Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ahhhh Merry Christmas everybody

Just like old times (except for the new kid) for part of the gang from LA. Jessie of gregarious impala fame returned from the land of impalas and spent a couple days at our place. Our 2 bedroom apartment is huge compared to Kenyan homes! To live more Kenyan-like, we should hire someone to cook and clean for us. Why so? Work is scarce there (40% unemployment in 2001, Jessie said 70% now), so people with jobs share the wealth by paying someone to do their household chores.

Here's what we had for Christmas eve dinner: bacon-cheese-onion-mini-sandwiches, beef tenderloin with mushroom sauce, green beans, green leaf lettuce, and apples. Yum!
The other thing I did today was replace the front brake on my gray bike. Wow, huge improvement! This normal 20 minute task became a 4 hour struggle as I attempted to optimally place my front rack and fender. There are 3 contact points (A. below fork crown, B. fork legs, and C. fender/front of rack) and 4 constraints (1. level rack, 2. good fender line, 3. rack tange goes between fender and front brake, and 4. rack supports reach fork legs). The new brake altered contact point A, so B and C had to change. I stopped after achieving 1, 3, and 4, but 2 is so-so. Phew!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas cookies

Tis the season for Christmas cookies. We solicited help from the aptly named polkadot family. Fun, crafting, and yumminess ensued.

Three of us, with self portrait.

Ho ho ho, merry Christmas everybody!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

big weekend part 2

Friday night's party was merely the first of several fun events from last weekend

Ryan was up for a ride on Sat, and so were we! Ominously, a neighbor said, 'good thing you're riding now before the wind blows hard'. It became quite windy. Jill didn't want to ride too far, so she stopped off at the Tijeras library and read a book while Ryan and I headed for the bottom of the ski resort, thinking we'd avoid the wind. A mile up the Crest road we crossed a snow drift and stopped and ate 3 chocolate chip cookies each before deciding that Heartbreak Hill would be a safer, drier destination.

With a massive tailwind, we played 'whose bike shimmies the most' while cruising at 30+ mph. My Trek won easily. Riding a goodly distance with such a tailwind is like charging up the credit card before Christmas: the Man will get paid. The added bonus pain was climbing the H Hill. Here's Ryan nearing the top.
We slowly rode back to civilization, where I was able to order and eat the double chile cheeseburger from Burger Boy for the first time.

This weekend was also the acting debut of my boss and his wife. They along with two of their kids starred in their church's production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. My brief review:

It was a jolly good show with an unusual perspective of Jesus' birth. I laughed, I tried not to cry, and felt good all over afterward. David was able to reach outside of himself to play the sarcastic, yet inwardly kind, father figure. A fine performance! His wife truly carried the show with her portrayal of the ever-loving, humble wife/mother pushed to the forefront due to a tragic roller skate-induced accident (off-scene action). His daughter was an angel (of course), and his son was a very believable shepherd in his camouflage bathrobe.

Kindly, the now famous actors deigned to pose for a photo with me after the show.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Celebrating a birthday by ...

Since it was a certain special person's birthday and since we had so much fun at the previous dance party, you can probably guess what we did to celebrate.

The birthday girl (in her birthday shirt (that's for a neighborhood 3 year old that was interested)) and the lovely Jill warm up the floor.

There's no lack of energy when 3 families and 8 kids get together.

Maybe because he felt so much younger than his now even older sister, this feller tried to get a little taller.

Balloon baseball complete with bleacher crazies was a big hit.

A few things of note. Jill made a lovely guacamole and some choc chip cookies. Mrs. 5afamily made the most amazing ice cream cake you can imagine. And the birthday girl is one of the sweetest kids you'll ever meet. Happy b-day C!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

December heat wave

Some disparate thoughts after a warm December weekend.

Mountain biking was my introduction to recreational bicycle riding, but I don't ride trails too often any more. On Saturday, I decided to give some trails a go on my 'cross bike. I was 'just riding along' on a smooth path when WHACK, something solid hit my right pedal. Hmmm, that called for an investigation that revealed the binding mechanism smashed against the spindle. A few blows with a rock made it somewhat usable, so I kept riding and the trail became really rugged. Then I walked a lot over big rocks. Just when I was feeling some rhythm I hit an invisible sharpness that popped my slime filled front tube. Eventually, I reached pavement and pure bliss!

Friend Doug from Los Alamos just got back from a tour in Afghanistan, so a bunch of his friends ate dinner at Second Street Brewery in Santa Fe on Sat. His best story: most meals are same old MREs, so his buddies and the Italians swapped MREs. Doug finished his meal and ate the included bad tasting dinner mint. An english speaking Italian said that was the fuel pellet. Doctor told Doug he'd be fine in two days.

Continuing the topic, I found that emptying and cleaning the barf bucket isn't so awful. Not that I want to do it often. This observation and the fact that Jill is not prominantly mentioned in this post are related.

Great quote by the sage George Eliot in Brother Jacob, "... the world is so inconveniently constituted that the vague consciousness of being a fine fellow is no guarantee of success in any line of business." Being a fine fellow in pursuit of a job, I could not agree more.

Finally, one more shot from the Ruidoso trip, this time at the Museum of the Old West. As per museum rules, no stage coach was touched in this re-enactment.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Muy Ruidoso

We celebrated Thanksgiving in Abq, and then headed south to Ruidoso, so named for the 'noisy river' that runs through town. Apparently, there's a nice path along the river near the downtown area, but we jumped over fallen trees and scrambled up rocks without seeing a paved trail.

We ate at Le Bistro, a nice Frensch restaurant that disturbed me by hanging hundreds of empty wine bottles from the ceiling, Hall of Flame burgers, and the pizza place in the middle of downtown. Interestingly, all restaurants were quite full on Saturday for lunch but were nearly empty for dinner on Fri and Sat night. We can't understand where the people go/went.
We took a short hike on Saturday morning near Cedar Creek, but turned around as the trail started to disappear.
The Ruidoso area is most famous because Billy the Kid hustled cattle in the area. His exploits began by joining a new general store owner in the area who tried to break the monopoly of the existing general store that supplied Fort Sumner. Go government-enabled-monopolistic-capitalism!

On Sunday morning, we hiked in the White Mountain area. The campground at the trailhead was was closed so we had to park a 1/2 mile from the Bluefront trailhead. We're pretty sure that not a single person was on the trail besides us all day.

Fantastic views from near the top.
Two thumbs up for Ruidoso. And we didn't even visit the horse race track, fancy casino, and ski areas.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Jill is thankful for:

Confidence that God knows what He’s doing
The Bible, and Bible Study books with blanks to fill in
Cozy apartment, most comfortable space on earth, especially when Chad’s here
Chad learning to play guitar
My family and Chad’s family
Bike lanes
Perfectly tuned bicycles with carrying capacity
Our favorite neighbors, and the many comings and goings between their house and ours
Cushy part-time job
Local tea shop hangout
Church friends
Church friends trusting us with their kids
Crochet hooks and a stash of yarn
Football, and the resurgence of the Colts
Weekly box of seasonal fruits and vegetables
Thursday night “Survivor” parties
Facebook and blogs for keeping in touch with friends
The public library around the corner

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dance Mania

What to do on a Friday night?

Jill had an idea . . .

a happening,

the first ever,

the beginning of a phenomenon

soon to be the hottest ticket on the East Side,

the Polkadot Dance Party.

You need to be thinking of a way to get on the guest list.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

a simple goal

It seems that now is not the best time to be out looking for work, but that's what the bbb clan is up to right now. We've thrown the resumes around here and there and received a few nibbles. But we have no promises at the moment. My job goes through mid-Jan and then...???

To counter this uncertainty, we have made a certain objective: we plan to stay in Abq! I find it calming to have at least one fixed target to combat the lost feeling that 2 overeducated, underexperienced (well, maybe this only describes me) pseudo-professionals feel in a wide open job search.

This situation feels ironic to me because a major reason I stayed in school just short of forever was to ensure that people would beg me to work for them. Alas, I apparently studied the wrong topic. I got into groundwater contamination just as the EPA superfund program was running out of money. As an aside to future grad students: don't enter a field just as it's peaking or has peaked. Also, if you want to get rich, never enter a field whose goal it is to 'clean things up'. Once things are cleaned, you're out of work.

As it is, our goal is not to become rich, but to stay in Abq. Take that, THE MAN!

It was a beautiful weekend here. We loaded up our recycling on the Ute and dropped it off before joining the Polkadots for lunch. The black bean chicken pizza (#2) at Scarpa's is yummy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

to the Crest

Our buddy Ryan got a new, this-blog-approved bike last week and wanted to test out its handling. What better place to do so than the Crest's 14 miles of hairpins and slopes?

We left our house at 9:45 am with 45 degree temps expecting a high of 60. Very pleasant, except when screaming down the 10500 ft high Crest through the shadowy canyon. That was ouchy cold. At the bottom of the descent, we ate lunch at the Lazy Lizard. Either they don't believe in indoor heating, or we were still frozen from the descent. Thankfully their calzones were hot and yummy.

Ryan's new bike is a prototype from Boulder Bicycle painted baby blue. It has very low trail and very thin gauge steel tubing. Lovely! I rode my big boy blue bike and stuffed my windbreaker, scarf, wool cap, coke, and snickers dark in my jersey pockets. Jill was on her red bike with a rear bag to carry her warm clothes. All 3 bikes were made in the USA -- what are the odds of that?

Even though we've only bought one bike this year (the Ute), don't think that we're not experimenting with new bike technology, like this super light, compact bike:
Riding this bike put much strain on my shoulders, so I don't plan to borrow it for a long ride. Also, the rear hub made a funny noise when I rode it, but not when Jill rode it. Perhaps, I'm too heavy?

Friends and their babies are joining the bike craze. This happy mommy and baby met Jill for lunch last week when the temp was 40. It's never too early to toughen up the next generation -- might come in handy some day.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tent Rocks, Dude!

So, it's called Tent Rocks because the rock formations look like teepees.

It is a most scenic hike.
If you happened to watch "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" the night before, you'll probably dare your friends to greet fellow hikers with "party on, dudes!"

There's a historical cave,

a bodacious tree,

totally interesting rocks,

and an excellent slot canyon.

When you get to the top, you will be most triumphant.

Party on, dudes!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

largest Ute load yet

This morning I got up a little earlier than the lovely lady. What to do? How about ride the Ute to the grocery store. LL had made a list already, so off I went.

Here's a older pic of the Ute in action. Since this photo, we've added folding steel baskets on each side and replaced the tall gray basket with a shorter and longer red basket (thanks Edie!).

Here's the goods still in the bags. I underestimated the amount of stuff on the list, so I had to get 2 plastic bags.

Inspired by the book Hungry Planet: What the world eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio, here's me with the goods. For the book, they traveled the world taking photos of families with the food they eat during a week. The most striking part of the book was that one family in a developing country didn't understand the meaning of 'favorite food'. I'd say we're quite blessed here in the USA.

That's 60 lbs of food (and laundry goods) for $74.

And here's Monday's fruit-and-veggie haul to complete our portrait. LPO box: $28.

Monday, October 20, 2008

happenings of the previous week

It rained one day last week here, in the desert, in the morning. My rain gear works well. Riding in the rain is really fun, once in a while.

Big Friday off last week. Even kids had it off, so this here fun group went to the zoo.
We watched Almost Famous (movie) this weekend. Really good quote from the main character's mom to a rock star, "It's not too late for you to become a person of substance." That's my rallying cry for the week.

Finally, Jill is riding home from the grocery store near an elementary school. Two boys are walking on the sidewalk. One says, "Hey lady." Jill turns, smiles, and says hello. He continues, "You smell like boogers."

Monday, October 13, 2008

a year removed

I met Brent's wife a week before meeting him. We had just started to attend the Presbyterian church in town, a church we chose primarily because it was close to our house and because it's webpage had pretty reasonable doctrine. Edie is a gem, she makes everyone feel like a friend right away.

I didn't know that Brent was Edie's husband when we met. My first impression was that he probably was underemployed at some dead-end job (this, it turns out, is not that far off his dream job of working at Dion's pizza restaurant). He was joking around about some topic that has slipped my memory. Actually, there's lots of reasons that I shouldn't have liked him. He drove a suburban alone to work everyday (we live 2 stone throws from their house now, and I ride my bike every day), he was a die hard Cowboys fan (49ers for me), he was a triathlete (road bike racers make fun of their clothes and lack of bike handling skills), and I'm not a fully-reformed-Presbyterian.

But we became fast friends. This was easy because, like us, Brent's family had time to do fun stuff. We went out to lunch together after church a few times. We were particularly impressed with their kids. Somehow they didn't mind so much sitting around listening to grownups talk for an hour or more.

Brent had a real gift of friendship. He loved to joke around and have a great time. He had an uncanny ability to remember details about our lives and asked us about them. He was humble. The last time I saw him, he told me that while carrying Edie down a flight of stairs, he missed a step and dropped her in front of a group of people. He was super embarrassed. He lifted weights so that he'd be strong enough to carry Edie as needed, and also, if you ask me, to look fit.

We learned about Brent's death when we got to church that Sunday. It was a particularly unusual weekend for us. We were watching the 4 young kids of another family from church, and my aunt and uncle were in town for a visit. During the service, the youngest boy didn't want to sit still, so he and I went to the lobby where he wandered around and I grieved.

I had only known Brent for 6 months. It's been easy to find friends in this big world, but great friends are a rare treasure. We no longer have Brent's strong arms to uplift us, but the Lord's arms never fail. I miss my friend.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

weekend watching wee ones

A buddy from church got married in Oregon this weekend. Another family with 5 kids wanted to attend this wedding, but flying that many kids is awfully expensive. Enter Chad and Jill, substitute parents at the ready. The real parents spent a nice weekend where the grass and trees are green. Sub parents took over the house on Friday through Sunday afternoon.

Some might argue that taking care of 5 kids is a huge deal. I say the more the merrier, when the kids are fun and very well-behaved. We played soccer, freeze tag, and monkey (like Marco polo, but on the playground equipment. I had to be It first without good knowledge of the equipment -- thankfully, I managed to not bang my head or fall to my doom before tagging someone. And, no, I didn't cheat.). We rode bikes, scooters, and footboards. We played Wii and watched 'Annie' and some football. We played racquetball. We went to church and stayed for the church lunch.

Here are two nice advantages we had as subs. First, the kids behaved super well. They get along well and like to play with each other (and let me play too). Real parents have to work hard to encourage such good behavior, we just enjoyed the results. Second, the parents stocked up on food, including dinners and lunches that we just had to heat up. So pretty much it was a short vacation for us too.

Sadly, we forgot our camera for the first day, so we don't have many photos.

Astute readers might notice the hand near my hip. It's Dad's. I admit that I played a little more Wii after Mom and Dad got home. But I was invited to do so. Really!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


On Saturday morning we roll out of bed and onto our bikes while it's still dark, so that we can catch the mass ascension at Balloon Fiesta.

It's so worth the ride!

And it's so colorful that I can't stop myself from snapping a zillion pictures in every direction.

Quite a few bikes show up at balloon fiesta park, including this pink hipster fixie. Note pink chain, card in spokes, no brakes.