Category Archives: Las Cruces

And Just like that, another year is gone!

I’ve really enjoyed the month of October this year! My birthday is the 25th, and in the past I’ve only ever celebrated my birthday. This year, I decided to change that and celebrate my birth MONTH.

I’m feeling especially blessed this year as I was able to paint TWO murals during the month! I’m really excited about painting murals, it is so much fun to paint large and murals fit the bill, not to mention, I don’t have to store large paintings when I’m done. They live where they are painted! I think the best part is that they are living with people who truly appreciate and love them!

I took extra time off this month too. I enjoyed hikes with my family, time with my grandson and of course my sweetie, a baby shower for my 2nd grandson, dinners out, the Frida Kahlo photograph exhibit at the UNM Art Museum, time in Las Cruces with my brother and sister-in-law and much more! It’s been a great month and I am very grateful.

I apologize for the lack of blog posts, but I was so busy with murals and other stuff, the blog practically slipped my mind all month!

Oh, and there was the jaw pain! I’ve been in pain for most of the month. I finally broke down and went to the dentist last week and found out I have to get my one, final, wisdom tooth pulled on Nov. 7th. After a round of antibiotics and steroids, the pain is mostly gone, but the pressure is building and I cannot wait to get this tooth out of my head!

This weekend is my 30th High School reunion! I cannot believe it’s been that long already, but I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone! Aaron and I will be playing some Sunlight music for my classmates at the Saturday evening dinner.

Coming up on November 11th, is the “Face-Palm Patriots”, Veterans Art Show I’m participating in at the KD Neeley gallery in Downtown Albuquerque. This show will benefit the local organization, Heroes Walk Among Us. This is the show I’ve been working on the Self-portrait for. I’m just about finished with it, I have to take it to the gallery tomorrow! I’m pretty pleased with the outcome, considering it’s my first portrait in over 12 years!

Self Portrait for the upcoming "Face-Palm Patriots" Veteran art show

Self Portrait for the upcoming “Face-Palm Patriots” Veteran art show at the KD Neeley gallery in downtown Albuquerque.

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The Sun and the Moon

I painted my latest mural this past Sunday and Monday. I’m so excited about this one! I’m calling it “The Sun and the Moon” and I think it’s the best mural I’ve painted to date. I painted it for my brother and his wife. They had a neighbor build a new cinder block wall bordering their driveway, and they thought it needed some color! It was definitely my most ambitious mural yet, at 33 x 5.5′ feet!

I’m considering making prints of this one, it would have to be a triptych as the wall is too long to get it all in one photo. I tried taking a panoramic shot, but hard to do on a sloping driveway! What do you think? Or maybe I will do a smaller canvas version of it?

As with my other murals, I filmed the process and created a time lapse video to share with y’all. I think the time lapse videos are my favorite part, as I get to watch the progress too! It’s a different perspective for me as I don’t get to stand back and watch while I’m painting.

The music on the video is written and performed by my brother, Travis James Manning. He is a lifelong musician and currently plays in two bands, as well as playing solo acoustic shows in El Paso, TX and Las Cruces, NM

Enjoy the video, share the video, comment on the video… any of these activities is greatly appreciated! Thank you for your continued support! πŸ™‚

Lessons Learned

photo of the stage at Fiddler's Dream coffee house

The stage at Fiddler’s Dream Coffee House

Last night we made it home from our second trip out in the RV. We went back to Arizona again. This time starting off in Phoenix where we had a Sunlight show at Fiddler’s Dream coffee house. Then heading to Tucson the next day where we had a gig at Delectables restaurant.

Aaron and I, Sunlight, before our show

Aaron and I (Sunlight), before hopping on stage for our show

Fiddler’s Dream is just that, a dream venue! The audience is actually listening and not just there to eat and visit with each other. We had a really wonderful response there, it was lovely. We will definitely go back on our next trip to Phoenix! Before we left Phoenix, we spent the late morning/early afternoon at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens. They had an exhibit of Chihuly glass sculptures all throughout the gardens.

Chihuly glass sculpture

Chihuly glass sculpture at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens

Though it was a bit chilly, it was a lovely sunny day to be there. We met a friend there and also had a nice lunch in the patio cafe where the quail were so tame they came right up to us and practically ate out of our hands. I have never seen so many quail in one place and NEVER so tame!

Chihuly glass sculpture in the gardens

Chihuly glass sculpture in the gardens

tame quail in the patio cafe at the botanical gardens

tame quail in the patio cafe at the botanical gardens

quail at the botanical gardens

quail at the botanical gardens

There was also a lone squirrel in the mix that did, in fact, come up to me and take a piece of bread from my hand. He even posed for several photos!

squirrel that ate out of my hands!

squirrel that ate out of my hands!

Delectables was another lovely venue. It was a restaurant/bar and though the audience wasn’t there just for the music (we played for an art opening), they were friendly and welcoming. The owner, Donna, was sweet and invited us to come back anytime we were in Tucson.

more Chihuly glass

more Chihuly glass

The third day, we were supposed to be on our way to Bisbee to play a show at the Grand Hotel Saloon, but our RV had other plans. It started the night before on our way back to the RV park from our gig at Delectables. The night had gone really well, the crowd enjoyed our music and we enjoyed the crowd. That is, until we pulled onto the freeway and the RV started shaking and rocking back and forth. Aaron immediately pulled over because we thought we had blown out a tire. He got out, walked around to look at all the tires and got back in saying they were all still fine. So, we fired the engine back up and got back on the road and everything seemed fine.

Huge Chihuly glass sculpture

Huge Chihuly glass sculpture

The next morning we headed back out on the road with the intention of making a couple of stops for a new air filter and dish soap before we hit the road towards Bisbee for our show at 4pm that afternoon. This time we were exiting the interstate when the shaking and rocking started. This was enough for us to stop in the parking lot in front of the auto parts store and check the tires and underside of the RV once again, this time in the light of day. There was evidence of something being off with the suspension, so we ended up calling the roadside assistance number for a tow truck. Incidentally, we had JUST purchased the roadside assistance before leaving on this trip. Thank goodness!

RV hooked up to the tow truck

Hooked up to the tow truck, finally, after a 3-4 hour wait!

Long story short, after a 3-4 hour wait (it was a Sunday after all), we got towed to the mechanic’s yard and ended up spending the night there while waiting for our new tires to be ordered and delivered Monday morning. By Monday afternoon, we were back on the road thinking we had taken care of all the RV issues. We had already planned on going home that day anyway. To our dismay, we found ourselves stopped on the side of the road again, this time because we were losing power and backfiring. After some consultation with friends and family on facebook we bought some fuel cleaner and that seemed to help enough to get us to Las Cruces (halfway point) for the night.

Aaron and I at the botanical gardens

Aaron and I at the botanical gardens

Needless to say, we have learned a thing or two on our first couple of RV trips! Due to monetary concerns, we have been forced to come home until at least the end of February. Here’s a short list of our lessons learned;

1. Roadside assistance membership is a MUST!

2. Three dogs is way too much for a small motor home! Any motor home really, they need a yard to run in and I HATE cleaning up dog poop in those little plastic bags! Gross!

3. Towing a car behind your motor home may be a pain, but having a car when you get to your destination is priceless. Bikes are fine, but when you get a flat tire in a small town, you’re stuck with a flat tire until you get to a place that has a bike shop. Also, driving a motor home to a gig can be difficult when it comes time to find a parking space!

4. Though it is nice to travel around in a motor home and have your home always with you, it’s also nice to have a home to go back to when the trip is over. Since we rented out all the rooms in our house with plans to live full time in our RV, we had to sleep on our mattress on the floor of our living room when we got home last night because it was WAY too cold to sleep out in the RV!

Be Careful!

Our shadows cast on the desert trail, walking the dogs out in the desert is a favorite for us, the dogs can run free and we can walk in peace away from traffic.

Our shadows cast on the desert trail, walking the dogs out in the desert is a favorite for us, the dogs can run free and we can walk in peace away from traffic.

The one phrase we’ve heard most often since taking off on our trip is “Be careful!” I understand the people telling us this have nothing but good intentions. I really do appreciate everyone’s concern. Last night when I heard it again for the hundredth time, it just struck me as such a funny thing to say.

The dogs are ready to get their run in!

The dogs are ready to get their run in!

First of all, of course we are going to be careful! What hit me more profoundly though was the fact that to do what we are doing, traveling around in an RV, is a risk. The type of risk that most people would never take. Maybe that’s why people tell us to be careful, because they cannot see themselves doing what we are doing. They see it as too much of a risk. Way too far out of their comfort zone.

fall colors on a tree in Las Cruces

Fall starts a bit later down south, but the trees are starting to change.

I guess it’s all in your perception. We see it as an adventure! No doubt, we are stepping out of our own comfort zone. We have lived the last 13 years in the same town, in the same house even. We have established ourselves in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We have a business, we have friends, family, in short, we have comfort in Albuquerque.

photo of Leon family in Las Cruces

We have enjoyed visiting with great friends, Saturday evening was spent with the Leon family, too much fun!

We spent two days with our lifelong friend Rob, here with his dog, Paco.

We spent two days with our lifelong friend Rob, here with his dog, Paco.

Visiting our hometown for the past week has reminded me of my adventurous spirit. I first left Las Cruces, New Mexico as a 17 year old. Newlywed, young mother, my husband was in the military, our first duty station just happened to be Hawaii. We were there for a short 8 months, but at the time it seemed like forever! It was so hard being so far from home, back in the days when long distance calls were expensive. But it was fun! I guess I’ve always been good at stepping out of my comfort zone. It’s just a part of who I am.

One of my record paintings hanging on the wall at the Leon family home! :)

One of my record paintings hanging on the wall at the Leon family home! πŸ™‚

For years, when my kids were growing up, I wanted nothing more than to have a safe, secure life. Buy a house, get a steady job, stay in one place so the boys would have friends and feel like they belonged somewhere. It took a long time to get to that place. From that first adventure in Hawaii, to finally settling down in Albuquerque spanned a period of 15 years and at least 20 moves in 6 different states!

photo of Organ mountains

My favorite landmark in Las Cruces, the Organ mountains to the east of town. This view is from the front porch of our good friend Rob’s house.

Now that the boys are men, adults taking care of themselves (for the most part!), all I want to do is explore and move, enjoying the time spent traveling from one town to another. Unlike when the boys were small. All the moving back then was a nightmare. Now it’s just Aaron and me, we don’t have to worry about anything but what we want to do.

dogs running at park with Organ mountains in the background

And a view of the Organs from Young Park with the dogs running in the foreground

Way back when, at the young age of 16, when I had my first son, I promised myself that I would reward myself for the sacrifices of having kids at an early age by enjoying my 40s. I am now here and spending my 40s doing the things most people do in their 20s.

Ran into our friend and fellow musician at an open mic night. Big thanks to Tom Foster Morris for the cd he gave me for my birthday!

Ran into our friend and fellow musician at an open mic night. Big thanks to Tom Foster Morris for the cd he gave me for my birthday!

My promise to you all? We will be careful! πŸ™‚

Week One

Would it be obvious to say it’s been an eventful week? We pulled out of Albuquerque last Thursday in the late afternoon. It didn’t take long for our first incident…

photo of our dogs in the RV

The dogs were ready to hit the road!

Just after we passed the first Belen exit, which is about 20 miles south of ABQ, the RV started sputtering and then stalled. We pulled over to the side of the road and I struggled not to have a complete meltdown! I fought back the tears, how could this be happening? All this time we had waited to leave town and we hadn’t even made it out of the area yet. As usual, Aaron stayed cool and calm, as he took the engine cover off and started looking at the engine. I suggested Aaron text Chris, the mechanic we had bought the RV from, since he had told us to call him if we had any issues. He responded very quickly and proceeded to ask Aaron questions and then told him that it sounded like the choke was sticking or a float within the carburetor was sticking. He suggested trying to start it with the gas held to the floor and sure enough, it started right back up! Back on the road after a few minutes, we didn’t have any issues after that. The RV runs quite well as a matter of fact. Our conclusion was the carburetor was clogged after sitting in our driveway for over a month.

New Mexico sunset photo

Sunset shot on the way south from Albuquerque

In Las Cruces Thursday evening, we parked the RV in my brother’s driveway. He has one of those great big driveways, especially made for RV parking. How convenient!

Go burger sign

Biggest, best burritos in Las Cruces!

Friday was my birthday! I always take the day off on my birthday, so Friday morning we got up and decided to take a walk to one of our favorite burrito joints in Cruces, Go Burger. That’s one of the nice things about visiting Las Cruces, you don’t really NEED a car. As long as it isn’t the middle of the Summer! This time of year however, the weather was a perfect 78 degrees. We initially thought the walk would take us an hour, but we arrived within 25 minutes and had our yummy chile relleno burritos in another 10 minutes. If you are ever in Las Cruces, I highly recommend eating at Go Burger, they have lots of great Mexican food, but the burritos, with their 12″(at least!) homemade tortillas, are the BOMB! Funny, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a burger there!

chile relleno burrito

Go Burger chile relleno burrito, YUM!

Our trips to Las Cruces usually revolve around food and eating out. The Mexican food is quite different even from southern to northern New Mexico. Having grown up in the south, we like it best! On regular trips to LC we eat as much Mexican as we can, but this trip even more so! Since we are getting ready to leave the state, we are getting our fill of our favorite food from home. Now, I know, I know, you can get Mexican food all over the country these days, but nothing is quite like Southern New Mexico style. The chile is grown locally and is famous for being the best in the world!

That evening my brother and his wife took us out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. We drove out to Old Mesilla, just outside of LC, and ate at La Posta. This restaurant has been around for a LONG time, it opened in 1939, it’s the place you take tourists when they visit. It’s an old historic building built in the 1840s. The food is good, but the atmosphere of the old adobe walls, lots of small rooms connected in a maze, with live parrots in a huge cage in the entrance is what makes La Posta such a magical place to visit. Of course, I didn’t take any photos this time! 😦 I promise to be better about that, still getting used to the idea that I promised to share our adventures!)

outlet and plug halloween costume photo

Aaron and I in our costumes, I was an electrical outlet and Aaron was the plug. I was actually surprised by how many times we had to explain our costume!

Saturday we spent time visiting friends in the afternoon, before my brother took us with him to a Halloween party. His band, Flat Blak, played and Aaron and I even played a few songs with my brother on drums and another friend, Larry, on keyboards. We spent the day driving around town searching for a costume for Aaron and ended up finding a couple costume that was so perfect and funny! I was an electrical outlet and Aaron was the plug! My brother and his wife had matching costumes too, my brother was the dude from Duck Hunter and his wife was an army girl. As usual when partying with my brother, we were up until 4:30 Sunday morning! Needless to say, we didn’t do much other than watch football on Sunday.

Duck Hunter and Army girl halloween costumes

My brother, Travis, and his wife, Charlene

There is still more to share but I don’t want to make this post too long. I will finish up on Thursday. Subscribe to my blog if you want to receive notice of my next post. I had planned to post a new blog every Tuesday, but a week is a long time and a lot to share, so I’m thinking of changing that to Tuesdays and Thursdays. Depending of course on how much we have to share or how busy we are. My next post will take you through Monday to Wednesday of this week. Hopefully, next week’s post will include photos of some new paintings or at least progress on a new painting. It is quite an adjustment to work while traveling, though it is nice to have our “home office” with us while we are on the road. We are currently planning to leave Las Cruces on Friday/Saturday and head to Silver City, NM and the Gila National Forest and Wilderness Area. Stay tuned…..

Dreams, Revisited

Since I was sixteen, my mantra has been “no regrets”. In other words, when I near the end of my life I want to be able to say that I have no regrets for the way I lived. When I was 16 a friend of mine died in a mountain climbing accident. At the time I had recently given birth to my first son. I was still in high school. That was my first wake up call. Life is short! I HAD to live it to it’s fullest! What if I died tomorrow?

I had a few years of floundering around, married the father of my son, joined the military, had a couple more sons, and started my first art business. Not long after my divorce from the father of my sons, I discovered that I was in love with my best friend. We moved in together and married 1 1/2 years later. We had a lovely little family, my new husband was content to help me raise my boys since I could no longer have babies. Basically, I have lived and continue to live my happily ever after. Fast forward 15 years, my youngest son has moved out of the house and we now have an EMPTY nest! When I was young I sacrificed some of my dreams in order to be the best mom I could be. Always with the thought that we would have an empty nest around the time I was 42, leaving plenty of life left to live out those long forgotten dreams.

For a few months, I have floundered around, yet again. Wondering what was next? I still love being an artist and have many plans and goals yet to achieve. Regrets? I still have none. My life isn’t over YET, after all. I’ve been revisiting some of the dreams I had way back when I was fifteen years old, before I became a young mother. One of them was to be a singer/performer/actress. It just so happens that I am married to not only my best friend, but a highly talented musician. We had tried to work together on a music project back at the beginning of our relationship. Before my husband earned his bachelors of music, before he had the patience and knowledge to help me find my voice. We had one gig back then. I SUCKED! I was so nervous, my voice never really came out, it just wavered and trembled and I was so embarrassed that I gave up on the dream. I went back to my art, my comfort zone.

Back to the future and 2008. April 2008 to be exact. My dad passed away unexpectedly and my brother (who is also a professional musician), husband and I decided we would play a couple of my dad’s favorite songs at his memorial services. The idea was reborn then. A folk trio playing all the old folk music my brother and I grew up listening to in my dad’s record room. Yes, my dad had a record ROOM. He had a record collection of over 40,000 records(which I now have). Yet another reason why my brother and I always loved music. We used to sing songs together as kids and even made it on the radio once! On our dad’s Oldies radio show. πŸ™‚

When dad died, it seemed perfect that we would put together an act in remembrance of him. So, for the last 4 1/2 years we’ve done nothing but talk about it. We always sing songs around the campfire when we take our yearly “memorial dad” camping trip.

This year, finally, now that we have so much extra time on our hands, Aaron and I started practicing folk songs together. We told my brother about it and now we are working on putting our folk trio together. We spent 4 evenings in July practicing before, during and after our yearly camping trip. We have practiced since then separately, and together (via recordings and email).

This Thursday is the moment we’ve been practicing for! It’s our first gig! We live 3 hours away from my brother, but we will be driving down to play and also, spend some time in his recording studio making demos of the music we have down so far. If you happen to be in or around Las Cruces, NM this Thursday, stop by Uno’s between 6:30 – 9:30pm and have a listen! I promise my confidence in my singing has improved. I am SURE it will be a good show this time around! I promise to share some photos and possibly video when I get home! πŸ™‚

A Whole Week!

I just realized that I mentioned my recycled, hand painted furniture in the last post, but forgot to post the photos. OOPS! See them in my Etsy shop. (I was unable to load them here, something up with blogger)

It’s been a week since my last post. I was out of town last week from Wednesday to Saturday. I went down to Las Cruces (my home town) to help a long time and very dear friend pack up her mom’s house. Her mom, also a cherished friend, is moving to New Hampshire to complete her PhD. She has lived in this house since before we were born (as far as I know), almost 40 years let’s just say. It was like going back in time and reliving all my memories of growing up. I spent a LOT of time in that house. It was so much fun to hang out with my friend and her mom. We haven’t spent time alone, just the girls without kids and husbands, in at least 20 years!

Since I came home I have been busy, busy, busy in the studio. I’m currently working on some new needlepoint designs. I hope to have all my designs posted together with a link to the company that is selling them VERY soon! As soon as I know where they are being sold retail, I will also post that information. I had contemplated selling them retail in my Etsy shop but decided that I didn’t want to compete with the shops. So I will provide a list of shops as well as a link to the website where they can be purchased wholesale. So far I have 9 designs completed with a couple more in the works. However, there are a couple that I won’t be able to share until later in the year because they will be released exclusively at a show in April. I will share more information about that as it comes available.

I am also currently working on finding companies to license my designs for use on tiles and fabric. If you have any recommendations please let me know.