Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Well, I haven't posted for a while as we've had a very rough few weeks at my house.  My husband and I had just returned from a great vacation to Northern New Mexico and the Taos Wool Festival.  Then, in the blink of an eye, he was being rushed into emergency surgery and almost lost his life.  After spending five days in ICU and another five in the hospital, he is now at home recuperating.  I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say that life is tenuous and should never be taken for granted.  This experience really puts a lot of things into perspective -- like -- don't sweat the small stuff and look around and appreciate your life.   So now I am going to finish the post I began just hours before rushing my husband to the ER.

One of our favorite times of the year is when summer is over, the crowds have dwindled and we can sit on the beach and only see a handful of beachgoers.  This is a picture down at Capistrano Beach on the last day of summer.  Oh, yeah!

Then, the next weekend, we boarded Amtrak's Southwest Super Chief for a 16 hour train ride to Albuquerque, New Mexico, after a short train ride from the San Juan Capistrano train station.  

We left L.A. at 6:45 p.m. and arrived in N.Mexico at noon the next day.  Sleeping on the train was not the greatest experience, but I know what to do next time -- bring a pillow and a small blanket.  Once the sun came up, the scenery from the train was beautiful.  Knitting in my seat and looking out the window of the train was really great fun.

The first stop on our trip was the Aliento B&B just south of Santa Fe.  I wouldn't hesitate to stay there again.  Ruth and Chrissy were wonderful.  Ruth is a glass artist and has a glass school on the grounds.  We felt so at home and the setting was beautiful. Here's a couple shots from the chairs outside our room where we were enjoying a glass of wine in the early evening. Earlier in the day, we drove the 9 miles into Santa Fe and walked around.

The next day we headed east to Las Vegas and Mora, N.M., a couple of small towns with weaving stores/galleries.  Also, Mora is home to Victory Ranch Alpacas.  We stopped to see the ranch which is featured in the book Sheared Spirit.  They have about 200 alpacas grazing out in their pastures.

Here are a couple pictures of baby alpacas.  They are so cute.  The buff colored was probably a couple of months old.  The little dark brown baby had just been born that morning.  Here he is with his protective mamma.

We then set off over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to our next destination --  Chimayo and the Espanola Valley, the very heart of weaving in Northern N.M.  We spent two nights at Casa Escondidas, a charming B&B.  Our room was on the second floor (to the left in the picture) and we had this wonderful deck right off our room.  From the deck we could see the surrounding area and it was a magnificent view, especially in the evening.  

Here's a picture of our lovely room.  It was idyllic and filled with antiques.
Here's a view from the deck looking to the mountains.

We spent a couple of days exploring the area and made a visit to the Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center.  This is a nonprofit organization and was well worth the visit.  They have a classroom area with many, many looms as well as a gallery of members' work and a store.  I bought several bags of dried plant materials for natural dyeing:  madder, cosmos, and tansy. 

Around the Chimayo area, we explored Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu -- areas where famous artist, Georgia O'Keefe, hung out.

Our final destination was Taos and the Old Taos Guesthouse B&B for four nights.  I so love to stay here.  Tim and Leslie were the best hosts.  Each morning, they fed us so well - a hot breakfast of homemade muffins and frittata just out of the oven, homemade granola, yogurt, a big bowl of fresh fruit.  Great coffee. We spent many afternoons sitting out in the back on the big swing looking out to the valley or in the dining room with a cup of tea and knitting. We couldn't have felt more welcome and comfortable.  

We walked into town a couple of times (about a mile) and just down the road from the Old Taos Guesthouse, we encountered a small farm.  

What first caught our eye when we drove by were a couple of Churro sheep rams so we decided to take a walk down to the farm one morning.  We were invited onto the property by Patricia and her mother, Anna, who are working hard to bring the farm back to life, the way it was when Patricia's grandparents farmed the land.  She is also working to preserve the endangered Churro sheep breed.  

Among her other animals are some cashmere goats.  Of course, being a spinner, I was delighted to see these beautiful little animals, especially how they had to climb right into their feeding trough.

The Taos Wool Festival was so much fun.  I don't really have any decent pictures, but it was held at Kit Carson Park in the heart of town.  I managed to buy three fleeces:  a chocolate brown, a gray and a white from a wool co-op in Casper, WY -- Dawn and Mike DeFreece -- who were also staying at the Taos Guesthouse.  I saw many vendors at this show that I had never seen before.  Elsa Wool Company had amazing Cormo wool yarn from sheep raised in Montana. I bought some handpainted kid mohair roving from Kai Ranch from Texas -- also featured in Sheared Spirit. And bought yarn from Plain and Fancy Yarns, also from Texas.  I visited LaLana Wools as well as Rio Grande Weavers, and had lamb shish-kabob at the festival.  We visited a delightful yarn store nearby called Taos Sunflower, only to learn they were closing and going to the internet two days later, a real loss for the area.  I bought roving from a local artist, Robin Pascal -- handpainted local Corriedale/silk.   I think this is a trip I may want to make again next year.   

And finally, here is a farewell to New Mexico -- a beautiful sunset -- and many memories until our next trip.  We had fabulous weather (high 70's and low 80's) only to wake up to snow on the local mountains the morning we were leaving.  Oh, boy -- we were not prepared for that kind of weather. 

Upon arriving home -- and after the calamitous health issue with my husband -- I had to get my act together in a big hurry for the Artistic License Show.  I have no pictures, but Carrie Sommer, one of the other artists, took pictures which can be seen at her blog:  http://www. sommerdesigns.typepad.com  Check out her blog posts of Oct. 27th and 28th.

And now, I am working on getting my act together again for the Torrance Fiber Fest this weekend on Sunday, Nov. 2nd -- 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.   This festival is sponsored by the S.Calif. Handweavers Guild.  My booth will feature lots of handpainted spinning fibers, handspun and handpainted yarns.  Also, Margie will have lots of her popular handspun mohair yarns.  Hope to see lots of friends there.  For more information, go to:  www.schg.org

That's it for now.  Whew!