fish : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

A Long Time Coming

It began with a photo of fish.

The photo was published in the online edition of the Albuquerque Journal. I often read the Albuquerque Journal so I don’t feel so far away from home.

A glance at the file information for the photograph gives a date of June 2002. I find that so hard to believe, and yet it’s true

The photo shows three fish that got stuck when their river home dried up. A rapid New Mexico drought took all the water.

I can’t recall which New Mexico river this happened to, I probably should have kept a screen shot of the newspaper article, but even as I know that New Mexico has struggled with drought for years (and today), I was amazed and shocked by this photo.

It is difficult to believe that water could evaporate that quickly.

Here is the photo:





The image didn’t leave my head, it rattled around in there and said so many things to me. My brain worked it over and a story began to form. The feeling of trying to draw a breath but only getting New Mexico mud.

The first draft of the story “Sangre del Toro” took shape in October 2002. Wow. Thirteen years ago.

Over the years I have submitted that story off and on to contests and literary magazines. I’d dig it up, edit and polish and try again with no luck.

I believed in the story, in the character, in the image, so I kept trying. And trying. And editing and trying and so on.

I did another edit and submitted it again for another round in the publishing meat grinder this last December. I have come to understand that publishing is as much about timing as it is about quality. And that’s why I kept trying.

On February 26, I finally got a yes from a literary journal named Jet Fuel Review.

It was almost surreal to finally hear a yes in response to this story and it’s even more surreal to announce that the Spring 2015 edition of Jet Fuel is live.

You can download the entire edition here: Full Edition

Or you can read just my story here: Sangre del Toro.

Woo! Whatta rush. Very excited about this one finally seeing the light of day. It was only by searching my hard drive to find that fish photo that I realized this published piece was thirteen years in the making.

Thirteen years of believing in a kind of sad story about a little girl caught out, just like the fish.

The editors of Jet Fuel told me they thought the metaphor was a little too obvious, which is probably true. I guess they still liked it enough to publish.

And so please give it a read and support Jet Fuel. They are a great group and I am forever indebted to them for taking a chance on little Adelida.










Places I Would Rather Be

Today I found an unexpected hour in my day. My new hire of just three weeks told me that he feels comfortable taking a regular weekly meeting off my hands. He said he had it covered and that I didn’t need to attend.

I almost wept with utter relief. This is what I hired him to manage, but this progress is so much faster than I’d expected.

Hooray! Early Christmas gift to me!!

And so I could have used this found hour to do some other work or get caught up on email. Instead I decided to flake off.

Best and highest use of my time, in my humblest of opinions.

So I skated over to the Google News page to see what’s doing back home in New Mexico. That’s where I came across the Southern New Mexico fishing report.

Listed in today’s report are some of my favorite lakes in Southern New Mexico, and some of my favorite places to be in the whole world.

As I read down the list I sighed and wallowed like a lovesick schoolgirl.

Bill Evans? Oh have I had some amazing times night fishing there.

Caballo Lake? So pretty.

Elephant Butte? Always a fun time and a crazy amount of boats on that lake.

Quemado? That’s where I was supposed to go earlier this year and wasn’t able to. *cry*

Oh muh lord. Here I sit while the rain pours outside. I’m tapping away at my work computer and feeling low and definitely not putting a worm on a hook and sipping a beer and watching the clouds float by on a clear New Mexico day.

Uh oh, here it comes…waves of homesickness crashing on my shores.

In related news: The husband of my best friend works for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. He’s the guy in charge of Southern New Mexico fish. All of ’em. He has days at work that go something like “I put a boat in at Caballo, sent some shocks into the water, counted the stunned fish and then went home.”

Basically, the guy fishes for a living. And then writes a few reports.

It may be the greatest job in the world, or at least in the top ten.

*whimper*

In case you are near a beautiful New Mexico lake today and need to know if they are biting, here’s today’s report courtesy of the Silver City Sun News:


*Bear Canyon: Trout fishing was very good using homemade dough bait, Power Bait, salmon eggs and worms.

*Bill Evans Lake: Trout fishing was fair to good using garlic cheese, salmon eggs, Pistol Petes, Power Bait, and homemade dough bait. We had no reports on other species.

*Caballo Lake: All boat ramps have been closed and will remain closed until such time as water levels rise and is deemed safe for launching. Fishing pressure was extremely light this past week and we had no reports from anglers.

*Elephant Butte: Fishing was sporadic. A few white bass, crappie and black bass were caught by anglers using jig and minnow combinations and spoons. We had no reports on other species. The water was murky and the surface temp was in the low 50s.The Monticello, Dam Site and Rock Canyon boat ramps remain closed due to low water conditions.

*Escondida Lake: Trout fishing was fair using homemade dough bait, Power Bait, Pistol Petes under a bubble and corn salmon egg combinations. We had no reports on other species.

*Gila River: Water flow on the Gila as of this past Monday was 62 cfs. We had no reports from angles this week.

*Glenwood Pond: Trout fishing was good using Power Bait.

*Lake Roberts: Trout fishing was good using rainbow and red Power Bait, garlic cheese, homemade dough baits, salmon eggs and worms. We had no reports on other species.

*Percha Dam: The water was low and fishing was slow for all species.

*Quemado Lake: We had no reports from anglers this week.

*Rio Grande: Water flow below Elephant Butte as of Monday was 3.4 cfs. Trout fishing was fair using worms and Power Bait. We had no reports on other species.

*Snow Lake: We had no reports from anglers this week.

Source





This is a New Mexico fish, but from way up north at Navajo Dam



Image from FunFix.com.




Requiem for a Little Thing

The Good Man cautioned me about posting this because it’s very squishy and quite soppy and over the top melancholy. He warned me that I am opening myself up to some teasing for being so weepy about a fish. That’s ok. It’s what was on my heart and so I wrote it. Then I decided to go ahead and post it anyway. So here goes.

***

The Good Man often says, “No one cares about the little things” when referring to pets and small animals. At first I thought he was just being overly dramatic, but over the years, I’ve come to realize he might be right.

As a child, my parents were not fans of animals as pets and the care that goes along with having a pet, and so I didn’t have a pet until I was twelve years old. I didn’t learn to own and care for a pet, and how to lose a pet, in my early years.

My first animal was a cat named Yoda and I adored that cat. She died when I was in college and I still remember driving home to my parent’s place in Carlsbad crying my eyes out the whole way. A little girl racing home in a rattletrap car with big, sobbing tears, all over a cat. Yeah, that’s me.

As I moved into my adulthood, I always lived in an apartment and most rental places don’t want you to have a pet. So I didn’t.

The Good Man, on the other hand, has never had a moment in his life where he didn’t have a pet. He’s really good at taking care of animals and reading their moods, and he also has a lot of experience dealing with the loss of beloved pets.

When this handsome man entered my life, he came with baggage in the form of not one but two cats. In the first year of our association, one of the two kittehs (who had a slight attachment to me) passed on and I was crushed with grief. Crushed, dumbfounded and heartbroken. I’d grown to love that orange cat in a very short time and it had been a long time since I’d had a little animal to love.

We still have one kitteh, the rasty Feline, and she’s 14 and cranky and I can’t imagine a day when she’s not balled up behind my knees in the bed while I sleep.

And then there is my fish.

Who can be sentimental about a fish?

Me, that’s who.

For reasons I can’t quite articulate, a few years ago I decided I wanted to have some betta fish. I’d heard they were interactive and smart. I mean, a fish? All water and gills and scales. Interactive?

Turns out it is true. Betta fish are quite interactive and dare I say they have a good sense of humor too.

The downside of owning betta fish is that they have a pretty short life span. Three years is a good run. Some people get as much as five.

Last year, we lost our little girl fish, Margaret and I was saddened. She was the kindest, sweetest, most lovely little being. We joked she was the queen of our home, as she had a regal bearing about her.

Over most of this past year, my boy fish Benito has struggled. He’s sick with some sort of ailment that has caused his kidneys to fail. His abdomen is distended and it’s only a matter of (short) time before he shuffles off this mortal coil.

I look at my little betta and I see him suffering and I’m sad.

“It’s just a fish!” a friend said, when I wanted to talk to her about my sadness.

Yes. Just a fish. But my fish. And he is loved. Watching any being suffer is tough to take.

So every day I talk to my little fish and I coax him to have a few pellets and I worry over him and I change his water a lot and I know the end is near.

I guess as I age I’ve become an old softie. The thing is, I really am sad. I wish I could hug my little fish and make him feel better but I cannot. I can only sit outside his tank and hold my finger up to the glass and he will chase my finger, even when he feels bad, because that’s how we play.

————

All of the above was written about a month ago. I just had to get my thoughts out while I watched my cherished pet suffer.

Tuesday morning in the very small hours, I was up and making breakfast when I noticed my fish struggling. He had a little seizure and then he quietly died.

I can’t believe I had to watch him die, even as I am glad I was there with him.

The Good Man and I talked. I don’t think I want to have any new pets for a while. We’re good with the one rasty cat.

In Spanish, the word benito means blessing. For a few years my little red fish was a happy little blessing in my life.

I’m happy I got to be his human.

Boy oh boy, this losing a pet just doesn’t get any easier.



My beautiful cranky faced fish.



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



When In Rome…or Reading

While on my way out the door and quite ready to make a voyage to England, among the parting thoughts from The Good Man was:

“Enjoy the traditional English breakfast.”

I’m a fan of all things breakfast so I readily agreed, despite not really knowing what a traditional English breakfast was all about.

My first morning in country, I stumbled downstairs to the complimentary buffet and started to understand.

It looks a little something like this.





I say “a little something” because this plate is missing a couple key components, mainly blood pudding (a sausage, also sometimes called black pudding), fried tomatoes and fried mushrooms. But other than that the main items are there. Griddled eggs. Hash browns. Bacon (center cut and YUM).

And the key component: Heinz Baked Beans.





No other will do.

I’m no stranger to eating beans for breakfast. I’ve been eating pintos in many forms alongside eggs for years, so this was zero hesitation to me. That said, I usually hate baked beans because they are just too sweet. Too much brown sugar, I think (as if such a thing as too much brown sugar exists).

I really like the Heinz baked beans because they aren’t especially sweet. They are tomatoey but not sugary sweet. A perfect compliment to eggs, in my humblest of American opinions.

Here’s the thing…I started having the Full Breakfast every day. They even served it at the cafeteria where I reported for work the second week of my stay. This meal formed a good solid start to my days of battling with suppliers and the English rain and pesky coworkers.

I felt like I could climb mountains on that breakfast.

And now that I’m back home, I miss it.

Breakfast now just seems sort of…blah. Sad. Lacking. And without verve.

So I looked at a couple local grocery stores. Lo and behold, I found the key ingredient here locally.





The real stuff! The good stuff. Ok, it’s a little more work to make all the fixins myself rather than ladling from a hotel buffet bar.

But it’s worth it.

Oh so worth it.

Now that breakfast is sorted, let’s chat about British dinners too, eh? Here is a beauty shot from one night at the local pub. Big yum.

Though all of that on the table (except for the Pedigree, a proper English Ale) is quite readily available here in the US. Thank goodness!





So now I have quite a menu for my post travel life as there is plenty of can’t-live-without-it food from Singapore (laksa, chili crab and kaya toast) and Costa Rica (tostones, Olla de Carne and Cas) and now the charms of Britain.

Tonight, however, I head back to my roots. We’re cooking New Mexico style in my house. All that British culture made my green chile blood level get a little low.

Must fix that problem right away!




All photos Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons in the far right corner of this page. Photos taken with an iPhone 4s and the Camera+ app.



Friday Gadgety Goodness

I’m rather blown away at the recent rapid advances in the quality of mobile phone photography.

The art from has gone from a simple lo-res snap and upload to Facebook, to a genuine, respectable medium.

Today I’m going to gush like a lovesick schoolkid over a product from the Photojojo store that just happened to find its way under my Christmas tree.

Called a Macro Cell Lens Band on the store listing, it retails for $15 and is simply a small macro lens that fits on my iPhone by way of a sturdy rubber band.

Here it sits my iPhone (photo taken with The Good Man’s iPhone):





Easy to install, easy to use.

Since the internet is loaded with budding photographer’s photos of cats, I decided to turn my new lens on my other unsuspecting pet, my male Betta fish:

Here he is:



Photographing a fish is rather challenging, in that he is constantly on the move. The camera on the iPhone4s has a much quicker shutter and handles light so much better that previous versions, so I was willing to try.

One thing about this little macro lens, you gotta get close up on your subject. The little card that comes with the product suggests about 1 ¼ inches. That’s pretty close. My Betta is terrified of my big DSLR but seemed curious about the iPhone, so that helped my cause.

I’ve noticed when shooting my very expensive macro lens on my DSLR, I struggle with focus. The macro lens will only make one part of the photo crystal clear and the rest is not.

This little rubber band lens is the same. I love that the little fishy’s eyes are so clear and detailed. I just wish the rest of his face was too.

It’s such a handsome face.




Due to the low lighting in the area where the fish tank is located, these photos are a bit noisy, but not terribly so. I think with more light that would be less of an issue.



The Good Man says this one looks like Admiral Ackbar

Overall I’m deeply impressed with what this inexpensive little lens and an iPhone can produce. These photos were taken with the Camera+ app, by the way.

Just a little bit of magic on a blue rubber band. Brilliant!

My next mobile phone camera add on will likely be an Olloclip, which is considerably more expensive (about $70USD), but also considerably more advanced.

Look at this photo of a snowflake on a pine needle. It was posted on Facebook by Hipstamatic Rocky Mountain and he used the macro lens on the Olloclip and the Hipstamatic app.

Incredible!

And in my humble opinion, a huge leap forward for the medium of iPhoneongraphy.



Photo owned and copyrighted by Hipstamatic Rocky Mountain




This was not a paid review for any of the products mentioned in this post. This is simply my joy and enthusiasm for new techniques and tools for the art of iPhoneography.

Other than the snowflake photo, all photos in this post are Copyright 2011 by Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license found in the far right column of this page.


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