Sunday, December 30, 2012


Since Christmas day, it has taken awhile to get back in the mood to write.  Every day things that want to be said have tramped through my mind in winter boots, but getting them all the way to the computer has required labored steps through mental mud.  

PQ in His First Living Room
This Christmas was the first spent at PQ’s ancestral Pueblo house since his mom, Frances passed from the world of time and matter six years ago. It was very important to him that we open the house to our friends. He hoped for this last year but although some critical repairs were made on the outside of the structure, we didn’t reach the inside in time for holidays.   

This year we cleaned off years of accumulated adobe dust, patched up cracks in the ancient fireplace, whitewashed scuffs from walls moved in furniture and put new panes on the skylights. Then it was time to light fireplace and kitchen stove to warm the thick walls until the spirit of the house awoke from its long hibernation. I went through kitchen cabinets to find what remained of utensils, pots pans and serving dishes. We purchased a Christmas tree, Christmas themed table covers and party utensils. 

Then came cooking for an unknown number of people; although Christmas eve was presented as a potluck I knew that there had to be chili, pasole, potato salad, chocolate cake, cookies, fruit salad, horno baked bread, prune and apple pies. Of course, this included Folgers coffee boiling in a one-gallon pot on the wood stove and Cool Aid, the traditional drinks for Indian feast days.
Waiting for the Guests to Arrive

When Joe J. passed from this world, in this same ancient pueblo front room, those of us present at his passing knew that something important in our world had changed forever. His wife and Medicine partner Frances held on with one foot in this world and one in the world that Joe had journeyed to for another fourteen months thus softening our transition to a life without them.  As long as she remained, they were both present in spirit. PQ and I are both orphans now. Losing one’s parents in late middle age is a normal but critical rite of passage seldom addressed. There is no one to fall back on as we face the world head on.  I soon discovered that helping Frances cook and serve guests is very different from being solely responsible for what happens in the kitchen and on the dinner table. The kitchen was nostalgically familiar as if Frances was just in another room, but now and then, I felt that I was invading her territory.     
It was wonderful to experience the mixture of old friends who had known Joe J. and Frances and new friends initiated to the house and ceremonies for the first time. When we all went to the plaza to witness the procession and bonfires, I realized how unique this heritage is. Although we were at the bonfires last year, coming from the old house heightened the experience. It was like being there for the first time.

Cooking, cleaning and decorating while fighting down flu symptoms sometimes took me to the edge of “bah humbug.” Since it was quiet season, we couldn’t drive a vehicle past the Pueblo walls and had to bring everything in and out by wheelbarrow. This was hard on PQ’s lungs, especially in the cold air. On Christmas day, he didn’t feel up to going to the plaza for the Deer Dance, one of our favorite dances, and we went back to our house in town to be truly quiet.  As we were leaving, the snow began to fall, covering the adobe mud with a glamorous white coat. The next day I got several decent camera shots but was too busy to do it justice.
PQ Walking Into the Pueblo

Getting older brings with it an entirely different sense of time. I don’t know if we will be able to do the same next Christmas. PQ’s lungs are not as strong as they were last year and as beautiful as this snowy Christmas turned out to be, it would be better for him if we could be in Arizona.  We had the chance to honor Frances and Joe J.’s tradition, align PQ with his roots and bring the two of us back to the essence of why we are together.

Now, between Christmas and the New Year, I’m thinking of the issues waiting to be lived through in the coming year. I find myself waiting for the next phase of something indefinable. After a warm dry autumn, the temperature plunged to below freezing here in Taos for two weeks. We have it easy compared to the east coast, however. I suspect our social political weather is also on the brink of a drop in temperature and some extreme storms.
Toward the North Gate

On a personal level, we need to find some supplemental income before much more time goes by. The padding we once had from the sale of my family home is gone and our Social Security checks don’t make it all the way through a month. I believe PQ will have to make a decision about whether to actively pursue a lung transplant this year or let his disease take its course, and we recognize an increased need for him to live at a lower altitude. But for now, these thoughts merely collide with each other. We will have to step into the coming year with faith and the willingness to change stale patterns of thought. 

It occurs to me that a kaleidoscope is a fitting image for approaching the future. The movement of even one particle changes the entire design, but never leaves it unbalanced. The beginning of last year was also full of unanswerable questions and dilemmas, but foresight tends to be a reflection of past experience, or another way of saying it is, we are not afraid of the unknown but of what we believe we know of the unknown.  After all, the unknown is unknowable now and that is where the world begins again, again and again.

The New Old Bracelet on the Right
We have honored Christmas at the Pueblo and although I hope we can do it next year, if that doesn't happen, there is a sense of completion in opening up the house to guests. PQ feels that he has sent the message of love and respect to his parents and to grandpa Tony Lujan who gave this home to his parents. Nevertheless,  I hope we can do it again and if not for Christmas, then perhaps for San Geronimo or another feast day.

Oh, and one more thing, a good medicine sign I would say, PQ found a virtual copy of the much loved bracelet he mysteriously lost over two years ago.  I was busy and a bit under the weather when this one showed up on his wrist, so it took me awhile to notice. Then I saw it on the table where he leaves his jewelry at home and did a double take. For a fraction of a second I thought I was time traveling, but there is a subtle difference. This bracelet has a slightly different shape and the stones are larger. Although we hoped that the lost one would eventually return, it didn't occur to me that an even finer one would take its place. I will interpret this as an indication of what can happen to lost treasures.

From Taos with love, we wish you all a fine New Year!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Taos Pueblo at Quiet Time
We have been working on the Pueblo house this week.  PQ began back in September with the roof, last week he hired some guys from the Pueblo to help him pour a new cement floor in the porch and now it’s time to ready the inside for Christmas visitors. This project has a special meaning.  The pueblo house was PQ’s birthplace and his family home until going out on his own after high school. But he was almost always home for Christmas.

Every time I walk through its well-worn door, I recall my first Pueblo feast day in that house. The surprise was that there was no surprise.  It seemed completely familiar. It might have been a past life memory or it might be that it so resembled my great aunt Carrey’s house in the mountains west of Denver that I was immediately thrown back to childhood.  Folgers Coffee boiling on the wood stove, the smell of firewood, the dim light of kerosene lamps, and the lumpy linoleum floor over naked earth were all an intimate personal memory.  I took naturally to cooking on the old stove and washing dishes in a large metal wash pan. On feast days, it was PQs’s job to fetch water and chop wood. Dad, (Joe J.) sat at the head of the table and welcomed visitors. PQ always walked in after the party was underway dressed in his best outfit and plenty of turquoise, visiting animatedly with family, friends and unexpected visitors.

As each feast day approached, I would ask Frances what she would like me to bring and usually she said, “Cake would be nice.” But of course I anticipated the need for a few other things as well, and it was a given that I would wash dishes help her serve red and green chili, potato salad, horno (the outdoor adobe oven) bread, fruit salad and whatever else visitors brought.  There was a constant flow of friends and family.  

Now we are here to bring the spirit back to this ancient dwelling.  An archaeologist visiting PQ’s parents some years ago tested the kitchen’s earthen walls and estimated them to be around 1,100 years old. Today we mopped the floors with their six years accumulation of red adobe dust. Yesterday we arranged living room furniture and dusted surfaces. PQ made a bucket of adobe mud to repair cracks in the fireplace.  He ran out of breath while mixing so I had the chance to mix my first adobe mud. 

Sometimes it is daunting. PQ can hardly breathe and I’m out of shape but it’s a must do project.  The house seemed to become sadder and colder each year that the feast days came and went and no one passed through her door.  As we go through the rooms, trying to decide what most needs to be done, memories begin to come back.  I remember a San Geronimo feast when our friends from Glastonbury England Angela and Malcolm were here. Many more people came than Mom (Frances) anticipated and we began to run out of food. Mom sent PQ to buy more potatoes and eggs, Angela, and I made one potato salad after another all day that year. PQ tells me that Millicent Rogers, the glamorous Standard Oil heiress who spent the final years of her short life in Taos loved to help Frances in the old kitchen during feast days.  PQ told me that when he was a child the family eagerly anticipated visits on feast days from Tony Lujan; Joe J.’s adopted father and the husband of Mabel Dodge Luhan.  I asked if Mabel came with him but PQ said that this was something Tony preferred to keep as his own, and besides Mabel was Jealous of Millicent Rogers. So there is a bit of old Taos gossip .

A unique spirit dwells in those old walls. When my own parents in Denver were still alive, I would always plan to be at the Pueblo house for Christmas Eve’s bonfire and procession, the Christmas day feast and then drive to Denver the next day.  My parents understood that for me this was as important as going to church was to them. Besides, I always had interesting stories to share when I arrived.

An adobe house can be hundreds of years old or just a few years old.  It’s all the same.  Most adobe houses evolve organically.  A room goes up here, a wall comes down there, and somewhere else, a door or window is added or subtracted.  The essence of adobe is flexible and timeless.  It appeals to that part of me that finds the nature of time inexplicable and fun to play with.  There are certain places or experiences that squash time and make it irrelevant. I’ve always wanted to time travel and discover who I would be if I lived in Tibet, Kazakhstan, or say medieval Spain before the inquisition. At the age of twelve, I sat on the ledge of Spruce Tree house in Mesa Verde while imagining myself living there 900 years ago, long before the arrival of Europeans.  That was the beginning of my fascination with the South West, and with time travel.

This year we are putting our Christmas money and more into the Pueblo house to give back to mom and dad some of what they gave to so many over the years.  It won’t be just the same, we are aware of that, but hopefully we can call on their spirits to help.  Therefore, dear friends if you are in Taos on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas day stop by the house. The important thing is to honor the special medicine that made everyone who visited Joe J. and Frances Suazo on a feast day feel blessed.

P.S. If you are in Taos for Christmas and want to come to the house (it's on the northwest side) but don't know how to get there let us know and we will be happy to email you a map, and PQ plans to have a lantern on the door Christmas Eve.

Friday, November 30, 2012


We are approaching that time of year when life goes underground and deep inside. Pba-Quen-nee-e’s (PQ’s) Tiwa people soon begin their annual Quiet Time to honor Mother Earth’s need to rest and renew. While our Mother Earth is pregnant with a new life cycle, the modern techno money world is spinning too fast to touch down on solid ground.

Here in Taos, the great rush of tourists in October suddenly waned in November and all has returned to basic Taos. The smell of burning cedar and pinon is everywhere. But, this small town is still a unique mixture of times and cultures. Anyone with a pickup truck can get in the wood hauling business if they know where to find good wood and it is still vital to our Taos autumn and winter. We recently saw a truckload parked kitty corner from our organic grocery store advertising organic firewood. I couldn’t resist taking a photo. 

For now, our life is also quiet.  The shopping mania in the rest of the country doesn’t affect Taos. This was a surprise when I first moved here. Everything in Town goes quiet. The shops, even though decorated with evergreen branches, red ribbons and farolitas (traditional paper bag lanterns) are peaceful. Many of our restaurants close the entire month of November and even first week of December to make repairs and give employees time off. The ski slopes are waiting for more snow. Waiting is the main game in town. The exception is Walmart, our improbable town center. It serves the function once occupied by the old plaza. The marriage of Taos and Walmart makes for an odd couple although they’ve each made adjustments, and while it’s a relationship of more than twenty years, there are dissonances that will never become harmonic. 

We watch a lot of TV since we quit going out as much at night, it is our primary contact to an external world gone crazy with sale! Sale! Sale! Ninety percent of my emails are also sale! Sale! Sale! Black Friday now threatens to last until 2013.  It seems irrelevant. I do not find myself wanting anything, nor do I want to give stuff to anyone during this natural quiet time. I find myself wanting to avoid loud colors, fast words and frantic motion. Opening the Pueblo house for Christmas is enough.
This week PQ occupied himself with readying the Pueblo house for Christmas. He had to hire some guys from the Pueblo to help him lay a cement walk in the porch, repair mom’s horno (adobe oven) and make other minor repairs. It bothers him that his lungs no longer allow him to do much physical work. He loves handiwork and is proud that he knows how to do many things, but on the positive side, it gave him a chance to be with tribal members again and share what only they have in common.  Today we begin cleaning six years of dust from floor and kitchen, he did some repairs on the fireplace and I cleaned. There is something significantly symbolic about opening the Pueblo house again to family and friends. We are bringing back the life that veered far away from the Pueblo when Joe J. and Frances passed. 

The current shopping frenzy in the big world outside doesn’t change the fact that there is a lack of authentic feeling behind it. The financial people are pleased, but economic health is about more than producing and buying more stuff. Without an organic connection to earth rules, there is just addiction, a substitute for something important that is missing. 

According to the Mayan calendar, the return to zero point in galactic time occurs on December 21, 2012,  the winter solstice. A culture once conquered and suppressed is now the source of a collective fear that our familiar world is doomed. It seems fitting.  Many once conquered cultures now have more power than ever from the closet of our guilty fears. It’s a fitting vengeance. We relegated the Mayan world to the shadowy distant past of our cultural memory. Though once regarded as inferior, possibly demonic, it now reemerges with super human force. Yes, the Mayan astronomers are now mysteriously responsible for our apprehension of possible big changes looming up ahead.  Our collective instincts tell us that we can’t consume our way to infinity.  Contemporary humans resemble a swarm of locusts, and every bite of candy-coated poison is a temporary feel good. Unfortunately, it is human nature to hope that a bigger dose of bad medicine will make the resulting symptoms go away. 

There isn’t much we can do to prepare against a future we aren't privy to, although some folks believe they know just what to anticipate. I believe that we really need to tune into Mother Earth’s moves, and do our best to respect and get to know her as the one that holds us up beneath the disorienting mist of our contrived world.  We must learn how to be organic but intuition only works when not powered by heavy emotions such as fear. After all, we don’t actually fear the unknown, but what we believe we know about the unknown.

For now, it seems like a good idea to back away from the coastlines and quit building two story houses and manufactured homes in tornado alley. Mother Earth has had enough and common sense says it would be best not to heedlessly ignore the warnings of her impatience.  Respect!  Yes, that almost forgotten concept just may be the most powerful medicine of all.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Late autumn, Thanksgiving was two days ago.  The more years I leave behind the faster days, months and years go by. If people lived hundreds of years, I’m sure a year would be as a day is now.  But, what does it really matter.  It’s the content of each day that counts and as winter approaches the content is retreating from the surface like the sap in trees. 

PQ has been working hard on the old Pueblo house, making repairs so that we can have a traditional Christmas Eve for our family and friends. Since mom and dad passed, the house has been in mourning. He is determined to do this for everyone we love and to bring joy back to the old house. Mom and dad, Joe J. and Frances Suazo, shared so many feast days with folks from diverse worlds.  That simple ancient mud house welcomed people from all over the globe.  Since becoming involved in Mark Gordon’s film about cultural mover and shaker Mabel Dodge Lujan and her husband Tony Lujan who was PQ’s great grandfather, I’ve notice in him a renewed will to carry on his family heritage.  I remember Christmases past in that old house and thinking then that it was unimaginable not to have Christmas there.

We still have our morning coffee outside most days, even though it’s late November.  The leaves are gone, and visually the landscape is winter, but now and then morning is pleasant.  I’ve noticed that changes in habit are often as organic as seasonal changes.  A few years ago, every day we looked forward to having coffee in our favorite coffee shop.  It was a chance to catch up with friends and stay in touch with the community.  Now we stay at home.  Occasionally we try a coffee shop but the magic is gone and we go back to the patio or the kitchen table when it is cold outside and the neighborhood wildlife is our social group and entertainment. Even at  the post office, grocery store or Walmart we are in a cocoon like state.  I look at the town and countryside from the outside as if it was just a passing scene through the car window. Inside is where the action is, preparing for something but not knowing what it is.

This period reminds me of the eerie calm of a river collecting in one deep deceptively quiet pool seconds before plunging into tumultuous rapids. The New York and Jersey Shores just took such a plunge, a reminder of nature’s ability to shock us out of our disconnected reverie.  We easily ignore that the river of change must flow, and that our debris sometimes blocks Mother Earth’s process until she gets dangerous. Maybe that’s why I value each quiet morning knowing that life is only lived moment by moment and no one knows when a plunge into the rapids may come. 

 On the personal level, our project to free space in the garage hit a snag.  I can’t seem to get beyond that impossible stack of boxes.  I don’t know where to start nor do I want to deal with them. The garage is now cold and that is the excuse I will use for now, but it isn’t very convincing. Something else is stuck, backed up and resisting movement and I suspect it’s about more than boxes. 

Yellow and Lord Byron
Each morning when I poke my head outside to check the temperature, the white cat and his orange tabby friend are waiting for me.  The white cat’s name is Byron, so I call him Lord Byron because he is lord of his realm, the other one I call Yellow after the Yellow trucking company logo that is actually orange. Feline energy is approaching flood state.  Three more cats have shown up lately and every day there seems to be another one.  It is almost five years since I lost Joe and Missy and until this September, there were no cats in my life. Occasionally, a cat would walk through our yard or along the top of the coyote fence on its way to the field behind us. Something important is on the verge of rushing over the falls and I know that it is connected to this cat stream.  There is a reason I’m being drenched in felines.  They are message carriers on behalf of something I’m not yet aware of .  

Cats are one of my oldest dream themes. In these dreams, I am usually trying to save a cat, or safely take a cat out of a dangerous situation. Occasionally a cat I once knew but forgot shows up and I feel remorse for neglecting it. Often the cat is away from home and likely to bolt into traffic or get lost. I am attempting to save it both from a cat unfriendly world and its own instinctive reactions to that world.  The cats in these dreams are often strays and occasionally big cats like leopards and lions. To make any sense out of this, I will share that my dad didn’t like cats.  I think he felt it was unmanly to like cats, and they didn’t have any practical use in his world. I already mentioned in an earlier blog that he didn’t like Cottonwood trees either.  I took this personally, and I believe rightly so.  Thank god, he liked dogs and horses.  At least there, we were on safe ground. Nevertheless, I was definitely more cat than dog.  In my dad’s house, I metaphorically locked myself in a cage, to keep at a safe distance for both our sakes.

What am I supposed to do about this sudden feline immersion?  Is it time to get out of the persecuted feline dream world?  My cat friends are domestic animals but actually live in two worlds.  They can be friendly, tame and cuddly but they are also good enough wild children of Mother Nature when the human door closes behind them.  For this reason there is a lot they don’t understand about the human world even while living parallel to it.  I also have been a friendly, curious outsider, and I’m usually walking along the outer edge of human membership, with one foot on each side of the line, comparable to my feline friends walking the coyote fence.

Sometimes being an inside- outsider comes in handy and yet, it’s difficult to keep one’s balance on a narrow line, not for the cats but for me. Perhaps I should jump off the fence and get down on solid soil.  Oh, Oh!  I feel the Medicine quietly stalking me again. Did I really say that? What if those quiet mornings on the patio, are on their way out?  I feel the urge to hide in the familiar until I scope out any potential danger.  I have a hazy idea about what might be coming, but I’m saving that subject for later.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Quoted from Joseph Epes Brown’s “The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian,
“We do not believe our religion, we dance it.”

Indigenous peoples have valued the connection to natural rhythms rather than progress, sense and wisdom above intellect and experience over speed, in other words, the elements of human existence placed in exactly opposite order than our homogenous techno culture.

What is indigenous? The Random House dictionary says; “innate, inherent, natural, originating in a certain place”. All humans innately share this condition with the plants and animals of our common planet. However, when we refer to indigenous peoples, we generally mean those who still identify with the sheltering canapĂ© of Mother Earth whereas non-indigenous refers to those who identify with abstract things like technology, progress and money, and yet, it may actually be about a state of balance.

However, perhaps there are not many truly indigenous people left who are living their traditional lifestyle.  It may be that indigenous vs. non-indigenous is now a separation of the heart existing within communities as well as inside of individuals more than an accurate distinction between cultural groups. That does not mean it is not important to recognize the existence of indigenous cultures. However, the non-indigenous world is continually squeezing, tugging, and seducing indigenous people. On the other side, the non-indigenous world has an increased yearning for connection to the essence and rhythms of the planet they live on. Even more intimate than a somewhat abstract idea such as planet is the inescapably indigenous body we each wear on this earth walk.  Of course, indigenous people do not use a stagnant word such as “planet” but an intimately personal word such as Mother Earth that describes an organic relationship with one’s environment. 

As my monkey mind plots how to come up with the means for an iPhone 5, it occurs to me that technology is getting more advanced every season while its applications are becoming regressively trivial and simple minded. It is now on about the same level of trendy unconsciousness as skinny-legged jeans. Image has replaced authentic personal experience. That is a tired truism, but I remember the love and mojo I once put into the simple toys of my childhood.  I had a personal relationship with them to the degree that I made them more than lifeless objects. How often do modern people experience that all things are alive and full of “Medicine?”  We can even infuse Inanimate objects with life through our own emotional creativity and focus. However, I must admit that computers seem to have life although they usually express this with renegade behavior.  Perhaps it’s our own cleverness thrown back at us; computer as trickster.

Unfortunately, our wonderful world of technology drives onward with an impossible supposition.  We are like termites eating away the house we live in.   I think this modern technological society operates with the mind of an adolescent male, very smart, fascinated with its own newly discovered powers, loads of ingenuity, myopic self- absorption and no consciousness beyond his personal drives and ambitions. I recently read an article on a breakthrough in the ability to get DNA samples from Neanderthal bones.  The article stated that the probable next step would be to clone a Neanderthal. This is hopefully years away, but just the thought pulled my chain. The scary part of this thought was that it was shockingly fascinating.  This is the adolescent techy in me.  The wiser side sees potential horror in such a possibility.  How would we treat such an individual? How would this person live with our chemicals artificial environment and modern bacteria? Even more important, how would such an individual live without community of his/her own kind, completely out of time context and environment.

With all the fuss about the Mayan calculations ending our planetary time cycle at 2012, one could surmise that there is mass yearning for a cosmically fabricated new beginning and death of the old is the first step.  On some level of repressed awareness is the knowledge that the party cannot go on forever, and it is running out of fuel anyway.   Maybe the earth’s climates will change drastically due to global warming and just maybe we need something to” knock us up a notch” into an entirely different reality.  Do you suppose that explains some of the fascination with cosmic Disaster and alien takeover movies? Are we looking for someone or something to end our discordant world so that we can start a new song in a different key?

I have been doing some fall cleaning (it is more natural than spring-cleaning). I found a message that I printed from the internet in 10/09/2000:


You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour,
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
There are things to be considered.
Where are you living?
 What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
Then he clasped his hands together, smiled and said,
This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast.  It is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid.  They will try to hold on to the shore.  They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.  Know the river has its destination.  The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, and keep our eyes open and our heads above the water.  And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally.  Least of all ourselves, for the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.  The time of the lone wolf is over.  Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.  All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
Oraibi, Arizona
Hopi Nation

Eee haa! Here we go, like it or not, Mother Earth is calling us to the hoedown, and we must dance or we will fall. When Pba-Quen-Nee-e’s people perform their seasonal dances, he explains, “our feet massage Mother Earth.” That is prayer.