29 October 2008

Jesus and 4O CASAS and a birthday

I swear everyday is a fieldtrip. Whether it's the local church in the old mission style that our friend Grizlle did the mural for, or heading down the road in any given direction. I was suppose to go north but went south when least expected. I waffled about going home to do my presentation in Flagstaff. I couldn't read between the lines and tell if I was am on deck fully or not in Albuquerque for a writing workshop; everything felt wishy washy;kinda sorta; unclear and cloudy; seemed in either direction north it felt this way; I was so close to going had a ticket to ride but in the morning Emi says let's go to Quarenta 40 Casas! No doubt about it. Immediately EVERYTHING in me said a very loud resounding, head to my toes, from my heart YES!!! It's a 4 hour drive south towards Madero, across the desert down to Buena Ventura, up and over the mountains and across the open fields of juniper and pine; It looks like the plateau of home near Flagstaff. Emi, Jane and I. it is Jane's birthday. She has come to Casas Grandes to study and learn about the rock art of the region to compare and find the threads as related to her work at Zuni. If I had been to collage I would have wanted her to be my Chair Gal. What amazing company to be in and what a way to celebrate the world! so off we go down the road into the bright dazzling sunshine of the morning with Mexican songs serenading us ladies and the unfolding desert. Here are some of the photos and the wonderful people from the park we met, Simon and David. David has worked in this canyon for over 15 years. He tells us how there are over 150 sites and this cliff dwelling was still occupied when the Spaniards came. It is the same geography of Valle de las Cuevas. The air smells sweet, a small stream gurgles below. The pines smell like my memories of trees from my home in Flagstaff,AZ. David offers us warm hot coffee and walks with us up the steep incline; It is a little more than a mile down and back. I feel happy because I know it means so much for Jane to be here; I can see and feel it; This is exactly where I was meant to be. more soon!

22 October 2008

Computer havoc; a song,a death, life goes on.

7 pm. it is already dark and I am sitting outside CASA NOPAL uploading photos to flickr, and Cowboys and Indians.Catching up with DKish and my Poppie; trying to sort out whatever happened with my computer last week when everything got shuffled or disappeared. It was quite disconcerting and no measure of help can really take me back to where I was. what's a GRRL to do?
Backup and smile at the universe and get real with the world; Close the computer and sigh. Instead I went to a book signing out under the stars at the Presidencia for Julian a local art historian and teacher. A small trio began to play; an accordion,a guitar, an old upright base. The songs they sing are about Chihuahua, the revolution, the sierras, love; in this intimacy I am in awe and am reminded this is why I am here; Julian's students are beautiful shy girls, they serve the bocitas, a few familiar faces from my pueblo, Horacio who last year invited to me to join them at his family's plot at the cemetery asks me if I am coming this year; I met some of the other potters from Mata Ortiz; they remember me from the rodeo; Chinese Mexicans; Mexican Chinese; Cowboys and potters; the 1st and 2nd generations of Mata Ortiz potters. Wives,daughters, and sons. We all shake hands. There is a formality that I love here and miss when I go home to the NOrth. Kids do cartwheels in the grass in the moonlight. The bass player smiles, the people move into a circle and add their voices to the song they know. It is wonderful to hear; the computer is what it is. I am reminded to not be attached to material things; the word 'non attachment' floats through my mind. be here now. Listen. Look up. This is a gift. Count your blessings. Remember why you are here. Some things are out of your control and others are waiting to be felt and seen.

I am thinking of my friends who have lost loved ones or who are traveling through to the other side of life; Zman's dad, ARtie. Carmela's dog Apollonia. Dkish's furry friend Monday. The Midge. Old age and pain. heart attacks and alcoholism. There is an outpouring of love for these people. Across the street in two day three funerals; one related to the crazy cartel shakedown; the son of the owner of the Marysol where I eat heavenly burritos stopped to help someone and got shot in Nuevo...border wars are at the door; Families line the streets; Men drink beer and smoke cigarettes in the shade. Later I see one of the abuelitas from the parade with her beautiful big, fat grand baby carrying her down the street. Without knowing it the funeral has changed guard; the young man at the beginning of his life and an older grandmother has come to her own time of rest. People walk to the little chapel to pay their respects; all the generations; each will be walked to the cemetery for their final rest. I have not photographed this.... instead I chose to offer my compassion; a touch on the arm, a hug, a handshake. I don't want to "take" something away from them. I wonder about what my response is; Death unites us all and I imagine these people I know and don't know meeting on the other side and somehow accompanying one another. That's how I imagine it. I say my mantra; I say a prayer to Our Lady. I look at the beautiful day; the golden leaves more golden than the day before. The memory of songs
connecting us to the stars and to the brown earth where we return. The ache of love's memory haunting....the love for this world. Everything still so beautiful; so sad, so amazing. What matters are these little moments given.shared. I want to remember and not forget as I still remember when I fell in love one spring with life itself. Something is gone and yet something still remains. A small ember lingers like a note of a song and disappears into the night.

The Midge:
Jeffrey Allan Siegel, 36, died Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008, in Flagstaff.
Mr. Siegel was born May 5, 1972, in St. Paul, Minn. He was a free spirit who truly enjoyed the challenges of climbing the rock walls of Yosemite and Zion National Park. He loved the thrill of running the big rapids of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and yet he also enjoyed the peace and tranquility of floating down the Verde River. His family and friends will remember the laughter he brought to all.

A Poem for the Midge:
I saw you walk away down the dark alley the last time I was home
and I had the sad feeling as I called your name I would never see you again.
Word of your passing comes to me and I wonder of the pain of losing yourself
in the drink; the eddy your soul's boat was never able to break.
I don't understand how or why.

I hear the laugher of our friends on the porch
I hear your laughter, your long hair sometimes in your face
under a ball cap; I remember you brushing it for Dk's birthday party.
Ajo laughing and your generosity of heart expressed in sharing the gift
of so many crab legs; you never held back.

You had the insight of perception,
a kind spirit, and always a helping hand.

I still hear your soft voice expressing your joy for photography, for nature.
Little notes of insight into what you love but couldn't hold onto.
Something in you broke and lost the line to lead you out of the maze
of your own sorrow.

Alone you left. But not alone anymore as you melt into the great mystery
and return as the child who loved this world.

I imagine you and Monday.Two souls, one human,one dog
united on the other side; familiar to one another,
and we are blessed to have know you for a little while.

A sticker remains on the pink VW bus.
Midge has a posse and that is us.

02 October 2008

Homies,Cowboys,and a homage to corn

It has been very busy here in the humble town I live in. I live in constant surprise. It is not uncommon to have strangers come; some with the beautiful Mata Ortiz pots; sometimes raw opals, old mexican antiques that could be anybodies treasure or junk; somedays it's the Tarahumara women, or my neighbors grandson, or the young boy man selling the local harvest: chaliche in the spring, peaches in mid summer and now apples; The other day my friend Roberto's nephew Beto stopped in with his cousins while I was eating lunch and reading HOUSE OF RAIN. I was lost in the Sierras taken back there by Childs words and then I was back answering the door which is a blue curtain blowing between the worlds of inside and outside. I was surprized to see Beto; Last time I saw him here was over a year and a half ago; he stood aback as is the custom here when people come to your door out of respect; two other men were with him, his cousins, Juan and Luis. Juan is a potter from Mata Ortiz and I had heard about his olla, his pot of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the only one Emi MacCallum had ever seen in the Mata Ortiz style. I wish I could have seen it and now the artist who made it was at my door.

Meeting the local Homies took me back to my San Fran Mission days. I recognized the tattoo style they each wore. I have watched worlds interconnect here since my time here and it was happening again; The Vida Loca, the past, the present; Homies who if you changed their hats would look like they had come out of the classic westerns like the TREASURE of the SIERRA MADRES or some Italian spaghetti western shot in the deserts of Spain. I see the faces of warriors, and Toltec and Spanish princes; I see the struggle of being on one of the border or the other; they dream of America and I dream of Mexico.
Before they left I asked if I could take their picture; Just a wall in the empty studio and some window light. Timeless.Classic.

Then there is corn. I learned from HOUSE OF RAIN it is one of the oldest cultivated crops in the Americas over 5,000 years ago. There is a sample of corn on the Colorado Plateau dated over 3700 years ago that travelled from the heartland of Mesoamerica across and over the the backbone of the americas. Perhaps I am drawn to this country and these stories because it speaks to a place inside of me feeling the currents and connections of time.

My young friend Pamela who modeled for me this past summer and I worked on a small series here in la Casa Nopal. I have been inspired over the years and find connections to the poetry of Jimmy Sanitago Baca to all I feel about these threads of the natural world, the barrio, the flowers that bloom in the under shadows of la vida loca; He shared his new novel about a migrant workers at REFORMA, the latino librarian organization a couple weeks ago in El Paso,TX. The main character is a woman named NOPAL. I thought of these pictures I made before I knew about the novel and was inspired to work a few of the images up late into the night last night.

Nina Simone is singing on my itunes; WiLD is the Wind haunting and yearnful. This is how I feel in my deep love for Mexico,the land and her people. I am in love everyday. This melancholic joy. I think of corn and my dead homeboys who blessed me on their corners when I was lost and eighteen. I hear them still and feel this great sentiment for life itself.