Monday, 24 April 2017

There’s no place like home...

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in.

All back safe and sound.
Packed planes, wedged between big guys on both the flight from Albuquerque to Dallas, and then Dallas to Heathrow,
(which would sound quite appealing in any other setting except American Airlines Economy!)

Good to be home, I can tell you!
We had a little fiasco at Albuquerque Airport.
Never had an issue there before, they’ve always been pretty friendly there, but the guys we dealt with this time had obviously just recently graduated from the 
“be-rude-and-aggressive-to-foreigners-college”.
Steve and I both stepped up to the passport guard. 
I had both passports and handed him one. 
“You’re in the wrong line! You should be in Pre-Check! (?)
Go over there!”
So Steve and I both made a move towards the area he was pointing at.
He goes for Steve, “Hey! Where’s your passport? You gotta show me your ID, sonny!”
“You just checked his passport.” I said, “Do you want mine?”
Well, he nearly hit the roof. Which just goes to show that nobody likes getting caught out, do they? He had actually not even noticed that the first passport I handed him was not mine but my brother’s. 
Homeland Security couldn’t see the difference between a 6’4” rugby playing MALE and a 5’8” middle-aged FEMALE.
Anyway, you’d have thought we had committed a crime the way they barked at us and shunted us around. I was shaking by the time we got to the area where we had to shove our hand luggage through the scanner.

And I KNOW you can get impolite people everywhere, and I KNOW we have them here too, but civility costs nothing, does it?
When we were at Heathrow leaving the UK two weeks ago, there was an elderly American couple in front of us at the hand luggage inspection area, where you have to take your shoes off and they check for liquids, etc.
Well, you would not believe how many bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, face cream and cosmetic gear came out of her hand luggage. It was like a tardis! And I’m talking economy size bottles, not travel set! 
It was like a serious cosmetic haul from Boots !
The English officer assisting them never flinched, never chastised them, never raised her voice. never said, “You should know this by now!”, nothing. Just quietly explained that it was not possible to take all these liquids on the plane, suggested that they should check it into the hold, because it was, after all, an expensive confiscation. The American women had a big fat go at her, and the American husband tried to pretend it wasn’t happening. 
I can only begin to imagine what would have happened to me if I had tried that trick at Albuquerque. 
I think Steve would have jumped the barrier !!

Anyway, happy to be back in Blighty. Dave was there to meet us; 
it was great to see him. And I sense that he is happy to have me home too.

So tomorrow it’s back to work.
Actually, I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle. 
Got some cool new ideas kicking around in this head of mine 
that never sleeps.

Now to contend with ye olde jetlag.
I never set my watch to U.S. time all the time we were over there.
I wanted to know at a glance what time of the day it was in Daveworld, so I would know whether I could call home or not. 
Did I switch off? Not really.
Did I read a book? Not one page.
Did I have fun? You bet!



One last little anecdote from White Sands.
It was bright, very very bright in the searing sun and the white dunes. As we were walking back along the walkway to the car,



a lady was coming towards us.
“I have been told there is a lizard out there with a blue tail. 
Have you seen it?”

“Who said that?” came the instant response from my brother, squinting into the sunshine.
His humour is quick, rare and wonderful.


Love & Hugs,
Barb
xxx

Sunday, 23 April 2017

A Strange Experience

Hiya!
Thanks for popping in.
Suitcase packed, left Nancy at the house as we waved bye bye until the next time.
Sitting outside the coffee shop blogging to you 
before we head to the airport.

Just wanted to tell you about yesterday.
It was quite amazing.


The three of us headed up to Acoma, Sky City.
The natural rock formations leading up to the pueblo are out of this world. No small wonder they chose this place to settle.
We went up to the mesa, the village on the top of the plateau
and looked out over the world....

None of the scenic photos do the view justice,
but here you see Nancy and Steve, and can catch a glimpse of the enormity of the backdrop.


The white ladders led to secret kivas.
They made them look like houses here to disguise them.
Why?
The Indians had to hide their religious and spiritual beliefs from the Catholics when they pitched up.


Now something very, very strange happened to me yesterday,
which I want to share with you, because I think you will get it.
We got to an area of the pueblo where there had been some terrible atrocities committed. I won’t repeat it because it really is too horrendous to consider.
Anyway, the Indian guide, whose name was also Steven, 
was relaying the story.
It was in an area which had been destroyed by cannons, 
so it wasn’t here in the picture, but you see the guide, and Steve and Nancy listening intently. He was very good; fascinating and charismatic.


Long story short, as Steven started to describe the atrocities and shocking actions against the native Indians, I suddenly came over really, really strange. Went very pale, white light, as if I was having some kind of outer body experience.
I moved away from the area for a moment to sit down, and instantly felt better. So I went back to continue on the tour, but as soon as I went back to the place where it had all happened many hundreds of years ago, it hit me again, really hard.
The only time this ever happened to me before was in Luxor Temple in Egypt, when I walked across a sacrificial altar. (But I will tell you about that another time. Grace copped it in Egypt, and so did my dad)

Now the cynics out there may argue that I had altitude sickness, but actually, we weren’t that high up. We have been much much higher on the Sandia peaks and even Mountainair is almost as high.


Nancy is a very wise, astute woman who is completely in tune with this area. “You understand how powerful spirits are, don’t you? Some people are more receptive to other dimensions and energies, and you are clearly one of them.”

We had to get away from the houses, from that part of the town. And as soon as we did, I was instantly back to normal. 

Ask me if I’m going back again!
Make of it what you will. I KNOW the truth.

On the way back to Mountainair, we had a great meal in La Luna Mansion. Another iconic building, but how different!


Check this out!!


So that’s it folks.
Time to head to the airport.
But not before we pop into Walmart for Mum’s salad dressing and more make-up sponges for the workshops!
Never switches off? Yes, she does, she really does.

Love & Hugs,
Barb 
xxx





Saturday, 22 April 2017

This is what I call Dedication!

Howdy!
Thanks for joining me again on our trails through New Mexico.

Picture the scene right now.
She sets the alarm for 6am, wraps up warm, because it is chilly here at the crack of sparrows, and sets off to the coffee shop to blog,
having been told it is always open at 6am.

Is it? Is it heckaslike!
So she parks up outside near where she know the modem inside to be, and tries her luck. Bingo. We have wifi!

So as you read this, picture me sat in a rental car OUTSIDE said coffee shop, trying to heat up.
That’s what I call dedication!

Yesterday, Steve and I took off for Old Town Albuquerque. 
It’s one of my favourite places. 

There is a wonderful leafy plaza right in the centre, where you can sit in the shade of the trees, and listen to music. There is always music coming from somewhere or somebody.

Yesterday there was a great jazz sax player busking on the corner.
I love the sax, and he was very soulful. 
Good music like that really sets the scene and the pace, doesn’t it?


Across the plaza is a very old church,
San Felipe de Neri Church, built in 1793


Check out the blue skies again!
We have been so lucky all week. 
They have followed us since we landed!


There are wonderful statues tucked in among the greenery, too.
You just have to stop and let your eyes find things.


And just look at this burst of beauty!
Everywhere you see beautiful flowers.


Only one bit of bad news:
Steve is not coming home. 
He has been offered a job here and has decided to stay.

They have asked him to be Deputy Sheriff.


The pay’s not as good, but he gets a gun, he loves the uniform
and the weather’s lovely. 

Laugh???
Steve had to kneel down and crouch behind the cutout because evidently they assume that kids are short, and not 6'4".
and I had to kneel down to get the right angle on the photo. 
Well it wasn’t till I was down there and I looked through the eye of the camera that it hit me how comical he looked.
So that was it. I was in a giggle-lock and could get up off my knee.
In the meantime, Steve’s back had siezed up again (it has been giving him stick since the session in the shower!), 
and he was stuck behind the cowboy cutout. 
People passed us by, and there we were, 
trapped in our own comedy sketch.
It was the silent wheezing which gave it away. You know when your laughter goes to the next level and there is no sound? 

Eventually, it was Steve who was able to raise himself up and shuffle over to me and haul me up on my feet. 


There is nothing like it.
Clowning about with people you love.
Keeps you young.

And now the car is toasty, and I shall go back to the house for a cup of tea. We are off to Acoma, Sky City today.
Nancy, (my tyre-home friend) is coming too, so that will be fun.

Tomorrow we head back to reality, back to work, back to Blighty.
Can’t wait to see Dave. But otherwise I could quite happily apply for the Deputy Sheriff’s boot cleaner’s job!

Love and Hugs,
Barb
xxx




Friday, 21 April 2017

What a Star you are!

Howdi.
Greetings from Mountainair, New Mexico.



Steve and I have already taken a tour of the pueblo ruins El Quarai,
and I shall be stepping it up again there with my dear friend Nancy (she who built her tyre home, remember?) later this afternoon.
It is just the most beautiful circuit, and while I’m fulfilling my pledge of 10,000 steps every day for the love of Jayne Nestorenko, why not do it in a place of outstanding natural beauty?

I still have the justgiving page open, if you feel like giving to Cancer Research. Together we have raised over £3,000 already! And I’ve got plenty of steps left in me yet!

The blimming internet modem packed up on me at the house last night, so I’ve come to the coffee shop down the road, where they have wifi to chat to you today.

Actually, I thought that it being Friday, a private peek,
I would tell you a story....
Many years ago, I bought the old schoolhouse in Mountainair.
It’s a historic building and very, very special here in the community, because most of the elders went to school there!
Anyway, the lady who sold it to me was and still is a wonderful artist. The place had been an art gallery for years.
Her life partner, John Davidson, had sadly passed away, and she was ready to move on. He was also a very talented artist, whose work is well known in the region. 
Here is a piece of his art, just to give you an idea of his immensity.

So here’s the thing...
outside the coffee shop is a wonderful piece of artwork, 
a sculpture which another great artist in town created.

 A blacksmith called Leroy made it in memory of his great friend, John Davidson.
It really is splendid...





What a Star you are.

Upon inspection, it is a wonderful piece of artwork.



I remember Leroy told me years ago how the two of them used to drink coffee and talk for hours, so when you look closely at the ship, you will note the coffee cup at the top of the mast.

And what better place to erect this monument than in front of the coffee shop!



And now, bringing the friendship full cycle, 
we commissioned Leroy to make the wrought iron security grills 
on the old schoolhouse last time we were here.

They are very, very lovely, especially now that they have weather in a little. If I get a chance, I will take a picture of them for you before we leave.

But I find it very comforting that the man who owned the house we own was great friends with the guy who made our wrought iron.

This morning I bumped into a guy in town who is great friends with Dorothy, the lady I bought the house from. I really liked her. She was a beautiful spirit. Well, he told me she is doing great! Still bouncing between Oregon and New York, where her children live. That makes me so happy to hear, because she was well into her 70’s when I bought the house from her! 
And that was about 13 years ago! 

Anyway, I have thoroughly enjoyed sitting here in the coffee shop, chatting to you and watching the world come in and out. 
It’s like I’ve never been away.

Love and hugs,

Barb
xxx


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Post Card from New Mexico

Hi there!
Greetings from America!
The weather’s here, wish you were lovely!
Only kidding....
Remember the postcards quips when you were a kid?
I’m a monkey for buying postcards, even writing them,
 then forgetting to post them! Mostly end up handing them to the recipient when I get back!
One of you called this blog a postcard blog yesterday, 
which I thought was very cool.

Found a corker today at White Sands.
Here’s the road runner, strutting his stuff across the dunes.



Tell you what though: White Sands is a phenomenon too.

Allow me to backtrack to this morning.
We set off from Carlsbad, turned left at Artesia and headed for Cloudcroft, up up up in the mountains. 

What was astounding was how dramatically the terrain changed as we drove just 90 miles from A to B.

It started out as flat as a tack, with nothing, no trees, just the occasional shrub....



In no time,  the grass got greener, 
the hills started to rise up out of the ground...



Very soon there were tall trees and mountains emerging,



and tucked right up in the hills we found Cloudcroft,
a really quaint place.


Evidently, it is hunting season, because the hunters were out in their camouflage and pick-up trucks.
So Steve asked me whether I have ever seen the film Deliverance.
Nope, was the reply, so he proceeded to put the wind right up me and tell me all about it. 
Just as a band of wild looking mountain men strolled across in front of us! Typical brother!

We left town (sharpish!) and headed towards Alamogordo, 
White Sands National Monument.
The scenery en route is unbelievable.
No photos or postcards can do it justice.



And the heat in the white dunes!
Ever seen the film 10 with Dudley Moore, when he hops from towel to towel on the beach because the sand is too hot?



It is so surreal, you could believe that millions of tons of white sand have just been dumped there. 
But not so.
They are actually very rare Gypsum dunefields.
Pretty phenomenal, as I was saying. 




Everywhere you turn here, you see Picture Postcards.
The caverns, the mountains, the boardwalks, the dunes.

Do you know we have a Picture Postcard making Stamp Kit? Yep.
So you can make postcards out of your photos!
Not just holiday snaps - grandchildren, Christmas pics, all sorts!
It is lovely; Jim designed it. 


We have added a pack of 50 A6 cards to get you started!

Here are a couple of very arty cards made using the postcard elements on the front too.




Maybe, when I get home, I will pick out the best photos from the trip, and make a few personal postcards for friends...

Time to tuck in.

Love & Hugs,
Barb
xxx


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

It got quite steamy in the hot house...

Howdi!
Thanks for popping in.

What a jam packed day we have had today!

This is a wall hanging in the zoo we visited which  I fell in love with :



We started out with a long walk around the Living Desert Zoo.
First thing I saw was a great quote on the wall:

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks,
- John Muir



We strolled around the park in the hot desert sunshine. Saw so much, from wolves, mountain lions, bobcats and black bears
to bison, elk and prairie dogs.

They are so funny!



The vistas were breathtaking, but the heat! 


I was ready to join the turtles in amongst the water lilies!


We learned a valuable lesson about comparison.
There was a greenhouse-type building for the world’s succulents,
and I did warn Steve before we went in that it might be hot. 
“Hot??” he responded, “It’s 92 degrees fahrenheit out here!”

I kid you not. When we opened the door and entered it hit us like a hot towel. 120˚ and humid.
The cacti were the largest I have ever seen!
Steve couldn’t see anything because his glasses steamed up as soon as we entered!



It was so hot you could hardly breathe.
But we dragged our sorry limp selves round the amazing plants
with true British stoicism.

 



We were the only peeps in there too, 
which should have been an indicator...



Steve was waiting at the exit for me.
“Come on!” he called,  “we need to have this experience together.”

When we opened the escape hatch, and lept out, it was 
FREEZING OUTSIDE !!!!

Suddenly, 92˚ seemed really cold!



It’s like driving 120 miles an hour and then slowing down to 80.
80 mph suddenly seems sluggish. 
(Don’t worry, I only drove that speed in Germany!)

So yeah. It’s all relative, isn’t it. 
Everything.

I was really feeling my age climbing down into Carlsbad Cavern later in the afternoon. The elevator was broken, so we had to walk back up to the surface too.
But then I saw an elderly Mexican lady 
who must have been 80 if she was a day! 
And she was coping just fine! I mean, she wasn’t skipping or doing cartwheels! But she was getting there, one step at a time.
Then I saw people much younger than us barely able to make it back up to the surface. So you see, it’s all relative.

Best to just have the experience and not worry about what others are doing, eh. 
I will tell you all about Carlsbad Caverns another day. 
It is spectacular.  

P.S. 18,490 steps today.
And 66 floors.
No wonder I’m cream-crackered and Steve is snoring !!


Love & hugs,
Barb
xxx


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

BRUSH IT OFF

Hi there!
Thanks for popping in 
and joining us on our New Mexico adventures.

Glorious weather, blue skies.

We set off this morning on a little road trip. 
This time we headed south. Destination Carlsbad Caverns.
Past the salt flats, through Vaughn. 
I remembered that there’s a great diner there,
so we had a pit stop.



Spotted something on the menu which tickled me...



Ham and Eggs: 
A day’s work for a chicken; 
a lifetime commitment for a pig.


It’s a good 5 hour drive via Roswell.
So we stopped there and met a few of the locals...



Several new murals since last time.
This one is particularly pleasant:





Vast, wide open countryside, ribbon roads, heat haze, huge trucks.
Lots of abandoned homesteads, boarded up houses in the middle of nowhere. Rusty old cars and tractors sleeping in the fields.
Certainly very different to our little island. 

I was thinking as we drove into Carlsbad how empty the roads were, how few people were on the streets.
Then we parked up outside the hotel and bam! 


Ask me how hot it is down here...
over 90 degrees fahrenheit 

32+ degrees centigrade

April 17th. Blimey. Get the cozzy out and get in that pool !!

Time for something to eat, so we found a place called 
Buffalo Wild Wing.
Loads of massive pick-up trucks in the car park.
The pick-up trucks are insane! 
You could drive underneath the chassis in most English cars!
Lord knows how they get in them!
But in we ventured.

HUGE SPORTS BAR.



Packed out. Monday’s Family Night!



When in Rome do as the Romans do, eh?
 Hot wings it is then!


#brutal #lipsfelloff

Quote for the day: 
Brush it off.



I like that.
If something is getting under your skin, just brush it off.
Nothing is that important. Don’t let it nibble at you.
Just B.I.O.
Brush It Off. 


Love & Hugs,
Barb
xxx