Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

A few words on this, our first "Wordless Wednesday" post: I'm stealing this brilliant concept from our good friends the Luceros, so I beg their forgiveness and permission (and the same from whomever they may have borrowed "Wordless Wednesday" from--teehee).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Long, Strange Trip

A couple weeks ago, my mom and I set out to Denver to visit my brother and sister-in-law, Jean-Noel and Linda, in their cozy abode. I checked us in to our Southwest flight the day before, and we arrived at the airport two hours early, all set and ready to go, when I noticed the screen at the gate flashing that our flight had been delayed FIVE HOURS (Unfortunately, I had turned off my cell phone that morning as I took the day off work. Had it been on, I would have received the call from Southwest's automated flight status service...drats!).

I went to the gate agent to find out why we were delayed: extreme thunderstorms in Texas that shut down the Dallas airport, where our plane needed to land before coming to Albuquerque to pick us up. I joked that we could get to Denver sooner if we drove, and the agent looked at me frankly and said, "yes, you probably could". So, we did.

And the trouble only started at the airport...

We went back to my folks' house to borrow my dad's car for the trip. After a quick stop at Hasting's Entertainment in Albuquerque to purchase some sale CDs for the long road trip ahead (e.g., the Jerry MacGuire soundtrack, Willie Nelson B-sides, Miles Davis in Paris, Ella/Lena/Sarah/Billie, and yes, Dolly Parton), we headed north for what would become a 10-hour trip (it should have only been seven).

After passing through Santa Fe and Raton to cross the Colorado border, we made our first stop: Rino's Italian Restaurant in Trinidad, CO. You may remember from a previous Denver roadtrip post that Trinidad was once regaled as the sex change capital of the world.... Well, apparently it's home to eccentric restaurant owners, too. Once we returned home and I looked up this quaint little joint on TripAdvisor, I found an anonymous review that summed this place up perfectly: "I know it sounds schmaltzy, but the combination of good food at a reasonable price and singing waiters, mostly in Italian, made for a very enjoyable dinner." Couldn't have said it better myself.

Then there were the storms, a huge deluge on our approach into Westminster, the Denver suburb where Jean and Linda live, and a string of violent ones all along the drive home. At some points, we literally couldn't see a foot in front of us, and other cars were drifting into our lane, nearly driving us into a ravine. But, somehow, we survived....

We had a great time in Denver, visiting Jean-Noel and Linda, and enjoying their home, their garden, and their terrifying yet adorable dog, Lily (don't let the photo fool you--she's a whole lotta whoop-ass!).

We toured around 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver that Saturday, strolling by the D & F tower, once the next tallest building in the U.S. next to the Empire State Building in New York, according to one report I saw online. Earlier that day, Linda took me to the gym where she teaches weight training and aerobics so we could do two--count TWO--workout classes on Saturday morning. Needless to say, I was pooped by Saturday evening.

In our downtime, we watched a couple movies on their incredible 50" HD TV: Doubt and The Dark Knight, both so apparently real on that high-def TV, my dreams were especially vivid that night.

The weekend went by way too fast, and before we knew it, Mom and I were on the road again. This time, we only made one or two quick stops for food and gas. In Springer, quite a few miles south of the Colorado-New Mexico border, we stopped at Russells' Truck & Travel Stop, where we wolfed down a 6" Subway sandwich and then strolled through the unexpected 50s road trip museum, decked out with vintage cards, cardboard cutouts of 50s stars, and old gas pumps, gumball machines, and other memorabilia. It was a pleasant surprise before we drove into another overwhelming thunderstorm....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kicking Off the Los Lunas Farmers' Market

June 16th was the first day of the Los Lunas Farmers' Market, just 6 miles south of our place. We've signed up to be vendors later in the season when our watermelon, honeydew, cucumbers, radishes, and beans mature (if they make it!), but Tuesday we went to the market as customers.

It was a fantastic turn out for Day One of a brand new farmers' market; they had a bluegrass band, several vendors (many we recognized from various Albuquerque markets), and the Master Gardeners Program volunteers selling plants--oh, and DELICIOUS Italian Ice. We rode our bikes the six miles to the market along the Rio Grande bosque with our friends and neighbors, Karen and Jerry.

The ride to the market was gorgeous: not too hot, not too dusty due to recent rains, but not muddy, either. The ride back, on the other hand, was rife with mobs of mosquitoes and flurries of cotton flying into our faces, noses, and throats. I was pocked with mosquito bites and hoarse from coughing and sneezing when we arrived home. But it was definitely worth the ride!

The vendors were amazing: a couple with a one-acre farm had already sold out of bushels of artichokes by the time we arrived but still had some Swiss chard and beets, which we purchased. Another vendor sold blackberry habenero jam, blueberry marmelade, and apricot jam, mostly from local fruit. Yet another offered frozen grass-fed and -finished beef and wild-caught Alaskan salmon and other fish (his sign read "The Fish Hugger"). Mr. Hugger also ensnared us in a long diatribe about the health and reproductive dangers of electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) and how carrying a small piece of magnetite can help deflect them. It was actually my fault that we got into that conversation, as I've been reading a lot about health and EMFs lately and for unknown reasons brought up the subject. My mistake....

Strange, drawn-out conversations aside, we plan to go to the market every week, if we can make it. The wild fish and grass-fed and -finished beef is definitely in our plans next week!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Pay Dirt

I often joke that Jon's second home is an organic dump just a few miles north of us called, "Soilutions". I call it an organic dump, because they only sell certified organic material by recycling materials from yard clippings, feed stalls, landscaping projects, etc. More details are on their website:

The past month or so, Jon has arrived home with trucksful of native mulch, compost, and topsoil several times a week to dump into our new vegetable patch to help nourish and turn over the soil before we put in our plants (they're still in pots while we fix the soil). Today, I joined him at Soilutions to check out the scene, take some pics, and meet his "second family".
The reason we have to supplement our land with all this soil is because whoever occupied our land before must have used it as a construction dump. We imagine that they probably razed the previous house to the ground, dumped all the scrap into what we had planned to be our next vegetable patch, and probably didn't clean it up for many years. Jon has been digging for weeks, cleaning up countless cigarette butts, lighters, rusty construction nails, and pressboard around the areas we'd like to plant.

Needless to say, we're not planting in those areas until they're clean and new soil replaces whatever toxic mess is leftover. In order to apply for organic certification, we have to show that the soil has been "clean"--free from pesticides, chemicals, and waste such as what we're finding now--for at least three years. This farming gig, it's a journey....

So we'll plant this year's vegetables in the adjacent plot, which hasn't been polluted by construction waste. But we still need to churn in new soil and compost as the land hasn't seen irrigation or organic matter in decades. This is no small feat...we need all the good dirt we can get--plus, Jon just loooooves to play in it. :-)