No, no….not American Idol. I’m not talkin’ J-Lo or Harry Connick, Jr. Settle down.

Can you remember being a small tyke? Think as far back as you can possibly remember. A time when you couldn’t do everything for yourself, but you were learning. Maybe recall a time when you still wore a onesie pajama.


Do you remember idolizing an older kid who could do so much more than you? Maybe he could saddle his own horse.

paysonsaddlingAlmost saddle his own horse.

payson&dustinThis older cowpoke has his own cowboy hat, boots and spurs.


He can climb on tall things without assistance.

paysononchuteHe’s a general stud, but you know what the coolest thing about him is? He’s nice and he takes time to play with you….a lowly little kid.

payson&graham1He takes you huntin’ for yyittle yyizards on the rock wall.

grahamandpaysonHe helps a small feller out when he needs a leg up.

graham&paysononwallThis friend is so nice, he allows you to play with the baby frog he caught.

Your friend responds with a sly grin when you ask for the thousandy-eleventh-time, “Can I go to youse house? Can I go to youse house? Bye mommy. Can I go to youse house?

After a long morning of rounding up, branding, working calves, yyizard-hunting, frog-playing, horseback-riding, and chute-climbing, the truck ride back to the chuck wagon can cause your older, idolized friend to get bone-tired.

Your only thought, your sole wish is… want to BE him. Just like HIM.


Soon enough, little guy. Soon enough.

Best-buddy love to all.

petroglyphs: older than me

Some of you read my recent ranch series and you understand my fascination with the petroglyph cave at the New Mexico ranch.

Bighorn sheep

Do you remember the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind? How Richard Dreyfuss was so obsessed with the importance of a particular butte that he sculpted it in his mashed potatoes at the dinner table?

This will refresh your memory:

This is how I feel about the rock art. I’m compelled to make Valentine’s Cookies from these shapes. My mind refuses to let go.

To update you on the glyphs:

A quadruped. That’s glyph-speak for a four-legged creature.

I contacted a scientist involved in dating the oldest petroglyphs in the United States. He wasn’t certain, but he thought the rock art could be attributed to the Hopi or Zuni. He asked me to contact another expert in Hopi/Zuni petroglyphs. I shot off an email to the distinguished Ekkehart Malotki from Northern Arizona University and asked for assistance in identifying the source and time frame of this rock art.

I received a very kind email response from Dr. Malotki. The glyphs are not of Zuni or Hopi origin….he is certain.

The rock art in the cave is prehistoric. Prehistoric? Do you know how that word stirs my gray matter? What does that mean?

Dr. Malotki defines it as before the first Spanish explorers visited that portion of New Mexico. How much before? I don’t know.

If you are interested, here is his email to me in it’s entirety.

Dear Kathy—Sorry for my delayed response. My PC was in “intensive care” for a while, so actually felt cut off from the world.


I’ve never been in that part of NM where your ranch is, but I can say with certainty that the petroglyphs have no affinity to typical Hopi or Zuni rock art. They are far too far removed from their ancestral lands. They also are not archaic, but most likely prehistoric (which would mean before the coming of the Spaniards).


The zigzags are totally unpatinated, so they could actually be historic. The dark color in some of the glyphs may actually be due to a lichen that has invaded the disturbed (that is, engraved) areas. But I would have to actually inspect the glyphs to make that determination.


I’m sure the “cave” is natural. Perhaps the artist didn’t want others to see his work. The place was his very personal, private “retreat.”


Some elements, like the quadrupeds are identifiable, but as cultural aliens we have no idea whatsoever what they meant to their creators. A pretty safe assumption, however, is that there were made in the context of some ritual, hoping by MAKING them for some positive outcome in matters that was of great concern to the person (or group).


There is a book on the “Rock Art in New Mexico” by Polly Schaafsma. Check the pages 138-147. They deal with rock art in your part of NM.


All best,





Ekkehart Malotki

Professor Emeritus

Northern Arizona University

Box 6004, Flagstaff AZ 86011


Who wants to place bets on how many books by Polly Schaafsma I will purchase? Should I email her? What difference does it make?

Another shape in the cave rock art. Anyone besides me think this is a phallic symbol? Why is the deer on the right laughing?

Wouldn’t want to be caught sculpting this in my mashed potatoes during a dinner party. Nobody would believe I’m really just interested in pre-history.

Historical love to all.

ranch: update

For those of you who slogged through my three-post series last week: put on your hip boots for this update. I simply had to share!

What of the petroglyphs?

petroglyphAfter much scouring of the interwebs, I brazenly emailed a person mentioned in a recent science journal who was involved in dating the oldest petroglyphs (10,000 to 15,000 years old!) in the United States. He very kindly wrote back indicating this rock art was surely of Zuni or Hopi origin. He mentioned this deer as a very common symbol in the SW United States. He put me in touch with a Hopi expert from Northern Arizona University. I’m waiting to hear back. See how much we are learning?

Now for some sad news. Remember this stalwart kitty who entertained our toddler for hours?

grahamwcatGot a text from Sprout #1 yesterday telling me to be very careful with the little dogs while at the ranch. The ranch foreman related he had seen a coyote carcass in a tree being devoured by an eagle. He said all of the barn kitties had been swooped upon and carried away. ***gulp***

Rest assured baby H and Roxy Doxy will never be outside unattended.

If you object to hunting, don’t look at the next picture.

Really, don’t look. Leave now. You’ve been warned.

mountainlionSprout #1 has been enthusiastically tracking the mountain lions for over a year now. He’s seen lots of them, but he’s never bagged one. He has a state permit to take two cats a year. From the looks of his game-cam photos, there’s a nice population of them at the ranch. He finally bagged one a few days ago. It looked to be quite old. Hunting these is an adventure. Can’t wait to hear the Sprout’s full story.

Like I said before, this is a rough country. Not for sissies. Or small animals.

If you are a petite person, you might want to look up now and then.

Thanks for reading this update.

Eye-on-the-sky love to all.

the ranch: photos

I’m pulling the photo album out of my granny-handbag. Finishing up the three-part ranch series with my favorite captures. I snapped these with the Nikon d700 and the 50mm fixed lens. I didn’t want to be bouncing around in the 4-wheeler with tons of equipment. Simple is best.

Sit with me on the loveseat, won’t you? ***grabbing your sleeve***

I know you’ll want to see these, honey.

What’s a trip to the ranch without a cow picture? These softly back-lit ladies are beautiful.
Our intrepid archeological assistants at the petroglyph cave. Who knew how much they love rock art?
Elk horn sheds line the wrap-around porch.
Adorable ranch kids riding their faithful horse, Smoke.
Caught the sun just right in this rock formation. I like it best in B&W.
Moi, in the waning light. Proof I was really on the trip.
This photo made me LOL. Observe the shadows. Looks like we’re about to be attacked by a wolf! Run, Sprout!
Who knew the Texan had such an artistic eye? He saw the sun setting through this barn and summoned me to capture this moment. Grateful I still listen sometimes to the Texan. A photographer must always be ready at sunrise/sunset.
G played for hours with this friendly barn cat. Nothing bothered this cat….tail-pulling, swatting, inadvertent kicking….he kept coming back for more. The toddler was endlessly entertained.

Now…..drum roll, please….my favorite photo of the ranch trip. I like the starkness of it. Feels familiar and it feels like art to me. I call it hommage a O’Keefe. I think you’ll understand.

A desert big horn sheep skull hanging in the bunkhouse. I admire the starkness and beauty of the skull, but I’m also drawn to the negative space in the photo. I may have to print this one.


Oh….you have to go now??***unfurling my tightly-wrapped arm from around your shoulders***

Come back and visit real soon.***wet kiss***

Here’s hoping you always find the flattering light.

Land of Enchantment-love to all.

the ranch: outcroppings

Rocks, rocks, and more rocks. Never knew there were so many varieties slumbering on the ground, jutting proudly from the earth, being utilized as a writing slate, leaning against one another for support, or forming mazes for us to ponder.

Behold the boulders.

Example of rock outcroppings one sees driving across the ranch. How did the red boulders get here? I named the rock formation our mini Sedona. Or Garden of the Gods.
Are these the gods? No, just hardy climbers who were inexplicably compelled to make it to the summit. Luckily, I was holding the camera.
I love the Texan. Because the rock he’s standing on looks like the profile of an old man to me, I call this photo ‘old man on an old man’. Think I’m cross-eyed from trying to decipher cave drawings.
A stone column in the distance. These are natural….not man-made. Crazy.
Another stone column. The car gives you some idea of the size of this formation. There is an old copper mine at the base of this rock.
The copper mine. Be careful!
The menfolk had to climb the columnar rock formation to check out the bat cave.
Much of the open country in this part of New Mexico is dotted with these crumbling rock homesteads. We think these started springing up around 1850 and into the turn of the century. Usually there are sheep pens nearby.
The walls are made of dry-fitted stones. The sites can be dangerous to explore because of falling rocks. And old barbed wire. And unexpected holes in the ground.
Doesn’t this make you wonder what life was like for these homesteaders/sheepherders? This is unforgiving country with extremes in weather. We wondered who was born and who died in this small house. This structure is a little larger than many others dotting the countryside.
The Sprout braved the possibility of large falling stones to let me snap a photo. Look at the rock precariously balanced over the door. I think the lovely picture was worth the risk.

Enjoyed exploring this Lonesome Dove-like land. If I was still riding a horse……oh, well.

Is your head spinning from staring at rocks? Do you feel like a geologist now?

On Friday, I’m gonna whip my photo album from my over-sized handbag and force you to lovingly gaze at my favorite ranch photos. I’ll probably invade your personal space and talk too loud. Some of the shots are artsy-fartsy. Prepare yourselves….you know I’m an over-sharer.

Rock of Ages love to all.

Coronado was here-faces of Pacheco


Juan Andres Pacheco.  Former caretaker of this portion of America’s vast grassland.  He wasn’t the first.  The Native Americans…the Spanish…the Mexican vaqueros once inhabited this land.  Natives still roam the landscape.


Along with current ranch occupants.


The ranch family tree keeps branching.


Coronado explored this part of North America searching for the Seven Cities of Gold.


He didn’t find the cities.  He found the great American West.


Did he observe how the sky swallows one up in this part of New Spain?


The blood of Coronado’s lost horses beats true in the hearts of our equines.  The land and beast stewardship continue.


Doesn’t matter your age.


Doesn’t matter your sex.


There’s no time to question.


Just get the job done. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but sometimes it is.


Wisdom is available. Listening required.


Years of abundance blend with years better forgotten; drought, fire, record snowstorms.


Loss is a companion.


 Pulling on boots can signal hope.


Work is unending.  Cattle don’t consult calendars or time pieces.


Moments treasured with family and friends in precious, cool water.  Perhaps we’ve found our Cibola?