AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER IN TAOS,NM


museum

Millicent Rogers home Taos, NM

The throw of the dice this week falls on the silhouette of a Taos night out in 2006. It begins with the sunset — a bubble-gum pink sash that swirls like taffy just above the distant hillside. The transcending forms and colors in the sky distract me; it silences me, it keeps me from turning on the television or answering the phone. Taos-sangre-de-christo-mountains-sunset

The sunset has settled into my routine. It’s something I watch every night. In the midst of dressing to attend an art auction at the Millicent Rogers Museum the sun has vanished. The sky turns Taos blue; a luminous oil pigment canvas blue that appears like an endless tunnel you can walk through. As I descend the staircase, and cross over the ménage of piles shoved in a corner to allow SC to paint, I think, “This is going to be my home. I’m still here” Adventures in Livingness

In the courtyard where new flagstone has been laid, and the exit is blocked by a mud ditch, Rudy hitches me on his back and carry’s me out the side entrance through Tony Abeyta’s yard. Tony’s yard is piled with sand from our flagstone project, and my high-heeled black suede shoes are not at all practical for crossing New Mexican sand dunes. This is how the evening begins.

Out in the parking lot, we circle around once and stop in Robert’s gallery. He has offered me his turquoise squash seed necklace to wear at the auction. The necklace is from Turkey, and sells for $1,800. Millicent Rogers events always attract women with extravagant jewelry, and Robert knows I have no such possessions. He hands me the necklace, and says, have fun.

At times like this, I am able to forget the faces and routines I lived in Solana Beach, and feel swept into a labyrinth of unfamiliar vignettes. There are two police cars in the rear of the parking lot, the church looms like a fortress of wet mud, and SC is listening to The Band CD we picked up in Santa Fe. I slide into the car making sure my shoes don’t fill with gravel.

RANCHOS PLAZA

Parking for the Plaza where we lived. San Francisco de Asís Mission Church.

Along the desert road, there is very little street light and cars approach you at disarming speeds. For newcomers, the pale yellow line that separates oncoming traffic, roaming animals, hitchhikers, leather clad bikers, and abandoned pets, is of no comfort or value. Boundaries are vague, so are civilities between people, and sometimes conversations elope into poetry.

At the Millicent Rogers Museum the director Jill, who is there to welcome each guest, greets us at the carved wooden doors. This museum was once a home, like most museums in Taos.

Each room is an envelope of Native American jewelry, ceramics, painting, weaving, textiles, and metal work, sealed with an ethereal presence of Millicent Rogers. She set global trends in fashion, art, and living, by coming to Taos and bridging her New York chic with southwestern sensibility.

The museum collection includes some of her own designs that evolved from her residency in the desert. She moved here in 1947 and died here in 1953. She could have chosen anywhere in the world to live, and she settled in the unaltered, surreal lunar beauty of Taos.

I wandered through the tightly packed rooms, alternately viewing the guest’s attire and jewelry. The woven wraps, belts, and hats worn by men and woman form a collage of individual expression. Almost everyone seems to attract attention by the texture and color of his or her attire. It is festive traditional look, southwestern accessories paired with jeans or silk dresses. If you come to Taos, look for a belt buckle, one piece of Native American jewelry and one piece of art.

When the auction was announced, I found myself admiring the same etching as a woman next to me. She remarked that the artist was also the teacher of one of her children. I came to learn that Ellen had six children and 11 grandchildren. She was petite with curly blonde hair, and I liked her instantly. I told her I was a writer.

“So am I,” she answered.

Rather than talk about her work, she began talking about her daughter, also a writer.

“I’m so lucky,–all my children and grandchildren are creative and artistic.”

It was obvious that her life was a garden of earthly delights, and that she had raised many roses. When the auction began, she vanished, and I made a very swift viewing of the art before returning to the two etchings. They were both sold.

As I was walking out, I bumped into Ellen. She was clutching the etchings.

“So, you bought them,” I said.

“Oh, yes, I had to have them.”

She left me with a beaming smile and a closing remark that I hear very often: “Welcome to Taos.”

I love hearing that so much I don’t want to stop saying, I just moved here. After the auction we decided to stop in Marco’s Downtown Bistro, where we joined an improvisational party. It started when Marco introduced us to his friends, Pablo and Joan, visiting from Santa Fe.

PLAZA TAOS

The dim glowing melon adobe walls of the bistro, Marco hugging everyone, Joan’s melodious high-pitched laughter, Pablo telling jokes, Rudy laughing, and then Philip arriving to tell stories crossed over from strangers in a bistro to a fast rolling film. The conversation, and laughter surfed breathlessly from one person to another.

Joan remarked, “My 15 minutes. This is the best for me. The first time you meet someone, your both talking without any effort. It’s so perfect.”

We closed the bistro past midnight. Marco had gone home. Joan decided to stay at a friend’s house. Philip agreed to drive down to Santa Fe the next day, and we took Tylenol before going to bed.

Not every night out in Taos is like Joan’s 15 minutes, but chances are you will have something to write home about. Photos of Gallery LouLou Taos, NM


me on the roof

 

VOTING HAS BEGUN ON TALEFLICK.


 

IT’S HERE. “CRADLE OF CRIME-A Daughter’s Tribute” is LIVE in the TaleFlick Discovery contest.

 

Hi Readers:

Voting has begun on Taleflick for this week’s winner. It ends on Friday at 4:pm. CRADLE OF CRIME- A Daughter’s Tribute is on

Page 8. There you will see a voting button. Let’s win!

Head over to the TaleFlick Discovery page, where https://taleflick.com/pages/discovery all visitors to the site will be allowed to vote (once) ON CRADLE OF CRIME- A Daughter’s Tribute

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Sojourn in Europe


Intersections between mid-late-life  adults with youth; anyone under the age of forty is an adventure in livingness.   I remember strangers that  counseled; passed on a prized preface to life.

It was my first solo trip to Europe.  Emboldened with the freedoms in every cupboard of life: abandoned career, home, and possessions I lived out of a suitcase for about a year. Three of those months were in Ireland, France, and Italy.

I was dining in Venice, alone, down to coupon crushing finances and no interest in going back to the USA.  The rise to relocate plunged a new view ; find a job in a glass foundry or a museum, and rent a little room in Venice.  The Venetians of my age,  artistic, independent, and humanely trusting enchanted a woman who’d been sharking San Diego  in commercial real estate.  I got eaten alive.  Venice was the shore that I wanted to curl around and become fluent in Italian, learn to cook,  and wrap a scarf.

I was standing next to a bar-bistro melting in the lustrous  conversational elan’  when a couple in their sixties approached me.    The  corner of the bar waxed us in and for the next hour, that  man changed the direction of my life.

” Yea, I knew you were American.  Where you live?

” San Diego.”

” Oh! I’d move there if I could. ” I cannot recall where they lived other than the Midwest.

“What kind of work do you do in  San Diego?” He shouted.

“I was in commercial real estate–leasing and marketing.”

” Good for you! That’s a great career.”

” It was.  I want to live here… in Venice

He set his wine on the counter, I remember that, and pulled at his trousers or tie, and then he said,  “What would you do here?”

” I don’t know yet?”

” You can’t beat what you left.  Are you crazy?”

Before I answered he continued a breathless sermon peddling the virtues of my life;  not jumping into a fantasy, and to forget about moving to Venice.  My references  to challenge, adventure and change met more opposition than I’d expected. He deplored my naiveté.   “You shouldn’t go through with it.  San Diego  has the best climate. It’s coming up in the world, not just a little getaway resort. If I were your father I’d bring you back myself.  ”

They departed when his wife begged him to calm down and I returned to the evening’s allure.  There was a scar left, an abrasion of my plan.  Over the next few days, I met a group of Venetians, younger than me.  After revealing my plan to live in Venice, they drew me into their group.  I haven’t any diary of Venice, so the names and dialogue are absent. The memory is vague, a collage of framed vignettes.  We went to a friend’s apartment, who had a spare room to rent.   This friend, a young man with speedy senses whipped me around the apartment.  He spoke English, with saucy speed, and he had more friends. By the end of the evening,  I was tumbling in a wave of stimulation.  It was too much too soon.  The next week I was in Milan unknowingly colliding with Fashion Week.

After three months, my wardrobe was wasted from hem to neckline.  My shoes:  a pair of lace up boots,  lace-up sandals, and flats.  I landed in Milan at the Train station, and then where did I go? OH I remember. It was my last night with Julius;  my traveling European Chef companion.  We stayed at Relais & Châteaux, selections for three weeks.  We dined and slept in surroundings that dubbed European film sets.  I was dazzled and too overfed.

The last night with Julius was in a very chef gathering restaurant, busy waiters, lots of background noise;   the place to say goodbye and not cry. After dinner, we strolled around the Piazza and window shopped.

” Look at these shoes. I’ve never seen shoes like this-not even in Beverly Hills. ” Julius chuckled at my unworldly impressionable outbursts.  He enjoyed educating me on all things European.

” In Italy shoes are the most important part of the wardrobe.”

” You mean seriously. ” I asked.

” Oh Yes. They will  judge you by your shoes. Not every one of course, but the important types will.”

The next morning I rose to the uncertainty of traveling without  Julius.  That’s when I got on a train  headed for Annecy, France. I have no memory why Annecy, other than the couple I met at Lake Maggoire who might have suggested I visit the Southeastern part of France before going to Paris.

 

 

 

 


Santa Fe today

Santa Fe today, Friday the 13th. Listening to soundtrack of Man & a Woman, my lyrics, my movie. The end is what I imagine mine. The day was blowing cottonwood  and white wisteria  in a blow glow of dance.  There is a certainty about my movements, different than yesterday. I declare this day of summer, sandals,pedicure, trying on my bathing suit, making a palette change, and putting on the ritz. The gloss and bronze, and maybe even going outdoors.  Shopping and going to the Lowriders Day in Santa Fe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO IS BUGSY?


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LUCILLE CASEY SMILEY

MGM MotherAll my life people have asked me the same questions:” What’s it like knowing your father is a gangster? How old were you when you found out? Aren’t you afraid of his friends? You know they kill people.”
I live in a temporary tide-pool, a lily
floating against the current, weighted
down by a suit of armor that shields me
from the beauty, love and freedoms stirring in my bud.

What seemed insignificant at the time was the diving board into my Dad’s history. I was watching a Bugsy Siegel documentary on my television in San Diego during 1993. It was the first one I’d seen. Three historians joined in on the violence Bugsy honored and esteemed. Half-way through the celebratory lynching of Bugsy and his pals, a reporter made the statement that ‘It’s obvious Allen Smiley was there to set Bugsy up for the hit.’ Andy Edmonds stated that Dad conveniently disappeared into the kitchen during the time of the shooting. It wasn’t until a photograph of my dad appeared on the screen; a man with thick graying hair that I noticed an expression I’d never seen, horrifying misery. I moved closer to the television to see his face up close. A kaleidoscope of emotions rose to the surface: anger, shame, curiosity, and disbelief. I was forty years old.
smiley aThe first time I’d seen those photographs of Ben Siegel slumped on that sofa; an eye bleeding down his face was a day back in 1966 at the age of thirteen. My best friend Dena lived in Brentwood with her divorced mother and siblings. We hooked in the unfamiliar and confusing imbalance of a broken home life. Dena was suffering depression after her parents divorced and I was dangling from my father’s fingertips hopelessly conflicted after my mother died. Dena wouldn’t let a day go by without calling me. ‘Are you all right?’ She didn’t like my father and her reasons were mature beyond her years, ‘Your father scares me.’ After school one afternoon we stopped in the Brentwood Pharmacy. Dena was looking at the book rack and I was following along.
“Lily, my mother told me your father is in a book, The
Green Felt Jungle. It’s about gangsters. Wanna see if they have it?” I agreed to look because Dena was interested, but it meant nothing to me. She twirled the book rack around as I stood behind her watching.
“That’s the book! Let me look first and see what it says,” she whispered. I could feel her arm tense up as I grasped it.
“Oh my God! There he is,” she said. We hunched over the book and read the description of my father, “Allen Smiley, one of Ben Siegel’s closest pals in those days, was seated at the other end of the sofa when Siegel was murdered.” Dena covered her mouth with one hand and kept reading silently.
“What does that mean? Who is Siegel?” I asked.
“Shush–not so loud. I’m afraid to tell you this. It’s awful.”
“What’s awful? Tell me.”
“Bugsy Siegel was a gangster in the Mafia. He killed people. Your father was his associate.”
“I don’t think I should see this.” I turned around abruptly to leave the drugstore. Dena followed me out.”
“Lily you can’t tell your father you saw this book. Please don’t tell him I told you.”
“Why not?”
“My mother told me not to tell you. Swear to me you won’t tell your father!”
“I won’t. Don’t you tell anyone either.”
A few days later after Dad left for the evening I opened the door to his guarded bedroom. I walked around the bed to a get a closer look at the photographs on the wall. It was the first time I could read the inscription.

DSC01871 - Copy

 

 

 

LIGHTS ON SANTA FE


 

A NATIVE AMERICAN  LIGHT SHOW.

YOU CAN BECOME WHO YOU DREAMED OF, DO WHAT YOU DREAMED OF IN SANTA FE , because Santa  Feans do not care.

I heard this slogan a lot when I first moved here seven years ago.  My understanding was vague, unrealized, and I didn’t think much about it until  this winter.   I began to  approach strangers,  walk across the street to the spa in a robe,  or  leave my pajama top under my sweater because I like the texture of it.
I’ve  given  up the diving board of scrutiny and plunge into the dreamy, stony,  outdated, simplistic extravagance, and unrealistic vibe of Santa Fe.

I keep dreaming, and preparing,  with a face blotched red by cold, that THE LIGHTS, SHADOWS,  MOON AND CHARACTERS ARE MY BROADWAY FOR NOW.   NOT FOREVER. EVERYTHING CAN BE TEMPORARY IF WE TAKE ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNESS.

ANAIS NIN ON PARIS


anais-ninwww.famousauthors.org

THE DIARY OF ANAIS NIN VOLUME SIX 1955-1966

“All of Paris is caressable, La ville caresse, la ville caressante, with its outer life all grace and wit, at heart a mystic lover, a philosopher, a man of taste.  In its ancient decor, it is always youthful because its source of life is inner, and always renewed. The past is so vivid that it fills the streets. It is full. the magic of its unity and harmony of colors and textures and styles. When there were contrasts, they were contrasts between medieval somberness and modern gaiety.  “

PARIS WILL NOT PERISH


I watched coverage today in Paris from an online British station. It is important to me. More important than writing or dressing or going out. The journalists were sympathetic, the interviews soulful, the images–silencing. I don’t believe prayers are enough. President Hollande declared war.

Last night I watched a French film, Lola, before I heard the news. This was a film of Paris as golden and grainy as autumn. I thought I must go to Paris. Today I still must go to Paris.  BN-LG537_1114FR_J_20151114151709