Sunday, September 25, 2011

Happy Velika

I've been wanting to post some pictures and an update on Velika the Hortaya Borzaya for awhile now but most days I am sewing or painting, drawing and sketching, gluing and assembling.... So by the time I get to thinking about pictures on the web, I am pretty well spent for the day.
I certainly do admire you all out there who get all your work done and find time to play hooky on the web. Guess I may always be a bit computer, social networking and who knows what else I'm behind on with the latest app - - illiterate. But I play catch up every now and then and do enjoy hearing from others with similar interests.
Right now I am literally waiting for the paint to dry on one of my pieces. So there's time to talk about Velika who now resides in beautiful Arizona!!! I am envious as they have way more beautiful cacti than around here and more warm weather. No I am not looking forward to winter! Even though it's wonderful today, about 80 degrees out. The cool nights say dismal cold is coming. Slightly cooler weather makes it great to get out with the dogs but wish it would just stay pleasant like this. Velika lives with CJ now and gets to go on fantastic, long hikes plus has been learning agility and trying out some lure-coursing as well!!! She certainly has the plush life now with so many toys to choose from and all the attention for herself. I am sooooo glad to see her sooooo very happy. And thanks to CJ for sharing these photos! (even though I am quite slow to finally post them)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thinking of Azawakh instead of all the wildfires...

I thought I would experiment with taking an in depth look at some of the dogs here. Take a look at examining their strengths and weaknesses. What I like about them, what I think makes them "good" Azawakhs. I may include some posts about past dogs, those that have moved on in one form or another, whether to a new home or in the physical incarnation sense.
I sure need something to take my mind off all the wildfires in the area right now or I will get too down-trodden and you just can't be that mopey when it's summer!
We are severely limited in our opportunities for outdoor recreation right now, which I have to say is always one of my primary objectives. Taking myself out and sometimes a dog too for a walk/run or hike somewhere is one of the best ways I can think of to spend a good portion of the day. Right now we have the Santa Fe National Forest closed, the Jemez mountains and any number of trails in that area, including Bandalier are closed (along with the somewhat unsettling idea of a nuclear laboratory - Los Alamos being very near in the path of this wildfire) - and as a precaution, Sandia mountain and all of those trails save about one, are closed.
I went to Tent Rocks this past weekend, on Saturday. It was crowded! Already seeming to feel the strain of closures from the Pacheco fire in the Santa Fe Nat.Forest. The next day the LasConchas fire began in the Jemez. That first night was a scene out of some armagedon movie... The view from here provides a direct line of sight to the Jemez and I could see this whole ridge of flames moving across, spreading wider. The smoke curls in a thick plume blocking out the other plume of smoke north of Santa Fe and at night the view of the mountains glows orange. Now we are expecting the 'monsoons' to be moving in... I hope this brings relief and not the threat of lightning as this whole state seems so dry that you wouldn't want to rub two sticks together let alone anything else. I'm sure everyone is holding their breath headed into the 4th of July holiday around here. (Tent Rocks is also closed now)
So, what to do once it's too hot to work in the garden? Well, start sizing up the dogs in hopes of better adventures soon!
I'll start with Nizhoni. She is out of Tadawelt. The first and only breeding I've done thus far.
I can't imagine having a litter of pups every year or more than one a year, yet I know people do that. That is their choice but to me every several years would be more than plenty. I guess I lack that single-mindedness of purpose... I get into various grooves, like my art groove - and it is like living in a completely different world, different mindset than my Azawakh groove. Really, I would like to see these distinct facets of my life be more in conjunction with each other rather than the separate worlds they inhabit now.... but anyway - - I like to see how the pups are developing and if they exhibit that intensity of spirit essential to Azawakh. I want to see that they are athletic and actually self-motivated to get up and just run and chase for fun. I like seeing the way the pups challenge each other and Nizhoni is almost always the one being chased!
She is the smallest of the litter, being female, at about 32lbs, but certainly the fastest so far as I can tell and certainly the most coordinated of the group. She starts off playbowing and getting someone riled up until, sure enough, she has them chasing her all over the backyard!
She is a terror on her brother, mercilessly grabbing over his neck (even though he is much taller than her) or at his hock in a mock battle of 'you are my gazelle'. Sometimes she joins up with her sister, Moonshadow to go after her brother here. Of course, her brother, Chewie, can give as good as he gets! (Another brother, who I would say is the most physically harmonious of the group outside of Nizhoni went to a good friend. More about him in another post.)
I like to see that desire to run for the pure joy of it being very strong in the Azawakh I prefer. To me they are essentially sighthounds! And as that, they are first and foremost running dogs. Their body type alone betrays what their essential function is and
for me it is essential to maintain the ability to run and desire to chase game in the breed.
Of course they are a dual purpose or dual function breed, when you look at their traditional, daily existence in Africa. But, so far in all the years that westerners have been visiting the breed in the Sahel and doing good work there and bringing new imports to the west.... so far though, no one has ever embarked on an in-depth study of how certain groups still utilize the dogs there or what hunting traditions have been passed down or are threatened from the current situations there. No one from the west has really sought to understand them as running dogs because that wasn't important to the westerners seeking this breed in their countries of origin thus far. Their priority instead was expanding the limited western gene pool. Certainly, a very important endeavor and one I was pleased to help with myself. But really studying the 'Idi' as "gazehound" in their native lands and those traditions past and present, has not been very deeply probed as it has with their gazehound cousins from Afghans to Salukis to Tazis and Sloughis. The emphasis so far has been on the outward appearance and physical type along with an over-emphasis on color.The reasons why an Azawakh is shaped like it is, so similar to it's previously mentioned cousins, so similar to all gazehounds in fact, has so far been almost completely overlooked by enthusiasts and proponents of the breed. For me their running and hunting ability is an essential point of the breed. Preserving those qualities in the breed will naturally help maintain the correct look,type and health of the breed and help balance against those selections made on a purely outward appearance. Interestingly, most of the desert bred imports have a keen hunting instinct ( along with some other more perceptive traits..) and are good running hounds. I have to say a good running hound is different than a competitive running hound. I'll talk more about this is along with other points covered here in further posts. But to wrap things up for now I' ll say that Nizhoni shows large amounts of those traits I like to see in my Azawakh - big heart-full of desire- loves to run, tons of enthusiasm, intensity and energy. Nice, compact shape, well proportioned, good muscle, great feet. She is a real cutie and just plain tons of fun to have around. I'm sure to post more about her since she is such a character.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I haven't been on here in quite awhile. It's a wonder to me how anyone can keep up with all of the online blogging, texting, e-mailing, and constant flow of news updates and still manage to get any meaningful work done. I work in my studio all day with my hands slowly bringing forth into physical manifestation - creation - something that my mind has hit upon, some concept or a greater "other" that the creative 'muse' is channeling through me yet outside of me... As I try to hold onto that line, I find I have to disconnect with this seductive flashing entity that is the internet... ... Or those other voices, other manifestations get lost and over run with the time spent here.
But I do like to reconnect from time to time and share in a different way through this extended network of neurons sprawling across the ether - what I've been up to, moments in the making and let them crystallize in the resonance of this internet space.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tuareg Concerns- clean air and water - a concern for all

I have an unsubsiding interest in the Azawakh breed of dog. And it is through that interest that has lead me to become deeply enamored of the art, craftsmanship, environment and culture of the Kel Tamasheq better known in the west as the Tuareg.They are one of the primary native peoples of the Sahel region of Africa.

The other day I was up getting ready to take my dogs out for a days outing and as I got ready, I had the BBC world news on. Along with the tragedy in Arizona, other international news was being reported, including something that caught my attention. This was the shooting deaths of two Frenchmen in Niger.
As someone who has traveled to the region and fallen in love with the people and the landscape, I have often hoped to be able to travel in that region again but the "unrest" seems ever growing. I wondered after the "why" behind these shootings and the continued "unrest" in the region. The report had gone on to say that two "turbaned" men had taken the French men from a bar in Niamey, the capitol of Niger. This was the first time such a thing had occurred in the capital. This implied the hint of "senseless terrorism".
The report also went onto say that France had "business" interests in the region and they were involved with Uranium mining. - - My mind clicked - Ah Ha, that's it.

I live in New Mexico, the place where the nuclear age really came into its own. Home of the Trinity site, Los Alamos National Laboratories, and lots of Uranium mining. According to an article by Bruce E. Johansen, about half of all the recoverable uranium lies within the state of New Mexico. Much of that is within the borders of the Navajo Nation, the ancestral homeland of the Dine people. They too prospered as semi-nomadic people in a dry desert region. "Uranium has been mined on Navajo land since the late 1940s; the Indians dug the ore that started the United States' stockpile of nuclear weapons. For thirty years after the first atomic explosions in New Mexico, uranium was mined much like any other mineral. More than 99 percent of the product of the mines was waste, cast aside as tailings near mine sites after the uranium had been extracted. One of the mesa-like waste piles grew to be a mile long and 70 feet high. On windy days, dust from the tailings blew into local communities, filling the air and settling on the water supplies. The Atomic Energy Commission assured worried local residents that the dust was harmless. In February 1978, however, the Department of Energy released a Nuclear Waste Management Task Force report that said that people living near the tailings ran twice the risk of lung cancer of the general population. The Navajo Times carried reports of a Public Health Service study asserting that one in six uranium miners had died, or would die prematurely, of lung cancer. For some, the news came too late. " (
So, for me it clicked into place between some of this "unrest" in the Sahel (which has gone almost completely unnoticed on the American news radar) and the uranium mining by state owned Areva of France. I thought to myself, 'it's happening again…' Where our western interests for electricity and profit trump that of the needs and interests of the local indigenous people.
Necessities of survival like clean air and water are forsaken for western oil, electricity and consumer demands.

As nomads in such a harsh desert environment, in one of the poorest countries in the world, one of the most valuable resources is WATER. Water that is being used and polluted in the course of uranium mining.
And of course in a country like Niger, what kinds of standards of regulations for clean water and air can be expected? The entire region is extremely poor with prospects for education and higher paying jobs very slim.
At the same time, their ability to continue living in their traditional manner,moving with and relying on their herds becomes even more endangered with exposure to contaminated air, land and drinking water. For those that work at the mines, there is little choice of alternatives for work.

So, now some of the native people of the Sahel are fighting back to reclaim a region that is rightfully theirs.On the news blips we receive though, it comes across as radicals and terrorists perpetrating evils on unsuspecting westerners across a lawless region of Africa.

Perhaps there are elements of AlQaida at work,taking advantage of another troubled region and I'm sure there's more to it than I know. But it seems there is something more basic being overlooked - the basic desire to live freely in ones homeland without the air and water polluted by outsiders interests.
I see what happened in the west, to native people here, is happening again to the Tuareg of the Sahel, but now with more of the geopolitical rigamarole thrown in. I hope those of us in the west, those of us with a love for the beauty of the desert and passion for the Tuareg culture may reach out somehow to support a way for them to reclaim their region as their own before it's too late.

Please see these articles at Spiegel Online International on Uranium Mining in Niger by Cordula Meyer.
They are extremely enlightening!,1518,686774,00.html

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Year in Mid-Winter

I've said it before but I always find it strange to proclaim a "New Year" in the middle
of the hardest, coldest time of the year. It is the hibernating time, the time for reflection - not because we're looking back over the "old" year and starting a new one. But rather tracing the pathways of how we got to this place - Now - over the past many months and years and times preceding even this past year. And wondering as it curves away, out of sight - what the ever changing, new horizon will bring. Is it possible to start laying new paths in the dark of night, in the deep of winter before the dawn of spring appears?

Well, Happy New Year.