Fourth of July : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

Who Is -phile’ing Who Here?

As long time readers of the blog are aware, last year my very multi-national job had me on the phone at all hours of the day with coworkers and suppliers across the globe.

While I have always enjoyed dealing with people from every country around the world, I do have a certain affinity for the good people of Britain. One might even call me an Anglophile. Oh yes, visiting the motherland last year felt so right, like coming home. My ear always perks up to the sound of a good British accent and over this past Fourth of July weekend, I found myself maudlin remembering how I’d spent last year’s fourth by the Thames.

I changed jobs in January and I now work for a very, very American centric institution. Doing business with other countries is rather, ahem, foreign to my coworkers.

To be honest, my global background is part of the reason I was hired, but in moving to this job, I had to let go of my dreams of further global travel. It was a tradeoff I was quite willing to make in order to salvage any auspices of a work-life balance.

So imagine my delight when, yesterday morning, I had a call scheduled with a counterpart in Cambridge, UK.

And not just a call, but Skype video call. Big fun.

I smiled broadly to hear my very British counterpart discuss important matters of business. I giggled to myself at “Cheers, Karen!” when I’d made a useful point. And as the nice gentleman spoke, I found my eyes drifting over his shoulder and looking through the windows of his office and out to the green hills just beyond.

Oh England! How I miss you!

And maybe England misses me too, you know? Because damn, I am the one who walked away, and look, here it is again, loitering about, hoping to get my attention. We were only apart for a scant six months.

Cheers, Britain. We’ll be together again someday. Hopefully soon.





The Thames, taken just one year ago from the Westminster Bridge. *sigh*




Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Photo taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.




My Country Tis of Thee

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.Source


And so it is on this Fourth of July in the year 2012 that I find myself, an American citizen, residing in the land from which our forefathers sought their independence.

236 years ago a bunch of men and women fought to establish a new country, away from the oppression of an overbearing king.

A challenging fight for a worthy goal.

Their victory and the resulting independence is so enduring that two centuries later I can get on an airplane, fly for ten hours, and stand here, on the Thames river, and celebrate my freedom.

It’s both ironic and a little bit alienating.

The drafters of the Declaration could never have imagined.

I’d sing the Star Spangled Banner, but these sodding Brits might remind me that our country’s anthem is set to the tune of a British pub song.

I’d sing “My Country Tis of Thee” but that’s just “God Save the Queen” to this lot.

How about God Bless America? Nah, Kate Smith ruined that one for me.

I suppose what I’ll do to mark the day is simply get up from my bed, go to work (it’s not a holiday here) and do my best. I might even quaff a beer and wish I was at a bbq enjoying a sunny summer day rather than another depressing rainy English day.

And next week when I return home to the shores of California, I’ll carry a small smile.

Because I think to truly understand and appreciate my country, I have to leave it every once in a while.

Happy Independence Day, America! May you all eat too many hot dogs and have an extra bowl of homemade ice cream for me.




The river Thames as seen from the Westminster Bridge



Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Photo taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.




For the Love of a Good Cuppa

This year The Good Man and I had the chance to celebrate the Fourth of July with some good friends. There were six of us total (three couples), and we met at our friend’s house for a special treat.

One of our crew had just recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia. She and her husband are in process of adopting an adorable baby boy and she had to make a visit to work through the paperwork with the local courts.

While in country visiting her baby son and patiently working though the long process, she was treated on several occasions to the Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

On our Fourth of July holiday, she wanted to share this ceremony with us, her friends.

About the coffee ceremony, here’s a quote from Ethiopian ambassador Haile-Giros Gessesse:


“Coffee has social value in our society. It is deep rooted in our culture. The coffee ceremony in local areas is used mainly for social gatherings. In the mornings and evenings parents, especially mothers gather together for a coffee ceremony and also use it as a platform for exchanging information in their surroundings. It is a means of communication. When people sit down they usually spend three hours finalizing the ceremony, starting with the preparation, and then roasting to brewing it.”

Our friend had hauled home a big bag of green coffee beans, water hulled (the good stuff) not fire hulled, and we sat outside in the beautiful sun while she told us about the ceremony.

First, she roasted the beans on the grill. We watched as she shook and swirled the pan, much like a slow Jiffy pop motion.

When we all agreed that it looked like the beans were at a good medium roast we all took in a whiff of the fantastic aroma from the pan.

We then took turns using a mortar and pestle to smash the beans down to a nice grind.

It was satisfying work to smash, smash, smash those crispy beans and release the beautiful scent and oils.

The grinds were then put into a French press and once brewed, a round of coffee was poured into six cups.

Yuuuummmm! It had a floral aroma and tasted so light and delicious. So amazing with just a touch of sugar and nothing else.

In keeping with tradition, we had three rounds of coffee while we discussed our lives, the news of the day, baseball, and got caught up with each other. This is part of the ceremony, the community, the support, the friendship.

Now, I love a great cup of coffee, but I rarely drink caffeinated coffee. After three cups I was ready to clean my house top to bottom, jog a thousand miles, and throw a 98mph fastball.

But it was a happy caffeinated high.

I was honored to be a part of the ceremony and I can hardly wait until our friends bring home their baby boy. I hope to we can continue to give him a sense of community and family…maybe even over a cuppa or two…or three.





Photo and quote from a CRIEnglish.com article by Wei Tong.


Happy Fourth of July!

Lovin’ the long weekend.

And to my NM friends and family, may this photo be the only fireworks you see in that wildfire weary state.






An Open Letter to an Ugly Fire

Dear WildFire –

Hey, hey. Slow down a bit there, buddy. Why the rush?

Let’s chat, huh? Have a minute to catch our breaths and a nice cool glass of lemonade. Not into lemonade? Oh, well do you mind if I have some?

I know it’s the summer and you are feeling hot, hot, hot. Raring to go. You are young, aggressive, a go-getter. Some might say…hungry.

You chew up the terrain, expand your reach, and build your empire and leave a swath of pain, ashes and devastation in your path.

You know what, I’ve been ignoring you. On purpose.

Growing up in the dusty lands of New Mexico, I learned to take the arrival of you rambunctious wildfires as part of the natural cycle of the year. It gets hot, it gets dry, then like a rabid parasite you come to visit, leaving an indelible mark much like a drug fueled rock star in a five star hotel.

Utter destruction.

Only you don’t stick around to pay the bill. You hop another border and get to work burning down something else.

I ignore you because I’ve borne witness to the people who know how to deal with you. They efficiently knock you down, smother your ambition, and wrestle you under control. I heard you were back in town and figured you’d party your way through the cycle and you’d be knocked down soon enough. Managed. Controlled.

You’re a wily one this year, aren’t you? Nimble. Agile. Persistent.

You should know something. You’re ugly, all right? Beautifully profoundly ugly.

After seeing your face last night on my local news, my Bay Area local news, I figured maybe it was time to pay you a little attention, like a bratty child who has finally worked my last nerve.

It’s time to take a look at you like passing by a horrible accident. I don’t want to look and then suddenly I can’t seem to look away.

Damn it, WildFire. Stop. Just…stop. You’ve done enough. More than enough. It’s getting excessive.

Please stop. People’s lives, livelihood, homes, neighborhoods and towns are at stake here.

You are destroying my home state. I’m very protective of my home state.

So look. Just stop. End this. Be gone. Be done. Move along.

We’ve indulged you long enough. It’s time for you to leave.

In the vernacular of my people: don’t let the gate hit you on the way out.

————

This image terrifies me….



Image from New Mexico News and Views.


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