Monday, August 30, 2010

BlogPatrol Statistics

For quite some time I have had a Blogpatrol account ( BlogPatrol is a free service that shows you who is reading your blog, how they are finding it, what they are reading and when they are reading. I love checking on these statistics every now and then and am amused at how some of my older posts continue to attract new readers.

BlogPatrol tells me that, for the past seven days, 5:00 p.m. was the most popular hour for visitors to my blog, and I had more visitors on Thursday than any other day of the week.

A pie chart from BlogPatrol that I always find interesting is the one showing the number of unique visitors to my blog from various countries. BlogPatrol tells me that, in the past seven days, I had:
• 4 visitors from the United Kingdom,
• 5 from Germany,
• 5 from Canada,
• 5 from Australia,
• 6 from the Netherlands,
• and 125 from the United States.

How in the world, you may be wondering, do these folks from other countries find your blog? They find it by Googling specific words or phrases. One of the sets of statistics BlogPatrol provides is the top 20 keywords that people have searched for that landed them at my blog. For instance, in the past seven days:
• 4 people found my blog titled “Who Was Juan Tabo?” by Googling “Juan Tabo,” “Juan Tabo the person,” or “Who is Juan Tabo?”;
• 4 people found my blog titled “Jemez Mountains and Gilman Tunnels – October Photo Shoot” by Googling either “Jemez Mountains Tunnels” or “Gilman tunnels Jemez”;
• 3 people found my blog titled “Persion Flaws, Spirit Beads, Humility Squares and Thorns” by Googling “humility square,” “spirit beads,” or “humility is it a flaw”;
• and 2 people found my blog titled “Rain and Razor Blades” by Googling “razor blade slot” or “medicine cabinet blade slot”.
I’ve noticed that these four searches are almost always in the top 20, along with one other that didn’t show up this week: “foot x-ray machines in shoe stores” which lands visitors on my blog, “Feet and Shoes.”

If you blog, you, too, might want to consider getting a BlogPatrol account. It gives you some pretty interesting and detailed information about your readers, and you can’t beat a cost of $0.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More Than Just Customers

Growing up in Juneau was fun. The Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine had only been shut down for thirteen years when my family moved there in 1957. The town was still a frontier town. My dad’s bakery and coffee shop, which was located on South Franklin Street, in the older part of town, was a gathering spot for many of the old-timers. Many influential folks frequented our shop – politicians (even the governor, occasionally), business owners, lawyers, doctors - but the people I remember most vividly were the fascinating old pioneers. To me, they were more than customers – they helped form the web of childhood memories that live with me still.

Emil and Montana Bill were best friends, but were cut from two very different pieces of fabric. Bill’s moniker – “Montana” Bill – came from his place of residence, a wee little house (probably no more than 12’ by 12’) in the middle of a large, well-maintained garden, alongside Montana Creek. The tiny house was always immaculate, with fresh paint, contrasting window trim, and sweet-smelling wood smoke coming from his little chimney. He worked his garden diligently, by hand, and harvested vegetables that grew large, under the midnight sun. Emil, who spoke with a strong Norwegian accent, lived in an equally tiny house, but it was nothing but a dilapidated shack, set back in the woods and surrounded by all sorts of discarded rubbish, car parts, and weeds. Bill and Emil came to town together every Wednesday. They rode a bus into town, Bill looking all spit-and-polished; Emil looking (and smelling) like he hadn’t seen bath water in weeks. Bill and Emil would sit in my dad’s shop, drinking coffee, arguing good-naturedly, telling stories and laughing. Other old-timers, knowing that Bill and Emil would be there on Wednesday, would also show up, anxious to see them and to join in on the weekly banter.

One of those fellows was George. George was a gentleman. I don’t know whether he had a formal education or was self-educated, but he was intelligent. He ran a little key and lock shop/Post Office Sub-Station across the street from our bakery. George knew Alaska history, and had a history, himself, of trading with the Natives. As a result of his trading, he had some wonderful treasures – ivory, bead work, carvings, jewelry, documents, photos, art work. A few of those treasures George gifted to me, notably an ivory necklace, a hand-beaded belt, a carved wooden snuff box and an Indian lip plug. He also took a trip to his home country of Norway, once, and brought me back a pretty little silver bracelet from there. Once George invited us to his house for dinner. He took us to his basement where we saw, in amazement, what amounted to a museum of historic memorabilia.

Unlike George, Fishpole John was anything but a “gentleman.” He was a loud, coarse-talking character who owned a shop on South Franklin Street. In his shop he sold fishing poles that he made himself. They were truly pieces of art and were treasured by those who owned them. Fishpole John liked coming into the bakery and creating a ruckus. Although he knew that my mom, who worked in the bakery, was happily married to my dad, it appeared, to me, that Fishpole John was “sweet” on her. Once he even tried to woo her over with a gift of one of his signature salmon rods! Even this didn’t win Mom’s affection. She dreaded seeing John come in and hearing him bellow out, as he always did, “Hi Marge!” (Mom’s name is Margaret, and she has never gone by Marge.)

Bingo was Armenian. He was a short, roundish fellow, with a jaunty cap and a face covered with dark, thick stubble and a huge, jolly smile. I never knew much about his personal life, but I always loved it when he came into the shop. He told stories so funny that he couldn’t finish them for laughing so hard, himself, and his laughter was punctuated by hilarious nose-snorts.

I never knew the name of The Rat Man. We only knew him as The Rat Man. He was actually an exterminator who serviced most of the downtown businesses, including our bakery. Juneau was a seaport town, and much of the downtown was built on pilings, over the water. At high tide, you could open a hatch door in the basement of our bakery and look down onto the surface of the water. At low tide, the seaside rodents scurried beneath the streets and buildings, seeking a way to invade. So a regular regimen of extermination was absolutely essential. The Rat Man, so they said, actually lived under the buildings with the vermin, and had an unparalleled knowledge of their movement and habits. In Chicago people might have had to pay protection money to be safe from the gangs, in Juneau we paid protection money to The Rat Man to keep the rodents at bay.

Woody was the downtown garbage man. This was when garbage men were called garbage men, not sanitation engineers. This was before the time of modern trucks with fancy motorized lifts on them. Back then, people didn’t even put their cans to the curb! He knew where each person kept his can. Woody leapt out of his truck at every stop. He would lift the can; haul it to his truck, on his back; dump it; and return it to its proper storage place. Needless to say, Woody was STRONG! Because he hauled and dumped every can himself, it was easy to mine the trash for treasures, one or more of which he always attached to the front of his truck, bringing a smile to everyone’s faces.

Hattie Jessup, better known to us as Ragtime Hattie, was the piano player at the Red Dog Saloon. Hattie was well up in years, but had a fine girlish figure. A sharp dresser, and a little ahead of her time, she often wore slacks and always wore heels. Whether she wore slacks or skirt, she always dressed entirely in black, including her trademark black gloves. She wore, around her waist, a belt made of silver dollars. Her Ragtime piano notes tinkled out of the swinging doors of the Red Dog, and warmed the cool summer evenings of South Franklin Street. Hattie loved coffee and a powdered cake doughnut for breakfast. She would perch atop one of the red-vinyl-covered stools at our coffee counter, primly and properly, with her back as straight as a board, to eat her doughnut. Although she didn’t remove her gloves, to my fascination, she never got even a spot of powdered sugar on them.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Catching Up

I've been slacking a bit on blogging, so here's a brief review of a what's been going on around the Judd household in the past week or so.

Movie Night
One week ago, on Friday evening, Dan and I went to the movie theater to see Inception (Leonardo DiCaprio) - our first movie out in about a year. We both thought it was a great mind-bender of a story that was well-performed and well-directed. If you're like us, and only go out to a movie once a year or so, this one might be a good one to take in.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame
On Saturday evening we joined a fairly large group of folks from our church congregation in cheering on the Albuquerque Isotopes, at one of their games against Sacramento. Dan and I only stayed until 9:00, which was the bottom of the fifth inning. The score at that time was Sacramento 12; Isotopes 1. We thought there was no chance of a win but found out the next morning that sometime after midnight, in the 12th inning, the Isotopes won the game, 13 to 12! Of course, the lesson is “Never give up.” Despite the poor start to the game, we had a great time visiting with our friends, eating hotdogs and Dippin' Dots, and relaxing after a busy week. We had one passing shower, but other than that the weather was great and had us all oohing and aahing over a brilliant rainbow that appeared just before sunset.

A pretty good crowd.
The rainbow.

Some of "our" kids - ready for any weather.

Dan met up with an old friend in the concession area.

Ring Ring
Early this week we got a special phone call. For being such a good girl, Clara earned a coupon which entitled her to make a phone call to anyone she wished (a clever incentive program designed by her mama and daddy). She chose Grandma and Grandpa, and I don't recall ever feeling more honored! She had lots to tell us, especially about her excitement over starting preschool next week. I'm thrilled for her, too. She's so ready and will have such fun. Dan and I wanted to send her something to let her know how proud of excited for her we are, and decided an easel might be just the ticket. Here's the picture Kelsey took of her with the easel. Isn't she getting tall?!

Just Peachy!
It's late summer, and in Albuquerque that means that the peaches are ripe. A friend of Dan's gave him a box of peaches from his backyard. Yesterday, after work, I decided to use up most of them in a peach cobbler. We had some last night with vanilla ice cream melted over it. And we're eyeing it for another serving this evening.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tonight's Sunset

Dan came home from work feeling sick, so didn't make it to the Wednesday evening Bible study. I went by myself. The short devotional thoughts we had at the close of the hour had to do with God's handiwork in His creation, and when I came out to get into the car, this was what I saw. Sadly, I only had my cell phone with me - no "real" camera - so the quality isn't the best, but I wanted to share it anyway. Do you see the curtains of rain coming down toward the horizon? Here in New Mexico, we love our rain, every single drop!

Field Trip

It's not often that our office - a team of five people - gets to go on a field trip, but today we went to the Rio Grande Aquarium.

The aquarium shows an interesting and informative 20-minute video about the Rio Grande. Since we have a new member of our team from Delaware, who is a "foreigner" when it comes to the Southwest; and since our office does fundraising for a number of UNM projects dealing with Rio Grande water resources, our leader, Betsy, thought it would be good for him to see the video as an introduction to the ecological, agricultural, social, economic and political issues of water conservation in this part of the country. And, she figured, it wouldn't hurt for the rest of us to see it either. So we made the excursion to the aquarium today. Unlike school field trips, we didn't have to bring sack lunches, because Betsy treated us all to lunch at a local cafe.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mom's Adventures in Albuquerque

My mom came, last Sunday morning, to stay with us for an eight-day visit. That's her, in the pink jacket, getting her luggage from the hold of the little commuter plane that runs from Carlsbad to Albuquerque.

The only day I went in to work was Monday, but even then, I was home by 1:00, so we went out for lunch and for a drive. The weather was nice, and we had a good time visiting and sight seeing on Rio Grande Blvd. There are some beautiful, huge, expensive, Spanish style mansions there, and we had fun dreaming about what it would be like to live in one of them.

On Tuesday Tim joined us for lunch and spent part of the afternoon with us. Here he is with his Nanny.

Soon after Tim left, Mom got very sick. She suffers from Ménière’s disease, which comes on her suddenly, as it did on Tuesday, and totally debilitates her. She was sick the rest of Tuesday and most of Wednesday.

On Thursday, since Mom was feeling much better, I took her to ABQ Uptown for lunch, to a restaurant there that I had heard about but never tried. It was a great find. After lunch we headed home on I-40. Near the Rio Grande exit the car in front of me hit a huge (six foot long) hunk of tire tread that some truck had left on the road. It came flying out from behind that car and slammed into the front of our vehicle with a loud thud, then proceeded to flap around under the car, before shooting out from behind us. It happened very fast, and there was no avoiding it, since I was in the center lane, going the speed limit (65 mph), with cars behind and on both sides of me. We were both so thankful that it didn't precipitate an accident with another vehicle.

When we got home we checked out the car. It wasn't a pretty sight. The bumper was cracked and broken and the tire tread had flipped up and dented the hood. I was concerned that it might have caused damage underneath the car, so ran it over to the repair shop for an estimate, and called our insurance agent. It turned out that the skid plates underneath the car did their job, for the most part, and we didn't have any leaks. However it did bend the frame that holds the radiator and shove that frame back into the air conditioner/heater housing. The estimator said it would be okay to drive until I can get it in for repairs. Their first opening was the week of Aug. 16. The estimate was for $2300.

Poor Mom! It hadn't been a very pleasant visit, what with two sick days and one day with a near accident.

On Saturday I tried to make up for it by taking her on the Railrunner up to Santa Fe. We timed it so that we would get there in time for lunch at Tomasita's, which is right there beside the train station, and return home on the 1:17 p.m. southbound train. It was a very nice day and we had a great time. Riding the train is so relaxing.

And here it is Sunday already. Mom catches her New Mexico Airlines flight for home this evening. I'm so glad she was able to come see us again. Ta ta for now, Mom. Hope to see you again, soon.