Monday, January 28, 2013

Pelican Beach Resort, Belize

On our recent trip to Belize, we flew into Dangriga to stay at the Pelican Beach Resort while waiting for the boat to take us the three hours to Long Caye for the scuba diving and snorkeling part of the trip.  Pelican Beach Resort was not as plush as Robert's Cove in Placencia, where we stayed last year, but very nice for about 2/3 of the cost.  The breakfast on the veranda facing the ocean was yummy. 
Tortillas with eggs, salsa, and cheese
Fry Jacks...similar to our sopapillas.
The grounds
The beach
The dining veranda
We like it so much, we stopped there for lunch again on returning to the mainland before flying off to Costa Rica.  Stay tuned for further adventures.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dangriga, Belize

On a recent trip to Belize, we visited the Garifuna settlement of Dangriga.   "Sweet water is close at hand" is the loose translation of the Garifuna word Dangriga

Dangriga is the cultural center of the Garifuna peoples in Belize.  Beautiful, friendly folks who are kind to tourists and care about the education of their children  provide a colorful glimpse into the life of Central Americans.

School girls from the Anglican Elementary.  Most children were in uniform.

Selling handmade sifters and graters.

The Garifuna (/ɡəˈrɪfʉnə/gə-rif-uu-nə; pl. Garinagu in Garifuna) are descendants of CaribArawak and West African people. The British colonial administration used the term Black Carib and Garifuna to distinguish them from Yellow and Red Carib, the Amerindian population that did not intermarry with Africans. The Amerindians who had not intermarried with Africans are still living in the Lesser AntillesDominicaSt. Vincent and The Grenadines, etc.

Today the Garifuna live primarily in Central America. They live along the Caribbean Coast in BelizeGuatemalaNicaragua and Honduras including the mainland, and on the island of Roatán. There are also diaspora communities of Garifuna in the United States, particularly in Los AngelesMiamiNew York and other major cities. (From Wikipedia)

Selling handmade dolls
Belizian vegetable market
We were lulled to sleep at night by the waves and sound of Garifuna drums in the distance.  Next time I post,  I will share a few photos of the colorful houses and flowers in Dangriga.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Another lovely frock!

When my daughter, Camille, (who loved dresses that would stand straight out when she twirled around) had her fourth birthday, we invited her little friend, Carl, who lived across the street, to her party.  Carl watched Camille open the first four packages with some anticipation.  With a bit of disgust on the fifth one, he declared, "Oh my, another lovely frock!"  All the adults at the party were stunned that a five year old boy knew what a frock was and furthermore could use the word appropriately.  When we thought about it some more, though, we were not as surprised.  

Both of Carl Minzner's parent's were Harvard trained lawyers.  We would frequently hear his dad's booming voice on sunny days outside our window as Dick and his son's, Carl and Max, headed for the park.  Dick would be explaining why the sky was blue or how the trees turned sunlight into chlorophyll.  His mother, Pam, later became a New Mexico Supreme Court who wore her own lovely frocks under that not so charming Justice gown.

This fond memory returned to me when I visited the Mariposa Gallery in Nob Hill. One of the artists, Marcia Sednek, whose creations were being showcased in a show titled "Jingle Bell Frock" had created wonderful little sculptural frocks out of all sort of recycled materials.
Photo via
Just a little touch of whimsy for a sunny day.  I was rushing from one errand to another that day, reminding myself a little of the white rabbit..."I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date," but I can never resist this contemporary gallery that celebrates both folk and fine art.  So I popped in for just a minute.  Thirty minutes later, I really was late.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Not So Secret Obsession

Most of my friends actually know about my slightly shameful and very acquisitive obsession with linens.  Some of them because they have been with me on my garage sale expeditions and visits to antique and vintage stores where I stop at every linen display.  When we had a house fire many years ago, the thing I mourned losing the most was my great-grandmother's crocheted lace tablecloth.

A few guests know about this obsession because they have accidentally opened the dedicated closet for my napkins, tablecloths and odd pieces of rarely used silver serving pieces when looking for a new roll of toilet paper or a fresh towel. This closet was added during construction by our good friend and builder Ray Holland, who suggested that adding a few feet to the back of the house would help make the laundry, master bath and master closet much more usable.  It also made room to store my collection of linens in the office bathroom which opens to the dining room.

My daughters just shake their heads when visiting and are asked to get the green napkins...."no, no, not that shade of green!" when setting the table. They anticipate the day when they will have to find a new home for all these linens when I move into a retirement community. 

For several years, I sublimated my desire to purchase new napkins as I built up the hospitality closet at St. Mark's by asking everyone to check their own closets for napkins they no longer needed. But at some point, even a large church has enough cloth napkins.  Poor me, now I can only admire the displays in stores and firmly chide myself with..."Heather, nobody needs 200 napkins! 

Paper napkins are anathema to me.  I don't like the way they look.  I hate the way they feel, and I dislike filling up the landfills with them.  So I cheerfully haul out the iron every few weeks to restore order to the linen closet.  My friends think that I am crazy. My daughters carefully edit their own possessions in order to not be accused of hoarding like their mother!  But I just blithely reach for clean, ironed napkins to go with almost any theme I chose.  By the way I "set the table."  What in the heck is a tablescape anyway?"  I paint "scapes"... landscapes that is, not create them. Here is the table set for a Mardi Gras theme dinner we hosted last night to plan one of Norm's excursions.

I had taken most of my decorations to St. Mark's in preparation for this party...
If you live in Albuquerque and want to come, there are still some tickets available, but they are going fast as last year's attendees are inviting all their friends.  Call on Tuesday to reserve a spot! The office is closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Holiday.

Captain and wife in costume 2012
Court Jesters 2012 
Incognito 2012
Party Animals 2012

 Sadly, I missed last years party when we were diving in Belize. But this year, we are getting into the Mardi Gras Season, which in many cultures lasts from Epiphany to Shrove Tuesday.

Because I had no masks, beads or other sparkly items, I improvised by layering colored napkins, using my brass candlesticks with purple and green candles, adding some gold with the brass napkins rings and piling some real jewelry in the antique wedding basket centerpiece which my grandmother  (tiring of polishing silver in Hobbs where the air is full of natural gas) ill-advisedly gold leafed!  My friend Jan, who used to live in New Orleans, lent me the wind sock to use at St. Mark's party and I still had it in the car, so hung it from a light fixture for the evening.

And have I stopped acquiring linens?  Not exactly.  When my sister was clearing some things out of her closets and no one else wanted these lovely ivory linen napkins, I rescued them from the Goodwill box.
I will enjoy using them with my wedding china (don't you love the way they echo the design in the china?) and someday perhaps one of my granddaughters will love to iron as well.  

Do you collect something...maybe even a little obsessively? I would love to hear about your collection in the comment box below or by email. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Living with Love, remembering Linda Gaume Jaramillo

When I started writing this blog a little more than a year ago, I had a vague idea that I would write about being an artist and share some of my artwork online.  But blogs, like life, somehow diverge from the best laid plans.  In the creative process of blogging, I learned to take some fairly decent photographs, to examine family life, to think more introspectively, to document travels, and to share some of my personal interests, obsessions, and dislikes.  

A few of the posts have been very personal family events and today I am going to honor my husband's sister, Linda Gaume Jaramillo who unexpectedly died shortly before Christmas.  If you did not know Linda, you will probably want to go on to the next blog in your reading list. 


Linda Gaume Jaramillo
How will we remember Linda?

Some of us will remember her as the younger sister, so beautiful when as a young woman we didn’t quite trust our buddies around her.  

Some of us will remember the older sister who made us doll clothes and taught us the secrets of being feminine. 

Linda and Zach as a baby
Linda and Kyle

Linda in center with Clara and Kyle

Some of us will remember the stories she read to us as children, her arms around us when we were scared or sad, the magical Christmases she created, and the homework she supervised.  

 Some of us will remember her creativity, the quilts she stitched, the jewelry she made and sold to help support her young family and the lovely homes she designed. 

 Some of us will remember the classes that she created to help us in our careers.  

 Some of us will never know her name, but remember the kind woman with dark hair who chatted with us in line at the grocery store, or seated next to us on the plane, helped us sooth a fussy child,  for Linda never knew a stranger. 

Some of us will remember her brilliant mind that was always searching for better ways to do things.

Some of us will remember a mentor who listened and encouraged us in the difficult job of caring for young children as counselors at Camp Stoney.   

Some of us remember her as a step mom who loved us, guided us, and celebrated our birthdays as though we were born to her. 
A pack of cousins in their youth
A pack of cousins... grown older.

Some of us will remember the wicked practical jokes she talked us into helping with at family reunions.   
Linda and Harper
Linda reading to Olivia

Some of us will remember the grandmother who spoiled us despite our parent’s protests.  

Some of us will remember the new daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, and cousin with too many chickens and too many dogs, Jose brought into our lives to love us for too short a time.   

Some of us remember her as the wife who brought both joy and loss to our lives.

Some of us will remember the friend who would always listen.  Some of us remember her epic battles to overcome the darkness and despair caused by the chemical imbalances of her bi-polar disease.  Some of us will remember her courage in choosing to fight her cancer against overwhelming odds for the love of her husband, children and extended family.   

Olivia and Eliza will only remember her from photos and the stories we will tell them of their grandmother and great-aunt.  They were born just months before Linda left this world.
2012 Family Reunion
 Most of us will remember her for all of these things.

Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, in his recent daily meditations said,

Jesus commanded us to love; so we know love is not just a feeling, since we cannot command feelings. Love is mostly a decision.

Jesus did not say:
When you get healed, love;
When you grow up, love;
When you feel loving, love;
When you get it together and have dealt with all your mother/father/husband/children wounds, then you must love.
No, the commandment for all of us is to LOVE now, and thus fill the tragic gaps of every moment.

Most of us, if we met Jesus today, might turn away in shame because we had failed to heed this commandment, but Linda would be able to look at him and smile.

I don’t know if Linda’s upbringing in a religious home taught her to take this commandment to love so seriously or if it was just an inborn gift, but I do know that when Linda’s intense blue eyes turned to regard you with interest, you were well and truly loved.  

 So I know that all of her friends, co-workers and family will remember one thing about Linda.   She loved intensely, passionately, and joyfully.  


Just as her chickens flocked to her when she called….girrrlls, we all flocked to the warmth of her love.  

 All of us carry a spark of that love within us.  How we nurture and use that love will be Linda’s enduring legacy.  She was the heart of our family, and for us to go on with our lives, we must take her example seriously and love as intensely, passionately and joyfully as she did.  Linda accomplished many important things in her career and in her life, but the greatest of these was love.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Santa Fe Chowder

Quite some time ago I mentioned my favorite fall soup, Santa Fe chowder.  This soup is originally from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks for a Crowd
 I learned to make it when I was the director at the Episcopal camp in Santa Fe while searching for ways to serve a large crowd.  Funny to find a recipe from an Ithaca, New York restaurant that that so accurately reflects the culture of the Southwest.  Because this is a vegetarian recipe, you can serve all of your friends something wonderful without making your vegetarian friends feel you needed to make something just for them.

Now I make it and freeze portions of it to serve later or to take to friends experiencing illness or a family crisis.  

Fair warning...there is a lot of chopping to do for this one.  Where are my prep chefs when I need them?  (All three daughters with busy lives of their own!)  

Before Christmas I hosted the St. Mark' annual Greens Gathering Party at my house and made this so it reminded me to share the recipe with you.  This recipe calls for cumin, a popular ingredient in Southwest cooking.  Everything else is probably already in your cabinets or refrigerator, except for the fresh jalapeno peppers.  I imagine some of you on the East Coast may need to substitute canned green chile...but maybe not with the widespread interest in ethnic cooking.

I am printing the original recipe which serves a whole lot of folks because if you are going to purchase and chop that many ingredients, why not make a lot?

Moosewood Santa Fe Chowder

2 tablespoons minced jalapeno peppers
1 cup chopped onions
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
5cups of sweet and white potatoes (we had a mix this week, but if you only choose one, choose sweet)
3 cups water
2 cup sweet green peppers
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup yellow squash
2 ounces cream cheese
1 cup milk
salt to taste
chopped cilantro
cheddar cheese

Saute jalapenos and onions in oil in soup pot for about 10 minutes - until onions are translucent. Add spices and saute a minute more.
Add the potatoes, pepper, and water and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer covered for about 15 minutes.
Add tomatoes, corn, and squash. Bring to a boil again and then simmer for about 5 minutes.
Remove about 3 cups of the soup from the pot and combine with cold milk and room temperature cream cheese. Pour into a blender (the milk will lower the soup temp which will be better for the blender). Puree, then add back to soup. Gently reheat if necessary, stirring constantly.
Garnish with any or all of the following:  Salsa, cheese, chopped cilantro, black olives, or sour cream.

However, for those of you without a freezer or no plans to host twenty to forty folks, here is a link to the recipe that only serves six...over at 

Up here on the mountain, thirty minutes from town, I have learned to hard way to make sure I have all the ingredients before I begin!  It was cloudy the day I made this which can be a problem in our all solar home, but this cooking is done entirely on the top of the stove which requires only a moment of electricity to start the burners, unlike my oven which uses electricity to constantly monitor and adjust the temperature.  This way of living is a radical departure from the old days when I would immediately turn on the oven to bake something glorious the moment a cloud began to form in our arid Southwest. 

Another dish I intend to try since I love sweet potatoes....
 Vegetarian Sweet Potato Burger via
Found this on Pinterest and it looks so yummy.  Hop on over to Kathy Patalshy's blog Lunch Box for the recipe.  She has lots of other enticing sounding vegetarian and vegan recipes.  True confession...I am a committed carnivore, but love vegetables as well!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A touch of glitter

In spite of all the sadness in the family with the very recent death of my sister-in-law, Linda, who absolutely loved Christmas, there were three little granddaughters coming for Christmas, so I gathered myself together, banished the blues, and went for a pale green, sliver and glittered theme for this year's Christmas decor to dazzle the little ones.

Inspiring the theme are these vintage ornaments which were given to me by a church friend, Merle Houk, about fifteen years ago.  They are packaged in their original boxes which are aging much more quickly than the ornaments themselves.  I believe these ornaments are about fifty years old.

Several have broken over the years, two of them when our adopted cat climbed the tree and it fell over.  What a mess!  We have since learned to wire the tree to one of the ceiling beams. These ornaments are very fragile, unlike the ornaments today made of plastic.  There are boxes of pink ones as well, which I have used in the past with burgundy.  But this year, those are staying in their boxes waiting for another turn some year.

A number of years ago, I purchased 8 and a half yards of this fabric at a yard sale for $.50 a yard.

What a steal.  It has served as a backdrop (looped through a crown) for the head table at Hogwarts, as a magical tent with white lights for an Arabian Night party, and now I have cut some of it off to add some color to the table.  We live a long way from town, so, having no thread this color, I unraveled some from the fabric to hem the squares.  Since each piece was only about a yard long, I rewound the bobbin about ten times!

Here it is on the tables at church for our Celebrities Christmas Luncheon...

And here it is again back home on my dining table.

The chandeliers are hung with glass silver pine cones, icicles (from my favorite home decor shop in Santa Fe) and my favorite Christmas ornaments of all, two lovely stars created in leaded glass by my sister-in-law, Carolyn.

The topiary style trees are painted cardboard cones which I glittered and elevated on upside down margarita glasses to created some interesting height.

Because that same darn cat knocked over and shattered one of my two mercury glass trees, I secured the plates with double sided mounting tape, so that my grandmother's Haviland china would not meet the same demise.

As life-long Episcopalians, we do not begin to decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving but usually wait until almost the end of Advent, so our tree has only been up since Christmas Eve.  Tomorrow we celebrate Epiphany and the end of the Christmas holidays but I may leave the tree up for a few more days to enjoy the lights and sparkle.  Because we cut the tree on our land the day we put it up, it is still fresh, green, and smelling wonderful.  I promise, however, it will not still be up for Valentine's Day!