Sunday, December 30, 2007

Isleta Pueblo Mission Church

Pamela and I caravaned up to Utah together.
Grif and Eme rode with me for the first few hours, and we made our first stop at Isleta Pueblo (my request.)
I LOVE mission churches and this one, dedicated to St. Augustine, has stood since 1716 (though it's been remodeled and repaired, this is the original building.)
We found the church by spotting the bell towers (most distinctive) at a distance and driving toward it "by feel".
The plaza was very crowded with cars and people and as we pulled up we could see that the interior plaza of the church (surrounded by a whitewashed adobe wall) was the setting for some tribal dances.
As we pulled up they were just approaching a break in the program and so I was able to ask if the church was open, and was told yes, it's fine to go in.
Eme and Grif seemed to enjoy the interior of the church, too.
I especially liked all of the American Indian saints and the Christmas decorations.
While we were inside we heard more drums and music but I didn't want to open the door which might have disturbed the proceedings. Then they stopped and we came out to a clearing plaza with people beginning to pick up the chairs.
So we actually didn't get to SEE the tribal dances, but in a way it all worked out perfectly because I couldn't have photographed the church exterior when the dances were going on.

Talking on a cell phone (like photos) is not polite when it annoys other people, but we were out of sight/hearing of the public arena when Griffin called Pamela to figure out where to rendezvous, since we didn't see her at the church plaza. She had Marble with her and a Great Dane is perhaps not the best addition to a large crowd like that.
Anyway I really liked this picture... such a teenagerish pose!

Games with Charles

Charles and Jennifer have a lot of games: board games, card games, and so on.
We had a jolly time playing them.


The Home Depot Garden center in Las Cruces has a pair of Great Horned Owls nesting there.
I went with Charles and Jennifer the day after Christmas and we saw one of them.
The top 2 photos are cropped so you can see the owl better but the bottom 2 give a better idea of how far away it was.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Presents!

What fun to unwrap presents Christmas morning!Charles and Jennifer with their presents, including the game Risk, scarves knit by Jennifer's sister Cheryl, some great "cutility" kitchen tools from Emily, and books and CDs and the earrings and shirt I brought them from Greece.

My presents included a Day of the Dead book (from Charles & Jen) and Day of the Dead magnets (from Ted), a Tolkien book and a Steve Irwin crocodile set (also from Ted & family), a 3D puzzle of Neuchwanstein castle from my friend Heather, a KNIFE from Uncle Glen which he made himself!, and a wonderful stuffed crocodile which I named Caligula, from Emily.
"Caligula" is of course the name of one of the less pleasant Roman emperors (I was thinking of Madame Medusa's Brutus and Nero) but also the name means, literally, "little boots."
He's a very darling Ikea crocodile!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Birthday Girl

We spent a jolly birthday evening with Eme tonight.
She's ten!
Griffin gave her makeup, Ted gave her a poster, Pamela gave her a bathrobe, Charles and Jen gave her a design book, and I gave her a necklace and some snake stickers.

We had chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.
Marble ate Pamela's ice cream in one big gulp off her plate when Pamela was distracted for a moment.

This last was a wholly candid shot!

One Large Dog!

Marble really is huge.
The top picture is probably my favorite.
She can put her nose right on the table without hardly stretching (though she's not supposed to.)

Last Minute Shopping

We survived Wal-Mart on Christmas eve!
The Las Cruces Wal-Mart has pinatas!
(And Charles is being silly with a yam.)

Which tortilla brand?

Charlotte happily stocks up on frozen chile:

Arches Spectacular

On my way down to New Mexico I stopped overnight in Moab.
There was snow on the ground and I thought, aha, that will be beautiful on the formations at Arches!
So I went out early and realized a long-wished for dream:
I watched the sunrise come up and illuminate the Spectacles (also known as North and South Window Arch.)

Nearby Turret Arch was also gorgeous:

Early morning "spotlighting" on Double Arch (before the sky clouded over):

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Adorable Sophie

Isn't she the cutest...
...most easily distracted...

...most determined little girl?

BYU Campus on a Winter Evening

Mom and Dad and I went to the BYU Museum of Art last week.
When we came out of the museum, the light on the mountains was just perfect.

After some bookstore shopping, we headed over to the JFSB.

Dad even got a little nap in my office before our department party.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

King of the Tree

Last Saturday, I let Mortimer climb the tree again.
He loved it.
He knocked over the little Santa Claus tree topper I had placed at the summit and stretched out as if he were very proud of himself.
He also liked exploring down around the presents.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mortimer loves my Christmas Tree

My tree is an obviously artificial Charlie Brown sort of tree, with lots of gaps between the branches.
Nevertheless, it makes the house festive.
And the other day when I was relaxing on the couch with my snake, Mortimer discovered that he could slither on to the branches.

I wonder how the tree tastes?
I doubt it's good for his health (don't fake Christmas trees have lead in them?)
However, I let him climb for a few minutes while I took some pictures.

This crop is my favorite.
I don't have many pictures of Mortimer sticking out his tongue.

21st century Gingerbread House

A couple of years ago, Ethan (and Griffin and Emeline) came over to my house and made graham cracker houses.
Ethan enjoyed it very much, and this year we wanted to do it again, but this time Emily and I bought a kit.
In one respect it was a great idea- all self contained.

On the other hand, the directions were quite lengthy and complicated.
Ethan perused them carefully.

We discovered that the house had to be built in stages and left to dry in between the stages. Emily and then I helped get the house up.

It was several hours later before Ethan could decorate it.
If I do this again (and I'm not sure I want to,) the thing to do would be to build the gingerbread houses FIRST and then invite the kids over to decorate them.
At school they probably do them on two consecutive days in art class, which would make sense.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

More Dramatic Clouds

The wind continued gusty and the cloudscape fascinating through Red Canyon, southwest of Las Vegas.

It began to rain as I reached St. George, framing the freeway with a gorgeous rainbow.

Rain and clouds continued intermittent along the I-15 corridor as I drove north.
By the time I came to Nephi, it was raining heavily and steadily, all the way home.
It's really good to be home, especially when it's pouring rain outside.

Dramatic Clouds at Death Valley

I spent a windy night camped at Death Valley, but at least the gusts of wind at 4 am got me up and striking camp in plenty of time to see sunrise at Zabriskie Point.
The sky was full of dramatic clouds.

There were half a dozen other photographers lurking out at this popular viewpoint, waiting for the sunrise to light up the view across Death Valley and the mountains beyond.

The clouds continued dramatic through the day.
On the eastern border of the park, they piled up overhead and made the drive very interesting.