Home, Finally


“Wherever I hang my hat is home.” That’s not exactly true for me–I’m a very place-centric person tied to the natural range of big sagebrush at the foot of the Rocky Mountains–but today I hung my hat rack in my bedroom here in Santa Fe. So I guess it’s official: I am home.

As I said in my last post, Wanderings, I’ve wandered a lot in the past decade, in search of where home is in this final turn of my life. I’m 66 years old, closer to 70 now than 60, and I feel the pull to root and stay.

I thought I had found that place when I bought my Paonia house, but I reckoned without considering my age, which means I no longer want or need a house or yard to tend. Also, without considering my need for good healthcare, part of which is a need for nearby wild that I can easily walk to every day. Walking is my medicine, the therapy that helps me live well with Lupus and its associated conditions, Raynaud’s Syndrome and Sjogrens (often called dry eye).

All of that plus some other personal factors brought me to Santa Fe, to this beautiful and light-filled condo with views of the mountains in the neighborhood where I used to live.

The Sangre de Cristo Range after the last snowstorm.

This space makes me happy. I’m a story above the ground, overlooking a bit of wild piñon-juniper woods. The sun streams in the large windows during the day, supplying free heat in winter. The architecture is spacious, yet cozy enough to feel welcoming.

Come take a tour:

To the right of the garage door (yes, Rojita, my red Toyota Tacoma, has a garage to live in!) where I can admire it is the double column of glass prayer flags I’ve moved to five homes in the past, um, four years. We’re both settling here.

My Greg Reiche glass prayer flag sculpture, back in Santa Fe at last.

At the top of the stairs, my front door is graced by a Northern New Mexico chile wreath with dried garden flowers, made by a lovely Hispanic lady from Alcalde. I bought it at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market.

Chile pequin arranged around died yarrow and baby roses.

Inside is a small foyer. Turn right, and you enter the front bedroom, aka my office, where I am writing this blog post right now as sunset flames the western sky. (The photo at the top of the post is the sunset from the west deck, off my office.)

My office with the west deck beyond. (Note my saddle in the left-hand corner of the room!)

Turn left from the foyer and you pass the kitchen and breakfast bar, and enter the “great room,” the high-ceilinged dining/living area with its huge south-facing windows, and tall sliding doors leading to the east deck.

The great room with evening light and its east-facing deck. Welcoming, comfy, and totally me.

The kitchen is off the great room as you first come in, an easy connection with the dining area.

The kitchen is compact, but the design makes it comfortable to use. And I do eat breakfast at the breakfast bar.

Turn around to look back at the foyer from the living area.

Did I mention that Arabella has her own south-facing window? She’s a happy Christmas cactus.

The east deck has a view of the Sangre de Cristo range in the distance, over the ridge that hides Highway 285 from view. The main bedroom, also facing east, shares that mountain view.

Nothing to see here–just the mountains rosy with sunset.

I really did just hang the hat rack. I’m home.

Hats on the rack and all.

I am fortunate, and grateful to have found this place that feels just right for the “home stretch” of my life, as the Guy calls this time.

And what of my Paonia house?

That sweet place with its shady yard is still seeking someone to buy it and love it! Please help spread the word by sharing this link to a restored 1920s house in an artsy and progressive town surrounded by organic farms and orchards, at the foot of the West Elk Mountains in western Colorado.

This flyer is just a teaser; the full details are online at the link above.

Thank you, and many blessings to you and yours!

The Gift of Being Part of this Life

Since turning sixty last month, I’ve been on the road more than I’ve been home. This last trip took me to Santa Fe during a spate of glorious autumn weather, as you can see from the photo above, shot between Ojo Caliente and Española on my way south to the City of Holy Faith (Santa Fe).

I arrived there on Tuesday evening. Wednesday morning, I recorded “Sculpting Your Stories,” a webinar about tools for going from rough draft to a compelling manuscript, for Wordharvest, the parent organization of the Tony Hillerman Writing Conference. “Sculpting Your Stories” will be available in November with a group of other writing webinars. (If you’re not on the Wordharvest mailing list, sign up here.)

After my morning of being videotaped–Wordharvest co-founder Jean Schaumberg and videographer Robert Muller made the experience  almost fun–I had the afternoon off to hang out with my literary agent, Liz Trupin-Pulli of JET Literary Associates.

First thing Thursday morning I dived into the annual conference of Women Writing the West, a professional association of writers and publishers who focus on the voices and stories of women writing about “the Women’s West,” past, present and future.

Touring Ghost Ranch with Lesley Poling-Kempes (far right), author of WILLA-award-winning Ladies of the Canyons.

We’re a varied bunch–some of us write novels, contemporary as well as historical, some of us write mysteries or other genre fiction, some of us write creative nonfiction or scholarly nonfiction about the region; some of us write for kids and young adults. What we share is a love for these wide open landscapes and those who inhabit them, humans and all the other species. 

I’ve been involved with Women Writing the West for more than two decades now, and have been part of the committee involved in planning several of the recent conferences, including this year’s. Now that I’ve survived four days and the usual crises involved with holding a conference full of field trips, workshops, panels, talks, and several different award ceremonies, I can say without a doubt this was the best WWW conference ever.  

From the tour of the famous Ghost Ranch retreat and conference center with award-winning author Lesley Poling-Kempes on Thursday morning, to Saturday night’s gala WILLA Awards Banquet, which I co-MCed with my comadre Dawn Wink, novelist, essayist and teacher, and the sister I never had, the entire weekend was chock-full of mind-expanding information, fun, and inspiration. 

Dawn and me planning our workshop (really!) at Alto Bar in the top floor of the hotel. (Photo by novelist Teddy Jones) 

I got to hear Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way and The Right to Write, among many other books) on creativity and writing.

Me and Julia… (photo by Dawn Wink)

Long-time friend Denise Chávez, American-Book-Award winning author of Face of An Angel among other novels, and also actress and playwright, gave us a rousing, funny, and thought-provoking luncheon talk on being a Latina writer today. 

Dawn, Denise and me after her talk (Denise is trying to look serious and almost succeeding). 

Colorado poet, singer, teacher and TEDx speaker Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer had us singing at the beginning of the WILLA Awards Banquet, and Navajo poet Luci Tapahonso touched our hearts and spirits with her talk and poems. Over the course of the conference, I learned about podcasting–my next venture, I think, about voice in fiction, research techniques, and so many other things.

I hung out with long-time writing friends and made new ones. Dawn and I presented a workshop (Mapping Our Stories) to an enthusiastic group of way more people than we expected, and they plunged right into cluster mapping and pictorial mapping, emerging at the end with a new perspective on their writing. 

I ate great food–oh, those green and red chiles!–laughed a lot, and signed books at the mass signing hosted by Santa Fe’s wonderful bookstore, Collected Works

On my final morning run before leaving Santa Fe yesterday, the full moon–the Hunter’s Moon–rose over the hills. I stopped in my tracks, stunned by its beauty in the gilded dawn sky.

And gave thanks for the blessing of being able to love and laugh and learn, as well as to cry and comfort. To live with my heart open to the world in all its contradictions, its beauty and its pain. To be here, fully part of this life.