Tis the Season

  • 4 Comments

On this rainy, cold, dark Tuesday morning, my alarm went off extra early as I have meetings with London today, and that eight hours time difference is making me blue.

There I lay in my dark room, pondering my life and what it might take to get me up and out of the bed. The Good Man slept quietly next to me.

I froze in place when I heard outside my window a low moaning sound. It was a little otherworldly. It started very quiet and then grew in volume.

Well. I’m a child of New Mexico. You know what I thought, right?

La Llorona.

I’m not even kidding. I started *freaking out*. La Llorona here? In California? Did she follow me here? Does she live here now too?

My heart began racing as I remembered all the nights as a child I lay awake in my bed listening for La Llorona, straining my ears to hear, swearing I’d be ready to fight off her ethereal form and survive her grisly plans.

I clenched up, my stomach hurt, I bent to listen as the wailing increased in intensity. That bitch wasn’t going to get either me or The Good Man. Hell no!

And then the wailing became very loud, following by a hiss and a loud “RRRROOOWWWR!”

Oh wait, it’s just two cats fighting.

Sure. Ok. Right. I knew that all along. I’m a grown up. I’m a good kid. I’m in control of this stuff.

Relief washed over me. I joked to the now awake Good Man “what a sound to wake up to, huh?” and chuckled like my body wasn’t raging with adrenaline.

I got up to face my work day, pack my lunch, have some breakfast and shook my head at myself.

In my defense, a chilly, damp, dark October day….that’s La Llorona season. I’m just sayin’…..

: shudder :






Image found at Soda Head.


Heeeeeeeey What’ll You Give Me For…..

  • 3 Comments

It’s been a whirlwind week for me, but I didn’t want to lose track of a certain topic that dates back to when I was still in New Mexico, just over a week ago.

The reason for my trip back home was to help comfort and support my two goddaughters as this was the first year they both raised pigs as part of their 4-H club.

A week ago Friday was the sale day, meaning a livestock auction at the Southern New Mexico State Fair. Unfortunately my girls didn’t score high enough in the judging to make the sale (their pigs were purchased by a friend of the family), but we still attended the auction because the girls were helping their friends to sell their animals.

It had been since I was in college that I’d been to a livestock auction. I used to go fairly regularly, but times marches on.

Over the years, I’d forgotten what a visceral experience it really is.

First, the auction barn is usually a tin building, high ceilings and concrete floors.

Then a generous amount of straw hay is spread across the floor, which gives a certain sweet smell of hay mixed with a crazy amount of dust. I was blowing dust out of my nose all week.

One by one, the animals are led into a small pen by the kid that raised them, and walked around and posed. The kid smiles a huge, though sometimes fake, smile trying to lure potential buyers to spend a little more. (Fake because the kids are usually pretty sad about selling off their animal).

The cows moo, sheep baa, goats bleat and ducks quack as the anticipation is almost too tough to take.

And then, the auctioneer starts up.



The guy on the left is the auctioneer, the guy in the middle is helping him spot bids and the guy on the right is keeping records of the bids.


It’s a droning, pushing, forceful sound. When you first walk in, it’s startling, a cacophony of noise, but over time it becomes like a steady background hum. You have to tune it out, or it becomes overwhelming.

There are guys in the audience helping spot, and every now and again, they’ll holler “HAW!!!” as they get a reluctant bidder to go up in price a bit more.

The two auctioneers we had that evening traded off duties over the course of the sale.

This guy was really solid in his work, and funny too. I mean, he’s got an intensity here, but he’d say in his auctioneer cadence “C’mon Justin, you got some more in you….” or “Hey Dave, I thought you went home…”





He carried this little gavel thing, and would rap the podium real hard when the bidding was done. “SOLD!” *whack*

It was a sound I could feel in my bones.



Then the kid would walk their animal out of the pen, happy to have gotten a good price, sad because that meant the end.

The scene back in the pens behind the barn was a different story. Low light, animals rustling around, and little kids crying.

When the kids sell their animal, they also put together a basket of goodies as a thank you to the buyer. A friend of my younger goddaughter slipped a note in her basket that said “Please don’t kill my goat. He’s really nice. Please keep him as a pet.”

Kinda breaks my heart because I know that goat isn’t going to be anybody’s pet. It’s getting loaded onto the packer truck with all the rest.

A bit of harsh reality for a nine year old.

Next year I think my goddaughters are going to raise either dairy heifers or rabbits. Dairy heifers go back to the dairy to give milk, they don’t go on the packer truck. And with rabbits, the buyer usually gives the rabbit back to the kid.

That’s all a bit easier to take, I suppose.

All in all, I had a good time at the auction. I got to see some good friends I hadn’t seen in a while. I drank some of the auction barn’s free beer. And I got to remember what it means to be an Ag kid in New Mexico.



All photos in this post Copyright 2011, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license found in the right hand column of this page.


How Did I Get Here?

  • 10 Comments

Yesterday was not what I’d call an ordinary day by any definition.

Let’s roll back a few days to give you the backstory.

On Friday I stood shoulder to shoulder with my best friend inside an auction barn in Las Cruces. We tried to talk over the drone of an auctioneer and watched the local 4H kids walk their animals around a pen while local businessmen bid up the price.

On Tuesday, I stood on the show floor of one of the largest IT conventions in the US, surrounded by the drone of booth workers shouting out to passerby as I tried my very best to be all business.

I have to say, it was a bit disorienting. I guess that 180 degree turn in the span of just five days is the closest example I can get of who I am. Both auction barn and big corporate.

Yesterday was my second day attending the show and I was doing my best to stay grounded in the midst of the chaos that is any trade show.

While waiting for a morning meeting, I idly checked my email on my iPhone. I saw a note from one of my aunts letting me know that a dear uncle of mine had passed away. He had gone through a long and valiant battle with cancer, and for a while he got topside on that demon. Sadly, just yesterday he lost the fight.

I was instantly crushed and heartbroken. I couldn’t begin to imagine how my aunt must be managing. I’d sat with my mom in the days after my dad passed, and I know that for a woman to lose her husband of 40-plus years is a long, sorrowful journey. It is a world turned upside down.

Glancing at the clock, I saw it was time to go, so I put on my game face and got back to work.

Later I had to meet with a Senior VP of the company who demands answers as he fires off questions from a fire hose and I do my best to keep up. He’s brilliant but irascible.

After I finished with Mr VP, it was off to another meeting with a telecom carrier, and then a hardware manufacturer, and then…and then…..

It was a brutal day and I had gotten up extra early to get to San Francisco through morning traffic and suddenly the lack of sleep caught up with me. My legs and back ached.

But I pushed forward.

When the day was mostly over, it was time to go to the big celebration to close the show, a huge event put on over at Treasure Island.

I changed clothes in a dingy bathroom and then set out for the meet-up spot to catch a shuttle bus. I got myself turned around and walked about three blocks in the wrong direction, only to turn and walk back against of tide of city people at the end of their day.

I was tired, sweaty, in pain and generally DONE with the day when my iPhone buzzed. The Good Man conveyed to me the sad news about Steve Jobs.

As I had worked for the man for a decade, I felt a certain affinity for him and at that moment, it was the straw that broke me.

I leaned against a mailbox on New Montgomery street, while cars honked, police officers directed traffic and busses coughed fumes, and I cried.

I cried because after traveling then working at this show, I am worn down to a nub. I cried because I did a terrible job of comforting my godkids last week as I found myself at a loss to explain why their pigs had to die. I cried because my uncle was a good man with a good life but grief never gets easier. I cried because the passing of a legend means the end of a very profound era.

It’s just a little to much death in too short a time frame.

Sometimes when it’s all built up inside you and the pressure cooker is about to blow, and you’ve found the end of your tether, crying is just a real good way to let off some steam.

It only lasted a few minutes. Then I straightened my spine, threw my shoulders back and walked ahead to meet my boss because he’s in town from London and had terrible jet lag. He relied on me to help get him to the right shuttle. And my supplier expected me to “say some words” to the team. And every one expected me to be adult and professional when I felt anything but.

Thankfully I met up with a couple friends out on the island. They handed me beer and gave me nodding, knowing looks.

And today, while still sad, I’m trying to be myself again.

Or in the immortal words of Stevie Ray Vaughan, I’m “walking the tightrope/both day and night”






Image from Agent Faircloth



Misty Water Colored Memories. Of the Way We Were. Orale.

  • 16 Comments

In the wake of my most recent (and fabulous) visit to my home state of New Mexico, I find I’m getting my old crone on.

New Mexico has both grown and grown up over the last twenty years. I suppose change is inevitable.

But sometimes I still lament the way it used to be.

So here’s a top of my mind list of how New Mexico used to be. This just happens to be what I’m thinking about on my first day back in California on a stormy Bay Area day.


Grumpy McGrumperson’s List of “That was my New Mexico”

  1. It rained in summer. It snowed in winter. The Rio Grande bulged with water in July. Farmers irrigated their land. Sure, it was still a desert, but water didn’t cost $300 a cubic meter. Cotton plants grew tall. Pecans grew large. It worked. Now New Mexico is in the midst of a terrifying descent into serious drought and a mismanaged water conservancy.
  2. If you went to the Balloon Fiesta, there was never, not for one moment, a thought that you’d just sit there and watch. You were expected to pitch in, even if you were a small child. “Safety” and “insurance” didn’t ever come into mind. We just helped, because getting those hot air balloons off the ground was what we did in Albuquerque.
  3. Breakfast burritos at the Balloon Fiesta were cheap, incredibly delicious, and you bought them out of a battered ice chest and didn’t think twice about it. Same with tamales at Christmas.
  4. Pinto beans were made with pork. No one ever wondered about or protested this fact. Ever.
  5. If you ate a Biscochito, you didn’t question if it was made from lard. OF COURSE it was made with lard. And no one thought that was weird, bad or worried that it would make them fat. Anything but lard was unfathomable.
  6. Luminarias used a real candle. None of this electric hogwash.
  7. If it said Hatch green chile, you knew it was actually from Hatch. It seemed strange to even question.
  8. When you looked into a bucket of ice at a bar, and pulled out a bottle, it was beer. Just beer. None of these foofy malt-based sugared up drinks. Just beer. And decent beer. What’s with the light, light, oh so lite you can breathe it like air. Just drink a damn beer! Or don’t. (this comes straight from the events of this weekend. I grabbed what I thought was a beer. It wasn’t. *sigh*)
  9. While on a two lane highway, when someone passed the other direction, you gave ’em a wave. Be it whole hand, the pointer finger, two finger Boy Scout style or whatever acknowledgement you like, you did it. And the other driver waved and smiled back. (in some places this still happens, but I got an awful lot of unreturned waves this weekend.)
  10. We didn’t call a tortilla a wrap. It was a tortilla. They weren’t made of spinich or tomato, and if mom made ’em from scratch they were thick and oh so very good.


There’s more, I think, but that’s enough of what’s bothering me today.

I suppose time marches on whether I march in step or not. New Mexico can’t stay the same forever and neither can I.

Must be the dark clouds I have, both mentally and meteorologically, that’s got me all stirred up.

Wish I could find a way to send you some of this wet weather, my Fair New Mexico.