Saturday, May 28, 2011

Your Sunday Best - 28 May 2011

Rose, Alamogordo, NM, circa April, 2007.

This was from one of the rose bushes in my backyard in Alamogordo, NM. We had three rose bushes in our back yard: a dark pink bush on the left, a yellow one on the right, and in the middle? Yellow with pink edges, as seen in the photo above (cross-pollination, I guess?).

"Your Sunday Best" is hosted weekly by Nancy at A Rural Journal. Please click on the button below to view her photo, as well as other contributors' photos:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - Family Legends

This week, our Memory Lane Friday topic is "Family Legends." Well, I decided to take a cue from Lisa over at Two Bears Farm, and use a bit of my grandfather's memoirs as this week's "Family Legends" entry.

My grandfather, Rafael, was known as "Rafa" to his family. (I called him "Sir Rafa," but that's another story.)

Anyway, Sir Rafa's younger brother is Fidel. His nickname is "Chino" (which is also another story).

Here's a bit of background: Sir Rafa and Uncle Chino were newspaper boys when they were young, selling papers in downtown El Paso, TX. When they finished selling papers for the day, they'd occasionally treat themselves to supper before heading home: usually a couple hot dogs and one soda (in a bottle) with two straws. They'd use a few spare nickles and/or a couple dimes they'd earned from selling papers.

But once in a while, they'd buy a different treat. . . .


(This is an excerpt from a section of his memoirs he wrote in 3rd person. It's from a chapter called, "Chino and Rafa - Newspaper Boys".)

On the ground floor of the Gateway Hotel was a small, but very fancy bakery shop. The boys thought that everything sold there was very expensive, so the only thing they could do was to look at the goodies in the window display. Sometimes they wished they could buy something there, but they didn't dare go in there.

Chino and Rafa used to pass by there every night on their way home.

One day, Chino told Rafa, "Let's go into the bakery and buy a bag of 'pieces.'"

Rafa wanted to know, "What do you mean - 'pieces'?"

Besides, a place like that was very expensive. The people going to that shop [were very well-dressed,] and most of them drove up in big cars, so they must be very rich.

Chino then explained to his older brother that [broken cookies] weren't sold to the "rich" customers[. Instead,] they put the broken pieces in paper bags. These bags of pieces were for sale to anybody for ten cents.

So Rafa said, "Let's do it," and they walked into the bakery.

Since Chino knew about [the "pieces,"] he said, "a bag of 'pieces.'" The young lady behind the counter handed the boys a small bag full of pieces, and Chino gave her a dime.

On the way home, the boys ate most of the broken cookies, but left some for their mother, and a few pieces for Poppi, [their dog].


Here they are as very small children, long before they became paper boys. Uncle Chino is the little one sitting on the chair. Sir Rafa is the one on the left.

Memory Lane Friday is hosted by Lisa at Two Bears Farm. Please click on the "Memory Lane Fridays" button below to read her entry, as well as other contributors' entries:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Liv's On the Lake

I found this photo the other day in my desk drawer. I thought it was so funny, and couldn't believe I hadn't scanned it yet!

I don't know why she's making that face. It's funny, though!

It was taken in July 2009, while Andrew, Livie, and I were at my parents' lake house in Lake Ozark, MO. I don't remember who too the photo (it definitely wasn't me), but I think it was one of the other guests who were staying at the lake house while we were there. Livie was 3-years-old in this photo.

Monday, May 23, 2011


The snack Livie and I shared this afternoon reminded me of Albuquerque. Yes, Albuquerque, as in New Mexico. Why? Well, because of Albuquerque's Sandia Mountains, of course. (Sandia means watermelon in Spanish, by the way.)

Plus, Sir Rafa and Uncle Hector enjoyed watermelon on a super hot southwestern afternoon, just like Livie and I enjoy it on a super hot humid day in the midwest.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Stormy weather . . .

Today, we got hit with some severe thunderstorms which ended up producing some tornadoes in our area. We were actually at the grocery store when the tornado sirens began sounding. We had a choice: either we check out right then and there, or we all head back to the walk-in coolers. Andrew, Liv, and I decided to check out and head home (just a couple miles away). 

While a tornado didn't touch down in our immediate vicinity, a couple actually touched down in neighboring towns.  One tornado was apparently about 8 miles from our town.

While we didn't get hit by a tornado in our area, we did get hit pretty hard by the same line of thunderstorms that produced the tornadoes in the other areas. Apparently there was a town west of us that reported hail the size of eggs! Can you believe that?!

Anyway, here's what the weather looked like not long after the tornado sirens went off. 

I took this photo from the deck, facing southwest. A lot of thunder and lightning came from those clouds!

More thunder and rain . . .we could feel sound vibrations from the thunder, seemingly directly overhead.

It's actually starting to clear up . . . here's the view of the sky, looking southwest.

Here's the view to the southeast, just moments after the sun made an appearance behind me to the west

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Your Sunday Best - 21 May 2011

This week, I'm heading back to Chicago and Millennium Park's "Cloud Gate" sculpture, a.k.a. "The Bean." I thought sharing another view of "The Bean" would be fun.

I love how you can look at it at one angle, and it'll look metallic, mirror-like. But at another angle (as seen in the photo below), you get an awesome mirror-image of the sky and the cityscape.

"Cloud Gate" (The Bean), Labor Day, 2009

"Your Sunday Best" is hosted weekly by Nancy at A Rural Journal. Please click on the button below to view her photo, as well as other contributors' photos.

The Marion Art Festival

This afternoon, we spent some time at the Marion Art Festival.

Here's Liv, posing for photos:

We enjoyed art made by artists from all around the country. We especially liked some very colorful, very beautiful pottery made by a couple who exhibited their art at this particular festival last year, too. Liv and I enjoyed various photographers' works (my particular favorite being some B&W prints), and some painters' works - especially a Chicago artist's bold, colorful painting of a dachshund.

The best part of the afternoon, however, was when Livie looked up at me after about 5 minutes of non-stop jabbering and said, "I talk a lot!" Hahahaha!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - No Theme

We've got another "No Theme" topic for Memory Lane Friday this week. I had a whole post written out, photos included, but decided it was much, MUCH longer than I'd wanted it to be. Plus, I'd suddenly had an idea for a different post, so I changed my mind, deleted the old one, and wrote this new one. Okay, this one is still kinda long (but not nearly as long as the post I ditched).

Thought I'd take you through a brief photo tour of Mescalero, NM, and a place I love visiting - The Inn of the Mountain Gods (adjacent to Ruidoso, NM). This place has been in Ruidoso (well, actually on the Mescalero Apache Reservation) for a LONG time. However, in recent years (maybe early- to mid-2000s), it was closed for renovation. It looks FANTASTIC now. It has a beautiful, chic restaurant, sleek bar, a casino . . .

Well, back in the day, my grandparents had taken my cousin and me there for a few days back in the late '70s. My cousin and I had played attempted to play tennis. I'd had lessons at home, but she'd never picked up a racket. So it was basically a session of laughing and goofing off.

She and I had also gone horseback riding - a trail ride through the beautiful, cool New Mexico mountains. She rode a buckskin named Buttermilk, who, at one point, slipped on some mud and went down on his behind, in kinda the same position as a sitting dog. My cousin didn't fall off, but she sure did have a surprised look on her face! Big, round eyes. Big, round mouth.

Anyway, back to my story . . .

So, when Andrew, Livie, and I still lived in New Mexico, my mom would come to visit us about once a month. The closest major airport was in El Paso, TX. So naturally, she would visit my grandparents for a few days before heading up to Alamogordo to visit us. Then she'd head back to El Paso to spend another couple days with Oma and Sir Rafa before heading home (usually staying in the area for about a week, total).

Well, one of her visits brought her out over Easter weekend 2007. Andrew and I had a couple days off (Friday - Sunday) . . . or maybe we had just taken leave, so we could hang out and relax.

Anyway, my mom agreed to care for Livie while Andrew and I headed to the Ruidoso area (about 45 minutes away) for what we now call a "Mommy-Daddy Adventure" (or "Mommy-Daddy Venture" as Livie pronounces it). We would stay at the Inn of the Mountain Gods on Friday and Saturday nights, and my mom and Livie would stay in El Paso, at my grandparents. We would all return to my family's house in Alamogordo early Sunday afternoon. I think Andrew and I had agreed we'd be back by around 2 PM.

Andrew and I had the BEST time. We'd gone to their "Big Game Sports Bar" after we'd checked in, so we could have a late lunch. It has sort of a rugged feel to it, like you've just come in from the wilderness. The next day, we leisurely wandered around Ruidoso, checking out local art stores, coffee shops, and the like.

On our second and final night, we ate at their fancy restaurant, with the big, beautiful mountain views and the sunset against the gorgeous skies. The most memorable foodie part was dessert. We'd ordered Bananas Foster, which, of course, is "set on fire" tableside. The cool part was when the server set a long, curly-cue orange peel on fire. Everyone in the restaurant watched, oohs and aahs all around.

Here are some of the photos from that weekend.

We're on our room's private balcony.

Here's our view from our room's balcony.

Here's a very small portion of our room (there was a whole "living room" just out of view).

These are a few of the horse sculptures at the Hubbard Museum of the American West, in Ruidoso Downs, NM.

Yes, we were in the mountains, and it actually started snowing in April!

Here are sculptures of Native Americans, outside the resort.
This is the huge viewing area in the lower part of the lobby. It was BEAUTIFUL!

And the same view from our balcony, once the weather cleared up.

Memory Lane Friday is hosted by Lisa @ Two Bears Farm. Please click on the button below to read her post, as well as other contributors' posts.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Great Job for a Donkey!

Check out this great story about a donkey who traveled thousands of miles from Iraq to Nebraska. He is going to have a special purpose as a therapy animal. He has a big job, especially when helping those veterans coming back from the Middle East.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ahhh, Spring at UI!

Okay, so back in January, Andrew and I were at the University of Iowa to register for Spring 2011 classes (as non-degree graduate students). Click here to read about that exciting day of nervousness.

Well, today I was back on campus on a beautiful spring day because I needed to talk to my advisor about upcoming semesters.

Know what? Back in January on that chilly, overcast, depressingly gray day, I made a mental note to enjoy the campus on a cool, green, spring day. Today was that day, and I enjoyed it as much as I could. My meeting was at 9:30, and not knowing how parking would be, I got there about 30 minutes early. I used that time wisely, finding a bench shaded by a bunch of trees. The sky was robin-egg blue, with gentle bits of cloud, artfully dotted around. The bench I'd chosen had a fantastic view of the Old Capitol building in the center of campus.

Iowa's original Capitol, Iowa City, Iowa.

Here's a closer view.

When Andrew and I were here in January, I took a few photos, which you'll see if you click here (and haven't yet clicked on the link at the top). I took one back in January, as you can see here:

And today's spring photo, in approximately the same place:
Big difference, eh?!

Here are the rest - take a walk with me:
At the foot of the Old Capitol building, looking down the hill.
Here's the other side of the Old Capitol.
The Old Capitol is a National Historic Landmark.

Another view . . .
Taking a walk back to my car, and enjoying the view . . .

Straight ahead, down the road is Bruegger's Bagels (where I sometimes get lunch). To the right, just out of view, is one of the book stores.
Behind the trees, out of view, is the Old Capitol.
The view down the street (my car is to the left, out of view).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Under the Desert Sky Wordle

And here's another wordle based on Under the Desert Sky:

Wordle: Under the Desert Sky
Just click on the picture to see a bigger version.

Native American Poetry Wordle

Here's a Wordle made from my paper on Native American poetry:

Wordle: Untitled
Just click on the picture to see a bigger, readable version.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Oh, How I Miss New Mexico

On US 54 North, somewhere in between El Paso, TX and Alamogordo, NM

I happened to find this photo over the weekend. I took it (through the window of the moving car as Andrew drove) while Andrew, Livie, and I still lived in New Mexico. We were heading back from my grandparents' house in El Paso, TX. I think this was approximately halfway between El Paso and Alamogordo. This was one of a few "cloudy" days we had in the Southwest - and I think it may have even been raining waaaaay off in the distance. (Alamogordo, on average, enjoys approximately 330 days of sunshine per year!)

It's days like this (when I unexpectedly come across a forgotten New Mexican photo) that I really miss New Mexico . . . that I feel saudade for my former home. (For those of you new to my blog, saudade is a Portuguese word roughly meaning: longing, yearning, homesickness, nostalgia, wishing for something that may possibly never be obtained again. Click here for the Wikipedia definition.)

Ahh, well. I will get back there one day - even if it is just to visit. And in the meantime, I know this: while I may have left New Mexico, New Mexico has not left me.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Good and the Bad

Well, I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news (in no particular order):
  • My first semester of graduate school was officially over as of Thursday, May 12, 2011, at 5:00 PM. This is when I turned in my final paper for my Early American Literature class.
  • I received an A- for my oral presentation (via Power Point) on the history of New Mexico (including a discussion about New Mexico in print) for my Early American Literature class.
  • I got a 100% on my final exam (a 3 page paper) for Native American Literature (which I turned in on Tuesday, May 10, 2011).
  • My final score for my Native American Literature class is 97.83%. That's a pretty solid A!!
  • I have until June 2012 to return my library books to the the University of Iowa's Main Library. I'm glad I don't have to rush to return them. It's a 45-minute drive one way to campus!
  • Livie and I are having a relaxing Sunday morning. She's watching PBS Kids (shows like Sesame Street, Arthur, etc.), and I've been leisurely reading a book for fun and not for a class (it's Sherman Alexie's The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven).
  • I'm on my second cup of hazelnut coffee. And a big ol' glass of ice water. 
  • I slept well last night, and Livie let me sleep in 'til 7:48 AM this morning. 
  • I enjoyed a Guinness beer last night after Livie went to bed.
  • She and I ordered pizza for dinner, for the second night in a row. 
  • I was in bed by 10 PM. 

The bad news:
  • Out of the $298.48 worth of textbooks I bought for TWO (and ONLY TWO) classes this past semester, the bookstore bought back $0.00 worth.Yep. A big fat ZERO.
  • The paper I turned in on Thursday wasn't exactly my best work. Now I've got butterflies in my stomach as I wait for my grade. 
  • Because I got "so much" sleep last night, I woke up with a headache, and feeling hungover. (I'm usually up by 6:30 at the very latest, regardless of when I went to bed. Because - like my grandfather, Sir Rafa - I'm a naturally early riser.) I'm still a little groggy, even after two cups of coffee. 
  • We ordered pizza last night for dinner - for the second night in a row. That's good because it's tasty. But it's bad because . . . well . . . because it's two nights' worth of pizza. 

To end this with some good news - the good news outweighs the bad.

And the rest of the day? We have nothing planned, other than being able to hang out at home. Oh, and we may go to the store later to get some milk, coffee, and orange juice, because we're out of all three.

Halfway through my second cup of coffee.

Liv has taken over my room!

The Main Library, obviously! (I have a long while before I need to return my books! Woo hoo!) 

These are the books I'm taking back to the library within the next week.

These are the ones I'm going to keep a bit longer, so I can read them at my leisure.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Your Sunday Best - 14 May 2011

A view of fiery clouds during a late-summer Iowa sunset, September 2010

The Artists' Latest Works

So . . . Liv and I went to The Dreaming Bear's open art studio (Saturdays, 10 AM - 4 PM) again today. We each made two pieces of art . . . and had a blast, of course! Here they are . . . 

I'd had this plain metal frame with Liv's 2010 Santa photo in it. I thought it needed to be glammed up a bit, so I added some "jewels."

 I wanted a funky frame for my favorite White Sands photo, so I made this lime green, jeweled one. (I dried it with a hair dryer before hot gluing the stones onto it. However, there is still a slightly goopy bit of paint on one side.)

 Liv made this very fancy purple pony. She added the pink star (okay *I* hot glued it on, but she told me where to put it), and the purple glitter "flower." (It's on a paper towel, because the paint is still a little goopy, no thanks to the rainy, humid weather).

 She also painted this puppy stuffed animal (which started off white). She added the two purple "freckles" above its nose. (Again, this has a bit of goopy paint on it. I think this will take the longest to dry.) Oh, and part way through painting it, she wanted Mama to have yet another thing to do got bored with it, so she had me finish painting it; then she added the "freckles."

Check out "Art Is Awesome!!" for our previous trip to the art studio.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Your Sunday Best - 7 May 2011

Yes, I love New Mexico . . . and here's another favorite photo of mine from the Land of Enchantment which I'm sharing today:

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, NM, October 2006.

I took this photo when Andrew and I were in Santa Fe for a day in October 2006 after his return from his deployment to the Middle East.

"Your Sunday Best" is hosted weekly by A Rural Journal. Please click on the button below to see her entry, as well as other contributors' photos:
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