Clean the Windows

Eyes are the window to our soul…

Nonnie and sweet baby boy

I love clean windows.  We were once on a drive with my husband’s beautiful, witty, totally classy grandmother, Nonnie.  She loved going for drives, so as a surprise we picked her up from her apartment in Milwaukee and drove down to Oak Park, IL for a trip down memory lane. She had been so busy playing with and entertaining our baby next to her in the backseat, that she had no idea where we were until we were parked in front of the home where she and her late husband had once lived.  It was magical to see her light up.

We slowly drove through the neighborhood, taking in the gorgeous Chicago style bungalows where Frank Lloyd Wright had made a name for himself.  At one point, we stopped to gaze at a magnificent historic estate, and I heard Nonnie say, “Would you look at how clean those windows are!?”  I can’t say I really noticed a home’s clean windows until then, buy my goodness, she was on to something.  It truly made the homes even more spectacular.  From then on, I would make a better effort to keep my windows clean.

My son’s favorite spot in our downtown historic home

Our home in the heart of downtown Albuquerque has awesome windows…the kind that are so old, they are wavy and cast the most gorgeous patterns when sunlight hits them at dawn and dusk. And our loft that we’ve been working on for the past decade has the most gorgeous 180 degree sunset views from its 2nd story bank of windows.  I’m a fanatic for having open windows and I’m most content when my windows are clear of any obstruction to the outside world.

Sunset from our loft

 

You can ask my husband what is one of Mandy’s favorite and happiest days, and he’ll tell you it’s the day my windows are washed.  Just this weekend, my incredible husband blessed me with such a day as he grabbed his bucket and squeegees and took to the windows at our home here in Colorado.  Whether looking out at the giant age-old mulberry and elm trees from our 2nd story in Albuquerque, or my current view of grand evergreens and fields of grass, gazing out of clean windows makes everything look better inside and out.

 

Me when the windows to my soul are clean

It is said that our eyes are the windows to our soul.  There have been times in the recent months when my “windows” needed a good cleaning.  Perspective is hard when a window is clouded over. When it comes to my eyes, the troubled times and challenges from recent social, relational, and situational hardship have put dirt and spots all over my view.  With more isolation and required distance from each other, my view, both figuratively and literally, has needed to be cleaned…regularly cleaned.  And whereas a bucket and some squeegees will suffice for my home’s windows, the windows to my soul require reminding myself who I am (joyful, content, fun, social, quick with a smile, and gracious) and resisting who I do not want to be (critical, sad, lonely, irritated, even judgmental).

I’d like to issue a challenge; for the sake of our homes and those who travel by…for the sake of our relationships and our souls.  Open our windows, wipe them clean, allow for improvement on our perspectives, and make it easier to take in the beauty of our surroundings, situations, and fellow human beings.  It will never be a once and for all exercise, but don’t let the cloudiness and dirt accumulate for too long.  Let us choose to do what it takes to keep our windows clean.

This is my Vista Encantada

-Mandy Herzog, Marketing and Relocation Director

Color

One summer I had been traveling for a few weeks.   While I was gone, it rained every afternoon as is common in my favorite season, our fifth season, Monsoon Season.   Upon my return, I was showing homes to a lady from Georgia.    As we drove around town, I kept commenting on how green everything looked due the rain over the last few weeks.   The medians were green, the open space was green with wild flowers popping up in between the grass and even the distant mesas had a green sheen.   The lady from Georgia didn’t really engage in my green comments.   Finally, at the end of the day and after one more exclamation from me about how green everything looked, she turned to me and said, “Honey, you and I don’t see green the same!”

We laughed and talked about how everything comes down to your reference point.    Admittedly, the green I was seeing everywhere was celery green, which as compared to brown, looked green!   She was used to the verdant Kelly green of the humid climates of the south, so celery green did not seem remarkable to her.

What WAS remarkable to her however, was how far she could see into the distance.   Due to the lack of humidity and the mountainous terrain, she could see those “green” mesas that are more than 20 miles away!   She could see the distant blue mountains of Santa Fe and the Jemez Mountains which are 60 miles away!   Though I see those things every day too, they are part of my normal.  We enjoy clear air, blue skies and vast vistas almost every day of our lives here.

People new to the area often say about our landscape, “it is so BROWN”!   I always think to myself, well, it depends on where you look.   As I mentioned above, when the reference point is brown due to the desert landscape, New Mexicans see color in subtle hues sometimes, or color captured in unexpected moments depending on how our amazing sunshine spotlights a pop of color.   That sunlight we enjoy 330 days of the year is what drew artists like Georgia O’Keefe to New Mexico to capture those amazing moments of color and light on their canvases.

Starting with vivid sunrises, my days take me all over ABQ and the surrounding area and I delight in the special discoveries of color and light.  I see distant views and close up landscape vignettes tucked into courtyards and corners, and I know we are so lucky.

Brown – yes, it is brown here, but only as the neutral background- the canvas you could call it – for the dramatic beauty of the High Desert.

Each and every day closes with the finale, the most amazing gift we are given –  our sunsets.

I love it here – this is my Vista Encantada-Kurstin Johnson

Joyous New Mexico Morning!

Sunrise pushes up behind the big blue mountains pulling us up with it into the cool high desert air.   Hummingbirds zip around squabbling and fussing –  much ado about keeping each other away from the feeder …… and then finally bellying up to the bar to guzzle sweet nectar side by side after some peace treaty has been reached.

Morning bike ride downhill weeeeeee! Meeting Burquenos blearily getting their morning steps in or early birds walking with a bounce in their step and happy happy dogs with tails wagging leading the way.  COVID morning greetings range from a “Mornin”, a wave, downcast averted eyes, and judgmental frowns to backs turned as you pass…. Ah well.  Everyone doing their best to make it through.

A rock garden of hope messages along the path – maybe since our mouths are masked we share our words of encouragements on rocks.   The positive finding its way out.

Pandora on shuffle in my ears with Dave Brubek’s clarinet winding around the thoughts in my head, then Jack Johnson and Latin Jazz.  A road runner swishes his tail to the Latin beat as another looks on with a cocked head…..  SAMBA!

Golden mesas in the distance basking in the morning sun with hot air balloons dotting the sky.

Smell fresh cut grass as I cruise past the golf course with the sound of mask muffled chit chat and thwack of a good hit.

Uphill now because what goes down must come go up– ugh-  huff puff huff puff – Zak Brown’s banjo in my ear and the mountain, our beautiful blue mountain, always pulls me home.

A morning, a moment  – with me and My Vista Encantada.

I love it here.

-Kurstin Johnson

Be Your Own Guest!

In my husband’s upbringing, there was an unspoken rule that the downstairs guest room was off-limits and set apart as a special place, always prepared to receive guests.  This priority of setting aside our best for guests has been carried into our household.  At first, I didn’t take to it all that well.  For as a young bride I wanted the pretty new bedroom furniture for myself!  After a little coaxing and reevaluation, the front guest bedroom of our quaint 1920’s bungalow won out.  Our finest furnishings and linens waited prim and poised, ready to receive guests at a moment’s notice.

Our Guest Room

As we’ve moved, our guest accommodations have remained a priority in each of our homes.  Recently, due to some renovation projects, my husband and I got to be the guests and stay in our downstairs guest room.  I’m not going to lie, it felt kind of special and almost an indulgence!  What I noticed though, is that while the accommodations are quite nice, there’s a few ways I can make the space even more comfortable.

For instance, over time the closet became an extra storage space, leaving little room for guests to hang their clothes or tuck away a suitcase.  The extra furnishings like the antique rocking chair and tall dresser look nice, but take up space that otherwise could accommodate a stand for a suitcase.

The Charming Guest Bath

Then there’s the guest bath, incredibly charming with a claw-foot tub and pedestal sink.  But I noticed it leaves a little to be desired when it comes to having enough space to put toiletries and getting ready in the morning. A small bathroom cabinet and maybe a dressing table with a mirror in the guest room would be a great improvement!

With the holidays upon us, you may find yourself welcoming overnight guests into your home.  I would encourage you, take a trial run and be your own guest!  Sleep in the bed, get ready in the guest bath.  Notice what little improvements you can make that would cause your guest space to be all the more comfortable and accommodating.