Archive for November, 2011

In the shadow of the Pilgrims

November 17, 2011

Original and still-grand entrance to Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

We’re tooling around New England the week of Thanksgiving, and while we won’t be in Plymouth channeling the Pilgrims, we will be on the move. Here’s what I can’t wait to see (not counting my friends, of course!) Downtown Brattleboro, Vt. Specifically I’m curious about the after-flood effects, hoping that recovery has been going strong. The expanded DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Mass., long one of my favorite spots in metro Boston. My old house in Quincy and downtown Quincy, which I’ve read is being redeveloped in a major way. The mightily expanded Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; I’m really eager to see that one. Finally, in Portland, Maine, the ever-evolving downtown. We’re also taking the ferry to Peaks Island, which I managed to never do when I lived in New England. Away we go!

They say chili, I say chile (I swear!)

November 15, 2011

Green chile peppers roasting

Update: So apparently there’s a big debate about this east vs. west and the Associated Press stylebook says “chili.” But food publications use chile and so does anyone west of Missouri. So I guess we’re both right. But since I’m writing about New Mexico, I’m writing chile!

ARGH!!!!!!!!! So I wrote this story for the Boston Globe about New Mexico chiles. Green or red? Yep, that’s the Official State Question. And I even pointed out how New Mexico barely recognizes the concept of East Coast “chili” stew. And I talked about the differences between chili and chile. The  peppers are chiles. The dishes they make are chile dishes. The class I took at the Santa Fe School of Cooking was about chiles. The photos in the paper are of chiles. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, and I couldn’t even see the whole story because of the paywall, the story has “chili” every place it should be “chile.” The text is wrong. The headline is wrong. The captions are wrong. First, I let the copy desk know, and they informed the online folks. Then I RAN to my computer to make sure I’d used the correct spelling in text and captions in the version I sent in. I had.  From what I can tell, it’s all been fixed online, but the printed version is out. And it’s wrong. And, wow, do I feel like an igit.

Am I mad at the Globe? Well, no. I used to work on that copy desk. I know how difficult — and thankless, too — the work can be.  And mistakes happen. And, guess what? An editor called me last night with a question on that story. I’d made a bonehead mistake, and she saved me from myself. So, no, I’m not mad. But I’m sure not happy! This is a pretty bad mistake, but the good thing is that it didn’t hurt anyone or damage their reputation. Well, other than the Globe’s and mine, but that’s the newspaper biz.

Onward and upward. I’m going to go chili, er chile, I mean, CHILL OUT!

Starry, starry nights amid Indian culture in NM

November 1, 2011

Chaco Culture National Historical Park is in a remote region of New Mexico

We’ve been home from our eight days in northern New Mexico for a month now and I have two strongly lingering images – our meals and our night of camping at Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

I’ve already written my piece on chile peppers, with a recipe, for the Boston Globe food section (to be published soonish), but could not sell anyone on the idea of a story on Chaco. Which is crazy! But it was just as well because that meant I could enjoy myself instead of run around interviewing people and taking notes about everything I saw.

Instead, I inhaled it all in slowly – the history, the breathtaking terrain,  the up-close petroglyphs, the unbelievably intact Indian ruins and, oooohhhhh, those dark star-saturated skies.

See the blue dot straight ahead, near the canyon wall? That's where we camped!

Thanks to Southwest Airlines’  humane luggage policy, we each got two bags for free, so used our extras to stash camping gear for our one night at the park, at Lina’s urging. (Thank you, my ever-adventurous mate!)

We loved almost every minute of our 20-hour blitz. We arrived midafternoon, enjoying the minor thrill of the eight-mile-long dirt road that leads to the park. (Take the north entrance if you don’t want to get stuck.) First we picked out at campsite in the tent-only area, amid boulders and backing up against a cliff. Heaven!!

Pueblo Bonito is famous for many things, including its intact walls and doorways

Next we high-tailed it to 2 p.m. tour of Pueblo Bonito, a Native American “great house” that was lived in from the mid 800s to the 1200s. It once towered four stories high, with more than 500 rooms and 40 kivas and is one of the most excavated and studied sites in North America, as well as one of the most intact. Although our guide went way over the scheduled time, he was fantastic and brought the history alive, and the archeology history was as interesting as the Indian history.

We toured a few other sites and then reached the petroglyphs just as the late afternoon sun was spotlighting them. They were the most intact and closest I’ve ever seen!

Up close and personal with petroglyphs

We had just a little time to set up camp and share a beer before we zipped over to the visitor’s center for what we thought would be the dark-sky talk and a chance to look through the telescopes. Chaco is the only national park with its own observatory. Well damned if the astronomers weren’t at a conference – um, thanks for letting us know? A ranger gave an interesting presentation on the Civilian Conservation Corps’ involvement in the park in the 1930s and ‘40s, but we were feeling very pouty and whiny about the whole star thing. Until….

We returned to the campsite around 8 p.m. and the sky seemed to go from dusk to black within minutes. I looked up and – WAM, BAM, LOOK AT THOSE STARS, MA’M! I told Lina, who needs astronomers? Of course I would have liked a walk-through of the skies, but wowie, zowie, they were amazing — Milky Way, of course, and shooting stars and dancing constellations. We each laid down on a bench of the picnic table, wrapped up in our blankets, and watched in awe.

Lina's "just one more," Kin Klatso great house

That night we heard the eeriest sound. The only reason I knew it was coyotes is because a ranger had warned me. Wow.

After visiting a few more ruins in the morning (“Just one more” is Lina’s motto in life), we were back on the long dirt road, headed back to the big city.