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.

Listening Horse Fundraiser

Save the date! On Tuesday, November 17, Joe’s Dining will contribute 20% of the cost of your meal to the amazing nonprofit Listening Horse Therapeutic Riding. All you need to do is eat! So saddle on up to Joe’s Dining, put on the feed bag (I couldn’t resist this horsey stuff) and contribute to a great organization.


Santa Fe in Autumn

Saturday morning I put down the manuscript I was editing for a client, walked out the front door without Georgia and Sofie and headed for the Farmers’ Market about two blocks away. It had been too long. And it is autumn.

About a block away I ran into Carol who is normally attached to her Scottie named Nessie on a leash and a small white parrot named José on her shoulder. She had neither. Seems not too long ago she was on a walk with José when he fell heavy as a stone from her shoulder and bounced on the sidewalk. Poor José had a stroke. He survived, but no longer perches from on high. Nessie was home because Carol, too, was headed for the Farmers’ Market where dogs are not allowed. Her mission? Buy hot, fresh, crispy chiles for José. Seems José is a devotee of hot, only fresh and crispy, green chiles. Give that boy an even slightly soft one, and he does not entertain the idea of taking a bite.

First stop, the farmer who grows José’s favorite chiles. The farmer was out in front of his booth turning the chile roaster. Carol scored for José.

Another man who works for the owner was offering samples of a carrot dish. So simple. Cubed purple, yellow and orange carrots stir fried in oil with garlic and a few chiles. I took a bite and took the bait. I am now the proud ower of three carrots of three different colors.

Next stop The Tomato Lady. All these years and I had never stopped at her booth. Big mistake for me. She has earned her name. Carol said to her, “Susan is from the South so she knows her tomatoes.” With that, the woman brought out her secret stash, and I made the quick decision not to say something like, I dunno, seems where ever I have lived, and that would be about ten cities,  people know their tomatoes. I partook.

Carol and I both spotted Pilar at the same time. Pilar lives north of Santa Fe on the Rio Grande. The woman works hard for her money. I met her on my first visit to Santa Fe in 1990. She has been through hell and back. Normally her booth is filled with ristras and wreathes and angels made of straw. Not today. She only had on  display a few small wreathes and a straw cross decorated with dried flowers with vibrant colors. She gave us both a hug. Good day? I asked. “Sold out!” Carol asked the price of the cross. “For you and Susan, everything $20.” Carol bought the cross. One more round of hugs and we walked on.

And there he was. I about cried. For 17 years I have bought eggs and fruit and vegetables from this couple. He is in his 80s. I adore that man. She is a few years younger. This year, for the first time, I had not seen him in the booth.  Some young stranger stood by her. I am ashamed to say that I avoided the booth because I wanted to avoid the conversation.  How could I say in the middle of the Market, so, where is your husband, and she would say, “Ah, mija, he died over the winter,” and I would tear up, and she would tear up, and customers would be there. So I was a chicken.

But today he was sitting in a chair by the truck. Not up front as he was in the past, but there he was. I about screamed, Hi! You are here! I missed you.  As he rose to give me a hug, he said he had a bad heart attack over the winter, a slow recovery and this was his first time back at Market. The Mrs. told him to sit back down and he did. I tasted two of the three varieties of apples and settled on a pint sized basket of red delicious. After I paid, he got up from his chair and pointed to the little red ones with a few black spots. “My grandfather planted these trees, mija. Try these.” Those apples were spectacular. “Give her a pint,” he said to his wife. “She is a good woman.” One more hug and we headed home.

There is a line in one of the songs in “Camelot” that goes, “But if I’d ever leave you, how could it be in autumn?” I feel that way about Santa Fe. How could it be in autumn?


Modern General

In the not too distant past, the world offered fewer choices, but people took their allegiance to one product or service over another very, very seriously.  For example, your family was either aligned with Ford or Chevy, Coke or Pepsi, cornflakes or shredded wheat (maybe, maybe you could convince your mother to buy frosted cornflakes), Time or Newsweek, Walter Cronkite or Huntley- Brinkley, Ivory soap or Palmolive.  We were a Ford, Coke, cornflakes, Time , Huntley- Brinkley and Ivory soap family and that was pretty much that.

Then the world exploded with products and brands.  Now there is a lot of stuff out there, but a lot of the stuff is junk. Who has time to research the “best” in any given category?

Enter Erin Wade  who just opened Modern General, located  adjacent to her farm to table restaurant Vinaigrette on 637 Cerrillos. The space is bright and light and welcoming with a large table for eating, reading and chatting with friends.

Modern General harkens back to the general stores of old, a community space with hardware, books, and a cafe, but with a twist. Erin sells only one kind of any one item: one shovel, one shampoo, one hammer, one brand of coffee, one cutting board.  She offers items she actually uses and is guided by the slogan “everything you need and nothing you don’t.”

The cafe serves fresh squeezed juices and smoothies, fresh wheatgrass, one type of breakfast sandwich, one lunch sandwich, homemade granola drizzled with honey, freshly brewed coffee, apricot kolaches from Erin’s grandmother’s recipe.

Just stand at the front of the store and look around. A narrative unfolds. One can be enough. Elegant design, functionality, longevity and simplicity, all in one perfect shovel.


Fall Is Here

Bring on the parade of funky looking vegetables, cool nights and vegetable soup prepared with the last of the fresh basil and thyme, monster zucchini, tomatoes, corn, a smidge of red dried chile and a carrot, if you dare.

(Carrot provided courtesy of the one and only Lisa Harris, proprietess of the one and only Video Library.)


950,000 Jars of Peanut Butter Buried

Last week 950,000 jars of edible peanut butter were dumped in a landfill in Clovis, NM. That’s a lot of peanut butter. Sunland, which was at the middle of the 2012 outbreak of samonella and is now in bankruptcy court, had an agreement with Cosco to sell Cosco said peanut butter.  The peanut butter was tested and found poison free. Cosco agreed to accept delivery, but then changed its mind, saying some of the jars leaked oil.

So what to do? Donate the perfectly good  2.6 million dollars worth of protein to a food bank? Nah! Better to pay $60,000 to haul the 25 tons of peanut butter to be buried.

The question I have is this: What story will archaeologists conjure about our society when, in 500 years, they uncover the 950,000 jars of peanut butter?  Will religious scholars opine the peanut butter was buried as part of a New Age sacrifice to the gods? Will foodologists rejoice in finally understanding the purpose of the 300,000 jars of congealed fruit infused with sugar found in an earlier dig in Concord?

The mystery for future generations could have been avoided and hungry people fed  if only the trucks had been pointed toward the nearest food bank for distribution.



Don’t Be Thanksgiving Dinner

Lisa Harris and her staff at the one and only Video Library have a few suggestions for your Thanksgiving viewing. Go check them out!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Make some lovely memories. I am grateful for each one of you.


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!

Life Is Not A Bowl of Cherries for New Mexico Children

Not even Mississippi could save New Mexico. According to the 2013 Kids Count Data Book issued by the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation this week, New Mexico ranks last in the country on the economic well-being, health, education, and family and community support of children. Dead last.


Some depressing statistics for New Mexico:

about 31% of children are living in poverty;

approximately 11% of teens neither attend school nor work;

nearly 80% of fourth grade students are not reading at their grade level;

more than 75% of eighth graders are not proficient in math;

43% of children live in single parent families;

22% of children live in families in which the head of household lacks a high school



A study issued last week ranked the states for child hunger. Where was New Mexico? Dead last. One out of three of New Mexico’s children wake up not knowing if they will have food to eat that day.


In addition and not surprisingly New Mexico has one of the highest unemployment rates. Albuquerque was recently ranked the lowest city in the country for job growth.


When will the powers that be in New Mexico support parents and all New Mexicans on the path to economic success and enhance the development of children in all areas? When will all the children of New Mexico have a chance for a productive, fulfilling life? Who wants to look them in the eyes and say never? Who wants to look them in the eyes and say we will plant the seeds today?

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 .