Love Your Librarian

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There was this lady named Erna Fergusson who opened up the world for me.

Erna was a New Mexican, one of our best. She was born and grew up in Glorieta and later spent time in Washington DC when her father was a Congressman. Erna was a worldly woman dedicated to capturing in writing much of the history and tradition of the indigenous people of both New Mexico and Latin America. She was a teacher and later helped found the Albuquerque Historical Society.

In 1966, the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System opened up a library branch bearing Erna’s name.

A few years later, here’s where I come in. My maternal grandmother, herself a schoolteacher, taught me how to read at a pretty young age. I took to reading like the proverbial duck to water.

My mom, also an avid reader, brought me to the library named for Erna Fergusson and showed me how to check out books. The world was suddenly my oyster! The scent of library glue, the perfect little rubber stamps and the shelves and shelves of books…well I was hooked. Obsessed, really.

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for both libraries and librarians.

Where I live now, I have access to one of the largest library systems around, and I’m in utter literary bliss. I’m constantly amazed by the obscure and not-so-obscure items in find in the collection.

A couple weeks ago right here on this blog, I professed my love (again) for another of my favorite New Mexicans, Max Evans.That same day, I checked into my library’s catalog to see if they had any of Max’s books that I hadn’t read.

Sure enough, they had a copy of One-Eyed Sky, a collection of three Max Evans stories. Well, I ordered it up to be sent to me via interlibrary loan. It took a couple days, and the same day I checked it out, with much anticipation, I opened the cover and was greeted by a sight that made me nostalgic:



It may be a little hard to see, but I added a red arrow that points to a rubber stamped date of Nov 30 ’64.

All of the stamps prior to that don’t have the year included, but one can assume 1964 and earlier. The book has a copyright date of 1963, but I figured I’d get a later printing of the book from the library. Nope. This is a first edition and it’s still in my library and still in good shape.

Behind the paper due date page was this:



Then I just went all squishy inside. I always did love that pocket they used to glue inside the front of books along with the card for the librarian to stamp that lets you know the day the book is due back. Can’t you just imagine the librarian typing up the title on both pocket and card, filing it neatly in alphabetical order while adding Max’s stories to the library collection? Then the series of librarians who dutifully stamped that card while checking it out to eager readers (like me!) over the past forty-eight years.

Well, it all made me kind of misty eyed. There’s ol’ Max, our Max, a fixture in the Bay Area library all these years. I read that book cover to cover, devouring every word and got to the last page feeling nothing but gratitude.

Just makes me want to say thanks to that one librarian, and all the rest as well, for giving me the world.




Photos by Karen Fayeth, taken with the Camera+ app on an iPhone4.


My Favorite Wayback Machine Line of the Day

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“No matter where I am in the world, in such disparate places as Sunset Boulevard, the canyons of Manhattan, an old mine tunnel in the Black Range above Hillsboro in southwestern New Mexico, or the limitless sagebrush desert norths beyond the Rio Grande gorge of Taos, I think of the land and some incident that happened on the malpais rocks and soil of Hi-Lo.

Like the gravity filled land, the thoughts and inspiration are perpetual.”

— Max Evans, in his book Hi Lo Country: Under the One-Eyed Sky


Just re-reading my February issue of New Mexico Magazine…the “Best Ever Books Issue”. It’s a dandy.

If you aren’t reading New Mexico Magazine, you oughta be.




AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf

An Unexpected Convergence of the Universe

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Had a weird day yesterday.

Well, most of my days are weird. Yesterday was especially so.

I was working in the studio and painting up a storm. Since The Good Man was out and about, I took the opportunity to turn on the oldies country station I like. 104.7 out of Albuquerque does an internet stream.

It’s a great station for classic country stuff. I try to spare The Good Man from my country music as much as I can. All for the sake of the marriage and things like that….

So as I painted, on the radio came Merle Haggard, and George Strait, a little Ray Price and even a stab at some Garth Brooks (the old stuff).

Well, it didn’t take but a minute, and I was vacuumed up into the Wayback Machine. I found myself struggling with heart pangs that were hard to ignore.

It doesn’t help that I’m also reading a Max Evan’s book right now. In it, he describes horses and New Mexico plains and mountains…

Well, it’s more than a girl can take.

I tried to fight off the homesick but it started to hurt deep inside.

So I called up my best friend.

“You either gotta come get me out of this wayback machine or you gotta get in here with me,” I left on her voicemail.

She called back quick. “Open the hatch, I’m coming in!” she said.

So being the kind of friend that you keep around for some twenty plus years, she talked me down and reminded me that I’m just a couple weeks from actually *being* in New Mexico again. So could I just hold out a bit?

Feeling a lot better, I hung up the phone and turned off the radio.

Then the Good Man came home and all was right in my world again.

About an hour later, I heard my iPhone buzz.

I picked it up to see that my old boss from Sandia Labs was pinging me. She is a dear friend and the best boss I’ve ever had. She told me that she and her boss (who was my first manager at Sandia and is also a good friend and a fine Aggie alum) were having drinks while out on a business trip.
Their conversation had turned to stories about, well, me.

She was recounting a few of them via text messages (we had a lot of fun back in those days…the mid-90’s) and she said, “That was the best time I’ve ever had at work. We should never have let you go to the Bay Area.”

And damnit all if that sharp pang didn’t come right back to my heart.

Now I keep in touch with my former amazing Boss Lady, but we haven’t spoken a lot in the past year (other than to congratulate her on a recent marriage).

Sort of out of nowhere, on a day when I’m homesick anyway, there she was relating stories of a great time in my life back when I lived in Albuquerque.

And I seized up a little.

It was weird how all these events came together on one day.

So I talked it over with The Good Man. I told him I’m afraid of forgetting who I am and where I come from. He suggested that just that fear alone may keep it from being so.

He asked, “Do you want to move back?”

And I said, “No, because I think I’d yearn for San Francisco if I left!”

Over the weekend, we went to see a theater show, “The Tosca Project,” that was so San Francisco and the heart of North Beach that I love profoundly, that it was moving and deeply gratifying to my soul.

The thought of being far away from the soul of that City is a sad thought.

Sometimes I’m a girl caught between all the Karens that make up who I am.

I don’t have any answers. I figure I’m just going to have a very high electrical bill this month, what with all this constant use of the Wayback Machine (it’s not Energy Star rated…..)

Max Evans

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If you don’t know who Max Evans (the writer, not the “Roswell” character) is, you should.

If you are a New Mexican and you don’t know who Max Evans is…for *shame*.

Max is truly one of ours and in behind the deeply furrowed face of that crazy man beats the heart of New Mexico.

If you don’t know about him, get thee to the nearest receptacle of books, be it library or retailer and take a look. He’s a writer of cowboy stories. He’s an artist. He’s a funnyman and a raconteur extraordinaire. No one puts a spin on a story like ol’ Max.

And so I was happy to read this interview with him in the Albuquerque Tribune.

He’s got a new book out, “For The Love of A Horse” that I will probably burst into flames moving so fast to acquire. (Amazon reports only two in stock so this may be harder to come by than I first imagined….)

I, too, have been influenced by the horses I’ve known in my life. I remember them better than I do most former boyfriends. And I remember them more fondly too.

I’m fired up to read his stories. I expect alternating pangs of homesickness and heartbroke over the steeds that have come and gone. Should be awesome!

By the by, as an update to my last post, my mom is improved, but not out of the woods. My brother is there with her now and we are waiting on some test results. I may have to head back out there next week and am NOT looking forward to it. Work is insane and family life is insane and I want to escape into the relatively un-insane home I share with my incredibly sane man and hide…for a long time….

Day at a time.




AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf