Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 street fund and books

After we closed the bookstore, I began reading for pleasure instead of production. Now that I don't need to keep up with current releases and hot sellers to make informed recommendations to customers, my numbers are down. In 2013, I read 60 books, down from 104 in 2012 and way down from the all-time high of 129 in 2010.

In 2013 I read a lot about orphan trains and the street kids of New York City in the 1880s. Most of the books on orphan trains were crap: they sounded eerily like English and seemed to be of interest only to amateur geneaologists eager to prove that they were indeed adopted, and that's why the rest of the family is certifiably nuts. My three favorite books were

So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell;
The Secret History by Donna Tartt; and
The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders.

got books?

The street fund was down also. I found $9.72:

92 pennies,
6 nickels,
20 dimes.
14 quarters, and
3 dollar bills.

I blame the slow economy.

Next year P-Doobie will use an accomplice to trip people outside the ATM.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Do you see what I see?

Every year the folks down at the corner of Diamond Drive and Sandia Drive have a holiday display of inflatable figures. In the evening, the display is quite festive.

Santa is stuck in an igloo.
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, had a very shiny crotch.
What's the bear sitting on?

Nothing says New Mexico Christmas like a saguaro cactus.
In the shadowless light of day, the display is of Christmas in Jonestown.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cañada Bonita

The Las Conchas Fire in 2011 reached the ski hill above Los Alamos and came close to one of my favorite trails, the Cañada Bonita Trail, which goes from the ski area to the Cañada Bonita meadow and thence to the Valle Grande to the west or to Guaje Ridge and Guaje Canyon to the north. I take the gentle hike through the forest to the meadow and then return to the ski area. (See also a previous post about the wildflowers along the trail.) But after the fire, I didn't go up there for fear of what I'd see.

Thursday I took Frankey up for a walk to see what the fire had done and to play with my new camera, which I'm still getting used to. The trailhead still looks pretty normal.

The middle third of the trail to the meadow, however, shows the effects of the fire. Although the aspens and mixed conifers were burned, the aspens, grasses, and wildflowers are returning in abundance.

In some places the grasses and weeds almost covered the trail. The wildflowers were growning in profusion on the slopes.

The forest used to be so thick that I don't recall ever noticing these rocks.


The final third of the trail to the meadow looks much as it used to.


And Cañada Bonita was gorgeous, as usual.

Here are some flowers and berries we saw along the trail.

Baneberry. Do not eat them unless you enjoy the feel of battery acid or hellfire.

 Horsemint is common.

Paintbrushes tell me that summer is almost over.

The wild raspberries are getting ripe. Frankey ate one.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Indian Market 2013

Bobbie and I went to Indian Market 2013 last Saturday. We walked right into Tia Sophia's for breakfast, then hit the streets. Naturally, the point is to visit favorite artists and observe the passing scene. Walk along with us (and click on an image for a larger view)!

For the finest in footwear, nothing beats the traditional cowboy boot worn without socks for that perfectly chafed look.

Pleated, ruffledy-puffledy fiesta raiment is a great look if you can carry it off.

This young woman was handling everything, from fragile baskets to fragile pottery. We had to avert our gaze.

Nothing says "Indian Market" like loungewear.

For the couple-about-town, contrast a colorful hat, skirt, and boots with the elegant simplicity of turquoise and a man-purse.

Southwestern Goth is a new look this year. Heads will turn when you stroll along the Plaza in 90-degree heat.

And speaking of 90-degree heat, you'll love adding to the luxury of skin like fine Corinthian leather.

Lengthy hat plumes are sure to get the attention of your fellow shoppers when the feathers whap them in the face.

A traditional ribbon shirt teams with a retro fanny pack to create the Southwest Nerd.

Dress up in your most outrageous regalia and then become annoyed when someone looks at you.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

And don't put your lips on John the Baptist's head!

I've been going to the Santa Fe Opera for 45 years. I've seen 98 different operas and attended 160 performances. I've seen The Magic Flute 12 times (they haven't gotten it right since 1968).

Yesterday morning I took the backstage tour at SFO for the first time. I was with a nice couple, Keith and Laura, from Shawnee, OK, who are staying at the Glorieta Baptist Assembly. He teaches at Oklahoma Baptist University. They're Baptists.

There were Rules. No photography. Don't even think about eating. If you need to pee, go now, because we are not stopping. Do not speak at all in the costume shop, because the stitchers needed to concentrate. And no drinking anything anywhere, even though it's 98º and the relative humidity is 4%.

The tour was interesting but not very detailed. The docent would point out stuff—"This, of course, is the fledamora plankstaff, complete with state-of-the-art street elbows and bell-top flow flanges"—but wouldn't elaborate on what exactly it was, what it did, and why no self-respecting opera house should be without one. She made much of the fact that there's no curtain, and all the set changes are made in full view of the audience. Keith and Laura were not impressed.

She also pointed out that there's no back wall to the stage, but didn't give examples of why not having a wall would occasionally be a good thing; so I told Keith and Laura about using the lights of Los Alamos as the lights of the harbor at Nagasaki, the Flying Dutchman's ship rising out of the sea during a lightning storm in the Jemez, and the Queen of the Night's entrance in the 1968 production of The Magic Flute.

We went to the Stieren Orchestral Hall; the docent said it was used for rehearsals. I added that the preview lectures are also held there. Keith and Laura seemed to appreciate my annotations, but the docent may have thought I was a know-it-all.

I asked whether it was true that the opera had the prop head of every singer who had sung Jochanaan in Salome, and the docent said they did, but we couldn't see them. Ratz. That was the main reason I went.
Aubrey Beardley's illustration for Oscar Wilde's play

We had only a couple interactions with the workers. We talked briefly with a wigmaker, and I learned enough that I never want to take up that job. The opera uses real human hair, and all the wigs for the principals are handmade. The process requires meticulousness and patience. We also got to talk with a journeyman who was painting a piece for The Marriage of Figaro.

We saw one of the costumes from Lucio Silla, and the docent said that they always use "muslim" when making the first pattern for the costume. That's one way to bring peace to the Middle East, I guess.

Architectural costume designed by Paul Brown. Photo by Beatuy by Noel.
She also showed us some swatches for this year's production of "Don del Lago," an opera apparently based on Mafia activity in the Scottish Highlands (Prendete l'haggis. Lasciare la sciabola. "Take the haggis. Leave the broadsword.").

It was fun, and I got my $10 worth. Maybe next season I can volunteer as a docent. I bet I'd be boffo.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Keeping the world safe for democracy from crusty old broads

Not all was beer and skittles when Mombert and I went to Memphis, because to get to and from Memphis, you have to go to airports. The TSA folks are so meticulous, so stately, so dilatory that they'd try the patience of a tree sloth.

First up: Albuquerque. Thanks to one failed attempt at shoe-bombing 12 years ago, all of us lined up with our shoes untied and flapping. But it wasn't shoes they were after: they busted Mombert for having a plastic bottle of pump hairspray.

I didn't take my bonefish bottle opener on the trip.

Nor did I carry my Officina 365 pen, because there's no way in the world that the TSA folks would believe it's a pen.

The real fun began in Memphis when we were leaving. Before we even got in line, a TSA woman said to me, "You've been selected for special screening," as if I had won a prize or something. She looked at Mombert. "You may go ahead, ma'am. You're not being screened." I explained that Mombert was my mom and needed to stay right where she was. The TSA woman swabbed my hands with some solvent, put the pad in a container, and said I was free to get in line, which was stretching back to Little Rock, because only two guys were scrutinizing the boarding passes with all the intensity of somebody just stumbling on Yeats.

In line I had my glasses on the cord, not wearing them. I assumed the position in the scanner. There was metal on my chest! So I was pulled out for a pat-down. The nice woman asked if those were my glasses. Nothing gets by them.

Then Mombert went through. She was pulled over, and the nice woman used the metal-detecting wand on Mombert's lower legs (must have been her steely resolve—AH-hahahahahaha!).

The airport at Minneapolis/St. Paul sprawls from hell to breakfast, and naturally our connecting flight to ABQ was in some concourse in Iowa. Fortunately, one of those guys in an electric cart came by, and we joined a nice bearded young man with a turban and made it to the gate in time.

Next time we drive.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"No child should die in the dawn of life."—Danny Thomas

Years ago Mombert and I both set up charitable gift annuities with  St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, and every year St. Jude invites us and other donors to the annual Donor Appreciation Event. This year we went! (And our flights were uneventful. We did not weep.)

Our regional representative, Marianna, was on the flight from Atlanta to Memphis, and she was our constant companion during our short time in Memphis. On Tuesday evening we went to a reception, where we met two other donors from the Southwest region, and to dinner. The CEO of the fundraising arm of St. Jude, Richard C. Shadyac, jr., was our host at the dinner. (All the photos are from my phone, so the quality is not as good as with the Nikon. Click on an image to enlarge it.)

He interviewed Katelyn, who had had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After almost three years of mostly outpatient treatment at St. Jude, she is now kickin' butt and takin' names in third grade. When the hospital opened in 1962, the survival rate for  acute lymphoblastic leukemia was 4%; today it is 96%. Her sister Amanda also spoke about her experiences visiting Katelyn at the hospital. They both said they liked going there. One of the donors told them afterward, "You two look like Barbie dolls." Amanda replied, "Yeah, we get that a lot."

Wednesday was devoted to a tour of the hospital and Target House, which is set up for the families of the patients. Walk along with us.

Everything in the hospital is geared toward kids. Here, for example, is the first reception desk the kids see; the counter is at kid height. The kids aren't wheeled around in wheelchairs;their kickin' wheels are Radio Flyers (to respect the privacy of the patients and their families, we weren't allowed to take pictures of them).

Artwork and writing by the patients are featured on the walls.

The researchers at St. Jude have saved tissue from every patient. Their work includes mapping and studying the genome. A sculpture in one of the gardens commemorates the work.

The researchers work in the Research Tower, which has six floors, each the area of a football field, for all the laboratories. The flags represent the home countries of the scientists. St. Jude researchers and physicians share their work free of charge with other hospitals.

A bust of Danny Thomas, the founder of St. Jude, has pride of place in the center of the tower. He has a shiny nose, because it's good luck for you and for the patients to rub it.

We're going to have good luck!

The Kay (as in jewelers) Kafe is the only place to eat at St. Jude, so the patients, their families, the doctors, and the scientists eat together. The chef prepares nutritious meals for the kids, which is tricky because many of those tummies are wombly from chemotherapy or radiation therapy. One little kid couldn't eat anything in the Kay Kafe and wanted only the mac-n-cheese his grandmother made for him. So the chef called the grammie, got the recipe, and made the kid his favorite dish.

At Target House, a long-term housing facility and home-away from home, families can stay in comfy apartments free of charge. They get vouchers for groceries, also free. The complex has game rooms, a playground, a teens-only room, playrooms, an arts-and-crafts center, and many other amenities to keep the kids and families happy. Members of the Memphis Grizzlies basketball team support St. Jude and often come to play with the kids.

Here is Mombert in the play kitchen, which, as you can see, is kid-sized. The refrigerator is stocked with plenty of play food, too.

The playground is colorful and inviting. Rubberized material helps prevent injuries.

Karaoke, anyone? How about a talent show? St. Jude makes any kid a star.

St. Jude provides care at no cost to the patient or family. Although many large organizations (Target, Chili's, Kmart, among others) and celebrities (Tiger Woods, Brad Paisley, the Jonas Brothers, the Grizzlies) provide amazing financial support to St. Jude, Marianna said that Danny Thomas wanted everyone to be able to make a difference, so the donations from thousands and thousands of regular folks average about $29. 

Needless to say, the event had a profound effect on me. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital rules all!