Saturday, December 19, 2009

Santa Fe Garden Tours...

When I was visiting my mother in October, we made the trek to Charleston for a home and garden tour. I had no idea how spoiled I had become, touring homes and gardens in Santa Fe. Towards the end, I was so impatient, I asked the docent for the "abbreviated" version. My poor mother must have been mortified.

We have a number of awesome tours here run by a variety of organizations. They are all incredibly organized and worthwhile although a bit pricey. My favorite is actually the Builder's Association "Hacienda Tour" in August. And if you go with your realtor, it is free. It runs over the course of two weekends, with a twilight tour one evening in between. Builders sign on and plan for this event years in advance and include new homes as wells as older homes which have been renovated.

All the homes on the Hacienda Tour are professionally staged so the furnishings and decor are the best of the best. I always feel motivated to go home and do something to my house, paint, clean, etc.

And Santa Fe being the relaxed place that it is, the docents are there to be helpful and not to waste your time talking about a parking lot that used to be a church. Sorry Charleston!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A weekend in Santa Fe...

I recently visited my mother in Hilton Head, South Carolina. And while I had a lovely time riding my bike on the beach, watching the porpoises play and padding around the beach, I was struck by the beauty of Santa Fe when I returned.

My cousin recently visited me here in Santa Fe--this being his first time to the City Different. He is an avid skier (cross country), hiker and outdoor sportsman. By the end of his visit, he had to admit "we have it all" here...

We started out on Friday afternoon with an awesome lunch under the portal in my back yard. It is a south-facing patio, with views of the Ortiz and Sandia Mountains. We enjoyed a combination of take out (noodles from Lan's Vietnamese) and some fresh fish I grilled. Brilliant sunshine, 65 degrees and perfect.

After lunch, we put the dogs on their leashes and headed down to the Plaza. For the next two hours we enjoyed a "city walk" -- all around the Plaza, up Canyon Road to the top, down Acequi Madre, looping around the Plaza again before picking up the car on Guadalupe.

Saturday morning, we started out at the farmer's market. I so enjoy wandering the stalls teaming with produce and crafts. The breakfast burrittos and hub bub are really great. A tour of the farmer's market always receives rave reviews from visitors. Late morning, we hiked one of the Dale Ball trails at the top of Sierra del Norte. Again, perfect day with 360 degree views of the Santa Fe basin. After lunch, I took my cousin out to Las Campanas where they have paved walking trails so he could get in a couple of hours of roller-skiing. He came back only a little bloody.

At 3:30, we toured the Shidoni Sculpture Gardens in Tesuque, arriving in their foundry at 3:55 in time to get a good spot to watch the molten bronze pour. I had not seen this in a few years and it was really interesting to watch. There is a lot of drama, especially when there is a mis-step and the caldron of molten bronze threatens to splash out onto the floor.

Saturday night was a typical Santa Fe scene at the Cow Girl. The food and atmosphere are always very good.

Sunday morning, we went to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. We watched the two videos they show, which is very worthwhile--and then wandered the museum. They do an excellent job of curating the works, mixing in photographs by Ansel Adams (of Georgia, naturally) and Georgia's husband, Stiegler (who I personally think may have been a scoundrel). The works change regularly so one can visit often and still enjoy the art.

Sunday is my busy day at work, so I asked my husband to take over tour duties while I attended to a showing and did an open house. When I came home, I found that they had not left the house, but spent the time sitting at the kitchen table drinking beer. A perfect weekend in Santa Fe.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Water in Santa Fe

Yes, Virginia, there is water in Santa Fe. In today's copy of The New Mexican supplement, The Real Estate Guide, Frank Yardman III was interviewed. Frank is a realtor, builder and fourth-generation native. Frank was asked about the issue of water-supply in Santa Fe. Frank's answer was refreshingly honest, Frank said, "I think the State Engineer's Office and every body is involved and if there wasn't the water, we wouldn't have the growth. Santa Fe has always had plenty of water. How do we not have enough and Albuquerque does...?"

Now I'll admit that Frank's answer in unique in that most people, especially realtors will dance around this question.

When I started out in the new agent division at Santa Fe Properties, we were treated to some really great speakers who offered critical information about Santa Fe. One speaker was a former engineer from the State who outlined in great detail our aquifer and it's physical attributes.

I am certainly a proponent of conservation, but the fact is, we do have a healthy water supply. Where we have problems is with infrastructure and low-flush toilets will not solve that problem. The Indian School is one of the largest water users in Santa Fe and that is not because they use the water, it's because their pipes leak.

I lived in Northern California for three years. My 2,300 squre foot house was on a 100 x 50 lot. My water bill was $100 a month. Here in Santa Fe, I live on a little over an acre, within the city limits (city water) and I have about 1/2 of that under cultivation including a section of sod. My water bill is about $40 to $50 in the summer. I have 5-zones and I water three times a week, with each zone on for 45 minutes. I'm not promoting excessive growth, but I am maintaining my perennial borders which include fruit trees.

I have a friend who will take the pot of water she justed boiled potatoes in and use it to water her potted flowers (once it's cooled!). Wow. I applaud her and should we all do this--sure.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Santa Fe: A Dog Town

Santa Fe is a "Dog Town." You may have heard this but what exactly does this mean besides the water bowls you see dotting the streets in front of businesses. Santa Feans put their money, talents and time into a well formed and functioning animal support network.

I was on the board of the New Hampshire Animal Shelter for a few years before moving here and we had serious problems there. The animal shelter in Laconia was constantly over-run with cats, there was never enough money and the roof leaked terribly.

The star of our show is the Santa Fe Animal Shelter. You can visit their website at: In 2005, the shelter moved to a 100-acre campus southwest of town. Two first-class buildings were built there, one for in-take and one for adoptions. What is notable about the Santa Fe Animal Shelter is that this facility was built mostly from in-kind donations. At last count there were almost 50 full time employees and hundreds of volunteers.

Of the thousands of success stories the animal shelter can boast about, perhaps the most amazing are the dogs that landed on their doorstep after hurricane "Katrina" blew through New Orleans. The majority of the dogs had heart-worm. All the dogs were restored to good health and any dogs that could be reunited with their owners were.

Espanola also has an animal shelter. Our 85-lb. Rottwieler, Australian Sheperd mix is from Espanola. Espanola isn't a fancy shelter but they do a tremendous job coordinating adoptions. Both shelters have an out-reach program where animals are shipped to other parts of the country when needed.

Then there are many other shelters in Santa Fe. Probably the most interesting is the Heart & Soul Sanctuary in Glorieta. This shelter is not open to the public but you can call and make an appointment to go there (a donation is required). For the most part, Heart & Soul is strictly a shelter--with out-going adoptions at the low end of their priorty list. If you are interested in learning about animal welfare and viewing the beautiful grounds of this property I recommend a visit. The chapel and memorial wall is especially moving.

Our other dog is a chihuahua, dachsund mix named "Otis." Like all small dogs, Otis has terrible teeth already at the tender age of two and the house-training is on-going, but man is he cute. Otis came from "Small Dog Rescue" off of Yucca in Santa Fe. This shelter is organized and manages to place many animals every year.

My final note on this subject is my office at Santa Fe Properties. Not only are there biscuits at the ready in the reception area but as Realtors we frequently come across pets who have been abandoned. The word goes out and we have a terrific network of caring people who help to find homes or do whatever is necessary to save a lost soul.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Religion and Spirtuality in Santa Fe

Yesterday morning, I was in line at Dunkin Donuts and I was behind an elderly Catholic Priest. The girl working the counter praised him for having a coupon. I've lived around the U.S., including both coasts, and frankly one is exposed to a lot of different religious factions here in Santa Fe. So here I am, my second blog, and I've decided to do a short summary of this diversity. If I've left anyone out, please do not hestitate to let me know.

So yes, with we do have a large Catholic community here. Some moderate, and some who bear crosses and make the annual trek to the church in Chimayo. The Cathedral is a beautiful, large and integral part of Plaza with access for devoted locals and travelers.

But there's some thing about Santa Fe, perhaps it's the lack of atmosphere, or the proximity to the heavens which attracts people from many other faiths.

There is the Buddist Temple on Airport road with it's golden dome. And the large population of arabs who are shopkeepers. Jews have a lot of choice here in Santa Fe--from Chabad to reform to some variations in between. The mormon's not only have a presence, they have a political leader (the Udall's are Mormon) and the Sikh's in Santa Fe own and run a couple of large successful businesses including the Chocolate Maven. And I can't leave out the Muslims who may be few in number but who do contribute to our community.

Add to this mix, the Methodist's (large church on Old Pecos), the Lutheran's (who have been known to generously share their church buildings with other religions that didn't have a place to worship) and the Episcopalians.

Maybe next week I'll tackle politics. Or maybe not.