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Archive for the tag “Albuquerque”

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?


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.

celebrating coffee and coffee shops

coffee2How did people get by before they figured out…coffee! And how did our species advance before we created coffee shops? I have at least two or three coffee shop get togethers (social or work-related) every week. (And now I want to publicly apologize to Lorena for spacing out our coffee date last week. Not that it’s an excuse, but by the time I got to the end of the week I was surprised I’d actually made it. Of course, I probably wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for coffee.)

In Albuquerque we have Starbucks conveniently located in every corner of every quadrant of the city, so that’s always a popular choice. They have good coffee, but their baristas have an unfortunate tendency to creatively interpret your order.

satellite coffeeFlying Star is another popular choice with locations all over the city. Indeed, their slogan is “You’re never far from a Flying Star.” Strictly speaking, Flying Star is a restaurant, and Satellite Coffee is their coffee-shop brand. I have two Flying Stars and one Satellite within 5-15 minutes of my home. There are more Flying Stars than Satellites, but they know coffee (Satellite’s slogan is “passionate about coffee”), so it’s reliably good at both places.

Napoli is a one-off coffee shop that is farther away, so I don’t get there very often. They recently moved into a new space that I really like. If they were closer, I’d make it my go-to spot. Obviously their coffee is excellent.

As is the home-brew that I’m drinking as I write this post.

java joe'sI also want to give an honorable mention to Java Joe’s. I’ve never actually been to their physical location, but they have a stand at the downtown growers market which I used to frequent on Saturday mornings. That was years ago, but I still remember how wonderful their coffee was. It almost made getting up in the middle of the night (or so 5:00am feels to me) worth it. And the fresh-baked scones were pretty amazing, too.

There are lots of other coffee joints in Albuquerque, some of which may be superior to the ones I patronize. So in order to fully celebrate coffee—and coffee shops—I’m now making a point of systematically checking them out. I see a lot more coffee in my future, and that means a lot more to celebrate.

How do you feel about coffee and coffee shops? Do you have a favorite coffee shop hangout?

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

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

Albuquerque BioPark River of Lights

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

Albuquerque BioPark River of Lights

battleships and volcanos

A friend and I recently drove up through Jemez Springs to Valles Caldera. This is a pretty easy day trip from Albuquerque, but I had never been to Valles Caldera and I calculate it’s been seven or eight years since I’ve been to Jemez Springs. I really do need to get out more.


I have fond memories of visiting the park around Battleship Rock (aptly named as you can see from the photos below) 10 years ago with a group of friends around dusk. The moon over the Rock was a wondrous sight. But seeing the Rock in daylight was no less grand.

We strolled around for a while, and I took a few more photos. Below is the Jemez River and a tangle of autumn leaves and blue sky.


Then we headed up to Valles Caldera, which is an 89,000-acre National Preserve. A caldera is a volcanic crater formed by the collapse of the central part of a volcano. This area was a privately owned ranch until the year 2000 and has only been a National Preserve for 12 years!

Fun fact: Some scenes from the new movie, The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp, were filmed here. In fact at least two dozen different movies and TV series have been filmed at this location.

Although I checked my camera’s battery before I left home, it gave out before I was able to photograph the caldera itself, thus giving me a really good reason to return to this amazing and unusual place. We went on a 45-minute van tour that stopped at the edge of a forest of Ponderosa Pines, and so my last few shots were of–you guessed it–trees.

I do like trees. My greatest disappointment is that I wasn’t able to take any pictures on the drive back. The sunlight striking the fields of golden leaves was truly breathtaking. But now I know where to go next October to get my fix of autumn leaves.

identified flying objects

Now’s the time of year in Albuquerque when for nine glorious days—weather permitting—the blue October sky is peppered with colorful hot air balloons. And not just ordinary hot air balloons, but all kinds of special shapes—animals, birds, bees, cartoon characters, Darth Vader, even an ark! It’s the 41st annual Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, this year called “Blaze a Trail.”

Last year I watched one balloon drift over my apartment complex so low I was sure it was going to land in one of the parking lots. And I live a distance from Balloon Fiesta Park, where it had lifted off.

Joey and Lilly Bee, a love story

The other night I happened to catch part of a show about the Balloon Fiesta on a local PBS channel. The operators of two balloons, Joey and Lilly Bee (“The Little Bees”), explained how they manage to get both balloons to lift off at the same time, holding hands. Once airborne, Joey and Lilly turn toward each other and kiss before letting go of each other’s hands. These two are a familiar annual sight around here and beloved by enough people that they even have their own Facebook page.

balloons in flight

Here’s a video of one of the mass ascensions this year. So far our weather’s been good—sunny and cool in the morning, but not too windy. Let’s hope everything continues going up without a hitch this year.

There are not many places where can you wander around for days at a time under a sky filled with drifting dots of color. Even if you’re feeling down, you just have to look up. That’s one of the reasons why I love this place.

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