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.