Archive for the ‘Environment’ category

GiGi’s Amazing “Okay, so…” Post

April 21, 2018

❤Now that’s writing!

Fog: Mysteriously Scientific

November 18, 2014


~Fog by Felicia Lujan. The digital composite includes 4 images, 10 layers, 2 masks and 1 screen.~

The Fog
by Mary Meixner

Seurat would have gone forth
on such a night
walking the mist-hung streets
dour silence
wrapping his world
in thin recessions
frames of form.
How he would chew this vapor
like a food
tasting distinctions
when all cats are grey
already in his hand, the touch
veiling in layered chalk
this passing woman
as a monument.
Each windowed structure lost
in a broad stroke
that makes perfection
of the mood of home
cubic, irradiated,
finding more truth
the more that it obscures.

A couple of weeks ago on my drive into work, the fog was thick. I wanted to stop and take a photograph, but I didn’t. Fog rarely visits Santa Fe, but when it does, it is beautiful and eerie and magical and mysterious all at once. I started wondering what people thought about fog centuries ago when they didn’t understand what it was. I started wondering things like… What is fog exactly? What causes fog? Why does the smoke-like cloak evoke such contradictory feelings in me? Tonight I explored historic and contemporary research about the science of fog. I can’t possibly cover everything in one night. In the coming weeks, I would like to learn more about fog.

The earliest scientific account of fog I could find was published in an 1889 volume of Science. The article was titled Fogs, and the piece wasn’t very scientific in my opinion. That year in January, there was an anniversary meeting of the Royal Meteorological Society. The president of the society, Dr. W. Marcet delivered a keynote address about fog which was laced with “interesting lantern-slides.” Apparently, the address declared that “fogs and clouds are one in the same thing.” The article goes on to say “a cloud is a fog when entered into; and a fog seen from a distance, suspended in the air, becomes a cloud.” Isn’t that so scientific? No…not really.

While I didn’t get much from the article in that volume, a few months later, a very interesting piece was published in Letters to the Editor. On May 24, 1889, H.A. Hazen (love how that surname is perfect for a study of fog) sent a letter to Science. It opens… “A great deal of discussion has recently taken place on the properties of fog and its causes.” This letter delivered some concrete facts about the composition and causes of fog. He or maybe she calls theory “entirely inadequate” and noted percent, degrees, height, and weight measurements. Hazen says “fog, it is admitted, is simply cloud composed of water-dust or solid minute spheres of water from 1/7000 to 1/1000 of an inch in diameter.”

So how did Hazen conclude the letter written from Washington, D.C.? I was curious as I read on. Hazen concluded by outlining the circumstances surrounding the formation of fog.

“The cause of fog is briefly as follows: 1. It is essential that there be no wind. I do not mean that the wind does not blow the fog right after it is formed, but there must be little or none while it is forming. 2. The sky must be clear. We often notice a cloudless sky after a fog is dissipated. On weather-maps, “fog” is entered as “fair,” for, through not a particle of sky is visible, yet it is almost a certainty that the sky is clear. 3. The air must be saturated, or nearly so. It is very surprising how rarely the last condition occurs at inland stations. A relative humidity of 95 per cent has been noted in the air, in which rain is falling, and had been falling continuously for seventeen hours. This condition almost always can occur only to the south, south-east, or north-east of a storm. At nightfall, whenever these conditions combine, there is a rapid radiation from the earth to the sky, which speedily supersaturates the overlying air; and after that, radiation from the upper surface of the fog continues the process, and extends the fog upward until the action ceases with the rising of the sun.”

The letter was a very interesting read. Will you notice any of the things Hazen pointed out next time you encounter fog? I will. I find pleasure in the fact that one thought or maybe a few thoughts can spur my mind into a foggy haze! Hazen seemed to take some of the first concrete steps to define fog scientifically.

What about what can’t be defined scientifically like the emotions and feelings associated with fog? How do writers and artists use things like fog as a tool to evoke a feeling in the reader? I have a little bit more research to do and then you will see a part two with a focus on my interest in the mystery of fog.


The Fog [Poem] by Mary Meixner
Art Journal, Vol.25, No.1, Pg.25 (Autumn 1965)

Science, Vol.13, No.315, Pg.116-117 (February 1889)

Science, Vol.13, No.330, Pg.429-430 (May 1889)

Lil Tyke Fishing Derby

June 14, 2014

This morning we met Meghan and her husband Andrew (the water expert) at the Santa Fe River. The vital vein in Santa Fe was stocked with 500 fish for a lil tyke fishing derby. We took lil man out for a bit before his first flag football game of the day. It was his first time fishing, but he made sure I knew he was going to “catch and release.” I love my considerate, Earth loving son. I think he needs lessons from the expert fisherman~ my brother, Thomas. We saw a grip of people we knew near the river. It was a nice morning. Glad to show my love for our precious river.


Honored by the Indigenous

May 1, 2014


Today I had a pleasant surprise from my beautiful cousin, Jessica. She is a very special woman and is the moderator of the Sacred Garden Doula blog. This afternoon she sent me a text message to tell me that Tewa Woman United was using a photograph I took on their Facebook page. I was honored to learn that this group of “indigenous woman united in heart, mind and spirit” used my image of a very special moment in time.


I took one of the most beautiful photos I have ever taken last year at the Gathering for Mother Earth in Pojoaque. I grew up in the Pojoaque Valley. Participating in the gathering was an extremely spiritual and touching experience for me. I wrote about it in The Spirit of Place. In this piece I explained how I felt that day. I was definitely moved in so many ways.

It really is an honor to have my photo selected by Tewa Women United. They obviously agreed that it captured the spirit of place. 

Death by Curare: A Love of Blowguns

April 24, 2014


~“Blowing Poison in the Amazon” a digital rendering by Felicia Lujan~

For some time I have been fascinated with blowguns. These low tech tools or weapons used mostly by indigenous peoples in the rainforest are also referred to as blowpipes or blow tubes. A blowgun is traditionally made of a long tube of organic material such as bamboo. The tube is used to fire poisoned darts or other projectiles by blowing air by mouth into the tube.

I first became intrigued with the blowgun when one of my all time favorite fantasy films was released in 1985. I was a ten year old girl with a wild imagination. In Legend, a poisoned blowdart was used by the evil goblins to kill a unicorn in a dark fairy tale which I favor. I now own that movie and still watch it often. The blowgun made such an impression on me that I authored a poem titled “Blowdart” in February of 2013.


~The talking book and player on the chair in my office.~

For the last few days, I have been listening to a talking book while I work. This book along with a book my son and I read on poison dart frogs, made me want to research further into the history and use of the blowgun. After listening to my talking book, and doing some research, I am more fascinated by not only blowguns, but by medicine men.

Listening to Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice has been so interesting. The book was read and written by Mark J. Plotkin, Ph.D. Dr. Plotkin is a famous ethnobotanist who searches “for new medicines in the Amazon Rainforest and said “everytime a shaman dies, it is as if a library burned down.” This is a very sad realization. There is so much oral history to be lost with death.

Dr. Plotkin spent an amazing amount of time studying the shamans of the northeast Amazon and his book is indeed mind blowing. There is something about actually listening to him tell the story. I could hear his love and enthusiasm for the Amazon, nature and research in his voice. I was particularly struck by his interest in the indigenous use of blowguns.

The indigenous peoples of the Amazon, South and Central America, and South East Asia utilize blowguns as do the Native Americans of North America. These people have used both round projectiles as well as handmade darts for ammunition. I tend to favor those cultures which lace the tips of their darts with poison. This is done to cause paralysis and death.


~A Poison Dart Frog~

The type of toxins used on tipped darts to cause paralysis and death vary from culture to culture. Indigenous peoples use curare, a plant based extract or the frothy secretions of toxic frogs to tip darts. Native Americans have been known to extract toxins from the Golden Poppy. The amount of poison used, and the level of penetration seem to play key roles in the life or death of the receiver.


~The Golden Poppy~

On September 17, 1864, London’s Illustrated Times published a short piece titled “The Woorali Arrow Poison.” This historic news article says “from the fact that this poison, introduced into the system by the blood vessels, causes paralysis and death in the course of a few minutes, it has been erroneously inferred that death by curare is perfectly free from pain of any kind.” Dr. Claude Bernard’s experiments with curare showed that “one limb after another becomes gradually paralyzed…” He assumed death by curare was not painless as an animal retains intellect during the course of paralysis, which “gradually extended to the respiratory organs” causing suffocation.

On September 16, 1993, the Indiana Gazette ran an article on Dr. Plotkin by Nita Lelyveld, a writer with the Associated Press. He is truly an amazing man. The article was titled “Scientist Learns Healing Secrets from Rain Forest’s Medicine Men.” In this piece, there is a photo of the handsome scientist discussing “blow gun poisons with an En-Yeh-Pah Indian in central Venezuela.” What a great image! It was awesome to read this story. I’m in love with this ethnobotonist. Again, Dr. Plotkin’s professional passion was evident.


~The handsome ethnobotanist discussing “blow gun poisons with an En-Yeh-Pah Indian in central Venezuela.” ***Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press~

At the time of that article and the release of his book (1993), Dr. Plotkin was working with Conservation International. He is still on a conservation mission. That is commendable. Today he is president of the Amazon Conservation Team. His team is working with indigenous peoples in order to protect our magical rainforests. He is a very special man with a love of poisoned darts, blowguns, and medicinal cures.

When I first became intrigued with the blowgun, I was just a girl. I had and still have a wild imagination. As a young girl I could never understand the importance of conservation and preservation. If it were not for experts like Dr. Plotkin and the late Dr. Bernard, people like me would never learn about some things. I can only imagine what it is like to be a scientist studying in the rainforest. It must be an empowering, humbling and fulfilling experience.

I am not a scientist, but I am a writer. Through writing I can mentally experience those things I may never be able to do. Through writing, I can spread Dr. Plotkin’s message. Through writing, I can shoot a blowgun. Through writing, I can extract toxins and make curare. Through writing, I can become a poisoned dart. Through writing, I can administer death by curare.

Recycling Cat

March 22, 2014

“We live in a disposable society. It’s easier to throw things out than to fix them. We even give it a name – we call it recycling.”
~~~Neil LaBute


My cat loves when it’s time to recycle. He doesn’t know what to do with himself as I sort through things…lookin’ all inquisitive n such! I still need to buy some uniform large bins, but I haven’t seen any I really like. Today as I sorted through things I realized two things.

First, I realized that many people don’t recycle because it’s not easy to do if you do it yourself. The stuff accumulated can make a small hill in a short amount of time! It’s just something else on a long list of things to do. Still, if you care about the future of this planet, it’s harder not to do things to make it a better place to live.

Second, I realized that we always have about 4x more plastic than anything else in the recycling. We also consume a grip of protein, stuff from Whole Foods, sugar free Torani syrup, carbonated water, oatmeal, coffee, and sauces! Wowza! It’s interesting to look through things and have a visual representation of daily habits.

If you aren’t recycling, you should. It’s important to do. I have grown accustomed to the looks my family and friends give me when I throw something in my purse and say “it can be recycled!” You should care. It will make you feel good. If my cat can do it, so can you! 🙂

Santa Fe Joins the Plastic Bag Ban

March 3, 2014


My Sunday afternoon groceries neatly tucked away in my reusable, washable blue bags!
I am very proud to live in a city that is making an effort to save our planet. This week, Santa Fe joined a slow but steady push to curb the use of plastic shopping bags. Like I said, the effort is there. The intentions are indeed good. Unfortunately, the whole thing needs a bit more thinking through.

The stores are offering no plastic now, but still offer paper bags at 10 cents each. Sounds like a good deal ha? It would be if there were more people who actually recycled the paper. Most will just toss the paper into the trash, needlessly killing off our trees. It would have been better to insist on reusable bags. One step at a time I guess?

A recent commentary out of Washington by Joshua Keating, confirms that “nearly 100 U.S. cities” have joined this ban. He said it was recently reported in the New York Times that “California may soon become the first U.S. state to impose a blanket plastic bag ban.”

Keating called Bangladesh “dramatic” for becoming “the first country to ban polythene bags in 2002,” because they were “clogging drainage pipes” and causing floods. Apparently China has reduced the use of plastic by close to 50% by charging for bags. Keating said in Rwanda, a resident can be fined $150 for being seen on the streets with a plastic bag!

The ban here in the City Different is good. When I was using plastic bags, I was recycling them. There are so many people who still don’t care. I love my planet. I love our planet. When I was young and uneducated, I admit I didn’t care! It makes me sad. I wish I would have cared more in retrospect.

I can’t claim ignorance anymore, so I am proud to live in a city…slowly going green.

The Food Revolution

October 24, 2013

★Quote on the Santa Fe Farmers Market wall.

Tonight I attended a very informative lecture in the Santa Fe Farmers Market building. Our market is one of the best in the United States. For those of you who don’t know, October 24 is celebrated as Food Day. My friend Meghan invited me to the lecture and I am glad I went with her. I learned so much about the efforts of the Santa Fe Food Policy Council. Our food future is extremely important! When we open our eyes to the problems in our communities, we become empowered. I only wish more locals would become informed and care.
Following is some information from the Food Day web site:

“Food Day is a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food and a grassroots campaign for better food policies. It builds all year long and culminates on October 24. Food Day aims to help people Eat Real. That means cutting back on sugar drinks, overly salted packaged foods, and fatty, factory-farmed meats in favor of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and sustainably raised protein. Food Day envisions shorter lines at fast-food drive-throughs—and bigger crowds at farmers markets. This annual event involves some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.”
★Inside the Santa Fe Farmers Market at night.

★Organic coffee and snacks are awesome! This was sweet-n-salty popcorn. It hand a touch of white chocolate and red chili powder. I am so making this!

“The typical American diet is contributing to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems. Those problems cost Americans more than $150 billion per year. Plus, a meat-heavy diet takes a terrible toll on the environment. Eating Real can save your own health and put our food system on a more humane, sustainable path. With America’s resources, there’s no excuse for hunger, low wages for food and farm workers, or inhumane conditions for farm animals. Join the Movement, The most important ingredient in Food Day is you! Use October 24 to start—or celebrate—eating a healthier diet and putting your family’s diet on track. Food Day is not just a day; it’s a year-long catalyst for healthier diets and a Food Day’s national priorities address overarching concerns within the food system and provide common ground for building the food movement.”

It was a very good opportunity to further educate myself. Conserving precious resources, being healthy, and caring for Mother Earth are top priorities for me. When I got home, I decided that I would like to try some square foot gardening next year! I learned all about this method from Meghan. I need to start saving New Mexico seeds! What am I waiting for? Why not become more active in the food revolution? I think I have been on the right track for many years, but I always have room to improve.
★The Good Earth gals.

~°~ The Spirit of Place ~°~

September 23, 2013

The morning was crisp and I could feel the winter slipping into my bones. On Saturday, I got up while the stars were still twinkling. All night long I had various dreams about the special gathering I knew I was going to attend that morning. After making breakfast, I poured up the last cup of flavored coffee and headed out the door into the darkness.

The drive to the valley seemed different. The Pojoaque Valley looked peaceful early in the morning and I really couldn’t remember the last time I had that thought. During my descent I wondered what the Gathering for Mother Earth would be like? My cousin Jessica had invited me to the gathering last year, but I never made it. She insisted it was something I would love. I was happy to be on my way down to my home town. At one time, I said this was the place where I grew up, but I actually grew up several years later. I still continue to grow.



Upon approaching the gathering site there were several invitational signs. The signs carried depictions of the sun and moon. There were also handmade signs which featured the symbolic turtle totem, one of Creator’s creatures who burrows into Mother Earth. The gathering is held not far from my childhood home. I would say maybe five miles away. There was a long, bumpy dirt road leading to the sacred space amongst the moon, trees, and the spirit of place. 
~° Photograph of the moon in the Pojoaque sky by Felicia Lujan °~

When I got out of the vehicle, the first thing I noticed was a painted sky. The sky was alive with shades of pink, purple and blue and had two beautiful teepees in the distance. People were shuffling and beginning to gather. I was hoping I hadn’t missed the ceremony to usher in the sunrise. My cousin had told me that “the grandmothers would sing the sun up in Tewa.” I made it just in time. The moon was still high west in the Pojoaque sky.

I walked up a small embankment into a large circle of rocks. The grandmothers called to us and invited us into the circle. Within that circle there were two centered small circles of rocks. One of the small circles contained a pile of dirt which was likely symbolic of Mother Earth. The other had a fire burning. There were offerings of wood, corn meal and water near the fire. During the course of the gathering handfuls of these offerings were tossed into the fire in prayer and to ask for blessings.

There were about 40 people gathered into the circle. The ceremony started with the thoughts and prayers of the grandmothers. All of those in attendance were spiritually cleansed with a smudge stick. The smoke smelled like a combination of sage and lavender. One woman went around and ran smoke up and down each person’s body. Some people gave thanks. Some people stayed silent. Some people pushed the smoke into their lungs with their hands. A few different people spoke thereafter. They spoke about respect for Mother Earth and fostering an appreciation of her gifts.

When the rays of the sun started shooting over the mountains to the east we were asked to face that direction. While I waited for the sunrise, my heart heard the most beautiful prayers, songs and instruments. The drum, a rattle and a flute complimented each voice. The song of one particular woman brought tears to my eyes. I was moved and touched in ways which seem indescribable. I experienced overwhelming warmth once the sun was in full view. It seemed as though I was seeing the sun for the very first time. In a way, I was.

When I turned back to face the fire, I looked right past the flames. I was overcome by the enchanting beauty of the Black Mesa. The natural light cast a surreal glow from one end of the mesa to the other. Again it felt like the first time I had seen the mesa that I have seen a million times. It is hard to explain how all of this lifted my heart. I felt connected to the strangers experiencing this beauty with me. Lastly we participated in “a short version” of the cinnamon roll hug and then we were released from the circle with blessings.
~° Photograph of the sunrise and the spirit of place in the Pojoaque sky by Felicia Lujan °~

This may be one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had. It made me feel good. It made me feel connected to people and place. It made me feel complete. The experience was nothing like my dreams. It was so much better and more beautiful than the mind of the creative could imagine. When the sun came up, I took a picture. In my photo, unexplainable red markings appeared around the sun. There is also a glowing red orb directly below the sun. I don’t know about you, but I believe I captured the spirit of place that day. I believe. The Gathering for Mother Earth was so amazing.

~° Natural products made by my cousin Jessica °~


Jemez on Fire

June 8, 2013
•• A very sad image of the fire burning in Jemez. I can see it from my front yard. ••

•• A very sad image of the fire burning in Jemez. I can see it from my front yard. ••

Recycling: A Worthy Lesson

September 2, 2012

It has taken a while, but I finally have everyone at home in recycle mode. Frankly, now that we are being more conscious about our waste I am a bit surprised. Today we took four garbage bags full of plastic to the recycle center. The bags only contained those items designated a number 1 or a number 2. Now Daryn checks his waste before he throws it away. I am proud of how he has really come along with this. We have also been recycling glass, steel, tin, and plastic shopping bags. I should be recycling newspapers, but I’m not there yet. I think it is because I do reuse them around the house for other things like cleaning mirrors or glass, and in the pup crates. There are always people there at the Buckman Road Recycling & Transfer Station (BuRRT) when we go. The recyclers are almost always older people. It is nice to see them flash a smile at a young Spanish boy while he dumps his plastics into the bin and does his part in loving our planet. I know it makes him feel good to recycle.

Daryn recycling plastic containers today at the
Buckman Road Recycling & Transfer Station (BuRRT)
in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The easiest recycle guide for plastics that I have been able to track down came from The Daily Green web site. The site is “A Consumer’s Guide to Green from” Brian Clark Howard created a guide with images titled “What Do Recycling Symbols on Plastics Mean?” He calls it “your guide to figuring out what those recycling codes on plastics mean.” For us it has been a worthy lesson. If you get a chance, check it out and start to or continue doing your part to save our beautiful planet.

Whale Fins and Heartache: Conserve for the Greater Good

August 7, 2012
Watching the Killer Whales in San Diego, CA - Sea World on 8.7.12

Watching the Killer Whales in San Diego, CA – Sea World on 8.7.12

Today we spent the day in San Diego, California. We went to visit Sea World– home of the most famous Killer Whales and numerous other amazing animals. I am such an animal lover. Trips like these offer me an opportunity to learn so much. I learn just as much about myself as I do about each environment I engross myself in. Something in me has changed. It is for the good of course. Sometimes I think it’s strange, but nevertheless, it has happened. I am different. The last time I went to Sea World I don’t remember wondering or caring if the animals liked living there?? The same thing happened to me over a year ago at the Rio Grande Zoo in my home state (Albuquerque, NM). For some reason, I now feel bad for these majestic creatures? They should be free- like me…. I feel sort of guilty thinking about using them for my entertainment. Weird in some ways I guess- but I think that if the animals are smart enough to perform all of these intricate tricks and communicate effectively with humans, they must be smart enough to realize that they are not free right?? I don’t know? I am known for over thinking things. I mean I don’t think the world needs to do aways with Sea World– I do want my son to have a chance to enjoy being a child and doing the things I did as a child. For him it was worth it. It is just good for me to include at least some education with the entertainment. I was glad that Sea World now screens a great educational video about conservation efforts, pollution, over fishing, and animal protection. Today I learned something new. I learned about sustainable seafood. I took time to find out more on the way back from San Diego. I have purchased tons of salmon, shrimp, scallops, and other fish over the years and often see “wild caught” or “farm raised” on the package. I must admit that I had not a clue about what that would mean? Today I learned that as consumers, we should always choose farm raised. Wild caught fish are from the ocean and we are over fishing (translation–killing the ocean). Some fish may eventually become endangered and die off. So today I had a good lesson from the Killer Whales. Now I can make better, more educated choices that help us to protect our ocean friends.

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New Mexico Historic Sites at Risk in Forest Fire

May 28, 2012

NASA handout satellite photo of wildfires in New Mexico
(NASA, Reuters / May 28, 2012) Wildfires burn in New Mexico’s
Gila National Forest in this NASA satellite image dated May 27,
2012. Diminished winds helped fire crews take the offensive on
Sunday against an 11-day-old blaze burning out of control through
the rugged high country of New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, but
nearly 300 homes in the area remained under evacuation. The
so-called Whitewater-Baldy fire, which destroyed a dozen privately
owned cabins at the height of its rampage last week, has charred
well over 122,000 acres (49,000 hectares) of timber since it was
ignited by lightning on May 16, fire officials said.


New Mexico Historic Sites

at Risk in Forest Fire

Originally published online by the Chicago Tribune
by Zelie Pollon for Reuters on May 28, 2012

SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) – Firefighters in New Mexico were working on Monday to protect several Depression-era landmarks from a blaze burning through the rugged high country of the Gila National Forest, fire officials said.

The so-called Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, which destroyed a dozen privately owned cabins at the height of its rampage last week, has burned 122,388 acres of timber since it was ignited by lightning on May 16, fire officials said.

“We did not increase the acreage because the fire burned on the interior yesterday. That’s a good thing,” said Fire Information Officer Iris Estes. “Now, private land and historic sites are being prepared to be defensible.”

Vulnerable structures included the Bearwallow Mountain Lookout Cabins and Shed, which was built in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration as a forest fire lookout, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 for its architectural significance.

“There is a protective wrap that they actually put around the historic cabins themselves, almost looks like aluminum foil,” Estes said.

Lighter winds over the weekend were allowing firefighters greater access to the blaze that 907 personnel are fighting with a focus on burnout operations and structure protection.

Also on Monday, fire officials in western Colorado said that lighter wind speeds and cooler temperatures have slowed the growth of two wildfires burning through rugged mountain canyons there.

The Sunrise Mine Fire north of Paradox, Colorado, near the Utah state line has torched 5,200 acres, incident commander Rich Harvey said.

The more favorable weather conditions allowed firefighters to cut a containment line around 30 percent of the blaze by early Monday afternoon, Harvey said.

The Little Sand Fire burning northwest of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, has blackened 2,682 acres in the San Juan National Forest, according to Durango Interagency Dispatch spokeswoman Pam Wilson.

Wilson said the fire is zero percent contained, as steep terrain and stands of dead trees which pose a hazard to firefighters has forced crews to focus on burning out fuels ahead of the flames.

Both fires prompted the closures of campsites and recreational areas over the holiday weekend but no structures have been lost in either blaze, authorities said.

(Additional reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing By Edith Honan and Philip Barbara)

A Single Drop in the Ever Flowing River

January 28, 2012

Today we spent the day hiking in Bandelier National Monument. The monument is about a 40 minute drive from Santa Fe. It was a gorgeous day, and the air was invigorating. Last time we were there, we did the main waterfall hike, but Daryn is still a bit little for that hike. None the less, with all the stairs, inclines, declines, and rough terrain, the hike was still a nice workout! I bought two new books on the trip. I ended up getting Dragonfly’s Tale by Kristina Rodanas, a fascinatingly illustrated book (dragonfly is another of my symbols). It would have been silly not to pick up The Manhattan Project: A Secret Wartime Mission. The book was edited by Kenneth M. Deitch, and was part of the Perspectives on History Series.

Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged but beautiful canyon and mesa country as well as evidence of a human presence” which goes “back over 11,000 years. “Petroglyphs, dwellings carved into soft rock cliffs, and standing masonry walls stand tribute to the early days of a culture that still survives in the surrounding communities.” The park was named after Adolph Bandelier, a Swiss anthropologist, and became a National Monument about four years after New Mexico became a state. It was very sad to hear from the first female ranger was encountered that the Las Conchas Fire burned close to 62% of the park in the summer of 2011. It is fortunate that the main areas of the park were not affected, but the wildlife surely suffered.

The people who settled in the Frijoles Canyon are known as Ancestral Pueblo people. In the past, these people were identified as the Anasazi.” The National Park is not far from, and closely linked to San Ildefonso Pueblo. This is where my paternal great grandmother Catalina Roybal de Lujan lived prior to 1930. There are stone mountain walls in the canyon, which are compressed volcanic ash. Many of them are filled with holes and “cave rooms” or “cavates” carved in the cliff walls. The walls also feature ancient petroglyphs (removing stone to make a picture) of the Macaw. The Macaw was a very spiritual bird for ancient people. Their feathers were actually used in many religious ceremonies. We also saw a few pictographs (painted designs).

According to the National Register of Historic Places, Bandelier National Monument spans three New Mexico counties (Los Alamos, Sandoval, and Santa Fe). It is hard to believe that this monument stretches over more than 30,000 acres of land. Today, we covered only a few of those acres. I always find myself being amazed by how small I really am. The river literally never stops flowing in that canyon. Today I realized I represent just a single drop in the ever flowing river of vast New Mexico history.


Publications acquired while visiting the park.


National Park Service Web Site for Bandelier National Monument


National Register of Historic Places

The Most Depressing Coffee News Ever…

October 13, 2011

Starbucks Concerned World Coffee Supply is Threatened by Climate Change

Published by The Guardian (UK) on Thursday, October 13, 2011- Authored by Suzanne Goldenberg (US Environment Correspondent)


Starbucks sustainability chief Jim Hanna says the coffee giant has been pushing the Obama administration to little result.

Forget about super-sizing into the trenta a few years from now: Starbucks is warning of a threat to world coffee supply because of climate change.

In a telephone interview with the Guardian, Jim Hanna, the company’s sustainability director, said its farmers were already seeing the effects of a changing climate, with severe hurricanes and more resistant bugs reducing crop yields.

The company is now preparing for the possibility of a serious threat to global supplies. “What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road – if conditions continue as they are – is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain, which is the Arabica coffee bean,” Hanna said.

It was the second warning in less than a month of a threat to a food item many people can’t live without.

New research from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture warned it would be too hot to grow chocolate in much of the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s main producers, by 2050.

Hanna is to travel to Washington on Friday to brief members of Congress on climate change and coffee at an event sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The coffee giant is part of a business coalition that has been trying to push Congress and the Obama administration to act on climate change – without success, as Hanna acknowledged.

The coalition, including companies like Gap, are next month launching a new campaign – showcasing their own action against climate change – ahead of the release of a landmark science report from the UN’s IPCC.

Hanna told the Guardian the company’s suppliers, who are mainly in Central America, were already experiencing changing rainfall patterns and more severe pest infestations.

Even well-established farms were seeing a drop in crop yield, and that could well discourage growers from cultivating coffee in the future, further constricting supply, he said. “Even in very well established coffee plantations and farms, we are hearing more and more stories of impacts.”

These include: more severe hurricanes, mudslides and erosion, variation in dry and rainy seasons.

Hanna said the company was working with local producers to try to cushion them from future changes.

“If we sit by and wait until the impacts of climate change are so severe that is impacting our supply chain then that puts us at a greater risk,” he said. “From a business perspective we really need to address this now, and to look five, 10, and 20 years down the road.”

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