Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

In the News: Frito Pies, Wine and Cheese, and New Classes!

Frito Pies Inside

#1 Frito Pie

Philly has its cheese steaks. Buffalo has those wings. Santa Fe has “World Famous” Frito pies, sold for a gazillion years at the Five & Dime General Store on the Plaza. Don’t know about Frito pies? Take a small bag lunch size bag of Fritos, cut off the top, pour in chili with beans, sprinkle some cheddar cheese and you have a to go lunch for under $5. The Frito pie is its own food group, cherished by locals and tourists. They sell over 30,000 of them a year. Nutritious? Absolutely not. Beloved? You bet. But not by Anthony Bourdain. If you watch his show Parts Unknown tonight on my alma mater CNN, you will see him walk into the Five & Dime, order a Frito pie and declare, “feels like holding warm crap in a bag.” And then he adds, “If you closed your eyes and I put this in your hands, you would be very worried it’s a colostomy pie.” Nice. Real nice.


#2 Wine and Cheese

Santa Fe is bouncing off the walls with tourists this sunny weekend because of American Express. As lore has it, about twenty-three years ago someone in charge of marketing for our region noticed a decided drop in the use of the Am Ex card in Santa Fe during the month of October. What to do? This is America! Invent and sponsor an event to increase the use of the Am Ex card. And so the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta was born. All this week about 70 restaurants and 100 wineries have hosted special dinners and tastings. It is a big deal. I have no idea whether Am Ex is still involved, but the event lives on.


#3 New Classes

Just when you thought the paid announcements had stopped, I decided to offer 2 new classes. PR and Marketing 101, a new offering, is a 3 hour workshop that will meet Saturday, October 12 from 1-4pm. The workshop is designed for those promoting a book, nonprofits and businesses. In this workshop you will learn how to develop and implement targeted PR plans that generate results; create your all important personal and business narrative; draft lively content, articles and press releases to garner attention; create targeted media lists; use social media to create an audience for your event, product or service. Writing Family Stories and Memoir will meet for 6 weeks beginning Sunday, October 6 from 3-4:30.If interested, contact me using the Contact form above. Feel free to pass the link along. Thanks!

Memoir, Family Memoir and Revision Workshops: Back to School!


It’s back to school time! Time to put away the flip flops and get out your pen and paper or computer to work on your writing project. Ask not for whom that school bell tolls. It tolls for you!

The early September date for the six week Write Your Memoir or Family Stories workshop filled in a heart beat, so I am offering a new Write Your Memoir or Family Stories workshop to start Saturday, September 21 from 3-4:30 PM.  In addition, I am offering a six week Revision Workshop to start Friday, September 20, from 3-4:30 PM.

Through writing exercises, discussion and story review, I will provide you the tools you need to capture your stories, one vivid memory at a time. In both workshops we will focus on the basics of good prose writing: structure, voice, narrative, scene, theme, tension, metaphor and setting. No experience required. A sense of humor mandatory. Call me at 505.577.8132 or email me at susan@susantungate.com to sign up or for further details.

I also offer editing services and work with people privately as a writing coach. Heck, I will write your family stories for you. We can work together  in person, via skype or telephone.

So take out your box of photos, story ideas and yellowing manuscript. It is time.


The Runaway

Yesterday a friend and I went for an afternoon drive to the  town of Madrid located on the Scenic Turquoise Trail between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, pretty much in the middle of nothing but beautiful landscape. Madrid is an old mining town turned hippie hangout turned, it seems from what I saw yesterday, Disney World-ish, but I guess the  300 residents must make a living. We did not stay for tea.

We drove on to  Cerrillos, another old turquoise mining area. The only people visible were two bearded guys in yellowing white tee shirts sitting in a trailer near the road. My thought is you visit Cerrillos for the landscape or to disappear from the face of the earth.

In any event, as we are driving back from our swoop through the area to return to Santa Fe, we see a big golden hair sheppard-retriever-and something else dog standing in the middle of the road wagging her tail. We stop. I open the passenger door. The dog walks right over, steps into the car, sits on my feet and smiles at us like, “Hey, I have been standing here in the middle of the road on a very hot day hoping you would stop by.” Her eyes have warts on the lids and her teeth are yellow. She is just a sweetheart.

We begin the finding-a-lost-dog-routine so familiar to both of us in New Mexico. Once we drive to higher ground with cell phone service, my friend calls the number on the collar. No one answers. She leaves a message. I call the number for the Santa Fe shelter on the license tags. I speak with David who reports, “That dog has been turned in as lost before.”

David gives me the owner’s address. We drive back to Cerrillos. Now we are on a quest.  The dog steps calmly into the back seat where she settles in for her road trip, smiling contentedly. We bump down an unpaved dirt road for a few miles when we come to the road we are searching for and turn right. We see a double wide off the road.

As we pull up, I recall a conversation I had with a local in 1988 when I visited New Mexico from Atlanta. “If I get lost in the mountains, is it ok to pull up to a house and ask for directions?” He  answered, “Never go to the door and knock. Sit in the car with the engine on, honk your horn, roll down your window,  put a big smile on your face and say hi.” That is what we did.

A woman in her thirties and a young boy emerge. They are friendly. We tell our story. They peer in the back and announce with a smile, “That’s Sandy. She  lives with the woman next door.” “Next door” is a ways away. Turns out Sandy is deaf. Sandy has taken that long walk to the highway before. The woman tells us Sandy’s owner is not vigilant about keeping her on her property. Then she throws her hands in the air and gives us a look as if to say, “I have things to say about this owner but I am not going to.”

I ask if they will return Sandy. They say yes. The boy literally pulls the amicable Sandy out of the car. The dog does not want to leave.

We head back. We don’t feel good about any of this. My friend and I both know Sandy will walk out to the highway again, undeterred by her person. I hope the next kind person who drives by the little runaway will open the car door, let  Sandy step into the car and take her seat, and just keep driving.