Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

Grumpy Cat InFURiates Harry and Other Updates

Hi, Georgia the Dog here. Yesterday was one of the best days of my life. Seriously. I laughed all day. When Harry the Cat heard Grumpy Cat just signed a movie deal, Harry was beside himself. He sprawled in bed all day flicking his ridiculous raccoon tail crying, “I can do grumpy! I shoulda gotten the part. Why should I be punished just because I am beautiful?” In case you don’t know about Grumpy Cat, he is one funky looking cat who always has a frown on his face. He became famous when his people posted a photo of him then a video on the internet. The guy has his own website, for goodness sake. In any event, I have my own column, Grumpy Cat has a movie deal and Harry’s got zip. Life is good.


copyright Russ Hedrick

And speaking of life is good, I am in love with un vrai français Arthur who lives in Paris. Voila adorable Arthur holding a baguette in his mouth. Strong but gentle. Kind brown eyes. A great tail. Alas fate has placed our hearts an ocean apart. We can meet only in our dreams. But, wait, maybe we can skype!

I also want to give a big hello to Tui, pictured below doing her beach babe pose. Tui was born and raised in New Zealand but settled recently in Santa Fe. I wish she could have brought the water with her.


copyright Daryl Stanton

So that’s all I have for now. Be kind to your four legged friends.

A Note to My Unborn Nephew

Dear Little One,

This is your Great Aunt Susie. I know it is warm and cozy in there, but it is seriously time for you to emerge ever so gently, smoothly and efficiently from your Mother. Many people are awaiting your arrival, excited to hold you and look into your eyes and tell you we love you. Imagine. You are not yet born and you are loved unconditionally by so many. I should add you could not have chosen better parents. They even come with dogs.

As a bit of encouragement for you to take your first big journey, I offer this poem called “Wean Yourself” by the great poet Rumi:

Little by little, wean yourself.

This is the gist of what I have to say. 

From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,

move to an enfant drinking milk,

to a child on solid food,

to a searcher after wisdom,

to a hunter of more invisible game. 

Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.

You might say, “The world is vast and intricate.

There are wheat fields and mountain passes, and orchards in bloom. 

At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight

the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding.”

You ask the embryo why he or she stays cooped up in the dark with eyes closed.

Listen to the answer:

“There is no other world. I only know what I have experienced.

You must be hallucinating.” 

So, my Great Nephew, come join us. You have wonders to see and a grand life to live surrounded by love. And you have much to teach us. 


Aunt Susie

Honey Harris of KBAC Radio 98.1 Interviews….Me


Honey Harris, KBAC Radio 98.1 ©Hutton Broadcasting

Honey Harris of KBAC Radio Free Santa Fe 98.1 and I had a fun chat on Thursday. How did that come about? The radio station is owned by Hutton Broadcasting which also publishes a website of all things Santa Fe at santafe.com.  Under Santa Fe Skies is posted here and there.

In any event, Honey and I talked about my CNN days, my memoir writing classes, my blog, my memoir Macon: A Memoir, A Murder and a whole lot of other nonsense. If you are interested in hearing the interview or need a little help falling asleep tonight, just click here.

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend.


How to Tell A Santa Fean From A Tourist Part II


If you have no idea what the little white things are pictured above, you are a tourist. If you are a Santa Fean, you have  grabbed all five bags, ripped two of them open and eaten them while standing in line to pay,  because these my friends  are bizcochitos, the official cookie of New Mexico.

Readers offered the following ways to tell a tourist from a Santa Fean:

When it rains, the tourists are the ones running inside the nearest building to escape getting wet while the Santa Feans are crashing into them to feel the rain on their faces, a once in a blue moon event in this never ending drought.

Tourists are the ones giving money to the panhandlers on the Plaza. Santa Feans are the ones rolling their eyes.

Tourists ask which way is Cerrillos Road, pronouncing the “Ls,”  and Santa Feans are the ones responding, “First of all, you pronounce it Cerrillos with a ‘Y.’ Second, what could you possibly need badly enough that you want to get on that road?”

Tourists tell the waiter they will have green chile and red chile on their burrito. A Santa Fean just says Christmas.

Women who wear pretty little heels to walk around town are tourists. Santa Fe women have long ago surrendered the heels in favor of flat shoes that won’t get caught in the bricks or ripped in the gravel. The one exception is a dressy night out when  door to door car service is  mandated.

A tourist will wear a Virgin Mary pendent. A Santa Fean will proudly sport a multi- colored Virgin Mary tattoo from his or her wrist to his or her elbow.

More suggestions?




A Piece of Cake

It has never been a piece of cake earning a good living in Santa Fe by national standards. It has been possible to build a rich life here, though, with sufficient income, a sense of community and history, art, pollution free skies and mountains to explore. Since the recession hit five years ago, earning even a sufficient income is impossible for many. Not even Mississippi has saved New Mexico from the bottom of the list for economic recovery. Forget job growth. New Mexico is still losing jobs, and our elected officials don’t have a plan to change things.

So there is a lot of grim talk and tough choices. Yesterday at the Farmers’ Market I heard more grim talk. The hard freeze in April destroyed the fruit tree crop for many of them.

Two weeks before at the Market I spoke with a woman I have known for 15 years who makes ristras and dolls from corn husks. After the usual exchange of pleasantries when we both say we are doing just fine, the veil dropped and she said,” Susan, I am an animal in a cage.  I don’t know what to do. I pray and pray and I work hard but I can’t earn enough money. I think death is better.”

We have a long talk. I say everything you would have said to encourage and support. Then she says, “You know what, Susan? I want to give you this doll. Thank you. Thank you.” Despite my protests, she wraps up a beautiful little doll wearing a white lace blouse and a flowered skirt, holding a bouquet of dried flowers. We hug and I continue down the aisle.

At the end of the aisle three women dressed in fairy costumes are handing out cake in celebration of May Day and the first Saturday the Market has moved outside. Actual kids and adults who turn into kids at the sight of cake are laughing and taking the biggest piece of cake they can find.  I take a piece of cake and walk back down the aisle. As I approach my friend, I see she is speaking with two women as she wraps their new purchases. We smile at each other. I hand her the piece of cake and walk home.

Santa Fe: No April Showers, Not Too Many Flowers



A reader asked for an update on the flowers now blooming in Santa Fe.  Early last evening Georgia and I brought the cell phone along on our walk and took a few photos. I can hear the sound of some of you clicking off right now, but undaunted and with a serious need to please, I present to you the flowers on our street. If some are blurry, blame Georgia. She pulled as I snapped.

While not a flower, this little mama dove is sitting on some eggs in a tree outside the house.













A footnote: I was unable to blast to subscribers Harry’s article called   “Harry Gives Four Paws Up to ‘Sad Cat Diary.’”Very funny video for you cat fans. Just go on undersantafeskies.com and look for Harry’s photo in Georgia’s Tips.

Harry Gives Four Paws Up to “Sad Cat Diary”


Hi, Harry the Cat here. While The Dog’s away, this cat will play with her column. A reader from New York sent the “Sad Cat Diary” video to me for my review. I can only say I found it profoundly moving, truly poignant, an unflinching portrait of the lives of felines. Take a look  here.  And I soldier on, soldier on, soldier on.

Harry the Cat


Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to one and all, especially those who have mothered me, touched my heart and lifted me up.

Saturday, May 4: The Candyman’s 4th Annual Wanna Play? Experience!

This may come as a shock to friends and family, but I was once a Motown star. Yes, after a long day at school playing the role of a shy scholastic nerd, I shut my bedroom door  and morphed into Diana Ross with  The Supremes or Gladys Knight surrounded by her Pips, singing my heart out as I performed all the moves to “Stop! In the Name of Love” or “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” And I was damn good.


Many of us sadly surrendered our hairbrush microphones or air guitars years ago, and I suspect an equal number of youngsters have picked them up today. In fact, according to a Gallup poll statistic, 85 percent of Americans who do not play a musical instrument wish that they did. That’s where The Candyman Strings & Things comes in to save the day and your dreams.


The Candyman’s owners Rand and Cindy Cook and all the staff  live their motto “Santa Fe’s Community Music Center.” Want to purchase or rent a musical instrument, repair an instrument, take music lessons, rent recording gear? Want a place to hang out for a bit, have a cup of coffee and be around other musicians? The Candyman is your place. Yes, it is a business but it is a business that seeks to give back to our community and does.


This Saturday, May 4, from 10-4, The Candyman is offering their 4th annual community event The Wanna Play? Experience, your opportunity to come and experience the world of music making. You can take the Rock Band Test Drive with  real (not “air”) microphones and instruments, join the Harp and Drum Circles, take a mini music lesson, visit the Instrument Petting Zoo, try out the Guitar Learning Circle with The ChordBuddy System (which I saw on ABC’s Shark Tank) and, for that matter, try out any instrument.

You are just the right age to come and play.

The Candyman is located at 851 St. Michael’s Drive, phone number 505.983.5906. For information about The Candyman, Saturday’s event, Summer Rock Camp or other services, see their website here.

footnote: Watch this PSA on you are never too old, young, busy, etc., to play:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deLyRL3Owyg