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Happy New Mexico statehood day

It happened in 1912, making the Land of Enchantment the 47th state.

www.50states.com

OK, here are a few of my associations with the state. I'll start the list and you can finish it.

1. My grade school girlfriend in Ohio, Beth Buck, moved to New Mexico. We wrote for a little while. And then, well, you know.

Her father was an Air Force general. Once, at our grade school's science fair, he questioned me about my exhibit focusing on combat aircraft of World War II. As I recall it, I did a decent job of answering his questions.

2. When I worked in El Paso in the late 70s, I went to a Linda Ronstadt concert at New Mexico State University in nearby Las Cruces and wrote a review for my paper. Gushing praise, as I recall.

3. Visited Carlsbad Caverns. It's dark down there when they cut the lights.

4. My wife and I had a lifetime Top 10 breakfast in Santa Fe once about 20 years ago.

5. Once in Albuquerque, on the same trip, we were listening to the radio and some sort of community calendar was being read. The announcer alluded to “Toast and Jelly Days” — some sort of program for preschoolers, I think. We still use that expression.

6. Speaking of radio, one of my all-time favorite NPR stories was about Americans' lack of knowledge re: geography and how an alarming number of people are not certain New Mexico is part of the United States. Sort of puts the whole mispronouncing “Spokane” thing in perspective.

7. Even though I have seen it countless times, there are parts of “Ben-Hur” that still get to me.

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Travel: Starting the New Year with Edible Souvenirs

We were fortunate again this year, the whole family was together for Christmas. We gathered, exchanged gifts, caught up on one another’s lives and enjoyed one another’s company. And we ate. We ate a lot.

When we weren’t sitting down to our traditional Christmas dinner, we were snacking on things I’d gathered on my travels and brought home to share with my family. That’s come to be one of my travel traditions and now wherever I go I spend time looking for goodies to bring home with me.

This year, while playing board games or working on a jigsaw puzzle we opened a can of Virginia peanuts that traveled back from Roanoke tucked into a corner of my suitcase.

We made pots of good Door County Coffee & Tea Company coffee and nibbled peanut brittle from Silver Dollar City in Branson Missouri.

I passed around a can of delicate and delicious Clear River pecan pralines I bought in Fredericksburg, Texas and hand-carried home. And we cracked pecans I gathered from where they’d fallen from the trees around the same city.

I spread tart cherry jam from, also from Door County, Wisconsin, on our toast at breakfast. In the afternoon I sliced a block of Wisconsin's Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese to go with the bottle of crisp white wine I brought back from Rhine River valley in Germany.

One night I made a big pot of chili and seasoned it with heritage chili pepper powder I bought at the Chili Pepper Institute in Los Cruces, New Mexico. I made a batch of brownies with brownie mix spiced with the same chilis.

We warmed up with mugs of hot buttered rum, savoring the bottle of Koloa rum I picked up in Kauai and saved especially for this holiday season.

This is the time of my life when I can travel freely and I don’t take it for granted because I know that could change at any time. My children are mostly grown and my work takes me around the world. I can’t always take them with me, but I can bring the world back to the ones I love and share it with them one delicious bite at a time.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Seeking a Sense of the Right Place

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)

 

Like someone who had looked straight into the baking sun, the hot New Mexico desert, a landscape of painted sand and strange towering rock formations, was burned into my mind’s eye. Even as I settled into the window seat of the airplane to fly back to my own home in the Northwest, the people and places I’d encountered filled my mind.

The effect of the light and climate and otherworldly terrain of New Mexico on visitors is the stuff of legend. And it isn’t just the rich and famous who feel it. Or the artists and intellectuals who crave space and freedom to create and find it in the vast empty state. There is something in the place that strikes a chord with people of all walks. Everywhere I went along the road from Santa Fe to Taos, I met people who had left the crush of big cities in the east or the lush green overgrown vegetation of the south or the frenetic pace of southern California. People who, after spending a few days in the desert, pulled up stakes and moved there for good.

Traveling teaches you a lot about yourself. One of the most important revelations is that each of us has deep, deep, inside a kind of internal temple bell that can only chime when struck by a certain place. For some it is the sea, the churning surf and the taste of salt in the air. For others it is the dark forested mountains or wide views from soaring peaks. Many can’t focus or think clearly without the pounding pulse of a city built of skyscrapers and asphalt grids.

Most of us never know what kind of bell we carry until we step into the landscape that resonates within us.  The lucky ones who hear the tone, feel the vibration and realize they are living their lives in the wrong place, can act. They have the means or sometimes just the determination to make the move and settle where they feel most at home. Others find a happy place in the middle, spending most of the year where they have to be and a week or a couple of weeks in the place that fills them with happiness. Saddest of all, some either cannot or will not ever find the place that makes them sing. They flop on the surface like a fish in a shallow pool and never know exactly why they are not happy, just that they can’t find peace. Because of circumstances beyond their control they never get the chance to discover where it is they feel most at home. Or, worse, they are deaf to the ring and never know the source of their restlessness.

We are each born with a kind of spiritual divining stick that sends us out to see the world, or, at the very least, new corners of our familiar world. We have what we need to find the spring that sends a shiver through us, that pulls us down to the right patch of earth. It’s up to us to dig the well.




Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review and is the editor of Spokane Metro Magazine. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Well-behaved Women Didn’t Make New Mexico’s History

(Photo courtesy Georgia O'Keefe Museum)

 


Coronado led the expedition to what would eventually become the state of New Mexico seeking a king’s ransom in gold. But what he found instead was a wide, burning landscape of stark contradictions and unique natural beauty; a land of painted desert, rolling hills, jagged mountains and endless blue skies ornamented with picture-perfect cloud formations.


The Pueblo people, unaware they were reputed to be wealthy beyond imagination, lived in houses made of mud bricks baked in the hot sun. Flakes of Mica and bits of straw embedded in the surface glinted in the hot sunlight.

In time, important trade routes were established and in the centuries that followed the cultures, beliefs and traditions of the native people, the conquering Spanish and Anglos who followed rutted paths and broken roads, blended.


 The result is a place like no other.


I was just in New Mexico, spending most of my time along the road between Santa Fe and Taos. And I discovered, wrapped in all the history of the region, the natural beauty and the contemporary focus on wine, food and art, the unexpected legacy of more than a few determined women. New Mexico may have been shaped by the men who laid claim to it, but it was made even richer by a flood of stubborn, demanding and eccentric women who took one look at the mountains in the distance, the pinyon trees and the wide open spaces, and never left.


The list is curious and impressive: Movie star Greer Garson—the implacable Mrs. Miniver— married into a ranch outside Santa Fe in the late 1940s and by the time of her death, in her 90s, she’d funded and endowed what would become Pecos National Park.  


New York socialite Millicent Rogers swept into Taos in 1949 and, consumed by a passion to conserve - while immersing herself in it - the culture of the Southwestern Indian, amassed an enormous collection of native turquoise and silver jewelry, pottery, textiles and paintings that would eventually, after her death in 1953, become the Millicent Rogers Museum of Taos.


Earlier, Mabel Dodge Luhan purchased land and a rambling adobe house and set out of to create a desert salon, a writers colony. Her tempestuous personal life became the stuff of literary legend, but her house still stands as a retreat center and bed and breakfast.


Georgia O’Keefe’s life and art changed forever when she planted herself—already in midlife—in the dry soil. Her home sits high on a hill in the Village of Abiquiui and looks out on a wide view she captured on canvas again and again.


Willa Cather, Frieda Lawrence, Edna St. Vincent Millay were all drawn to New Mexico, and so many other women—some rich, some rich only in talent and vision—came and stayed to sculpt a new life in a wild place. They played by new rules or their own rules. and they all possessed a restless energy that matched the place they’d settled.

In the dazzling New Mexico light, fed by the raw elements of sun, sky, earth and water, women blossomed like the cacti and golden Chamisa that blooms across the desert.   They proved that sometimes - to paraphrase Virginia Woolfe - all a woman needs is money and a territory of her own.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review and is the editor of Spokane Metro Magazine. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

New Mexico Sports Top License Plate

This undated photo provided by the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division shows an example of the state's commemorative centennial license plate, which has been voted the top license plate by The Automobile License Plate Collectors Association. (AP Photo/New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division via The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Question: Which state license plate do you consider the worst in the United States?

Working for UI in New Mexico

“The University of Idaho is spending nearly $400,000 a year to support three employees in New Mexico without any oversight, an electrical engineering professor at the school says.”

UI professor questions money spent in New Mexico 

Thoughts?