Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

It's a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I have so much to be thankful for this year.

First of all, I'm thankful to be alive.

Second, I'm thankful for all the love and support I've gotten from my family these past 8 months -- my husband, my mother, my siblings, and my in-laws. Thank you, all.

And I'm thankful for the unconditional love of my four dogs and two cats. There's nothing like the unconditional love of an animal.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Joy and Relief

He did it! Barack Obama is our President-Elect. Whew! Yesterday my face hurt from smiling so much. Of course the smiling started on Tuesday evening. It didn't look promising at first; McCain's electoral numbers were edging up and I was afraid another election had been stolen. Then Obama's numbers started to rise rapidly. I watched CNN mostly, and as soon as some states' polls closed, CNN immediately called those states for a particular candidate, based on exit polls and early voting results. This happened with New Mexico; at 8:05, they "projected" (their word) that Obama had won. I cheered and shared the news with Ron when he walked in the door about 5 minutes later.

A few minutes before 9:00 our time (11:00 on the east coast) they finally projected that Obama would win Virginia. Of course that was one of the states we had been watching closely. We both cheered and gave each other high fives. It was only moments later, when the news about Virginia was still sinking in, that the polls in California closed and CNN projected that Obama had won California, and therefore had more than the required 270 electoral votes, and therefore had won the election. It was a historic moment, and so many emotions were swirling around, I can't even name them all. Joy and relief are the top two.

Here is a picture of Obama that Ron took when we saw him at the rally in Espanola.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Jitters

I'm writing this in the early afternoon on Election Day (though it won't be posted until later in the afternoon). The results aren't in yet, of course, but I'm hopeful. Then again, I was hopeful four years ago and eight years ago. I'm trying to not let my hopes get up too high. You can't always believe the polls.

New Mexico has early voting; in fact they strongly encourage it. We got at least two "robocalls" from Governor Richardson encouraging us to vote early. By the time early voting ended on Saturday, 40 percent of eligible voters in Taos County had voted! I voted last Tuesday and only had to wait about 10 or 15 minutes.

Ron likes to vote on Election Day. Part of it is the social aspect. In such a small precinct, he always sees people he knows. The other part he likes is feeling like a link in a long chain of history. Our regular polling place (not for early voting) is a very old building, at least 100 years old; knowing Taos, it could be 200 or 300 years old! It's a Community Center now; I forget what it was originally, probably a school. It has wooden floors that give off his old, dry wood smell that only really old buildings have. Standing in line inside, you think of all the people who have voted before you over the years and the people who will vote there years from now.

Ron has been very excited about this election in particular. He did some volunteer work for Obama early on, before he got the nomination, and of course he volunteered at the convention in Denver. We both went to see Obama when he came to Espanola, a town about 45 minutes from here. That experience was GREAT, even though it involved standing in the hot sun for 5 or 6 hours, between waiting and the rally itself. It was worth it, though. We were so close to the front!

But even knowing how excited he is about the whole thing, I was still surprised by his actions this morning. His regular shift at work is 4 pm to midnight; then he comes home and winds down for awhile before going to bed about 1:30 or 2:00. This morning, I woke up about 5:00 or 5:30. He hadn't come to bed yet and I could dimly hear the TV in the living room. At least he waited until 6:00 before he came bounding into the bedroom, full of energy. He said he was too excited to sleep and he was going to vote at 7:00 as soon as the polls opened and then go to sleep. He's working slightly different hours today, from 2:00 to 8:00 instead of 4:00 to midnight. He wanted to get off early so he can come home and watch the returns.

We'll see what happens tonight.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Tale of Two Kitties

It's the height of hummingbird season again, with the usual swarms (also known as "an infestation of hummingbirds"). We have all three feeders up, of course -- small, medium and large -- but the small one still sometimes gets emptied in less than a day.

We have another visitor who is very interested in the hummingbirds -- one of the next-door neighbors' cats. He sits on top of the wall directly under the hummingbird feeders, hoping to get lucky. Ron found a few tiny hummingbird feeders stuck to one of the perches, so the cat either got one of the birds or almost got one of the birds.

He looks exactly like Winston, except leaner and with golden eyes instead of green. In fact, last year when I saw him under the feeders for the first time, I thought it was Winston and I freaked out, wondering how he'd gotten outside, until I saw Winston curled up sleeping on the bed.

We've started calling the other cat Twin Kitty. A few days ago, Twin Kitty was in his usual Sphinx-like position under the feeders. Then Winston jumped up on the couch to look out at the hummingbirds, as he likes to do. Then he saw Twin Kitty! He stared at Twin Kitty, completely fascinated. Then Twin Kitty saw Winston; he, too, was fascinated. They stared at each other for a minute; it seemed like longer. Then Twin Kitty gave up on the hummingbirds; he jumped off the wall under the feeders into the courtyard to get closer to the window. Again, they stared at each other. Then Winston moved to the tall narrow window next to the front door and Twin Kitty moved to the front porch, just on the other side of that window. They stared at each other -- no snarling or hissing or caterwauling. Just total fascination.

Eventually Twin Kitty left and Winston resumed watching the hummingbirds.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Rain Finally Goes Through the Drain

I apologize for not posting anything in such a long time. It's an odd combination of having so much to do, but none of it was worth blogging about.
It's shedding season and the two wolfdogs are shedding big clumps of wool all over the place, inside and out. We never did get around to shaving them this year, because spring came so late. Sometimes we pull the clumps out of them, the ones that are ready to come out on their own. In just a few minutes there is a pile of wolf fur that's bigger than a whole cat. Other clumps come out without any pulling and there's always a trail of wolf fur all over the place. I try to pick it up daily.

It's also monsoon season, when we get rain nearly every afternoon. Sometimes the showers are strong and brief; other times they're slow, steady soaking rains that last for a couple of hours or more.

Any kind of rain wreaked havoc on the rear courtyard, where the dogs spend their time when they're not indoors. They like to gather by the iron gate so they can see out and watch the goings on. So a low spot developed there and any rain would create a deep and large mud puddle. It would stay there for days because there was no drainage under or through the gate. Four dogs (16 paws) plus mud puddles and/or mud plus light-colored carpet equals disaster!

So last Saturday (a week ago today), I started tackling the problem while Ron tackled the problems with his computer (he installed a new motherboard, new hard drive, and new operating system - Vista), but it was much harder than I thought it would be. I dug dirt out from directly underneath the iron gate, to create a place for the water to go, and hauled a couple of wheelbarrows of dirt to the low spot. Then I ran out of steam.

On Sunday, with his computer working properly again, Ron and I worked together and it only took a couple of hours to finish the job. Ron shoveled dirt from the dirt pile into the wheelbarrow and I rolled the wheelbarrow around and dumped the dirt in the low area. That way each of us could rest while the other worked. After 15 or so loads, we took a well-deserved break, and went inside to cool off and drink Gatorade. Then we went back to work. I smoothed out the fill dirt, creating a slightly mounded area while Ron dug a small trench on either side of the mounded area and going underneath the gate and continuing for a few feet on the other side of the gate.

Then we went inside and sat back, waiting for the regular afternoon rainstorm. Except it didn't come!

Finally it rained overnight, nearly half an inch (which doesn't sound like much, but is a lot for around here) and no mud puddle. Success! We've had more rain since then, of course, and the drainage continues to work! The dirt is muddy for a little while, but quickly dries up since there's no puddle of standing water. And no puddle of standing water also means far fewer mosquitoes.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Happy Friday the Thirteenth!

The nearly unpronouncable word "paraskevidekatriaphobia" means "fear of Friday the 13th." In my family, 13 has always been lucky. One of my sisters was born on February 13 and my parents were married on June 13. When I was younger, I sometimes told people my parents had gotten married on a Friday the 13th, just to see the reaction.

Some people hold on to superstitions. When I was working at the vet clinic, one of the vets was out on medical leave for six weeks, so the schedule for surgeries became very backed up. In late April when people called to schedule a non-emergency surgery, I looked ahead in the computer and told them, "The earliest opening I have is . . . Friday the thirteenth." Most people chuckled, a little nervously perhaps, and agreed to schedule it for that day. But one woman was quite insistent that she would NOT schedule a surgery for that day.

I don't have any superstitions. And as most of you know, I think black cats are the best and luckiest of all cats. I really miss having a black cat.

My idea of a perfect Friday the 13th would be this: a black cat walking under a ladder, stepping on a crack in the sidewalk, and breaking a mirror.

What other superstitions can you add to this scenario?

Friday, May 23, 2008

New Job vs. Old Job

I'm really enjoying my new job. The atmosphere is so much calmer and quieter than the vet clinic; it's the complete opposite. There are only two phone lines and they only ring three or four times an hour instead of four phone lines ringing constantly (although there were usually two of us to answer them).

The phone calls are calm, too. No one calling frantically becaue their cat has been vomiting and having bloody diarrhea for five days, what should they do? (Duh, bring it in right away -- "Oh, I don't have time. Can I just stop by and pick up a prescription?") Or the people who think the slightest little thing is an emergency (it isn't) and want to come in RIGHT NOW.

Of course most of the clients were great (but not as much fun to write (or read) about. I met some interesting people, such as a certain artist who is famous locally and nationally. He was so down to earth and funny and friendly. And the people involved in animal rescue, particularly the ones helping the feral cats with the Trap, Neuter, Release program, are true angels.

So things are much calmer at the new job (although there was that four-foot-long snake that tried to get into my car Wednesday, but more on that later). There are only five of us in the office -- Chuck L, Chuck M, Loretta, Tillie, and myself -- and one woman who works back in the warehouse/garage servicing the vehicles and doing whatever else she does. There are four superintendents who come in and out regularly and numerous construction workers who only come in once a week to pick up their paycheck.

It can get a little crazy, when we're putting together multiple copies of bid proposal packets the evening before they're due, but the craziness is occasional rather than constant. It was funny on the first few days when Loretta, the Office Manager, was apologizing to me for how crazy it was, and I said, "This isn't crazy at all," while thinking to myself, "You don't know what crasy is." She's very nice to work with, as are all the others. Tillie works here part time in the office; she's Loretta's sister. Chuck L is the President; he was the VP until last November when his father, the President and owner, died. Chuck M is the Project Manager for northern New Mexico. He's very funny and rides motorcycles. It gets a little confusing having two Chucks, especially when someone calls and asks for Chuck. I have to ask which one (using their last names) and usually they know which one they want, but not always. The "regulars" who call a lot know to ask by the full name.

Oh yes, the snake. Wednesday afternoon, after I got back from lunch, Tillie left to pick up some lunch for herself and Loretta. Right after she left, the phone rang. It was Tillie. "Beth, get Loretta and come outside, quick!!" We went outside and she pointed to the ground. It was a four-foot-long snake! It looked like a rattlesnake. Both Chucks were gone, so Loretta went back to get one of the construction guys. As she left, the snake began heading right for my car. By the time she and O. came back a couple of minutes later, the snake had crawled through one of the holes in my hubcap and into the wheel of my car! A few minutes later, it started to come back out again and O., wearing gloves of course, grabbed it and tried to pull it out. The snake held on, but stronger muscles prevailed and eventually O. was able to pull it out and tossed it away. He said it wasn't a rattlesnake, it was a bullsnake. Bullsnakes are good to have around; they aren't venomous and they eat rodents (many of the rodents around here carry hantavirus and/or bubonic plague). I don't mind having bullsnakes around; I just don't want one in my car!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Last Friday, May 9, was my last day working at the vet. Tomorrow, May 12, I start my new job, as Administrative Assistant for a large construction company, LCI2. It will mean more money, more hours, and normal hours -- Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 (with an hour for lunch). The 11-hour days at the vet were really getting to me, as were some of the more psycho clients (I loved the animals, but some of the owners were difficult to deal with). I will miss all my co-workers. We were a great team, always helping each other and always thanking each other, particularly after an especially hard day. We all dreaded the same psycho clients, and some of us were better at dealing with some of them, others better at dealing with other ones.

I'm working on another project, too, a freelance editing project. This time it's for a private individual, a retired history teacher from Illinois. He has written his memoirs, for his children and grandchildren. As he explained to me in his first e-mail, he didn't write it for publication, but he wants it to be up to publication standards. He also wrote it "to learn things" so I explained about Microsoft Word's "Track Changes" feature, so we're doing it that way, so he can accept or reject my changes. So far, it's been fascinating. He was born about 1930 and grew up in Baltimore. I'm still in the chapters about his early childhood and the details he remembers and writes about are very interesting. His use of language is great, as well (much better than mine is today). There's one brief paragraph describing an old wooden rowboat that is absolutely one of the best pieces of writing I've read in a long time. I'm looking forward to the rest of it.

What's new with everyone else out there? Let's see some more contributions to the family blog.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Life, Part 2

I want to thank everyone in my wonderful family for all of their love and support during the difficult time I recently went through.

I'm feeling much better now, physically and emotionally. I have a second chance at life and a second chance at everything. Thank you all so much.

I will be posting more often now that things are back on track.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

So Far So Good

I made it through my first two days of work at the vet. It never got crazy-busy, but it did get busy, yesterday more than today. Today was only a half day; I was there from 7:45 to 1:00. Yesterday was a full day, fuller than I'd anticipated. I was there from 7:45 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. (with an hour off for lunch)!! The clinic closes at 6:00, but then there's all the "closing" stuff to do -- cleaning, balancing the books, etc. The books were out of balance (not my fault), so it took awhile to figure it out. They tell me that most days we won't be there that late. Tomorrow is another full day, so we'll see.

There are two other women who are just starting to work there (I worked with one yesterday and one today), so the experienced people are training us at the same time. It helps to not be the only newbie.

The clients are mostly patient with us; everyone has been new at their job at some point in their life.

I've seen some very cute dogs and cats, but none as cute as ours. Of course there was the cutest little black cat, only five months old . . . . It was from the shelter, there for a spaying, and I had a feeling of really missing black cats, but with four dogs and two cats, we have a full house, NO MORE ANIMALS!!! This way, working at the vet, I can ooh and aah over the black cats and other animals without having the responsibility of owning them (or being owned by them, depending on your point of view).

So I'll keep working there while looking for freelance work or a better paying full time job.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I Got It - Sort Of

I got the job at the vet, but it's only part time, two and a half to three days a week. All day on Tuesday and Thursday plus Wednesday morning and the occasional Saturday morning. The good part about this is that it will leave me the other days free for job interviews and/or freelance work. I start this Tuesday. The other job with the police department hasn't been posted yet, and they're off Monday for the holiday, so it won't be posted until Tuesday at the earliest. I'm still looking for other work in the meantime; part time just isn't enough income.

It's been about minus five every night for the past several nights, someimes a little colder, sometimes a little warmer (this morning was a balmy minus two). Those temps seem normal now and it would take something like minus ten or below to seem remarkable. The high temp today may actually get above freezing, something that hasn't happened in several days.

The wolfdogs, of course, love it. Wolfie and King prefer to be outside when it's like this. They spend their days sleeping on the ice in the backyard. Big and Brutus go outside once the temps get above 10 or so, and try to stay in the sunlight. Brutus is so funny; early in the morning he wants to go outside (he sits by the sliding glass door and taps on it), but as soon as he steps out and realizes how cold it is, he immediately turns around and taps on the glass to come in. His new nickname is Sugarplum. "O.K., come back in, Sugarplum," I tell him.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Updates to the Updates

Good news and bad news.

The bad news is I didn't get the job with the Police Department. The interview went well, but I was one of five people they interviewed (out of lots of applications). Knowing Taos, they probably hired someone who is related to someone in the department. There's another possibility, though. When Valerie (the Assistant to the Chief of Police) called yesterday to say they'd chosen someone else, she told me that they're going to post another opening in a couple of days and she encouraged me to apply. The position is in the Records Department, but I forget the exact title of the job. Records Technician or something like that. Ron thinks maybe they hired the Records person as the Evidence Technician and that job would be a good way to get my foot in the door.

As long as they didn't hire me and confidentiality isn't such an issue, I can share with you what the Chief of Police (a very nice, approachable man, by the way) said to describe the police force: teenagers with guns. The other people from the department who were in the interview agreed with him.

The good news is that I think I have the job at the vet's, but I'm not completely certain yet. At the interview last Wednesday, we decided I would go in Monday morning for a couple of hours for what Dr. Kim called a Work Interview. It gave me a chance to sit at the front desk and see what the job would really be like. She said some people who've done that realize they can't handle the job. But I stayed for three hours and really enjoyed it. It was busy, but not crazy-busy. I've been there on occasions when it was crazy-busy and I think I could handle it. After just an hour, I was checking in people (and their animals) without any help. The computer system was easy to learn. I think I did very well. When I got home, I found out that while I was there, Dr. Kim had been checking my references. The woman I worked for in the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau said she gave me a glowing recommendation, that I'm detail-oriented and personable and easy to work with. I'll know by the end of the week if I got it.

The "Global Warming" continues. A front is coming through today that will bring bitterly cold temperatures. The lows for the next several nights will be well below zero. The constant freezing and thawing is wreaking havoc on the roads around here. Driving from home to town is like playing a video game of Dodge the Potholes. As the potholes increase in numbers and size, the game becomes more challenging.

I'll post when I have news about the vet job.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Updates of All Kinds

Yes, I'm still here; I just haven't felt like writing anything lately. But this post will make up for it, I hope. It's going to be very long (and getting longer all the time).

There is a tiny pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel. A few days before Christmas, I applied for a job with the Town of Taos Police Department. The position is Administrative Assistant/Evidence Technician. They want someone with good computer skills, which I definitely have. Duties would include logging in new evidence and destroying old evidence. It sounds a lot more interesting than Algebra! And as Mom said, it would give me good material for my writing. I got a phone call yesterday from the Assistant to the Chief of Police and we've scheduled an interview for next Friday, a week from today. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Another good thing about the job is the location -- right next door to Ron's office. We may be able to carpool sometimes, or at least have lunch together now and then.

As I was writing the rough draft of this post, I got another phone call and have another interview scheduled for next Wednesday evening. This job is with our vet's office. It's another administrative job, but would also include working with animals (or at least cleaning up after them). The great thing about this job is that I already know and like everyone and they know and like me. Dr. Kim, the owner of the practice, is especially happy with the way we've rehabilitated two of our animals, Princess and King (King's story is coming soon, I promise). So keep your fingers crossed for that one, too.

Moving on to another topic entirely, if any of you see Al Gore, tell him to visit Northern New Mexico so I can show him there is no Global Warming here.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it snowed every two to four days, several inches at a time. We haven't had any new snow since Christmas (although we're supposed to get several inches this weekend), but we've had bitterly cold temperatures.

Tuesday morning, the low temperature was MINUS 14. Wednesday morning it was MINUS 8. On those days, the high temperature was 22. Yesterday it got up to 34 and that felt positively balmy. We've been keeping warm from the inside out -- hot soup, hot chocolate, and hot tea.

One more story, a long and detailed one, but it has a happy ending.

Last Friday evening, December 28, Ron was driving back to Taos from Angel Fire, a town on the other side of the mountains. He was driving his company truck, a huge 1992 Chevy Suburban. The road is curvy and goes over a high mountain pass and through a canyon. Some stretches of the road were completely covered in ice because the sunlight never reaches there because of the high canyon walls. In a way, the ice was a good thing because it kept him from going very fast. In fact, he was only going 25 mph when....

an elk jumped out in front of him!

He couldn't stop in time and his truck hit the elk with its left front, then came to a stop. The car following Ron also came to a stop and the people got out to make sure he was OK. There's no cell phone reception in the canyon, so they couldn't call the police. Both vehicles were still in the road and in danger of being hit by other cars, so they decided the people in the other car would follow Ron into town. As they discussed this, they saw the elk stand up, shake herself off, and walk away!

Ron was able to drive all the way back to Taos. The front grill area of the truck was smashed in and the left headlight was broken and the radiator was spewing steam and leaking coolant out the bottom.

Once he had a cell phone signal, Ron called me to tell me what had happened. When he got back to his office, he called the State Police and called his supervisor. Then he called me again, asking me to come down to the office to give him moral support. By the time I got there, the State Police Officer was just finishing up his report. He said there would be no citation, as it was obviously an accident. And he found clumps of elk fur stuck in the license plate frame, confirming that the vehicle had, in fact hit an elk.

So the good news is that Ron's OK (the Suburban is a very high vehicle; if it had been a regular car, the elk probably would have come in through the windshield). Miraculously, the elk is OK (too bad in a way; I was hoping for fresh elk steak). The truck should probably be considered totalled, but Qwest, in its infinite wisdom, doesn't want to waste a perfectly good 1992 truck and is going to have it repaired.