Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

A Time Out of Time Weekend to Rejuvenate and Revitalize in Timeless Santa Fe

(My friend and Southwest tour guide extraordinaire Patrizia Antonicelli, who owns Seven Directions Tours, is offering this Santa Fe experience in December. Please consider making this peaceful retreat a gift to yourself or a special friend. Patrizia will not disappoint, and I would love to see you in December. Locals are welcome to join in, too.)

The end of another hectic year is near. The New Year is soon upon us. What better time and what better place to nurture, center, and revitalize body, mind and spirit, than a weekend in December immersed in the inspirational beauty of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Offered the weekends of  December 15-16 and 29-30, the Seven Directions Tours experience begins on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. with the class “Writing Your Memoir: One Vivid Story at a Time” taught by Susan Tungate. Susan is an author, teacher, an inspirational Guide for “Architects of Change” on mariashriver.com, and former attorney with CNN.

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, Susan will demystify the process of memoir writing and provide the simple tools the client needs 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 Susan. 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.

What better gift to give yourself or a special friend  than the gift of a peaceful retreat, a moment out of time in timeless Santa Fe, to renew the spirit and meet the New Year refreshed and enlivened.

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.

#50: We Thank You!

This, dear readers, is post #50, which also coincides with the 3 month anniversary of the first post in August.  I think this is the perfect time to thank my friends and family who dutifully subscribed on day 1. Thank you to the people they pestered into subscribing. Thanks to all of you who stumbled here, via googling something else entirely or reading an article of mine from another website, and decided to read along.

I have readers…not just spammers…from all over the US,  the UK, France, Italy, Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain, India, Mexico and Bosnia and Herzegovina. After only 3 months, my pages were read over 1500 times in the last 30 days. I just find that amazing.

While most of you are a bit shy about posting comments directly on the blog, I daily receive comments from you via my email address provided in the Contact Susan section. I truly appreciate those emails, your comments, questions and encouragement. Please keep them coming.

I know there are thousands of blogs and websites and information outlets in general. I also know you have precious little free time in your day. I am honored you choose to spend a bit of time each week with me,  meandering under Santa Fe skies.

Saturday’s Wonder

“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” E. B. White

Storm Headed for Chimayo

Sitka the Wonderful


© B Walker

This is Sitka. He is wearing his award winning Halloween costume. Let me just say this up front: My readers unanimously directed me to go stand with my head hung down in the Corner of Shame for dressing Georgia in her ladybug Halloween costume. I feel quite certain I have now been joined by Sitka’s person Betsy Walker, for which I am most grateful.

Sitka, who will be 12 in January, is not just a gorgeous face. Sitka is a trained social therapy dog who obtained his “Canine Good Citizen” certification when he was 2. After playing around being a puppy for 2 years, he started working in earnest through the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society’s pet outreach program.

Sitka in his working vest.

Betsy and Sitka’s first assignment was working at the Santa Maria El Mirador day-hab for folks with assorted challenges. During his 2 years working there, people’s spirits were bolstered by the wonderfulness of Sitka. For example, Betsy told me one day a man was so motivated to walk Sitka in the hallway he rose from his wheelchair and spoke for the first time in over 25 years. That is the power of  love.

Betsy and Sitka then moved on to working at the El Dorado Community School where they still work. Initially Sitka was a “reading dog” for 2nd graders. What is a reading dog? As Betsy explains it, kids who struggle with reading often eventually shut down because they cannot handle faltering repeatedly in front of their peers. Taking them away from the classroom to a quiet place where they read to a dog who could care less if they mispronounce a word tends to give them confidence. The children loved to lie down and use Sitka as a pillow as they read to him, or they sat next to him and held the book so that Sitka could see the pictures as they read to him. Sitka has become a famous and beloved personality in the school.

When the 2nd grade teacher moved to another school, Sitka soon had a new job working with kids of all ages in the special ed classes. Sometimes the kids walk him in the hallway. Sometimes they practice performing Sitka’s favorite tricks with him. Sometimes the kids just give him tummy rubs. Always it is about unconditional love and acceptance.

Bravo Sitka! Brava Betsy! We thank you both for your service.



On the 18th Anniversary of His Passing

“One merges into another, groups melt into ecological groups until the time when what we know as life meets and enters what we think of as non-life: barnacle and rock, rock and earth, earth and tree, tree and rain and air…And it is a strange thing that what most of the feeling call religious… is really understanding and attempt to say that man is related to the whole thing, related inextricably to all reality, known and unknowable. This is a simple thing to say, but the profound feeling of it made a Jesus, a St. Augustine, a St. Frances, a Roger Bacon, a Charles Darwin and an Einstein. Each of them in his own tempo and with his own voice-discovered and reaffirmed with astonishment the knowledge that all things are one thing and that one thing is all things-plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and spinning planets and the expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time.”

The Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts

Brothers Share the Road Ahead

Ben and Max

Imagined conversation: “I understand. It is embarrassing. The same thing happened to me. Just be nice but firm and say, ‘Mom, Dad,  enough with the grandpa jeans!’”


The Raven

I returned home one late afternoon to find a baby raven hopping down the middle of the driveway. Baby must have fallen out of the nest in the tall evergreen tree over the house. An adult raven, let’s call her Mom, sat on the fence squawking at the little one. What to do. The neighborhood is full of cats. Baby would be dinner if I did not help her.

I managed to maneuver Baby into the patio as Mom swooped and screamed, warning me to do the right thing because she was ready to take my eyes out if I harmed a feather. Once Baby was at least semi safe, I ran inside and Googled “what do ravens and crows eat” and “helping baby raven” or something like that. Turns out Harry the Cat’s canned beef would work just fine.

Baby’s first big leap was into the Napoleonic era Oeil de Boeuf  leaning against the coyote fence. Baby has great taste in French antiques.

Baby served as evening entertainment for Harry the Cat, Georgia the Dog and me. When I last saw her before bed, Baby was huddled between the fence and the shed. I wished her a safe evening and hoped she would not meet the cat next door.

The next morning Baby had progressed to the top of the bistro chair. Mom watched from a limb of the bean tree.

I watched as Baby hopped down from one chair and scaled another which was right under Mom’s limb.

At this point Baby started screaming. Right on cue another larger raven, let’s call him Dad, came out of a high limb of the evergreen, swooped  down and into the open mouth of Baby delivered breakfast.

This pattern was repeated for two more days. Baby screamed. Dad made a special delivery. Mom hovered. Baby’s wings grew stronger until she was able to make a rocky landing on top of the coyote fence where she would just hang out.

On the third morning I came outside and Baby was gone. I looked in the adjacent yard. I looked around the house. No Baby. I sat down on the patio step, thanked them all for letting me have this glimpse into their lives and wished them well. Right then, and I am not kidding, Mom swooped in and landed on her perch on the limb of the bean tree. Then a small raven made a very rocky landing next to her, followed by the arrival of a large raven. Mom, Baby and Dad sat there for 15 seconds, then all flew away.

For the Native Americans, raven medicine, their message to humans, is to inform us that we must become comfortable in our inner world in order to experience a change of consciousness. As stated by Keshi, a local store which sells Zuni fetishes, “Raven is comfortable there and offers us the opportunity to discover the personal fears and demons that are keeping us from our awakening and our magic. The black color of the feathers of Raven contain all colors, evoking creativity, not negativity. Raven medicine can help us to really look at the issues that frighten, anger and thwart us. Doing this can lead to understanding and integration so that the negative energy is magically lifted.” To that I say a big thank you to the ravens.

And a post script. Almost every day this summer, often in the morning and some days in the late afternoon, a raven sits on the limb of the bean tree for a minute or two.




“In the room with the periodic tables on the wall, Barry Lopez said we are all pattern makers, and if our patterns are beautiful and full of grace they will be able to bring a person for whom the world has become broken and disorganized up off his knees and back to life.”

From Contents May Have Shifted by Pam Houston

Ten Thousand Flowers in Spring, The Moon in Autumn

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

Wu Men (1183-1260)

The Gift

The gift is in the magic and mystery of each moment.