From Berries to Museums

So “weekends” are a bit of a strange concept when you run a family business, but it gives you a lot more flexibility.These days my grandmother stays to run the family gallery, she doesn’t really want to go out much, and since she lives on the premises, it works well. My mom and I try to make sure that one or the other of us is there with her every day.Yesterday was my “weekend”, so I got to take care of stuff around the house, yay! Ok so that includes laundry, and dishes, and cleaning, but yesterday that also included a few more fun things.Like canning prickly pear cactus berries

This is after we had already processed two bowls of berries. Our cactuses were plentiful this year. So you would think that we would have a whole lot of stuff to can from that right? Nope. Two bowls made 4 cans and one bonus syrup can.

And yes, those aren’t even all that full.So what’s the deal? They aren’t made of so much water that there is little to preserve, like watermelon, no. These poor prickly little devils are mostly seeds. Rock hard little tiny seeds fill most of the berry. Outside of the seeds is a layer barely a quarter of an inch thick of the tasty juicy, pinky purple fruit that is worth the battle with the prickles on the outside.To give you some idea what I’m talking about, here are the ones we dehydrated.

Each one of those pieces is the result of a single berry.I’ll get more into the prepping process when we do the rest, but suffice to say that prepping the two bowls we already did took two people the better part of a day.Oh and as you may have observed in the pictures, these berries have a very distinctive color. They can be used as a dye. We completely forgot we were going to squeeze out the compost to retrieve some, and I put it outside to await burial. It unfortunately dried out before I remembered.So after all that fun canning in the kitchen, I took care of the boring stuff. (A lot o dishes from that project, bleh!)But when Big got home from school, I took the kiddlets for a treat.

The Tinkertown Museum in Sandia Crest. I didn’t take a lot of pictures, but I’ll try to give you some idea of why I took the chillens there.

The first thing you notice is either the goofy lion or the bottle walls.

This is my kids pretending to be scared. Not so convincing my dears.

Inside you find elaborate hand carved displays representing several scenes, most notably the old west, and a magnificent circus. As you walk along, you find that there are many buttons to press which each trigger some of the characters to move. They are nothing fancy, but they are most charming. There is a Navajo silversmith who begins to hammer, a Mary Poppins rising with her umbrella, and a bar maid serving her customers. One of the most fun things is that each button can trigger several unrelated actions, and as if the intricately overcrowded displays weren’t enough of a treasure hunt, you get to search for the little movements triggered by the buttons.

These displays have always been my strongest memories of Tinkertown, but I think the kids had more fun with the old machines scattered around. There is a fortune teller, several tests of strength, and my favorite, the automatic one man band, all in working order ready to trade your quarters for a bit of fun.

Outside there were some recent additions, this was the big hit with my chillens.

I also did not remember the art car, but it may have been there before. Round out the trip with a visit to a miniature horse and off we go!

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Back to Madrid

I have been very busy lately, but I guess everyone can say that. The past year has held a lot of changes in my life, and I am trying to find a new routine. I am hoping that I will be able to post routinely here again. In high school I used to diary for hours every day. I know I can’t do that anymore, but I would like to keep some sort of record of my life again.

So why public? I hope this that by sharing my life, others may find that they are not alone in what they feel, and that people may start to see that others, even those who seem very different, are actually all very dim similar. There are certainly some things I will keep private, but I have always been a very open person, and I always imagined that that people would eventually read my diary, a la Anne Frank. I stopped writing in college because I was writing so many other things. Now I spend too much time playing games on my phone, I mean, who doesn’t these days? I’m gonna try to replace that habit with a few more productive ones.

So a short biography to get you started:

I grew up in a small town in New Mexico called Madrid. This artist community very much helped to shape who I am. I will probably write many more posts singing its praises, so I won’t do much of that here. Suffice to say that I split my time between helping run the oldest and largest gallery on the Turquoise Trail, The Johnsons of Madrid, and living with my dad on the land. Tiny homes have been a thing here long before the phrase was coined, but no one really thinks of it as odd.

I went to school in the closest city, Santa Fe, the oldest city in the United States. The normal drive is half an hour, but on the bus, it could take an hour in elementary school, since it wasn’t all the way into town, and closer to an hour and half to two hours in high school. (I rarely had homework, I usually had buswork.) The only exception was two years when I went to school in Albuquerque, because of my mom’s teaching career and relationship changes.

One of these years we lived at Kirtland air force base. The other year we lived in a converted school bus while we built a house in Madrid. (This will certainly end up with its own post at some point.) When I was eleven my dad moved to Dallas, TX. After that I spent a lot of summers and holidays in the big city helping as a finish carpenter in the most high end neighborhoods in the metroplex.

In school I was constantly overcommitting myself. (I still have a tendency to do this.) In elementary I was a girl scout for many years, I sang in choir, competed in Battle of the Books (BOB), I took, at varying times, classes in ballet, flamenco, and belly dancing, and I spent summers acting in (or just watching) melodrama at the local Madrid theatre (note to self- post on that too).

In middle school I joined the drill team, Battle of the Books again, MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement), and did several theatre projects including working with the Santa Fe Opera.

In high school I was in some way involved with every theatre project from the second semester of freshman year to my senior year when I chose to step back (offering assistance) to let the theatre director figure out that he needed to train people, or let students mentor each other, rather than just let people who already know take care of things. I continued with a city drill team, melodrama, and chaperoned the middle school’s BOB team, worked with other theatre groups in the city, and spent my weekends, when I wasn’t doing theatre, going to the under 21 club (the best club in town at the time btw).

For college I moved to Las Cruces. I did not get to be part of every show because I worked graveyard shift at various hotels. I earned two degrees, theatre and history, with honors. In also did work study in the costume shop (so awesome!!!!), and really got more involved in SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). During this time I also got married, and moved an hour away from school so my husband was near the air force base where he worked.

After graduating I kept working at hotels for awhile, but eventually switched to substitute teaching. Soon my first son was born. When my husband got out of the air force, we moved to the Pacific Northwest. I went back to working at hotels, which is where I started this blog.

We had two cars totalled within six months, then soon we started the house buying process, which took another six months, which timed our closing right before our second son was born. And a few weeks later I got a new job at a sewing store. Eventually I started streaming on Twitch a few nights a week.

That brings us to one year ago. That year will be a post unto itself, although some of the most important bits I am not at liberty to share.

I know this quick overview may be a bit dull, but I think it helps to give some context. Thanks! I hope you will hang with me on this adventure!

Chapter 18 (WIP) – False Expectations

Jessica’s alarm clock woke her up, pulling her back into all her fears that she had just cried out. If her schedule worked as planned, she would never need an alarm clock. Go to sleep in the morning, wake up naturally, do stuff in the afternoon, and then go to work when it was time.

But in reality, she had a hard time staying up all night, despite the fact that this was her normal schedule. When she got home she couldn’t sleep, and yet didn’t have the energy to get up and do anything. So she mostly meandered around the house starting a project, and then getting distracted by another until the sun went down. Then she fell asleep, but couldn’t rest for more than an hour or two if she was lucky. The alarm clock was an absolute necessity, and Jessica had deliberately chosen the loudest, most obnoxious one she could find.

Jessica got herself ready in the dark because she didn’t want to face the lights yet. Once she was dressed, she went out and was immediately surprised to find that the sun was up. She stood in the doorway for several moments trying to figure out why she was up at this hour. Finally it dawned on her that she needed to go ID the guy at the police station. She sighed before walking out and locking the door behind her.

When she arrived at the station, Jessica was greeted by a secretary with large dark circles around his eyes, and the same expression on his face that Jessica had when she hadn’t managed to get any sleep. She told him what she was there to do, and he slowly moved to use the intercom to let the detective know. The detective seemed agitated as he said “Well send her back! And step on it!”

The exhausted secretary started his sentence quickly “He will see you now.” but soon his pace slowed down again as he directed her to the room.

When Jessica walked in, it was clear that they had been waiting for her. They didn’t say anything, but everyone was just a little to stuck to their chairs, feet up, several empty soda cans on the floor, that type of thing.

Detective Haskell stood up and greeted her with a confident handshake. “I think we got ‘im, by george I think we got ‘im. Come ‘ere, come ‘ere, take a look.” With that they flipped the light on in the next room.

All Jessica could see was Rodney staring straight into her eyes. It was no doubt the man from her dream. The man she had just trusted with so much information about herself. And now he was staring at her through what was supposed to be a mirror on his side with a big number 4 on a card in front of him. She had a hard time pulling her eyes away to see the other men. But she was able to tell that none of them was the nervous kid with the gun.

When Jessica was able to pull herself away for long enough to make any observations at all, it seemed clear that the police had just cleared out a homeless encampment and brought all the guys in here. “None of them, he isn’t here. He was more put together, he looked more like a college or…” she paused, “or even a high school student. Not a bad kid from the looks of it, the good kid who just can’t make things work anymore I guess.”

Jessica was still very well aware that the Rodney twin was still staring straight at her when Detective Haskell asked her to take another look, and walked with her as she looked at each of the men in their worn out clothes. He slowed way down as he passed number four. “Are you positive that you have never seen any of these men before? I just want to make sure that you absolutely certain.” They continued walking and looking. And number four’s eyes followed her.

Jessica turned to the detective, and gathering her wits a bit looked him straight in the eye and said, “No. none of these men is the guy you are looking for.”

The detective just said “Very well.” before opening the door to let her leave. The heavy door closed slowly, and Jessica could hear the detective say, “Number 4. Book ‘im.” before it clanged shut.

Table of Contents

Children of Curiosity

In case you missed it, I am really adamant that all people should be able to have the chance to improve themselves. So I am building a new kind of school.

Education is the key to changing direction in life. I want to make sure that anyone can do it.

This school, called Children of Curiosity, is open to everyone, all ages, all backgrounds. Right now I am starting with in-person classes in Madrid, NM where I live. Eventually we will also offer online classes.

Our classes are all pay-what-you-want. I want to make sure that everyone has equal access to a high-quality education.

Classes are not divided by age, but rather by interest and competency. That means that if a high school kid missed the day in 5th grade when they introduced the concept of variables in algebra, and has been lost ever since, that kid can take the bit they missed, and then progress at their own pace.

Classes are broken down in smaller chunks than in traditional schools. That way if you have to miss an important day it sets you back maybe a week, instead of a whole semester.

We have a focus on making learning fun. Because learning IS fun. traditional schools have driven the curiosity out of education, and the engagement has gone with it.

We are all children of curiosity, and embracing that and using it is the best way to learn and become productive members of society.

Thank you for your support in any way that you can!

Long Time – Again

Wow! Life. Yeah…um, well…

So, a lot has changed recently. I am back in New Mexico. I am now working in my family’s gallery, The Johnsons of Madrid. I am also still working to build Children of Curiosity. I have started to do reading times at the Ortiz Mountain Community Library, which is also housed in the gallery.

When I first started this blog I was working front desk at hotels, so I spent a lot of time bored, waiting for customers to need something, so I had a lot of writing time. Then I started working at a sewing and vacuum store, and had no time at all. Now I’m not really sure…there is always something that needs to get done, but I still can squeak out a little down time here and there (ok, usually after the kids have gone to bed.) I really want to get back to streaming on Twitch, but I am having a real challenge finding a three hour uninterrupted time block that would be reliable.

But I can write in smaller chunks. And I can write whenever, doesn’t have to be on a schedule. So I think I can do this. I am making a commitment to myself to post something on one website I operate (4 of them) once a week, rotating through them. So that means about one post a month. For now. Once we get caught up with the life explosions around here, maybe we can get more.

Thank you for sticking with me. I think where I am in life is for the long haul now. It’s just a matter of getting past the urgent and into the routine.

Women’s Day

“Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History”.

I have started a pre-school reading time at the small Ortiz Mountain Community Library in Madrid, NM. For Women’s Day I chose the theme HerStory. This refers to the hidden history of women. It is often about the stories of women who made a huge difference and are commonly ignored in history as it is written or taught. Part of the reading time is a craft project.

I started searching online for ideas. when you type in “Women’s Day Crafts” all of the projects are flowers and hearts. Why would we celebrate women in such a narrow way? The point of Women’s Day is to celebrate the many facets and strengths of women. Hearts and Flowers are all well and good, but no woman I have ever met, even the most shallow, was all about hearts and flowers. And most women that I know outright reject the association.

Finally I chose to do a project relating to women’s suffrage. We will be making yellow flowers that represented support for women’s right to vote. We will also make sashes or picket signs. So, even when I consciously avoid the hearts and flowers, I still ended up doing flowers, oh well.

Women’s suffrage is an interesting topic. The way it has been presented, women did not have the right to vote because they were considered less than people. But that is not the original intention. It has to do with states and precincts. If under the United States, there are states, and under those there are cities, counties, precincts, etc, the smallest governmental unit would be the household. So the head of the household got the vote. Traditionally this was the man.

This works well enough if the voter takes into consideration the opinions of all members of the household. Socially however, women were generally unwelcome in discussions of politics. Men might not even think that his wife would be of a different opinion, or thinks he knows better. This system can also be a problem when a woman is the head of household. Widows, unmarried women, etc. were just left unrepresented.

And yet, despite this under-representation, (and after decades of pushing the issue) women finally earned the right to represent themselves. By the votes of Men. Not all states won this right at the same time, and each has their own story.

But HerStory is so much more than a tale of one won right. It is the fact that women were some of the most vocal abolitionists. It is the women who have ruled countries. It is the women who have led expeditions. It is matriarchal societies. It is about birth control. It leads to the battle for gender/sexuality equality for all. It is women dying in childbirth. It is women wearing clothes so restrictive that they were made weak. It is about the objectification of women. It is about the obsession with beauty over intelligence. It is about stereotypes. It is about holding women to different sexual standards than men. It is about pioneers. It is about blaming women for their own assault. It is about every woman’s story.

History generally ignores the women. HerStory not about making women more important than men, but respecting that women have played a role. You cannot tell the story of Lewis and Clark without talking about Sacajawea. Boudicca is an amazing part of the battle against Roman occupation. Anne Frank tells the most complete story of hiding from the Nazis. There are so many amazing women throughout history and all around the world, they deserve to have their stories told.

We just started Reading Time last week, and thus far, we have only had boys. That is not going to make me shy away from doing something about the strength of women. I think it is just as important to teach boys about the strength of women as it is to teach women. I want to see a world where calling men feminine names is not an insult.

Guns are not the Problem

I guess in light of recent events, it’s time for me to do another post about gun control. I recognize that my views on this topic may be a little unorthodox, but take a step back and give it some thought.

I believe that the solution to gun violence, and most other forms too, lies in a better health care system. Hear me out.

If everyone had access to health care, including mental health, at no cost people would go more. If we made visiting a doctor for prevention, rather than cures the norm, people would be able to avoid illnesses ranging from physical to mental. If everyone went to a brain doctor (psychiatry, psychotherapy, councilling, hypnosis, take your pick) on a regular basis, there would be no stigma attached to such a visit. In my experience, some of the people who needed treatment most were the most reluctant to seek it for fear of being labeled.

I’m not saying that everyone who commits the crimes we hear about on the news has mental health problems. Far from it, I’m saying that everyone could, and would, benefit from having the opportunity to sit and talk to someone without judgement on a regular basis. Things like anger, jealousy, loneliness, would also be addressed before hitting critical mass.

It really is a sign of how broken our system is when a student takes the route of going through the motions of a school shooting deliberatly not hurting anyone, just to get arrested so he wouldn’t be a true danger to others later.

When our health care system is inaccessible to some portions of the population, everyone suffers.