Standing Still

“Our destiny is frequently met in the very path we take to avoid it.”

Recently life has taken some interesting turns, somewhere in the midst of the turning process, things have sharpened, hardened and curled like dry clay in the arroyo. Uncertainty has given way to need for stillness, and a search for a quiet, calm place. Perhaps its the anticipation of what lies ahead, or maybe the unpredictability of that position that has driven me to seek stillness, and hold it close, tight to my chest.

I’ve spent a great deal of time these days in the Cerrillos Hills. A tangle of rocky trails intersecting one another like honeysuckle vines on a wooden fence. One trail in particular, the Mirador Trail seems the ideal fit for my current disposition. As I see It, it has everything a trail mirroring a disposition should. there is a specific place I stop, that I’ve named the, “incubator”. It is a place where my thoughts and ideas move like the thick clouds above, a place that coaxes me to stillness, makes each breath I take, a dust devil, a divine wind that rushes through juniper dotted hillsides.

A centipede appeared on my jewelry bench this morning. My first reaction was startle, then I watched it. It undulated back and forth, all it’s leg moving harmoniously, it’s brown lacquer body navigating the wooden top with precision. It finally settled in the corner of the bench, the clouds overhead moved at a snails pace….

This is what I’m reading: Being a Beast by Charles Foster

This is what I’m listening to: Well, Well, Cornelius

“Unbelieving something is hard”

A Walk Before the Weather

 “When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.”

This is the time of year I truly enjoy traveling in New Mexico. There is a stir of life beginning, a feel that soon, the slow beauty of the world around me will explode in slow motion before my eyes.

My walk the other morning was along an old coal mining road, the overcast sky hung close to my shoulders and I found myself ducking to avoid the clouds. The air was damp, and cool with a hint of Spring leaking out like the spray from a pinhole in a garden hose. I walked like an animal familiar with the terrain, each step purposeful, exact. I don’t normally walk this way, I prefer the sounds of my footsteps rather than feeling them, yet today was different.

There is a, take a book, leave a book at The Old Boarding House Mercantile in Madrid. The shelves are filled with more surprises than you can imagine. I left with a calendar from, Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and book titled, ‘On Writing Well, An informal guide to writing nonfiction‘ one necessary the other an option.

Highway 14 was quiet, anticipating rain or maybe snow, neither happened though at least none expected for a couple of days. Java Junction provided a great Chai Latte and a place to sit outside and peruse the new finds.

The walk up the hill to my house never gets old. I see the smoke from the chimney, stop about thirty yards in front of the place, take a deep breath, close my eyes, and listen through the silence.

“All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”

Kiva ©R.Redus, 2010
Cabezon, ©R.Redus 2011
And it’s 1,2,3 ©R.Redus 2009

Here’s what I’m reading:

Here’s what I’m listening to:

Jimmy LaFave, The Night Tribe

Tortillas, Good For What Ails You

“Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.”

I’ve been making flour tortillas lately, and for as much as I enjoy eating them, I have to say, making them has become a significant form of meditation for me. They are very easy to make, require minimal ingredients and the end result is close to the best result for the effort I have ever experienced.

This really has become a lesson in simplicity, ease and patience. I never planned on doing this, nor did I think I’d be kneading dough on the marble block in my kitchen or rolling out as close to uniform circles as I can get, (much more difficult than it looks.) I’ve rolled tortillas that look like the continent of Africa, hearts, uneven eclipses, rounded squares, mostly organic shapes but let me stress, rarely do I roll rounds. I have a tortilla press that I’ve hardly used; but if my friend who works at the laundromat can roll rounds by hand, I feel confident with a few hundred more tortillas I can too. She has guided and directed me through this entire process, suggesting rolling with a glass, rolling from the inside out with a slight turn of the rolling pin at the edge, patting them first in my hands to an almost round, then rolling them; everything her mother and grandmother do and have done to make the perfectly round burrito sized tortilla

I’ve traded in my traditional rolling pin for a Douglas Fir dowel that I sanded and smoothed all of the edges and named it, ‘Wanda’. I use a large, antique wooden bowl to mix the ingredients named, ‘Primo’, and I have a beautiful linen cloth, ‘El Cuervo’, to cover the dough for the 20 minute, required, “Rest.” I’ve named each of these items and given them some life as this process and they have given me some life as well.

I can’t say I’ll make tortillas for ever, but I can honestly say tortillas have changed how I look at processes, writing, my life, painting, making jewelry, how I take walks, look at sunsets, cook and mostly appreciate the smallest things I encounter day to day that I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to until this.

Who’d a thought….

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

A Day Like No Other

“There was a large sliver of a broken cup on the yellow checkered linoleum floor…his front tooth was lying there next to a few drops of his blood…she’d been singing, “C’mon boots…start walking”…that was Nancy Sinatra he said out loud…she didn’t answer.” From, The Black Eye Project

It’s a snowy day here in New Mexico, brown patches of road look like peeled off pieces of bark where the tire tracks have melted the snow. It is an absolute sort of conversation to have while looking out of my bedroom window. Something that really never gets resolved for the most part.

The coyotes, bark and sing early most every morning long before the sun squints its way through the blinds. They’ve become my alarm clock, the way I wake to the day. It’s fusion on a natural, organic level.

I’ve taken to calling these days the, “Black and White Days,” and mostly because they feel like a gray, dawn sky full of crows.

The dreamer in me thinks of summer and swimming and drinking a Miller High Life while I barbecue boneless, skinless, chicken thighs; watching the smoke rise and never touching the blue sky ceiling above.

I dream, and dream on a grand scale and always have. There are those dreams, those of a visceral quality that I fear and not because they are frightening or dark, but because they are the deep pit places that smell of earth where I can shed all that I have made myself and become who I am. That person with one coffee cup and a favorite spoon I’ve named, a single towel, and a cast iron pan, no place to call home, yet everyplace is called home.

A star gazer, a moonlight watcher, a blue sky thinker, a swimmer of ponds and roadside rivers, a fire maker, road warrior, a pancake flipper, a dreamer….

“The alarm never rang…he was a hundred 50 miles down the road by the time she woke..she had convinced herself…he’d be back by noon…then 3…then surely by six for supper…maybe he’d stopped by to see Dale…sure that was it…she’d find him on the couch tomorrow morning…she combed her hair out…washed her face…smiled at her reflection and knew….it was just another day in Pair O Dice…” From, The Black Eye Project

To an End

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.

La Leña ©2020 R. Redus

There is a quiet in the air this time of year, black wings slowly flapping in the sky above breaks the silence. Everything is looking back, checking for small cracks in the earth, bits of daylight seeping in like slivers of broken, bleached bone in the black, cotton, darkness. All is getting ready, preparing, awaiting the long trek towards spring. That long distance, the far away…

I’ve driven the dirt roads in this place for more than half of my life and have never questioned the sacred nature of these mesas and arroyos; It is the familiarity I fear. The day I become maybe too accustom to the dry, sage smells, the sponge earth, crunch, beneath my feet. All of things that I know everything about yet know nothing of…

Making certain the sensations, events, those moments that matter, truly do matter, that’s what hones the edge for me. Its how my hands feel breaking the crusty, hard, dirt away from a coral, red, piece of petrified wood, the cool water of sweet pea pool in summer, or a handful of feathers from a recent Flicker kill in the high grass…

I smell the warm pinion pitch in the brass bowl on top of the wood stove, the jasmine green tea in my cup, I drag my fingernails across the rosewood desk, just to feel it.

Just to feel it….

“Far Away”, ©R.Redus 2020

“Cabezon” ©R.Redus 2020

“Phoenix”, ©R.Redus2020

“You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.”

What Really Matters

“I can always choose, but I ought to know that if I do not choose, I am still choosing.”

The windows above my front doors are long right triangles, they along with the hill directly to my west perform an intricate dance allowing the morning light to appear in narrow, strips on the brick floors. Something I watch most every morning and am as amazed today as I was a few years ago. Its similar to a good magic trick, keeps me guessing and falling for it again and again.

These mornings, the light is changing, it is becoming a bit more playful, a little softer and lacking the intensity of just a few days ago. The tip of Fall is beginning to emerge, it’s hardening branch, a few yellowed leaves and a sharp fragrance hangs in the air early in the morning. I am very much a Fall person, and there is a life to it here in New Mexico that is like nothing I’ve experienced.

I am bracing, I am storing, making green chile, I am shaking out the warm quilts. I am preparing to chop wood each morning, break the ice on my water catchment tank. and secure the homestead for what may lie ahead.

If you would like a copy of the green chile and red chile recipe comment, and I’ll send it to you.

Last night driving home, I stopped and watched an unbelievable sunset. In that liminal space between day and night, that is where the magic emerges, the nights sounds begin to get louder while the day noises become subdued, less. What’s left of day slowly makes its way out while the night stretches, awakening, feet firmly on the warm earth floor, and my long deep breath becomes part of that universe.

In this days, I’m finding what matters is all around me, touching me with smells, sounds and sights that have developed a crisp edge, a sharpened light. This message alerts me a change is drawing near, the days will shorten, the air will smell of pinyon, nights with heavier blankets, and mornings drinking coffee next to a warm wood stove. I can already feel the cool on my skin, the cold of the bricks beneath my feet

In your world, what matters shows itself regularly, I hope you find the time to unravel that story….

“Life has its own hidden forces which you can only discover by living.”

This Surreal Place

I’m at a stand still these days, a place that for as surreal as it is, this place is a very cool drink on a very hot day, a true necessity for my spirit. I’ve come to saying regularly these days, “If you’re not introspective you’re probably going to be missing something pretty big.” And for as much as I’d like to say I really know what I’m talking about here, I really only know what I’m talking about for me.

I’ve taking to camping once a week. Heading outdoors to fill that void, the isolation my home has dictated, the distance my arms are from the friends I could hug for an entire day, maybe a week. Camping has been a true savior, the power of nature to put me in my place, tempt me, invite me in for a swim into the Jemez River, and dry off on the hot rocks beneath spectacular rock formations.

This all seems like some sort of plan in a way, as if all of this was already there, it just took this crises to let it seep out enough to become a really great problem to solve….over time.

The days I’m not camping, I’m in the re-invent of self mode. I write feverishly everyday, read, stretch, work on how to reignite the wet wood under my business and basically make simple, something real, doable and palatable. My uncertainty has subsided, my family has circled the wagons and we will all be just fine, I’m told.

And I think, just fine, really means we will be much better off. We will have devoured ourselves, tasted the gristle and bone, felt our poisoned flesh swell and our bodies burst from the sun, and we will emerge like a new Cicada , slick, shiny and clean, our shell left on the cottonwood tree there by the river….

This is Villanueva State Park

The drive back was 37 miles on a dirt road with a black wall of clouds just waiting. Ozone was in the air, a monsoon was deciding to unleash, and I was alive…

Somewhere in New Mexico

Please stay well and know those cicadas you hear a half mile away….

“If you want to know your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders”

Notes from a Corner

Over There, ©2015 R.Redus

Heaven has always seemed so far away, not the religious version of heaven but that idea of knowing that there are greater things out there that crave collision. I have to remind myself that those things, those mysterious events I’ve dreamed my entire life, they wait there in the places where the small fur and paper nests of mice lay hidden, tucked away in the darkness…

And this morning I place a small brass bowl filled with a few tiny bits of hardened pinion pine sap on the wood stove, glanced at the full moon to the west with it’s sidewalk gray shadow spilling onto the landscape. The room filled with the smell of a newly pitch glazed piece of Navajo pottery….

Many things own this place at different times, the tamped down patches of high grass where the deer sleep at night, well worn trails of the coyotes on the ridges, bleached, gnawed bones and the cholla skeletons. Cracked earth tiled, mosaic, a charm, a sliver, a thought that escapes like water into the red dirt…

The Color of my Sky

Here is my sky:

Where I live has a magic all it’s own. There is a great sense of remembered space when walking through the piñon and juniper dotted hills.

The other day I was driving by some snow covered ruins and couldn’t help but wonder what a day like that day must have been like 600 years ago. They were no different, they wanted warmth, watch the snow falling, maybe play in it, yet I’m certain there was the same feeling we all get on a snowy day watching from the inside, that soft sense, a muffled quiet comes over everything, a piece of serenity blankets us for the time and we share that blessed feeling, that sense of gratitude.

I am thankful for the sky I see everyday, the cold December wind in my face and the quiet it makes when it snows. The wood crackles in my wood stove, the heat slowly takes over the room like a clear wave. My eyes always get heavy….

Here are a few links to my store, you might find something you just have to have. Found Jewelry made from recycled materials Made Jewelry, jewelry made by Native silversmiths

Your Ikegai is the Question

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience”

Home is a place surrounded by turquoise skies, magical light, smells of the earth, that place that fills my soul with everything I need.

Beginnings like anything require some degree of abandonment, some ability to care without caring too much for what might unravel or what might tie itself into one of those mysterious unexplained knots…That is where I sit today, mildly accepting what is, while still hoping for a little upstream struggle….just enough to feel the tug of the water to know there is a new level of risk in the next few thousand steps.

I was once told, “Make sure everything stays a work in progress.” Today, that fits like a great hat and for as much as I’d like to dig a little deeper into that idea, I find the fringe seems the most comfortable place to play with this, “in flux”, tap dance I’m beginning to learn. It’ll take a while, but lets plan on a recital by Spring… that means you’re going to have to start practicing too…

I want to thank you for taking the time to read this, and watch as this site begins it’s growing process. My goal with Noise From the High Desert is really very simple. I want to share a part of my world with you, through beautiful places, paintings, writings, jewelry, food, music, people and events. I am very fortunate and blessed to live a life that has some wider turns, longer straightaways unbelievable landscapes and places that I never expected to be right in the middle of. I would also like to hear from you, what and where are your beautiful places, who you are and what you have to say.

There is a word in Okinawa, “Ikegai”. Ikegai translates loosely to, “What I wake for”, “My reason for being”….what is your Ikegai, What do you wake for each morning?

“It is easy to be brave from a distance”