My daughter, Vanessa, and her family are with me at my ranch outside Santa Fe. They will have been here 10 days. I couldn’t come when I’d planned because I had hand surgery and there were complications and the surgeon didn’t want me flying. So my visit will only be a week. Still, it’s been glorious.

My daughter is very much like me in many ways and very different in many ways. She’s brave, strong, exceedingly smart, cooks well (did all the cooking while we were here), and is very creative. She’s someone you’d want around in a crisis. We haven’t always gotten along. i am not, by nature, particularly maternal.

But things are easier between us now. Perhaps it’s my age. Being here with just her and her family (and Debi, my assistant, who helps me as I am one-handed right now), I am able to see her as a grown woman, not as a child; not even as a child of mine. Just a woman in her own right. It’s easier.

This is what I saw as Debi and I drove from the airport 6 days ago. They call Montana Big Sky Country, but so is New Mexico. It has partly to do with the dry air. Light is refracted differently in dry, spacious climates.

The 2nd day I was here, I organized a field trip to visit the Puye Cliffs near Espanola.

Here we are in front of the visitor’s center.Left to right: Casey Ellyson, me, Paul Van Winkle (Vanessa’s husband), Viva Vadim, Logan Casey and Malcolm Vadim

The village that was comprised of the cliff dwellings and what’s atop the mesa was the largest pueblo settlement in the area, occupied for about 600 years, from the late 900sAD to the 1500s. The cliffs are composed of soft, grayish stone called tuff. You can’t see from here, but the surfaces of the cliffs are covered with Indian pictographs carved into the rock of coyote, birds, rabbits and geometric designs, especially the series of circles that are seen in prehistoric cultures round the world.

We had a delicious lunch at Rancho Chimayo
This was the sky as we were returning to our ranch.

We love to play board games at night after dinner. Here we’re playing TABOO, boys against girls. The boys won.

Friday morning, our friend, Honey Harris who hosts a music and talk show in Santa Fe, invited Viva and Casey to be the DJs. The brought 10 songs and talked about why they liked them and what they knew about the singers.

For those of you interested in knowing the musical tastes of very smart, hip, 11-year-old girls, here is their play list (to listen click here or download the mp3):

JACOB JEFFRIES: Flashlight
FUN: Carry On, or Some Nights
IMAGINE DRAGONS: On Top of the World, or Fallen
FAYE WEBSTER: Lonestar, or Sadness in the Air
NEON TREES: Animal
JULIA HALTIGAN: Cowboys & Rocketmen
ROBIN THICKE: Blurred Lines
BEN SOLLEE: It’s Not Impossible
COLDPLAY: Life in Technicolor
BRUNO MARS: Treasure
FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: Dog Days Are Over
Justin Timberlake (Suit & Tie, or Mirrors), and One Direction (Best Song Ever)

I’m fascinated how they want nothing to do with the music of my time or even their mother’s time, but their music is so clearly influenced by that. (Vanessa, however, did like my music from the 60′s and 70′s, as I recall. She once compiled a cassette for me called “Hymn to Her” with all our favorite songs by women singers from that period)

Friday, after the stint as DJs, we all went to lunch and a movie. I wanted to take the kids to The Cowgirl Hall of Fame restaurant on Guadelupe. Here we are (minus Vanessa who’s taking the picture. That’s Debi in the blue t-shirt holding Tulea. She’s a true blue dog person and Tulea loves her. Nathalie Vadim, my stepdaughter, who lives on my ranch and takes care of the horses, is in the foreground.

The main attraction for me was this dessert which we turned into the 2nd birthday cake for Casey (in blue), who just turned 11 years old. Logan, Malcolm’s friend, is the blonde boy in the dark blue t-shirt. (They’re both 14)

The dessert they’re eating is ice cream made to look like a baked potato. It’s vanilla ice cream rolled in coco powder to look like a spud, with ice cream “butter” and whipped cream “sour cream”.

We saw “The Way Way Back” and liked it. Sam Rockwell is fantastic.

I worry about the enormous focus on electronics that seem to occupy vast parts of our children’s time.

But I am happy to say that the four of them have also been very caught up in the outdoors–swimming, hiking, repairing the tree fort that Malcolm built last year, horseback riding, all evidenced by their sunburns.

Sunday we had lunch at Frankie’s, a charming Mexican restaurant in the tiny town of Pecos near my ranch.

After lunch, we visited the Pecos National Monument. In pre-historic times, the Pecos River valley was populated by the Pecos Indians. Their kivas and dwelling places have been excavated and restored. Next to them is the Church built by the Spanish missionaries. Over centuries, the Pecos were attacked by the more aggressive Comanches; subjugated for a time by the Spaniards and then, as the railway came through, population of settlers expanded and land became scarcer, the tribe was reduced from thousands to about 20 and they moved to another pueblo 25 miles to the west.

The British film star, Greer Garson and her husband, created the visitors center and helped persuade Congress to create the Pecos National Monument. They once owned the Forked Lightning Ranch of which my ranch was once just a small part. But everyone who’s been around here long enough remembers the Fogelson’s as kind, generous people.

Here are Viva and Casey leaving the Visitor’s Center.

Viva is a dog person too. Here she is, joining Tulea in a howl.

Our last supper

And now, with some sadness, I leave for the east coast for next Monday’s New York premiere of “The Butler.”

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