Archive for the ‘Maternal Line’ category

inside my heart

May 20, 2018

“I may not always be with you, but when we’re far apart, remember you will be with me, right inside my heart.”

•Marc Wambolt, Poems from the Heart

mother’s day get togethers with the familia… sistas n mom… sistas and dad… brotha and mom

Happy Birthday Mommy

October 31, 2017

Celebrating my beautiful mommy last night at my brotha’s house.

Cuz ♡ from Georgia

November 23, 2016

I ♥ Mora

July 26, 2014


***Faith, Destiny, Felicia and Daryn at the Historic Cassidy Mill in Mora County. The mill has been on the National Register of Historic Places since December of 1978. I ♥ history and I ♥ people who care about history.***
I am so tired!! My son and I spent all day in Mora attending the 2014 Valdez Family Reunion in Las Aguitas. This was a gathering of people on my mother’s side of the family. There were close to 300 people there and I had an absolute blast. I laughed my head off all day. There was a parade this morning at 10:00am because the town is celebrating the fiestas. After the parade, we stopped by my family’s property to relax for a bit then headed to the reunion site across the way. The air there is clean and the land is so beautiful. It was a really fun day. I will share photos soon as I know many of you will be waiting to see them.

★Merry Christmas★

December 24, 2013

Last week I went to have dinner
downtown with two of my friends.
The plaza and Santa Fe Cathedral
looked so beautiful.

Today my family prepared some
traditional farolitos to celebrate the
eve. Though my grandmother has
been gone for many years, this will
always be her home. There were
also farolitos placed on the graves
of those family members we have
lost and miss for the holidays. They
were laid to rest in the Santa Fe
National Cemetery.

An Old Painting and Capulin Wine

August 11, 2013
"Precious Moments Boy" Acrylic Painting~ Approx. 3' x 4'

“Precious Moments Boy”
A Custom Lujan Job
Acrylic Wall Painting~ Approx. 3′ x 4′

Tonight I had a chance to go with my mom and sis to my uncle and aunt’s house for a ride. We always have so much fun laughing with them. Both of them have great personalities and love to talk with us. They have a beautiful home and they are always so welcoming. They quickly made a burger for my sis and my mom.

My uncle offered us some homemade “capulin” or cherry wine made by one of my Valdez cousins. My uncle picked it up in the Mora Valley! It was awesome and since I wasn’t driving, I was actually able to have a few glasses. Yum! I normally wouldn’t drink anything on a Sunday night, but I made an exception for a special, handcrafted bottle from Mora!

Many, many years ago, my uncle and aunt asked if I could paint a picture for them. They wanted a specific Precious Moments picture of a little boy on the wall in an entry room. The painting must be over a decade old and they still have it there. They haven’t painted over the picture and that makes me feel good. They are always so appreciative of things people do for them. When things are done from the heart, it’s hard not to appreciate.

Courageousness and the Asiatic Pacific Theater

April 6, 2013

Last week I helped someone who was doing research for the Names Project. The project honors “New Mexico’s 200th and 515th Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) units” which “served with bravery” and sacrifice “in the defense of Luzon, Bataan and Corregidor” during World War II. There was a memorial held in Albuquerque today to honor these brave champions. It was interesting that the very same day I helped that man,  I had an email come in through a list serve about the historical preservation efforts taking place with the Library of Congress.

It makes me sad to think that I never had a chance to meet or speak with my maternal grandfather about his service in the Asiatic Pacific Theater during WWII. I have so many questions I wish I could ask. I wonder what he was feeling when he left the United States on a ship of nervous men headed to the Far East? My grandpa Phil entered the service less than a year after the Fall of the Philippines in 1942. I wonder if he was scared leaving his family behind knowing that close to 2,000 New Mexico soldiers had been forced by the Japanese to march over 60 miles when the Philippines went down? I think he arrived in Manilla, but I need to confirm that. His arrival to the Far East came in 1945, just a few months before the Assault on Luzon (codename S~Day). I am not sure if he was part of that, but I need to find out.
180 meridian

The sacrifices that our soldiers make leave me in awe. It must be mentally taxing to leave your homeland not knowing if you will return. This month I will take time to remember the soldiers who sacrificed for us during the Asiatic Pacific Theater of World War II. Thank you to my grandpa Phil~ the grandpa I never had the chance to meet. He passed away right before I was born.

Timeline of Asiatic Pacific Theater of Operations of World War II
1939~1945~ World War II
1941~1946~ Asiatic Pacific Theater
1941~ December~ Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor and two sites near Manila, Philippines
1941~1942~ Philippines Campaign (Bataan Peninsula)

1942~ January~ Battle of Bataan Begins (15,000 captured and interned)
1942~ April~ Fall of the Philippines/Bataan Death March
1942~ December~ Date of Induction~ Phil Garcia
1945~ February and March~ Smallpox/Typhoid/Tetanus Immunizations~ Phil Garcia
1945~ August~ Date of Departure~ Asiatic Pacific Theater~ Phil Garcia
1945~ September~Date of Arrival~ Asiatic Pacific Theater~ Phil Garcia

1945~ January~ Assault on Luzon (codename S~Day)
1946~ February~ Phil Garcia crossed the 180º Meridian toward the USA
1946~ February~ Date of Separation~ Phil Garcia

Restraint is Exhausting

March 31, 2013
The Lil Men (Daryn and Isaiah) for Easter~ 3.31.2013

The Lil Men (Daryn and Isaiah) for Easter~ 3.31.2013

I’m resting after a long day of restraint. I don’t know if I’m physically exhausted from being out and about or mentally exhausted from resisting lots of candy and my mom’s frito pies? My aunt kept telling me “but it’s Easter!?” I decided it was better to skip the deep fried chips because the track was closed today. We went by and I was ready to run in the sun, but the locked gates seemed to say “go the heck home!”

We spent the afternoon at a park here in Santa Fe. I grew up playing at that park. It was a beautiful day. The boys had a good ole time running amuck. My sis and I played a basketball game against the two lil men and we lost! When my cousin got there with his two lil girls, I didn’t know what to think!? I’m so not accustomed to frilly/sheer dresses and tights! Haha…. Time for some RnR– hummmm or maybe some cardio!

I hope you all had a
Happy Easter! 🙂


A Token of Appreciation

December 16, 2012
~Christmas Corsages~ by Felicia Lujan

~Christmas Corsages~
by Felicia Lujan

Tonight I listened to President Obama’s memorial service speech in Connecticut while I did something special for a few people from my son’s school. If I didn’t believe in connectivity I would think it was merely coincidental. It was an occurrence in sync with the world’s thoughts. I was glad that I was able to listen in while I worked with love. It was easy to absorb the words of a father and leader. I reflected on things in my own life. Obama actually included scripture that my friend Marlene posted on my site yesterday.

It is important to show Daryn’s teacher, my maternal aunt Mary (who also happens to be the secretary), another secretary, three ladies who work in the lunchroom, the principal and the assistant principal how much I appreciate them. I appreciate them making my son feel like he is more then a number. I appreciate them taking the time to smile everyday. I appreciate them helping me out when I forget my son’s breakfast in the morning or his money for school store. I appreciate them standing in the freezing cold each morning holding a little flag to make sure students cross the road safely.

My grandma Corine always loved getting a handmade corsage for Christmas. There is not one time I can remember that I made her one and she did not wear it proudly. Sometimes I miss being a floral designer. Creativity and giving both make me feel so good. In total I made seven corsages and one boutonniere. They are beautiful. I hope that each time someone compliments the flowers they wear tomorrow they remember how special they are. Hopefully this small token of appreciation will bring warmth in the cold.

~Corsage Prep~

~Corsage Prep~

~Christmas Corsage~ by Felicia Lujan

~Christmas Corsage~
by Felicia Lujan

~Gift Bags for Corsages~

~Gift Bags for Corsages~
Daryn put the bells on the gift bags.

Yesterday’s Memories

November 23, 2012

~~~Thanksgiving 2012~~~

Total Body Nutrition Opens in Santa Fe

October 28, 2012

According to Elizabeth Walker and Alan Brown, “many small business owners are motivated to start a business on the basis of lifestyle or personal factors.” These two researchers published their findings through Edith Cowan University in Australia. What Success Factors are Important to Small Business Owners was published in the International Small Business Journal in 2004. Walker and Brown determined that “non-financial goals could lead to alternative measures of success,” with “lifestyle criteria” and “pride in the job” assisting in success. With countless hours of fitness knowledge and training behind them, a local trio has opened Total Body Nutrition (TBN).

~Co-owners Freddie Martinez and Matt Peterson~
(co-owner Nick Salazar not pictured)
Total Body Nutrition (TBN) in Santa Fe
October 27, 2012

The trio is comprised of Freddie Martinez, Matt Peterson, and Nick Salazar. Freddie and Matt are my cousins on my maternal line and we are connected through the Valdez family from Mora, New Mexico. “Santa Fe’s newest nutrition bar specializing in AdvoCare products,” carries hand crafted protein shakes, energy drinks, and organic coffee. A special lounge area is in the works for the nutrition bar, as well as an assortment of fitness classes. Together these three young business owners will be making a difference by offering a well known health product line. TBN sells products in bulk or supplements in the nutrition bar. Walking in you can see the owners blending protein meal replacement shakes with low calories, 24 grams of protein and only 2 grams of fat. So far their best seller seems to be a “powered up” coffee drink “with protein instead of sweetener,” but they also serve fresh hot coffee. The healthy energy drinks served in the bar utilize “B vitamins and amino acids for energy which prevent the crash” and risks associated with other energy drinks.

Both Matt and Freddie have been training in the gym for close to twenty years. Each has also been a personal trainer here in Santa Fe for over a decade, though Freddie now focuses his energy elsewhere. The local firefighter now lends his knowledge to train rookie firefighters during tier 17 week boot camp. He also teaches group fitness classes such as “The Cage,” which is a custom designed “theatrical intense cardio class for all ages.” This class in addition to Summa, boot camp and cardio kick boxing are to be offered at TBN. Nick is offering TBN his knowledge in weight lifting and his technological expertise. The nutrition bar has employed live digital menus on a big screen, a Facebook page, a developed website and a sales module to complete online orders. Going even further, the trio decided to offer WiFi, they will be playing high definition music videos, and/or playing soothing music through a Bose Surround Sound System.

I am an avid believer in the fitness of body and mind, so I asked Freddie how years of training would help him intellectually to run this business. He said “I have been training since I was very young- nearly 18 years. I think all the years of my own trial and error with supplements will help to guide people in the right direction. I know my plans work. They are tried and true. I know what makes a supplement clean and safe but still effective. I want to share my knowledge with people and guide them down the right path to a healthy life style, so they can enjoy life at the level I know is possible.” He also added that “everybody should able to play basketball with their grand kids!!”

~Total Body Nutrition (TBN) in Santa Fe~
October 27, 2012

In 2000, Gleeson and Bishop published Elite Athlete Immunology: Importance of Nutrition. Their research was published through the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences with the University of Edgbaston in England. The International Journal of Sports Medicine allowed these researchers to conclude that “heavy prolonged exertion is associated with numerous hormonal and biochemical changes, many of which potentially have detrimental effects on immune function. Improper nutrition and “poor nutritional status” can compromise our immune systems. As “dietary deficiencies of protein and specific micronutrients have long been associated with immune dysfunction,” it may be a good idea to visit TBN. Maybe you can try that fancy coffee while you are at it!

Total Body Nutrition (TBN)
Phone: (505).983.7300
Address: 506 West Cordova Rd, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
(next to the Santa Fe Baking Company~ don’t go there LoL 🙂 )

Ray John’s Historical Gem

October 15, 2012
Hidden History of Spanish New Mexico by Ray John de Aragon

Hidden History of Spanish New Mexico by Ray John de Aragon

Autograph of Ray John de Aragon

Autograph of Ray John de Aragon

In the first week of October I received Ray John de Aragon’s newest book in the mail. “Hidden History of Spanish New Mexico” is sure to be a gem. At first glance, the content list is all inclusive. The book has a beautiful jacket and contains a wealth of valuable stories. Some titles on his content list include: The Different Faces of the Iberian Peninsula; Reconquista; Aztecs; Chief Joseph; and the Bataan Death March.

I found it curiously coincidental that one of his historical nuggets was titled “The Black Plague,” because today I did refer to myself as “The Black Death” (well to some anyhow– haha—). Ray likely knew that the first section I would turn to would start on page 98. I did read “Curanderas” first. Curanderas are natural healers who also draw on the power of prayer to help the sick and cursed. On page 100, I found a small handwritten note from Ray which read “my great grandmother Dona Catalina who delivered me…” Apparently Dona Catalina Mondragon de Valdez was a noted healer in her day. This woman is also a likely place where Ray and I intersect on a genealogical level as I have both the Mondragon and Valdez surnames on my maternal line in Mora, New Mexico.

Other interesting images include: a penitente and his family in Las Vegas, New Mexico (ca 1879); Margarito Romero and his family in El Porvenir. The Romero family owned the Romero Mercantile Company in Las Vegas; artwork by Ray’s talented wife- Rosa Maria Calles; religious icons and imagery; and an image of Colonel Manuel Antonio Chavez “El Leoncito.”

Ray best describes his new book in the last paragraph of his introduction when he says “many roots created the one tree we call Hispanic, with branches that spread throughout the world. Understanding these roots and branches, and having a deeper insight into Hispanos in New Mexico and their place in a history that is mostly concealed, is what this book is about.” This book will definitely shine on as a gem for centuries to come.

Ray's Great Grandmother was Dona Catalina Mondragon de Valdez a Curandera from the Mora Valley-pg100

Ray’s Great Grandmother was Dona Catalina Mondragon de Valdez a Curandera from the Mora Valley-pg100

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The Concha Belt

September 24, 2012

Today is my maternal grandmother’s birthday. I believe she would have been 96 today. My grandma Corine absolutely loved to celebrate her birthday. One of the cutest photos I have of her is with a little helium balloon floating over her while she sported a tiny birthday hat and a big smile. Her birthday and mine fall in the same month as the Fiestas de Santa Fe~ “a New Mexico tradition since 1712.” I wish my grandma would have been around this year to see the Fiestas de Santa Fe mark a 300 year anniversary. She surely would have been celebrating by wearing her silver squash blossom necklace and her favorite “butterfly design” concha belt. Not long ago, one of my mom’s younger sisters passed on my grandma’s belt. The belt has become one of the precious treasures in our family collection which I will preserve and care for until I myself die.

~~Corine Garcia’s “Butterfly Design” Concha Belt~~

I am sure that my grandma’s concha belt must be at least 30-40 years old. Since she loved to have her picture taken, I was sure I would be able to find a few of her wearing it. The earliest image I was able to find was one taken of her in her front yard in July of 1984. She was obviously already in fiesta mode with her cowgirl hat cocked to the side, some shades, her cowgirl boots, and a denim outfit with her concha belt as the center piece. A couple of weeks ago, I decide to wear the belt. I was surprised to see just how many compliments I got that day. My friend Gail was the first to say she liked the belt~ and I quickly said it was my grandma’s. She told me the belt was likely worth at least $1,000 because of the price of silver. Actually I think it is worth much more than that because one can put no price on intrinsic value. Others complimented me on the belt and said that “the conchas were a unique shape” and that the belt “was very eye catching.” It made me feel proud to think that my grandma had such good taste and style. She was a fashionable woman~ and she always took care of herself right up until her last days by painting her nails and wearing her best jewelry.

Grandma Corine and Felicia

For those of you who don’t know what a concha belt is, here is a very brief history. The first news articles I was able to locate were printed by the Albuquerque Tribune in the late 1950s and early 1960s. At one point, the Duke of Albuquerque helped “the duchess adjust a Navajo concha belt that was presented to the titled visitor by the Fred Harvey Co.” In 1959 the Las Vegas Optic printed an article titled “1959 Fiesta Show Opens In Santa Fe” on the same page where fashion show model “Mrs. R.D. Jameson” was featured. Apparently Mrs. Jameson was “always well groomed” and sported “tailored fashions.” The article said “informally at home or attending to her many duties in town,” Mrs. Jameson was “a familiar sight in her pleated squaw skirt cinched with a concha belt and topped with an always immaculate white blouse held at the neck with a silver conch.” By this time it was apparent to me that the concha belt was culture blind~ it was and may still be in style.

~~Corine Garcia in July of 1984~~
My maternal grandmother strikes a pose “Santa Fe Style” fiesta mode with her cowgirl hat cocked to the side, some shades, her cowgirl boots, and a denim outfit with her concha belt as the center piece.

The only historical article I was able to locate on the concha belt was printed in the 1959 Tribal Fair Edition of the Gallup Daily Independent. This article titled “Navajos Began Concha Belt,” said that these belts have been part of “the southwest for many years and have been also been adopted by non-Indians as part of the casual western style of dress.” The belts “contain a series of mounted stones, usually, turquoise.” and the word concha derives “from the Spanish word meaning shell because of the use of silver medallions, lightly raised in design that are used in rows and fastened to the belt proper, with other-strips of leather.” This article says that the belts date back to around 1860, but I would need to research more primary source documents before I could really confirm any of this.

There were also articles through the 70s and 80s, and by 1990 the New York Times News Service had picked up on the fashion trends of the Southwest. New Yorkers were buying up broomstick skirts and gathered three-tiered skirts with hand-stitched designs. One of these skirts was actually named “The Fiesta.” Wow~ when it came to the concha belt, New Mexico was ahead of the fashion capitals of the United States. If my grandma was alive, I would have loved to tell her that she played an early part in a fashion movement that is still around today. There may have been no better gift to give her for her birthday than that news!?

To Remember: Keep the Flame Alive

September 16, 2012

Stone Altar and Candle
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Wooden Entrance Sign
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Exterior of Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Since so many of my Valdez family members have recently discovered my site, it is only right that I highlight some history of the Mora Valley tonight. There are some that are far away and my not have a chance to visit the area often. I decided to share some photos I took during a recent funeral of one of the Valdez men- Gary. May he rest in peace. When his funeral ended I took some time to walk around by myself and really absorb the history of this scared place. This is the church where my maternal great grandmother and great grandfather married. Historically, the plaza which envelopes the church was once known as Santa Gertrudis Lo de Mora, which is the present day town of Mora. Church registers can be found in the 1845 Mexican Census and offer a rare glimpse into early settlers of the valley.

1981 painting of Santa Gertrudis Church in 1890s
Artist- Fred Olivas
Mora, New Mexico

This church is the last remnant of the original plaza. The church was destroyed by fire in the mid 1960s, but was rebuilt a stones throw from main street in the same exact location. I will have to ask my mom and Ernie if they remember that? There are still several historic buildings on the property. This area is on the National Register of Historic Places and includes parish buildings, a small convent, educational sites, and some houses. It is amazing to think about how the population changed in Mora over the decades. I am not sure what the total population is today, however in 1860 there were over 5,500 people living in the area. By 1920, the population was just under 14,000 and by 1970 it had dwindled down to about 4,600. The 1860 census documents several carpenters in the Mora Valley who were French-Canadian. I have linked the maternal side of my family (through a prenuptial investigation) to French-Canadian ancestry.

Stained Glass Window
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

In 1950, the famed historian, Fray Angelico Chavez said that some buildings in Mora exhibited “French rural flavor” with regard to architecture. Some of these “French” designs included Gothic Revival exteriors with the use of stone and pitched roofs, such as the “board-and-wood-shingle pitched roof” which was once on the church. I find it interesting to think that some of my relatives may have contributed to the architectural history of this small and beautiful Catholic church. My maternal grandmother was Corina Valdez y Brisal de Garcia. My grandma Corine was a Mora girl at heart, but she passed away in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She was the oldest of five children born to Alfonso Valdez and Felicitas Brisal. I am named after my great grandma Felicitas. I do know that my great grandparents were married in Santa Gertrudis Church on November 27, 1915. They would have married in the original church building before it was destroyed by fire. I do wish I knew what the inside looked like then? If my grandma was still alive, I could ask her.

Baptismal Pool
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

My grandma was born to her mother and father on September 24, 1916. She was baptized on October 2 that same year. Her godmother and godfather were her grandparents (my maternal great great grandparents) Roman Valdez and Porfiria Maes. There were four other children to follow my grandma. These children were: Maximinio Valdez (born in 1918); Jose Eugenio Valdez (born in 1920); Maria Lara de Jesus Valdez (born in 1922); and the final child was Crecencia (Cres/Chencha) Valdez (born in 1926). I am sure each and every one of these family members were baptized in this church, which made my visit to the church that much more special. I can’t explain the feeling of awe I get to travel the path of those who came before me. Visiting that church that day also reminded me how important it is for us to remember. It is important to remember those who were blessed in a sacred place and those who were laid to rest in a scared place. It is our duty to keep the historic flame alive.

Virgin Mary
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Stained Glass Window
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

My Sun Symbol and Special Things

September 5, 2012

I will love the light for it shows me
the way. Yet I will endure the
darkness for it shows me the stars.
~Og Mandino

~~Sun Wind Chime~~
The sun is one of my symbols and after
taking the photo, I realized that another
of my symbols is in the background~ bird.
That is a bird house that my son Daryn and I
made together and then painted last summer.

On Tuesday I had a surprise visit from my godmother. She dropped by my work to bring me a birthday gift. I love that my friends and family know me so well. I did adore every single thing I was given this year. When I opened her gift, I couldn’t believe that there was yet another of my symbols~ the sun. Her gift included light (in the form of a large cherry scented candle) and a silver wind chime (with a sun face). So funny… The chime was small and sounded beautiful. I am one of the rare people who would say that the absolute best present I received came in the form of paper. I always say I am such a nerd, but I do love it! After I opened my gift my aunt Rita turned to me and said “and…….I have been wanting to give you these.” I stood silent as she pulled a blue booklet and aged paper from mid-air. She opened each and shared them with me. My first words were “this is the best birthday present I was given.” The two items belonged to my maternal grandmother who has passed away. The 5 year anniversary of her death passed only days ago. It is also her birthday on September 24. My godmother had given me my grandma’s original diploma and marriage license. These are two items I have never seen and that I do not have in my archival collection of family papers. What a gift…. I am smiling just thinking about it. I think my grandma would be happy to know they were given to me. She knew how much I adore history~and simply just how much I care.

~~1933 Public School Diploma~~
The diploma belonged to my maternal
grandmother Corina Valdez.
She graduated in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


~~1933 Public School Diploma~~
The diploma belonged to my maternal
grandmother Corina Valdez.
She graduated in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


~~1941 Marriage License~~
The license belonged to my maternal
grandparents Filadelfio Garcia and Corina Valdez.
The certificate is a civil marriage record and
was recorded in Mora, New Mexico.

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A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

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