Saturday, July 29, 2006

Enderts picnic fare. Posted by Picasa

Go tell it on the mountain. Posted by Picasa

Grin and bear it. Posted by Picasa
The sentinel. Posted by Picasa
Slim and Shady climb a tree while Lulu waits, non-patiently. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The correct way to wear a cowboy hat. Posted by Picasa

Get your head around hat history

By Ryn Gargulinski: local columnist

The other day I was throttled back to the New Mexico plains when I glimpsed a tan man in a cowboy hat.

Granted, this guy’s hat was straw and had a surfer dude sticker on it, and he was peering out of an SUV with a pile of wetsuits in the back, but the aura of the Wild West still prevailed — mere steps from the Pacific Ocean.

Not only is the cowboy hat perhaps the best known icon of the West, it also makes for a great planter, paper clip receptacle or cheese dip holder for nacho chips, especially when they are artistically yet tastefully positioned around the brim.

While the only cowboy hat I ever bought was moth-eaten and purchased as a joke at a rummage sale for my friend just because he didn’t want it, it does not make these fine toppers any less magnificent.

In fact, the history of the hat is alluring in its own right, dating back to Mongolian times with Genghis Kahn. Text translations from 1206 actually show the ancient horsemen would blurt out exclamations that were drastically similar to the modern-day “yeehaw.”

So strange that those back in Mongolia at that time had ever heard of New Mexico or Texas, let alone the popular cowboy hat.

But stranger things happened still.

The cowboy hat’s transcendence made it a boom into popular culture in the late 1970s, according to the people at Texas-based Resistol hats, who say they still churn out at least a million cowboy hats a year.

In about 1979 they were working 24-hour shifts meeting the high demand of every New Yorker who suddenly wanted a lavender cowboy hat adorned with a pink ostrich feather. Who knew there were so many pimps.

They said that boom died out by 1982, which happens to coincide with Manhattan arrest records, but that didn’t make the cowboy hat less well-known.

In fact, the hat J.R. Ewing wore in the wildly popular TV drama Dallas actually sits in the Smithsonian.

That hat may even have a place of honor between the Hope Diamond and the zoological exhibit of Lemur Island. Or maybe it’s near the dinosaurs.

The Smithsonian’s decision to include J.R.’s cowboy hat in its 124 million objects proves one thing — dinosaurs were born too early.

If the brontosaurus or his fellow pterodactyl could have just held out for a few million years until the 1200s, they, too, could have been hunted down by folks wearing cowboy hats.

The long and weathered history of the hat only adds to its charm, of course. There is only one thing that could have made the hat a smidgen better. As the 10-gallon hat is so called because it could hold 10 gallons of water for the thirsty crew, one could have made a mint with a little innovation.

Keeping the body system’s functioning in mind, a genius should have marketed a 10-gallon boot.

Just make sure neither is moth-eaten nor made of straw.

Ryn Gargulinski writes for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at:

This column originally appeared in the July 23, 2006, issue of Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico.
Little Man when he's little. Posted by Picasa
Little Man now he's big. Posted by Picasa
My shoe. Posted by Picasa
Mom shoe. Posted by Picasa
Dad shoe. Posted by Picasa

Someone watching in the redwoods. Posted by Picasa
The trees that eat you, Calif. Posted by Picasa
The trees that eat you, Calif. Posted by Picasa
Dad strikes a patriotic stance. Posted by Picasa
The folks in full July 4 regalia. Posted by Picasa

Mom takes a peek out the peek-a-boo tree. Posted by Picasa
Some kind of stump clump in the redwoods. Posted by Picasa
Charging bull in the redwoods, Calif. Posted by Picasa
Winds of change above New Mexico plains. Posted by Picasa
A Tucumcari, N.M., dawn. Posted by Picasa

The sky's no limit in New Mexico

Ryn Gargulinski: Local columnist

Just as my friend in New Mexico would tell me to look at the moon from my California yard some 2,000 miles away because we’d be seeing the very same moon, I have to remind myself it’s also the same sky.

But it’s really not.

First off, the sky in New Mexico is much bigger than anywhere else.
When researching exact dimensions, I found the sky over the Land of Enchantment averages 99.43 times larger than the sky elsewhere in the United States.

New York City sky is by far the smallest since it wears away at the edges from constantly being scraped by tall buildings.

Northern California sky gets cropped from massive mountain mounds, a horizon often dappled with ocean waves and those 3,000-foot things called redwoods.

Los Angeles sky was shown not to exist, thanks to all the smog.

Since the sky in New Mexico is technically larger than anywhere else, it only makes sense it would contain more things. Like Cannon Air Force Base planes, hot air balloons and UFOs. It’s also supple enough to withstand those scary wind turbine contraptions that look like they just popped out of a Stephen King novel.

And it’s also a great place for star watching, as dozens of statewide astronomy clubs have already figured out.

While many folks can point to the North Star, the Big Dipper and the whole of the Milky Way galaxy, there are dozens of lesser known constellations — and stories behind them — kicking around the sky.

Like the one that’s supposed to look like a hand. According to the Lakota Indians, this hand floating around the Earth’s perimeter actually belongs to an arm of a great Lakota chief. No, the rest of him is not hiding behind Orion. His arm had been ripped off and chucked into the atmosphere by gods punishing him for being selfish.

The coyote also pops up in the sky. Not as a constellation himself, but as the one who created the whole Milky Way galaxy. According to Navajo myth, the coyote got annoyed at how slow the holy people were placing the stars in the sky so he took the whole bag of stars and threw them over his head. Thus they scattered around willy-nilly and were later named after a candy bar.

Of course, one has to use imagination with such things, as the outlines of the figures are not drawn out with a fat fluorescent marker.

The hand constellation, for instance, comprises six stars that can look like a hand if one squints, blinks and then turns sideways — or maybe views it from Los Angeles.

It can also look like a crippled tree branch or a kindergartner’s way of drawing the letter “W.”

In any event, to see it best, one simply needs to be nestled in New Mexico.

Ryn Gargulinski writes for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at:

This column originally appeared in the July 16, 2006, issue of Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico.
Lone darlingtonia. Posted by Picasa
Clump of darlingtonia. Posted by Picasa
Klatch of darlingtonia. Posted by Picasa
Sea of darlingtonia. Posted by Picasa