Well whaddya know?!?

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My favorite source of material to lambaste has managed to write herself a decent article in today’s ABQjournal. Ms. Polly Summar wrote a nice (and for her, shockingly respectful) article regarding the Penitentes who worship in their particular ways during this Holy Week leading up to Easter. Some folks make treks to places like Santuario de Chimayo. Others worship in their moradas as they remember the origin of the Easter holiday.

It is an annual tradition dating back centuries. I remember as a kid listening to the newscasts each year telling about the people making the long trek to Chimayo, sometimes flagellating themselves or inflicting other self-pain. It is a long Catholic tradition with some renewed interest since the popular success of both the book and the movie “The DaVinci Code”.

I refuse to get into any religious discussions here because I feel every person needs to figure out for themselves what they believe and how to be ok with that. What I’m here to talk about is a New Mexico tradition that has memory and meaning for me.

I was pleased to see yesterday that the state has taken steps to make those that travel on the highways and roads a bit more safe (for both pilgrim and general traveler). I know in past years there’s been tribulations around this on both sides. Here’s to a workable solution.

Hearing of the New Mexico Penitentes puts me into the Easter spirit. It’s how I know the holiday is nigh. It’s been years since I attended Mass, but Easter to my memory was always a nice day. Not only did they throw the dark purple cloaks off the statues at church but we all got to get back whatever we gave up for Lent…which usually makes folks glad.

Then there was the singing of joyous songs. My mom particularly loved “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”(mind your volume if you click that link) and sang it in full voice all day long.

The aaaaaaahhhhhleeeeeeeluuuuuuujahs really got to her…and to me after several hours…..she loved them almost as much as the In Excelcius Deo’s from Christmas.

The weather in New Mexico was usually wonderful so it was great to be out in the sun. My mom always got both my sister and I a new dress to wear to Mass. Usually new white shoes too. My mom was, of course, a traditionalist, and so no white shoes and no sandals before Easter, so breaking out the white sandals was a new sense of freedom. Toes got to come OUT in the flip flops! Summer was near! My birthday was less than a month away! And I got to wear a new dress!

AND THERE WAS CANDY! And eggs hidden in the backyard. Easter is usually pretty good memories for me, and that’s saying a lot. I think as the years go by, I’ll hang on to the good memories like Easter. Seems healthier that way.

So this year, however you choose to enjoy your holiday, either by meditating, worshipping in your own way or eating ham with potato salad that looks like you dropped confetti in it from the colored eggs, do please have a safe and wondrous day (especially YOU, Polly).

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhllleeeeeeeluuuuuuujah!

Lime+Tequila+Triple Sec+salt+ice = love

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What’s a girl gotta do to get a good margarita in this town?

I moved from the great State of New Mexico about ten years ago. This Memorial Day, in fact, marks ten years ago. Oh how far I’ve come in lo these ten years. The span between 28 and 38 sometimes feels like a lifetime.

I was a wide-eyed innocent back in the day. I’ve become more cynical, less career driven and much, much calmer in these ten years. Not to say that wouldn’t have happened had I stayed in Albuquerque, but I think living in “the big city” has grown me up…a lot.

At first I wanted to throw off my New Mexico roots. I didn’t tell many people I was from there thinking it foreign and backward. The people I did mention it to said “oh, like Taos?” Good lord, if they only knew there was SO much more to the state than Taos. Or Santa Fe.

A lot of people in San Francisco have asked me about Santa Fe. I think the Madison Avenue advertisers have done a good job of hyping “the mystique”. I guess if you aren’t from there it’s all mysterious and stuff. For a local, it’s a tourist place. Locals avoid tourist places.

In order to help my fellow San Franciscans understand, I began to liken Santa Fe to Pier 39. I’d get a startled “oh!”, but they got it. I’d tell them there was much to see in a state that big that didn’t include Santa Fe or Taos. Then I’d drop this tidbit on them: you can’t fly into Santa Fe on any of the major airlines. That was usually enough to get them talking about something else.

But time has passed and I’ve gotten perspective on my state. Now I find I’m proud as hell of being from New Mexico, and I’ll shout it from the rooftops. My boss at work wears a USC shirt on most Fridays because it’s his alma mater and he’s very proud. So I got online and ordered up a nice crimson NMSU shirt and began wearing it on every Friday, grinning at him in staff meetings. Sadly he didn’t notice until I pointed it out…..

NMSU made it to the NCAA this year. Oh man, after years of looking at the Duke posters and brackets outside of my VP’s office (and my executive VP and the VP of the group I worked in a few years back) I was so damn proud to post up the wall outside my office with NMSU schwag this year.

I had a laugh when a group stood outside my office looking at the stuff and laughing about how they hadn’t heard of New Mexico State. I said, “hey, by the damn way, our Governor is running for President!” They looked at me with blank stares. I said “Bill Richardson” helpfully. The response was an appalling, “who?”

Bah!

But ok, I’ve gotten used to people thinking I’m from Arizona. I’ve gotten used to “oh Taos” being the answer to the statement “I’m originally from New Mexico” or jokes about a left turn at Albquerque. I’ve learned to deal.

What I’m still struggling with is the lack of good Mexican food around here. You’d think a state with a population of Latinos at or better than half would have some kicking Mexican food. You would be wrong. At least for the Northern part of the state. I lay no claims to the food down south not having spent enough time in research down there.

My loving partner thought he knew from good Mexican food until this past October when, on a road trip, I turned him on to the delights and joys of the fruits of Hatch, New Mexico.

But more than that…more than using tomatillos for the green in your salsa, more than finding *gasp* CARROTS in my fajitas, more than seeing low fat refrieds on my plate, the one thing I miss is a real good margarita.

It can’t be that hard, right? And yet it is. It’s all about the mix. Gardunos does it well, really well. My mouth is watering as I type…. Sadies also does a fine job. I think one of the best margs I ever had was in Juarez at Señor Frogs (I don’t think it’s still open at that location). It was great because it was fresh squeezed lime juice, a bit of sugar, and tequila. All nice and unmessed with. Fresh and oh so delicious.

You should taste the crap I have to put up with around here. It’s unnatural! It makes a homesick girl want to cry.

Now there is a LOT of food that the Bay Area does REALLY well, (I’m talking to you Peter and Mark Sodini), but so far…Mexican food isn’t one of them.

Don’t EVEN get me started on guacamole. Avocado, lime juice, tiny bit of cilantro, tomatoes. THAT’S IT!

Why’s it gotta be so hard?

Sigh, sometimes it doesn’t pay to be an expatriate New Mexican…..

People we need a whole lot more of….

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Leslie Strommen, a 25-year teaching veteran, currently working at Rio Rancho Elementary.

Leslie is the subject of a nice article in the ABQjournal entitled “Award-Winning Teacher Promotes Reading.”

She’s been at this game for a quarter of a century, folks, and she says, “…I have taken numerous classes to increase my knowledge of literacy processing. I am currently enrolled in a class that focuses on instructional coaching and literacy instruction.”

Did you get that? She’s “currently enrolled in a class”. Seems Leslie is an educator who knows that her own continuing education matters…a lot. What a terrific concept.

Any educator who takes the time after teaching, planning and grading all day to find educational opportunities…after some twenty-five years of service…gets a great big salute in my book.

My best friend in the world teaches High School English (among other things) in Las Cruces. She blew me away this year by obtaining her Master’s Degree, graduating with Honors from NMSU. She had to take classes at night while still managing to kick some serious booty for her students…oh yes, and a mother of two kids and a loving wife to her husband of nearing fifteen years.

She and Ms. Strommen are a rare breed of cat. They are people who genuinely love to educate, and find it meaningful to do this work.

And I take a bow before them today because they are, by far, better people than me.

My grandmother ranks to this day as my favorite teacher. She *loved* teaching and spoke about it often. My biggest debt to her is that she taught me how to read. It’s a skill I used everyday in her honor. She gave me my love of words.

So today, in honor of Ms. Strommen, I thank all teachers everywhere for doing what they do.

(by the by, this is my “make up assignment” for missing my post yesterday. Here’s hoping the teach will let me slide. Oh, I’m also going to flout all things Sarbanes-Oxley and backdate this post to yesterday…just cuz I can…Blogger lets me bend time which is pretty cool……now if I could only bend time back to 1987 and my godawful yearbook photo…what WAS I thinking?!?!?)

_____________________

Update

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Well, in checking the results from the Ty Murray Invitational, it appears our local boy Travis Briscoe did not finish in the money this weekend.

I utter a strong curse word and a hearty, “damn it!” for our boy.

I look forward to following his career a little bit. Love it when a New Mexico boy makes, good…Bill Richardson not withstanding.

Oh c’mon, I was only kidding!

You go Thelma!

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In the March 27th edition of the Albuquerque Tribune, entertainment columnist and etiquette expert Thelma Domenici addressed a problem near and dear to my heart with her column entitled: “Mind your space during plane trips”.

In it, Thelma discusses some simple rules to consider while traveling on a plane.

They include (using my words, her direct words are in quotes):

• Consider the space allocated to you and be aware of it. Keep bags, limbs, elbows, stinky feet, snacks, fat rolls and other items out of the space belonging to another
• Walk onto the plane with your bag in front of you to avoid wacking the noggins of your fellow passengers already seated
• Be aware of how you dress. What seemed appropriate in the mirror this morning may not “respect the sensitivities of others”. Also go lightly on that Britney Spears perfume…..
• Recognize that not everybody wants to be chatted up by the stranger sitting next to them on the plane…unless both you and they are drunk and then everyone wants to chat.
• Try to keep your little tykes occupied and help them refrain from kicking the seat in front of them…over…and over….and over…and over……
• Also help children refrain from shrieking in a decibel just below what only dogs can hear (ok this bullet is my add on….Thelma didn’t address it. She said we can expect “a child’s excited squeals of delight or the cries that come from pressure changes”…I only ask that my eardrums remain intact).
• “Avoid behavior that is likely to disturb” other passengers. Too numerous to mention, you know who you are.

She’s spot on with her guidelines, but much like our dear Polly Summar’s article in the ABQjournal regarding Tourist Etiquette, I fear Ms. Domenici is also shouting in a hurricane.

She has some wonderful suggestions. In fact, her article should be printed out with boarding passes and made required reading for each person boarding a plane. But that won’t happen. Even if everyone read it, I’ll bet you a day’s pay that the people it’s most aimed at would nod along with it, saying “yeah, that’s true, people should do that”…meanwhile boarding the plane with their too big bag whamming the backs of all heads as they meander down the aisle in their inappropriate outfit, too much perfume and screaming child.

We can ask people to step up to the plate regarding their own behavior. We can ask people be both self aware and conscientious of others. We can ask ’til our faces turn blue, but much like the man Polly talked about who flossed in public, folks are going to continue on blissfully unaware.

I guess at the end of the day, I can only be responsible for myself. My folks raised me to be considerate of others. Always. When I fly, I try…and I grit my teeth at man’s inhumanity to man (and, er…woman). Especially when riding that airline which shall go unnamed, but uses all the grace of a cattle drive to load on their valued passengers. Moo!

As Thelma says on her website (her signature phrase), “Good manners never go out of style.”

Damn, never knew I was so stylish! (insert a wry smile here)