Santa Fe, Centipedes, Ojo Caliente,   4 comments

My plan was to write continuous entries and post them on my blog about the process of moving from Nebraska to Santa Fe, but the work and complications and details of moving began first thing every morning and left me ready for bed when the sun went down. My fingers are stiff and swollen as I type today. Yesterday when one more day of heavy lifting seemed like it would push me over the edge and I would gratefully fall, and Ed was also exhausted we decided to drive to Ojo Caliente about 40 or 50 miles up the road and soak in the hot spring waters. The hills, the lady walking around carrying a sign that said, “Please Whisper” the stillness and the warmth, along with the overcast day with its interesting clouds and the swallows that seemed to fly and dive for the joy of it eased my grouchy mind and sore body.

Being too tired messes with one’s thought process and causes little things to grow exponentially. Like stopping at the Black Hole in Los Alamos to pick up some wire to hang shelves. The wire is for a stack of white refrigerator-like trays that Ed has the idea of hanging on thin airplane wire from the ceiling beams. They will seem hardly there but provide us with interesting space for our books and other odds and ends. It seems that lately all I’ve done is follow orders and wait for one thing or another. On our way to Ojo, I waited with the dogs while he looked for the wire and accessories, not like a purse and shoes, but the things like clamps or crimps to attach the wire to the shelves and the beams. And the Black Hole is a black hole with aisles of stuff where some people can’t get enough of wandering the place to find exactly what they need or don’t need. It’s got everything from a pile of bowling balls out front and signs for peace and against bombs to army surplus clothing and signed photos of President Clinton and Hillary. So Ed and the guy helping him, also named Ed, searched drawers and bins, and hanging bins and nooks and crannies for just the right items, I took two restless dogs for walks outside and inside the crowded aisles where we could have easily knocked over ancient computer monitors with their long leashes and curious noses. I’m so old I not only recognize the typewriters but also have used them in my teens. Yesterday, a man on the radio said that young people are bringing old typewriters into bars for typing speed contests. While Ed was enjoying his time with Ed, I was thinking the Black Hole would swallow him and he would die happy and I would die grouchy 40 years later. But we made it out and to the hot mineral springs where I tasted the soda water pool, drank lithium water from a spout and watched a young couple get kicked out of one pool because they were doing a photo shoot of the girl in her bikini swirling and tying a scarf around herself.  Photos are permitted but not a shoot that distracts the guests from their business of relaxing.

When I left my husband 9 ½ years ago, I told myself that because I was causing this much havoc and pain, I must not just live the same life minus him. I must live my own fears and challenges and not be complacent. In some ways, I did live much the same life. I purchased a house in a nearby town and went to work everyday and came home and paid my bills, petted my dogs and mowed the lawn.

But buying the house that was all my own, paid for with my earnings felt much different from living in the house that I owned with him. It was a symbol of independence for me and sometimes I would look around and think about how I was earning money, paying for a house, and dogs and a car and all those things that make people feel “normal.” And it would surprise me. I did not have a degree until I was 43, and staying home with kids for so many years and being dependent on my husband for what we had, I understand my amazement and pride to be doing it all myself.

I felt there might be a point that I would give it up, a point where I would make a bigger change. Living in England before purchasing my house was living my own fears and trying new things, but buying the house, getting the dogs ended that kind of adventure for a while. Being here in Santa Fe where my living space is a metal warehouse with no yard and living here with my exotic bird, Ed, is my real experiment in living a life different from my previous years. Once I get passed the heavy lifting of moving, getting Ed’s benches and storage areas built with him, getting the floors painted, the kitchen cabinets hung etc. knowing the dogs are acclimating and each day when they find a place to poop and do it  and it won’t need to be a cause for celebration, and when I find all the places for them to run without worry about bubonic plague in fleas and prairie dogs and when I accept that the landlords here aren’t like landlords at home who are people you actually see and expect things from, and other small details like the cheapest gas, favorite coffee shop and all that stuff, I will settle into my new experience like meeting Judy Natal at Tecolote Café this week. When the waitress asked if I would like to sit at the community table or alone and I said either would be fine and then thought to myself,  “Why did you say that. You don’t want to sit at the community table and make small talk.” The waitress led me to the community table near a woman on one end. Two men sat at the other end engaged in a conversation. I smiled at the lady next to me. She was reading, “Just Kids’ the book about Patti Smith and Mapplethrope written by Patti Smith. I read it a few months ago. I busied myself with a local magazine. Some words passed between us when I received my enchilada plate with beans, and we began a conversation. Judy is a photographer from Chicago and her brother is a successful poet who has a small press where he and his wife design and make chapbooks. We talked about Santa Fe, dogs, moving. Judy was very nice and was in town for some kind of review of her work, which I did not ask more about and regretted that I had not. She took my name and I googled her when I came home and saw her extensive resume and her interesting work. I emailed and told her I appreciated her humbleness.

Just getting new tires and stumbling onto this small restaurant while I waited  resulted in a creative connection. Not that this did not happen at home in Nebraska, but the artists were fewer and the mindset different in many ways.  My last day there, I hugged the poet John Ewing  and told him goodbye in the Union Bar. John’s a brilliant cowboy poet who can hear a story in the bar and scribble a rhyming poem on a napkin and recite it to the person who told the story. He wished me luck in New Mexico. I am already lucky. Lucky to know Nebraska, lucky to be here today with the centipede that just crawled across the floor.


Posted June 3, 2011 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

4 responses to “Santa Fe, Centipedes, Ojo Caliente,

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  1. Mary, love reading your “innermost” thoughts about your adventure! Eric & I were talking yesterday what courage this move takes for both of you! The words I kept thinking was “comfort zone” and how difficult leaving it can be! I certainly experienced it when I left Sterling and Sidney for the BIG city~~~merge lanes, double turn lanes and self check outs and freeways and needing to lock my doors!! Ha! I hope and pray all you have gone through will be rewarding! I believe it will be… Getting from A to Z isn’t always easy! but you both are so open for this!
    Will look forward to updates and tell my brother to give you an extra big hug from me! I think you are remarkable! And love to both of you!


    • I believe it was time for both of us to make the change. And all the things that I’ve left like the cozy house and huge yard were only things that I am willing to exchange for new experiences and the challenge of making this studio/living space comfortable will be fun once the hard stuff is done. The outside is just an ugly building that not much can be done with, but oh well. The dogs are adjusting beautifully and I found a great dog park that is acres of open space with trees and shrubs and paths for them to run. Getting them there once I start working will be more difficult but we will just have to make time. I have to start seriously job searching next week. This could be the stressful part if I don’t find work. Ed’s going to hunt for a part-time job, too. It will all unfold as it will. Thanks for reading my blog.


  2. Mary, read your blog and decided to wait a few days to reply. Thought you might be settled in a bit more if given a few more days to get organized. I found your statement about John Ewing quite interesting as we’ve been close friends for many years. In fact when I come into Gering for a visit, which I do about twice a year, I stay with him. He is quite the cowbay poet, and usually writes and sends one as his Chirstmas card. Getting adjusted to a new town can be quite a challenge, as it was for me when I moved to Gering in1980, but I’m certain you are up to it. Especially when the desire to continue your path into the world of poetry is as strong as it is. I was going through the books in my library and came across your book of poetry titled “no buried dogs”. Here’s hoping there’s another one in the not too distant future. The best to you and Ed!


    Orvil R. Kirby
  3. HI Kirby,

    Thanks for checking out the blog. It has been a challenge and challenges keep coming but it’s really been okay, not easy, but good for the most part. The smoke from the AZ fires have made the air unpleasant and it was already so dry here, I hope it can be contained soon. I have a job interview on Monday, so keep your fingers crossed. I read a couple of poems the other night at a coffee shop and that was fun to hear some other poets in the area. Hope your family reunion was enjoyable.



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