Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

Who are Ted and Evie, Billy the Kid, what is a hogan and why I'm glad I can climb fences.

Back in 2012, two friends and I made it to the Bosque Redondo museum in beautiful Fort Sumner , New Mexico. It's quite pretty there, although hard to find,since the bigger draw in Fort Sumner is the Billy the Kid Museum and grave.
Yup, the supposed grave of a dead criminal. I know, right? 

"Honey, get the kids!! We need a picture of them posing next to a criminal's grave!"
 Anyway, we finally found the museum, waaaaay at the end of a road.

But I didn't get a chance to go out onto the land.

But, in November of 2013, I met...

Ted and Evie.

Or as they are formally known, Mr and Mrs 
Theodore and Evelyn Charles, of  Gallup , New Mexico. 
Well, not in Gallup, they live in a two story hogan, a rarity, on a hill outside of Gallup.  
Here they are, posing at Canyon de Chelly ( 'duh Shay) I seriously don't have a picture of the two of them without one of them either with their eyes shut, or someone having fun. 
Cough. Ted.

These two met in the early 1960's when she arrived at Rehoboth MIssion School in Gallup to work as a nurse. She was sweet and idealistic, and somewhat far from home. Ted had just gotten back from his time as a Marine and  was the boy's dorm supervisor/muscle/counsellor/chief trouble maker.
And if I do say so myself, I *think* our Ted was somewhat of a flirt.  
And here they are, 47 years later. 
And he still makes her blush.

So, HOW does a Canadian living on the East Coast meet and travel all over New Mexico and Arizona with a Navajo man and his wife?

Short story? I met Kiersti Plog(, (Facebook/blog 'met') then I found Mark Charles' blog on Kiersti's blog roll ( and then Mark introduced me to his dad, Ted.
And so it began.
I spoke with Ted on the phone, for almost 90 minutes, and long story short, he suggested I come to New Mexico.

Umm, here's the thing.
I haven't got the time or money to go to New Mexico. My schedule is packed solid.
So I prayed about it...

And God opened the doors!

Backtracking...I drove from Colorado Springs with Amy Drown, and we arrived in Belen, had dinner and Andrew and Barbara and the next morning, Ted and Evie drove A LONG WAY to rendezvous with me in the (not) swank Super 8 in Belen.

Then we drove a long way to Fort Sumner. Like, a LONG way. 
We got there, it was a gorgeous day, birds were singing, we were having a great time getting to know each other, the gates were locked and the sign said "no trespassers"


So, we ended up next door at the state fair grounds.
And the gates were chained there, too.
Thankfully, the sign said "no littering".

See those two?
We didn't litter.

Neither did Evie.

We discussed our options, and decided to climb the fence. Evie wasn't too thrilled about it, since it really was trespassing. But, technically, there was no sign to say "2 white girls and a Navajo man cannot climb this fence and wander over to museum property and climb that fence and wander around unsupervised".

And I did not come ALL THIS WAY to be deterred by a sign.

 Here's the Pecos. 

The pretty but poisonous Pecos. 

Meandering through the prison camp, the only water source for miles.

It was a beautiful day.

We even found a squash vine. We wondered if that vine was part of a garden, 150 years ago.

Given that is was close to the riverbank and under a huge cottonwood tree, it may very well be a heritage plant.
Or, who knows?

See how flat the terrain is? Imagine thousands upon thousands of people there, living in squalid, inhumane conditions. It was SO BAD, that the government signed a treaty and let the remaining prisoners go.

The Navajo measure their history before Bosque Redondo, or as the Navajo call it, Hweeldi , which began in 1864 and after, 1868.

Some say the word Hweeldi is a derivative of the Spanish word fuerte.

What it was? 

It was a living nightmare for 9500 Navajo.

And one of them was a little boy named Tsi'naginnie. (sit-nah-jin-ee).

One day, little Tsi'naginnie would grow up and have his own children, and one day, his grandson would come into the world.
His name? 

Theodore Charles.

Somewhere, across that field, all kinds of families existed and endured.

 Including Ted's family.

The very interesting part of the "no trespassing"thing is that if the museum was open, we'd have never gotten so close to the river. Or in my case, onto a sand and gravel bar in the river. 

And where does the second book in my series start?

In the river.

That night, after a long drive home, and a lot of discussion, we arrived at their home. But, this was my home for a few lovely days. 

This is 'the little hogan', down the hill from their two story hogan.
What a peaceful, lovely place to think, and wonder, and be thankful for blessings I never saw coming.

Ask any one of the hundreds of people who've known and appreciated Ted and Evie's hospitality, about the little hogan, and they'll smile and sigh. 

Because Ted and Evie know exactly how to walk in beauty.

Thank you, Evie and Ted, for the treasure of your time and wisdom..


  1. BEAUTIFUL post. And I love the pics, esp. of the squash vine and the one of the tree with the sun...lovely. Such a sad time in history, and yet so thankful you could meet those who could tell the story so YOU can tell your story!

    1. Thank you.
      Yes, very sad, but God can redeem anything, can't He? I hope and pray to be a part of that process.

  2. Beautiful and powerful. I love the bit about the river and where your story begins. :) Thank you for sharing, Jennifer...and Ted and Evie.

    1. Thank you, Kiersti!
      And you're welcome. I'm so glad God opened the doors that led me to you and them!

  3. You have GOT to write a book about writing your books!

    1. Maybe I will. And I'll mention my adopted brother and his amazing wife. And all their kids.

  4. Jennifer, I had a wonderful comment ready to post, but alas! (And DRAT!) It was eaten in another browser, so... I am resorting to a bane-of-my-existence browser. I've been trying this with some Blogger folks, and it seems to work. We shall see... :)

    That said...I loved your post! What hospitable and kind folks Evie and Ted are! I enjoyed reading about your trip and learning what a "hogan" is. My heart breaks at the cruelty and injustice mankind contrives. I have a feeling I'm going to shed a tear or two when I read your book.

    1. Thank you, Cindy!
      I'm so glad you dropped by!
      Aren't they lovely? I absolutely adore them. They're loved by many, many people.
      In a way, I hope you do shed a few tears, such a writer thing to say, eh?

  5. Lovely! I envy you this sojourn, both the physical landscape and the emotional/writer/historian side of things. Ted and Evie sound like the perfect hosts and good friends to know. Thank you so much for sharing your memories and pictures. Hugs! And hope you are feeling better too!

    1. Thank you, Lori. And thank you for visiting!
      They are gifted with the ability to love and care for so many people, it was an honour and a blessing to be around them.

      I am feeling better, but I wish it was ALL better!

  6. What a wonderful testimony to God's goodness. I love the pictures! God bless Ted and Evie for welcoming you (and putting up with you--kidding ;-) Love you Jenn, andI love hearing about what God is doing with your work. Write on, wild child, write on.

    1. They were a blast! And one thing Evie said , only a few hours after our trip started was "Well Ted, I think you met your match."
      It was a very intense trip, and I owe them so much!!