Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pushing the Limits of Cuteness

I just die for this shadow. How perfect!!

Everyday at our house, Elsa pushes the limits of cuteness. You think you know cute, and then she wows you with another cute move. A move that's even cuter than you could have hoped for. They come constantly - the cute moves, that is - and I can't get enough.

One of my favorite cute moves is her head tilt. You know how puppies tilt their heads back and forth when they seem to be trying to understand something? Most dogs grow out of this behavior, but not my puppy! The vet remarked to me how cute it is, and when I told him how much I love it, he said that she probably still does it because she receives such a positive response from us. 

Recently, Andrew and I were hanging out in our bedroom. I was sitting on the end of the bed, and he was sitting on the couch, about 15 feet away. Elsa came in and hopped up on the couch to get some pets. I didn't want to miss out on the action so I called for her and she leaped from the couch and ran to me. She hopped up on the bed for more pets. Andrew called her back, and she ran to him. And then I called her back to me. Back and forth she went for a good five minutes. She was so excited that she flung herself on the couch with such gusto that she hit the back of it and yelped with excitement before flopping over on her back for scratches. This was definitely cute overload and pushed cute to a whole new level at our house. We call this game E-pong, and we've tried to recreate it on a few occasions with limited success. I guess it was just the perfect alignment of cuteness at our house that day.

Life is so much more fun with a dog!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Roasted Radishes

I've been meaning to post this for weeks, but I've been too busy with traveling. On the chance that you still have any radishes left in your garden or CSA box, here's a tip - roast them.

Our radishes are very peppery. Despite the seed package's label that they are mild and pleasant, our radishes are so overpowering that they make your tongue burn after one bite. I was wondering what I was going to do with 32 radishes when it occurred to me that I should try roasting them. The results were fantastic! All of the strong pepper flavor goes away, and you're left with an earthy, slightly sweet wonderful taste.

They are tasty enough that I was roasting extra each time because we couldn't help ourselves from popping several in our mouths as we were making the rest of dinner. Yum!

So far everyone who I've mentioned roasted radishes to seems surprised. This doesn't seem to be a common practice, at least in New Mexico, so I wanted to post this idea.

Roasted Radishes

One bunch radishes, washed well, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
Olive oil
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss radishes in enough olive oil to lightly coat (about 1 tablespoon). Spread radishes on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly season with sea salt. Roast radishes for 15 minutes, stir, and roast for another 5-10 minutes until radishes are tender and slightly browned.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Memories of Old Dreams

When I was in high school, I imagined that my life as an adult would be split between New York and Paris. I’d work for a private company with offices in both cities, and I’d jet between them often. (Back then, it was just a company – no need to specify private – as it hadn’t occurred to me yet that I might not work for a company at all but rather government agencies.) I’d wear colorful high heels and black pencil skirts, my hair in a loose chignon. I would lead bilingual board meetings, eat in fancy restaurants while wining and dining clients and drink champagne cocktails with my girlfriends. I would execute big-deal deals often.
Oh, and I would get to fly back and forth to France on the company jet. I would travel in luxury. You know what I’m talking about - just the normal life of a gal with a French degree and a penchant for trans-Atlantic travel. I would often fantasize about this future life as I sat in French class working on my vocabulary and French accent. All of this studying and practicing now will be worth it, I thought, because life will be fabulous as an international businesswoman. Ha!

I’ve found myself thinking about that fancy schmancy lifestyle this week. I’m in Indianapolis for a conference, and as I sat alone at my dinner table the other night, waiting for my food to arrive, looking around at all the other diners enjoying themselves with their dates and friends and families, and feeling pretty lonely (despite being surrounded by hundreds of people with whom I share some professional interest, the lack of real personal connections at conferences makes me feel very lonesome and homesick), I thought to myself how much I dislike traveling for work. Then I thought back to my high school plans and smiled to myself about how different my life is now than how I thought it would be fifteen years ago. Instead of international business deals and pencil skirts, I am attending a conference for an association of public servants, wearing bright and colorful clothes with Chaco sandals and turquoise toe nails, my hair is a curly whirl of frizz thanks to the humidity here and I’m typing this on my antique iBook G4. Pretty far from New York, really far from Paris and a world away from that jet setting life I once wanted. So far, in fact, that my own husband, who I’ve known for almost ten years, didn’t even know about this teenage dream. When we were in Paris a few months ago, I mentioned to Andrew how funny it is to think back on that life I had imagined compared to our lives today in the land of the lawless and eternally casual. Apparently, it was the first time I had mentioned it to him.

By the time I finished college, I knew that I would not be an international businesswoman. It only took one semester in business school to learn that I did not want to work in finance or management or be anywhere near the world of big business and corporations. After a couple of weeks in business school, I begged my advisor to let me transfer back to liberal arts. After I spent a year studying in France, I also knew that French was not my passion. Sure, I loved traveling, spending time in France, eating in France, I even enjoyed speaking French, but the pressure I put on myself to speak perfectly with an extensive vocabulary was too much. My standards for myself (and the standards of French people for foreigners speaking their language) were too high to allow me to find any real joy in pursuing French. I remember feeling devastated by this realization as my year abroad was winding down, but incredibly liberated by it once I returned to Minnesota and declared with certainty that language learning is not my passion. I wanted to experience life in France, but I did not want to dedicate my life to learning and practicing the language. I am too much of a perfectionist for language learning I told myself and set out to find a different life plan.

Without wanting to pursue French rigorously or being willing to enter the world of business, the dream of the international businesswoman died. That sounds dramatic, but the truth is that I didn’t really mind the dream dying because it’s not the life I wanted anymore. I wanted to do something that was meaningful to me and that made a positive impact in my community. I devoured the course catalog going department by department reading each course description looking for the classes that seemed most interesting and exciting. I settled on urban studies and community planning and signed up for as many graduate level planning and public affairs classes as they would let me.

And now, here I am almost fifteen years later sitting in the Indianapolis airport. I wouldn’t rather be in New York or Paris… Ok, maybe I would rather be in Paris. If I was, I know exactly where I would be headed. But, I really would rather be on the river or at the cabin or in the mountains. I’m really looking forward to getting back to my cozy little house in Santa Fe, seeing Andrew and the dog girls and back to the clear (hopefully smoke-free), thin air of the high desert.

Monday, July 1, 2013

More Drama on the Chama {with real drama this time}

Thunderstorms, lightning and wildfires. And of course, the usual hot springs, gourmet meals and sleeping under the stars.

All was going well on our weekend trip with a lovely rain shower on Friday evening that cleared in time to sit in the hot springs before dark. Andrew and I even sneaked in another soak Saturday morning before breakfast.

As we were rafting down the Chama River on Saturday, about mid-day, our friend Michael pointed out white smoke billowing over the canyon rim on river right. Immediately, we knew it was another wildfire. There are no structures or power lines in the area so we speculated that it must have been started by the lightning storm on Friday evening. We kept our eye on the smoke as we continued down the river.

As we came around a bend, we realized that the fire wasn't on the other side of the ridge like we thought. It was in the canyon between us and the trees on the top of the ridge. We could see the smoke billowing and trees flaming only a couple of hundred yards away. As you can imagine, this caused a bit of a panic amongst the group wondering if the fire would spread through the canyon. As the BLM ranger put it, this could be the last time we ever see the Chama looking like this. The smoke turned from white to black pretty quickly. The fire was clearly getting worse by the minute. Helicopters were circling around presumably assessing the situation. The canyon filled with smoke that made the air hazy and our eyes and throats burn.

We went a ways further down river and saw the river ranger from BLM on river left with a good vantage point. The ranger told me that they wouldn't be fighting the fire since it didn't threaten any structures. I'm not sure why, but they did start fighting it. Helicopters with buckets began flying into the smoke to drop water, and another helicopter dropped a crew off on top of the mesa.

We stayed for about an hour hoping that the ranger would hear back on his satellite phone whether or not we would have to evacuate. We eventually couldn't stand the smoke any longer and continued down river. Luckily, within the half hour of putting back on the river, it started to downpour. It rained for at least an hour, and we all hoped that the rain would help contain the fire.

We pulled off at a campsite, although we had been warned by the ranger not to unload or set anything up until later in the day in case we had to evacuate. After the rain stopped, we set up our camp. We couldn't see smoke up the canyon, although it is hard to see because of the steep walls, so we hoped that the fire was contained. The next morning was the same story - no sight or smell of smoke.

On the last day of the Chama trip you pass by the Christ in the Desert Monastery and just below that at Chavez Canyon is a put-in for day runs. The mood and atmosphere of the trip always changes at that point because all of a sudden there are lots of people on the river. As we passed by Chavez Canyon and the folks on the river suddenly included more people, it felt like maybe Saturday afternoon had never happened. There was no indication that anyone was concerned about the fire or even knew about it. It was a bizarre feeling.

I checked the New Mexico fire info this morning, but I didn't see anything about the fire in the canyon. I'm hoping that this means it was indeed contained fairly quickly.
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