Goodbye NoBloPoMo, Hello SSAW

Well, I did it. I wrote 30 blogs, one a day, throughout November. Plus other ones now and then; I am really addicted to blogging.

But now I must get on with the original purpose of my having a blog – to write about my father, Stanley Sylvester Alexander Watkins, and his life and times.

I may have to change the title of the blog to encourage other bloggers to come in and have a conversation with me about those things I have tagged: movies, sound, recording, Worlds Fairs, Vitaphone, Festival of Britain, Folk songs, pantomimes, visible speech, and more.

I hope you’ll come with me on this journey.


30 Why do bands always look so gloomy?

Hurray for Grand Funk Railyard – what a nice change to see the lineup all smiling! Is it because they are veterans, they have made it and can relax?

Why, I wonder, is it imperative for all young band members to wear such grim faces. Is it that they need to be taken ‘seriously’?

Maybe it is because I am an oldie, myself, that the somber and even at times menacing looks staring out from publicity photos don’t make me want to hear their music. I’m put off by their deadpan stares.

Give us a smile, just once in a while, lads (and occasionally gals, though they usually look happier). I’m sure your music isn’t all that bad.




We drove up to sunny Santa Fe today from a very overcast Albuquerque (about 65 miles) to meet some friends at the SWAIA (Southwest Association of Indian Artists) for their Winter Market. It is held at the Sweeny Center (built on the original site of Tesuque Pueblo) and the big room is full of Native American artists who work in every media.

I don’t have the $$$ to buy their lovely work, but this is a great opportunity to get hugs from all the friends I’ve made over the 28 years I’ve been here that are gathered in this one place this weekend. We chat about what we’ve been doing and are going to do, and it’s a great time to catch up. It is very chilly outside, but in here it is warm and wonderful.

This year there was a silent auction of 4′ artificial Christmas trees, donated and decorated by the artists. One of my friends, Sheridan MacKnight, won a gorgeous red & green ribbon for her tree, hung with the delicate, painted white buckskin earrings she makes.

Some of these busy folk will be in New York next weekend for the Arts & Crafts Fair at the Heye Center, the NY venue for the Smithsonian Indian Museum. After fond farewells we drove back to Albuquerque and home.

Other people were going home, too.

This morning when we were driving north up the I-25 we began to notice the preponderance of licence plates from Colorado. At first it didn’t make sense, but then we realized these must be people hurrying back home after spending Thanksgiving with relatives or friends in Albuquerque. It’s only about a 7 hr drive so lots of people do it fairly regularly. Out here where there isn’t much but scenery in between the large towns, distances are just something to connect them. In England I would hesitate to drive 130 miles round trip to go to dinner, but here we do it without thinking. We do have a train now, but the schedule is erratic and not always convenient, and although very cheap, it takes nearly an hour longer.

Coming south on the way home I saw one car returning to Albuquerque with skis stored on the roof; the first sign that skiing has begun. Not yet on the Eastern slopes of our local Sandia Mountains, but we expect more snow before long, and as long as our famous sun doesn’t melt it too quickly, this bodes well for the Spring snowmelt. Fingers crossed; we need the water.

And remember, if any of you think of coming to New Mexico in the winter, be warned. The sun is bright, but it can be verrrrry cold. We are high desert, not Sarahan.





Who coined that phrase “Everything I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten”?

Or words to that effect?

I never went to kindergarten, and it seems to me that there are a lot of very basic things that I have only learned in later life.

I mean, now that I am old (did I actually admit that?)

Such as: I used to put my hand under the running water to test if it was hot, needing to dry it every time; now I feel the tap itself.

Such as: Hamlet’s soliloquy. Would you believe that, until I saw a modern version about 10 years ago where Hamlet held a pistol to his head, I didn’t understand he was contemplating suicide. I mean, honestly!

Such as: If you click on Ctrl+N instead of Shift+N you get a new, blank page, and your writings have not totally disappeared. Took me a long time to realize I didn’t have to retype everything, and what a relief that was.

Which brings me to TEENIORS. This is a marvellous group of young people (Teens) who help us oldies (Seniors) with technical problems. What a great idea.

Would that I had one over my shoulder whenever I do something by accident and don’t know what, so I can’t correct it.

I’m still needing help with new jargon, such as pingbacks; and I don’t have a smart phone – yet. But perhaps now that I am in my ‘second childhood’ I will learn all those things I didn’t know I needed to know.





My blogging friend, lifelessons, wrote a great poem yesterday about being buried by an avalanche and keeping warm by thinking of her past loves.

Someone I love was really buried in an avalanche, in Alaska. I’m not sure what she was thinking about.

I was sitting over breakfast one Saturday morning, reading the Albuquerque Journal. That’s in New Mexico, if you don’t know. And my eye caught the headline “Skier survives avalanche in Alaska.”

My sister has lived in Fairbanks, AK, since 1957 – before it was a state, even. And she skis. So of course I read the short item.

The name of the skier jumped out at me and I ran to show it to my husband. As usual, he just glanced at the headline and said “She was lucky.”

“Look who it is!” I nearly shouted. “It’s Mary Ann.”

I immediately phoned and left a message hoping she was ok. One of 14 she found waiting for her, having thought she would be the one to share her unnerving experience with us first.

MA had been skiing with friends who were stronger skiers and had gone ahead of her down the run at Aleyska, leaving her to follow at her own pace. Suddenly two snowboarders came dashing by her shouting “Avalanche, avalanche” and she looked back to see it bearing down on her.

I’m not a skier but I can imagine the terror as she tried to outrun the snowpack.

At the last moment it turned and went down another run, but six feet of snow slid over my sister. How she had the sense to put up her ski pole, I don’t know. But she did. It protected her face, but there she was buried and unable to move.

The snowboarders realized the avalanche had turned but MA hadn’t appeared. And they, bless them, went back up, found her and dug her out. Any anti-feelings I had about snowboards on ski runs were banished from then on.

Down at the bottom, MA’s skiing partner was wondering where she was. Nobody was aware an avalanche had occurred; the cannons had been set off that morning as usual, intended to move any loose snow before the skiers arrived.

There was also an Associated Press reporter there that morning, and he took MA back up on a snowmobile to the scene of her interment – “Going back there,” she told me afterwards “was the worst part.”

So that’s how the word got to me in Albuquerque the next morning. And around the world with AP.

“And” said MA, with regret, “now everybody knows how old I am.”

And she still went skiing after that.





We just got a new oven installed. I have to get used to all the new features before I trust it to cook a turkey. We’re even talking about going out to eat.

A whole turkey for two people just is too much; especially since we might have one for Christmas.

Or not.

Mother always liked a standing rib roast for Christmas, and we did have one last year which was terriic. But we’re having guests this December and I don’t want to disappoint them.

Which brings me back to Thanksgiving. To turkey or not to turkey, that is the question.

The answer is, of course, we are going out. We will have turkey and all the trimmings.

And the best? No washing up!


Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers.




I am impetuous (lovely word, not so good meaning). And generally happy.

But if you say something nasty to me, or answer me rudely or put me down, I think:

Just you wait until you do something like that, and I’ll be mean to you too.

But it never happens.

Because by the time that arises, I have forgotten.

Perhaps not forgiven, because I do remember slights and hurtful sayings.

But my nature is too upbeat to hold on to a hurt, and I have no need to get my own back.

So if you are grumpy, or frown when I say Hello, I’ll just smile and hug you. And then what’s the point of being mad, because you smile and hug back.

We just have different temperaments, that’s all. I’ll stick with mine, thank you.


What a great idea!

Giving Tuesday – Dec 1

#GivingTuesday inspires personal philanthropy and encourages bigger, better and smarter charitable giving during the holiday season, showing that the world truly gives as good as it gets.  On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, community, company or organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.



I wrote this too late to “celebrate” Guy Fawkes Day. Anyway, we don’t celebrate it here in Albuquerque, unless it is a bonfire party given by UNM academics.

Remember, remember the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and shot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

That was in 1605, but too close to today’s traitorous fires and bombing everywhere for my mind. Too many guns, too. Now they’re arming school security officers, and in NM we are allowed to carry concealed weapons. Ugh, not me thank you. Today local lawyers and legislators were discussing the new law which strengthens background checks when buying guns, so hopefully criminals and unfit people, teenagers, etc., won’t be able to buy guns. New Mexico is top state for violent crime.

I wish everyone could live in peace, not in pieces. I mean, don’t you????




It took a bit of dash & dawdle but we got it together at last. The Pueblo Film Festival was a great success, according to those who attended.

It started with a fine presentation on Pueblos in the Media, all the way from Edison’s 1898 one minute film: Isleta Day School, through to 2013 with clips showing Pueblo villages and landscapes. Some films were an awful parody of Indian life, others hysterically bad visions of hippies digging up Acoma Sky City, even Anthony Quinn portraying a drunken Indian – Flap – which film was kicked out of the Pueblo when they realized what it was about.

Jonathan Sims took us through music videos, journalism, e-mail and finally digital interviews with young Pueblo people. The future filmmakers of the Pueblo world.

Generally speaking the film industry is welcomed onto Pueblo land, as, according to Zia Pueblo, it is a clean industry. And it pays well.

And wow, look at the scenery and the sun. A cinematographer’s dream.

More blogs will follow on the other sessions – environmental films, Pueblo women, etc. And you can go to Facebook: 2nd Annual Pueblo Film Festival for more comments.

You should have been there. We even had popcorn!