Welcome to Aimee and Jean's Story Blog ~ Here, Aimee and Jean will periodically post stories, ramblings and newsy tidbits.
Archives 2006 2007 2008 2009
Goodbye, Dennis Hopper (May 31, 2010)
Just as he did for so many others, Dennis Hopper roared into my consciousness on the back of a Harley, in what was likely expected to be a little indie film called Easy Rider. But as we all know, the film would become a landmark of the Sixties counterculture, and Dennis Hopper, an icon of that generation.
The commune sequences of Easy Rider were filmed just outside Taos, New Mexico, which unbeknownst to me at the time, would eventually become my hometown. But at that time I lived far, far away in many respects. I was a naive young woman, coming of age in a world much different from the one in which I was raised. The soundtrack of my childhood spoke of doggies in windows and never-ending love. But just over a decade later, popular songs split into two distinct categories. There were still the upbeat little pop tunes about red rubber balls and more timely, but still optimistic songs about wearing flowers in your hair. But now there were others depicting a world with a sinister underbelly. People were strange, and "All my sorrows, sad tomorrows" are juxtaposed with "oh, but I don't wanna die." There was a hip, colorful and exciting veneer stretched over a reality of political and social upheaval. The youth of America was divided between those who cried out for love and peace and those who chanted for revolution.
For me it seemed that the film roles played by Dennis Hopper epitomized the edge of a new and ever-escalating uncertainty. He was every whack-job ever produced by the substrata of America, a bellwether of increasing madness. But now I see Dennis Hopper as an enigma...a brilliant and exceptionally creative human being who left a rich legacy which encompassed the very best and the very worst of humanity. He appeared to be fearless in his quest to confront the darkest and most brutal aspects of his own being. At the same time, he tirelessly brought forth his own creative vision to the world through his painting, sculpture, photography and writing. Perhaps the best way to describe him would be as a true explorer of the human experience.
Last year, our town celebrated the 40th anniversary of Easy Rider during the Taos Summer of Love events. To kickoff the summer, Dennis Hopper was named Honorary Mayor of Taos, New Mexico. And it seems now like that honor arrived just in time. What a privilege it is for those of us who live in and love Taos, that such an intelligent and gifted man chose to spend a part of his life here, and will undoubtedly be forever in our hearts.
Bless you, Dennis Hopper...rest in peace.
Posted by Aimee on 5/31/2010 at 1:49 p.m.
(Pictured above right: Dennis Hopper poses in front of his intriguingly creative self-portrait.)
Time To Water (May 11, 2009)
What a relief! It looks like for the first time in at least 4 years we are getting a real spring in Taos! Today, I knew it was time to start watering our still-young trees...and this season our newest family member, Gisela (Geesie for short), will be a part of it. Gisela is a two-and-a-half year-old miniature dachshund. She is joining her big brother, Joaquin (a beautiful viszla mix) in the watering festivities. Joaquin was my sole watering companion, last year, and he learned quickly how to run for the watering bucket to get a nice fresh drink from the hose.
As it turned out, Geesie didn't care for the bucket, but she did enjoy running in circles around the trees and tempting Joaquin to join in big running games with her around the property. These two make an interesting pair that catches a lot of attention everywhere I take them. Why? They are both red-hound types, but Joaquin is a large, long-legged beauty, and Gisela is a tiny, short-legged cutie. They have learned how to play together successfully: Joaquin jumps over Geesie and she, in turn, stops in her tracks when she hears the sound of his poweful paws approaching her.
But back to the weather. For the first time in four years there are tons of blossoms: apples trees, cherry trees, wild plums, lilacs, and our own crab apple tree. They had been getting froze out as late as the end of May, and the whole loss of spring thing has been heartbreaking for us, as it is the favorite time of year for both Aimee and me. But I think we're gonna make it this year...I really do think that spring is here!
Posted by Jean on 5/11/2009 at 8:22 p.m.
(Pictured right: Joaquin and Gisela at dinnertime. Photo by Jean, copyright © 2009 Taos Unlimited)
Coyote Howl (March 23, 2009)
My side of the house is the smaller "half," running the length of the south side. With big windows down the entire south wall, I am blessed with the need for fresh air year-round. In the crisp winter air, sounds tend to carry, so I am treated to some of the clearest coyote choruses in the colder months. Sometimes they are short and sweet, without much improvising, and at other times they perform more enthusiastic, longer, and more complex programs. Last night, however, must have been some special occasion, with special guests coming in from all over, because this was the virtuoso coyote chorus. I heard homages to Stravinsky and Shostakovich; improvisations on solos by Coltrane and Parker, and even a nod to scat singing a la Ella. I am hoping this is a festival, and not a one night stand. I'd sure like to hear what they do for an encore!
Posted by Aimee on 3/23/2009 at 2:12 p.m.
Goodbye, Paul Newman (September 29, 2008)
I was deeply moved when I heard about the passing of Paul Newman on Saturday, September 27th. He is, without a doubt, my favorite actor; and he was the star of my two all-time favorite films, Hud and Paris Blues.
Oddly enough, Aimee and I were both lucky enough to have had real-world encounters with Mr. Newman, although they were minor ones. I remember mine fondly.
It was 1972, and I was 21 years old and living in Los Angeles, California, with my best friend, Cathy. One day we were out and about in West Hollywood and I had stopped for a red light in the left turn lane, and lo and behold, there was Butch Cassidy, in a Mercedes convertible coupe, waiting to make a left turn across the intersection from us. Upon seeing him, I screamed, Oh, my God, theres Paul Newman! and Cathys excitement quickly escalated to the same level as mine.
Realizing we had spotted him and were having teenage-girl type fits at a busy intersection, he rolled his eyes somewhat and started giving me hand signals indicating that I should make my left turn and he would make his; there would be no crazy and potentially hazardous u-turn in the middle of the road so that we could pursue him after he turned onto La Brea Avenue.
I obeyed Mr. Newmans command, and made my turn onto Laurel Canyon Boulevard, but I did so with a heavy heart. Paul Newman was a dreamboat, an icon, the sex symbol of multiple generations; and I had to helplessly watch him drive away, never to set eyes upon him (in the flesh) again.
Aimees meeting with the legendary actor was quite different. In the early 1990s, she worked at a natural food store/deli in Westport, Connecticut, where Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward had an East Coast residence. Mr. Blue Eyes came into the store on occasion, and he let it be known that he liked Aimees pasta sauce, which had developed a following in the community: on the days she made lasagna, the deli would be jammed packed.
In the early 1980s, Newman had started producing his own pasta sauces for his charitable food company, "Newmans Own," and as we reminisced, Aimee remarked about how different her sauce was from his and how flattered she was that he had liked it. We had a little laugh about the irony of her connection with him.
As one of the finest actors of the 20th century, Paul Newman had the ability to portray characters that are truly unforgettable, in stories that had real meaning and value. Some of his most memorable performances were in classic films such as: Somebody Up There Likes Me, Until They Sail, The Long Hot Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler, Hud, Paris Blues, Cool Hand Luke, Harper, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, Harry and Son, Nobodys Fool, and The Verdict (among many others). Ive been entertained by Paul Newmans acting pretty much my whole life, and I will continue to watch his films again and again.
Paul Newman was the kind of person that is definitely needed in a mixed-up, troubled world. He had class, wisdom and an abundance of charisma. He leaves a space that no one else can fill. My heart goes out in sympathy to his wonderfully talented wife, Joanne, and the rest of his family. But there is no doubt that he lived a long, full life, and his contributions to humanity were truly great, leaving a legacy of extraordinary talent and philanthropy that will be difficult for most others to surpass.
A great man is gone. Goodbye, Paul Newman. I love you, and I always will.
Posted by Jean on 9/29/2008 at 3:45 p.m.
(Pictured above right: Paul Newman as the film character, Hud.)
Get Your Kicks on Route 66 (August 28, 2008)
As a young girl, I was a big fan of the classic 1960s TV series Route 66, and I'm just as (or even more) enthusiastic about it today. I have been enjoying the first season of this great show on DVD, and it was fun to see the boys (Tod Stiles and Buz Murdock) cruise their way into Santa Fe, New Mexico, in their groovy 1960 Corvette.
It was interesting to see how much Santa Fe has (and hasn't) changed over the last 47 years! When the boys walked around the Plaza area, it looked pretty much as it does today (with less traffic, of course), and when they entered the historic La Fonda Hotel, that could have been today, as well. What was really shocking to me was seeing a scene they shot from a balcony of the La Fonda: in the view below you could see the iconic St. Francis Cathedral, but beyond, the surrounding area was basically undeveloped, with only the hills and mountains for scenery. It made me wish that the whole of the City Different had been that undeveloped during the years I lived there (from 1993 to 2002), but it was a very "different" Santa Fe, New Mexico, by then.
The thing is, the inner, historic areas of Santa Fe have changed very little in the last 50 years. And it's that charm and unique character that keeps people coming back to visit there again and again. But during the late 20th century, Santa Fe became a booming tourist city with lots of real estate development taking place in the surrounding outlying areas. My reason for leaving Santa Fe was a simple one: I was longing for a more rural lifestyle and decided it was time to make the lifelong dream of living in Taos, New Mexico, a reality (I finally did that in 2005). I understand that Tod and Buz come back to our region of the Southwest in Season Two...I hope they visit Taos this time! But I won't know if they do or not until that DVD set is released in October.
Posted by Jean on 8/28/2008 at 4:10 p.m.
(Pictured right: Martin Milner and George Maharis from the TV series "Route 66.")
Let It Snow (February 8, 2007)
We had our first big snow storm early in December. Angel Fire got 54" just in a day and a night, if I remember correctly. That much snow falling that fast must have been something to see. My desk is in front of 3 large south facing windows, so I have to keep them covered this time of year, or I wouldn't be able to see my computer screen. But when it snows, I can open all the curtains and get a look at my beautiful world for the day. I love to sit in my cozy little home and watch the snow come down, and I have had an abundance of such opportunities this winter!
We got about 18" of snow where we are during that first storm, and it was a challenge to get the gate open when I went out to the post office a few days later. I opened the gate as far as I could, and that has been it's furthest reach since. It's far enough to get the car out, but I can't drive straight through. This has made getting out of the yard pretty interesting at times, as we've had more snow pile on top of the original accumulation. Some of the snow has melted of course, but up until this week it hasn't been much at all. We have 4 wheel drive, but our tires are small, which adds even more interest to the comings and goings. Getting in and out of the yard has become something of a rodeo event over the last few months.
On my most recent visit to the post office, there were a couple of men in line ahead of me. One of them, a man perhaps in his late 50s or early 60s, was relating his recent experience of being the first person down several of the slopes at the Taos Ski Valley with 26" of new powder. Ah Powder! This is the word spoken with perhaps the most joy and reverence here in the winter time. The delight which shone in this man's face and the enthusiasm in his words made every trek of a step out to open the gate, and every buck of my steel bronco worth the trouble.
Posted by Aimee on 2/08/2007 at 7:34 a.m.
(Pictured above right: Footprint in deep Taos, New Mexico snow. Photo by Jean, copyright @ 2007 Taos Unlimited)
Anticipating Bird Fest (October 7, 2006) ~~ Click here to see more of Sadie's Birdfest ~~
We moved into this home just over a year ago. Autumn was very warm last year, and riots of sunflowers populated the yard outside Jean's windows. A lone pioneer had taken up residence outside my office window in the hopes of establishing a new colony.
As the weather grew cold, we both watched in fascination and delight as the birds began to feast on the ripened sunflower seeds. Some large flower stalks were strong enough to support the weight of the wrens as they sat on their heads, pulling out seeds to their hearts' content. Others were heavier, or perched on delicate stalks. They hung upside down on bent heads, like small acrobats attached to safety wires but with the great advantage of flight should they lose their grasp. The feasting went on for weeks, and we tried to make a little time each day between unpacking to enjoy the show.
My little Sadie lovebug, like most of her kind, does not enjoy relocation. Before we moved last year, we purchased a kitty playground for her, and I waited until we moved to set it up for the first time. She loves to sit or nap right by me while I work, so I set it up in front of the window by my desk. (And she is napping there right now!)
Sadie had never seen such a contraption before. There are padded play shelves, and a little "birdhouse" for cozy naps. The top platform is exactly window height, and there is even a kitty hammock! I attached her favorite stuffed mouse onto the top platform with a curly extending cord, just to entice her to try it out, and to let her know that this piece of furniture is all hers.
Over the next few weeks she explored the shelves, and began to realize that this was indeed a little cat haven. She started to watch out the window, and play quite vigourously with her mouse. It took sometime longer, but eventually, she started crawling into the birdhouse to nap, sometimes bringing her mouse in with her.
Winter turned to a long, beautiful spring, almost seamlessly melting into a beautiful summer. It was cool for the desert, with abundant rain in the later months. Every day we explored for new wildflowers, finding lots of old favorites, and quite a few we had never seen before.
When August came so did the sunflowers, and this year, to my great delight my little pioneer raised a large family right outside Sadie's window. Every day I see her at the window, completely unaware of what she is about to experience for the first time. I can't wait to share this year's bird fest with her!
Posted by Aimee on 10/07/2006 at 10:16 a.m.
(Pictured above right: Aimee's cat, Sadie, looks out her window during Bird Fest 2006. Photo by Jean, copyright © 2006 Taos Unlimited)
Website Progress (September 26, 2006)
I thought I'd say a few words about Taos Unlimited and the progress we are making on the expansion of the website content. I've been working hard on getting a number of sections of the website up (such as: Chili, Museums, Turquoise, etc.), while Aimee is focusing on taking care of our growing listing membership and the main website. It's a lot of work for both of us on a daily basis.
I've got some really fun things in the works for Taos Unlimited...sections that are just pure fun and entertainment. When I get any of these sections uploaded, I'll post here to let everyone know. Our goal is to be both vitally informative and entertaining with Taos Unlimited, so that our visitors will return again and again to the website.
We do plan to post regularly on the Blog, but it looks like until things slow down a bit for Aimee, she won't have much time to post here. I'll drop in as often as I can to keep things moving.
Posted by Jean on 9/22/2006 at 11:50 p.m.
Our Trees (September 19, 2006)
I thought I'd write a little about our trees. They mean so much to us. This last April we planted six lovely Austree shade trees. We situated five of them just to the north of our house to create a little grove for privacy, shade and a break from the fierce winds we seem to get here. The sixth tree was planted closer to the house to create another small, more intimate sitting area. I took on the responsibility of making sure these little "sprouts" would make it to maturity by doing the daily watering and other related care (like talking to them and letting them know we expected them to grow big and strong and shade us well for the many years we plan to live here).
Day after day, during the late spring and into summer, I diligently watered, tended and praised our new family members. My hound dog, Juno, joined me in this process most days, following me from tree to tree, or wandering off a ways to sniff something he found to be of interest. I watched in awe as the trees grew into fine looking specimens that will certainly provide us with a lot of joy and pleasure as they extend themselves into full growth.
There was a troubling week or two when two of the trees appeared to have died, having not come out of dormancy after they were planted. But, lo and behold, with the proper "spiritual guidance," I was able to save them by cutting them down to a nub and letting them burst forth again. Those two trees will be a year behind the other four, but they are alive and well and they will surely find their way in next spring's growing season.
A couple of weeks ago, the leaves on our trees starting turning a beautiful chartreuse, and then vivid yellow, and I knew it was time for them to think about getting some rest during the coming winter. I told them I would miss watching them grow and bring forth their beautiful branches and abundant leaves, but that I knew that they would resume their upward spiral with the coming of next spring. When I catch of glimpse of them now, out my windows, I do feel a little sad knowing that soon they will be bare, facing the harsh winter winds and snows that are ahead of us.
The good thing is, we will most likely be sitting in our little grove by the end of next summer, as these trees grow like wildfire...several feet each year! Next spring I will have the four larger trees and the two smaller trees to nurture into fuller growth, along with two new trees that we plan to add to the others. So I'll be out there with them again, watering, tending, watching and talking. But this time, I'll also have the added benefit of doing some sitting...under our trees.
Posted by Jean on 9/19/2006 at 12:16 a.m.
(Pictured above right: One of our small trees with its yellowing leaves against a clear Northern New Mexico sky. Photo by Jean, copyright © 2006 Taos Unlimited)
Welcome to Aimee and Jean's Story Blog (July 9, 2006)
Jean, here. Aimee and I will be posting little stories and goings-on that are related to the Taos Unlimited website and/or life in Taos in general. This is just an introductory post to get the ball rolling.
Man, have we had the rain lately! Day after day after day we've had heavy clouds and rain off and on throughout the day and night. And boy is it cool! For the second week of July it is very pleasant and not hot in the least (most days). Aimee has taken some great photos of our daily "cloud shows" and I plan to put them into a photo album on the website. One thing Taos is known for is its beautiful cloud formations and we enjoy them tremendously.
Well, that will do for now. I'm sure Aimee will be by soon with her "introductory" post.
Posted by Jean on 7/09/2006 at 10:33 p.m.
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