Posts Tagged With: Thoughts

I Write but…Dealing With Writer’s Block

Hola mis amigos,

Please, please, oh please never think for un momento that I have forgotten all of you who read my stories.  I am STILL in the middle of working on three stories:

1.  The Outrageous Adventures of a Big Little Girl

2. The Bracelet

3.  Beauregard Wants to Be a Boy

You know, I never understood what writer’s block was until I walked  (BLAM! OW!….my nose is bleeding….ah cahnt tak so gud nah…) into the wall.   I think I have the idea sorted out in my head, I write it, it’s ca-ca.  I try again.  Not bad.  Now this has to be changed.  Who knew? 


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Part 3 of -The Road to Taos

Many tents were ready to sell anything and everything “authentically” Native American.  I would have believed that too except that I picked up a flute that had a “Made in India” sticker on it.  The vendors themselves were friendly and sometimes even talkative.  Hanging from one of the tents was a sign that read, “Tipi for sale.  $680.00.  Good price.”  I couldn’t help but giggle.  Was this a joke? The tipi was rolled up and leaning to the right of the advertisement.  Behind the Pow-Wow there was a group of tipis set up.  Winnebagos, sort of modern-day tipi on wheels, were surrounding them.  Blankets could easily be seen in one of the tipis.  They were really being used.  In front of one of the tipis an older couple was cooking a meal on an open fire.  It called to mind a similar experience I had outside Amman, Jordan.  I was walking back to the hotel with a friend when I looked out into the horizon and saw Bedouins camped not far from a high-rise building.  It was fascinating to see the old way of life mixing easily with the new.

It was ironic that as I left the Pow-Wow the song on the radio was crying, “Reservation Blues. What do you choose? What do you choose when ain’t got choices.  Reservation Blues.” I didn’t see this side of Native American life.  For me, the Pow-Wow was a chance to see the extraordinary costumes and dancing.  However, the real experience, the human one, took place in that little shop on the right hand side of the road.

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The Road to Taos

Heading north on 84/285, while listening to singers belt out lamentations of love in Spanish on 89.1 “New Mexico Radio,” the flat roads out of Santa Fe broke into a carnival ride through the mountains that, for a “flat lander,” presented a navigational challenge nonexistent in the sunny state of Florida. The terrain was rough but the traveler was willing.  Rocks of every shape, size, and shade of brown, threatened those curious enough to venture down this two lane stretch of highway.  Cars with the Texas state flag waving proudly in the breeze were hell- bent on passing the driver in the green Buick Skylark who could only think to say, “Wow!,” as each bend in the road presented a new glimpse of a southwestern world that previously existed only in Ansel’s black and whites.  The sidewinding snake curved along the base of the mountain and demanded that the driver pay attention for fear of missing the turn and careening off into oblivion.  The test was worth it because the end of the journey led to the beginning of another.  It was the road to Taos.

 There were no signs or banners announcing the 14th Annual Taos PowWow.  The signs to the right of the main road pointed straight ahead to the reservation.  As this was the only indication of any kind of celebration, I proceeded due north.  Within two minutes, I became aware of the fact that I had actually driven onto the reservation itself, with no PowWow in sight.  The only house around was on the right and , as it had a sign hanging from a tree that read “Indian Shop-since 1950,” I felt certain that my asking for directions would not be a first time occurrence.  I opened the screen door and my ears were immediately bathed with soft music coming from a CD player to my left.  Looking around the shop I saw that there were stone carvings and pottery to the left and cases of jewelry to the front and right.  Every space, including the walls, was used to display instruments, dream catchers, belts, weapons, paintings, photographs, and newspaper clippings,  Like Dorothy in reverse, I realized that I had entered a world I had known before. 

“Hello.  Excuse me.  Is anybody here?,” I asked to no one in particular.  I heard nothing and turned to leave.”Can I help you, young lady?”  An elderly gentleman had come from a back room to greet me.  I told him that I was looking for the PowWow.  “You’re lost,” he said with a grin.  Not wanting  to appear rude, I asked about the store itself and decided to stay awhile and chat.  Five minutes into the conversation I introduced myself.  His name was Tony Reyna.  “That is my white man’s name.  My Indian name is Cheto, “Hunter’s Talk.”  He looked to be about 70 years old.  A friendly man, he was open to answering questions I had about the objects on display in the house-store.  I began to ask questions about specific words, “I’ve never driven around this part of the country, I noticed signs that said “pueblo” or “reservation.”  “Is there a difference?,” I asked.  “I don’t use that word.  I call them Indian lands,” he responded.  His back stiffened and the look on his face grew more serious.  Having never met a Native American, it was difficult to know which were the appropriate words to use.  As it happens, Tony Reyna was a former Taos Pueblo Governor.  I began to ask more questions about his life and he could see that I was genuinely interested so he began to give me a tour of the store.  He explained with obvious pride that there are 19 different groups of Pueblo people.  He belonged to Taos.  Pointing to a spot on a yellowing photograph, Tony showed were he was born and where he now lives.  He said I couldn’t go there.  From the back room he brought out a photograph of a younger Tony standing behind his parents.  The faces seemed quiet and did not reveal the spirit behind their eyes.  They were neither happy nor sad.  “My father.  He was a good man.  This music.  My mother used to sing this song to me in the kitchen when I as a little boy.  My nephew is playing that song on the flute on that CD right now.  Here is a book of pictures and poetry that he wrote called A Song for Mother Earth.” 

The shop was filled with Tony’s family history.  It was alive and real.  I couldn’t get enough.  I asked more questions and Tony looked at me and said, “You’re a happy little thing, aren’t you?” We both giggled and he took a postcard with his picture on it and signed it for me.  “You should go to the PowWow now.  You will learn many things.  You’ll have fun.” After purchasing some earrings for my nieces, I said good-bye with a wave of my hand.

……to be continued…..

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The Golden Child -For Whitney, My Niece



Where lives the child up in a tree,

Down from up dear Whitney jumped,

Hands up in flight, mouth crying, “Wee!”

She lands on her head,

Her forehead she bumped!

She’ll dance on a lark,

She’ll sing on a whim.

Come away! Dear Child!

To the waters and the wild,

With your Tia, hand in hand,

For the world is still a happy place,

That you will come to know.


We giggle and wiggle and bounce on our toes,

I am of the opinion,

God made you for me.

A sprite little Clown,

For you I can see,

In my heart,

 You are old.

Now give us a “kish”,

And please make a wish,

I thank God to see you so bold.

Come away! Dear Child!

To the waters and the wild,

With your Tia, hand in hand,

For the world is still a happy place,

That you will come to know.

Note:  Written 23 of July, 1998 at Bread Loaf School of English-New Mexico- Teaching, Reading, and Enjoying Poetry.  Bruce Smith, professor.  My niece Whitney is an explosion of energy and fun and I thought of what she would be like as a young lady when I wrote this for her. 


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Can You Hear It? (The Beauty in the Sound of a Word)

Practice. –I’ve always loved this word.  The cracking sound  “pr-ACK” – like the sound of a lion tamer’s whip.  

Una tarde en Madrid  después de mi clase de Quixote, yo andaba por la calle Castellana cuando un mendigo se acercó a mi y me preguntó si tenía algunas Pesetas porque tenía hambre….

One afternoon in Madrid after my class on Quixote, I was walking along Castellana Street when a beggar approached me and asked me if I had any pesetas because he was hungry. … (It was 1987- no Euros yet)

Amo parlare italiano perché mi ricorda del calore di Siena, mangiando il gelato e la gente che guardano nel Piazza del Campo (Il Campo). Non ci è altro posto su terra dove una può  tenere la sensazione di essere così viva….

I love  speaking Italian because it reminds me of the warmth of Siena; eating ice cream and people watching in the Piazza del Campo.  There is no other place on Earth where one can feel so alive….
The comparison between the singing sounds of Spanish and Italian and the rise and fall of English has always intrigued me.  The former languages feel so warm and passionate and the latter sounds strong and lyrical.
…………………………………………………………..Other words?  Other sounds? 
Last weekend ended with the sounds of rain and wind outside the hotel.  Inside the warmth of an overstuffed bed and fluffy pillows strewn about the floor. Freedom.  To dream. To sleep. 


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