Bittersweet

  • 1 Comment

As mentioned yesterday, my quest for “feel good” stories continues on, unencumbered.

When I read the headline of this ABQjournal article “Recent Widow Gets Back Her Stolen Car”, I thought it was right up my alley, and it was, in a way.

But I found a lump in my throat by the end.

Alia Dahl, a very pregnant Alia Dahl, is having a pretty rough month.

Her husband, Joel, stationed in Iraq, was due to be home in about a week. July 9, actually. He would have missed the birth of his son, but he would have been home.

I say “would” because Joel became yet another sad victim of the war on June 23.

The week after the death of her husband, her car was stolen.

Leaving her about a week away from having her labor induced and without her husband, car, or her packed overnight bag to go to the hospital.

I think Alia must be a stronger person than I am, because I’m not quite sure how I would have managed to stay upright and deal with all of that.

But here’s the part to feel good about. I’m not the only one who felt this nice lady got a real bad deal.

People starting taking up donations, pitching in, and in 24 hours $18,000 was raised to get Alia a new car.

The police also got pretty tenacious on the search for the lost car.

And you know what? They found it.

So Alia and her mom went to pick it up on Thursday. Alia was in good spirits, happily talking to reporters and answering questions.

When her water broke. She delivered a baby boy. Mom and son are healthy, happy, and they endure.

She even had the strength to make a joke, a joke referencing her husband:

“‘Just like his father, he has to be the center of attention,’ she said, laughing and holding her abdomen.”

*gulp*

Here’s to the abundance of everlasting human spirit found in Alia. Here’s hoping she can rebuild her life and carry on, for her herself, for her husband, for their son.

Wow.

For some reason this story has really got me by the heart.

My past week has been a flurry of ferocity in the run up to the release of an over-hyped product. I keep feeling like I’ve lost perspective.

This article, this story, helped, a little………

Happy Friday to all.

Why I love New Mexico so much, continues….

  • No Comments

As chronicled here in the past weeks, I’m *over* the hype around Paris and prison and the iFrapping phone-that-costs-too-much, and I’m weary of sad news from the world of over-hyped media.

I’ve been making it a point to look for odd, quirky and feel good stories.

And boy, have I got one today.

Shockingly, it comes to us from my old source of snarkiness, ABQjournal columnist Polly Summar. She’s been minding her manners lately and writing some pretty good lifestyle pieces. I give it up for Polly, she’s got a good sort of Midwestern sensibility about the quirkiness she encounters in Santa Fe. Go Polly!

Today she brings to us a piece about Forrest “Rusty” Rutherford. Not being from Santa Fe myself, I’d not heard of the so called “Sombrero Man”.

It is guys like this that make a town great. San Francisco has it’s “Bush Man” (among others), Chicago has Woo-Woo Man, New York has the guitar playing guy in his underbritches. It’s the kind of stuff of legendary tourist lore. It’s something that can bind people together, make a visitor feel like they are “in on the joke”.

Santa Fe has Sombrero Man (among others). Seems that Sombrero Man has been collecting sombreros and related gear and gadgets for several years. He’s built up quite a collection and is often seen about town wearing ’em. Sombrero Man has a regular everyday job (but that’s boring, please, let’s talk about who the man *really* is!), but spends his time and resources donning sombreros and making people smile.

And as I struggle with my own cosmic agony, fighting against my silly office job that is causing me to hover on the edge of utter breakdown, crying out into the dark night that “this is not who I AM! THIS IS NOT WHAT I WAS MEANT TO BE!!” I am heartened to see someone “doing it”.

Go on Sombrero Man! You wear your stuff with pride! You show the world who you are! Live your dream!

For those in the area, Sombrero Man makes his first “official” appearance of the season at the Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast on the Plaza. If you see him, tell him that a little gal in California thinks he rocks.

State Approved Yummies

  • 1 Comment

This past weekend I had a hankering. I’m a bit depressed and no small amount of stressed out and I was in need of some comfort food. You know, the something like mom used to make.

I woke up Sunday morning with a strong hankering for Biscochitos. So I gazed over the recipe, decided on Crisco over traditional lard, looked in my liquor cabinet to see if had the requisite brandy (I didn’t) and set off to the grocer for all the goods. I already had anise seed so I was ahead of the game……

You have to understand, this was a rare bit of homemakering that I’m not used to. Neither is my long suffering, but very patient partner. But he knows he gets to enjoy the fruits of my nesting, so he’s all good.

I mixed and blended, whipped the eggs, poured the brandy (as a kid when I made them I always found a way to sample the brandy as it went in, just a small teaspoon full for me, and it always made me go “bleah! Why would anyone drink this?” As a grown up, just the smell made me “ew”, so no sampling this time…..)

Soon I had a stiff dough to work with and I cursed while rolling it out and cutting the individual cookies. As is tradition, I burned one batch (I *always* burn at least one batch while making ANY kind of cookie). But soon I’d turned out a pile of the sweet, but not too sweet, treats. I shared some with the neighbors. I ate my fill until I was sick, and then came the litmus test. My Brooklyn boyfriend gave them a nibble and declared them as addictive as I know them to be (he rocks, by the way).

So I was all up in my Biscochito bliss when I read this article in the Las Cruces Sun News.

The ice cream mix, pecans and Biscochitos, sounds divine. But what caught my eye is that I guess I somehow missed that in 1989 the New Mexico State Legislature made the Biscochito the “official state cookie”.

I *had* heard that the current plump Governor loves these same anise treats turned out by the chef at the Governor’s mansion. Wouldn’t that be great? To have someone turn out a batch of delicious just like that, whenever you want? Wow. I’d be a plump Governor too….

So not only did I make comfort food, I made NM State approved comfort food. Go me!

By the way, the recipe I use comes from the “Cocinas de New Mexico” cookbook put out by PNM. The recipe is online here. That “Cocinas de New Mexico” cookbook is a dandy if you don’t already have one. I have always used the quite old version my mom has but I will probably order one of my own.

Just….yum.

Artist Diana Bryer’s “Making Biscochitos”

Happy Summer Solstice

  • No Comments

It is with melancholy that I greet the longest day of the year.

I know for lots of folks, this is a day of celebration. Like the folks mentioned in the article in today’s Las Cruces Sun News.

Beating a drum and greeting the sun actually sounds like a nicer way to spend the day than beating the keyboard and greeting the boss.

You have to know this about me: I love the summer. I mean LOVE. I mean obsessively love and I stingily count the days because I know soon enough it will be again be cold, and dark and I’ll leave work at 5:30 in pitch black wearing shoes that cover my liberated feet and *gasp* the socks come out of the drawer.

But today I’ll frolic like I’m at Stonehenge because today it’s warm, and beautiful. Flip flops adorn my feet. A summer dress swings about my fairly tanned rig. Today I’ll enjoy the light and not think about the dark that presses at the edges. In the next months I’ll gape at the heat and lament my lack of air conditioning and worry about how my furry cat and less furry man will endure this season’s heat.

Today, we rejoice!

(painting by Alison Pebworth, titled “Summer Solstice, Once Removed”)

Ruminations

  • No Comments

Going to borrow a page from Natalie over at Petroglyph Paradox and mull over the implications of Father’s Day a little bit. Though I’m a day late (and a dollar short), as the old saying goes.

My dad was an odd fellow. Odd in all sorts of ways. My sister who is mother to a couple boys with as yet undiagnosed problems has been forced to read up on the markers for autism. My sister has said that had my father been born in a different time, he probably would have been tapped as a high functioning autistic.

He was smart as hell and obsessive about numbers. He worked hard but had a nasty temper. I chalk up the temper to being of fiery Irish and German descendentcy. His full-blooded Irish mother is the only person I ever knew who could yell at HIM. And boy did she.

He was bitterly type A. He put in a hell of a career at Sandia Labs, was an engineer to the core, and probably was a better man that I ever gave him credit for.

I could talk a lot about all the bad things he did to me personally, or the bad things I saw him do to my siblings and mother. But at the end of the day, there wasn’t any sort of physical abuse, no. I don’t want to mislead. He never laid a hand on us. He just had a cruel mind and would say hateful things in a fit of fury. And words can hurt too.

So I won’t talk about the fact that he was a bitterly mean and insecure man who lashed out at his family because he could.

I also won’t raise him up as the model of a father, then join hands and sing the praises of dad.

What’s it’s taken me most of my life to learn is that he was an incredibly imperfect person. Fraught with fears about boogeymen around every corner and demands for us to be better, he actually did try very hard to run his family.

Out of three kids, we all turned out with our fair share of “issues”, but we also turned out to be three decent people, all contributing members of society. In the case of both of my siblings, marriages and kids of their own. So I guess to raise three more or less well adjusted kids, he must have done a few things right, in the end.

And so I’ll give him credit for that.

On this Father’s Day, some two years after his passing, I didn’t exactly miss him. He never liked celebrations of holidays and such. I was sort of relieved that I didn’t have to find some meaningless gift and card to send. It’s nice to be “off the hook”. Instead of mourning my Dad, I spent the day with my partner’s Dad who is chock full of his own set of insecurities and missteps, but is a hell of a good man.

And it doesn’t pass my notice that he reminds me in many ways of my own father.

But the one thing that the father of my love remembered to do that my own forgot was to love his child unconditionally.

I’ll take that as the lesson for Father’s Day…and Mother’s Day…and every day.