Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

I Salute A Few of My Favorite Santa Fe Businesses

Santa Fe is a town largely comprised of local, privately owned businesses whose owners work darn hard for their money. It is a tough town. On this last day of 2015, I want to thank just a few of the local business owners who enriched my life this year, first by their heartfelt presence in this community and second by the services and products they offer.

First up, The Video Library. The Vid was opened by owner/operator/counselor/cat activist/chocolate chip cookie lover  Lisa Harris and buyer Casey St. Charnez in 1981, the very first video store in the state of New Mexico. You can find mainstream releases as well as rare, out of print and hard to find movies. And you will find Lisa, who has one of the biggest hearts on the planet, and her great staff who are all walking encyclopedias of cinema, ready to offer suggestions that fit your mood. Go. Browse. Chat. Rent.

Downtown Subscription, located a block from Canyon, has great coffee, pastries, the best selection of magazines in Santa Fe, a front patio where you can bring your dog and a back patio with a fountain and lovely flowers. And they have the nicest team of baristas. On Sundays I often buy my New York Times, order a cappuccino and sit for an unseemly length of time reading the paper and inevitably chatting with someone I never met before. Before heading home, I head to Garcia Street Books which is located on the other side of the wall from DTS. A real bookstore where you can browse, ask folks what they are reading and discover the exact book you needed that day but had never heard of five minutes before you walked into the place. Amazon is not the be all and end all, folks.

Kristin Mader, muse/proprietor/artist/creative spirit/witty woman of Wild Hare salon,  patiently and beautifully tends my mass of hair with a smile on her face, no small feat. The salon is gorgeous with its crystal chandelier and art, the staff is talented and the products smell delightful. Kristin and Wild Hare are simply the best. Anywhere.

Ranger owns the New Old Trail Garage. He has been praying over and maintaining my 1998 Ford Explorer since I road into town in, well, 1998. Where else can you drive up as I did Tuesday, ask him to please check the antifreeze level (it just occurred to me after two weeks of freezing cold) and replace the wiper blade I accidently shredded when I ripped it too vigorously from the icy windshield, and the owner stops what he is doing and does it, plus checks the tires and adds more windshield wiper fluid. And he neither shames me nor charges more than a fair fee.

When I go to the Farmers’ Market, I buy from farmers who are now my friends. They picked the flowers or lettuce or spinach and boxed the eggs or made the bread the day before. No vegetables grown in South America wrapped in plastic. Farm to table, a community.

Rand and Cindy Cook, two of the nicest people I know, own The Candyman Strings & Things, which really has become a little community center. They were named (drum roll) Dealer of the Year at the National Association of Music Merchants Top 100 Dealer Awards. Number One in the entire US! And they are right here in Santa Fe! They have everything you could want from guitars and drums and amps and keyboards to ukuleles, one of which has my name on it, and classes to learn how to play your chosen instrument. The staff will help you select the instrument for you or yours. Check out their Summer Rock Camp, too, and all of their other services on their website. They can also work with you over the phone.

I thank Harry’s Roadhouse for the occasional hit of cheese enchiladas drenched in red and green chile, aka Christmas. I leave a happy woman.

And on a personal note, I thank all of my writing students for sitting around my table and sharing their unique stories. I think it is an act of bravery as well as creativity. I thank all the clients who have trusted me to edit their manuscripts and those who have asked me to write their stories for them. It is my honor, my privilege, my delight.

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.

 

36 Hours in Santa Fe

 

Last Sunday’s New York Times ran 36 Hours in Santa Fe. Fine picks but the usual suspects.

Here are a few suggestions from a local that may not pop up in the guide books. And locals, feel free to let me know your suggestions.

1.  Go for a walk. Anywhere. The town has no industry, which is possibly the reason we are in an economic bind, but the upside is no pollution and breath taking blue skies 300 days a year, give or take. Absolutely do take that guide book recommended walk down Canyon Road with all the art galleries, but walk south on Garcia Street off Canyon, find a book at Garcia Street Books, walk next door for a chile mocha at Downtown Subscriptions, rest your feet a bit and read. Then take Acequia Madre Street east and walk along the Acequia Madre ( the Mother Ditch) built a few hundred years ago to irrigate the farms that were replaced long ago by adobe homes. Meander around the little residential streets. Or drive up Hyde Park Road to the ski basin area and take a little walk on one of the trails. Gorgeous views of the mountains.

2.  Head to the Railyard area a few blocks south of the Plaza. If you are there on a Saturday morning, peruse the Farmers’ Market. Little gift items abound this time of year: soaps, ristras, little horse-like items made with sage, hand knit caps, pottery. GRAB A PACKAGE OF BISCOCHITOS!  Then walk next door to The Flea, a large market filled with antiques, collectables, stuff,  the odd and the interesting. Walk north. You will see a sign on the left for The Ark. It is full of books and cds and jewelry and rocks. Head north again to Sanbusco Market and buy a snazzy sweater for your puppy at Teca Tu or a sweater for yourself at Bodhi Bazaar or a book at Op Cit. Walk out the front entrance of Sanbusco and check out George (just call me King of Thrones) R.R. Martin’s newly renovated Jean Cocteau Cinema. Better yet, plan ahead and catch a movie. The lobby has a bar and fresh popcorn with real butter. Heaven.

3. Need some pampering? Sure the hotels have some great spas and 10,000 Waves is a mecca, but there is also a little place called Mist, a serene space that uses heavenly products and gives take-all-the-tension-out-of-your-entire-being-including-your-hair-follicles facials and massages. Call ahead.

4. Want to take a yoga class to unwind from your flight? Call Body or contact Shibana and see if she is offering a class that day. Shibana is a treasure on this earth.

5.  Take a drive up Museum Hill. The Folk Art Museum is a treasure, too. An even bigger treasure is the view from the top of the steps. That view goes on forever.

6.  For dinner, come back toward the Railyard area. Have the best margarita and enchilladas at Tomasita’s or La Choza.

7.  For breakfast, Tia Sophia downtown, one of those places that has been here forever. Can you say sopapilla with honey?

8.  If you come to Santa Fe in the winter, you must find a fireplace, perhaps the one at La Fonda Hotel, beg them to throw a pinon log on the fire, order a beverage and get comfy. I swear, I would die happy if that was the last thing I smelled—a burning pinon log.

9.  Todos Santos Chocolates tucked away at Sena Plaza off the Plaza gets my vote for the best place to buy chocolates. The place is enchanting and whimsical and edgy all at the same time. Killer handmade chocolates. Just go.

10.  If you are around the Plaza area, walk down Grant Street or East Palace and see the Victorian houses built before the PR people in the early 1900s decided adobe was the way to go to bring in tourists on the train from the east. Just charming. Find  Antiques and Interiors on Grant housed in one of the old Victorian homes. Look closely. The adobe is painted to look like brick.

11.  As for a place to stay, La Posada may not be the most luxurious, opulent place in town, but it is a artsy funky lovely adobe Santa Fe hotel,  unlike any place you will find in any other place.

12.  Oh, and one more suggestion. Want to watch a movie and stay snuggled under your comforter? Stop by the Video Library. First, you will find movies you will not find online or offline in the chain stores. Second and even better, you will meet the lovely and knowledgeable owner Lisa who will help you find the perfect movie to fit your mood. The Vid is one of the heart beats of Santa Fe.

(Apologies for the funky type. I think the blog is annoyed with me for staying away so long, or perhaps annoyed I returned.)

Autumn on Canyon Road

Santa Fe is either the second or third largest art market in the United States, depending on the latest poll and who polled. Without question, Canyon Road, with its historic adobe architecture, historic homes, and views of the mountains, provides one of the most beautiful settings in the world to peruse over 100 galleries and unique shops. If you do not appreciate art, go anyway. You will enjoy the scenery, and it is a painless way to get a little exercise to walk off the breakfast burritos.

You will find a wide range of art, including Native American, contemporary, early 20th Century, traditional representations, and, I have to say, a few pieces which I think you could probably skip and head for coffee, tea or a meal at one of the great restaurants, but taste is subjective.

Any season is lovely for a walk on Canyon Road, but autumn and winter right after a light snow are my favorite times. Recently photographer Ann Murdy enjoyed a walk down Canyon Road with her camera on a crisp fall morning, just to let you see a few of the galleries and the sculptures sitting outside. Add the sound of crunching leaves and you are there.

FOOTNOTE: I had to remove Ann’s photos given the fact people have been lifting them in violation of her copyright.