And Then There Was the Time…

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I miss my best friend today. Autumnal Equinox makes me think of harvesting hay and Dickerson’s dances.


That was a text message I sent to my best friend yesterday afternoon. I was at work and found myself with a few moments of pause. What I felt in that silence was an aching sense of melancholy.

The angle of light has been changing for a while and yesterday the world looked a little different bathed in early Autumn sun.

A beautiful sunny yet hazy day as I found myself at a high elevation gazing across the amazing view, Oakland to my left, Golden Gate center, Albany to my right.

It’s hardly original to feel melancholy in the Fall. I will follow the old poetic trope and go there anyway.

Since I know I have a “thing” about Autumn, I started looking back in the archives of my blog and found something that perfectly captures how I feel today. I’m nothing if not consistent.

Autumn is, after all, my favorite season in Oh Fair New Mexico.

So here’s a repost to get me through the day. The words still ring true, even as time goes by.

___________________


Get outta the wayback machine!

Originally posted April 15, 2009


It was Fall, had to be. Slight crispness to the evening air. Anticipation thick as the fog of Aqua Net in the sorority house where I lived.

It was 1989, probably. Or somewhere close to that. The campus of New Mexico State University. I was a sophomore, maybe a junior, I can’t remember. Doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that I was getting ready to go to a dance at Corbett Center on the NMSU campus.

The woman who would become my best friend for what is now over twenty years was the driving force that night, and many just like it. Her parents had met at a Corbett Center dance, so she was especially incentivized to go scoot a boot and see what’s doing. Family history.

I nervously pulled on my too shiny, too new, gray goatskin round toe ropers and jeans that didn’t really go with the boots, but were at least long enough to be acceptable. “You should buy some Rockies,” I was told, and they were right. I would, later, in quantity. But then I had neither the money nor the courage. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get into, I just knew I was going to be there come hell or high water.

It wasn’t my first Corbett dance. It wouldn’t be my last. This story isn’t about one actual night, more an amalgam of a lot of great nights.

The gaggle of high-haired women walked out the back door of our home, a sorority house containing twenty-eight women of different backgrounds, and one understanding house mom. What bound us together was our choice of educational institution. A land grant institution. To the uninformed, that means an agricultural college.

It was a short shuffle over to Corbett, up the stairs to the third floor where they had the ballrooms. Pay the entrance fee. Five dollars I think? Maybe less back then. Get a stamp on your hand. Look around, see who is there already. Talk about who you hope shows up.

Hear the opening strains of music. Usually The Delk Band. A group of musicians, brothers, and their dad on fiddle. I went to school with most of the boys. I remember I thought one of the Delks was cute. I remember one of the Delks was the drummer and back then had a tendency to speed up the tempo as a song wore on. Hard to dance to a wildly varying tempo. But we did it. (note of update: Saw the band not that long ago and that is no longer a problem.)

They were our people, and we embraced them. And we danced. Oh did we dance.

The two-step. Not the Texas double up kind, no. The slow kind, keeping time to the music.

And a waltz. My favorite, how I love to waltz. The rhythm of a song set to the beat of a waltz still paces my heart a little differently.

The polka. If done right with the right boy (he had to be tall because I’m tall and otherwise we’d just bump knees) you felt like you were flying, feet hardly touching the ground.

Then of course the Cotton-Eyed Joe (stepped in what?) and the Schottische, played back to back, often enough. Linking six or eight of us, arm in arm, facing forward, laughing our fool heads off.

The ladies, my friends and I, would stand on the sidelines and take a look at the scene. My best friend would always get asked to dance first. She’s beautiful and a great dancer. Who could blame the boys for flocking to her blue-eyed, dark haired gorgeousness? Not me, certainly.

As I got better at dancing, I got asked often enough, too. The boys liked the girls who could dance, who liked to dance, who didn’t turn up their nose at dirty fingernails and cow sh*t on their boots.

There is something special about dancing with a boy who knows how to dance, a strong lead, who looks you in the eyes. The boys who had the right fold in their hat and smelled faintly of Copenhagen and beer and Polo cologne.

I got to know those folks. All of them, the boys, the girls, the dancers, the musicians, the laughers, the people who liked to swing each other around the dance floor.

They became my family. We traveled in packs, dancing until we were sweaty, then heading outside into the cool air to take a breath, drink a beer, laugh a lot and occasionally find someone to spend a little time with.

Well not me, not then. I was still too awkward and mixed up to attract much in the way of boys at that point. I was more “one of the guys” than one of the girls the guys would chase. Don’t feel bad for me though, I eventually figured it out. (cover your eyes, mom)

Over time, we all aged a little, got to be over 21 and started to migrate from dancing at Corbett center to dancing at the local country bar. It was fun but seemed a little more complicated. Add more than a couple beers to the night and weird things happen.

But still we danced. By that time, I’d moved off campus and lived with my friend from TorC. She was crazy and fun and taught me a lot (cover your eyes, mom), and she loved to dance as much as I did. She coined the phrase “big bar hair” and gave me an education on how to get it, and keep it, despite dancing so hard sweat ran down your face.

Then we all aged a bit more, and we graduated and found respectable jobs. My best friend, her husband (a fine dancer, I must say) and I are all actually employed in the same area that’s listed on our diplomas. One might scoff at country folks, but all three of us hold a Master’s degree in our chosen fields.

Now, on the verge of turning forty well past forty, I find I still miss those days, mightily. I wished I’d enjoyed them more at the time. The stress of school and classes and “what do I want to be when I grow up” cast a pall on my days.

My own fault. A worrier by nature, a tendency that I fight tooth and nail every single day I take a breath.

When I’m having a bad day, when I doubt myself, when I realize I don’t fit in at my new place of employment, when I don’t feel heard or understood or very well liked, I can always go back to those days in my mind and smile.

I can’t get together with my best friend and her husband and NOT talk about those days. Magical. I’m blessed to have been able to have them. Once upon a time, I knew where I belonged.





Photo of The Delk Band in action





Image from The Delk Band website and found here.




On The Wrong Road

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This morning at an hour not early enough to avoid crushing commute time travels, I navigated my old Jeep through some swirls and whorls of Bay Area traffic and found myself on Highway 80 approaching the Bay Bridge.

As I did, I was thinking about the planned upcoming visit from my best friend in the whole world, and how excited I am to see her. Been too long.

I was listening to a shuffle of whatever music is on my iPhone by way of calming my nerves when a real old song came on, one of my best pal’s faves (a Waylon Jennings tune if you must know). As often happens to me in this crazy mixed up life of mine, what I saw with my eyes was the Bay Bridge but what I wished in my heart was that I was somewhere else.

Something about the springtime makes me miss New Mexico pretty ferociously. I let some memories in and found myself landing in a place called Lake Valley and the abandoned schoolhouse where we used to go to dance. That’s a whole other highway then were I was in that moment.

All of this reminded me that I once wrote about Lake Valley so I went into the archives and pulled this post up from 2007. I had to edit it quite a bit because, well, my editing skills have improved a bit since then.

So here’s a memory. Do click on that link to the Baxter Black piece if you get a chance. He says it better than I ever could.

Happy Dancin’ Friday to you, wherever you are today.



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When memories reach up and grab you

Originally published March 26, 2007

Lately I’ve been on quite a jag of reading the works of one noble New Mexico-born left handed cowboy poet named Baxter Black.

He’s a good friend of my “adopted dad” (my best friend’s father) and I had the chance to meet him face-to-face back in college. Of course, I’ve heard plenty of his stories over the years.

I was heartened to see that my local library carried a good selection of Bax’s works. They make you smile, make you think and make you outright laugh yer bum off.

I just got done reading one of his collections of NPR material called “Horseshoes, Cowsocks and Duckfeet”.

One selection from that book is called “Lake Valley” and man oh man, that almost made me weep with homesickness. It also made me smile to know that two people, some twenty-five years apart in age, have similar memories of the same place and similar events. That’s the staying power of Lake Valley.

Back at NMSU I used to go to dancing at Lake Valley with my best friend. She’s the one who turned me on to it. Her parents used to come along for the fun because they went to NMSU too, and they danced at Lake Valley (probably along with Bax).

I remember at the dance they used to charge a family rate of $20. My fill-in dad would gather up all us scraggly college kids, blonds, redheads, brunettes, short, tall, thin, stocky and all about the same age. He’d lead us to the door, point to our gang, tell ’em that was his family, throw ’em a twenty and we’d all get in.

You know, in our way, we were (and are) family. [insert my best wistful smile right here as I miss my best friend for like the hundredth time today, already]

The way Bax describes Lake Valley in his writing is just how I remember it. When I was dancing, it was with a band called The Rounders and they played the old songs. What a talented group, The Rounders. They even played at my best friend’s wedding. Now THAT was a party.

At the end of this post is a photo I found online. It’s how the schoolhouse used to look when it was still a school. Ok, imagine that, but with no desks and a lot more years on it. That’s pretty much how I remember. See that riser there at the end? Where the teacher would sit? That’s where the band would play. It was a long narrow room so we had to dance in a long oval. Like Bax said, as we danced, the floorboards would give under your feet and they weren’t particularly even and a few nail heads were popped up, so you had to mind your feet. But oh it was a hell of a good time.

I’ve never felt quite so free, happy and in touch with the simple easy joys in life as I did dancing at Lake Valley. I miss the feeling of flying I’d get dancing a polka with my very tall and very dear friend Larry. I loved the camaraderie of wrapping arm around arm and doing the Schottische and Cotton Eyed Joe (“stepped in what?”).

And, as Bax said, when the band took a break, we’d all migrate outside to cool off and dip into someone’s ice chest for food, beverages and the telling of a few good stories.

We were all community then. We were bound by our heritage and our lives in New Mexico. Under that bright moonlight we were all inextricably connected, and it felt so right.

Ah the memories. If I let ’em, they’ll take over my whole day.







Image from Living Ghost Towns.




Literal Girl is Literal

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This week’s Theme Thursday theme is: Connections.

No artistic license here. Not today. Feeling rather literal, so I wandered around the house taking iPhone photos of things that connect, including computer connections, USB ports, the back of my television, a phone jack, a cable splitter, etc.

Then it was one inspired idea that changed my whole tack. I sailed in a different direction. And I’m glad I did. Turns out I had a little more arty going on than I thought.

Here is the best of my interpretation of the word connection, and thus, my entry to the party:



Don’t tell The Good Man I raided his closet



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


Stare Deeply into this Inkblot

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Oh, let’s go instead with word association.

I’m so much better at that.

———————————

  1. Earrings ::
  2. Love ’em. The bigger and danglyer (<-- so very much not a word) the better. One pair I have, Zuni petit point in a modern version of the classic snowflake pattern, seem to be the crowd favorite. I get tons of compliments. Even without the compliments, they are hands down my favorite. Plus, you don't see earrings like this out here, which I like. There are a few ladies at work who would buy them right off my ears if I'd let them.

  3. Tomorrow ::
  4. And tomorrow. And tomorrow. And the unofficial state motto of New Mexico….Land of Mañana.

  5. Soft ::
  6. My cat’s belly. Hard is her teeth when I pet her belly. She has tummy issues.

  7. Idiots ::
  8. Me and The Good Man cuz we keep trying to pet The Feline’s belly. It’s soooooo soooooft. She bites really hard.

  9. Portraits ::
  10. I’m learning that good light is everything.

  11. Handicap ::
  12. You know how the sport talk guys give a handicap when they mention golfers? “Oh he’s a seven handicap” or some silliness like that. What it means is you know what kind of golfer the guy is. Well….shouldn’t we have a system like that for everyone else? Especially at work? “Yeah, um, Karen is about a six handicap…she’s chronically late to meetings, blows her nose too loud, can’t park straight, laughs at inopportune times and her mind tends to wander.”

    You picking up what I’m putting down?

  13. Collar ::
  14. Just reading the word made me tug at mine. Why are collars always so scratchy? And how you boys wear the tie AROUND the scratchy collar I’ll never know. I would have bug eyes and claw at it all day long.

  15. Blouse ::
  16. Much softier and nice. Ladies, have you noticed that blouses with a limpy bow at the neck are back in style? Let’s go raid the wardrobe of the early 1980’s working woman, why don’t we?

    I’m not sure how I feel about this trend. What’s next, wearing high top Reeboks with our power skirt and calling it high fashion? Um. No. Been there. Done that.

  17. Wool ::
  18. Scratchier than any damn collar. Who can wear that stuff?

  19. Statistic ::
  20. Statistically speaking, the odds of me wearing a wool collar are nil. However….the odds of me wearing a limpy bow blouse again in my life….maybe…





Image is a screen still from “Charlie’s Angels” and found several places on the net.


Pardon Me, Waiter. What Is this?

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Over the past few days The Good Man and I had some things to celebrate, so we got out of town for a few days.

We headed up north and checked into a really fancy schmancy hotel. The Good Man had planned the weekend to be a surprise for me, and it was amazingly good stuff.

I’d been advised to bring one nice outfit for a night out, and so I did. Friday night I put ‘er on and off we went to dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant.

(In case all Michelin means to you is tires, a starred restaurant is a really big deal.)

So being the New Mexico hayseed that I am, I made sure I worked very hard to mind my manners, use the right fork and not laugh too loud inside this very expensive and fairly quiet restaurant.

Of course, that only lasted through my first Sidecar martini drink.

Once the sugary brandy took hold, all bets were off.

Which just happened to coincide with the end of appetizers, when our fantastic server began setting up our table for entrees.

Ok, so a nice sold fork was laid down. Good. Then kind of a funky scroll sided knife, but a knife nonetheless.

And then another utensil was put next to the knife.

It looked like this:



Shaped like a spoon, but flat like a knife. I was perplexed. I had NO idea what in the sam hell it was.

Then I watched the waiter lay out a similar place setting for The Good Man.

Before the server could get away I blurted out “Excuse me, sir? But what is this?” and held up the alien utensil.

He took a step backward. I reconsidered my manners.

“My apologies,” I said. “It’s just that my mother taught me all the forks, but I have no idea how to use this.”

He laughed, “It’s a sauce spoon, your entrée comes with a wonderful sauce and this will help you get all of it.” Then he showed me how to use it.

And, well, by god that flat spoon did work pretty darn good on that tasty sauce.

I mean, where I come from we sop up all the good sauce with a biscuit, but whatever. I guess if they want me to use a fancy spoon, I will.

Didn’t stop me from licking it when I was done.
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(ok, no, just kidding about that last part)



Image from Connox Living Design Shop.