happy birthday, Dad!

28 February 1947



To begin to imagine the pull that Wegmans has on us, you have to understand the role it played in our lives at college. More than a decade ago, it was without a doubt the largest grocery store I'd ever seen, with novelties such as a huge cheese section (with samples!), aisles of bulk food, a Chinese restaurant in the store — it combined the best of any store any of us had ever been in. Shopping there was a wonderful adventure, and there was a small, but committed, group that believed that if we led good lives, when we died, we would go to Wegmans.

It took years for Wegmans to work its way out of the upper New York state area. The Bankos first had the Wegmans experience a few years ago when the chain moved into Pennsylvania. With one visit, they understood why it still loomed so large in our imagination. Wegmans opened a store in Northern Virginia soon before we moved; we never made it there — the crowds never died down, plus it seemed just kind of cruel to get a taste, just to leave it behind.

But a store has opened in this area — their largest yet. And we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see if it still had that magic. It was undeniably a pretty spectacular store; in the intervening years, other chains seem have caught up with what Wegmans has to offer, though not on this scale. The bulk food aisle is disappointing, but the prepared and fresh food area is extensive, and surprises such as their international section are a treat. It's just all too large to take in, but we got some fun photos, stocked up on some Fluff and Grandma Utz's, and headed out with most of our fond memories still intact.


Around Baltimore

Arrived into BWI without much incident yesterday. Delays at the airports, due apparently to some nasty weather around Chicago, but that same storm seemed to be kicking up some west-east tailwinds that kept us on schedule.

Slept in a little, a nice breakfast, then we all headed to downtown Baltimore to The Walters Art Museum. It's a pretty amazing collection, mostly historical pieces from ancient Egypt to ancient Greece, Rome, and to at least the Middle Ages (about as far as we got). And, with only a few exceptions, they're from Mr. Walters' private collection, mostly acquired in the early 1900s. Parts of the whole experience reminded me of The Wadsworth Atheneum, especially in the way there's an old building connected to modern additions, and seemingly endless rooms branching off them all. The rotating exhibit features the work of Louise Bourgeois — but not in any one space. The work was mixed in with the artifacts from ancient cultures, in a kind of odd scavenger hunt sort of way. It made for some interesting surprises, but made me wonder what else I was missing around the museum. We concluded with another rotating exhibit, early illuminated and printed legal books (much more beautiful that those you'll find today), and headed out.

The Bankos indulged me in a side trip to Atomic Books, which, years ago, when I first moved to the area, I remember hearing about as a dealer in design books and magazines. It's changed ownership since then, and is a popular independent book/zine/comic dealer. Picked up a few missing issues, the new Atomic Books-published Lulu Eightball collection — and left them with a copy of RBS to sell on consignment (so now it's all just sit back and wait for the Benjamins Hamiltons Washingtons to roll in).

Back home to a late lunch of pulled pork from Andy Nelson's. Gearing up now for some crab cakes . . .

(Remembered the camera, but not the cord to connect it to the machine; photos later).


Baltimore Bound

At Albuquerque Sunport, headed to the Bankos' for the long weekend. Maybe we'll sneak in some updates from the Baltimore area.

Sixty percent chance of "snow showers" in Santa Fe today.


happy birthday, Aunt Carol!

14 February 19xx ;)



Some of the young fencers in the New Mexico Fencing Foundation, the group I fence with, are featured in today's Santa Fe New Mexican. They're going to the Junior Olympics next weekend in, interestingly, Hartford, Connecticut — one town over from where I grew up, and where I used to fence.

(Though the article is really about the kids, I snuck into that first photo; look for the wrist strap on my sword hand and the bad form)


Update: OK, as Sherry noted, it looks like you can't get to the link without being a SFNM subscriber. And I was so proud of how clever I was, getting through their online, page-by-page reproduction, pulling code out of their pop-up window.

So here's the photo (by Karl Stolleis). The caption reads "Trevor Schmitt, left, watches practice bouts at the Chavez center. The St. Michael’s student, 16, says fencing is ‘an honorable sport.’ "


A Week Later, the LA Trip

Monica picked me up at the office on Friday. Heading out of Santa Fe — with the camera safely packed away — we spotted a bumper sticker: "My Other Car Is In The Arroyo."

From Albuquerque to Phoenix without incident; our "equipment" out of Phoenix was delayed arriving, so we managed to entertain ourselves for an extra hour. But it did mean that we were undeniably spending more time in airports than we were in the air.

Arrived at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank around 10 local time. Walking through the gates, wondering where the baggage claim is (they made us gate check our duffel in Albuquerque; the perils of boarding in "Zone 6"), step outside — and there it is, right outside the door. Looking around, Bob Hope has gotta be the smallest airport we've been in since Oaxaca City airport (also visiting Emi y Steffen). Burbank's airport was built in the '30s, originally for Lockheed's private use; we imagine that it's much like what the old National Airport was like.

Got our orange Cobalt and our trip was easier than I thought, out of Burbank, into Los Angeles, to our hotel. An odd little place, decent enough. We opened our door which bumped into the bed. But then turned on the lights, and there was a respectably sized kitchen; a large dressing (?) area outside of the largish bathroom. Clearly, was built as an apartment, which Steffen (when he made it over the next day) characterized as "classic Hollywood studio apartment."

About a year-and-a-half ago, I spent a week vacationing with Emi y Steffen. It was a quick overview of the Los Angeles area. Gardens at The Huntington, Santa Monica and the Pacific, grounds of UCLA and the Hammer (where Steffen works), Los Feliz and Little Armenia (their neighborhood), Silver Lake, Beverly Hills, the Getty, downtown and drinks at The Standard.

Opening the blinds Saturday morning . . . it was gray. Rochester, Seattle kind of gray. Where were we again? We were due at Emi y Steffen's around 10. Up in plenty of time to find breakfast. I remembered a place in their neighborhood, a local restaurant-type place where Quentin Tarantino allegedly wrote Reservoir Dogs. Couldn't recall the name, but figured I could find it. And I did. House of Pies. How could I forget a name like that? We had a filling breakfast among what looked to be pretty much the locals. And picked up a pie to bring over.

So we headed to their apartment, which is a cool little building dating from the '30s. They've got a small place, of course impeccably decorated. And we met for the first time little Isadora, who, courtesy of her mother, has a spectacular head of red hair with a great little wave. We hung out for a bit, caught up and visited. Emi and Isadora stayed behind and Steffen, Monica and I headed to the Hammer to catch Masters of American Comics. I've blogged excessively about the exhibit over at the DCC.

We spend a couple hours at the show, broke for a late lunch of noodle and/or rice bowl. Ducked back to the exhibit to round it out and spend some time at the bookstore.

Then decided to head out, battling the traffic, to Santa Monica to show Monica the beautiful southern California coast.

We found a parking spot easily enough (an accomplishment in itself) on Ocean Drive, overlooking the beach. Headed across the PCH and down to the beach. To the cold, gray, beach. There was a group playing volleyball (badly), a handful of folks around (one way to have the beach yourself). And one woman, who, as we watched, went into the water. Monica hadn't been in the water here yet, so we sent her into the surf.

(During all this driving, it was pledge week at KCRW [as it was on my last visit], so we wound up with the "classic" rock of Jack, the local version of Ed.)

Headed back to Emi y Steffen's apartment; Isadora was asleep for the night. We flipped through photos of their Oaxaca wedding, got takeout Thai, and visited some more. Isadora was up early that morning so we headed out before 10.

It had been a gray day, but it was still relatively warm in the evening. Our hotel was just on the other side of the block from Hollywood Boulevard, so we headed down there for a stroll. As I discovered on my first visit, it's kind of anticlimactic — it's a long street, sometimes in kind of dumpy area, but the main area's really commercial and toursity. Things were still hopping, mostly tourists still wandering about. A few singers, dancers were around, we went around the block, peoplewatching, then headed back through the big plaza, by the lines of people queued up to get into the cool club on the mezzanine.

Breakfast at Emi y Steffen's the next morning. We then gathered everyone up and headed over to the Museum of Contemporary Art for the second half of Masters of American Comics. Parking was easy enough, but the walking to the museum was tricky; because of construction, we wound up below the road with the entrance, on the service delivery level, with no way back up. We eventually made it, spent a couple hours at the show, and met up at the museum's coutyard outside (where it was a much nicer day).

Living in a desert, we required sushi. To Little Tokyo for a late lunch. In my earlier visit there, Steffen and I had headed to the big church downtown, which was a wonderful experience. Isadora was done for the day so Emi y Steffen dropped us at Our Lady of the Angels.

It's an amazing space, all concrete but colored to be much warmer. The entrance is next to the altar, you walk the length of the church with a few glimpses through the columns along the way. It opens behind the pews, bathed in the warm light of the alabaster windows. Tapestries line the walls, resembling frescoes, picturing saints with children in contemporary clothes. Photography is not prohibited, and though I felt a bit weird taking pictures, I got this shot. It's an amazing, spiritual place.

We were rushed through the cathedral, unfortunately, worried about getting to the airport on time. We took our chances and got on the 101, but made it to Burbank with plenty of time. Got out without trouble. Though there was a scare that came from not resetting my watch for the time change in Phoenix, made it back to Albuquerque and home late, late Sunday (Monday, really).


new 'do

Cut and color (some red... and some blonde) courtesy Serena at Blue Monkey. Yes, she's my green body-painted friend, and this is her day job.



We're off to Los Angeles this evening to visit Emi y Steffen and to meet Isadora. And to catch Masters of American Comics. Photos and such when we return.


a little joke for today

Three guys are waiting at the the pearly gates for their entrance exam with Saint Peter. He calls the first one over and asks "What do you know about Easter?"

"That's the one in summer when you have the day off, right? And sometimes there's a parade with Uncle Sam and marching bands, and a big barbecue or a picnic, and afterwards there's a big fireworks display—"

"Uh, okay," interrupts Saint Peter, "could you just wait over there for a moment? Thanks." He calls over the second guy and asks, "What can you tell me about Easter?"

"Well, that's the day where your whole family comes together, and you eat a huge turkey dinner. Afterwards, you all sit around and either sleep, or watch football. And the next day you go shopping!"

"Riiiiight," says Saint Peter, "Why don't you go wait over there with the first guy. I'll get back to you." He then motions over the third guys and asks, "I don't suppose you know anything about Easter, do you?"

"Oh, sure! That's when the Romans crucified Jesus! They put Him up on the cross, and He died, and they took Him down off the cross, and they buried Him, and rolled a big rock in front of His tomb, and—"

"Hold it right there," says Saint Peter. "You two! Come over here. I want you to hear what this man has to say!" The first two join them and and he turns back to the third man and says, "Please tell these gentlemen what you were telling me."

"Sure," says the third man, "well, like I was saying, Easter is when they crucified Jesus, and He died on the cross, and they took Him down and buried Him in a tomb, and rolled a big rock in front of it, and three days later, they came back, and they rolled the rock away, and Jesus was alive, and He came out of His tomb, and saw His shadow, and they had six more weeks of winter!"