Tag Archives: New Mexico

My Child Is A Grass Hugger

Tree hugging runs in the family. It’s in our blood, but grass hugging? That’s a whole new thing for the latest generation. Tiny-Small is a grass hugger. Literally. I think it’s because she rarely sees grass. To her it’s a plant on the verge of extinction and when she finally gets her feet in it and her arms around it she is pretty happy.

For some reason her grass loving ways just seem so foreign to me, but I grew up on the East coast where grass is plentiful. So plentiful in fact I barely spent much time appreciating it while I was there. I mean, grass was a dime a dozen. I spent entire summers barefoot and running through it without a care in the world. I mean, I never thought one day there would be no grass.

Then, I moved to New Mexico where grass is a hot commodity. I mean, people try to grow it, but then they have outrageous water bills and all of the guilt that goes with not accepting a naturally landscaped lawn. Water is a precious resource here. People tend to go the native grasses route and invest their time in creating rock gardens instead. Because it’s easier, less expensive, and let’s face it…the critters eat everything anyway.

My Child Is a Grass Hugger In brown New Mexico.
Subtle shades of brown with spots of green.

Tiny-Small lives in an environment that has intricate shades of brown and sometimes spots of green. The trees surrounding her on a daily basis are more like giant bushes carved to look like trees. The grass is mostly brown too, unless we have a lot of rain and then it turns a little green, but not like the green you encounter in places where rain comes in abundance.

Luckily, we live near some National Forest where there are tall pine trees and sometimes luscious cotton wood trees. We took her there a few days ago to go on a hike. The tall trees create a canopy and grass grows near the streams. When we hiked down a hill and found ourselves next to a stream Tiny-Small started yelling, “Grass! I love grass!” Then she threw herself right on the ground and rolled around hugging it to her chest. It was long grass. It wound around her like a grass skirt.

My Child Is A Grass Hugger (Life In New Mexico)
New Mexico has some green too. You just have to go looking for it.

I sometimes worry that she is missing out on all of the wonderful things from my childhood…grass, fresh seafood, the beach, humidity (well, that might be pushing it), but lately I’ve started realizing that she is going to have her own childhood. It’s going to be filled with rocks and lizards and snakes and mountains…and the biggest blue sky in the whole wide world. Not to mention enchiladas (red or green?) and home-made tortillas.

We aren’t going to share the exact same childhood. Which sometimes feels a little strange, but she isn’t going to long for the same things I do (like Mystic Seaport and strawberry picking) when she grows up. She’s going to have an entire different version of “home” than I do. She’s a New Mexican, desert girl. Grass is always going to be something special because it’s so rare, but she will probably never long for humidity or the drastic changes in seasons. She won’t really miss snow and will probably find the idea of shoveling your car out to go to work each morning a major crisis she wants no part of. She won’t miss the beach and dream of falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing. She’ll be missing the howling of coyotes and seeing mountain lions cross the road on her way home at night.

My Child Is A Grass Hugger (life in New Mexico)
Pretending to fish.

I am just grateful I get to be a part of the making of her childhood memories. I’m also grateful that I have a little person in my life to remind me to stop and enjoy the little things. Like soft, green grass. I never appreciated it as much as I should have. Watching her enjoy it so much makes me realize it’s often the things we take for granted that really mean the most to us. I am becoming a grass hugger myself.

Also, I think we often idealize our childhoods and the place we come from. I know Jim thinks California is the cats meow and don’t even get me started on the debates we have had over which coast is superior. I, of course, prefer the East and he will always prefer the West. it’s just what we grew up with and what we miss. When we go back to our hometowns now we are almost always a bit disappointed. Things aren’t the same. That old saying “you can never go back” is true. The real lesson I am learning through all of this is that we all have our own memories. Before long, Tiny-Small will be old enough to join our debate. I am pretty sure she will be arguing that New Mexico is the best place to live and far superior to either coast. She’ll have a good argument too because we all know what we know and like what we like. Nobody can convince us otherwise.


15 Landscapes Day 4 – Chaco Canyon

15 Landscapes Day 4 proved to be slightly challenging, mostly because we spent yesterday traveling to Mexico so Jim could get a root canal. Sorry Jim! I didn’t have much time to paint so I am posting this bad boy a little late today.

This is a view from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. If you have never been there I highly recommend going. Chaco Culture National Historic Park will leave an impression on you. It’s amazing and it’s beautiful. It’s also hot if you go in the summer. Bring lots of water!

15 Landscapes Day 4
Chaco Canyon 10 x 10.25, alcohol inks on ceramic tile. $75.00 Available for Purchase in my Etsy Shop: Dome Life Studios

This painting was created using alcohol inks painted on a tile from a local company called Syzygy Tile. Their tiles are handmade and very heavy. The word “quality” comes to mind. Also, with a few of these tiles to lift, you’d never have to invest in weights, join a gym, or complain about having flabby arms again. These tiles are made to last. I was able to find some tile to paint on after visiting their store where they have a room filled with imperfect tile pieces. I couldn’t find anything at all wrong with this tile, except, maybe, that it is not perfectly square. I don’t mind that at all. I am looking forward to returning to stock up on more tile ASAP. This tile was an off-white and had a bit of texture to it which I think adds to this piece. It gives the dirt and ground some more nooks and some more crannies which feels like the desert to me.

I found a small, clear plastic stand yesterday while waiting for Jim.  I put the tile on it to see how it might look displayed on a table top. If you can overlook the stuff in the background and the flowers Tiny-Small helped to arrange, you might be able to see what I was getting at!

15 Landscapes Day 4 - Chaco Canyon display
How to display a large tile.

I worked on the large landscape I am hoping to finish, before the end of this challenge, today too. Here is a sneak peek for you. It’s my first barn landscape. I am also attempting to paint the entire thing using a pallete knife. That has been a learning experience and an exercise in letting go. I am referencing a photo we took just outside of Castroville the last time we were in California. It was such a nice red. I have always wanted a red barn. I may have to settle for a red door at this rate! I love how the buildings are just floating in a sea of blue. Once I get the ground in, things will look a bit more settled. I hope. I mean, really, anything could happen.

Work in progress Red Barn landscape painting by Lillian Connelly.
Red Barn outside of Castroville, CA (work in progress).

Happy Tuesday!


On Thanksgiving We Went to The Top of The Mountain

View from Sandia Peak.

On Thanksgiving Day we were sitting in a hotel room wondering what to do. So we decided to go to the top of a very big mountain.  I mean, all the good stuff was closed. The only things open revolved around the Black Thursday-Friday nonsense and we weren’t interested in supporting any of that. The choice was clear, we could go up a mountain or we could watch bad TV all day while Tiny-Small begged us to pick her up and put her on the bed so she could slide off the bed and then beg to do it all over again, and again, and again…to infinity (and back).

The tram.

That was not the way we wanted to spend our day so we got into the car and drove straight over to Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway. I have to admit it was pretty amazing. We rode a tram to the top of a mountain. Tiny-Small called it a sky bus because that is exactly what it looked like. She whispered in my ear, “I scared, Mama. No.” I told her when we road the sky bus we might see goats and bear and mountain lions so she decided to be brave. She got on the tram. She road up the mountain like a trooper. She sang, “Where are yoooooo goats? Where are you?” The people thought she was delightful.

When we got to the top we were amazed by the views. I took pictures, but they never do that kind of distance any justice. It’s just hard to capture how close to the moon you are and how the trees look like ants. Tiny-Small cried for bears.

She looked under benches, out of windows and beneath the stairs calling for the bears. She even inspected the ski slopes that weren’t running due to the whole no snow thing. She never found a bear. She seemed a little disgruntled about that and I imagine she is still calling me a bunch of names in her toddler brain. Names like “liar” and “broken-promise maker.”

We would have hiked down the mountain if I had thought to bring sensible shoes and Tiny-Small wasn’t a toddler. It just didn’t make sense to drag a tiny little girl through brush and rocks and mountain lion dens so we opted to ride the tram back down. This time we floated over some plane wreckage which sobered up the passengers in a hurry. The guide also told us about how the winds can come so fast that the tram has to stop midair and wait a while for the wind to calm down again. One group waited in the tram for four hours! I looked at Tiny-Small and hoped that wouldn’t happen to us.

It didn’t. We made it back down in the regular amount of time. Tiny-Small said she was sad she didn’t see any goats. Then she announced she was hungry and that was good because we were headed to The Village Inn for Thanksgiving dinner. I was really proud of my brave little girl and also glad we didn’t run into a single bear. Not even one.

On Thanksgiving we went to the top of the mountain and it was a pretty good day.