From My Green Blood To My Little Green Heart

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It’s late September and to a New Mexican’s heart that means green chile! And lots of it. The smell of roasting peppers mixed with the wood smoke from piñon logs burning in fireplaces across the state means Autumn.

And it means heartache for a displaced New Mexican like me.

So imagine my delight to be strolling in my local Whole Foods grocery and see this:





While I was happy, this paltry display also made me very, very sad.

So, what, I am supposed to pick up a *handful* of green chile and take it home? Sure, I know how to roast my own, but c’mon here people.

I want to see big burlap bags and big burly men behind a got-dang flame thrower.

I mean, the flame thrower is part of the whole experience! In Fall one goes from the whooosh of the burner in a hot air balloon in the morning to the blast of a flamethrower outside a grocery store in the afternoon.

The abuse of propane in all forms is built into the DNA of a New Mexican.

That’s where I come from! These are my people!




Photo of the puny display of green chile is Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5, the Camera+ app, and sadness in my heart.




Aw Hell Nah

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So there I was perusing my Facebook feed when one of my favorite pages to follow, ¡Orale! New Mexico posted this:




For reference: La Llorona

My first thought was “this HAS to be a joke! I must remand myself to the Google for confirmation!”

Turns out it is no joke, it’s a real park in Las Cruces.

Yes, La Llorona, a scary story told in my childhood. A Mexican fable intended to keep kids away from arroyos and rivers. My sadistic grade school teachers would shut off the lights in the classroom and whisper to us the story of the woman who had drowned her own child and wandered near waterways intent on stealing and drowning little kids.

Real educational stuff!

Mention La Llorona and Hispanic kids everywhere will shudder. Some will cross themselves. A few will weep.

What the hell Las Cruces? So you think it’s fun to scare the bat crap out of every child and most adults? Who are you Las Cruces? I don’t even know you anymore!

And for the record, I will NOT be visiting any park named for La Llorona. I won’t drink a La Llorona margarita. And no wailing woman milk.

Just. No. Especially this time of year. La Llorona likes the cold and damp of Autumn. Gah!

Oh Fair New Mexico, how I love and am confused by you so.





Image Copyright 2013, Joe Wigelsworth for ¡Orale! New Mexico. All rights reserved.




The Turtle And The Hare

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I’ve mentioned several times in these pages that during the course of my life, I spent quite a few years in the company of a blues musician. By spending a little time with him, I also spent time around a lot of different blues musicians.

Men and women with a deep vein of soul and history and rhythm.

When you are around blues people, you hear a lot of stories. Telling stories is pretty much the foundation of being able to play the blues. As a storyteller in my own right, I used to soak in these stories, letting them enter my pores and fill my soul and tap my DNA on the shoulder and ask it to dance.

The stories are in me. Not all of them are true. Few of them are pretty.

All of this is a long winded lead up to a particular story I have in mind.

It goes something like this:

Back in the 1950’s in a small suburb of Dallas, Texas, two talented brothers grew up together.

Both had music in their bones and talent for playing the guitar. The world knows a little bit more about Stevie Ray Vaughan because of his breathtaking musical style and early death, but Jimmie Vaughan has also seen a fair bit of success with his music.

If you listen to each of their music, you can hear their very different styles. Stevie’s music was intense, complicated and at times frenetic. Jimmie likes to play a bit slower and wider and easier.

Legend has it that back in the day in Oak Cliff, Texas both boys not only liked guitars but they liked cars.

Stevie, unsurprisingly, liked real fast hot shit cars that he could jump in and race around town. Stevie used to vex the local police who couldn’t slow him down.

Jimmie on the other hand liked to cruise. He liked big, heavily finned, tuck and roll upholstered, Buick with a “smile” kind of cars. He’d put his girlfriend beside him on the bench seat and slowly roll through town, vexing the local police who wanted him to speed up.

I think of this story pretty frequently in relation to my own roll through life. My approach is more Jimmie than Stevie, though I admire the hell out of Stevie.

Perhaps this owes to the slow “land of mañana” pace of where I grew up. We don’t move with alacrity in New Mexico and tend to be suspicious of those who do. When I still lived in the state and traveled to San Francisco or Boston for work, I was always comforted to come home, get off the plane, and visually see how slow people moved. Then I would match my pace to theirs and know I was home.

There is a great comfort in moving at a calm pace.

I find, however, that is not how the world thinks one should move.

Let’s take for example, New York City. In New York, you are supposed to walk fast. Very fast. Head straight, eyes forward, and walk.

Despite how much I love Manhattan, I have one hell of a time keeping up. The Good Man was born in Brooklyn so moving at that pace comes natural. It does not come natural for me. I prefer to toddle along close to the buildings with the elderly and infirm and let the people pass me by on the outside of the sidewalk.

I am the person that New Yorkers yell at for walking too slow.

This all came back to mind this past week. It is New York Fashion week and I follow Nina Garcia, Marie Claire magazine’s Creative Director, on various social networking sites.

She has been posting photos from all of the various designer shows and I have been lapping them up like at kitten at a bowl of milk.

I may not have a figure for fashion, but I love it. I love seeing how textiles and stitches and notions come together to create something fantastic or ugly or offbeat. Yes, I dig it!

So a couple of days ago, Ms. Garcia posted a photo of a sign she saw backstage at the Michael Kors Spring show. Oh my, I am a huge fan of Mr. Kors.

Here is the photo:





I read the words and my heart sank a little. I am happily romantic, strong and my own version of gorgeous.

But I don’t walk fast and with energy.

I would love to kill them with chic, but instead I must maintain my killer sense of humor.

For some reason, this really got under my skin and whispered to those demons in my head who heckled me and said that if I can’t walk fast and with energy, I am a nobody. They said I don’t measure up, don’t belong, don’t matter because I can’t keep up.

And that’s when I remembered the story about the Vaughan brothers.

I don’t need to race up and down the streets of New York. There are plenty of people who have that covered. I want to cruise the Manhattan blocks and tip my head upward to wonder at the buildings and smile and give my lungs room to breathe.

Slow though I walk, I always get where I’m going. Pink cheeked, a little sweaty and smiling.

Perhaps I am taking this hand written sign a little too close to heart. I’m sure this was simply a note of encouragement for the models walking the runway, reminding them to keep it peppy and light.

Perhaps it just hit me on a bad day when the demons were a little closer to the open door than I would like. I let them out to play awhile, really let them run, then I whistled and corralled them back into the pen.

And I remembered that a strong, courageous New Mexican doesn’t have to walk fast unless she wants to. That is true both when walking the Bosque or NYC’s Broadway.


A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.

–Coco Chanel


Thankfully, I am both.

–Karen Fayeth





Photo from the Instagram feed of Nina Garcia. All rights belong to her.




All The Many Ways I Told You So

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Mmm, hmm. There are things I know and know with certainty. There are things I know that people deny. There are things I say that are fundamentally true but are denied time and again by those around me.

Know this, good readers of my blog: Squirrels are vermin. They are not cute, they are not cuddly, and they are not adorable. They are rodents and should be treated as such.

I say this to the squirrel huggers and they tell me that I’m being silly. I say plague and they scoff.

So here’s how we are going to play this today. I am going to repost something I wrote in 2007. And then at the end I’ll give you an update to show you just how exactly 100% right I am.

Then I will do a superior dance. You’ll have to just visualize that one but know I’m dancing hard like I’m counting coup.

I am a woman of the west. The real west. The range land, unpopulated and dirt covered west. I know things. Behold.


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People who are not like us…

First published June 12, 2007

So, where I live, we have a lot of squirrels. Now when I say “a lot of squirrels” I don’t mean “oh my, there’s quite a few out there”. I mean a whole horde, an army, a remuda, of squirrels.

They run around everywhere, up and down power lines, around trees, hither and yon. When I go for a walk at noontime from work, I walk down this one street and they scatter in all directions like a squirrely sea of doom.

People here think they are cute. Find them amusing. The fluffy tails make them laugh. People here FEED THEM. Yes, they put out food for the little b*stards.

They don’t understand my revulsion, my utter HORROR that these vermin are allowed to roam free in a civilized society.

They don’t understand this because I am a New Mexican. One of the bonus features of being raised in New Mexico is, da da dummmmmm, bubonic plague.

In fact, according to an article in today’s ABQjournal, there have already been four cases this year, including a boy who died.

To quote the article, “Plague, a bacterial disease, is generally transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas but can also be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, such as rodents, wildlife and pets.”

Unh huh, no wonder every little rat with a fluffy tail gets the suspicious eye from me. Early on in life my mom would yell at all us kids to stay back from any wild creature, especially the small rodenty kind.

I will not draw one of those beady-eyed plague-carrying varmints closer to me or my home! I live in a duplex and for a while my next door neighbor put out bird seed with no cover or protection from the squirrels. I would stare horrified out my living room window to see a swarm of the things eating with reckless abandon in my back yard.

THE PLAGUE!!! THE PLAGUE!!!!

In my old place, a couple of squirrely warriors had an epic territory battle on the roof right over my apartment. Not only did I have to hear the squeals and the death call of the loser, I *freaked out* about the dead rodent right there over my doorway. As you know, fleas leave the dead rodent searching for a new home.

I shall print out the referenced article and keep copies handy for the next person who looks me and says “how can you not like squirrels, they are sooooo *cute*!!”

I’m keeping an eye on you, you plaugey b*stards!!!!


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And now, the update and my vindication:

Plague-Infected Squirrel Closes California Campground

A plague-infected squirrel has closed a California campground for at least a week, according to Los Angeles County health officials.

The squirrel, trapped July 16 in the Table Mountain Campgrounds of Angeles National Forest, tested positive for the infection Tuesday, prompting a health advisory and the closing of the campground while investigators tested other squirrels and dusted the area for plague-infected fleas.

…L.A. County health officials are urging Angeles National Forest campers to avoid contact with wild animals, steer clear of squirrel burrows and report any dead squirrels to the department of health. (emphasis added)

Oh! Oh! There it is. The I Told You So Dance.








So This Is Evil. Right?

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In my internet wanderings, I often find myself cruising beauty blogs for makeup advice tips. I am flat out terrible at applying makeup in any sort of especially appealing manner, so I’m always on the lookout for easy and fabulous looks. Or something like that.

While on one of these jaunts, I stumbled across this particular service called Anaface which is a facial beauty analysis. All the girls were piling in there to have their face analyzed and were reporting results. Some ladies were very happy. Some were sad.

And I thought to myself “what a crock of crap,” and yet, I bookmarked the page.

When I’d see that bookmark I’d ponder it, wanting to quickly upload my photo, then harrumph and go off again.

Today, the lure of my low self-esteem was just too great. I went in.

I began with this photo of myself in which my hair and makeup was professionally done and a master photographer took my image. In this photo I think, “Yeah, you know, I look all right.”





Then I uploaded that photo to the Anaface service. From there I helped the software by using my pointer to locate certain measurement spots on my face like the sides of my eyes and edges of my nose.

The software did its analysis and crunched the numbers and I arrived at this result:

“You are a 7.64 out of 10”.





I am ashamed to admit I was at once happy (almost an 8!!) and depressed (what, I’m not a 9?).

Then I read the laundry list of “Here’s why” and I began to feel like crap about myself.

Poor horizontal face symmetry. What? I thought the human eye found slightly asymmetrical faces to be more attractive anyway!

Your nose is too wide for your face width. What? I have a funny little thin nose actually.

Compared to your eye width, your innerocular distance is nearly ideal. Huh? I don’t even know what that means. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I mean, “ideal” sounds top notch, right?

So I harrumphed and my inner feminist got outraged and I Googled this facial beauty analysis thing to understand what the actual hell was up with this. I expected to see people out there as outraged as me. What I found was other analysis sites to try.

Then low self-esteem won out over self-righteousness and I uploaded my photo again, this time to a place called Pretty Scale.

Same sort of drill, I helped it find measurement points and it crunched the numbers and said: “77% You are pretty!”





And that sweet, sweet dopamine rush kicked in at the words “you are pretty” and I felt validated and superior and attractive for about 52 seconds and then thought to myself, “what, only 77%? I’m not more pretty than that?”

Only Pretty Scale doesn’t give me the rundown of things I can obsess about that are wrong with my physical appearance like my mouth being too wide for my nose. No, it just coldly arrives at a score and shoves it at you and runs away.

Then I realized how galldang evil these kind of websites are and how this is yet another way to make both men and women feel bad about themselves.

To their credit neither site was trying to sell me anything in order to capitalize on my poor self-image created by these bogus scores, which kind of surprises me.

Meanwhile, I honestly admit that reading “you are pretty” made me feel so good on a low, base, shallow level. And for that I’m the littlest bit ashamed of myself. And a little bit proud. And a little bit more ashamed and a little bit….

You get the picture. And when you get the picture, don’t upload it to a facial beauty analysis bullcrap site, okay?

Because to me you are beautiful just the way you are.





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By the way, Gollum clocks in at a respectable 6.9 out of 10. His innerocular doohickey is also nearly ideal.