As mentioned yesterday, my quest for “feel good” stories continues on, unencumbered.

When I read the headline of this ABQjournal article “Recent Widow Gets Back Her Stolen Car”, I thought it was right up my alley, and it was, in a way.

But I found a lump in my throat by the end.

Alia Dahl, a very pregnant Alia Dahl, is having a pretty rough month.

Her husband, Joel, stationed in Iraq, was due to be home in about a week. July 9, actually. He would have missed the birth of his son, but he would have been home.

I say “would” because Joel became yet another sad victim of the war on June 23.

The week after the death of her husband, her car was stolen.

Leaving her about a week away from having her labor induced and without her husband, car, or her packed overnight bag to go to the hospital.

I think Alia must be a stronger person than I am, because I’m not quite sure how I would have managed to stay upright and deal with all of that.

But here’s the part to feel good about. I’m not the only one who felt this nice lady got a real bad deal.

People starting taking up donations, pitching in, and in 24 hours $18,000 was raised to get Alia a new car.

The police also got pretty tenacious on the search for the lost car.

And you know what? They found it.

So Alia and her mom went to pick it up on Thursday. Alia was in good spirits, happily talking to reporters and answering questions.

When her water broke. She delivered a baby boy. Mom and son are healthy, happy, and they endure.

She even had the strength to make a joke, a joke referencing her husband:

“‘Just like his father, he has to be the center of attention,’ she said, laughing and holding her abdomen.”


Here’s to the abundance of everlasting human spirit found in Alia. Here’s hoping she can rebuild her life and carry on, for her herself, for her husband, for their son.


For some reason this story has really got me by the heart.

My past week has been a flurry of ferocity in the run up to the release of an over-hyped product. I keep feeling like I’ve lost perspective.

This article, this story, helped, a little………

Happy Friday to all.

Why I love New Mexico so much, continues….

As chronicled here in the past weeks, I’m *over* the hype around Paris and prison and the iFrapping phone-that-costs-too-much, and I’m weary of sad news from the world of over-hyped media.

I’ve been making it a point to look for odd, quirky and feel good stories.

And boy, have I got one today.

Shockingly, it comes to us from my old source of snarkiness, ABQjournal columnist Polly Summar. She’s been minding her manners lately and writing some pretty good lifestyle pieces. I give it up for Polly, she’s got a good sort of Midwestern sensibility about the quirkiness she encounters in Santa Fe. Go Polly!

Today she brings to us a piece about Forrest “Rusty” Rutherford. Not being from Santa Fe myself, I’d not heard of the so called “Sombrero Man”.

It is guys like this that make a town great. San Francisco has it’s “Bush Man” (among others), Chicago has Woo-Woo Man, New York has the guitar playing guy in his underbritches. It’s the kind of stuff of legendary tourist lore. It’s something that can bind people together, make a visitor feel like they are “in on the joke”.

Santa Fe has Sombrero Man (among others). Seems that Sombrero Man has been collecting sombreros and related gear and gadgets for several years. He’s built up quite a collection and is often seen about town wearing ’em. Sombrero Man has a regular everyday job (but that’s boring, please, let’s talk about who the man *really* is!), but spends his time and resources donning sombreros and making people smile.

And as I struggle with my own cosmic agony, fighting against my silly office job that is causing me to hover on the edge of utter breakdown, crying out into the dark night that “this is not who I AM! THIS IS NOT WHAT I WAS MEANT TO BE!!” I am heartened to see someone “doing it”.

Go on Sombrero Man! You wear your stuff with pride! You show the world who you are! Live your dream!

For those in the area, Sombrero Man makes his first “official” appearance of the season at the Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast on the Plaza. If you see him, tell him that a little gal in California thinks he rocks.

State Approved Yummies

This past weekend I had a hankering. I’m a bit depressed and no small amount of stressed out and I was in need of some comfort food. You know, the something like mom used to make.

I woke up Sunday morning with a strong hankering for Biscochitos. So I gazed over the recipe, decided on Crisco over traditional lard, looked in my liquor cabinet to see if had the requisite brandy (I didn’t) and set off to the grocer for all the goods. I already had anise seed so I was ahead of the game……

You have to understand, this was a rare bit of homemakering that I’m not used to. Neither is my long suffering, but very patient partner. But he knows he gets to enjoy the fruits of my nesting, so he’s all good.

I mixed and blended, whipped the eggs, poured the brandy (as a kid when I made them I always found a way to sample the brandy as it went in, just a small teaspoon full for me, and it always made me go “bleah! Why would anyone drink this?” As a grown up, just the smell made me “ew”, so no sampling this time…..)

Soon I had a stiff dough to work with and I cursed while rolling it out and cutting the individual cookies. As is tradition, I burned one batch (I *always* burn at least one batch while making ANY kind of cookie). But soon I’d turned out a pile of the sweet, but not too sweet, treats. I shared some with the neighbors. I ate my fill until I was sick, and then came the litmus test. My Brooklyn boyfriend gave them a nibble and declared them as addictive as I know them to be (he rocks, by the way).

So I was all up in my Biscochito bliss when I read this article in the Las Cruces Sun News.

The ice cream mix, pecans and Biscochitos, sounds divine. But what caught my eye is that I guess I somehow missed that in 1989 the New Mexico State Legislature made the Biscochito the “official state cookie”.

I *had* heard that the current plump Governor loves these same anise treats turned out by the chef at the Governor’s mansion. Wouldn’t that be great? To have someone turn out a batch of delicious just like that, whenever you want? Wow. I’d be a plump Governor too….

So not only did I make comfort food, I made NM State approved comfort food. Go me!

By the way, the recipe I use comes from the “Cocinas de New Mexico” cookbook put out by PNM. The recipe is online here. That “Cocinas de New Mexico” cookbook is a dandy if you don’t already have one. I have always used the quite old version my mom has but I will probably order one of my own.


Artist Diana Bryer’s “Making Biscochitos”

A moment of silence

A lot of really great players have passed through the San Francisco Giants clubhouse. A lot of warriors and plenty of freaks and some a little bit of both.

I was saddened this weekend at the surprise and as-yet-unexplained untimely passing of Rod Beck, who wore the Giants uni from ’91-’97. He was just 38.

He was a steely-eyed closer, something the Giants have been sorely lacking since the retirement of Robb Nen. (Hell, I can have a moment of silence just for Nen’s arm post 2002 World Series).

Beck was a hell of a pitcher and by all accounts a hell of a good man, giving back to the community and all about his family. He looked crazy, that was part of his appeal, but his stuff was wicked and he’s both fondly remembered and sorely missed.

Sorry it had to go this way, Shooter.

Ok, now that’s kind of cool

I weary of all the death, terror and destruction in the news these days. In fact, I don’t really read newspapers. I glance at them online, skip the bad stuff and look for interesting opinion pieces, celeb trash or “feel good” stories.

Today’s San Francisco Chronicle has one of them thar “feel good” stories today.

Let me break it down.

It’s 1976. Palo Alto, California. A guy named Ronald Leung owns a car repair business. And he owns a sweet 1956 Ford Thunderbird with just 24,979 on the odometer.

Some yo-yo steals it. He files the report. No luck, it’s gone.

In the time since it’s been stolen, he’s had a couple kids, worked a job, retired and often thought about his car.

Fast forward to this week. Ronald gets a call yesterday. They found his car. And he gets to have it back!


Long story short, a lady in Ventura bought it on eBay and when she tried to register it, they found the true VIN and linked it back to Ronald, a car enthusiast, who filed all the right reports some 31 years ago.

Dude gets to go to So. Cal this weekend to get it. And it’s been fully restored and is in *cherry* condition.

What a fine drive home that’s going to be!

Yeah! That ROCKS! Getting to drive a machine like that makes even the nasty Grapevine seem like a lot of fun.

Enjoy the ride, Ronald!

To everyone else, have a great weekend!

(it’s a beaut)