Sunday, July 11, 2010

May, June and July - oh MY!

I know it is a sign of old age when you look up one day and realize that three months have completely passed you by in what seems like a heartbeat, but I never thought it would happen to ME!

Part of the problem may be that here in SoCal we are actually still waiting for summer! Days have been gray and overcast until well after noon, then temps in the 70's until evening, when it turns downright cold (well, for SoCal) and clouds over again. We are used to May Gray and June Gloom, but July Fry never showed, and now we are in mid-August with weather that is actually colder than last January.

We did get some warmer weather when we packed up the little motor home and drove east to the Navajo Nation in July, and then again later in the month (but this time to Albuquerque, and pulling a trailer).

We were heading out to take some classes that were offered at the Navajo College campus in Tsaile as part of the Navajo's 14th annual Sheep Is Life Festival. We had a relaxing drive out, taking several days to unwind and enjoy Arizona, then reached the rodeo grounds the evening before our classes. It is a beautiful spot, and we parked beneath the trees, had our dinner, enjoyed the sunset and the night sky that was clear and close, especially at 7,000 feet altitude.

In the morning we woke to see some students had already arrived -- and so had a visiting herd of horses!

The mares and foals and a couple of feisty stallions moved slowly through the grounds, then disappeared to re-appear later in the afternoon. No one knew who they belonged to or where the came from.

The classes started in the morning with a Navajo Spinning class, which I had hoped would provide some background and insight into a skill that I was scheduled to teach later in the month at HGA's Convergence. Unfortunately, it was more of a demonstration with very little "enrichment." We picked some churro fleeces, carded, and spun on "Navajo spindles" created from unshaped hardware-store dowels with 3 CD's glued to them. I was hoping to find a source for "real" spindles, but the market was not until the weekend, and we had to leave before then.

Beverely Allen, an expert Navajo weaver, was our instructor, but she was very quiet and reserved.

Beverly demonstrates on a student's spindle while Ron cards some churro.

Fortunately, Ron Garnanez, who had taught a day-long butchering class the previous day, stepped in to help with explanations and to share some stories. He had such a rich background, that we jumped ship and joined his class in the afternoon just to hear him talk.

If we do go again, we will be sure to schedule it so that we can participate in the weekend's events. I think we missed a great deal by having to return so quickly, but it was definitely worth the trip. There are very few highways that are as beautiful as the ride on AZ 12.

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