Jelly, jelly so fine

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

New Mexico viaje

I am back from the trek to New Mexico and back. It was a really long trip and a very tough trip but I made it. You know my motto - Survival is the new victory. This one took me right to the wall.

Stayed in Flag the first night. Leslie was kind enough to book me a room, not at the usual place. I got out of my car and exchanged suspicious glances with a crew cutted Oklahoman with an NRA cap and a Love it or leave it t-shirt. The room stunk of a serious overuse of household cleanser but it was okay for a night.

I asked the bored man at the front desk if there was a place around that they recommended for food? He said that the diner next door wasn't too bad, McZips. I walked over and overcame an instant flight urge and momentary case of hackles and stupidly asked for a menu.

The waitress said that the breakfasts weren't bad and that no one ever died yet with the chicken fried steak. I looked up and saw the navajo cook give me a somewhat sinister look.

I guess I was destined to be the first fatality. I got a sorry looking hammered corpse of unidentified origin that was encased in a mushy batter and then covered with what appeared to be a generous helping of thirty weight motor oil. Inedible. I took two bites and then quickly pulled the money out of my pocket, settled and literally ran.

When I hit the room, the cleanser smell instantly got the better of me and I just had time to eject the contents of my stomach into the sink and miss the fine looking pine green carpet.

Bad move.

Turned out the sink plunger was broke. As in, no drain. I got the paper cup off the coffee maker and started carefully transferring the puke to the toilet bowl, chicken fried chunk by chunk. I have gotten very sensitive to funky smells in my old age, won't be stopping by McZip's again anytime soon. Felt like I had hit some ceremonial nadir or serious point of negative demarcation in my life. The place they call rock bottom.

Made it to Albuquerque the next day at the usual time, without difficulty. Dropped my stuff off at the show. Checked into the hotel and ran over to Little Anita's for a bite of Mexican food. Literally, a bite was all I could eat, the place now battling McZips for the annual Sommers' Bizzaro Bocuse bottom of the barrel culinary award. Perhaps this trip was destined to be the forced start of a new diet, if not death by food poisoning.

Show sucked for me, and the food got worse. Do yourself a favor, don't try that hip little Columbian restaurant on Silver. Ever.

Dane and I (fellow victim at Colombian dinner) walked around Knob Hill, one evening, than crashed an art opening with some pretty mediocre prints from a woman's trip to Asia that I was utterly charitable and complimentary towards.

My weird luck and karma continued.

That night my toothbrush thigamajig holder decided to launch itself in an unprovoked, thoroughly unpredictable and very incongruous leap into a urine filled toilet. I retrieved it somehow and cleaned it as best as I could but sort of lost the taste for brushing my teeth the rest of the trip. Warmboe took mercy on me and brought me a new toothbrush at the show two days later.

The second night I went to a memorial for John and Jay Evetts at Terry's. Ron Munn got up and told a good story. People were very nice, I was still bruised from my own heartache but it seems to be going around. Couldn't help but notice that we were all getting considerably older and that we had all known each other a very long time. Big old gypsy family, mostly brilliant, eccentric and unemployable. Thank god for traders.

El Dorado Sunset

Show and suffering finally ended and I headed up to Santa Fe to hole up at Steve's hideout at El Dorado. Got lost and ran into this pretty mud puddle and sunset at the end of the road.

Steve used to have a real job but since he retired he lost his structure and sleeps a lot so I have to kick his ass and get him outside. We take a side trip every year between the shows. This time we drove out to Watrous and then up to Mora.

Had never been to Watrous, lovely place, got there by accident. Like driving through time. Beautiful large ranches, undisturbed by the national cacophony.

Lots of birding. Saw a beautiful unidentified hawk, maybe a Swainsons.

Passed a beautiful low crest of rocks, caught a yellow warbler of some kind out of an eye corner. Whole area is so lovely. Would love to go back and do some serious birdwatching some spring.

Continued up to Peñasco, took pictures of old churches, then down to Chimayo. I said a prayer to the resident deity at the church, which is rumored to be a place of miraculous healing. The old priest I met on my last visit has passed away, after a half century there. Little guy. Very nice man.

We left the famous weaving village after a good lunch that we happily shared with the bees at Rancho De Chimayo. I had trout. I was starting to overdose on green chile. It is monsoon season and was beginning to rain.

The next morning I met a friend of Steve Maras named David Halpern at the Counter Culture. David is a noted and celebrated photographer, he is the current artist at residence at Bandolier and has held a similar position at numerous other National Parks. An affable southerner from Nashville, he currently has a two year exhibition up at the Gilcrease Museum - The Essence of Place, Celebrating the Photography of David Halpern, Gilcrease Museum (Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art), Tulsa, Oklahoma, November 22, 2016 through December 31, 2017.

It was a joy to run into David and swap stories, techniques and philosophy with him. I hope to shoot with him one day in the future.

Later that day Steve and I drove back out to Pecos Pueblo, one of my favorite structures to photograph on this earth. The atmosphere at Pecos never lets me down and this day was no exception.

I love New Mexico, the farther away from town the better. Have been making the migration for over twenty years and discover something new every time.

We finished this day at Monastery Lake and topped it off with a trip to the dairy queen.

The next day I set up the show at Whitehawk and had an opening in the evening. Took pictures of clients and old friends, like this lovely lady I shot last year.

I swear she knew I was coming...

Billy Schenck


I will post more show pics later probably. Went out one night with John Morris, Myra Nakashima and John Yarnell of furniture fame and had a great meal at Santa Cafe. Namedropper.

Got home late that night to see a raging lightning storm over the Pecos. Snapped shots for an hour.

Tomorrow is the birthday of the two most important people in my life, my wife Leslie and my late mother Adelle. I need to acknowledge them both. My mother, while eccentric at times, was a brilliant writer and editor who had a curriculum vitae and life experience that was unparalleled.

She taught me so much and instilled a love for so many things, and a reverence for the written word. She loved my writing, photography and my painting (an output that I unfortunately can no longer share with you) and was a great supporter of my creativity from my infancy. Gave us the freedom to be very different. Had her peccadillos but loved her kids.

My mother saved my life on at least two occasions. I have still never really dealt with her passing in an emotional way and one day I know that the roof will simply cave in. She was so extraordinary, her gravity shifted every person and planet that was lucky enough to wander into her orbit. An absolute genius.

Thank you mother.

Leslie, I can't thank you enough for hitching your life to my sometimes creaky wagon. Twenty seven years and counting, with your unwavering love and devotion, there is no obstacle that we can not surmount. Once again, thank you for hanging in through thick and thin. You have been the greatest partner a man could ask for and do more than your fair share in keeping our life together.

You are such a unique combination of love, beauty and wisdom. The best partner in the world. Awesome person. Total package. Wishing you a great birthday and a wonderful year. Thank you honey. I love you.

(to be continued...)

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