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December 31, 2009

S'long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good byyyyyyye!

Well 2009, here we are.

It's been fun, you know. Well, sometimes, anyway.

I mean, you've provided some laughs and all.

Remember that time we celebrated my wedding anniversary?

How about all the tweets we shared?

The endless blog posts?

Remember that vacation where we laughed in the summer sun?

Yeah...those were special times. Really, I'll always hold those memories deep in my heart.

It's just...


It's not working out.

You see, despite all the fun, you've ravaged my wallet.

In this year, you made me have to *gasp* cut coupons, lower my thermostat and NOT buy this ever so delicious navy blue leather bag with a cute little strap and matte finished hardware and the most adorable zipper front pockety thing.

I haaaate not buying a delicious handbag with a really cute pockety thing!

But I didn't buy it. I walked away.

And I'm still sad about that.

I'll always remember that stuff too, 2009.

How you made gas prices stupidly expensive. How you let all those celebrities die. How you let Tiger cheat on Elin.

You have a dark side, 2009. I see it now. I see it so clearly.

I've been fooling myself all along

I think it is best if we part ways.

Really, stop trying to cling to my leg.

We're done.


Fine. You want me to say it?

I'll say it.

But when I say it, it's really over.

Ok. Here we go. I'm saying it.

It's not you, it's me.


Feel better?

Now get out of here. We're through!

Have I met somebody new? Well...maybe.

2010 has been coming up in conversation a lot lately.

Maybe 2010 will treat me the way I deserve to be treated.

Let my retirement recover some of its value and help me possibly find another cute little leather bag to assuage my grief.

Until then...to you, 2009, I can only say....

So long.


Auf wiedersehen

Good byyyyyyye...

December 30, 2009

Keeping that eye sharp

I had a phone call recently with my photography teacher. She's invited me on a photo field trip with some of her more advanced students (more details to come) and I'm oh so very honored and excited!

So, in preparation, I gotta keep that ol' eye and technique sharp.

Lacking for much inspiration yesterday, I went for a walk around my yard.

You know, I don't usually look at what is going on in my own yard unless there is something blooming or very unusual.

But even in winter there is some beauty to be had.

Here's a few shots from yesterday (click on photo to see large version):

Our gnarled, unkempt rose bushes that still manage to put on beautiful roses all year round.

Remember my persimmons? They are still hanging in there long after the leaves are gone. That is a persistent fruit!

The neighborhood wild animals really like that the persimmons are ripe. This keeps them thriving so they can continue to knock over my trashcans every night. *sigh*

Lemon tree in my neighbor's yard. Freakishly large lemon!

My landlord *hates* the clover, and yet every year, the clover defeats the landlord. I understand why he hates the clover, it chokes out everything...but it is kind of pretty too...

Our next door neighbor was so happy when he moved in and saw the yard. He was fired up to plant a garden. Then he got crazy busy at work and the poor tomatoes languished.

(the light was so interesting that you can actually see my reflected outline in the tomato skins if you look close at the large photo)

And finally, there is this. My insane muse, my hungry observer, the cranked up feline sitting in the window yowling at me while I worked. Nice background music....not.

December 29, 2009

Sometimes, the cranky old man is the smartest man in the room

Back in the good ol' days, that wild time known at the 1980's, I was full of youthful optimism, and I was attending New Mexico State University.

My undergraduate major was Finance.

Ooh, those were heady days when I wanted to be a stockbroker when I grew up. This was back before I realized that "stockbroker" and "salesman willing to sell underperforming securities to your family in order to make commission" were synonymous.

While the dream was still alive, I took courses at NMSU from some really fine professors with a lot of experience.

Among them, several courses with Dr. Lowell Catlett, now the Dean of the College Of Agriculture, and a noted experts on futures trading.

There was also Dr. Clark Hawkins, a man who had actually worked as a commodities trader on the NYSE floor. In his words, he had tried pretty much every investment vehicle out there...and lost money 'em all.

Dr. Hawkins was a strange little man. Wiry, small of frame and nasally of voice. He referred to himself as "Uncle Hawkey." He often told us that, as Finance students, we should have our Wall Street Journal under one arm and our financial calculator under the other.

And this was to be done while wearing a tshirt imprinted with "Uncle Hawkey's Ten Investment Rules".

At the end of each semester, he gifted us with a copy of the ten rules.

Recently, I was searching around in all the old boxes under my house, picking through my crap looking for things I can sell on eBay.

How ironic, then, that I should come across my framed copy of Uncle Hawkey's Ten Investment Rules in my search for something to sell for money.

Well, I sat down and read the rules.

Goddamn if Uncle Hawkey wasn't right. He was right then. He's right now. Right is right.

Now...snap your Wall Street Journal in place, place your finger over the "future value" button on your calculator and get set.

Here are the rules:

1. Don't invest in things you don't understand.

Ah, every single customer of Bernie Madoff...take note!

2. Remember the fundamental mathematical rule of finance.

You know what? I don't.

I suspect this was about future value and present value of money. He was a stickler on that.

Because I understood and could calculate time value of money, I kicked the salesman's ass when I bought my first car.

I got that salesguy demoted because he was such a dunce. Thank you Uncle Hawkey.

3. Know the difference between investment and speculation.

Oh I remember this one. I rant about this one. A lot.

Let me just say his own words, with the same shouting nasal tone...


If you do not think putting your money in the stock market is gambling, then you need to re-examine yourself and your money.

Sure, it may return better odds than Vegas, but not always.

For those of you wailing and gnashing your teeth in the current economic downturn because you had all your money in the stock market, I suggest you get this rule tattooed on your arm and look at it daily.

4. Don't invest or speculate in financial securities that you can't easily find quotes on.

Dangling participle notwithstanding....Uncle Hawkey was right.

Once again, I'm calling friends of Mr. Madoff....paging investors of Mr. Madoff....

5. Don't buy a closed end fund on initial offering.

Oh yes, everyone gets oh so very excited about IPO's. Especially during the dot com boom of the early 2000's.

Look how well that worked out for most people.


But Uuuuuncle Haaaawwwkkkey, people in his class would wail...what about _____ and they'd name some company.

And by tracking the history of the stock price, he'd show them how they were wrong. How the price would be driven up on IPO and would, over time, settle back down.

He recommended waiting out an IPO for a company you liked, and buying the shares after you the initial flurry of IPO wore off.

6. Be skeptical of people who say they can forecast the future.

Well, if more folks did this, then people like Jim Cramer would be a lot less interesting, wouldn't they?

7. Don't do business with a man you can't trust.

Too true. I would also substitute "man" with "company."

And yet...how many of us do anyway? (*coff* AT&T *coff* Comcast *coff*)

Honestly...it's getting a lot harder to find honesty these days.

8. If the brokers are pushing it hard, it probably should be avoided.

So simple. So true. Yet....

Paging followers of Mr. Madoff!

(seeing a trend here?)

9. Long range planning gives the dangerous notion that the future is under control.

Oooh, this one hurts.

Remember how great things felt in, oh, say mid-2008? When we all had some money and maybe a big mortgage on a great house and the financial future looked, well...bright?


I broke this one. Uncle Hawkey, wherever in the world you are now, I give it up to you.

You knew. You always knew.

10. Don't lose money.

Well sh*t. I broke this one too.

However. Slowly but surely, it's coming back.

Because Uncle Hawkey warned us about short term and long term.

My wise investments will, eventually, find their way home.

And finally....

11. (Bonus rule) Remember Rule 10

Fair enough.

And so...as we now dive headlong into a financially muddled 2010...

May we all remember Rule #10

Thank you Uncle Hawkey.

As a post script...

In my senior year of undergrad, Uncle Hawkey decided to go on a sabbatical from teaching.

He invited us, the students that he had so tortured, to join him for happy hour at El Patio. Ah, that venerable old bar (former home office of the Butterfield Stage).

Uncle Hawkey slapped down a credit card and said we could have all the beer we wanted. Nothing else. Only beer.

Oh, the pitchers flowed that day, and Uncle Hawkey paid for it all.

Maybe all of us college students were, on that day, a good investment.

December 24, 2009

Ho Ho Ho-ly Crap!

Fer Chrissake! It's Christmas Eve!

Well I'll be darned.

It's a bright, beautiful, sunny day outside and I'm ready to face the day.

After confessing my depression yesterday, it seemed to lift and now I'm back to my old rasty self.

Lookout Santa! I'm comin' after ya!

Very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Even though I got no snow, I thought this was cute anyway....

On Dasher!

Image source.

December 23, 2009

Why so glum, chum?

I spent most of the day yesterday feeling blue.

No, not from the frosty wind chilling my face.

Blue as in full out, deep down, all the way to the soles of my feet holiday depression.

This happens every year.

What I can't seem to work out is why.

I started thinking, sifting through the memories, trying to figure out when the shift occurred.

As a kid, I loved Christmas. Even after I knew the truth about Santa, I still loved the holidays. To me, they were always filled with magic and a quiet happy peace.

My mom loved the Christmas holiday and always did her best to make it a nice time. Dad was always a cranky pants about any holiday, but crankiness aside, he would let the holiday be what it was.

He was never depressed about it, more like uptight over money and not much of a "ho ho ho" kind of guy.

So I can't say it started as a kid.

In fact, I was all about the holidays all through childhood, into my teen years and through college.

I think, based on my not very scientific analysis of a jumbled brain full of memories, that the holiday blues came on in my twenties.

When I was out of school, living alone in a really wonderful apartment in Albuquerque with a knockout view of the Sandias.

I had a good job with a good check and really, a pretty good life. But I was alone, and the season, for some reason, made me really blue.

I recall, that year, drinking a bottle of not very good wine and laying *under* my Christmas tree. A night spent looking at the lights and trying to muster up some joy.

Sad. It was a great drunk, but it was an alone drunk. And I was depressed again and hungover in the morning. Ugh!

So, ok. One might understand how a lonely twenty something making her way in the world might feel a little down at the holidays.

But that doesn't explain yesterday.

I then thought about all the bad holidays over the years. The Christmas seasons that weren't so happy.

Like the December my dad's lung disease took a turn for the worst, and Mom and I spent Christmas day in the hospital, having to make some really difficult choices.

But The Lazarus Dad recovered that year. Really, it was something of a Christmas miracle.

So, while yes, December often makes me think of that difficult time, I don't think that is the root of the blues I'm feeling today.

All is well in my little world. I have a wonderful husband who is the best holiday gift I could ever ask for. I have great friends and family. A place to lay my head at night and food to eat. And a rasty feline who makes me laugh.

So what's the boggle, then?

Maybe now, at age forty, I feel a little blue because December isn't just the holiday season, but it ushers in the end of another year.

Another year ending where I wonder to myself where all the rest of the days have gone. I wonder what did I do to make the days count?

The end of December has become a time, I suppose, for assessing myself over the year. For grading my performance.

And sadly, every year, I seem to only be able to see where I was lacking. Missed opportunities. Places where if I'd tried a little harder I might have made something really great happen.

Oh, I know, there are a lot of things I did right this year. There are successes that I don't actually see when I let the dark cloud take over.

This post isn't a plea for reminders that I'm ok.

This post is more a letter to myself. A report card.

That reminds me all on my own that I'm ok.

Because I am.

But for some reason, every year about this time I have to take the tiger by the tail and ride the very dark ride for a while.

Here we go: whooooooa!

One thing that always cheers me is pictured below. It's an ornament made by my kindergarten teacher. I couldn't tell you her name, but I remember the day when she placed a personalized ornament into my grubby little hands.

There was my name! In glitter!

I still have it. It's looking a little tattered these days, but it holds a place of honor on the tree.

I look at this silky blue ornament with silver glitter and try to remember that kindergarten Karen who still believed that reindeer would bring Santa to my roof.

That somehow he'd slip down the very narrow chimney on our free standing fireplace (remember these babies from the 1970's?) and leave us lots of toys and goodies.

That the day would start with the smell of mom's homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.

That we could open the gifts in our stockings first, but had to wait a while on presents under the tree.

That Christmas day was full of surprise and wonder and laughter.

If I can remember that kindergarten Karen, I might just be able to pull myself up and out of these blues.

December 21, 2009

Makin' new (and old) traditions

One of my favorite foods for Christmas has always been, bar none, tamales.

Oh sweet masa and meat and a bit of heat!


I never realized just how lucky I was over the years to have wonderful neighbors, friends and coworkers who gifted me with handmade tamales every year.


All the way out here in California, I don't have wonderful tamale making friends and I miss them.

So this year, my mom-in-law, a wonderful cook and a lady filled with holiday cheer, suggested we make up a batch of our own tamales.

Oh yeah, baby!

We have both pork and green chile with cheese.

Gonna be a New Mexico Christmas in my house! My kitchen smells fabulous!

And making them with my new family might just have to be a new tradition!

Feast your little eyes!

Wrapped up and ready to be steamed!

Apply the heat.

Steamy goodness!

Yeah, many of these little guys didn't make it very long out of the steaming pot. Poor delicious tamales! Hope they make it to Christmas!

December 18, 2009

Please have what and mistletoe?

I'm a confirmed child of the West. I've lived all my years well to the left of the state of Texas.

As such, that means that these concepts of "winter" and "Christmas" mean a little something different than they do in all the songs I've been listening to today.

Yes, I admit, I succumbed to Christmas music today.

Ever since I was a kid, while I did like the ol' Christmas tunes, I pondered about how many of them didn't apply. And it's not just about the weather.

Let's take a look:

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas." Yes. But not here.

It was over 60 degrees today.

"Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh..."

Well. Again. No snow.

No horses dashing around much either.

"Frosty the Snowman." Nope.

However, there used to be a house in Albuquerque that had a flocked tumbleweed snowman in their yard every year, so this is a maybe...

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire."

I don't even know what the hell that means.

Marshmallows roasting on an open fire? Yes please! With chocolate and graham cracker.

As an aside...to celebrate the anniversary of the day we met, The Good Man took me to stay in a Ritz Carlton Hotel at the beach. It is a beautiful and very high class establishment. One of the features of our room was a fire pit on the back porch, intended, I'm sure, to sit by, stay warm, and gaze romantically at the ocean.

To show just how classy we are, we cooked marshmallows over that fire pit.... One of the best nights of my life!

But I digress.

"Tis the season to be jolly...fa la la la, la la la la..."

Um. Huh? Cuz I'm looking around at all my fellow mankind and I can tell you that "jolly" is *not* what people are feeling this season.

"Fa la la la bite me" is more the mood out there.

"We three king of Orient are, sharing gifts we travel so far..." Well. Ahem. "Orient" isn't really politically correct these days.

"We three kings of the Pacific Rim" or "We three kings of AsiaPac" is probably more appropriate.

"Silent night, holy night" Hmph. Silent, eh?

Not after I've had a couple glasses of holiday cheer. Nope, then it's snoring night, drooling night. I sure can't handle the booze anymore...

But when it comes to good old fashioned spiked egg nog, I'm helpless.

So for The Good Man, ain't no silent.

"Silver bells, it's Christmastime in the city."

Ok. Sure. Those Salvation Army guys and gals are working the bells. I'll give you that one. Check.

We got one.

I won't EVEN go down the list from the Twelve Days of Christmas.

But if my true love gave me swans, French hens, partridges, milk maids, leaping lords and pretty much any of the items other than the five gold rings, we might have to have a little conversation about "did you keep the receipt."

And that little drummer boy can take his pah-rumpa-pum-pum up with the judge because I'm calling in a noise complaint!

Which pretty much leaves us with "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."

Fair enough!

December 17, 2009

Christmas Redux

I think it's time to re-run what has to be THE most popular post ever in the three years on this blog.

Going back to December 2007.

It's all still true.

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 piñon, 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?

Image via.

December 16, 2009

Such a Suggestible Girl

Sometimes it really worries me that the things I can most easily remember, can get to most quickly in the old brain bucket, are commercials.

Especially those commercials from the formative years.

I can whip out a jingle or a tagline from commercials dating way back, and repeat 'em like Rainman in a phone booth (yikes, no more phone booths!).

What makes these commercials so sticky in the brain? I don't know, but obviously this is the intended effect, eh?

So here in this Christmas season, I've been thinking about all of those old Ronco commercials. No, not the new Ron Popeil ads. Those are lame.

The old Ronco ads. Let's talk 1970's.

Remember when Ronco ads used to repeat, ad nauseum, at every commercial break?

Here's a few I was able to find on the web:

Smokeless Ashtray

Boogie Nights Record Album (Click to play)

Ice Cream Machine(Click to play)

Look at this!! The early Bedazzler!!

Rhinestone and stud setter(Click to play)

Oh yes. Good times.

There are a few of my faves I wasn't able to find. For example, the Egg Scrambler. A funny little machine that with a pinprick to the egg and the revs of a small motor would scramble it up inside the shell.

Or the Record Vacuum. I found a couple of those ads, but not the one I remember. In the one I recall, they ran the vinyl through the vacuum then tossed a handful of confetti at it (to prove the static was gone, I think?).

Ah yes.

But then, there will always be the gold standard of Ronco commercials.

Found on the web and brought to you.

"Hey good looking! I'll be back to pick you up later!"


Mr. Microphone! (Click to play)

December 15, 2009

Tis the Season

Yesterday was a weird day.

Sure, mid-December always gets a little bit dicey when going out to run errands, but yesterday was especially odd.

I had a list of things to procure and not a lot of time, so over lunchtime I started at the top of the list. First stop, Home Depot.

Oh Home Depot, I know so many people love you, but I rarely visit your orangey evil warehouse.

I needed some tools (I have a fun Christmas project for The Good Man's little sister in progress). Since Home Depot is the Wal-Mart of hardware stores, and I wanted to spend only a little green, I decided to give it a try.

Wow, did you know there is some sort of force field going on in Home Depot? As soon as I set foot in the lumber aisle, I became invisible! It was really instant and rather startling!

The U.S. military should look into this!

The secret to a true complete invisibility shield!

A girl in the lumber aisle.

I found that on the tools aisle, I was only partly invisible. If I said, "hey, I need help!" then they could sort of see me. It wasn't just me either, there was another woman trying to get help regarding a door knob she was considering.

She got the attention of one male employee who condescendingly answered her question then walked away...though she wasn't done asking questions.

Oh, I did discover that in the gardening section, by the small pink canvas pruning gloves? They could see me fine.

Something about hardware and lumber.

Weird, huh?

My next errand was to go to the post office. A gift ordered online had arrived. Yay!

Well, it being mid-December and at lunch, the post office was crazy busy. We use a very small postal annex with only two employees, so that makes things an even bigger holdup.

It was a very, very long line.

Well, you know, this is to be expected this time of year.

Except for the cranky old man and the horribly cranky old woman in line behind me.

The old man kept cranking about how he can't believe the lines and he had been there and hour before and the line was this long so he went and had lunch to wait it out and wouldn't you know it the line is still long and how can this be!

You get my drift.

Then the lady chimed in.

"There are just too many people these days. Too. Many. People. You know why it is so crowded don't you? Because of all the immigrants. Obama keeps letting all of those immigrants in. They all want the free stuff so those damn people keep coming in and it is just too crowded!"

Uh. WHAT!?!?!?

Crazy old bat continued on that line of rant for a bit longer, then went back to complaining about the line. She said, "Why is there only one person working, where is that [racial epithet redacted] who works here?"

I was horrified. Absolutely stunned into a horrified shock.

Evidently the "spirit of the season" is discrimination, racism and anger.

Once I picked up my package, I got in my car and made my way out of the parking lot. As I waited to turn out into traffic, I had the audacity to wait for a group of six kids from the nearby high school walking by on lunch break.

Audacity because the evidently impatient man behind me felt I shouldn't have paused. So he laid on the horn and yelled "GOOOO!"

Well, clearly the spirit of the season has infected me as well, because I unrolled my window and shouted "WHAT THE F--K IS YOUR PROBLEM!?!?"

Tis the season to be assholish, fa la la la, la la la la......

Look at me pass on the season's cheer....

I think I'll hunker down at the house for the remainder of the year. It seems better that way.

December 14, 2009

Now I know it is Christmas

Oh yes, for me the season has finally begun.

Is it the tree that I put up over the weekend and decorated?


The presents I am crafting for family?


Nailing down dates and times to spend blissful holiday time with family and friends?


It is just one thing.

My first full hearing of the song:

Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano.

Oh yes. I love this song. I love José.

THIS is Christmas to me.

And as I rock out at my desk right at this very moment...

I remember with mirth my former boyfriend who *hated* this song.

Born in Encinada, he felt that José's epic hit holiday song was insulting to his people.

Despite the fact that José is from Puerto Rico.


Because he hated it, I always turned it up a little louder and enjoyed it a bit more.

And now living in brighter days married to The Good Man who doesn't try to censor my musical tastes, I can once again truly enjoy José's hit unencumbered.

Here's a video from 1973. Gotta love it!

Feliz Navidad!!

December 12, 2009

I happen to like New York

This winter, the holiday season, has me profoundly missing New York.

Well sure, you might say, New York in December is beautiful!

And I'm sure you are right.

Only, I've not been to New York at the holidays.

I've been only once. And it was in May.

So how, you might ask, would you miss a season in a town where you've spent the sum total of ten days visiting?


I'd say, first of all, that maybe normal logic doesn't apply to me.

But I'd go further.

Last night The Good Man was out at dinner with a friend from out of town, so I was on my own. Chilled to the bone from the freezing rain I went to my local grocer to find something ready-made to warm up (and yes, surprisingly, I wore a jacket on this jaunt. But only because of the rain. Otherwise I would have left it at home.)

I prowled the aisles of ready-made food looking for something to satisfy.

And my eyes landed on pre-packed containers of...

(Oh, my heart flutters just thinking of it)

Matzoh Ball Soup.

Here! In California!

I almost cried, I really did.

I know that I was baptized and raised Catholic, but I honestly believe there is a part of me that is fully Jewish. I've thought this for a while. Mainly, because I love Jewish food. Matzoh ball soup is only the beginning.

There is my deep and abiding love for chicken liver. Egads. It's borderline obsessive.

And let's talk schmaltz! If someone says something is schmaltzy, I'll run toward it with a cracker! Delicious!

If it weren't for that whole keeping meat and dairy separate, I might be kosher. But I need cheddah on my beef tacos, so that ends that.

But back to New York. I *loved* every minute I spent in New York. Every street block has a diner and every diner serves their version of the delicious healing chicken broth over a lump of matzoh-y goodness. Twenty four hours a day.

And I got to the point, after bowl upon bowl of the stuff, that I know my preferences.

Some serve a huge matzoh, some small. I prefer smaller.

Some matzohs are dense, some are lighter and almost fluffy. I like the lighter.

Some broth is heavily salted and with an onion flavor. Some lean toward bland. I like the salty onion infused broth.

Some broth has almost no other veggies included. Some have quite a few. I like no veggies, preferring to enjoy the broth as is.

But you can see, you get all kinds of variations depending on who is doing the cooking.

So as I paid for the soup last night, anticipating the chickeny healing goodness, I knew intuitively that it wouldn't be good. It wouldn't be right.

But, it was matzoh ball soup, and that was something.

See, you can look for yourself. It was ok, but it wasn't right.

What's with all the carrots!?!?

The matzohs were too big and too dense. I didn't eat all of them (there were FIVE in the container!), preferring to slurp at the broth instead.

So while it wasn't perfect, it was close enough to make me content.

Close enough to make me miss New York. I long to be back there, and not just because of the soup. The soup just reminded me.

I remember very clearly, as soon as I set foot on the island, my heart began to beat in time with the rhythm of the city. I've never experienced anything quite like it.

As Cole Porter famously said (and in this version, Bobby Short sings), I happen to like New York.

December 11, 2009

Still Life, with Gummy (or...oh no, there she goes again...)

As mentioned, I have been taking a photography class, and by thinking about photography so much lately, it has me looking at the world in a whole new way.

I see the daily items in my life differently. I imagine the world through my lens.

I look at light a lot more carefully too. As in "whoa, that’s good light" or "man, too bright…I’d mute that, maybe dampen it with a dark cloth."

So it's been overcast here the past several days. Before this class, I might look at those cloudy gray skies and lament the winter.

But now, with a photographic eye, I'm like "yeah baby! Best light ever!"

The muted light of a cloudy day really makes the colors pop. Who knew the winter could be so photographically fun!

Also, now, since everything gets my look as though through a lens, I notice more. Little objects take on meaning. A weird weather beaten door is endlessly fascinating. I have to stop and look...sometimes to the dismay of people I am with...

So yesterday, on a routine trip to the post office, I saw a fascinating little tableau.

A careless, random smattering of gummy bears.

The stormy skies lit up the colors. They were bright like lit from inside.

All I had was my iPhone, but I had to stop and take a picture.

The photo isn't great. It isn't even artistically very interesting. And technically...oy! Focus is on the middle gummy with foreground blurry. Whoops. The angle isn't interesting. Oh well.

So the photo doesn't capture exactly what I saw, but helps me remember. Remember that overlooked things, weird leavings, and random items can, with the right light, be made beautiful and interesting and worth stopping to look.

My photography teacher is quoted as saying, "A photograph makes us care."

So, really, no one cares about some spilled gummy bears.

But to me, I have to wonder, just what sort of gummy tragedy occurred here?

December 10, 2009

This may be my new life philosophy

From Shoebox blog

The why post

I have questions. Lots of them.

Some of those "unexplained issues of the universe."

I'm sure there are people far smarter than me with very good answers.

But for now, I'm just going to go with a pondering "why?" about the many things I don't understand.

For example...

Why, when The Feline has finished relieving her bowels and carefully covering it up in the litter box, does she then LEAP from the box and do a couple laps around the house?

I mean at full speed, ears down for less wind resistance, ka-thunka thunk around the place?

Is it because after using the box she feels lighter?


Why does my next-door neighbor put his trash out a day early every week? Our trash day is Thursday and every Wednesday morning he drags out all his cans and recycling. He's lived over there about three years. He's a retired guy at home all day, so this isn't planning ahead. He knows trash day is Thursday, we've even talked about it!

And yet, Wednesday morning, there are his trashcans.

Not that it is hurting anything, but WHY?


Why is the mailman so cranky everyday? The man never says hi back.

And further, why do I keep trying to say hello when I know he won't reply in kind?


Why does my landlord insist on landscaping the yard at my place with only a small hatchet and a chain saw?

No tree, plant or other living thing is immune to his blunt blade approach to landscaping.

Should I send him to bonsai tree school?


(Then again, the fights he and his son have, in both Italian and English, make for much laughter in my house. The son also doesn't understand his dad's landscaping philosophy.)

Why can't I purchase hotdogs and hotdog buns in the same quantities?

Why are Trader Joe's Joe-Joe peppermint cookies so gall durn delicious?

Why can't people figure out four way stops?

Why do the manhole covers in my town blast back water when it rains?

Why do I love coffee so much when it is so hard on my tummy?

Why can't I win the lottery?

And finally...(thought not the complete list by a long shot)

Why can't that [curse word] woman in Texas realize that her email address is NOT my email address. She has an underscore in her email address. Mine does not. All the same letters, but she uses an underscore. Big, huge difference.

WHY WHY WHY after about two year's time has she not figured this out?

Last week I shut down her kid's account on Disney.com (needed parental verification to open the account). Poor kid.

Why can't she figure this out!?! WHY?!?!?!?


Oh, I mean...


So many unanswered questions. So little time.

December 9, 2009

Just how "natural" are we talkin' here?

The other day, while out and about, The Good Man bought himself a bag of cough drops to try to quell the dry cough the endless exposure to indoor heating provides.

Plus, we gave the house a good cleaning over the weekend and kicked up a bunch of dust that has us both sneezing and coughing.

After purchase and back in the car, he opened up the package and popped one in the ol' cake hole.

After a cough or two myself, I said, "may I have one?" to which he readily agreed.

I grabbed the package and flipped it over to review the ingredients.

Yep. I've become one of those people.

Anyhow, I try to avoid corn syrup. It's just my own thang. Doesn't have to be yours.

So I read off the ingredients list aloud and got to "natural flavors."

Now, what in the sam hell are "natural flavors?"

This is the part where I make it hard for The Good Man to share a life with me.

I turn and say to him, "I hate when they list 'natural flavors,' I mean, what is that? It could be anything! Are these cough drops poop flavored? Poop is a natural flavor!"

The Good Man turned slowly and gave me a look and a slow head nod.

This is a look that in going on five years together I've come to understand means, essentially, "While you are technically correct, it's going to be better for me in the long run if I don't dignify what just came out of that sideways mind of yours with a response. So I'll just nod."

We nodded at each other for a long moment, and since my "poop is a natural flavor" just hung there in the air, so to speak, there really was no good segue.

I chose then to open the pack of cherry and whatever-the-hell-other-natural flavored cough drops and fired one into the ol' cake hole.

It tasted nasty. I spit it back out after a minute.

"Natural flavors" are gross. And possibly poop.

I'm just sayin'.

(these are the offenders in question)

December 8, 2009

Oh, here we go again

So the weather has turned a little frosty here in the Bay Area.

And I really do mean frosty, temps dipped into the low 30's overnight (unusual for us). We had some freezing rain and snow as low as 500 feet.

Fer crimeny's sakes, you'd think it was winter or something!

Oh. Nevermind.

Anyhoo, you'll recall in February of this year, I was beset upon by menopausal coworker harpies screeching to me about my lack of a jacket.

This seems to be an *issue* for people. The fact that I don't like to wear jackets.

So it cropped up again yesterday. Less screeching, less menopausal.

It was the kind concern of my husband. He wasn't being a harpy, he was looking out for me, which I appreciate. However...

"Aren't you cold?" he asked.

And then later.

"Really? You aren't cold?"

Well, to be honest, yes, I was a skosh cold. For the aggregate of exactly two minutes we were not in the warm car and not yet inside an often too hot building.

For the remaining twenty-three hours and fifty eight minutes of my day, I was in a climate controlled environment with plenty of heaters to keep me toasty. Actually, way too toasty.

So, what I have here, feeling momentary cold, is but a small problem. The big problem, staying warm, is solved.

I can tolerate being cold for about two minutes. (it's not like I live somewhere where it is SERIOUSLY cold like Canada or Alaska or Switzerland or something!)

I really, truly dislike being inside and dressed too warm and then I have to take layers off and then I'm schlepping around my stuff and worried about leaving a hat or scarf or something somewhere.

I'm forgetful enough with the stuff I do have to carry around, why add to my misery?

I guess I'm the kind of person that will focus on the 98% problem, not the 2% problem.

Or...in this case, two minutes equals .1% of a problem.

So I'm a 99.9% girl, I suppose.

I have no problem with others wearing jackets. I don't ask people wearing a heavy coat on a summer day "aren't you hot?"

I suppose if I'm dumb enough to get caught out without a jacket in a really cold situation...well, then my dad was right when he said (only sometimes, when I misbehaved) that I was too dumb to come in out of a rainstorm.

Then again, have you ever frolicked in a really nice New Mexico summer rainstorm? A bit of heaven, I assure you...

But I digress.....

Oh...and as a final thought...the radio stations last night were all warning about outdoor plants freezing and to take precautions. They talked about going to a garden center to buy plant coverings....

I'm sorry, have these people NOT heard of using your sheets and blankets and garbage bags? Do you *really* need to pay big bucks to buy a plant center approved "plant cover"???

What do I expect from a metropolitan area filled with people who will pay someone $100 to put chains on their car when they go skiing.

I believe if you aren't smart enough to put chains on your car, you shouldn't be driving in snow.

There. I said it.

This, from the girl who isn't smart enough to come in out of the rain.

December 4, 2009

I am owned by a man named Joe

Oh man.

Lemme just say it again, oooooh man.

I have become such a little b*tch for Trader Joe's.

Gad, I love that place.

I never thought I'd become one of those people who are all about Trader Joe's...but I am.

Well, it all started about last year when the ol' economic climate got a little weird.

And The Good Man and I started looking for all sorts of ways to save a buck here and there.

We've cancelled our cable (buh bye Comcast! I giggled when I made that call!), reduced our home phone services, got discounts on the cell phones, turn off lights at every turn, keep the heat low, and then started taking a look at grocery bills.

Well, we knew we could improve our food costs and not sacrifice quality.

So I agreed to start cooking more. It helps stoke my creative fires, saves us a couple bucks, and is awfully nice to have a home cooked meal at the end of the day.

But if I was going to do this, it needed to be easy.

So The Good Man got a cookbook from the Library called "Cooking with all Things Trader Joe's."

The authors, Wona Miniati and Deana Gunn say they use Trader Joe's as their sous chef, since there are so many prepared items ready to incorporate into dinner plans.

So I picked a couple recipes from that book and found them both easy to make and tasty to eat. We read labels carefully to be sure we're getting good quality stuff (we try to keep both corn syrup and wheat to a minimum due to food sensitivities for both of us.)

And *then* we found out that Wona and Deana had yet a NEW book coming out!

It's called "The Trader Joe's Companion and Wona was coming to a local bookstore for an instore event.

Oh man...this got me hooked.

Wona whipped up a couple easy cold dishes right there in the bookstore, threw out a couple other tasty ideas and when we spoke with her, we found her so kind and generous with her time.

She just basically fully convinced me to embrace Trader Joe's.

What sealed the deal is when I went in with a list to support six dinners, breakfasts for a week, snacks and lunches for me.

I walked out with five full bags of groceries, good quality stuff, and I'd spent just $120.

Wow. For about sixteen or seventeen meals plus snacks. Not bad.

Now, I'm ALL ABOUT Trader Joe's. Yup. I don't do things halfway.

If you are curious, last night for dinner I made Shepard's Pie with turkey left from Thanksgiving, a bag of veggies from TJ's, made gravy from their chicken stock packets, and frozen mashed taters.

It was *delicious*!

Other greatest hits?

Almond crusted pork loin
Herb crusted Tilapia
And my own lime chicken green chile enchilada recipe

Oh little bit of heaven, each one!

I'm happy making the food, The Good Man is happy eating 'em and it's all good all the way around.

Thanks Joe!

December 3, 2009

I have the powa!

Watch out for me. I am potent. I have powers even I don't understand.

The power of mah mind.

Oh yes.

See, on Monday, I went for a walk over at the Stanford Dish, a pretty grueling up and down hilly walk that knocks the wind out of me and makes me sweat. Generally The Dish humbles me very much.

It's hard for me to complete the Dish. It takes effort. A lot of effort.

On Monday, I had to stop five times during the journey to catch my breath. It's embarrassing.

Exercising at The Dish is rather popular with the beautiful and healthy people of the surrounding Palo Alto area (home to Stanford University, rich AND smart people), so as I go schlumping along, I often encounter blond, beautiful and much more attractive than me-type people.

So, there I was on Monday, a nice day, walking along in my old faded yoga pants, a loose shirt and a grimace. I'd already wheezed up the first hill and made my first stop as my lungs were burning.

But damnit man, I was *doing* it.

As I continued to walk at an ok pace, I was passed by a young man wearing one of those shiny new tight, moisture wicking, Nike logo emblazoned shirts. He'd paired this with fancy running shorts, sparkling white shoes, fresh iPod strapped to his arm and the perfect runners stance. Hell, he didn't even have the rictus you see on the face of most joggers.

No. He was a blond chiseled sample of running perfection. Elbows bent at the perfect angle, strides the right distance. All perfect. He passed me (wide, middle aged, out of shape) with a snotty air and as he cruised past me, he gave two dye job blondes with store bought boobies a long, meaningful look.

Ok, I'm not too proud to admit it. I got snarky. In my head.

"Loser! I hope you trip and fall! I hope you get a cramp in your leg! I hope you gas out on the next hill!" I thought to myself.

Then he was gone over the next rise and it was me and the Bee Gees on my iPod shuffle. And another hill to climb.

So I trudged along.

Fifteen minutes later, I caught up to the guy.

He'd gassed out. He was walking. Slowly. I passed him. I didn't even look his way. I just kept walking. Smugly.

Later, I encountered a woman who was really pert and fit. She was walking ahead of me on a hill where I had to stop twice. She stopped not at all.

"Well aren't YOU so fit!" I thought in my tacky brain. "Bite me! Just....oooh, I hope you get tired! Oh no, you are soooo healthy!"

And when I finally got to the top of the hill, guess who I found standing there, breathing hard?

She'd made it all the way up the hill, but then had to stop.

I passed her too.

Oh the mind power of a snarky out of shape girl with determination on her mind!

I smited them down!

Or...maybe...The Dish is just a really challenging route.

You know, I always thought that whole tortoise and the hare story was a bunch of bollocks. A story told to slow pokes like me to engender some sort of hope.

But maybe...just maybe, there is some truth to that fable?

December 2, 2009

Dear Tareq and Michaele Salahi,

Since I have now taken over the PR storytelling duties for Tiger, you're next.

So, herewith, five reasonable and acceptable stories to explain your behavior.

Pick one, say it, and then please, on behalf of everyone (I'm asking nicely) go away.

Here we go:

1) Well, you know, that Tareq (Michaele rolls her eyes here), he will *never* ask anyone for directions. I told him I didn't think turning left back there was the right direction, but he swore up and down this was the right way. We were supposed to be at a nice dinner party over at the Farklebergs. You know the Farklebergs? Lovely couple. Anyhow, I have no idea how we ended up here. Could we get a ride to the Farkleberg party? Margie will be beside herself if we are late! And I know Tareq doesn't want to miss her famous mini quiches!

2) What? Where am I? Who am I? I was abducted by aliens. The big greenish gray ones. They came into my room, forced me to put on this tux/dress and then there was a bright light. I don't remember what happened next. When I came to, I was shaking the president's hand. I really have no idea what happened! I think they may have probed me.

3) Oh heck, haw haw haw, this is all one big practical joke! I mean, everyone was in on it, c'mon, this is all a big press stunt for that reality show (which I'll refrain from naming)! No seriously, they paid us well and we donated it all to charity. No one snuck past the Secret Service, it was all planned out. Everything is *fine*, hasn't this all been a great big hoot?

4) Look, now that you have totally blown our cover...we can only say that we are part of a top secret black hole government project and we *may* have perfected the ability to beam ourselves through the space time continuum. It's not totally perfect yet, Michaele's face wasn't quite so pulled back and *tight* when we beamed up, but we're getting close to a technology that will BLOW YOUR MIND. That's all I can say. Hush, hush you know.

5) Tiger's dad told us to. From the grave. It was all very mystical.

And there you have it.

Now scootch along. We've other media whores to deal with. Where's Lindsey or Brittney or Paris? We're due for a stunt from the professional crazies!

Anyhow, hugs and kisses!

Your pal,


December 1, 2009

Dear Tiger Woods,

You seem to be having a skosh of trouble recently with your personal life, and you've managed to kick over the rock, allowing all the creepy, crawly, greasy things to begin speculating about you in the media.

The PR people say address it fast and be confident about it, then get it out of the way.

Well, you've tarried on the "fast" part of it, thus making the frenzy worse.

But now, my friend, you need a good story, and fast.

As I am a teller of stories, I have come up with a list of five stories you can sell to the media and thus get your fabulous self out of trouble.

You can thank me later.

Herewith, five good reasons why Tiger drove his Cadillac into a tree:

1. The baby was sick and I needed to go to an all night pharmacy to get medication. I was so very exhausted, having been up with her all night, that I accidentally ran into that fire hydrant. I had only the best interest of my daughter in mind.

2. I was sleepwalking. I'm seeing a doctor about this debilitating condition. Please respect the privacy of me and my family during this troubling time.

3. I shanked one! Heh, heh, no seriously folks, since my game has been off a bit lately (bad knee and all) and the Chevron World Challenge is coming up, I wanted to go for a drive to clear my head. Perhaps I was thinking a bit too much about my swing and not paying attention to where I was going.

4. My wife and I were having a disagreement. I stepped away to cool off and whoops, the car got away from me. I've since realized that my wife is the best thing in my life (thanks for breaking out that window, dear) and from here out I will strive to be a better man, a better husband and a better father. (an invocation of God at this point would really seal the deal)

5. My dad told me to. From the grave. It was a very mystical moment.

See? This isn't that hard!

C'mon Tiger, give us a good story and put this crap to rest, eh?


Your pal,


Creative Commons License

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