Saturday, October 29, 2011

Summing Up October

1) A PICTURE OF ME (with Clara):

I finished up a book called One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd, by Jim Fergus. Author's note: "In spite of efforts to convince the reader to the contrary, this book is entirely a work of fiction. However, the seed that grew into a novel was sown in the author's imagination by an actual historical event: in 1854 at a peace conference at Fort Laramie, a prominent Northern Cheyenne chief requested of the U.S. Army authorities the gift of one thousand white women as brides for his young warriors. Because theirs is a matrilineal society in which all children born belong to their mother's tribe, this seemed to the Cheyennes to be the perfect means of assimilation into the white man's world . . ." A great read!

I am currently reading My Life, Deleted: A Memoir, by Scott Bolzan, Caitlin Rother and Joan Bolzan. It is the true story about Scott Bolzan, who suffered the worst form of amnesia after falling and hitting his head. He not only lost all of his memory of life-before-the-fall, but also lost the meanings of many words . . . words as basic as "wife"! Oh, my!

3) MOVIES I SAW: I watched The Story of 1 from Netflix. A little interesting, but nothing to write home about!

4) FAVORITE TV MOMENTS OF THE MONTH: I've been watching reruns of Numbers on Netflix. Somehow I missed this series the first time around. Good stories. Off-beat solutions to criminal mysteries. Great characters.

5) SOMETHING YUMMY I MADE: Caramel apples . . . using Kraft Caramels and honeycrisp apples. They were delicious, even though by the end of the next day the caramel was sliding off the apples and pooling on the waxed paper. Woops. Should have kept them refrigerated.

6) RESTAURANTS WHERE I ATE: While in Temple, Dan, Chris and I went to BJ's. Mmmmm. I highly recommend their Original Roast Beef Dip Sandwich . . . unbelievably scrumptious.

7) FIVE GOOD THINGS ABOUT THIS MONTH: Cooler temperatures, fall colors, Balloon Fiesta, getting my 5-year pin at UNM Foundation, and visiting the Texas Judds.

8) A GOAL I HAD FOR THIS MONTH: To get our household goods delivered and safely stowed away in our new house. Check!

I'm looking forward to the arrival of our new preacher and his family, in November. We've been seven (?) months without a paid preacher. The men of the congregation have taught some wonderful lessons and others have stepped up in many other ways, but we are all excited to get to know Bud Woodall, his wife and children.
I'm also looking forward to Thanksgiving, in Carlsbad, with my mom. To make it easier on her, we are bringing a fully prepared meal from Keller's.

10) SOMETHING I WANT TO REMEMBER ABOUT THIS MONTH: Having lunch with Clara at her school, and hearing Robert speaking some of his first words.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ABQ to IAH to ABQ in Four Days

Question: What is better than watching all of one's household goods being delivered to one's new house?

Answer: Watching all of one's household goods being delivered to one's new house AND fitting in a quick visit with family.

Dan and I just returned home from another Texas trip. We are one giant-step closer to our move. Everything that has been in storage for the past three months has been safely delivered to our new house. For this trip we flew into Houston, on Friday, where Chris picked us up. We spent that afternoon and evening visiting with Chris and Kelsey and playing with the grandkids.

Clara, who is now in kindergarten, is a fountain of delight! She and I spent a lot of time playing with paper dolls that I brought to her. She has a great imagination, which she showed off in her self-assumed role as Director of Paper Doll Drama. Occasionally, though, the drama would pause as her left brain took over:

Clara: Let's put all of the clothes over here, Grandma.

Grandma: Okay. [Grandma starts stacking up the dolls' clothes.]

Clara: No, Grandma. We need to put them in different piles, like this. [She begins sorting tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes and hats into different piles. Grandma, being the fast learner that she is, also begins sorting.]

Clara: No, Grandma, jackets don't go with shirts. They need their own pile.

Grandma: All right. Shall I start a new pile for "things"?

Clara: Yes. [Grandma starts the new pile.)

Clara: But Grandma, animals have to go in a different pile, because they are alive. And these (referring to a French horn and a drum that came with the dolls) are music things, so they go in their own pile. [It isn't long before the "things" have been subdivided into musical instruments, animals, toys and "other things."

It seemed to me that Clara found even more enjoyment out of this organizing activity than she did playing with the paper dolls.

Robert, of course, has changed more than Clara since we saw them last. His vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds. Even during our short visit, he was using new words on a daily basis. But "STUCK" is his favorite new word. He fully understands the concept of "stuck," and finds a multitude of creative ways to use it. For instance, when a little Playmobil person won't easily come out of its airplane, Robert brings it to the nearest big person for assistance, declaring "stuck.!" When he decides that he's finished with dinner, but Mama hasn't yet released him from his high chair, he squirms and hollers, "stuck!" When Daddy has ahold of his hand, and Robert is trying to wriggle it free, he complains "stuck!" Or, when he's buckled into his car seat and not happy about it, he points to the release mechanism and cries, "stuck." He had me laughing almost non-stop.

Robert also seems to have a lot of natural physical ability. We were surprised to see, at his young age of 23 months, that without any coaching, he took off across a grassy expanse at the park, dribbling a ball with his feet, soccer-style, in a straight line!

At the park, Clara mostly played on the playground equipment.

The mosquitoes were ferocious, so we didn't stay long. When we got home Kelsey put some medicine on some bites that Clara had gotten, including one on her foot. Here she is blowing the spot of medicine so it will dry quicker.

Halloween is only a week away, and the Judd kids, having recently watched the Star Wars movies as a family, will be dressing as Princes Leah and an Ewok. Here are a few shots of them in costume.

Here's a picture of both children, with Clara sporting her "scary Halloween face."

Early Saturday morning Chris drove us to our new house (which is located about 3 hours away) so we could meet the moving van and supervise the delivery. We got there just before the movers, and everything went smoothly. After the Mayflower guys left, Dan sat down in his old, comfortable leather chair (which he hadn't seen in three months) in his brand new living room, just to "try it out." I thought we'd never get him to out of the house! He was ready to kick off his shoes and move in :-) Not so fast, Dan. We still have three months before we retire!

As we usually do when we visit the kids, we spent our nights at a nearby hotel. So on Sunday evening we said our good-byes to Clara, since she would be in school by the time we got to their house the next morning, and we would be gone by the time she came home from school. But, to her surprise, on Monday we (Kelsey, Robert, Grandpa and Grandma) all showed up at her school cafeteria to have lunch with her, before we left for the airport. Judging by her beaming face, having her "fan club" show up at school made her day!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Last Day of Fiesta!

The weather for the 2011 Balloon Fiesta wasn't altogether cooperative. Last Saturday, Sunday and Monday were just about perfect, then rain set in for several days. However, today, the final day of Fiesta, provided great conditions for the mass ascension, early this morning. We didn't actually go to Balloon Fiesta Park to get up-close-and-personal with them, this year. Instead we just watched from afar. While we were getting ready for church this morning, we could see a "flock" of balloons that had drifted even farther west than our west-side apartment complex.

Everyone is in a festive mood when the sky is filled with balloons. While we were looking westward from our balcony, over the top of the apartment building across the street from us, several bathrobe-clad neighbors were looking east at the ones behind us. We hollered a "hello", and one lady, seeing my camera, called back jokingly, "Take our picture!" But when I lifted the camera to do just that, she hid her face with her hands.

I noticed a shape-balloon that I hadn't seen before. It was a strange and goofy superhero. I looked him up on the Fiesta website. He's known as Super FMG. "FMG" stands for Festival de Montgolfieres de Gatineau, which is French for Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival (from Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.

As you can see in the enlarged photo, he sports a red cape, googly eyes, bucked teeth and a lolling tongue! He made me smile.

It's over for another year, and I don't know if or when we'll be seeing this grand spectacle again. With the exception of friends, the balloons are what I will most miss about Albuquerque.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

First Snow on the Sandias

This morning, for the first time this season, we switched the thermostat from "cool" to "heat." And when we stepped outside to meet Tim for breakfast, we were surprised at the chill that was in the air. Then we saw it - what we used to call "termination dust" in Alaska - the first dusting of snow on the mountain, which signals summer's end.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Mystery of the Extra Keys

Yesterday morning, before leaving for Trinity, I took my wallet, my hairbrush, my hand sanitizer, my iPhone and my car keys out of my purse and put them into a smaller red tote bag. I also organized my camera bag with essentials for the day. During the day, however, I never took the red canvas bag out of the car. I stowed it, where it wouldn't be visible, in the back seat and just carried my camera bag.

This morning, as I was getting ready to leave for church I put the camera case, the red bag, my purse and my Bible tote bag on the table to re-distribute things for the day. I opened my camera bag and took out a few things that had accumulated in there yesterday. I emptied out some extraneous papers and items from my Bible bag. I decided to carry the red canvas bag to church, but wanted to take a few extra things that were still in my purse. The last thing I did was pick up the keys from the table and drop them into my red bag. Then I tidied everything up and put the other bags away.

A little later I glanced toward the kitchen, and there, on the counter, were my keys. "WAIT!" my confused brain screamed, "I just put my keys into the red bag." So I looked in the bag. There was a set of keys. Two Toyota car keys and a house key. They didn't belong to me. They didn't belong to Dan. We don't own a Toyota. On close inspection, these keys didn't look a whole lot like mine, except they were on a carabiner clip, just like mine are. My habit is to clip them to the ring at the base of my purse strap, so I don't misplace them. The strange thing was that, with all of the bag-shuffling I had done, I didn't even know which bag they had come from or, for that matter, whether they had just been on the table all along.

When Dan came out of the bedroom, I asked him if he knew anything about these strange keys. He had never seen them.

All the way to church I was mentally running through scenarios, trying to solve the mystery of the keys. Had some stranger somehow entered our apartment and forgotten his keys on our table? (That was a freaky thought!) Had I picked up the keys at the Trinity site somehow? Did I take them from the Owl Cafe? Did they belong to someone at work? If so, how had they come into my possession? Was I, subconsciously a kleptomaniac? (Okay, that might have been an even freakier thought than the stranger theory.) How would I ever get them back to their owner if I didn't know where they had come from?

When we arrived at the church building, I went directly to our Bible class, but Dan stopped to visit with Wayne. Wayne is probably the person who best has a finger on the pulse of the congregation. He always knows what's happening. In their casual conversation, Dan mentioned that we'd found some keys. "Christie S. lost some keys last week, Wayne responded." Dan asked Wayne what kind of car Christie drives. "A Toyota." Mystery probably solved, Dan thought.

After talking with Christie, we confirmed that they were her keys, and that was the start to solving the mystery. On Wednesday night, Christie and I had sat next to each other, at a round table, during Bible class. Apparently I'd picked up her keys when class was over and, absent-mindedly thinking they were mine, dropped them into my Bible tote or clipped them onto my purse strap.

I was extremely embarrassed! Christie, on the other hand, was thrilled that I had her keys. She had already inquired about replacing the car keys. It was going to cost her $125 a piece! Luckily she hadn't yet proceeded with that expensive proposition.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Before Leaving for Trinity

This morning, before we left for the Trinity Site (see post below), I stepped outside of our apartment door to see if the balloons were lifting off as scheduled. They were!


A few minutes later:

They were still launching when we got into the car for our outing. We had to stop at the gas station before leaving town, and while Dan filled up the tank I took this picture of the sky.

It's a GOOD day in Albuquerque when the weather cooperates for the mass ascension of the first day of Fiesta!


At 5:29 a.m., on July 16, 1945, much of New Mexico was awaken by a huge shock wave, accompanied by breaking windows. A brilliant yellow light was seen as far north as Albuquerque and Los Alamos, as far west as Silver City, and as far south as El Paso, Texas! Army officials told the public that a munitions storage area had accidentally exploded at the Alamagordo Bombing Range.

It was not until after the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6 of that same year, that President Truman announced that the United States had created an "atomic bomb," which had first been tested in New Mexico . . . on July 16, 1945. Three days after Hiroshima, on August 9, a third bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. On August 14 the Japanese surrendered.

The secret development of the atomic bomb was code-named the Manhattan Project, and the site where the first a-bomb was detonated is known as Trinity and is located on the White Sands Missile Range. Most of the time it is locked down, but twice a year the public is invited to visit. Today was one of those days, and Dan and I made the two-and-a-half-hour trip down to see the Trinity site.

There isn't actually much there to see. Originally there was a 100-foot steel tower, with a shelter on top, where the bomb was placed and eventually detonated. The tower was vaporized in the blast. All that is left to see is one of the footings from that tower.

A Ground Zero monument has been constructed at precisely the location beneath where the atom bomb perched on the tower. A replica of the Fatman bomb casing (the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki) is on display, and a number of historic photographs hang on the perimeter fence. It isn't so much what you can see; it's more about the sense of awe inspired by standing in the place where such a monumental historic event occurred.

Scientists estimate that the temperature of the fireball created from the explosion was approximately 14,710 degrees Fahrenheit! It was so hot that it melted the desert sand beneath the tower and turned it into a sheet of radio active green glass. This green material was dubbed Trinitite. In 1952 the Atomic Energy Commission contracted to have most of the Trinitite scraped up and buried. However, there are still very tiny pebbles of it all over the ground at Ground Zero. It is against federal law to remove any of the Trinitite from the ground. It is still somewhat radio active.

The site is still somewhat radio active, however they reassure you that you would get more radiation doing some rather routine things . . . a chest x-ray would give you about 12 times as much radiation as one hour at Trinity; a coast-to-coast commercial flight would give you about 4 times as much radiation. I have to admit I felt a little leery standing there, but, as you can see, the resident lizards really do have four legs and only one tail!

Buses are available to take visitors the two miles to the old McDonald Ranch house. The main bedroom in this old adobe-covered-in-plaster house was used as the assembly room for the Manhattan Project. I enjoyed walking through it. It has tons of character and must have been a lovely home when it was lived in by the McDonald family. Many of the Manhattan Project staff actually witnessed the explosion from this house -- only TWO MILES AWAY!

After leaving Trinity, we made a stop at The Owl Cafe in San Antonio, NM, about 34 miles away and on our route home. The Owl is one of those places that you MUSTN'T miss if you are anywhere in the area. It is most famous for its green chili cheese burgers, and the burgers are made with beef they grind, themselves, at the cafe. The reason we felt compelled to stop there was the historic connection the cafe has with Trinity. Trinity personnel frequented The Owl, and some say the green chili cheeseburgers were first made to satisfy their appetites. Another story we've heard, but I can't confirm, is that The Owl had the only telephone within miles, and that the report of the success of the bomb's detonation was reported from that phone.

The building is one of those places that is built like a maze. You enter into one room, and then wind your way through room after connecting room to find a place to sit. It's dark inside, and the walls are covered in paper money, scrawled with messages and names of those customers who tacked them there. Once a year the money is taken down and given to charity. I read that as of 2009 more than $19,700 had been donated. (This section of wall, below, was mostly or entirely foreign currency, but there are many walls plastered with good old U.S. of A. dollar bills.)