April 10, 2012

A few personal observations...

Now that we have been living in New Mexico for almost 5 months, I think I am qualified to make a few personal observations about the differences between living here and living in Massachusetts. Not that I'm an expert or anything, but I do play that part on my blog...

Let me begin by saying that this is not going to be a joke opportunity to rub in the nice weather here. Actually, the northeast has had a wonderful winter with little snow and better temperatures then any time that we lived there, so that makes my usual weather comments invalid. However, I did have an experience recently, for the first time that I wanted to mention. As I awoke one Friday and was sitting on the edge of bed shaking out the cobwebs, I heard a sound that surprised me. It was the sound of raindrops hitting pavement at the start of a storm. I quickly looked out the window to see that that was not the sound. Instead I was greeted by a beautiful sunrise with diminishing clouds and rising temperatures that promised what Mrsfabp and I now refer to as “Another day in Paradise.” Basically, for the past eight weeks it has been sunny and warm almost every day. A problem, right? No, but I realized because when I thought it was raining, my heart jumped a bit, I miss changing weather some. I can remember thinking that it could be boring to have the same weather every day. God, I LOVE the weather here but it might be nice if every once in a while it was not “another day in paradise’ but simply a different weather day. Don’t worry though, I will get used to it. And for the current NM residents, I do not consider wind/dust storms as something different. You have to be able to see 50 feet in front of you to be able to classify the weather and that does not happen during these said storms.

Speaking of dust storms, one note to self. If you are expecting a dust storm, or even just higher winds, remember to close the windows. We learned this the hard way. We had spent all of a Saturday cleaning for some guests and a dust storm hit while we were out shopping on Sunday. It didn’t occur to us that this was a problem even when we walked out of the store and could not make out our car in the parking lot. Nor did it hit home as we were pushed all over the road on the way home. It only dented our dim wits when we walked into the house to see a fine layer of dust on everything, including the cat. You could actually see wisps of dust on the white bathroom floor. The dust goes EVERYWHERE! Even under doors and cracks in windows. It is fun to watch them approach yet scary at the same time. Here is a tip: When you cannot see the mountains here, you know it’s a dust storm.

(Yes, it really does look like this...)

Some other differences:

In the spring and summer of Massachusetts, every weekend day started with the sound of neighborhood lawnmowers doing their duty. Here, my front and back lawn is rock. It is called Xeroscape and all I have to do is push a few rocks off the walkway every once in a while.

I love Farmer’s Markets – fresh produce, craft items, what’s not to love? In North Brookfield, there was a quaint little Farmer’s Market for a few months of the summer right nearby our house. Here, there is a fantastic Market, one of the best in the country, that runs twice a week for the entire year and is several blocks long.

I love sonic booms. They remind me of growing up in New York where we heard them often, until they passed laws stopping the jets from flying over the city. It had been years since I had heard one, but since moving to New Mexico I have heard several. We are “near” both Fort Bliss and the White Sands test area so this is not shocking but it is still somewhat fun. Sonic Boom? Thunder in the distance? It’s even better when they warn you in the paper and on the local news that there will be several the next day.

People have commented that “all” the children in the North Brookfield Schools had blond hair and blue eyes. Here “all” of the kids in school have brown hair and brown eyes.

I can remember the feeling of having the first nice day in the spring in Massachusetts, where you ran outside to sit in the sun and absorb the gentle warmth. We had those type days in January. Now in the spring here in New Mexico, although the temperature is up to around 80, the sun is intense and makes it feel much warmer.

The highways in Massachusetts are marked by lots of cars, pine trees, cities and towns and speed limits of 60-65 MPH. This is often restricted by the flow of traffic. Here on the highways, there is no traffic, there is nothing to see but desert, and speed limits are posted at 75 but is mostly exceeded by the few cars you do see.

The first time I ever went to SONIC was on the Outer Banks. It is a typical fast food place but because we rarely went there, was considered a treat. I think Massachusetts has one but it was far from where we lived. There is a SONIC on our corner and 5 in the city of Las Cruces. We go there occasionally but only because it is Skippy’s favorite place to stop.

We want Kanye, our cat, to be able to get outside with us in nice weather as he was an outside cat but now is an inside one. We bought him a cheap harness, which he figured out how to escape from in about 8 seconds. We bought him a more expensive one that he figured out how to escape from in about 15 seconds. We either have to get a more expensive harness or a dumber cat.

I love cast iron pans. We could not do them justice in Massachusetts because we had an electric stove and it is just not the same type of cooking. Here in Las Cruces we have a gas stove, the first one I have had since I grew up in Queens, NY. I just love cooking on them. We just used them this Easter Sunday morning creating our friend Clair’s “Farmer's Breakfast” (recipe here) in starting a new holiday tradition. Hopefully there will be many more of these traditions to come. By the way, I have my eye on a great 2 quart cast iron dutch oven at the local Goodwill store. Hopefully it is still there on Wednesday, which is 30% off for seniors day. Makes me glad to be over %4^%$#^ years old.

People have asked us about the cost of living here in NM and I can think of no better way to describe it then to talk about energy prices. In Massachusetts, in a 1600 square room house, we spent about 110 dollars a month on electric and 350 dollars a month on an oil plan – that’s $350 EVERY month of the year, $3500 for the year. Gasoline prices are all over the place but the lowest price I paid in Massachusetts over the last 3 years was about $3.30 a gallon. Our gas bill in Las Cruces was $23 this month (we cook and heat home and hot water with gas), Our electric bill was $63 and soon after we arrived, gasoline was $2.97 a gallon.

Finally there are plenty of places to get a good ice cream in Massachusetts, especially the small mom and pop type places with hand dipped hard ice cream. We have Caliches. OMG! Not to bore you but you can read about it here. Skippy BEGS us to stop whenever we pass one. They have doggie cones for free. We “have” to get one of their sundaes too, while we are there.