Cullen Curtiss




Thursday, June 23, 2005


I can't think of a form of music I would rather spend a weekend with than bluegrass. Having just returned from the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which is in its 32nd year, I am still aglow with the wholesome sounds of picking. Were the festival not in such a drop-dead gorgeous valley, perhaps I'd feel differently, but I think it's safe to say that bluegrass gets to you ... with its stories and its enthusiastic tempo. And the people it attracts are some of the loveliest. I'm a huge fan of big band swing as well, so much so I had a 15-piece swing band perform at my wedding, but I most likely couldn't listen to a whole weekend of it. If bluegrass is a new concept for you, check out Gillian Welch or Alison Krauss for two very different, but fantastic introductions.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

economic hitman

Maybe soon I'll figure out why this small town of 70K-plus is blessed enough to have the opportunity to experience famous musicians, politicians, and writers from around the world on any given night of the week.

Monday night, I went to hear John Perkins speak at the Lensic. I'd not read his book 'Confessions of an Economic Hitman,' but I knew who he had been and what he was now. Aside from the event being a benefit for KSFR, it would be important because Perkins was blowing the whistle. And it seems whenever this happens, the truth, that elusive creature, comes out and then change for the better follows. Call me an optimist.

I could ramble forever about Perkins, a worldly man who personally knew most of the leaders of the developing nations in the 70s (Jaime Roldos, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama, both of whom died in mysterious plane crashes, were among them) because he was working for international consulting firm whose responsibility it was to "build up the American empire" or the corporatocracy (US governments, banks, corporations). A self-described Economic Hitman, he would, among other things, put pressure on these leaders, many of them democratically elected, to accept loans, enormous loans, that they couldn't possibly repay. This would put these countries in the position of doing anything the US wanted them to do and it usually had something to do with oil. If the leaders didn't cooperate, they were done away with, and US-backed individuals would be installed.

The remarkable thing about the work he was tasked to do is that it seems to be without political lines, and this was somewhat refreshing. Frightening, of course, that neither of our majority parties seems to be above this type of coercion, but the truth is like that. He never mentioned the word Republican, said democratically elected a few times, and said Democrat only once when he referred to all of us in the audience. Oddly, 'Democrat' seemed to be a dirty word or at the very least unevolved. Upon thinking about it, I realized he has no use for those terms. We are all from the same party called the United States when it came to the work he did.

Friday, June 10, 2005

lessons in patience

Historically, I have never been a patient person. Some blame it on growing up on the East Coast, others on spending 10-plus years in the San Francisco Bay Area. All I know is it's high time I learned how to be one, for my health and sanity, and that of others.

Living in a town that affectionately calls itself "the land of a manana" can encourage patience.

A friend of mine who was born and raised here says he's always late for one reason -- he was born and raised here. This characteristic of his is one that most people here seem to understand. We were invited to a co-workers house for dinner with another couple and apologized profusely when we arrived 10 minutes late. It wasn't until nearly hour later that the other couple showed up. They claimed that Tiger Woods was doing really well, but hadn't called to say that that would mean they'd be late. Our hosts took it all in stride, and so I did, too. I suppose it's all about expectations and so I've changed mine to get along -- when a business owner doesn't call me back after promising to, I just call someone else, and so on.

But I think my real lessons in patience are being learned every day as I tend to our garden. All of the seeds have germinated, remarkably, and have popped their heads out of the ground, but that's been 3 weeks in the making. I possibly have another 50 days to wait until they're good and ready to harvest. But I've learned it's not about the overwhelming number of days until they're completely grown and tasty -- it's about the every day, small changes that I have to sit in the dirt to observe.

My brother-in-law is a gardener, and as far as I can tell quite a good one at that. He's a bit of a wizard, actually. Tons of black plastic containers sit on sawhorses throughout his yard -- they're all seedlings labeled and awaiting their turn to go into the ground. He loaded us up last week with about 2 dozen individual plants and prescriptions for each one. Most will not show their true colors until next year and that did not alarm me. I've planted 8 of them. Since they're tiny and could be construed as weeds, I put small white rocks around each so I can keep track. I'm excited to nurture them every day in the mellow hope that they'll do well enough to bloom year after year.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

no longer a muggle?

We went geocaching last night. An orientation to GPS devices in our driveway was the first step. Intriguing little gadgets with so much might and direction. We marked our home coordinates and then those of the cache, indicated on the web-page printout our geocaching hostess had brought along. Located 777 meters away and in a south-westerly direction according to our trusty devices, the cache was called Laundromat Cache. We know where the laundromat is and so probably didn't need to stare head-down at the device as we walked, but that was fun to do just the same. Spinning around sent the directional pointer (probably has a techie name) around and around.

Turns out Laundromat Cache was just a name for a cache that was actually on the banks of the Santa Fe River, which is, remarkably, flowing. Our hostess found the cache first. Not buried, but concealed (within the rules), Laundromat Cache is a tin can and inside there were live stickers, pennies, action figures, and a log book, which our hostess added her alias to with a sign-off of TFTC (thanks for the cache). The fun of it is apparently removing something from the cache and replacing it with something else. We did this and it was kinda fun.

Our next cache was a virtual one -- apparently "they" are cracking down on these. Our hostess had just had one denied. We walked back through the neighborhood we'd come from and up the hill. It was a beautiful evening and people were enjoying the view from their front porches. I learned where the community pool is and the beauty of what I thought was a poopy dog park. The riddle was easily answered and I declared that I would email the cache creator with it, but our hostess said she was the creator, so no need.

I imagine that I'm still a muggle (name adopted from the Harry Potter series in which it means 'humans without magical powers') until I have my own GPS and begin creating caches. And I'm okay with that.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

being important

When I was younger, I used to travel with my parents. They took us to Europe twice and I am very grateful. I remember my mother composing the trip, looking through guidebook after guidebook and highlighting the "sights of importance." I remember being in Siena and wanting to walk up a cobblestone alley and her response was, "there's nothing important up there." I think about her obsession with importance from time to time and while I certainly understand it, I always wonder about the places and spaces that get left off her itinerary when she travels. Going to only important places certainly narrows down your list of visits, but I am concerned about what you might miss. If you only visited the important places in Santa Fe, where I live, would you really learn about the people who inhabit this old, old city now?

It was yesterday's event that brought this back to me. I was in the Pecos for Jamie Koch's dedication -- a friend of my husband's family, he had been a much-loved and productive chairman of Game & Fish for some time. The Governor was transported by heliocopter to the Day-Use area that would be named after Jamie. As the copter was landing, I heard my father-in-law and another man joking about how if they were ever going to arrive by heliocopter to attend a waiting crowd or get a Day-Use area named after them, they'd better do something important quickly.

Of course, they were joking, but I thought about how important they both already are, to their families, to their communities, to their businesses, etc. It's not even a matter of scale or content -- if you are doing what a good heart tells you to do, you are doing something important.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


We've agreed to go geocaching. We do not own a GPS. The woman who invited us has nine of them, so I think we'll be all set. When first asked, I wondered if it was like orienteering which I always thoroughly enjoyed growing up -- taught me how to use a darn compass (put red in the shed, etc.) and a map and brought me closer to the woods. No, she said, it's not. She explained a few details and I just came from where I found some more. I learned it involves a computer, a GPS, and an adventurous, playful spirit. There is a strong code of ethics as far as I can tell -- if you take something from the cache -- for instance, you might find a Happy Meal toy (you will not catch me taking one of those), a CD, pennies, a bracelet, etc. -- you must replace it with something else. Food is strictly forbidden because animals might come along and ruin the cache in search of goodies. If the cache has been fouled in some way, you have an obligation to let the owner know through

Our hostess says this pasttime has introduced her to spaces she would not have otherwise known and I rather like that idea. I also like the idea of a treasure hunt of sorts even if the whole treasure is in the hunt. Check back in a few days for details of my geocaching adventure. | 510.847.0570