Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Inside the Land of Enchantment

Well, we are back from our spring vacation to New Mexico; as a friend of mine reminded me, "You're not really going on vacation; you're just having a change of venue."
With a 2-year-old, that is certainly true. Actually, Veeka was a real trooper the first day of our trip when Southwest Airlines decided to bump us from our flight. I had been up to 2 a.m. getting ready but I had NOT printed out our boarding passes, thinking that we'd be at the airport (BWI) in plenty of time. Well, we were there in plenty of time, but Southwest overbooked and everyone except 4 of us had boarding passes already in hand. I was so furious having to stand there and watch my direct flight to Albuquerque take off without us. As I sat there and argued with agents (who eventually booked us on a flight going out the next morning but connecting in St. Louis), Veeka happily played with people and had a lovely time. That night, some friends from Baltimore (where we were stranded) picked us back up from the airport and lodged us at their place close by.
Finally by late Saturday afternoon we were in Albuquerque but the delay had caused me to miss a highly desired day of skiing at Ski Santa Fe, the mountain directly behind the city. Sigh. Spent Sunday following a Palm Sunday procession around the town plaza, shopping at my favorite art galleries and then relaxing at the spa of spas: Ten Thousand Waves right outside of the city. Pictured here is Veeka dressed in her cute little kimono by the outdoor hot tub. Snow is somewhere in the background. We splashed and played for about an hour, sipping the cucumber water provided by the spa.
But something went wrong either there or at the Italian restaurant we had dinner at because at midnight, I awoke to a full-blown case of food poisoning. Was up all night emptying my stomach. Was so weak by the morning, I could hardly stand up. Somehow I managed to get packed and get us both to Taos, about an hour down the road. Collapsed at the home of some friends who are doctors in Taos. Veeka loved the balcony of this cool home plus walking in the sagebrush with Alan, our host. His wife, Gillian, is the only cardiologist for miles around. They live on the mesa just west of town, which comes with some gorgeous views.
The scenery at this city 7,000= feet up is so stunning with mountains simply everywhere and the clearest light imaginable. Perfect for artists. By Tuesday, I had recovered enough to go skiing at Taos - a great resort - while Veeka cavorted in the Kinder Kare program where of course she was a hit. However, my friends' home was NOT childproofed, so I was continually watching Veeka to make sure she did not pour something awful onto their carpets.
Wednesday we left for Farmington. A blocked mountain pass meant we had to go north via Antonito, then south through the Cumbres pass into Chama, then west on Highway 64, all of which are my old haunts from the time I lived there in 1995. We stayed at the home of my friend Kathy, whose farm fascinated Veeka to no end. Will try to include a photo of her trying to feed a goose. She thought the hens, dogs, cats, pet rat and cockatoos were pretty cool too.
We spent Thursday shopping around the Navajo reservation for just the right handmade rug (they are not cheap) made out of wool from the old Spanish Churro sheep. The weavers spin their own wool and the weaver from whom I bought a rug - pictured here - had appropriately calloused hands from the rough wool. She took 4 months to make what you see here in her spare time. If you are fortunate enough to meet the weaver of your rug, it's OK to ask lots of questions as to what went into the making of it. She - her name was Shirley - was so happy that I chose her rug; apparently it was a nice financial windfall for her. There are lots of weavers competing for this luxury market but then again, they are unique. I bought mine at the Two Grey Hills trading post. Two Grey Hills is a type of weaving whereby you use only the natural colors that come on sheep: Browns, whites and blacks. Other Indian styles employ dyed colors. Anyway, it'd been a longtime dream of mine to get a Two Grey HIlls rug. We also dropped by the nearby Toadlena trading post which also had great rugs costing more than $10,000 - with incredible craftmanship.
The next day, I hung around with the Exxons - my former neighbors in Farmington - and we had a picnic by the Animas River. Because of the spike in natural gas sales, Farmington's economy is doing real well these days. All of the Four Corners area is profiting from that. Then it was a four-hour drive back to Albuquerque, then an uneventful (thank God) flight back to Baltimore. I so enjoyed the beauty everywhere we went: the oranges and blues on the reservation; the blues and greens of Taos and the full moon over Albuquerque.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sleeping beauty

I'm back to waking up at 6:30 a.m. or so when a little blue octopus toddles in from her bedroom and climbs in with me. Some times she will sit on me like some kind of recumbent horse and bob up and down as though she were riding this tired mare. A mother's work is never done, especially as I still have to pack for tomorrow's trip to New Mexico. YES, we are taking a week's vacation off to fly back to the Land of Enchantment which I have not seen for some 5 years now. I used to get back there every year and then that dropped off around 2002. How I miss the place. I'd go back in a minute; however the afternoon newspaper just went defunct a month ago so there's all sorts of laid-off journalists in the area.
So we will wander about my old haunts in Santa Fe, Taos and Farmington; maybe even buy a Navajo rug, now that the second half of my book advance just came in. Actually another car might be more helpful as I am now a 182,000 miles on my present one. Yes, Veeka is coming with me. I am staying with friends in 2 places but in Santa Fe, it took me a whole evening to find a B&B that would take someone under 3. Most wouldn't take small children at all. I wanted a B&B for several reasons; wanted more room for Veeka to run around; wanted breakfast in-house, etc. Anyway, finally found a B&B several miles north of Santa Fe.
Today was exhausting as I went to 2 press conferences about the upcoming papal visit and didn't even get home til 9 pm as I was writing a huge piece for tomorrow's front page. Thankfully, I had already arranged with a friend to pick Veeka up from daycare. Once I get back, I will be working on pope stuff full-time. Am already lining up who's going to take care of Veeka while I cover the pope in Washington and New York.
Anyway, here is a photo of the blue octopus once she moved into my bed, then fell back asleep after she thoroughly woke me up.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Our bathing beauty

Yes, this is Miss Veeka discovering bubble bath. That lavender-scented stuff at Whole Foods does just the trick in relaxing her and getting her to SLEEP. Which is what I did not do today and am repenting at leisure. It is...10 p.m. and guess who is sitting on my lap nibbling wheat crackers and goat cheese? Hint: it is someone I ordered to bed two hours ago. They wear you down, don't they? She gets up and up and up...she can already climb over the baby gate to her room so I can't block her in that way.
So that's the Sleepless Veeka. Then there's the Lot's wife/pillar-of-salt Veeka - who one morning was found to be testing out that really cool salt shaker by emptying it all over the dining room table and floor five minutes before we were to go somewhere. Mommy turned into a screaming hyena as salt is just wonderful for wooden floors. People at work probably wonder why I am always such a crab. Well now you know.
Veeka just reached for another helping of Wheat Thins. It is 10:08 p.m. now. Sometimes she is a little dream, like yesterday when some friends and I went to brunch then went for a walk around a lake where Veeka found some nice playground equipment. She was delighted to miss her nap and be with us and she behaved beautifully in the restaurant. Tonight at Bed, Bath and Beyond, she was a model of decorum. But once we hit La Madeleine for dinner, she began running about the restaurant. Not good. We left quickly.
And today she was so naughty, the daycare folks practically threw her at me when I arrived to pick her up. As for potty training? Ha! Our Little Pooper loves to tell us after the fact.
Other things: Mommy went and saw the New York City Ballet last night - good as ever but very different style from the Kirov. I have seen 4 ballets in the past 2 months - a real luxury.
Then I arrived back home to an asleep child. But...what do you do with a child who considers the word "NO" merely advisory?