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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Well, it snowed. Seriously, there's white powder on my roof and it isn't the cocaína, either.

(Which, speaking of, go watch this and this, and then marvel that starlets and junk bond traders put that shit up their collective schnozes. God, it's a vile process for a vile habit.) (Drugs. Don't do it.) [/end_Nancy_Reagan]

Anyway. Snow. Cold. A predicted high of 32 degrees F today. Fan-friggin'-tastic. Tomorrow, I'm on a plane to the tropics, but today the Weather Channel is telling me it's 30 degrees outside, but it feels like 19.

And it snowed. I've only seen snow this early in Albuquerque one other time in ten years.

It's cold and I'm miserable -- the lament of the sun-loving desert dweller.

Blogging will be spotty for the next couple of weeks --if at all -- because I'm going to be hiding in said tropics until winter retreats or my vacation runs out.

God, I hate being cold.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

The weekend rundown:

First, we had a post-Thanksgiving "dontcha wanna get out of the house?" potluck-y kind of party, and then there was a motorcycle parked in my living room.

Mike doesn't know about any of this
Party.

Motorcycle in my living room
Motorcycle. In. My. Living room.

I spent most of Sunday sprawled across the upstairs couch, reading and/or napping. It was the only sane reaction to any of it.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

If this article about Alex Zanardi's return to an F1 car doesn't make your insides wooglely, you have a cold, black heart and I don't even want to know you.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving

Hope your Thanksgiving was equal parts delicious and disgusting.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

We're staying in town for Thanksgiving, which seems surprising to people until they hear that both sets of parents live within a five mile radius of us.

Which is when I drop the usual bombshell: I work tomorrow.

People who either aren't journalists or haven't hung around me for the better part of a decade are horrified that we work Thanksgiving AND Christmas AND New Year's Eve. "You don't get Thanksgiving off? That's awful."

It's not, actually. First, if we did get Thanksgiving off, you wouldn't get the huge-ass Friday paper loaded with Black Friday ads. Second, there's nothin' like holiday pay. Third, there's the option of taking the holiday later. Fourth, the newsroom's mostly empty and nobody complains when the features section hijacks Online's TV for the National Dog Show.

Hope your Thanksgiving is equally relaxing.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Okay, we have a new game, inspired by this post on the Fix. The game is called "When I am Dictator of Albuquerque."

Highlights of last night's round include:
* The invention of the golden foot attached to a jewel-studded rod for the dictator's ceremonial putting down of the foot.
* Free one-way bus tickets to Iowa for anyone complaining about all the brown people.
* Seizure of all chain dining establishments (save Gardunos, Dion's and Blake's) and the redistribution of buildings to families who would like to try their hands at the restaurant business.
* West Mesa reclaimation project. This would involve bulldozing my own subdivision.
* Manditory water conservation. You will be issued a rain barrel. If you demand your Kentucky Blue Grass, we will provide you with ticket to Kentucky and a mint julep for the ride.
* For obvious reasons, the Balloon Fiesta will be moved from the first week of October to the second week of October.
* Vehicles will be regulated, and you will only be allowed to have as much car as you need. All SUVs would be immediately barred from city streets.
* Hello, elevated monorail.
* The chile harvest would be recognized as a city-wide holiday.

What would you do?

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Monday, November 20, 2006

So, question, y'all. How is it I got a dozen hits from around the state on the second part of my lameass write-up of the wine-ing? Could someone explain that?


Part Two -- Where We Went

Even before I had closed my phone, Adam had questions, mainly, "Where is Pojoque?"

"In between Santa Fe and Los Alamos, or Santa Fe and Española. Pick one."

"Isn't it a Pueblo?"

"Yep."

"What's the casino?"

"Cities of Gold." (State geography has started using Native American run casinos as landmarks)

"Ah, okay. I know where we're going. Sort of. Do you?"

Well, of course. My role in the marriage is being the Garmin GPS system. Give me a map and two addresses and I can usually get you where you're going. In this case, I didn't need a map. In my younger days, when petrol was cheap, I used to drive aimlessly around northern New Mexico and I knew where we needed to be. "I-25 to Santa Fe. Get off at St. Francis. Keep going straight until we see it."

"Oooh!"

We made more plans, like having lunch in Santa Fe, which sent Adam to Gil's Thrilling Web Site for restaurant recommendations (like we ever go to Santa Fe. Seriously. No Santa Fe). We found the neopreen wine caddy, we recharged the camera batteries and went to bed early.

The next morning we loaded up Bucky and headed north. Highlights of the drive to Santa Fe included Adam's harrowing tale of the time his cruise control got stuck between Sandia Pueblo and Bernalillo, a discussion of the best line up La Bajada, speculation of where the out-of-state-platers were from and where they were going, and the usual "uck, Santa Fe" which really isn't a knock on the nation's second oldest settlement, but more a general commentary on people (not from New Mexico) who pick the City Different for vacations, honeymoons and destination weddings or maybe just Tom Ford.

St. Francis Drive turned into Highways 285-84 and took us up past the famous Opera house, past Camel Rock (both the rock and the casino) and finally to Pojoque.

"You think we'll find it?" Adam asked.

I gave the advice that goes for anyone looking for booze in this great state of ours. "Look for the sign that says 'LIQUOR' in big letters."

I was right.

The shop was a trip. An unassuming, battered building that had seen better days on the outside and a treasure trove of the sauce on the inside. Not only did we get the coveted Sea Smoke, we were treated to a quick walk through their small wine cave, where 1995 vintage Krug Blanc de Blanc was rubbing shoulders with several Riechbourgs and La Taches and Latours. "It's like wine heaven," Adam murmured.

When we couldn't finagle a second Sea Smoke out of the propritor, we paid for our single bottle and got back in the car.

"I don't want to go back the way we came," Adam said. "Where do we go?"

"Los Alamos," I said. "And then through the Jemez mountains over to 550 and home."

"Sold."

It was a beautiful day for a drive. We climbed from the valley up to Los Alamos and stopped for lunch at a little Mom and Pop diner. After lunch, we dropped the top on Bucky and drove higher up, until we reached the magnificent Valles Grande national preserve, the caldera of an acient super volcano.

The road, seriously shapely, took a downward turn and we ran through the fantastic canyons of the Jemez mountains, talking about memorable camping trips and forced death marches lead by an overgrown boy scout named Jason. Talk drifted to our childhoods, and how beautiful the mountains are and how maybe next summer, we'll try camping again.

On the other side of Jemez Springs, we put the top up again and drove on home.

The only aggrivation of the entire trip came when Adam tried to show off the spiffy shortcut that is northern Unser Blvd. in Rio Rancho.

"Really!" he said when he took the turn off 550. "It cuts miles off the trip. Miles!"

And I believe him. I do. However, just after we passed the shiny new Santa Ana Star Arena, we hit a mile long train of stop-and-go traffic. Either we got caught in traffic of people leaving whatever Stars on Ice Spectacular matinee was booked this weekend, or we got caught in the traffic for people going to whatever Stars on Ice Spectacular was booked this weekend, I don't know. What I do know is that there was one exceedingly young Rio Rancho's Department of Public Safety member doing an awful job directing traffic at the Northern/Unser intersection and it took us an hour to go a mile.

"Not that I mind," I said. "We have each other."

"Really," Adam said. "Unser cuts miles off the trip. Miles."

"I believe you."

"Miles."

Was it worth it for a bottle of wine? Heck, yeah. Can't wait to do it again.

Bucky and Bordeaux

Of course I made a Flickr set.


Part One -- Why We Travel

I think if you've been reading here for any amount of time (say, two entries?) you know that Adam and I kind of fall into the casual "crazy persons" category. We build pillow forts, we play with Transformers, we lavish scads of attention and money on tiny cars. We aren't what you'd call run-of-the-mill. I think the neighbors wish we were more of the two-kids-and-minivan mindset, but that is another entry.

Just add the following to the mounting evidence we might need to be committed.

On Saturday, we finally got around to going to tasting at Quarters West. Oh, man. I love tastings at Quarters. Laura Mudd, wine maven, opens about five bottles, from the cheap and easy to more chi-chi grape. We used to attend religiously, but by the middle of the summer, we had amassed about forty bottles of wine in our pantry and we had Emergency Vacation coming up and there was some grumbling of saving money and we kind of fell out of the habit of going.

But by Saturday, our collection had dwindled from forty bottles to a small gathering in the closet, the current Wine Spectator was singing the praises of California Pinot Noir and we were primed for a little wine sipping and browsing.

While we were wandering, we asked Laura if we could get on the list for the new Foxen Sea Smoke.

[Sidebar on Foxen: they are our winery. Seriously. Get out there, find a bottle and drink up. Last year, we managed to wheedle two bottles of the limited release Sea Smoke Pinot Noir and we've been holding on them. And then the friggin' Wine Spectator comes out and gives the 2004 release a glowing review.]

So, to recap: at tasting, love the Foxen, asked the Laura if we could get on the list for the new release.

She made this horrified face and told us that she'd received six bottles two weeks prior and sold out immediately.

And, okay, it's nice that Foxen has a following in Albuquerque, the news we couldn't lay our hands on the elusive Sea Smoke was shattering. Seriously, Adam was wandering the wine cave, whimpering quietly.

A call of the local wine shops didn't turn up a single bottle. Laura suggested wine shops in Santa Fe who might have been on the distributor's list, and one "long shot" liquor store in Pojoque.

I made the calls. Santa Fe was a bust all the way around. One green lable, one Bien Nacido Block Eight. No Sea Smoke.

But the wine guy in Pojoque not only had a bottle, he had three (though he was only doling them out one at a time). I begged him to save a bottle for us. I promised we'd be there the next day.

I hung up and Adam was bouncing on the balls of his feet. "Well?"

And that was the moment when we became the crazy couple who would go on a road trip to get a single bottle of wine.

(Part Two -- Where We Went is coming)

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Due to Adam demanding comments, comments are back.

Comment away.


In the end, if you ask my why I ditched grad school, I'm just going to point to my mouth and smile. That's all I'm going to say about my final dentist appointment of the year.

I said a lot more to Adam, who sent me the following e-mail:

From: Adam
To: Sarah


I have the solution to your problems.

You will not have any more problems tonight.

Nope. You'll feel like a million bucks.

You'll come home. You'll walk in.

.
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.
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.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
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.
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.
.

You'll play pillow fort with me.


And he was totally serious. See?

Adam shows off the pillow fort's skylight


Adam plays with my Starscream

(Adam demonstrates the correct pillow fort activity using my Starscream)


Hanging out in the Pillow Fort

(I show off my new damn teeth)


We huddled under the pillow fort and played and laughed and talked about when we were small and nobody yelled at us for stripping the house of pillows and piling them in the living room because who was going to yell? It's our house.

I like this being a quasi-adult business.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My dad sends me baby pictures from a cousin. I send him pictures of the punk party from last weekend, the standard give and take.


Monday, November 13, 2006

2006 continues to be the year of the dentist, where, with a single two-hour session, digital camera funds are drilled away in favor of saving my teeth.

It wasn't a double root canal, but it was damn close. I should count my blessings. One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand . . .

I go back on Wednesday for the final visit before operatives from my insurance hunt me down and slap me until I agree not to go back until next year.

In January, I get a crown.

I might wallow for the rest of the day. It's seriously possible.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

I started feeling run down around two and by four, I was at home, stretched out on the upstairs couch in front of Arrested Development season three, wondering what it was I had done to deserve this tsunami of tired and yuckness.

Adam decided, as Adam often does, that what I needed to feel better was a big ol' dose of Mythbusters. The new one! On the Tivo! Concrete gliders!

So I watched Mythbusters and I was making the happy murmuring noises one makes when one is under a mountain of tired and trying to get the immune system to reboot before the weekend. "Mm. Mythbusters. Yay."

And then the program got to the build team's large scale test.

Listen, my dearest minions, you have let me down. Nobody told me that the build team would be running their large scale test of "Sucked by a Train" at the friggin' Journal Center Station. Nobody gave me the heads up that maybe, just maybe, that -- sometime this past June or July (judging from the sun and the explosion of green) -- I might want to scoot from the actual Journal Center down to the then-still-under-construction JCS and watch as infotainment was filmed using the still rather spiffy Rail Runner.

Or in layman's terms, Grant Imahara was less than two miles from my desk and I wasn't aware. ("Kari Byron! Kari Byron!" -- a.)

I am so bummed to have missed out.

Still, it was fun to flip back a few times, first for the inital excitement of "DUDE! THAT'S PASEO!" and then for the experiment itself and then for another round of "DUDE! I'M PROBABLY DRIVING OVER THEM AT THAT EXACT MINUTE!"

For the rest of the evening, Adam teased me about missing out on the Mythbusters. "Oh," he would say in that chiding tone. "They were probably at Starbucks and you just missed them."

"Shut it."

"Or they were there and you totally didn't recognize them."

"Shut it!"

" ' Oh,' " he would mimick in the Sarah fallsetto. " ' Ohmigod, you totally wouldn't believe it, but there were these three really rude people at Starbucks, this kind of hot chick, this Asian guy and this tall skater dude and they were totally rude, and then like, Dan hit on the girl and then I was like, forced to play wingman with the dudes and they were like, "whatever, you're not a supermodel," except only the tall one was like that, but the short one was all "do you like rc robots that can destroy other robots?" and I was like "no, I am not a nerd." and then we left and Dan was like "that guy was totally into you" and I was all like, "Maaaaaaaaaried." and it just sucked. Anyway, how are you?' "*

[Adam doesn't just get my goat, he goes flouncing up to it in the pasture where it's grazing peacefully, and smacks it right on its bottom. Goat smacker.]

Now comes the plea to the local minions (yeah, I'm trying it out). If you happen to hear of more Mythbusting in the area, would you please, please, please let me know? Please? I don't know how I'd repay you -- kisses, shout outs, first born? -- but I would. Somehow.

And if the rest of you are curious about the area nearish where I work, or at least want to oggle the new Rail Runner, just catch a repeat of Concrete Glider this weekend.

And now the planet of tired is back and I'm going to bed. G'dnight.


*I do not sound like this.**




**Yes, she does. -- a***





***Goat smacker.


Thursday morning:

Still debating buying a new digital camera before the last minute vacation. Watching a big patch of rain move over my friend's suburb in Seattle and wondering if the Seattleites will be sending me e-mail later in the day begging for towels, buckets and sand bags. Debating making a cheesecake tonight. Deciding yes, I do want a cheesecake. Cheesecake, cheesecake, cheesecake. Back to the camera question. Leaning towards yes, but I have a camera and it's good and I need to stop being such a consumer. Wondering why CNN's B-roll under an Atkins Diet story has to be french fries and cupcakes, two things I would go stabby-stabby for right now. Fortunately, no fries or cupcakes in house. Yes, I will make cheesecake. Debating if I can pie AND cheesecake to Thanksgiving. Leaning towards "probably." Thinking about the busy, busy, busy weekend coming up. Wondering where I'll fit in an oil change or if I should put it off until next weekend. We need a good ol' Miata tech day. But a camera would be so cool, and it's Hawaii. No, I don't know what one hsa to do with the other. Need to dry my hair and go about my business. What's Perez posting?

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Adam woke me up this morning by crooning not-so-gently in my ear. "I believe in miracles. I believe in a better world for me and you. Oh, oh, oh!"

It was a cross between the Vedder cover and a channeling of Shatner. It was surreal. What a way to start the day.

And the weatherman swears it's going to be in the mid-70s today, which means I can have myself a top down drive. All and all, a very cheerful day.*




*Again. Third congressional district. I don't have to live through the agony of a recount. Nothing's really changed in Sarahland. Sha-la-la-la.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Every single day, I get dinged a couple of times by people looking for Guinness cupcakes. So I may as well post the recipe, which I fliched off of the internet somewhere, and may or may not be totally stolen from Nigella, but if that's the case, I apologize.

It's also been modified for the mile-high altitude, where cakes (like pie crusts) like a little extra wet. In this case, I added an egg and a teaspoon of baking powder.

GUINNESS CUPCAKES

1 cup Guinness stout
10 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I sometimes up this to a full cup and then throw in a handful of semi-sweet morsels if I'm thinking about it)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract -- (which I'm out of at the moment, which SUCKS!)
2 cups flour
2-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt -- I am of the "you need salt" school of thought

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts. Remove from heat. Add cocoa and sugar. Whisk like a crazed whisker.

In a bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, and vanilla; mix well. Add Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda. Whisk until it's velvety smooth. Pour into cupcake/muffin tin. I prefer the huge size, but I can't find size-appropriate cups, so break out that butter and flour!

Drink rest of Guinness.

Bake 45 - 50 minutes or until a tooth pick in the center comes away free, blah, blah, blah. You've made cupcakes before.

And then comes the most awesome part: icing the cupcakes. Again, I nicked this off of the internet and I don't remember where now. If it's your recipe, props! It's fantastic.

PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons milk (whole, for the love of all that is holy. You're making cupcakes for pity's sake)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sling butter, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla into your mixer. Trust me, you want a mixer here. Add two tablespoons of milk. Beat the heck out of it. Add more milk a tablespoon at a time as needed until you have the consistancy of beer froth.

Guinness cupcakes

And hey, if you're really talented with the frosting, you can do the traditional shamrock on top.

I am not that clever.

Happy eating. Let me know how it turned out.

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I love being in [the voting booth] . I drag it out, leisurely punching the names I want as if sipping whiskey in front of a fire. I mean, how many times in a life does an average person get to make history?
-- Sarah Vowell, "Dear Dead Congressman"
Partly Cloudy Patriot


I exercised my 19th amendment rights by running down to the county clerk's office on Saturday to participate in early voting. I got there about an hour after the polls open and took my place at the end of a decently long line. It was about the length of the MVD line or the Southwest counter at the Sunport. A lot of people standing around in comfortable clothes and battered athletic shoes, waiting to trudge forward a foot.

Sometimes I think standing in a long line for voting is one of the best parts of the process. It's a clutch of people -- red or blue or d or r or i -- waiting to participate in a cornerstone of our fantastic nation. There isn't arguing or shouting or shoving, it's just a collection of polite strangers waiting their turn. The not-quite-huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, but until then, they are quite content to chat about the gifted program at Jefferson Middle School, vacuum cleaners, sump pumps and gardening with the people just ahead of them in line.

But speaking of the breathing free, we were waiting in a low-ceiling'd, clausterphobic hallway in the city county building, and there was a lack of air conditioning. It was a little stiffling, a touch ripe, but nothing overwhelming. When I was in the middle of the line, a woman in her mid-twenties came down the hall, wrinkled her nose and said to the dude she was with, "It fucking smells. Let's just go. I don't need to vote."

(Pity.)

Still, I liked the original assessment. Democracy is smelly. Even apart from the voting machine scandals, the hanging chads, the inappropriate e-mails to underage pages, democracy is messy. It's arguing and debating and compromising and going straight into that voting booth and saying, "God, I have to vote for one of them?"

(Okay, no, that's actually not true. I'm in the third congressional district, so it's totally Udall FTW!)

I took my sweet time, filling in the ovals, reading all of the bond questions, filling in more ovals, checking my crib sheet and filling in more ovals. It was an awesome flashback to the ACTs.

There was a overwhelming sense of satisfaction when I was finished. There's always a sense of satisfaction, but this one was tempered with a touch of nerves when I fed my paper ballot into the optical scanner. Will it read it? Will my vote be counted? WILL I GET TO VOTE AGAIN?

It went through. My vote was accepted (we have photographic evidence), and I left feeling fan-friggin'-tastic! Not only because I voted, but because I voted at the county clerk's office and there's a 95% chance that my vote will be counted! How can they lose it? It's the county clerk's office! Wooo! USA! USA! USA!

Now I just have to survive tomorrow's news cycle and we'll be right back to where we are, only it'll be primary season for 2008.

Ooof.

(Photos at Flickr because it's all so exciting and photogenic.)

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Friday, November 03, 2006

I am not blogging every damn day in the month of November, and not that I'd ever considered it (hello, revisions!), but even if I had, I would have already failed MISERABLY! Not that failure isn't always an option (it is!), but why set myself up for it? That's all I'm asking.

In related news, I'm actually moving forward on revisions and not just muttering about moving forward on the the revisions. Seriously. There's been a lurch in the general direction of "forward."

I'm going see if I can figuratively put the clutch in, give it some gas, ease up and see if I can get off to a rolling start this weekend.

While wearing heels, of course.

Kisses!


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Up until I got home last night, I felt a little bad we weren't doing anything for Halloween. No decorations, no candy no pumpkin, no porch light.

And then came the realization of no trick-or-treaters and suddenly things were fine.

The neighborhood was dead. Dead, if you'll pardon the spooktacular pun. No tiny ghouls dashing around with plastic orange pumpkins, shaking down the neighbors for sugar.

It's weird at first glance; a family-oriented "planned community" packed full with ankle biters should be Halloween ground zero. But we're past that golden age of tricks or treats, aren't we? We've gone from the candy apples and popcorn balls of my mother's era to the glow-sticks-and-X-rayed-candy of my own childhood to church sponsored "harvest festivals" and trick-or-treating at shopping malls. During daylight hours.

I'm kind of sad that within a generation, a kid may never know the jittery combination of nerves and anticipation with every ring of a doorbell and that what was a pretty organic holiday (you dress up, we'll carve pumpkins and give candy) has been sanitized for your protection.

Yeah, I know. Someone flipped my maudlin switch sometime in the night.

Who wants pie?

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