Author Archive for C.C. Snider-Bryan


The Long Road East



The Ditch Road That Swings Back Toward the Sandias
And That Inspires Many A Thought About Caring For My Roots

poems in honor of
my parents
and in honor of my journey without them

©1993 Cirrelda Claire Snider-Bryan

sky bright
autumn day

high leaves
mark the way

I walk
on the road

prayer ode
from my home

steps rhyme
with this song

think time
and right now


Morning Walk on Ditch

I had been following this unknown configuration in the sand. It was a wide little swath – with knicks evenly spaced on both sides. Was it a snake ? was my first question.
The track came out into the middle of the road and doubled back.
It was a very intricate track.

I kept on walking. (Plodding a better word cause I was still sleepy and lost in thought.)
But had the thought – “There’s a story in that -. Was there a fight? Why did the intricate track double back?

So, I turn around … find it again … follow it …
Does it stop at that paw print – ?
No, it continues on down the
I see
a crawdad!

Who notices me, too, & stops.
Then starts up again.
Slowly, intricately, pulling that
body, that armor, along.
Gently texturing that sand
like a wonderful border on a clay pot.

Heading for the weeds –
(the protection for the day or to begin hibernation?)

I turn around to continue my walk.

There back in the middle of the road is another guy – but his legs are up in the air.
He’s helpless, legs trying to grasp something to turn him over.
My shoe tries to do that – and I do get him over. But he’s extremely muddy, caked with sandy mud.

& instantly he begins

to go in circles,

around & around & around.

I wonder, What’s wrong? Maybe he can’t see because he’s all covered up with wet sand.

Well, the minutes tick on and it is a work day. I continue my plod. Leaving him, (hoping he’ll find
his way off the road) other thoughts come into my mind after I wonder at the slowness of their flight.
Kinda dangerous.
They’re well-suited for their slowness, I guess, in that heavy armour.

After my double-back, on my way home to get ready for work, I come upon the place in the road again.
The “caked” one is STILL there … his track all jumbled … he’s still been going around and around.

I stand there wondering. ? Should I throw him back in the ditch, let him get washed off, then he’ll come
back out on his own to continue his journey?

Do I wipe it off with my hand ?

Or would I be interfering ? Or will that mud stay on all day?

Will I, won’t I?

OK – grab some dry loose grass – make a brush in my hand – start to brush it off. It comes off easily.
THERE are his eyes ! – little black glassy balls.
He protests, just like my young niece when she’s getting the tangles combed out of her hair.

I can go.
I’m on my way.
Maybe he’ll not ger run over now.
“You’d better get off this road!” I say out loud to this boy (or girl) crawdad.

Walking on … other thoughts on my mind.
Me walking on my walk … my weekly double-backs.

Later I hear the sound of a vehicle coming from behind. Coming up close.
Panic. Is he off the road yet ?
Panic and help in the palms of my feet stretch, race ! back along the road toward him.
“Get off!” Those feet push him off.

Do we get helped along, too ?
Spirits unknown to us – once in a blue moon deciding to stoop down and brush us off ?
Someone once said to me that it could be our lives are like water striders on the ditch surface.
We’re not really aware of that whole other reality going on above us on the bank. Just only every once in a while we get this glimmer of a movement that doesn’t seem normal. And many times we just dismiss it as nothing. Yes there is that whole other big beautiful world going on, with being stopping to admire us or eat us. And to us it may just seem like a gray cloud, a chill wind, or an uncomfortable feeling of being shaken up., that amazingly leaves you feeling clearer. For some reason.


Tiles for the Open Space Traditions Garden


Honored to the max!

The staff at City of Albuquerque’s Open Space Visitor Center, 6500 Coors Blvd NW, along with Board Members of the Open Space Alliance, commissioned me to make 10 by 10 inch illustrated label signs for 11 elements in their demonstration garden dedicated to garden bed designs used in our region over time. The Open Space Visitor Center has a tradition of its own of honoring the connection between  art and ecology. Tile Heritage Association member Margy O’Brien created plant tile signs for this place many years ago, so there’s even a tradition of tiles there!


Staff members Noel Chilton, Kim Selving, Kent Swanson were joined by Board Member Charlie Wood to review my proposal to make press tiles. I showed them my Garden Companions press tile series (see other section of this blog) and they liked the idea that copies of the tiles could be made.

First four tiles were completed first week of April. Second four were completed by mid June. A wonderful garden party happened Saturday June 25th to unveil the installation. The last ones will be completed by the end of August and be installed in time for the Center’s  10th anniversary celebration mid September.

Here, in the “mosaic” above, are photos of the tiles and the process, from drawing to press tile to glazing of bisque-fired “pulling” from the negative.




Thanks to Linda’s suggestion, here are a few more photos showing the placement of the tiles at the Traditions Garden, Open Space Visitor Center on the west bank of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque.

inside the entrance with tile signs

inside the entrance with tile signs

entrance to Traditions Garden at Open Space Visitor Center

entrance to Traditions Garden at Open Space Visitor Center


finished Compost tile

finished Compost tile

glazing Compost tile

glazing Compost tile

Spanish tile at home

Spanish tile at home

drawing for Compost

drawing for Compost

Olla tile at home

Olla tile at home

Acequia tile at home

Acequia tile at home

Compost tile at home

Compost tile at home

Thank You Charlie Wood tile

Thank You Charlie Wood tile


Process for Imprint Tiles


I choose “relief” tile over just a flat, painted tile generally. I have etched and drawn into clay throughout the almost 50 years I’ve been working with it — first took clay classes at Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa in 1968 at the age of 11, with Marsha Manhart as my first teacher.

In the late 90’s I read Frank Giorgini’s book Handmade Tiles where he describes creating plaster molds for pressing slabs to create multiple versions of same tile. I know many folks were inspired by his book. After having a plaster press mold lose detail, I began to make my press molds from bisque-fired tiles. Most of the tiles shown in the albums here are made this way. I have created over 40 of these press tile forms which are negatives from my drawings.

Here are a few imprint tiles paired with finished tile. There is range of depth and detail – some are just lines, others have carved or built texture to create the final relief when a pre-measured slab is pressed into it.


log: end o’ summer 2015

Semi-annual pilgrimage to Paliza Canyon in the Jemez, this year camped a bit further north than usual. In an area where a lot of pumice mining happened early 20th century, grassland habitat had a few Chamiza/Rabbit Brush in full bloom. And, look what was feeding on them in that 7000′, north central NM area:

Saturday, October 3, 2015 - Monarch Butterflies feeding on Chamiza on Paliza Canyon mesa top.

Saturday, October 3, 2015 – Monarch Butterflies feeding on Chamiza on Paliza Canyon mesa top.

Note Ponderosa pine needles at top of cropped photo.

Note Ponderosa pine needles at top of cropped photo.

Glad to see Monarchs in our own high elevations, in the middle of their migration time!

Glad to see Monarchs in our own high elevations, in the middle of their migration time!


Gratitude Award Tiles for New Mexico Literary Arts

It’s my 6th year to make these award tiles. I love doing them. Grateful that NMLA hires me!


2014 – Miriam Sagan


2009 – back of greenware


2009 – back of greenware

2009 - Mary McGinnis & Taos Poetry Circus (Anne MacNaughton & Peter Rabbit)

2009 – Mary McGinnis & Taos Poetry Circus (Anne MacNaughton & Peter Rabbit)


2010 – Lisa Gill

2010 - Sin Fronteras Journal

2010 – Sin Fronteras Journal

2011 - ABQ Unidos Slam Team

2011 – ABQ Unidos Slam Team

2011 - Stan Noyes

2011 – Stan Noyes

2012 - James McGrath & S.O.M.O.S.

2012 – James McGrath & S.O.M.O.S.

2012 - James McGrath

2012 – James McGrath

2013 - Larry Goodell & Mitch Rayes (The Projects)

2013 – Larry Goodell & Mitch Rayes (The Projects)

2014 - Miriam Sagan & Collected Works

2014 – Miriam Sagan & Collected Works


2015 – Alvaro Cardona-Hine


2015 – Teatro Paraguas


Vistazo al Sur

Vistazo al Sur

This got installed!
Sunday the 22nd of December 2013

Still to come – grouting.

[see September 2012 post for beginnings of this tile piece]


log: other end of summer

Aug 29, 2013
Tonite …
-a swallow dipped and curved over the same half block, movements echoing the shape of the orange cloud tinged by the sunset.
– a tall dog waded ankle deep in an emptying ditch
– on the surface of the shallow water, bubbles rose in concentric circles. Chunky 5 inch crawdad swam, visible!
– tiniest skimmers – water striders?
– each steep muddy bank revealed rows of crawdad holes

A lot has happened in 3 and a half months here in the mid Rio Grande valley. Where we as a family are “perched,” less than a mile from the east shore, we are first to see the river and ditch water coming into the 15-20 miles that is Albuquerque when we take our walks.

June saw river levels stretch from shore to shore. On walks past-sunset approaching darkness, I saw my first muskrat swimming faster than my walking, skinny tail, husky body, nose and eyes above water.
Another nite a coyote stopped and stared at us 200 feet away and my dog wanted to join him.
Then, there was the dusk when another nose and eyes swam from shore out into the river, and then slapped the water with its tail – first beaver seen in the wild for me.
In that same month of June, a Kingfisher was on a wire above the ditch, another first.

It was right after the beaver sighting that the months-promised shut-off of the river happened. July 1 was the promised date for not supplementing the flow to the river, in turn to the ditch system. Out of Cochiti Dam, no extra water would be released. I walked most days that first week, to observe how low the river and the ditches got and all the changes. Of course the actual Rio Grande State Park land along the Rio was officially closed – restricting access as in so many recent years due to the extreme dryness of the riverside forest, so I was breaking the law by going over there.

I, like many people living in New Mexico, carried in the beginning of the summer a burden of dread because of the dryness. I had many plants in my yard die or struggle or not come back (see previous post). Much of my professional life was engaged with this reality – I work with a team of families doing The Learning Garden, was preparing for drought murals in the Art Adventures Camp and getting ready to teach Nature Detectives Camp for K-2nd graders. I was reading colleagues’ writings detailing water politics and speculating outcomes. I was obsessed with the thought of extreme water-rationing. Reports abounded of wild animals traveling to the river corridor – at lease once a week a story of bears in neighborhoods.

Our 8th meeting of the Learning Garden first week of July had us planting our first plants there – a flat of Maximillian Sunflowers – after laying down soaker hoses. We heaped on 2 bales of straw for mulch. The next day the city had its first rain shower in 7 months that actually made puddles. At the end of July gleeful meteorologists were reporting a record-breaking rainfall for July of 2.7 inches.

Trips to the river (the forest and bosque travel bans lifted) provided a changed stream bed almost every visit. At one visit, red mud lined the bar and bank – we collected the top inch of clay – and predicted it was from the Jemez. After bigger rains, there was evidence of river level rising 2 feet.

We had experienced a miracle. Our monsoon season came early and stayed with us and the plants and soil and 2 and 4 leggeds sensed relief.

Now, at the end of August, we are back to the dry cycle, with more weeds since the wet summer of 2006. And the water levels, as reported in first paragraph, are the lowest yet.

new cactus frond growth in mid July, showing fleshy spines

new cactus frond growth in mid July, showing fleshy spines

clay & log posts

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