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September 29, 2010

The Next Phase of Cold & Flu Recovery

Ah yes, I've hit rock bottom. The worst has passed and healing is on the way.

I've achieved that next, all-important phase of any decent common cold cycle:

Today I recovered my dignity.

I looked down at the same clothes I'd been wearing for 36 hours, front dotted with chicken soup stains, collar reeking of fever sweat and said to myself, "For the love of all that is decent! I need a shower."

And shower I did. The first time in three days I felt like actually cleaning myself up a bit. The first time in three days I'd cared.

This may sound like a small thing, but it's a big step on the road to recuperation.

Emerging from the shower, I felt like a new woman. It was one of those showers that not only cleans the skin, but refreshes the soul.

And then...I took a big step...I actually left the house. For only an hour, but it's progress.

I ran an errand to the post office, then went to Trader Joe's for some sort of food other than broth. While there I scared the beejeezus out of an old lady when I got on a brutal coughing jag (it sounds ugly even though I cover my mouth).

As soon as I got my breath back, I left the store quickly and retreated back into my home triumphant, but weary.

I'm not 100% but I'm making good progress.

Hey, I might even feel good in time for the weekend. Imagine that!

September 28, 2010

What's Your Go-To Remedy?

So yeah, it's Tuesday and I'm still nice and sick.

This whole cold thing has settled deep into my chest. I have that raspy almost smokers cough sounding voice, and when I laugh, I get on a wheezing cough jag that doesn't resolve until I see stars in my eyes and my ribs hurt.

Fun stuff.

And so as I do when I feel poorly, I begin to remember all the suggested home remedies that friends and family have provided over the years. Many of them do actually make me feel better.

Here's my top five, in no particular order.

1. Pho Noodle Soup

This was the remedy I went with yesterday and it did help for a while. The uber hot beef broth cooking the thinly sliced meat paired with the yummy rice noodles. It just screams hydration and the protein in the soup is good nutrition.

The warm soup always makes me sleepy, and getting rest is good for my immunity.

Add a healthy dose of that Sriracha Rooster sauce, and it all just says to me "oh yeah...I'm on the mend."

2. Sopa de Camaron

I don't know what it is about Mexican shrimp soup, but it's like a cure in a bowl. The veggies, the hot broth, the shrimps and a bit of avocado to smooth it all out.

Very satisfying, filling and warm. Again, it puts me right to sleep and gives me nice dreams.

3. Chicken Soup

Known colloquially as "Jewish Penicillin" there has actually been some research that suggests that chicken soup inhibits inflammation which helps a weary cold sufferer endure through the inevitable cycle of the common cold.

I'll take chicken soup in all forms including with veggies, with noodles, or with a big beautiful Matzoh ball floating in there. It's all good!

4. Pinto Bean water

This one is recommended by frequent commenter Ephraim. There have been times when, struggling to find something palatable to eat, I've dished up a bowl of beans and added a lot of the water that the beans were cooked in to make it more like a soup, thus easier for me to swallow with a sore throat.

Can't deny it, it helps. And what's not to like about bacon flavored bean water? Am I right? I think I am.

5. Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, Dayquil, Sprite

Parodied in the South Park SARS episode, there is no denying the "middle class white man's cure" is helpful.

I think with the addition of some saltines, this is the perfect comforting treat for when I am down on the couch with the crud.

It's especially comforting when brought on a TV tray by a doting mom (or husband) who will check my temperature with closed lips applied to my forehead.

Really, at the end of the day, the best "cure" for the common cold is rest, hydration and managing the symptoms. All of the above help toward that end.

Meanwhile...*hack coff* I'm still in the middle of the indignities of this upper respiratory attack.


September 27, 2010

Floating in Blue

A few weeks ago, one of our beloved Betta fish took ill (as Bettas are wont to do).

At wits end wondering how to help our little female fish through the rough spot, The Good Man consulted with a fairly fish knowledgeable employee at the store where we got the Betta.

Most fish owners will just dump an antibiotic like Tetracycline into the tank and hope for the best. Not knowing exactly what is wrong, we didn't want to go that route.

The pet store guy recommended something called Betta Revive as a first defense.

It covers a broad spectrum of low-level medications to address a whole host of potential fish illnesses.

One of the main ingredients in this remedy is Methylene blue.

For those a little short on their anti-psychotic knowledge, Methylene blue, also known as Thorazine, became a heavily favored drug for psychiatric use in the 1950's and 1960's.

Apparently, it also has an antifungal effect, so is included in the fish remedy to ward off the dreaded Ich.

We got the Betta Revive and made up a fresh batch of water and added the remedy. Predictably, it turned the water a nice shade of medium blue. Pretty much the color of airplane toilet water.

We floated our sick fish in the blue water, changing it daily, for about a week. She's mostly recovered and is eating again, which is a good sign.

I’m blathering on about blue water to get to a point. It's coming, don't lose me now....

Over this past weekend my body decided to avoid the holiday rush and succumb to a nasty early winter cold.

It the usual stuff, runny nose, sinus pressure, achy joints, low-grade fever and a raging, uncontrollable cough.

I feel like crap and I'm a little depressed. In an effort to cheer myself up, I took a nice hot bath last night.

While soaking, I thought to myself, "Hey, I wish I had some of the blue water to soak in. I don't know if what I have is viral or bacterial, so a broad spectrum fix might be just the ticket!"

I mean hell, it'll make my scales lay down nicely and the Thorazine will help me feel aaallll right about the world.

I asked The Good Man if I could soak in some blue water. Gonna have to get a big container of the stuff, but I'm ready!

He gave me that one-eyed squinty look that says, "I'm just going to nod my head and walk away." And so he did.

I may be sick, but my creative brain is always working out the angles. Even if The Good Man doesn't buy into all of my (fabulous) ideas.

September 25, 2010

Restoring Balance

Yesterday I used this blog as my confessional. I had to get that story off my chest because it had been top of my mind since it all happened Wednesday night.

Once I published that post, I had to remind myself that really, all in, my day on Wednesday was incredible (in a good way). It's time I make sure that I don't let the end of the evening cast a pall on rest.

So now that the yucky stuff is off my mind, let's talk about the good part.

The event I attended on Wednesday night was one of the largest and most overwhelmingly fun corporate events I've ever seen.

And let me say this, I once worked for a company that rented out AT&T ballpark for the company Christmas party, ok? So I've seen some huge corporate sponsored events!

They got nothing on this.

The event, as mentioned, was a "customer appreciation party" and it was held out on Treasure Island.

For those not familiar with the Bay Area, Treasure Island is a man made island, created for the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939.

Treasure Island sits at about the halfway mark of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. To get to the island you take an exit off the bridge.

I was included as an extra special guest of one of the main sponsors of the event, so I got a hard to obtain ticket that got me to the island an hour before everyone else.

It was, literally, a carnival. But everything was free. Since we were among the first on the island, there were also no lines.

Imagine going to a carnival and NOT waiting for the ferris wheel! Or not standing in line for cotton candy! I walked up said "yes please" and they put a corn dog, French fries and a big bag of cotton candy in my hands.

And it was a GOOD corndog. Have you any idea how long it has been since I had a really good corndog?

Prior to the corndog (thankfully) I was coerced into riding one of those Drop Zone rides. The kind where there is a central tower and you strap in to the seats, then it takes you up to the top and drops your ass back down?

Yeah. I hated it.

I screamed a single curse word in one long note the entire journey downward.

The gentleman working the ride said, as he let me off the ride, "I like you, you say what's in your heart."

Vowing no more rides, I switched to playing all of the carnival games. You could play as many times as you wanted over and over.

And STILL I couldn't manage to win anything. *sigh*

Then, after a while the good food came out. Tables of fancy and delicious treats of all kinds. We ate our fill and partook of the free flowing beverages as well.

Then, around 7:00, the music began, and by music, I mean full on concerts held at two different stages, one indoors, one outside.

We started with English Beat. Ok, I'm a child of the 80's, I knew some of their stuff and they were pretty good.

Next up was Berlin. I'm a huge fan of Terri Nunn. She is a goddess, so I was pretty happy to see Berlin live, though I'd seen them play before. They put on a great show. Ms. Nunn knows how to work the crowd and had everyone enchanted.

Now that the music was really going, it was time to start making some choices. They had acts going on both stages and you had to pick which show to attend.

The main acts of the night were the Black Eyed Peas on the outside stage and Don Henley inside.

I talked it over with my group including my boss and several coworkers. They all wanted to see Black Eyed Peas. Look, I don't mind the Peas...but we're talking Don Henley here.

One other woman in the group said she wanted to see Henley too, so we walked away to choruses of "you guys are so OLD."

No matter. I'll cut to the chase. Don Henley put on one of the best shows I've ever seen. Like...top ten concerts of my life (<--I should do a blog post on that).

Let me tell you right now...Don Henley is 63 years old. I once heard Billy Joel talking about how, as he aged, he couldn't hit the high notes anymore.

Don wasn't having that problem. Think about the song "I Can't Tell You Why" and all the high parts. He sang 'em. Every one. Nary a crack in his voice.

It wasn't just that he sang all the songs that I knew, it was that one, his backup band was amazingly tight, and two, he had a certain way of capturing the audience every step of the way. Captivating is a good word to describe.

This guy is a genius. I went in saying "yeah, I like Don Henley pretty good" and came out swearing my allegiance and praising him to the ends of the earth.

A. Mazing.

After that was a choice between Steve Miller Band and Montgomery Gentry. Although I would have liked to have seen Montgomery Gentry, it was midnight by that time and I had an early morning meeting. So I chose home over the last acts of the night.

As mentioned, I spent the better part of an hour in line waiting for the shuttle bus, so I may as well have stayed.

No matter.

When I did finally get home and lay down in my bed, my ears were ringing and the refrains of "Desperado" were still singing in my head.

And I gave thanks that I got to live such a good day in my life (shuttle bus incidents not withstanding).

Ms Terri Nunn onstage (on the screen) taken with my iPhone

September 24, 2010

My Magnetic Personality

For years I have told friends that I am a "freak magnet," and for years, I've had them tell me, "Oh, don't be silly! Everyone says that."

Then we go out to a bar or a dance club or a restaurant and sure enough, the wackiest person in the room will find their way to me like a moth to a flame.

I don't head out to the bars and clubs much anymore, so I think I've grown a little soft in my ability to head off the loo-loos who inevitably end up sitting next to me.

Wednesday this week, I got invited to a "customer appreciation event" associated with my job.

Well, ok. Appreciate me!

It was a HUGE event with piles of free food, an endless flow of free booze and lots and lots of live musical entertainment.

While I had a gosh dang good time, I was always aware of the fact that I was having a gosh dang good time along with my boss and several coworkers.

I had a few glasses of wine then switched to water about two hours before my anticipated departure time.

At the end of the evening my boss, coworkers and I parted ways at the shuttle busses. The various busses were on different routes to take people back to their hotels and parking in different parts of the city.

Sadly, my route was the most popular, so I stood in a very long line for about forty-five minutes. People were yelling at each other for cutting in line, being snotty and aggressive, and generally at the end of their tether.

I practiced my meditation and art of being calm while I waited my way to the front of the line. Finally I got on a bus and found a seat.

And here's where my magnetic personality comes in.

The drunkest, largest male human I may have ever encountered stumbled his way onto the shuttle, looked over his seating opportunities, and flung himself into the seat next to me.

Then passed out.

Hey, fine. I'm down with that. It will make for a quiet ride.

Oh nooo. That would be too easy.

As the bus jerked to a start, The Mountain next to me woke up and began making those burping, choking sounds.

"Dude," I said, forcefully, "are you going to throw up?"

He looked at me somberly and nodded.

"THEN GET OFF THE BUS!" I hollered.

Well. He was at that stage of drunk where all your bones have gone gelatinous, and was unable to stand. Or move. Or do much of anything other than....

Begin vomiting.

He at least had the grace to vomit toward the aisle and not on me.

However...this is where I lost my mind.

I'd been up for a 7am meeting, working hard all day, celebrating heavily all night, and at 1:00 in the morning, wedged in at the window seat next to a vomit breathing dragon, I'd lost my sense of humor.

"Somebody help me! This guy is throwing up!" I yelled to my fellow travelers.

I heard someone go "Ew." But that was all.

So I tried again, "Help me! Please! This guy needs to get off the bus! He's throwing up all over the place!"

The bus driver walked down the aisle, saw the guy throwing up, make a "yuck" face and turned around and went back to the front of the bus.

"Are you serious?!? You aren't going to help me!?!" I yelled at his retreating back.

I was ignored.

So I ratcheted up my freak out and began yelling with renewed energy.

Finally, the guy who appeared to be the friend of Captain Puke came over and in the most condescending way possible asked, "Are you ok?"

"NO!" I replied.

"Do you want out of that seat?"

"YES!" I replied.

So he grabbed my arm and tugged and I pushed off with my legs and we sort of drag vaulted me over the top of the now passed out guy.

An incredible gentleman in the back of the bus stood up and told me that back home in Chicago he commutes to work every day on a bus, and was used to standing. He gave up his seat for me. I thanked him profusely.

When we finally arrived at our destination, as we exited the chartered shuttle bus, we all filed past Barf Boy. He was still passed out in the seat, vomit all down his front.

His friend...the guy that told me what a "good guy" his friend was as he dragged me out of the seat?

He left the unconscious man on the bus.


What a talent I have, attracting the elite of the world to sit next to me.

September 23, 2010

Wordless and Wacked Out Thursday

Much, much going on during what most describe as the busiest week of the year for my company.

I've been pulled right into the fray, which is a good sign. They trust me to get in there.

But I'm learning to run this fast again and the joints ache, if I may use such a metaphor.

And so, I didn't want to let another day go by without a post.

I went to Flickr and pulled one of the first images I saw because it seems to sum up my week.

The photo I chose is below. This is a really, really stunning photograph. Actually, if you have time, visit the entire photostream, amazing photographic work.

Enjoy! This image is pretty symbolic of my day. A carnival! (without the cotton candy or corn dogs).

Image by Photography by Omerell on Flickr.

September 21, 2010

The Universal Tech Support Answer

Today, I reached my wits end with my desk phone at work.

I am on conference calls at least half of the working hours of every day on calls with the UK, South America, Hong Kong, and Australia, and many points in between.

My phone decided, in the midst of an already trying day, to act up. I'd push the number 4, it would show onscreen that I'd inputted 4444.

I'd hit speakerphone button just once and it would come on, go off, come on, go off, come on, go off, etc.

This creates a bit of trouble when one is dialing an overseas number.

For example, to call Britain, one must dial 011 then 44 and then the person's phone number.

So with this buy-one-get-four free plan my phone seems to favor, I would not even be to the actual person's number, and my phone would think I had punched in



And yet again I say GAH!

I tried a number of different creative ways to get my numbers dialed. I tried mashing the buttons really hard. Nope. I tried hitting them very lightly. Sort of success.

I found that using a pen to dial and hitting the numbers very fast seemed to work. At least enough to get into scheduled conference calls (though it would take five or six tries).

But come ON here people! This is no way to conduct business!

So when I had a gap in meetings, I went online and raised an IT trouble ticket.

I expected it would take a week to hear back as one person's desk phone crying in the dark isn't enough to rouse the passions of the IT department.

Imagine my surprise when I got a call some four hours later from an actual person with actual knowledge of the issue.

Yes! Hello good sir! What can be done!?

His recommended fix? Power cycle the phone.

That's it. Unplug it. Plug it back in. Should be fine.

I then applied a smack to my own forehead. Of course! I should have thought of that first.

The Universal IT fix for whatever ails you. Power off, power on.

What the systems administrators in my old team used to call "bouncing the machine"

So I bounced the phone. It's back on line and working fine. We're back to a one for one button press to digit input value.

Now if I could only get my nerves to be as docile.


And a mental note to self: Always try bouncing the machine first.

September 20, 2010

Carbo Loading The Muse

This past weekend, I competed in round two of the NYCMidnight Flash Fiction Challenge.

It goes like this: They give you a genre, a location and an object. You get 48 hours to write a one thousand word story incorporating all of that.

I *love* participating in this contest. It is my third year and it challenges me and stretches me and causes me to come at my writing from different angles.

Until this contest I'd never written anything that could be remotely labeled science fiction, fantasy or historical fiction. But guess what, I've done them all, and in the case of historical fiction, twice.

My first jab at historical fiction was a well researched story about Babe Ruth. It remains one of my most favored stories of all that I've written.

It scored very low with the judges, however.

This weekend I pondered all the angles of a comedy set in a tunnel with a gold watch. (A little bit like Clue...Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick.)

As I threw around story ideas, I got the brilliant Good Man involved in brainstorming. He looks at the world in a way very different from me and is a good source of inspiration. While brainstomring, he uttered one of those pearls of wisdom that will stay with me all my days as a writer.

The conversation went like this:

Me: "What's funny about a tunnel? Is there a tunnel that could be funny? What about a sewer? Is that funny?"

TGM: "Well, anything with poop in it has potential."

There it is, folks. Write that down. Embroider that on a dish towel. Just remember you heard it here first!

But he's right. Bodily functions are usually funny. Except when they are not.

I chose to avoid a sewer tunnel for my story, choosing something a bit more metaphysical instead.

All of this yammering on is to say, my brain is exhausted. My Muse is weary. She gave it her all for forty-eight hours and informed me this morning that she didn’t *feel* like coming up with a brilliant blog post idea today.

So instead, I chose to follow well-heeded wisdom when it comes to writer's block...

Write through it.

So here I am, writing through the block. Suddenly words are forming into paragraphs and the page is filling up. It's not brilliant words of prose, but it's working.

And here I am at about 400 words. Plenty enough for a blog post! So ok! I did it!

The Muse didn't even have to work that hard.

Though I think if I hope to get another blog post tomorrow, I'd better treat her to some baked goods. She does tend to run better on sweets.

September 17, 2010

I've Become That Grownup

Last month when I visited New Mexico and stayed with my best friend, I made it a point to spend time visiting one-on-one with each of my two goddaughters.

They are ten and eight now, fully formed people, and their challenges go well beyond walking and eating and sleeping. The so-called "real world" has decided to come roost in their lives, and it is extraordinarily hard for me to adapt as quickly as they have.

My oldest goddaughter is incredibly intelligent and incredibly obstinate too (*coff*herfather*coff*). Her problem is that she is so smart and world savvy that she's knows when someone is pulling a fast one or isn't acting in the smartest way.

But she's only ten going on eleven, so her powers to right the wrongs of this world are slim. So far, anyway.

She told me about how her new teacher this year is teaching the students a new approach to spelling. "I know how to spell, this is so dumb!"

And her teacher is making the students learn long division. By last year she had long division down cold. "Why do I have to do this all again!? It's such a waste of time!"

You know what? She's right. She's absolutely right.

So what do I do as the adult she's looking to for advice?

Do I do the usual grown up thing and tell her that the grown ups are right and she should just mind what they say?

Because I can't do that.

Do I tell her fight?! Fight to the end for justice!

No, that's not good guidance either.

So I dug deep into my own experiences and came up with just this:

"Pick your battles."

It was advice that was handed to me in my first year of work. Like my goddaughter, I was willing to take on every challenge, rail against the inefficiencies of the bureaucracy, fight the good fight for every injustice.

The mentor assigned to me, a very easy-going sort of fellow who was revered by the leadership of that company was the first to sit me down and tell me this lesson.

Pick your battles.

Figure out the fights that one, you think you can win and two are worth putting all the energy into. If it meets both criteria, then go for it.

And fight for the ones you can't win if it really, really matters. But remember you can't fight them all if you want to win any.

So I found myself sitting in the cooling evening breeze in the backyard of a Las Cruces home, imparting this same knowledge to a ten year old.

"Do you honestly expect the teacher is going to look at you and say, 'wow, you are right, I was teaching it wrong. Let's do it your way!'"

Her eyes went wide and she shook her head.

"So what are you trying to get to? What do you expect?"

She wants to be challenged. Ah, ok. There's something we can work with.

I told my girl that life is going to be pretty tough if every day is spent digging in her heels.

And so all of that best answers the question posed by the idea generator today:

"If you could pass on a piece of advice that meant a lot to you when you received it, what would it be?"

Pick your battles.

I might be qualified to impart that wisdom from my position in the long and deep trenches I carry behind me, heels worn down to the nub.

September 16, 2010

Customer Service Has Not Died

Despite all appearances to the contrary, customer service has not died.

Nope, there is still a small patch of wonderful service to be found in Southern New Mexico.

You'll recall a week ago, I wrote of my joy and my subsequent despair regarding buying actual New Mexico grown chiles here in Northern California.

In that blog post last week, I mentioned that I wrote a rather terse letter to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, complete with photographs, about my sorrow.

In fact, I'll let you in on the text of my actual letter, sent to Mr. David Lucero at the NMDA:


Dear Mr. Lucero - I found your email address from the www.nmda.nmsu.edu
webpage, though I'm unsure if you are the right person to contact.

I am a native New Mexican now living in Northern California and while on
a Southwest Airlines flight, I was happy to see an ad in their inflight
magazine for Hatch Green Chile coming to a long list of supermarkets in
my area.

My husband and I plan to buy a lot as we enjoy our green chile
throughout the year by finding kind friends back home to bring us the
good stuff.

While at Whole Foods recently in (town name redacted), California, I saw a sign for "Hatch peppers" and I was very happy (Whole Foods was on the list of stores that would carry the product).

As I picked a few from the pile, I looked closer at the sign and I
noticed it said "grown in California." (see photo attached)

Now, I'm confused. Is this the "real thing" as advertised by the NMDA
and just mislabeled? Or has someone appropriated the Hatch name for
not-Hatch peppers?

I chose not to buy any that day as I'm unsure.

Hence why I'm coming to you for advice and guidance.

Are Hatch chiles going to be available in the Northern California Bay
Area? Also, is someone perpetrating a terrible fraud by selling
California grown peppers under the branded Hatch name?

On behalf of my family, we thank you and appreciate any guidance you
would provide.

All my best,

Karen Fayeth


Honestly...I expected no reply.

Imagine my surprise when not only did I receive a VERY nice email from Mr. Lucero thanking me for providing this information, he also told me that he's taken up the issue with his national Whole Foods buyer (who was cc'd on the email) and also with his shipper, Seco Spice (also cc'd on the email).

Then, and here's where my mind gets blown, Mr. Lucero indicated that a Mr. Ogaz from Seco Spice would be happy to send me along a box of roasted and peeled chile if I'd be willing to pay shipping.

Holy jumping jehoshaphat!

So I'm currently getting shipping costs from the very kind Mr. Ogaz.

That's amazing.

I want to publicly thank both Mr. Lucero and Mr. Ogaz for helping a poor New Mexico expat find her way home via the ol' dinner plate.

By the by, I checked with my friends down in the greater Las Cruces and Anthony metropolitan areas and they know the Ogaz family and Seco Spice and can vouch that they are top notch people and growers.

So here's a HUGE public thank you and a plug for the good people over at Seco Spice and the NMDA.

: sniffle : It makes me very proud to be a New Mexican.

September 15, 2010

I haven't stopped blogging....

...but I'm afraid I'm going to miss another day. I *hate* missing blogging days. I'll do my best to make up the two missed days in some way this week.

I've been asked to teach a four hour course today on behalf of an association of professional people who do what I do for a living (I'll demure on my job role...a girl's gotta have some secrets).

Four hours? *I* don't even want to listen to me talk for four hours! Good gracious!

Anyhow, it's a big honor and I have my big ol' PowerPoint slide deck ready to go.

But I'm scared. I mean, I'm excited. But I'm skeered too.

This is four hours facing a room full of my peers.

Whooooa. Soooo grown up.

Anyhow, I'm up to the task, but forgive my inattention to the blog for a couple days. I should be back tomorrow.

September 13, 2010

The Tradition of One Thousand Paper Cranes

Are you familiar with the Japanese tradition of folding one thousand origami paper cranes?

From Wikipedia:

"An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. In Asia, it is commonly said that folding 1000 paper origami cranes makes a person's wish come true."

I have always been enchanted by this tradition, and many years ago when the daughter of a friend was to be married, I even helped participate in the tradition by helping the bride fold a thousand cranes before her wedding day.

It is an act of diligence, of repetition, of bringing yourself and your heart to each crane.

I was reminded of this tradition today, as I contemplated the creation of this, my one thousandth post here at Oh Fair New Mexico.

Each post is, to me, like a beautiful origami crane, my own work of art constructed from the folds of my brain, the diligence of my psyche, and the creativity of my Muse.

The posts vary widely in topic and scope. I started out as a homesick New Mexican looking to assuage my guilt by talking about home. Three years later, it still holds that space for me, but it's also grown well beyond, helping me to find my voice and my writing style.

I'm grateful to each and every reader who stops by and gives me their eyeballs for a few minutes. Especially those readers who have been here long enough to remember that The Good Man used to be The Cute Boy.

When I started this blog back in 2007, I hoped I'd be able to make it last for a year. I've well exceeded that goal.

So today, as I finish folding my one thousandth crane, I string them all together and let them take flight upon the wind. I've cast my cranes to the fates and I send them all out with the best of me on the wing.

Tomorrow, I'll sit in front of a blank Word document and start again, folding the first crane in the next series of one thousand.

May we all make a beautiful wish that comes true.

Mine already did.

September 11, 2010

Roast, My Pretties! Roast!

Can't think of a better smell.

Oh...wow...speaking of Fall....great photo of the burning of Zozobra from the ABQJournal. (you are right, NewMexiKen, my gloom might have been in the Zozobra. I'm feeling better just looking at that photo.)

September 10, 2010

San Bruno Fire - Quote of the Day

Millbrae Fire Chief Dennis Haag "...said the first engine on scene got within about a 100 yards of the fire and 'then had to stop because their windshield cracked (from the heat). As they pulled back, they saw paint bubbling on the cars in the street.'"

Source: SFGate

The Things I Could Talk About Today

Every morning after I wake up, stumble over the cat and yawn three times, I start to think about my day.

Part of that thinking involves devising a topic for my daily entry to this little ol' blog.

Over the years, the topics have varied widely from news of the world to news of crevices of my mind. And food. Lots of talk about food.

So I thought quite a bit about what to write about today for this, my 997th post in the life of Oh Fair New Mexico.

I could write more about the really awful fire in San Bruno last night. About the stutter-stall from PG&E in addressing the situation, about the homes and lives lost.

I could go on a rant about the nature of mega-corporations (*coff*BP*coff*) and their inability to respond in crisis situations.

I could even write about the fact that my own employer is a way-too-huge corporation, and sometimes that worries me.

I might even wander out of my local area and riff on that wack-a-doodle "minister" (I use sarcastic quotes on purpose) who is so filled with hate and not a small amount of insanity, that he would endanger the lives of people around the world and American military troops just to get a little publicity for his wack-a-doodle 50 follower church.

I seriously considered discussing the conversation I had this morning with my boss, who is here in the US for three weeks, but who usually lives in London. He is a very kind, gentle and mellow man. He said to me this morning, "I don’t understand this man who wants to burn the Quran. Can you explain it to me?" I couldn't. It is beyond my grasp.

I could discuss my growing dread regarding the upcoming California governor's election in my state.

Or my belief that on both sides of the political spectrum, our US Congress has run so far off the rails that I’m unsure how we will ever find our way back.

And I could talk about how, really, this must be end of days because I can't fathom this world where being so rude, being so self-centered, and being so utterly oblivious are acceptable. And yet, it is.

I even considered discussing how I'm what is considered a very sensitive person. In fact, there are books written on this subject, "The Highly Sensitive Person" and such. And because of that, how my choice to watch a blazing fire on my television all last night is really NOT good for my soul. How tweaked out I am about this whole thing.

Yes. I considered all of those topics and more.

But it's Friday, and I'm exhausted. Three weeks ago one of my dearest friends died and I still can't seem to climb up out of that grief.

And watching people lose their homes and their lives last night really did me in.

So today, I’m going to talk about a dog.

My first god dog, a heeler and Chihuahua mix, has been a good dog. She's deaf and near blind and still very sweet. But she doesn't run around and chase the ball like she used to.

My second god-dog is an adorable little beast. I'm not good with dog breeds, but I think he is a boxer. He's a big, muscular dog with a menacing bark.

But he's the sweetest little pea-pod of a dog I've ever known.

And he likes his godmom back.

There now. Let's not think about the jacked up things in the world.

Look into those eyes. Doncha just feel better basking in the glow of this little bubba of a dog?

I know it makes me feel better.

Everyone just pat a cute dog on the head and love your neighbor and hug your family.

And let's all have a nice weekend, ok?

September 9, 2010

Utterly Speechless Thursday

The Bay Area city of San Bruno is still on fire after a gas main exploded about 6:15pm and continued to burn pressurized natural gas for almost two hours while our utility company, PG&E spent those hours denying the pipe was theirs.

Home were burned to the foundation in a matter minutes and the fire kept burning.

I'm angry at PG&E.

But I'm incredibly grateful to the fine people with the fire, police, ambulance, rescue and medical services. Oh, and the Red Cross.

What a horrible thing to happen.

I have a special place in my heart for the California Fire team who mixed slurry and got planes off the ground. Their precision drops along with helicopters dropping water were the only ray of hope I saw for almost two hours of raging fires.

This is one of those tragedies that will take a long time for the town to recover from. Send up a good word for all those people.

Photo from SFGate.com

September 8, 2010

The Delicious Eagle Has Landed

So there I am, sitting on a Southwest Airlines flight, headed for El Paso.

As we haven't yet cleared 10,000 feet, I can't use my Kindle, so I'm idly flipping through the pages of the Spirit in flight magazine.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an ad for the beautimous Hatch green chile.

The copy claims that this precious commodity will be for sale in many grocery chains near me!


I unceremoniously tore the ad out of the mag. I had to clutch it to my heart!

I showed the ad to my friends there in the southern part of New Mexico, and they told me that due to NAFTA, the local farmers are getting beat out on selling their beautiful crops.

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture is putting on a marketing drive to try to stir up some sales.

The tagline? "Get Your Fix."

Why yes, I think I will. Thankyouverymuch.

So I was in my local Whole Foods store, perusing the fresh produce, when my peripheral vision locked on the word, "Hatch."

There, in my very store, shiny green peppers stacked high.

I RAN over to the display.

But my brain said, "hoooooold on a minute."

I looked a little closer at the sign.

Can you read the sign in this image?

It says, "Hatch peppers" and just above that it says, "Grown in California."

What the @#*$%@&*^%$!!!!


Just no.

This is not right.

This is NOT correct.

This is definitely not ok.

So I laid the waxy green vegetable back on the pile and walked away.

This was not the treasure I sought.

Over this Labor Day weekend, I wrote a terse email to the NMDA asking them if the word "Hatch" can be applied to California grown chiles, or if this sign is in error.

I await their reply.

Yesterday, during my lunch hour, I ran to the Nob Hill Foods (also known as Raley's) near where I work to pick up a couple things. I never shop at Nob Hill, but it was the closest grocer near work.

Once again, my "Hatch" radar picked up something at the periphery.

I fear I couldn't get excited.

I slowly walked toward the word "Hatch" and sniffed the air near the display.

And I looked closely at the sign. They spelled "chile" wrong.

But still...could it be? Have I found the good stuff? Did I just accidentally stumble upon The Precious?

Yes. Yes I did.

I filled a produce bag to bursting and made them mine. Those beautiful chiles sat in the backseat of my car all afternoon, and they made the inside of my car smell heavenly.

This year, The Good Man finally gets to know what the smell of roasting green chile (and the smell of Autumn) is truly about, because it will permeate the corners our home.

Aw. Yeah.

September 7, 2010

Keep Feeling Fascination

This morning, the idea generator prompted me to "Name something that fascinates you."

Let's see...

Right now, the thing that fascinates me the most is: Peanut Butter M&M's

Oh man, I tried these for the first time during my recent travel. My sweet tooth dragged me to an airport shop where I bought a bag, and ever since I can't stop thinking about and yearning for the peanut buttery goodness!

Oh wait. That's an obsession. Not a fascination.

Let me try again.

Ok, I got it. I’m fascinated by that frapping tree growing in my side yard. The one that grows about six feet a month, drapes over the neighbor's fence, scrapes at the side of the house and blocks the nice view out of my home office window.

Oh no, got it wrong again. That's aggravation.

Hmm. Fascinated by the endless lines of tiny black ants invading my kitchen?

Nope, more aggravation.

How about this! I got it. I'm fascinated by the process I go through every morning to park in my favorite spot in the parking garage. There is a pinched-faced lady in a gray BMW who thinks she owns the spot. I parked there uncontested for a whole month and beginning last week, missy miss BMW thinks it's her spot?

Oh I don't THINK so.

No, every day I'm all about making sure that I get that spot, mine mine mine!!

Nice try, Karen. That would probably be best labeled under compulsion.

Maybe I'm fascinated by my ongoing observations about the sheer quantity of Canada Geese poop at the park near my office?

No, compulsion and aggravation together, I think.

How about my fascination with the recent over 90-degree heatwave in the Bay Area.

Nope. Perspiration.

I got it! Night photography! I'm fascinated by that.

But that's also education. As in, I'm totally all about learning night photography but yet, I'm also fascinated with the art.

Yes. That's it. I think I've resolved it.

That was a lot harder that I thought it would be.

September 6, 2010

A Happy Labor Day Quote of the Day

“Thanks to the combination of mayonnaise-based foods and sunshine, your Labor Day celebration can actually last for several days!”

This thoughtful quote brought to you by Shoebox Blog.

September 3, 2010

Where I come from....

....that's a damn fine donation!

"ALBUQUERQUE - Albuquerque police briefly evacuated a Goodwill store after someone left a pistol, ammunition, a grenade and some marijuana in a collection box.

Police spokeswoman Nadine Hamby says the items turned up in the box Thursday.

She says the Albuquerque police bomb squad determined the grenade was a World War II-style inert - or inactive - grenade.

Hamby says the bomb squad took it away to be destroyed.

The police report did not list what type of guns were in the box or the quantity of marijuana."

Source: Las Cruces Sun News

When Hugging a Coworker is Totally Appropriate

As a manager of employees in the State of California, I am required, by law, to attend and complete some very lengthy and detailed courses designed to keep the workplace "appropriate."

The courses are always very alarming because they teach to the worst possible examples, things that make you think "do people really do that?"

But it's good. Having a safe, conflict free work environment is essential. Everyone has a right to feel comfy at the place where they spend the majority of time during their weekdays.

As a new hire, I recently completed the mandatory training for my new company.

It's made me all very aware, very sensitive to potential "situations."

That said, I almost walked right through all my training to drop a big hug on a coworker.

That coworker is the nice man working the grill at the company cafeteria.

Today's special is fish and chips, one of my fave meals.

I figured they'd pull a pre-battered fish plank out of the freezer, dunk it in the fryer, and serve it up.

Fair enough, I'd still eat it.

But no.

After placing my order, the gentleman at the grill pulled two fresh fish filets out of the refrigerator. They were real fish filets, not some amalgam of fish parts.

Then he hand dipped them in batter and laid them gently in the fryer.

He then he served them golden brown over fresh-from-the-fryer, made just for me French fries he's hand seasoned by tossing them in a big bowl.

When he handed me the plate, he smiled and said, "enjoy."

Really, I almost wrapped him in a big bear hug.

He deserved it, California laws be damned!

September 2, 2010

Expanding My Mind

When I was in graduate school at NMSU, I was required to take an International Management class.

This was the early 90's in Las Cruces. "International Management" meant discussing NAFTA and the Maquiladoras on the border.

Don’t get me wrong, that was very valuable learning, especially when NAFTA was in its infancy and no one was certain the impact it would create.

In the final analysis, I find that no matter how wonderful the professor or how much I enjoyed the class, the "international" portion of my education class was seriously lacking.

We might have discussed Japan but only very briefly, and mainly it was topic of fear as Japan was kicking our butt in manufacturing (they still are).

But that was it. Conversations about EMEA (and the Euro), the technology boom in India and vast low cost production from China were all still a long way off.

So they taught what they knew at the time and the rest I've had to figure out for myself.

Over the past two days, I've had telephone meetings with my employees located in Sydney, Sao Paulo and London.

These are three very different countries and cultures. How I speak with and manage my team varies widely. The concerns, the attention to detail, the speed of work is all over the board. I have to figure it out for each person individually so I can be the best and most effective manager possible.

Today after chatting with London, then Sao Paulo, I needed to speak with a supplier representative. I thought he was in the US until I looked at his business card. Nope, Hong Kong.

"What the hell time is it in Hong Kong?!" I wailed aloud as I'd already calculated too many time zones for the day.

For the record, 10:15am is 1:15 tomorrow morning in Hong Kong. So glad I didn't just ring up his cell phone.

But that one moment of frustration aside, I honestly love it. Every minute of these calls and building the relationships with my team is a learning experience. I've worked for companies that touted themselves to be a global company. My current employer truly is.

The other day I walked to the cafeteria and as people walked past me, I heard Italian, Spanish, what I believe was Cantonese (my ear for the various Asian languages is not strong) and many, many central Asia languages spoken amongst my coworkers.

We are truly a multicultural company filled with profoundly intelligent people. I know there are many people who fear the vast influx of people from other countries of the world to the US.

Me, I love it. I feel more a part of the world than I ever did before (heck, my own brother lives in Kuala Lumpur!).

Each day my mind expands and I grow and I love every minute of that.

Last week, when I was in New Mexico, a buddy of mine from back in the day asked me what my job was these days.

I told him about the job and he'd heard of my employer (it's a biggie).

He shook his head, spit out some Copenhagen, looked me square in the eye and said, "That's pretty good for a little girl from New Mexico."

Yeah. Not too bad.

(My phone lines are, indeed, humming)

September 1, 2010

Stumbling in there at the last moment

Several months ago, I participated in a fiction project for the Brooklyn-based Art House Co-Op. I was given a theme and a Moleskine notebook and then asked to fill it with stories and images.

And I did! So much fun.

Based on that success, I decided to take on another Art House Co-Op challenge.

This one is called "The Canvas Project."

They sent me three 4x4 inch canvases and a card with three words on it.

My job? To interpret the three words visually, one per canvas.

The words I got? Not easy.

Here they are:

1. Flatuence (because the universe is laughing at me... And yes, it can be spelled without that second L)

2. Training (really? Visually?)

3. Glassy (Oh, hey, sure. Easy peasy. I can visually display an adjective. NOT! I must have looked at the card twenty times to be sure it didn't say "gassy")

I've had the canvases since July. They were required to be postmarked today.

So of course last night I was madly painting and gluing and fretting! I had two done well ahead of time but the third one, glassy, eluded me.

But I got them done. The Good Man promised to mail them out today.


Anyhow, I took some semi-decent photos with my iPhone last night.

Herewith, my entries to The Canvas Project exhibition:


Yes. That's pinto beans. Yes, that's dried roses. And in case you can't tell from the photograph, that white spot in the center? That's a tablet of Beano.



When taking beginning painting (or drawing) classes, they tell you to draw a grid on the canvas and work square by square. So I used a very simple image and incorporated a grid as my own personal training.

All four sides carry the warning "Artist in Training."

And finally...this is the last canvas I finished. The glue might even still be setting up while the canvas sits in a box ready to ship....


By the by...broken glass is a LOT harder to work with than I'd expected. Though I worked out much pent up anxiety by smashing all that glass with a hammer. One clear glass pane from a picture frame, a mirror, and a glass candle holder from the Dollar Store, a San Pellegrino green bottle and a cobalt blue tincture bottle gave their all for art.

Big fun! I'm excited to see if any of my pieces are picked for the gallery show in December.

Yay! Thanks Art House Co-Op!!!

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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.