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Archive for the category “Albuquerque”

celebrating the senses: vision

eyeThe human brain processes around 11,000,000 bits of information at a time, of which we are only consciously aware of about 40. The vast majority of those 11,000,000 bits of information are related to vision. As John Medina says in Brain Rules:

Visual processing doesn’t just assist in the perception of our world. It dominates the perception of our world.

The things that are in our visual field, whether we’re aware of them or not, have an effect on us. I really became aware of that two years ago when I went through my living space from top to bottom to get rid of all the things I was no longer using. In the course of decluttering, I decided to make my space as cheerful and visually appealing (to me) as possible.

sunNow I have plenty of colorful things I enjoy looking at, including the sunflakes in my windows, the bright things in my office, and the two dozen pieces of talavera pottery in various locations. Most of the talavera critters are on the walls: frogs, geckos, salamanders, birds, and turtles. There’s a roadrunner (the New Mexico state bird) looking out the window of my office, a sun over the stove in the kitchen, a mushroom on top of a bookshelf, and several flower pots full of ivy.

My favorite color is red, so that’s the accent color in my kitchen. The pottery on the mantel over the fireplace belonged to my partner, and looking at it frequently reminds me of him, as does looking at the two stunning 4’x4’ paintings he created, one in the office and one in the living room. Of course, what I enjoy looking at the most in my apartment is my cat, Naima.

sandia-sunset

Photo Source: TripAdvisor.com

Then there’s the great outdoors, which is what attracted me to the southwest. It’s hard to describe the nature of the light here, but it’s unlike the light in either Michigan or California. The sunsets can be spectacular. The clouds are different, too, or so it seems. And the Sandia mountains that always let you know which direction is east aren’t just a great place for hiking, they’re amazing and beautiful, especially when the setting sun turns them watermelon-colored. The picture above does not lie!

cranesfallI love to look at all the trees and the wildflowers in this area, along with the roadrunners and occasional coyote. The cottonwood trees along the Rio Grande bosque turn into a magnificent golden canopy in the fall. And the migration of sandhill cranes to the Bosque del Apache in November is another sight to behold.

The world around me is full of both humdrum and wonder, all of it worth celebrating. I’m truly grateful for having the opportunity to see and appreciate it.

This post is the last of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

Thanks for sharing this brief journey with me.

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celebrating the senses: taste

raspberriesA friend and I had lunch at the Orchid Thai restaurant yesterday. I chose the Basil Fried Rice (with tofu), which I’ve enjoyed before. The tastes I like are the hot basil, bell peppers, green onions, tofu, and—most of all—the generous garnish of cilantro. I love cilantro. I love it so much that it also made it into my post on celebrating the sense of smell. As far as I’m concerned, cilantro pretty much makes any dish amazing.

Cilantro is one of my three favorite things to taste, the other two being ginger and raspberries. It’s not too difficult to pair cilantro and ginger, especially in stir-fry dishes or Chinese Chicken Salad. Chinese Chicken Salad has been off the menu for me since I became vegetarian a year and a half ago, but I recently discovered that Vinaigrette Restaurant has an Asian Chopped Salad that includes everything but the chicken.

Ginger and raspberries also make a great pairing. Fortunately for me, Heidi’s Raspberry Farm, located in the Village of Corrales north of Albuquerque, produces four varieties of raspberry jam, including one with ginger. Even better, another variety includes both ginger and red chile. Now that’s raspberry jam with an attitude—a delectable, sweet/savory, kick-ass (that’s the chile speaking) kind of attitude.

campariAmong the tastes I appreciate the most are very dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, strawberries, the occasional fresh baked scone, pink grapefruit juice, Campari, Campari and grapefruit juice, good (or even just decent) red wine, fresh basil, rosemary, blackberries picked from the bush, green chile, and the vinaigrette dressing I make with basil olive oil, grapefruit white balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard.

Since the taste buds are merely receptors that register sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, sourness, and umami (savory or meaty taste), we know it’s the brain that generates the variety and complexity of tastes we actually experience. We don’t know exactly how the brain does it, but imagine how boring it would be if it didn’t do it. What if everything tasted the same—or worse, had no taste at all?

There are so many things to eat and drink that both taste good and are good for us that we shouldn’t have to consume anything that isn’t a celebration of the sense of taste.

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating making a difference

animalhumaneOrganizations that make a difference in the community deserve to be celebrated every day of the year. There are two organizations in Albuquerque that I want to give a figurative high five to. My involvement with them has been on a small scale, rather than a large one, but the effect they have on people—and pets—is huge.

Albuquerque Reads

albreadsI participated for a few years in this program that operates in three local schools, pairing adults with kindergarten students to give them 30 minutes of individual attention several days a week. According to the Albuquerque Reads website:

During Albuquerque Reads operations the students have achieved impressive gains in reading levels. Typically at the beginning of the school year, fewer than 5% of the students enrolled were reading at or above grade level. Just nine months later, and with the help of Albuquerque Reads: 70% were reading at or above grade level, and another 20% were reading almost at grade level.

I really enjoyed Wednesday mornings at Bel Air School with Shan Diin, Shayla, Curtis, Patrick, and Dominic, the mischievous one, who was definitely my favorite. I got to read so many, many books. I was familiar with a few of them from my long-ago stint in the Children’s Room of the Bay City Public Library. But I also encountered many new books, such as Jonathan London’s Froggy series. We read Froggy Eats Out, Froggy’s Sleepover, and Froggy’s Baby Sister, but I think the supply of Froggy books extends far beyond those three.

The refrigerator art our students gifted us with on holidays was definitely appreciated and cherished long after the end of each school year.

Animal Humane New Mexico

animal humaneNaima the Wonderful, my most favorite of all the cats I’ve had, came from Animal Humane. That’s enough reason for me to celebrate this organization.

But they are amazing for all of the things they do, such as:

  • The donor subsidized veterinary clinic that provides low-cost services to low-income pet owners.
  • Cats-around-town, their off-site adoption program that allows people to encounter adoptable pets in locations all over Albuquerque.
  • The many training classes, behavior seminars, and workshops that are offered to pet owners to help insure they have successful relationships with their dogs or cats.
  • The internet cat video festival that offers a cash prize of $250 for the best cat video submitted.

animalhumane2Animal Humane New Mexico accepts animals from other shelters around the state, and the staff and volunteers do a fantastic job in terms taking care of the animals’ health needs and in training and socializing them. Both the pets and the pet lovers of Albuquerque are fortunate to have Animal Humane New Mexico in the community.

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating public art

public art1No matter what part of Albuquerque you travel through, you’re bound to encounter one or more of the 800 works of public art scattered across the city. Many of them are the result of Albuquerque’s 1978 Art in Municipal Places Program, which sets aside 1% of City construction funds for the purchase or commission of works of art.

Whether you love or hate individual pieces, you can’t deny that all of these sculptures, murals, and colorful mosaics add immeasurably to the sense of place.

I particularly enjoy the gorgeous mosaics that decorate the entrance to my local library as well as the downtown Convention Center. This (below) is one portion of the Juan Tabo Public Library facade.

public art6

Here are a few more. Which ones do you like best?

GE

public art3public art4

public art5

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

stars and stars

not awake; not conscious.

Cover of "The Last Waltz (Special Edition...

Cover of The Last Waltz (Special Edition)

The Last Waltz played four times at a local theater this past Sunday and Monday. A friend agreed to meet me there for the last showing on Monday evening. After a crazy day, I still left in plenty of time, then ran into some of the worst traffic I’ve ever encountered in Albuquerque. Because I knew I’d be late, I turned on my seldom-used cell phone. Almost immediately, I was notified of a voicemail message, which I assumed was from my friend.

The traffic was too insane for me to try to listen to it, so I continued on to my destination, preoccupied by traffic, being late, and the waiting voicemail message. When I arrived, I found a parking place and listened to the voicemail message, no easy task in complete darkness (my car’s inside light recently stopped working). It was from a friend who is traveling and decided, for unknown reasons, to wish me a Merry Christmas on my cell phone. It’s a fluke that I got it.

By then I was definitely late and also preoccupied with wondering why she had called my cell phone. I got out of the car and started crossing the street. The lighting for the side streets in Nob Hill leaves something to be desired. As I was about to step up onto the curb on the other side of the street, some commotion to my right caught my attention–and the much-higher-than-usual curb caught the toe of my right shoe. Splat! Down I went onto both knees.

[Expletive deleted.] I got up, dusted myself off, and continued to the theater, now preoccupied with visions of being sidelined from walking, dancing around my apartment, and my twice-a-week strength training workouts.

awake; conscious.

As it turned out, we had more than enough time to chat, get tickets, and find seats in the theater. Once the movie started, I was fully engrossed. I’ve seen The Last Waltz half a dozen times, but never in a theater. It was definitely worth the time, the traffic, and even the banged up knees to see it that way!

I wrote about The Band a while ago, but didn’t come across this video of Van Morrison doing Caravan until recently. It’s still my favorite performance, but there are no duds anywhere in this star-studded film. I tried to contain the bouncing around in my seat. I guess the benefit of watching it at home is that no one cares if I get up and dance.

Orion Rising (2)

When I got home afterward and was walking from my garage to my front door, I happened to glance up into the sky. There was Orion rising directly overhead with bright stars and planets studding the sky around it.

I stepped out into the street and just watched it for several minutes, awake and conscious.

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happy holidays!

Light Flowers<br /><br />Albuquerque Biopark River of Lights

Light Flowers
Albuquerque BioPark River of Lights

Birds<br /><br />Albuquerque BioPark River of Lights

Birds
Albuquerque BioPark River of Lights

Coyote<br /><br />Albuquerque BioPark River of Lights

Coyote
Albuquerque BioPark River of Lights

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