April 30, 2011

Spring just may be finally springing

I'm mostly on the couch today with some bug that's knocking me down. (It, at least, more fully explains C-man's unwillingness to eat and his own sleepless issues this past week.) But I saw these little blue sweeties out in the yard, and couldn't resist a quick shot. Plus, I figured you were all getting a bit tired of my trip photos by now. (Although, I certainly am not, so I can guarantee there will be more!)

In the meantime, I'm finishing up the first season of Damages on Netflix, (How did I ever miss this show?!? It's fantastic!) and sipping tea, hoping I kick this crud sooner rather than later. At least I'm on a break from the immunosuppressants, so I should have some sort of immune system helping move this on out!

Hope you're enjoying your day wherever you are.

April 29, 2011

Spirit of the Bear

Stone carvings by the Zuni pueblo to represent the spirit of the animal carved in the stone. The bear signifies strength, courage, adaptability, healing and spiritual communion.

While on our trip to New Mexico, we did a lot of hiking and sightseeing and checking out the local spots. We did not do a lot of shopping. It just isn't our style, but also, we were in Taos. And while there is a square with some shops we did visit one afternoon, many weren't open, probably because the owner just didn't feel like it that day. But C-man had some money to spend, and it was burning a hole in his pocket. We satiated his need a bit with a $15 arrowhead necklace from the Taos Pueblo and a $2 snake from a local trinket shop. While in the pueblo, he really wanted some carved stone bears. But I said they were too expensive, and not carved in that pueblo anyway (the Zunis do the carvings), so vetoed it. And since he had his arrowhead necklace, he was still pretty darned happy.

I, on the other hand, had it in my head to get some silver and turquoise jewelry, which I disappointingly hadn't found all week. So on our very last day, on our way to Albuquerque to get on the plane, Beerman said, "I'm going fast enough for a half-hour side trip if you want." I quickly googled "silver and turquoise jewelry, Albuquerque" and lo and behold, Old Town Albuquerque was only a few miles from the airport.

Dave the GPS navigated us flawlessly, we parked quickly and flew in and out of shops. And while it would have been nice to eat lunch and listen to the sweet mariachi band in the cute little plaza, I had work to do! The shop ladies were all about me trying on this piece and that piece, but I wasn't having it. If I didn't love it, I wasn't buying it. And I wasn't wasting any part of my precious 30 minutes trying on a $1200 necklace I certainly wasn't going to buy anyway! (Even if it was drop-dead gorgeous.) And in the 7th store, there it was; the set I'd been looking for at a price that wasn't going to require a second mortgage. And so, I impatiently waited for the woman to finish helping another woman so she could get my pieces out. Then we went to the counter to pay where Beerman and C-man joined me; Beerman with a serpentine Zuni bear fetish in his hand and C-man with a giant smile on his face.

So upon strict instructions from the lady who sold it to us, C-man is diligently feeding his spirit bear cornmeal. And occasionally, the bear gets hungry and the cornmeal disappears, to C-man's wonder and amazement. I guess the overpriced bear was worth it after all.

April 28, 2011

Thursday thirteen things I think are awesome

  1. Cerulean blue front doors
  2. Sunrises
  3. Children's laughter
  4. Waking up refreshed without an alarm clock
  5. Fresh steamed artichokes with lemon mayonnaise
  6. The first buds on the trees after a hard spring rain
  7. Opening photograph images for the first time to find some real gems
  8. The crack of the baseball bat
  9. A freshly cleaned car
  10. C-man's smile
  11. Wearing a sweater I've knitted for the first time
  12. Vacation with my family
  13. Getting an email from an old friend I haven't talked to in ages

April 26, 2011

Vacation hangover

Well, I'm back to work, which is most definitely not nice. It's cold, it's rainy, I have a bazillion emails... and all I want to do is sit on a rock and watch a river rush through the mountains as the sun beats on my face. Not to mention, the altitude did amazing things for my arthritis, which is now also decidedly not nice with the cold and rain. Sigh... Maybe it's time to pack up our stuff and get some llamas of our own.

April 25, 2011


Along our various hikes in New Mexico, I saw a bunch of cairns created and left behind. I thought they were a beautiful, yet simple reminder to live in balance. So the morning before we left our campsite, I built my own and left it behind as a reminder to myself, as well as the next person who comes along. It makes me smile to know I've added to the landscape.

April 24, 2011

Blessed Easter

In honor of Easter, I'm sharing a couple of photos of San Francis de Asis church in Rancho de Taos.

You may recognize this church from a couple of others who also felt compelled to memorialize it:

April 23, 2011

Hoppy surprise

When we're on vacation, we have things planned a little. But we tend to go with the wind a little, too. So the other day, we were driving around the Enchanted Circle, just to see what it had to hold. I was really looking forward to seeing Elizabethtown, which is a ghost town. I've never seen one before. So we arrived to a sign that said, "SHUT". We drove in anyway, thinking it couldn't mean the ghost town was shut. I mean really, what kind of irony would that be? But the sign didn't lie. Apparently someone had bought the land and was now using it as storage for their junk. You could see the town, but it was now a storage shed for farm stuff. Even the old church appeared to now be lived in. Completely weird.

Disappointed, we got back in the car and drove a little further toward Eagles Nest, when I spotted a simple road sign that said, "Comanche Creek Brewing Company - 2 miles". I looked at Beerman and said, "Wanna go?" And he, of course, said, "Yes!" and turned the car around to follow the arrow. The sign said it was open on Wednesdays - Saturdays, noon - 6. Since it was Wednesday at 11:45, we figured we were just in time.

We drove down a dirt road for 2 miles, encountering (and photographing in disbelief) some hand-lettered signs along the way.
And both laughed out loud when we arrived.
The door opened as we drove in, and they were open as promised. We learned that this guy produces 3 types of beer, with a total of 7 barrels a year. Something I learned is a "nano brewery". Beerman, of course, had his American Beer Festival Judge sweatshirt on (I think everything he owns has some sort of logo on it), so there were some strange words like "phenolic" thrown out. We each had a flight, and found them all to be surprisingly tasty.

Experiences like these are what make vacations awesome. If you're ever near Eagles Nest, New Mexico, I highly recommend you stop in for a taste of your own.

April 22, 2011

The sunset

Today is like a sunset. I feel sad that it's an ending to amazing things. But in the meantime, my faith in tomorrow's sunrise allows me the luxury of enjoying it's beauty today. Wishing you a peaceful and beautiful day.

April 21, 2011

Full of hot air

Yesterday, I got my early birthday gift from C-man. After much discussion between Beerman and C-man, my nervous nelly child finally consented to let me go up in a hot air balloon.
He and Beerman followed below in the chase care. At one point, he even called me on the radio to see how I was doing. It was so sweet, everyone let out an, "Awwwww...."
And I was doing great at about 9000 feet.
 Other balloons were floating the gorge, too, which was fantastic for photo opportunities.
The day was sunny and beautiful. And except for the obnoxious lady from New York who wouldn't.shut.up. it was a quiet, serene ride.
I learned a lot about ballooning from Pilot Ed. First and foremost was that Pilot Ed had very little control over the balloon. Something that might have been better learned at the end of the trip.
But we landed safely and quietly on the sagebrush by "Dave's house", and I was greeted by C-man with a giant smile and a hug.
And then, according to a ballooning tradition that I wholeheartedly agree with, we all toasted to a successful flight.
And I happily crossed #87 off my list. I really am loving this New Mexico thing.

April 20, 2011

Pueblos and Bridges and Paninis, oh my!

Yesterday we went to see the Taos Pueblo. The 5-story buildings are each over 1000 years old, and 10 families still live here without running water or electricity.
The church is the newest building, at about 150 years old.
C-man guided us through the area with his newfound love of maps.
After he got a new arrowhead necklace and some cookies, we went to the Rio Gorge Bridge so I could get some photos.
Then we drove to the top of the Taos Ski Hill, to take a look around.
After all that, we ate some lunch. At which time, I felt compelled to remove the apostrophe from the "panini's" sign. Because while I can't be sure, I'm pretty sure there was nobody around named "Panini". Beerman thought it was a funny enough thing for me to be doing to document it. I do love my grammar.
Then, we made our way to our house in on the top of the mountain with a most amazing view of the mountains. I keep pinching myself, I can't believe how gorgeous and calm it is. I think I'm finding out that I really love the mountains.

April 19, 2011

Llama spit

We spent the first couple of days in New Mexico on a really fantastic adventure, trekking into the Rio Grande Gorge alongside llamas. C-man immediately fell in love with Zeus and claimed him as his very own llama.

I took Apollo, the llama for whom this was his first trip out after winter, and as a result, moaned before every sharp corner. (Seriously, we were kind of a match made in heaven.) All of the llamas are rescues from bad situations, which made me love them all the more.
On our first day, we trekked bout 4 miles downward, from about 7400 feet to 6500 feet. There was a man and his 2 sons from Maine walking with us, which was a real blessing, because C-man had a blast hanging out with them. We stopped periodically to have lunch, catch minnows, learn about local plants, suck down more water than we'd ever injested before, and rest. (C-man's shirt just got dirtier and dirtier every stop.)

After 4 miles, we made it to the "junta", where the Red River and Rio Grande meet. After playing in the water and successfully losing the bottom half of C-man's zip-off hiking pants, we ate a tasty dinner of chicken fajitas, taught C-man how to purify river water, had a great campfire where the boys learned some fun tricks on how to spark fires in cool ways with magnesium and flint, and camped for night. 

The llamas just hung out around the campground, occassionally moaning and groaning.

The next day we woke up (did I even sleep?), ate fresh pancakes and sausage, and began our way on what felt like straight up to the very top of the gorge.

It was incredibly gorgeous scenery, and I couldn't stop smiling about it.

As an aside, did you know that llamas tend to sneeze a lot? And since they're walking right behind you, that means it's usually right in your hair. Despite already being beyond filthy, I was still pretty thankful for the bandana I'd brought along to wear on my head!

We were fortunate enough to see a few petroglyphs along the way, and our guide knew loads about them, which was really interesting. This is an elk butcher's block.

C-man seemed to hurt himself just about everywhere along the way. He fell in cactus once and got prickers all over his knee, got his foot pinched between some pretty big rocks once, slid down some rocks he shouldn't have been climbing on once, and ended up with some hand scrapes doing some other stuff I didn't know about.

We probably pushed it a bit much for C-man, considering he's only 6, and it was a pretty hefty 7 mile trek. On the last hour, he was really doubting if he could actually make it, and I would be lying if I wasn't right there with him. But it was a "Let's get to the next turn, and we'll rest" situation over and over again. And then it became, "What flavor of ice cream are you going to get at the Taos Cow when we're done here?" Whatever it takes, I say.

But the little bugger is beyond tough. And once he knew there were only "4 more zags to go", he literally ran them and I couldn't even keep up. Then he was asleep about 20 minutes into the car ride out, more filthy and exhausted than I've ever seen him. But I couldn't have been prouder of the way he handled it all.

And after his nap and some ultra-long showers, we all agreed it was truly a memory-making trip. The weather was fantastic, scenery amazing, llamas were funny, guide was super knowledgeable about everything in the area, not to mention ridiculously patient with C-man, and the food was great.
If you're ever in New Mexico, I'd highly recommend the trip with Wild Earth Llamas. And in case you need it, I've got close to 500 more pictures to convince you.

April 14, 2011

Thursday thirteen things I have to do

There are so many things I need to do and get done ASAP. There are only two more sleeps until vacation after all. (Which I'm sooooo excited about!)

So here are my top 13 to-dos:
  1. Get a new key cut for my car. I stupidly lost the darned key (I've learned that I lost it in the rental car in New York) and ended up with a lovely cab ride home last night, and my car still sits in the airport garage. The good news is the rental car company found it and are shipping it out today. The bad news is we can't find the spare. The good news is it's an old car, so isn't one of those $200 computer chip keys. The bad news is I have to get myself, the title, the VIN # (which I was smart enough to write down before I left the airport last night), and my drivers license to the other side of the city to get it done before Saturday.
  2. Retrieve said car from the airport.
  3. Get an eye doctor appointment. Yesterday, I realized I'm totally out of spare contacts. That's so unlike me. I always have a spare box lying around. And I hate the idea of going on vacation without a spare set, so I need to get in ASAP!
  4. Finish up C-man's Easter basket. We'll be home for Easter, but there's no way I'm shopping for everything the day we get back. I do have a few Cadbury eggs in the house now, and it's KILLING me not to eat them.
  5. Pack for vacation. I have the list made, and the essential stuff purchased. We've even started taking the initial doses of chlorophyll to help avoid the altitude sickness. It just needs to get put into a suitcase in an orderly fashion.
  6. Figure out where C-man is going to spend weeks 2 and 3 of August. All the local summer camps are done at that point, except for Y day camp and the Jewish kids camp. The Y day camp here stinks, and I don't want to join the JCC for just 2 weeks of camp, even though he'd probably have a blast.
  7. Pick a new knitting project and get some yarn for the plane trip. (It's cold enough for me to be wearing my latest sweater, which I'm loving.) There are just so many options. And I really do love lovely yarn. Sigh... Such a tough decision and so little time to decide.
  8. Put holds on the mail and newspaper
  9. Check the tracking number of my rented camera lenses (Nikon 10-24 mm and Tokina 11-16 mm - I'm trying them to see if they're worth the price. And if they are, which I like better. Hello, landscape shots!)
  10. Charge up my camera batteries and pack all my lenses.
  11. Transfer money into my checking account to pay my taxes. (Seriously, who are these people who get refunds?)
  12. Print out the directions and reservations to all the places we'll be next week.
  13. Download some new movies for C-man to watch.

April 12, 2011

Resting spot

While I'm away, I'll leave you with a smile.

April 11, 2011

Weekend accomplishments

This weekend, C-man learned how to ride a bike sans training wheels:

And on the first 80 degree day of the year, I finally finished the latest sweater I've been working on. (Please just ignore the yoga clothes underneath)

April 10, 2011

Chestnuts and acorns

C-man and Beerman have been researching the best way to grow a chestnut tree since their yesterday morning park walk. C-man is so excited, that I don't have the heart to remind him how long it takes for a tree to grow. In the meantime, they're excitedly planning, and I think that's really cool.

April 9, 2011

Play ball

Outdoor baseball practice has officially begun. May my every Saturday and Sunday from here to eternity be spent on a bleacher from now on.