Sunday, May 28, 2006

Johnny_Mango's Sunday Wallpaper: Pop Shaffer's Cabin in Mountainair

MOUNTAINAIR--You probably have heard of The Shaffer Hotel and Restaurant...but have you ever seen his cabin and workshop? It's just south of town near where Hwy 55 "wants to turn left."For best results, enlarge picture before using as wallpaper.

The Sunday Poem: Leslie Monsour Wonders if Your Own "High Standards" Keep YOU From Writing

American Life in Poetry: Column 061

Everywhere I travel I meet people who want to write poetry but worry that what they write won't be "any good." No one can judge the worth of a poem before it's been written, and setting high standards for yourself can keep you from writing. And if you don't write you'll miss out on the pleasure of making something from words, of seeing your thoughts on a page. Here Leslie Monsour offers a concise snapshot of a self-censoring poet.

The Education of a Poet

Her pencil poised, she's ready to create,
Then listens to her mind's perverse debate
On whether what she does serves any use;
And that is all she needs for an excuse
To spend all afternoon and half the night
Enjoying poems other people write.

Leslie Monsour's newest book of poetry is "The Alarming Beauty of the Sky" (2005) published by Red Hen Press. Poem copyright © 2000 by Leslie Monsour and reprinted from "The Formalist," Vol. 11, by permission of the author. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Tom and Ellen Just In From Pennsylvania

NOB HILL--My brother Tom and his wife Ellen are visiting from Pennsylvania. Now everybody knows that out-of-town visitors are going to end up at Garduno's sooner or later. In our case it was sooner. The whole in-town family was there: daughter Simone and grandson Robby, son Ivan and his GF Melanie, and MaryAnn's only son who lives here, Ethan (who had to leave early and missed the group picture). Along with MaryAnn and me, that made 9 of us.

I think it was the first time I felt totally at peace in ages. I haven't really seen Tom in almost 6 years. And he hadn't seen my kids in about 20. Nobody could really remember what the others looked like.

But everybody was so excited to renew the relationships. Here's to the future. Here's to all of us.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Time Slips Away...But Are You Smiling?

NOB HILL--I have to reflect a little on how time slips away. Does every day make you smile? Here in the Flyiing Star on a Friday morning in late May, two groups of people slip out of yesterday and into different...and so much alike.

Outside on Route 66, bike riders head east. "Boston!" they shout. Their jerseys say they belong to a CrossRoads tour. This L.A. to Boston route takes 50 days and cost them about $200/day (single occupancy), fully supported. They cruise by on their way to Santa Fe tonight by way of the Turquoise Trail.

Nearby at a table in the corner, three generations share a moment with yarn on their fingers. They were making designs with diamonds and rectangles. I don't know the names of any of these things except "cat's cradle" and I can't even do that one.

But the point is that this day, Friday morning, is not a day to throw away...and here are some of our compadres filling a moment with dreams and future memories. Hope your day passes as fruitfully.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bikepacking in the Jemez: 50 Miles of Duct Tape and Coffee (Posted on the Duke City Fix)

NOB HILL--If you are interested in mountain bike touring (or just exploring the Jemez), you might want to check out my DCF post for this week. Rob Bob Evans, his son Colin, and I toured 50 miles of mountain backroads over a period of 4 days camping out along the way.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Jail And The Numbers: Can America Survive As A Democracy?

NOB HILL--A most disturbing article was put up last night on Yahoo News. It's about the number of people in jails. I am going to post a few of the statistics. Just ask yourself: What do these numbers mean for a democratic country?

  • The report by the Justice Department agency found that 62 percent of people in jails have not been convicted, meaning many of them are awaiting trial.
  • In the 25-29 age group, an estimated 11.9 percent of black men were in prison or jails, compared with 3.9 percent of Hispanic males and 1.7 percent of white males.
  • The states with the highest rates were Louisiana and Georgia, with more than 1 percent of their populations in prison or jail. Rounding out the top five were Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
With almost 12% of young black men in jail, one has to ask, "Can democracy work?" The rich get richer...and the poor go to prison as just another rite of passage.

"It was the best of was the worst of times."

Johnny_Mango's Sunday Wallpaper: 2 Skulls Found In The Jemez

JEMEZ MOUNTAINS--Photographed just as I found them, these skulls say a lot about our trying to make sense of time. The decaying leaves and bleached skulls rest in a thicket of young oaks. I wonder if the person who arranged them ever visits his or her creation.

The Sunday Poem: Pennsylvanian Julia Kasdorf , What I Learned From My Mother

American Life in Poetry: Column 060


Most of us have taken at least a moment or two to reflect upon what we have learned from our mothers. Through a catalog of meaningful actions that range from spiritual to domestic, Pennsylvanian Julia Kasdorf evokes the imprint of her mother's life on her own. As the poem closes, the speaker invites us to learn these actions of compassion.

What I Learned From My Mother

I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewing even if I didn't know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another's suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

Reprinted from "Sleeping Preacher," University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992, by permission of the publisher. First printed in "West Branch," Vol. 30, 1992. Copyright © 1992 by Julia Kasdorf. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Johnny_Mango's Sunday Wallpaper: Smokey @ the Crossroads

JEMEZ MOUNTAINS--Tomorrow (Monday) Rob Bob Evans and I start a 3 or 4 day bikepacking adventure in the Jemez. Being prudent, we went up there last week and cached a couple gallons of water in a few spots along our 50 mile route. This forest road intersection was one of them. We made a note of it so we could find it again. We also flagged the spot with blue tape. I hope the water jugs are still there.

The Sunday Poem: Amy Fleury...At Twenty-Eight

American Life in Poetry: Column 059

Contrary to the glamorized accounts we often read about the lives of single women, Amy Fleury, a native of Kansas, presents us with a realistic, affirmative picture. Her poem playfully presents her life as serendipitous, yet she doesn't shy away from acknowledging loneliness.

At Twenty-Eight

It seems I get by on more luck than sense,
not the kind brought on by knuckle to wood,
breath on dice, or pennies found in the mud.
I shimmy and slip by on pure fool chance.
At turns charmed and cursed, a girl knows romance
as coffee, red wine, and books; solitude
she counts as daylight virtue and muted
evenings, the inventory of absence.
But this is no sorry spinster story,
just the way days string together a life.
Sometimes I eat soup right out of the pan.
Sometimes I don't care if I will marry.
I dance in my kitchen on Friday nights,
singing like only a lucky girl can.

"At Twenty-Eight" by Amy Fleury is reprinted from "Beautiful Trouble," Southern Illinois University Press, 2004, by permission of the author. The poem was originally published in Southern Poetry Review, Volume 41:2, Fall/Winter 2002. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Patrick Lyons: Is He Crooked? Could He Be That Dumb?

NOB HILL--I know I'm cheap. But doesn't $29,700 seem a little high for a 7 year old truck? Patrick Lyons, a Republican running for re-election for State Land Commissioner, says that's what he paid this year for his 1999 Ford F-250 SuperCab for use in his campaign.

The problem is that according to the value of this vehicle is $11, 097 retail. The Blue Book price is a little higher: $12,250. But as Blue Book says, dealer's retail is not a final price, only the dealer's asking price.

There are only three explanations that I can think of:
  1. He is the dumbest negotiator and appraiser of used trucks on the face of the earth.
  2. He bought the truck from a friend or family member and they got to pocket close to $20,000.
  3. He paid himself the price the truck sold for when he originally bought it new back in 1999. In other words he charged his campaign for a truck he already owned. In fact, if that is the case, he bought it 3 years before he ran for office.
Is this legal? Converting campaign contributions to private assets is bad enough, but is there deception here as well? We need an explanation.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Johnny_Mango's Sunday Wallpaper: Gold Street Table

DOWNTOWN--This blogger life sometimes has me just looking for the good times. Like last week, alone and adrift, I dropped my can outside the Gold Street Cafe. Yes, the chipotle potato salad and Burque Turkey were excellent. And yes again, I had more than one glass of iced tea.

The Sunday Poem: Massachusetts Poet Pat Schneider

American Life in Poetry: Column 058


A worm in an apple, a maggot in a bone, a person in the world. What might seem an odd assortment of creatures is beautifully interrelated by the Massachusetts poet Pat Schneider. Her poem suggests that each living thing is richly awake to its own particular, limited world.

There Is Another Way

There is another way to enter an apple:
a worm's way.
The small, round door
closes behind her. The world
and all its necessities
ripen around her like a room.

In the sweet marrow of a bone,
the maggot does not remember
the wingspread
of the mother, the green
shine of her body, nor even
the last breath of the dying deer.

I, too, have forgotten
how I came here, breathing
this sweet wind, drinking rain,
encased by the limits
of what I can imagine
and by a husk of stars.

Reprinted from "Another River: New and Selected Poems," Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2005, by permission of the author. First printed in "Kalliope", Vol. XII, No. 1, 1989. Copyright © 2004 by Pat Schneider. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Do You Know This Man? Clues From the Bottom

NOB HILL--The mind is a restless thing. Somehow my brain started talking to me while I was at a ribbon-cutting ceremony this afternoon. "Let's analyze this," it said. So I did.Take a look:
  1. Levi's...not Wranglers. This guy is an urban cowboy. Real cowboys go the other way.
  2. No vent in the coat. This suggests our guy has more than one sport coat, because if he only had one it would be more traditional. This old boy's closet has room for experimentation.
  3. Red tag. A little fuller in the thighs than the original. Hmmmmm...must be developed.
  4. Wallet mark. This is interesting in two ways. First of all, he is right-handed. Otherwise his wallet would be in his left pocket. One more thing (or lack of it) circle from a tobacco tin. This buckaroo runs in a civilized posse.
Any guess as to the identity of this ranch hand?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

M.J. Wilde, Best Newspaper Columnist of 2005, Gone

NOB HILL--Here's a copy of an email and reply between Tribune Editor Phil Casaus and me.
To: Jon Knudsen
Subject: Re: mj wilde
Date: May 4, 2006 9:46 AM
MJ is no longer with the newspaper. She's doing other things.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, May 04, 2006 9:09 AM
Subject: mj wilde

Hi Phil-
I noticed that MJ Wilde won "Best Newspaper Writing in 2005" for columns. And I just noticed that she is no longer on the Trib website.
Is she still with the paper? Where is she? What were the circumstances of her departure? Is there someone who could fill me in?
Jon Knudsen
I don't know how many of you read MJ Wilde's column(s) in the Trib, but if you didn't get a chance before, it is almost too late. Here are the columns that won her the award:

Anti-gay county inherits the windstorm

Life's scary. Ask my bosom buddies.

Bathing suit (my! oh!) can't skim flaws

I'd like to teach sodas to live in perfect harmony

The baseball - it's something to spit about

The American Society of Newspaper Editors announced the awards over a year ago and all award winners were compiled in the book, Best Newspaper Writing 2005.

I'm such a dummy, I didn't know any of this happened. But what really bugs me is this: whatever happened to M.J. Wilde? I'll email somebody else to see if more information is available. Meanwhile, read a column or two. You won't regret it.

The Amtrak Station: Worse Than I Thought (Today on the Duke City Fix)

DOWNTOWN--I was actually surprised by the condition of our railroad station. What a mess! I put up plenty of pictures to prove it. Make sure you click on them to see for yourself. That's today...on the Duke City Fix.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

36 Hours With Jim Baca (Today on the Duke City Fix)

NOB HILL--I took a 36 hour swing through southern New Mexico with candidate for Land Commissioner Jim Baca to get a feel for the campaign and the issues. The post is a little long, but ends up with me talking to the Governor.

The picture is of Jim in a trunktop strategy session with campaign aide Mario Montoya (on the left).