Feeling Marfan

I’ve been in Marfa for 10 days now, and I am starting to feel adjusted – not quite “at home”, but not like a tourist either.

I’m getting used to the (MUCH) slower pace. I no longer think of time as going by as if in dog years, which each day seeming like I have endless hours to fill.

I’m starting to recognize and meet people, which is really nice. I’ll see a guy at the bar who I noticed in the Pueblo supermarket (hard to miss – I think of him as the Marlboro Man – tall, lanky, cowboy hat, Wranglers, huge belt buckle, big mustache, leathered skin, cowboy boots – the whole deal). I’ll run into a woman on the street who I’d met a day before at her store.

And I’ve begun to be recognized, which is kind of cool. I was at a really amazing concert by a master of the Shakuhachi zen flute (if there’s an activity, I try to go!), and a woman came up to me and said, “I saw you at the Farmer’s Market – you were taking pictures of the tiny Mexican cucumbers.

marfa texas farmer's market

How cute are these? Delicious and crunchy.

I met a woman at Planet Marfa (a sort of Pueblo beer garden with fire pits and a tipi) and she said, “You go to Squeeze Marfa.” (Read about my Squeeze habit.)

Yesterday I really began to feel local when I was asked for advice by two sets of tourists. One couple in for the weekend from Austin was looking for a certain place to eat breakfast, but I steered them to Cochineal for the biscuits and gravy (see my post about them), assuring them that it wasn’t expensive for breakfast. That evening a group of bikers in full leather regalia wanted info on where to stay, and I gave them the run down on the options in town.

I really felt Marfan on Friday on a tour of “The Block” the full city block that Donald Judd bought as his home, library and personal gallery. (See photos – the 3rd and 4th pictures are other locations.) The tour guide was telling a story about seeing someone try to take her bicycle (sort of scandelous here, where it is a point of pride that no one locks their bikes), and I had actually heard that anecdote from a friend of hers the day before.

Yesterday I was telling a woman about my closet project, and mentioned that after I had rigged up my makeshift solution, I saw a post on www.MarfaList.org (the local classifieds site – great way to see what goes on in town) for a lovely antique armoire.

She: “That was mine.”

Me: “I’d also seen a post for an Ikea wardrobe.”

She: “That was me, too.”

Life in a small town!

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Texas Big Bend Counrty: El Despoblado

The far west region of Texas was once called “el despoblado” – the place without people.

However many years later, that name still fits.

(These shots were actually taken within the “city” of Marfa.)

marfa texas view

marfa texas vista

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Cochineal: The World’s Best Biscuits and Gravy

For New Yorkers who’ve heard of Marfa, the restaurant Cochineal probably ranks just behind Chinati/Donald Judd as one of the town’s highlights.

Started by Tom Rapp and Toshifumi Sakihara of NYC’s Etats-Unis, it’s mentioned in just about every magazine article on Marfa, in the Times, on Chowhound.com,  etc. as the best place to eat in town. In West Texas. In all of Texas. You get the idea.

I’ve waiting till after my trip to Big Bend (apparently a culinary wasteland – suggestions welcome) to go for dinner, but was very excited to find out from Dennis Dickerson, owner of the fantasic Exhibitions 2d Gallery (one of my favorite spaces in Marfa), that they also serve breakfast. Sometimes.

This being Marfa (watch for my upcoming post on “Marfa Time”), breakfast is served Thursday through Sunday. Except yesterday when it wasn’t.

I’d been warned that service at breakfast can be slow, so I was both pleased and a little concerned that I was the first person there at 9:25. I felt sort of badly about making them fire up the stove for one customer and actually asked if I should come back. They welcomed  me in. Mind you, in New York I would never eat in an empty restaurant. But I’ve learned in Marfa that when something is open, you go in.

The place is really pretty – courtyard out front and spare yet chic decor inside (is that Judd Red on the zig-zag wall decorations?). Loved seeing a little bit of Manhattan in Marfa.

And then, one of those quirky Marfan interactions:

Me: “This space is gorgeous.”

Waiter: “I know.”

I practically burst out laughing.

But I had to get to the serious business of chosing my breakfast. I was surpised at how extensive the menu was. Pancakes were tempting (they had sour cream or some other delicious superflous addition). Or should I try the Mexican dishes? Go for healthy with oatmeal or Greek yogurt and fruit or oatmeal? But Texas is the South, sort of, and as you know from the title of this post, I could not resist the biscuits and gravy.

And, if you go, you shouldn’t either.

Cochineal Marfa


Even before I took a bite, I loved how the gravy came in its own container. Broke open one of those crumbly baking soda biscuits and knew it was going to be good. It was so delicate it could barely support the gravy. Fortunately the gravy, while incredibly rich and tasty, was as light as mousse.

When I overhead a woman another table deciding whether to order the B&G,  I couldn’t help but encourage her. When she tasted hers, she exclaimed, “It’s just as light as a feather.” One of her companions said, “It’s like eating air.”

As the place began to fill up, everyone seemed to be making dinner reservations – for the very same night.

Can’t wait to go back for the rest of the menu.

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My Marfa Movie

My first experiment with the movie feature on my camera.

Sorry – it’s a little dizzying and shaky.

The 360-degree view from the Marfa Golf Course – highest course in Texas. Really hard to capture the enormity of the landscape.

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I Have Become Nancy Botwin

For the second straight day, I wander the street of Marfa, noisily sucking the last of my Squeeze smoothie through a straw. I finally, fully understand why the Weeds main character is wedded to her coffee cup.

Like Nancy, my world has turned upside down. Everything is unknown. Leaving Manhattan for Marfa, I am adrift. My old life, the routines and people that made up my days and nights, are out of reach. I don’t know this new territory. The is little familar here that I can hold onto. Except my beverage cup.

For the few meditative minutes that it take me to slurp my smoothie, I am comforted by a known ritual. I can forget that I have left on the east coast all the vestiges of my life. In these brief moments of beverage bliss, my anxiety is eased.

But when happens when this short activity is over? Then what? How will I fill my time? What will I do?

And so, when my drink is down to its dregs, I do not toss my near-empty cup, but continue strolling, gripping it, teeth clenched on the straw, the annoying sound of sucking up air drowning out the possibility of thought.

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Marfa Photos

Sorry for the delay! Here’s a bunch of photos.

What the pix don’t capture is the gorgeous light, and the immense vastness of the place – endless miles of desert and mountains at the end of every road.

Approaching Marfa. I am standing in the middle of the highway. No problem.

THE traffic light (however, it's a blinking red light - basically a stop sign).

"City" of Marfa? Um, I don't think so.

Looking south from the Courthouse. Can you say "empty"?

I love this old theater. Wish the neon still worked.

This truck was right out of central casting

Typical crowded sidewalk

No tourists clogging the sidewalks of Marfa!

Rush hour, Marfa

Marfa's iconic "skyline" feature. Eiffel Tower, eat your heart out.

The rail road crossing. Looks picturesque. Train horns blowing midnight to 8am - not so charming.

White stucco + blue sky = gorgeous

Art deco "Marfatechture" (not my coinage)

Marfa vista


Site of the Farmer's Market and famous Food Shark truck.

The "Duomo" of Marfa

My house (and cacti)

If we've spoken on the phone, I was probably sitting here.

Marfa sunset

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Why Marfa? Donald Judd’s Storage Solution

For me, a big part of coming to Marfa was about the space.

Turns out, it was the same for Donald Judd. In addition to wanting a summer place, turns out he needed somewhere to store his art!

(Judd speaks at around 2:14 in this video – his last)


I heart this Judd bumper sticker:


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