Nampeyo – “the snake that does not bite”

When we lived in Los Alamos, NM, we became quite familiar with the pueblo potters of Northern New Mexico, the most famous being Maria from the close-by San Ildefonso Pueblo.  Maria’s pottery was in such high demand we were never able to afford any of her creations – we did get to see a lot of pieces in galleries!  One of our friends was able to purchase a Maria while prices were merely high rather than exorbitant. We settled for purchasing a few pots made by lesser known potters from the Santa Clara, Zia and Acoma pueblos.

So what about Nampeyo and why write here?  She and her daughters were Hopi-Tewa from Arizona, and we were not aware of them when we lived in New Mexico.  However, when we lived in New Mexico, Rhonda’s parents, Abe and Ruth, visited us many times and we enjoyed introducing them to the Land of Three Cultures.  Having learned a bit about the New Mexico potters, Ruth had the presence of mind to reclaim a pot that had been used by another teacher to hold pens, pencils and assorted classroom necessities.  It was a bit beat up, but Ruth carefully cleaned off some of the pencil, crayon and ink marks.  She thought we would be interested to see it, and we were.  It was obviously an older Native American pot, and we were surprised that it still had a legible signature on the bottom - Fannie Nampeyo.  Most graciously, Ruth and Abe gave us the pot to add to our small collection.

This is not a photo of the actual pot, but it is almost identical.  Because of its use in the classroom, ours shows more wear than this one, but the shape and design is nearly a match.  The pot was likely purchased in Arizona by an Indiana tourist and made it back to Goshen.  It would have been pitched into the trash if Ruth had not come to the rescue.  The owner obviously did not know the significant history of Nampeyo and her daughters and their role in resurrecting ancient pottery techniques and using designs from “Old Hopi” pottery dated to the 15th century.

Posted in New Mexico, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment


Some of you remember the M & M sitcom that ran from 1978-1982.  Many of you may not remember that Mork and Mindy lived in Boulder, and a residence at 1619 Pine Street was used for the opening screen shots along with a few other Boulder landmarks.  With the unexpected death of Robin Williams, the Pine Street house has become a small memorial to Williams [story here]
Naturally, politicians cannot pass up a chance for a bit of publicity, so our local congressman Jared Polis showed up in Mork attire:
Williams’ passing is a sad event and much has been written about his life, his struggles and his triumphs.  He undoubtedly has left us with many fond memories, including this one with my sister Kay:
Posted in Boulder, Memories | 6 Comments


I believe that we met Mack, Joe’s dog, before we met Joe.  Joe lives just a couple of blocks from us, and we often take our dog Bella on walks past his house.  Mack would often be out and about, and ferocious Bella would try to intimidate, but Mack would not be impressed.  We had noted that Joe had some nice flagstone stacked in his alley, so one day when he was in his yard, we stopped to ask about perhaps negotiating for some of the stone.  He happily said “Take it!”  I was wearing a Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp shirt, and Joe said that he knew a bit about the Mennonites.  When we asked how so, he said that he went to Goshen College and had lived in New Paris!  Amazed, we chatted for a while, and over the course of several conversations, we learned of Joe’s adventures.  Below the picture of Joe as a young pediatrician is a Guest Opinion piece for the Boulder Daily Camera that summarizes some of the stories that we heard.  There was a great picture of centenarian Joe in the Camera when he turned 100, but alas, it is not to be found on the web.  We haven’t seen Joe out and about much lately, but wish him the best!

Still kicking at 100, Doc Maurer reflects on a rewarding journey

By Charlie Danaher

On July 29, my friend Doctor Lawrence E. “Joe” Maurer celebrated his 100th birthday. Over the years that I’ve known Joe, I’ve been the lucky audience of many of his stories. Seems like this important anniversary justifies a recount of just a few of them.

In 1935, when Joe left Goshen, Indiana on the back of his buddy Bob’s motorcycle, he didn’t figure that 79 years later he’d be reminiscing about it. But with $100 bucks in his pocket, a knapsack on his back, and lots of determination, Joe headed for medical school at the University of Indiana in Bloomington. Soon he had a job at the student union washing dishes, and earning board. With neither grants nor student loans, but a lot of hard work, he’d go on to graduate.

In 1939, residency at Indiana University Medical Center Hospital in Indianapolis paid a whopping $10 a month; 1940 and 41 took him to Children’s Hospital in Denver and University of Kansas Medical Center, where he saw sick and hurting children non-stop. Following residency Joe landed a great paying job in Denver working in a pediatrician’s office. But he didn’t like it. The problem, he told his new wife Helen, was that he had worked for a whole week and hadn’t seen a single (in Joe’s words) “snotty nosed kid.” But he sure wanted to.

You see, after spending three years of residency patching up kids, Joe had found his passion. Joe says that when he went home to tell Helen that he wanted to quit — he became a doctor to help people and couldn’t see himself doing the last week’s kind of work for the rest of his career — she was supportive of his decision.

A whole lot of us can be very thankful that the young doctor pursued his urge to help those in need. For in July 1942, Joe and Helen moved to Boulder, with Joe going to work for Dr. Howard Heuston

The year 1943 found Joe attending Friday afternoon seminars at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Aurora, and it was there he learned of a new drug, penicillin. That proved tremendously fortunate for the late Virginia Jenkins, whom Joe had diagnosed with meningitis. Joe quickly made calls to the Red Cross and had the antibiotic delivered from the Army to Boulder via courtesy patrol. According to Joe, this was the first use of penicillin in Boulder, and by Doc’s estimate, it saved Virginia’s life.

Later Joe began his own practice on the top floor of the First National Bank building at Pearl and Broadway. In those days doctors made house calls with him; sometimes making more than a dozen in a day. Helen served as his secretary, and while out he’d call home to learn where his next stop was. Back in those days, people bartered for services and Joe often got paid in the form of a chicken, eggs or vegetables. Out of one call the Maurer family scored a Terrier puppy.

In 1949, Joe and some partners started the Boulder Medical Center, where he worked until retiring in 2001, at the young age of 86. During his whole career, he never turned in a bill for collection. But he did tear up some. Joe tells about his partners and him huddling up to discuss outstanding bills. They would inevitably come across a bill and exclaim, “hell, they don’t have any money,” and toss it.

Joe figures he delivered more than 2,500 babies in his career. So if you were born in Boulder in the 40s, 50s or 60s, there’s a fair chance Joe watched you take your first breath.

Talking to Joe, it’s abundantly clear how much he liked helping others as best he could. In addition to his day job, for 25 years he volunteered as sports physician for Boulder High School.

Joe and Helen raised four children. And even though Doc worked a lot, eating meals as a family was important in the Maurer home, with the family usually having breakfasts and dinners together. Though Doc tells about missing more than a few dinners because he got lassoed walking past the ER on his way out of the hospital.

I think Joe’s generosity toward others is rooted in his very modest childhood. While growing up, his family never had running water, a refrigerator, or even a radio, and Joe remembers when they finally got electricity. As an adult, Joe felt fortunate that he had the ability to help others. And remembering his past, he’s never taken for granted the comforts he’s earned.

I think we can learn something from ole Doc Maurer. If we find our passion and work hard at it, and it benefits others, we’ll likely find contentment. And if we’re as lucky as Joe, we’ll grow old with many fond memories, and few regrets.

Here is another Boulder Camera article from 2013

Posted in Boulder, Guest Commentary, Memories | 2 Comments

You can see on the map above that Alpine and Marathon are gateway towns to the Big Bend National Park.

So – some of you are wondering, Alpine, Texas?????  But the Aschliman clan knows that cousin Cathy and husband Mitch have a home in Alpine, and Rhonda and I recently made a road trip to visit them.  Just a few notes on the trip down:  got off of I-25 a few miles after it makes an westward turn toward Santa Fe.  New Mexico 3 heads south through several small towns that are classic old New Mexico –  Ribera, Sena and Villanueva.  We continued south for an overnight stay in Alamogordo.  As we drove into town, there was one of the heaviest downpours we had seen in quite some time, but it soon passed and the rain cooled the evening.  In the morning, we headed to the White Sands National Monument and enjoyed the otherworldly beauty of the world’s largest gypsum dunefield.  We then continued our southerly journey through El Paso, getting off of I-10 at Van Horn and then heading through Valentine and Marfa to Alpine.  Near Valentine we saw this: 
It’s a tethered surveillance blimp that can be raised aloft to scan the desert for illegal aliens.

Outside of Marfa, we saw the Marfa Lights Viewing Area - we did not visit Marfa after dark – way past our bedtime!!

After unpacking at Mitch and Cathy’s, we took a short drive around town and then went to eat at the Saddle Club, a very nice college-town type of pub.  We were up late talking, and up early to head to Big Bend National Park. We passed through Marathon, (population 500) and saw the Gage Hotel and Gardens, an interesting old jail, an unusual organic bed & breakfast, and a home with aliens painted on the fence.

Once in the Park, we stopped at the fossil exhibit then on to Rio Grande to purchase our tickets for
the boat crossing into Boquillas, Mexico (population 173).  The crossing, dubbed the Boquillas International Ferry – Your Ride to the Other Side, was a big row boat, seating four!  I loved the rowers shirts [logo shown at the link] and I was able to purchase one at the Park’s gift shop. There is no electricity in town other than their solar collectors and generators – interestingly there were lots of satellite dishes!  The nearest real food shopping is 3 hours away on an unpaved road. Very simple and a unique experience. Our tour guide assigned to us was 11 year old Jerry. He just finished 6th grade and did an outstanding job. Jerry joined us for a nice real Mexican lunch at the local open air restaurant. Jerry also assured us that their governor was going to soon be bringing electricity to town – we all agreed that someday Jerry would be governor.


We then went to the Hot Springs Resort historic area that flourished 1942-1952. Last stop in the Park was at the basin at the highest elevation in the park and the temperature dropped from 104 to 85 degrees. What a relief! We went through a lot of water.

Santa Elena Canyon

Monday we went back to the National Park to see the one third we didn’t have time for on the first day, visiting Santa Elena Canyon’s breathtaking views of where USA meets Mexico with steep cliffs, and returned by the famous River Road. We stopped at the Contrabando Movie Set where 8 movies have been filmed.  We also stopped by the Porch in Terlingua and met Dr. Doug – I previously wrote about The Porch and The Real Dr. Doug here.

Passing through Marfa we saw the antique jail cell out front of the new jail. It was made to put on the back of a truck and go pick up prisoners. Then it was left outside the courthouse with the prisoners in it. There are 4 bunk beds in it.

We spent one day hanging out in Alpine, checking out the resale shops and some interesting things that were unexpected.  A short list:  Great cinnamon rolls at Judy’s Bread and Breakfast;

a visit to the Museum of the Big Bend at Sul Ross State University; very tasty breakfast and dinner burritos at El Patio; a lovely dinner at La Casita; a tour of the Stable Performance Car Center, and a great craft brewery tour at Big Bend Brewing Company - I will write another post about that!!  This will give you a ‘taste’ of the Beer From Out Here.
On the way out of town, we went past the home of the Pecos League’s Alpine Cowboys [I got a Cowboys shirt at the resale shop], and headed toward Fort Davis.  Wended northward through Pecos [don't bother!!] and then Roswell – did not stop to by any alien memorabilia.  Stopped in Espanola for a Blake’s Lottaburger and stayed overnight at a favorite B&B in Taos, the Dreamcatcher.  Headed to Boulder the next morning, completing an interesting and enjoyable adventure to Alpine.  Many thanks to our gracious hosts, Cathy and Mitch.
Enjoying the cool morning, a cup of coffee and the awakening birds
 Facebook Friends of Cathy can see many pictures here.
Posted in Family, Travel | Leave a comment


The Rockies versus the Cubs – a Clash of the (non) Titans in a race for the basement in the National League.  It was a tough series, but the Rockies prevailed and are now firmly ensconced in last place as the worst team in the National League.  And, after tonight’s loss against the Tigers, they are pushing to claim the dubious honor as worst team in all of Major League Baseball.

A vital reason for the Rockies slide to the bottom are the Killer Bees, aka The Rockies Horror Pitching Show.  The B’s are the Bullpen B’s – Belisle, Bettis, Brothers are the principal B’s that have a canny knack for giving up leads.  The starting pitchers have been reasonably good, but a typical scenario is a starter hits the 6th inning, leading 4-2.  Belisle comes in and gives up three – now behind 4-5.  Brothers replaces Belisle and gives up back to back home runs.  Rockies lose, 4-7. 
What I cannot fathom is why the management has not sent them packing to the minors – surely there are some very hungry pitchers in AAA, AA and A who could replace the Killer B’s – shoot, I think that I could lose games for a whole lot less money!!
The Rockies make Denver a ‘balanced ‘ city for professional sports – the Broncos are among the very best in the NFL; the Avalanche are far above average in the NHL; the Nuggets are far below average in the NBA; and the Rockies are among among the very worst in MLB.  Wonder how the Rapids, Mammoth and Outlaws are doing??
Posted in Colorado, Curmudgeontary | 5 Comments


Occasional commenter John Riegsecker has a beautiful photography site that can be viewed here.  John has not linked his page to his name on his comments, so I thought that I would introduce you to his work – spend some time over at Skygardener.

Posted in Friends, Miscellaneous | 5 Comments

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