Friday, February 3, 2012

Tales of a Traveling Weaver: Leaving Cortez or "How to pack a loom with an important tapestry on it"

My time in Cortez is at an end. I finished my job here today and am pulling out, car loaded, tomorrow morning. I remember asking my recruiter about 6 months ago, "Cortez is a scuzzy hole in the wall, can you find me housing in Durango?"  I am not sure why I thought that, perhaps because an ex of mine told me this town was "rough" when I said I had taken a job here.  Anyway, I am infinitely glad that my recruiter couldn't find me housing in Durango and that I have spent the last 16 weeks in Cortez. This is a beautiful little town. There is good food (gluten free even!), fantastic hiking, and wonderful people. I really enjoyed my time here.

My favorite things in no particular order:
1.  Pepperhead. This restaurant is great. They made me gluten free food, the staff is excellent, and I loved the atmosphere. Lets just say that one Pepperhead margarita means I can't drive, and really need someone's arm to walk home on. Tonight I went there to celebrate finishing a job which was both difficult and rewarding--and I must say I did a great job (with the work, not the celebrating)! Emily is already in Alamosa, so I had to go by myself. I brought a book--classic defense when eating in a restaurant solo. Unfortunately, the weather was a furious mix of rain and snow at about the time I wanted to eat, so I did not walk, but drove. I realized this would mean that I couldn't finish the margarita I intended to order unless I wanted to leave my car at the restaurant tonight. This is all of the margarita I could drink before I reached that "one more sip and I can't drive anywhere" point.
Yep, looks like a little more than half to me too. Lightweight. (Oh, and if you have the privilege of going to Pepperhead, DO NOT MISS the chipotle chocolate ice cream. It is so very very good.)
Pepperhead also has this new chalkboard where you can fill in the blanks. What would you write here?

2.  Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.  I love to walk. I can walk and walk and walk. Yesterday after work I took Cassy back here for one last goodbye walk of 3-4 miles. A wild snow-sleet squall had just blown through and there was water trickling over all the slickrock. I stood still and listened to it running--a sound heard seldom in the desert. Then we walked and listened to the silence and smelled the wet sage. I saw no one, was startled by a mule deer, and walked up to the car just as darkness fell. This is where I find the center place.

3.  The people I worked with at Southwest Memorial Hospital. I especially loved that the home health care staff I laughed and cried with for the last four months.  They threw me a gluten free party on Wednesday. It included this cake from Shiloh Bakery (Thanks Shelly!). I have not had a "commercial" cake with buttercream frosting since I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2005. I loved it.  And I loved that my co-workers went to so much trouble to make things that were gluten free just for me. The outpouring of support and appreciation from the staff of the home care department and the inpatient nursing/planning staff was wonderful.

4.  Sleeping Ute Mountain.  I just like this land feature which is seen throughout most of the area. I spent the last 4 months doing home health and driving all over Montezuma County. I kept looking for the perfect vantage point to take a photo of this mountain, which from the right place really does look like someone lying on their back with their arms crossed. I never got a good photo, as tonight when I walked Cassy out to my chosen spot, it was snowing. You can see his toes sticking up to the left, but most of the rest of him is clouded. You'll just have to come and see it yourself.

5.  Ancient Puebloan sites. These include Mesa Verde, Canyon of the Ancients, and many many others. This area is littered with sites and in fact is thought to have been more highly populated 700 years or so ago than it is today. I especially love the walls, the rock work of the standing walls, the patterns, the fingerprints in the mortar...

6.  The proximity to Utah. Emily and I spent a weekend in Moab a few weeks ago. We had a grand time, spending most of it at Arches National Park. I hope to return soon for some weeks, months, or years in Canyonlands with my backpack.

 You could fit a football field the long way under Landscape arch. It could fall any second.
Go now.

Warning: what follows is something of a digression... but you're used to that.

Eddie McStiff's is not the sort of name for a restaurant you'd expect in Utah, a state being largely run by rather conservative religious people (yes that is a generalization for which I apologize), but Moab must be special. We walked into this restaurant, chosen because when I called and asked if they had a gluten free menu, the man said, "well yes, we have gluten free pizza and beer..." I am sure he continued talking, but I had already hung up the phone and was driving hell-bent-for-leather after that pizza. When we walked in, a somber-looking hostess approached us and asked quietly if we were there for the gathering, otherwise it was "seat yourself". Emily quickly said, "well we might be here for the gathering, is it a party?" The hostess said, "you'd know. It's a wake." When I die, I want a wake at a place called Eddie McStiff's. Seriously. With gluten free pizza. 

(thought a few of you might also enjoy a peek at the regular beer menu... 
...only in Utah does polygamy porter make sense.)

And here is the end of the travelogue and the part that relates to weaving. Congratulations if you've made it this far in the post.
I finished up my day at the hospital and came home to complete the packing. I have been avoiding packing the loom.  The commission is not finished and I hate folding the loom with a piece in progress. The tension is never the same when I set the loom up again. This little Macomber loom is great for workshops, but I don't recommend it as your everyday tapestry loom. Nor do I recommend moving a loom with a tapestry on it unless it is a little lap loom. In other words, do not try this at home.

Loom ready to be folded (except for the tapestry on it that isn't finished of course).
This is masking tape my grandmother put on the end of one of the loom treadles decades ago (masking tape from the 1960s must have been awesome) covering the end chewed by one of her English bull dog puppies... 
 Unhook those funky little treadle hooks that Macomber uses. Actually they work fairly well on this particular loom. Many people replace them with texsolv however.

Back beam folds in (I left the warp beam exactly where it was hoping that if I didn't tighten the warp around it but instead rolled it forward around the cloth beam, when I set the loom back up, the tension will remain the same. It is likely a fools wish.

Ready to fold up the front, dog in the way... she gets anxious about things getting folded up and packed. Hopefully she remembers that I go wherever the looms go, and that generally she gets to come along too. Just don't tell her she has to sit in the front seat this time.

Loom folded up and covered with plastic as the weaving has to go on the bottom of the car and there is a wicked amount of yellow lab hair in there.

The next picture on the camera was the margarita shot shown earlier.  I'll have to let you know how it goes loading the loom by myself tomorrow when the ground is frozen instead of the mud pit it is at the moment. For now, good night.


  1. Think I'm going to have to take a road trip! I've enjoyed the travelogue. Good luck with the loom.

  2. Have you ever taken Cassie on public transportation, or did she only go when you drove? I used to take my oldladydoggie, Roo everywhere, and I had a little ID card that showed she was my hearing dog and I had a note from her trainer. I rarely had to show either, and she was very good in public.

    Re: dog hair, a few weeks ago, I was contemplating issues related to dog and cat hair in my paintings and concluded that if I missed a couple, it was fine... if not, and Icouldn't pull the hairs off, they would either be a design element, or I could put on more paint... any that get into my woven pieces are fine also since I usually weave with wool and wool and fur ARE related, and they sometimes like to help...that's my story and I'm sticking to it...

    Condolences on your loss of Cassie... she was special... (hugs!)


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