Employed, Part II; Or, How I Came All The Way To Santa Fe To Go Corporate

Received my official employment offer today in the mail, after accepting the verbal one on Friday. I'm going to work at the global headquarters of an international luxury real estate company as their in-house Creative Director. They're growing and expanding around the world, and are looking to rework some existing marketing collateral as well as instituting new programs.

Answered an ad for this position just before I started at my current job. They do a quarterly publication, and that was the focus of the newspaper ad; once I started going through the interviews, it became apparent that they had some other thoughts for the position. And it seems a pretty good match with the work I've been doing for the past few years.

So I've given my two weeks notice at the print shop; we're still in our 30-day trial, but I don't want to just abandon them. And I've started packing away my jeans. The office is "business casual," so I'm going to have to be dressing up for work — something I haven't had to do on a regular basis since my summer job at Travelers.

And, speaking which, and of dressing up (or not anymore), this week is M&D's last week of work. As of the end of the day on Thursday, they're retired!


Farewell, XM

We've let our subscription to XM lapse. We actually meant to do it last month, but they kind of renewed us before we could cancel.

The radio here's been a pleasant surprise (and not just the reception). We're just about always tuned in to KLBU, which plays the kind of downtempo electronica (Thievery Corporation, Blue States, Bebel Gilberto) that would ususally find its way into our CD player anyway. They do definitely have a playlist, but it hasn't started grating too badly yet. And, oddly, it's one kind of station that XM was really lacking; we would have to make do with Luna or XM Cafe (a.k.a. the Sting and Seal station).

NPR is well represented also, with the University of New Mexico's KUNM out of Albuquerque and Santa Fe's KSFR. Between the two (we still don't remember all the time which is which), we get our fix of Car Talk, Wait Wait, This American Life, though at some odd times; Morning Edition as well, though we really haven't gotten back into that habit. KUNM also has some good music and afternoon freeform (like you'd think a college would have) that we haven't been listening to enough. And KSFR really has a local feel that I get a particular kick out of.

The XMPR kind of wound up being a disappointment. We would catch the occasional Bob Edwards, but especially once we moved time zones, the rest of the schedule just wasn't working for us. And the way they bury Sounds Eclectic in the middle of the night is just baffling.

The station that's toughest to let go of is The System. Its beats got us across the country and was a good, all-purpose background (especially when working) — but its playlist puts a lot of the same stuff in heavy rotation. And, as much as we like his show, our long-time favorite (from back in the HFS and Insect Club days) Zoltar's show just wasn't enough.

We're still keeping the receiver, though.


Sunday sightings

At the corner of Cerillos + Baca:

Yesssssss. Welcome.

In the Trader Joe's parking lot:

uhm, okaaaaay...
I, for one, welcome our new Salmon Tortellini Overlords.


New Mexico Letterpress

We finally made it to the letterpress shop that was recommended to us by Jim Sherraden during our visit to Hatch Show Print in Nashville. We'd scouted it out and discovered that it's part of the museum at the Palace of the Governors, but hadn't made it there yet to check it out.

After easy start to Sunday morning (after a call from Paul + Tess telling us they'll be in in town next week), we headed over to the Palace Print Shop to see what it was all about. Tom, who it was recommeded we meet, wasn't there today. But James gave us a tour of the shop and the equipment, showed us work (completed and in progress) that they were working on, and just talked with us (including sharing small world/town stories). They have an extensive collection of presses representing the history of printing in New Mexico, and apparently, of the printed material; but they also function as a working press, creating books, artwork, and even posters for Palace events.

To top it all off, the current exhibition at the Palace is Lasting Impressions: The Private Presses of New Mexico, all about the small presses (starting from the early days of colonization) that have produced books and artwork in New Mexico. All the work and the displays of equipment turned out to be a bit overwhelming; but that's OK, it's on display for another year-and-a-half.

Saturday Night Out In Santa Fe

Last night, Janie and Joa treated us to a night out in Santa Fe. A pretty substantial thunderstorm (especially at their place, a couple miles away) led off the evening, which started at the Italian restaurant Andiamo. A wonderful meal was had by all, and we had a nice, leisurely time catching up and sharing stories.

Then, off to El Museo Cultural for a play put on by Red Thread CollectiveAucassin and Nicolette (scroll down).

The setting reminded me a great deal of a place where I first saw Cyrano de Bergerac probably about 20 years ago on one of the "forced culture" outings with my parents. El Museo couldn't have seated more than about 100 people, and you were never more than eight or so rows away from the action. Occasionally, actors would exit and enter down the aisles, and during one particularly absurd scene, they were lobbing foam "fruit" out at us, expecting us to return it. The play's an adaptation of a Medieval love story, occasionally a musical, and it was generally agreed that it was at its strongest when it really didn't take itself too seriously — the actors got to have some fun with it all, and the audience came along for the ride.

But it was a really good time. It's been a long time since we've been to see an actual play — Titus Andronicus in Halifax, Nova Scotia about six years back at their Shakespeare by the Sea, a pretty intense experience. Even with all the plays I saw as a part of the "forced culture," continuing on into outings in high school, and even into a drama class that we both wound up in at college, I still forget that there's just something special about live theater, the immediacy, especially in such an intimate setting.


Fencing In New Mexico

With our apartment, we're getting a free subscription to the Los Alamos Monitor, which arrives in a clump in our mailbox. I brought a pile back when we were housesitting, and ran across an announcement in the sports section for the Los Alamos Fencing Club. It sounded interesting, but also sounded like an hour-long drive, but it reminded me that I needed to check in with the High Desert Fencing group to see about finding a club, which utimately led me to the New Mexico Fencing Foundation. I had an email exchange with the coach, and was encouraged to come out to visit.

So, last night I headed out to the Genoveva Chavez Community Center. It's off Rodeo Drive — as it turns out, by way of the same road that leads to the Santa Fe Rodeo, currently in progress. Accidentally, I got around the traffic, and into the Center. Which is a pretty amazing construct: huge pool area, skating rink, indoor basketball courts. Checking in, the staff was a little unsure if there was fencing that night, but was told that past the weight room, up on the mezzanine, "is where they play." Once I started along, the "ching ching" sound of blades was easy to follow; finding the stairs up was a different matter.

On the mezzanine, there was space for three strips. Two were set up with electric, the third for the coach. He noticed my arrival, and sent one of the club members over to welcome me. He explained that they pretty much only do electric, given the new "timing" used in competitiion. Luckily, they have gear to loan out; I have a lamé that I left at the apartment, but haven't had any other working electric equipment in about a decade.

After a couple months off, I figured I'd ease into it by starting with my normal warmup routine, some footwork then stretching.

Oh, my goodness, the altitude.

I was sucking wind, badly, after just a few minutes. By then, a few more foil fencers had arrived and started on one of the strips. I was invited over to join in. I fenced two of the guys, some sparring that moved on to bouting. In between gasps and buying time between hits, I managed to do pretty well, tying one bout (called on account of injury) and winning another — in addition to breathing, I just wanted to represent for Coach Jun and the rest of the gang at Olde Town. I had to take a break for a while, but got in about an hour or so of fencing. It felt good to be back; I really think (and hope) that my clouded judgement was due mostly to time off and oxygen deprivation.

Got to speak with the coach for a bit once I'd decided to wrap up for the evening. I owned up that, though I've been doing this for years, I do like fencing, just not enough to commit to regular competition and all the training that entails. Overall, seems like a good group, and they meet at pretty convenient times, Monday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. The cost is more than I'm used to, but I plan on trying to make a habit of it for the next few weeks and seeing how it all goes.


"garden" update

The culinary sage died (too much H2O) and was replaced.

The California poppy seems to be on a bloom hiatus (too little H2o), but has set some more buds, so I'm hopeful.

Scarlet bugler penstemon is blooming:

I keep hoping to get a picture of some hummers — they zzizzzzzzzzz by, check out the red things, but don't stop. Oh well, I'll keep my fingers crossed for the Agastache.

Flame flower is flooming:

This has got to be one of the coolest, weirdest little plants I've seen. The base looks like it could be any type of succulent, but there are these teeny, thin, wirey stems that come up, with the buds + flowers. They are, if possible, even more neon magenta-pink than the photo shows. No scent, and they seem to last only a day. Lots of buds though, should last a while.


Bram, In Front Of A Thunderstorm On The First Day Of Summer, Wearing His New Right Round Tshirt

Thanks to dj lil'e.

Summer solstice

Forecasts for this week have called for highs in the 90s, chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon, 60s overnight. There, apparently, are things out here called "dry thunderstorms," where the clouds roll in, look all badass, there's thunder + lightning, but no rain, or only a few drops. We've witnessed this — it's dramatic as all get out.

I was at Janie + Joa's again today, helping Joa out with the gardening. Joa's been really sweet, mothering me, worried about my possible reaction the 90° heat/sun, and has warned me that she will send me home early if she thinks it's too hot. Today started out much like yesterday, sunny and warm (high 70s by 8:00 am). By 11:00 the clouds had rolled in. Joa and I whooped for happy — shade is always good! Then the thunder + lightning started + wind picked up. J+J's house is on a bit of a rise, but it's not the highest thing around, so still okay, and the breeze was great, too. Around noon, it started to sprinkle and Joa told me to go home. I wasn't tired, it hadn't been that hot, but she insisted. As I drove home, the rain was coming down harder, but it usually doesn't last very long, so still no big deal.

Three hours later, it was still raining. Joa is magic!

According to one of Bram's co-workers (who grew up here) this sort of thing used to happen briefly every day, this time of year. I guess a 20-year drought tends to make people forget that.


Open Space

The area out back, up the hill, which I'm told is state land or somehow protected, is referred to as "open space." Around 6:00 this evening, I decided I'd head out there for a bit. It's all ridged and such, you can see where the water runoff happens (happened?), and can just walk wherever you want. Eventually, seems to all intersect with some dirt roads. There's tire or ATV tracks, but it takes you up to the ridge, and gives a view of the whole area.

It was hot, and a bit of an effort scrambling up and down, but good for a half-hour walk. Clearly, it's used often, and not by hikers. I don't think I've ever seen so much broken glass, even off the trail into the brush. A shame. Really.

Earlier today, went and saw Batman Begins. There are probably better things we could have done with our time and money, but, anyway. It was a good action flick, and a solid take on the mythology, but I was still disappointed. Was hoping for something that picked up more on Year One (reread this evening — what a tight story). Anybody wants to discuss, email.


Santa Fe Week In Review

OK, it's been noted that we've been away from the blog for a while. We were housesitting through this Wednesday night, been busy, and here's some highlights:

Saturday, we helped Janie & Joa out with a party they were throwing. I was working on a freelance project during the day, then we headed over to Cowgirl to pick up the food they had ordered, and helped them set up and throughout the evening. There was some rain during the day, and around sunset a thunderstorm rolled in, kind of off in the distance. The view they have is spectacular, all around the area. The mountains were eventually obscured by the thunderclouds, and lightning was jumping all across them. We headed out after cleaning up, worried about Cain being closed up inside (we were warned he didn't like storms). Our fears were unfounded, and we headed out for a nice evening walk.

Walks were a lot of fun with Cain. There's an arroyo that's ideal for walking along, and you can just kind of wander around a lot of the surrounding land. We'd let him off leash and keep him in sight, and just kind of explore.

The food from Cowgirl was really spectacular, smelled so good when we were transporting it in our car. So when we headed back on Sunday evening (after more freelancing during the day) to return the "hot box" they loaned us for transport, we stuck around for some barbeque sandwiches before heading off to the monthly Santa Fe comics creators' meeting. We had our offering for the anthology of hospital stories to share and were treated to previews of some others' work.

I've been working at the Paper Tiger, back into the work routine. Far more production and computer troubleshooting than design . . . but I've had some interviews at another place — not going to give out too many details for fear of jinxing it. Though I am more than a little bit hopeful, I understand they've been checking references (unless it's the Tiger finally getting around to it). The preparations and running around for the interviews added to the general activity and confusion of the past week. And I still had to regularly stop by home for one thing or another (including some upgrades for the desktop computer: more RAM and a wireless retrofit).

Monica was working over in Joa's garden for a few days last week. Due to my sudden employment, she had to bring Cain along. He gets along well with Janie & Joa's dog Audrey, but I'm told it was a lot of work keeping track of the dogs and keeping them in line.

At the house we were sitting, there's nice vegetable garden. We were charged with watering it and eating its yield, and kind of fell behind. So, on the second-to-last day, Monica made some cold pea soup and gigantic batches of spinach/arugula pesto:

We stuck around at the housesitting until later Wednesday evening, the occupants were due to get in after midnight, so we thought we'd keep Cain company as long as we could. And so we moved all the stuff back to our place, including the computers, and are gradually getting used to living in our own home. We did have a terrific time out housesitting, it was a great place in a beautiful location. We're being kind of stingy with the details and photos, as we never really warned the owner about our blog. However, we feel safe in revealing that there's a little lizard living in the flower bed on the side of the studio:

Friday morning, back at the apartment — a hummingbird sighting, feeding off the pine-leaf penstemon. I spotted it and called to Monica, but she only got a glimpse as it buzzed away. Needless to say, no photos yet. (Sorry, Liz! — Monica) Closer to work, and with no interviews, I managed to bike in to work; my time away from biking showed as I headed back up the dreaded hills that night.

Today, Bob and Shannon headed up from Albuquerque to spend some time in Santa Fe. They hadn't been here yet to see it all, so they piled the girls (Stella, 13-month-old Yellow Lab; Chelsea, 11-month-old Golden Retriever) into the truck, and arrived mid-morning.

The plan was to try and park on the fringes of the Plaza, and just kind of wander around; whoever wanted to go into a store the least would stay outside with the girls. I was by the Plaza on Friday, and there was all sorts of setting up going up, little vendor-type tents and such. So we had an alternate plan, which we had to put into action when our route into the city was blocked by a parade route — turns out the Santa Fe Rodeo was staging its parade on our way in. So we parked the car at the mall, and walked in, maybe a 20-or-so-minute walk. What I saw being set up was a craft festival on the Plaza, so things were hopping there. We took them around to some of our favorite spots. Shannon, too, was drawn to the work by Salvador Romero, coming away from Keshi with bound wolves. At all our stops (except for one jewelry store, where the owner invited them in), the girls waited outside and were, without fail, a big hit.

After a couple hours we headed out, and stopped by, well, Cowgirl, to pick up some lunch. A big barbeque combo, and some sitting around wrapped up our afternoon.



Well, it seems to have happened. I have a job.

The aforementioned neighbor who's moving away, when I was there for the yard sale, mentioned, "and if you know any graphic designers looking for a job..." I mentioned that, well, I do, actually. And he had my stop by his soon-to-be former place of employment, a Santa Fe print shop.

It became a bit of a flurry of an interview, which culminated in an offer yesterday, to join the local print shop. It's perhaps a bit more production-intensive that my background is (at least of late), so we've agreed to give it a month, and see if I'm suited to be their senior design-type person.

Combined with the housesitting and such, past few days have been a whirlwind of activity, ending my longest summer vacation ever.



This week we are watching house + dog for friends of Janie + Joa. The house is amazing. Designed (+ built) by the owner, it's actually 2 buildings. One is two-stories, with bedroom + bathroom upstairs, kitchen downstairs, and the other is one story, with studio space (he's a sculptor) and office/guest space. All very spare, white plaster, concrete floors, plain wood (it reminds us very much of our trips to visit Steffen in Marfa). In between there is a courtyard, with one of those great, soaring, sail-like awnings, making a neat place to sit. There are great views, and a nice breeze, and only 5 minutes into town.

And, making sure that we water the flowers, get the mail, and eat the spinach, peas and radishes from the garden, is Cain (short for Canine), their Chow-Bernese mix:


plant pictures, because Liz asked for them

Okay, it's hard to take good pictures of plants. And some of them aren't blooming yet. The agastache and scarlet bugler penstemon don't look like much now, but they're supposed to attract hummingbirds, once they bloom.


Message Deleted

Coming home from errands this evening, there were two messages on the answering machine. Still wearing the sunglasses, I accidentally hit delete on the first, a message we'd been saving for months, hoping to either get a recording of it or to finally transcribe it.

It was from last November. A wonderful, inside-the-Beltway kind of moment. It was Barbara, from "Condi Rice's office" looking for General Haig. She left a number. M&D told us we should've called back to tell them it was wrong; when P&T were visiting, we actually did, but got some sort of recording about number couldn't be reached.

A prank, then.

But Barbara called back during the months I was at home. I spoke with her. She was a little dubious at first, but I assured her that the number was a residence, not Al Haig's office, and had been so for quite some time.

So, the other message on the machine? A hang-up. Telemarketers.


The Week In Santa Fe

Well, as I suspected, as we get settled in, there's less and less worthy of posting on a daily basis. Some stuff from the past week, more or less chronologically:

Biking/Bagels — Took my first ride beyond the hill to the bagel shop, for breakfast to accompany the smoked salmon from Mary. I survived. And didn't notice the green chile bagels until the way out.

House-/dogsitting — Looks like we'll be looking after the house and dog of a couple of artist friends of Janie and Joa's. They've got this amazing, custom-designed place on the edge of town that feels like it's the end of the desert. And a big, sweet Bernese/Chow cross. Looks like we'll be out there the middle of next week for about a week, giving us a vacation from this place we hardly have even spent time in.

Gardening — Monica's been over at Janie and Joa's for a couple days this week, helping get the plantings set, fed, and ready for the coming summer.

Computer — Sherry generously passed along her G4 when she upgraded, and we'd been sitting on it until we were settled in the new place. The monitor arrived this week, and so the setup began in earnest. I'm still, in the larger sense, a fan of Apple. But we've had some trying times these past few days. More memory and a retrofit for the wireless is on its way, but I'm feeling optimistic now.

Alias — Missed the season finale (again) but for a good reason. Synopsis, anyone?

Artwork — Everything is unboxed, and our artwork is up. Will try to get pictures, but we're pretty happy with how it all worked out. Took much, much longer that we thought. And it exacted its price in blood.

Wireless — Turns out, the rental office has wireless for residents' use.

True Believers — Headed over on Thursday evening to help hang their show of work from 24 Hour Comic Day. And returned Friday for the opening, a crowded, fun, great time.

Gardening, Part II — Monica hit the local nurseries (all of them) and returned with a wonderful selection to attract hummingbirds and generally decorate our balcony.