custer, or maybe the peruvian shoulder bag and the south american hippie look, these guys just preen like banty roosters. Wouldn't have the nerve myself, but god bless them, let your freak flag fly.


I kept chipping away at the show, ending up with a small bang, finally packed up and drove north to Santa Fe last night on the 25. I tried to stop at my favorite dive for diner, Tiny's but it was closed so I went over to the Plaza, recently reopened after a terrible fire and had the cashew mole chicken and sopapillas, excellent as always. Leslie booked me a very nice room at the Hilton on her ipad and I decided not to stay with my friend Millard, who is refinishing his wpa and early new mexican furniture for the show all week, and under the gun as usual.

Today I chilled in the pool, made the rounds of a few friend's shops, bought a pair of comfortable sandals, watched a little olympics, read the New York Times and just generally took it easy. I did buy a beautiful old print by Jean Charlot, El Volador, the only item I have bought all week.

It was actually cool and breezy and very nice today. Tomorrow I drive either to Jemez or up to Bandolier, having another day and a half to twiddle my thumbs before I set up for the big ethnographic show.

A díos.


Anonymous said...

Glad everything is going so well and I'm looking forward to hearing about it all in person.

Anonymous said...

Go get em Brotherman.
Deli guy.

MC. said...

Another soothing tale to start out the evening back here in Fallrook. (The Tempura Avocado capitol of the world). Do keep them coming.