Is That What I Think It Is?

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A few weeks ago I was walking out to my car after another real long day at work, when I smelled something a little sweet, a little nice, and a little out of place for a corporate parking lot.

My head whipped around and I saw a rather large burly man sitting on a parking berm next to his motorcycle and he was smoking.

Yes, I live in the Bay Area, but no, you cheeky monkeys, it wasn’t skunk weed that I was smelling…

The man was smoking a clove cigarette.

My first thought was “What, is he in High School?” and my second thought was “What, is he a girl?” and then the smell of sweet clove smoke wafted over me and I was shoved into the Wayback Machine and transported back in time.

So there I am, a sophomore at Del Norte High School and it’s after a football game and my friends and I have found our way to the McDonald’s at the corner of Academy and San Mateo in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

That McDonald’s belonged to our high school. Every high school had their “home” McDonald’s and going to the other school’s home territory, especially on a Friday night, was a whole scary and political thing.

So I’d already supped on French fries (all that I could afford) and was standing out in the parking lot doing what sixteen year olds do: I was slouching and skulking and just being a lump of teenager.

I was kibitzing with my friend Stacy who was sort of a wild girl. She didn’t start out that way, but she turned that way pretty quick. She was small, dark haired, pretty and did this squinty eyed thing when she laughed which was terribly endearing.

Later, when we both tried out for the high school drill team and she made it and I did not (we had practiced together) and some distance came to our friendship. That and her affinity for drinking a lot of Everclear. I just couldn’t go there.

But on this night we were friends and hanging out and she pulled a cigarette from her purse and lit it up. It smelled funny.

She explained to me that it was a clove cigarette. This particular item was very, very illicit because clove smokes were (and are) illegal in the State of New Mexico. She explained this was due to the fact that clove cigarettes will make your lungs bleed.

She told me this tidbit in that urban legend sort of way that made me wonder if what she said was really true, all the while I believing it 100%. I was (and still am) fairly gullible if told a good story.

So Stacy encouraged me to take a drag. I hesitated, thoughts of bleeding lungs in my head and firmly believing that the second something illegal touched my lips my parents would immediately show up and all hell would break loose.

After waffling, in a rare bit of rebellion I went for it (yes, taking a drag from a cigarette was, at the time, MAJOR rebellion) and she told me to lick my lips after, tasting how sweet it was. And it was.

I’d been so naughty! So *bad*! It was terrifying and exhilarating all at once!

Fast forward just over a decade later and I found myself living in California and oh my! Clove cigarettes are perfectly legal here! So I did some cool slouch thing into the corner store and bought a pack and felt very sophisticated and rebellious and adult and on-my-own and Mary Tyler Moore hat in the air “you’re gonna make it after all!”

That pack lasted me several months until they dried out, and then I bought another just because I could. Every now and again on a lonely evening I’d pour an amber liquid over ice and sit on my front porch and smoke a clove and think about things.

Then, of course, a few years later my dad died from pulmonary fibrosis and smoking something that might make my lungs bleed seemed like a really bad idea.

Ok, meandering along the Wayback trail and getting to that train of thought quickly brought me right back to the here and now.

I sort of smiled at the big dude smoking a clove and inhaled deeply. It smelled so nice.

Such an unexpected scent to end my day.








With all thanks to a Random Word Generator for giving me a wayback prompt, in the form of the word clove, on this sunny Monday.


Image by Kriss Szkurlatowski and used royalty free from stock.xchng.




Well that throws a wrench in the day

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When the alarm went off at 6:30am, I found myself hardly able to face the dark morning.

The Feline had spent the night making sure that neither Girl Human nor Good Man got much in the way of sleep. And by looking at the calendar, I saw a busy day ahead with some tough conversations and a crushing list of action items.

But I did what I do. I dragged my ass out of bed, threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth and went to work.

The day started with an early, unfriendly call with EMEA.

As I listened to my BossMan ream out a supplier, a message from our company’s internal chat system popped up.

My employee in Costa Rica. She’s been fighting a lot of dragons in the Latin American region and I really didn’t want to open her message. More trouble, I was sure of it. Something I didn’t want to deal with. Another shouting Vice President, perhaps?

“Karen, we just had a 7.6 earthquake. The building is damaged. I got out of here first but it was really scary!”

Oh. Crap.

She’s ok, which was my first question. Then I asked about her husband, sister and mom. They are all safe too.

She just kept saying “that was really scary.”

I can only imagine.

And so…that’s not *quite* what I had on the agenda for today, but it sure as heck cleared my calendar.

Is this what they mean in business and management classes about staying flexible?

—————-

Side note: Thankfully one thing my company does really well is business disaster recovery. The team is already all over it.

Random brain thought: The Spanish word for earthquake, temblor, is such a great word. Very onomatopoeia-ish.

Final thought: Keeping CR and all the Ticos in my thoughts. Oraciones para Costa Rica y todos los Ticos.



A Tribute

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In honor of my beautiful, tolerant, and kind mother who was born on this very day, I present an entry that really, truly highlights just what a kind and tolerant woman she is.

And also the kind of crap my mom had to put up with in my formative years.

She deserves a better child than me, but I’m what she got. Hi Mom!

By the way, my dear mom has had to endure a lot this past week. Her oldest child (my brother) turned 50 and he also became a grandfather.

Hellova a birthday present to my dear Mom to suddenly become a great-grandparent.

And so Happy Birthday to my wonderful Mum! May it be filled with cake and fun!

And perhaps a Margarita or two.


_________________________________

Originally published May 11, 2011

And Then There Was The Time…


So after having a confession yesterday about my snake flinging incident, commenter Andy D mentioned that if I’d slung the snake directly onto instead of simply near my mom, that likely I’d remember the conclusion of that story a lot differently.

Which reminded me of yet another story that took place at that family vacation house near Ute Lake.

My dad was an avid hunter and we always had guns in the house. Since my dad didn’t want us to be either scared or a little too curious about the guns, he made sure we all knew how to shoot each and every one.

On the small bit of property we owned in Cuba, New Mexico, there was a tree that had been felled by lightening. It was a huge tree, and it made a really good location for target practice. Whenever we’d go camping, my dad would bring along guns and each kid (and mom too) all had to take a turn. Dad supervised while we learned to load and shoot the gun.

I was shooting my dad’s deer rifles from a young age. All this is by way of saying that I grew up fairly comfortable around guns.

So ok.

My brother had himself a BB gun when he was a teenager, and when he went off to college, that BB gun was left at the Ute Lake house. For a while, around age 12 or so, I adopted that BB gun as my own. It had seen better days, but it worked fine and there was a big box of BBs available for my “ping!” pleasure.

I liked to shoot the gun mainly for the sound of the BBs pinging off the side of something like the old metal sided chicken coop.

Not the most ambitious of kids, was I.

On the property was a telephone pole. For reasons I still don’t fully understand, that telephone pole was covered in a very thick layer of tar. When the baking heat of a New Mexico summer day would get going, that tar would soften into a gooey mess.

So in my eleven year old mind, I had the brilliant idea that if I shot BBs at the tar covered pole, they’d stick. Wouldn’t that be so cool?

I filled the BB gun full to the brim and got to work out back shooting at that pole from a fair distance. I wanted to make it sporting. Now, hitting a decently narrow pole from a good distance is tougher than you may think. Or at least it was for me. What I lacked in aim, I made up for with single minded focus.

Well, so there I was, pumping BB’s in the general direction of the telephone pole, and my mom, wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt, was working out in the back yard pulling weeds.

You can see where this is headed, right?

Sure enough, it was only a matter of time before I pulled the trigger, my aim was a bit off the mark and I…

Yes, I did.

I shot my mom.

In the arm.

She was, as the saying goes, mad as a wet hen. Quickly enough, a big red welt began rising on her right arm.

Let me just tell you this: I was no longer allowed the use of that BB gun. I was done. For good.

Flinging a snake? I got off easy. Shooting my mom? My oh my. I was in quite a bit of trouble which included a “talking to” from my dad.

That’s never good.

And so in the course of two blog posts, I’ve created quite the Mother’s Day meme.


(I did not, in fact, shoot my eye out. I shot my mom. Whoops.)



Photo is a still from the movie, “A Christmas Story.”



Calling on London

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Just a few snaps from this past weekend. On Sunday I got up all my courage and and went into London all by my little lonesome to have a look around. I just did the touristy thing but it was TOTALLY worth it.

Here’s a few shots from the day. All taken with my iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.

—————


From Paddington Station comes a statue of Paddington Bear. It’s an adorable little statue, so very endearing.

I had to do a bit of a close crop on this shot because The Most Oblivious Woman In The World was sitting on the base of the statue shoving sushi in her maw. There were plenty of empty seats around and a group of us wanting to take photos of the little bear, but she refused to move.

Ah well.

He is a rather handsome little bear, isn’t he?



Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


After riding the train into Paddington station and befriending the bear, I caught the tube from Paddington to Westminster. As I came up from the underground, I saw a really pretty sunny London day. Then I saw a whole lot of people facing me snapping away at cameras. I vogued a little bit until I realized the lenses were all pointing skyward.

So I turned around.

And saw this.

Whoa! It’s the Elizabeth Tower which contains the bell called Big Ben. Let me say this, ol’ Ben sure has a pretty sound. At the top of the hour and at every quarter hour the bell rings out.

So delightful.



Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


From there I wandered around and walked among the buildings, admiring history.

Behind Parliament there is a little park that borders the Thames. While strolling there, a local (a security guard, actually) pointed out this little feature to me.

It’s a carving into the stone at the perimeter of Parliament.

It’s a high water mark showing the highest the Thames has ever been. The date is January 1881. Let me tell you this…the mark is pretty damn high. Scary to think what the flooding must have been like back then.

I was pretty intrigued by the carving both from a historical perspective and with a morbid point of view.

Yes, the photo is crooked. That’s because to get the shot I had to put the phone on the ground and the ground is quite uneven.

I think the tilt gives it character.



Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


And finally….here is a naughty little gargoyle hanging off of Westminster Abbey. There are thousands of these little guys, all different. I liked the rude faces most of all. I understand that the imps with tongues out are actually downspouts for water. I think they are hilarious.

Obviously, this one has been run through an Instagram filter. This was shared on Twitter and Facebook too, earlier today.



Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth



All 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.



Well I’ll Be Darned

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Over the many years of our association, The Good Man and I have run into quite a few “well I’ll be darned” moments. New York boy and New Mexico girl are sometimes worlds apart in our life experiences.

The latest came around when we moved into our new apartment home. I’ve lived in huge apartment complexes, six unit buildings, and the last place I lived was a duplex.

And at each of those places, they way you got rid of your trash was to schlep it downstairs to the big metal trash bins in the parking lot.

But our new place has a curiosity….a trash chute! This blows my tiny little mind. I’ve never even seen one much less lived somewhere with one.

This is the coolest thing EVER.



So beautifully unobtrusive





Ok, that hole is a little scary, but rather effective


It’s a pretty, shiny bit of steel. Open the convenient door, drop in my trash, close the door, dust off my hands and whistle a happy tune.

It’s just down the hall and around a corner from my place. I can even slip out there in the morning in my nightgown and bare feet. Fabulous!

The other day, The Good Man put some boxes down the chute and said he was pretty sure they were stuck. I suggested he send a bowling ball down after it. He wasn’t amused.

See, he’s used to the Super getting really mad when the trash chute gets blocked. Me, I don’t know from a Super or a trash chute, so I have the luxury of just being a wise ass.

So The Good Man is all “yeah, whatever” and I’m all “whooooooo!” about this feature of our home.
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Next time, on Intercontinental relations, we’ll discuss “Why are the traffic lights in New Mexico horizontal, that’s just weird” (him) counterbalanced against “Why doesn’t California use mile markers? No wonder you people drive like crap.” (me)