I told you so!

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She says bitterly. As the rain pours outside.

See, last week, the media drama queens proclaimed that it was the drought of the century. Times were rough. Water rationing was imminent.

I said to The Good Man, “they always say that…every year. It makes me tired.” He reminded me that he lived here during the great drought of the 70’s and times were bad.

Yeah, yeah.

Guess what I read in the SFGate today?

“The state’s rainfall total for the year late Sunday was at 90 percent of normal, said National Weather Service forecaster Bob Benjamin.”

Bite me, Bob! And oh yeah…I TOLD YOU SO!

If everyone would just listen to ME, things would go a lot easier.

Sonsabitches.

One of ours finds her way back home

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After moving to the Bay Area back in 1997, I settled into my new apartment, without any friends or family to speak of. I was completely alone in a big town. It was at once both terrifying and exhilarating.

I knew very few places I could drive to without getting lost, but I made myself the solemn promise that I would not just stay holed up in my apartment. I would leave the house and explore, even if it tested my bounds of comfort. And it did.

On earlier visits to the area for work, some people I knew in the East Bay had taken me to a restaurant in San Francisco. They had given me directions to get there, and I still remembered the route. I recalled the food was good and the people who worked there were nice.

So it became a steady destination. The restaurant is named Sodini’s, and I’ve spoken about it here before. If you’ve been out to visit me, I’ve likely taken you there.

Anyhow, as I went out every weekend, a little New Mexico girl picking hayseeds out of her hair, the people at Sodini’s began to know me. They looked after me. They gave me advice on how to live in the Bay Area, and they protected me.

Usually, I’d eat at Sodini’s then go across the street to a bar called The Grant and Green to listen to live music. Once in there, a part time cocktail waitress, part time stripper took over looking out for me. She was beautiful but also one tough lady. She would scare off guys she knew were bad news who had come sidling up to me, or would shout down anyone trying to run a scam on me (there were plenty who tried. What did I know? They didn’t have people like this in Albuquerque).

Then, several months later, I began idly dating a blues musician. So now I really had reason to be in North Beach. The blues scene is thriving. Over plenty of nights in various North Beach bars, I became a regular. I became part of the North Beach family. A loose band of a variety of strange and not so strange. Some talented. Some educated. Some rich. Some homeless. We are a little bit of everything. I’ve both been read to from Plato and offered the chance to buy crack in the same evening.

As motley as these folks are, truly, they became my family. I was often alone considering my boyfriend was a working musician. The more I fretted, the more they looked out for me. And I began looking out for them, too.

With all of the people I knew who lived on the streets, I began to worry about them. My big heart would be crushed if I didn’t see Willie on his regular street corner, playing harmonica to cheer passerby. Or if Lorne wasn’t standing outside CafĂ© Trieste, looking for some money or maybe to fix someone’s car for a couple bucks. And then there was Millie.

She’s about four feet nothing and would bop from bar to restaurant to bar with a huge gap toothed grin and a Polaroid camera. For $5, she’d take your photo and then give you the biggest hug you’ve ever received from someone so little. Her smile would brighten the entire room.

As the years passed, things turned rather sour with the musician. Then I went through an odyssey of my own psyche. And to add to all of that, then my father passed away. All life changing events.

I stopped going to North Beach so much. When I did go, my family would hug me, ask after my health, worry over me and welcome me home. Then they’d chide me for being gone so long.

Finally, as more years passed, I was alone again and unable to get up the courage to explore like I had before. Things were changing. I was changing. I was profoundly alone and considerably lost.

Then on a sunny day in November, my gray skies parted when I met The Good Man. For a while when we first dated, he lived in North Beach, which meant I visited my old haunts with a new set of eyes and a new man in tow. My North Beach family eyed him warily at first, but were soon as charmed as I over The Good Man.

But, to be honest, that’s not the point of my story. The point is this…recently our friend Millie, the cheery, adorable Polaroid taking woman had gone missing. I’d heard this through the grapevine and was sick to my heart. She isn’t a young lady, and I feared she’d ended up like a lot of my family and succumbed on a cold San Francisco night.

I cried this morning when read this article in the SFGate.

Millie was found in a Reno hospital after taking a bus up there and getting turned around. Some kind folks went up and brought her home.

She’s back in North Beach with her Polaroid and her amazing smile.

I don’t get back to North Beach all that much anymore. The Good Man and I moved into our place on the peninsula and now we’re all married and domesticated and living our new lives together. That’s ok too. It does my heart good to know that even though I’m not still running around North Beach, that my people are there and they are okay.

I’m a strange kid, I’m the first to admit it. I can manage to be homesick over two places at the same time. Both New Mexico and the Bay Area beat inside my heart. I’m not sure how to ever resolve that.

I’m not sure I even want to try.

Photo from the SFGate.

Aaaaaand we’re back…

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Had a *fabulous* time this weekend in southern New Mexico. The weather was clear and cold and my fair New Mexico is looking gorgeous. I didn’t know how much I needed that trip back home, but I can say I feel “right” since I got back.

The trip was mostly to visit with my best friend, her husband, and my two amazing goddaughters (now 9 and 6). My own version of NewMexiKen’s sweeties.

And I ate. Oh did I eat. Whoa. My best friend and her husband are both amazing cooks, and they treated me right for three solid days.

I got a good snootful of green chile, so I can continue to survive with the appalling lack here in the Bay Area.

I also got a chance to eat oryx. This was my first try at oryx and it was TASTY! My dad was a hunter, so I’ve eaten a variety of game meat sampled from the great state of New Mexico and have no qualms. My friend’s husband is especially good at field dressing so as to help alleviate the gamey taste, so what he brings home is really fantastic.

Plus he’s good with the seasoning, so the outcome was tender, sweet, delicious and quite satisfying. I was able to have oryx prepared a variety of different ways, but by far the most amazing was tacos al carbon cooked down on a disk. (you gotta love game meat cooked on something that used to be a farm implement)

Reflecting on the last post I wrote about good food bringing people together, I smiled on Sunday night when, at the same moment, my best friend was frying rellenos, her husband was cutting up the meat for tacos and I was rolling enchiladas with the help of my oldest goddaughter. While we worked, we shared stories and listened to good music.

That right there is family, and I’m deeply grateful to have it. Food made with love tastes that much better.

I also had the chance to drive up to Cloudcroft looking for snow. They had gotten three inches a few days back, but as you can see by the photo below, there wasn’t much left on the ground. It was a nice day trip anyway. Had lunch, shopped a bit, took a few photos and spent time with my friend.

Back home now. Mainly I’m just a bit homesick, happy to have made the visit and glad to be back in the house with The Good Man and the Cranky Cat.

This going back to work thing, on the other hand……….

(click for full size)

Photo by Karen Fayeth

Unity brought about by food

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Upon starting my new job, it was perplexing to me how often they feed us at this place. I mean, I’m not complaining. But seriously, I get at least two meals a week provided, sometimes more.

Good food too, full meals, like chicken and potatoes, cheese tortellini with salad, lavish Mexican buffet, a full course Vietnamese meal, and more.

This was especially peculiar to me, since, at my former employer, I usually ate my lunch by myself at my desk. A friend and I would walk over to the cafeteria, get food, walk back and go our separate ways. Clean. Sterile. Boring.

Now that I’ve been at the new gig 90 days, and having just stuffed myself silly at the potluck to end all potlucks (yum), I realized that this habit of sharing meals together is a bit of brilliance.

Really, how more primal can you get than breaking bread with other people? It creates connections.

Earlier today, I looked around the room at all these people I’ve come to know. Over a plate of homemade food (that’s our pot luck rule, it must be actually homemade), I found an easy camaraderie.

I know that one lady’s young daughter loves red velvet cake, and when she heard another lady at work was making it for our potluck, begged her mom to bring some home.

I know that the lady who sits right next to me was raised in the Philippines, and her homemade lumpia is worth weeping over. (I had three)

I discovered that the guy on the next row who identifies himself as Asian actually has a Mexican mother, who was kind enough to make flan for our potluck. Really, really good flan, too.

The reason for our potluck was to “Share the Love” for Valentine’s Day. As we all ate and complimented each other and asked for recipes, yes, there was love, and connection and a diligence to work together and believe in each other and do our best to get through the obstacles.

All because we got out some paper plates and plastic forks and brought out food that represents a little of ourselves. We’re all taking in a bit of each other and blending into something that much better.

I think that kind of connection is rarely found at work, and has to be part of the reason why this group I work with and for manages to get along so damn well. That’s the kind of “corporate goodwill” you just can’t force.

By the way, the contribution that represented me was a kickin’ bowl of guacamole. I make *really* good guac and today I earned some new fans.

Bet you never knew that guacamole tastes really good on lumpia!

Bringing cultures and oddball coworkers together, one delicious meal at a time…

On this same topic, I am fortunate enough to be able to make a trip to Southern New Mexico this weekend. I’ll be with my best friend of twenty years, and when we settled the date for a visit, one of the first things she said was, “we have to plan the menu”.

Food, for us, is family, is bonding, is life, is earth, is the heart of who we are. Nourishing both body and soul.

I can hardly wait for her homemade rellenos. Right then, I just did a little jump and clicked my heels.

New Mexico, here I come!

Back in my day

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You know, back in my day, if a person were to have occasion to be walking down the street, holding an entire conversation with only themselves, we’d call them nutty, cross the street to get away from them and cover our children’s eyes.

These days? No, it’s commonplace. We just figure it’s all normal.

I went downstairs this afternoon to the snack shop in my building for a cup of frozen yogurt. When I walked in the small shop, the oddball guy working there was deep in the middle of a conversation. By himself.

He was speaking, answering, getting a little lively in the discourse.

I naturally assumed he was on the Bluetooth headset for his cell phone.

So I went about the dispensation of some boysenberry no-fat fro-yo. When I went to pay, the young man was still chatting away, waving arms.

He saw me and was like, “oh hi, that will be two dollars.”

He wasn’t on the phone.

Nope. He’s just a good old-fashioned slice of crazy in a brown apron.

Hiding in plain sight.

Questionably sane people can’t even get noticed in this town anymore!