220,000,000 Year Old Fossil

fossil-090603-L9991045 We were invited by Dr. Spencer Lucas, Curator of the New Mexico Natural History Museum to join a dig in northern New Mexico as they uncovered and field jacketed several 220,000,000 year old fossils. We were joined by three other volunteers. Randy, a Junior High language arts and English literature teacher from Albuquerque, Christoph and his daughter Nadine, both from Switzerland on sabbatical in Albuquerque. We were led by Larry Rinehart a field geologist with the museum.

Randy, Christoph, Pamela, and Nadine

Field jacketing is a unique process to safely transport the fossils from the field to the museum. The process begins with uncovering the fossil from the surrounding rocks. See Pamela in the first photo above and photo below.

Larry removing a part of the fossil

Paper, burlap, and plaster create a safe jacket. The fossil is first web and telephone book pages are laid down and wet. Then plaster soaked burlap is laid on top of the paper.







Once the plaster is hard the jacket is labeled and the compass heading is added.



The jacket below was just started. Over the next several days they will add timbers and more plaster to help them lift the nearly ton of rock and fossil.


Dental tools, tweezers, and superglue, some the the tools of geologist.


We had a great time, learned alot, and want to thank everyone for making this a special day. -L

Update: After five attempts to have the photos post correctly, I think they work now, -L

Last Walk Around Santa Fe

Antique Lock I spent the afternoon walking around Santa Fe visiting the a few of my favorite galleries and took a few photos my new Leica. I dropped into Ward Russell Photography and had a nice chat with the photographer.

Ward Russell - photographer

Ward was a Hollywood cinematographer for many years prior to moving to Santa Fe to pursue his personal photography passion.

I also dropped into Monroe Gallery of Photography was exhibiting Mark Shaw's photographs. The Andrew Smith Gallery which we missed on our first visit has moved into a lovely location near the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

My favorite was Lisa Kristine Gallery, she is one of the great humanitarian photographers. Visit her website to see her exquisite vision. -L

Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe

santafe-090529-L9990925 We have spent the last six days at Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe, with over a hundred fellow screenwriters. The six days were filled with lectures, networking, and pitches. Though it is substantially smaller than the Screenwriting Expo in LA, we made many new friends and connected with fellow students from UCLA. The Conference was hosted at the The Lodge at Sante Fe.


The workshops were small and allowed us both to find new inspiration to finish our current screenplays. The instructors are working screenwriters and professors from UCLA and UNC.


The first day started with a Bacci Ball tournament and we lost our first game and won the next two to finish first among the losers. The field shown below was astro-turf and the fast surface added to the challenge and excitement. A fun time was had by all.


During one of the breaks I walked around to take a few photos.



Next week we participate in a Triassic fossil dig with the NM Museum of Natural History. Until then... -L

Fade In Party

May 26, 2009 We were especially excited to find the face belonging to the name Hallie, a little firecracker from Louisiana.


Later on: music, mingling, the usual networking, but we landed a few good scribes to laugh with and learn about: Pete (to my right), Hallie (to Lloyd's right) and Bill (far right). All three pitched their screenplay ideas to producers and enjoyed a range of success.



Wonderful Light

Bus parked at Los Campos RV Park in Santa Fe The clouds separated and a sun shone through a hole in the sky.

Storm clouds on the horizon

The campground is located a few miles from downtown and several large olive trees separate the site. When the wind blows the scent of the olive tree fills the air.


A short while later the storm clouds disappeared and the light glistened in the olive leaves. -L

Mesa Verde Vistas in Colorado

May 15, 2009 Mesa Verde means "Green Table".

Here are a few Mesa Verde table tops, vistas and canyons for your viewing pleasure:






Up next, Mesa Verde National Park and its Ancestral Puebloen cliff dwellings.


Hopper at Harwood

May 9, 2009 As part of the Taos "Summer of Love", Dennis Hopper curates an exhibition at Harwood Museum of Art on the  40th anniversary of "Easy Rider", a landmark counterculture film that explores the social landscape of the 1960s. The artists: Larry Bell, Ron Cooper, Ronald Davis, Ken Price And Robert Dean Stockwell and, of course, Hopper.


Larry Bell:


Lloyd peruses Dennis Hopper's paintings and mixed media pieces (one includes three antique mannequin heads):


Dennis Hopper:


The Hopper at Harwood exhibit continues to September 20, 2009 and the Summer of Love continues through September with a calendar full of art, music, dance and film.


Heartbeats in a Drum

May 8, 2009 Taos Arts & Crafts Fair at Kit Carson Park.

We couldn't resist the pottery so came home with two soup mugs, a garlic keeper, a wee pitcher, and what we're calling "the partridge" a little rotund pourer originally designed for soya sauce, but which might suit olive oil - we now admit we bought it as much for its cuteness than its function. We did, however, resist the jewelry, indian arts, clothing and much more.

The resounding experience, however, was meeting Lynn of Sweet Medicine Drums. She told us the story of the drummed heart beat, how we are all tuned into that sound since the womb, how the heartbeat has healing power - it prompts us to grow. She says we have an inherent need for rhythm in our lives.

Research is underway to explore how drummed rhythms can change brainwave patterns and reduce stress. Also, drumming is now part of treatment for some Alzheimers patients as well as autistic children, the emotionally disturbed and even employees of large corporations (I think the last two go together more than we think) to improve focus and morale.


Lynn learned her drumming ways from an old Hopi medicine woman and personally knows two people who came out of comas during drumming.

Notable: Lynn implored us to spend some time at Ojo Caliente Springs. That was the third, unprompted suggestion within 24 hours where someone suggested we go there - a fourth, unprompted mention followed within the hour. A definition of rhythm: a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound. Makes me wonder...

We later kept time with the rhythms of Julian Priester, Larry Vuckovich, John Heard, Hadley Caliman, and Eddie Marshall at The Legends of Jazz concert at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa.


The Enchanted Circle

May 8, 2009 The Enchanted Circle is an 85 mile drive in New Mexico. The route circles Mount Wheeler which has the highest peak in New Mexico Sangre de Cristo Mountains, part of the Rocky Mountains range. Summits reach 13,000+ feet.

After a visit to the D H Lawrence Ranch (posted separately), we stopped in Red River for americanos, a cinnamon roll and mountain air.


Snow patches clung to ski runs. Can you believe my luck? The humming bird at the feeder...


And one more view looking back at Red River and it's spruce and leafless aspen.


Spectacular scenery the entire way: mountains, meadows, lakes, rivers, forests...


Taos Pueblo

May 7, 2009 Pueblo means an American Indian settlement in southwestern U.S. and the members of the settlement. There are 22 "Pueblos, Tribes and Nations" in New Mexico. Each Pueblo has a distinct community and language. The origin of Taos Pueblo dates back to approximately 1000 AD and can be toured for a small fee plus a $5 charge for each personal camera you will use.

Very few of the 2800 Native American Pueblo residents live in the old section pictured in this post. Those that live in the old adobe buildings are chiefly artists and vendors who sell silver and turquoise jewelry, wood and hide drums, moccasins, dream catchers, beadwork, painted pottery, baked goods, and antiques.

An oven and drying racks in the plaza, sandwiched between the river and dwellings:


One of many friendly Pueblo artists and me wearing one of his creations: a silver and turquoise necklace.


Most of the residents live in modern homes on Pueblo land, within a three mile radius of the old adobe buildings. All that we met seemed glad to tell us of their customs and creations. Even the dogs were sociable - dogs galore, but none of the barking variety (not sure if they were that well trained or just drained from the heat and constant wind).

Saints in the church below are costumed according to season. About 90% of the Pueblo Indians are Catholic, yet they mesh Christianity with their own religion, which has a strong identification and correlation between Mary and Mother Earth. The residents are very secretive about their religion for fear of "exploitation", a wariness harboured since the Spanish Inquisition.


Every structure is made of adobe: a dirt, straw and water mix shaped into blocks or poured into some other form. The walls can be several feet thick. Roofs are typically supported by large timbers and topped by smaller branches of pine and/or aspen and packed with dirt.

An oven in front of residents's galleries/shops/workrooms:


A Tribal Council appoints a Tribal Governor and War Chief each year, but this system is strained and criticized by the younger generation, particularly the young women who are the most educated of the population. The young complain that "the elder men who make up the Tribal Council have a system for keeping themselves in power," "they keep the women out," "They buy laptops and don't even know how to use them - not even email," "we cannot progress," etc. It's a lamentable governing situation that will not hold up for long.


Tiwa is the native language spoken in the Taos Pueblo. English and Spanish also have their place.


The church below was built in 1619 then bombed in the 1680 Spanish Revolt and left to Nature. The cemetery is considered a resting place. Therefore, residents only enter the sacred ground twice a year for specific ceremonies and the greenery is left to grow freely. The gravesites are "reused" and when the crosses weather to decay they are stacked against the old church wall.


The best bet is a one hour guided tour. The second best bet is the blue corn fry bread with honey and cinnamon (even with a constant sprinkle of dust devil)!


Ed Sandoval, Zorro and Stallions

May 7, 2009 We had no idea, when we wandered down this little lane, that we would meet baby chicks, a stallion and a big-hearted, sometimes-Zorro, serious tango dancer, renaissance man.


Ed Sandoval is a renowned artist within New Mexico who concentrates on local landscape and life: vistas, valleys, trees, and common sights of people living every day life - all in bold strokes.

Ed, his Old Man (a recurring image in Ed's paintings and sculptures), a truck in shambles (opposite a gleaming, red mercedes convertible offscreen), and some of his Taos ranch - home to his horses including an Arabian named El Patron that he sometimes rides to breakfast in town:


Ed's paintings seem to glow. He starts with a dark red-orange undercoat - the images seem to flicker with life.


Source: www.decoloresgallery.com

After a private tour of the studio, which included meeting four baby chicks under a warming lamp, Ed led us through a back door. It opened to a straw-strewn stall for his one year old stallion. We followed along, down the back drive, across the road, through a fence and met the beauty.

It takes no imagination at all to picture Ed as a dashing Zorro, a character he puts on from time to time. His sweet, black, yearling stallion with a lightening mark on his forehead will be the perfect mount...

Please check out the website Studio de Colores , the studio showcasing Ed's work and that of Ann Huston, his wife, who works in pastels.


Taos Art Museum and Fechin House

May 6, 2009 The Taos Art Museum fills the old studio and house built by Nicolai Fechin in the late 1920s and early 30s. "Born in Russia, Fechin is one of the most important portrait painters of the 20th Century. His paintings of Native Americans and of the New Mexico desert landscape are considered among his best works."


The building itself is a grand mix of Russian, Native American and Spanish architecture and symbolism.


An example of the intricate carving in a pilar:


About 50 Taos artists are represented in the museum along with with Fechin's works.


The room below, our favourite perhaps, served as a playroom for Fechin's daughter.



Blumenschein Home and Museum

May 6, 2009 We toured the Blumenschein Home and Museum by chance.


Technically, the museum was closed for renovations, but we happened by as an elderhostel group appeared for a private tour. We were invited to tag along.


In this case I think we admired the fireplaces more than the art collection:



Ernest Blumenschein and friend Bert Phillips were on a sketching trip in 1898 from Denver to north Mexico when the wheel of their surrey broke on a mountain road just north of Taos. During the delay they became enchanted by the local landscape and culture. Blumenschein returned to Taos with his wife and daughter in 1919 and bought this 1797 building. Mrs. Blumenschein was an artist in her own right and the family's art hangs on every wall.

The painting studio set up that Lloyd admired:



Plein Air Oil Painting Workshop

The Oil Painters of America held their annual conference and exhibit in Santa Fe. The Sage Creek Gallery hosted the 18th Annual National Juried Exhibition of Traditional Oils. The 200 painting selected were chosen from thousands of submissions. Eli Cedrone, one of the winners this year, offered a two day Plein Air Oil Painting Workshop and I signed up to attend. The photo below shows Eli at Sage Creek Gallery standing beside her winning painting.

Elli Cedrone

We painted the first day at the National Audubon Society grounds just outside Santa Fe. Eli did an demonstration both days and clarified many concepts for me concerning values and tones. The second day we painted in the morning on Canyon Road and in the afternoon in the plaza. The photo below shows the scene we painted and my initial block-in.



Eli is a wonderful teacher, informative and patient. We had two wonderful days together and I left with a desire to continue my oil painting studies.

You can see more of Eli's fine art at www.elicedrone.com -L

Dinosaur Science with Dr. Spencer Lucas

May 1, 2009 Dr. Spencer Lucas, husband of Yami, paleontologist, stratigrapher, lecturer, author, friend, and more, is a Curator of Paleontology at New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque. Spencer "specializes in the study of late Paleozoic, Mesozoic and early Cenozoic vertebrate fossils and continental deposits, particularly in the American Southwest." and has travelled all over the world, including our beloved Nova Scotia, for work and research: "Go to Joggins," he says.

Needless to say, we jumped at the chance when he invited us for a behind the scenes tour of the museum - a bright highlight of our New Mexico stay.

Spencer explained (quite eloquently yet in clear terms even we could understand) how a fossil is protected and excavated from a dig site . A fossil is blanketed by paper, burlap, plaster and, in this case, a wood frame since it's a large fossil, which forms a "jacket".


More than 100,000 fossils and fossil casts reside in this room:


Spencer chose a few to explain the dinosaur, the function, the dig for the fossil. Fascinating!

This is one of Spencer's favourite fossils. It's just one small section of the backbone of a Seismosaurus, if I recall correctly. The fossil weighs thirteen tonnes! It was shipped to and from Japan in those metal supports.


Here's a full size Seismosaurus, "the longest land animal that ever lived". It has a whiplash tail ...


... and is about to take out the pesky Saurophaganax, "the largest Jurassic meat-eating dinosaur".


Here they are ignoring the tasty little man below:


We had an awesome edutainment experience with our esteemed guide.

We thank you, Spencer!