Category Archives: On Creativity

New Earth, Old Friend

I forgot my camera. I was indignant until I remembered I’d never owned a camera until a few years ago. All hike records were scratched with a stubby pencil on a 3×5 card.

We went off-trail in the Malpaís. Snow and wind and frost-heaving had smoothed sand over the face of the weathered stone, healing the skin of the desert until we were the first ever to walk there.

Camera or not, it was a good day, though I wish I could have gotten an image of an old friend. Fortunately I already had one; it was taken in a different season, but you get the idea.

Kitchenware

In an area we’ve hiked scores of times, looking for a place for lunch, we climbed a little mesa that promised a good view. On a smooth sandstone ledge, unexpected, was a bedrock metate: the roughly-pecked surface where a woman had ground corn or wild-gathered seeds.

Around it were rough petroglyphs of a lizard and snakes: probably Puebloan, but so heavily coated with desert varnish that they looked Archaic. It was fine to sit where she had sat, looking out over the late winter piñon and sand, munching corn chips we had not had to grind ourselves.

Up and Running!

Mudding bread ovens in Zuni

The mud is dry, the dust has settled, the links have been checked twice (remember, though: imperfection is vitality). The updated digital Betsy is here, as multilayered, quirky, and internally referential as its author.

Check out the Gallery, with examples of my current painting series. It’s not a sales gallery–for that you’ll find a link to Matteucci Galleries in Santa Fe (and one to Taos Fine Art, once their website rebuild is complete)–it’s a group of my favorites. You may find paintings you own; you tend to buy the ones I like best!

Enjoy the “Boots” photo series—you’ve seen a few in my posts. And since I have a more or less equal appreciation of boots and books, look for “Stories,” which features complete short stories published in Fantasy and Science Fiction and Realms of Fantasy. I had fun digging through years of daybooks and art files for illustrations.

Note that if you haven’t explored the portals to art-and-writing process you may enjoy that rich wilderness. You’ll find updates there as well.

Thank you for your patience, and enjoy! I’ll return to hike entries soon, I promise. Now where’s my paintbrush?

 

 

Shining Land

All day long we looked south to the main drainage. It shone silver.

We spent the day traipsing around and about in something like a square mile and a half, as much vertical as horizontal, on constantly rough terrain. We entered and left on ancient trails not used since the invention of the internal combustion engine.

I couldn’t see how even a wagon could have gone where we did. Perhaps it was just people on foot. Later, horses or mules.

The trails did feel like trails, in the sense of “the logically easiest way to get up this challenging slope.”

Rock Happy

Basket of Rocks 2A frosty desert morning on the gravels of the ancient Rio Puerco. All around us, distantly, the pop and crack of target shooting. We parked in a trashed pullout and hiked away from the road.

Wandering, sometimes talking, sometimes silent, we picked up rocks and dropped them. Showed each other the best ones: quartz and quartzites,  petrified wood, metamorphics full of crinoid stems—all tumble-polished millions of years before humans were human. The sun rose, then sank. The wide bare plains; the weather-bitten volcanic Ladrones palely looming, almost floating. Except for wind and the marksmen, silence.

At dusk, our pockets full of pretty rocks, we trailed back to the pickup and sat on the tailgate as the target shooters drove homeward past us in their four-by-fours.

No Doubt

At Zuni: We borrowed a clutch of neighbor kids and went hiking in the windblown sand south of the pueblo. The kids were itchy and wild, flinging themselves off the red dunes, playing cowboys and Indians—funny, given that they were all Indians.

One of the adults, a fast hiker, disappeared for awhile. We wondered aloud, “Where’s Andy?” Small Brandon said seriously, “Prob’ly those Indians got him.”

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Feel Any Different?

Among the lifts and holts of sandstone in the beaten, overgrazed terrain west of Albuquerque, overrun for centuries by sheep, cattle, Spaniards, Navajos, soldiers, ranchers and uranium prospectors, in the plumb middle of nowhere, we came upon an enormous galvanized bolt sticking out of the ground.

Pat said it held the universe together. With a little work, feeling like King Arthur, I pulled it out.

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Vibes y Víbora

Foothills of the Nacimientos: a Western Diamondback was stretched in the morning sun. It coiled and cocked only when I shouted for the other hikers. Snakes are deaf, so it must have felt the vibration of my shout.

Posed, rigid, it never moved. John the fiddler said, “It’s a musical clef.”

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What Child Played Here?

In the remote Pecos I found a big marble from the 30s: white-and-butterscotch glass, battered and frost-spalled, buried in dirt. It appeared to have been thrown off a mesa.

The inexplicable things one finds in the wilderness! I assume it had lain in the dirt for as many years as its age: seventy or eighty.

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