All The Holiday Cheer

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Oh the weather outside is…

Wow! Really nice. Quite sunny actually. Gotta love California.

And the fire is…

So bloody hot I’m pitting out over here. Would someone open a window?

And since there’s no place to go…

Damn tootin’, traffic out there is an obscenity. I’ll gladly stay home in my yoga pants with the hole in the leg and my battered Louisville Slugger Museum tee shirt. Sipping spiked eggnog (with a Lactaid chaser).

Let it snow, let it snow, let it…

Whoa. If by “snow” you mean cookies and if by “let it” you mean me eating, then yes. Let it cookie all over the place.

Otherwise keep those soggy flakes to yourself.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…

Again with the fire? I am going to have to get a fan out, this is redonkulous. And chestnuts? Ew, no. I saw a package of those things at Trader Joe’s. They look like something I want no part of.

More cookies please.

Jack Frost nipping at your nose…

That is assault and battery. Back off Jack.

Yuletide carols being sung by a choir…

Ok, that might not be so bad. Can I watch them streaming on my iPad so I can pause when I need to head to the little girl’s room after all that nog?

And folks dressed up like Eskimos…

Lord, I hate wearing a coat. Thank goodness I live somewhere that is mostly warm.

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…

Now you look here…Mommy has had a little too much spiked eggnog and she’s in no mood for your shenanigans. You shake those gall damn bells one more time and I’m going to shove them so far up your [censored] the light from Rudolf’s nose won’t be bright enough to help you find them.

Got it?

Come, they call him pah rumpa pum pum…

You too drummer boy.

Go tell it on the mountain…

Yes. Go. Quickly. Mountain. Far, far away. Move it!

Hark! The herald angels sing…

Did you ever wonder who this Harold Angel guy is and why we sing about him every year? That’s a good gig. You think he gets residuals?

Wait I’m out of eggnog.

Now I have some place to go. Good thing the store is just across the street. Food stained yoga pants and flip flops are acceptable outside attire, right?

You all just be a good little silent night until I back. Keep your joy to the world to your own selves.

And someone get that damn partridge down from the pear tree. He’s scared up there.






Image found all over the place on the net. This one found here.




Misty Tequila Colored Memories

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There I am, a random sunny weekend day in suburban Northern California, with a bag of groceries in my arms and holding hands with my husband.

We’re headed to the car in the parking lot when a low, slow Honda Civic rolls by. The car has been lowered, the wheels are miniscule and from inside the car comes some techno music. Not the multilayered computer-mixed techno of this modern era, but a thin synth-pushed techno that was quite reminiscent of the dance club music of the late 1980’s.

And suddenly I am no longer on a grassy knoll outside of Whole Foods in suburban California, but I’m wandering over the Paseo del Norte bridge and stumbling down Avenida de Juarez.

And I am inside Alive, a bar just over the border in Juarez, Mexico. If I listen hard enough, I can hear the sound of tequila slammers hitting the bar, syncopating with the terrible music blaring from the terrible sound system.

Alive, a venue located underground (the irony was not lost on me) with a tan blown-foam covering on the walls and a trip-worthy ramp leading to the bowels of the nightclub. I’d remind myself as often as possible not to touch anything and mind my own business.

But a bucket of Coronitas and a few slammers later and hey, let’s dance!

And me with my walnut sized bladder begging myself to hold it because the bathrooms at Alive were awful. Just…frightening.

But who cares! I was young! I was invincible! I was the only responsible person in a group of very irresponsible college kids. We were having fun. In another country. With no parents in sight! Freeeedom!

Yes, I was young and in my prime and not something like 43 and worried about jobs and money and is that cereal I just bought gluten free because wheat gives me tummy rumbles and oh yeah, did I get hemp milk because by god I’m lactose intolerant too. And can you read the label on this box because the print is too tiny and I sure as hell can’t read it.

It was a fleeting memory and I told it all to The Good Man. He replied “You and I had very different lives.”

And I suppose that’s true, we did.

But I can’t shake the memory. It’s not that partying in Juarez was a particularly good time. I was always the “good kid” and worried to death about all my friends and how to get them all back home safe and intact. I worried that one of the guys would get in a fight and we wouldn’t have enough money to pay the Federales to let him go. I worried my pockets would be picked clean by the kids (I had fended off more than a few). I worried that if the time came to run that I would be the one not running fast enough.

None of that really sounds like fun.

Those times are long past, something of stories and fairy tales as I wouldn’t go near Juarez for all the tequila in the world now.

I guess that memory on that sunny California day was something like fond reminiscence? I think it is more my youth that I miss than the crappy bars like Alive and Spanky’s and The Tequila Derby.

While searching for photos of Alive, I found this story on CNN. The author perfectly describes what it was like then and what it’s like now and does a much better job than I did.


Juarez was fun – before it was dangerous.





This 1950’s (or maybe 1960’s) era postcard, oddly, comes closest to my memories of Avenida de Juarez. In the late 1980’s that big bottle over the liquor store on the corner (left side of the photo) was still there.




Image from an eBay posting selling the original postcard.



Facing A Fear…Or, Scratch That One Off The List

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Most everyone has heard tell of this fruit they have in Southeast Asia that is really stinky. Most people will give you some sort of description of what they think it smells like including rotting flesh, pee and other unpleasant adjectives.

And of course all of these people who think they know a little something, when pressed, will admit they haven’t ever actually tried the thing.

So on a sultry Tuesday night in Singapore while drinking too much in a brew pub in the Boat Quay district, I was chatting with a coworker and native Singaporean.

He was asking me what were the things I wanted to see and try while I was in town.

I ran down a short list. Then he said to me, “so…do you like fruit?”

I grinned. “Yeah…are you talking about….?”

And he nodded.

Plans were made to get this American girl a taste of the stinky one, the King of Fruits, the Durian.

Thursday was the scheduled rendezvous and a group of us loaded up and headed for the Geylang District of Singapore, also sometimes called the Red Light District.

Despite being heavy on the laws and penalties, Singapore does actually allow prostitution. It’s just one of the many dichotomies of that fabulous city that intrigue me.

But I digress.

After a real hard work week, some coworkers and The Good Man and I found ourselves wandering what I could only describe as the old town of Singapore. The ungentrified part of a very gentrified city. I said to The Good Man “I’ve been looking for the soul of Singapore and I think I just found it.”

For among the clean streets and new glass and metal high rise buildings and a western sensibility in an Asian community, the Geylang showed me something different. A little more dirty. A little more dangerous. A lot more fascinating.

Dinner was an outside affair in a honest to goodness alleyway. The waitress told the ladies to watch their purses and anticipation for the meal ran high.

In addition to Durian, my Singaporean friend wanted me to try bullfrog porridge. I said ok.

We started with some Carlsberg beer to up the courage and soon the plates began flowing out of the open air kitchen.

We started with an oyster omelette (which The Good Man pointed out was like a Hangtown Fry without the bacon) and some beautiful sliced venison cooked in soy sauce and green onions.



I had to take a photo just so I could remember



While the chopsticks got to working and we discussed just where in the densely populated Singapore would actual wild deer be found, the main event landed on our table.

In two pots, one containing rice congee and the other chopped up chunks of bullfrog. I took some of the spicy variety and dug in.

Very tasty. Tender and quite mild like a very fresh scallop. No, it didn’t taste like chicken and by the way this is not the first time I’ve eaten frog. The congee gave a nice backer to the spicy frog meat.

As we ate, even more food came out including grilled calamari, stingray (the second time I had this), prawns and a heaping plate of clams.

It was a feast and the company was great, the surroundings gritty (but good) and the weather was about as steamy as you can imagine.

In short, one of the most perfect meals ever in my little life and a memory that will linger with me for years.

After we stuffed ourselves silly then cleaned up with the aid of several tissue packs, it was time to take a walk.

Dessert lay ahead and we were ready.

Across a very busy road and in an open air stand backed only with hanging tarps, we found our destination.

The prickly Durian fruit, piled high, odor filling the air.



I don’t know what the spray painted colors mean



My Singaporean friend went over to the vendor, a guy with a short, sturdy knife in hand, and began speaking in local dialect. He told us later he assured the guy that he wouldn’t pay for the fruit if it was bad, he needed to see inside, they haggled over price, and so on.

A fruit was chosen, the guy hacked it with precision and it was presented to the rest of us who were seated at another plastic table in a Geylang alleyway.




Each of those long strips has three sections to it



First impressions: It doesn’t smell that bad. It probably helped that we were outside and I understand some varieties of Durian smell more than others.

For me, it wasn’t the smell I struggled with, it was the texture. The fruit itself is like a custard inside a thin skin. You grab a section of the fruit (it pulls apart easily as there is a large pit inside each section) and just bite in. First bite my mouth registered “this is not a fruit” because it tasted kind of, well, savory.

But as I chewed and swallowed, on the back of my tongue, I tasted sweetness. The second bite I tried tasted sweet. Not big time sweet, just a nice mellow custardy sweet.

The more I ate, the more I liked it. I found after two sections, I was done. It was strangely satisfying and quite good.

Someone at our table popped up and went over to the vendors and negotiated for a plastic bag full of another fruit, this time the Queen of Fruits, Mangosteen. Less stinky and easier to open, the fruit inside looked like garlic cloves but tasted tangy and sweet. It was an interesting counter balance to the Durian. I understand they are often served together.

After a few sections of Mangosteen and another bit of Durian I was done. Topped up. Full to the gills and supremely satisfied.

What an amazing meal. What an amazing night.

By experiencing truly local food with the guidance of a resident “fixer”, I found the soul of Singapore.

It sang to the soul of me.

We are forever friends.




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



I Don’t See a Forest? Those Trees Are In My Way!

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Sheesh, sometimes I worry about my brain. I can usually rely on it to make the connections I need and I’m off to the races. But sometimes…sometimes I just can’t seem to rattle all the pieces into place.

This week the Theme Thursday theme of fixture was really baffling me.

When I don’t get an idea right away for the weekly theme I usually start by looking the word up in the dictionary. Then I’ll do a Google images search. Then I’ll look at my own trove of photos, both on my phone and on my computer, to try for ideas.

And, well, fixture wasn’t speaking to me this week.

Last night, as I lay in bed getting ready to sleep, I was thinking on this dilemma. Sometimes when I’m really sleepy the best ideas come around. My brain works more smoothly after throwing off the bounds of the day.

So I tried to rev up the old brain motor. I was like “come ON. I know I can do something with fixture. Don’t I have a photo or an idea? I have to make it work. Come on brain.”

Then I closed my eyes. I gave up, thinking, “whatever. I’ll skip participation this week.”

That’s when my clever ol’ brain got in gear.

Suddenly my eyes shot open, because I remembered I had this photo, taken on my phone, just this week:




I have looked at this photo a thousand times trying to get ideas and somehow the phrase “light fixture” never crossed my brain. What. The. Heck?

And then, one might ask, why do I have a photo of a light fixture?

Because among my many weird obsessions is looking at and often snapping a photo of the ceilings in San Francisco’s oldest buildings. I dig the old tin ceilings and miss how builders used to really pay attention to detail when a new place went up. I miss that workmanship and that style.

This photo was taken at a fave restaurant on Union Square called Sears Find Food. Established in 1938, this place embodies the essence of old San Francisco. I *adore* this restaurant. The food is awesome. The service is impeccable. The location on the heart of Union Square rocks.

Speaking of location, the day I ate at Sears I spent some time wandering around Union Square and felt gutted to see all the old places closing and the shiny new moving in. I wasn’t able to capture a photo, but there was this really old school tailor storefront that now has a huge “coming soon” false front around the door. A Jimmy Choo shop is moving in. *sigh*

I did manage to snap a quick shot of this longtime fixture on Union Square, The Gold Dust Lounge, established 1933.

According to our local paper, it’s soon to shut its doors as well. The building owner wants to convert it to retail space and has a clothing store all lined up.



From an article in the SFGate (I couldn’t have said it better):

The issue is particularly touchy downtown, where the sultry saloons, strip joints and savory and not so savory amusements that once lined Powell Street have steadily disappeared over the years. True or not, there is a perception in some city circles that corporate stooges are busily wiping out San Francisco’s colorful bacchanal traditions and turning everything retail vanilla.


So, I guess my tired brain is actually doing ok. A little slower to make the neurons snap into line, but I got there.

Turns out I really did have something to say on the topic of fixture.



In the Box

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Despite the fact that The Good Man and I actually moved two weeks ago, we didn’t fully depart the old place until this past weekend.

That last mile is a sonofabitch.

I guess we just wanted to save the best for last? Or something. Basically, the last stuff to exit the old place was the stuff from deep in the dark recesses of storage under the house.

Let’s be honest, this stuff it wasn’t “our” stuff, it was my stuff. Lots and lots of boxes, some of which hadn’t been opened since they made the 1,200 mile ride from Albuquerque to the Bay Area.

The goal this weekend was to open those deteriorating boxes, get rid of what I could, and what was left, repack into fresh boxes and move on.

This proved to be a more difficult task than I had expected.

There were some surprises in those ol’ boxes. Especially the one I’d jauntily labeled “Karen’s Childhood.”

What a doozy that one was.

Sunday morning, there I sat on the cold floor of my now former garage, used my Buck knife to slice open the “childhood” box and dug around in there. I extracted a now almost fourteen year old gallon size Ziploc bag containing a bunch of papers and stuff I clearly didn’t know what to do with when I left Albuquerque.

I unzipped the bag, pulled out the contents and went through it piece by piece. I turned over photos, old love notes, and a ticket stub.

I gasped and my eyes got a little watery from both joy and memory.

The Wayback Machine gobbled me whole.

Here’s what I found:




The year was…um….yeah. 1990? Maybe 1989? Oh jumping jehosophat! I don’t know. A long time ago when my skin was elastic and my pants were not.

It was Ag Week at NMSU. An annual celebration that was a week full of fun, games, and dancing for all us kids in and around the Ag College. It culminated in a big concert and dance at the Pan Am center on the last day of the week.

This was a special year. My best good friend excitedly told me that her Uncle Bax would be performing at that year’s Ag Week. And by Uncle Bax, she meant Cowboy Poet and legendary New Mexican, Baxter Black.

That year there was another yahoolio on the bill with Bax. Some nobody named Vince Gill.

Yeah. That Vince Gill. Before anyone knew who he was.

Friday morning we were invited to come to the Ag Lobby to meet and greet. Bax was there holding court and signing autographs, and gave my best friend a huge hug when she walked up. We talked and laughed with Bax a while and then we went over to check out this Vince Gill character. He was wearing a pair of NMSU sweatpants, a three day old scruffy beard, and hair that hadn’t been washed in a good long while.

He was nice enough. Looked totally exhausted. He signed a glossy black and white promo photo (I found that in the bag too) and we walked away wondering who that rube was.

He put on a hell of a show that night. And so did Uncle Bax.

Let’s just say this, it was a hell of a party.

One for the history books. Sure would be fun to live that one again.

When the trash went out at the end of Sunday, the Bax and Vince ticket didn’t go with it. It went back into the Ziploc bag, then into a new box.

Maybe in another fourteen years I’ll slice open that box and discover it again.

And gasp.

And well up.

And remember.

Those were salad days, indeed.