The Things I Could Talk About Today


Every morning after I wake up, stumble over the cat and yawn three times, I start to think about my day.

Part of that thinking involves devising a topic for my daily entry to this little ol’ blog.

Over the years, the topics have varied widely from news of the world to news of crevices of my mind. And food. Lots of talk about food.

So I thought quite a bit about what to write about today for this, my 997th post in the life of Oh Fair New Mexico.

I could write more about the really awful fire in San Bruno last night. About the stutter-stall from PG&E in addressing the situation, about the homes and lives lost.

I could go on a rant about the nature of mega-corporations (*coff*BP*coff*) and their inability to respond in crisis situations.

I could even write about the fact that my own employer is a way-too-huge corporation, and sometimes that worries me.

I might even wander out of my local area and riff on that wack-a-doodle “minister” (I use sarcastic quotes on purpose) who is so filled with hate and not a small amount of insanity, that he would endanger the lives of people around the world and American military troops just to get a little publicity for his wack-a-doodle 50 follower church.

I seriously considered discussing the conversation I had this morning with my boss, who is here in the US for three weeks, but who usually lives in London. He is a very kind, gentle and mellow man. He said to me this morning, “I don’t understand this man who wants to burn the Quran. Can you explain it to me?” I couldn’t. It is beyond my grasp.

I could discuss my growing dread regarding the upcoming California governor’s election in my state.

Or my belief that on both sides of the political spectrum, our US Congress has run so far off the rails that I’m unsure how we will ever find our way back.

And I could talk about how, really, this must be end of days because I can’t fathom this world where being so rude, being so self-centered, and being so utterly oblivious are acceptable. And yet, it is.

I even considered discussing how I’m what is considered a very sensitive person. In fact, there are books written on this subject, “The Highly Sensitive Person” and such. And because of that, how my choice to watch a blazing fire on my television all last night is really NOT good for my soul. How tweaked out I am about this whole thing.

Yes. I considered all of those topics and more.

But it’s Friday, and I’m exhausted. Three weeks ago one of my dearest friends died and I still can’t seem to climb up out of that grief.

And watching people lose their homes and their lives last night really did me in.

So today, I’m going to talk about a dog.

My first god dog, a heeler and Chihuahua mix, has been a good dog. She’s deaf and near blind and still very sweet. But she doesn’t run around and chase the ball like she used to.

My second god-dog is an adorable little beast. I’m not good with dog breeds, but I think he is a boxer. He’s a big, muscular dog with a menacing bark.

But he’s the sweetest little pea-pod of a dog I’ve ever known.

And he likes his godmom back.

There now. Let’s not think about the jacked up things in the world.

Look into those eyes. Doncha just feel better basking in the glow of this little bubba of a dog?

I know it makes me feel better.

Everyone just pat a cute dog on the head and love your neighbor and hug your family.

And let’s all have a nice weekend, ok?

There Is This Man I Know…


It would be wrong to call him a cowboy. That implies something he’s not.

He is, in fact, a farmer. Chile, corn, cotton, alfalfa. He fretted the drought and smiled at rainy skies.

Except that time it rained so hard it washed away the seeds he’d just planted. That night, he fretted while the rain fell.

That’s unusual for a farmer.

He has a smile that could light up a room, the sky, the world.

He has the mind of a trickster, and his wry sense of humor is what drew me in.

Back then, he was a tall, slim drink of water.

His chest bore a long scar, a remnant from open heart surgery in childhood. It fixed a congenital problem. For a while, anyway.

That surgery colored his whole world. He was told he might not live past the age of twenty.

But he did. He lived. Oh, he was alive.

He took me out to dinner. We each ordered steaks at the truckstop diner in Vado, New Mexico.

It was far more romantic than it sounds.

He took me fishing and let me use his brand new rod and reel. I managed to irretrievably knot up the fishing line. He didn’t even get mad.

Because he is a gentleman.

He took me for long rides down bumpy dirt roads. I sat next to him in the cab of his pickup, holding on tight, grinning.

He has a confidence that is older than his years.

He and I had some fun then parted ways amiably. I still call him my friend. More than a friend. A dear friend. “One of us” from a loosely knit group of kids who made a family while running around Las Cruces, growing up and getting educated.

I haven’t seen him in years, but over the years I’d ask after him and sometimes he’d ask after me, too.

He’s got an amazing wife and three sons and the weight of responsibility for his family’s farm. A responsibility he stood up to each and every day.

Last week, he had surgery. That ol’ heart problem was giving him trouble again.

The surgery went well, but he got an infection at the hospital that he couldn’t quite fight off.

Sunday morning, my friend, my family, someone who showed me how to live passed away.

He was just 40.

I can’t stop being angry. It’s not fair. No one ever said life was going to be fair, but I don’t care. It’s not fair.

I’m not good at grief. I’ve lost a father. I lost my best friend from high school. I lost a grandmother who was very integral to my life.

You’d think all the practice would make me better at this.

I’m not good at this.

Sometimes it’s just easier to be angry.

It’s an acceptable stage of grief.

I Left My Heart….


Wait. Where did I leave my heart?

If you are a Twitter type of person and you follow my tweets, you may have gotten some of-the-moment tweeting about what I’m about to describe.

There was an “incident” upon my departure from New Mexico about three weeks ago. I’ve tried to brush it off, but I find I cannot. I’m rather shaken to my core.

The executive summary is this: I got my heart broke by an eight year old girl.

And I may never recover properly.

I flew out to New Mexico for one of the annual “Chick’s Trips” that my best friend and I love to put together.

I came in on a Thursday afternoon and my friend picked me up at the airport. Earlier that day, her husband had taken their two daughters, my goddaughters, on a camping trip. He was out spotting elk for an upcoming hunt His girls are avid outdoors women, so they are able to help.

Fabulous. That meant some one-on-one girl time with my best friend in the world.

There was cussing. There was discussing. There was a trip to the Ruidoso Downs.

Big fun!

We all got back my friend’s house in Las Cruces on Sunday afternoon. I had to fly out Monday.

So Sunday evening I got to have some quality time with my little girls (who are not so little anymore).

I had a chance to chat with the older of the two, she’s ten, and has had some troubles with another girl at school. I wanted to make sure that going into fifth grade, she was holding up ok.

I got to sit next to the younger of the two, she’s eight, at dinner.

The next morning, the eight year old asked me to go on a walk with her out to look at her flowers in her yard. I told her I would be happy to.

As time will do, it went all slippery and got away from us. Nina Karen didn’t get her walk in with the younger goddaughter.

This all came to a head at the El Paso airport. We arrived a bit early and my kids wanted to come inside the airport to see me off.

Without delay, my younger goddaughter began insisting to her mom that she needed to come with me on the plane.

Her mom told her that she couldn’t come with me.

“But why!?!?” was the inevitable reply.

What followed was a long and persistent debate between mom and child about, logically, why she couldn’t just get on the plane and come home with me.

Then the tears began in earnest. My younger goddaughter began sobbing.

And that’s when the truth started pouring out….

“You and Nina Karen always go off somewhere and we never get to go!”

Early on, my friend laid down some age requirements for chick’s trips. Plus, sometimes Mama just needs a break.

“We always have to go with dad and you get to go have fun!”

Which isn’t very nice to the dad who is lots of fun. But he’s a boy and boy fun is different.

“Nina Karen always comes out here and we never get to go to California.”

Well, sure. Since I don’t have little ones, and I get awful homesick, I do tend to fly that way a bit more often.

“Other than her name, I don’t even know Nina Karen!”

Ok, that one hurt. That’s so not true, and she later apologized for having said it. But in that moment, she broke my heart.

She wasn’t done by a long shot.

I held my baby girl in my arms as she cried and cried, her tiny body racked with sobs. Of course, I started crying too. Then her mom was bawling. And her big sister was crying from the get go.

Four weepy girls all clutched together at the El Paso Airport.

I apologized to my girl and through tears she said she forgave me.

After a while, her sobs began to slow down. Then, time went and got us again. The long hand moved too quickly on the clock face, and it was time for me to leave.

I had to go home. But which home? My California home because The Good Man waited for me there. He is my heart.

But that little crying girl is also my heart.

I’ve never felt so torn between two places in all my life. It literally felt like being ripped in two.

I cried all the way through the security line, and the TSA man shooed me along.

Then I cried all the way through the terminal.

I used my phone to call my husband to tell him what happened, and started sobbing even harder.

With every tear, my heart broke a little bit more. Ground glass under a bootheel.

I’m not sure yet how I’m going to try to make this right.

My best friend is working on a road trip out here, maybe, to cut costs and make it easier for them all to come out here to California.

I’m working over in my mind a plan to go back to New Mexico. But when? Our weekends are booked through Labor Day.

I just know that I am as heartbroke today as I was three weeks ago.

The Hispanic culture embraces a concept called “Comadres”. Co-Mothers. Best friends are like mothers to each others children.

I don’t have kids of my own, but actually, I do. Those two girls are as dear to me as if I’d birthed them from my own body. I feel their pain, I revel in their joy. I would sacrifice for them with nary a thought.

Nina Karen has got to make things right.

I’ll tell you this, I’ll never again miss the chance to take a walk with my girls just to look at the flowers.

“Las Comadres,” a painting by Juana Alicia.

That Pesky Spell Check

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I was rereading a few of my text messages the other day on my iPhone. I was looking for a bit of information a friend had given me, so I had the chance to read what I’d written.

I was a little bit embarrassed. Oh the violations of Funk and Wagnalls I’ve committed and sent out to the universe.

Since I have a full keyboard to use for texting, I tend to shy away from the internet approved shortened word uses. It’s a point of pride to write in full sentence form.

I don’t know why, it just is.

However…that very aggressive auto correct on the phone does tend to trip me up.

That got me to thinking about how much I rely on spell check and auto correct these days, which is bad. Spell check isn’t perfect. A 100% spell checked document could still have mistakes.


There are a LOT of words that when spelled wrong, are actually still a word. But ya still look kinda silly using the wrong word.

Also, plenty of times, spell check suggests the wrong word entirely.

I see these misused but correctly spelled quite a bit online, in email and of course, on places like Facebook and Twitter.

You can find a few examples here:

10 Common Errors “Spell Check” Won’t Catch

(I’ll ignore the blatant use of unnecessary quotes in that headline)

Yeah, I’ve either seen or made (or both) all of the errors in the article.

There’s a few that get me that aren’t on that list…like:

Rein, meaning how you steer a horse and;

Reign, meaning how you rule a kingdom.

Right, as in I get to have it, and;

Rite, as in I get to dance under the moon about it.

Also troublsome…

To, too and two. I tend to put too many o’s in there at the wrong time. It’s hard to tell the two apart.

And one that makes me bonkers is lose and loose. I see a LOT of posts on support boards about “if I could only loose ten pounds.” It’s a pet peeve.

The article lists through versus threw. However…that’s not where my language and typing skills break down. Nope, I struggle with

Through, as in, I’m past it and;

Thorough, as in I did a complete job.

I even struggled typing that sentence. Gah!

I’ve noticed lately that even publishing houses, once the very model of correct spelling and grammar, are also slacking off in this department. The last four books I’ve read, all recent publications, have had typos, as many as six in one case.

And internet news articles! Ugh!

It seems no one is watching the chicken coop any more on spelling and grammar. Despite trying really hard not to slip, even I’m guilty as charged.

I fret that as our language continues to evolve, misspelling and bad grammar will become appropriate. English teachers of the world, unite!

And so it came to pass….


….that living in the Land of Schwarzenegger, in the area of the Bay, there came to be a fish. A small fish. A fish who was filled with faith and hope.

A fish purchased under the accursed impulse-purchase vexation.

The fish was of the Betta clan, and was given the name of Benito, meaning “blessing” or “blessed one” in the Spanish culture (and meaning tiny little dictator in the Italian tradition).

And so it was that Benito came to live in the house of The Good Man and true to his name, blessed us all.

Benito swam and ate of the bloodworm. And it was good.

Until it wasn’t good.

And forsooth, Benito ceased to eat, and lay on the floor of the tank, flat on his side, and took on a gray pallor.

Which only raised memories of Frank, also of the Betta clan, who came before Benito and expired so painfully.

And so it was that The Girl wept, felt necessary to rend her garments, gnashed her teeth and howled to the heavens, “Why! Why must I have the curse of killing helpless fish?”

Then The Girl resigned herself to the knowledge gained that she was not meant for fish ownership.

Another matchbox coffin was prepared, and sadness befell the house of The Good Man.

In the last, desperate hours, The Good Man proclaimed, “he who believeth in the bettas shall never die.”

Thusly, The Good Man brought his mighty hand down and created freshly treated water and added the miracle of the antibiotic powder.

The limp body of Benito of the Betta clan was deposited into the fresh, medicated water and hope was not held out.

In the break of the morn, The Good Man, in his grace, went to the tankside of Benito of Betta, and proclaimed, “Yea, tho I believe this crazy fish is hungry!”

And chopped up pieces of bloodworm were deposited in the tank, and verily Benito of Betta did eat.

“No %$&#ing way!” came the cry from The Girl, who stared in disbelief at the miracle The Good Man had wrought.

“Yeah, don’t get your hopes up,” The Good Man admonished, but despite his downplaying the whole thing, The Girl did ignore him and did in fact get her hopes up.

And forsooth! Benito of Betta did continue to eat. And became more upright, and began to flap his fins in a normal manner.

And Benito of Betta was thusly nicknamed the Lazarus Fish, having risen from the dead.

So it is that some two weeks from coming to the house of The Good Man, Benito of Betta continues to live and eat and could almost be described as thriving.

And with the focus on a new, recovering fish, The Girl finds the sadness over the loss of Frank is beginning to ease.

With the help of The Good Man, guardian of the broken pets, The Girl may in fact learn to be a suitable owner of small helpless fish.

And for the moment, it was good again.

But don’t get your hopes up.

P.S. Margaret, female of the Betta clan, and The Good Man’s fish, continues to thrive quite nicely, thankyouverymuch.