Barbecue at Jamey's; Barbecue at Jamie's

As I noted in the DVD post, Saturday night had us going to two barbecues. And — well, first, let me apologize for that post. There's a perhaps moderately amusing story buried in there somewhere, but I think it fell victim to that "I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter" principle.



So the rains tapered off in the afternoon and we headed to Jamey's for a barbecue with the fencing crowd. Cool outside, nice for sitting and surveying the new little lawn (it's a long, sad, sod sob story), visiting, and meeting their dog Tanner. When they got him as a puppy, they knew he was part Heeler, but they didn't know what the other part was, and figured on a 40-or-so-pound dog. The other half is Rottweiler, apparently. So he's a big, but a total sweetie, and there's the possibility we'll be sitting for him.

A couple hours there, and we were off to Monica's co-worker Jamie's for their cookout. It was primarily for fellow museum folks, and the invitation read (links added):
For all those who have been Franked, Fluxed, Chaired, Needled, and almost sent around Gee's Bend or down the Old Spanish Trail in the process, it's time for a bit of Indigenous Comic relief from all the Tuff Stuff and Art on the Edge. Please leave the museums behind and join us to share a bit of your Native Couture amidst the Flower Power of our summer gardens...

Like last time, there was paella made in the outdoor fireplace.

the roofers are here right now

There are six guys walking around our roof right now. Sounds like people upstairs, only we don't have an upstairs. If the wind dies down enough, they'll finish the tear-off and do the foam. The view out our front door:

Okay, time to go to work.


Seems that …

the interior design firm up the street has a fruit orchard in over by its parking lot. Apples, pears, and plums.


final music on the hill

This past Wednesday was the last Music on the Hill concert of the summer at St. John's. Biggest crowd ever, and a lot of swirly dancing for Wagogo, the Reggae/World Music-type band that played. We met up with Stacey, her co-worker Andrew, her mother Bernice (who is an absolute stitch), and her friend Tracy who is back in town for a second summer of Big Fiber/Human Tools. I got there first (my office is closest), and staked out a spot with some blankets. Bram came next and brought some chairs and the roll-up table — which hasn't seen nearly as much use here in SFe as it did back in Arlington. Stacy scored some food from the Walter Burke catering tent, I brought some Trader Joe's drinks and snax and we set up real nice. It was a lovely evening with a gorgeous sunset, fun music, and no threat of rain.

Clockwise: me, Stacy, Bernice, Andrew, and Tracy

Andrew, Tracy, and Bram

Bernice wished someone knew how to Merengue or Mambo so she could dance.

Stacy and her Mom

So much swirly dancing!


DVD Player

Since we bought the Graphite iBook in 2000, that's functioned as our DVD player. It even came with the cables to plug it into the VCR (which runs through the stereo), so we were good to go out of the box. Sure, it was a little clunky at times, and it meant that we had to put the laptop on the floor by the TV when we wanted to watch, but, hey, it worked for us. OK, it was awfully sensitive to any scratches on the disc's surface, and some newer DVDs just freaked it out. But still. Why buy a DVD player when you've already got one?

When we upgraded to a new iBook last year, it didn't use the same cables (and didn't come with new ones), but that just meant the old one moved permanently into the living room, which worked pretty well because we could use it for streaming radio, accessing the iTunes library, and playing DVDs, as well as the occasional (slow) Web browsing. Never quite got around to getting a third length of cable so it could go on the tables we have out there and never worked out how to integrate it into the shelves, so it just sat on the floor in the corner.

As noted last week, the DVD drive seems to have finally died. Last year, the power source went, and I was willing to pay to get that fixed, but this just didn't seem worth it. So, before fencing Thursday, a quick stop at the local electronics store for the lowest-price, brand-name-I-recognized player they had.

Unpacking and looking through the manual, that's when we (and by "we," I mean "Monica") discovered that this wasn't going to just be a plug-and-play operation. To connect to the TV (ca. 1994, when Monica moved to Arlington), we needed to get an RF modulator and some more coaxial cable. Picked up those last night and got it all connected, with not a huge amount of grief — all so we could get our Mad Men fix.

However, it seems that we can't run the DVD playback through the stereo, at least with the current configuration. So the audio just comes from the built-in speakers on the TV. On the other hand, maybe now we can watch the rest of the (banged-up) Weeds DVD we have out on loan, and future downloaded Cinematic Titanic movies will play properly.

We'd picked up an Airport Express a while back with a gift certificate from M+D, but had to wait a few months to get it up and running until we upgraded the desktop system. The intent was to buy some little bookshelf speakers and set that up in the fireplace room, but it now uses the connection vacated by the iBook. The streaming can be inexplicably spotty, but thanks to PandoraJam, I can indulge in my new favorite geekery in the living room as well.

The old iBook now lives in the fireplace room, still good for some simple Web browsing. And it's the only machine capable of connecting to and configuring the old Airport base station.

Next week, the insulation guys come to work on the roof, and hopefully after that, we can get around finally installing the TV aerial up there. If we can find someone to hook it up. And then we get to revisit this whole thing again in a few months with the conversion to digital TV.

To summarize: technology — two steps forward, one-and-a-half steps backward.


So, it's actually raining right now, with the promise of occasional showers all day. We've got two cookouts to go to tonight.

Also, Jason's account of Santa Fe is posted.


Jason in Santa Fe

Jason, one of our buddies from the DCC, was passing through town on his way to San Diego. His book Postcards is up for an Eisner, so he's driving across country and writing about the comics shops and creators he meets.

He got into town around 6:30, after a long day of driving, but was still up for going into town. We wound up at Blue Corn Café, where we introduced Jason to the sweet burn that is Carna Adovada — though it got him sweating, he said he liked it. A clear evening (with no threat of rain as in the past few days), a bit cool, so we headed up to the Bell Tower Bar, as it turns out, just as it was about to close; got to take in the view for a couple minutes, just a bit after sunset.

Monica's co-worker Susan was playing with one of the bands she performs with, The AlphaCats, at Chispa at El Meson. We hadn't seen her with this group, and had never been there, so decided to check it out. We arrived between sets, which was good timing, as we got to visit with Susan and her husband — and got a seat, 'cause it filled up quick once they started playing.

We enjoyed some Sangria and some jazz for a set, then went on home (though I think we'll be back to spend more time there in the future). As I said, a clear night; the spring monsoons have set in, and even if it hasn't been heavy rain every night, it's not been the best for sitting outside. But last night was, with the fire pit going.

For Jason's comic tour, we made arrangements to meet up for breakfast today at Counter Culture Café with Kevin, one of the owners of True Believers, and Jamie.

Able to hang out for a while while Jason interviewed, then a brief stop at the shop. And then up to Museum Hill so Jason could check out Comic Art Indigène.

It had been a comic-ful day (and trip) for Jason, so before he had to head out, we took a drive up to the ski basin, to show off the area from 12,000' — and despite the carsick-inducing twists and turns, he professed to enjoy the little side trip.


Also, in news from Friday night: the ca. 2000 Mac laptop we've been using to play DVDs seems to have died (at least the DVD drive has; we're still keeping that as a backup for Web browsing), so it looks like we might actually have to buy a DVD player. And I got a good and embarrassing, ultra-geeky shout-out during the return of The Independent Get Down.

And some "Enjoying" updated to the left.


hummingbird circus

Here's just 14 seconds from the non-stop hummer swarms at the Jemez Mountain Inn's sugar water buffet:

We could hear them from inside our room.

Guaje Canyon Trail and Jemez Springs

Morning in Jemez Springs, about 45 minutes earlier than we thought it was because the clock was wrong. You may remember Jemez Springs from my … oh, that's right, I never actually did write up an entry about my staycation.

One afternoon was spent in Jemez Springs, doing a little hiking on some trails, and staying at Jemez Mountain Inn. The proprietor there was telling me about San Antonio Hot Springs, the most impressive in the area, and an alternate way of getting there by hiking, rather than driving in.

So we both managed to get a day off — together — yesterday. Made arrangements to stay at the Inn that evening, and thought we might try out San Antonio. Turns out that the special route I heard about, but didn't really remember the details of, is not posted anywhere online. But as it was shaping up yesterday, gray and cloudy (and humid!), hot springs didn't seem worth it. So with a late start out of Santa Fe (finally having gotten to Clafoutis for breakfast), we decided to head up Pajarito to the Guaje Canyon Trail.

Up in the mountains, definitely yet another environment; a lot of the trail showed the damage from the Cerro Grande fire years back, but it was a pretty trail, tree-lined and lush, with a steady-but-manageable uphill grade. (Click for larger.)


There's a loop (for cross-country skiing in the winter), but also a trail off that keeps going straight out. We headed up that for a while to an overlook into the Caldera.

Flies were swarming, it was getting late, and we could see thunderclouds moving in, so rather than push on to the canyon, we headed back to the car. Out about three hours, probably 5 or so miles.

Passed through some light rain on the drive into Jemez Springs, which turned pretty steady by the time we checked in. A nice dinner at Laughing Lizard; my plan to enjoy the Inn's patio was pretty much shot because of the rain, but we contented ourselves sitting on the little porch, watching the hummingbirds.

A delicious breakfast at Deb's Deli & Mercantile; plans to stop by Jemez State Monument, and then head to the 7000 BC table at the Warehouse 508 Block Party in Albuquerque.


bathroom painting

So, the master bathroom, then. Perhaps you remember seeing this photo (from the real estate listing) posted last May:

Or this one, from last summer (the mirrors did not convey):

As you can see, the listing photo doesn't do the godawful ORANGE!-ness justice — that thing is ORANGE! Or was ORANGE! We decided to see if we couldn't get the master bathroom shower to where we could actually use it (we've been using the shower in the other bathroom since we moved in) until we save up some more $$ to renovate it. (Decided that getting the roof insulated would be a better use of our home-improvement funds.)

Our inspector was dubious about the usability of the shower, due to some cracking in the walls, and peeling paint. On further exploration, I found that the shower enclosure was done with a cement-type finish, applied like plaster to the walls, then painted over. The cracks were only in the cement coat, not thru to whatever wallboard was under. I figured we could scrape/sand/strip off any flaking paint, fill the cracks, prime, then re-paint (in a non-ORANGE! color). Thus giving us new, clean, de-groadilated shower walls, at least for a year or so, or until we finally get to renovating.

I know, I know, painted shower walls: weird, right? But that's what they were before. I think they were peeling because (as I discovered during my scraping/sanding/stripping), there was no primer between the original cement surface and the ORANGE paint. Oy.

Anyway, here's where I started last Friday. I got rid of the non-closing, gagtacular, brass-finish shower door last summer. Aaaaagh... so... ORANGE!!!! musn't... black... out...

And this is what the walls looked like under the paint. Note the presence of already-spackled cracks under the paint:

Primer coat:

Aaaaahhhhh... I feel better already. When we do renovate, everything I painted (or that butted up to where I painted), will either be tiled over, repainted, or removed, so I didn't have to worry much about edging neatness.

The paint was Behr "White Clay" which was a pretty darn close match to the non-ORANGE! hard-finish plaster walls in the bathroom. Semi-gloss finish.

Here's what it looks like now.

The white makes such a huge difference. The blue tile on the shower floor looks so much brighter now. If I squint and ignore the ORANGE!-painted cement floor and countertop, all that lovely white and blue tile almost looks like Santorini.

Next: mirrors, some hooks, and a cheapie interim shower door, or maybe a shower curtain hung from a rod in the "T" cut-out ziggurat-shape steps.


chair fabric!

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the chairs. We, of course decided to go with choice D - none of the above:

Bram wanted something more "atomic"-looking, (His grandmother's kitchen still has its ORIGINAL salmon-with-white-and-gray-boomerang-pattern formica, and he's always loved that kind of stuff.) but I still wanted something botanical. After poking around some more, I found the one above. Called "Agapantha," it's botanical enough for me and retro enough for Bram, so there you go.

Fourth of July Hike, 2008 Edition

Like last year, the plan for the first part of the Fourth was just to get outside. Didn't feel like ranging far, so headed up into the mountains to the Chamisa Trail. We'd done that hike before on a major holiday, and, as it turns out, I think I was kind of conflating that trail with another.

The past couple weeks, every afternoon it's been getting gray and windy and stormy-looking, but there hasn't been much in the way of precipitation. At least in town. Apparently, the mountains and east have gotten fairly consistent rain. We were out in the morning, and figured we'd beat anything that was coming; in any event, the trail offers a couple options for a shorter route.

The clouds rolled in, and there was thunder, but it still didn't seem too threatening. And the cloud cover was welcome.

Trail goes up, pretty steeply at first, into the woods. It kind of ends, about an hour up, at the intersection of several trails. We'd previously done the down and back that leads to a nice field, but looking at the sky, were wondering if that was the best idea.

Then we ran across one of my co-workers and his dogs. Sat on a log and visited for a while. And then all decided to head back to the trailhead, via the lower route that gets more meadow-y.

It did wind up raining early in the afternoon — even here in town. Nothing to compare to the half-hour hail and drenching we got yesterday, but still.

But it was clear enough by dinner time to grill some burgers. After dark, we got out the ladder and climbed up onto the roof to see if we could catch any fireworks, but the trees were blocking the city's display at the high school. We saw a few unofficial ones, but got back down when it started to rain a bit more. Next year, we'll try going up to the ridge by the dog park.

Update: Turns out that wasn't the town's fireworks we were barely seeing through the trees; those wound up starting later.


happy 4th!

at Albertsons today:

u can haz frwrx iz bhind dex kthxbai

Also, free sparklers with every purchase!