January 4, 2012

Anderson year of Twenty Eleven in Review

Wow, It has been forever! I can blame my lack of posting on lots of things including our really slow internet out here in the country, but lets just get down to business.

Look back into some of the highlights of the fabulous year of 2011

Lots of cold and snow. We had wonderful egg laying chickens that the kids just love to play with. We were getting ready to and were excited to have a baby. Lots of hiking as you can read from our last post of over almost a year ago.

Still were getting ready to have a baby. Then we decided to move two weeks before my due date. Lots of fun. Got settled in. Had to leave our chickens. Very sad about that.
We love our new home and most especially the wood burning stove. We keep the house at about 80 degrees and love it.
Most importantly, we welcomed Emeline Sarah into our family! Born February 18, all natural by accident and I Love it. Not really, but it was fun after she was born. We love her, she is beautiful, healthy and is a very easy, happy girl. Also, we paid cash for a new (to our family) 2010 Toyota Sienna. We love it.

We celebrated Aeden's 3rd birthday. He had been potty trained for about 4 months and is a master at the toilet.

We made a family road trip to Utah and were able to witness our wonderful friends, the Claunches, seal there family in the Salt Lake City temple. It was beautiful. Loved seeing my brother Jed and lots of Bens family, and life long friends. It was wonderful. Loved showing Ben around Moab and traveling in our new van. Ben thinks it is a time warping machine because it makes trips that used to seem like 8 hours in the car feel like 4. Love it.

Celebrated Ben's 31st birthday. Danced around, had fun and had a surprise date.

Celebrated Telia's 30th birthday. Went on a surprise date as well and loved it. It is great to have some time with my love. Enjoyed the summer. We took lots of trips to ABQ to visit Telia's parents as well as her sister Sierra and her whole family. We feel so grateful to have them close. We spent lots of time in the pool. Our kids would swim like little fish and dive in as soon as they saw the water. Oh, and we moved again, into a bigger home right next door. Really, next door!

Went to Silverton and Ouray, Co. with our dear friends the Johns and my wonderful sister Sierra's family. We camped out and saw a real steam locomotive and survived the 'Million Dollar Highway'! Celebrated Eliza's 2nd birthday, who is such a sweet, fun girl who just loves life. As well, we took a wonderful trip to San Diego, where we were able to spend some wonderful time with family. As a bonus, we were able to see our dear friends, Mike and Amie White.

Lots of rain. Lots of yard work. Finished our new back deck and a huge flagstone patio. My dad got us a new family member from the local farmers market. A new beautiful little Bunnie, Captain. He only lasted a few weeks. We also have lost MANY pairs of shoes due to the high number of res dogs that come by and take them. Chew them up then leave them in the street. Really annoying. We have really lost about 13 pairs so far!

Made a family trip up to St. George, Utah, where Telia ran in the Red Rock Relay with lots of her girl friends, life long friends from college. Loved St. George and the drive up there.

Telia took a trip to California to see family, her brother Zach and his wonderful family who has since moved back to the bay area. While she was there, she ran in the Nike Women's Marathon were she completed her 3rd marathon with her wonderful friend, Naomi. And love it.? Ben wants to do one with her next year. We are looking forward to that.

We were able to see Ben's mom and dad was we met up with them in Sedona, Arizona. Loved seeing them and it was knock out gorgeous. Great to see family! We hope we can see them again soon. Took a trip up to Taos, New Mexico, where we fell in love again with all of the beauty around us. Enjoyed having Telia's parents with us as well as some of the most amazing food.
Spend a wonderful Thanksgiving with Telia's family as well as some wonderful friends. Loved the food, loved the company. We worked off the calories by immediately going to cut down a Christmas tree on the rez. It was a beautiful Pinon. We had 7 pies for dessert.

Finally got a new family camera after 8 months of the year, sans camera. We loved the colder weather. Loved starting fires in our wood stove. Loved the time with family in ABQ. Loved the time to study about the birth of Christ. Loved receiving Christmas cards from family and friends. Loved the decorations. Loved the season of giving. Loved giving presents to our children. Love who excited they were about Christmas. Loved the season of Christ.

We love you all and hope that we can see lots of our friends and family in this new year of 2012.

January 21, 2011

Hiking around Zuni

One of the best parts of living in Zuni is quick access to great hiking. Here a few of my favorites so far.

At the top

Me and my father-in-law at the "Edge of the World"

Mount Taylor is the tallest mountain in Northwestern New Mexico at 11, 301 feet. It is located just outside of Grants. It provides over 100 mile views to Albuquerque eastward and the Chain of craters to the South-West. It is sacred to the Laguna, Zuni and Navajo. I hiked it on MLK day with my father-in-law Tracy Stout. It took 4WD to access the trail head due to snowy road conditions. It is a moderate 2.5 mile hike to the summit with great pay off. It wanders up through Ponderosa Pines then transitions to Spruce. It never exceeds tree line, though it opens up on the final push to the summit for a 200 yard stretch called "The Edge of the World." We used snowshoes and trekking poles. This is a must do for any local outdoors enthusiast. This is my favorite hike in the area to date.

My dad at the top of Coronado's curse on DY

My dad poses for a picture on the way up to DY

Coronado's Curse. This hike is literally out my front door. It is the on the Northern approach to the sacred Zuni Mountain (bluff), Dowa Yallanne. Dowa Yallanne translates to "Corn Mountain" but most people just call it "D-Y." Back in the 1500's when the Spaniards were exploring for the El Dorado and Seven Cities of Gold, Cororado swept through this area, threatening to wipe out all the Natives (A:Shiwi). The A:Shiwi took refuge on top of DY and lived there for a long time. According to local legend Coronado tried to attack the Zuni via the most obvious trail, which dead ends into a sheer rock face just 75 feet short of the top. Hence the name, Coronado's Curse. I have been up this route a couple of times, but most recently with my dad in December. At first the trail winds through Pinyon (locals call it "PIN-Yawn"), then climbs into predominately Juniper. It was super muddy, but rewarded us with good views of the Zuni Valley, fascinating rock formations that look like Russian turrets, and at least six abandoned ruins, some still largely intact.

Somewhere in the lava fields
This type of lava was slow moving. It has a Hawaiian name.

Zuni-Acoma Trail. Located in Malpais National Monument, the Zuni-Acoma trail is a 7.5 mile hike over old lava floes as young as a few thousand years. It is an official part of the Continental Divide Trail. I hiked it back in October with my friend Jeremy John. We had our wives intercept our car from the trail head on Highway 53 and drop it off for us where the trail ends on highway 117. Walking on lava was strenuous not only on our ankles and calves, but the soles of our shoes as well. We had to jump over deep crags in the lava. Some were over 30 feet deep. Most crevices would have ancient rock bridges built for brave travelers. I enjoyed it. The Zuni Acoma provides a variety of lava and hearty flora, but lacks a lot of animal life. A few reptiles, birds and insects. There is a reason it is called the bad lands. The Navajo believe the black lava floes to be the blood of the Twin War gods. Pretty cool.


My nephew poses for a picture in front of El Morro

Beautiful cloud formation from the top of El Morro

El Morro. This was our first and easiest hike in the area. We have since done it many times with visiting family and friends. It is a National Monument that commemorates the many travelers who scratched their names into its famous Inscription Rock. You can hike up and over the bluff which passes by a few ruins including what is believed to be a kiva of an ancient Puebloan society. Round trip this is only 2.5 miles. It is the sort of thing that retirees do when they need to get out of their RV's and stretch their legs.

Taking a look back at the arch after our hike

Me, Aeden and Eliza perched on a ledge in the Arch. She is crying. So is Aeden.
Tracy's Dirty Truck after we cleaned the windshield.

Zuni Arch. Actually, I do not know if this is the real name of this destination, but it seemed fitting since it is the only arch formation in Zuni (of which I am aware). Last Friday, my father and I were watching the kids and we got this ill-conceived notion that we should hike with the kids up to the arch. Well, we did it, but I will not do it with kids again. At least not in the winter. It was a short hike. Actually, about a 200 yard scramble up loose shale scree covered in a thin layer of snow and ice. We took the back approach to the arch, which leaves it in perpetual shadow, so the snow doesn't melt quickly and was left over from our cold snap last month. It made the hike dicey at best. To make matters worse I simply had Aeden on my shoulders. By the time we reached our little perch in the arch Aeden was panicked and cold. I warmed him up by opening up my down coat and feeding him cookies. The descent, while tearful on Aeden's part, was pretty easy since I could just slide down here and there on my backside. Afterward, we rallied Tracy's F150 on some dirt reservation roads until we couldn't slide any farther. Our apologies to the BIA for tearing up the road in a recreational manner.

October 31, 2010


Aeden circles the true meaning of Halloween

Our October Zuni social life overfloweth. So many parties, so many treats. How is that not a good time?

Aeden and Ellie dressed up as a pirate and shark, respectively.

Last night was the branch trunk-or-treat. The young men were en-charged with pumpkin carving and the pinata---the biggest hits of the night. Telia and I also entered the chili cook off and cake auction. It was a lot of fun. My greatest surprise was the pinata itself. I have been constructing it since last week, hoping every moment that it didn't break before the kids actually hit it. It was made of some flimsy scrap cardboard, four twisted coat hangers, one layer of paper mache, 200 feet of hand cut crepe paper and a small amount of duct tape. It was under engineered and liable to spontaneously spill its contents.

It literally took a beating from twenty kids before it shewed forth its candy. Exclamation point for me!

I heard that Zunis will trick or treat all night. I also heard that the adults trick or treat. We shall see.

Anyway, things are starting to cool off. We have two electric radiators we move through the house to keep it warm. We are doing everything to not use propane to heat the house. Some of my colleagues report paying up to $600.00 a month in propane to heat their homes during the winter. That is madness. These homes are poorly insulated, built on a slab overlied with thin linoleum tiles without a wood burning stove or a fire place. It makes me wonder if the gas companies paid off the contractor.

I spoke with an alternative rental agency on Friday about getting into a smaller place on a raised foundation with a wood burning stove, for less money. The hospital uses its political flex to restrict these better insulated homes to physicians, but I plead my case. I pulled out all the stops and perhaps, by grace itself the rental agent finally relented and conceded to reserving a home for our family. She said it would take about 6 months to renovate, which in Zuni time I translate as about 8-10 months. Either way, this is a huge answer to our prayers.

The trade off is giving up our spacious rez mansion and, regrettably our chickens. I have already identified a lucky family in the branch who will be the recipients of a lovingly built coop, two roosters and four hens.

As for the other renovations provided by my father-in-law Tracy, I will take them with us. All of them --- the gravel, the fencing, the playhouse, everything. I will figure out a way. In the mean time however, we will continue to live in the abundance of our cold and spacious luxury home.
Aeden summons a disinterested hipster pirate face. 

"I can see you!" Our harvest display

Aeden paints the pumpkin pinata with a satisfied artsy smirk.

Ellie musters the spirit of a Great White Shark

Ellie looks like a shark cherub on a swing
Showing off the finished pinata. Notice the crepe paper. Please.

Aeden & Ellie at the Bandera Ice Caves

October 17, 2010


Tarantula on our sidewalk

Tarantulas migrate. Did you know that? Nobody really knows where to or from, but they pass through Zuni every year. I saw two. Telia saw five. Normally, I loathe, hate and despise arachnids of all kinds. They give me the creeps and I have taught Aeden to smash them, but I like tarantulas. First off, they are way too big to squash. They also have a mammal-like gentleness that, ironically, places these gigantic spiders in the category of unorthodox "warm, fuzzies."
Chaco outlier ruins circa 1200 AD
This last week Telia and I made it out to El Malpais National Monument twice, separately, exploring different areas. I hiked 7.5 miles of craggy black lava along the Zuni-Acoma trail with my friend Jeremy. Yesterday, Telia hiked 5 miles to a few old Chacoan ruins called the Dittert site with her friend Jennifer. As it turns out, "Malpais" is a Spanish term that literally means "bad country" but was commonly used to describe volcanic landscapes. Gnarled Junipers and Pinion Pines pop up along the trails of El Malpais. Supposedly, the curvier the trunk, the curvier the root system.

Tracy Strikes Again
Play structure of anglo-saxon origin in the Americas circa October 2010
Does it surprise you? Not me. He's generous, handy and loves his grand-kids. Check out the play structure he built for Aeden and Eliza!


I have wanted a great compost for a long time. Now that HOA's are a thing of the past, that time has come. The straw bale method involves digging down about 6-12", surrounding it with straw bales and using red worms at the bottom to accelerate the composting process. I built it yesterday and am really excited about getting started.

Baby Shower

Telia threw the most rocking baby shower ever for our friend Lori. I smuggled myself in can witness that it was fun in its informality. We tie-died onesies and listened to Bob Marley as Zunis, Navajos, Anglos (as we are called) and one woman from St. Thomas milled around enjoying the ambiance. There was SO much good food.


I have subscribed to a "song of the day" podcast from KEXP.
 It is available for free on iTunes. Yesterday, after downloading over 300 free songs, I have finally waded through the so-so and distilled my favorites to about 50 new songs and artists. If you're into music you should check it out. I can't believe it is legal, since I got titles like Peter Bjorn and John, Matt and Kim, She and Him, Rodrigo and Gabriela, Plants and Animals, Blitzen Trapper and Sufjan Stevens. And those are just a few of the names I knew already...

Anyway, now you are more or less caught up. Love you all. Enjoy the pictures.

Appreciating our fuzzy friend from a distance

A tarantula and daddy long legs on my garage wall
Aeden on the watch tower

This BLM ranger led Telia's hike. He possesses more knowlege than anyone person should have or share.
Our friend and colleage Jennifer Kim in front of an old abandoned homestead
Pure joy.
So cute. She was highlighting the keyboard

October 3, 2010

Hippies and Saints

The pies. Made from real farmers market pumpkins. Mmm-mmm.

This weekend has been wonderful. The kids are almost better.

Friday we went hiking over 3000 year old lava beds and explored Pie Town, NM.

Saturday, we went to the Ramah Harvest Festival, where Telia entered a pie contest and won first prize for her pumpkin pie. It was a lot of fun. Some hippies were selling this incredible Apple Green Chile Jam. I am wondering what life was like before.  We bought a jar.

Refrigerators are the best place for 1st place
After inspecting the hens and roosters there, we once again are wondering at the gender of our largest chicken: Olga or Dick? We still don't know, but now we are leaning toward Olga.

Today we have been listening to podcasts of General Conference due to our dial-up-esque bandwith. It is so slow. We will probably finish General Conference some time this week. So far, it is amazing and basic.

Also, I found a really cool spider that made a very intricate web with extremely strong silk. I think she is some sort of Orb weaver. Olga ate her up in two bites. Sorry, no picture.

Tonight for dinner we are having pumpkin pudding and butter biscuits with the apple green chile jam. Yum.

Literally 5 people walked by, looked at the kids, looked at me and said, "Well, now I guess you've got to get a bunny."
Our General Conference set up.

October 1, 2010

Pie Town, NM, population 35

For the past few weeks we have heard talk about a magical place called "Pie Town." From talking with neighbors, one would get the impression that if given the choice between heaven and Pie Town, you might be strongly tempted to kick it in Pie Town. So we went. It was a long drive down rural dirt roads, past several ranches, a mountain range and over ancient lava flows. Finally, we arrived. I don't know what we were expecting exactly. Telia thought maybe it would be really touristy and have the best pie ever. Even as I write this, I am not sure if I was disappointed or charmed, but it was interesting enough to capture our imaginations.

The story of how Pie Town got its name has a few versions, but my gut tells me the most accurate is in New Mexico's Continental Divide Trail Official Guide by Bob Julyan.

"The generally accepted story tells that in 1922, Clyde Norman opened a gas station here, calling it 'Norman's Place.' He liked to bake, so when he began selling homemade apple pies he changed his sign to read 'Pie Town.' Two years later, Norman Craig acquired the station and the pie-making business (Craig' wife now made the pies) and kept the sign. The pies were very popular, not only with road travelers but also with local ranchers and cowboys.  In 1927, the citizens of 'Pie Town' asked for a post office; local lore tells that when a postal inspector suggested a more conventional name, Craig told him, "It'll either be named Pie Town, or you can take your post office and go to hell." Craig knew best: Pie Town remains among New Mexico's most intriguing place names."

For all of its notoriety, Pie Town actually has only two restaurants where one can get pie. Pie-O-Neer and The Daily Pie Cafe. Of those, one was open. So we went to Pie-O-Neer, a quaint blend of rough and tumble rancher with New Mexican New Age. The decor was historical, eclectic, rustic and somehow hip. We were the only ones there.

When we asked the hostess if we could purchase an entire pie, she blushed and confessed they didn't have one, but offered us a "Pie-pourri," which amounts to putting left over pie slices into one pan. They only make 12 pies a day.

Telia and I shared a slice of peach pie. It was good. The crust alone evidenced lots of pie practice, but we should have had it heated up and sprung for the vanilla ice cream. The owner came out and let us sign the guest book. He used to be a medical illustrator at a teaching hospital in Virginia, but moved to Pie Town where he could better pursue his love for astronomy. He was a tall, lean, tan, soft spoken buddhist and I liked him.

For more information on what makes Pie Town tick check out www.pie-o-neer.com

Rte 603 to Pie Town, NM
Welcome to Pie Town
A gaggle of windmills on the way into downtown Pie Town

Sign for the Daily Pie Cafe. It was closed. 
Pie-O-Neer. You know its fancy because the plastic flamingoes

The other pie place. Also a notary public.
Is this the original "Norman's Place"?