New Mexico Writer is on the Move Again

When last we talked, I had just moved to Albuquerque to the Sandia Park area. That was over a year ago. I stayed in Sandia Park for six months through a mild winter, only got snowed in three times. Made some really good connections and friends in the big A. Started teaching small business owners how to build their own websites, create compelling content, and do it all for a low price. I was driven to help those who want to launch heart centered businesses on the internet get up and running. I conducted classes every Saturday at one of the recreation centers. You can see some of the businesses that got launched through the classes at: http://webclassesnm.com/student-websites.php

After a wonderful Christmas holiday in Houston with my kids, all three of them together at the holiday for the first time in 5 years, I returned to Albuquerque to begin a new project. I joined the core team for the Wake Up Now Conference that was held at the end of April 2011. I spent four months building and updating a website, posting to Facebook and Twitter and helping publicize the Conference as much as possible.

It was a very successful conference with almost 500 attendees and 16 major internationally known speakers. http://wakeupnowconference.com. You can still buy the DVDs of the speakers on the site, and it helps support the School of Now for the evolved children being born now. About a month before the conference, I moved in with the founder of The School of Now to help build a new website and initiate the funding process for the school.

Also, during this time, I reconnected with someone I originally met in Houston, and we launched the meetup group, Connect, Grown and Manifest in Albuquerque. We hosted several alternative healing and metaphysical gatherings each month. We now have over 70 members. Give a Healing, Get a Healing continues to be very popular. Chakra balancing, past life regression and future self integration processes also are very popular, and although I'm no longer in Albuquerque, Lucinda continues to grow the community of wisdom seekers in my absence. I do intend to participate in some groups in the future.

In July, as I began to look for the next project, an opportunity in Houston showed up that looked great. However, it was not meant to be as it dissolved after I returned to Houston. In the process of exploring what I would do next, I connected with Dr. Bera of the Bastis Foundation. She is creating a healing retreat center and healthy living facility on her land in the Zuni Mountains. She needs the skills that I have, and we are now planning for me to move there in October to begin building a website and helping with the funding. I seem to be drawn to lots of service organizations, don't I? It's a kind of shamanic marketing process that I do, getting to know the client and the business intimately.

When my son heard about the project, he felt connected to it, and is planning to go with me to the mountains to help with the remodeling of the facility, replacing old construction materials with green products. They also have a dog sanctuary, and he loves dogs and wants to work with them.

So, another leg of my journey begins, a new phase. I'm looking forward to having some time for writing and contributing to this new venture. Dr. Bera is a joyful, lovely person. Onward and upward, I say.


Taos Writer is now New Mexico Writer

by Sandy Penny

After traveling for a year, I decided it was time to make another change. I packed up my things in Taos and moved to Sandia Park, NM, in the east mountains outside Albuquerque, Mexico.

After spending 5 months on a writing project in Houston, I knew I wanted to have a warm winter and not return to Taos until spring. I went to Florida, which was having its coldest winter in recent history, and visited relatives for another 6 months. It was nice to be a snowbird, because their coldest weather was not as cold as the warmest winter in Taos. I hung out at the beaches and just relaxed for a while.

My brother, who lives in Florida, was waiting for his second heart transplant, and I got to spend time with him. Not knowing the outcome of his wait, and with only a 20% chance of a match because of his rejection factors, I really wanted to be there with him for a while. My oldest brother and his wife (80) also drove down from Illinois for a Christmas holiday visit. It was great to be with them.

Finally, in May, it was time to return to Taos, and just at that time, my brother got his new heart. An amazing miracle. I picked up my youngest son in Houston and took him back to Taos with me, and we quickly discovered that nothing much was happening for either of us. I knew it was time for a more permanent change, but I had no clue where I was meant to go. Usually I get something that guides me somewhere, but this time, all was silent on the home front.

My friends, Claire and Robear, had been asking and asking me to come up for a visit, and finally I agreed. I was supposed to work on the PR for the Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission Initiative 300 in Denver, but that didn't work out. After a nice 2 month visit, and my son returning to Houston, I left Colorado to visit my friends in Albuquerque. I still didn't know where I would end up or what I would be doing, but my guidance assured me that if I just worked on my writing, that everything would be provided. So, I put my faith and trust in that message.

A few days after arriving in Albuquerque, a couple of Houston friends were chatting at a Dowser's meeting. A friend of Nathan Main, a transformational counselor, told my friend Mary Martha that Nathan needed a roommate. When MM discovered that he lived near Albuquerque, she called and said I might want to check it out. The next day I visited Nathan in the East Mountains, and a few days later, I moved in. Just like that, everything started falling into place.

Nathan had moved to NM from Houston after as many years there as I had. We didn't know each other, but we knew many of the same people. Isn't that funny? 35 years, and we never connected. Soon after moving, and wondering how I would be supported, I was inspired to teach spiritual business owners how to build, maintain and market their own FREE websites. Nathan sent emails out to his list of connections, and other groups also sent out the emails, and soon I had my first Build Your Own FREE Website class. A few weeks before, I had no idea I would be teaching that.

So far, it's going well. I'm making connections, helping other spiritual people, and living in a lovely home in a lovely environment. I'd say happy ending, but we all know there is never really an ending. But, at least, happy continuing.

Check it out at Web Classes NM  And, here's a free affirmation art piece to download.

Thanks for reading.


ButterFlies are Free …

by Sandy Penny
Chrysalis-composite I have had many symbols throughout this spiritual journey called life. The first one was the rising sun. In the mid-1970s, in meditation, I heard a voice say, “You are the daughter of the rising sun, and this shall be your symbol.” I called out internally to the voice and said, “What does that mean?” In response, I heard, “You will come to understand, and you will know when to use it.” I sighed deeply, very cryptic, but somehow it gave me a tingly little excitement inside. That was the beginning of learning about symbolic language for me, and the rising sun did become my symbol when I published the first metaphysical newspaper in Houston called, “The Rising Sun.”
Beginning last year, 2008 and continuing through this year, the ButterFly has become my current symbol, and I am discovering that I’m not the only one. It seems that butterflies are everywhere right now. I just was sent a photo of a butterfly crop formation today, and it reminded me of my whole butterfly experience.
Years ago, about this time of year, I was camping with my family. I woke up with the sun one morning and was inspired to take a walk beside the crystal blue Canyon Lake in Texas. As I sauntered along a tiny path through dense foliage, I spied a beautiful bush, thick with tiny delicate flowers like nothing I’d ever seen before. The flower petals were so light that the gentle breeze was causing them to flutter in the wind. Intrigued, I walked toward the bush to examine the blossoms more closely. When I reached out to touch them, the entire bush came alive, and all the flowers flew away.
Tiny white butterflies had been feasting on whatever bush that was. It was like a scene from a Disney movie – as if the flowers had magically turned into butterflies and ascended into the heavens. It was a most mystical experience, and I wished I could have shared it with my children, but it was mine and mine alone. I cannot express the joy of that little unexpected adventure. Wonderful! Natural! The magic of that transformation lifted me up, and for a moment I soared with those butterflies.
My ButterFly connection was renewed in Taos when I launched the ButterFly Healing Arts section of the HorseFly last October. That was also magical. I had proposed the section two years before, and nothing came of it. The day after I quit writing for the Taos News, in the Dragonfly Cafe, I ran into Bill Whaley, owner of the Horse Fly. I mentioned the ButterFly concept to him again, and he said, “OK, let’s try it out.” And like magic, once again, I was lifted up and flew with the butterflies.
My friend Selia Quinn took some fantastic butterfly photos, beginning with a chrysalis she found on the ground and took inside and let it transform. She took photos at each stage of development of the butterfly, and now she has a photo exhibit at the butterfly museum in Houston. She too was lifted by the butterfly and flew a little higher.
Now, a butterfly with a human body crop formation has been created, and I say our transformation has begun. Does the caterpillar know it will become a butterfly, or does it simply become? Are we ignorant of the transformation that is occurring within us now? Why can we not see the beauty that will be born of our cocoon? This is the time of our becoming. Let the old ways drop away so we can soar to our greatest heights.
You are a ButterFly, and butterflies are free!
ButterFly Crop Circle in the Netherlands
I just got word that this crop circle was created as some kind of PR thing by humans, however, you still can’t deny the imagery and its symbolic meaning of transformation. We all respond to energy in different ways, and who’s to say those who were inspired to create the crop circle weren’t responding to a higher energy as well. The message stands on its own: time to come out of our cocoon and be as beautiful as we truly are.


Taos Writer Goes to Houston

subtitled: Keepin it Cool

by Sandy Penny, Taos Writer

Sandy-drink Last time we talked, there I was, minding my own business, well, struggling a little with my own business, in Taos. I was writing my ButterFly column for the Horse Fly news and trying to decide what to do next when there it was: an email from an old client in Houston asking if I wanted to come to Houston and do a project for about three months or so.

It was quite a challenging decision for me. The project was starting in July, the hot as hell month in Houston. And, it was a record-breaking summer with temps over a 100 degrees for weeks. That was a worst-case scenario for me. I’m not sure which I hate worse, extreme heat and humidity or below zero winters. I’m kind of a weather wimp. So, here’s the deal, I go to Houston at the worst possible time for the weather, and I finish the project just in time to return to Taos at the worst possible time for their weather (for me). I don’t ski, so snow holds no fascination for me, other than the beautiful landscape it creates.

Why couldn’t it have been the other way around, go to Houston in their fabulous, mild winter and return to Taos just in time for their fabulous mild summer? I will try to manifest that better next time. I agonized for days and finally got help from a counselor friend of mine to help me sort it out. I definitely needed the money. But, what would it do to the Butterfly column if I left? It was just getting a foothold in the community.

I finally made a plan. I accepted the offer, mainly because I needed the money. And, the money, compared to Taos standards, is mind-blowing. I would live frugally in Houston while doing the project, and save up enough money to see me through a couple of years in Taos. My expenses in Taos are quite low. So, I packed up my little red Mazda again and headed south.

More to come from Hot as H Houston …

If you just have to have more of here, read Sandy’s Write and Market with WritingMuse blog.


Why does Taos Writer Ask so Darn Many Questions?

sandy-08-09 by Sandy Penny
Why do so many people use a question as a headline?
It starts the reader thinking about the subject of the article. It speaks directly to the reader and immediately engages them. It’s a popular marketing strategy because it works.
It actually sounds like you care about the opinion of your reader, and most authors do care. So what if it’s a marketing ploy? If it engages you in an internal dialogue and you learn something about yourself in the process, isn’t that a productive exercise? Who doesn’t want to think our opinion is important to others?
Asking questions is a valuable social tool for creating dialogue. Many people lack the questioning skill. They just want to tell you what they think and move on to the next subject. Caring about what other people say creates a bond between you. It can create more loyal customers who feel that you’re listening and responding to their needs. After all, they’re buying the product, shouldn’t you care what they think?
Back in 1978, when I got the idea to start a newspaper in Houston, Texas, on the heels of another failed newspaper, it didn’t seem like a great business idea. If my predecessor went out of business, perhaps the market for that type of newspaper was lacking. I really didn’t know why they went out of business, so I hit on a strategy that worked for me, and I’ve since successfully used it to start other businesses.
I picked up a copy of the defunct newspaper, called all the advertisers and invited them to a party. I was up front that the party was about discussing a newspaper idea. I didn’t try to trick them into coming to a party and then spring the newspaper idea on them. I let them know I was interested in creating a newspaper that would meet their needs and the needs of their customers. I passed out a mock-up of my newspaper idea to everyone at the party. Then I did something unusual, I asked them how I could best serve them and their customer base. They had lots of great ideas.
Next I asked them to support me in meeting their needs, and I sold enough advertising that day, on a newspaper that had never been produced, to pay for the first printing. After that, I had a party every month when the paper was printed so advertisers could take bundles of newspapers to their businesses. I thereby eliminated about half my distribution costs (mostly efforts on my part). Each month, I would chat up my advertisers for new ideas for future issues and get their feedback on how I was doing with meeting their needs.
The biggest benefit that came out of the experience was the sense of community that was created around the newspaper. It became the hub for dialogue among community members, and the monthly meeting became the venue for that dialogue. I sold more advertising and collected checks in a timely fashion at those parties. About a year later, a larger newspaper came into my community and tried to start a competitive publication. It was better funded and slicker, but it could not get a foothold. My community was really loyal because I had created a personal bond with them by asking for their feedback – and of course, using it. You can shoot yourself in the foot if you go to the trouble of getting input, and then don’t use any of it. People tend to feel disregarded and badly used.
So, why am I writing about this in a healing arts section? The same technique works in personal relationships. It’s all well and good to say that we should not care what other people think. Independence and autonomy are great, and we should not let our lives be run by other people, but sometimes friends and customers have really excellent ideas that can benefit us personally and in business. Asking questions and really listening and using the answers makes our friends and customers feel valued. It develops interactive relationships. We all know those who pontificate from on high and never let others talk.
Dialogue creates community and cooperation and strong friendships that sustain themselves during challenging times. We are living in challenging times right now. Maybe it’s time to ask a few more questions of those you care about and really listen to what they have to say. What do you think?


Taos Writer Gets Involved

by Sandy Penny, Taos Writer/WritingMuse
This is the Summer of Love in Taos, celebrating 40 years since Easy Rider was filmed here and launched into the world to illustrate the magnitude of prejudice and fear of the unknown in the human psyche. We also landed on the Moon that summer of 69, and found ourselves in a new world.
The ButterFly section of the Horse Fly continues its spiraling flight around Taos, and I’m writing and editing more for the Horse Fly now, including some of the web posts.
But, my biggest project so far has been the Hippie Homecoming event sponsored by the Horse Fly Institute, happening tomorrow, Sunday, June 21, 2009. I really like the whole Hippie Homecoming idea, even though I was not a Hippie, I recognize the contributions the Hippies made to our modern culture.
Women hardly ever wore jeans before the Hippies made them popular. Unless you lived on a farm or rode horses, jeans just weren’t in your wardrobe. Now, they’re high-fashion and everyday fare. Most women have at least three or four pairs in their current size at all times. Add a tie-dyed t-shirt (which we didn’t wear except underneath our clothes), and you were right in fashion. To this day, tie-dye makes the rounds in fashion with different forms.
And, the music, oh the music. “Let the Sun Shine.” The musical Hair showed us all what was going on in the world, peace, war, protests, hair-growing, hair cutting for the soldiers. What a year it was for music, what a decade it was for music. We still listen to so many of those great oldies – always fresh for those of us who were there. Elvis gave way to the Beatles etc. Rock N Roll became hard rock. I had a hard time with that one, being an avid Elvis fan.
But, back from the flashback, to 2009, I got involved in all this with my Horse Fly association. I went out and got sponsorships for painted bodies from local businesses. I recruited popular local painters who usually use canvas to paint the human form. I even recruited people to be painted and brokered the relationships with the painters. I got into it. It was more fun than selling advertising, and so much easier.
Then I jumped into the publicity. I talked it up all over town. I tweeted on Twitter and blabbed on Facebook. I set up a website for the Hippie Homecoming. I blogged.  I sent out PR to all the media. I searched the web for anyone publishing events info for Taos and submitted our events (including the Bluestreak Boogie coming up on Wednesday, June 24).
I got so involved that today, one day before the event, I’m exhausted. I’m trying to recuperate a little so I’ll be ready for tomorrow. I know all the other people participating are exhausted too, even though we’re very excited. Deb Villalobos, who headed this up, has been tirelessly working, arranging, managing, coordinating, cajoling, bribing and generally wearing me out just watching her.
It’s great, though being involved in a community event. One feels very much a part of the town. I highly recommend volunteering for one of the great Summer of Love events. Peace out or rev it up. Embrace the music. Follow your bliss. Get involved.


Taos Writer Finds a Job

by Sandy Penny, Taos Writer, WritingMuse

Chrysalis-composite Butterfly-echinacea-small

Finding work in Taos is a bit like hanging out in a chrysalis and emerging as a butterfly.

Upon moving to Taos, I did not immediately have to look for work. I had made an agreement with my guides (my inner guidance) that when I left Houston, I would be supported by my spiritual writing.

When I first got to Albuquerque, I was staying with a friend who had formerly lived in Houston. The first day, he handed me a book about Sacred Relationships. After reading it, I knew I had some kind of connection with the authors. On the book jacket, it said they lived in Colorado. I emailed them and told them I recognized their names and energy from a previous life and described the connection. I then told them I was an editor, and that if they were working on their second book and needed an editor, I was available and would love to do it.

They responded and said they also recognized my vibration and that, indeed, they had just finished their second book and would love to meet with me to discuss the editing and layout. As it turned out, they now live just outside of Albuquerque. I ended up helping them with with their “2012, You Have a Choice.” That was my first spiritual writing project and the beginning of the fulfillment on my agreement with my guides.

I moved on to Santa Fe and then Taos where I stayed with another friend from Houston, and got a writing project from a corporate client. Just as I finished that project, I was introduced by phone to a hospice doctor in Houston who had accumulated ten years of stories about people’s death bed experiences with angels. I soon became the “ghost writer for the angels.” Dr. John Lerma’s book, “Into the Light,” can be found on Amazon. That project supported me for over six months.

I then condensed a book to be read as an audio book, “The Art of Manifesting” by Carole Dean. Carole took a $20 bill and turned it into a multi-million dollar business in the film industry. The book and CD can be purchased at fromtheheartproductions.com.

So far, so good on the spiritual writing projects. I was riding high. Next I worked with a researcher who had created an audio CD that offers prenatal reprogramming. It’s a fascinating subject. I helped edit the marketing materials and website, transformingdragons.com.

Then the writing projects dropped off a bit, and I decided to take a regular job. I applied at the Horse Fly newspaper, but did not get the job. I suggested that we do a section of the newspaper called the ButterFly on alternative healing and spiritual subjects. He said he’d think about it.

I spent the next year working the front desk at various hotels and then took a trip back to Houston. While I was there, I thought, maybe I’ll work in a gallery when I get back. I love art, and there are lots of galleries in Taos.

The day I returned to Taos, I met some friends for happy hour at the Alley Cantina. A man I had only met a couple of times, a writer friend, Ron Chavez, walked up to me and said, “My brother just opened a gallery, do you want to work for us?” Of course, I did. He hesitated because he had actually offered the position to another woman, but as fate would have it, she decided suddenly to leave Taos. That happens here sometimes.

The first time I met Ron, I had not even read his work, but I knew I would help him get published. The winter downtime at the gallery gave me plenty of time to help edit his book, “A Time of Triumph,” also now available on Amazon. I also helped get the word out online for his book. Then, just as I was getting bored with the gallery and had done all I could for Ron for the moment, his brother shut the gallery down.

I applied for unemployment, and because I lost the job through no fault of my own, I got it. That gave me a chance to spend time getting my blogs up and running, learning more about web marketing, and catching up on my own writing. I also started freelancing for the Taos News. I wrote tons of Success stories, summer guide features, real estate magazine features, but I wasn’t happy with the situation, so I quit.

The day after I quit writing for Taos News, I was having lunch at the Dragonfly Cafe and ran into Bill Whaley of the Horse Fly. I reminded him of the idea I had presented two years before for the ButterFly healing arts section, and he said, “Yeah, let’s do it.” So we did.

Just as my unemployment money ran out, Bill offered me more hours and more writing and editing at the paper. Now, I was back to being supported by my spiritual writing again.

So, you see, finding a job in Taos is more about timing and trusting your guidance than anything else. Finally, the ButterFly has emerged from the Chrysalis and is fluttering about town meeting all the spiritual people and continuing to follow it’s own flight path.


Taos Writer Finds a Home

by Sandy Penny, Taos Writer

When I first arrived in Taos, I had no real intention of staying. It was just a convenient stop on my journey to wherever I would live. I didn’t have a destination in mind, I just kind of knew what it felt like and looked like from a dream I had before leaving Houston.

My friend Madeline, whom I had know for years in Houston, had recently been inspired to buy a house in Taos. She said if I made it to Taos, I could stay there, even though she would not be there when I arrived. I took her up on her offer and spent about six weeks in her home.

After the “stuck in a snow storm” scenario, I made a commitment to stay in Taos. The mountain had bewitched me. I had started dating a man who also wanted to move to Taos, and we decided to share a place for a while, until we both got settled.

I was looking for a sign that the location was the right one to inspire me while writing the angel book with Dr. Johnnie. I called him Johnnie Angel after the old song from my childhood. As I drove around searching for a sign, I saw a “for rent” sign right next to an etched metal angel. I knew immediately that this was the right place.

I followed the arrows leading me to an old hacienda. The place radiated a Catholic monastery vibe. I later found that, indeed, it had belonged to the St. Francis monastery at one time. The door to my little one bedroom casita even had bars and a tiny door in it so you could see who was there. It was a very sweet place.

The portal, covered outdoor patio space, was even equipped with a phone line and electricity, so I could sit outside and work on my book. The beautiful flowers bloomed all around the inner sanctum yard. A short walk down the driveway provided a spectacular view of the swirling multi-layered sunset. What better place to write about angels than a former monk’s residence?

However, that was temporary as the building had been sold and was to change hands in about six weeks. So, I would have to find a more permanent place to live.

The one thing the hacienda lacked was good cell phone reception. Inside or out, you had to hold the phone just right to get any reception, and it might not hold for long. One day, as I was driving around, I discovered a little church on Cruz Alta. My phone rang, and I pulled into their parking lot to answer it. What a beautiful view it was. And, wonder of wonders, the cell reception was great. Thereafter, I began using the little church as a peaceful place to sit and talk to Dr. Johnnie or friends from Houston.

After a few weeks of this, I thought, "Wow, I wish I could live on Cruz Alta. It’s a lovely view with cell reception." I asked the angels to make it happen. Just a couple of days later, I was driving down Cruz Alta after a phone stint, and a little “for rent” sign hanging on a fence jumped out at me. I immediately called the number, and asked what they were renting, expecting it to be a nice big house that I could not afford. But, it was just a one-room casita attached to a house that rented separately.

I began to get excited as this felt like a response from the angels. When I went to see the place, I noticed the distinctive smell of skunk. I learned that a skunk had recently been removed from under the casita, and that the smell would dissipate shortly. Because of the skunky smell, they reduced the rent to a very low amount, lower than I could have expected to pay. I was thrilled.

It took a few weeks for the skunk smell to completely go away, but lots of incense and sage covered it up and kept my clothes from absorbing the odor. That was almost three years ago, and I’m still in my little writer’s cottage, still paying the same low rent, and I’m thrilled to be here.

(Contact Sandy Penny at sandypenny@live.com for help with your writing, editing, or small business marketing needs. Sandy manages the ButterFly section of the Horse Fly newspaper in Taos, NM and will be working with the P.R. for the Horse Fly Summer of Love Events. She also coaches local writers.)


Taos Writer Gets Cold Shoulder

The White Out
by Sandy Penny

I  left Houston, Texas on a spiritual quest in the balmy fall of 2005 and, after much wandering, found myself in Taos, New Mexico in the cold white month of January 2006. I was working on an intriguing spiritual writing project with hospice doctor, John Lerma about people who see angels when they're dying.

Several times I tried to leave Taos, but the Taos Mountain had decided I was staying, and the weather cooperated with the mountain to keep me here.
At the end of March, I took a little jaunt up to Valley View in Colorado, having always wanted to be at the hot springs when it was snowing. It was a lovely place to work on my angel book. After a few days, the weather seemed to be worsening, with five or six inches of snow on the roof of my car every morning, so I decided it was time to go south.

I intended to go down to Albuquerque and re-evaluate staying in Taos. I just really was not used to the cold weather and the snow after 35 years in Houston. As I headed down 285 south, a huge black raven-like cloud appeared in the distance, flying directly toward me. It was kind of mesmerizing. It seemed as if it touched the ground and flew back into the air. I suddenly feared there was a tornado in that cloud formation, and recorded a quick message to my kids about how much I loved them, just in case.

As I headed toward the giant raven cloud, it headed toward me, and suddenly I was under it, and although there was no tornado, the snow surrounded me and whitened my entire existence as if I had died and was in the midst of the clouds before the light appears. I could no longer see the road, and I could barely distinguish where the side of the road dropped off. A mighty wind hurled me across the road, and when I tried to steer into it, relented and I skidded perilously toward the drop-off. I quickly corrected and slowed down even more. It was the closest thing to a blizzard I had ever seen.

I was alone. I slowly dialed the radio and found only scratchy blankness. I set the automatic search and forgot about trying to get a station. I flipped open my cell phone. Nothing there either. I was deeply alone and did not know what I should do in this case. I could not pull over because I could not tell where the drop-offs were, and I was afraid my car would run out of gas while I ran the heater, and I would be found frozen in a hill of snow. So I inched my way forward at about five miles per hour. I could not see what lay ahead of me, and I prayed no one was stalled on the road because I could not have stopped by the time I saw them. I just kept moving forward even though I had no idea where I was headed.

After hours of inching toward my impossible destination and battling with bouts of wind, I had not made much headway, and my only company was an occasional raven clinging to a fence post or walking along the ground, their ominous blackness directly contrasting with the pure white surroundings. I was so scared that I began to cry and plead with whatever power there is to help me get somewhere safe. The silence was truly deafening. I recorded a few more goodbyes on my digital recorder. Finally, the radio blared, and I was blessed by the sound of a human voice. The announcer read off the road closings, and the road I was on, in my little red Mazda Protege, was closed to all but those with chains. I barely had decent tires. Oh well, how could I have known, with no radio and no cell phone?

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what to do. I knew the altitude before I got to Espanola was higher than where I was now, and likely more snowy and frozen. At long last, I saw a turnoff. I was at Tres Piedres, the point where they were telling people not to continue south. The only turnoff was left and it headed directly to Taos. I wondered if I could even make it there as the road was deep with snow. The radio announcer said 32 inches had fallen in the last few hours. Wow, what was I doing out here?

I noted a few tire tracks heading toward Taos on Hwy 64, so I ventured forward. I knew my friend Madeline would let me stay at her house again. I at least had shelter there. I drove in the tracks of trucks that had gone before me and safely crossed the slippery Rio Grande Gorge bridge. I knew I could probably make it the rest of the way into town, and my mood lightened a bit. After OBL, the old blinking light, I picked up cell phone reception again and called Madeline. When she answered, the stress finally let go and I blubbered my plight to her.
Although she was currently in balmy Houston, she called her realtor who delivered a key to me while I enjoyed a very belated breakfast burrito smothered in Christmas chile, red and green mixed, at Michael's Kitchen. I told my story to a few strangers who had also just completed their harrowing drives. Coffee sure does taste good when you come in from the cold.

After that, I stopped struggling to leave and just accepted my fate. Like many others, the Taos Mountain had claimed me for its own for now. I had no choice; I might as well enjoy the view and light the fireplace.