Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

Pilgrimage to Chimayo


Last Friday I saw one lone man with a cane making the annual Easter pilgrimage to the small adobe chapel known as the “Lourdes of America” in Chimayo, New Mexico. By Sunday, the numbers will swell to as many as 50,000 people.

Some will walk the 90 miles from Albuquerque, the 14 miles from Chupadero, the 40 miles from Taos or the 25 miles from Santa Fe. They will line the highways bearing crosses and carrying photographs of  loved ones who are ill or who have departed. Some will walk from Espanola as their parents and grandparents did before them, pushing baby strollers and holding statues of saints. Some will park their cars along the highway and join the others as they walk the last few miles on the winding two lane highway that leads to the Santuario de Chimayo. That’s what I did last year.

People of all religions make the pilgrimage. They walk as an act of gratitude or in memory of a loved one or as a prayer to end wars. I am sure some people make the walk just to be a part of what is called the nation’s largest public display of devotion, a tradition that goes back to the early 1800s.

The safety of all is overseen by members of 26 organizations who have joined together as part of a  ”catastrophic incident management plan.” Law enforcement will place orange barrels on a section of  U.S. 84/285 to mark the walking path and erect electronic signs to caution drivers.

When they arrive at the Santuario, they will likely scoop up the “holy dirt” thought to bring forth miracles. They will walk through the grounds or sit for a few minutes in the Chapel. Leona’s, which stopped serving food a few years ago, will be open this weekend to serve drinks, tomales and frito pies.

I leave you with a few photographs of the grounds. For a glimpse of the Easter walk of pilgrims, click here. Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Happy Spring to all.



Eat, Pray, Write, Relax: A Rejuvenating Weekend in Santa Fe


It’s Spring! What better time and what better place than Santa Fe to nurture, center, and revitalize body, mind and spirit than a weekend in April or May immersed in the inspirational beauty of Santa Fe, New Mexico. My friend and Southwest tour guide extraordinaire Patrizia Antonicelli, who owns Seven Directions Tours, is offering this Santa Fe experience in April and May.

Offered the weekends of  April 13-14, April 27-28, May 11-12, and May 25-26, the Seven Directions Tours experience begins on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. with my writing class “Writing Your Memoir: One Vivid Story at a Time.”

Memoir writing offers you the opportunity to observe the past with fresh eyes, reflect on your life purpose, clarify your future path and preserve your unique stories. Always with humor, I promise to demystify the process of memoir writing and provide the simple tools you need to begin. The class will end at noon.

From 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., you will be immersed in Native American culture by spending this afternoon with a Native American healer who will offer a blessing and healing ceremony which is sure to nourish and renew the spirit.

Saturday dinner, held from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., will be a memorable experience. A premiere Native American chef will prepare centuries old traditional dishes for you in her home using organic ingredients. The history of each dish will be explained. To end the evening, her Navajo sous chef will drum and sing for you.

Sunday morning from 10:00 a.m. to noon will be spent writing with me.

The experience will end Sunday afternoon with an herbal massage and flower and mineral essences with the Native American healer. Massage sessions will begin at 2:00 p.m. You will return home with flower and mineral essences as a remembrance of this special weekend.

I urge you to make this peaceful, revitalizing weekend a gift to yourself. Patrizia will not disappoint, and I would love to write with you. Locals are welcome to join in, too.  You may even get to meet the beautiful and talented Georgia the Dog!

You will stay in town at a typical southwestern accommodation. Upon request, for this weekend, Seven Directions Tours will provide ideas and itineraries for anyone wanting also to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the art and culture for which Santa Fe is famous.

For further information and media inquiries call Patrizia Antonicelli at 505.820.3305 or visit www.sevendirections.net .

The Zen of Baseball, White Pants and A Worm

Slugger Ben

Big day yesterday for my great-nephew Ben. Time to put on the new uniform, complete with team shirt and pants too big for his skinny little self, and play ball. Saturday was the first game of the season. Actually, it was Ben’s first game, period.

Evidently practice at this point has more to do with teaching the kids to run to first base if per chance they hit the ball. At practice, the kids hit the ball off the tee and the coach runs along with them to first base where another person is waiting to give the kids a high five. This is zen beginner’s mind for real.

The highlight of yesterday at the ball field was finding the team worm. Everyone paused to give the mascot a  thorough inspection.


The Worm

Then the game was rained out and everyone went home, pants still white.

I asked Ben’s mother if he was disappointed the game was a wash out. “No! He just had fun being out there and running around for a few minutes.”

“Baseball was made for kids, and grownups only screw it up.”  (Bob Lemon)  I hope Ben always finds the wonder in the worm.

National Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day


Chief Justice Pamela Minzner

Happy National Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. Time to applaud some of the women pioneers of New Mexico. These women did not traverse the plains and hurl themselves down gorges to arrive in the mountain desert. No, they climbed a different mountain. These women became lawyers at a time when the culture (ok , men) tried its best to block them at every step.

Let’s first start with the shocking statistic that it took 82 years, between 1892 and 1974, for the first 100 women to be admitted to the New Mexico bar. All of those women faced a rough road.

The  first woman to be admitted to the bar was Henrietta Pettijohn in 1892. New Mexico was still a Territory. Evidently the fine gentlemen of the bar did not believe it possible for a woman to be “well qualified for admission” since those words are crossed out on her bar certification. Sixteen years later Nellie Brewer Pierce was admitted to the bar and proceeded to form the first husband and wife law firm in the state. Katherine Burns Mabry, admitted in 1917, practiced with her husband. Then came Gladys Brice Watts in 1919.Think about this. The first four women to be admitted to the New Mexico bar practiced law prior to even gaining the right to vote. These women had chutzpah!

I have a few favorites on the first 100 list. Mary Coon Walters started off on the well worn path of studying home economics in college but the chain smoking Ms Walters veered off to be an Air Force Pilot in WWII followed by admission to the bar in 1962. Then she added three “firsts” in New Mexico:  the first female District Court Judge, the first female Chief Judge on the Court of Appeals and, in 1984, the first female Justice on the New Mexico Supreme Court. Rumor has it her colleagues did not want her to have the ultimate honor of Chief Justice.

That honor went to the much revered and beloved Pamela Minzner, pictured above, who was admitted to the state bar in 1972. She served as Chief Justice from 1999-2001.

Chief Justice Petra Jimenez Maes, our current Chief Justice, was the first Hispanic woman to become Chief Justice in 2003. She is currently serving her second term as Chief Justice. She and a classmate were also the first Hispanic women to graduate from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 1972, not so long ago.

Each of these women broke ceilings and climbed over barriers, showing us all, young and old, what is possible with focused determination, a drive for excellence and just plain perseverance despite all the ruckus. It was challenging enough when I graduated from law school in Pennsylvania in 1981. My hat is off to them.

Snow Poems Project

A candle burns
upside down
break: light turns.
by Lauren Whitehurst

Months ago, I noticed a poem pop up on the window of a local coffee shop. The poem is stenciled in temporary spray snow. Then another one popped up on yet another business. And another one. And another one, all over Santa Fe.   I got curious. 

Seems “Snow Poem 2013 in Santa Fe” is a community art project sponsored by Cut+Paste and the Santa Fe Art Institute. These are original poems written by locals in Snow Poems workshops, in schools, and from open submissions to the Snow Poems website.

Today, February 22, is the closing ceremony for the project called Night of Illumination. The event, from 6-8 P.M. at the Santa Fe Community Gallery on 201 W. Marcy Street, will include walking tours, refreshments and Snow Poem Hear Here Choir with Molly Sturges.

“The poems will be washed away as light begins to signal spring at the end of February,” according to the brochure. We are approaching the end of February, so go to the website www.snowpoemsproject.com, copy the map and wander around Santa Fe to enjoy the poems written by Santa Feans for your enjoyment.

Floating from
the heavens
wildly dancing ’round.
by Mateo Martinez

are the morals
of the feud.
by Jesse Wood


This is the day that decides by itself to be beautiful.
The field is a bride. How are we to say goodbye?
by Henry Shukman

Slurp in a heart of foam.
by Teresita Gonzales

February 14: One Billion Rising

Thursday is the day of One Billion Rising. One out of three women will be the victim of sexual assault. Worldwide that means one billion women will be the victim of sexual assault in their life times.

On February 14, women across the planet and the men who love them will rise and dance and stand in solidarity to stop the violence. Events are planned in over 200 countries. Here in Santa Fe, from 9 A.M. to 10 A.M. at the Roundhouse, there will be testimonials and speeches in support of ending violence against women. Starting at noon outside the Roundhouse, people will gather for the One Billion Rising flash mob. At 12:45 P.M. the parade from the Roundhouse to the Farmers’ Market at the Railyard begins. At the Railyard during the afternoon, video from  One Billion Rising events from all over the world will be shown. So join us. I RISE BECAUSE no woman or man should be the victim of sexual violence.

One Billion Rising: February 14

New Mexico’s Citizen Legislature

The New Mexico Legislature is a “citizen legislature.” What that means is the Legislators are not paid a salary.  As a consequence most Legislators are either wealthy, retired or have flexible jobs that allow them the time off during the Session. They are paid a modest per diem, but no salary. 

Some argue this is just fine since the Legislature only meets alternatively either 60 days a year or 30 starting in mid January. The reality is the conscientious  Legislators work hard and work year round, assisting their constituents, attending interim committee meetings or working the Session. I am mentioning all this because the 60 day 2013 Legislature is now in Session.

I worked as  media liason for the Majority Office of the House of  Representatives for several years. I had the opportunity to see the Legislators in action and some days in in-action. The 60 day Sessions are brutal. In addition to working on the state’s budget, any Legislator can introduce a bill on any topic, and they do. The 30 day Sessions are no day at the beach, even if we had a beach, but at least the topics of the bills are limited to the budget and whatever is on the Governor’s list.

Some days the bills debated are more on the light hearted side, but they still can take hours to pass a Chamber since everyone wants to put in his or her two cents.  For example, I was present when the House voted to make the hot air balloon the state aircraft, the bolo tie the state tie and the state cowboy song “Under New Mexico Skies.” Actually, my recollection is the cowboy song took several Sessions and several versions of the song to pass. All of these bills became law.

I took a look at the list of some of New Mexico’s other official state symbols. I am going to share them with you because I think, taken as a whole, they do tell you quite a bit about the Land of Enchantment. So here you go:

Fish: cutthroat trout

Motto: It grows as it goes.

Cookie: bizcochito

Amphibian: New Mexico spadefoot toad

Gem: turquoise

Animal: black bear

Flower: yucca

Bird: roadrunner

Vegetable…….refried beans with chile pepper

The 1993 Inaugural: Dr. Maya Angelou’s Poem

In 1993, I served as the network pool attorney on behalf of CNN for Bill Clinton’s Inauguration ceremonies. What that meant was the wonderful CNN Washington Bureau Chief Bill Headline, who was predestined by his name to be a journalist,  and  I negotiated on behalf of all the networks and all media the agreements with the US Park Service and other such entities that permitted the media to park their trailers and trucks on the White House grounds, lay thousands of feet of cable along the parade route and all over the city, post cameras in every imaginable location, set up port-o-potties, build risers, you name it. I remember the Park Service Agreement included nearly a page of penalties for nicking one of those historic trees.

The day of the Inaugural was icy cold. I spent most of the morning keeping warm in the CNN trailer attending to the odd detail, but what I was really waiting for was the advance copy of the poem Dr. Maya Angelou had written specifically for the ceremonies. She would be only the second poet to read a poem at an Inaugural. As a kid I watched Robert Frost read his poem for the 1961 Inauguration of John Kennedy. I love poetry and admire Dr. Angelou, so this was a special moment for me.

I decided to take a walk for one last look at the setting for the Inaugural. I don’t care what your party affiliation or beliefs are, seeing the podium where the oath will be administered, watching as former leaders and the famous take their seats behind the podium, looking out at the sea of chairs where more dignitaries are being seated with thousands of people standing quietly waiting behind them, is simply awe inspiring.

As you face the podium, to the right  are the risers where media still photographers stand to take those photographs that will become ingrained in history. I saw someone I knew and walked over to say hello. Before I knew it, an official looking someone came through asking us all whether we were network photographers. It was time to stay or exit quickly. I rationalized that, yes, I am with CNN, and , yes, I take photos now and again, so I said yes I am a network photographer and stayed put.

I watched as  Bill Clinton and his family were seated. I watched the oath of office administered. As I was listening to now President Clinton’s address, I see a CNNer crouch down at the end of my riser, hand a piece of paper to the man at the end and point to me. I swear I thought I was about to receive a note saying, “Come quick! We killed a tree!” Instead, the paper was the advance copy of the poem, a poem Dr. Angelou titled “On the Pulse of Morning.”

A few minutes later, Dr. Angelou walked with her perfect posture in her dark blue coat and her mile wide smile to the podium. As I held my paper and read along,   she began in that distinctive voice:

“A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.”

I was mesmerized by her voice, her words, her outpouring heart. The end of the poem is no less inspiring today:

“The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.”

You’ve Got to Be Taught to Hate and Fear


As I watched the coverage of the massacre in Connecticut of 26 people, 20 of whom were just  6 and 7 years old, the words from a Rogers and Hammerstein song from “South Pacific” kept circling in my head:

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught from year to year
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.”

Now, I don’t know how the mother of the 20 year old killer raised her son or how others interacted with him. I don’t want to be unfair to her. I did hear on the news that the mother purchased many serious weapons to defend herself  in the event of the economic collapse she feared imminent and the chaos she surmised would ensue.  I also heard on the news the son used his mother’s own weapons to kill her and all the others.

I can’t wrap my head around any of this. Why did the man take target practice on babies and teachers? How could he stand there and do it, shooting each person multiple times, according to the news?

Why are these mass murders happening with such frequency?

I  have questions, no profound answers.

My only thought is the one circling in my head since Friday: you’ve got to be taught to hate and fear.

Better to be taught that we are all brothers and sisters. You’ve got to be carefully taught.