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January 3, 2011

Pack Your Bags! We're On The Move!

Hello loyal and faithful readers of Oh Fair New Mexico!

With the New Year comes change.

Good change.

Well...at least I hope so anyway.

For the past several years, I've maintained two blogs. The first was Oh Fair New Mexico and my original intent was to help assuage my homesickness for my home state. The other blog was a more personal blog, meant for friends and family.

Over the years, what's happened is Oh Fair New Mexico has become more personal and my personal blog suffers my bouts of New Mexican pride.

So, really, it just made sense to combine the two.

Today I'm announcing that Oh Fair New Mexico has moved. I've decided to try out the self-hosting model since *everyone* says that's the thing to do.

The new address for Oh Fair New Mexico is blog.karenfayeth.com

Same great Oh Fair New Mexico fun, but in a few faboo location!

C'mon! Give 'er a click! Change your bookmarks! Have some fun!

I tried my darndest to make the new page look as similar as possible to this current page. It was a more difficult task than it sounds, believe me....

There had to be a few tweaks and changes, but mostly, it's pretty close.

I'm still ironing out some kinks in the code, so do let me know if you find something that doesn't work and I'll try to fix it.


To entice you to the new location....

I have a present for you on the new Oh Fair New Mexico.

I won't tell you what it is...you have to come visit.

See you over there!

Poster art by Will Borden and found on fineartamerica.com

December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!

And so, without further ado, we bid farewell to 2010.

It's been a hell of a ride. I'm not entirely sorry to see 2010 go.

Onward to 2011! May all our dreams come true!

(by the by, I've disabled comments today. I'm cookin' up something hot for the New Year! Stay tuned.....)

December 30, 2010


What's that old platitude, something like "you're not the best judge of your own work?"

The more I give over to my creative side, I keep learning that lesson over and over. I think I have a good eye for editing my own work, and of course I'm usually wrong.

I've also learned that the best way to really see something objectively is to give it time.

Time is the great mediator.

(wow, I'm chock full to brimming with platitudes today!)

Anyhow, I got to thinking about this recently while sorting through my iPhoto library. As an amateur photographer, I take *a lot* of photographs. This is the advice of my friend, mentor and teacher, Marty Springer, so I follow her advice.

But this means my iPhoto library fills up fast with fair to middling to downright awful shots. Since all of this dreck was slowing down my iMac, I decided to save the photos elsewhere and start again.

Oh, and also...my New Year's resolution is to get better about tagging all of my photos as I download them so I can search more quickly.

So in cleaning out my old photos, sifting through the pile, I came across the shot at the end of this post.

The Feline had climbed into the laundry basket that was lying on the ground, so I grabbed my camera and took a few snaps. I considered them throwaway photos. Less than throwaway. I downloaded them to my iMac and never looked back.

But something about this photo...it really works. It was taken probably two or more years ago when I was just learning my camera and had no idea about depth of field. And yet, the depth of field is what makes this photo interesting. It's not a perfect photo but it's also not bad. A little imperfect Photoshop adjustments and I'll be damned...not too bad at all.

Because not only with time comes perspective, but also...I can learn some lessons from three years ago me. The one just learning about photography. The one who just snapped and didn't think.

A careless shot can be magic.

I guess that's why my photography teacher tells us never to delete photos. "You never know" she says.

click photo if interested in seeing a larger size

Photo by Karen Fayeth and subject to Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

December 29, 2010

2010 Word of The Year

Every year in December my local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, solicits reader suggestions for the word of the preceding year.

From those suggestions, the staff picks the annual word with an eye toward choosing the word that best sums up the year in news.

In 2009 the word was Tweet. In 2008 the word was Bailout. In 2007 the word was Subprime.

Getting the trend here? Something popular, perhaps overworked by the media. The word on everyone's minds.

This year, the staff of the Chron went a little less global and a little more local.

Here's the back story:

The San Francisco Giants baseball team has an award winning local broadcast team made up of former SF Giants pitcher Mike Krukow and former SF Giants shortstop Duane Kuiper, known together as "Kruk and Kuip."

Neither of these men had stellar baseball careers, but in their retirement gig as broadcasters, they have really made their mark.

These two are colorful, fun and knowledgeable. They are revered here in the Bay Area.

At the end of every game, the television broadcasters (usually Kruk and Kuip) and the radio broadcasters (usually Jon Miller and Dave Flemming) will get together on the radio for a post-game wrapup.

It's their chance to talk about the game, pick their favorite players of that game, and generally cuss and discuss. These post game shows have become very popular, mainly because the style is very casual and conversational. The listener feels like they are sitting in at the table with these four guys (and sometimes former first baseman JT Snow) having a beer and discussing the day's work.

Over the course of the 2010 baseball season, it wasn't always a smooth ride for my lowly Giants. They played in a lot of tough games that were often decided by just one run.

Out of eighteen games over the season with the Padres in 2010, eight were determined by one run. In the month of May, the Giants had ten games decided by one run out of 28 total versus all opponents.

At the end of April, just the first month of the season, the Giants had lost two games back-to-back. The Monday game was a ten inning loss, and the Tuesday game was a one hit game lost on a walk off run by David Ekstein (who had so plagued the Giants in the 2002 World Series).

It was emotionally taxing.

So, when Kruk and Kuip hit the air that next day for the third game of the series (in which the Giants were ultimately swept), Kuip used the San Francisco Giants own PR slogan in an exasperated way.

The long running ads had proclaimed, "San Francisco Giants baseball...(pause)...there's Magic Inside!"

On that day in April, Kuip said, "San Francisco Giants baseball...(pause)...Torture!"

The phrase resonated with weary fans and the word Torture! was applied to every game, every moment, every second of agony we endured...including every single game played in the post season.

Torture became the theme of our World Series winning season. An anguished cry. A rallying cry.

And so the 2010 word of the year from the San Francisco Chronicle is...you guessed it:


What a lovely way to suffer.

(for the record, from the SFGate: ""Vuvuzela' and 'hacktivist' finished second and third. 'Refudiate' and 'patdown' were the other finalists...")

Trophy image taken by a corporate photographer from my place of work and used with permission.

December 28, 2010

Perhaps a Sunlamp Is Required

On this post-holiday rainy day, I reserve the right to be melancholy.

Holiday blues, weeping gray clouds, and general lethargy. Sure. It's my prerogative.

I am loath to say the next seven words I'm about to say but...

I heard this great story on NPR.

You may not realize how pompous I think the people are who quote NPR. Now here I am committing the crime I rail against.

The story was of a musician named Shawn Camp who had a record set for release back in the year 1994.

Through a series of events, the record was shelved until recently. Camp met the new studio head at Reprise who gave Camp's record a fresh listen and it was finally released in September of this year.

What's got me going here, got me writing a whole blog post about this story, is one of Camp's songs that they played on the air.

It was a beautifully written song about being at the funeral of his grandfather. For some reason, the words reminded me of the incredibly sad funeral I attended back in August.

Despite the passing of four months, I find I still grieve for my friend. I guess there's still something left to grieve, because lately he's been showing up in my dreams.

Listening to Shawn Camp's song reminded me of a dream I had just last night.

It was me, and my friend, and we were dancing. Just a simple two-step, nothing fancy, but we danced and he was whole and healthy and grinning from ear to ear.

My best friend was there too, and before I was even done, she got the next dance with him. The three of us laughed like it was, well, 1994, and it was good.

Now, this dream was particularly odd because in real life, my friend wasn't much of a dancer. Oh, he was long legged and tall, a perfect partner. But he had a farmer's sensibilities and didn't dance that much. He could, and did, but it wasn't something he did a lot.

But there in my dream we danced. When I woke up, I remembered seeing my friend's body laid out there in a casket inside the El Paso First Baptist Church.

The old Southern saying is "now, don't he look natural?"

No, he didn't look natural. In my dream smiling and laughing and giving me seventeen kinds of heck...that was natural.

I've always been pretty glad that at the end of the line for my dad, one afternoon when my mom had run into town for errands, my dad and I had a talk. It was uncomfortable and weird, but in that talk, a lot of things were said that needed to be said. I can happily say I have no unresolved issues there.

But with my dear friend, I have something unresolved. It niggles at the corners of my mind and sits on my chest when I have another dream in which he plays a cameo. I owed him an apology. I'd planned to deliver that apology when he came home from the surgery from which he never returned.

Perhaps in dreams I can find the way to lay my issues to rest, to lay down the burden I carry around, to feel at peace with the loss of my friend.

Or maybe we can just dance and forget about I'm sorries.

After my best friend is done (which may take awhile), I got the next waltz.

Cuz these Fat Babies were made for dancing

Photo by Karen Fayeth

December 27, 2010

The Reckoning

Today, the alarm clock went off and I groaned. Champagne, ham, prime rib, potatoes of all sort and way too many desserts slowed my senses and made me weak.

A Christmas hangover if there ever was one.

But this is December 27th. Christmas is over.

I knew what I needed to do. It was time to confess my sins.

Rising from my warm slumber, I put on the appropriate raiments and went to face the only entity that could absolve me from my indiscretions.

TM* looked at me with that one cold eye. He knew what I'd been up to. The last time we'd visited had been eight days ago.

Eight days.

A lot of bad behavior can happen in eight days.

A lot of bad behavior DID happen in eight days.

There was no turning back now. I entered the confessional and slowly began my ablutions.

The iPod went into my ears and shuffle fired up. No need for a hymnal, I know the words by heart.

Five minutes passed. Hey, I thought to myself, this is not so bad!

At about the fifteen minute mark, my left calf piped up. "Pardon me, but with all that booze you had, we're a skosh dehydrated. Potassium low and all that. I believe I'll go ahead and cramp right up."

I said to myself, "just keep walking."

At about the twenty five minute mark, my lower back chimed in. "Yes, yes, cramping does seem to be the thing to do. Huzzah!"

"Just keep walking."

Then my feet had something to say, with a backing chorus from my knees.

"Just keep walking."

My hip flexors asked, in a rather snotty tone, "Why *exactly* are we doing this?"

The very sweat glands of my body began exhaling stale booze and toxins.

I replied by turning my iPod up louder and putting an ever more determined look on my face and then I...

Just kept walking.

At the fifty minute mark, I'd said all the metaphorical Hail Marys and Glory be to the Fathers I could manage. I'd done my act of contrition.

I was absolved.

Kind of.

I suspect that tomorrow, I'll need to go confess again.

You know, New Year's Eve is just there on the horizon.

And the confessional is waiting.

*TM = Treadmill

December 24, 2010


The condition of vacating.

That would be me.

Vacating work.

Just for one day, but still.

"Vacation all I ever wanted, Vacation have to get away...."

Oh the Go-Go's. So 80's, yet so applicable today.

Enjoy the holiday! I'll be back on Monday.

December 23, 2010

An Oldie but a Goodie

This post first appeared on the blog in December 11, 2007. It's one of my all time favorite posts. Fixed a few broken links, made some minor edits and away we go! Everything is still very true. Happy Holidays!

Top ten things I miss about Christmas in New Mexico

1) Annual shopping trip to Old Town. A mom and me tradition. Every year I'd get to pick out an ornament that was mine. I now have all those ornaments in a Thom McAnn shoebox that, yes, Sunday night I opened and hung them all on my tree. They are like a history of my life. I remember buying most of them and it gives me a good sense of continuity to have them on my tree.

2) Luminarias. I always was the one to make them at my house. My mom would drive me to an empty lot to dig up two buckets worth of dirt and I'd fold bags, place candles and light them. It was my job and I loved every folded bag and every candle and every small emergency when the bag caught on fire in the wind. I miss real luminarias.

3) The Bugg House, which, sadly, is no more. My sister lived over on Prospect and we'd go for a Christmas Eve walk in the evening to take a look at the outstanding display of holiday spirit. When I wwent to Winrock Mall to shop, I'd always swing by the Bugg house to take a look. No one does lights like the Buggs did.

4) Neighbors bringing over a plate of fresh made tamales as a Christmas gift. When there are three generations of Hispanic women in a kitchen with some masa and some shredded pork, magic happens. Yum! I also miss that people would bring tamales to work in a cooler and sell them to coworkers. I was always good for a dozen or more.

5) A ristra makes a good Christmas gift. I've given. I've received. I love 'em. They'd become a moldy mess here…and that makes me sad.

6) Biscochitos. My love for these is well documented.

7) Sixty-five degrees and warm on Christmas Day. Growin up, I think one year there was actually snow on the ground for the 25th. But it was melted by the end of the day. Oh Fair New Mexico, how I love your weather.

8) Christmas Eve midnight Mass in Spanish with the overpowering scent of frankincense filling up the overly warm church. Pure torture for a small child, but oh how I'd belt out the carols… And when we came home we could pick one present and open it. Gah! The torture of picking just one!

9) New Mexico piƱon, gappy, scrawny Christmas trees that cost $15 at the Flea Market and were cut from the top of a larger tree just that morning. Look, to my mind, it ain't a tree unless you are using low hanging ornaments to fill the obvious gaps. These fluffy overly full trees just ain't my bag. If you aren't turning the 'bad spot' to the wall, you paid too much for your tree.

10) Green chile stew for Christmas Eve dinner and posole for New Year's. My mouth waters. It's weep worthy. I can taste the nice soft potatoes in the stew, the chicken broth flavored just right…ouch! And posole to bring you luck with red chile and hunks of pork. Yeah……

*sigh* Now I'm homesick.

Which is not to say I don't have happy holidays where I live now...but sometimes I feel melancholy. And that's what the holidays are for, right?

Image via.

This Is What Being The New Kid Looks Like

New job + No vacation accrued = One of maybe eight people at work on Christmas Eve Eve.

This is the first floor of the parking garage at 9:00am (usually packed by then). I parked in the most coveted spot.

Don't feel too bad for me, though. My executive boss-type guy said I could leave at 1:00.

Until then, the halls are pretty empty. Helloooooooooooooo....?

December 21, 2010

In Lieu Of a Bonus

Yesterday, after a oh-so-very-long day at work, I did what busy worker bees have done for years...

I went home and whined to my spouse.

The Good Man was very considerate, listened to my tale of woe, made sure I had dinner and tucked me into bed with a "maybe tomorrow will be better."

Well, he was right. Tomorrow, now known as today, has been *much* better.

The tipoff that today might be a bit different began when I saw a strange truck in the parking lot, located in one of the front spots.

So, you know, curious as I am, I made my over to the assigned area and got in line.

After about a half hour of waiting, I got to see what the hubbub was all about.

Yeah. They call that the Commissioner's Trophy. You know, nothing much...they just hand it out to the team that wins the World Series**.

No big deal right? Just a hunk of metal.

Let me tell you this, I've been within inches of an Oscar, a Grammy and two Emmys.

They got nothing on this little beauty. NOTHING! The Commissioner's Trophy glows and shimmers and giggles with glee.

Or maybe that was me giggling. Hard to know.

Anyhow, when I got to the front of the line, I handed my camera to a decidedly NON photographer so she could take a blurry and out of focus shot of me with the trophy.

Forgive me readers, this is a terrible photograph. But we were only allotted one and this is it.

Just know this...blurry though it may be, make no mistake, I'm very, very happy.

(why do my eyes look so funky? Gah! Couldn't I look cute for just ONE minute, but noooo, geek girl looks geeked out)

My employer pays reasonable but not large salaries and rare bonuses. But this, this was TOTALLY worth that long, mean, very bad day yesterday!

**To my readers outside the US, I do realize that to call a sporting event a "World Series" in which twenty nine US and one Canadian team competes is rather audacious.

December 20, 2010

You Want Weird? We Got Weird.

When I need a quick break from the piles of spreadsheets I'm working on, I often take a few moments to do the daily ABQJournal Word Sleuth.

Today's topic for the puzzle is "Food Cities", as in, towns with a name that is also a food.

Friends and readers, you'll be glad to know that our fair New Mexico has not one but two entries on the list:

Pie Town (in West central NM) and Chili (north of Espanola).

Odd names, to be sure. But let me tell you this, Pie Town is only scratching the surface of odd names for towns in the great State of NM.

Since we're near Pie Town, let's also visit Quemado. The word quemado means burned. There's a happy connotation!

What about Raton? Rat Town. Yay! Let's live there!

Ojo Caliente? Yes, folks, come live in hot eye!

Fruitvale. Mmmm, fruity!

Cotton City. Mmmm, cottony!

Catch a breeze in Windmill, near Cotton City. (they don't have a lot going on down in the bootheel, do they?)

How about Loving? I mean, I've spent time in Loving (down in the southeast of the state). It's just a normal town. You'd think folks would be doin' it in the streets or something, but no.

Then there's the easy pickings like Elephant Butte. Yes, yes, I know it's butte, like a hill, but is there ANYONE traveling I-25 who doesn't think the sign says elephant butt? No, I don't think so. It's giggle inducing.

And while we're at Elephant Butt (left the e off on purpose) let's talk about the neighboring town of Truth or Consequences?

More on the paths less traveled, let's go get the tingles in Tingle, NM, up in the northwest of the state (south of Gallup, and yes, even Gallup is a funny place name).

Or get fried in Crisp, NM (in the Lincoln National Forest).

And I won't start down the list of all the Navajo names like Ya-Ta-Hey and Chilili.

Folks, this isn't even nearly an all inclusive list. I'm just getting started!

Gotta love our state, we can make it quirky in three languages, and that makes us a part of every kooky trivia list, crossword puzzle and word search looking for a something little different.

In my best Hee Haw style: Saaaaalute!

December 19, 2010

Auspicious, Sort Of

Last year, in the holiday season, I saw a Christmas tree that was decorated with white origami cranes. It was so simple and beautiful, and was located, of all places, in my local Ace Hardware store.

The idea stuck with me, and so this year, I decided to do something similar.

I bought real Japanese imported origami paper and I chose to decorate our holiday tree with origami cranes this year.

In the tradition, cranes are said to be a special gift or a very auspicious thing. So heck, The Good Man and I could use a little auspiciousness (<-- not a word) in the new year.

So I folded and folded and soon, I had a pile of 100 cranes I then placed on the tree. We’d intended to add more decorations, but found that the colorful cranes were simple and elegant and more than enough to make our Christmas tree really beautiful.

They are quite pretty and a nice alternative to the regular ornaments.

When I look at my tree, it just all feels very auspicious and good luckish (<--also not a word) and makes me happy.

But I have a question. What is the impact on the auspicious meter when The Feline callously rips a crane from a low branch, bats it around (playing a game of cat and mouse), then leaves the crane for dead on the train tracks that encircle the tree?

That can't be good.

Rather inauspicious (<- actually a word!)

All photos by Karen Fayeth, taken with my iPhone 4

December 16, 2010

I Will Find My Way

The Velcro on my Rand McNally road atlas had been rendered useless. Tan carpet fuzz from the back of the Jeep embedded itself irrevocably into the hook side of the mechanism.

The map was considered a "just in case" for getting lost, which happens often. The atlas was purchased well before there was something called a Google to provide maps on something called the internet.

That road atlas was aspirational. I bought it hoping that maybe I could travel a lot of those blue lined roads over the course of my life.

But suddenly the road atlas had meaning. It was more than a "just in case," it was an essential tool.

The page for New Mexico was well worn, but the page for California was starting to show the dirt and grease of eager fingers tracing a path over and over again. A reduced scale journey west to my new home.

The compass rose became my bouquet, a present from the universe, welcoming me to my new life.

At a holiday cocktail party, the map became obsolete. A friend and professional truck driver wrote directions on the back of an envelope. "This is the faster way to go, you'll shave several miles off the trip," he told me.

He'd personally traveled those roads. Roads that were visible to me only as lines on a page in my mind.

He was the first of many milestones on my journey.

The tattered envelope with scrawled black pen, "I-40 west to Barstow" wasn't anywhere near as magical as the pages produced by Rand McNally, but it was more useful, more functional. I clung to that envelope because my life really did depend upon it.

And then, finally, it was time.

May 1997, just a few days before Memorial Day, I climbed up behind the wheel of my Jeep while my best friend strapped into the passenger seat and took possession of both the envelope and the Rand McNally.

I-40 was a road I knew. Straight. West. No worries. Grants passed by quickly. Then before we knew it, there was Gallup.

Then the Arizona border.

My tires made a noise as they passed over, and I cried. I didn't just cross this border casually. It meant something. It was a new frontier.

The entire State of Arizona lay ahead. Since Arizona was familiar, it eased me in. We settled into the miles while listening to Tom Jones and George Strait. We listened to everything I had in that Jeep and then tried to find decent radio stations.

Six hours. That's how long it takes to traverse the State of Arizona.

Then my tires made another small sound and another border was crossed.

I was in California. I didn't cry this time. Simply renewed my resolve and kept driving.

That was thirteen years ago, but it could be yesterday for how fresh it remains in my mind.

May I never lose my resolve. May I never lose my desire. May I never lose my ability to read a good old fashioned road map.

All it takes is a map, a little guidance from someone who bothers to care, and a step in the right direction and you can find your way.

If only someone could draw a map to help me navigate the more difficult emotional roads in my life. Those are uncharted.

I am both mapmaker and traveler and the journey never ends.

But the compass rose is still just as beautiful.

Photograph by Karin Lindstrom and used royalty free from stock.xchng

This week's Theme Thursday is map.

December 15, 2010

This Woman is a Saint

"Las Cruces resident Karla Barela, 38, places red chile pork on the corn husks containing masa to make tamales Saturday at El Indio Tortilla Shop. Barela started making tamales at 4 a.m. and continued to make them at 12:30 p.m. (Photos by Richard Davis / For the Las Cruces Sun-News)"

At the end of the article, Karla sums it all up:

"Without tamales...it wouldn't be Christmas."


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
All content of Oh Fair New Mexico by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.