Thursday, February 25, 2016

Spaceport America

This morning we got together with fellow workampers Cindy and Cathy to visit Spaceport America.  Bob and I really did not know what to expect; we drove to the town of Truth or Consequences and got on a shuttle at the Spaceport America Visitors Center. There were 14 of us on the shuttle plus a driver and our tour guide, Mark. We started off for the one hour drive to the facility.                          
Within a few minutes into the drive, a family of javelinas was spotted. I have been hoping to catch a glimpse of some so I was pretty thrilled. Ugly little creatures, but very cool.
We drove past the Elephant Butte Dam, built 100 years ago. At the time it was one of the largest dams in the world, second in size only to the Aswan Dam. The Dam controls the waters of the Rio Grande.
The scenery along the way was stark, yet lovely in a desert-kind-of-way, and we watched several videos of the history of this region. Mark was very knowledgeable about the area and its background, entertaining us with stories of the past. We also learned that Ted Turner has invested heavily in Spaceport America, and through Ted Turner Expeditions has built a hotel in T or C to house its guests.
We arrived at Spaceport America and finally caught a glimpse of the iconic building. We learned that SA is the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport. What that means is that it is intended to be used by companies around the world for such purposes as sending researchers, tourists, and satellites into space. They have partnered with builders of spacecraft, so if a company wants to send satellites into space they can just purchase one and use SA facilities to launch it.
The spaceport is located in the Jornada del Muerto desert basin, which is Spanish for Journey of Death. This refers to this section of the Camino Real that connected Mexico to Northern New Mexico in the time of the Conquistadors. It is ideally situated for SA because of its isolation and low population, the almost-constant clear weather, the elevation and the southern location which is fairly close to the Equator, compared to the rest of the US.
Bob and I posed for a photo outside the hangar.
Inside, there is a huge window overlooking a massive work space, where a model of the Virgin Galactic's special plane that is capable of traveling to space. SpaceX, UP Aerospace, and ARmadillo Aerospace have used Spaceport America's facilities. We were a bit disappointed not to see a real space ship, but it was not to be.

There was a G-forces machine that visitors were welcome to try. Because of my back and neck issues I was not able to, but our Cindy did it! We were all impressed.

My bit of excitement came when I used the rest room and came out to find the space center completely empty. Our group had left to get back on the shuttle and no one noticed I wasn't with them. And there was a keypad on the door with an alarm that sounded when I tried to open it. I called Bob and he had the bus driver spring me from the spaceport. The tour guide said that was a first for him. It certainly was for me, too.
From the hangar area we went to another building that houses the emergency response equipment.  SA maintains an active firefighter and emergency response team, and we were able to talk with emergency personnel and go inside the vehicles. These teams are important in case there is a problem during launch or landing, and they train almost constantly for any situation.

We returned to town, watching more videos about the future of commercial space travel and the important role of Spaceport America in the launching of satellites and the future of America. It was a fascinating day!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Things are Winding Down

I am doing much better with my box tape loom weaving. My edges are not perfect but I am maintaining a consistent width overall, and I am enjoying my loom.
I put a 4 yard warp on, using two colors of carpet warp. I like this pattern--it's very classic. I did not use any warp separators, so we'll see how that goes!

Bob and I have completed our last scheduled work sessions involving animal care, yesterday and today. It's a little bittersweet; we know it's time to move on, but I will really miss some of my favorite animals.

I found three dove eggs today. With the weather generally warming up, the doves have been starting to nest. I felt sorry for the little mamas as I reached under them and removed their eggs. We replace them with pecans so they don't realize what we've done.

As I chopped vegetables for the peacocks this morning I heard a cat crying, and walked out of the food prep area to find a new cat walking around. Someone had just dumped him off and he is lucky he was found by us before a coyote found him. People can be so cruel.  I offered the little guy a dish of food and the poor thing just gobbled it down.
He has really pretty markings, and I named him Tanner. Later I was able to pick him up and I moved him to the "Howdy Room," used by people who want to spend one-on-one time with a kitty they are thinking of adopting. Since Tanner may have a contagious disease, he cannot yet be introduced to the general cat population and must be isolated.

Saying goodbye to all the animals today was very much like saying goodbye to my patients in home care and in nursing homes. I used to be a speech-language pathologist and between discharges and changes in my settings, goodbyes were frequent. This never got easier, and it wasn't easy today. We will still be around for another week, but it won't be the same. I do hope all these little ones find their forever homes.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Spanish Market and Open Studios in Las Cruces

We just keep having more and more fun! On Sunday Bob and I drove down to Las Cruces to hang out with our friends Joan and John. The Spanish Market was in town, and we enjoyed seeing all the wares on display.
We saw traditional pottery...
...carved religious figures called bultos...
...straw applique, consisting of wooden shapes (often crosses) with tiny pieces of straw, cut into shapes,dyed, and glued onto the wood.
...and Spanish dancers entertained us!

We drove to the restaurant called Andele in Mesilla, where we enjoyed some great Mexican food... Bob and I had the flautas and some great salsas and chips. Yum!

Then we were off to visit some studios.  In February, Lac Cruces artists open their doors to visitors, so that all may get a glimpse of the beautiful creations within.  We stopped at Lynn Unangst's studio first, to check out her petit pointe sachets and pillows, handwovens, and dolls.

Joan has been telling us about Tres Manos Weaving Studio, a non profit organization that teaches low income people of Southern New Mexico to weave, providing them a way to increase their family income. It is an amazing place filled with looms and handwoven articles of clothing.  I got to meet one of the weavers there, Anne Marie Detavernier, who showed me her handmade box tape loom. Anne Marie is a reenactor who uses her loom to make historical tapes in living history settings. She also gave me some tips on weaving with this type of loom.

We rounded out our tour by stopping in to meet Audrey Worthen and several other very talented silversmiths. Bob and I were amazed at the different lapidary equipment she used. We  enjoyed a glass of wine and had some snacks as we visited with the artists.  It was a very fun day.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Trip to Chloride

Bob and I drove to the ghost town of Chloride, NM today. It was a pretty drive, with some road signs like this:
When you see that kind of a sign you know you are in for a twisty road. And we were. But along with twisty roads we were treated to beautiful scenery.
It was 45 miles to Chloride, and I loved seeing the changing topography. After about an hour's drive we arrived and drove down the town's main street.  

Right in the middle of town is the "hanging tree." With a sign in front declaring the tree as "Chloride National Forest."
We started out by visiting the Pioneer Store Museum, and were given a tour by Linda, the daughter of the owners, and one of 11 town residents (not counting the ghosts.)

Chloride was founded in by Harry Pye, who discovered silver ore and was sure he was on the road to riches. Unfortunately, Pye was killed by Mimbres Apaches in 1879, within just a few months of moving to the area. In its heyday, Chloride boasted 9 saloons, a general store, a dry goods store, millinery shop, a restaurant, a butcher shop, a candy store, a town physician, a barber, a pharmacy, a Chinese laundry, a photography studio, a school, a brothel, a newspaper, and two hotels. Unfortunately, the Silver Panic of 1893 and a rapid decline in silver prices resulted in the town's demise.

While browsing through the museum I came upon this interesting object.  Any ideas what it was used for? See the end of this post for the answer**.
Next we saw the Grafton Cabin, which was was built in the mining town of Grafton, NM in the late 1870s, moved to Las Cruces in 1976 as a part of the Las Cruces Museum system until 2006, when it was moved to Chloride. The inside features a really neat fireplace.
The Chloride Bank is now the Chloride Bank Cafe, and before we headed for home we popped in for a piece of pie and a cold drink.
We really enjoyed our trip into the past, and were glad we made the journey to this fascinating old town. I think Harry Pye would be glad that his town continues in this form.

**Give up? The mystery object is a device used to encourage cows to wean their calves. It fits into the nostrils of the calf and when the young 'un tries to nurse, the spikes jab poor mama in a very painful manner, typically resulting in a kick. This apparently is very effective in teaching the calf not to try and nurse.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


On Monday Bob and I had visitors; our Las Cruces friends, Joan and John, drove up to see the Animal Refuge and to check out our motorhome. They have been curious about what it's like to live on the road, at least for short periods of time. We were happy to show our home to them! We went to lunch after a tour of the facilities here, to a cafe called Passion Pie. What a nice place for lunch. They serve simple fare, such as breakfasts (think homemade Belgian waffles heaped with fresh fruit) and lunches (quiches, soups, salads, and sandwiches) and we enjoyed it very much. It was good to find this place, because Truth or Consequences, NM does not have a lot of lunch options on a Monday. We hope to come back again before we leave the area.

The other day I started playing around with Adobe Capture, which is a free app that gives you special effects for photographs. My friend, April, sent me the link and suggested I check it out. After a few minutes I figured out how to make this image of my tape loom, and was pleased with the graphics.

It's a fun thing to play with.

One of my favorite things to do here is to spend some time giving the five little dogs at the refuge some love. Here is Jack in my arms giving me a kiss and Foxxy sitting on the back of my chair, waiting for his turn to be scratched. It's still a little cool in the mornings, but a few minutes later that jacket was OFF.
KC got a chance to be outside this afternoon. The sun was warm and the sky was blue, and Bob and I had outside projects go do; Bob was recharging the water softener and I was putting a third coat of Tung oil on my loom. Only one more and I'll call it done! So I came and brought out KC so he could be near us in the kennel near our rig. The first thing he did was to rub himself into the dust. Then he sat and watched us work until he fell asleep in the sun. He didn't want to come inside!
KC has enjoyed being in one place for three months, but two weeks from today we will be moving to our next spot. This is the longest we have remained in one place since we've been on the road!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bosque del Apache with Friends

First off, I'd like to thank all who called and emailed to ask for an update about Auggie. I am happy to report that he is feeling much better, his e-collar is off, and he is just about back to his old self. He can still feel his stitches, which will dissolve on their own, but most of the time he ignores the sensation. I tell him that each day he will feel them less and less until they are gone. I'm not sure he believes me, though.

Today Bob and I drove up to Socorro, NM to visit with our friends, Kathy and Ron, whom we met last spring in Albuquerque. We had a great time catching up, and together we toured the Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge. What a gem this place is! While we were unable to get a photo of the many Sandhills Cranes that winter here, we did see and hear them fly over us. Plus we saw an egret, a roadrunner, snow geese, and a bald eagle. And a lot of small birds, only some of which I could identify. We strongly recommend a visit to this lovely place. Next time I will bring my bird book!

By the way, Bosque Del Apache means "Woods of the Apache," and the term "Bosque" (pronounced 'boskay') has come to mean an ecological area with cottonwoods, which is typical of this region.

After we finished seeing the refuge we went into Socorro to have a bite to eat at Buckhorn, which proudly proclaims that it is #7 in America. According to the menu, "The Buckhorn Burger has been named in GQ Magazine one of the top 20 burgers in the US, rating it #7, mentioned in Travel + Leisure quoted "paraje numero uno" in The New York Times and the Buckhorn Burger beat Bobby Flay in  a Green Chili Cheeseburger Throwdown shown on the Food Network." Of course, we had to try it, and it was very good (despite a very long wait to be served.)

We then drove into town where we stopped at the Old San Miguel Mission, a lovely church that has recently been restored.
I loved the way the sun was just peeking over the church tower in this shot.

All in all, it was a really fun day and we will hopefully be able to see Kathy and Ron again this year when we travel back through the area.

OK, I know that the title of this blog is Weaving Down the Road, but today I was Warping Down the Road, putting a short warp on my tape loom so I could show a little woven tape to Kathy. It is, not surprisingly, rather difficult to actually warp a loom while riding down the highway. Not so easy to weave that way, either!
Here is the very first tape being woven on my new loom. I was surprised at how different it is to weave on a tape loom as opposed to an inkle loom or using one of my other looms to weave a band. There is a definite learning curve, but the loom performed very well and it was fun. I will have to work on my selvages, though!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Mesilla Valley Weavers Guild

On Thursday my friend, Joan, invited me to visit the weavers' study group of the Mesilla Valley Weavers Guild in Las Cruces. What a great group of women, and very talented weavers, too! The group was so welcoming to me and I felt right at home. Here are just some of the "show and tell" projects presented.

After the meeting, a half dozen of us went out to lunch at "A Bite of Belgium," a casual restaurant that served us some excellent lunches. I enjoyed my grilled lamb sandwich. Yum!

One of the guild members owns a yarn shop in Kansas and asked if we wanted to stop in, so Joan and I shopped at Sharon's garage to pick up some 8/2 cotton. Joan has promised to weave some towels for a challenge run by the Bucks County (PA) guild that she belongs to. She picked out some pretty colors and we headed back to her house to get some warp on a Schacht rigid heddle loom she has. It was a fun day!

Today, after a tiny bit more sanding, the tape loom was declared to be finished. I put the first coat of Tung oil on it and just stood back to admire the beautiful wood. I plan to reapply three more coats of Tung oil before warping it up. Here's what it looks like now:

The weather has turned quite spring-like, with high temperatures in the mid-70s and lows in the high 40s. I also love the fact that there is not a cloud in the sky. I could get used to this!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Handwoven Slippers are Finished

Well, today was finally the day to cut into my handwoven cloth that I had felted in the washer. I actually cut off the knotted fringe this morning in preparation, noticed that I could still see some yarn, and threw it back into the washer (quick wash, 15 minutes) and dryer (about 90 minutes.)  That did the trick; when I cut into it again the yarn strands had completely melded into each other and would not unravel. I cut out two sets of soles, for warmth against our cold floors, and one set each of the toes and the heels.
I used the same pattern I have been working with, from BeautifulPieShop on Etsy, but this time I left off the cuffs for a low heel version. The slippers went together easily, and I even found a narrow inkle band I had woven and tucked away for future use, several years ago. The stripes gave me a way to evenly space 1/4" slits in the felted fabric, and I like the effect of the band as a means to keep the slippers on my feet.
My daughter, Emily, sent me a picture of her girls coming down for breakfast in their new slippers. Such cuties!  I think they like their new footwear.  :) 
Temperatures rose to the 60s today and by Wednesday it will be in the 70s. At last, some nice warm weather.  I am loving it!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Cone of Shame

Bob and I spent 12 hours trying to keep Auggie from shoving his paws into his mouth and ripping out his stitches before we decided he was going to need an Elizabethan Collar, aka an e-collar. Fortunately there was one available for us to borrow from Desert Haven that fit him perfectly. Of course, he hates it.
We have tried to tell him that this is only temporary, but I think it is going to be a long week for him. To a dog, this is the "cone of shame." It's rather humiliating for him.  I was able to stay home yesterday while Bob worked on special projects for the Shelter, and I went in to price merchandise at Paws and Claws Thrift Shop today instead. That way one of us was with Auggie at all times. Hopefully by Tuesday we will be able to leave him alone while we work.

We have had so much fun with our friends, Mike and Retha. This photo is from October when we met at the Living The RV Dream Gathering in Bradenton, FL.
They came over last night with a yummy chicken dish, and I made some dinner rolls and oatmeal raisin cookies for dessert. It was hard to have the evening end! Sometime you meet people and form an instant connection, and it was like that with these friends. They headed off to Tucson this morning for two months and we will make sure we meet up again with them in March.

I finished weaving my slipper fabric for the felted slippers I plan to sew. No, I did not abandon this project, although it has taken me a while to weave off this warp. Some warps are more fun than others, and I had to make myself sit down and weave some days, but it's done, and I have felted it. I love this cloth.
Here you can see the two sections of it. The first part has stripes, before I ran out of one of the colors and I finished it off as a solid. And it feels thick and soft. Hopefully I will finish these slippers this weekend.