Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Life's a Beach But It's Also a Mountain

Headed to North Georgia for a blog meet up tomorrow.

Today, I pack. If I told you I had finally given in to the reality of carry-on (horrors!) thanks to the ridiculous checked bag fees and that I was only packing three pairs of footwear (well, maybe four; we'll have to see just how roomy this carry on is), would you believe me?

You should.

You should also believe I'll be back on Monday with a full report, photos, and the definitive, once-and-for-all consensus on the exact level of Johnny Depp's hawtness.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Man Versus Wild

Mathews DXT Solo Cam Compound Bow: $1,000

Camo top, pants, hat, and backpack: $300

Draw on one of New Mexico's most coveted hunting spots: $100

Bull bugle, hoochie mamma, and mouth call: $40

Dozens of bugling elk at the start of their rut: 1

Great white hunter able to call in bugling elk for a shot: 0

The fact that there's a grocery store 10 minutes from home: priceless

Friday, September 24, 2010

Total Ellipse of the Heart

Today is National Punctuation Day, y'all!

No, I didn't either. But I'm glad I do now. Or, should that be: No, I didn't either; but I'm glad I do now. Or, No, I didn't either, but I'm glad I do now.

Oy. Such a headache-maker, the English language.

Still, if your heart's greatest desire has always been to understand the ins and outs of serial commas, brackets, colons, commas, dashes-versus-hyphens, and the apostrophe, log on to this fun site.

Then go forth . . . and vow never to use . . . an ellipse improperly again.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hellhound on My Trail

You know how every neighborhood has one of "those" families? The ones who, whether out of some misguided sense of rebellion or just out-and-out ignorance, simply refuse to adhere to even the most basic tenets of human co-habitation?

In the city or the suburbs, this usually means keeping one's lawn mowed, kids in check, and recreating noise at a reasonable level. Out here in the country, it also means not making one's property a graveyard for accumulated trash and rusted car parts and regularly mucking out stalls and barns so as not to raise a literal stink or an invasion of Humvee-sized houseflies.

It also means, if you've got a dog whose demeanor makes Mike Tyson look like Deepak Chopra, you make sure that dog remains safely behind a sturdy, secure fence.

Not that I am necessarily bothered by dogs who roam. To me, a well-behaved country dog that doesn't get to stretch his or her legs on occasion by having a bit of a walkabout through its neighborhood, well, that to me just runs counter to what a dog essentially is. There are several dogs in my neighborhood who do this, one of whom is a beautiful, amiable Alaskan Malamute by the name of Axl Rose who about once a month I encounter on one of my early morning runs up in the hills. Everyone knows and loves Axl, knows where he lives, knows his owner has tried everything except chaining and a concrete bunker to keep Axl's boundless zest and curiosity for life contained on his property. But, since Axl means no creature large or small of any species any harm, no one cares about his occasional off-the-reservation forays.

But if the dog is not well-behaved, if the dog is not friendly, if the dog, in fact, poses a threat to both animals and people, then its owner has a responsibility to keep it locked up on its property and exercised in ways that do not require off property frolics.

Like the two dumb ass coon hounds that my neighbor down the road simply refuses to either train or contain. Every time S.B. and I go running by there, one or both of these useless mutts scales their fence and come charging up to us, not to say howdy, but to broadcast nothing but bad intent: eyes pinched with menace, lips raised and spittle-coated, hackles stiff as Mohawks along their backsides.

At first, a simple shout and clap of hands would keep them at bay. But each encounter only firmed their resolve and now they'll follow us beyond the boundaries of their property, low slung and snarling at our heels. Other neighbors report similar trouble, but if anyone's attempted to contact the owners or animal control, you wouldn't know it. I've hesitated to call myself, knowing that in this, as in all cases of dogs-gone-wrong, the dog bears the brunt of the punishment, not the ignorant-ass owner. And while these dogs piss me off and scare me, I don't want to see them suffer for what their humans have allowed them to do.

I have a run planned for early tomorrow morning that will take me right by their property. I'll be bringing a note with me outlining the problem that I'll stick on their gate, provided the dogs don't make it impossible. And if that doesn't work, I'll do it when I head out again. And if that doesn't do it, well there's always S.B.'s solution, involving firepower and a Korean restaurant . . .


I think.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Best Actor of My Lifetime

In my opinion, Tom Hanks stands head and shoulders in talent above every other man currently working in cinema today. If I have to explain why, well, then, you obviously haven't seen a Tom Hanks movie (actually, though, I'm just short on time today). My favorite performance? Captain John H. Miller in Saving Private Ryan, a movie as near perfect in all respects as it gets.

Unfortunately, every YouTube clip of this movie is over 10 minutes long, but here's one anyway.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yummy in My Tummy

Unlike last year's tiny, stringy lil' suckers, this year's crop of green chiles is one of the best in recent memory. Usually when they're big and plump like this, they lack flavor, but these are as smokey/sweet as they come, with just the right amount of tongue-stinging heat.

Last week, I froze thirty pounds of chiles, but may go get another bag. Especially if S.B. gets an elk next week. If so, fuggedabout ground beef or buffalo—I'll be spending all winter making elk green chile stew, enchiladas, and rellenos. Maybe even tamales, although pork is the traditional filling and red chile the traditional sauce. But, still. Experimentation is allowed, even encouraged.

How else to utilize roasted green chiles? Well, if you're New Mexican, just about anything goes better with a little bit of chile (even ice cream and chocolate cake!). So, do like the natives do, and:

1. Mix chopped green chiles, minced onions, and grated cheddar cheese into scrambled eggs or stuff inside an omelet

2. Add it to a burger or hot dog in place of relish

3. Toss your favorite pasta with a green chile, gorgonzola, and cream sauce

4. Add a whole, peeled chile to a wrap sandwich

5. Make a dip out of a cup of sour cream, half a cup minced green chiles, and a quarter cup of Ranch dressing

6. Steep a whole, peeled chile and a quarter slice of lime in a glass of cold beer for several minutes and serve (try it with vodka, too)

7. Insert slices of garlic throughout a pork roast, then wrap with whole pieces of roasted and peeled chiles, then wrap again with bacon. Bake in oven until done, slice, and serve.

The possibilities are endless, not to mention nutritious, as a half cup serving of green chile has approximately 143 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 240 percent of the average daily allowance. That's nearly four times the amount of a medium-sized orange. If I feel a cold coming on? I just heat up some chile, pile it on a couple pieces of toast, eat, and that virus backs right the hell off.

Several words of caution, though: don't touch your eyes after handling chiles. Capsaicin, the chemical compound that gives chiles their heat, has a half life of, like, a bazillion years, and even a thorough hand-washing won't fully remove it from your hands. Time is the cure all here, so don't touch your eyes or poke your fingers into any other raw or soft tissue for at least 24 hours and several washings.

One last word of advice: do not drink water to calm the heat on your tongue. That will only make things worse. Instead, drink a glass of milk or eat a tablespoon or two of yogurt or sour cream. And don't worry; you'll get used to it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Don't Believe in Modern Love

According to a just-published study by a bunch of British scientists, who apparently had nothing better to do than spend many, many bazillions of hours rigorously analyzing male dance moves, there does, indeed, seem to be a pattern of movement within the male body that signifies to us females their status as A-Number-One reproductive machines. In other words, some guys got it, and some guys don't, and it all depends on how they hoof it.

Read about it and watch the goofy video here.

Ladies, I don't know about all y'all, but I think it would be much more useful to fund a study that would tell us which men lounging in a particular bar on any given night are most likely able to do the following:

A. Cook
B. Clean
C. Put the toilette seat down
D. Memorize the phone number to the local Chanel boutique

That is all.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Season in the Sun

Remember when you were a kid and time seemed to always move so slowly? Sitting in class, willing the big arm on the wall clock over the teacher's head to move, already, so that you could tear around on the playground or go eat lunch or make it to practice or latch key it home to pop a TAB and settle in front of the television for the latest After School Special while gabbing with your friends on the phone?

Remember how a family day trip could drag on for days, how the span between birthdays and Christmases seemed like years, and how summer most especially stretched into eternity?

Until, one day, it didn't and there you were, time warped back into the classroom, watching that big hand etch out its torturous circular path as you dreamed of everything but what was on the chalkboard.

I haven't watched a clock in years, but I still feel summer's end with the same acuity as I did when I was a kid. One day, I'm sweating it out in the heat of late August and the next, I'm wearing long pants and a jacket to walk the dogs come September.

The light, too, is different. More mellow, with a golden cast that renders everything in higher and brighter relief. Then, there's the air. Not the way it hangs, but the way it smells. Some urban areas in late summer smell like trapped auto exhaust and sweaty bodies. Albuquerque in September smells of roasting chile, its smoky sweet scent so pervasive, it becomes the olfactory equivalent of a theme song. Live here long enough and eventually you don't notice it so much, but I can't count the number of times I've landed back home in Albuquerque after a fall trip when someone on the plane hasn't stuck their noses in the air and asked, "What's that smell?"

Late summer is also marked by the last flush of flower bloom—not only in my garden but most importantly in the wild. This year's wet monsoonal flow has produced a riot of wildflowers so varied and vibrant, I can't keep up with them all: fleabane and wild verbena, red rocket and sulphur buckwheat, evening primrose and globe mallow, and the granddaddy of them all, helianthus annus, or the common sunflower.

Regardless of their ubiquity along the roadsides and ditches of the American West, sunflowers never cease to amaze me with their resilience and beauty. Yesterday morning, I was up in hills running with my little Border Collie, Maddie, on a trail I haven't been on in over a month. The end of this particular trails drops steeply into an isolated valley of about a hundred acres that serves as a transition from the surrounding neighborhoods to the forest beyond.

As I rounded the bend, I was greeted by the sight of what must have been hundreds of thousands of sunflowers, their stalks as tall as I was, each and every one of their faces aimed at the rising sun and so thickly packed together that the normally wide, clearly demarcated trail was completely obliterated.

I had to shut off my GPS and just stand there for a few moments, wondering at the evolutionary necessity of such drop dead gorgeousness. Maddie, of course, could have cared less. She was too busy chasing rabbits.

Since the sunflowers are still thriving, and the purple asters are right behind them, I'm not going to mourn just yet the passing of summer.

Even though I do know this eight-week Indian Summer slide into November will pass just as blink-of-an-eye quick, and soon I'll look outside and see nothing on the ground but snow and the withered detritus of a once thriving landscape. In which case, all I can say about winter is this: thank God for cashmere and the fall television season.

Happy Labor Day to everyone and I hope you plan to spend it wringing every last bit of fun and frolic out of your summer.