Word For Wednesday - Weathering

I have managed to weather this year well, but last year was another story.

I had gotten my dog, Aster in the late summer of 2010. Work was crazy and I wasn't sleeping very well. It had been about eight months since my dog Max passed away and I was ready for another dog. Max had a gentle disposition. He was great around children and other dogs. He was the ultimate omega dog. I started looking for golden retriever crosses that I hoped would have the same disposition as Max.

For a couple of months, I looked at the animal shelter websites in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and in Espanola. Alas, no golden retrievers. I looked at the golden retriever rescue sites, too. I wasn't in a hurry to have another dog. One day while I was looking at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter website, a golden retriever cross caught my eye. Her name was Tara.

That weekend, I went to the animal shelter looking for Tara. The kennels that you walk through at the shelter are small rooms with Dutch doors. Some of the rooms had the top part of the door open so that you could interact with the dogs. When I got to the room with Tara, both the top and bottom part of the door were closed. There was a sign that requested after visiting with the dogs to close the top door. There were two dogs in the kennel. A white lab and Tara. My friend Geri said I should take both dogs, but I only brought Tara home.
Tara was adorable, but I promptly renamed her Poppy. (She was subsequently renamed Aster, but that's another story.) The day after I brought her home I went out to breakfast with a friend. When I came back home I found her climbing over my six foot fence like a drawing of Kilroy was here. Who would think a forty pound dog could scale a wall that size? It was funny seeing her head peeking over the fence with her paws on either side of her.

I wasn't quite sure what to do with the escape artist. I should have been alerted that Tara was a jumper. There was a sign in her kennel at the shelter that both doors on the Dutch door had to remained closed after visiting. She was so adorable that I didn't heed this warning.
After telling a co-worker about her escapist behavior, she recommended taking her to dog training. The trainers she recommended didn't have any open classes. But Aster continued to escape, so I hired the trainer to come to my house. He didn't think Aster was beyond redemption. Woohoo! And he recommended that I buttress the fence with lumber that faced inward and dig trenches near the fence to prevent her from getting a running start. I decided against the dry moat around the perimeter of my backyard. I didn't know I would have to fortify Casa de GirlSprout to keep her.
Last fall, I came home to find my front door ajar. My house had been broken into and I called my friend Katie hysterically saying someone had stolen Aster. She recommended that I walk around and look to see if anything else had been taken. I discovered that my television and DVD player were taken. No one had stolen Aster, but she was gone. Katie fixed the door frame for me so I could close the door that night, but I was despondent that Aster was gone. I called my friend Geri. Geri drove up and down the street with me. We took a flashlight and walked up and down the arroyo near my house calling for Aster.

I went to bed crying and forlorn. In the middle of the night I woke up and felt something wet under my hand. It was Aster. She had climbed back over the fence and let herself in through the dog door.

Aster and I have weathered many storms, but I know she can find her way home.
Special thanks to Donna at Garden Walk, Garden Talk for hosting Word For Wednesday (W4W). Check out other perspectives on weathering.


Christmas Cards From Santa Fe

Wishing all of my blogging friends a Merry Christmas and many blessings in the New Year!


Think Warm Thoughts

It snowed last week in Santa Fe and it's been bitterly cold. I could feel the chill through my fleece lined winter pants when I walked Aster on Friday. However, around the Thanksgiving holiday I went to Orlando, Florida for a visit with my family. I have two aunts and an uncle who live there.
When I used to wait for the morning bell to ring in high school, my classmates and I would huddle around in the cold damp air and think warm thoughts. We would talk about sitting beside a fire or feeling the radiant heat of the sun on a sandy beach or drinking hot cocoa. Thoughts about the the warmth I felt in Florida a few weeks ago will carry my through the cold Santa Fe winter.
My Mom and Aunt humored me and accompanied me to the Harry P. Leu Gardens. It was a balmy 75 degrees most of the time I was in Florida and I could use a little of that heat now.
I wonder if it weren't for Monet if we would still have the same appreciation for water lilies that we do? This could probably be filed under "things that make you go, hmm."
Happy Winter Solstice! I hope everyone stays warm this winter and if you're cold try thinking warm thoughts. 


La Plazuela

La Plazuela is a hidden or not so hidden treasure in La Fonda, a hotel in downtown Santa Fe. La Fonda is the oldest hotel in Santa Fe and started out as a Harvey House. Every year, the chief of my bureau takes all of us out to a special winter lunch. For the last three out of four years, we have gone to La Plazuela.
As you walk in, there is a huge chandelier ensconced by two ficus (?) trees. La Plazuela is open and airy and feels a lot like a courtyard. I learned on the La Fonda website that La Plazuela was originally the hotel's patio in the 1920s. It's surrounded by a balcony where you can peer down on diners or revelers depending on the occasion.
I love the painted window panes, which were painted in the 1970s and 1980s. There are about 400 of them and no two are alike. La Fonda had a staff artist, Ernest Martinez who painted them.
Lunch was delectable, but my camera phone doesn't do the food justice. I'm not sure if mashed potatoes taste any better piped into a rosette, but I enjoyed the presentation. Kidding aside, the food doesn't disappoint. It's one of the reasons we go back year after year. Seasonal specials included the green chile meatloaf with pine nuts and shrimp diablo. 
I got to sit with my back to the fire while we were eating lunch! It warmed me up on a cold winter day. 


Buy Locally

I was at Newman’s Nursery in late October admiring the Muhly grass, but was reluctant to purchase it. They only sold it in five gallon containers for $30. I didn’t want to dig a hole that large and wasn’t certain that I wanted to pay that much money for something that might not survive the winter. So I stared at it covetously, but my practicality got the better of me and bought three one gallon switch grass plants that were half off instead.

As I walked into the nursery area I was surprised to see wall-to-wall poinsettias - a sea of green plants.
Sometimes, it's not easy adjusting one's mindset to spend more money locally. One-click buying has led to the demise of bookstores everywhere local or otherwise. A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with a few friends. My friend Geri had mentioned ordering a book from Garcia Street Books. It is one of the few remaining bookstores in Santa Fe. And she was going to try frequenting it monthly to support the local economy. I love Garcia Street and would be sad to see it go. I got my copy of Secret Gardens of Santa Fe there.
But I would be sadder to see any of the local nurseries go away. The plants tend to be more appropriate for the high desert climate. At Newman's, a staff member can answer my gardening questions or find someone who can. You can buy a poinsettia at a big box store for less, but it wouldn't be this pretty. Support your local nurseries! 
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