Thursday, May 31, 2007


Oh, I'm so ashamed. I don't know why I did it. Why I un-moored myself from my usually solid-as-a-rock ethics, veering like a teenager high on hope and lust off the well-trod straight and narrow as the angel on my right shoulder screamed to beat the band to the devil on the other who simply stuck his fingers in his ears and la-la-la-ed.

Maybe it's because I thought there might be something better out there.

Maybe it's because I was feeling the stress of bathing suit season.

Maybe it's because I had a coupon.

Which led me to purchase this:

. . .

. . .

. . .

. . .

I swear, if you sat down in your kitchen and mixed together chalk dust, Elmer's Glue, and food coloring, you'd most likely come up with something better tasting than this stuff.

You know, I have a standing rule never to skimp on flavor or real ingredients. To eat what I want in moderation and then run/swim/bike/lift my ass off in order to justify it all.

I shouldn't break with that rule. Not only because my taste buds then begin to revolt, but because I do not want to forget what
real food tastes like. I do not want to become afraid of it. I do not want it as an enemy or something for which I must do penance.

So I guess it wouldn't hurt to vow all over again, right here, right now: Damn the calories and carbs, I'd rather be Rubenesque than this gawd awfully tasteless.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Further Adventures in Hairland

I've been dying my hair for years. Not because of Stubborn Grays, but because of boredom.

I have never been all that attached to what was atop my head (although I am awfully precious about what's contained
inside it.) I have been, at various times in my life, Dorthy Hamill-ed, Farrah-ed, Rachel-ed, and Madonna Buzz Cut-ed. I have been flaming red, platinum blonde, goth black, and Hanta virus mouse brown. My tresses have even been colored a weirdly golden-greenish tint, which I think was the result of a bad batch of dye from that discount hair supply joint located next to Target. But what do you expect when you're dealing with sales people fresh off the boat from Croatia? Nothing against Croatians, mind you, but if they've only been in our fair city for, what, 3.5 seconds, one cannot expect them to sell the exactly right hair color, now can one? Besides it's just hair. It grows back. That's why God invented baseball caps, head bands, and multi-colored scrunchies.

But this past year, my cavalier attitude has suffered a shift in altitude. Very slowly, Stubborn Grays have crept in on their little pig feet to make themselves known among my locks. This, I'm not happy about. Because do you know just how hard it is to cover Stubborn Grays? Lo'real in a box won't do it. Neither will Nice 'n' Easy (my ass). No, people, you have to go to a professional colorist when this starts happening. Because they and only they hold the secret to keeping the Stubborn Grays at bay.

Luckily, I think I have hit upon a plan. Highlights. Big, chunky swathes of contrasting color among which the Stubborn Grays can blend in like wallflowers at their first junior high school dance. Sure, the cost of highlighting basically equals the gross national product of a small island nation, but people: I'll go buzz cut. I'll go platinum blonde. Hell, I'll even go neon green. But I will not go gray.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rare Gems

I don't know why, but I feel like bossing everyone around today. Okay, suggesting in a friendly, helpful manner that you:


This 1978 EP introduced the world to the "Queen of Punk Rock," Nina Hagen. It includes splendid covers of Lene Lovich's "Lucky Number" ("Wir Leben Immer Noch" or "We're Still Alive" – which has that terrific late seventies/early eighties imminent nuclear disaster feel about it) and The Tubes's "White Punks on Dope" ("TV Glötzer," or someone who sits and stares at television all day – same thing, I guess, dope/television . . . ).

To acquire this rare gem, you'll have to surf your local vintage record shops or eBay (iTunes has nothing available), or you can log onto and purchase 14 Friendly Abductions: The Best of Nina Hagen, which includes most of these songs (but not, unfortunately, the hypnotic "African Reggae") as well as nunsexmonkrock's glorious "Smack Jack," one of the scariest songs ever written about drug addiction, accompanied by cackling monkeys and yodeling.

Hagen's style – über operatic and razor's edged – can be a little tough at times, but she's one of pop music's true originals and worthy of rediscovery.


Not so much a documentary about the giddily anarchic empire of porno king Larry Flynt, as a sharply observed meditation on freedom of speech, individuality, industry, and our God-given right as Americans to poke fun at other fascinating – and reviled – individuals.

Includes powerhouse performances by Woody Harrelson (Sweet Jeebus, could this guy just lay off the fight to legalize marijuana and get back to acting? He's good and we need him.) as well as Courtney Love, who reminds us early on what a surprisingly open and honest presence she can have on screen and then much later on just how, uh, all Courtney Love she can get on our asses.

Also fascinating because, at the time, Love was making it hot and heavy with Edward Norton (who plays Flynt's long-suffering lawyer), who evidentially asked her to marry him after the movie's release. Think about it: kinder/whore punkette extraordinaire partnered with a man who's East Coast genealogy makes Katherine Hepburn's family look like Arkansas backwoods hicks. At any rate, Love said no, broke Norton's heart, and he went on to lick his wounds in the company of Selma Hayek. Oh, the fodder for contemplation right there, people.


I love apocalyptic-lit. I don't know why and I'm not about to go into therapy to find out. Suffice it to say, this is a truly scary little yarn about the End of the World as We Know It, one of my all-time fave subjects.

Good writing, too, if a little sentimental around the male/female interaction bits.

The book gets really interesting when Wyndham ponders the nuts and bolts of society's reconstruction (who will manufacturer the shoes? oh, wait, that's my pondering . . .) and all that went into making us who we are/were. Think about it. It's mind-boggling.

Ultimately, the question becomes should we opt for the safety of getting by in a sort of neo-feudal state, or strike out on our own and let the chips fall where they may?

Good stuff.

Monday, May 28, 2007

In My Grateful Heart there is Eternal Summer

Because it certainly doesn't seem to be arriving outside my grateful heart.

It's nearly June, people, and look at this. This is what the sky has been like nearly every afternoon for weeks. Our monsoon has decided to come early. And most likely will never leave.

Many of us welcome the moisture, and for the most part it is a good thing. In moderation. Yes, I said it. Rain is good in moderation. Especially here in the desert. Because after a certain amount of time, the ground reaches its saturation point and what you get instead is an overflowing of the arroyos and flash floods carving out brand new arroyos in places where none had existed before. Like in people's front yards and throughout the entire city of Rio Rancho.

Mother Nature's funny that way. Not funny-looking funny, but funny ha-ha funny, as in we humans are only on this earth for some Higher Power's greater amusement. I know if I were a Higher Power, I'd most certainly get off on playing with us lesser creature's minds. "You have to get to Boston this November for your best cousin's moonlit wedding out on the Commons? Ha-ha! Noooooooooo, small human creature, I will conjur a snow storm the likes of which the Eastern Seaboard has not seen in a bizillion years and we'll just see how badly you want to wear those dyed pink silk shoes!" Stuff like that.

You know what really gets me, though? The people who get off on gloomy weather. You've seem them, oh they of the endless flannel-shirted wardrobes and unremitting navel-gazing and soul-deep sighs punctuating diatribes about how everything is so haaaaaaarrrrrd and the world is so terribly unfaiiiiiiiiiiir and everyone (except them) is so stooooooopid. And that's okay. That's why God invented Seattle. But for the rest of us, God also invented the Caribbean, South Florida, and the friggin' Chihuahuan desert, in which I happen to make my humble home.

Now, weather, go and be Chihuahuan. It's time we got this summer show on the road. Because I for one have had enough of mourning.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dog Gone

Yesterday morning, Friday, May 25th, 2007, at approximately 6:53 a.m., I ran over my dog JoJo, the geriatric Beagle/German shepherd cross who had up until that very time been alive on this planet for almost fifteen years.

I would like to say the blame is shared – part senior moment on my end, part senior moment on hers (she was, after all, extremely old for a dog, half blind, almost completely deaf, arthritic, and suffering from “doggie dementia”). I couldn’t have been doing more than a couple miles an hour, trudging up the steep hill that is our driveway. Perhaps JoJo simply tripped and fell in front of the wheel. But really, I’m fully at fault. I’m the human. It is my job to look out for her, not the other way around.

I cannot fully express just how dark and horrible an event this was. And still is. I still feel sick to my stomach. I still feel like I committed murder. I still feel like someone stuck their hand right through my chest and ripped out my heart.

But there’s nothing that can be done. All I can do is remember that prior to my senior moment, JoJo had lived not only a long life, but also a good one, filled with fun and love.

We always said that JoJo was really a person in a dog suit, hoping her entire life that NEXT time around she would get to come back as a simply fabulous human being. I’m certain that she will. S.B. and I will be on the lookout . . .

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Prancing Down the Path of Purple Prose

One of my biggest clients is a book publisher out of Atlanta who specializes in coffee-table sized books about American cities. For these fine folk, I spend much of my time researching and writing photo captions. Sometimes I travel to these cities. When I don't, I have to be extra meticulous in my work – thoroughly researching via the Internet, local and regional publications, and interviews, whatever city I happen to be working on. I also have to keep thorough track of all my sources, so that when Bob our Copy Editing God sends me a WTF? email, I can back my shit up.

So if lil' ol' me can get my facts straight, why can't a Big Ass Writer for the Washington Post do it? Just read this utter stupidity!

Okay, so if you don't want to take the 1.5 seconds it takes to register with the Washington Post to read the article (although, it's free and I highly recommend you do so), let me summarize for you:

The article is called "The Next Best Path: Warming to Limelight, Dismissed U.S. Attorney David Iglesias Forges a New Future" and it's written by Washington Post staff writer, Sridhar Pappu.

For those of you who don't know, David Iglesias is one of nine U.S. attorneys forced from their posts by the Bush administration for allegedly resisting pressure from two of our state's highest elected officials (Ol' Man Republication Pete Domenici is allegedly one of them) to speed up the indictment of some allegedly misbehaving democrats – in other words, in time for last fall's elections. On a recent appearance on Bill Maher's Real Time, Iglesias defended his resistance and subsequent outing of said Republications by boldly stating, "I took an oath to support and defend the constitution, not the Republican Party of New Mexico." Way to go, Dave.

Pappu begins his piece, like all good journalists, in media res (for all y'all non writer types, that means in the middle of things), placing Iglesias, a trail runner, out in the foothills of our fair city, effectively illustrating how the man uses his time on the trails to contemplate his actions and the over-all meaning of his work in government.

But then Pappu goes all purple prose on us, choosing to describe one of our nation's most culturally, socially, and ecologically diverse cities as some kind of Wild West outpost:
At 9 a.m. on the very edge of the dusty, desolate collection of adobe homes and Vietnamese restaurants that seem to form this city, David Iglesias begins his run through the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. This is not easy terrain. The footing is terribly uneven. The altitude can be unbearable. At certain times one can hear the grumbling of mountain lions and the feasting of coyotes.

Wow. Albuquerque is nothing more than Vietnamese restaurants and dusty homes? Hmmm. Guess it was all a dream, my entire life spent eating at sushi bars, Italian restaurants, award-winning steakhouses, and the dozens and dozens of restaurants featuring our distinctive native New Mexican cuisine. I guess it means nothing that we are home to a world class university, an air force base, and cutting edge business enterprises like Eclipse Aviation.

As for those homes he calls dusty and desolate? Obviously, Pappu knows nothing of the fact that Albuquerque is renowned for its eclectic blend of architecture, from Victorian to Georgian to Pueblo Deco to WPA to the whack modernist residences of native son Bart Prince. Those dusty, desolate adobes he mentions? Well, Iglesias runs at the edge of High Desert, one of our city's toniest subdivisions, built exclusively and according to the precepts of Frank Lloyd Wright, to blend in with the environment, not in opposition to it. Something Pappu, who hails from the cluster fuck that is life in Washington D.C., most likely knows nothing about. Talk about Wild West stereotypes . . . I'm surprised he didn't mistake the trails for actual dirt roads and the fenced markers for hitching posts.

Furthermore, when the hell was the last time you heard a mountain lion grumble or coyotes feasting? Yes, mountain lions exist in the Sandia Mountains. Thank God. But these creatures are the stealth fighters of the cat world. You don't hear 'em and you don't see 'em. Not until they're right on top of you. I have spent half my life hiking and running the trails on both sides of the mountains and the only evidence of mountain lion I've ever spotted is a paw print or two. And they don't grumble. They fucking roar. If you're close enough to hear that, well, kiss your spandex-ed ass goodbye – you're mountain lion lunch.

As for coyotes feasting, two things: One, you get close enough to hear coyotes munching away on some poor rabbit, you're close enough to see them, too. Two, after killing their prey coyotes almost always take it back to their den to share. They don't tend to feast in the field.

The rest of the article goes on to talk more in depth about the political hullabaloo surrounding Iglesias and his fellow U.S. attorneys. But with such a misguided start to the article, it's difficult to take anything else within it seriously.

Pappu, dude, you never had me at "hello."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Planet Dumb

Have you all seen this show?,,HGTV_22056_48166,00.html
Sweet Jeebus. If I'd known as a young woman that I could circumvent the whole higher edukayshun route and make a living imparting interior design advice based on someone's
horrorscope, well, I would have done it. I mean, look where my degree got me anyway, right?

So, according to the Web site for this show, this is what my ultimate "Taurus" living room looks like, complete with dumb ass commentary:

We know your type (uh, "giddy" is a type?) Taurus has very particular taste--for good reason (thanks, grand pop, I'm going to land myself in debtor's prison with this "taste" of mine)! With Venus as your ruler (oh thank God it's not George W. Bush), your sense of beauty is beauty (Then why is this living room so butt ugly? Where's the color? The stacks of books and crap magazines? The two geriatric dogs snoring and shedding on their dog beds?). Anything less than pretty leaves you feeling blue (uh, is anyone left less than blue by butt ass ugly?). In fact, you view a living room as the heart of the home (Actually, I view it as a place to eat Cheetos while watching crap movies and 'merican Idol. In my underwear.), a hub through which good energy should flow (About the only thing I want to flow through the hub of my home is air. Taking JoJo's farts with it.).

And here is my ultimate kitchen:

Where is that yummy smell coming from? (JoJo's backside) Your kitchen, of course (no, I told you, JoJo's backside). To you, cooking is the finest of the arts (actually, the finest of arts would be, well, ART) — a quality friends and neighbors appreciate (because cooking and baking keeps the voices in my head at bay and stops me from blowing a small third world country's GNP on shoes). While others may exist on Lean Cuisine, you believe in slow-cooked, home-cooked goodness (unless I'm trying to stuff my ass in my new summer bathing suit, in which case, Lean Cuisine rocks my world). In fact, Taurus — a possessive sign (hands off my cake/man/bicycle/shoes, biatch!) — likes owning stuff (I got a bunch of blisters from touching everything I see). You also believe in doing everything just so (You mean, if you squint at it JUST SO in a certain light? At dusk? After half a bottle of wine?), which makes you the sign most likely to own a bread-maker, gelato-maker and pretty little ramekins for every occasion, too (They forgot the mini-blow torch and full set of Martha Stewart baking pans.).

And, finally, my ultimate bedroom, which, I dunno, looks awfully
brown to me. And what's with that white head board thingy? A magnet for dog hair and finger prints, that's what.

You know what you like (yes, and it's NOT this bedroom). For you, the ideal bedroom is about comfort and luxury (huh, and to think all these years I thought the bedroom was for sleep and you-know-what). It should reflect wealth and the finer things in life (no, it SHOULD reflect the fact that S.B. and I are capable of picking up our clothing). You’ll choose elegant details—finely tailored curtains, custom-made bedding (no, really, I think I just choose clean)—and spare no expense to make your home a haven (you mean, the place where I store all my shit 'cause I'm sooo possessive). Just beware too much opulence (actually, no such thing): Add basics, like a rich wooden bed frame, to ground those fine silken sheets, matching duvet, and pile of plush throw pillows (On WHAT planet does this bedroom live?)! Then recline with a fine glass of wine ('kay, I'm confused. In the bedroom? I thought that was what the living room was for?). Ah, bliss (actually, I'll just take a good night's sleep, uninterrupted by dog farts, chirping crickets, wayward bats, and the neighbor's dog).

So with which sign's home do I align? Aquarius's.
Especially that kitchen. Gimme.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Frodo Wants to Be Your Dog

Whew. Phill the Mac Tech God saved the day again. Turns out, we have some sort of weird network in the area that is playing with my iMac's low megahurtz thingees (poor baby, it's old), the result being my Mac flipped back and forth between all of them, never locking onto one. At least that's how my feeble brain understands it. All I needed to do was run down to the Apple Store (my goodness, this place rocks), purchase an Airport Express Base Station, hook it in and bada bing, I'm up and running. Regardless, party PC people – Mac still kicks y'all's butts. Never mind the fact that I also lost my entire email program (unrelated – I think that was my fault). (Those of you who actually read this blog, could you please resend me your email so I can build my list back up? Muchas gracias.)

So, okay, back to our regularly scheduled program:

Which Hollywood crackhead, uh, sorry, genius producer, thought this one up? I demand to know.

Elijah Wood to play Iggy Pop? What's next, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to star in Atlas Shrugged? Oh, gawd. The world is spinning out of control.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against Elijah Wood, per se. Even if he did spend the entire LOTR series looking like he needed to take a serious poopie, and we won't even go there with Everything is Illuminated , although, to be fair, the movie was bound to be a stinker to begin with (am I the only person in the universe who hated the book? Anyone?) But over all, I think Elijah has a wee bit of talent as well as an oddly compelling, creamy/dreamy pre-adolescent cuteness that can make him interesting to watch. If you happen to be a pre-adolescent girl. Or a gay man.

But, really, Iggy?

From this:

To this?

Why oh why didn't the producers just give Ewan MacGregor a ringy dingy? He did Iggy once, to fine accord, and he's already got the penis wagging thing down cold. I don't think I want to see Elijah's woody. Do I? No, I'm pretty sure I do not.

Monday, May 21, 2007

We Pause for Friggin' Computer Frig Ups

For some reason known only to whatever power oversees the universe and computer technology, I not only lost all my email files this weekend, but also the ability to get on the Internet using my desk top computer.

So once I get things under control (i.e., once Phill the Mac Tech God WAKES UP SO I CAN CALL HIM!) I will be back blogging about such weighty subjects as world affairs and the right shoes to wear with gauchos.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Hills Are Alive

As soon as I got up I knew it was going one be one of those mornings.

It has been raining on and off for the past several days, but dawn burst cool and clear, with a cap of unblemished turquoise-colored sky above, fat tendrils of mist winding themselves through the valleys below.

The kind of morning whose air crackles with wild excitement, drawing creatures out into the open to do their wild creature thing. You live long enough in the woods, you get to know what that crackle sounds like, what it feels like. For humans, it means to be on the alert as well.

Sure enough, we weren’t but two minutes into the walk, when I heard a rustle off to my left and a coyote charged across our path. Slinky, low slung, an adolescent near as I could guess, and of indeterminate sex. Naturally, Ivan charged after it. From what I could see through the trees, not in an aggressive way. In fact, I was surprised to see him lurch down into a play bow, a move reciprocated by the coyote, before both took off deeper into the brush, and I could no longer see them.

But I could hear them. The coyote at least. Chitter-chattering away in that nerve-singing way they have. Ivan made no sound, but he’s always been silent – both in play and in fight mode.

I had no choice but to continue down the trail. Me and Ivan against one adolescent coyote? No problem. Me and Ivan against whatever of the coyote’s relatives decided to show up and join in the fun? Big problem.

Minutes later, I heard the tinkling of Ivan’s collar tags and there he was, tromping down the trail, muddy and limping slightly, but with no discernable gashes or puncture wounds.

Poor Ivan. He always looks so happy, out there in the woods, doing what his canine genes impel him to do. There was a time, when S.B. and I lived even further out, that the dogs did wander happily. Never got into trouble, never hurt a soul. In fact, they had friends throughout our area, homes to which they’d show up at certain times of day to say hello or hang for a bit. One late afternoon, I got a call from a gal who lived three miles away, to tell me Ivan had just showed up in time for happy hour on the patio, was it okay if he stayed? Once I got over the shock of just how far my dog’s territory stretched, I said, sure, so long as he’s no bother. When you're ready to go inside just tell him, “Ivan, go home.” He’ll know what that means.

We can’t let the dogs do that here. Despite the National Forest at our backs, this is a true neighborhood. But I’m thankful that for a few years of their lives, our dogs lived unfettered by fences and fretting, that they got to answer the call of their wild genetics and move through the world with freedom and ease.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lambs to the Slaughter

Well, it's now official. Prince Harry is not going to war in Iraq. Too many kidnapping and death threats and all that.

Harry has been quoted as saying that while he's disappointed, he realizes that it's not just his life that's on the line. Dozens of other members of his unit will most likely get caught in the crossfire of whatever yipee skippy jihadist is tasked with the oh-so-glorious duty of blowing Harry's smooth-as-a-baby's bottom into teensy little bits. As Harry goes so too go dozens of cheese makers' sons from Derbyshire. Millers' daughters from Yorkshire. Butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers from God-only-knows-where-else-shire.

I for one am greatly relieved. And not just about the cheese makers, et al. After all, the last thing we can afford to lose is yet another member of the British royalty. And not just because it will most likely spawn yet another limp-wristed Elton John tribute because the Queen mum is too daft to accept something much more ska-punk pithy from, say, Lily Allen ("There's no one in the world who could replace you.")


They start falling like flies, these royals, what happens to the various and sundry industries that depend on their extraordinarily impetuous consumption? Like hat designer Misa Harada? After all, British royalty virtually invented the Occasion Hat fashion genre (who else BUT a royal would wear this?)

and without Harry's trail of girlfriends all flocking to her studio, Misa will be forced to rely instead on the good graces of Jessica Simpson.

Then there's Giorgio Armani. Sure, he's also a fave of many high faluten' 'merican movie stars, but we all know that Katie Holmes is going to last maybe five point six more seconds with that whopper of a whack job husband, a fact which will no doubt send her running for the hills, not to mention the discount racks at Barney's like the rest of her B-List Hollywood brethren.

So, once again, the Brits save the day. Not only for the future of the royal family but also for the overblown fashionistas who will follow them there.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We Pause for Station Identification

I had intended this morning to try and write something nice for Wicked Thistle, who just lost her beloved great aunt. But, I can't seem to come up with anything to say about death and loss that hasn't already been said and with much more oomph besides ("how do you like your blueeyed boy Mister Death?").

So, I will simply say: To have made it to 102 years old surrounded by all the good things life and love have to offer is a fabulous thing indeed. Well done. Sometimes, with death, condolences and congratulations are one and the same.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!

I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

To me, nothing says spring in New Mexico like bearded iris. Iris germanica, to be exact. Which bears little resemblance to the delicate restraint of its Japanese and Siberian cousins. Pretty varieties, yes, if you're into hospital bed bouquets and hotel lobby arrangements.

I much prefer the ridiculous opulence of the beardeds. Rarely do they make it into a vase. Rather, they do best when left to bloom outside in the garden.

Which they do in these parts with utter abandon each spring, brightening front lawns everywhere, from the most lavish Taco Bell mansions to the most humble South Valley adobes. These, I've grown for the past eleven years. In fact, when we moved from our last home to this one, the iris came with me. I simply dug them up and sneaked them away. They will remain mine forever.

Not only do I think these iris some of the most beautiful of all flowers, I'm also in love with the name. Feminine and slightly old-fashioned but also independent and strong, like a maiden aunt hiding a penchant for adventure travel and younger men.

In Greek mythology, Iris is the personal messenger to Hera, queen of the gods, a task Iris performed with extraordinary good grace, given Hera's reputation as a full-on bitch. The Romans had no mythological equivalent but they were nonetheless well acquainted with the iris, soaking its blooms to flavor their wine and burning them to perfume their rooms.

Iris figures prominently in the perfume-making industry as well, and is derived from the flowers and the rhizomes of both the germanica and pallida varieties. One of the most complicated of scents, iris lends to perfumes a hint of moss, subtle greenery, delicate violet, and a trace of sugar sweet. It is perhaps most beautifully utilized in Serge Lutens's Iris Silver Mist.

Me, I just go into the garden, stick my nose in a bloom, and sniff.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Baby Killer

This is Howie. Howie is a four-week-old pit bull puppy one of my RAAPers, Jami, rescued from a dumpster outside where she works (RAAP stands for Responsibly Adopting Albuquerque's Pit Bulls, a pit bull advocacy, foster, and education organization I founded in January 2006).

Jami is always finding pit bulls. Or, rather, they find her. About once every couple months, I get an email from her with "Look Who Followed Me Home" in the subject line, along with a photo of some big ol' dorky pit bull smiling for all the world like Hollywood's calling. Which is one of the reasons I love the breed. They are so unabashedly full of themselves.

Over the years, Jami has rescued dozens of pit bulls. Currently, she shares her home with eight permanent residents and one RAAP foster dog. Howie makes the tenth. But that's okay, he's pretty little. I'm sure he doesn't take up much room.

Here's the other foster, a six-month-old white pit bull named Stevie Rae:

Stevie Rae is blind. But she doesn't know it. For all she knows, not only is she normal, she's also simply fabulous and deserving each and every day of tons of hugs and kisses. And treats. Another reason why I adore the breed. They bring new meaning to one of my favorite lines of poetry: I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.

So anyway, it's been two weeks since Jamie found Howie and she has been diligently hand-feeding and caring for him. Looks like the little fella is going to make it. I can't wait until he grows up because I think he's going to be a looker. But I have to admit, he is sorta cute as a puppy. Just look at that face. The baby, he kills me.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lost Weekend

Whoops, I skipped yesterday. That's what giddy will do to ya. As well as the first really nice, warm, sunny day of spring. I gardened. I watched a little golf (oh, Tiger . . . what happened?). I examined our bounty of wildflowers as I scooped poop.

I also pondered a few things:

Like when you and your honey go out on a Friday night to party it up at a local rockin' sushi joint and, basking in the warm glow of alcohol-induced gemutlichkeit, anticipate a lovely evening of light chit chat between yourselves and maybe a stranger or two sitting next to you and instead find yourself entangled in what seems on the surface to be an actual conversation but which instead becomes a kind of time warp perpetuated by said stranger who just may be, in fact, slightly C-R-A-Z-Y. But you've just imbibed half a bottle of saki and are, hence, game:

S.B.: My nephew pitches for LSU baseball and my family and I were over in Arkansas recently to watch his game.

Mr. Crazy: He pitches in the minor leagues?

S.B.: No, he plays college ball, for LSU.

Mr. Crazy: So, a farm team?

And still you plug away. Because, after all, he is looking at you and nodding his head in a certain manner that indicates he's not thinking about the pile of laundry waiting for him at home, but, rather, is actually listening to what you are saying. And maybe this time he will reply with something even remotely related to the topic.

Us: We're thinking of training for a mini-triathlon this August.

Mr. Crazy: I'm not wearing any underwear. It keeps the aliens at bay.

Uh, apparently not.

I also learned a few things yesterday:

1. S.B. makes the best grilled hamburgers, hands down, of any human being on earth and now all I want to do is eat a bizillion grilled hamburgers at every meal. Damn the cholesterol and transfats. Which I can do, because I'm training for a mini-triathlon. Any day now . . .

2. The very best wine on the face of the earth, hands down, to go with said hamburgers is Ponderosa Valley Vineyards Jemez Red. The definitive red table wine if I ever tasted one.

3. HBO's Saturday night premier movie was The Omen. You know, the one with Liev Schreiber looking pained as usual and Julia Stiles looking way, way, way older than necessary (I'm sorry, I don't care if you're playing a member of the U.S. diplomatic corps or a mother of the bride or are freakin' 80 bizillion years old, you should never be styled to wear a fake Chanel purple silk shantung day suit with a matching pillbox hat. And shoes dyed to match. I mean, it should be in your contract). And we won't even talk about the utter waste of Mia Farrow, who at 60-whatever-years-old, still betrays such a remarkable luminosity it was a near tragedy the way she was used here. Anyway. We figured, okay, it would be good for a laugh. Well, it was pretty stinky, but there was at least one redeeming feature. I for one was heartened to see that the Hounds of Hell are, indeed, Rottweilers, and not pit bulls. Whew.

4. Finally: NASCAR is not a sport, people. It's an activity. Please, remember that.

Okay, I'm going to go hike a mountain. And celebrate yet another gorgeous spring day.

Happy Mother's Day to all y'all . . .

Friday, May 11, 2007

Spring Sling Back

Today is a shallow-end-of-the-gene-pool kind of day. Because:

1. I have to save my creative energy for writing about a CPA firm. So sorry to report that writing for a living is not at all about cocktails and glamorous outfits and witty reparte. Mostly, it's about stale coffee and work out pants and repeated thunkings of head upon desk to shake the words loose onto the page.

2. It's Friday and S.B. is coming home and that just makes me giddy. Which could come in handy for said CPA firm. Or not. Most certainly, it will come in handy for S.B.

So in that spirit of giddiness, I thought I'd share with you my most recent – and, I swear, ONLY – shoe purchase for spring. I was simply beside myself when I found them because they contain within one single pair all of the elements I adore in a shoe. Hence saving me from having to buy any other shoes until at least fall. See how a good pair of shoes is, uh, like money in the bank?

Note the following fabulous features:

1. A heel higher than 2"
2. A peep toe.
3. A sling back.
4. A mock espadrille wedge.
5. Comfy padded foot bed.

Don't they just beg for a flirty skirt and a frolic through the park? Carefully, of course. I may be koo-koo for shoes-shoes, but I am also realistic about the potential dangers of frolicking in a 4" high sling back wedge.


Oh, and they go with everything. Except maybe workout pants.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Jaguar, Baby!

Highly endangered and once extinct in the United States, the jaguar has once again been seen in New Mexico. Right on, big spotted kitty dude.

From a Nature Conservancy article in 2006:

The jaguar—the largest cat native to the Americas—has been making its way north from a core population of a couple hundred cats 140 miles to the south, according to biologists. “Historically, jaguars ranged as far north as the Grand Canyon,” says Peter Warren, a Conservancy grassland manager in Arizona. “The return of these big cats is an indicator that conservation work near the border is paying off.”

You can read more about it here.

According to a local news report last night, the most recent jaguar spotting in the United States was back in August, 2006, in New Mexico's Hidalgo County, which is located in the state's boot heel. The lucky spotter was Arizona rancher Warner Glenn, who was in New Mexico hunting mountain lion. Only three people have seen the Jaguar in the wild in the United States in the past ten years. Glenn wins the eagle eye prize for two of those instances.

Here's the photo Glenn took last year.

The jaguar is one of the most popular symbols in Mesoamerican artwork, and first showed up in "jaguar baby" carvings by the proto-Mayan culture, the Olmec. The jaguar would subsequently figure very prominently in the artwork of all Mesoamerican societies, whose rulers naturally wanted to associate themselves with one of the most regal and powerful creatures of their area. The jaguar was respected for its hunting prowess, agility, strength, and aggressiveness.

I see their point. If I were to come back as an animal in my next life, I think I'd like to be a jaguar. I mean, just look at it. That is one bad ass, smooth-moving, tres chic kitty.

Here is a photo of a Mayan "jaguar baby" carving. You can read more about jaguar baby or were-jaguar symbolism here.

The jaguars are believed to be coming up from Mexico. Which begs the question: if GWB is so all fired up to merge Mexico, Canada, and the United States, why is he building a wall between New Mexico and Mexico? 'Cause if we're once again going to claim this enchanted animal for the Land of Enchantment, it's going to need to move freely between our borders.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party

It can be weird, being a woman without children. Most people can't grok the fact that this was and is and always will be a conscious choice for me, something I knew about myself way back as a little girl. I think in child free parlance it's called being an early articulator.

Although, I can't give you any particular reason why I never wanted children. It's not because I'm deficient or otherwise handicapped in my ability to love, nurture, and guide. Rather, I've always regarded my decision as more of a career choice. Much like I never felt the urge to become a quantum physicist, I never felt the urge to parent. I didn't grow up to be a doctor, plumber, or tap dancer either.

But, keeping with the career analogy, I do recognize and respect parenting as an important job. I have a few friends and acquaintances who are parents, who have raised lovely and interesting children and who, by and large, seem happy with their decision to become parents. Again, it's a job like any other, with its own set of highs and lows.

So, could y'all weigh in on this for me?

I mean, it doesn't look like what we're talking about here are moms who style themselves like porn stars or dads who don backwards baseball caps and wife beaters to lunch with their sons at Hooters. It sounds like these people – horrors! – want to have lives while they have kids.

When my parents used to go out on Saturday nights, they left us at home. With babysitters. Remember those? As I watched them going out the door, glowing with the anticipation of a good time separate from their children, I didn't think, "Boo hoo! Mommy and daddy are abandoning us!"

I thought, "Wow, look how fabulous mommy and daddy look. Being an adult must be fun!"

And you know what? It is.

Granted, I don't know much about parenting, but I was once parented. By people who had hobbies, jobs, passions, secrets. I think this is one of the most valuable things children can learn - that adulthood is a good thing – and to learn it, they need selfish parents. In the best sense of the word.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The United States of Am-Mexi-Can?

It could happen. Just check this out. And this. And finally, this.

Now, I'm not sure what the socio-political-economic implications would be of such a union of our three countries into one (Bill?), but based on this glib bit of verbage:

The SPP recognizes that our three great nations are bound by a shared belief in freedom, economic opportunity, and strong democratic institutions.

It kinda smells like teen spirit to me. I mean, really? That statement's so whitewashed it makes Strom Thurmond look like the poster boy for National Drag Queen Day.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Canadians. In fact, I recently discovered that a gal for whom I have the utmost professional respect and personal liking is, despite all evidence to the contrary, most thoroughly Canadian. And I got over it.

Likewise, I have nothing against our brethren to the south. Hell, I could even be Mexican for all we know. Because every time I visit a foreign country, complete strangers regularly launch into a steady barrage of such giddy, hola seniorita, que tals? that I finally have to open my mouth and speak English to dissipate their enthusiasm. So, no problems there.

Finally, do we need even more fair trade between the three countries? Hundreds of thousands of college students still make the pilgrimage to Mexico each springtime, purchasing along the way enough buckets of Coronitas, hookers, and cheap motel rooms to keep Napoleon's army, were it still to exist, more than satisfied. That's mucho, mucho dinero right there, people. And have you been to Scottsdale/Phoenix/Vegas/Santa Fe/Sedona in the winter months lately? Eh?

No, my objection to a union of this sort is more along these lines:

1. We already have a Cowboy ethic in Congress. Do we really need to add to the mix Banditos and Mounties? Who will be in charge? The guys with the biggest guns or the purdiest outfits?

2. Socialized medicine. Based on what friends and relatives living with it tell me, you can DIE just waiting in line for cold medicine. My cousin, she may have breast cancer but NO ONE in Germany can examine her yet and give her an accurate diagnosis because she still hasn't filled out the paperwork correctly. Eight months and counting . . .

3. Canadians export beer. Mexicans tequila. A fine combination, yes, but what happens when those exports meet in the middle in Kansas City? Does that mean the Midwest suddenly becomes Party Central? Uh, that can't be good. Can it? I just don't know if I'm ready for Iowa to become the new South Beach.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Big Electric Cat

For Christmas last year I came upon the perfect gift for S.B.: a bright red Fender electric guitar. I bought it for him because:

1. He has the patience, the smarts, and the heart to devote himself to learning this art, and;

2. I was hoping that within only a few short months of practice he would end up sounding totally edgy and cool, sort of like Robert Fripp circa Scary Monsters, and would immediately get together a totally edgy/cool band, quit his day job, and he, I, and the dogs would embark on a worldwide tour bringing edgy/cool music to the masses. A Kurt and Courtney for the New Millennium, only older and without the love child and all the drugs.

But five months later, S.B. is still learning. And not because he's not musical. But because learning to play the guitar is hard! Christ on a cracker, how does anyone learn this instrument? S.B. explained to me how he's methodically working his way through guitar theory and chords and notes and all that and I swear, my brain just fogged over like it used to do in Algebra class when all I heard come out of the teacher's mouth was Charlie Brown's parents.

I have no doubt that S.B. will eventually have complete mastery over his instrument. Because he's way smart and way patient – he hasn't missed a day of practice since Christmas. But I have just come to the stunning realization that I myself will never be a musician. About as far as I might get is learning the keyboards. I know how to read music and can find middle C and the rest is just a matter of memorization and practice. But the guitar? I'll never be able to form my fingers into some of those punishing chord positions. Never mind eventually doing it without peeking. Soon, S.B. will be able to pound out power chords with the giddy elan of an '80's hair band while I will forever be doomed to regaling the dogs with various stilted versions of Gary Numan's "Cars."

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Just Another Manic Sunday

I have decided to take Wicked Thistle's lead and pay greater respect to Sundays.

When I was single and lived in town and my commute was exactly five minutes long and the world didn't know from iPods, I would reserve a couple hours each Sunday morning to listening to music. Nothing that was already featured on the AM or FM dials, but music I knew little to nothing about. Like Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Mahalia Jackson's early recordings, when gospel was just a voice and a single church organ.

I still had a turn table then, too, and many of my parent's old records, so I rediscovered some of the lost souls of American folk music, like the Brothers Four, New Christy Minstrels, and Nancy Ames. I rediscovered my love for Johnny Cash. And for Herb Alpert, the Ventures, and Trini Lopez.

So I think I'm going to devote part of my Sundays to music again. Turn off the television for a couple hours and put the CD player on "random" and see what turns up. Cruise iTunes and sample stuff while I contemplate the view out my office window. Who knows, I may even follow another one of Wicked Thistle's leads and learn to appreciate gangsta rap. I kinda doubt it, but for one second there, I was more optimistic than usual.

Yup, I'm definitely going to do that. Starting, uh, next week. Because right now, I've got a list a mile long that I have to get to today. But next week. Most definitely.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

If We Could Be Heroes, Just For One Day

Warning: this book contains a lot of statements like this:

I could no longer avoid seeing the totalitarianism, the pure moral framework that is Islam. It regulates every detail of life and subjugates free will. True Islam, as a rigid belief system and moral framework, leads to cruelty . . . Reason, not obedience, should guide our lives. We must think for ourselves; we are responsible for our own morality . . . I (want) to comply with the goals of religion, which are to be a better and more generous person, without suppressing my will and forcing it to obey inhuman rules.

What, you say? "But Islam saved Aristotle, la la la discovered algebra, la la la civilized Spain, la la la religion of tolerance and peace la la la."

'kay, guess I'm going to have to shout: Get your fingers out of your ears. Tolerance and peace, MY ASS.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Cake or Death?

There are people in this world I just don’t trust.

1. 99.99% of its politicians. Even the ones who really, really, really care and solomnly swear they are going to turn things around and fix everything for ever and ever, amen. 'Cause, well, I know they aren't.

2. Katie Couric. It's not her fake tan and creepy screetchy junior high school giggle that give me the willies. It's the fact that I know, just know that woman's hiding something that ain't right. Like a propensity for incest or square dancing.

3. People who don't eat sweets.

You know the type. You're having dinner at some fancy schmancy restaurant, the kind of place where in your opinion the whole point of ordering the parchment steamed Chilean sea bass with baby lettuces and a spritz of lemon essence is to save your calories for dessert, and when this piled-high tray of utter lusciousness finally makes its way to your table, you do what any normal person would do and that is coolly calculate how many bazillion miles you'll have to run on the treadmill tomorrow in order to imbibe the Triple Death by Chocolate Cake with Grand Mariner Ganache and that honkin' slice of Key Lime pie, but your companion, she waves a dismissive hand over the entire lot and sends it away. And then has the audacity to turn to you with a condescending sniff of her pert little nose and report, "I don't do dessert; I'd much prefer more broccoli."

Can you imagine, the utter, barren, arid desert that must be this person's appetite?

I shudder at the thought.

Because since girlhood I have been compiling a list of coveted sweets that is by now so ginormous, I'll be on my treadmill until the day I die.

Here's just a smattering of reasons why:

1. Divinity. Gawd, I know it's so redneck but come on, admit it, there is nothing like this stuff. Anywhere. In the entire universe. And you know it.

2. Pralines. See reason #1.

3. Dunkin' Donuts. Krispy Kreme is for pussies. And you know that, too.

4. Napoleons. I grudgingly admit French superiority in two things: cheese and pastries. And Napoleons are the ne plus ultra of Frenchified sweets. Luckily, I don't have to travel to France to get one.

4. Creme brule. 'bout the only thing the culinarily handicapped Brits got right.

5. Carrot cake. Well, really, the frosting. But eating frosting without the cake is just kind of silly, isn't it? Come on, isn't it?

So, I'm curious: what sweet things do you covet? You can tell me. If you do, I might even bake them for you.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Tough Guy

My dog Ivan, he thinks he's Jake LaMotta. He just loves a good fight. Not with people, mind you. With people he's as sweet as apple pie. Most dogs, too. But if you're a cat, coyote, deer, bobcat, squirrel, or just about anything else, he wants to rumble. It's just in his genes.

Take this morning. It can be dicey, walking in the hills this early in the morning in spring. Coyote raise their young between March and May, and they get out just after dawn to hunt rabbit, who are likewise early risers. That's Mother Nature's logic for you. The rabbits feed off the lush, plump greens, the coyotes feed off the lush, plump rabbits. Everybody's happy (well, except a few rabbits). Then toss Ivan into the mix and things get interesting.

Sure enough, five minutes before the end of the walk, Ivan spotted a coyote and took off. Within seconds, I heard it, that high pitched warning chatter the pack makes when danger is near. It went on for what seemed like ages. Then silence. Then Ivan trotting up behind me, tongue lolling, legs limping, face bloody. But he was smiling. This is fun for him.

Ivan's cut up pretty badly around his right eye, but I know the vet can't patch it up so we'll just have to wait it out. He's also got about a half dozen puncture wounds around his neck and haunches. I washed him off best I could, gave him a couple antibiotics I have in store from his last tussle, along with his morning liver treat, and left it at that.

He looks a little pathetic in this photo, but believe me, that's just because I won't give him any of my breakfast. Soon, he'll commence to grooming his feet and then go patrol the property for intruders.

So the lesson for today, courtesy Ivan?

1. Dogs may be canis lupus familiaris, but they're still canis lupus.

2. Despite all our optimistic anthropomorphic urgings, canines remain blissfully free of moral judgment, shouldas, couldas, or wouldas. They can be trained, but they cannot, under any circumstance, be reasoned with.

3. Dog spelled backwards is God. Laughing.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

That's Why They Get The Big Bucks

At approximately 10:53 yesterday morning, the phone rang. It was my step dad, calling to wish S.B. a happy birthday. I told him S.B. was still on the job site making the world safe for toaster ovens and then I heard something catch in his voice. I asked if he was okay. Actually, he said, I'm not. I'm in the hospital.

That's my step dad for ya. Always casual and unassuming. So much so, that I actually hesitated in my impulse to slam down the phone and head right over there. Instead I took my cue from Mr. Cool and asked him to explain exactly what happened. That's the thing, he said, the doctors don't know yet. Then I remembered how I lost my mom six years ago when she literally fell over dead into her morning coffee.

Forty-five minutes later I arrived at my step dad's hospital room just as his physician, an electrocardiologist, was entering, diagnosis in hand. Apparently, my step dad has an atrial flutter. The treatment plan is to blast his system with coagulants and beta blockers for 6 to 8 weeks to lower his heart rate and prevent his blood from clotting. At the end of which time, the doctor will perform an ablation utilizing a catheter to cauterize the uppity value in my step dad's right atrium, and ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom, all will once again be right with his world. Neither the condition nor the treatment is life threatening and the treatment enjoys a 95% success rate.

I was very relieved. And also impressed. First, with the demeanor of the specialist, who took over an hour to explain my step dad's diagnosis, his treatment, the risks, the side effects, etc. He drew us diagrams and patiently answered a barrage of questions. Not once during this time was he ever rushed, condescending, or overly familiar. Instead, he conducted himself with the utmost professionalism, revealing with every moment his exceptional skill as both a technician and a doctor.

And you know what else impressed me? Not only did this experience make me thankful all over again for my step dad, but also for the marvelous machine that is the human body. It's one tough cookie, but also tender and vulnerable in the weirdest ways imaginable. It's a wonder more doesn't go wrong. And it's a wonder what all can be done when it does.

A lot of poo is flung western medicine's way these days. Some of it well-deserved. But not all of it. I got to see it in its best light yesterday, and I have to say if I get sick like that, hold the magic wands, please, and pass that specialist. The one with all those diplomas on the wall, the Mercedes in the parking spot, the Versace suit, and the razor sharp brain.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May.

In honor of S.B.'s birthday today, I thought I would post one of my favorite photos of us together. Not because it reminds me of how much fun we have together, which of course it does, but because of something he's taught me about relationships: always, always, always be honest. It's important in all things, big and small. Here, it was important because, after climbing two pitches in a series of six to get up Devil's Tower, we were forced down because of rain. Once we were safely back on solid ground, neither of us had any problem whatsoever admitting our relief.

S.B. is the same age I am, minus four days. Which effectively makes him the younger man in this relationship. He also looks about ten years younger than he really is. Bonus.

Since S.B. is still out ensuring the continuance of the World As We Know It, we won't get to celebrate his birthday together, either. But that's okay, because every day with S.B. is just like a birthday.