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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.


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!!


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 >


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!!


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.


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.


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.


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!

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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.