My Favorite Times

When the sun sets gloriously on one side of the world while the full moon rises on the other side.

Los Alamos

Secret Savage

Some use the term “savage” to refer to people from primitive cultures, but nuclear experimentation pushed savagery to new levels. In the 1950s, the U.S. conducted 67 atomic and hydrogen bomb tests in the Marshall Islands, vaporizing islands and exposing entire populations to fallout. The islanders on Rongelap received near fatal doses of radiation from one test, and were then moved onto a highly contaminated island to serve as human guinea pigs for 30 years, in an experiment conceived at Los Alamos. Santa Fe’s Adam Horowitz, known locally as the builder of ‘Fridgehenge,’ spent 25 years collecting material–his own footage, archival clips, and unpublished secret documents–to create this unforgettable and ironic portrait of American cynicism, arrogance, and racism. Winner of festival awards in Paris, Chicago and Mexico City.

Bitsy’s Dog Park Diary – Daisy

At Los Alamos

Bitsy’s Dog Park Diary – 120826

New Mexico has quite a few roads that don’t go anyplace, and the thing is they don’t tell you this at the beginning of the road. Yesterday and today I started my research of the Silver city area. First of all, I would have been happy to stay forever at the Santa Fe Trailer Ranch, except the whole point of this trip is to find a location free from poisonous chemicals where I can live, and Santa Fe failed on all counts, as did the Trailer Ranch. Well, that’s not fair, it isn’t the ranch per se. It’s all the propane fumes, pesticides, cleaning compounds and car exhaust from the adjacent road. There is no point having a trailer ranch that is not adjacent to a road. So I had to leave, I didn’t want to leave and I was having one of my more expansive anxiety attacks when I took off in the morning and ended the day with a new clutch. That adds up to a clutch, a starter, five tires and some trivia. But we made it.

It takes me about a week and a half after arrival to come down to normal, and so yesterday Bitsy finally was able to get me into the drivers’ seat and off we went researching this part of New Mexico for poisons in the air, water and/or earth. But I already knew it is vastly better than either Bryan or Santa Fe because I kept wishing I were on a horse, which I haven’t felt physically up to since Mahonia died a couple years ago, and even before that, riding had become more of a chore than a joy, the air being more sick-making out-of-doors than indoors.

Anyhow, back in the drivers’ seat, our Saturday exploration involved several roads that went no-place. Another odd thing about the New Mexico roads is their tendency to go straight up (or down) whatever is between them and the destination (if any). If switchbacks are entirely necessary, they tend to be hair-raising hairpin turns so steep that the car is rolling from the left to the right while in as close to vertical a position as is possible on a car road. The most exciting experience of the day was trying to go up one of these turns, while trying to double-clutch my new clutch down from third to second, (and remember our second gear is everyone else’s first – for those of you who have ever tried to shift down) – while a car was bearing down on us from the other direction. I do not know what the other car did, as I had only time for myself, but it didn’t hit us.

My old truck has never failed to get me there and back, but it’s not a jeep. It’s light in the rear, unless loaded. But it does have a mag low gear. Good for only up to about 5 mph, but up those old hills it can tootle along at one or two mph with no trouble at all. So long as the rear wheels have traction. Or we would not have arrived at our destinations.

If any.

So off we went on Saturday to investigate the Mimbres Valley and the Mimbres River that greens up the whole valley on the Eastern side of the Continental Divide. Highway 180 eastward, we took a side trip to Fiero, where we had a close encounter with a few copper mines and discovered a road called the Georgetown Cutoff that took off just downhill from the massive Santa Rita open pit mine.

The map shows a place called Georgetown, but no road. That’s pretty accurate. There was one sign where the road forked, which was fortunate because I had headed off on the other branch, which looked better traveled, before I saw the. Four miles across alpine meadows and tiny streambeds, it was lovely, then some cattle ranging presumably on Federal land, and to Georgetown, which was a cluster of cabins with a padlocked gate, then a waterfall of a road down to a lower level that appeared to have had some traffic, so I assumed it went somewhere. Five or six miles on that and was wondering if anyone would find us when we ran out of gas in the infinite wilderness — when we met a couple of cars, sigh of relief, and finally we could see a valley approaching. And then in the space of a few hundred very steep feet — there was a road alongside the Mimbres River. Highway 35. No sign, but there weren’t that many roads around, so we turned left, that is uphill, more or less parallel to our original route downhill, but on the other side of the mountain.

Lovely, green, friendly, food good, and look at that clear, blue, clean air (I did not make that sky blue – it is blue – this is what the Brazos Valley used to look like when I came to live there) when we arrived to Lake Roberts to check out a little house for sale in a small development behind the Lake Roberts store. Where all the roads either go straight uphill or straight downhill or crosswise. Crosswise I don’t mind, uphill – I never worry about the front end cartwheeling over the back end, but I made the mistake of going straight downhill on a little road that stopped halfway down. Gravel. Rocks on both sides of the road, wheels spinning-catching-spinning-catching, I managed to turn around and head straight back up. That little house was way up at the top, and I decided not to buy it.

After the lake, the road wanders along uphill for a couple of miles, and then back across the mountain to Silver City on route 15, around those hairy hairpin turns and along the narrow ridge between two massive river valleys. You can see them both from the road. This picture is of the valley we came up. The other spreads out on the other side of the road. A surprisingly large number of people are crazy enough to drive on this road. And then the road wanders around in a national forest that really is a forest, and back up to the continental divide again at Pinos Altos and then back down the hill, following the curves of the hillside, back to the Rose Valley Trailer Ranch in Silver City.

On Sunday, we first we joined the morning crew at the Silver City Dog Park for a little R&R.¬¬

Before heading out in the opposite direction to visit the valley of the Gila River, that runs down the other side of the continental divide toward the west.

Bare Bones Biology 121 – Hollie

Podcast of this program can be downloaded here
Or later at http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_121Final_-_Hollie.mp3

Last week Father John Dear described the Peace march at Los Alamos on Hiroshima day, the third day of the Vision without Fission Conference. On the first day, in Santa Fe, I met Hollie Ambrose at the art exhibit and tried to photograph her with her art piece.

“(LL) At the Vision without Fission Art Exhibit. We were taking your picture, and I was interested in a more sad looking picture, and you were preferring to look a little more joyful.”

“Well, it’s hard for me not to laugh, I’ve gotten in a lot of trouble, but I really feel that even when subjects are very serious it’s important to experience joy in the moment, even if it’s maybe not the best thing to do. That’s part of who I am as a person. I’m sad about things that have happened; I wish some of them didn’t happen; I wish a lot of things didn’t happen. But at the same time, you’re photographing me, we’re trying to get me and my piece in the picture, and it’s kind of funny in a way. It has some irony to it.”

“(LL) You’re piece is pretty dark.”

“I do a lot of pieces that are macabre, and that’s because I experience those things in life, just like everyone does. Life isn’t just Disneyland. It has the ups and downs, it has suffering, and it has joy, and I think that these are things you never want to forget. Even if you know there are people in the world who are suffering, and there’s violence, and there’s bombing, at the same time it’s important for us to experience our lives with joy every single day, and not to let these things rob us of that joy.

“It’s just like when 9-1-1 happened, it really brought to life for a while the things that are important and brought people together in a different way. I wish that would have lasted forever. Americans are always really good when things are at their worst, but we have a short memory. I feel like if we let them take away our joy. I think it’s important to focus on the things that are happening, but I think the best way to have peace is to live a life in which you are experiencing joy every day and be creative in doing the things you want to do, because if you’re joyful, doing what’s important to you, you have the ability to respond to the things of the world that are –

“(LL) more effectively.”

“Yes, much more effectively if you’re a happy person. There has been psychological research that people who are happy are more generous, and more likely to help someone across the street –“

“(LL) and be thinking more clearly about the problems –“

“Right,”

“(LL) and discussing them, rather than bemoaning them.”

“Right, because if you just sit around and get depressed about them, you can’t do anything about them. You’re not able to respond to situations that need your help if you’re depressed. If you’re sad all the time about them. You can’t help people if you’re in that state, and think you don’t have the ability to call attention to the atrocities of war if you’re not celebrating life. The real difference is at the individual level. Peace starts with us, and every day that we’re having interactions with other human beings we have the opportunity to propagate peace instead of war, in terms of how we respond to people and how we think of them as individual human beings who have the same feelings that we do, and it’s just important to be conscious of that, moment to moment, as much as we can, and I think if you’re having a good life and not letting your life be stolen by these things, that you can respond to them a lot better.”

Hollie’s art is posted on my blog, but I decided not to post my picture of her, because my art was not up to the task of representing her art.

Recommended References:
Hollie has a beautiful blog, full of joy and life in Santa Fe:
http://chasingsantafe.blogspot.com/2011/11/hollie-ambrose-art-home.html

It is Odd to Wake up to a New View from the Front Door