Oh Fair New Mexico At The County Fair

Look! Look! Look!!

My biscochitos (the New Mexico State cookie) won a blue ribbon at the county fair!

Yeah, baby!!

The recipe I use is from the PNM sponsored Cocinas de New Mexico cookbook. It’s the cookbook my mom used for years and now I have my own copy. Order yours here.

Upon seeing my blue ribbon, The Good Man, a city boy through and through said, “hunh….as a kid back in Brooklyn, I never could have imagined I’d be married to girl who won a blue ribbon at the county fair.” Then I reminded him that I was also in a sorority.

He actually had to wander off by himself for a bit to ponder the meaning of his life.

Themeless in Theattle

Today I rose from my bed and dashed down the hall (with yowling cat underfoot) to look at this week’s Theme Thursday webpage.

I was excited to get started on my blog post for the day. But as the page loaded, alas, no updates.

I fretted, I hit refresh, I worried. What will become of me if I don’t have a Theme Thursday prompt!

About an hour later, I decided “screw it, I’ll make my own theme.”

So I hit my favorite random word website.

The first word offered up was: reactionary

This made me think of chemical reactions things that go *BOOM*

But then I actually Googled the word and it was a lot of blah-blah-blah political stuff and people being mad.

Well that’s no fun.

So after checking the Theme Thursday site again, I went back to the random word site.

This time I got: wipe

Which made me go “ewwwwwww.” Yeah, I know, wipe can be used in non-ew ways. So I considered it. 600 words about wipe? Yeah, no.

Back to the word well.

Third try: Zoom

Ok, that’s a spicier word, and a blog post would allow me to drop the word onomatopoeia in conversation. That part rocks.

But for some reason, onomatopoeia or not, the word zoom wasn’t really inspiring me.

So I checked the Theme Thursday site again, cursed, and went back to the random word site.

Fourth time’s a charm? No, not really. I got: row

As in, the boat? Or have a? (in the British use) Or sit in the?

Nah. Boring.

Pull the magic lever again!

This time I got: advertising

What? No. I got nothing for that….

Feeling a bit frustrated and unable to find a suitable theme for today, this sunny Thursday, I sighed.

Then my brain went screeeeeeetch as though someone had applied non-ABS brakes too firmly. My mind skidded out to the side and off into a bar ditch**.

And that little voice inside my head said, “Hey, ding-a-ling, it’s Wednesday.”

So we’ll see you again tomorrow with the officially sanctioned Theme Thursday post.

Until then, forty lashes with a page a day calendar!

This awesome Fail Whale rendition is by Ed Wheeler and found on deviantart.com. Follow him on Twitter @EduardoWheeler

**I dropped the phrase “bar ditch” on The Good Man yesterday when he called to report he’d experienced a flat tire while in the heart of San Francisco. I said “are you ok?” he said “Sure, why wouldn’t I be?” I replied, “well, you’re not off in a bar ditch somewhere, right?”

And then my dearest paused. This is one of those times where a Brooklyn boy and a New Mexico girl are not linguistically on the same page.

I filled the awkward space by saying, “Yeah, not that San Francisco has bar ditches.”

He replied, “Uh, yeah….so anyhow…I called AAA and they should be here in about ten minutes.”

Spring? Soon.

Had a chance to visit Filoli Gardens today in celebration of my amazing and talented mom-in-law and the occasion of her birth.

She produced and nurtured The Good Man, and thus a celebration of her is *always* in order.

Filoli Gardens is one of those magical destinations where it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo. The grounds are carefully tended and the springtime brings a riot of colors to life.

It’s only just recently reopened for the season, and the grounds are simply gorgeous, so I thought I’d share a few photos.

I dedicate these lovely flowers to to the folks who are still stuck in the cold and snow who might be wondering just when in the heck Spring will arrive.

Each of these little flowers whispers to you softly, “soon…”


(click any photo to see big size)

Amazing purple hyacinth, just had to capture them quickly so I could see them again and again.

I am a big fan of tulips. So hearty yet so delicate.

And daffodils hold a special place in my heart. They signal a beginning. Their yellow sunshine in the midst of dreary winter is a promise to be kept by April.

Stumbling in there at the last moment

Several months ago, I participated in a fiction project for the Brooklyn-based Art House Co-Op. I was given a theme and a Moleskine notebook and then asked to fill it with stories and images.

And I did! So much fun.

Based on that success, I decided to take on another Art House Co-Op challenge.

This one is called “The Canvas Project.”

They sent me three 4×4 inch canvases and a card with three words on it.

My job? To interpret the three words visually, one per canvas.

The words I got? Not easy.

Here they are:

1. Flatuence (because the universe is laughing at me… And yes, it can be spelled without that second L)

2. Training (really? Visually?)

3. Glassy (Oh, hey, sure. Easy peasy. I can visually display an adjective. NOT! I must have looked at the card twenty times to be sure it didn’t say “gassy”)

I’ve had the canvases since July. They were required to be postmarked today.

So of course last night I was madly painting and gluing and fretting! I had two done well ahead of time but the third one, glassy, eluded me.

But I got them done. The Good Man promised to mail them out today.


Anyhow, I took some semi-decent photos with my iPhone last night.

Herewith, my entries to The Canvas Project exhibition:


Yes. That’s pinto beans. Yes, that’s dried roses. And in case you can’t tell from the photograph, that white spot in the center? That’s a tablet of Beano.



When taking beginning painting (or drawing) classes, they tell you to draw a grid on the canvas and work square by square. So I used a very simple image and incorporated a grid as my own personal training.

All four sides carry the warning “Artist in Training.”

And finally…this is the last canvas I finished. The glue might even still be setting up while the canvas sits in a box ready to ship….


By the by…broken glass is a LOT harder to work with than I’d expected. Though I worked out much pent up anxiety by smashing all that glass with a hammer. One clear glass pane from a picture frame, a mirror, and a glass candle holder from the Dollar Store, a San Pellegrino green bottle and a cobalt blue tincture bottle gave their all for art.

Big fun! I’m excited to see if any of my pieces are picked for the gallery show in December.

Yay! Thanks Art House Co-Op!!!

On Rules and Flouting the Rules

There is a quote attributed to the Dalai Lama that goes like this:

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”

I generally agree with this sentiment. I’ve seen it applied beautifully to music and painting, and I personally break the principle rule of photography with gusto every chance I get.

The one area that I get a little persnickety about breaking the rules is the discipline of spelling and grammar.

In this area, I get out my schoolmarm glasses and become VERY strict.

I believe that both effective communication and indeed, the very fabric of the English language, depends on proper grammar and spelling.

Despite, of course, the daily assault on the English language lobbed by the texting/twittering/facebooking phenomenon.

I recently read the bestselling book, “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” by Aimee Bender.

It’s a sad, melancholy tale of a young girl who can taste the emotions of the person who prepared the food she eats. It’s an odd and slightly surreal book that delves deeply into the secrets and strange predilections of the family at the center of the story.

But as I dived into the book, I was brought up short right away by the complete lack of quotation marks to designate dialogue.

You know, dialogue is bit tough to follow when there are no quotation marks. Indeed Ms. Bender didn’t even follow standard dialogue format as often the sentences spoken between characters overlapped in a single paragraph.

I found it maddening and it made my progress through the book slow and rather difficult. I often had to re-read pages to be sure I knew what was going on.

I did get through the book, however, because Ms. Bender is a teller of beautiful stories.

There is a book that also eschewed quotation marks that I tried to read ten or twelve years ago that didn’t fare as well. In fact, I got a third of the way through the infernal book then got up the moment I’d had enough, got in my car, went to the library and dropped the blasted book into the donation slot. Literally. I got so mad I hesitated not a moment before I ejected the book from my home.

That book is one you might know, “All The Pretty Horses” by Cormac McCarthy. Mr. McCarthy may be an award-winning author, but he’s no favorite of mine.

Mr. McCarthy’s style on display in his recent spate of bestselling books may be something of a driver to this now popular style of throwing out useful punctuation marks.

To be blunt, I blame McCarthy for the trend.

However, my blame may be poorly placed.

Recently The Good Man and I watched a documentary called “It/ll Be Better Tomorrow” about the author Hubert Selby Jr. Known best for his books “Last Exit to Brooklyn” and “Requiem for a Dream,” over his career, Mr. Selby also flagrantly violated the rules of punctuation, most notably his apostrophes are replaced with slashes. So she’ll becomes she/ll.

However, at least he’s consistent in his use, and there is some sort of mark designating what’s (or what/s) going on, so I can at least follow along.

Not so with ol’ Cormac.

It seems I’m not the only one who has noticed this literary shift.

In an October 2008 essay in the Wall Street Journal, author Lionel Shriver also notes the lack of quotation marks, quoting material from McCarthy’s “No Country For Old Men” by way of example, but McCarthy is far from the only author out there employing this device.

To me, it feels indulgent on the part of the writer to expect that their readers will simply figure it out for themselves.

I think Mr. Shriver sums it up quite nicely at the end of his essay:

“When dialogue makes no sound, the only character who really gets to talk is the writer.”

And the thing is, as a writer, I’ve always thought my job was to get out of the way.

Ah well, as NewMexiKen and I discussed in the comments section of this post, art can be a tricky thing to define. The rules go all slidey* when we talk about what is or isn’t acceptable in creating works of art.

That means I get to keep my punctuation marks and while others can set theirs free.

Oh…and then there is the inappropriate use of quotation marks. That’s a whole other discussion.

*Also there is my personal habit of making up words. Ah well, back to throwing stones at my own glass house…