Blackout Canto #15

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Winter Adventures: New Mexico

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John and I had an ambitious winter camping trip planned. Six parks in ten days. But then after Christmas travel, we were a little burned out. John was also just getting over a double-whammy of flu and pneumonia. So, aside from our plans to visit our friends in Albuquerque, we scrapped our entire plan.

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Instead, we spent seven days driving around New Mexico. Instead of racing through Albuquerque, we spent an entire day wandering around Petroglyph National Monument, taking in ancient art. We also had some amazing food at Sadie’s and Flying Star Cafe. And we got to spend much more quality time with friends than originally anticipated.

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After some time in Albuquerque, armed only with the recommendations of friends and a print copy of the Lonely Planet guide to the Western USA (well, plus cell phones with decent data plans), we took off toward Santa Fe. We continued to eat exceptionally well, especially at the Shed. Instead of camping, we got a great off-season rate at the Old Santa Fe Inn. This was also my first experience staying in a hotel with a fireplace.

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I found myself moved to tears in the Georgia O’Keeffe museum. I loved wandering around the historic center of town. I also loved the Wheelwright Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

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The highlight of the trip, though, was hiking in Bandelier National Monument. In many ways, that was a difficult hike. It’s actually not especially tough, but I was struggling with altitude sickness. But at the end of it all, just before sunset, we came across a herd of mule deer as we were leaving the park. Unfortunately, because I’m not the greatest low-light photographer, not all of my pictures turned out well. That doesn’t detract from the incredible experience of being so close to so many deer.

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After some time in Santa Fe, we went up to Taos for the night, in hopes of getting to see the Taos Pueblo. We took our time, visiting Holy Chimayo for a few hours. Even if you are not religious, there’s something arresting about the site. I absolutely recommend visiting.

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We also went out to Ghost Ranch, which is a gorgeous space. Just a few minutes there, and you can see how it influenced O’Keeffe’s work. I hope I get the chance to spend more time out there in the future.

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Sadly, we were unable to see Taos Pueblo, because it was closed. But since we were close by, we went out to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. I found this one of the most startling and emotionally volatile parts of the trip, not just because of the incredible view and my fear of heights, but also because of the suicide hotline phones, and the inspirational messages and tokens left by an artist hoping to prevent jumpers from taking their lives. I had not expected to see those.

We got a third hike in at Tent Rocks National Monument. This site had been closed for a tribal event the first time we tried to go, so I’m glad we had the opportunity to double back and visit. I’m also glad I got to take that hike after I’d gotten over the altitude sickness! I’d never heard of Tent Rocks before, but it’s otherworldly. While it can be tough to access, I encourage you to go if you’re in the Albuquerque area.

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While we didn’t have the adventure we planned, we had one just as good, if not better. I’m absolutely smitten with New Mexico, and hope to visit again soon.

Birdathon: Mute Swan

Peculiar that swan should mean a sound?
I’d thought of gods and power, and wounds.
But here in the curious quiet this one has settled down.

From “Inside My Head” by Robert Creeley

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Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

(Note: The mute swan is not native to Central Texas. In the Travis Audubon seasonal distribution guide notes that it was an introduced/escaped species originally bred in captivity. The mute swan now manages to breed in the wild.)

From April 1st until May 15th I’m taking part in Birdathon, a challenge I’m undertaking as as member of Travis County Audubon to raise money in support of local birds and their habitat. My goal is to raise $500, and I’m 35% of the way there! If you’d like to contribute to my campaign, visit my donation page.

Birdathon: American Coot

American Coots

Not everything that floats
is a duck. Or contains
the mythic beauty
of a swan. Or honks
a song all the way
across a continent.
Or inspires philosophy
and odes. We squeak
and clack, white beaks
stark against the black.
Not everything that flies
does so with grace.
We can race
into the sky, but our wings
strain against the air.
Not everything made
of meat is edible.
Not every game
is worth the chase.
We thrive on indifference.
Not every water bird
waddles. Watch us dig
our toes deep into the sand,
watch us root
ourselves to the world.

From April 1st until May 15th I’m taking part in Birdathon, a challenge I’m undertaking as as member of Travis County Audubon to raise money in support of local birds and their habitat. My goal is to raise $500, and I’m 35% of the way there! If you’d like to contribute to my campaign, visit my donation page.

Birdathon 2017: Great-Tailed Grackle

Warn those you love when the predator
approaches. Screech loudest when you
are the predator.

From “Advice from the Grackle” by Susan Elizabeth Howe

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Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)

From April 1st until May 15th I’m taking part in Birdathon, a challenge I’m undertaking as as member of Travis County Audubon to raise money in support of local birds and their habitat. My goal is to raise $500, and I’m a third of the way there! If you’d like to contribute to my campaign, visit my donation page

Yoga + Writing Workshop Coming Up!

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A year ago, a good friend of mine took me to Modo Yoga Austin to try out a class. I had no idea I would be walking into a hot yoga session. I’d tried Bikram a few times and didn’t enjoy it, so if I’d known, my prejudice would have gotten in the way.

I was shocked to find that I loved hot yoga. I kept going back. Now, if I go more than a few days without a hot class, I feel like I’m missing something.

The Modo community is fantastic. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. And I finally have the opportunity to host a workshop I’ve wanted to run for years.

On Sunday, November 13th, I’ll be running “Embodied Creativity: Yoga + Writing” at the Modo Austin studio. In this workshop, we’ll use both asana and writing as a way to unblock our creative forces. The workshop is suited for all artists, whether you’re a designer, poet, dancer, actor, musician, writer, or anything else. All levels are welcome! The yoga sequence is designed for all levels, so even if you’re an absolute beginner, you can come enjoy the practice.

The workshop is $30 ($25 for Modo members), and you can register at the school. Space is limited to 15 people, so sign up soon!

Check out the workshop flier for details: workshop_flyer_2