SW National Parks Trip: Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

After our wonderful lunch at Tia Sophia’s in Santa Fe, Jon and I went over to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.  It is a little tough to find, with its entrance tucked into a little side street.  Admission is $6 for New Mexico residents and $12 for non-residents.


Me Outside of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum - It Was Still Cold!

Me Outside of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – It Was Still Cold!

Georgia O’Keeffe was born in 1887 (the same year as my grandfather) in Wisconsin to a dairy farming family.  She decided at age 10 that she wanted to be an artist (at that age, I was still dreaming of being a horse racing jockey), so she went to art school at the Art Institute of Chicago.  After finishing school, she stopped painting for a period of time, because she wasn’t inspired by the style popular during the time, and spent a couple of years teaching art classes in Amarillo, Texas.

In 1916, she was discovered when a friend sent a folio of her work to a prominent gallery owner friend in New York. When she and the gallery owner, Alfred Steiglitz, met a few months later, he offered to pay her expenses for a year in New York so she could focus on her art.  Although Steiglitz was married, he and O’Keeffe fell in love, and had an affair for several years until he divorced his wife.  Then they married shortly after.  Although she said that she was in love with him, they had a very independent relationship, devoting themselves to their own work and living apart for months at a time.


One of O'Keeffe Early Works - a New York Cityscape

One of O’Keeffe Early Works – a New York Cityscape

O’Keeffe first visited New Mexico in 1929; she fell in love with the area and was very inspired by the landscape near Taos.  She spent part of nearly every year in New Mexico between 1929 and 1949, before finally making her home near Santa Fe in 1949.  Steiglitz died in 1946, and she never remarried.  She was a prolific artist until the very end of her life – her failing vision caused her to start working in pottery, charcoal and watercolor several years before she died in 1986.

A New Mexico Landscape - Beautiful!

A New Mexico Landscape – Beautiful!

The galleries were interesting – they had works for the different time periods of her life – New York, Hawaii and of course Santa Fe.  The exhibit explained how she spent several months in Hawaii in 1938 on commission to the Dole Pineapple Company; they wanted her to paint pineapple pictures for an advertising campaign.  Curiously, although she painted many fruits and flowers during her time in Hawaii, she did not create the requested pineapple paintings until after she has returned to the continental United States.

What Kind of Flower is This?

What Kind of Flower is This?

Several of the galleries allowed photography (but sadly not the Hawaii exhibit gallery), so I took some photos of works from different periods in her life; I was impressed by the range of subjects and styles in which she painted.  I was a bit surprised by the small size of the museum – they didn’t really have that many of her works.  But I guess when you consider that she was very popular when she was alive, and sold a lot of her paintings, it makes sense that there wouldn’t be that many hanging around for a museum exhibit.

A Characteristic O'Keeffe Painting - A Skull with a Flower

A Characteristic O’Keeffe Painting – A Skull with a Flower

Overall, I found the museum worth a visit, but don’t expect to spend more than a couple of hours there.  And with that, we were on our way to find more adventures!

Which is your favorite Georgia O’Keeffe painting?

Raccoon Baby Overload!

I’m back from a trip to Los Angeles to visit my uncle, but work has been a blur and I’ve been trying my best to catch up on things at home.  Laundry, cleaning, all those chores!  Plus we are still working on the deck…  So meanwhile, another baby raccoon to keep you occupied!

Hope you are enjoying your Sunday!

Raccoon Baby in the Tree Next to the Deck - He was Loving Checking Me Out!

Raccoon Baby in the Tree Next to the Deck – He was Loving Checking Me Out!

SW National Parks Trip: San Miguel Mission

In my last post on our Southwest road trip, we visited the Loretto Chapel and the Oldest House in the U.S.A.  After that we visited the San Miguel Mission. This mission is reputed to be the oldest church in the United States, built between approximately 1610 and 1626 by the Tlaxcala Indians under the direction of Franciscan Friars.  It has seen a lot over 400 years.

After it was constructed and served the Spanish for several years, it was taken over by the Indians during the Pueblo revolt in 1680.  They revolted over the poor treatment they had received since the Spanish had arrived and tried to convert them all to Christianity.  Oh yeah, and there was that little detail about the forced labor for the the mission system too – including the construction of the San Miguel Mission.

The San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe

The San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe

During the revolt, the Puebloan people took over the mission and killed over half of monks.  The mission was heavily damaged as the Indians tried to destroy all signs and symbols of Christianity.  In all, 400 Spaniards were killed during the revolt and the remaining 2,000 were driven from the area.  The revolt lasted for 12 years before the Spanish retook the area in 1692 and rebuilt the mission.  All that remains now is the chapel; all the outbuildings and walls that existed during its time as a working mission are long gone.

For a mere $1 admission fee (additional donations are welcomed), you can see the mission chapel and ring the original bell. When they were restoring the mission, they left some of the original features exposed with cutouts covered with plexi-glass.  You can see the original adobe construction on the walls and underneath the current floor.  They show where and when renovations occurred, and they also indicate where they found a date carved into one of the old ceiling beams. It is amazing to think of how much history this old church has seen.

The Altar Inside the San Miguel Mission

The Altar Inside the San Miguel Mission

After seeing the trifecta of interesting historic sites (and it wasn’t even noon!), Jon wanted to just wander around the downtown area and see more. We checked out the outside of the current New Mexico State capitol building, with its many outdoor sculptures. The capitol building was built in 1966.  We found a cute little shopping mall in a historic building, but neither of us was really in the mood to shop. And we found a guy catcalling to us from the sidewalk, clearly trying to woo us, but we had no idea why.  I don’t know if there was a restaurant nearby… But he was pretty entertaining.

I have no idea what this was about!

I have no idea what this was about!

We decided we were hungry, so we tried wandering closer to the historic section to find a restaurant, but couldn’t really find anything outside of the immediate downtown core.  We finally asked a nice gentleman, and he sent us in search of Tia Sophia’s southwest restaurant. We looked and looked where we thought he had told us it was, without finding it.  We had given up and were in search of any old restaurant when we finally spotted a tiny little sign on the wall, with a small restaurant tucked in behind the door.  It was Tia Sophia’s!

I had the tamales; Jon had the bean burrito – they both came with a choice of green or red chile sauce.  Mine also came with rice and red beans.  It was a delicious meal!

Tamales!  YUM!

Tamales! YUM!

After leaving Tia Sophia’s we took some photos of the bronze burro statue at the end of Burro Alley.  It was commissioned and placed there in 1988.  Sadly, in mid-May, someone vandalized the burro, tagging it with graffiti and stealing its tail!  The Arts Commission was able to have a replacement tail made to restore the statue in June, and the graffiti was able to be removed.  But who does that!?

The Burro Statue - With his Tail

The Burro Statue – With his Tail

We were having a wonderful day, and it wasn’t done yet!  We were going to see the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum next!

Have you been to the San Miguel Mission?  How about Tia Sophia’s restaurant?



Book Review: April 1865 by Jay Winik

At long last, I was able to finish a book!  I’ve had a lot taking up all my time lately – work, helping out family, half marathon training, the deck and sometimes just vegging out in front of the TV.  But it feels like this one has been a long time coming.

The book is April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay Winik.  And true to its title, it is a non-fiction exploration into the events of… April 1865!  The April 1865 when the Civil War ended (mostly) and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.  Prior to becoming an author, Winik had a distinguished government career in foreign policy (working in Yugoslavia, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Cambodia during their civil wars).  His experience on the ground during these conflicts gives him a unique perspective.

April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay Winik

April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay Winik

The book examines in detail the events that occurred that month, beginning with the lead up to Lee’s surrender on April 9th, continuing with Lincoln’s assassination on April 14th, Joe Johnston’s surrender on April 26th, and John Wilkes Booth capture and death, also on April 26th.  Winik discusses events candidly and without bias.  He describes the respectful way that Grant treated Lee and the Army of Virginia and the grace in which Lee returned to his civilian life and provided a role model to Southerners.  Lee’s way of encouraging soldiers and civilians alike to set aside the differences of the last four years in order to make a lasting peace must have made a huge difference in the days after the war.

Winik details an incident in a church, where a black man goes to receive communion in Richmond, VA, and does not wait until whites have finished.  The congregation is stunned, and while the minister to trying to decide what to do, Lee stands up and quietly kneels to accept communion with the man.  I never knew this before, but it fits with everything I have read about Lee.  Although he was a defeated General, his character was unequaled.

Lincoln’s assassination will be old news for most readers; there really isn’t anything new there.  But Winik doesn’t gloss over the rage that overwhelmed the public sentiment, and President Johnson’s shortcomings with the reconstruction process.  The reader certainly picks up on the impression that Winik conveys; the aftermath of the war and the reunification of the nation would have been dramatically different had Lincoln lived.  We will never know quite how, but the struggles that blacks faced during slavery and the black codes of reconstruction still have an impact to this day.

Joe Johnston’s surrender and Jefferson Davis’ retreat through confederate territory are also well documented in the book.  While Davis was on the run from Union officials, going deeper and deeper into the South, he had given orders to his Generals to prepare for a guerrilla war.  Thankfully, Johnston defied Davis’s orders and surrendered to Sherman.  After hearing of Lee’s surrender, Nathan Bedford Forrest, a genius of guerilla warfare, also chose to surrender.  The outcome could have been very different if these two Confederate Generals had decided to continue to wage war from the woods and swamps of the South.

I have to admit, parts of the book are a bit slow – that probably has something to do with why it took me so long to finish it.  Winik’s style can be a bit disjointed – each time he introduced a new character, he would stop and introduce the character with several pages of biography.  While it is helpful to have the background, it really interrupts the flow of the book.  It would have been better to weave those details into the narrative.  But overall it is a well-written perspective on a small slice of American history.  It will be too focused for people who aren’t very interested in the Civil War, but Civil War enthusiasts should appreciate it.

Have you read it?  What did you think?

Long Weeks Equal Raccoons!

It is shaping up to be a long week.  I’m hoping to be back to some posts on our Southwest vacation or wine soon, but until then, I still have more adorable baby raccoon photos to share.  Jon says that everybody is going to worry that I’m becoming the crazy raccoon lady, but I just can’t resist the cuteness.  And don’t worry, I don’t feed them, pet them, dress them up in little outfits or invite them into the house.  I just take photos when they are hanging out in the yard.

Happy Wednesday!

Double the Cuteness in one Photo!

Double the Cuteness in one Photo!


The Curse of a Large Deck…

I haven’t felt this tired in a very long time…  After nine and a half hours prepping, cleaning and painting the deck, I made dinner and then we collapsed in front of the TV.  I will be lucky if I can ever stand up straight again, I still have Balsam (a light sage green) paint and primer all over one leg (even after my shower!) and I’m guessing we probably ingested some paint in our dinner.  And after all that, while we made very solid progress, we are probably half way done – we have a very large deck…

So, more deck fun tomorrow!  And a big thank you to Jon’s Dad.  He Rocks!

Before and after pics soon…  I promise!  And if anyone wants to help – we won’t turn you away!




2013 Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc

Temperatures have been back up in the 80s this week – leading to some hot walks  and some high heat while working on the deck after work.  Which means it quickly becomes time to cool off with a nice chilled Sauvignon Blanc.

Jon opened up a bottle that we bought at Costco without knowing anything about it.  Jules Taylor 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, from Marlborough, New Zealand.  Here’s what the Jules Taylor website has to say about it:  “A delightful light lime in colour, this wine is showing aromas of fruit salad, passion fruit and fleshed nectarines with underlying notes of jalapeno peppers and vine ripened tomato stalks. With its well defined backbone of acid this mouthful of goodness rolls out to a long dry finish.”


Perhaps it was the trip across the pond that changed the flavor, but I didn’t get any of that.  Here’s how I would describe it.  The color is more a golden, sunshine yellow.  On the nose, this wine has a heavy, grassy aroma.  On the palate, it is full of crisp acid, and lemongrass flavors.  Delicious – but nowhere near jalapeno or nectarines aromas for me!

It was harvested in April 2013, and aged 4 months before bottling.  It is 100% Sauvignon Blanc with 13.5% alcohol.

If they still have it when I’m next at Costco, I will certainly pick up another bottle!

Have you tried this wine?  Whose description did you agree with more?