There Is This Man I Know…

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It would be wrong to call him a cowboy. That implies something he’s not.

He is, in fact, a farmer. Chile, corn, cotton, alfalfa. He fretted the drought and smiled at rainy skies.

Except that time it rained so hard it washed away the seeds he’d just planted. That night, he fretted while the rain fell.

That’s unusual for a farmer.

He has a smile that could light up a room, the sky, the world.

He has the mind of a trickster, and his wry sense of humor is what drew me in.

Back then, he was a tall, slim drink of water.

His chest bore a long scar, a remnant from open heart surgery in childhood. It fixed a congenital problem. For a while, anyway.

That surgery colored his whole world. He was told he might not live past the age of twenty.

But he did. He lived. Oh, he was alive.

He took me out to dinner. We each ordered steaks at the truckstop diner in Vado, New Mexico.

It was far more romantic than it sounds.

He took me fishing and let me use his brand new rod and reel. I managed to irretrievably knot up the fishing line. He didn’t even get mad.

Because he is a gentleman.

He took me for long rides down bumpy dirt roads. I sat next to him in the cab of his pickup, holding on tight, grinning.

He has a confidence that is older than his years.

He and I had some fun then parted ways amiably. I still call him my friend. More than a friend. A dear friend. “One of us” from a loosely knit group of kids who made a family while running around Las Cruces, growing up and getting educated.

I haven’t seen him in years, but over the years I’d ask after him and sometimes he’d ask after me, too.

He’s got an amazing wife and three sons and the weight of responsibility for his family’s farm. A responsibility he stood up to each and every day.

Last week, he had surgery. That ol’ heart problem was giving him trouble again.

The surgery went well, but he got an infection at the hospital that he couldn’t quite fight off.

Sunday morning, my friend, my family, someone who showed me how to live passed away.

He was just 40.

I can’t stop being angry. It’s not fair. No one ever said life was going to be fair, but I don’t care. It’s not fair.

I’m not good at grief. I’ve lost a father. I lost my best friend from high school. I lost a grandmother who was very integral to my life.

You’d think all the practice would make me better at this.

I’m not good at this.

Sometimes it’s just easier to be angry.

It’s an acceptable stage of grief.

Propagation of the Species

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I work across the street from a public park that borders on marshlands, very near the actual Bay. The proximity of water and the tasty grasses in the marsh entice lots of birds to come visit and stay.

Among others, we have egrets, herons, spoonbills and sandpipers. All so elegant and beautiful.

Here’s a rather grainy shot of a snowy egret, one of my favorite birds. This one usually keeps a beady eye on everyone walking by:

Many of the birds that we get in our beautiful marshes are on the endangered or near endangered species lists.

So it’s good we have a nice habitat here for them.

That said, ya wanna know what bird isn’t on any endangered list and is pretty much in zero danger of extinction?

Geese.

@#$%ing Canada Geese.

Or, as I like to call them, feathered poop factories.

Taken with my iPhone, this is by a walking trail:

That’s not even a small portion of the inventory.

Here’s a wider shot:

Again, to the left and right of this frame there are at least this same number if not more geese.

The one in the center of that photo charged at me, hissing, so I didn’t take any more photos.

The geese eat grass, lots and lots of grass, then they process it internally and drop the leftovers right in the middle of the walking trails.

Their drop offs equal the size of the leavings of a large dog. Only a whole lot greener.

Just. Ew.

This morning coming into work, there was a goose right in the middle of the driveway (which is a long narrow single car path). The goose moved neither right nor left, but strutted right down the center of the lane. I counted ten cars in line behind while Mr. Goose waddled his way into the day.

I was in car number eleven.

These cranky birds have certainly figured out how to continue the prosperity of their species. In a big way.

My elderly uncle, unfortunately now deceased, used to shoot bottle rockets at the Canada geese that befouled the walkway in front of his house in Indiana.

They sort of frown on that here in California, don’t they?

All photos by Karen Fayeth. Click on any photo to see a larger size.

That’s a Travesty!

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What’s a travesty?

This, this is a travesty!

I know a lot of people really like Coffee-Mate. A lot of people use Coffee-Mate. It’s very popular.

A dear friend’s husband is a self confessed Coffee-Mate hazelnut flavor addict. He stockpiles it in his fridge.

Weirdo.

Look, I’m here to tell you, this isn’t a food product. I don’t know what it is, but it is definitely NOT a food product.

The label says “contains milk ingredients”.

Uh. “Milk ingredients?”

What in the seventeen kinds of sam hell are “milk ingredients?” That doesn’t say “contains milk” or “contains cream” or “contains anything you’d recognize.” No!

Milk ingredients. And oil. And a bunch of other things you can’t pronounce.

There is a big box of these pods of crap-food in our break room.

It’s the only option for lightening a terrible cup of coffee in the late afternoon when you are desperate for a cuppa and the coffee bar downstairs is closed.

Look, I’m inherently suspicious of any sort of dairy product, even a pseudo-dairy product, that doesn’t spoil when you leave it out on the counter for weeks at a time.

Except for real butter…and even real butter has its time limits.

What is the half-life on a pod of Coffee-Mate? A billion years?

I personally enjoy a good splash of half and half in a cup of joe.

Or as I call it, half of the half, which makes The Good Man laugh.

So with no half of the half on hand, I used some of this Coffee-Mate “creamer.” Cuz I ain’t calling it creamer without them thar sarcastic quotes.

It’s gross. It’s oily. It’s chemical-y.

Just. Ew.

So then I poured out the coffee and tried this, also available in the break room:

While sipping at this sort of tangy beverage from a package that does not include an ingredients list, I did a Google search. I didn’t net any ingredients, but I found this image which shows the main box that the packets come in. The box says “contains no apple…” and the rest is blocked by the packet in front of the box.

I assume it says “contains no apple juice.”

Which means…

This is ALSO not food. This is more chemical crap.

Gah!

I’m not any sort of Birkenstock wearing, tree hugging, raw food eating girl. I like as much red dye number whatever as the next guy.

But even I have my limits.

________________________________

***Note to my readers: I actually wrote this yesterday afternoon. Upon a solid reread today, I was struck by just how much I’ve been whining lately about the no-cost beverage choices at my new place of employ. I’m still new, and while I do have some work to do, I am also sitting around a lot.

Leaving me to my own devices is never a good idea.

As I become busier with my job, I suspect the beverage posts will die down.

Hopefully.

And We Haven’t Piped Down Since

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Today, August 18, 2010, marks ninety years since the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified.

In case you are a little shy on your constitutional amendments, here is some of the actual text:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

That right. On August 19, 1920, women got the right to vote.

It took Tennessee’s legislature to pass the proposed amendment by one little vote for (the 36th state to ratify) to cause the 19th Amendment to become a part of the United States Constitution.

(I’m pleased to note that California was 18th and New Mexico was 32nd. Nice early adoption from my two home states.)

The 19th Amendment gave women a voice. An official voice.

This meant that a woman didn’t have to defer to a man to make her choices about how this country should be run.

My folks were married almost fifty years. My old man was an old fashioned guy. In their early years, he used to tell his wife how to vote. Many years later, my mom admitted to me that she’d go to the polls and vote the exact opposite way.

The 19th Amendment gave her that right!

Recently, over a family dinner, for no reason I could fathom, my eleven-year-old sister-in-law broke out and asked, “did you vote for Al Gore?”

I replied, “No, I didn’t vote for Al Gore. I also didn’t vote for George Bush. I think I voted for Ralph Nader that year. I believe it’s essential to cast a vote, even if it is a dissenting vote.”

I’m allowed to do that. You know why? The 19th Amendment to the Constitution!

Heck, I can cast my vote willy-nilly all over the place! And I don’t have to have a nilly ol’ willy to do so!

(This juncture is SO ripe for a “pull the lever” pun, but I’ll refrain.)

I’ve voted in every Presidential election since I turned eighteen and I’ve voted in most of the minor elections too.

This November, on behalf of my residency in the State of California and my Suffragette sisters from the past, I will cast a vote for some random person for Governor, because I sure as hell am not voting for either Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman.

But I’m gonna vote.

I’m making my voice heard for Susan B!

Watch me now, heh!

Can’t I Just Have Something Nice!?!

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That title must be said in an Edith Bunker sort of voice.

Come with me to the Wayback Machine…

I remember back in the day, grade school era in Albuquerque, when I used to spend time over at my best friend Kathy’s house. It was small, white with pink trim, located over by Montgomery park, across from the public swimming pool.

That little house had this front room, right as you came in the door, that featured these really nice blue velour couches. Very cushiony.

However, those pretty couches were covered with thick plastic wrap. Her mother explained that was “to protect” the couches.

In Albuquerque on a hot summer day, those dang couches were miserable.

There were also plastic runners on the floor. This was “to protect” the carpet.

I once stepped outside the line, as is my way, and got my ear chewed off by Kathy’s mom.

That tiny Hispanic lady also drove a metallic blue Oldsmobile. Kathy and I used to take gymnastics lessons at the YMCA. Kathy’s mom would take that Olds to the car wash every single week during the hour we had our lessons.

She wouldn’t pay to have it dried, just washed, so she’d roll up with water droplets hanging off the sides. (You can get away with that in the 7% humidity of New Mexico.)

Why am I telling you this?

I got to thinking about Kathy’s mom today as I was looking at my brand spanking new iPhone 4.

It’s a beauty of a new phone. A bit heaver than the last model. The screen is amazingly clear. The black and chrome styling. Haaawt!

So here I am with this beautiful phone that isn’t cheap. It’s something really, really nice. And what did I do? I put an ugly plastic case around this marvel of industrial engineering.

You know, “to protect” it.

I tried to find the coolest case I could, but really, there’s not much out there that enhances the beauty and design of the iPhone.

I’m just “keeping it for nice.”

I know you know what I mean.