Sunday, July 29, 2018


You know that I just got home from a visit to Albuquerque to see my family there.  I really like Albuquerque and here are just a few Did You Knows to tuck away in the useless information file –

1. Albuquerque was named in honor of Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 10th Duke of Alburquerque who was Viceroy of New Spain from 1702 to 1711.

2. It celebrated it’s tricentennial in 2006.
3. It is surrounded by the Sandia Mountains.  "Sandía" is Spanish for "watermelon", and is popularly believed to be a reference to the brilliant coloration of the mountains at sunset: bright pink (melon meat) and green (melon rind).
4. Albuquerque sits at an altitude of 5352 feet (that’s over a mile up).  For a flat-lander, like me, the air is thin – I’m used to breathing water here.
5. It’s dry there – like the average humidity ranges from 20%-40% (Here – average humidity starts in the 70% and goes up from there.)

They actually have four seasons there (yes, yes, we do also although here 3 of the 4 include the word ‘summer’).  The city is large but not mega-too-big-to-imagine-or-get-around-in-easily (like, say Houston).  There are a large number of things to do there.  Very cool shops and good restaurants.

In addition to some of the things I’ve already mentioned, while there, we ---

Went to the Da Vinci Exhibition.  Interesting – the man was a genius.  All the art displayed were copies – hmmm a little disappointing.  And there was a display of some of his machines.  

The Odometer was designed to measure the distance traveled by the small cart

Not quite the same as a modern machine gun, Da Vinci’s ’33-barreled-organ’ allowed a set of 11 muskets to fire one after another, rotating to allow the barrels to cool off.

For those Breaking Bad fans, one morning we went to Loyola’s for breakfast.

We went to the Growers Market – a big expanded farmer’s market.  I want one of those here!  In addition to locally grown vegetables, they had fruit, eggs, meats, cheeses, flowers, plants, artists and crafters and other stuff.

They also had this guy – he does Goose Tarot.  I didn’t have a chance to investigate further but next visit I will!

The next day we went to The Rail Yards, to another farmer’s market.  It’s held in the historic buildings that once was home to the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Rail Yards.  While not as big a market as the Grower’s, it was still an interesting place.

On the way to the Da Vinci Exhibition, the girls and I stopped for a donut at the most unusual donut shop I’ve ever been in.  The Spur Line Supply Company (goods for good living).  And, the donuts were really, really good!

We went to the Old Town Gazebo to listen to an open-air concert by Ambush Brass.

And, we went to Los Problanos, where they have




Well – it is a Lavender Farm

Take care

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Shall I be “Mother”?

OK – here’s something else we did while I was in Albuquerque.  We went to The St. James Tearoom.  Now, if there are any men out there reading this, do not poo-poo the adventure and say – humph – this is just for girls.  Yes, many of those attending were women, however there were a number of men there also.  And, this is a perfect way to treat and impress someone you care about from grandparents to romantic interests.  Plus the service is perfect and the food is really good.

Honestly, it’s not a shorts and tank top kind of place.  It’s a place with a bit of Victorian magic.  The tearoom opened in 1999 with the owner deciding to use the 19th century Brittish tradition of Afternoon Tea as the theme.  The idea being it would allow people to escape modern-day agitation, to depart from the chain-restaurant sameness, and provide a private place to talk, relax, and be somewhere else for a while.

When we got there, we entered into the Tea Shoppe.  A place with beautiful china, books, teas, pastries, and other accouterments related to eating very good food and drinking teas.

We were shown to our private room.  So, the entire place is divided into small to medium sized rooms and your room depends on the size of the party.  Each room is furnished with antique style furniture, art, and subdued lighting.  It’s very cozy.

In care you’re not aware – Afternoon Tea is a full meal.  Our server arrived with a three tired tray filled with fruit, savories and tea sandwiches, scones and breads, and a variety of sweets, all handmade on site.  We also had three different teas to try.

Theme of the day

Honestly - those scones were the
best - I could have brought home a dozen
except, I'd be the one eating them!

And, the food was delicious – lovely to look at and better to eat!  The teas were good – our favorite being The Dutchess of Bedford – “a blend of raspberries and rose petals with Ceylon tea”. 

It was a perfect afternoon.  You should go if you have a chance!

Take care

Friday, July 27, 2018

XYZT: Abstract Landscapes

Another really cool thing we did while I was in Albuquerque, was to go to the XYZT Interactive Digital Art Exhibition at the Artechouse.  If you have the chance, you should go.

When you get there, you step into a room of lines, dots, and letters which allow you, by manipulating algorithms, to dance, jump, skip, touch and frolic (and isn’t that a good old-fashioned but descriptive word!) in a virtual playground with four dimensions – X (horizontal), Y (vertical), Z (depth), and T (time). 

There were 10 different installations to interact with and it was fun!

Three people mirrored in a digital field

XYZT: Abstract Landscapes is a world-traveled installation by French contemporary digital artists and multimedia choreographers Adrien M & Claire B.  

Take care

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Driving and Cars and Driving

I just got home from a visit to my family in Albuquerque, NM.  I had a wonderful time and will talk about some of the things we did later.  For a number of reasons, I decided to drive rather than any of the other modes of transportation. 

It.  Is.  A.  Very.  Long.  Drive.

Yes, a very long drive specially when there is only one person able to do the driving.  I took my little dog, Morgan, with me, however she’s not allowed to drive.  So, it was just me. 

Actual trip is just under 1000 miles.  I make it in two days, with the longest haul the distance between Wharton and Lubbock (522 miles).  I have a cousin in Lubbock and can stay with him for a day, rest up and head out for Albuquerque the next morning (399 miles – all up!).

It’s an interesting drive – you pass through much of the Hill Country and a number of small to medium size towns – Sealy, Brenham, Cameron, Gatesville ……. and so forth.  As you get closer to Lubbock the rolling hills end and the south plains start. 

Flat country

 Wind Farms just north and west
of Abilene

And the oil/gas fields
side-by-side to the Wind Farms

Driving to Albuquerque, the countryside changes to high desert.  I think everything is UP there.  My little car was huffing and puffing some through the mountain roads. 

Still, Morgan and I got there without incident, had a wonderful week, and headed for home this past Saturday.  The trip home was not so nice.

I felt a difference in the way the car went up and down the roads leaving Albuquerque within an hour or so.  Hmmmmm.  So, here’s what I know about cars  (1) I know how to start one (that uses a key); (2) I know how to put windshield wiper fluid in the reservoir; (3) I know how to check the oil and add more if necessary; and (4) I know where the spare tire is and, generally, how to change a tire.  After that – I am out of my comfort zone.  Still, no lights came on, car was driving along well enough, just not passing easily (ok – going up and down still – it’s a car used to flat country). 

About the time I got to Clovis, NM, the car would not shift into passing gear.  Possibly this is bad.  And by Muleshoe, TX it wouldn’t go over 50 mph.  Oh, this is certainly bad. 

Now, here’s a little weird thing – as I crossed over the Lubbock County line, my brain started imagining flames – as in the car on fire.  And, the way brains work, I started prioritizing things I had to do in case the car caught fire.  1.  Stop and pull over; 2. Turn off the car; 3. Grab Morgan; 4. Grab my phone and purse; 5. Get out and away from the car.

Bing!  On came to “Check Engine Soon” light.  Yep, this is not good.  But no other lights came on.  It wasn’t in the hot engine zone.  Onward.  I got to Lubbock; just barely. 

Stopped at a Firestone shop to see if they could tell me what’s wrong.  Now, while they are good with tires and oil changes, the guys there couldn’t tell me anything else.  It might be the transmission.  Oh hells bells and little fishes.  They can’t help with that.  OK.  Heavy sigh.

Monday, I took the car to a recommended mechanic. 

Floating in front of my eyes.

Good and bad news.  Good:  Not the transmission.  Bad:  The catalytic converter was completely stopped up and got hot enough to melt the intake manifold.  This was bad, could have been really terrible bad.  Good:  They could fix it on Monday.  So, when I picked up the car Monday afternoon, the mechanic guy said “I’m amazed you got to Lubbock without catching fire, it was that bad”.  Ohhhhh – brain seeing flames…….

The drive home yesterday was very long but without major problem until I got to just before Caldwell.  Normally, Hwy 36 toodles along, turns left and then right toward Caldwell.  Nope – the road people had the Caldwell exit blocked off.  So, Siri tells me to “Turn right onto 2nd Street.  Turn."  WHERE???  No streets – just dumpy empty buildings and vacant lots.  Zipped past the closed exit.  So, Siri tells me “In 9.5 miles turn onto FM3473”.  OK.  When I got to that FM, she tells me to make a U-turn and go back to 2nd Street.  Aaaarrrrrggghhhhh!!!!!  I could have made a U-turn without going 20 miles out of my way!  Actually, I was not very nice to Siri and made some rather specific suggestions about her directions.

Anyway, as I got close to where she wanted me to turn, I slowed down, took a breath and turned onto what appeared to be a dirt parking lot.  Actually, it was a narrow ungraded dirt road.  And after much turning and twisting, it dumped me back onto Hwy 36.  And, we continued homeward. 

Take care

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Adventuring in MAD-rid

So, another thing I got to do with my granddaughters was visit the old mining (and ghost) town of Madrid, NM.  With a population of about 400, Madrid has become an amazing artists’ community.  It is located on New Mexico State Hwy 14 (The Turquoise Trail) on the northeast side of the Sandia Mountains.  It’s a pretty drive from Albuquerque.  The shops showcase everything from recycled art, folk art, and steampunk to pottery, jewelry, and Victorian clothing.  The Cerrillos Hills State Park is close by for hiking and horseback riding, if you’re so inclined.

So, here we go – Did You Know

·         Although the town was founded in 1869, it didn’t thrive until the 1880’s when coal mining began on a large scale.

·         You pronounce the town’s name as MADrid (not MaDRID like in Spain)
·         In the early 1900’s the Albuquerque and Cerrillos Coal Company created a “company town” that supported about 3000 people.  It provided the residents with everything they needed including bringing in 160,000 gallons water every day.
·         By 1954, the coal market collapsed and the residents moved away.  The Wall Street Journal listed the entire town for sale for $250,000. (about $3.5 million today’s dollars)
·         In the early 1970’s, the then owner, Joe Huber, began to sell or rent some of the old houses and buildings to artists, craftsmen and mountain living people.
·         It’s said Madrid and the surrounding area is haunted with numerous ghost sighting reported in homes, the church, the cemetery, and the Mine Shaft Tavern.  Very cool – I might need to rent a room there some time.

It’s a nice little village to visit.  But be aware – there is not a single gas station – none, nada, zip.  The closest one is 10 miles further on.  And, no grocery or convenience store.  There are a couple of nice places to eat, a tavern, interesting shops, and unusual arty things.  Just have to know what’s important!

Yes, I was taken by the odd things.

Take care