July 27, 2012

Things Skippy would say...

Did you ever wonder just what dogs might say if they could speak and carry on conversations. Hey look I got time on my hands to wonder about stuff like this. Anyway, I was sitting outside with Skippy and suddenly began to understand just how he thinks. So, here is some of the things I envision him to say:

-“What do you mean you don’t smell bacon? It’s only 5 or 6 blocks away.”

-“Where’s mom?”

-“We going to Sonic?”

-“Why do you keep picking up my poop? I put it there for a reason.”

-“You see Princess over there? She’s really let herself go.”

-“Can we go over to the house with all the dogs? THEY have good treats.”

-“If that woman comes any closer, I am going to bark at her.”

-“Why is that bell ringing? Who’s that at the door? What do they want? I’ll make them go away.”

-“You call this slop dog food? The damn cat eats better than me.”

-“Look, I was sleeping. If I need to go outside, I’ll let you know by chewing on a flip-flop.”

-“Hey, it’s 105 degrees outside; can’t we stay here in the air conditioning?”

-“I got shotgun!”

-“What do you mean I can’t have chocolate? You have it all the time.”

-“Yea? Well your breath doesn’t smell so good either.”

-“Of course I smell like a wet dog. You took me out in the rain, what did you expect?”

-“Why won’t the cat play with me?”

-“I’ll be over here in your recliner, sleeping.”

July 22, 2012

Help! I’m Trapped in a Parallel Universe

I should have known something was amiss. In looking back, the clues for a rip in the space/time continuum were there. I cannot believe I missed both clues.

The first was an abrupt weather change. One day it was hot and dry, 107 degrees and 8% humidity and the very next day it was 91 degrees with almost 40% humidity, a tad uncomfortable. Our always blue skies suddenly had clouds in them (more on that in a different post), big, white puffy clouds that built up during the day, turning grayer and flattening out until the distant rumbles of thunder could be heard. We then had several days in a row that ended with thunderstorms and about an inch and a half of rain in about 5 days. We started getting flash flood warnings on weatherbug. A rip was obviously starting.

The second clue was much more subtle but it was there. We go to Nellie’s for breakfast every Saturday. Haven’t missed any since we arrived in Las Cruces. We have become regulars. Mrsfabp has a breakfast named for her – huevos rancheros, scrambled, with green meat. She has it almost every time. Our friend Bill has a Bill Special too. He NEVER has anything else. His wife Clair and I change up every few visits. We might be called adventurous, or maybe indecisive. One day recently in an email about something entirely different, Clair offhandedly mentioned that she was needing something different. I missed that clue. Went right over my head. Completely forgot about it. Then, last Saturday, when the orders were brought to the tables (we were a group of 8 that day), Josie, the waitress and co-operator of Nellie’s said “who got the French Toast and bacon?” I dropped my fork to the table and looked around, only to see Josie put the dish in front of Clair and Clair was smiling. Clair got the french toast. But this was Nellie’s. You eat Mexican food at Nellie’s. She got french toast and bacon at a MEXICAN RESTAURANT! IN LAS CRUCES!

This was all the proof I needed. I expect the zombie apocalypse to begin at any time now. We are doomed, there will be no turning back. By the way, she did it again this Saturday. My faith in humanity is now officially shaken.

July 12, 2012

New Mexico Safari

One of the more exciting things for me in moving to Las Cruces, was the opportunity to see lots of new animals and birds. Not that I have seen all that New England has to offer, but that is something I enjoy doing this in some of my free time. I fed the birds in my backyard. I saw lots of animals in my yard too, like fox, deer, turkey, hawks, raccoons, porcupine and assorted small rodents like squirrels, chipmunks and bats. I do not think that I would be able to live in an area bereft of our animal friends.

When we visited Las Cruces in the past, I set my sights low, very low as a matter of fact. All I wanted to see was a roadrunner. Having grown up on Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons, I knew that every desert has roadrunners.

I asked our friends where I could go to be guaranteed to see one and they laughed at me. Seems I forgot the “Animal Watchers” first rule of thumb which is if you look for an animal/bird, you will not see it. Well, while driving along a small side road just outside of town, I saw my first roadrunner, a pair actually which I documented here.  

When our kids came to visit I told them that I really hoped we would get to see one and sure enough, one day, while looking at a couple of neighborhoods we had researched and wanted to show the kids, we saw on just outside an apartment complex among the cactus and sidewalks. Everyone, especially me, was excited.

In late March, our friend Mary Jane and her daughter Kristen visited us and I so wanted them to see a roadrunner. Unfortunately Kristen left without seeing one but on the last day she was here, MJ was along for a sightseeing tour of the Picacho Hill area and a roadrunner appeared. He jumped onto a stone wall. Took a few steps and was gone on the other side. Just as disappointment set in, he reappeared several feet further down the wall. He stood for a second, revved up and did the roadrunner dash for at least 40 feet along the top of the wall. Head down, he was in full Looney Tune mode, missing only the “beep-beep” and the pile of Acme bird seed. Just wonderful.

I have begun to feel that to me, roadrunners are like penguins. How can you not like a penguin, how can you not like a roadrunner. It must be the cartoon images I grew up with, Chilly Willie and Road Runner and Wily E Coyote. The best part is I get to see them in the wild. I doubt I will ever get to Antarctica to see penguins there.

July 8, 2012

Random thoughts on a random day…

-You may have heard that Skippy had a bit of a tussle at the dog park a while ago. He got bit on his back, both left and right side and an $83 trip to the vet’s yielded 2 shaves of his fur, an antibiotic to ward off infection and a painkiller. He took the antibiotic wrapped in cheese and did a little dance when he saw it. Either he really likes cheese or he was hopelessly addicted to pain killers…

-Mrsfab had a substitute teaching job that will ran through the end of May. We could use the money (like that ever doesn’t happen) but it was weird to be home alone without her. No more errand days ending in a trip to Caliches. No more having lazy mornings on the veranda. One thing we did have was more emphasis on our weekends and getting things done and going on road trips. I am glad she only worked for 5 weeks and now have about 10 weeks free.

-Had to say goodbye to Helen and Fred in late April as they moved from Las Cruces to the west coast for the summer and somewhere in the wilds of Nevada for the rest of their lives. Or until Fred has had enough of that state and they try something else. We all miss them.

-We found one of Skippy’s hiding spots for naughty behavior, under our bed. The shreds of paper and missing shoes were the first clues. He also hides under the recliner in the living room. Found him under there with a bag of beef jerky he stole out of our Vaqueros’ room

- Our friends Clair and Bill were recently in France, enjoying the sights, drinking wine and eating cheese and croissants. I mean we have Sangria and Margaritas, enchiladas and gorditas, and Drippings Springs and State Parks to visit. Why would you need to leave here?

-Best thing in the world? Half price shakes at Sonic, made with real ice cream and requiring a spoon to finish. I am just going to have to do more research for science on these…

-We have come to the end of Summer 1, the month of June, which sees the highest temperatures the desert has to offer. This past week it had been triple digits each day. Thank god the humidity is low and we have air conditioning. You quickly get reminded not to stand in the sun or touch your hot car in a parking lot. This broke last weekend as we began Summer 2, the Monsoon Season. On average we will get more than 80% of our moisture for the year in the next two months. Is it exciting? Well let me say when we visited last summer in July we had a thunderstorm and people were dancing in the parking lot of the strip mall with their arms raised to the heavens.

-Gas prices continue to tumble here in LCNM, down today to about $3.12 a gallon. I think I might have been 8 years old the last time gas was this cheap…

-Mrsfabp will be returning to our old hometown on the east coast at the end of July, for two weeks. I don’t get it. We have Caliches! No, really, I’ll miss her a lot. Maybe I’ll have a Gizmo (Caliche Sundae) in her honor. Skippy will have a “Poochie Cone” Yes, I will be taking care of Skippy while she is away. Someone remind me to keep his food and water bowl full, ok?

-The Summer 2 weather has one big disadvantage for me. The humidity is higher and I am sweating. It can be 100 degrees with 10% humidity and I do fine. But it is 84 degrees with 59% humidity and I’m sweating buckets. I do love the thunderstorms and heavy rain showers. We have had like 4 the first week of July. Nothing beats puddles of water…

-For those who may care, Mrsfabp and I got our New Mexico license plates and driver’s licenses. Do you think that the various state DMVs get together and figure out ways to make the forms ridiculous, lines long and provide nothing to look at at the office? New Mexico is the third state I have had to deal with in terms of plates and licenses and each of the three have essentially been the same experience. At least we won’t have to worry about that for another year.

July 7, 2012

Lightening, full moon and fireworks, oh my…..

There is nothing like the celebrations of a small town for the July 4th holiday. Parades, concerts, kids on bikes, corn on the cob. That list is endless. Last summer when we were visiting Las Cruces, we sat on a friend’s patio drinking wine and toasting the different fire works displays. This year, our first living in Las Cruces, I wanted something different and so a plan was hatched.

Mrsfabp went to the concert in a local park that was to be followed by the city’s fireworks display. But rather than hanging out there, I picked her up early, loaded Skippy along with a couple of Gin and Tonics, grabbed a sandwich and headed to the west side of the city, Picacho Hills.

This is a nice area, with lots of nice homes surrounding a country club. Unfortunately the housing market went bust before it was all completed. So, along with many, many homes, there are roads to nowhere, cul-de-sacs with no homes on it but more importantly, a spectacular view of the entire city of Las Cruces and beyond. We have gone there before for a picnic and to watch the lights come on in the city at night but this trip was going to be even more spectacular.

We set up on a hill on an empty house lot and awaited the show. By 8:15, the private fireworks displays had started and by 9 pm, there were firework blasts all over the street and home lights. At 9:30, the city fireworks began and of course, they were really nice. I mean all fireworks displays are nice (sorry Sam Diego).  

But then something really spectacular occurred. At the south east side of the city, an almost full moon rose out of some clouds. It had lit the clouds from behind but was not able to be seen in its grandeur until the city fireworks were almost done. Then at the extreme north-east side of the city, a lightening storm lit up the clouds in the sky with only occasional bolts of lightening visible. It was a visual display, unmatched in my mind by any Independence Day celebration I had ever seen. I mean kids bikes and high school bands are great and all but I take moonshine, lightening and fireworks over the city any time.

July 6, 2012


I must admit I have been driving Mrsfabp a bit crazy always being around. She needs her space and I am learning that. Thus she “encouraged” me to find something meaningful to do. We were at the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park having an impromptu picnic when I saw signs that they were looking for volunteers to help out at the park. A couple of forms, a brief conversation or two and I am their newest volunteer.

It’s not a very busy park, but they need people to run the visitors center, fill the fountain and hummingbird feeders and answer the phone. I can do all that and more. During quiet moments, I take out my camera and snap a few pictures off. I will post a couple of them here.

The state park also has a Friend’s group. They have done some work to provide activities for the park and fund some things like a summer nature camp. It seemed like a natural progression to that group from being a volunteer so I did that too. They have some web stuff that is in dire need of updating and more frequent posting and a newsletter that also needs some consistency so I am going to do both of those things too. I will post more information about their Facebook page on Facebook and ask that if you do Facebook, you will “like” the page. You will get to see some very nice pictures and even if you are not from this area, will get a feel for the park and its mission. 

July 2, 2012

A dream come true?

When I was about 10 years old (I know that was the age because I remember my bedroom at the house and we moved soon after), I used to have this recurring dream. In it, my parents were talking to players from the New York Yankees and they were inviting them to stay at our house. About 6 of them accepted the offer and moved in. I only remember two of the players – Yogi Berra and Joe Pepitone. They were always around the house, playing catch with my brother and I and talking baseball. For a ten year old, this had to have been the most epic of dreams. I am not sure how I could have topped this.

Fast forward to Las Cruces, 2012. Mrsfabp was reading the local paper and came across an ad for the Las Cruces Vaqueros minor league baseball club. In the ad it said they were looking for some host families. These guys are pursuing a dream, playing baseball and not making much money on the off chance they would get seen by a scout and make it to a major league’s team roster some day. She read the ad to me and we sort of looked at each other for a moment. We have a spare bedroom, plenty of time on our hands and live close to the stadium. An email and a couple of phone calls later, we were getting our very own Vaquero.

Wanting to respect his privacy, I will not mention a name. Suffice it to say he played college ball, was set to get looked at by the Oakland A’s and then broke his leg. Having recovered, this is the first step of his to pursue that dream again. For me, it is those dreams coming true.

BusinessBoy played baseball through out his high school years and I miss going to his games and later on discussing what happened in it with him. In a way, this Vaquero has helped smooth over missing BB and missing his ball playing. We invited a couple of our Vaquero’s teammates over for a meal or two and just spent time talking about all sorts of baseball things, from home run hitting to poor umpiring. It feels nice to do that again and it even feels better to do something for our new community.