Ever since signing on
to tape 4 PBS TV shows in New Mexico, it’s been a wild bronco ride. Huge
magazine deadlines bubbled up, sponsors had to be
found, 11 crafts plus 3 “TV swap-outs” each had to be designed, approved,
and created, (delightful) company was coming, plus a Mt. Everest of
details=Total Madness for 8 weeks.
Did it all--whew--and flew: NYC/Houston/Albuquerque (delayed!)/Avis
($500!!!). Drove 25-75 MPH doing minuets with trucks as big as trains.
Stopped at midpoint 2.5 hours later for cheap enchiladas and directions.
Chose the locals’ advice, but a woman offered a pregnant “Be Careful”.
Hmmm—it was 2.5 more hours on a moonless black night on a lonely country
road….but was there more? En route and past the turn–around point, a
ghostly sign appeared: “DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS, PRISON FACILITIES”.
Oh. Halloween came early. Spooky.
Good Lord, the country
roads led to mirages of towns. Thought I’d missed the mark and was headed
to Texas. Finally, when all of New Mexico was asleep but a helpful
clean-up crew, found the hotel around 11PM. I’d been up since 4 AM local
time and was 100% wrung dry. Passed out in Portales.
The TV station is part of the local university--a beautiful oasis in the
middle of endless acres of near desert. The sunny crew was willing but
only I could sift through the 8’ tower of boxes--projects, swap outs, and
sponsor products to unpack, assemble, line-up, label, and prep. It took 10
straight hours. Talked to myself about glue, paint, candy, and crystals….
“demonstrating” each project to practice. Muttered to myself during dinner
about painters tape, primer, paint pens, Styrofoam, decoupage, polymer
clay, embossed metal…. yapped to myself about patchwork, scissors, and
tools while flossing. Passed out in Portales, part 2, but wretched sleep.
Nerves + cough.
The next day was SHOWTIME! The first guest was late. My 4 outfits and I
were on Stand By. Suddenly I was escorted to the grand cavern of TV
cameras, lights, mikes, crew, and my vivacious, pretty 5’2” host, Sheryl.
We stood in place while everyone adjusted something; I was
as petrified as
a giant Sequoia. A deep voice from above boomed for Sheryl to count to
ten. (Butterflies flapped madly.) The great voice bid ME the same. (Deer in headlights+butterflies+Sequoia.) Before I could escape, Sheryl
yanked me back to begin demonstrating 3 different crafts in 7.5 minutes.
Well…the first taping was almost 12 minutes! Things broke, spilled, and
bounced away and the camera kept on rolling. We redid some of it and I
needed to say more (kind sponsors!)—the time flew.
My knees are callused
from knocking and an 8-week sigh of relief was heard for miles. Sheryl
treated me to a lovely lunch and peanut tour (the Peanut Festival was that
weekend). I was asked back for next year. A Miracle.
It was a FANTASTIC growth experience. I’m grateful to every single person
involved—so many—thank you! Packed up that night for an early AM get-away
and really Passed out in Portales.
a decent start in the morning on the 5-hour-road-to-infinity heading back
to Albuquerque. Stopped at the Billy the Kid Museum in Ft. Sumner and
marveled at the relics of the pioneer and Wild West “True Grit” era: A
covered wagon (about the size of a Hummer), a fancy black hearse, tools,
dinosaur teeth (genuine), arrowheads, tomahawks, and a thousand other
fascinating things that triggered my imagination of life then for settlers
and Indians. Great spot to research for a film.
on to find Vaughn, where my family homesteaded in the 1920’s. Had just
enough gas to make it (like there was a choice—very few gas stations on
this journey). The town sign was bigger than the dusty hamlet itself and,
oddly, the best of the entire 500- mile trip. Chicken-fried steak was a
nostalgic lunch at a darn good diner, just as grandmother had often made.
Found a humble, rickety Baptist church built in 1912 (bet they went there)
and some Kansas missionaries adding on a kitchen gave me a tour. Walked
around a once handsome defunct train station just as a l-o-n-g freight
train rolled past with some FEDEX cars, to add 2009 to the visual mix. The
land still looked just like it does in my old family photos of their
Grapes-of-Wrath experience. They moved back to Texas, and the land is
still in the family. (There were tears to have found Vaughn, and to sense
their dust-bowl hardships.)
At teatime, checked into the swanky Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque (a 1930’s
southern Spain meets Morocco décor). Did a couple miles’ walkabout and
looked at the decorative buildings, sad shuttered shops, and a stucco
Catholic church built in 1706. Buses are .35 for seniors! The crosswalks
have timers! Ran into several young female panhandlers (a cult?) and
ancient hippies. Found a hot spot for breakfast next day and Passed out in
Albuquerque. (Mmmmzzzz… that dreamy bed with Frette sheets.)
Breakfast was the real deal, southwestern style: Green chile and cheddar
potatoes and biscuits, red chile rubbed bacon, and organic coffee with
real cream. YUM. Great fun to see happy groups of friends meeting for an
8AM breakfast. (Fat chance in NYC.)
Saw the enjoyable, educational Turquoise Museum with its “old mine shaft
of turquoise veins”. Learned that the veins are usually no deeper than
200’ below the earth’s surface, a deeper color means a harder, better
quality stone, copper helps make the turquoise blue, and iron makes it
green. Turquoise fakery abounds big time and, in a test, this artist
couldn’t pick out the real stones from fake ones.
Onward. Started the trek back home. Landed around midnight and Passed Out