31 July 2007

Peace Pages, Impeachment and YouTube

Today I finally updated my peace pages. I took me four months to do this. I can understand why I was too busy during the months of April and May, but why I didn't update them early is something I've pondered.

I have been screaming about what is going on in this country since before the 2000 election, and finally it seems like more people are beginning to question what is going on. I guess I took a break and let others scream for me. Also, I was told I was too opinionated by the powers that control me at my work and to show a more balanced view point. So, I've been doing a lot of soul searching and self questioning during this summer break. I have to admit that I do have a problem with saying the first thing that comes into my mind sometimes, so I'm meditating on using a better filter before I speak. I just don't like to be dishonest, and sometimes that is the way I feel I'm being asked to be. Ignoring the reality of things seems like such a big lie. Of course I'm way too passionate about some subjects.

I also wasn't sure I wanted to blog my opinions because there are so many other blogs that do a much better job than I could ever do.


I also find that I'm holding my breath, taking steps back, and not letting myself get too caught up in the Impeachment Winds. I have to remind myself of all that Reagan got away with, and how unwilling the congress seems to be to open this slimy bag of rotten worms. Personally, I feel we need to impreach both President George W. Bush and Vice-President Richard Cheney. We need to show future leaders and the world that we truly believe in the constitution, and that such blatant abuses of power are just not acceptable. We need to teach our children that lies and cheating have consequences. All the other excuses just don't counter balance this. We made a moral stand in 1974, and we need to make a moral stand in 2007.

I also am reminded of being twenty-one, barely alive after a near fatal car accident, stuck in bed and watching the Watergate Hearings, at least what I can remember of them. I remember less about the hearings than I remember about how the hearings made me feel. I was so excited, and so glad that I survived to see them. I had taken an American History class at UNM with an amazing professor who basically predicted what I was seeing unfolding in front of me. I was thrilled that justice still meant something in this country. I was thrilled to see the American Public demanding this justice and the congress following through.

I've also been spending lots of time looking through YouTubes recently. This has to be one of the best innovations on the web to come along in a long time. I love it. We have people sharing a little part of their world with us. We have a place for people to voice their opinions freely while being as creative as they can possibly be. I have found old footage of musicians that have delighted me as well as now clips of music I had yet discovered. I can get stuck in the cat videos for a while since I adore the animal, plus I am the servant of three of them. Also being a turtle fan, I have to add a YouTube here. We once had a box turtle, and at that time we had five cats. The cats would try to play with Murtle the Turtle, but she would go inside her shell, and they'd get bored. There were times she'd walk over to my husband or myself then stick her head out at us. BUT never, ever did we see do anything like this.

09 July 2007

Photos and thoughts, Pie Town & Peñasco New México

Alburquerque "Heights" in 1943

*Edit: Photos are Missing I guess the server didn't like the amount of photos I put here.

I spent the day looking through the Library of Congress photos, 1840-2000, for old pictures of New México. I was surprised to find there are more photos for two places in New México, Pie Town and Peñasco, than Santa Fé or Alburquerque. There were some of the rail yards which were right in the middle of what is downtown Alburquerque today. All these photos were of men working hard in the yards. There were some delightful finds of photos Pueblos that were taken in the 1880s and 1890s. There were a few of Old Town in Alburquerque and the Adobe houses of Santa Fé. These photos made numbered in the few dozen, whereas there were over 500 for Pie Town and just under 400 for Peñasco.

Old Town Alburquerque

When I was a little kid, we often drove to see my grandmother who lived in Magdalena. That was a long drive from Santa Fé. We would have to drive though Alburquerque, south to Socorro, where we’d always stop at Socorro to see Tórres cousins, then head west on highway 60. I remember always seeing the sign Pie Town, and begging my parents to take me there. I’ve always loved pie. I didn’t want birthday cakes when I was a kid. I wanted birthday pies. Apple pie with crumb topping has always been my very favorite pie. So I envisioned a place full pies, all kinds of pies. My parents always said that there was nothing there, anyway it was way, and I mean Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of the way. My parents finally drove through Pie town on our way to Phoenix when I was 14 years old, and they were correct, there weren’t many people in Pie Town. Worse, I didn’t see one single pie anywhere.

Black Smith Shop In Peñasco

Pie Town was originally named Norman’s Place, but as is often the case in New México, names of small villages were changed once they opened a post office in the town. I believe the story goes that the postmaster would not accept a town that was named Norman’s place. From what I know about the history of Pie Town, it was a one gas station town in the middle of nowhere. Norman was the man who opened the gas station and Norman’s Place was the name of the gas station. Norman started selling apple pies at his gas station, a tradition that was continued after he sold his business. The Pies were such a hit that the gas station sign changed from Norman's Place to Pie Town. At any rate, the postmaster general accepted the name Pie Town.

Norman's Place

Now, Peñasco was a different matter. It was among my father’s repertory of Sunday drives. Sometimes these Sunday drives were daylong drives through the Northern New México. If there was an out-of-the way dirt road that lead somewhere, my father knew about it. We went places people today aren’t able to go to. My father knew every inch of this state from Magdalena in the South to Tierra Amarilla and Taos in the North. And Peñasco was one of the small Northern New Méxican towns we would pas through on our drives.


My husband, Jim, and I drove through Peñasco a couple of weeks ago. Since Jim lived in Peñasco in the years 1957-1964, we always take a side trip to drive through the area. It is a beautiful area, but in the 50s and 60s, it was a very poor area. My husband’s little league coach was a Peace Corps worker who was training in the one place in the U.S. that resembled places they would be sent to in other countries.

Peñasco has changed a little since the time when my husband lived there, but it is still a small town. There are the additions of some huge houses of “ricos,” most likely people who work outside of the state and have their “get away” place there. Many of these houses are placed on the top or the sides of the mountain. They also are positioned so they will be obvious and noticeable. One place had scared the mountain for a huge road to get up to the huge house. It is like a big sign that says notice me, notice how rich I am sitting up here way above the rest of you.

Kitchen in Pie Town

Kitchen in Peñasco

Since Pie Town and Peñasco have so few residents, why are there so many photos for Pie Town and Peñasco in the Library of Congress’s digital photos online? I suppose I could have searched for an answer online, but it is so much more fun to try to figure it out by looking at the photos. The ones of Pie Town show homesteaders from Texas and Oklahoma growing beans, eating, dancing, singing, and working. The photos show a co-op storage facility. The Peñasco photos show the exactly the same thing, with great many photos of the co-op heath clinic from its building up to its use. These photos were all taken in either 1940 or 1943, during the depression, so suspect there were commission by the government to record some part of their New Deal programs.

Community sing along in Pie Town

Dance in Peñasco

The people in the Peñasco photos are often referred to as “Spanish-Americans.” The houses in Peñasco are made out of adobe, while the house in Pie Town reflects the Plains area these homesteaders came from. Both types of homes were built to fit and work with their environment. Here were pictures of two peoples coming from very different cultural backgrounds doing just what their ancestors did, work hard and be a part of a community. From the sheer numbers of photos, and the content of the photos, I would suspect the photographer was welcomed into each community. I also can’t help but think that both ended up caring about their subject.

Home in Pie Town

Peñasco Home

One thing I love about these photos is they show my father’s New México. He was 30 years old when he married my mother in 1945. My mother could easily have fit into the photos of the people in Pie Town since she came from Nebraska. My father would fit in the photos of the “Spanish-Americans” in Peñasco. My parents met in Needles, California where my mother was “looking for a husband” and teaching elementary school, and my father was there doing tank maneuvers before they shipped off to North Africa. His tank group ended being part of the Normandy D-Day Invasion instead. My parents married once he return from the war, and it was to the small Northern New México town of El Rito that my father returned with his new bride.

Smithsonian article about Pie Town
Prints & Photographs Online Catalog Home Page

Adobes in Peñasco

06 July 2007

Genealogy Tips

I have a genealogy site online, I get a lot of request for suggestions for finding one’s ancestors. I decided I needed to come up with a list I can cut and paste for each time I get the request, but it seems even better placed here so all I need do is cut and past a URL. This is what I've done:

I often search through rootsweb's world connect project for help. You need to be careful because there is a lot of incorrect information there. Some people just copied other people’s incorrect information. I always look for ones that have sources other than someone else’s gedfile. I double-check the sources. I’ve bought entire books before just to check a source. Sometimes I can find it on-line, and if not, I do a library search to see if the Special Collections Library has the source in town.

RootsWeb World Connect
Special Collections Library in Alburquerque, NM
Search for books online
Search for Libraries for a Special Book

There are other sources, but to find the people closest to you, you may need to write or call the places where these people were born to get their birth records. If you can go back at least a couple of generations it is a lot easier. The net becomes much easier to use as a tool once you have a few generations.

GenWebs, I've had some great help from local GenWebs, especially the Saunders County, Nebraska GenWeb. There I found the grave sites of three generations of my mother's family on both her maternal and paternal sides. I found the grave sites of my mother's grand mother and great grandfather by writing to one of the people who was listed on the Erie county, Pennsylvania GenWeb site. I found the grave stones of my father's maternal grandparents from the Soccoro County GenWeb Site. And marriage records from the Virginia GenWeb Site.


Google Books, this helped me more with my New England ancestors, especially the earlier ones. I typed in their names in the google book search and some of the records that came up were of books or even journals that I was able to read the whole book. I have a google membership, which allowed me to see more of some of the books than I could otherwise. I did a google search for records of Lynn, Massachusetts and this is what I came up with.

Google searches, there are a lot of people out there these days with genealogy on the web. Google the names, but check their sources. A lot of incorrect stuff is on line, and I'm still cleaning up the incorrect things I found on line. Below is a photo of the grave site of one of my ancestors I found by a google search. I also found a cousin connected to this photo.

Censuses are great help. I’ve found amazing information going through census records. Thomas Jefferson had the first U.S. census taken in 1796. Every decade, another was taken, but it wasn’t until the 1850 census that entire families were written down, not just the “head” of the household. You can find census on microfiche at state archives, libraries, Mormon family history libraries, some GenWebs have some censuses for their area, ancestry.com, genealogy.com, and HeritageQuest on-line.

My best advice is to check and see if your library system has HeritageQuest online available to their cardholders. HeritageQuest is harder to use the ancestry.com, and doesn't have as many records, but they do have censuses. I've had better luck with ancestry.com on the censuses. If you can access HeritageQuest, it is free, whereas ancestry.com is not free. HeritageQuest online has lots books. It helps to know the title of the source your looking for. There have been times I've found entire genealogies from a single search. Check with your library. They may have access, they may know how you can gain access, or they may consider getting this great resource.

Incomplete list of Libraries with access to Heritage Quest OnLine.

Another great resource that has just been opened is the Family History Archive from the Utah Genealogy Society and BYU. They have just begun, but I have high hopes for them in the future. The Other Luna Family can be found on line there, and unless you live in Alburquerque & go to the Special Collections library, it is pretty difficult to get a copy of this book. Because my 2Xgreat grandmother was a descendent of “the other Luna Family,” I photo copied the entire book at the genealogy library a year ago. It would have been a lot easier to simply download a digitized copy, like they one at the Family History Archive.

The RootsWeb & Genealogy.com forums might be helpful. Genealogy people are all addicts like myself, and they love sharing their enthusiasm and information. They have forums by surname and by location.

Genforum at genealogy.com
RootsWeb Forum

Genealogy societies help too. We have two great ones in town, but I have purchased books from Societies in other states via the Internet. My state and the Hispanic genealogy groups in town have translated volumes of Spanish Church records and Spanish censuses. Looking through microfiche is hard enough, but I’m not that great at translating Spanish into English.

Family name associations can help. The Sears and Walker family associations were great help for me. I found them on-line. These societies are best when they deal with people of the family name. I found that the Walker family association led me astray when it came to some of the ancestors of the folks Walkers married.

Last, but hardly least, Cyndi's List has links to everything dealing with genealogy on the web.
Cyndi’s List

I have a page full of genealogy links especially for New Mexico and New England that you might also want to check.
My Genealogy Links

04 July 2007

Taos Solar Music Festival & Independence Day

This weekend I went to the Taos 9th Solar Musicfest. I've always wanted to attend this event, and my husband and I finally took the time to get it together enough to attend. We were especially psyched about going since one of our favorite bands, Los Lobos, was the featured band for Saturday night.

The drive to Taos is one of my favorite drives in New México. I've driven between Alburquerque and Santa Fé a few thousand times since I have lived in both cities and even lived in both at the same time. The differences between the Río Arriba, where Santa Fé is, and the Río Abajo, where Alburquerque is, are 2000 feet and 6 to 10 degrees in temperature. I had noticed that there were few marriages between Spanish settlers in the two areas, as I was looking through the marriage records. La Bajada had been a major barrier that kept the Río Arriba and Río Abajo separate starting in the 1600s as part of el Camino Real, continuing into the mid-1900s.  It was a barrier between the people of the two areas as well.

Here are some links about la Bajada:

Today la Bajada is easy to drive up, if you have a little power in your car, and the red dirt on the east is a beautiful contrast to the black volcanic rock on the west side. When I was in my teens in the 60s and 70s, a little snow would totally stop traffic. All the large trucks would stop to put their chains on so they could either go up the hill or down the hill safely. My father told me about one time he and his father were traveling in around 1920 at night on the switch backed road down la Bajada, and the lights of the car ahead of disappeared. They stopped quickly and ran ahead to find that the car in front of them had hit a spot where the road had washed away, and it rolled down a few levels on he switchback.

I use the bypass for Santa Fé these days to avoid feeling miserable as I pass through. I feel said seeing what has happened to Santa Fe. Santa has grown so much. In the 1970s it seemed to be the cool place to be, so a lot of people moved there to be “cool.” There always have been really rich people who lived there, but they blended in with everyone else. That does not seem to be the case any more. Instead a lot of people have moved in and made it impossible for folks whose families have lived there since 1610 or 1697 to afford to live there. It really angers me. Especially those people who have these huge expensive “holiday homes” that they pop into when they want to. Santa Fé was the center of Hispanic population in the Southwest, but it has been taken over by the very rich and famous.

The part of the drive that I'm really fond of is the canyon that lies between Española and Taos. One side of the canyon is covered with dark volcanic rock, and the other has weathered mountains with the layers of the earth exposed. The Río Grande flows through the center. I'm always reminded of the early pictures of the old dirt road, and the descriptions like those of Mable Dodge Luján. Even with the paved road, there was always the problem with “falling rocks.” A while back a rock fell on a school bus and killed some kids inside. I noticed that the state has put extensive wiring on the sides of the hills to prevent this. The “watch for falling rocks” signs are no longer there, but my conditioned response as I drive through the canyon will always, as my father would say, “keep my eyes pealed” for falling rocks.

The Río Grande is the life line of New México. It is full of the melting snow from the Rocky Mountains as well as the other mountains through out New México. Every time I'm in the Río Arriba, I'm glad to see the green waters of the river since due to all the embankments, flood control and damns throughout the Río Abajo, the water always looks muddy in the south. The geology of the Río Grande Rift Zone is some of the coolest you'll find anywhere. It isn't the largest rift zone, that is in Africa, but it runs from Leadville Colorado to Las Cruces, New México. For more information go to my photo pages, and use the menu to find The Sandia Mountains. There is a link to a great explanation of the rift zone from there.

We weren't able to be there for the first night I'm sorry to say. I would have loved hearing Big Head Tod and the Monsters again. The first time I heard them play was by accident. It was close to 20 years ago. I was downtown on a Saturday night, before downtown Alburquerque became the hot spot to club, and a local alternative radio station had lined up bands to play from one side of Central Ave. to the other. I heard the most amazing music, so I stopped. It started raining, but I had to stay, listen and dance in the rain. I love the sounds and blends of musical styles that Big Tod creates. I fell in love with the band from that moment on.

The music at the musicfest was fabulous. I was especially happy to hear Paula Cole. She has grown into a beautiful woman who sure can sing her heart out. I say heart because she sings with such emotion and passion. The power and depth of her strong voice blew the crowd away. I've heard her songs before, but wasn't really a fan, but I am now. It wasn't just her amazing voice that made me hang on to each of her words, but her connection to the crowd was magical. The love that connected everyone to her music made the magic. It started to rain huge raindrops that were spaced far from the other huge raindrops. They looked like crystal falling from the sky because the sun was shinning from the west.


The minute Paula stopped singing, the clouds had overtaken the sun, they opened up, and it poured. Lightening hit a tree at the front of Kit Carson Park, where the Solar Musicfeat was held, and there were pieces of the tree branch spattered all around the tree. All the lightening that followed could have really ruined what was a pretty amazing day at Taos, but the placement of the tree that was hit, was far enough from the stage, yet close enough to amaze the participants.

Los Lobos was on fire. All the band members seemed to be having a good time. They played a lot of Méxican music during their set, which is always a hit in New México. It still tickles me that the music I grew up hearing has been taken to such heights of appreciation thanks to the talented Los Lobos. Their range of music styles shows just how talented and well versed in music these gentlemen are. When Los Lobos rocks, they really rock the crowd. I danced so much that night, that me feet were so sore it hurt to walk the next day.

When I looked up at the stage, I saw the faces of the Southwest Hispanic world, and I feel a sense of pride.  I thank these fine musicians for being our ambassadors to the world. I've seen them in concert a half a dozen times, and I hope I'll be able to hear them live dozens more.


We couldn't leave for home the next day until we saw Robert Mirabal perform. For those of you who haven't heard of Robert Mirabal, he is an artist from Taos Pueblo who has achieved international fame through he singing, dancing and art. Robert  is striking and beautiful with his long shining black hair. His music these days is an interesting blend of  Pueblo music and Blues. He had an impressive blues guitarist and a member of his family play flute with him. His music and dance was as beautiful and powerful as always. He is a tall, beautiful man, and no matter how famous he becomes, he is still a small town boy from Taos Pueblo.

My husband told me that he was warned by the elders of Taos that he might be disowned by the Pueblo for giving away too many of their ceremonial secrets in his performances. I believe my husband heard this on the "Native American Call In Show" on the radio, so it could just be gossip. I'm sure it is the elders way of reminding him to be humble and to remember just where he came from. To be a member of the Toas people is to have a strong and proud history. To be a Pueblo person means being not one, but one of the whole. I saw his fans worship him, and that kind of fame can send the ego of a sensitive man a to dark places. My wish for Robert is that he will always know what it is to be a small town boy from Taos Pueblo.


In ending, today is the 4th of July. It wasn't the day when the thirteen British Colonies on the east coast of North America gained their independence from Britain. It is they day they declared to the world that they no longer accepted Britain as their rulers, and they were now the United States. It is the day these colonies said we will no longer be the pawns of a nation, yes a nation that was for many of the colonist their ancestral home, but a nation that ruled as a imperialist power from across the ocean. The Declaration of Independence is what we are celebrating. It is one of the most important documents of history, and one that has been copied by many a people in countries that have struggled for their own right to rule themselves. It is a document that we should read and read again.

This is also a very said day in the fact that we have moved so far from our roots and the document that inspired so many in history. We are the imperial power that has invaded and now is in control of Iraq. I won't debate why we are there or why we should leave or stay. There is debate throughout the Net for that purpose. I just ask for a reflection on the meaning and soul of the words written by Thomas Jefferson, and ask that we question our presence in Iraq. I ask that we never forget where we came from, and what we choose to stand for. The words of the Declaration of Independence do not fit the role that our country has chosen to taken, and I am deeply saddened by this.

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