Saturday, October 13, 2007

TedTom Sat. October 13

I'm writing from one of my favorite places: a Borders in Rio Ranchero New Mexico. A day into 64; spent my birthday (my very deep thanks to all of you who sent me notes and called!!) evening under the stars in Chaco Canyon (here is a nice site:, a place I have always wanted to visit for myself. Spent two days and one evening wandering around the valley looking at the ruins of ancient pueblos and ceremonial buildings (perhaps)and structures. Hawks, ravens, lizards, rabbits and birds of many sorts shared the space with me. The damn raven and chipmunks enjoyed my uncooked rice and peck a neat hole in (right precisely in the middle) my plastic gallon water jug--I hope the thirsty devils enjoyed it. But my friend Bill says i have to write more about myself--he says thats what my audience--any audience--wants to know is what the writer is really thinking and experiencing. Probably true.

Anyway the best thing that happened on this "small" loop from the Grand Canyon (visited in the morning Thursday Oct 11) to Monument Valley where I spent that evening (and I'm without words to describe) on to Chaco Canyon to celebrate my birthday with the ravens--was, picking up TedTom an older Navajo man sort of hitchhiking on his way to Farmington NM--about twenty miles--to run some errands. TedTom was actually sitting outside the trading post at a small crossroads somewhere south of Mexican Hat (man there is so much to tell you guys about. If you are ever in Mexican Hat, stay at the San Juan Inn and Motel for the evening or week of your life-- indeed click on this link). Well, old Tedtom and I set off after I bought us both a cup of coffee for the road. I asked only one thing in return for the lift: that he allow me to take his picture--he agreed and off we went.

We drove first to his home about 4 miles away where he showed me his horses about to be raced at the Tuba City annual fair and introduced me to his granddaughter whose picture I took with her grandfather--now that cost me 10 bucks which I offered and she accepted. TedTom also showed me his sacred Hogan built by his father and replastered a few years before by him and his three sons. TedTom was born on September 22, 1940 which he remembered for being born in the family "Shake" house--a typical regional wooden structure made of small trees and branches--brought at some labor from the nearby mountains--and used for all ceremonial gatherings of the family and friends--births, weddings, parties, and just nice dinners. I felt myself to be quite lucky to be allowed to visit TedTom's home, his Hogan and his Shakehouse. Not many white men--as he called me--had been to his home.

Then, off again to Farmington where TedTom had a few things to do. After further conversation I found myself giving TedTom a little money to pay a water and electric bill; afterwards we said good bye. Now, I admit it did cost me 30 dollars to give this old Navajo gentleman a lift but it was the best thirty dollars I ever spent.

Well, and now on from here over the Rockies onto the desert (again) of west Texas. The last time I crossed the panhandle of Texas, Merle Haggard's Okie From Muskogee was playing on the jukebox of the very hostile joint I mistakenly ventured into wearing my hair fashionably long--some might have called my wife and children--hippies but we thought of ourselves as students and respectable folks. Well let's find out how things have changed; I need to add one of those smiley faces here.

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