Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Winter wonderland, but not in the driveway

Here are some images I took recently of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from the Anderson Overlook. The snow is beautiful on the mountains but a pain in the tuckus in the driveway. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I swear, if you don't get out of my driveway, I'm going to call the cops. Merry Christmas.

I've been listening to holiday pops on XM/Sirius radio on the way to and from work, and I usually enjoy the music very much. I do not like shrill little boy sopranos. Anthony Way, for example, makes me want to stick my fingers in my eyes and twirl them around. I also do not like to listen to Dame Joan Sutherland sing carols because her diction is so weird and phlegmy. It's not a carol, but if she sang it, it would sound like this:

Caddy me bok tew old Vuhjiddy
Deah's wheah deh coddod ahnd deh sweed bodadoes gr-rrrrr-ow!
Deah's wheah deh buhds waughble sweed in deh sprrr-rrringtahm . . . .

So I said to myself, "Oh, yeah? Think you can do better, P-doobie?" And I remembered the caroling parties we used to go to every Christmas eve.

Jim and Gracie, our neighbors for years and our friends since 1982, would host the caroling party. After several years of trial and error (amateurs, for example, can't sing "O Holy Night" without breaking down in so many ways--vocally, musically, spiritually), we finally whittled down our list of carols to "Joy to the World," "Jingle Bells," "Silent Night," and "O Come All Ye Faithful." They were in everybody's range. We knew the words.

It was traditional to start our caroling at the home of a family we knew was always out of town on Christmas Eve; singing to the empty porch was a warm-up to the debacles to come. No matter what we sang for folks, Gracie would jingle her jingle bells, so "Silent Night" always sounded like a reindeer convention. Uncle P would play his harmonica as an accompaniment. We'd be out for an hour or so--earnest, effortful, and always near the tune--and then we'd round up the people who took the wrong turn on Trinity Drive and were favoring the folks down on 43rd Street with "Jingle Bells" while the rest of the group was at the top of Sandia singing "Silent Night,"and adjourn to Jim and Gracie's for posole, hot cranberry punch, and other yummy holiday fare.

Several parties, however, remain etched in my memory. There was the time our hosts invited a couple of newbies, and we were warming up on "O Come All Ye Faithful." The wife said, "We should sing the first 'O come let us adore him' very quietly, then the next one a little louder, and then on the final one, we should sing out quite loudly." Everyone looked at her as if she were a bug in the wassail bowl.

"Um . . . you've never sung with us before, have you?"

"We don't worry about dynamics. We just want to get the words right."

"Some of us [meaningful look at me] aren't even singing the right song some of the time."

"Yeah, well, some of us [meaningful look at Eric] aren't even on the right street!"

There was the time the temperature was around zero with variable southwest winds at 15 to 20 mph, and we were all so happy because we thought we could stay inside and eat, drink, and be merry. But no. Jim herded us, crying and bleating, out into the arctic cold. We stayed out less than 30 minutes. Uncle P's frozen mustache whiskers occasionally snagged the harmonica, so our listeners heard, "Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let--"

"OW! Son of a . . . ."

". . . King!"

And once we went caroling in a blizzard. We mushed up to the empty house, sang "Jingle Bells," then plowed over to a guy who shoveling his driveway in a futile effort against the rapidly accumulating snow. We surrounded him and sang, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas / Just like the ones I used to know." Even through the driving snow we could see that his hands were gripping the shovel very tightly, much as one might grip a weapon. We could take a hint. We finished one chorus and slogged back to Jim and Gracie's, where we took turns shoveling each other's cars out.

Warming up for the venture into the cold on Christmas Eve.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

George Leonard Herter revealed!

This week's New York Times Book Review had an essay on George Leonard Herter, everyone's favorite know-it-all. With a picture!

Hangtown Fry! Putting cornstarch in a girdle so it goes on easier! Bombing fish! The finest catalog in the world, too fine for any king I know.

George Leonard Herter. May his name be a blessing.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bronze or pottery, linens and lace

Today Michele and I celebrate our eighth anniversary. That's 80 years in Lesbian Years!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Brides of Christ and disco madmen

Thanks, Chuckbert, for your recent post.  The images stirred some memories for me.

We had to go to catechism twice a week, Monday and Wednesday, in second grade so that we could prepare for our First Confession and First Holy Communion. The nuns smote us hip and thigh with all the possible ways we could sin. Talking back to Mom? Venial sin, that. Lying to Dad? Hitting John H. in the head with a branch? Obviously every kid would commit that kind of sin. But it wasn't just sins of commission that we had to worry about. It was sins of omission. Not helping carry in the groceries? Sin of omission. Playing up in the woods when Dad was changing the oil on the Willys, which he seemed to be doing every freaking week? Omission. The deck was stacked heavily against us.

It was a good thing we'd make our First Confession so that we would not go flouncing and bannering and ballooning, like shot crows, into hell. We practiced the prayers. Hail Mary was a piece of cake. The Lord's Prayer a bit tougher. The Act of Contrition ("O my God, I am hardly sorry") was fun because we would all squeak together when we got to the line, "But most of all, because they offend theemygod. . . ." The Apostle's Creed was a bear because it was long, and I didn't understand most of it. "He descended into Hell"? Oh, man, if Jesus descended into Hell, we were toast.

We memorized the Ten Commandments, which were pretty clear for the most part, but we all had trouble with the sixth: "Thou shalt not commit adultery." "Sister Mary Europeandasia, what's adultery?" "Why, it's . . . um . . . it has to do with . . . um . . . carnal concupiscience." We'd whisper to each other (venial sin), "Wow! Carnal concupiscience! What's carnal concupiscience?" And the ninth commandment, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife," had my name all over it.

Sister Mary Europeandasia said that sometimes our little brother or sister would call their blankie a "covet" instead of a "cover." We were to remonstrate with our siblings if they ever said the word "covet" and correct them. Somehow I got the impression that even saying the word was a sin. 

Finally the Saturday of First Confession arrived. We had been drilled thoroughly about how to examine our consciences, what to say, what to do, how to act, how to make a good Act of Contrition, how to do penance. I went into the confessional (it was still that curtained, dark booth with a kneeler and galvanized mesh opening covered with pale blue cloth, through which you whispered to the priest). I could hear muttering behind the cloth. Was it my turn? Hard to tell. I said, "Bless me father, for I have sinned." The door slid open. "Shhhhhh!" Okay, it was obviously still the other person's turn. I kept rehearsing my sins.

First Communion Sunday! We girls looked like little brides of Christ, and the boys in their suits looked like miniature John Travoltas in Saturday Night Fever. We were starving from our three-hour fast: Baby Jesus could not be sullied by the contents of our stomachs, but who knows what happened when he hit that hydrochloric acid (venial sin for even thinking that). If a host dropped on the floor, the altar boys, we knew, would throw themselves on it like Marines on a live grenade.

We marched reverently up to the communion rail and knelt down with our hands under the cloth. We had practiced at home with Necco wafers. This was exciting. Father Shuler placed the host on my tongue, and the host immediately adhered to the roof of my mouth. (This was in the days of the almost-transparent hosts, not the hearty-grain fare of later years.) You cannot put your finger in your mouth to scrape it off. I worked it with my tongue. No luck. It was like trying to remove a piece of tissue paper glued to my palate with Silastic. I couldn't let Baby Jesus dissolve in my mouth. Oh, man, and I had just gone to confession the day before, and here he was, stuck. Really, really stuck. Starting to wrinkle and shrink. I continued with my tongue and vibrated my uvula. There! Got him!

That's how I make friends at parties if I don't know anyone. I just stand there by the onion dip and say loudly to no one in particular, "I spent half my childhood trying to get Baby Jesus off the roof of my mouth after communion." Then I make that Baby-Jesus-stuck-on-the-roof-of-my-mouth sound, and immediately all the lapsed Catholics in the room swarm around me, saying "You know how many laps around the beads I had to do when I shot a spitwad at Sister Mary Patrick?" "That's nothing. Let me tell you about the time we got into the sacramental wine." We just have a feast of reminiscence.

A bride of Christ

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hey! That turkey has a P-doobie on its butt!

Here is another picture of me in the turkey hat. One of our staffers took it with her cell phone. The hat and I also made the front page of the Monitor on Wednesday. I'll have to send you the story by mail, because of course the newpaper's lame website doesn't have it.

And, and I told Don too, because they've moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were married, but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn't bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it's not okay because if they take my stapler then I'll set the building on fire . . . . Oh, wait. My red stapler is right here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thanksgiving poem and picture for you

To make your family smile and laugh
Be sure to wear your turkey hat!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Alas, whimsical notion, we hardly knew ye.

You recall that the day after the election, I sent President-elect Obama two books and a letter. Friday I got the books back with a nice note from one of his staff members:

"Senator Obama thinks the public should have confidence that their elected officials are solely focused on representing their interests in Congress. In light of recent abuses of the congressional gift rule by a few members of Congress and the lobbying community, Senator Obama wants to lead by example. Instituting a clear cut, no-gift policy should eliminated any appearance of an individual or organization attempting to influence him or his staff through any means other than the power of their policy arguments."

Is that not cool? And my letter/policy argument is somewhere in his office.

P-doobie was momentarily bummed about the books.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shoe! Happy birthday to you!

Happy birthday to my wizardly sister! I'm very glad you were born, Shoe.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Huffing at Otowi Station

One of the products we carry is a glue that you spread on your completed jigsaw puzzle to preserve it. It's like Elmer's Glue, with the same milky white color and mild acetic odor. This week we've found two open jars of the stuff spilled in the museum section--and gosh, was it fun to clean up.

Apparently some kids are unclear on the concept of glue sniffing, and thought they could get high by huffing puzzle glue. I checked the material safety data sheets for the glue, and it's harmless unless misused; two of the byproducts of decomposition are carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, so the kids could possibly get a little light-headed if they huffed long enough.

We've put the glue in a case on the counter. 

The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition has lots of good information about the dangers, signs, and prevention of huffing.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Queen Victoria weighs in

Thank you, Chuckbert, for introducing me to The New Adventures of Queen Victoria. You'll need to click on the images to enlarge them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My first act after the election

I sent Senator Obama a copy of Power to Save the World: the Truth about Nuclear Energy and encouraged him to call for a new Manhattan Project to develop economical, sustainable, safe energy that will help combat global warming. (I also sent him a copy of The Shadow of the Wind, for those times when he's too tired to start a new project but not sleepy enough to go to bed.)

I also asked him to use independent bookstores when he and his staff need books and to let Otowi Station know when he needs scientific and technical books.

Let's get to work! We have a lot to do!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I'm gonna be a white Oprah!

The scariest Halloween costume

Every year the Chamber of "Commerce" sponsors "Trick or Treat on Main Street," an event downtown that provides a safe venue for the kids to get their candy fix. Otowi Station participates, and this year we handed out about 70 pounds of candy and all our glow-in-the-dark monster fangs, skeletons, and tops. (And what is it with sour Twizzlers? The smell of them made me gag, but the kids snatched them up, and, even more interesting, actually ate them.) We also had dog cookies for the pooches. Pet Pangaea sponsored a Hallow-wiener constume contest for dogs.

One mom dressed as Sarah Palin, and her bodyguard kids were dressed in suits and sunglasses and were wearing earphones. Indiana Jones was out in force, as were men dressed as nuns. The kid wearing the scariest costume of all was dressed as the Dow Jones Industrial Average.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

A sign of the times

Courtesy of my friend Marion.

Carpe carpum

I'm now working at home on Tuesdays to do marketing and customer development.

So there I was on Tuesday, making a spreadsheet of information on all the engineering firms and physicians in town. I was cutting and pasting. I was sorting. I was working like a factory. I was getting a ton of work done. And then, in the midafternoon, my left wrist seized up. 

It felt as if something needed to "pop." I couldn't move it without exquisite pain. Five years working in ergonomics at Los Alamos National Laboratory was not lost on me: I figured it was a sign to stop.

When Michele came home, we took Ike for walkies. My wrist was still killing me, and if Ike tugged on the leash, I almost levitated. Michele said that I should go to urgent care. I said bravely that the pain would go away, but my wrist was telling me, "You can always bite down on a rubber spatula when I spasm! BWA-hahahahahaha!" By the time we got home, I told Michele that going to the Doc in the Box would be a really, really, REALLY good idea. 

The whippersnapper of a physician on call, Doogie Howser, MD, poked, prodded, and percussed and said that I had tendinitis, an inflammation in the wrist. He prescribed an anti-inflammatory medicine, a muscle relaxant, a wrist brace, and some pain pills slightly stronger than aspirin. I got everything at the pharmacy, took it or wore it according to direction, and yesterday felt quite fine.

Here is my paw with the brace.

Oh, the pain! The pain!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Good sport--but still a bad candidate

Bazooka Joe to Carlos Ruiz Zafón

One of the bad things about living on 48th Street in the 1950s was that lots of my playmates had older sibs who gave them a head start at school. John H. had his sisters Maribeth and Diane. Sandy C. had her sister Avril and brother David. Lynn J. had Lee. They knew all about Tip and Mitten, and I was completely bewildered by what they were talking about. John H. once even told me, "You're so dumb, you can't even spell Tip!" Then he sneeringly spelled it: "T-I-P!" Lynn and Sandy weren't much nicer to me when we discussed reading and spelling. (A gang of five- and six-year-olds is the very crucible of Social Darwinism.)

I was desperate to catch up and learn to spell and read, so when I entered first grade, I was excited. Finally I'd learn to read by myself! I wouldn't have to ask Gram to read the Bazooka Joe comics to me. I wouldn't have to ask Mom to read the books and comics with bigger type! Let's go! Let's read!

Probably the lamest comics ever, but I really wanted to know what they said because the pictures were no help.

Miss Norma Jean Herman, my first-grade teacher, passed out the readers: Tip, Tip and Mitten, and The Big Show. And we read them over and over and OVER. No plots. Vapid characters. No themes. No building to a climax, no tension, no bad motives, no moral uplift. Just those three kids, Jack, Janet, and Sally, with their parents, Mother and Father, and their pets, Tip and Mitten, running, looking, and hopping. You can't build a compelling narrative with such limitations.
Well, yuck.

My desperation reached a white heat in second grade. Fortunately, second grade brought Miss Donna Siegfried--may her name be a blessing--who recognized a hunger when she saw it and fed that hunger. She read to us every day: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Real Book about Abraham Lincoln stand out in my memory. I think she was as bored by the primers as we were. 

Tom paints the fence.

Dad also recognized my hunger then and let me join the Real Book Club (whatever failings he had, he always said "yes" when I wanted a book). I got Real Books on jokes, magic, horses, dogs, the Mounties, Abraham Lincoln, farming, tall tales, crafts, mountain climbing, and the US Capitol, among others. The 16-volume Children's Hour set appeared in the coffee table in the living room. I ate them up. I was on my way!

The Children's Hour

Years ago at Izzy's suggestion, I made it my goal to read 25 new books a year. Now that I own a bookstore, I read for a living. As of today I've read 67 new books in 2008. The best one so far this year is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. 

I love to read. That's all I wanted to say.

Friday, October 10, 2008

“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale / Her infinite variety.” Oh, shut up.

Today marks a first for me. I got the senior discount at Subway. I was glad for the discount but unnerved by the reason.

P-doobie [sniffling]: "And . . . and then the little whippersnapper asked me if I were over 55, and I told the young scallawag I was, and . . . and then I got the discount."
Otowi Station staff: "Dash it! You are younger than springtime, you crusty old fart!"

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Crapture: the Musical

We're fine. Really.

Friday, Izzy, Bobbie, and I cleaned out the three crawlspaces under the house. Izzy pitched stuff out onto the lawn; I did a preliminary triage; and Bobbie drove the truck to the dump, where Izzy and I had the satisfaction off-loading everything. We took 1000 pounds of crap to the dump on Friday. 

We also went through several dust masks and many pairs of latex gloves. With all the dust, mouse droppings, and a hunk of asbestos, the project was just made for respiratory distress, hantavirus, asbestosis, and general malaise. 

Mei and Xin came home from school while we were in the middle of things. Mei wanted to hug me, and I told her not to because I was so dirty. She said, "Okay. Good-bye, Stinky." After I got home I felt I should have taken a garden rake and a box of matches and burned my clothes in the driveway.

Foreman Izzy, who has been On Task since the day she started to walk, was thorough and merciless. The key to working with her is to keep moving, because if you don't, you'll find yourself deep in a carton next to a half a salami and an opened jar of mayonnaise, and Izzy writing "perishable" on your forehead with her Magic Marker.

We found a couple treasures, including the box of Magic Lantern glass slides of penitentes and a Japanese rifle from WWII. The trash included a bald tire, two garbage bags of styrofoam meat trays, strips of curled linoleum, carpet scraps, gallons upon gallons of homemade wine-now-vinegar, and boards. Izzy left the desiccated squirrel under the house.

On Saturday Izzy and I went through the triage pile and separated out items that would be of interest to the family and sorted through some boxes. Bobbie drove us to the dump with a small load.

Today Izzy and I tackled the storage shed and went through some of Dad's stuff. We have a pile of stuff that will go to Casa Mesita, recyclable cardboard, and several bags of trash that we can take to the curb.

Izzy and P-doobie carried baskets of crap to Bobbie's truck.


Third in a series.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Let the Crapture begin!

As we approach the weekend and Izzy's visit to help clear out the old homestead, I ask each of you to read my friend Marion's profoundly moving sermon, Crap-free Jubilee. Use it to inspire you; to help you look forward to that great day in which the magazines will have been recycled, the wine-now-vinegar will have cleaned the pipes, our childhood mementos will have been dispersed to the rightful owners, and all the other detritus of the past will have been taken to the landfill; to be able to stand tall and say, "Today, I am clean!"

The family devised a way to get the crap down the front slope to the street.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hobnobbing with the mid-list and famous

Michele and I spent the week at the annual conference of the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers' Association. This year the conference was in Colorado Springs. Come along with me for a trip report in pictures.

When we drive anywhere, one of us drives for two hours, and then we switch. Our first pit stop when we head north is always at the veterans' nursing home in Walsenburg, Colorado, where we take advantage of the clean facilities.

The nursing home is right across the road from Lathrop State Park.

Here is Michele. She feels very refreshed.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Frank Wilczek, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2004. We enjoyed his talk about the Large Hadron Collider. After the talk, I shook his hand, and he posed for a photo. That was cool!
Does Peg admire Dr. Wilczek? Nah. Not much.

Rick Riordan, who wrote the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, spoke at the dinner for children's authors. He's a good speaker and an interesting person. He wrote the first book in a projected 10-book series that features trading cards, online gaming, and a contest in which you can win $100,000.00. (Kids these days. Why, in my day, we were happy just to have our own ratty paperback book that we read over and over until it became compost! We had fun with a piece of string and a stick!)
Rick Riordan tells how teaching influenced his writing.

The other speaker was j.otto Siebold, author of Olive, the Other Reindeer and his new book about a little vampire, Vunce Upon a Time. He's out of his socks. I'm still not sure what exactly he talked about, but we were all laughing hard.
j.otto vs. the microphone.

There are two cocktail receptions for authors. Two major book distributors, Baker and Taylor and Ingram, donate books, and the authors sign them. For a suggested donation of only $2.00 per book, which goes to MPIBA's literacy programs, you can get a ton of signed and inscribed books. 
Cocktails, snacks, and books: the ultimate human experience.

One of the signers was Noah McCullough, who at age 10 published The Essential Book of Presidential Trivia. He's now 13 and published his second book, First Kids: the True Stories of All the Presidents' Children. I was smitten (even if he is a miniature Republican).
Michele and Noah.

Another signer was Obert Skye, author of the Leven Thumps series. We talked with him for a while, and he said he'd like to visit the store. I gave him a card, and he wrote on the back "nice people," so he'd remember us.
Me and Obert Skye.

We also went to the annual authors' breakfast for literacy, another fund-raiser for the literacy program. We were at the top of the hotel, and the ballroom faced west and Pikes Peak.  The MC told the familiar story of how Katherine Lee Bates was inspired by the view from the top of Pikes Peak and wrote the poem "America the Beautiful." He then invited everyone to stand and sing "America the Beautiful." It was really moving to hear several hundred left-leaning booksellers sing the song without a trace of irony.

We then got to hear talks by Laura Pederson, who is the youngest person ever to have a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. I'm reading her memoir, Buffalo Gal, about growing up in Buffalo, New York. It's really funny.
Laura Pederson signs her book.

The other speakers were John Hodgman, the "resident expert" on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Chuck Klosterman. They're both insanely funny. We accosted Chuck in the hall the day before he was to speak and shook his old cow hand. Later, at the trade show, I asked him to sign copies of Downtown Owl. I said, "You are so cool." He replied, "So are you."
John Hodgman and Chuck Klosterman.

The great thing about the conference is that you can get a ton of books for free or practically nothing. The bad thing is that you have to get them home. We filled up the trunk, and Sophie was resting on her axle.
One day's haul on the desk in our hotel room.

Outside our room were a pond, trees, garden, and wood nymph. 

On the way back we saw this sign. Michele asked, "No center stripe? Then how do they know where to cut?"

Right across the road were some horses. Michele suggested that I take a picture of them, and when I approached, they thought I had treats. Just north of Questa are some heartbroken equines.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Not generally associated with "any sense of shame"

We had a signing Tuesday with the best-selling mystery writer Margaret Coel. She's always a delight--gracious, generous with her time, and charming. She spent a lot of time with the folks who came to the luncheon in her honor, and most of the guests were nice about sharing Margaret with the others, rather than monopolizing her time. 

Among the people at the luncheon and the signing afterwards was local author Ina, who had a satchel full of press clippings, her books, scrapbooks, and photo albums featuring Ina in various athletic pursuits. She stood in line and talked at length about her travels, Jane Austen, and the fact that one of her books may be made into a movie, because a producer took a copy at a workshop she went to.

Margaret would occasionally peer around Ina at the other people in line, smile apologetically, and then politely return to Ina's monologue. Finally, I nabbed Ina, asked her nicely to let other people have a chance, and led her away.

Toward the end of the signing, Margaret said, "I need to give you my credit card. Ina wants me to buy her book [the one that may be made into a movie]." I told Margaret to put away her money. I went back to the workroom and asked Alan to take the book out of inventory so we could give it to Margaret. 

"Ina didn't give the book to Margaret?!" he spluttered. "She's making Margaret buy it?" When I went back into the store, Margaret said, "At least self-published authors can choose the artwork for their covers." Her observation was accompanied by the faint sounds of spluttering still coming from the workroom.

"Who knew she would recite Pride and Prejudice at a book signing?"

Sunday, September 7, 2008

So you'll be voting for the Marquis de Sade, Lord Byron, and Eliot Spitzer?

Michele and I volunteered to work with the local Obama campaign. Last Sunday, Michele canvassed in Quemazon, and today I canvassed in Western Area. We've also donated to the campaign. 

Canvassing was fun. We're not supposed to go into people's houses, but instead talk to them from the porch. One elderly woman in a wheelchair answered the door and invited me in. I thanked her and said that we weren't supposed to go inside, presumably so people can't whack us. She gave me a shrewd look and said, "You never know."

When I asked another senior about whom she would be voting, she said, "Not Obama, that's for sure! His wife is a lippy pitbull. And McCain's not much better. I think I'm going to vote for those Libertines, Barr and Root!"


Michele and I planted four hills of squash. Only two survived (thank god): zucchini and yellow crook neck. We thought we had been really diligent in keeping up with the zucchini, but one got away from us. Michele found it this morning. It is 18 inches long and weighs 4 pounds. The only thing we can think to make with it is a lamp.

Michele holds the freshly picked zucchini.

The zucchini is as big as Casey.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

May I present my cousin, Josef Mengele?

Our friend Georgia operates Buffalo Tours, and we are pleased to sell tickets at the store. Yesterday morning Georgia got a lengthy call from a woman who was apparently near Albuquerque and desperately wanted to take the tour. Georgia assured her that she would have plenty of time to make the 1:30 tour.

About mid morning Becky took a call. It turned out to be from the woman, who needed driving directions to Los Alamos. She spent about five minutes with the woman before she had to take another call, so she handed the phone to me.

"This is Peggy. May I help you?"

"How do I get to Los Alamos?"

"Where are you now?"

"On I-25."

"You'll need to be more specific. Have you reached Santa Fe yet?"


"Okay, you'll need to exit onto New Mexico 599."

"How do I do that?"

"Before you get to Santa Fe, you'll see a sign for the exit to New Mexico 599. Exit where the sign reads 'New Mexico 599.'"

"Then what do I do?"

"Then you follow 599 north to US 84/285."

"Wait! Nobody told me about 599. Where's a pencil? I don't have a pen. I left my pen in the hotel in Albuquerque! How am I going to remember all this? WHO HAS A PEN?" I removed the telephone receiver from my ear. If her voice were music, it would be "Sounds of Construction and Demolition" by some minimalist composer. "Okay, I follow 599 to 284 and 285."

"No, you follow it to 84 and 285."

"That's what I said."

"No, it's US 84 and 285."

"WHO HAS A PEN? I DON'T HAVE A PEN! What do I do after I drive on 599?"

"You exit onto US 84 and 285."

"Is there a sign?"

"Yes. It says 'US 84/285.' You'll be heading north."

"Which way is north?"

"Just get in the lanes that take you to Espanola, Taos, and Los Alamos."

"I don't want to go to Taos!"

"Go north on 84/285 to Pojoaque."

"Perky? They told me I'd turn at Perky."

"Right. You'll turn at Pojoaque."

"I turn right in Perky?"

"No, I was saying that your instructions were correct. Turn west onto New Mexico 502 at Pojoaque."

"Wait! Nobody told me about any 502! Which way is west? WHO HAS A PEN! WHERE ARE WE? We have to stop for gas!" Sounds of car doors slamming. Apparently they'd just hove up at a service station. "WHERE ARE WE?!" Lengthy pause. Muffled conversation. "Okay, I think we're in Perky." By now I'm wondering whether the woman has suffered some sort of brain damage that has left her without the basic instincts of driving or, indeed, life itself.

"Get back onto 84/285 and take the exit to Los Alamos. There's a sign. There's an arrow. 502 will take you straight into Los Alamos."

"How far?"

"19 miles. Just come straight into Los Alamos on Central. We're at the first street light."

"What do you mean 'straight into Los Alamos'?"

Between Perky and Los Alamos she had called the store twice more. Becky and Alan both tried to walk her through the 19 miles, but it was mostly fruitless. Alan turned off the ringer on the phone and said that no one was to touch it for the next 40 minutes.

The woman, who announced herself as Joyce, and her husband finally arrived about 30 minutes before the tour, so they wandered around the store for a while. She looked with evident interest at the framed Christmas card with the photo of Glenn T. Seaborg and his family. "My cousin knew Glenn Seaborg, but I don't recognize any of the other scientists in this photograph."

Becky said, "It's Seaborg and his family. It's a Christmas card. The other people are his teenaged kids, not scientists."

Joyce was unimpressed. "My cousin worked up here," she said proudly. "He was the one who injected people with plutonium to see what would happen to them." We didn't really know how to respond to that.

She browsed through the store and started a stack of items at the counter. Georgia pulled up in her van. I asked to speak with her in the workroom. "After the tour we are prepared to offer you Xanax and booze," I told her.

They all got in the van, and the tour apparently proceeded without incident. Joyce came into the store again to look at everything she had stacked at the counter. She didn't buy anything.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Raise a tortuga to Neil Murphy

Neil Murphy, who founded Senor Murphy, Candymaker, died recently in Tucson. We've all enjoyed the pinon brittle, tortugas, chocolate-covered caramels, and other delights that his company produced. Today, to honor Senor Murphy's memory, please eat a piece of great candy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I swear, if I'm signing a contract to give them a lifetime supply of ice cream, all five are grounded until they're 70.

Here's Mom signing the purchase agreement yesterday. Vernon and Bettie signed today. Woo-HOO!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Throw 'em all out and vote for me!

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Meet Zetz!

Michele and I got the house a Blendtec Total Blender for . . . um . . . National Chocolate Chip Day (August 4)! Its name is Zetz, which is Yiddish for a smack or a whack, and also onomatopoetic for the sound it makes. We've made smoothies, and I'm going to try some grape jam with the grapes from Mr. Mac's arbors ("Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant."--Proverbs 9:17). Tonight Michele made a smoothie with yogurt, blueberries, and honey, and mine was strawberry, frozen banana, and blueberries. Yummmmm!


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Now is there some sort of fair on the square today?

Michele and I went to Indian Market yesterday. We left home before 6:00 so we could have breakfast at Tia Sophia's. When we got on line, we were at Uli's, two doors down from the restaurant, but we were still in the first wave to go in. Our waitress brought our breakfast burritos and said, "You have two minutes to finish, then get out!" How we laughed.

We had read in the Indian Market guide about Wanesia Spry-Misquadace, an Ojibwa artist who lives in Santa Fe. She is preserving a very rare form of art, birch-bark biting, so we stopped by her booth first. Her pieces are exquisite. Here is an image of what the bitten birch bark looks like. It's not one of Wanesia's pieces, though. Hers are more intricate; she does turtles and insects.

Two Great Quotations

We were a couple booths away from Wanesia's when we heard the first of the Two Great Quotations of the Day. A woman was looking at a sculptor's work and asked, "Are you selling this?" There was a long pause while he looked closely at her and decided she really hadn't just been beamed down from the mother ship. "It's all sold [before 8:30! How cool is that?]," he told her. She said, "Well, you should put up a little sign then."

Later we were looking at the booths on Lincoln Avenue and heard the second of the Two Great Quotations. A woman said to her companion, "Let's go to the other side of the street. You can get the stuff on this side in any store." We assumed she shopped at Walatowa-Mart.

The best-dressed tourist contest

The contest was a toughie this year. Would we choose the woman dressed in diaphanous skirts, pink full-quill ostrich boots, and layers of floating scarves that trailed behind her like exhaust? How about the woman wearing every bit of her silver and turquoise jewelry? Ordinarily it would take six men and a boy to hold her up under the weight, but for Indian Market, it's best to solo. We finally decided on the woman clomping around in her bespoke boots featuring Our Lady of Guadalupe in colors so bright and vibrant they could have been given a coat of tan.

What we brought home

Michele got a Zuni fetish of a bear.

My friend Tony, a Santa Clara sculptor, gave me this little bear. We worked together for several years at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and he said he wanted to give me something to celebrate our friendship over the last 25 years. What a nice guy!

I got this little beaded sheep from Ronda Dosedo of Zuni, New Mexico.