July 2008

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Gregory is another year sweeter, stronger, wiser, and greater.

“For all that has been, thanks.  For all that will be, yes.”

                                                                                       Dag Hammarskjold

Happy, happy day mon amour…

Do you ever get that feeling after watching a movie, like you’ve just witnessed something so wonderful that it fills you with giddiness?

That’s precisely how I am feeling right now, after viewing King of California.  Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood star as Charlie and Miranda in this kooky film about a bi-polar father and his daughter.  Upon being released from a mental institution, Charlie purchases a GPS system and follows what he believes to be the trail of a treasure lost in 1624.

After having a rather unconventional childhood, Miranda is none too pleased to have him home again and with a new obsession to boot.  In his absence, she enjoyed a degree of calm and normalcy previously unknown to her.  Though she is only a teenager, she’s purchased a car and kept up with the bills, all while working at McDonald’s.

In the beginning, Miranda struggles to keep the family afloat with Charlie’s spending and lack of a job, constantly battling him in his quest, and wishing for better days, until, there is that shift, where the impossible seems possible.

It is a thoughtful, sweet, and hilarious film about forgiveness, love, and finding a purpose in life.


I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen over the past few days.  With such an abundance of delicious produce available at New Seasons, I went a little gonzo and made two kinds of jam: mixed berry and nectarine-apricot.  I saw the No Sugar Necessary version of Ball’s Pectin and the old reliable Sure Jell and tried one of each.  I definitely preferred the former, as it actually allows you to choose exactly how much sugar you use.  I used 1 1/3 cups in addition to some apple juice, and the end product was perfection.  The Sure Jell made a great jam, but it is really sweet in comparison, using a whopping three cups of sugar for the same amount of fruit.

As for the chowder, we had something like this while staying at Ojo Caliente.  They have a nice restaurant at the hotel with some great local cuisine as well as some odd choices, like Northwestern Salmon, hmmm…

I don’t really use recipes, making it up as I go along, so here is the approximate version.

2 poblano peppers

2 ears corn, kernels cut away from the cob

1/2 dried pasilla chile, soaked in warm water until soft, then diced fine

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, pressed

4 T flour

1 t chile powder

1/2 t salt

1 c chicken broth

1 c milk

1/2 c whipping cream

Roast peppers and corn at 400 degrees until golden brown, stirring and turning, so everything browns evenly, about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, saute the pasilla, onion, and garlic in olive oil until browned.   Peel and chop peppers when they are cool enough to handle.  Add to onion and garlic mixture.  Stir in chicken broth.

Mix dry ingredients together, then whisk into milk and whipping cream.  Pour over corn and pepper mixture, stirring vigorously to avoid lumps.  Bring to gentle boil, then simmer for 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

This tastes great with corn bread.  I have tried and failed at many recipes, so I recommend using the Jiffy corn bread mix.  Even though it isn’t organic (something I usually strive for), I’ve found nothing beats it, and it is super cheap.  Add some grated pepper jack cheese, freshly ground black pepper or chile powder, and you are good to go.  Muy delicioso!

Boy, do I love a good read, and sometimes, little man Milo loves helping me enjoy them.  Thanks to Nancy Pearl, I no longer suffer any guilt when considering not finishing a book, which is good, because I’ve started a lot of books this year!  Life is too short to suffer through a story, no matter how much praise it has received.

Here, in no particular order, are some that I’ve liked this year, and rather oddly, all of them are non-fiction!  It’s not as though I haven’t tried.  I’ve read quite a few works of fiction, but, frankly, they haven’t done much for me, well, except for The Little House on the Prairie  series, which I am half-way through for the first time in over twenty-five years.

Being Caribou – Karsten Heuer

Just after being married, Karsten and his wife set off in the Alaskan Wilderness to follow the caribou across the trackless tundra – flying, skiing, walking, and paddling, all in hopes of keeping up with the herd and learning about their migration patterns.  During their adventure, they witness births, deaths, and the incredible stamina of these beautiful creatures, while also learning about the beauty, tenacity and grace they possess themselves.  A terrific book that, for me, reiterates the importance of keeping the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge a wild place.

The Last American Man – Elizabeth Gilbert

This fascinating book describes the life of Eustace Conway, possibly the last of the breed of man who can live completely off the land – growing food, killing his dinner, making an outfit out of its hide, all while living in a tee-pee.  This guy is really the most self-sufficient and efficient modern man I’ve ever heard of.  He certainly doesn’t know how to do anything halfway, which is highly admirable, but there is a dark side to all of this, too.  He doesn’t know how to sustain a relationship, particularly with women.  Perhaps he’s like superheros, you can’t have both?

A Thousand Names for Joy – Byron Katie

I’m actually rather surprised that I haven’t gushed to you about Byron Katie before, because, my friends, she is just amazing.  After years and years of being stuck in a serious depression, she woke up to The Work, a system of four basic questions that brought her back to life (www.thework.com).  In this book, she goes through the ancient Tao, putting it into her words, so to speak.  It is a simple and practical way of looking at the world, all in keeping with the Truth.

 Grayson – Lynne Cox

A short and sweet story of a teenage girl who helps a baby whale find it’s mother.  Oh my goodness!  I love how people and animals can come together and create something beautiful and magical.  We really are one world.  This would be a terrific story to read with kids.

 Audition – Barbara Walters

My, what a fascinating life she’s had.  It is really interesting, too, how after seeing her father lose everything, twice, she remained, for most of her life, terrified of meeting the same fate.  She is ballsy, insecure, smart, and believe it or not, very funny!

Freakonomics – Steven Leavitt and Steven Dubner

A surprising and sometimes shocking look at our world via the minds of economists.  Funny and riveting!

Gregory and I are on the road now, on higway 285, north of Santa Fe.  You’ll find this lovely rock formation just outside of Ojo Caliente, a neat little resort and spa that is the only place in the world with four different mineral springs bubbling to the surface: iron, lithia, arsenic, and soda.  We first went over twelve years ago and liked it so much that no visit to New Mexico is complete without a stop here.  We relax, soak, slather ourselves in mud, bake in the sun, and feel ever so grateful to be alive.

Like the rest of New Mexico, it is a magical place that is rich in history.  The springs and spa are situated between a beautiful mesa and the Ojo Caliente River.  The Tewa Indians lived in the Posi-Ouinge Pueblo on the mesa just above the springs over five hundred years ago, taking in the waters and living quite well.  Everything changed with the arrival of the Spanish, but there are still traces of their life.  Gregory is holding a piece of pottery left by them (don’t worry, he put it back – we’re not those kind of travelers).  Seeing all of the shards lying around really makes me understand why archaeologists get jazzed by their work.  By holding this pottery in my hand, I am making a connection to someone who lived hundreds of years ago!  Though it is awfully exciting, we can’t stop here.  There’s so much more to see.

After walking for a bit, we come to the edge and see this gorgeous view of the small river valley.  I get giddy at the color combination.  The springs are to the left of the photo.


While out walking, we found another reason to feel giddy.  Despite the dry climate, the mesa is teeming with life!  There are scores of birds, rodents, snakes, lizards, coyotes, bunnies, and insects.  It is impossible to walk here without being inspired by all of these marvelous creatures.  This is one of many, many lizards that we saw out on our walk.

Unfortunately we didn’t see as many of these cute little bunnies, which is probably good, actually, because there were many birds of prey out looking for them.  Not to mention tourists, Gregory creeped closer and closer, wondering how close he could get, but that bunny said, no, no, no, and hopped away.

Looking northwest on the mesa.  I know I am a broken record, but isn’t it beautiful?


How fortuitous!  This is the first time we’ve seen the cactus in bloom while we were here.  I was absolutely amazed at all the color, especially the pink.  Isn’t it lovely?  To top it off, we saw hummingbirds drinking the cactus nectar, too.  To me, these are some of the best reminders of the true wonders of creation.  Even in the driest place, there is abundant life and beauty.  Gosh, I’m getting all weepy thinking how lucky I am to be a part of it, no matter where I am!

We’re at the end of the trail, taking respite under the ramada to enjoy all we’ve seen and experienced here.  Thank you Ojo Caliente!

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