Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

Eat A Meal, Spread Some Kindness!

Tomorrow,  Tuesday, November 17, is the big day to eat out at Joe’s Dining! Joe’s Dining will contribute 20% of the cost of your meal to the nonprofit Listening Horse Therapeutic Riding.

By my conservative guesstimation, over 1,500 of you reading this missive live in the Santa Fe/Northern New Mexico area. Let’s say one-fourth of you saddle on up to Joe’s Dining tomorrow.  (The other three-fourths of you better have a good excuse.) The money Joe’s Dining will contribute to Listening Horse will buy a whole bunch of apples and grain and whatever else Listening Horse needs to care for the sweet horses who are the heart of their program.

So, eat a meal. Spread some kindness. See you there.

The Season of Transition

Things out there in the world are unsettling at the moment, I think. So much noise—politicians in the Presidential race yapping at each other, gun shots all over the country, road rage, a general sense by some of entitlement coupled with a lack of boundaries.  New Mexico was recently crowned the second most dangerous state to live in the United States. While New Mexico offers the cleanest air to breathe and inspiring vistas, heroin and alcohol mixed with guns, cars, poverty and anger are not a healthy combination.  The good news is that pretty much all of the above is manmade. We created the problems. We can solve them.

And what better time than now, the season of change,  to “be the change that you wish to see in the world,” as Gandhi said. In Santa Fe, nature has signaled the transition from summer to autumn with leggy sunflowers, aspen leaves turning from green to gold and enough ripe tomatoes for each of us to make a year’s worth of salsa or pasta sauce. The kids are back in school. Labor Day is coming up. The boats are stored. These markers of transition urge a pause, a moment of reflection. What do we want in our lives? What must stop? What’s the next step?

And right in the middle of all that pondering we burn Zozobra on Friday night, right  down to his big duck feet. Old Man Gloom will turn to ashes along with our fears and worries! What perfect timing! How great is that!  So I suggest we each have our own little Zozobra ceremony. Write  down all your fears and mistakes and blunders and burn them to smithereens, keeping a bucket of water nearby. Then write down all your hopes and intentions and plans for action.  Keep those. Nurture them, even when it turns cold and dark and snow falls on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Indian Market Week in Santa Fe

A reader asked me when Indian Market is held. Perfect timing. Welcome to Indian Market week in Santa Fe,  when life hits its yearly loud, crowded, colorful and even fragrant crescendo. The Opera is presenting “Carmen.”  The Santa Fe Bandstand on the Plaza will be rock ‘n’ rolling.

The flowers are in perfect full bloom.

Vegetables bountiful.

Chiles are roasting. The smell of roasting chiles at the Farmers Market woke me up with a smile last Saturday.

The hotels and restaurants are as crowded as they will be in 2014 as people gather for this week of shows and openings on Canyon Road, the Plaza and the Railyard. Dealers and galleries from all over the country will be in attendance for the Antique American Indian Art Show Santa Fe held at El Museo Cultural in the Railyard from opening night on Tuesday, August 19, through Thursday, August 21.

The eighty-second annual Indian Market organized by SWAIA  arrives this weekend on the Plaza with over 1,000 artists exhibiting and a whole lot of good food. The inaugural Indigenous Fine Art Market will be held outside at the Railyard this Thursday through Sunday.

That’s it in a nutshell. Have further questions? Please drop me a note.

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.

Zozobra Burns, Your Troubles Are Toast!

This is Fiesta Week. We in Santa Fe all know the kick off for Fiesta Week is the burning of Zozobra, that 50 foot tall marionette that symbolizes all the gloom and doom in our lives. Since  Friday people have been stuffing his skirt with mementos of their worries–divorce filings, bills, job termination notices, bad report cards and photos of lovers who have done them wrong. On Thursday Zozobra and our worries are toast. Good riddance to bad jujus. I say burn ‘em!

At the moment, though,  Old Man Gloom is eviscerated about two blocks away at the El Museo Cultural Center in the Railyard area. His massive decapitated head sits next to his 40 foot long body. I like the idea  that Zozobra has been neutralized. Burning seems like over kill, but burn he will on Thursday after sunset.

At dusk at Fort Marcy Park, small fires are lit to surround Old Man Gloom. “Glooms,” played by children dressed in white, surround the base of Zozobra. Then with great fanfare the official Fire Spirit Dancer dressed in red tights and a cape appears at the top of the stage and dramatically swoops down to scare  away the Glooms. The dance between the Fire Spirit Dancer and the Glooms continues for quite some time as excitement builds and the crowd, which can be upwards of 30,000 people, gets all fired up so to speak, and yells, “BURN HIM! BURN HIM!”

And burn he does until he is one big pile of ash. The whole thing is one great big pagan ritual and a little horrific with the moans of distress that freak out me and Georgia the Dog, but with any luck our worries will be burned along with him, and Friday will be a brighter day, at least for us. Zozobra may have a different view of the experience.

I wish you joy and happy days.

PS I just learned about this new Zozobra website where you can record your worry and watch it virtually burn. Take a look here.

92nd Annual Santa Fe Indian Market: The Crescendo of Summer

copyright SWAIA

The end of summer in Santa Fe is a bit like the grand finale of a firework extravaganza on the Fourth of July. The events of the summer build and build until kaboom!, mid August hits and it is  time for Santa Fe Indian Market week.

Surrounding  Indian Market, Santa Fe is filled with gallery openings and trunk shows for everything from art to hand tooled custom boots and handbags to turquoise jewelry in every shade from green to light blue to, well, turquoise.

The 92nd Annual Santa Fe Indian Market will be held on the Plaza this Saturday 7a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 8a.m. to 5p.m. I like to arrive early on Saturday before 7a.m., before the crowds, just to feel the excitement and anticipation of the over 1,000 artists from all over North America who are showing their pottery, paintings, jewelry, textiles, beadwork, baskets and sculpture, some traditional, some contemporary. Grab an Indian taco or fry bread and forget the guilt because this is tradition, watch a fashion show, watch little bitty sweet faced kids and big kids wearing traditional native clothes, listen to the music and feel a part of a 92 year old Santa Fe tradition and so many more years of Native American heritage.

And breathe deeply because this is also chile roasting time in New Mexico, another part of the crescendo of summer. Hermes’ Eau de Merveilles cannot compare to the sensual fragrance of fresh roasted chiles. Just can’t.

This week explodes with the fullness of summer and the joy of being present for the cycle of tradition in Santa Fe.

Singing, Dancing and Sisters on the Fly

On Saturday morning I woke up fogged in with  sad stories. This week three  long time Santa Fe merchants told me July was their worst month ever in twenty or thirty years. For those of you of a certain age, you’ll understand when I say I heard the refrain of Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is” playing in my ear.

So what to do on a beautiful blue sky Santa Fe Saturday morning to turn the mood around? The answer is always to head to the Farmers’ Market, only a few blocks from me in the Railyard area. On the way there I spotted one of my favorite things on the planet: small vintage trailers from the 1950′s and 1960′s. And there were three of them.

I met Susan from Colorado who recently retired from her practice as a pediatrician, bought a 1957 Airstream Bubble, refurbished and decorated it, and joined Sisters on the Fly, a group of women of all ages who on occasion leave their families behind to caravan around the country in their restored trailers for adventures in fishing, cooking, shopping, imbibing a bit and laughing a lot. Sign me up.

My brothers had matching bedspreads by the same manufacturer in 1957.

Of all people, Forrest Fenn, the man who allegedly buried the treasure box in the mountains of Northern New Mexico ,was sitting outside this cute trailer. And, no, I didn’t ask.

Then I moved along to the Farmers’ Market.

Amongst the vegetables and flowers and soaps and candles, the woman in pink was singing gypsy-ish songs, which was appropriate since she looked gypsy-ish.

This man was playing  classical music

as this man fashioned balloon animals.

Further down the aisle a farmer who grows flowers and makes corn dolls yelled out to me in a thick Spanish accent, “Come here! For you who are a sweetie I have these flowers as a thanks you for listening to me last week.” I know money is tight for her and she sells these flowers for $15, but as I start to say “oh, no, I couldn’t” I hear my niece’s voice in my ear saying, “Aunt Susie, just say thank you,” and I did.

At the end of the aisle these guys were playing music heavy on percussion and sax.

I stood listening for a bit. Then my friend John, who I have not seen for a year, came up to me with a big smile, placed my flowers on the ground,  and we danced in the middle of it all.

62nd Annual Spanish Market

This weekend is the 62nd Annual Spanish Market in Santa Fe, the largest and oldest juried Spanish market in the country. The Plaza is alive with traditional and contemporary Hispanic art, food, music and dancing. I walked to the Plaza, bought a juicy green chile breakfast burrito (for $5!)  and took a look around.


My favorite thing to do at the Market is chat with the young artists ages 7-17 who participate. They are talented artists who exude such joy to be  showing their work. Look  at these faces. Look at their art!



Santa Fe International Folk Art Market: Back for 10th Year

The 2013 Santa Fe International Folk Art Market is back this weekend with over 150 artists from all over the world displaying their rugs, baskets, jewelry, tapestries, and knives in a stunning array of shapes and colors. Can you read the sign above which captures the spirit of the event: “It’s not a Market. It’s  Miracle. 90% of sales go home with artists and their organizations. These sales often represent 10X what they might earn in one year in their country, improving lives and sustaining traditions.” When you buy a piece of art, you literally can transform the lives of a community. So many beautiful faces.

This woman from Pakistan is sewing another beautiful Ralli quilt.

The smile on this man from China is as wide as his bodacious silver necklaces.

Now the man from Morocco with his knives did not look happy, but perhaps he was just a bit tired of obliging the requests of middle aged women to take his photograph.

He is from Kazakhstan. His eyes smile.

Sweet faced woman with beautiful hand dyed scarves.

This woman is from Rowanda, raised in the Uganda refugee camp. You can smell the fresh green reeds in her baskets.

This Japanese kite maker wears purple reading glasses.

This beautiful girl is from India.

I don’t remember where she is from, but she is pure morning sunlight.


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