two things that made me smile today

1. An honest-to-god squirrel. It was poking around in the rock "garden" that surrounds our building. It actually took me a second to place it — haven't seen any since we got here. Plenty of bunnies, but no squirrels. Weird. Maybe the coyotes eat them.

2. While driving around on errands, saw an absolutely cherry Datsun 510. The occasional backfire did nothing to diminish its appeal. I think the guy driving it thought my big, goofy grin was for him. He should know better. Sadly, I had no camera at the time, so you'll just have to settle for this photo of someone else's 510 that I found on Google Images.

It was about that color, too. Sweeeeeeeeeet.


Farmers Market and Fife & Drum

Saturday morning, headed on down to the Santa Fe Farmers Market. Had to cross the train tracks to get from the parking lot.

Checking out what's there, as usual, but really our goal was to get a couple burritos to start off the day. Got there a little too late — all that was left was the vegan burrito, still a pretty tasty choice: potatoes smothered in red chile powder, black beans, onions.

Because of the latter, Monica had to go with the tamales.

Our usual favorites of either the sausage or bacon, eggs and cheese along with the aforementioned spicy potatoes, will have to wait. We've learned a valuable lesson about getting there early.

Kicked around the market for a bit. We're just really waiting for the tomatoes, longing for the days when you can eat one that actually has flavor. Still too early, it seems.

After a few other stops worked our way down to the Plaza. The Museum of International Folk Art has had a series of events in conjuction with its Carnaval! exhibit, where they showcase carnival traditions of various cultures. This weekend, it was Switzerland, with performances by Rätz Clique. The writeup in the local alt newsweekly led me to believe that this fife and drum corps would actually we wearing paper maché rat heads. Not true. They had all different sorts.


today's project

Back in May, when we first began to enjoy the balcony, we set up the folding chairs and put out our little roll-up wooden slat camp table. Even though it's great — and much beloved for its years of faithful service at countless Colonial Village grillouts and courtyard picnics — the table proved too unwieldy for the balcony. [ sigh ] So where to put the margaritas?!? Having more boxes than sense at the time, we picked a smallish one that fit between the 2 chairs. Et voila: The Meehan Home for Wayward Booze.

However, after a couple of good rainstorms, it was kinda worse for wear.

Would you set a drink on that? I think not! It might spill! Sure, we could have picked up a $5 plastic stepstool at Albertsons, but I wanted something a little nicer. And, after having to re-assemble all of our particleboard-and-veneer Ikea furniture, I wanted solid wood. Nothing fancy, simple little table, how hard could that be to find? Not too hard, provided you're willing to pay upwards of $60 for it. Welcome to Santa Fe.

Fortunately, Santa Fe, in addition to being high-priced and touristy, used to be ruled by hippies. There still exist remnants of their influence, like crunchy little plant nurseries, more yoga studios than you can count, food co-ops and farmers market, and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. That's where I bought $3 of salvage lumber, and 50 cents worth of screws. Once home, I dragged out a hand saw, my old Yankee hand drill, and got to work. 2 hours later, and... well, the Shakers would plotz, but I'm happy with it.

It kinda reminds me of the Judd furniture in Marfa. Or maybe I'll paint it... turquoise? This is Santa Fe, after all.


Garden Update, Bram Edition

When we moved, we could only take the plants that would fit in the car. It came down to the clivia that lives in our bedroom; the orchid that's never bloomed after the first time five years ago, but is otherwise healthy; and my bunch of eight stalks of lucky bamboo that I keep in my Outward Bound mug.

I've killed two stalks since moving.

Let's pause for a moment. And consider. I have managed to kill bamboo.


Poi White Trash

How could I resist a band with a name like that? Managed to get over to the Plaza for a few minutes after work to check them out at the Summer Bandstand. A bunch of guys — I don't think they're actually from from Hawaii — playing Hawaiian music on acoustic guitar, upright bass, drums, and steel guitar. I thought it was good, the crowd seemed to agree.


How Do You Capture Lightning?

Not with a camera.

It's dark, the winds are gusting, maybe more than twenty miles an hour at a time. The lightning flickers off all around the horizon, your eyes jumping from flash to flash. Sometimes, you can see the bolts jump across the clouds. Every couple of minutes, it's as bright as day for a split second — maybe it's then you see the outlines of the clouds that hang overhead and can get a picture of what the sky looks like. The thunder, occasional.

Then it picks up. As does the wind. The rain, patters down at first, then beats down in sheets. More frequent flashes accompany the louder rumbles. A brief moment of hail.

More flashes.



An article in Saturday's The Santa Fe New Mexican about the record-setting home prices in Santa Fe (they're approaching Boston levels). Of course, it's not like our old neighborhood is getting any more reasonable.

Swimming With Stella

As I wrote, for the new job, it's no longer jeans and tshirts. Express is really the only place I've found that makes the kind of dress shirts I prefer — sized for skinny guys, dark and neutral solids, cotton with a bit of lycra. But the closest store is at the Cottonwood Mall in Albuquerque. So, yesterday, it was off to the big city. The shopping was as trauma-free as something like this can be, but we hurried through, and then headed off to see Bob and Shannon.

We hung out at their house for a bit, then went out for lunch, winding up at one of the branches of Il Vicino for their always-terrific pizza. Then, back to the house and out to the pool. Air temperature was about 91º in the shade, the water was about 86º when the pool was uncovered. Shannon and I headed into the water soon after Stella (Yellow Lab). Everyone got in on throwing her chew toy into the pool, but we eventually worked out a game where she'd bring the chew toy to the water's edge, we'd wrestle for it, I'd take it to the middle of the pool and dive with it, and she'd jump in to retrieve it. Though Stella does enjoy the occasional cooling jump in the pool, here it was all business — get the toy, swim to the steps, and get out.

Chelsea (Golden Retriever) was kind of pushed into the water by a neighbor as a pup, and so stays out of the pool.

She was, however, there to greet Stella when she emerged from the pool to steal away the chew toy.


Two Months Later

No, we're not re-posting photos of the trip out here. That's a photo sent to me by Tom and Kerrie of Mullany Art Studios, the folks who did the painting of Colonial Village that we commissioned — the one that was damaged in the move.

Tom had just finished the retouching the day before they headed out west, by way of Cadillac Ranch: "We were there for a short time and I just looked up to read some of the graffiti and this was practically the first thing I saw!!!"

So, thanks to Tom and Kerrie for the photo, and thanks for the painting — it looks great. We're still undecided if it will hang above or just sit on the mantel:



Okay, so ever since Liz asked, I've been trying to get a photo of a hummer. They're around, usually in the morning, but I even saw one while I was having lunch out on the balcony (not 3 feet from where I was sitting — it stopped and fed at both pensetmons — super cool!). They usually zizz by, check out the tall, red things, then over to the neighbor's feeder. I've never been quick enough, or near enough with the camera to get off a good shot, though.

Last night (can you tell this was becoming an obsession?), I actually dreamed about sitting on the balcony, taking pix of the hummingbirds. So this morning, I staked out. Saw many, many hummers (or maybe the same 3 over and over), and finally got a photo:

So there you go, Liz. Now I can sit and watch them... without the camera! :)


happy fourth!

Bram and I watched the fireworks from Kathy's house. Great view!

Tent Rocks

Fourth of July, headed out to Tent Rocks National Monument, after sending Kelly, Julie, Jodie, and John on their way to Colorado Springs. It's on Cochiti Pueblo, about a 45-minute drive from our place, the last few miles on dirt, washboard roads.

The beginning of the trail takes you through a slot canyon that requires some climbing and scrambling. Audrey pretty much handled them with a sense of adventure as we all worked our way, single file, through.

This part of the trail is just incredible. The walls curve in and out, hang over and move away. The effect reminds us of Richard Serra's Torqued Ellipses, where the walls move around you in ways they shouldn't.

Plenty of places to hide.

The trail up to and through the slot canyon is probably just over a mile. The last stretch takes you up the mesa for about a 400' elevation change in about a quarter mile. Audrey had kind of hit her limit at that point, especially since we were back out into the sun after the canyon. So Paul, Trish, and I headed up to the top of the mesa after a break, while Mon and Tess backtracked a bit and found a shady spot to stop with Audrey.

On the way, you start at the base and eventually work your way above the eponymous tent rocks. The layers of sediment on top are a bit harder than those below, which keeps them from completely eroding away, and gives them their shape. We were told at Keshi that this area is still used for coming-of-age ceremonies by the residents of Cochiti Pueblo.

At the top, we met up with a couple of locals who (in addition to taking our picture) shared with us some stories about growing up in the area, hunting on the land, and exploring the surrounding caves.

So, from the top of the mesa, this is our view (with the start point indicated):

and from the trail, looking up at our end point on the mesa:

Dinner at Cowgirl. We earned it.


Off To The Caldera

So many choices, so many things we wanted to show off. We decided on hiking at possibly our favorite sight around here, the Valles Caldera, something we haven't had a chance to do since moving.

Headed out in the late morning, stopped off in Los Alamos to get some subs, and continued on to the trailhead. One of my favorite things to do — it's how Steffen and I first came upon Valles Caldera (I'm pretty sure it was the Valles Grande then), years ago — is to take the twisty turny drive up the Jemez mountains, west of Los Alamos, after you make it through all the switchbacks, you turn a corner, and the pine forest opens up to the most amazing vista, the open green just shocking you.

On our trip out last September, we spent a confusing day trying to, and finally actually, hiking on some of the trails on the outside of the Valles Caldera (during elk hunting season, for a little extra excitement). But we found the trailhead for a nice little hike that takes you from the forest, down to the edge of the caldera. It's a mile down, a couple hundred foot elevation change (easy down, a little tougher back up) through the pine forest. A pretty stroll, even before you get to the end. So nobody really knew what we were taking them to, until we got around that last corner, and saw:

There's rocks to sit on, trees to sit under, so we stopped for lunch. A few of us took off to walk down more into the caldera and to the fence that is the actual boundary. Paul strolled through the field:

and Kelly conquered the big rock:

Trish found part of an elk horn, most likely from the elk herd that lives in the caldera.

Mostly, we just kind of hung out around the bottom of the hill, enjoying the sun and the breeze.

(OK, left to right, that's Jodie, Julie, John, Trish with Audrey, Kelly, Tess, and Paul)

Little Audrey was a real trouper through all this; though she needed to be carried every so often, seemed to love being outside, wandering around with her family.

We stopped at Baskin-Robbins in Los Alamos for a little snack to get us home. We headed back to our respective places, made ourselves presentable again, and met up at Il Vicino on Guadalupe (where they took really good care of us) to finish off the day.

P&T&A (&T&K&J&J&J) In New Mexico

As previously mentioned Paul and Tess and little Audrey have come to Santa Fe from Minnesota. Traveling with them was also Tess' mom Trish (from Key West, by way of Minnesota). And in advance, was her brother Kelly and sister-in-law Julie (also from Minnesota), and Julie's sister Jodie and brother-in-law John (from Colorado Springs).

Kelly, Julie, Jodie, and John arrived in town Friday night, so we met up with them Saturday afternoon, while Paul, Tess, Audrey and Trish were coming in from Tucumcari. The first order of business was food, preferably of the New Mexican variety. The Blue Corn Café, just across from the hotel, took care of that. Quite well.

With a litte time to kill, we took the group on down to Jackalope. Always good fun.

The travelers made it in, and capitalizing on momentum, we turned around and headed to the Plaza. For a couple hours, we ranged about, poking around stores and soaking in the Santa Fe-ness of it all.

A couple hours was our limit. Sitting, and more food, was in order. So, to Zia Diner. Most folks were pretty well worn out and turned in early, but we managed to spend some time that evening catching up with P&T back at our place.


carwash... working at the carwash, yeah

Okay, now that I've got that song firmly stuck in your head for the 4th of July weekend, here's today's story from me.

Now, the Sentra, as you all know, has seen better days. Even with its custom paint job. I've been parking it here at the apartment in one of the few shady spots. Shade is important. Of course parking under a tree usually means one thing: bird plotz.

Santa Fe is, — in case you missed this part — in the desert. That means not much water. Especially when you're in a 20-year drought. Even with the record snows and following spring runoff this year, we're still under "stage 2" drought conditions. I'm not sure exactly what that entails (fines for excess household water usage is part of it, I think), but it is actually illegal to wash your car, yourself, at your house. So, off to Squeaky Clean Car Wash I went. They did a great job, including vacuuming out the interior (which hadn't been done since, oh, I dunno... the Clinton administration, maybe?), washing all the glass, inside + out, removing the 1/8 inch of pollen + dust form the dash + console, and toweling it off after.

Stopped for gas on the way home. Prices in Santa Fe currently are pretty uniformly $2.39/gal for regular unleaded. Ouch. The price has spiked here in the last couple of weeks, and I was hoping they'd drop before I was running on fumes. No such luck. NOTE to DeGEESTS, IF YOU'RE READING THIS ON THE ROAD: Tank up in TEXAS! At the Shell station, pulled in next to this guy, who kindly let me take his picture:

It's a 1939 Chevy flatbed pickup. He said he's only the 3rd owner, and he uses it everyday (not just out for the 4th). It was running while he was filling it (yikes!), because the starter was busted. He also said that his favorite thing to do is drive it up to the Opera, and have the tailgate dinner on the flatbed. So cool, and so Santa Fe.

wooah wo, come on sing it with me... carwash...