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December 31, 2007

This is the end, my friend.


S'long 2007, you've been a rollicking year. Here on the last day of you, I've taken moments, given pause, really, to think back on all the other 364 days of you and assess how it went.

You started off swell. The Cute Boy™ and I moved into the same address back in January. Shackin' up was a rip snortin' way to start the year, if I do say so myself. It was a weird, and for me, troubled adjustment period, but adjust we did and soon it was like The Cute Boy™ had always been here. Oh, and the feline too. She's made my one person lonely home a warm happy place full of life. I got both a partner and a pet in one fell swoop. That alone makes 2007 a year to remember.

Middle of the year was ok too. The weather was nice, road trips were had. Work began troubling me in earnest, but I kept going.

In June, my self-published book was FINALLY properly published (after many fits and starts and errors on the publisher's side) and listed on Amazon. It was the accomplishment of a dream. More of the beginning rather than a destination, but a huge step on my path and I remain proud of it. A few people have actually even read it!

August/September was a little tough. Both the girl and The Cute Boy™ were miserable at work and sometimes brought that home, making home not always the happiest place. But we talked, a lot. And talked and I cried sometimes and we talked more and then...

September ended, things changed, as they always will, and improvement was soon to follow. And now there is a lot less sad and a lot more joy in our Casita Bonita. Change, while hard, is often a good and necessary thing.

November brought the annual National Novel Writing Month and despite being *sure* I couldn't do it again this year, that I had nothing left in the well having given it all to my employer, I pulled off a feat even I can't believe. I wrote over 50,000 in just 15 days. My best record thus far (my third go-round). I learned a lot about myself during this NaNo, not the least of which is that I'm a freak who works extraordinarily well under a tight deadline. Now to figure out how to use that to my advantage.

December brought the Crafty Chica, more (enduring) love, and a shared home in which to celebrate the holidays. Friends and family and The Cute Boy™ and the feline and me. And despite my *freaking out*, as I'm wont to do when I'm insecure about my homemaking abilities, the celebrations came off without a hitch. Good eats were had. Good eats, the normalizing factor in all celebrations.

And I end this year as I ended the last, madly in love and optimistic about the year ahead. Maybe even more optimistic about this year than last. There are a couple happy things up ahead, possibly. And having something to look forward to is always a good thing.

Here, officially, my New Year's Resolutions:

1) To finish my NaNo book from 2007. (about 10,000-15,000 words to go)

2) To finish my NaNo book from 2008. (about 20,000-30,000 words to go). And once finished, edit, edit, edit....and consider self-publishing this one. It may be the best thing I've written so far.

3) Work with my in-home PR and marketing expert on doing something with my self-published books.

4) Take better care of myself physically. Eat a little less, a few more greens and lift a heart rate every once in a while. Doesn't have to be overly taxing, just have to remember that taking care of me is a priority.

5) Take it a little more easy on myself. I've been listening to the song "In the End" from the soundtrack to Shortbus over and over. I find something so heart-tuggingly true in the words.

"...as your last breath begins, you find your demon's your best friend."

So here at the end of 2007, on the verge of beginning a new year, may I find a way to become friends with my demons now, long before I take my last breath. That, I believe, is the key to my peace.

And so it is.

Joyous New Year to all!





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December 30, 2007

I have a crush.


I'm wildly, passionately, unabashedly in love with The Crafty Chica.

There. I said it.

I came across her book, The Crafty Chica Collection, at my library. (my local library roooocks. I am a huge fan of the library.) As a New Mexico girl, it sang to me.

I've been possessed by it since. I also have two more of her books checked out, and one on hold.

And when I say possessed, I mean full on OCD, freak out, dropping cash at Michaels, dreaming about it at night, spending free time all over the glue gun, buy me some glitter, rhinestones!, possessed. I'm into it.

And bless The Cute Boy™, he's rather supportive of the craftiness. He even scored crafty-perfect Xmas gifts. God, I love that man. The Feline thinks she needs to sleep in the craft box. It's a tug-o-war. I'm not sure that as The Human that I'm winning.

So, since I'm gonna own it, publicly admit my crush, here are some photos of my stuff inspired by the Chica. This is what I've put together on my time off from work. (have I mentioned that not working for two weeks is utterly the best? Sleep. Whatta concept!)

This is a small photo of, yes, me. Little me. This was just a "let's see what I can do with this spare piece of cardboard and some glitter glue". It's not perfect, yet I like it:



And here is the piece I'm working on now. I've always been all in love with Dia de los Muertos images and art and so the Crafty Chica gave me some ideas and some how-tos and I'm off to the races. I made all the clay beads. I've had dreams about making this and it's coming together really well.



It's not a lot to show for my time off so far, but lots of things are in motion. This is MUCH more fun than work!


Photos by Karen Fayeth and crafty art by Karen Fayeth too.

December 29, 2007

SFGate's Word of the Year


Every year the San Franciso Chron's online presence hosts a nomination and then voting for the word of the year. It's usually a pop culture reference and this year is no exception.

Here were the nominees:

Carbon footprint -- The idea of calculating and then reducing or offsetting the emissions you generate has been taking off as fast as Al Gore's second career.

Subprime -- The practice of making home loans easily available to buyers who do not qualify for the best interest rates has come back to bite borrowers, lenders and the U.S. economy alike.

Surge -- Proposed by Sen. John McCain, approved by President Bush, implemented by General David Petraeus, the policy of sending more troops to Iraq is either major success or ensuring an interminable war, depending on whom you believe.

Waterboarding -- It's been an interrogation technique for six centuries. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, if it's a crossword clue, can you think of a seven-letter word that starts with a T?

Wide Stance -- Sen. Larry Craig's famous statement to police has turned this into a synonym for both a closeted, conservative gay man and a ridiculous explanation.

I don't use any of them in normal conversation, actually. Maybe I'm tragically unhip. That has been rumored.

The winner by some 40% of the vote was Subprime. Uh...w00t!?

Gad, I'm tired of the word subprime. Maybe making it word of the year makes it go away?

Sigh.

Onward to 2008.

December 28, 2007

What are ya doin' New Year's Eve?


Does anyone have any good ideas? I've been crazy into the holiday spirit but have to say I'm a bit worn down.

I'd be happy to stay at home and watch the ball drop in Times Square, but I'm getting the vibe The Cute Boy™ wants to do something more substantial, but not so substantial as to need a black tie.

I'm iffy. The more I'm away from work the more I'm starting to feel like myself. We've had quite the full social calendar all this month and I'm pooped. Here's one of those "opposites attract" aspects of The Cute Boy™ and me. Me being born under the sign of Taurus, I am happy to enjoy a few evenings at home. When not working my tookus off at work, staying at home, reading a book, all of that works fine with some occasional social dates peppered in to keep it fun.

The Cute Boy™ on the other hand, likes to run (Gemini that he is). He's got a lot more friends than I do and likes to make sure each get some time in any given month. He's happiest with a calendar packed full of events.

It's a push-pull dynamic that we usually seem to manage, actually. But right now, I'm getting a bit of my stubborn Taurus the Bull up. I hate to admit it, but I’m burned out from work. Burned out on people. Just teetering on the edge of full flame out and that scares me. The more I get a chance to catch up on my sleep, the more I realize how near the edge I was.

I don't wanna do nuttin'!

That being said...I guess if we can come up with a good idea that is going out but not TOO out...I'm up for it.

And that's what they call compromise. From what I've heard, it's what keeps a relationship going.......





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December 26, 2007

Post-mortem.


The day after Christmas is always so....anti-climactic.

Unless you are British.

Then Happy Boxing Day!

Kwanzaa also begins today, so start the celebration! (I love that the wiki entry includes the "pouring of libations". Yes!)

The Cute Boy™ and I are off for continued celebrations with the other side of his family.

The holiday hits just keep on comin'!

(I'm a skosh exhausted. A nice day at home, legs up with a book and a drink might be nice.....)

December 25, 2007

Tummy. Full.


The Cute Boy™ and I pulled off a nice Christmas dinner. Ham, german potato salad, ravioli, and my very own homemade apple crisp that rocked the house. It was a very nice day and I'm grateful. I may get the hang of this entertaining thang yet.

Meanwhile, found this by way of NewMexiKen. I watched it and it touched me.

I'm thankful on this holiday that I have a home to live in, food to eat and friends and family who love me.

This four minute video was created by Mudhouse Advertising who will donate $1 to ArtStreet, a program for the homeless in Albuquerque, for every unique viewing (up to $10,000).

I learned in this video that New Mexico has the third highest poverty rate. Oh Fair New Mexico, the struggle continues.

Feliz Navidad!


For those that observe this one, hope Santa was good to you.

Like a little kid I was unable to sleep. Why I'm up at 6:30 remains a mystery....

Enjoy the day, the prezzies, the fun and the joy that another helliday season has come to pass.

Onward to 2008!




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December 24, 2007

Have yourself a Merry Little...


...whatever holiday you celebrate. I make no assumptions here.

The Casa de Karen and The Cute Boy™ is in tumult as we clean and scrub and prepare for guests tomorrow. I'm not much of a hostess with the mostess, so entertaining in my home always makes me a skosh edgy. Plus, among the guests tomorrow is Mother of The Cute Boy™ and in my silly female way, I'm still trying *very* hard to make a good impression on her. She's a wonderful woman, a great cook and raised the man I love, so her opinion matters, you know? I tend to twist myself into a knot about it.

The food is all stocked in the fridge. The feline is unhappy about all the kerfuffle as we sweep and mop and vacuum. She thinks we all should be taking a nap. Have I mentioned that in my next life I want to be my cat? She's got it real good around here.

I think things will all come together. Pretty much when you get good eats and good people together, magic happens. Joyful magic and I could use a bit of that in my life.

Meanwhile, everybody, enjoy your family, friends, homemade family (cuz the one you're related to are intolerable), yourownselves, your pets and your holiday cheer.

And if the going gets tough, spike the egg nog.






Photo by Karen Fayeth

December 22, 2007

Guilt.


I have it.

What is it, exactly, about the holidays that makes guilt so possible?

True, I'm an easily guilted child. A fact my folks used to great advantage when raising me. And yet, the month of December seems to be the guilt month, no doubt.

Owing to my Catholic upbringing (I'm no longer practicing), guilt was sort of woven into my early life. And in the good Catholic tradition, confession is good for the soul...

I feel guilty that my mom is alone for the holidays. I mean, she's not *really* alone, my aunt and uncle are nearby and look after her, but since my dad passed, she's had a tough time of it. I shouldn't feel guilty. My folks weren't very people oriented, so they had few friends. In my mom's waning years, she doesn't have that many people to rely on and she's honestly burned a few bridges with her children. She keeps wanting me to move closer to her. I just can't (for many reasons). And years of hard mental work have told me that taking care of myself is important (and isn't selfish). And so despite the fact that it's the right thing for me to be here and live my life, I still feel guilty.

I feel guilty that I've been so involved in work and trying to finish up that I haven't paid enough attention to my home life. The Cute Boy™ and The Feline are fine, they love me, support me, are happy I made it through. I guess I want to be all things to all people (and pets). I tend to take on all this guilt when I can't be "perfect". Ugh, what's with that?

I feel guilty that I've eaten too many holiday cookies. :)

I feel guilty that I got my Christmas cards out late. I know, not a crime, but damnit! How hard is it to send out a few cards? (Hard enough when you are working too much and are exhausted....there goes that perfectionist thing again.)

I feel guilty that my job is a decent job and pays reasonably well but I actually don't like it and want more than anything to flee. I should be more grateful for everything that place has done for me, and yet I just cringe going in there every day. I'll spend the next two weeks pondering this one. I've reached critical mass. Time to you-know-what or get off the pot about this topic.

And of course, I feel guilty that I haven't managed to update my blog most of this past week and so here it is, 7:40am on my first day off and I'm writing up a guilt post.

Good lord my brain is a complex place.

So as of this moment, I grant myself absolution. I don't even have to do an act of contrition, I'm pretty contrite already.

My penance is to love myself a little more today. To ease up a bit. To hug my man and cat a bit more and to enjoy the hell out of my Christmas holidays.

Now I shall go out and make it so.




December 21, 2007

I did it.


I survived this hell week. As predicted, there was that "last minute gotta get it done end of year oh my god" contract that, surprisingly, was accomplished. Earlier in the week I'd said "no way", and yet, it was done.

I wish I felt proud about such things. I used to. No more.

Anyhoo, I made it through.

And now. Two weeks. No work.

It's too much to contemplate. I'm going to savor each and every one of my sixteen days sans work.

Today the holiday ham was ordered. Presents are wrapped. Egg nog in the fridge. The Cute Boy™ in the house.

Bring on the holidays! I'm ready!





Photo by Karen Fayeth

December 17, 2007

Uh oh.


Guess what I got up to this weekend?



I let the hellidays come up and grab me.

I indulged in a long time family tradition...using old and new implements.

I emailed my mom and got the family "secret" sugar cookie recipe. And I made 'em. Oh yes, I made 'em. Had to buy my own set of cutters, and they aren't as good as the decades old ones my mom is still clinging to.




But she did finally give up her old Kitchenaid mixer.





I've been baking treats out of that thing since I was probably 6 or 7. My mom made tortillas every Saturday (after Mass) in that same mixer. It looks a little worse for the wear, and is, for god's sake, 1970's avocado green, but it still works like a charm. I love how a new generation of young women have discovered what I knew all along. A Kitchenaid mixer makes short work of any baking project. It's amazing.

And in keeping with tradition, I managed to burn one batch. The first one. Crispy. But I covered them in frosting anyway and will look the other direction when someone grabs one of the "well done" cookies. Hee.



Oh and father of The Cute Boy™ gave us his old train set, thus fulfilling one of my long time wishes, to have a train around my tree.



It's all good. This is the first time in a long time that I'm happy at the holidays. I think I owe most of that to the loving holiday excitement of The Cute Boy™.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!

Now, I just have to endure five more hellish days of work to get my two glorious weeks OFF.

I can make it. With a belly full of cookies and a head full of carols, oh yes, I will make it................

December 14, 2007

Point and Counter Point


I was caught a little off guard at the overwhelming response to my "Top ten things I miss about Christmas in New Mexico" post from a couple days back. I've been thinking about it a lot, how cool it is that my experiences are familiar to others.

So since it's been a *really* long week at work, I'm not sleeping well, acid reflux is at an all time high, and I'm physically and mentally exhausted….oh and cuz it's Friday, I decided to come up with my top ten things I DON'T miss about Christmas in New Mexico….tongue FIRMLY planted in cheek, of course.

< humor = "on" >

1) "OH MY GOD, SNOW IS FALLING FROM THE SKY, IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD!! I WILL DRIVE TOO FAST, RICCOCHET OFF OF PARKED CARS AND FORGET TO BRAKE SLOWLY, THUS SLIDING THROUGH INTERSECTIONS!" Yeah…my sister was a claims adjuster for a large insurance company for many years. Oh the stories she would tell after an Albuquerque snowstorm. You know, it snows at least once every year…why the freak out, folks?

2) The endless hearings of Feliz Navidad. In every store. On the street. In restaurants. I know I waxed rhapsodic about it a few days ago, but as with every year, after a few listens, I'm over it.

3) Nelson Martinez Mariachi Christmas. : shudder :

4) Another Kokopelli Christmas ornament. I am not one to look in askance at a gift from anyone, but damn, people! Christmas ornaments are a great gift, but change it up sometimes! How about a hummingbird? Or a fetish bear? I'm a southwest girl, sure, but the ol' Kokopelli isn't my fave guy. Plus, isn't he a fertility bringer? Do I *really* need that?

5) Could it *be* any more difficult to park at Coronado Center at the holidays? Geez! (Ok, from what I hear, no one shops there anymore….but back in the day...it sucked)

6) Rasquache by the river. After I was into adulthood, my parents retired and moved to Los Chavez. They lived right near the river on the Bosque. It was kind of country out there and I loved it. But a lot of their rural neighbors would get their kids dirt bikes, ATV's or new shotguns for Christmas…and of course they'd all run up and down the ditch roads trying out their new toys all day long. It was like a freaking war zone out there. It wasn't *quite* country enough for all of that…

7) When there is not enough damn snow to ski on. Bah! Isn't that was all that time off from work is for?!?!?! Can't ski on dirt, people!

8) Kelly Liquor store is open on Christmas morning. Oh no, wait, that's a good thing. Nevermind.

9) The not well organized Xmas display in my neighbor's yard that stays up (and lit) until August. I am no electrician, but I'm pretty sure too many stacked up strings of lights in one feeble extension cord isn't safe. Plus, does one yard really need a full size Santa with all three reindeer, a full on nativity scene with a plastic baby Jesus, and the sun faded flamingos? I mean REALLY!

10) That one funky hominy kernel in my bowl of posole that, despite resting in the pot all day with all his little corn kernel friends refuses to cook like a good hominy should. I mean, cooking down with pork and red chile is an honor, but nooo, you gotta stay like a rock and bust my back filling when I chomp down on you. Whatever! Just bring me good luck in the New Year and we'll call it even.


You know, this list was a LOT harder to write than the last one. Guess that's cuz Christmas in New Mexico rocks.

Enjoy, ya'll, and have a happy weekend!


December 13, 2007

What would Funk and Wagnall say?


Heard on local radio talk show yesterday morning and confirmed via the AP and the Albuquerque Tribune, the Word of the Year for 2007 is:

w00t!

Yup.

Now, who am I to complain? I'm a big fan of the word. It peppers my personal emails, has made an appearance in this very blog (and here and here and….uh a few more times too….). But I'm not sure the word is Miriam-Webster worthy.

How do I feel about this? I sort of don't like it when a slang word is legitimized. I mean…doesn't that take some of the fun away? I love words, I really do, I'm a certified linguaphile (*wink*) but I also really love made up words. My best friend and I have a vocabulary all our own. It's fun to bastardize words. And w00t is fun because the letters and numbers make it a word that's not quite a word, but heck, even if you've never seen the word, you can get the joyous meaning when you see: w00t!!

It's word that means what it sounds like.

If I recall my English teacher's hardworking edumacation, that would be an onomatopoeia.

There's my nickel word for the week. (NMSU grad in the hizz house, w00t!)

Today, it's w00t, tomorrow it's teh…before you know it STFU will be a part of the formal lexicon. I want to know when w00t shows up on a kid's spelling test….

Anyhow, best to just end this post with a w00t! for the selection of w00t! as the word of the year.







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December 12, 2007

Cheers!


A tip of the cap and a hearty THANK YOU to both NewMexiKen and Live From Silver City for yesterday's linkage. I guess my homesick blues resonated. Christmas really is the best time of year to be a New Mexican.





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December 11, 2007

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 made 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 second of it, every folded bag, every candle that caught the bag on fire. I miss them.

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 would go to Winrock Mall to shop, I'd always swing by the Bugg house to take a look. I miss it.

4) Neighbors bringing a plate of fresh made tamales as your Christmas gift. When you get three generations of Hispanic women in a kitchen with some masa and some shredded pork, magic happens. Yum! I also miss that people would come to work with tamales in a cooler and sell them to coworkers. I was always good for a half 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. 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 ain'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……

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?




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December 7, 2007

Ask and you shall receive…


Heard it. Twice. Today.

It's official. The Hellidays are here.

So far I've attended two holiday lunches. I've received one two-pound box of See's Nuts and Chews and given away two bottles of booze. (I've probably also "received" a few holiday pounds. Bah!) The celebrations continue…I'll fiddle with the Christmas Tree while my desk is burning…however…

I finally convinced a certain cranky Director that "plan B" should be put in place…meaning "if we don't get it done, we have a bridge to get through the holidays". He fought me at first. Now he's using the case I pled case as "his idea". Whatever. It means I can exhale a minute and be ok. And that's a good thing.

Meanwhile, all this holiday stuff and management meetings and such means I've been dressing up a bit lately. The dress code at work is mainly jeans and whatever top I can throw on. It's a definite benefit of where I work. Comfy is juuuust fine.

So since my dogs have been barkin' from wearing high heels and stuff, for the past few days I've been sporting my all time favorite pair of boots. Ariat Fat Babies are da *bomb*. My best friend turned me on to them and I haven't looked back since. I love 'em so, they are comfy as anything.

Ooooooh the comments I'm getting from the locals over heah! Ranges from "hey, those are cute" (what with the rhinestones and all) to "OH MY GOD ARE YOU WEARING COWBOY BOOTS!?!?!?!?" Why yes. : coff, bite me, coff :

Days like this make me long for Oh Fair New Mexico where Rockies and a pair of boots are "dress up clothes"…

Happy Friday ya'll...



December 6, 2007

It's the most pain in the ass time of the year


The Hellidays. Yup. They are here. I got 'em all over me.

This is notoriously the hardest time for me to get through. I actually love the holidays but never get to enjoy them because it's a race to the finish line at work. At the last three places I've worked, this has always been the heaviest work time of the year.

It's why I began the tradition of listening to Merle Haggard sing "If We Make It Through December" every year, because, by god, if I can just make it through December, everything's gonna be all right, I know….

When I used to work for Lockheed, every December was the time of year I had to decide which of my employees would get laid off, if layoffs got as far as our department. Thankfully, I never actually had to lay someone off, but the stress of making that kind of decision always put a pall on my holidays.

So I'm thankful I don't have to go down that road anymore. My company is doing well, stock price is high, and we're working hard. I had a minor breakdown on Friday listing all the projects that have to get done before December 21 (after which my company shuts down for the holidays). I started crying because I can't get them all done. Being a perfectionist, this kind of stuff gets me…hard.

I had another mini-breakdown today and one of my trusted friends and coworkers talked me down. She is in the same boat and we agreed…what will get done will get done. What doesn't, won't. I won't get fired, but it won't look good. And that just has to be ok.

So in happier news, (keeping my promise to myself to have a happier outlook, please) I haven't yet heard what I consider to be my "hallmark" of the holidays; the first time I hear "Feliz Navidad". I mean, good ol' Jose Feliciano is my own personal Rudolph, yanno? Haven't heard it yet. It's not the hellidays until I sing along!

Soon, tho, I know soon. I've already watched "White Christmas", my other tradition, so I’m on the way.

How about you? What's your "sign that the holidays have begun" and have you seen/heard/said it yet?






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December 5, 2007

Aggies oh Aggies!


Being a proud graduate of New Mexico State University means that where I live now, I am subject to blank looks when I respond to the "so, where did you go to school" question (it's oddly a big deal out here).

Occasionally I get hacked on. And it also means, that still, some fifteen years since donning a cap and gown, I still feel rather bitter about the < expletive deleted > Lobos. As the chant from the Pan Am Center goes, "Luck the Fobos"

So today, while sitting in a boring ass meeting with hostile senior executives of the company that owns my ass, I had occasion to surf over to the ABQJournal. And I smiled.

Headline reads: "Aggies Dominate Inside, Give UNM Second Loss".

See, three days ago, the women's basketball team whomped up on the Fobos (thus breaking a string of twenty-two losses in a row) and then last night, the boys followed suit, issuing a 71-62 beating. Yeah, baby!

I know they get to do it again in a couple weeks (this time at The Pit(s) and that is always tough), but for now just let me gloat.

With little to be happy about (the Aggies are 4-6 so far this year) I'll take this bit of joy.

It's important to stop and give thanks for the nice things. Smell the roses, so to speak….drink a beer to my alma mater.

W00t!

Ok, back to work, but here's the tune I'm humming as I walk to the next building for the next ridiculous meeting.

__________________________

Aggies, Oh Aggies
The hills send back the cry
We're here to do or die
Aggies, Oh Aggies
We'll win this game or know the reason why
And when we win this game
We'll buy a keg of booze
And we'll drink to the Aggies
Till we wobble in our shoes
A-G-G-I-E-S
Aggies, Aggies, go Aggies
Aggies, Oh Aggies
The hills send back the cry
We're here to do or die
Aggies, Oh Aggies
We'll win this game or know the reason why

December 4, 2007

In Memorium


Heartbroke is the best way to describe how I feel at reading the news in Duke City Fix that Mr. Powdrell, truly a legendary man, passed Sunday night at the age of 86.

When I used to work at Sandia Labs, the Powdrell's location on Central was a common lunch spot for me. With pickles!

More often than not, Mr. Powdrell was sitting out front, watching the world go by, cooling off from that hot kitchen. I always gave him a hello and a thank you.

Anyone who provides eats that good deserves heartfelt thanks.

My thoughts go out the Powdrell family and the good people of Albuquerque. Wish I could remember the man by enjoying a big plate of his barbeque today. That's the best way to honor him that I can think of…



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Follow up and updates


So thought I'd tack on to this post from last week regarding the fuel oil spill in the Bay Area.

Over the weekend I picked up the Friday edition of the The Examiner with a headline reading "Fishermen take to Bay as ban lifted". Below that is a smaller headline "Officials say initial location of oil slick wrong". I bought some coffee and grabbed a seat and got caught up on the latest. This story had dropped out of the headlines so I had no idea where it stood.

Long way around the barn, the fishing ban imposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger on November 13 has been lifted. The article says "…crabs and fish were found safe to eat…" but it doesn't give any source, who did the testing, and what was tested. Pardon me for remaining suspicious. To add to the drama, the season was opened, but high winds kept most boats off the water.

Below this main story was a smaller one about how in the time immediately following the collision, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provided projections about how the oil would move which proved to be wrong. It would be easy for me to sit here and take pot shots, however, I can't. I've been on that water. I've sat by that water. It's notoriously unpredictable.

At the end of the day, it can be described as "a comedy of errors" which often happens in these situations. And plans are underway to figure out how to handle it better next time.

I'm hoping, now, at the end of the day, the fishermen can still make and sell their catch and we can put this environmental disaster behind us.

In other news…cue "nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye", the ABQjournal reporting today that the City Council voted to put a hold on the traffic camera program, meaning no fines issued until a decision is made in January about whether to even continue the program. Talk about a comedy of errors! Drive on good people of Oh Fair New Mexico!





photo by Karen Fayeth

December 3, 2007

New Mexico in my Pocket


Here from the official website for The United States Mint. Quarters to be released in 2008.

Oh Far New Mexico, how I long to carry you in my wallet, pocket, slide you lovingly into a slot machine, Coke machine, toss you in a bucket on a turnpike.

How I hope to hold you up and show you quarters from other states and we'll mock them sarcastically.

I mean…North Dakota with your buffalo. FEH! And Kansas with your, uh, buffalo. FEH! I say.

Gaze upon my zia sun sign gorgeousness! 47th in statehood, number one in new quarter HOTNESS!








Images via.

November 30, 2007

Nom de Bebida


Or, what's in a name?

I have a friend at work. She and I share the same first name. So imagine my surprise when one day sitting across the table from her, I noticed her Starbucks cup had the name "Lucy" scrawled across the side.

I asked why. She said that Lucy is easy to spell so it ensures quickness at the register. Plus, she isn't always comfortable with her real name being shouted out across a busy work morning crowd. As a single gal, she's safety minded, and I respect that.

I liked the idea and being all incognito appealed to me. And since she and I share "Karen Power" I decided to adopt Lucy as my Nom de Bebida as well. Every time I'm asked for my name, I feel like a super undercover agent giving my false name. I'm SO stealth.

I've used it so much, that when The Cute Boy™ and I go for coffee, he'll tell them my name is Lucy. I've only been "busted" once when I didn't have enough cash and handed over my credit card right as I was being asked for my name. I said Lucy just as he looked at my card, and then looked at me like I'd gong luh-luh in the head.

So this morning, I went into my favorite coffee establishment. I guess I've been hitting the coffee a bit hard lately, because the barista recognized me and said "Good morning, Lucy!"

I smiled and gave a hearty "Good Morning" in return. All these people think my name is Lucy. Why does that give me a secret thrill?

I wonder if a lot of people have a Nom de Bebida? I wonder if I know anyone who is a barista that I could ask?

Happy Friday to all my incognito friends…Long live the secret coffee schlurper!






Photo by Karen Fayeth

November 29, 2007

As promised


Long overdue but not forgotten. Thoughts plague my brain still, despite the news having dropped off the front page of SFGate.com.

Let's talk about the oil spill here in the Bay Area. Here's a high level of the events.

On Wednesday, November 7, the Cosco Busan, an 810 foot long container ship, collided with the base of the tower on the western span of the Bay Bridge.

When I first heard this breaking news story, my first worry was for the bridge. Memories of the Bay Bridge collapse in 1989 are still very clear in my head. The Bay Bridge is a major thoroughfare for the people of the Bay Area, and even so much as a lane closure can affect traffic for the entire Bay Area. It's one of those roads that can never close because even in the heart of the wee hours of the morning, there is heavy traffic. If you've seen the bridge, the western half is beautiful, the eastern span looks like Tinker Toys. That's because it had to be hastily repaired after the earthquake because of all the reasons above. It ain't pretty, but almost twenty years later, the tinker toys still stand. The ship, however, hit the "pretty" side.

So, as I said, first, I worried about the bridge. Reports started to come out that there was no apparent damage, as the intricate fender structure on the bridge towers to prevent such issues performed as designed. But then soon, another problem came to light. The collision had ripped a 160 foot long hole in the side of the ship at ten feet above the water line. News reports came out that said the ship was leaking fuel oil, but that the crew had taken quick evasive action and contained the spill. They transferred oil from leaking tanks into other tanks. The Coast Guard reported that 8,000 gallons had spilled and action was being taken to begin clean up. Given that the Exxon Valdez spill was in the millions of gallons, all indications were that this was a non-event.

It seemed all was well. But that was not quite true. Here's where the news reports start giving conflicting details. Finger pointing regarding delays in responding. Accusations about the ship's captain and crew. Hostile reports of an uncaring Mayor who knew of the spill but left town on vacation anyway. I may never personally know exactly what happened or the truth of all the finger pointing, but I will do my best to report the facts as I know them with a fair peppering of my opinions.

At the end of the day, 58,000 gallons of fuel oil were spilled into the Bay and within hours it was washing up on shore nearby at Crissy Field and Baker Beach. Due to the tide patterns, Marin (north of the Golden Gate) was particularly hard hit.

But here's where it starts to punch me right in the gut.

I wouldn't call myself an uber environmentalist, but I certainly do care a lot about the world in which I live. So I was torn up about what effects this spill might cause. The aquatic effects of all this is still fairly new stuff for me being a New Mexico girl. But this one part I "got" right away.

See, this time of year is crab season. During my first year in residence here, I was introduced to a happy Bay Area tradition. Fresh crab for Christmas dinner. My friend who adopted me in those early years would drive to Half Moon Bay on Christmas morning, buy crabs out of the boiling pots, bring them back and we'd dive in with fingers and teeth and happy yummy noises dunking sweet meat into melted butter and slurping it down.

And just before this accident, I'd heard the annual news reports that the crab fishermen had settled on this year's price for crab and the season was ready to begin.

But wait. Now, we have a problem. We now have a toxic mess floating on the very water where the crabs are caught.

I believe the season is due to start December 1. But wait, you say, isn't that enough time for the spill to be cleaned up? No, not really. See, the oil floats along for a while, then it sinks. And when it sinks, it contaminates those young crabs that would be prime for the taking in the month of December.

Over the weekend of November 10 and 11, I was in Bodega Bay. Located North of San Francisco, it was a fantastic getaway and of course, The Cute Boy™ talked about the spill on our ride as we went over the Golden Gate and stayed at an ocean side hotel.

While walking around, we saw stacks and stacks of crab pots, primed and ready to go out. I smiled in spite of myself. I do enjoy crab. We walked over to the visitor center and while looking at maps, overheard the woman there talking about the impact of the oil spill on her community. The crab fishermen are mostly union, so in an act of solidarity, the Bodega Bay fishermen agreed not to go out until the San Francisco fishermen can go out.

What this all means is that people who work really hard for a living are going to have a lot harder time this year making ends meet. At Christmastime no less. All because one guy had a really bad day at work (also a hard job. I don't imagine steering a boat that big is any easy peasy thing to do) on a really foggy day.

On the way home from our trip to Bodega Bay, we drove down by Ocean Beach and saw people in hazmat suits cleaning up the mess. It really brought it right home to me. This was no longer something I saw on the news. This was real people with real issues fighting the good fight for real aquatic life in the area in which I live.

I have tried to find an exact number of birds they think were contaminated and can't find a solid answer. Reports say some 20,000 have died. Many more have been cleaned up and some released back into the wild. Those numbers of the dead may be low because it's hard to know how many were eaten by predators or sunk in the water. If eaten, the cycle of contamination continues.

Also, the tide surges can send the oil back to beaches that have been cleaned causing them to need to be re-cleaned again and again.

There are no two ways about it. This was a disaster. Not so large (on the Valdez scale) to garner much national coverage (tho my friend over at Live from Silver City, a resident of Washington DC mentioned it in his blog). But no less an environmental crisis. And a huge impact to the thriving fishing community of the Bay Area.

Latest salvo was that fishermen from Oregon brought in crabs to sell, but were soundly rejected. I also stand behind my local fisherman. And it pains me, but I've decided to stop eating any crab at restaurants until I hear that the local guys can sell their catch. It's one of my favorite foods (I have it probably once a week) and crabs come from all over, but it's my own personal act of solidarity.

As for me, I'd actually planned a trek to Half Moon Bay this year for annual crab feast. I'll be watching the news and various sites to see if it's safe. Fishermen haven't gone out yet to set their pots, and I'd like to think there will be some testing for safety before the catch is sold.

It's just a sad thing. One mistake with wide ranging effects.




image via

November 28, 2007

Little Green Apples


A friend and fellow blogger declared it "irrelevant blog title day", so who am I to argue?

I have a lot I could complain about but have been listening to myself lately as I talk and I realize…I complain A LOT. About a lot. I was able to eek out a "I'm thankful" post for thanksgiving, but really, I gotta stop whinging about everything. Cuz that's annoying. And when you annoy yourself, that's bad.

I certainly *could*. I have a raging headache. Had to deliver a presentation to my management team that I was unprepared for and went up there and made it up as I went. Hell, my Director asked me a really good question and I made up the answer. Ssh, don’t tell her. But honestly, it went ok. The headache will subside. The busy week will end. My cat will still love me (in her not very loving way that cats have…see the "I'm mad at you" photo at the end) and I get to go home at the end of the day and hug The Cute Boy™ (who inspired my blog title. It's from a Roger Miller song. Cuz he's made that way).

Mainly, despite all the little kerfuffles life brings, things are good. I think I may have outgrown my job. Having a week away from it really brought that into focus. Despite fighting the good fight for my team in management meetings, I find I don't really care that much, and it's not a good sign.

I wanna be a full time writer when I grow up. I want to get paid for my words. And this job isn't it. But so far my writing doesn't pay and this corporate blah does. So I get up every morning and keep making it work. Because I'm made that way.

And despite finishing my 50,000 word writing project, it's not done. And I find my "incentive" to write is dropping. Bah! Time to find a new way to inspire myself.

Basically, I’m just checking in to say I'm still here. It's back to work and crazy days. And I'll just continue to "make it work".

I also realize I've wandered away from the original intent of this blog, to be about New Mexico. So it's time to wander back. I've been reading the ABQjournal with amusement regarding the uproar over the alien ads, got a good giggle over the misspellings on the historic marker in Santa Fe and was skeeved out to read about the third confirmed hantavirus case this year (I'm telling you, people, don't touch the fuzzy wild things. Just don't).

Oh Fair New Mexico, good to know some things never change. God I love where I come from.





Photo by Karen Fayeth

November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks


Yep, I will join in with many of my fellow bloated-tum bloggers and give thanks for the bounty that was in my home yesterday. I have much to be thankful for. I actually try to get some gratitude in my day every day, but this feasting holiday is always a good time to go over the list again.

I had something of a rough upbringing and holidays were always a touchy topic. My dad didn't see why my mom had to go through the bother and expense of buying up a bunch of presents and hassling with a tree and all of that. Birthdays were just another reason to spend too much money. But Thanksgiving, an eatin' holiday, that was one my dad could get behind. Plus, his birthday was right around T'giving (and sometimes on the day) and he'd get an apple pie made just for him, so I guess that was a'okay in his book.

When I moved to California ten years ago, it was as much about getting away from the oppression as making a new start. I'm glad I did it, made my own life on my own terms. But that comes at a cost. For as much as my family makes me crazy, I love them. A lot. Probably more than they deserve. Anyhow, since I moved away, I rarely go back for the holidays, so that makes me a bit of an orphan this time of year. (Which, honestly, is probably better for all involved.)

So enter The Cute Boy™ into my life. This is good. I have a "date" on holidays. And what's weirder, his parents live here. Close by. And even odder, he gets along with them. I mean, they have a healthy relationship. What the &^%$ is that!?!? Needless to say I both envy and admire the way he and his folks get along.

In the past several years for Thanksgiving I've gone to visit my sister who lives in Seattle. She's the only family I'll claim (and I'm the only one she claims). She has twin boys and they are adorable and a complete pain in the arse. But it's been great. This year, The Cute Boy™ asked if we could spend Thanksgiving together since in the past years we'd gone separate directions for the holiday. At first, it pained me, a lot. I yearned to see my sister and brother-in-law (who I adore and is more family than my actual brother) and my twin nephews who light up my world. I was mad, pouty, pain in the ass about it until I "got over it" and got into having the holiday in my home. Hadn't done that in a while.

So today, in my post feast hangover, I'm thankful that The Cute Boy™ is so wise. He was right. And look at me publicly acknowledging it! It was right for us to spend the holiday in this home we are making together.

Mother of The Cute Boy™ came over. We had big eats. We all cooked together in a companionable way. We ate together with big bites and laughter. It was easy. And comfortable. And no one yelled at anyone. And everyone had a nice time. And it was a holiday in which I felt (somewhat) part of "family", and didn't come out of "family" time with excruciatingly lowered self-esteem.

Even the feline had a nice time. She horked down a bunch of turkey and some wet food (a special treat for the holiday) and then sacked out on the couch like she was comatose, paws up.

And so today I'm thankful that family doesn't always mean pain. It can mean peace.

I'm also thankful that when I spoke to my mom on Wednesday she was in good spirits. The holidays are tough for her since my dad passed, but her outlook is good. She planned to cook a small turkey and have my aunt and uncle over. My sister and her family are fine. My brother and his family as well. Everyone is fine.

I have a good life. I'm thankful for the blessings that are in it. Despite all my complaints and whinging about things (it's just my way) I really am blessed.

And it's just more proof that family isn't what you are born with, it is what you make it. I have a rag tag bunch that I call family, but they are mine, and for each and every one, I give thanks.

November 20, 2007

Woo hoo! I did it!


Ok, yes, I'm here to brag. I completed my 50,000 words (NaNoWriMo doncha know). Did it yesterday evening and have been riding on a high ever since. (you can see the word counter over there to the left).

I'll admit it, I'm a freak. I big fat word generating freak. I don't know what got into me but I've been on a word frenzy. Sunday I just couldn't write enough. I had an over six thousand word day. That's weird. I own it. I'm a weirdo.

But this year I beat my best record which was completion on day 21. Hit 'er on day 19 this year.

Freak!

But wow am I a happy freak. Going to use the rest of this month and the momentum to actually finish this bad boy. I'm not terribly far off the mark, so yay!

Join me in celebration! There will be extra thanks around my Thanksgiving table this year!!

Woot!

November 16, 2007

I can has cheezburger?


I warned in these pages a few weeks back that I'd find a way to lol cat my own personal feline.

The I can has cheezburger site now has an lol cat builder! It's all super easy. < insert evil laugh here >

Herewith:



That damn cat loves the laundry basket…dork.

Anyhoo, been running around like the proverbial headless chicken trying to wrap up work so we can all be outta da office next week (yay!). Also, hit a writing frenzy on my NaNo and am up over 30k words as of last night. It's quite a turnaround for the girl who wasn't even sure she was going to participate this year!

Note to The Cute Boy™: If I actually make it to 50k we is SO gonna celebrate!

Meanwhile, I have made two promises on posts that I've yet to deliver on. One, my thoughts and upset about the ecological disaster of a fuel oil spill that is really mucking up the Bay Area (and beyond) and completely blowing up the crabbing season. I'm so angry, sad, and a lot of other emotions that I'm not sure where to begin. I don't think this story has gotten huge national coverage, but it's a big deal. I have some things to say…soon.

And I promised photos from this past weekend in beautiful Bodega Bay. Hadn't taken my camera out in a while, so I'm less than pleased with my results, but there are a few I'm willing to show amongst friends and all that.

My trip to Bodega Bay fuels some of my emotions about the oil spill.

More, I promise. Right now, I'm at the beck and call of a Senior Director and his current bad mood.

Happy Friday all!

November 13, 2007

Answering the mail


Ok, not mail, per se, but a comment made a couple posts back. It's a good question, and one I'll attempt to answer.

"grand negus said...
What do you think of the polotical (sic) situation in New Mexico. How does it look from your vantage point?"

So, despite the fact that I do comment on politics every now and again, I'm not generally one to give much authoritative insight.

A good place to check for this is Live from Silver City. The author of that blog, Avelino Maestas, has a keen political mind, and despite having recently moved to Washington DC, is still quite savvy on New Mexico politics. Heck, he's savvy on politics in general. Another really great NM political blog is Heath Haussamen's.

And to be honest, my views tend to lean a lot toward what former Albuquerque Mayor Jim Baca has to say in his Only in New Mexico blog.

The scramble for St. Pete's seat will be an interesting one to watch. All the termites coming out of the woodwork vaguely reminds this Californian of the Governor Gray Davis recall. I mean, ya'll can think it's a circus but try having a stripper, a porn king, Gary Coleman and an Austrian actor in the hunt. Good lord…that was quite a ride.

Paraphrasing Jim, I think the election is ripe for a Democrat to take over that long held Republican seat. And I think it's time. I used to be a fan of Domenici. I worked at Sandia Labs and year over year, Pete fought the fight both for Kirtland Air Force Base and funding for the labs. So there were years I literally owed my continued existence to him. But over time, I've become more liberal and Pete became more conservative, and never the twain shall meet, or something like that.

But, again, borrowing from Jim here, I fear the Democrats are not organized enough to make a strong run. There is time yet, but for now, the outlook is hazy.

If Wilson gets that spot, I will punch myself in the head. All I ask is that Wilson be defeated. I know it looks like it will go that way, but I take NOTHING for granted. I thought she'd be defeated by a landslide in the last election. That it was as close as it was scares the beejebus out of me.

And as for our New Mexican Governor running for President, I am of mixed mind. I know Jim Baca is staunchly in support of Richardson, mainly for his views on the environment. I have a lot of respect for that view. But as a New Mexican, I always thought Richardson was a lot of bluster, and I think I'm tired of a blustering President.

Richardson comes to the elections with a lot of experience (both governor and Secretary of Energy). Much more than his competition. His job is to make a splash. I don't think this is Bill's year, but he's got a lot of work to do this year to make a name that will carry him for 2012.

On the other hand…I do enjoy a New Mexican making headlines. It's good press for our fair state, and I'll take it.

So there you have it, my mainly borrowed and fairly wishy-washy assessment. Aren't you glad you asked? Lol!!

Now…

Wanna talk about my views on that tanker scraping the Bay Bridge and spilling fuel into the water? I spent some time in Bodega Bay this weekend, a place where many families make their living on a fishing boat. This spill is devastating. More on that to come. I promise.

November 12, 2007

I'm doin' it!


After a restorative weekend in Bodega Bay with The Cute Boy™ (celebrating our two year anniversary!), I'm caught up again and feeling that feelin'! Looking forward to getting through this week and onto my week of Thanksgivingy goodness. My benevolent CEO (snarf!) is giving us the week. Much needed. Work is getting in the way of my writing!

My novel is so far approximately nineteen thousand words of utter dreck. But that's part of the joy of NaNo. Or so they say.

It's not the Great American Novel, but it's mine.

Photos from the weekend coming soon!

Longer, better written posts too!

And soon I must begin planning the menu for the Turkey Day treats. I want to go *simple* this year but my *simple* is always made too complex by my own OCDness. Turkey. Stuffing. Taters. Vegetable. Pie. There you go, the stuff of full bellies and happy family.

This year will be the first year The Cute Boy™ and I are together for the holiday. Years past we've gone separate directions, me tending to my family and he to his. The cooking this year will include Mother of The Cute Boy™ which means my nervousness is already starting. Thankfully I've cooked me a turkey before and have no qualms about it. I make excellent turkey, killer smash potatoes, delish stuffing and pies that make you say "yes please!". So why am I so nervous?

Oh I don't know, probably like the tides and the rising and setting sun, it's just how things are.

Onward, I've many miles to go and at least a thousand words before I rest tonight!





November 9, 2007

What a difference a day makes


I guess I'm going to have to give credit to Sister Mary Ignatius of the Wooden Ruler who tried to impress upon me that confession is good for the soul. I do hate letting that woman be right. It makes her SO superior.

Anyhoo, after confessing here that I was struggling with the progress of my NaNo novel, something snapped into gear inside of me. I had an almost 7,000 word day yesterday. Yep. I found a couple quiet hours at work (personal project, the best and highest use of my work time - heh) and then went to a local "write in". The fire was there. Unsure if I can sustain it to the finish line, but mine is not to question. Mine is to keep my head up and not look down as I totter on the precipice.

I LOVE it when I have the fire to write. It is such a great feeling. I *crave* it and sadly find it too infrequently. But that moment, like I felt last night, when the words just fly out of my fingers, when I'm not thinking, just typing, when I'm smiling as my inner reader listens to the story. Yeah. That is the greatest feeling. That's the Muse baybee.

Ok, today's a new day and there's a new 2,000 words that need to be produced.

Giddyap!

update: It's just 2:15 and I did it. Once again using work time for my own, I've gotten my 2,000 words for today. En fuego!

November 8, 2007

It's not going well


NaNoWriMo. Oy. I'm off the pace. I don't know what's got into me this year! Or not into me I guess. The fire isn't there. Why? I can't understand, actually.

Progress continues, slowly.

My benevolent CEO has given us the week of Thanksgiving off. I hope to use some of that time to "make it work". "Make it work" being the new slogan of my work team (shamelessly stolen from Tim Gunn of Project Runway). When everything is messy and nothing makes sense? Make it work.

When you've got 2000 words written and you are eight days in? Make it work.

Back to it.

November 5, 2007

Belated Dia de los Muertos


Yes, I know it passed me by last week. I usually at least TRY to think of those who have passed on, but didn't. See, November 2 marks the anniversary of the day The Cute Boy™ and I met. And it's a day so filled with joy and happiness that it's hard to be sorrowful.

Yet, feeling that sorrow every year is important. Circle of life, no joy without pain and all that.

I was too caught up in NaNoWriMo and celebrating love that I forgot to think about death. Not so bad a trade off, I suppose, in the long run.

My NaNoWriMo progress limps along. I wrote nary a word for the first four days (yikes) and am now some 8,000 words off the pace. But I calculated 50,000 words over 25 days and that's 2,000 words a day. Still do-able. I've got 1500 so far today, so progress has (finally!) begun.

But back to those muertos.

Today I remember the lives of those I've lost. All four of my grandparents, my father, and my best friend from high school. Of them, my high school friend is the one I can say truly didn't get a chance to live her life. My grandparents and my father lived good long lives, saw their children into adulthood and were ok when the time came to pass. The loss of my friend still gives me pain. She was too young. Such is the nature of life.

But here, when the veil between our world and theirs is thinner, easier to access, I think of those I've lost with a heart full of love.

I remember.

November 1, 2007

*cramp* Oh the pain!


So. Today is November 1. Yep. First of November.

What does that mean?

The start of National Novel Writing Month.

Yeppers. Fifty THOUSAND words. Thirty days.

I've done it twice now, in 2004 and in 2006. Made it across the finish line both times.

So. I'm trying it again this year.

Worried.

Don't have the focus. Don't have that pinpoint freak out, holy-crap-nothing-will-stand-in-my-way-to-get-this-done kind of laser beam lock on. The two years I succeeded, I was sharp, on top of it, wrote plenty of words on day one to launch me into it.

It's almost noon. Nary a word. Hoo boy. This might be a tough year.

No shame in not making it, really. But my Type A overachiever is YELLING at me inside my brain.

Oy.

Like I needed to add stress to this wacked out life!

So, pull for me. Send me the gods of the written word. Despite the crampy writer's block I'm suffering, I'm jumping in!

October 31, 2007

Ghost busted


Aw durn. Some Halloween debunking.

Back in June I posted about the ghosty caught on film at the courthouse in Santa Fe.

I have to admit, watching the video I was pretty bought in. It was *weird*.

So sadly, last night, while surfing about I found this article on Yahoo.

Way to de-ghost my holiday!

Damn it!

Turns out it was a ladybug. Probably.

Debunked? Or no?

You decide……

Muah ha ha ha ha ha ha!

The debunking vid:



The original vid:

October 30, 2007

Gah!


5.6 earthquake.

10-12 seconds long.

Rolling.

Freaked. Out.

October 29, 2007

Tis the Season


Halloween is nigh, only a couple days away. I do love Halloween, it's all sorts of fun. Halloween has always been the San Francisco version of Mardi Gras. Not this year, I guess. SF has decided the fun in the Castro is too dangerous and have clamped down. The Mayor cancelled Halloween! Oh well, SF will find a way to party, I’m certain.

Meanwhile, The Cute Boy™ is something of a Halloween grinch. We've made plans to be out on the 31st (shades of my folks…their wedding anniversary is the 31st and every year I had to *wait* until they came back from anniversary dinner to go trick-or-treating. It was agony.) But that's ok, I'll get a nice dinner out of the night so I can't complain. Plus I'd eat all that candy I would have bought…so maybe this is saving my waistline.

But we did have Halloween fun this weekend. A friend threw a pumpkin carving party with great eats.

Here's our creation, I'm pretty proud of it:

October 28, 2007

Hoo Boy


Gotta love Bill Richardson. He's in there swinging away. I'm not sure he can hold his own in the elections versus Clinton and Obama, but he's not going down without a fight and without distinguishing himself, at least a little, from the rest.

While Governor, Richardson made national headlines by vowing to determine that the grave of Billy the Kid in Fort Sumner, NM really holds the remains of the outlaw, and not some other location in Texas.

It was amusing, to say the least, to see my state getting AP coverage. Richardson's passion about the story was admirable. He didn’t go in half-assed and it was a calculated move that gained him some attention.

And now this from today's Albuquerque Tribune. Richardson saying that if elected president, he'd dig into the Roswell UFO files. It was a road that Steve Schiff went down for a bit before his death, asking the General Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate the Roswell crash.

This move by Richardson that will gain him the quirky vote, for sure, and makes him seem a little more human than the other perfect haired politicians, but will it be enough to coast him into the White House?

Either way, I'm enjoying the campaign he's putting on. It's nothing if not entertaining.

October 24, 2007

Tales from the rails


So today was another commuter day. Not because I needed more penance for my sin of speeding, I'm over that. No, today was a commuter day because it's a good idea, it saves money (commuter subsidy, yay!), and walking to the train station and to all my meetings in other buildings is a nice way to force my expanding backside to get up and walk.

It kind of blows to commute on a Fall into Winter morning, because the mornings are staying dark longer. It was not light yet when I rose, because I had an early meeting which meant taking the early train. Ugh.

The Cute Boy™ grumbled, mostly, when I went to kiss his sleeping self goodbye. "I love you" was greeted with a grunt that meant, roughly, "love you back".

The upshot of a cold Fall morning is that I didn't get as sweaty as I usually do on my walks. I'm a sweater from way back. I know, so not dainty.

So it was a pretty uneventful morning. Got the station on time. Train was on time. Found a seat right away. Read my book. Felt ok with life.

Got off the train and clambered onto the shuttle that goes from the station to my place of employment. The shuttle is usually where the real weirdos are. It's like the train is fine, the weird asses are folded in with enough normal as to be hardly noticeable, but at that train station, we all fall through a sieve and the real gems of oddity funnel onto the shuttle bus with my employers name pasted on the side (yes, I know, what does that say about *me*?).

I found a seat, settled in for the shaky ride that takes about ten minutes. I was reading again when my weirdo spidey sense perked up. I lifted my head and looked around and found the lou-lou of the day.

Most of us carry backpacks in the Sili Valley. We're all toting all manner of electronic gadgetry, so it's easiest to haul 'em on your back, like an overpaid, overworked pack mule. On the shuttle, people either hold their pack on their lap, put it on the seat beside them, or at their feet.

Not this guy. He had his backpack standing straight up in his lap, arms wrapped tightly around it, hugging it to his chest. For dear life. Like it was a long lost brother. Like the love of his life. It was nestled under his chin and he never wavered from this loving embrace until we arrived at the destination, then he tossed it on his back and walked into the building.

Did he have some super secret product in there that's on the forefront of technology, that will blow everyone's minds, and he's protecting it with his entire body? Is he devoid of passion and loving embraces in his life and his nylon pack is the best substitute? Is he an emotional basket case about coming to this godfersaken place every morning and the only way he can make it is to cling to something like a motherless rhesus monkey trying to suck warmth and love from it's cloth panels and padded straps?

Who knows. It was just…weird.

You'd think after eight years at this place I'd have gotten over all the culturally encouraged weirdity.

Which makes me wonder…have I ever been the weird one on the bus? The one that's talked about in the latte line? Hmm…..

October 22, 2007

Monday Media Review


I've lazily looked around all the usual suspect news sources for something interesting to pontificate about today. No luck. I've hit all my favorite blogs, both political and otherwise. Nothing.

Slow news day? Sure. I could blather about the Red Sox victory over the Indians. And the coming World Series with the Rockies. Nah. Old news, really.

So I'm going to borrow an idea from a rather vain blogger I read (who is NOT from NM, in case you are wondering). Today I'll recount the media that's currently swirling around in my world. Just cuz I can.

On my bedside table:

Just finished:
How to Hepburn: Lessons on Living from Kate the Great. Always been a big fan of Katharine Hepburn. Huge. This book is sort of biographical, sort of instructional, focusing more on Kate's struggles with insecurity and being such an oddball in Hollywood. All in all, though, a great read. Especially if you like Hepburn.

Currently reading:
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. I stumbled across Moore's darkly funny A Dirty Job: A Novel (about Death. I mean the hooded one.) this summer and laughed my ass off at his real black humor. Plus he's a Bay Area guy so I was interested. "Biff" was published back in 2002 so I'm quite behind the curve, but this book is so witty, so laugh out loud, so jealous I-wish-I-could-do-that. He makes it seem effortless. He's got a biting humor with a heart and that's hard to do. I've read so much dreck lately that this book is like a breath of fresh air and I consider it a reward, like dessert, to be able to sit down and read a chapter or two.

Also on my bedside table for when I finish "Biff" is Straight Man by Richard Russo. This will have to be my next read because it is the subject of the November meeting of my local library's book discussion. Those are some smart well-read folks in that group, so I have to stay on top of my game. It's supposed to be funny, but I fear after "Biff" it won't be…we'll see.

But the one I'm salivating over is Mary Roach's Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. I love, love, love Mary Roach. I became enamored with her from the book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. It was a well-researched yet wryly funny book. Plus she writes a genuinely funny monthly article in Reader's Digest of all places. And she makes it work. She adds a lot of light and air to that very stalwart old magazine (that yes, I admit I read…or at least used to. My dad used to gift me with a subscription, but sadly when he passed, my mom decided not to continue the gift). So this one is down in the stack but I'll get to it. Oh yes I will…..

In the DVD player:

The Cute Boy™ and I are huge fans of movies so we have an obscenity of DVD's sitting by the telly right now, begging to be watched.

My secret bon-bon:
Season Two of Grey's Anatomy. I usually loathe medical shows. I've eschewed "ER" for years. But one of my friends at work talks about this show all the time and says that I am the real life Addison (which, watching these early seasons, I realize is NOT a compliment…despite Kate Walsh being haaaawt). I watched an episode about a year back and decided to give it a try. I liked Season One. Season Two not so much. Oh well. I watch this evening soap when The Cute Boy™ is off doing other things. I promised I wouldn’t subject him to it, despite the fact that he knows one of the actors on the show.

My "where the hell have I been?":
Glengarry Glen Ross. One of The Cute Boy's™ favorite films. Now I understand why the first time I took him to New Mexico he snickered whenever anyone referred to Rio Rancho. This dates back to 1992 but is a great film. Well acted, great script. Memorable lines. Plus, I work daily with sales weasels in my job, and this was a stunningly good insight into the mind of a desperate salesman.

My do gooder viewing:
Fast Food Nation. A fictionalized rendition of the hard-hitting book. I read the book and was seriously moved. The film did it no justice.

My surprisingly good:
Little Miss Sunshine. Way better than I thought it would be…added touch of the family coming from New Mexico.

The nod to the legends:
Gotta watch a classic every now and again to see how it's done. The Lion in Winter fit the bill. Great script, crappy editing, great cast. A VERY young Timothy Dalton is yummy! And Katharine Heburn, well into her sixties, still rocks the screen.

Coming through the speakers:

Been struggling with music lately. It's my favorite distraction but I find I'm tending to listen to the stuff I already have, occasionally buying a single song or two from iTunes. Nothing is firing me up lately. I'm mostly back in the old stuff. On a Glen Campbell jag lately (would love to catch him live). Mostly my listening is limited to my Sirius radio. Channel 62, The Roadhouse, playing oldies country. (yes, I admit it).

So I'm open to suggestions here. I've grabbed a couple of the Song of the Day free downloads from Starbucks, but nothing yet has fired me up.

This sort of depresses me. For me, music is essential to my sanity. The search continues.

On the 'net:

Just found the blog Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. Again, where the hell have I been? I'm only a couple days in but this is pretty entertaining…the ongoing tales of a city woman who married a country man and moved to the middle of nowhere. She's smart, witty and surprisingly open. Fun. Her Ethel channeling Britney sound clip is worth the click. Found this blog from the comments section on a jezebel.com article about women prefering cowboys to city boys. I could weigh in on that topic another time....

And I'm stupidly addicted to I Can Haz Cheezburger?. I dream one day my cat will do something interesting enough so I can lol cat her heiny. For now, all she does is sit on my desk and look at me disapprovingly.

See?


October 19, 2007

Sheepish


Owing to my good Catholic upbringing, it takes very little to toss me to the throes of guilt.

And I have it, baby! Catholic guilt, that is.

And owing to my good Catholic upbringing (tho currently quite non-practicing), confession is good for the soul, right?

Here it is:

Yesterday…I got a speeding ticket. *gasp!*

Yep, I've been having crap commutes lately. Yesterday morning my thirty-minute commute took seventy. The night before, stop and go and stop and go and…well, you get the idea.

So I took off early yesterday to 1) avoid the commute and 2) spend more time with The Cute Boy™. So gleeful was I that I guess I put my leaden foot a little too hard on the gas. I say "I guess" because I don't know for sure, but I do know that a CHP pulled my arse over (and they are NOT as cool as Ponch and John, let me tell you).

The officer glared at me, I guess he has to. God knows what they come up on during traffic stops. He took my license, my registration, my insurance card and wrote up a ticket.

I've never gotten a ticket in California. I guess ten years is a pretty good run, eh? My last ticket was in 1994 in New Mexico. I glanced at the ticket to see how much I'd have to pay. It doesn't work quite that easy here, you get a ticket with a "notice to appear" then I guess they send you a letter where you can either pay some money or go to court.

The nice CHP gentleman did not say he used a radar, so I *could* try to go to court to fight it. A quick Google of the officer's name turned up that he's a quite well respected member of the force, and had a nice write up in a local paper for his hard work.

Yeah, I don't think I'd stand a chance in court.

I found the California fine schedule online. Let's just say the fine is ouch-worthy. I shall pay the fine and be a lot more cautious about the needle on the ol' speedometer.

Ok, I guess today I'll go do an act of contrition or something to help me find my penance (in addition to the pain of writing a check to a state that already way overtaxes me).

My first act of penance was to ride CalTrain to work……..I gave myself a vehicular time out.

Do you think Governor Arnold will grant me absolution?

The silver lining is maybe riding the commuter rail will give me some good blogging ideas……

Edit: Oh no! It's a conspiracy! The Man trying to bring down the displaced New Mexicans!!!



(image via)

October 18, 2007

The Results Are In


It's that time of year again. Chile roasting outside grocery stores. Hot air balloons hanging in the sky. Frosty nights and crunchy leaves.

And at work, that annual tradition known as performance reviews.

Now, I hate performance reviews. I know we have to. It's a whole human resources thang. I get it. But I hate them. I hate giving them. I hate receiving mine. I just hate the whole process.

I got them done for my staff a couple weeks back. Got them done without incident, which was nice. It helped I had some new folks that were too new to review, so I was able to struggle through the few I had and get them completed.

My Lady Boss, on the other hand, has an inordinate amount of employees so it's taken her longer. Yesterday was the last day to get 'em done, and we squeaked it in under the wire.

As usual, I walked in knowing I worked my arse off this year, and yet was scared. This happens every year. I somehow always think there's something I'm missing. Something I failed to do. Something I did wrong and didn't know it. So with shaking legs I sat down and took my medicine.

Like usual, it was fine. She had many nice things to say. My Lady Boss is fairly new to the department and I still don't quite have a read on her, but now I got my report card. Now I know the teacher thinks I'm doing ok. (The best compliment was regarding the kick ass job my team did this year. They did all the work and it's not fair I get the credit, but I'm proud as hell of each and every one of them.)

She had a couple items for "development" that were spot on, and I appreciate her feedback. She then would up the review by reminding me that in 2008 I shouldn't argue so vocally and vehemently with (her boss) my Vice President. (I actually did this. I was angry. It was deserved. I don't regret it. But her point was well taken. I *could* have presented my case a bit better…..)

I got a better than average rating and a slightly better than average raise. However, "slightly better than average" at this company means "just slightly above the CPI". It's true, I checked. But you know what? I'll take it. My friend who also works here got NO raise. Yep. Zip, zero, zilch, nada. And he worked hard this year. So my meager increase is something. With that, I'll get back to work and rest easy for another year, at least on that front.

Ever forward, back into battle.


October 17, 2007

Hey, now that's cool!


It's no secret I'm a bit of a baseball fan. My team's season ended in a blaze of humiliation, some 18 games out of first place. To make it worse, two teams from our division, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies made to the post season.

Oh the pain of watching the competition extend their season.

Been having a hard time deciding who to root for in post-season games. I think I'm loving the under-dog, whooda-thunkit magic season of the Rockies. So in the NL, they are my team (not a tough decision given the lightening in a bottle they have working), especially after rolling over the Diamondbacks in four straight games.

In the AL, it's harder to decide. I mean, I like the Indians, they are a ne'er do well and know the pain, like my beloved Giants, of going to the World Series and coming home empty handed. I have a good friend who is from Cleveland so out of respect to her, I've been mostly cheering on the Indians. However, in previous years, I've been a post-season Red Sox fan. So I guess all this is by way of saying I'm waffling…..

In today's ABQjournal I read an interesting article that I'm now taking into account while sitting on the AL fence.

While the young man mentioned in the article, Jacoby Ellsbury, isn't a New Mexico native (cuz then I'd be off the fence and on his side in heartbeat), he does have ties to New Mexico.

Plus I just think it's pretty damn cool that he's the first Native American of Navajo descent to play in the majors. He was called up to Boston in August when Coco Crisp went out with an injury and so wowed critics and fans that Francona added him to the 40-man roster in September. Now in his first year in the bigs, he's playing on a post-season team trying to get to the World Series. He's been praised for both his speed and enthusiasm and is a pretty good hitter.

Damn, that rocks. Gonna have to squint at the screen a little more now to get a look at this up-and-comer. Maybe he can log some playing time in the ALCS and I'll just have to root for him.

I always did love a story of someone living the dream.

October 16, 2007

It's a short walk from me to thee


Often when I'm bored at work or killing time until my next meeting (too many of those today), I like to look at the "odd news" on Yahoo. I mean, I LOVE weird-ass stories. But inevitably, I find one story that makes me uncomfortable. One of those "wow, with a slightly different set of circumstances, that could be me."

So this afternoon, exhausted from the day, I took a peek at the latest crop of weird news. And here it is, the story that "but for the grace of < fill in all seeing entity of your choice >, that could be me."

From the Associated Press on Friday.

Basically, a guy got drunk and then angrily attacked the Halloween display at a woman's house. Guy went flailing after inflatable ghosts and a pumpkin. The owner reported "she heard hollering and swearing and looked outside to see Odee struggling with the giant pumpkin." When she yelled at him, he then smashed his head through a window.

The police were called and "after a brief struggle" he was arrested.

I dunno, it sounds wacky, but didja ever get so mad you wanted to punch one of those cutsey ghouls populated on someone's front lawn? Or wanted to kick the fun animated light up reindeer that it seems everyone has each year? Or thought you'd feel better if you dropped your aged vehicle into four wheel drive and ran asunder over someone's *fabulous* holiday display?

No?

Oh, it's just me, then.

Go on about your business.....

October 15, 2007

I hope I'm this sprightly at age 70


The Cute Boy™ and I have been talking a lot lately about the subject of aging. Not that either of us are all that old, but both of us are old enough to start pondering our own mortality. Cold weather brings creaky joints that didn't used to creak. "My back hurts" replaces "I'm so hungover" in my vernacular. I suppose this doesn't get better as the years pass by. (and, have you noticed, the years are passing more quickly than ever?)

So with aching knees and cold hands wrapped around a coffee mug, I read an article in the Albuquerque Tribune (now with a buyer!) about Merle Haggard. Now, I'm a longtime fan of Merle. You know how some musicians comprise part of the soundtrack of your life? That's Merle to me. "Silver Wings" brings up a *very* specific memory (and if my best friend in the whole wide world is reading this, she knows exactly which memory I'm talkin' about). "My Favorite Memory" is another fave…and one of the few songs I learned to play on acoustic guitar. Merle doesn't play deep or complicated guitar chords. He doesn't need to. His lyrics can, with an economy of words, cut right to the heart. He is indeed a poet, as the Trib article points out.

So how do I tie all this together? My aching joints and Merle?

Well, at age 70, Merle is making a new album. It's a bit of a departure for him. He's doing a disc of bluegrass music, all original songs, which I think is amazing. He's got a voice made for country, and now hardened by time, I imagine bluegrass will suit him well.

After decades in the business, he's still got The Muse running in his veins. At an age where he's made enough music and money to retire, he can't. The words still flow.

"I guess the reason for writing songs is to make money," Haggard said, "but then you go back and say, `I'd like to write a song that will be remembered forever.' That's more interesting to me than the checks, even."

It's a rare bit of integrity in the music market. And memorable songs are what Haggard has done.

This line kills me…it's so right on, at least to my way of thinking:

"I like to write something that you can photograph. If there's no picture there, what's your album cover or your CD cover going to be? In most cases, you'll find it's just a picture of the artist, because they don't have a picture, and it's kind of sad."

I may not be a musician, but I'm a writer, a lover of words, and I work real hard at putting words together in such a way that someone who reads them can see a picture. Merle not only creates these pictures, but lasting images that stay in the mind. That, my friends, is pure talent.

"…You can't have any emotional songs anymore; they won't play them. Someone might look up from their computer, and they don't want that. It might disturb somebody. And it all sounds like water to me. . . ."

And at age 70, he's rasty as ever. Love it. He's even planning a tour to support this new album…having just come off a tour.

I can only hope/pray/dream/beg that I'm as full of The Muse, the energy and the drive at age 70.



October 10, 2007

When it's time to put your electronic device down


Had a pretty good laugh today reading an AP story about cell phone users feeling "phantom vibrations".

The Cute Boy™ and I have talked about this one before. My life, unfortunately, revolves around the wireless industry, and I'm constantly surrounded by < obscenity deleted >* cell phones.

If you have to be tethered to one of the damn things like I do, then you've probably had this phenomenon. Or….if you've ever had a hot date and you are waiting desperately for them to call, that's also a fine time for you to lunge for your pocket only to realize it wasn't your phone, it was you.

Lately I'm also getting phantom ringing. There are so many ding dang devices in the world, and they all beep, whine, tweet, chirp and whatever, that I think it must be my phone. I mean, the galdurn thing has a bunch of functions I don't even know how to use. A few weeks back, The Cute Boy™ and I were in the car. A new chirp emitted from somewhere in the car. It was an unfamiliar sound. We looked at each other. "What was that?" I asked. "I don't know," he replied.

I mean….how bad is it when there are so many electronic sounds in the air that you can no longer accurately identify the source?

It makes it worse that here at work all employees now carry the same phone. Which means they make the same set of noises. It's kind of funny in a crowded meeting when one phone chirps and twenty people lunge for it. Funny in a "holy crap is this what we've become" kind of not-so-funny way.

So, yes, I admit it, I'm a "phantom vibrate" person**…and a phantom ring too. Today I took off for a meeting across campus at work and (*gasp*), forgot my phone back in the office. And while in the meeting, someone's phone rang. And even though I KNEW I didn't have my phone, I still reached into my pocket...to find, my keys. Well there you have it, the downfall of civilization.

By the by…does anyone else have a microwave that nudges you when it's done? I mean, I can pop a bowl of soup in there for a couple minutes, then be doing something else. I *hear* the end beep. Then every minute or so, it beeps again. I really, really hate that. My life…managed by a microwave…and an iPhone…and the beeps and bells in my car…and let's not even start on the strange noises my computer makes.

Remember when a phone just rang, and made that "shuk-shuk-shuk" noise when you dialed?



*Self censored in the interest of keeping this blog to a reasonable length. The string of curse words that I use to describe cell phones is both lengthy and sufficiently blue enough to make a sailor blush.

**Heh..when I first wrote that sentence, I said "I'm a 'phantom vibrator'…" That's a WHOLE other blog, no?

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

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