Monday, June 6, 2016

Rae's Firefly

Two weeks ago I went to New Mexico to attend the Cuyamungue Institute Board Meeting for this year.  Last year I wrote about the meeting because we had set aside time to honor our dear friend, Rae.  She had been the Vice President of the Institute and her death left us all feeling a need to something special in her memory.  Before I started to write this, I decided to read the post I wrote last year.  It told about how we honored Rae and what we planned to build for her.  If you want to read it, check out this link: Happy Birthday, Rae.

Rae had a special table where she would sit and smoke her American Spirit cigarettes.  This is the only place at Cuyamungue Institute where people are allowed to smoke.  It is outside with an umbrella to shade us from the sun.  The umbrella did not function well, though and sometimes would blow away when the wind spirits wanted to have a bit of fun.  So, we decided to have a structure build to replace the rickety umbrella.  It was to be called, Rae's Firefly because she called the smoking area, Firefly.

Here is the Firefly Table as it was a few years ago.

Another picture of the Firefly table....but where is the umbrella?
Looks like a tree captured the umbrella when it was blowing in the wind...
Many people donated money to Cuyamungue Institute in memory of Rae when she died.  We had about 75% of the money from donations that was needed to build this structure.  In April, Stephanie Stephens and I presented a short workshop hoping to earn enough money so we could build Rae's Firefly.  Our workshop was such a success that I knew we would be able to begin building.

People enjoyed the Firefly even if Rae was not there.

This was also where Rae did business transactions.

....and of course, a place for a quick hair cut.

Ray (my husband...we call him TR, not to be confused with Rae...Florida Rae) and I drove to New Mexico in May with a van full of items that needed to be stored at Cuyamungue.  I thought Paul (the President of the board) acted a bit strange when we arrived.  When I climbed out of the van, Paul came running out to greet me and ushered be toward the Student Building.  I saw him get his cell phone out but my attention was drawn toward the area of the smoking area.  There it was!  A structure built of wood and logs from the area.  A table with chairs seemed to invite us to step in and enjoy the shade.  Paul was taking a video of my surprised expression.

Here is Rae's Firefly!  We wanted it to be open on all sides to get the desert breeze.  I am so thankful that Paul took time to build this.  He did have some help from a local young man.

Here are some pictures of Rae's Firefly and a few more of Cuyamungue Institute.  It is a place I love, the Land is a refuge for animals....four legged and two legged.  I can feel Rae's spirit there, and hear her deep laugh as she tells stories.

Here are Paul, Ray and Dave making music in Rae's Firefly

What a wonderful place for us.  It is not quite finished yet, but I know it will be perfect.  We could sit there and enjoy the fresh desert air and not swelter under the sun.

And here are just a few more pictures of the Institute....just because I want to post them.

Here is a picture of our buildings.

This is the May Pole that was built this year.

I can't forget a picture of the labyrinth!
Here are some of the Board Members, plus Ray, our photographer.
Ray took some drone pictures that are amazing.  I hope to put a couple of those in my next post.


  1. A perfect memorial to a beloved member!

  2. A perfect memorial to a beloved member!

  3. What a great way to honor a friend and special person. I am sure Rae smiles every time someone uses the Firefly. Great pictures.

  4. Wonderful tribute to a special friend. Your pictures make me homesick for Taos. Loved my summers there.
    Bonnie K.

  5. I loved reading this and seeing pictures of Rae. She was certainly a VERY special woman. I'm so glad Lon and I were able to meet her.

  6. What a gorgeous place and a perfect way to remember a fine person.

  7. Are you paying over $5 / pack of cigs? I'm buying my cigarettes over at Duty Free Depot and I'm saving over 60%.