Santa Fe

We spent one day in downtown Santa Fe and packed it full.

First, we toured the Georgia O’Keefe museum. Nine rooms contained about 80 O’Keefe pieces – pastels, watercolors, photographs, drawings, and paintings – and ten large, sensual ceramic pieces created by Ken Price of Taos, New Mexico.

I didn’t take any pictures inside, but have grabbed a few from the interwebs that I did see there.From there, we walked to the main plaza and were disappointed to find that the Palace of the Governors is closed for renovations. The plaque said it is the oldest public building in the U. S.

The jewelry vendors lined the whole front of the palace.

And one side of the plaza square is bounded by the Old Santa Fe Trail.

The plaza has cast iron benches, a gazebo, and iron street lights.We walked up capital “hill” and spied the state supreme Court off this walkway. Very unassuming.

Here’s the state seal in the capital.

New Mexico sets aside a lot of funds for public art. Statues and sculptures were all around the capital grounds. And three floors inside had paintings and drawings mounted on the walls.

I didn’t have time to take any pictures except for one exhibit that captivated me.

It was sponsored by the Santa Fe Book Arts Group and titled “No library card needed.”

A couple of artists made art out of cards formerly in a catalog drawer.

Others folded paper into forms.

One artist made a Tabernacle with a Bible underneath. Titled The Shaman’s Book.

And this one.

This is called The Open Book.This Altered Book 74 is words covered by broken bits of blue glass.

And my favorite is titled Mini Library.

Much more to see and appreciate in Santa Fe, but we’ll just have to go back.


A day at Fort Sill, Oklahoma

Fort Sill was the home base for the 7th Cavalry as it fought the Native Americans after the Civil War. It served as a jail for Comanche, Kiowas, and Kiowa-Apaches who got into trouble with the law.

It was the base for the Indian agent who oversaw distribution of the food (usually spoiled), tools (poorly made), and clothing rations mandated by various treaties (many times ignored) when the Native Americans moved onto the reservation.

And its cemetaries contain many famous people from the 1800s and 1900s.

Eventually, it transformed into an artillery training facility and site of two wonderful museums. We were very happy we had military identification, because the line at the visitor center to get on base (for those without military ID) was out of the door.

First we stopped at the Artillery museum. It laboriously explained the differences between a howitzer, a gun, and a cannon, but the distinction is still lost on me.

Here are the things I found interesting.

A piece of the South Tower that fell on 9/11/01.

A piece of the Berlin Wall that fell in 1989.

The large pipe on top was to make climbing over very difficult.

Just some random facts I picked up:

Boys as young as 12 enlisted in World War I. Some historians have estimated 15% of recruits were younger than 18, especially towards the end of the war.

The British and the French lost more than 600,000 horses by the end of WWI.

The Battalion of Death was an all-women battalion (Russian) that served on the eastern front in WWI.

Glow worms were used to read messages in the dark WWI trenches.

Pigeons were equipped with cameras and horses were sometimes issued gas masks.

The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was developed to figure the trajectory missiles and mortars should take to hit their targets. They called them Ballistics Firing Tables. In Feb. 4, 1946, it was the world’s first all electronic computer.

They even had some lights running! The placard said the vacuum tubes were used in a binary fashion. On or off equalled 0 or 1.

What took a human 12 hours to calculate, ENIAC could do in 30 seconds.

The really cool thing was six women mathematicians programmed ENIAC to do the calculations. Someone should do a movie on those women, as they did for the women who calculated re-entry angles and speeds for NASA in its early years. (The movie is Hidden Figures.)

Based in Aberdeen, MD, ENIAC also helped predict weather patterns, assist in wind tunnel design, and atomic energy research.

On Oct. 2, 1955 it was declared obsolete, turned off, and eventually given to Ross Perot’s Computer History Exhibit in Plano, Texas in 2006. I don’t know when the Artillery museum received it.

Next we drove to the cemetary containing Geronimo’s remains and those of his wife, daughter, and other relatives.

Next we drove to the Post cemetary where Quanah Parker was buried alongside his mother and sister Prairie Flower.

Cynthia Ann was taken from her grandfather’s settlement in East Texas when she was 9 years old, by the Comanches. She quickly adopted the Comanches’ way and eventually wed a chief in one of the bands. Many novels were written sensationalizing her life. I remember reading one as a tween.

Quanah’s sister, Prairie Flower, died at the age of 4 after she and her mother were captured by whites in 1861, and forcibly returned to family in East Texas. Prairie Flower died of some disease (typhus or small pox, probably) and Cynthia Ann died of a broken heart.

Many other great chiefs were buried in this cemetary:

Chief Satanta (Kiowa)

Chief Kicking Bird (Kiowa)

Chief Pacer (Kiowa-Apache)

Chief Sitting Bear (Kiowa)

It’s incredible to see the grave sites of people you read about in American history books. And sad to realize the terrible pain and hardships foisted on these proud, self-sufficient peoples.

The Comanche Nation Museum in Lawton, Oklahoma

First a little history.

Quanah Parker (son of a white mother and Comanche father) led a small band of Comanches in resisting the white man’s incursion onto their hunting lands from the late 1860s until the end of the Red River War of 1874-1875. They couldn’t fight any more because the hide hunters practically exterminated the buffalo, and the Army killed or stole horses whenever they found them.

The Army and the Indian Bureau then lumped together the Comanche, the Kiowas, and the Kiowa-Apaches on a reservation centered on Ft. Sill near Lawton, Oklahoma in 1875. All three nations remain in that area today.

The Comanche Nation built a wonderful museum, and we visited it Oct. 15, 2019.

The beadwork made by Comanche artists is legendary. Here is a cradle board dated about 1900 in a side view.

Here’s a front view.

And more examples.

The museum had an exhibit about the Comanche Code Talkers of World War I and II, but it was particularly text heavy. (No pictures)

It is more than ironic that the youngsters who were punished in tribal schools for speaking their native tongue were sought out by the army to be their ultra-top secret communications people on D Day.

The Navajo and Hopi are also proud of their World War II code talkers. A museum docent told us the Navajo and Hopi (who were Marines) were deployed earlier than the Comanches and mostly used in the Pacific theatre.

Seventeen Comanche code talkers (many under age) spent almost two years creating and memorizing their vocabulary just for the planned invasion. They also had to learn how to string and maintain wire and radio communications. Can you imagine the nerve it took to string wires while the Germans were shooting at them?

Some of their special code vocabulary:

Machine gun was a sewing machine (because of the sound)

Grenade was a porcupine

Tank was a turtle

If you want to read more about the Comanche code talkers:

Another portion of the museum showed the importance of the buffalo for every aspect of life and society… food, clothing, glue, tools, teepee material, storage vessels, etc. There was a life- sized model on its side with plastic organs packed in the belly. They could be removed to learn how those organs were used. Very educational.

Here’s a heart-breaking picture of a Hide Hunter sitting on a pile of buffalo skulls. They were the ones who broke the Indians’ ability to survive “in the wild”. They skinned off the hides and left the rest of the animals to rot. A good day was 100 kills by one man.

We also viewed a huge collection of paintings by Comanche artist, Ed Hoosier. He uses a flat 2-dimensional style, echoing the “ledger art” of the early reservation days. It was called ledger art because Native Americans could only get used ledger paper (large format) from the burser to draw on.

I did take pictures of paintings in the flat style created by the Kiowa Five in the 1920s and 1930s. It’s very distinctive.

Hoosier’s contemporary realism style captures everyday Indians: an elder drinking a Coke, a beautiful woman standing over her Indian motorcycle, two young guys kibitzing while one tinkered under the hood of a car.

The women were all strong and self-possessed. I didn’t take any pictures of the art, as is the usual request at an art gallery.

But here’s a link to view some of his work displayed at the Department of the Interior:

Before the Comanche acquired horses (introduced by the Spanish), they relied on dogs to carry their goods from place to place. The museum had a model of a dog with travois.

Finally, there was a life-sized Chuck wagon. I learned the cook was the second best paid trail employee because he was also doctor, dentist, minister, and shrink. The trail boss received more pay.

Typical fare was beans, bacon, bread, and coffee…morning, noon, and night. Supplemented by any game that might be shot along the way. Or a cow with a broken leg. Pretty monotonous.

The high point of our visit was chatting with the docent/greeter. His uncle had been the last surviving Comanche code talker, Corporal Charles Chibitty, now deceased.

The docent discussed with us the rejection of “red skins” and “Indians” for mascot/team names and rejecting the tomahawking gesture. He asked would it be appropriate to call a team “Chinks” or “Wet backs” or “Wops”? Even if we say we are honoring them? Of course not. It’s still insulting. Native Americans feel the same way.

Visiting family in El Salvador

Our daughter gave birth to our grandson, Martin, the end of July. We were finally able to fly down for a visit Oct. 3-10, 2019.

We left the trailer in a very tight RV park and the Volvo truck at a truck service center to work on a list of 10 things that Roy wanted looked at. We joke that we spent $3700 to save $120 in long term parking fees at the airport!

Here’s a picture of our truck and trailer for those of you have just joined my blog.

The non-stop flight from Dallas to San Salvador is 3.5 hours. A driver that Carol had pre-arranged picked us up and took us straight to our Airbnb.

From the Airbnb, it was about a three mile drive to Carol and Tony’s home even though we could see the apartment building from her house. We had to go around a highway and historic Santa Tecla.

So, here’s the little guy being held by Roy. He’s about 9.5 pounds and is holding his head up more and more each day.

Roy installed a doggie gate across one section of the house while we were there. He was drilling into concrete, so we had ear protection for Martin.

Here’s the only picture of the 3 of them we took in one week of visiting! Unfortunately, Carol’s face is fuzzy. I have asked for another clearer one and will sub it out.

All too soon, it was time to leave. We hope to return to El Salvador in late January or February.

It’s great to be a grandparent.

Historic Route 66 in Shamrock, TX

We have enjoyed driving on Route 66 as we traveled through Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and now New Mexico.

It is very skinny…with 9 foot lanes, Roy estimates.

We took a jaunt east of Shamrock, TX to see an original concrete bridge (I’m married to a civil engineer. It’s what we do for kicks sometime!) The bridge was less than exciting, but it was fun to see Roy do a turn-around on the whole highway.

So, Shamrock has a restored Conoco gas station that inspired the animators of the movie Cars.

Next to it is the visitors’ bureau, in the former U-drop-Inn. The town and the foundation restored the cafe to its Art Deco splendor.

We toured the local historical society in the former Reynolds Hotel. They had newspaper clippings about the night Bonnie and Clyde missed a detour and ended up in a county ditch, many quilts, dozens of dolls, WWI and WWII uniforms and purloined German and Japanese flags. And lots of stuff that people give them as they downsize!!

Finally, another gas station called the Magnolia.

A beautiful sunny day.

The National Memorial, Oklahoma City

On April 19, 1995 at 9:02 AM two home-grown terrorists blew up a truck stuffed with the equivalent of 4,000 pounds of TNT in front of the Alfred Murrah Federal building. 168 people died including 19 children. More than 500 persons were injured and 324 buildings destroyed in a 16-block radius.

The then-mayor created a 350 person committee comprised of family members, survivors, rescuers, civic leaders and design professionals to solicit input, put out a request for designs, and then pick one design.

The result is the Memorial Museum and the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial, also called the Garden. The Garden opened on April 19, 2000. Meant to be a place of peace and contemplation, it was incredibly sad.

Here’s the park map:

The centerpiece of the Garden is the Field of Empty Chairs. Bronze, stone, and glass chairs in two sizes are arrayed in nine rows. The rows represent on which floor the person was working or visiting. The sizes denote adult or child.

We were told by the Park Ranger that we were free to sit on a chair, say a prayer for the person whose name is etched in the glass, and say his or her name out loud.

I chose to honor Kayla Marie Titsworth, a 3 year who accompanied her father and mother to the 4th floor, as he reported to his new assignment at the Army Recruiting office. He and his wife survived, but she did not.

Pines have been planted around the perimeter, and they will grow to 90 feet, just as tall as the building was.

The reflecting pool is only an inch deep, and designed to keep water flowing into and out of tiny ditches. It is located where N.W. 5th street had been.

The second floor was a nursery and one woman lost two grandchildren in the attack. Two nursery attendants also died.

The 9:01 gate represents the Age of Innocence, or as the museum says “A day like any other”.

The 9:03 gate represents the Age of Healing, but I consider it the Age of Horror…at the senselessness of it and the continuing violence by hate-filled Americans. I didn’t take a picture of it.

The Survivor Tree (an American elm) lost all its leaves from the blast and had hundreds of pieces of glass, plastic and concrete imbedded in the trunk. Arborists were about ready to take it down when they noticed new leaves forming.

Planted in the 1920s it was the lone tree in a parking lot and struggled to get nutrients through all the asphalt. It became an important symbol after the blast.

The Survivor Wall is located at the East end of the Memorial. More than 600 names are inscribed on salvaged pieces of granite from the Murrah Building lobby. The names are very difficult to read on the pock marked slabs.

According to the Park Ranger the Park adds names as people request. Some survivors are so traumatized that they don’t want to be listed. Many people in surrounding buildings were hit by flying glass and many suffered permanent loss of hearing and sight.

As for the date of the attack…

According to CNN’s fast facts online:
April 19 marks two anniversaries. Patriots’ Day is the anniversary of the American rebellion against British authority at Lexington, Massachusetts, in 1775. It is also the date that federal agents raided the compound of a religious sect in Waco, Texas, in 1993. More than 80 members of the Branch Davidian sect died in a fire that began during the raid.

Timothy McVeigh claimed he was avenging the Waco attack.

The museum itself was slickly done. Oklahoman Kristin Chenoweth welcomed us via video and claimed Oklahomans are strong, patriotic, and won’t be broken.

News coverage from that time bombarded us from several monitors.

Later, we listened to the recording of a water board hearing in a building across the street from the Murrah bulding. The 9:02 blast was clearly heard on the recording, and the judge ordered people to get out. That building was later demolished.

The museum has the getaway car, 2 twisted axles and other parts from the rented Ryder truck.

There’s also an exhibit about a couple (the Fortiers) that knew of and assisted in the planned attack. They turned state’s witness and are now in a witness protection program.

One positive aspect of the museum is that the FBI created a department specializing in home-grown terrorism. Up to that point it was assumed all terrorists were foreign: Columbian, Italian, Middle Eastern/Muslim, Salvadoran, etc.

I’d like to say “Never Again” but we know that that’s not going to happen in the U.S.

Across the street from the 9:03 gate is a statue erected by St. Joseph’s Catholic Church called “And Jesus Wept”. It is facing away from the devestation.

I’ll end my post with that.

Joplin, Missouri

Roy and I spent one afternoon wandering Joplin, Missouri. Joplin was created because of extensive zinc and lead deposits.

We started at City Hall, which also housed the Visitor Center. The building was originally built by Newman’s Department store. The first floor was the haberdashery, the mezzanine housed the beauty salon, second floor was dry goods, etc. Here’s the mezzanine:The visitor center rep said if a woman was rich enough to have her hair done, she wanted the whole town to see it!

The store commissioned a stained glass window with the letter “N” and a stylized picture of the city. No clipper ships brought goods to the city, nor took minerals out. It was mule team and trains.In the lobby are mounted paintings by grandfather and grandson. Thomas Hart Benton came out of retirement to paint a picture celebrating Joplin’s 100th anniversary. Entitled “Joplin at the turn of the century, 1896-1906” it depicts the community with some well known (at that time) faces.Just 6-8 feet away is mounted a painting entitled “Route 66, Joplin, Missouri”, by Anthony Benton Gude. This is a mashup of stores and scenes from the 1940s and 1950s. Route 66 went right through the center of Joplin. It’s now called 7th Street.Leaning against an adjacent wall is a 900 pound string art piece created during an Extreme House Makeover in 2012. It depicts the places that the television crew (production, cooks, security) and volunteers came from to build seven homes in a week. They brought their own trailers and RVs since housing was so scarce in 2012.On May 22, 2011 an EF5 (devestating) tornado tore through Joplin, killing 158 and injuring more than 1,000. We were told hundreds of homes and businesses were flattened.

Next we wandered a neighborhood called Murphysburg, just west of city hall. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

318 Sergeant Ave. is the Charles Frye/Fred Basom House. Circa 1891~Second Empire style.Here’s the whole front.

This is a Prairie style home, the Frank Childress house, built in 1922 at 302 South Sergeant Ave.

This is the James Geddes House, circa 1890s in the Queen Anne style. The porch is being rebuilt. Love the paint job.

Here’s the Charles Schifferdecker House, under extensive renovation. Built in the 1890s in the Romanesque style. Now owned by a corporate tycoon who is renovating 2 or 3 other properties in the neighborhood.Schifferdecker made his money brewing beer, then invested in the mines in the area. He left Baden, Germany at 18, but designed his home based on castles along the Rhein. A generous philanthropist, a park, a golf course, and streets are named after him.

When his home is renovated, furniture now kept in the local history museum will be returned to the house and tours will be offered. Here’s another angle.

Here’s the Julius Miller house, built in 1895 in the Queen Anne style. It has an Oculus window.

Finally, here is the Arthur Waite House, built 1906 in the American Foursquare style. The pilasters and art glass are noteworthy.

There were dozens more listed on the National Register, but we mostly walked along Sergeant Ave. Some day we will return to walk more of it.

Chihuly glass exhibit in Oklahoma City

Dale Chihuly is considered by some critics as the greatest artist in any media for our times. After wandering OKC’s Museum of Art’s permanent collection, I can see why.

Here is the magnificent piece, “The Eleanor Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower”, lit 24 hours a day and standing in the lobby of the Art Museum.

It is 55 feet high, 12,000 pounds, with a steel structure in the middle holding up 2,100 individual hand-blown glass pieces.

A rock climber used to climb up the windows and clean it carefully with a Swiffer. Now they pour industrial grade Windex over it, the docent said, and collect it at the bottom.

In the first gallery is a piece called “Reeds”, inspired by grasses that grow in wetlands. To make one, a glassblower holds the hot glass on the blowpipe, climbs onto a mechanical lift, and blows into the glass. A second person on the ground pulls it from below, extending it up to 10 feet.

The logs came from a tree blown over in a 2001 ice storm near the property of the museum’s then-executive director.

Then we saw the collection of Macchia, meaning Spotted. The interior and exterior colors are separated by a layer of opaque white glass. A third color is applied to the edge.

The spottedness is achieved by rolling the molten glass in smaller shards of broken glass during the blowing process.

Next was the Oklahoma Persian ceiling, about 30 feet long consisting of dozens and dozens of pieces, some translucent and some opaque. Dale’s Persians are noted for their ruffled edges and jewel-like colors. He picked the name to denote a fusion of East and West glass traditions.

It didn’t show up very well, but Dale put 5 puttis, or glass cherubs, in his ceiling. The above picture has one, but clear glass doesn’t show well against his jewel-like colors.

One last ceiling picture:

Then we moved into the gallery with boats filled with his glass. The first one is called the Float Boat.

While in Finland Dale placed some of his glass spheres in a river. Children in rowboats collected them, giving him the idea to use actual fishing boats.

This one is called the Ikebana boat because of the flower-like forms.

When Dale lost sight in one eye due to a car accident, he stopped blowing glass himself. He paints all his ideas onto heat resistant material and places it on the floor for the hot shop to create for him. This one has foot prints on it.

Our docent said tourists to the hot shop in Seattle were taking/stealing his paintings, so he started signing his name and selling them. The above is called “Float Quad Drawing 2001”.

This is “Chandelier Quad Drawing, 2001”.

This was a collection of pieces towards the end of the exhibit.

It’s about 18-20 inches tall.

And another.

He’s always exploring some new idea.

A very enjoyable morning.

Opening the Doors to Dialogue

The Niagara Falls (Ontario) History Museum hosted a very moving exhibit entitled “Opening the Doors to Dialogue” which we saw in mid-September 2019.

The exhibit is dedicated to the 150,000+ children who passed through the doors of 140 Canadian Indian Residential schools across 10 provinces over 70 years.

It celebrates the 75,000 former children who survive today. And mourns the 5,000 children who never got to know what was beyond those doors. (All numbers are estimates. Record keeping was appalling, apparently.)

Six doors from various Canadian Indian Residential schools were the subject of this art project designed to encourage conversation and healing by 120 survivors of these schools.

Cayuga bead artist Sam Thomas had the idea, secured the funding and ran the workshops.

Church representatives attended each of the 43 art sessions ( former teachers and administrators of these religiously run, government- funded schools) so they could learn how brutal the system was.

Make no mistake, the US and Australia also created a perfect system to annihilate the Indigenous peoples in their borders:

– Rip the children away from their families and surroundings

– Discipline severely (beatings, no food, sexual assault, lock ups) if the children sing, speak, dance, write, or play an instrument that harkens back to their roots.

– Convert to Catholicism or Christianity and stamp out any memory or stories of other gods or spirits.

– Adopt them into white families.

This door has 140 strawberries on it… One for each school. Strawberries represent cleansing and healing.

One side, and the other side…

40 white doves for peace, security, hope, and unity.

Moving through the door to explore the greater world, by Mohawk artist Shelly Niro.

And the other side.

If there was a write up of this next door, I didn’t get a picture of it. Here’s one side…

And the other…

This one had messages decoupaged onto the window.

The other side was left raw and unembellished.

A very important exhibit in my mind. I hope someday the United States will encourage and pay for a similar project.

Niagara Falls, Ontario

Last week we spent three nights in Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side. The Niagara River forms a boundary between the US and Canada.

People have been drawn here for centuries, whether to fish, hunt, trap, stand in awe close to or behind the falls, or watch daredevils walk on wires above or ride barrels down the falls.

There are actually three falls along the Niagara River:

1. American Falls (we didn’t see this one)

2. The Bridal Veil falls

3. The Horseshoe falls

One day we rode our bikes down through Clifton Hill’s Street of Fun which T’s into the linear park across from the Bridal Veil Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. (About 4 miles)

Here’s a map of the area from the N.F. (Ontario) visitor bureau:

I was horrified how schlocky Clifton Hill was. Haunted Houses, Rides of Terror, Waxed figures, Escape Rooms, and trinket shops.

Again, here’s a print screen of Clifton Hill from the Visitor’s Bureau’s guide:

The First Nations have been multiply injured:

First, the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794 that the Haudenosaunee, also called the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, signed with the U.S. government gave them rights in perpetuity to the falls and much of New England and the great lakes areas. It was not abided by.

A hydroelectric powerplant was started in 1957, and three years later (!) the US Supreme Court approved the (already) taking of 550 acres of the Tuscarora (one of the six nations) reservation. Robert Moses, autocratic head of the NY Power Authority and director of the plant construction is still the villain in this saga. And the Supreme Court is the other villain.

Second, the area (both sides) is very commercialized and a terrible “frame” through which to view the falls. It violates Nature.

Third, the falls only have 25% of the water from the Great Lakes flowing over them. 75% is diverted via tunnels to hydroelectric dams.

Fourth, Native Americans used to sell their beadwork to visitors to supplement their meager income. That’s not happening any more.

I took pictures of the two Falls. The noise and spray from the walk way were awesome.

The above pic is Angel Falls.

The above pic is the Horseshoe Falls.

Here’s a pic of one of the sightseeing boats that take visitors into the spray field. This company is Maid of the Mist.

The Six Nations object strenuously to this name and the story it purportedly tells.

Here’s a paragraph I copied from the website
The “standard” Maid of the Mist story that is commonly told in Niagara today is not actually a Native American story at all. It was, apparently, the invention of a 19th century European anthropologist. Its themes of cruel gods and human sacrifice are alien to the Six Nations people.

So, the First Nations are slandered as white corporations rake in the dough. So wrong!

My next blog entry will be about a traveling exhibit we saw at the Niagara Falls History Museum.