Nuestra Jornada – Gerard’s House

GerardsHouse-Picture14A small group of kids kneel on the rug, engrossed in placing one of many figures—men, women, children, babies—into tiny toy coffins. Some sit gazing at the person inside, some set the lid firmly on top. Other children bury things deep in a sandbox. In the “storm room,” stuffed animals wait on wall-to-wall futons for any who come in, close the door and privately act out anger, be wild, cry, snuggle with an animal buddy.

This is Gerard’s House, Santa Fe’s unique haven for grieving children, adolescents and their families, where, says its mission statement, “healing happens through acceptance and peer support.” The need this nonprofit has met, free of charge since 1997, is indispensible. Recently, says Executive Director Katrina Koehler, Gerard’s House recognized another population going unserved: a growing influx of immigrant children. “We saw so much death, and a lot of other losses among those newly arrived from troubled areas of Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and not a lot of reasons for them to trust coming to us,” Katrina says. “Which was understandable.” She says the staff imagined the immigrant kids and their families saying, ‘Who are these people?’ So we invited the Latino community to collaborate with us. We told them, ‘Here’s how we serve grieving kids.’ And we listened to the families’ needs.” And in many ways, their needs were similar to those of the children Gerard’s House already helps who are grieving death of family members; but in many other ways, their needs were much more complicated. “It was hard,” Katrina says, “for a lot of mothers to bring their kids here—some work multiple jobs, some don’t have a car.” And culturally, Bilingual Coordinator Roxana Melendez adds, “Therapy isn’t something Spanish families seek. We tend to look for support more from family members and religious leaders. For some families, it’s difficult to open up to someone they don’t know.” There’s also a belief, Roxana says, that only crazy people need therapy. “We didn’t want to load more burdens onto these families, so many of whom had been through so much human crises already!” Katrina says. Continue reading

Still Hungry? April 2017

Like homesteading itself (timeless, creative, sustainable), many of our homesteading stories of yore haven’t lost their inspiration or relevance, and the folks who graced the cover shots haven’t lost their touch. If you’ve yet to check out our past homesteading stories (visit, we suggest you meet jewelers Marian Denipah and Steve LaRance in last year’s “Working with the Earth”; homesteader, mother, blogger extraordinaire Erin O’Neill in “A Life Home Grown,” 2015; and sustainable inspiration and Ampersand Sustainable Learning Director Amanda Bramble of “In Harmony,” 2012, our very first homestead issue.

The inherently fresh and forward-looking feel of springtime, new growth, longer days becomes yet more personal, down-to-earth and magical when you meet the folks who have their hands in this local soil—metaphorically or literally—creating, reviving and gleaning its bounty. We asked Erin, Amanda and Steve for their takes on “down-home” recipes, and in return, they shared with us tastes of themselves, this earth, and simply some delicious down-homestead goodness.

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Café Sonder

CafeSonder_DSC7764After two generations have poured themselves into a family restaurant for 70 years, a question inevitably arises. What’s next? For the Razatoses, of Santa Fe institution Plaza Café, the answer is Café Sonder.

With a zest for contemporary American cuisine, Café Sonder is the latest installment in the Razatos family’s trilogy. Three restaurants and three generations have grown from the original Plaza Café, with its heritage recipes and Mexican oilcloth tablecloths: Plaza Café Southside has a fresh though equally diner feel; and now, Café Sonder represents both legacy and departure, with made-from-scratch food at affordable prices, great service and a third generation of chefs and restaurateurs building something of their own from the kitchen to the table.  

When the Zia Diner, another integral part of Santa Fe’s zeitgeist, vacated its prime spot between the Plaza and the Railyard in February 2016, Daniel Razatos, the second generation to steer Plaza Café, seized the space. He set the vision, bringing in stepson Justin Salazar, 30, to make it happen. Son Nick Razatos, 26, has since become executive chef.

“Dad’s focus was on being inclusive,” Justin says. “Ultimately, he decides everything when it comes to the business, the road we’re traveling on. But he ensures everyone has a voice in the process.” Just as family matriarch Beneranda Razatos is where the buck stops at Plaza Café, Daniel is where the buck stops at Café Sonder. Both set a high bar of professionalism—even among family. “It’s strange when you’re here though. It’s not like you’re here with family. We don’t refer to our dad as ‘Dad’ when we’re on the floor; it’s always Daniel. When I talk to my brother, it’s ‘Chef,’” Justin says. Continue reading

Ponderosa Valley Vineyards and Winery

HK & Mary w Moses“Henry Street was good at growing grapes, good at making wine, and good at selling wine,” Ponderosa Valley Vineyards and Winery Winemaker Mark Matheson says. “Each one of those is difficult, and it’s rare for one man to possess all those skills.” Though Henry, who co-founded the winery with his wife Mary, passed away two and a half years ago, it’s fair to say his spirit of joie-de-vivre lives on in every bottle of hand-crafted, award-winning wine the winery produces—about 2,500 cases a year. Their two-dozen or so wines—reds, rosés and whites—are made from New Mexico grapes, largely grown on the eight-and-a-half acres of their vineyards in the Ponderosa Valley.

Though not on the official wine trail, the winery is accessed via N.M. 4, a route that’s been designated a “National Scenic Byway,” and with good reason. Any way you approach, either from the timeless Jemez Pueblo or the charming hamlet of Jemez Springs, the mountainous landscape with its old conifer forests, red rocks and outcroppings, holds an almost spiritual beauty. When they first decided on the location, Henry told Mary that if only one out of 100 cars making the drive for the sheer drama and magnificence of the scenery stopped to sample their offerings, their enterprise would be successful.

With two children apiece from prior marriages, Henry and Mary hitched up in 1974, bought the land for the winery in 1975, and planted the first grapevines in 1976. They were witnesses and participants in the resurgence of winemaking in New Mexico that recommenced in 1978. Continue reading

Common Threads – Fiber Arts in New Mexico

Quilt by Norma Koelm

Quilt by Norma Koelm

Anita McSorley has been making her own clothes since she was 10 years old. “My mother taught me how to crochet and how to embroider and how to sew,” she says. “I’d go shopping with [her], and I’d fall in love with something, and she’d say, ‘Well, you can make that.’ It was a cost-effective thing when I was growing up.” Today, that financial dynamic has changed, and handcrafting practical items has gone from necessity to a form of self-expression. “It’s definitely the reverse of what it used to be,” Anita says. “Anyone going out to make a garment now, you’re going to spend three to four times what you’d spend back then.”

Still, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed over the years: Anita’s love of the fiber arts and all the ways they can be used as vehicles for creativity. Anita’s talent has expanded to encompass many facets. “I’m interested in quilts—mostly art quilts—and I do polymer clay,” she says. “I do mixed-media, I paint fabric, and I dye fabric. I make mono-prints on fabric and paper.” She’s also a member of the Albuquerque Fiber Arts Council and the director of its 11th biennial Fiber Arts Fiesta.

The AFAC got its start in 1997, when seven local guilds began organizing to display their work to the wider community; it now comprises 20 guilds. According to Anita, the number of entries for this year’s event has surpassed those in the past, and a total of 670 works will be on display. The call for entries goes out nationwide, “as wide as we can get it.” The farthest away participant? “This year, it’s Brazil. There’s a young lady who does lace work,” Anita says. “One year, we had 12 entries from Taiwan: 10 quilts and two mixed-media [pieces].” Considering the size and scope of the event, it’s not surprising that it requires a fair amount of lead-time. “It takes about a year and a half to get the fiesta put together,” Anita says. “It’s kind of like herding cats.” Continue reading

Garden With a Tender Heart

Bullock's Oriole nest

Bullock’s Oriole nest

Pamela Geyer’s garden is a Santa Fe oasis, a tangle of flowers, bushes, trees, birdhouses, birdbaths, rain barrels, composters, watering hoses and more. Orioles, towhees, cedar waxwings and other birds flit from branch to branch, darting down to feast from dangling suet cages, protected in this safe haven from predators, wind and other threats.

Pam’s garden lies a block away from the Santa Fe River, a well-traveled migratory corridor for all kinds of wildlife, including more than 40 types of birds that visit her garden throughout the year. To provide them with food and shelter, Pam’s planted flowers in a variety of colors and shapes so they appeal to a range of birds; three different honeysuckles that bloom at different times, providing food throughout the season; and trees and bushes at varying levels, appealing to ground-feeders, mid-level and canopy birds. She’s also created a garden for hummingbirds and another for bees. Continue reading