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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Settling in in Taos


 
My new, temporary abode

So, yes, that was a screw-up. I thought I would start a fresh blog in Taos. Unfortunately, I’m using my laptop over here so I do not have access to all the useful images and other gizmos that are attached to this one – the things that tell any new readers who I am, what I do and how they can access my works. I mean… buy my books. All of which means it’s ‘as you were’.

Okay then, Taos. I arrived here last Monday, 24 hours late and after a journey that took 84 hours in total. Partly that was my doing: I chose to fly into Chicago and take the Amtrak train from there to Lamy (23 hours), thence the shuttle to Santa Fe. There were pluses. I got a night’s rest in the Windy City; I had time to ease myself into the language, customs and complexities of this country yet again; and I got to visit the Institute of Art where, amongst other treasures, I finally met, face-to-face, two favourite paintings: Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ and Edward Hopper’s ‘Night-hawks’.

Amtrak should’ve been a plus too. I’m not sure it was. When I made the same journey 35 years ago – and continued all the way to L.A. – the on-board food was infinitely better, the personal attention greater. And on that occasion I didn’t all but sever my left index finger when the paper towel disposal bin snapped shut on me, causing some consternation amongst the on-board staff when I showed up in the cafĂ©-bar, pale and agitated with blood all over the place. They patched me up and I can report that the wound is finally knitting. The revelation from the head conductor that ‘I know what you did… you aren’t the first… it’s a design fault’ should have had me calling my attorney ‘quicker than Grant took Richmond’ as my old pal from the South used to say, but of course I’m British. We don’t walk around with our lawyer’s numbers on our cell phones.

There were other hiccups along the way – like the phantom shuttle bus at Santa Fe. Either it simply didn’t exist or I failed to spot it. It wasn’t the best feeling, standing in the dark and cold outside a deserted depot with all my baggage, but after a night in a nearby Motel 6 I managed to find a service that brought me to Taos next afternoon.

The casita, or little house, is just that. One large room that serves as study and bedroom – and accommodates a grand piano; a well equipped kitchen (even as I write this I have a batch of dough rising), and a bathroom. Outside is a small area of woodland and the other casitas, scattered along Los Panditos Lane:

 

So far I have met only two or three fellow residents, among them a New York playwright and an abstract painter from Oregon. But basically I have been busy settling in, making daily trips to the supermarket (about half a mile distant) to stock my pantry, wrangling for hours (I jest not) with Century Link in order to get a basic phone service – and, yes, working. I am now making my latest and final stab at getting an old novel (dating from the early 1990s) into shape. More about that in due course.

Meanwhile I need to get that bread in the oven.