Monthly Archives: August 2014

The House Painter

My almost-21-year-old housepainter and I did a little birthday shopping and had dinner at the new fish place in the mall, Bonefish. Tasty crab cakes and coconut shrimp, mediocre salad but nice service and pleasant atmosphere. Not too noisy…my main concern…whatever the food is like. She leaves for college in Lubbock in a few days. But she has promised me never never never to become a Republican no matter how long she’s over there.

The perfect house painter, doesn't drink, smoke or cuss. At least around her grandmother. She's studying interior design and architecture so this is project #1.

The perfect house painter, doesn’t drink, smoke or cuss. At least around her grandmother. She’s studying interior design and architecture so this is project #1. Guess I should have dusted the back porch lamp before taking this photo. Don’t look, okay.

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MOOCs Again

Two weeks of great company. Love my family. Hanging out with them. But I get behind because when these interesting people are around I would rather talk to them than do my other favorite stuff.

So back to my MOOCs tonight. And here’s why you too should get involved. Especially through Coursera. We all have things we are curious about but have never read the right book or taken that class. Or if you’re like me you may well have read the book, taken the class but have forgotten half (or more…) of the relevant info.

Taking a MOOC is so easy. Go on line, sign up, go to the lectures whenever you have time. You do have to have a good enough Wi-Fi connection to stream but otherwise no problem. You can read books to go with the course—in other words some serious study—or you can do what I do, just pour a coffee or wine and listen. It’s almost always more interesting than TV. Most TV. Although I’ve only had one class that competes with House of Cards…that would be the French Revolution which has enough deception, murder, political violence for several Houses of Cards!

I’m just getting into The Camera Never Lies and A Brief History of Humankind—more about them later.

Think of your favorite college or even high school class ever. The one with the super animated interesting professor/teacher. But it was so much work—all those papers and tests. Now imagine doing it again with just the cool professor part and none of that other stuff. That’s what taking a MOOC is like.

I keep doing posts about MOOC land because it seems like the last place on earth where something is FREE, no commercials, you learn something or the other, and you can do it whenever you want. The free part probably won’t last so if you’re curious, check it out now.

Me and the Nikon

The new camera, the Nikon Coolpix, takes brilliantly clear and beautiful photos, so far about 30% of the time. That is because I must read the f*cking instructions which run for approximately 47,000 pages. I think it is probably a good camera and by the time I leave for The Big Trip I will love it. Probably. Here’s the photo album of the evening.

Nice but not quite right.

Nice but not quite right.

A few of my favorite pens.

A few of my favorite pens.

My giant measuring cup that's too heavy to use for cooking but is quite beautiful full of pens.

My giant measuring cup that’s too heavy to use for cooking but is quite beautiful full of pens.

If a camera cannot take good book photos one should get rid of it immediately.

If a camera cannot take good book photos one should get rid of it immediately.

My son who is aging just a little but still very handsome.

My son who is aging just a little but still very handsome.

Up the Mountain

I live downtown near the Rio Grande. My son Steven lives a few thousand feet higher on the slopes of the Sandias. We had a low-key pleasant family dinner and visit tonight. There’s very little drama in my family anymore. Only one teen left and she’s pretty level-headed, especially considering she is so very much the cheerleader. No one has a lot of money, everyone has enough. We live in places we like and in fact we like each other. An album of the evening:

I think my brother is looking more distinguished by the day.

I think my brother is looking more distinguished by the day.

Sara (the tall one) and her friend. About to leave for a movie with (boy)friends!

Sara (the tall one) and her friend. About to leave for a movie with (boy)friends!

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Sunset with rain storm approaching.

Same sunset, different color, haven't mastered the camera yet obviously.

Same sunset, different color, haven’t mastered the camera yet obviously.

Robert, Steven, Michele

Robert, Steven, Michele

 

Robert

IT’S 11PM. The bro is here… on his third beer–the lush. I shouldn’t say that, actually drinks very little but he’s celebrating making it from Tallahassee to Albuquerque in only one flying day. Tallahassee to Miami to Dallas, to Albuquerque. Transportation is a thing of wonder. DSCN0334 (2)

My Not Interesting Day

Love the food in that part of the world. Especially borscht (sp?).

Love the food in that part of the world. Especially borscht (sp?).

Sick. Can’t sleep. Stomach hurts. Read an entire biography of James Madison. Stop whining. I’ll turn on Aljazeera for awhile, see how the world is holding together. Here’s a little photo spread of a few years ago in Odessa, Ukraine. I have some better photos I think;  these were taken with an old cell phone. Odessa is a beautiful city and seems to have missed the worst of this violence. I hope.

Odessa shipyards

Odessa shipyards

Black Sea, extremely polluted. When I stuck my foot in disgusting things floated around my toes.

Black Sea, extremely polluted. When I stuck my foot in disgusting things floated around my toes.

Strange and wonderful candies.

Strange and wonderful candies.

Loved walking these streets. European but eastern and seafront and somehow a little exotic and sometimes shabby.

Loved walking these streets. European but eastern and seafront and somehow a little exotic and sometimes shabby.

 

24 Hours

My life is almost always interesting. Today I do not feel well. Nothing serious. Last night I did not sleep. Much. I did keep alternating reading between two Scandinavian crime novels, neither of which I like. One is an Icelandic ghost story from a writer who doesn’t usually do ghost stories—so I was fooled into thinking I would like it. I do not. But Marsha, my sister-in-law does so I will give it to her. I like nothing supernatural or Sci-Fi, life is odd enough as it is. The other is a newish Norwegian writer and I always want to love Norwegian stuff. I do not. So sometimes I tried to read a New Yorker article about Putin… which led me to…

Anyway I finally fell sort of asleep and dreamed about coconut spiders. I took notes when I got up because it was so strange. I don’t even know if there is such a thing and I decided not to Google it in case there are. But I wasn’t really terrified… and I am more afraid of spiders than nuclear war or Albuquerque cops. So it seems my office (wasn’t my real office–more like “The Office”) somehow got two coconut spider eggs, quite large they were. Eventually they started cracking and a spindly spider leg or two crept out. And then they broke wide open and two huge spider babies burst forth. And walked around. And played. And bonded. And lived in our office. They looked like large gangly tarantulas. But then one ate the other and the remaining Big Spider sat in the corner and stared at us, I suppose wondering if he/she would eat one of us first or we would eat him/her first. We closed down for the holidays and we left food and water but when we returned the Giant Coconut Spider was gone forever.

Honestly I dreamed that. But also I worked on my writing assignment, played on Ancestry.com (my family expands—Norwegians just may take over the world–and you all will be sorry you said we weren’t exciting people), ate a large sweet potato and didn’t feel well. Almost thought it would rain. No.

I’m switching to a historical biography of James Madison tonight. Nothing will make me feel better about American presidents than reading about Putin last night. Scary dude. I read a description of him someplace that said a squat powerful body with a rat-like face. Not how any of us want to be depicted. So let’s see what is said about Madison—about whom I know nothing.

Maybe rain?

 

New Camera

Busy day. Meant to write something profound–as usual. Lovely granddaughter just here. Eating a triple ginger cookie from Flying Star. But here’s the BIG thing. New phone. The Galaxy 5. Think I like it. Amazing how phones all went to smaller and smaller and smaller and are now reversing that trend. This one’s pretty big but light and the attraction is–they (you know, the corporate guys and their lackeys) say this is almost the best thing since sliced bread especially for the camera. So I’m trying to make that a reality. Unfortunately I am probably going to have to read the instructions to go there since half of the photos I took yesterday morning are brilliant and the other half are big fuzzy blackish things. Anyway I’ll work on that. Here are a few really pretty photos, most with ducks and geese. Sorry about that but it’s the landscape of my summer life.

Charles’ Place

Welcome to Charles Place.

Welcome to Charles Place.

(Excuse the iffy quality of the photographs. Camera acting up!)  Remember The Jeffersons and their theme song, “Movin’ on Up.” That’s what Charles Place is doing for our corner of this particular Albuquerque ‘hood. Charles Place is one of Albuquerque’s newest dinner spots. I’m not referring to this upscale neighborhood eatery as a restaurant because Charles (Benzaquen) is not interested in operating such an establishment with all that implies—serving more and more patrons, appealing to a broad range of tastes, advertising regularly and thinking more about business than the quality of the food.

Charles Place, on the corner of 13th and Tijeras NW. First Atmosphere. You walk in the front door of a pleasant house surrounded by carefully groomed flower-filled greenery. The building now a warm welcoming art & color-filled setting where you will enjoy dinner in a home exactly like yours if only you had a better decorator, your own personal chef and your favorite foodies to serve you.

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And Then the Food. Which is what you came for after all—you were just distracted for a brief time by how lovely it all is, the table so elegantly set, the candles casting that perfectly subdued glow, the soft quiet broken only by the clink of silverware and happy conversation. Yes. I said it. A place where you can eat personally prepared food while having an actual conversation. A rare experience indeed.

Honestly, best meat ever.

Honestly, best meat ever.

swordfish and NM chilies are a fine thing.

swordfish and NM chilies are a fine thing.

I forgot to bring Saturday’s night’s menu home so I will be less than specific. But the highlights included the filet mignon on a bed of grilled sweet tomatoes which is possibly the most tender flavorful rich gorgeous piece of meat I’ve ever eaten and swordfish (the only fish as good as walleye) soup with green chilies and red and green peppers. Of course to begin there were fresh light and very pretty appetizers, nice bread, a greens shrimp avocado caramelized-pecans salad and for dessert a diverse crunchy sugary fudgy fruity platter of decadence. Nice.

Way to begin.

Way to begin.

Way to end.

Way to end.

The wine and coffee were just right. A tour of the spotless cozy kitchen (you could imagine yourself making chocolate chip cookies there on a cold autumn morning) and pleasant chats with Charles and his partner and staff brought the evening to a close. Then the long 37 step walk to my front door. It’s almost a shame not to drink too much when home is that close, however that would spoil the pleasure of everything else.

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This is a very special place. I recommend skipping a few mediocre meals, in which the town abounds, and treating yourselves to Charles Place once in awhile.

 

More Rain

What am I supposed to complain about if we have rain every day? Bah Humbug…it won’t last! But for now it is splendid, brilliant, beautiful, life affirming wet rain. So because I’m a pitiful moisture starved New Mexican I took pictures of rain from my front porch.

Three raindrops on cactus.

Three raindrops on cactus.

Three raindrops on other leaves.

Three raindrops on other leaves.

Out Front. Getting Dark.

Out Front. Getting Dark.

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