Saturday, June 30, 2012

PIE TOWN, NEW MEXICO


Yes, my friends, this is a real place. A place named after food.

Pie Town, New Mexico U.S. Post Office


The Story
On our way to Taos recently, we turned north from Quemado, NM and took the road through the Badlands (Malpais National Monument) to I-40. It’s wonderful how they built the road on the edge of the lava. There are massive lava rock beds on the west side of the road and sandstone cliffs on the east side of the road. Check it out sometime.

Coming back, we decided to take I-25 south from Albuquerque to Socorro, then west on Highway 60 to Springerville AZ.

Destination…Pie-O-Neer Café.



Yes, the Pie-O-Neer Café in Pie Town, New Mexico is a destination. You don’t just go through there and not stop at the Pie-O-Neer Café…unless you’re asleep or in a coma. If that’s the case, you should stop there and get a cup of coffee and a piece of pie and get yourself together.

You will have either just been past the VLA (Very Large Array) radio telescope or you’re going to go by it a few miles ahead. Don’t want to miss that either. The federal government is listening for alien activity with these things.

Anticipation was building as we traveled the “blue highway” toward Pie Town. In the past thirty years, the café has been closed a few times as we passed through town.

We're getting close.

More advertising

Looks kind'a lonely.
Would it be open this time? Would it have fallen on hard times like so many other businesses and closed its doors?

I was thinking to myself that it was 1:30 in the afternoon on a weekday…maybe they closed after lunch.

It’s not a place that you call ahead and make a reservation. You just take your chances that it will still be there and be open.

But you can try: http://pie-o-neer.com

Another remarkable bit of info is that you are in Catron County, New Mexico. You are in the Wild West! According to Wikipedia, Catron County has about 7,000 square miles with only 3,700 brave souls living there…cohabitating with some 12,000 head of elk.

Butch Cassidy and his gang liked Catron County.

Not many cars on the road…never have been. The road is straight and empty…as always. A never-ending vast expanse of blue sky along with the cattle ranches and occasional horses and cows grazing contently are your entertainment as you mosey along.

Seeing real people leading real lives in the old West doesn’t get any better than this but we hadn’t seen any people yet.

As we approached Pie Town we saw the first billboard advertising the café. It was a little dilapidated.

Oh dear.

A little later I exclaimed, “There it is and it is crowded. No wonder there are no cars on the road…they’re all parked in front of the Pie-O-Neer Café. Hallelujah!!”


Customers come from miles around...in cars and on horseback.

I love this place. It's so cozy and welcoming.

Interesting woodstove


Buy a T-shirt or some fine art.



NOW...PONDER THE PIES.


My pie selection on this visit? That was a tough one. How can you choose just one piece of pie? You’ve just driven 500 miles to get here. If we still lived in Greer I would be buying a whole pie. I think you’re supposed to get a free piece if you buy a whole pie.

Thinking about it and deliberating about it went something like this: The lemon meringue was fresh and moist, piled high with meringue lightly browned on the peaks. The cherry and blueberry called to me, screaming about how healthy they are for my arthritis and memory loss. Coconut cream…ah-h-h-such a rare treat. And apple, the old stand-by, doesn’t usually get my attention…that is, until I read the label…Apple Pie with Green Chile and Pine Nuts. 




That was it. It was so-o-o good


The place was as charming as always, the pie was warm and delicious…with my favorite green vegetable in it, the service was impeccable, friendly and efficient, and the customers…what you would expect; there were a couple of dozen people who rode up on horseback, a middle-aged couple with a big RV, some locals stopping by to buy a fresh home-made pie right out of the oven to take home for dinner…all friendly, wholesome looking folks, who are, no doubt, well fed.

I could live there…. right across the road would be nice. 


Well...it fixes a whole lot of things...and pie is not square.
P.S.Thanks, John R., for reminding me recently that I hadn’t been to PieTown lately.

P.P.S.Thanks, Kathy, for hanging in there all these years and working so hard for those of us that only get to stop by every few years for a piece of what must be the world’s best pie! You have the “recipe” for success.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

FLAG DAY 2012 IN TAOS, NEW MEXICO


When Taos Mountain calls, you respond...

Being in need of a spiritual renewal and an escape from the desert heat, we looked for a destination with a minimum of interstates to travel and enough fine art galleries to keep us busy for several days. Taos won our attention…again.

Previous memories from visits to Taos, in addition to the eighty- some galleries and the always enticing and too-many-to-visit gourmet restaurants, are the drum I have made by a Red Willow artist of the Taos Pueblo, healing turquoise earrings made by Taos artist, Ron Wesley, my favorite black wool hat from Taos Mountain Outfitters and some old moccasins with one of the silver conchos missing.

This visit I added a special memory.

Our second story room at Hotel La Fonda de Taos faced the historic Taos Plaza and was directly above the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Our “air conditioning” was a sweet and cool mountain breeze gently coming into our room through the open windows morning and night. The white lace curtains billowed and blew just enough…like something out of an old western movie.


The village stirred at sunrise with the normal street sounds. Nothing too loud or disturbing…just people going to work, visiting on the way with others they know, a person or two sitting in the plaza with a ceremonial morning Starbucks. Comforting noises really.

The morning of June 14, 2012, brought other sounds…friendly voices…lots of them, and they seemed to be associated with a task.

Time to rise and shine. The smells of coffee brewing and chocolate cooking did the trick. Yum-m-m.

As I looked out the window to the activity below I was thrilled by a heart-warming spectacle.

Veterans, with the various identifying logos on their baseball caps, were all over the Taos Plaza with armloads of American flags. They were placing them in the flag holders, one at a time, all around the Plaza.

What a beautiful and patriotic sight! What a special way to wake up on Flag Day!!

Thank you Taos, New Mexico veterans for your service to our country…today, yesterday and always.

Lest anyone forget, we are still free.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

DEVILED EGGS RECIPE


Deviled Eggs


This is an easy, tasty and inexpensive appetizer to take to a party, potluck or picnic. They always disappear.

Also, it is a great addition to a summer meal as it can be made ahead and served as a side dish.

Ingredients:

6 hard-boiled eggs
4-tablespoons mayonnaise
1-teaspoon sugar
1-teaspoon white vinegar
1-teaspoon prepared mustard
¼ -teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
Paprika

Process:

Put eggs in a small saucepan that has a lid.
Cover the eggs with water.
Bring to a rolling boil.
Lower the heat to simmer and cover the pan.
Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat.
Drain the water off the eggs in the saucepan and fill again with cold water to cool the eggs.
Drain again and place them gently in a small bowl. Put the bowl with the hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make Deviled Eggs.

Hint: If you know a day ahead of time that you are going to make deviled eggs, turn the eggs over in the carton in the refrigerator so that the large end is on top. After they are hard-boiled, peeled and sliced length-wise, you will notice that the yolks are in the middle of the egg…hopefully. That way they look better and are easier to fill.

Let the cooked eggs chill in the refrigerator at least an hour before making the deviled eggs.

Gently hit the hard-boiled eggs on the kitchen counter to crack the shell all around.

Peel the shells off of each egg and rinse the eggs. Set the eggs on a paper towel to remove the moisture.

Slice eggs in half lengthwise and set the halves on a plate.



Gently remove the yolks with a spoon and place them in a small bowl, leaving the empty white halves on the plate.

Mash the egg yolks with a fork until they are crumbly.

Put the rest of the ingredients, except the paprika, in the bowl with the yolks and mix together well.

Let this mixture chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

With a small spoon, refill the egg whites with the yolk mixture.

Sprinkle paprika lightly over the top of the filled eggs.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Hint: Put a small glass upside down in the middle of the plate of eggs before covering the plate with plastic wrap. It will prevent the plastic wrap from messing up the beautiful eggs you have just prepared.




To serve, cover a plate with fresh lettuce leaves and arrange the egg halves on the lettuce.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

GRANDSON RIDES OFF INTO THE SUNRISE


It’s graduation season. High school graduation in our case.

We watch these special young people in our lives take “the walk” to get the piece of paper that will release them, as they see it, from the “bondage” of attending school and free them from their parents who felt justified, before this moment, to control their every move.

How liberating! How joyous! Let’s celebrate!

Not so fast.

Depending on what they’re graduating from, it can be a terrifying occurrence for some who have never quite been “on their own” financially or socially. There are many students who are graduating from high school or college…(or kindergarten or 5th grade…don’t laugh…these are real events to which my observations don’t apply) who are overwhelmed by the idea that they must pay their own way. No mom and dad waiting to pick up the tab. Bills are showing up with their names on them. Gadzooks!!

They must talk to and even live with strangers (dorm life). The parental filters are gone. No protection! No one will be barking orders at them…except their own consciences. The future is full of adventures and unknowns…and lessons to be learned.

Attending school now is an option. Go to school by choice??? Never…or maybe…or get a job and think about it and party a little…and go back to school in a year or so…or get married…have kids????…Good grief…not ready for that.

Help!

I’m glad you asked.

“ Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.” ~ Aristotle (ancient Greek philosopher) by way of Nana’s blog.

There are parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, “guidance” counselors and “the man on the street” that would be happy to help you figure it out. Are you ready to hear the long-winded, boring stories of what they did when they graduated from high school or college was the wrong choice?

Run…don’t walk…away from these people…politely.

“People can be divided into three groups; those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.” ~ Nicholas Murray Butler

Decide right now which one you want to be.

Follow your heart and your passion. You are unique. No one can help you decide what you should do with your life. You will figure it out all by yourself and you will sometimes fail. This is the real education they don’t talk about. You can’t learn everything in school. And, of course, there is always a smidgen of luck involved…good and bad.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”~ Seneca (5 BC-65 AD)

DW, our first of eight grandchildren, graduated from high school the other night. The event was a milestone for him – and for us. How could he suddenly be a man so tall and handsome, smart and savvy? He was just a little boy yesterday.

Well, it seems like yesterday. I guess a few things have happened in the last few years that should’ve made us realize he might be growing up. I’m so sad that his childhood is gone…so very sad…I miss little DW. But, I am so immensely overjoyed…and relieved…that he is the person he has become. I will not worry about him. I am confident that he has the “tools” he needs to have a happy, productive and successful life.

His parents deserve all of the credit. That have nurtured him, taught him, and loved him all the while. Unfortunately, teenagers don’t recognize that their parents’ constant demands for perfection are coming from a place of love and not from a complete and total power trip. Hopefully, they will realize someday how much they have been loved.

What an incredible happening the graduation ceremony was. It was similar to a large sporting event and was held in an arena. There were big screens, booming sound systems, seating for thousands, and still dignity and protocol were followed to a “T”. It was quite breathtaking (we had to sit in the rafters) to those of us in his family who attended school in rural areas where the entire school population was less than his graduating class of 500 souls.

I watched through my binoculars as DW confidently strode across the stage floor with his head held high (in a floor-length green gown) and accepted his diploma, giving the principal a strong, firm handshake, and, with a beautiful smile, turned to walk down the stairs from the stage and out into the world that awaits him…the sunrise.

DW was free! Free to be himself. Free to follow his dreams and his passion…team roping. It is an event that owes its very existence to the everyday chores of being a working cowboy on a cattle ranch.
DW is a team roper. He wins buckles, saddles, ropes, money, 4-wheelers and horse trailers. He is serious about this sport of rodeo. He started with mutton bustin’ at the age of four and will finish up his high school rodeo career in the next couple of months, having mastered well enough all of the events he attempted. He’s good at it. He is only 17 and he knows what he wants to do.

“The secret of joy is contained in one word-excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”~ Pearl S. buck

My earliest memory of him roping was one night when I was babysitting him and his baby brother DV.

They had a rocking horse on springs in the living room at their house. DW was 2 years old. He had already gotten his first rope and knew how to use it. He thought it would be fun to rope his Nana. This gave the term “terrible twos” a new definition. It was a bit difficult to explain the rope burns around my neck that I wore for the next few days.
If his plan doesn’t quite work out for the future, he knows how to be a cattle rancher. He has all of the skills that he needs to live that life successfully.

DW is also a very smart young man! He knows that if he wants to team rope for the rest of his life he has to make money to support himself and his passion.

From a class of 500, he was one of only 10 graduating seniors featured with a write-up in his 2012 yearbook. The article said that DW made $16,000 team roping the previous year.

Just like any business, he has expenses associated with that income. His parents have made sure that he pays his own entry fees and other expenses so he can get a feel for the financial reality of his favorite sport.

I think he “gets” that.

He decided just recently that higher education is important. Figuring it out a little sooner might have been better for his scholarship opportunities but at least he did figure it out.

He wants to study a profession that will financially benefit him in the lifestyle he hopes to enjoy…and pay for.

DW’s nickname is Pistol, a rather Western name that was given to him by his paternal grandfather, who is more of an AK-47.  Grandpa is a unique individual who leaves an impression on all who know him. A retired schoolteacher and rancher, his ranching legacy lives on for his children and grandchildren. Scott Baxter recently featured their family as one of the ranch families in his “100 Years 100 Ranchers” black and white photographic project. It profiles those Arizona families who have been ranching in Arizona since 1912 or before. The exhibit is at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Terminal Four Gallery.

In addition to his sporting excellence, DW is a very nice person of fine character.

I like this definition of character:

“Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.”~ H. Jackson Brown, from Life’s Little Instruction Book

My last (I promise) bit of advice, DW…“Beginning today treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same.” ~ Og Mandino, from The Greatest Miracle in the World , (1923-1996)

I am leaving you in the hands of your guardian angels, DW. I know that you don’t need me anymore…but I am here for you…thinking of you, praying for your safety and well being, and loving you as I always have and as I always will.

Nana