Strange Things Happen

I dreamed I was leaving Hatch (the town where the chiles come from) and took a wrong turn onto a winding road with psychedelic pavement and narrow walls alongside it, also in bright pink, purple, blue, and yellow. The road took me to a farm at the end of a dirt road, where I met men who were raising pigs. I petted a piglet, got directions, and left by yet another route, not my usual way in and out of Hatch, but not the trippy pink one either.

While I drank coffee, I tried to interpret the dream symbols, but they made no sense. A friend called and asked if I’d like to go to Sparky’s in Hatch. A favorite blues band was playing. I agreed, and then proceeded to toss my purse into the trunk of my car with my keys in it and closed it. I hadn’t unlocked the car yet, so my phone and both sets of keys were in the trunk. Normally I would have a key in my pocket, but for some reason, I put the key in my purse. I walked to a neighbor’s blue and purple house and called Better World Club and got unlocked. Hm. Wrong turn on the way to Hatch instead of on the way out?

I picked up my friend at the foot of his driveway—more of a road, really—in the very small town of Arrey, and when we arrived at Sparky’s, Guitar Slim was playing a psychedelic pink and yellow electric guitar. As many times as I’ve enjoyed his music, I’d never seen that instrument before. While the band took a break, I looked in the display case behind me—Sparky’s has a mindboggling collection of off-beat antiques—and there was a collection of pig figurines. Two women in motorcycle gear arrived, one wearing a red elf hat and the other a leopard print elf hat. They also wore jingle bells along with their black leggings, turtlenecks, leather vests, and boots. Leopard Elf had the words “Pig savers” on the back of her vest. (I looked it up later. These are rubber nipples for bottle-feeding piglets. I guess she’s a pig farmer?)

The dancing was great—couples, kids, solo dancers, and trios. People from the audience were invited to sing, including Leopard Elf. Afterward, my friend offered me tomatoes, so instead of dropping him at the end of his “driveway,” I went all the way down the dirt road to a sort of farm—he grows tomatoes, mostly, and has a few chickens—and we picked the last viable tomatoes of his outdoor crop before the frost that’s expected tonight.

On my way home, I missed the turn to get on I-25 for T or C and ended up on the back road, winding and in places narrow, as the sky turned pink and purple and deep blue.

You could say this was all coincidence, a series of normal events. But I’d just been dancing in T or C to a different blues band the previous night, and had encountered this same friend in the crowd. The least likely thing was that he’d want to go dancing again right away on Sunday afternoon. I see him in town so much I haven’t been down the dirt road to his place in over a year. The way the night’s dream lined up with the day’s events, though in scrambled fragments, is intriguing. Hatch, wrong turns, a farm, a dirt road, a narrow winding road, psychedelic colors, and small pigs. The biker elves weren’t in the dream, but a lot of other things were. When I have precognitive dreams, they’re almost always about bizarre trivia like this. Only on rare occasions do I pick up significant events, warnings, or omens. This was just a reminder that time leaks, that past, present, and future are all happening at once, and reality is not the version that our linear perception of it creates.

 

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Sparky’s is Real

In my endnotes for my books, I explain few details about settings and research. At the end of Soul Loss, I mention that the other businesses in the story are fictitious, but Sparky’s in Hatch, New Mexico is real. I got an e-mail from a reader who found that fact—quite understandably—hard to believe. Not that she thought I was lying. She was simply marveling that such a place could exist.

For those who have had a similar reaction, or have not yet read the book, here’s an update on that wonderful place from my latest visit to Sparky’s:

In the middle of a 100 degree Sunday afternoon, in a dance hall that serves no alcohol, the Desperadoes played Western swing while couples two-stepped on a dance floor framed by walls full of antique advertising signs and shelves and glass cases crammed with old piggy banks, cookie jars, radios and little robots. High on one wall, a Rajah Motor oil neon sign glowed between a couple of other neon antiques and a mounted deer head with a big hot pink butterfly perched over its right ear. An old metal diving helmet was displayed at the other end of the neon row. The bas-relief of the skeletal rider on a skeletal horse that I mention in the Sparky’s scene in Chapter Two is still there, but there’s always something new or rearranged.

Sparky’s is a living organism of sorts. The interior has expanded to include a third room between the restaurant counter area and the dance hall, and the décor there is Sparky’s best. The skeletons who used to occupy the passage to the restrooms are once again in somewhat piratical garb, and have joined a tableau over the door of the new room along with an old wooden jukebox and a collection of Catrinas, the elegantly clad skeleton ladies of the Day of the Dead.512px-Catrinas_2

You will never run out of “whoa, I didn’t see that!” discoveries at Sparky’s. The giant advertising statues outside have new companions. On top of a monster KFC cup, a green chile wearing lipstick and a bridal veil holds hands with red chile in a top hat as they beam at each other in nuptial devotion—a match made in Hatch. Sparky the robot, his fountain espresso cup ever-flowing, gets new decoration. Sunday he was wearing goggles and some red-white-and-blue stars. Inside, more musicians have autographed the wall behind the stage, where the one thing that never changes is the sign that says, “Do one thing every day that makes you happy.” If you’ve set foot in Sparky’s, you have already done that.

Need pictures? Check out Sparky’s Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sparkys-BBQ-and-Espresso/74823382942?sk=timeline

Good food and good music in the strangest-best place for both.

*****

Catrina images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Dancing in New Mexico Part One

This is going to take two or three posts to cover, because dancing has roles in both social life and spiritual life here. It plays a big part in my books, too, because dancing is how Jamie communicates when he experiences life at its highest intensity, as in the Santa Fe Bandstand scene in Shaman’s Blues. I’m a barely adequate ballroom dancer myself, but I enjoy it anyway, especially the flow when I have a partner who can lead, and I love to watch people who are better at it than I am.

Part one: The perfect partners.

No matter what kind of music is playing, there are people who will dance to it, and dance well, whether the Santa Fe Chiles are playing Dixie jazz and swing dancers from the Rhythm Project are cutting loose in creative kinetics at Bandstand, or the Bill Hearne Trio is playing “alt country” at the Best of Santa Fe block party, inspiring older couples to dance in the elegant flow that embodies a whole history of partnership.

Sometimes at Sparky’s in Hatch it takes an icebreaker to people out on the floor, or the right kind of music—Western Swing. Then those couples who dance the way old married couples finish each other’s thoughts start moving their boots. When the Renegades played a couple of weekends ago, I enjoyed one man’s smile even more than I enjoyed dancing with my dancing buddy. We took to speaking of this tall, gray-bearded, Hispanic cowboy as The Smile. He bowed over his lady, cradling her in the shade of his body, with a look of radiant bliss glowing over her shoulder. If only she could have seen that look.

When I left the Best of Santa Fe block party Saturday to go pick up my car at the Firestone place on St. Francis, the man who’d taken care of my car knew where I’d been and he came dancing out of the garage with a smile on his face as if there were music. I danced too. Why not?

This is my new favorite song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96UkbM6cII4

Picture the older guy, Bill Hearne, and the two guys to his right, as a trio, outdoors under a mixed cloudy-sunny monsoon season sky, the Railyard water tower to one side, and the free food and coffee and books and other festivities to the other side, and in front of them those perfect partners swaying along.

Next installment, sacred dances.