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Rumilluminations October, 2021
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Fri, October 01 2021 - 6:52 pm

October 31, 2021
Albuquerque, NM

It was a full bus coming down from Denver, and I have been having a good time handing out goodies to potential tricksters while all the kids under 74 years of age went out trick-or-treating.

The weather has been ideal for Halloween! The skeleton the kids put up is crying convincingly agonized and begging to be let out. Now that I'm tired of the chore the wind has picked up and taken over the job for me, and my grandkids' mom is handing out treats.

Me, I'm tuckered out after playing all day!

October 29, 2021
Thornton, CO

Colorado is full of bigger-than-life, gorgeous, rugged and grandiose mountain scenery, which I love. Today, though, I was more struck by a gentler landscape nearby. It was the stunning grasslands and blue waters of Eastlake, including islands with trees and shrubs with plenty of Fall colors. There were water birds on the island, but since I didn't take binoculars I can't really report them in detail, except to say they seemed to be mostly herring gulls. A couple of larger ones were unidentifiable by me.
That walk and that scenery were my favorite of this visit.

We also shopped a while in Boulder and visited the art center in Arvada. My favorite sculpture in the Arvada sculpture field was a cluster of structures that incorporated the sense of sound and the kinesthetic experience of swinging mallets to evoke them. Tintinnabulation by Charles Parson was surrounded by a whole field of other sculptures, though, not all of which I had the opportunity to examine closely. This is a rotating exhibit, so I may have missed my chance to see some of them forever, but we visited Arvada in the late afternoon and there was only so much time.

This is my last day in Thornton; tomorrow I take the bus back to Albuquerque, beginning my return trip. I get to visit more family, though, before I leave Albuquerque for home.

On a plane!

Happy Halloween, all!

October 28, 2021
Thornton, CO

The bus ride up from Albuquerque was nine hours. I probably couldn't have driven it any faster than that. The lunch stop was at a Wendy's. I'm going to try to make a sandwich here for the return trip.

Oh, the glories of the big city! When I'm away I don't think about or yearn for the city, but when I come I find it super-stimulating and exciting. We hiked and shopped, shopped and hiked.

Today we went to the Buffalo Bill Lookout and a quilt museum in Golden, Colorado. The quilt museum had a beautiful exhibit, but I felt the price was high for the size of the collections on display. Big city prices in a relatively small community located near the city are to be expected, I guess.

October 27, 2021
Thornton, Colorado

Sunday my daughter and I were sitting at a table outside in front of the co-op at Nob Hill when a small group of people came walking up. A gentleman said, "Are you walking?" and we said yes. After all, we had walked all the way from her home shortly before.

He said, "Would you like to help with name tags?"

Obviously the question had been more complicated than we at first perceived!

Sure, we said, What's the occasion?

Turns out the walk he referred to was an architectural tour of a few blocks of Nob Hill, where I used to go to buy yarn when I lived on Wellesley fifty years ago.

Since those days (I presume) a Nob Hill Neighborhood Association has been formed, to promote the area and help interested homeowners bring their homes more into compliance with the original architectural style in which they were built, some territorial, some streamlined moderne, others - probably most - pueblo revival.

I walked and rode around those streets in the old days, observing these homes without knowing what I was looking at. Obviously the impromptu (for us) tour was very educational.

When the tour, led by Gary Eyster, was just about over, he invited us to his and his wife's home for refreshments made by family members. Before we met there, though, he spent the last few minutes urging people not to build high walls around their properties. High walls lower the safety factor of the dwellings because they reduce the visibility both from within the property towards the neighbors, and vice versa.

Realizing that at three o'clock we hadn't eaten since breakfast (it must have been an exceedingly interesting tour!) we walked over to enjoy some refreshments.

I wanted to write about the experience, but didn't know Gary and Melodie's last name, so I looked them up on the Internet. 

What do you know; Melodie, very friendly and genial throughout the walk, is an artist with a gallery of her own! She creates jewelry and art objects that I never got to see because I was already in Denver when I did my research, but a visit there is definitely worth looking forward to!

I did at least see a bowtie she made for her husband decorated with scrabble pieces. This should have given me a hint as to her talents, but name tags distracted me.

Melodie creates her art under her maiden name, Owen. She uses found objects, metals, rocks, and who knows what other surprising elements?

Just don't expect to play any Scrabble at their house, I guess! In spite of the fact that he was wearing Scrabble pieces, Gary disclaimed being a Scrabble aficionado. Or maybe because he was not, Melodie decided to put some of those pieces to use!

Sunday - fun day.

October 26, 2021
Thornton, Colorado

Saturday morning my trip officially began. A friend of mine drove me to the airport early. There were a dozen or two cars parked in the lot. It made me wonder - how many people worked here, anyway? How many people were on my flight??

I found out in short order that they weren't cars belonging to people taking my flight because I was the only passenger slated to go! That was a shock to me, and I offered to take the next flight later in the afternoon.

Not possible, the person at the desk, Vanessa, informed me.  She appreciated the offer, but they were contracted with the government to make all scheduled flights. She told me they would be obliged to make the flight even with no passengers because they received government support.

I was a little apprehensive about a small plane flight, but when the plane taxied up I was greatly reassured. It looked new and even elegant, and not terribly small at all.

I got my choice of seats, and the takeoff didn't seem to strain the plane in the least. We were much closer to the ground than during your usual big bus plane flight, and the landscape unscrolling below us was amazing.

I never had a more visually exciting flight, although flying over the Ohio River is beautiful. I could see out both sides of the aircraft, and the weather was ideal. I had feared a lot of bumping and shuddering from cross winds, but it wasn't that kind of day. It was just glorious all around. I spent the whole forty-minute trip just drinking in the mostly dry landscape below.

When we arrived at the Albuquerque airport, one of the pilots said, "Well, how did you like it?"

I  almost fell over myself with enthusiasm. "Awesome! I've never seen anything like it!" and could tell they were tickled by my response. I asked them if those little white structures I saw below were the large telescopes I had read about and they said yes, they were featured in the film Contact: the Very Large Array.

The pilot said if he had known of my interest he would have given me more of a verbal tour as we went. Well, that would have been fine, but that flight was well worth the seventy dollars I paid for it. And much more, evidently. The pilot added, as just a point of interest, if I had chartered the plane for that flight it would have cost $3000. I would call that a bargain, even if the flight had been full, with eight passengers.

Citizens of Silver City, mourn not the loss of Enterprise car rental. Your Grant County airport with Advanced Air (and possibly other companies) offers you the best, quickest and most wonderful way to get to Albuquerque, and they also have flights to Phoenix and Los Angeles.

I am aware the weather is supposed to be harsher for my scheduled return, but for someone who has already enjoyed the drive between Albuquerque and Silver City the ride promises to be another trip of a lifetime, even though it won't be a private passage.

P.S. Those cars in the parking lot were owned by people who had taken advantage of free parking indefinitely while they were away on a trip. Wow. Such a deal!

October 25, 2021
Denver (well, really Thornton) Colorado

Too many big days between the last time I wrote and today, I guess, not that I have a real excuse. Just busy getting errands related to my trip out of the way.

It seems to me that I did visit the Miller Library at the University. I was so busy walking through looking at all the art that I hardly noticed the book collections at all. The art is certainly worth looking at!

The library checks out materials to Grant County citizens free of charge, so when I return from my trip I will certainly be more open to taking home reading materials. A reference librarian gave me the card application to fill out at home and bring back with a utility bill to prove that I really do live here in Grant County.

General Grant encouraged American citizens to write histories of their counties. Maybe I will find an account of our county named after him in one of our local libraries. That will be a project for my return! Tomorrow I will describe some of my recent experiences, beginning with my arrival Saturday morning at the Grant County Airport.

What a morning that turned out to be!

October 21, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

 A friend and I had quite a day yesterday, revisiting the Mimbres Exhibit at the University Museum, which had more on exhibit than I had remembered. Had the student drawings been added since I was there? Are they permanent exhibits or collections that are replaced every year with a new group of students? I didn't ask. I'll find out next time I go. That place is worth many visits.

Going with different people is definitely the way to go. Everybody sees something different. Today my friend regaled me with stories about the museum building, which used to be the science building with a basketball court on the third floor, above the classrooms and labs! Somehow that information passed me by.

Following the museum trip we went to the botanical gardens, where I resumed my continuing education about the flora of New Mexico. We ran into a gentleman named Elroy who gave us an entertaining account of the history of the long gestation period preceding the actual creation of the gardens, which are a very pleasant place in which to linger, even at this time of year. Future plans include storing rainwater in an old oil tank on the site, which has been beautified by artistic works of various types.

We got Bento boxes from W and Z and returned to the botanical garden to eat them. Hope it wasn't against the rules!

October 19, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

After all the miscommunication my friends and I suffered yesterday via text message I would view any court procedure involving texts very suspiciously. There is ample room for misunderstandings given the time lag between transmissions, and the fact that two people can be carrying on two or three conversations at the same time. What reply goes with what comment?

Not to mention the fact that some messages get overlooked entirely amidst the flow in a way that rarely happens even in a "phoney" conversation.

But texts aren't the only pitfalls in our supposedly miraculous age of communication. I got the idea from the Internet that the Moderna booster is being offered. Due to AI miscommunication with my drug store I went to get a flu shot and had to ask about the booster when I was there. They told me they were "out."

They very kindly told me where a public health office was, so I went there. They only had the Pfizer, I was told, but told me another drug store had it. When I went to that store, the Pharmacist informed me that unlike the Pfizer booster, the Moderna booster had not yet received the final go-ahead from the CDC. It would be at least a few more days, he told me. Maybe next week.

Well thank you! Good to know!

And also a thank you to my first stop, where the quick acting pharmacist kept me from walking out without my flu shot! I excused myself for my forgetfulness by commenting that of course I would forget about an experience I would rather avoid.

She responded she would try to keep it from being unpleasant, and proceeded to give me a completely painless injection! Kudos to the pharmacist at Walgreens.

All the real people I have met there have been great!

October 18, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

How did all these charitable donations get my new address? If they have my new address, how come they don't know that my new charity is me, and that I can't afford them any more?

I would feel more guilty about my change of allegiance if I didn't know that - bar none - the people asking me to donate have more money than I do.

In addition to people filling my mailbox with requests for money, are notices regarding my health and health and life insurance. These notices are by far my biggest mailbox stuffers. I never feel more siege woebegone than when I have just checked my mail.

Oh, except: except when I have just hung up my phone after being misunderstood by some automatic telephone answering system. No, Walgreens, I said I had only had two Covid shots, not three. Why didn't your tape-recorded message ask me if it had heard me correctly, as it did for practically every other response I gave?

No matter; I did get an appointment for a flu shot tomorrow only 1 1/2 hours before my medication refill is due to be ready. Maybe I can walk over to Wal-Mart (insert throw-up emoji here) and get a thing or two I need/want until my second assigned time at Walgreens arrives.

My attitude towards Wal-Mart and Walgreens is like my address: it is information I do not want leaked to the corporate world.

The powers that be don't seem to care about my blahg. Nothing I write seems to be heeded by the Establishment. Is it paranoia to think I will get their negative attention for these, my otherwise insignificant opinions?

Who knows? Not I, for sure. I don't really understand contemporary business without a genuine, albeit phoney (as in telephoney) human voice at the other end of the line.

Thank you, Grant County Airport, L.L. Bean, and (in the middle of the night, Amazon service) for giving me a real human to talk to.

It almost makes me feel connected again!

October 17, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

I have arranged to leave town before October is over. What was I thinking? Trying to avoid snow, is what I was thinking. I hope I succeed, but you never know. After all, I am heading North.

What am I thinking? This time of year is perfect right here. Well, visiting family is what I am thinking.

When I was a girl our family always headed north to escape summer's heat because summer is when my father, a teacher, got vacation. Consequently although we camped up around Lake Superior once, I never got to see the beautiful hills of southern Indiana, or the interesting offerings of the Ohio River.

When I had a family of my own in Santa Fe we followed the same pattern; north meant respite from heat. We never came south to Las Cruces or Silver City.

The mountains, though, offer the same relative respite from summer for those with low tolerance for oppressive heat. Supposedly the seasonal temperatures of Silver City and my former home, Madison Indiana, are similar. We shall see! If dry cold is as relatively comfortable as dry heat, I will feel just fine. And any snow that does fall will be able to escape back into vapor form more quickly in the dry air.

I hope so, because this town is full of steep hills, treacherous for man and machine alike when coated with ice!

October 16, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

The weather is glorious. A friend has discovered a native plant botanical garden here in town. I haven't looked into it yet but I am really excited it is here, because it is just what I need to learn more about our local natural surroundings. I guess it never occurred to me that a town this size would even be able to swing such a project. Surprises abound.

Actually I did find out that the Society that runs it had a field trip today to City of Rocks. That had to be wonderful because that place is magical. If you are interested in the growing stuff around you look up the Gila Native Plant Society. The garden is located on Silva Creek, which I have not yet visited. I hope it is open these Delta days!

October 15, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

Today I realized I forgot to write about another highlight of the Southwestern Print Festival (at least for me.) Two hanging portraits on silk at the Light Gallery on Broadway made quite an impact, perhaps unintentionally.

The portraits were both of the same attractive woman.Who?  (Sorry - I didn't take notes at the time.) I was looking up at her, and suddenly she moved! That is, so I thought. I did a double take and she moved again!

Turns out the gallery had a fan going. The fabric was so light it responded to the slight air current in a way that is unique in my experience. Especially the portrait with her hand near her face gave the illusion she was moving it.

Accident, or genius? Well genius, of course!

October 14, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

So today I cleared up a lot of confusion (in my own mind, at least.) When someone first suggested I fly to Albuquerque I thought they said the flight took four hours. ( What on earth, I thought, did they make two stops on the way?)

Then I looked it up on the web, and one source said two hours.(!) With cross winds? Still sounded iffy.

With the other options looking more and more fraught, I decided to look up Grant County Airport again, and lo and behold, they have a phone. They have a person answering the phone! I almost fainted.

Long story short, I found out the flight is about forty-five minutes and I made my reservation. The charming Amanda made it very easy. The airline does, also. You can cancel up to 1/2 hour before the flight for credit with the airport, and you have up to one year to use it. More than reasonable.

A friend gave me more good news about the transportation situation here: a local businessman has taken to renting cars. All I know is he has a glass business near where I live, but it's good to know some transportation options are returning to Silver City!

October 13, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

I finally got around to exploring the north side of town beyond the University this morning. I saw Florence St. being used by two deer. At first I saw two ears and thought one might be a mule. Hmm... wonder if it was a mule deer.

On 13th St. I saw the most impressive, lush pampas grass I have ever seen. Maybe the incredible summer rains we had this year made the lush vegetation I have experienced since I moved here; I hope it doesn't turn out to be a once in a lifetime experience.

October 11, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

Today my friend and I saw our first sighting of the Gila River; if I had seen it before I didn't know what I was looking at. We went to the Iron Bridge, unexpectedly red and closed off to traffic. I don't know whether the place is on public land, but two benches near the bridge each have half a seat longitudinally missing. The river is beautiful and evidently has some associated hiking trails, but no one seems to care if the area is enjoyed or not.

Well, we enjoyed it.

We saw a couple small beasties and my friend saw a brown mammal, maybe a fox, run quickly across what used to be a road.

The only bird life we saw today looked and sounded like ravens, but yesterday on my morning walk I identified a bird I was able to add to my life list - a Phainopepla. (No, I have seen no alternative name for it. No Peppy or Opie or Black Crested Gloss-back. I wonder why?)

I think this is the third time I've seen one - the first time in early morning shadow when I couldn't see how shiny it was, or that it had red eyes.

This time I was walking along a part of 8th Street I hadn't seen before, when it sounded as if someone whistled to me. It certainly sounded like a friendly human greeting. When I turned, though, it was a black bird who was just hanging out near the top of a plant about my height. Maybe it was alerting friends to my presence or trying to locate someone's whereabouts. The separate feathers of his crest gave it a very distinctive appearance, but my presence seemed to make him a little nervous. I know he was a male because the females are grayer with some black and white markings.

Take a walk along 8th Street across from the University; you might get to see him. Even if you don't, though, there are some rustic ornamental fences that are of quite arresting artisanship - definitely worth seeing.

Maybe you'll even hear a friendly whistled hello.

October 10, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

What fun the weekend has been! Friday night the Power and Light had a zoom workshop (which I did not watch, having come in during the middle of it); there were also openings up and down Bullard Street.

We saw a young woman in a beautiful slender silver gown worthy of the red carpet on the street. She told us she got the dress for fifteen dollars at are sale shop nearby. My jaw dropped onto the pavement. She looked stunning. Seeing her was in itself worth the extra energy I spent putting on my rhinestone studded vintage bolo tie to "dress" for the occasion.

The highlight of the Southwest Printing Fiesta for me, though, was witnessing the steamroller printing. The prints were big (maybe 3' x 3'?) and after the steamroller had done its thing it took three or four people to wrestle the print to a place of safety through the capricious wind gusts the otherwise ideal day afforded.

Since they had several artists contributing prints, there were multiple opportunities to see the process. I am told the steamroller printing happens every year, so visitors can see it next year. Come enjoy steamroller art, the tortilla press demonstration, and all the exhibitors selling their printed creations at the Makers Market in Silver City!

October 7, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

After being in Silver City for a while, I have come to realize that this move has been a long time coming. I just happened to stumble across something I wrote about Rudolf Anaya's Sonny Bono series years ago in which I said I would probably move back here someday.

I'd been wearing a cowboy hat in southern Indiana for years before the wind caught its brim and brought me back here. (Maybe because the winds were mostly heading in the wrong direction, smile.)

Here I've seen very few women in cowboy hats, or any hats at all. Admittedly, today I am one of them because I forgot it (along with sunscreen). This is certainly not the way I imagined the Land of the Lotus Eaters, but maybe this is it!

It certainly is a land of artists. This weekend Silver City is supposed to host a festival in celebration of print,  and October is also a big month for the celebration of art here.

That doesn't mean a whole lot, though. Every walk around the neighborhoods around Bullard Street is a celebration of the arts.

October 5, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

If you are planning to come live in Silver City try to arrange housing before you get here! Agreeing to rent sight-unseen has not had negative consequences for me, and if you do it through a real estate agent, you shouldn't be surprised by a hoarder, as my daughter was once when she was trying to move to New York City.

When that happened to her, she just flat-out refused to keep the agreement, for which no sane person would blame her. I have been as happy with my sight-unseen apartments as I have been anywhere else, and I occupied the one before my current home for nine years.

So... welcome to Silver City, but try not to put yourself in a situation where you are homeless. On the way here to the Visitors Center I just met another person looking for a place to live - hopefully with no stairs.

It is better to risk a temporary abode which is somehow unsatisfactory than to have no roof over your head at all. Winter is not far away, and Silver City is deservedly popular.

P.S. Some of our trees have, just in the last few days, totally changed color!

October 4, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

Finally made it up to the Boston Hill Open again this morning. There was so much rain for a while that it was too muddy, and for conservation's sake they don't want hikers and bikers disturbing the soil.

I saw a man who helps maintain the trails and asked him if he thought there might be mountain lions up there. He thinks that might be true. He recently saw a notice on the Cheyenne Trail of a bobcat sighting. There certainly enough holes and crevices to shelter a big cat.

I saw nothing scary, but I did feel as if I was in a Disney animation for a few minutes when a bevy of butterflies flew around me a la Uncle Remus.

Now that my heater has been made operable (at least by hand-lighting the pilot from below) I am no longer dreading sunset. All I need to dread now is the gas bill!

The person who got the heater operating said having the heat on low shouldn't be too expensive. He heats his home with propane, and that amount of flame would be expensive. Wow, so propane users live a Spartan existence?

And while we are talking about utility bills, why is the electrical bill fourteen times the under one dollar cost of the kilowatt hours I have been using? I know that ratio will not remain the same if/when I use more, but what is that all about?

It's obviously been a long time since I paid for my utilities!

October 3, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

I went to Farmers' Market again yesterday. Not only is it one of the best ones I ever shopped at, but I'm told it is open every week except three weeks in January!

This week I bought a pound of grass fed ground beef (the smallest quantity available.) I also thought I'd try jujube fruits. They were quite good, and supposedly also good for drying. I got too many of those, also. Hopefully, though, this food will last a while, because I have already - three days into the month - spent a third of my food budget, or close to it.

Did I tell you the raspberries I bought last week are the best I have tasted in decades? It's okay if I did; it is definitely worth repeating.

Too bad it is so chilly. Spoiled by electrical heat radiating from the ceiling whenever we wanted, it took me a while to remember an old technique with dealing with the early morning chill: dragging my intended wardrobe into bed with me to warm it up before rising. I can't recall when I last did that.

Right now I'm intentionally baking myself in the sun in the heat of today, counting on the unlikely chance that I will be able to store up some warmth for tonight.

Fat chance, sadly. Well, maybe the folks who check out the heater and after approval turn on the pilot light will come to my apartment tomorrow and save me from the chill nights.

(Hmmm... that came out wrong, didn't it? Heh heh.)

October 1, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

Today I overcompensated for the chill weather and was too warm for the first time in days. It was worth it to take the time to go on a real walk, up and down hills to one of my favorite high points in front of the I think still-closed recreation center.

I saw some structures that I don't remember seeing there before. I don't know what they are for, or whether the newness of my environment just kept me from noticing. It is creepy how selective my memory is! (Since we are supposed to universalize our experiences, maybe I should say how selective our memories are... but I am not at all sure that everyone experiences what I do. The assumption seems kind of presumptuous somehow.)

Anyway, I am downtown now, and there is one experience that does seem to be universal: late Friday afternoon high-spirited motor-revving. Enjoy your weekend, young'uns. It's good there is at least one activity you can enjoy during the years of coronavirus!

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