Tag Archives: Ghost Ranch

A place I am thankful for

Nature Nov 29

Ghost Ranch. New Mexico.

Traci Smith, author of Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home has provided a gift of the November 2018 Gratitude Every Day calendar. I am using it as an opportuity to revisit photos and post them as they speak to gratitude.

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Filed under Family, Friends, Ghost Ranch Views


Thoughts of home have filled my last few days.

Or perhaps I should say thoughts about the many homes I know.

video showing clips of movies filmed in Pittsburgh and a photo posted by my friend Mihee Kim-Kort about her family’s recent road trip, reminded me of the home where I grew: Neville Island.

I realized that no matter how much I like New York, where I now live; no matter how much I like Louisville where I spent ten years and where I make many trips for work; no matter how much I like Cleveland Heights where Tricia lives now and we raised our family; no matter how much, and most days how much means a great deal, I will always, always, always bleed black and gold.

S is for SnowBut this week also saw our ministry host a group from First Presbyterian Church of Albuquerque, New Mexico. And in our conversations I found myself longing for Ghost Ranch and Northern New Mexico, the home of my soul, the place where, every time I visit, I know I belong in a way like I belong in no other place on the planet.

Home of my childhood.

Home of my family.

Home of transition.

Home of the present.

Home of my soul.

All precious places. All blur together.

I give thanks for my homes and I pray and work for the day when all people have a safe place to call home.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Cleveland Heights, Family, Louisville, New York

Covenant – 10 June 2014

Covenant 08 24 10 Ghost Ranch

24 August 2010
Ghost Ranch
Abiguiu, New Mexico

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Filed under New York, Photo, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Seek – 8 May 2014

IMG_1684 (800x533)

26 October 2009
Ghost Ranch
Abiquiu, New Mexico

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Filed under Ghost Ranch People, Photo, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Lent 45: Far


Ghost Ranch
Abiquiu, New Mexico
26 October 2009

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Filed under Friends, Ghost Ranch People, Ghost Ranch Views, Lent, Photo

Purple flowers: why I post them

My friend Judy set me wondering when she asked about the “purple flower collection.”

Why do I post photos of purple flowers?

I have never liked flowers. In some ways, I dislike flowers. With my life-long allergies, many flowers flat-out make me sneeze.

I also dislike taking care of flowers. Gardening holds no appeal. I can barely keep flowers or other plants alive indoors.

When I moved to New York, I received a gorgeous potted setting of several plants for my office. Plants. No flowers. Those who gave it to me know of my allergies. The plants survive only because Ricky cares for them.

I confess that I sometimes ponder getting cacti as a reminder of New Mexico. Someday I may do that. For now, even the minimal care that cacti require seems more than I want to expend.

I do understand that others like to receive flowers. From time to time over the years, on what I hope were appropriate occasions, my mother and Tricia have received gifts from FTD.

When he played a senior solo at Heights High, son Sean received many flowers from friends. I wonder at this concept and then rejoiced when he shared the flowers with shut-in friends.

My lack of interest in things floral does not come naturally. My grandfather loved to garden. He did so at home and on the family farm. In retirement he worked at the local college – as a gardener. 

I spent time in gardens working with him. I carried tools I could not name and cans of water. But I learned little. My joy came not from caring for the flowers and shrubs and trees but from being in my grandfather’s presence.

His love for gardening and for flowers passed to my mother. Again I helped but never quite got the point. No green thumbs came to me. I am fine with that.

Sifting through the sands of memory, one floral experience does bring a smile. We lived for a number of years on Neville Island in the Ohio River – 7007 Front River Road. Why can I remember that but forget passwords I created yesterday?

Between our back yard and the Ohio River stood an inclined bank where each spring wild flowers grew. I can still see my pudgy little hand proudly clutching bouquets for my mother – bouquets of wild violets – purple flowers.

The color purple is easier. I have always liked purple. At one point, I persuaded my parents to paint my room a deep, dark, rich, royal purple.

A few years back, I started taking photos. Sons Sean and Eric began before me and it looked like fun. One summer, Sean loaned me his camera to take to Ghost Ranch. I was hooked.

I started saving money and reached the goal. Then, a few days before I went shopping, the washing machine at the Shire died. I knew it was not a good sign when the repairwoman spent fifteen minutes in her truck trying to track down the part. She pointed out that the dryer was the same age as the washing machine so it might make sense to replace them both. Darned if that did not cost about the same as the camera I wanted to buy.

I saved again. Time passed. The major appliances cooperated. I took the plunge.

I am not any good at it. I freely confess that. But every once in a while the camera carries me. Foolish and fearless, I post some of the results.

This spring I posted photos from Ireland and Northern Ireland where Tricia and I traveled for Roja and Joel’s wedding. Among the photos was one of purple flowers at the Titanic Memorial Garden.

After that, as I sorted through my photos, I realized how many photos of purple flowers I have. I had not been aware of that. But there they are. And the series was born. Now I take photos of purple flowers intentionally. 

I cannot name the flowers and have little interest in learning their names. But I know where I took the photos and with the aid of the time and date stamp when I took them.

Perhaps they touch my childhood in some way I will some day understand. For now, they are purple.

They are memory.

That is good.

That is enough.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Family, Friends


Wistfulness mixes with joy
as I read Eric’s three-letter text:
He has landed in Albuquerque
for another summer at Ghost Ranch.
It appears most likely
I will not spend
any time in
New Mexico
this year.
So I post this photo of the Sandias
taken from the Rio Grande Nature Center
and smile.

See you along the Trail …
just not the Trail in New Mexico …
at least this year.

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Filed under Photo, Travel

A new perspective on ants

Last summer the Ghost Ranch Service Corps drew the task of cleaning the labyrinth. In the process of removing a bush, I hit upon a nest of ants. They climbed the shovel. They climbed inside my pants and socks. They boldly went places I did not want them to go. They showed up a couple of hours later.There seemed to number in the thousands; there were probably only a couple dozen. I can still feel them crawling on me as I remember.

Today I read a story that puts my experience in perspective. I will not complain about it again.

Famine stalks the Sahel region of Africa. I looked up the Sahel. Encyclopedia Britannica defines it as a

semiarid region of western and north-central Africa extending from Senegal eastward to The Sudan. It forms a transitional zone between the arid Sahara (desert) to the north and the belt of humid savannas to the south. The Sahel stretches from the Atlantic Ocean eastward through northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, the great bend of the Niger River in Mali, Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), southern Niger, northeastern Nigeria, south-central Chad, and into The Sudan.

The hunger season has come to the Sahel. UNICEF estimates that 1 million children are in danger of dying from severe acute malnutrition. They go on to note that:

Over 15 million people in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal are directly affected by the crisis. And although the people of the Sahel are resilient, their position has been weakened by successive emergencies. The region suffered droughts in 2005 and 2010, and many families were forced to sell their livestock, pull children out of school, borrow money and get by with less food.

UNICEF estimates that it needs $120 million to feed the 1 million children under age 5 who will need lifesaving treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

As you might imagine, people facing such a situation will do most anything to survive. I think I have a good imagination. But it turns out that I could not begin to imagine what people might do.

From the Inter Press Service (emphasis added):

During a recent stop in the capital, Stephen Cockburn, Oxfam International West Africa’s regional coordinator for campaigns and policy, described desperate measures he had seen in the countryside. “In Tassino, a village in the Mangalmé district in the central part of Guéra, women are breaking apart anthills, searching for grain stored there by ants,” he said.

Women are breaking apart anthills, searching for grain stored there by ants.

My heart breaks to read those words. My mind reels as I struggle to imagine that experience – the desperate courage that leads to such an act – and the ants – everywhere the ants.

I made a gift to UNICEF and took a silent vow never to complain about the ants again.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events

Z is for Zaineddin

Mark Z
has served several years
as the chaplain at Ghost Ranch.

This is the only time I resorted to using a person’s name.
Except for Lady.
And she was a horse,
although she and many others would have disputed that.

2 August 2009

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Filed under Ghost Ranch People, Photo

Y is for Yonder

I have no idea what Teresa is saying.
But her gesture does appear direct
Dayna’s attention to something
over yonder.

Lots of yonders fill Ghost Ranch:
places around the bend,
atop the mesa,
down the arroyo.

Places to go,
things to see,
not here,
but yonder.

24 August 2010

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Filed under Friends, Ghost Ranch People, Photo