Belated Birthday Love


Last week, on the occasion of New Mexico’s 100th birthday, I had this great plan to feature a little blast from the past, a medallion from New Mexico’s 50th birthday, along with some recollections from my mom who was living in New Mexico in 1962.

When I asked the Queen Mum to wax nostalgic, she reminded me that in 1962 she was pregnant with my big headed and breach oriented big brother, my dad was a full time student at UNM, working on his engineering degree, and there was a lot going on in her life. New Mexico’s 50th anniversary sort of passed her by.

And then the USPS dragged their postage stamped paws on delivering my package.

So now it’s four days past the birthday and, well. Best laid plans and all that.

So what the heck, here’s this fun little collectable anyway. I found it on eBay and bought it for a rather small sum. I don’t imagine it has much value beyond sentimental, but I think it’s pretty cool.

Wonder if the state will do something similar for the 100th?

Tis The Season for a Re-Blog

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This post first appeared on this little ol’ blog on December 11, 2007. Today it just feels right to re-blog it because the list is still true. This post remains one of my all time favorites since the Christmas season always gets me feeling a little extra homesick for New Mexico.

Top ten things I miss about Christmas in New Mexico (in no particular order):

1) An annual shopping trip to Old Town in Albuquerque. This was a longtime mom and me tradition. Every year I’d get to pick out my own ornament that would eventually be mine when I became an adult. I have every one of those ornaments stored in a Thom McAnn shoebox and they go on my tree every year. They are glitter and glass history of my life. I remember buying each of them and it gives me a beautiful sense of continuity to have them on my tree.

2) Luminarias. I always was the one to make them for the family. Someone would drive me to an empty lot and I’d dig out two buckets worth of good New Mexico dirt, then I’d go home and fold down the tops on brown lunch bags. Each would get a candle inside and then at night I’d light them. It was my holiday job and I loved every folded bag and every bulk buy candle (and every small emergency when a bag caught on fire in the wind). I miss real luminarias.

3) The Bugg House, which, sadly, is no more. My sister lived over on Prospect and we’d go for a walk in the dark on Christmas Eve to take a look at the outstanding display of holiday spirit. On the way to Christmas shop at Winrock Mall, I’d take a detour to the Bugg house to take a look. No one does lights like the Buggs did.

4) Neighbors bringing over a plate of freshly made tamales as a Christmas gift. When there are three generations of Hispanic women in a kitchen with some masa and shredded pork, magic happens. Yum! I also miss that people would bring tamales to work in a battered Igloo cooler and sell them to coworkers. I was always good for a dozen or more.

5) A ristra makes a good Christmas gift. I’ve given. I’ve received. I love ’em. They’d become a moldy mess here, and that makes me sad, cuz I’d love to have one.

6) Biscochitos. My love for these is well documented.

7) Sixty-five degrees and warm on Christmas Day. Growin’ up, I think one year there was actually snow on the ground for the 25th. But it was melted by the end of the day. Oh Fair New Mexico, how I love your weather.

8) Christmas Eve midnight Mass in Spanish with the overpowering scent of frankincense filling up the overly warm church. Pure torture for a small child, but oh how I’d belt out the carols. And when we came home after, we could pick one present and open it. Gah! The torture of choosing just one!

9) A New Mexico piñon, gappy, scrawny Christmas tree that cost $15 at the Flea Market and was cut from the top of a larger tree just that morning. Look, to my mind, it ain’t a tree unless you are using a few low hanging ornaments to fill the obvious empty spots. These overly fluffy trees just ain’t my bag. If you aren’t turning the ‘bad spot’ toward the wall, you paid too much for your tree.

10) Green chile stew for Christmas Eve dinner and posole for New Year’s, both served with homemade tortillas. My mouth waters. It’s weep worthy. I can taste the nice soft potatoes in the stew, the broth flavored just right. And posole to bring you luck with red chile flakes and soft hunks of pork. Yeah……

*sigh* Now I’m homesick.

Which is not to say I don’t have happy holidays where I live now…but sometimes I feel melancholy. And in a weird way, that’s what the holidays are for, right?

Finally, as a ode to My People, I give you this:

Image lifted from a friend’s Facebook page. It was just toooo perfect to pass up. If it’s yours, I’m happy to add an attribution or take it down, your choice.

What Black Friday Means to You….


…means something else entirely to me.

November 25th isn’t just the day after Thanksgiving, at least not in my family.

Today isn’t shopping in my world. What this day means to me trends more toward apple pie. No, not pumpkin. Apple.

That’s because today would have been my father’s 80th birthday. He was a rather cantankerous fella, and he didn’t like celebrating holidays or birthdays much. He didn’t like cake either.

Ice cream worked just fine. And occasionally an apple pie. That was his favorite. A simple apple pie and vanilla ice cream.

Dad always got a bit of short shrift by having a birthday that was either the day of Thanksgiving, or right nearby. Since he wasn’t much of a holiday kind of guy, I guess that didn’t matter.

Never one to be deterred by crankiness, mom would whip up an apple pie. Then after we ate dinner but before bedtime, we’d each get a slice of pie with some vanilla ice cream. If we were lucky, the pie was still hot from the oven and the ice cream would melt and we’d eat and have something like a nice family moment together.

Not long after I moved to the Bay Area, my mom, dad and sister came to visit me in my tiny apartment. I made Thanksgiving dinner, the full spread, in my ancient kitchen. And of course, I made an apple pie for dad.

It’s at the holidays when tradition seems to matter the most. So even though it was sometimes a little rocky living in the house with the incredibly strong personality that defined my dad, having pie on his birthday is still tradition.

Today, while the world shops and fights over deals on big screen TVs, I’m a little quieter. A little more thoughtful.

I asked The Good Man if he wanted me to make another pie (we already finished the pumpkin pie from yesterday). He said “maybe cherry?”

Yes. Cherry. Perhaps our new tradition begins today.

Photo by Crystal Woroniuk and used royalty free from stock.xchng.

Feliz Dia de los Muertos


Today, I offer this beautiful virtual ofrenda so that we all may take a minute and remember those who have passed on into the next world.

On this day of both sorrow and celebration, the veil is just a little bit thinner.

Today I remember my four grandparents, my father, my best friend from high school, my dear college friend, and yes, even Steve Jobs.

May we all take a moment today to remember those whom we have loved and lost.

Feliz Dia de los Muertos to us all.

Virtual pink pastries and sugar skulls for everyone who passes this way on their journey.

Photo from kalavinka‘s Flickr Photostream and used under the Creative Commons license, as granted on the applicable Flickr page.

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