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.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cuter by the minute!

Happy birthday to the cutest California Girl!

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Doctor Atomic" x 3

On Friday as I was driving on my little roadtrip, I listened to John Adams's opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer, Doctor Atomic, on XM Vox. It was musically interesting but difficult. The libretto, which used many actual writings of the Manhattan Project principals, had some neat lines, including this one, which still holds true today: "Anyone could have found Los Alamos just by following the trail of beer cans from Santa Fe."

When I went into the store yesterday morning, I found a note from one of the staffers. A customer from the National Institutes of Health was looking for the libretto for Doctor Atomic, because she was going to see the opera at the Met in October. I couldn't find a libretto online, so I suggested she check at the Met's gift shop.

But wait! There's more. That afternoon my friend Candace, a voice teacher and good friend to the store, came in and said, "I have someone I want you to meet." She introduced me to Sasha Cooke, who will be singing Kitty Oppenheimer in the Met's production of Doctor Atomic this fall! Sasha was browsing in our atomic history section for books that mention Kitty. She had already read American Prometheus but hadn't read 109 East Palace. I gave her our good-singer's discount and asked her to sign my daily planner. Pretty cool, eh?

Sunday, August 17, 2008


In preparation for a visit from his girlfriend, my neighbor cleaned house very thoroughly.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Who are you really?

Wednesday was the all-district meeting for the faculty and staff in the Los Alamos Public Schools. I set up a table outside the Duane Smith Auditorium to pass out informational flyers with valuable cents-off coupons, get addresses for our teachers-only newsletter, and feature the cool books, games, and toys we have at Otowi Station. And to make sure that I was noticed, I wore my Cat in the Hat hat, which has a 14-inch crown. When I wear it, I'm really hard to miss, as the folks behind me at the Santa Fe Opera can attest.

(Not really P-Doobie.)

But some people were confused about which literary character I was portraying.

"Good morning, Dr. Doolittle!"

"Hey! It's the Mad Hatter!"

Friday, August 15, 2008

Playing with the telephoto lens

I got a Quantaray telephoto lens for my Nikon D40, and today Ike and I took a drive to San Jose, New Mexico, which I've passed any number of times on the way to and from Las Vegas, but I never stopped there until today.

View Larger Map

I tried out the lens, and I had some trouble with focus (I'm not sure whether I should wear my reading glasses as I look through the viewfinder), but I think with practice I'll get better.

Lots of houses in northern New Mexico have blue windows, which either keep evil spirits away or indicate the presence of marriageable young women.

Here is the Pecos River.

These are the nests of cliff swallows that the birds built in the underpass under I-25. They look to me like some kind of little animals singing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

If two trains traveling 40 mph leave their respective stations at 10:00 a.m., how many rods are in a rood?

Today's topic is practical math. Things are not going well.

I recently went to the service station in my neighborhood to buy some sodas. For many months they've displayed a sign advertising three Coke products for $3.00. So I went to the counter with three Coke products, and the nice young woman said, "That'll be $4.17." I said, "No, they're three for $3.00." She replied, "No, the price is now four for $5.00. But the price is still the same; you just get more bottles."

A young man in his late teens or early twenties and seemingly of normal intelligence regularly comes into the store for the Magic and Pirates of the Spanish Main gaming cards. The cards are all $4.49 a pack. And he always says, "I have $20.00. How many packs can I buy?" Michele has tried to walk him through the estimating process but to no avail. The next time he asks her, she said, she'll be tempted to answer, "Two."

Today I got the following exciting news from the Netherlands Lottery. "The Lottary gaming board (LOTTO.NL) is pleased to inform you of the result of the online award program.Your E-mail address attached to serial number NL90-4264, Lucky Number:24,2,6,35,45 and online number #1453128, was awarded the sum of 700,000.00 euros. This is from a total cash prize of €3,500,000.00 shared amongst the first Twelve (5) lucky winners in this category."

I was walking several years ago in Bandelier National Monument and came upon two women of a particular regional persuasion (you know the one: Texas). They were discussing cameras and "fim."

"I got this fim in Germany. The strange thing is it has 27 exposures instead of 24."

"Hmmm. Must be metric."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It's okay. I'm wearing gloves.

I don't know what's happening with food workers in Los Alamos, but it ought to be stopped.

This week I met one of our local authors for coffee at the Coffee Booth. I stepped up to the counter and ordered a coffee in a mug, and the young man got a ceramic mug and inspected it for cleanliness, as the staff there always does. He found a speck of something, and instead of giving me a different mug, he reached inside, scraped the speck carefully with his finger, dumped out whatever was in there, and handed me the mug. I asked for a to-go cup

Several months ago I was standing in line at the Subway next door. The staff there wears plastic gloves on their hands when they prepare the sammitches. The other customers and I watched in disbelief as the young "sandwich artist" scratched her head with her gloved hand and then went back to the customer's order. The customer said, "You just scratched your head!" And the young woman replied, "It's okay. I'm wearing gloves." We went to Ruby K's.

I gave Subway a wide berth after than, but went back about a month ago. This time the young man who was making a sandwich scratched his butt and returned to making sandwiches. The customer said, "You scratched your butt!" The young man replied, "It's okay. I'm wearing gloves." We went to Ruby K's again. (I'm also writing a letter to the president of Subway.)

Michele recalls a time she was at an ice cream parlor in New Hope, Pennsylvania. It was a hot day, and the ice cream in the cone that the helper was preparing began to drip a little. So he licked the drippy part and then handed the cone to the customer. Michele said the only sounds in the place were those of crickets chirping, pins dropping, and tumbleweeds rolling across the deserted streets.

It's okay. We'll put on gloves.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A sure-fire crowd pleaser or death on a cracker? You decide!

Even the mere mention of Velveeta imitation processed cheese-like food product gives BobBIE the All-Overs. This concept, featuring Agnes and her best friend Trout, might send her right over the edge.

Does it bother anybody else that Velveeta is not refrigerated in the grocery stores?

Monday, August 4, 2008

"Niagra Falls" redux

Here's another one.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A narrow fellow in the greenhouse

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him,--did you not,
His notice sudden is.

The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen;
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on.

He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn.
Yet when a child, and barefoot,
I more than once, at morn,

Have passed, I thought, a whip-lash
Unbraiding in the sun,--
When, stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled, and was gone.

Several of nature's people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality;

But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.
--Emily Dickinson

Michele has her herbs and peppers in the greenhouse, and lately, when caring for her plants, she'd hear a rustling. At first, it was hard to locate the source, but one day the sound seemed to be coming from underneath the tarp floor. She stood still for a few seconds. There it was again! Then she felt something move under her foot; the movement immediately caused a tighter breathing and zero at the bone. (Less poetically, she shouted the name of the Redeemer--though not in a sense of worship--levitated, and air-walked out of the greenhouse and into the yard.)

Snakes are good. Snakes are our friends. We are especially glad to have them in the greenhouse. We like to know, however, where they are at all times so Michele doesn't need to be defribrillated every time she snips some thyme.

So she hit on a solution. She decided to stand on the step into the greenhouse and sweep a broom gently over the tarp to warn the snake that it's time for her to water the plants. The sweeping worked well for a while, but then apparently the sound started to resemble the rustling of a mommie snake.

Now the snake comes when called.

Michele is thinking of ways to make a pathway around the racks so that she can walk without worrying about the snake, and the snake can say hello without being stepped on.

Some of Michele's plants and her narrow buddy, under the tarp.