Category Archives: Stories | Histories

New Mexico Ink

I don’t have a Zia tattoo. Nonetheless, I wear New Mexico.

Like many, my teen years were rife with moments I can only cringe at today. Some of my most memorable, brattiest reveries include pouting until I had a pair of Pony sneakers like my idols KoRn. Most notably, however, for months, I sighed and rolled my eyes and scowled because my mother would not allow me to get a tongue piercing.

One day, she offered a compromise:

“Get a tattoo.”

I am not sure why this was a better alternative to her, but I was quick to jump on it.

One Friday night my junior year of high school, she, my sister and I went to the closest shop: Mijo’s New Image, the only one in the northeast heights of Albuquerque at the time. I picked up the nearest magazine and started flipping through the pages. I had never met nor cared to learn about the artist. And I picked this.

New Mexico Dolphin Tattoo
First tattoo in New Mexico

I cannot find it in me to get removed or covered up. It is my genesis.

15 years later, I lose count when I try to tally my current collection.

I have bangers from Friday the 13th block parties that I cherish more for their memories with my friends than their images. I have a piece I got on a sort-of whim amidst the chaos and excitement that was attending my first convention. I am currently undergoing laser removal treatment. I have used the physical pain of getting tattooed as a meditative process to let go of coincidental emotional torment (heartbreak, to be precise). I have about 25 hours of work on my upper right arm. I have a cover-up. I have endured an infection. I have a conglomerate of my mother’s favorite things and therefore what most would accept as the one with the most “meaning.”

I think she assumed I would stop at my first—the one she offered.

“Why can’t you just wear a nice necklace instead?” “You had such beautiful skin.” And the clincher: “Where did my daughter go?”

Notwithstanding my mother’s convictions, my tattoos are my way of claiming my body and proclaiming my sovereignty and my identity. As much as I can be allowed into the tattoo culture despite having absolutely no artistic skill whatsoever, I devour every facet of it.

Nonetheless, all of my ink has one thing in common: all of it was acquired in New Mexico.

I am not a rebel. I am not a member of a subculture. I am not intentionally making a statement against feminine beauty ideals. I am not damaged. Like these pieces reflect….

Knee Tattoos New Mexico - roses and books
My stories.

I am merely a storyteller. One who lives in a wonderful time where I can wear and expose my stories.

While I understand art and one’s body are both extremely subjective realms, I hope to share my experiences here not entirely as a reviewer, but mainly as someone whose stories—those set in this wonderful state—hopefully inspire others to find the best way of telling theirs.

I look forward to sharing my journeys into the diverse, amazing world that is the New Mexico tattoo culture.

Happy inking!

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The first Eating New Mexico cookbook is available for sale at blurb.com!!

This cookbook includes new and handed-down recipes for family favorites including biscochitos, green chile cheddar apple pie, pinon applesauce ice cream, and much more.

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I’m in the process of getting it listed on Apple iBooks as well, and will post an update when I get that done.

On Rattlesnake Road

by [beenthere]

It was a dark and stormy night. Just before midnight, glared the dash clock in the ‘64 station wagon. This highway I had already seen twice today: going south, then back north, and now south again. The earlier two trips were in bright friendly sunlight. Now I was driving south in the darkest of darks. Behind me two miles was Corona, and ahead of me just 44 miles was Carrizozo. Then on to Alamogordo, my final destination where I would rid the car of my guest and guests: the one in the front seat, asleep for the past hour and to stay same until we reach his driveway, and the rowdies caged in back who were about to awake.

I was a first year rookie with NM Game and Fish and in assignment to Jack, a seasoned wildlife information officer who also hosted the weekly Game and Fish PBS television show in Albuquerque. As we prepped for this week’s show, he said, “Tomorrow drive to Alamogordo and pick up our guest and his props, drive him up for the show, then drive him back to his home tomorrow night. It will be an easy and fun day and you will be entertained during your drive,” Jack, the Prankster, said.

I learned some things in my first 16 years in New Mexico when we never lived closer than 15 miles to a town.

Don’t waste water, ice is a heavenly gift, take a flashlight to the outhouse, never go barefoot outside, always shake your shoes in the morning to empty of critters, and many other helpful tidbits to well serve during a full life.

And the most important: You will — from time to time and without a doubt — hear a rattlesnake rattle. The rattle is the signal that it is near. You must first determine its location. Then your options are: (1) remain perfectly still, or (2) leap high and far in the opposite direction, and (3) scream because you cannot contain a good scream. In my youth I practiced all three many times. To this day the sound of rattles rattle me. And did that night south of Corona.

Early that day when I gathered the guest for the night TV show, he brought his props all right: two boxes of rattlesnakes that he promised were boxed tightly with secure lids. He placed the boxes in the back of the very long ’64 wagon. The trip to Albuquerque was pleasant. Not a sound from the back. Occasionally I breathed. I could see the boxes in the rearview mirror. Lids were secured. We did the TV show and the guest allowed the snakes to crawl around on stage. All of us bystanders were watchful and ready to run.

Show is over, boxes of snakes are placed in the back of the station wagon, and off we go into the dark of the night on the two lane to Alamogordo. All is well until Corona. The guest in the passenger seat goes to sleep. The 46 miles to Carrizozo is a much rougher road at night and the shocks on the wagon have hardened since the trip up earlier in the day.

Now, with each bump in the road, a snake rattles. The more bumps, the more rattles.

I turn on the dome light and can just make out that the lids appear to be on the boxes. “Will the lids hold?” I ask myself. I am now looking at the front floor board to see if I am still alone. Did I see a wiggle? A slither? More bumps; more rattles. I now have one leg and foot under me and the remaining foot has increased our speed to 75 which has increased the number of bumps in a short period and increased the rattles until we are a speeding lights-on missile in the dark of night near out of control rattling and screaming as we pass the turns to Ancho and White Oaks and finally arrive at the old Texaco in Carrizozo where I brake to a sliding stop and abandon the idling vehicle. Leap high and far and scream.

An hour later we finally arrive in Alamogordo and as the guest opens the back to get his boxes he says, “That was sure a nice and quiet trip; glad my little friends did not bother you.”

Tales from a Corona Campout

by [beenthere]

We were “camping” at a Corona motel about 20 years ago on a winter deer archery hunt. We usually did a tent or popup trailer camp in the winter, but 8 inches of crusted snow and temps in the teens prompted us wise hunt veterans to seek indoor facilities for a few days.

We were well prepared for the hunt, but Bill forgot to bring changes of underwear for the three hunt days. John and I allowed we would not share, nor trade. We walked down to the Mercantile on Main Street in search of underwear and a skillet as our meals would be on a gas stove on the pickup tailgate and a skillet was not among us.

John found a cast iron skillet (which he still fondly uses today over in Alabama) in the store that had a wide selection of items common to a country store. However, the clothing section offered only one package of underwear and in three bright colors: blue, red, black.

Only three guys in their mid-years could enjoy the moment of such a find far from the big city and at the register we were still enjoying the moment. “You want a bag for those?” asked the lady at the counter. “No, we’ll just carry them,” said Bill, as he hoisted his bright colors for all to see including the four hunters who met us at the door and obviously found no humor in three of their fellow hunters boasting of a bag of new shorts. We think they were just jealous we had some new ones.

Cedarvale’s Boat

by [beenthere]

Back at the turn of this century, I had occasional employment that caused me to drive the stretch of road from Ruidoso north to roads that went to Santa Fe and Albuquerque. The drive included hwy 42 from Corona to Willard through Cedarvale. Cedarvale is isolated, no services. A few houses remain as does a large abandoned building that probably was a school in its day.

On trip after trip I always looked at the barn, or garage, that faced east and was on the south side of 42 in downtown Cedarvale. I always looked as there was a boat on a trailer in the barn and the boat appeared to be green and maybe a tri-hull model. It always reminded me of a similar boat we had back in the ‘70’s that I still miss today. It was a bit difficult to closely identify and describe as lumber and other items had fallen or been placed on it. But I always looked for it and enjoyed the sightings each time. And it looked like the barn was beginning to sag a bit?

Not too long ago, we—the family—were traveling down 42, and I was sharing old stories as old sages do, and began building the story of the “boat in the garage” and everyone was anxious to witness. “Here it comes!” I said. “Up here on the right! Just beyond those big trees!”

Just beyond the big trees was a pile of old lumber. The barn had collapsed. The boat was gone. Shucks.

Divining Over Biscuits

 

Divining Over Biscuits at the Flying Bull Ranch

by [Zia]

Art will tell you: the dinner bell rings at 7:30 sharp, and if you don’t haul ass to the buffet, consider yourself screwed. You will get the roast beef’s crusty edges and the bottom-of-the-barrel pinto beans, which will be mostly beanwater and a few floaters. Art will tell you: put your phone away because you won’t get any reception out here and no one is going to call you anyway.

Art is head of the Chuckwagon dinner here at the Flying Bull Ranch (but don’t call him Cookie or Hopalong, or you won’t get any butter for your potato). The Flying Bull is one of those fake western towns where you can play horseshoes and learn how to pan for gold. There’s a gunfight nightly where the Sheriff (cheers and applause!) most always wins, and there are troubadours that sing cowboy songs and tell bad jokes. But Art knows what folks really come here for: the food. They show up early and watch him cut out biscuits with the lid from a jelly jar. They wipe their mouths when they get a face full of smoke from the pit barbecue.

Sometimes Art will look up from his biscuitmaking and say: heed my warning. (He tells fortunes while he cooks. This was not a job requirement. From what we can tell, he’s right about half the time.) He’ll say: that job you looked at is coming through. He’ll say: your husband is doing that thing you hoped he wasn’t; a great gift will arrive in the mail. Some folks enjoy this; some don’t. Most don’t pay him any mind. Just another old nut, they figure.

Art makes the chunky applesauce by hand, crushing the cooked apples with an old potato masher. He adds a secret ingredient from a ceramic bowl marked “Secret Ingredient” (we’re pretty sure it’s Allspice), then winks at anyone who might be watching. He hauls the applesauce to the buffet and then marches outside and rings the bell. He’ll tell you: you want to be at the front of the line, that way you can get seconds on the applesauce.

When everyone is fed and settled in to watch the Flying Bull Band, Art sits in a rocking chair out back and he rocks and smokes. He looks toward the west and rubs his jaw. Art tells you he can feel the rain coming even when it’s a day away. He says he can feel it in his teeth, and in the holes where his teeth were once. He walks out to the middle of the fake road, holding his jaw, staring out toward the horizon.

Art will tell you: there’s a big storm coming. And you’ll believe him, even though he’s only ever right about half the time.