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August 31, 2010

Experiments at Night

A couple weeks back, I posted some of my first experiments with night photography, including my favorite shot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

This past week, while visiting New Mexico, I decided to try the next step in my night photography lessons, and that is capturing star trails.

Figuring this out required a little astrology, a little photography understanding and a LOT of knowledge about my camera.

Fortunately I had the incredibly well written book Creative Night: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques by Harold Davis (a Bay Area guy), to guide my way.

Due to the very long exposure times on night photos, a tripod is a must. Since I didn't feel like carrying my tripod on a plane, I borrowed one from my best friend's husband.

He uses the tripod to mount his field glasses when he goes hunting, so the tripod head had been...uh...modified. I think "modified" is the best way to describe the carnage that had occurred to the tripod head.

In order for me to use the device, he had to pound out the ten-penny nail wedged in there to help stabilize his field glasses. He also had to find the right sized wrench so I could tighten the bolt that holds the camera in place.

And even then, the camera would suddenly droop but thankfully didn’t drop.

Despite my less than super high tech borrowed tripod, I was able to make it work and was grateful for the borrowed gear.

I took a few photos that night and learned a whole lot about the process. Like, did you know a full moon is so bright it will wash out an exposure? I didn't...until a few nights ago.

The most exciting of the photos from that night is below. It's not well composed at ALL because it has nothing in the foreground to provide a sense of perspective.

What this photo DOES prove is that I have figured out how to take photographs of star trails. This was an eight-minute exposure. A longer exposure will net longer star trails.

I'm incredibly excited about this new knowledge!

Onward to the stars!

My First Star Trail
(click the photo here then click the photo again in Flickr to see larger sizes, if interested)

August 30, 2010

Time Marches On

I remember the day I met him.

The year was 1989.

One of my friends had her eye on a boy who was part of a new Agriculture-based fraternity trying to get established at New Mexico State University.

Since he was in charge of getting new members to pledge, my friend had volunteered herself...and me, to work their rush party. It was held on a Sunday afternoon in one of the meeting rooms at the Pan Am Center.

We were there to pour fruit punch into paper cups and socialize with the prospective pledges.

My friend demanded I come with her, and so I did. I poured punch, I spoke to a few of the guys I already knew from the Ag College, and I felt uncomfortable.

Then I had this moment where I could feel someone looking at me, so I turned to look back. Over in the corner, behind a couple other fellows, was this boy.

He was the sort of quintessential cowboy you might find on the front of a western novel.

His eyes met mine for a moment, then flicked away.

Those eyes, a color somewhere between blue and black and gray. The color of a late afternoon storm on a hot August day in New Mexico.

He wore his hat low, and he looked at me again from under the brim, eyes in shadow.

My heart stopped, then skipped eight or ten beats.

I looked away and had to will myself not to stare. He still looked at me.

One of those "moments" passed between us.

A little while later, my friend dragged me around the room. I was her wingman as she made chirrupy conversation with all who would listen. Without warning, I found myself face to face with those smoky eyes.

"Karen, this is Michael**," my friend said, by way of introduction.

"Hi!" I said, fixing him with my most winning smile.

He nodded and touched the brim of his black hat with his hand.

Oh swoon.

"How are you?" I asked, trying to get something going.

"All right," he replied in a way that I think Louis L'Amour might describe as "laconic."

That was the extent of our first meeting. My pal quickly dragged me off. Michael was not the boy she had in her cross hairs, so we went across the room to chase that one down.

As it turned out, Michael was friends with a lot of people I knew, so over the years, I'd come to know him a bit more.

He always wore extraordinarily pressed shirts and jeans.

He wore a straw hat in summer, a black Stetson the rest of the year.

He always wore a carefully groomed handlebar mustache (or as they called it in the 70's, a "Fu Manchu").

He'd grown up on the family farm...pecans, cotton, green chiles.

He was studying biology with plans to become a veterinarian.

He always spoke in that slow quiet manner, and rarely had much to say.

Because of this, it became wickedly easy to tease him. He'd always have a comeback, something smart and funny, spoken in that slow, quiet manner.

I had a wild, unabashed crush on Michael.

Of course, the feeling wasn't mutual. We did manage to become decent friends.

This past Thursday afternoon, after laying my friend to rest, I sat outside at a folding table in La Union, New Mexico. We were gathered there to have a reception in memory of our friend.

I sat with my best friend and we visited with a buddy of ours from way back.

A shadow passed over the ray of sun to my side, and a chair across the table from me was pulled out.

Michael himself sat down.

He looked at me with that same intensity, and said in that slow quiet way, "Now that looks like trouble."

"Hey Michael," I said and he smiled.

Those intense eyes looked at me from behind the lenses of his corrective glasses. When he smiled, crow's feet crinkled at the corners. The dark hair of his handlebar mustache showed gray.

I sat back and looked at him. He looked at me.

I struggled for something to say, trying to get something going.

Something that might sum up the past fifteen years or so it's been since we were last in the same place at the same time.

Something meaningful.

"Goddamn you have a lot of gray hair. What the hell happened?" I said.

"I had that put in," he replied, smoothing back the hair at his temples. "It makes me look distinguished."

He had that familiar wry look in his eye and I laughed.

My heart skipped a couple beats then found its footing.

"I'm glad I'm not as old as you," I said. Then I inquired about his wife and kids.

I don't suppose I have a crush on Michael anymore, but behind all the attributes that have taxed my forty-something year old friends (and me), he hasn't changed a bit.

**Names have been changed to protect the innocent

August 27, 2010

Ow! *Slap*

And here we are at Friday, the end of another week.

An unusual week on my part, but happy to see Friday nonetheless.

Much to process from my day yesterday seeing old friends, burying a dear friend and reminiscing.

But for today, I'm here to talk about a feature of our Fair New Mexico that I really, really don't miss.


Now, where I live, I'm sure such creatures exist. It's just that I've not seen 'em.

I'm ok with not seeing them. Pinche insects.

I arrived Wednesday evening at my friend's home out in the boonies north of Las Cruces, and noticed water standing in all the pecan groves and cotton fields.

"I see everyone is irrigating," I mention.

Nope, they tell me. Rain. Three inches arrived the day before I did.

Which leaves standing water.

Perfect habitat for *slap* mosquitos.

I sat for maybe eight minutes outside at a table with a citronella candle on it. My arms. Fine. My ankles? Ten bites on the left, eight on the right.

Mosquitos in the house, too!

As I slept, I got zapped on the earlobe. The earlobe! The one place I forgot to apply repellent.


And I won't mention a spot rather close to an unmentionable place where I was also ruthlessly attacked. Twice!

Hate 'em. Always hated them. Sure, I grew up with bug bites up and down my legs, and it was a fact of life. But living without them sure has been pretty durn nice.

I don't miss them. At all.

I'm not usually a fan of chemicals in the air, but even I cheered when the neighbors called the city to have the spraying truck come out. It helped, but didn't eliminate all the little buggars.

*scratch* This Benedryl lotion I'm using isn't helping one bit.

In other, happier, news I've been experimenting with night photography because the light noise at my friend's place is minimal. You can see the ding dang milky way out here!

If I get anything decent, I'll gladly share the results here.

As for now, onward to the weekend.

August 25, 2010

Ain't No Poetry Like Bad Poetry

So I hit up the idea generator today.

And it suggested I write a limerick.

A limerick?



Couldn't I just take a stab at Haiku?

In fact, here's a Haiku I wrote during a painful interleague game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's earlier this season:

Jack Cust at the plate
Hits ball three for three today
SF fans Cust too

See? I can do Haiku! Can't I just try another like that?

No, the prompt said limerick.

I remember in grade school we had to write limericks for an English assignment. I didn't like it then either.

Not even writing the naughty limericks.




Here's my attempt:

There once was a girl from the 'Burque
People found her to be quite quirky
     To California she fled
     No green chile she did dread
Homemade chile rellenos keep her quite perky

Or how about:

There once was a singer named Buck
His songs make a nice rattle in my truck
     From Bakersfield he hailed
     "Tiger By The Tail" he wailed
That acoustic guitar he sure could pluck

(Betcha thought I was gonna get naughty on that one, huh? It was very difficult to restrain myself.)

All right, I'm on a roll now

From a bag of pinto beans I did remove
A handful of rocks and a piece of dry bean root
     Soak 'em I did
     Rinsed, boiled and added a lid
Because if not cooked right, dem beans will make you toot

Ok, ok....I'm done.

Somebody stop me before I try to rhyme Nantucket.

August 24, 2010

Oh The Humanity!

Side note:

I'd considered taking the week off from blogging because awkward commentary on awkward things seemed, perhaps, inappropriate after yesterday's post.

But then I decided...well hell, writing this blog, no matter how trivial the topic, is what keeps me sane. I need to write something, anything, every day. And so, dear readers, despite my ongoing grief and my travel plans that will take me back to New Mexico for a few days, I'm going to try to keep on writing this week. Because it's who I am.

Thanks to all for your support in comments and via email. Ya'll rock.

And now, onward......

So I have a topic I've been wanting to talk about for a while.

I've not brought it up before because, well, I was dealing with all the emotions.

It's essential that I my footing on this and make peace.

I don't think it is any secret that I mostly use Apple products for my computing needs.

I had the great fortune to be able to use a Mac for work in my last three jobs, a time frame of almost fifteen years.

I have Macs at home. I have an iPhone.

Yes. I'm a Mac person.

Doesn't mean I don’t know how to use the PC, I just haven't had a lot of need to. Sure the occasional lookup on the PC at the library. Sometimes using my best friend's machine to check email.

Not a problem.

Well. A month ago, I came to work on my first day, and into my hands they plopped....

A Dell.

Not just a Dell. A three year old Dell.

A three year old Dell that originally came with Vista but has since been blasted with some corporate approved version of some other member of the Windows family. I'll be dag blarned if I can remember what it is.

(Because one click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner and it will tell me what OS I'm running, but I can't find the similar on this machine. Oh wait...start....control panel....system.... Ah ha! Windows XP.)

The Good Man assures me that whatever the OS is on this machine is better than Vista.

Oh? So...ok.

I'm getting used to it, using this machine day by day.

It's slow. It's stodgy. It's....well...it's Windows.

I'm used to "hey, I wish this thingamabooper was over there instead of over here" and so I drag it over and off it goes, happier than anything, to its new location and it just does what it's supposed to do.

Not so with my Windows. You have to find the thingamabooper in the right file and ask it nicely, maybe even coax it, to come over and perhaps make the transfer. Like a professional bureaucrat, it wants rubber stamps and approvals and nodding heads to let it know that, yes, it might be ok to be over there.

And it will go over there.

And then, later, it will go back to where it came from, without asking.

So okay. I'm adapting. It's all just fine.

But I have a confession to make...

(I'm so ashamed.)

I find I really kind of like the ol' right click. I never thought I needed more than one button on my mouse. It turns out...right click is pretty darn handy.

This whole PC thing is not so bad, really!

Sssh. Don't tell Steve Jobs. He'd be so disappointed!

August 23, 2010

There Is This Man I Know...

It would be wrong to call him a cowboy. That implies something he's not.

He is, in fact, a farmer. Chile, corn, cotton, alfalfa. He fretted the drought and smiled at rainy skies.

Except that time it rained so hard it washed away the seeds he'd just planted. That night, he fretted while the rain fell.

That's unusual for a farmer.

He has a smile that could light up a room, the sky, the world.

He has the mind of a trickster, and his wry sense of humor is what drew me in.

Back then, he was a tall, slim drink of water.

His chest bore a long scar, a remnant from open heart surgery in childhood. It fixed a congenital problem. For a while, anyway.

That surgery colored his whole world. He was told he might not live past the age of twenty.

But he did. He lived. Oh, he was alive.

He took me out to dinner. We each ordered steaks at the truckstop diner in Vado, New Mexico.

It was far more romantic than it sounds.

He took me fishing and let me use his brand new rod and reel. I managed to irretrievably knot up the fishing line. He didn't even get mad.

Because he is a gentleman.

He took me for long rides down bumpy dirt roads. I sat next to him in the cab of his pickup, holding on tight, grinning.

He has a confidence that is older than his years.

He and I had some fun then parted ways amiably. I still call him my friend. More than a friend. A dear friend. "One of us" from a loosely knit group of kids who made a family while running around Las Cruces, growing up and getting educated.

I haven't seen him in years, but over the years I'd ask after him and sometimes he'd ask after me, too.

He's got an amazing wife and three sons and the weight of responsibility for his family's farm. A responsibility he stood up to each and every day.

Last week, he had surgery. That ol' heart problem was giving him trouble again.

The surgery went well, but he got an infection at the hospital that he couldn't quite fight off.

Sunday morning, my friend, my family, someone who showed me how to live passed away.

He was just 40.

I can't stop being angry. It's not fair. No one ever said life was going to be fair, but I don’t care. It's not fair.

I'm not good at grief. I've lost a father. I lost my best friend from high school. I lost a grandmother who was very integral to my life.

You'd think all the practice would make me better at this.

I'm not good at this.

Sometimes it's just easier to be angry.

It's an acceptable stage of grief.

August 20, 2010

Propagation of the Species

I work across the street from a public park that borders on marshlands, very near the actual Bay. The proximity of water and the tasty grasses in the marsh entice lots of birds to come visit and stay.

Among others, we have egrets, herons, spoonbills and sandpipers. All so elegant and beautiful.

Here's a rather grainy shot of a snowy egret, one of my favorite birds. This one usually keeps a beady eye on everyone walking by:

Many of the birds that we get in our beautiful marshes are on the endangered or near endangered species lists.

So it's good we have a nice habitat here for them.

That said, ya wanna know what bird isn't on any endangered list and is pretty much in zero danger of extinction?


@#$%ing Canada Geese.

Or, as I like to call them, feathered poop factories.

Taken with my iPhone, this is by a walking trail:

That's not even a small portion of the inventory.

Here's a wider shot:

Again, to the left and right of this frame there are at least this same number if not more geese.

The one in the center of that photo charged at me, hissing, so I didn't take any more photos.

The geese eat grass, lots and lots of grass, then they process it internally and drop the leftovers right in the middle of the walking trails.

Their drop offs equal the size of the leavings of a large dog. Only a whole lot greener.

Just. Ew.

This morning coming into work, there was a goose right in the middle of the driveway (which is a long narrow single car path). The goose moved neither right nor left, but strutted right down the center of the lane. I counted ten cars in line behind while Mr. Goose waddled his way into the day.

I was in car number eleven.

These cranky birds have certainly figured out how to continue the prosperity of their species. In a big way.

My elderly uncle, unfortunately now deceased, used to shoot bottle rockets at the Canada geese that befouled the walkway in front of his house in Indiana.

They sort of frown on that here in California, don't they?

All photos by Karen Fayeth. Click on any photo to see a larger size.

August 19, 2010

That's a Travesty!

What's a travesty?

This, this is a travesty!

I know a lot of people really like Coffee-Mate. A lot of people use Coffee-Mate. It's very popular.

A dear friend's husband is a self confessed Coffee-Mate hazelnut flavor addict. He stockpiles it in his fridge.


Look, I'm here to tell you, this isn't a food product. I don't know what it is, but it is definitely NOT a food product.

The label says "contains milk ingredients".

Uh. "Milk ingredients?"

What in the seventeen kinds of sam hell are "milk ingredients?" That doesn't say "contains milk" or "contains cream" or "contains anything you'd recognize." No!

Milk ingredients. And oil. And a bunch of other things you can't pronounce.

There is a big box of these pods of crap-food in our break room.

It's the only option for lightening a terrible cup of coffee in the late afternoon when you are desperate for a cuppa and the coffee bar downstairs is closed.

Look, I'm inherently suspicious of any sort of dairy product, even a pseudo-dairy product, that doesn't spoil when you leave it out on the counter for weeks at a time.

Except for real butter...and even real butter has its time limits.

What is the half-life on a pod of Coffee-Mate? A billion years?

I personally enjoy a good splash of half and half in a cup of joe.

Or as I call it, half of the half, which makes The Good Man laugh.

So with no half of the half on hand, I used some of this Coffee-Mate "creamer." Cuz I ain't calling it creamer without them thar sarcastic quotes.

It's gross. It's oily. It's chemical-y.

Just. Ew.

So then I poured out the coffee and tried this, also available in the break room:

While sipping at this sort of tangy beverage from a package that does not include an ingredients list, I did a Google search. I didn't net any ingredients, but I found this image which shows the main box that the packets come in. The box says "contains no apple..." and the rest is blocked by the packet in front of the box.

I assume it says "contains no apple juice."

Which means...

This is ALSO not food. This is more chemical crap.


I'm not any sort of Birkenstock wearing, tree hugging, raw food eating girl. I like as much red dye number whatever as the next guy.

But even I have my limits.


***Note to my readers: I actually wrote this yesterday afternoon. Upon a solid reread today, I was struck by just how much I've been whining lately about the no-cost beverage choices at my new place of employ. I'm still new, and while I do have some work to do, I am also sitting around a lot.

Leaving me to my own devices is never a good idea.

As I become busier with my job, I suspect the beverage posts will die down.


August 18, 2010

And We Haven't Piped Down Since

Today, August 18, 2010, marks ninety years since the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified.

In case you are a little shy on your constitutional amendments, here is some of the actual text:

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

That right. On August 19, 1920, women got the right to vote.

It took Tennessee's legislature to pass the proposed amendment by one little vote for (the 36th state to ratify) to cause the 19th Amendment to become a part of the United States Constitution.

(I'm pleased to note that California was 18th and New Mexico was 32nd. Nice early adoption from my two home states.)

The 19th Amendment gave women a voice. An official voice.

This meant that a woman didn't have to defer to a man to make her choices about how this country should be run.

My folks were married almost fifty years. My old man was an old fashioned guy. In their early years, he used to tell his wife how to vote. Many years later, my mom admitted to me that she'd go to the polls and vote the exact opposite way.

The 19th Amendment gave her that right!

Recently, over a family dinner, for no reason I could fathom, my eleven-year-old sister-in-law broke out and asked, "did you vote for Al Gore?"

I replied, "No, I didn't vote for Al Gore. I also didn't vote for George Bush. I think I voted for Ralph Nader that year. I believe it's essential to cast a vote, even if it is a dissenting vote."

I'm allowed to do that. You know why? The 19th Amendment to the Constitution!

Heck, I can cast my vote willy-nilly all over the place! And I don't have to have a nilly ol' willy to do so!

(This juncture is SO ripe for a "pull the lever" pun, but I'll refrain.)

I've voted in every Presidential election since I turned eighteen and I've voted in most of the minor elections too.

This November, on behalf of my residency in the State of California and my Suffragette sisters from the past, I will cast a vote for some random person for Governor, because I sure as hell am not voting for either Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman.

But I'm gonna vote.

I'm making my voice heard for Susan B!

Watch me now, heh!

August 17, 2010

Can't I Just Have Something Nice!?!

That title must be said in an Edith Bunker sort of voice.

Come with me to the Wayback Machine...

I remember back in the day, grade school era in Albuquerque, when I used to spend time over at my best friend Kathy's house. It was small, white with pink trim, located over by Montgomery park, across from the public swimming pool.

That little house had this front room, right as you came in the door, that featured these really nice blue velour couches. Very cushiony.

However, those pretty couches were covered with thick plastic wrap. Her mother explained that was "to protect" the couches.

In Albuquerque on a hot summer day, those dang couches were miserable.

There were also plastic runners on the floor. This was "to protect" the carpet.

I once stepped outside the line, as is my way, and got my ear chewed off by Kathy's mom.

That tiny Hispanic lady also drove a metallic blue Oldsmobile. Kathy and I used to take gymnastics lessons at the YMCA. Kathy's mom would take that Olds to the car wash every single week during the hour we had our lessons.

She wouldn't pay to have it dried, just washed, so she'd roll up with water droplets hanging off the sides. (You can get away with that in the 7% humidity of New Mexico.)

Why am I telling you this?

I got to thinking about Kathy's mom today as I was looking at my brand spanking new iPhone 4.

It's a beauty of a new phone. A bit heaver than the last model. The screen is amazingly clear. The black and chrome styling. Haaawt!

So here I am with this beautiful phone that isn't cheap. It's something really, really nice. And what did I do? I put an ugly plastic case around this marvel of industrial engineering.

You know, "to protect" it.

I tried to find the coolest case I could, but really, there's not much out there that enhances the beauty and design of the iPhone.

I'm just "keeping it for nice."

I know you know what I mean.

August 16, 2010

Continuing on a Theme...

Perhaps fitting given my post from over the weekend, I read an article today in CNN with the title: "Homesickness isn't really about 'home'"

Oh really?

The article is aimed at parents of new college students and tries to help worried folks get through it. For example, the article recommends that at the first sign of acute homesickness, parents might refrain from swooping and taking the kids back home.

I think that makes sense. The transition from home to college is a big one, and kids have to find their own way.

But because I'm me, and I'm here to talk about me, let's see how this might or might not apply to my situation.

I recently had a profound bout of homesickness for New Mexico. (Refresh your memory here)

From the article: ..."homesickness is defined as 'distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.'"

Um. I moved to the Bay Area thirteen years ago. This isn't about a new or anticipated separation.

I left my folk's home for college about twenty two years ago, so that's not it either.

And to be honest, I'm not sure I can rightly call New Mexico home anymore. It's where I was raised. It's where I'm from. It's who I am. But I have to say that where I live now is probably best defined as home.

"...it stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security -- feelings and qualities usually associated with home."

Yeah. But here's the weird thing, I have a happy home. I have an amazing husband and with him I feel loved and safe every day. I have up days and down days, but taken on the average, I'm pretty content with my life. So what's up with that?

I also know that if I didn't live in the Bay Area, I'd suffer a profound bout of homesickness for my Bay Area home. I'd miss the amazing art and culture and the family I have made here.

"'Yet despite the way it's coined, homesickness isn't necessarily about home. And neither is it exactly an illness, experts said.'"

It's not? Then how come I *long* to sit in the kitchen of my best friend's home, deveining green chiles, cussing and discussing and laughing with her kids? I get a pain in the center of my chest so bad it's sometimes hard to breathe.

If that's not a sickness, I don't know what is.

I'm a woman torn between my two homes. I am a New Mexican. I am part of the Bay Area. I'm both. Maybe I'm neither.

I'm still caught somewhere halfway in between. (Where would that be? Barstow? Cuz ain't no way I'm calling Barstow home, let me tell you THAT right now.)

I guess I'm what one might call blessed. Blessed to know two distinct geographic regions of the country where I have family and love and kinship and all the things that make life worth living.

So I'm still going to call it homesickness, no disrespect to the authors of the study.

Then I’m going to recycle my not very sophisticated image because it's the best visual representation I can manage to convey how I feel.

August 14, 2010

I Left My Heart....

Wait. Where did I leave my heart?

If you are a Twitter type of person and you follow my tweets, you may have gotten some of-the-moment tweeting about what I'm about to describe.

There was an "incident" upon my departure from New Mexico about three weeks ago. I've tried to brush it off, but I find I cannot. I'm rather shaken to my core.

The executive summary is this: I got my heart broke by an eight year old girl.

And I may never recover properly.

I flew out to New Mexico for one of the annual "Chick's Trips" that my best friend and I love to put together.

I came in on a Thursday afternoon and my friend picked me up at the airport. Earlier that day, her husband had taken their two daughters, my goddaughters, on a camping trip. He was out spotting elk for an upcoming hunt His girls are avid outdoors women, so they are able to help.

Fabulous. That meant some one-on-one girl time with my best friend in the world.

There was cussing. There was discussing. There was a trip to the Ruidoso Downs.

Big fun!

We all got back my friend's house in Las Cruces on Sunday afternoon. I had to fly out Monday.

So Sunday evening I got to have some quality time with my little girls (who are not so little anymore).

I had a chance to chat with the older of the two, she's ten, and has had some troubles with another girl at school. I wanted to make sure that going into fifth grade, she was holding up ok.

I got to sit next to the younger of the two, she's eight, at dinner.

The next morning, the eight year old asked me to go on a walk with her out to look at her flowers in her yard. I told her I would be happy to.

As time will do, it went all slippery and got away from us. Nina Karen didn't get her walk in with the younger goddaughter.

This all came to a head at the El Paso airport. We arrived a bit early and my kids wanted to come inside the airport to see me off.

Without delay, my younger goddaughter began insisting to her mom that she needed to come with me on the plane.

Her mom told her that she couldn't come with me.

"But why!?!?" was the inevitable reply.

What followed was a long and persistent debate between mom and child about, logically, why she couldn't just get on the plane and come home with me.

Then the tears began in earnest. My younger goddaughter began sobbing.

And that's when the truth started pouring out....

"You and Nina Karen always go off somewhere and we never get to go!"

Early on, my friend laid down some age requirements for chick's trips. Plus, sometimes Mama just needs a break.

"We always have to go with dad and you get to go have fun!"

Which isn't very nice to the dad who is lots of fun. But he's a boy and boy fun is different.

"Nina Karen always comes out here and we never get to go to California."

Well, sure. Since I don't have little ones, and I get awful homesick, I do tend to fly that way a bit more often.

"Other than her name, I don't even know Nina Karen!"

Ok, that one hurt. That's so not true, and she later apologized for having said it. But in that moment, she broke my heart.

She wasn't done by a long shot.

I held my baby girl in my arms as she cried and cried, her tiny body racked with sobs. Of course, I started crying too. Then her mom was bawling. And her big sister was crying from the get go.

Four weepy girls all clutched together at the El Paso Airport.

I apologized to my girl and through tears she said she forgave me.

After a while, her sobs began to slow down. Then, time went and got us again. The long hand moved too quickly on the clock face, and it was time for me to leave.

I had to go home. But which home? My California home because The Good Man waited for me there. He is my heart.

But that little crying girl is also my heart.

I've never felt so torn between two places in all my life. It literally felt like being ripped in two.

I cried all the way through the security line, and the TSA man shooed me along.

Then I cried all the way through the terminal.

I used my phone to call my husband to tell him what happened, and started sobbing even harder.

With every tear, my heart broke a little bit more. Ground glass under a bootheel.

I'm not sure yet how I'm going to try to make this right.

My best friend is working on a road trip out here, maybe, to cut costs and make it easier for them all to come out here to California.

I'm working over in my mind a plan to go back to New Mexico. But when? Our weekends are booked through Labor Day.

I just know that I am as heartbroke today as I was three weeks ago.

The Hispanic culture embraces a concept called "Comadres". Co-Mothers. Best friends are like mothers to each others children.

I don't have kids of my own, but actually, I do. Those two girls are as dear to me as if I'd birthed them from my own body. I feel their pain, I revel in their joy. I would sacrifice for them with nary a thought.

Nina Karen has got to make things right.

I'll tell you this, I'll never again miss the chance to take a walk with my girls just to look at the flowers.

"Las Comadres," a painting by Juana Alicia.

August 13, 2010

Learning The Language In a Foreign Country

So yeah. The new job. Good job. VERY good job. Great folks. Super team.

Like it. A lot.


(Because you *knew* there was going to be a however)

This is a pretty old school type of company. Because they are so old fashioned, I've discovered in my short time here that the straight faced usage of corporate buzz-words is rampant.

Rampant. (just needed to emphasize that)

I would imagine these days that one couldn't work anywhere and NOT run across the ol' popular buzzwords, but it's especially bad here.

"Low hanging fruit," for example, is one of my all time least favorite expressions. I first heard it back in 1994 in Albuquerque. Yes, I remember the moment I first heard this ridiculous phrase, because I had an immediate "why would you say that" reaction to it.

Guess what I hear just about daily here in the Bay Area in 2010? Yep.

"Think outside the box" still has life.

"Think inside the box" is fairly new, and it's bandied about a bit. It means, roughly, the old way may not be so bad anymore. (Funny how, in a financial crisis, everyone turns back to the textbooks as a way to bail themselves out.)

"That's powerful" is one I wish wasn't taking on life, but it is. Example: "We wrote up the workflow for that process and posted it on line. It's very powerful."

Yeah. No.

My super executive boss type guy dropped a "let's form a Tiger Team" on me two days ago.

Ok. Remember Tiger Teams? I do. It was the year 1997 and I worked for Lockheed. We paid an outside consultant A LOT of money to help us form a Tiger Team to figure out why every meeting we had descended into yelling at each other.

Turns out, we were just a team of very strong personalities from vastly different disciplines (procurement, engineering, marketing, etc) and the only way we could ever get anywhere was by arguing.

So the term "Tiger Team" really makes me twitch.

But by god, I'm on a newly formed Tiger Team here at work.

There is a new bit of jargon that seems to be catching on. I hate it. Oh I hate it. Almost as much as I hate "low hanging fruit."

Ready for it?

The phrase is...."set it and forget it."

As in, "With that new reporting software, you can just set it and forget it. It's so great!"


"Now that we've established pricing on that product, we can't just set it and forget it. We have to keep checking the demand reports."

So let me just say that while I'm a longtime fan of Ron Popeil and his Ronco commercials, I fully blame him for bringing this atrocity into my life.

Business people are seriously using a phrase from a dagblam infomercial for a @#$%ing chicken roaster!

Why? Why does this show up at my conference table?!?!?!?

The Good Man says he heard this phrase in use a few years back, and I believe him. It's new to me and I sure as heck don't want to set it, and now that everyone is using it, there's no possible way I *can* forget it.

I guess "set it and forget it" is just a new square added to the buzzword bingo playing card.

There'd better be good prizes, because at this job, I'm gonna be winning (or is it losing) every day!

August 12, 2010

Daily Agenda


Wake to alarm.


Rise. Eat. Dress. Leave.






"Karen, take the action to..."



Email. Lots of email.


Late Lunch (if lucky).

Manage someone's complaint.



Deal with someone's mess up.


Sleepy. Yawn.

Two hours left.




Leave work.

Home. Food. Scritch chins of boy and Feline.


And then.....

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

These are the days they never told you about when you were twelve and wanted nothing more than to be a grownup.

August 10, 2010

Lessons in Night Photography

About a year ago, I took a wonderful class taught by teacher, friend and mentor, Marty Springer.

As part of the course, we did an evening of night photography.

I struggled mightily with the class. It made no sense. Why shoot photos at night? Where is the light that's so fun to play with?

And manual mode? I have to shoot in manual mode? Gah!

So I listened to Marty and she was very patient and I really just didn't get it. I got a few good photos from that night, but most were sad, weird and blurry.

Recently, I checked out a book from the library by popular photography author Harold Davis. It's called Creative Night: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques.

Harold doesn't say anything different from what Marty taught me. He just said it again. For some reason, it stuck this time.

This weekend The Good Man took me out to Fort Baker in celebration of our second anniversary.

Turns out there is a pier at Fort Baker that affords perfect unblocked views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I told my partner in crime, "oh we're coming back here tonight."

One rule of night photography is that you need a friend to go along to be your lookout. Setting up the camera takes a bit of concentration and exposures take a long time. As photographer, you get a bit focused. Having someone to keep the weirdos away is always a good idea.

The Good Man wasn't in love with the idea of going out to a pier at 9:00 at night, but I was insistent. As many husbands have done in the face of insistent wives, he came along for the ride with only a few "hmphs" and snorting sounds.

City born and raised husband was geared up and ready to take on trouble from any kooks hanging out down at the pier.

Turns out, the only trouble we would have was from a large family of skunks dining at the trash dumpster nearby.

Let me tell you, both City Boy and Country Girl were equally cautious about those damn skunks.

The word "whooooa" was uttered a lot.

That said...the night journey was WELL worth the trip.

If only for this photo.

(Click here to see a large size.)

Others from the weekend available on my Flickr.

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Lessons in Night Photography text and images by Karen Fayeth are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

August 9, 2010

Let All Who Pass Here Know

So let's say you and the spouse are talking, and you say "Hey honey, why don't we gather up the kids and make a trip to that happenin' place, San Francisco, Californey."

Why, it's an end-of-summer vacation destination.

And so you book the airline and find a hotel and plan your visit.

On behalf of the Bay Area, there's a few things we'd like you to know.

1) First, thank you. We are happy to have you come and visit! Please, spend your hard earned dollars in our economy. We could use the help.

2) We have some of the best food anywhere. Please stay away from the chain restaurants and try a local place. You'll be glad you did.

3) Everyone appreciates how difficult it is to navigate our geographically limited city located at the end of a peninsula, so don't be a'feared to ask for directions. Most locals have been lost here a few times too.

4) No one calls it "Frisco." Maybe a few people call it "San Fran." You could probably get by with an "S.F." Refer to San Francisco as "The City" and you'll be doing just fine.

5) Bring your camera and don't be shy about taking snaps. It's hard to take a bad photo.

6) Oh, and lastly and most importantly, this is what the weather is like in August:

Just for reference, the exif data on this photograph reports it was taken at 12:08:14 pm on Sunday, August 8, 2010. In case you can't tell, that's part of the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I'm just sayin'.

Don't pack your shorts, tshirts and a pair of flip-flops for a trip to "sunny California." Pack pants, socks and a jacket. You'll be glad you did.

Also, know this...San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities you'll ever know.

Come on out ya'll! Enjoy! We're happy to have ya!

Photos by Karen Fayeth taken from the Marin side of the bridge. Many, many tourists were endured in the making of these and many other photographs.

(What all this language below means is that I took and I own the photographs posted here. If you'd like to borrow them, you have to do me the favor of giving me credit for the photo and posting a link back to this page. That's all. Fair enough? I think so.)

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Word and images in this blog post titled "Let All Who Pass Here Know" by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

August 5, 2010

That Ain't Right

Today I have a follow up to last week's The Great Dr. Pepper Incident.

A reader suggested to me that since the cost of that taste-tested Dr. Pepper was free, and since free is good, didn't all the no-cost make that nasty Dr. Pepper taste better?

And heck, my readers are brilliant, so of course I considered this to be a good point.

Then I decided to embark upon an experiment.

I would try other sodas in the for-free cooler and see how they fared in the "tastes better cuz it's free" hypothesis.

First up in my research was a Mountain Dew.

I decanted the Dew into a cup thoughtfully provided by my employers.

Now. Um. That's not a nice color.

That looks a lot like the last time I tried taking a multi-vitamin supplement. My pee turned that color. WHY IN THE HELL would I want to ingest something the color of vitamin-tainted pee?

That said, I forged ahead. I was able to get through a good deal of the Dew before I gacked out and had to pour it down the nearest drain.

Twenty minutes later, I remembered why, besides color, I don't drink frapping Mountain Dew.

The caffeine.

I had heart palpitations the rest of the day.

Yeah. Free. So not worth it.

Not one to be easily dissuaded...

...Or, as my father used to say, not smart enough to come in out of the rain...

The next day I plunged back into the challenge.

This time, I made sure I took on something caffeine free.

After checking the entire line of Pepsi products in the cooler, that left only Orange Crush.

Also, I'm going to have to say, that's not a color I'd generally like my food to be. Not even the orangest of foods, say carrots or pumpkin is that shade of neon orange.

It haunts me.

The taste was even worse. I couldn't get more than two sips through the Crush before it went right down the drain.

Experiment terminated. The lab rat can't take it any more.

Conclusion: Free doesn't actually make a crappy beverage taste better.

Sacrifice, all for the good of science.

Now I must go drink three gallons of water to get all that artificial color out of my liver.


August 4, 2010

Sometimes These Things Happen

As the world continues to turn, I sometimes find it necessary to put out updates to recently published posts.

Things change, you know how it goes.

So let's recall my post giving love to the label makers.

We turn now to the first week of my new gig. On day one, I was informed of the "corporate culture of cost savings."

Once fully briefed on how much cheap is appreciated, I was directed to the office supply cabinet to see what I could dredge up. I had to "make it work" before any new orders would be approved.

Well, that's fine by me. I'm a big fan of office supplies, even used office supplies, so I dove right in.

I found a very usable Swingline stapler, a tape dispenser, a new box of binder clips and though I had to dig around a bit, but I also found a staple puller.

So far so good!

There, in the back of the drawer, piled under a stack of notebooks and used binders, I found this fella:

It's a...a...*gasp*...LABEL MACHINE!

Right there. In the supply drawer. An orphan! Just waiting for a nice girl like me to take it and clean it up and love it like a good label making machine deserves to be loved!

I snagged it up, clutched it to my heart and spirited it away to my office.

There was even a half-full label tape cartridge in there! Yes!

I plugged it in and gave it a test drive.

But this is where the story gets sad.

It would appear that this ol' soldier has seen better days.

Despite the flashy "black on gold" label tape in there (how disco!), it seems that the little turn wheels that push the tape through the printer are busted.

In short, he cannot make any more labels.

I tried to fix it. Even busted down office supplies deserve their due!

No luck.

We just have to let him go gently into that good night. He can now go and rest easy where the old and broken office equipment goes to die. Some call it office recycling, I call it a final resting place.

Goodbye big fella! I know once you made labels that shined like the sun. It's time to hang up the ol' cartridge and call it a day.

*sniff* He was a hero to manila files everywhere.


So...do you think this means I can order a new one.......?

August 3, 2010

That is SO Old School!

My sister likes to give me hell about my inability to get rid of stuff.

She *might* be right, but I'm not admitting to it here.

I do, however, have a very strong "cheap" streak running through me.

I can't help it, roots of my raising.

So this cheap streak means that when I have a possession that has served me well and works easily, I tend to keep it. And use it. Use it WELL past its prime.

Behold, one such object for which I feel great affection.

My old school adding machine.

This item was procured for me back in the year of nineteen and ninety-seven.

It was a purchase made by the admin assistant to the Director of Procurement at the Lockheed facility where I was employed.

I had to prove to the admin assistant that the adding machine on my desk was truly broken.

She didn't believe me.

It was quite a negotiation.

Finally, my wit and charm prevailed, and this little baby was ordered, fresh from our office supply vendor.

A brand new out of the box adding machine was unheard of at that Lockheed location!

My new possession featured typical ten key navigation. The choice of accountants and those who wear eye shades alike.

Oh yes.

I love this adding machine.

It's been with me, my trusted friend, for THIRTEEN YEARS!

I loffs it.

I used to work at a hip, hot IT company. One of my employees who is cooler in her pinky toe than I'll ever be in my whole rig used to give me an endless stream of grief about my "old school" adding machine.

"Your iPhone has a calculator!" she'd remind me about once a day.

Yes, it does. But it's not the same.

The tactile pleasure from the machine and that little raised nub on the 5 button, so you know where you are without looking? Delicious!

And look! If I want to, I can even print out my column of numbers!!! Check and double check!

I choose to keep the tape roll off the machine. Why waste the paper, right?

Oh my sweet glorious adding machine. It's now found a new home, a place of honor, on my new desk at my new hip, hot IT employer.

As I drew the beast out of my backpack and lovingly cleaned it up with alcohol wipes, my new boss declared "what is that?!?!"

But then one of my new employees said, "oh, I love adding machines. I still have mine too. I love using the tape to check my number input."

I almost wept.

We may have found a home here...me and my not-so-sleek, not-so-luxurious adding machine.

In case you were wondering, yes...I took my adding machine with me when I left Lockheed. They considered it my going away present. It was so thoughtful!

August 2, 2010

The Rhythm Is, In Fact, Going to Get You

Over the weekend, I had the honor of being included on a list of photographers asked to attend a local women's martial arts training camp.

This is a long running event and my photography teacher is part of the team that pulls off this amazing training event every year.

As I am still a *very* amateur photographer, this event tested every single one of my limited abilities for taking clear and decent photographs of powerful ladies in action.

I've never been much of a martial arts kind of gal myself, so being a part of these classes, taught in many cases by world renowned instructors, was enlightening.

Oh the kicking! The hitting! The breaking chokes. The takedowns.


I found myself spectating much of the time, forgetting to use that picture-taking tool in my hand for its intended purpose. It was that intense!

But for all of that, I have to say, the class that made the biggest impression on me was the Taiko drumming class, taught by a lady named Ikuyo Conant.

This tiny woman took FULL control of a class full of strong powerful martial artists and had them drumming their hearts out.

These ladies were out on a cool Sunday morning with roses in their cheeks, whanging away at the drums and laughing. They were all having the best time. Some of the most muscle bound and rather serious women were shaking their groove thang and laughing like school girls.

It was not only a joyful place to be, it was a joyful thing to photograph. The "energy in the room," so to speak, was overwhelming. I laughed along with them. I cheered when they made it through a sequence with nary an error.

After watching Judo, Wing Chun, Tai Kwan Do, and other ancient (and potentially rather violent) arts, I found that Taiko was head and shoulders above the rest as the class I most want to take.

I'm ready to shake the maraca's that the good lord gave me (oh wait, cross culture reference there...whoops) while I beat hell out of a drum.

I haven't yet processed all the photos from the weekend, and I don't have permission (yet) to post photos of participants, but here is a quick snap of Madame Conant doin' her thang.

And oh yes, the rhythm got a hold of me, too!

: shake shake :

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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.