Monday, April 28, 2014

Ten rounds and down for the count

It was inevitable, I guess. That little tickle in my throat...the seemingly innocent sniffles I tried not to notice as my daughter was getting hooked up to IV fluids last Monday... the headache and sore throat that reared their ugly heads when my husband came down with the stomach bug. Yep, they caught up to me today. Too much stress and germ paranoia make for a sick caregiver. Not surprising. The good news is my upper respiratory infection seems to have prevented the stomach virus from taking hold. At least, for now. Maybe I should have stayed in the mountains.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mr. Owl, friend or foe?

Immediately after posting this little video on Facebook, ominous comments began appearing in my feed. "I hope you don't have a cat or small dog!" "Yes! Keep small pets indoors!" Ever since, I've been sizing up our cocker spaniel with an objective eye. Risk assessment, if you will.  Weighing in at a formidable 35 pounds, she's too big to be considered owl prey.... but she's not the swiftest spaniel on the block. And, those owls are stealthy. Their wings make no sound in flight. What kind of a chance would a preoccupied, bunny-chasing pooch have under attack? Damn. And, to think I used to look forward to spring.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Into the woods

See him? That's our barred owl. Don't know how wise he is, but a friskier fowl you will never see.
As much as he's denying it, the hubs isn't out of the woods with regards to the stomach virus I have named Beelzebub (believe me, Montezuma has NOTHING on this evil entity.) Fortunately, we have woods in our front yard which are providing a welcomed distraction in the form of another spring mating ritual. Last year, it was toads. This year, it's owls. For the last month, two barred owls have called - at surprisingly high decibel levels - to each other several times a night. Not to mention morning, noon and evening. (Nocturnal creatures, my foot. These birds are having themselves some afternoon delight.) The entire neighborhood is complaining of insomnia, yet we're all giddy over the prospect of baby owls flitting about. Now, it appears the blessed event may be nigh. Papa Owl is guarding the nest in our dead, hollow tree (which we've postponed taking down indefinitely due to the hooters) and the mating calls have decreased to two or three times a day. He watches us like a hawk (although he'd probably resent the comparison), especially when we get too close to that tree. Owls have been known to scratch humans eyes out when they perceive them to be a threat to their young. I'm keeping my distance.

Friday, April 25, 2014


First, it was my daughter. She was stricken last Friday by a stomach bug so vicious, she required two units of IV saline on Monday due to severe hydration.  I can't - I won't! - describe the horrors of it. Suffice it to say, I haven't seen a bug that bad in 58 years. We wondered, what could it be? This is April, after all. Not exactly flu season. Symptoms were Google'd. Samples were taken. We'll probably get the results today. She's recovered, but last night around 3:30 a.m.....tick, tick, tick.... my husband got it. He's in denial, of course, despite five - wait, six! - trips to the bathroom in so many hours. Did I mention I kissed him "goodnight" full on the mouth last night?  Tickticktickticktick....  Remember that game we used to play at parties in the 60s?
I hated that game.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Finally... chino weather!

I owe J. Jill an apology. They sent me this super-cute dress from their spring Chino line to review over a month ago. Trouble is, it's been so cold - first in New Mexico, then home in Kansas - I haven't had the chance to give it a test drive until this week.
I wore mine with dark denim leggings and a navy, bandana-style scarf. Casual chic.
Kinda wish I would've ordered this color to carry over into fall.
    Now, when one thinks of chinos, one typically thinks of pants. J. Jill has plenty of those, too. But, I liked the idea of this dress which I thought could double as a tunic. And it can. The mid-weight fabric is super-soft with great body and has just the right amount of stretch to give a little in all the appropriate places. I wore this number (with leggings) to an outdoor event when the temperature was 70 degrees and it was perfect - not too warm or too cool. Plus, the length is long enough to wear it with bare legs, albeit after some serious fake tanning, an overdue pedicure and full-leg wax.  The reviews online are overwhelmingly positive with some suggesting it is runs small in the bust. I did not find this to be the case and, believe me, my bust is no shrinking violet. (Did I mention it's been marked down?)
   Of course, this being Kansas, it could be 95 degrees tomorrow. In that case, J. Jill's new linen line might be calling my name.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lime shortage? Costco to the rescue!

When I took that cooking class in Santa Fe, the chef was bemoaning the fact that the lime shortage has driven prices so high, chefs were having to use lemons in their lime-flavored recipes.  When I returned home I decided to do the same, but my spring cocktail of choice - 100% agave and diet tonic - just wasn't the same. Too pucker-y. Today, the hubs went on a much-needed Costco run and brought home something better than roses, chocolates or even wine.
Yep, those crazy Italian Volcano people, makers of the ultra-convenient bottled lemon juice, have saved my lips from freezing in an unattractive sour pucker.  Maybe Italy's limes are still abundant, who knows? But, at two big bottles for nine bucks, my happy hours are looking up! Thanks, Costco.

For the record, I just realized this post has a lot to do with my last post. Maybe I should be a bartender after all?

Set 'em up, barkeep!

I got a job offer the other night. Actually, I'd gotten the same offer just after announcing my retirement last year, but I didn't take it seriously. My friend (who co-owns a popular local bar) repeated his offer last weekend, "You really ought to come tend bar for me. I think you'd have a lot of fun. Just once a week, and you'd only have to work until 9." Me? A bartender? Several thoughts came to mind: Does he really see me as the bartender type? Like Jackie Gleason....
Sam Malone....
Tom Cruise in that terrible movie....

or Ted, the Love Boat guy who never learned it was impolite to point?
And, by the way, why aren't there any famous female bartenders? Oh, wait. There are...
Let's face it, I'm not the Coyote Ugly type either. Still, the invitation is intriguing. I'm always making up my own signature cocktails at home. The interaction with people would be fun. And, everybody knows a bartender has to be part-mixologist/part-psychologist, which is something I've always been pretty good at. I think I might have to give it a try. But, first I'm going to change my name to Jo. Because "set 'em up, Cathy" just sounds wrong.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cyber-Seniors: Why isn't every town in America doing this?

Just got a press release on the debut of this charming film. Makes me want to dash down to the local senior center and start up a program:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Black Hawk down!

Captain Helicopter Dad grounded...for now.
(At 10 a.m. today)
Hubs: Would you text our son and tell him his taxes are due today? (For the record, the hubs doesn't text.)
Me: No.
Hubs: No?
Me: He's a grown up. He knows the date. He'll figure it out.
Hubs: Yeah, but maybe he...
Me: Nope. Not gonna do it.
Hubs: Welp, okay.

(At 7 p.m. tonight)
Hubs: Our son just called. He needed his Turbo Tax password. Fortunately, I had it.
Me: Good for you, honey.
Hubs: He's taking care of it, apparently.
Me: Welp, okay.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Things I learned on the journey and, especially, upon coming home

You hear that word "journey" thrown around a lot these days. "That's part of my journey,""it's all about the journey," etc., ad nauseum.  I sort of hate it, like I sort of hate any term that becomes an overused word célèbre. But I recently returned from a real, literal journey - a road trip, if you will - and it did manage to teach me a few things. To wit:
1) The bad thing about traveling solo is not being able to share your experiences with a companion. (This blog helped.)
2) The good things about traveling solo are feeling courageous, clearing your head and taking all the time you want to get ready in the morning.
3) If you're going to travel solo, try to bookend the alone parts with visits from great friends.
4) Don't leave home without Siri and Google Maps. (Without them, I would be lost in the desert, as we speak, searching blindly for water and gasoline.)
5) Audio books are gifts from God.
6) People are basically the same everywhere. Except for the whack jobs in the Santa Fe Trader Joe's on a Friday night. They're different.
7) Your loved ones can survive without you. Hard to believe, but true.
8) Room service is another gift from God.
9) Even with high thread counts, hospital corners and chocolates on pillows, there is no hotel bed better than your own bed. 
10) There's no place like home.

It's all about the road trip, friends.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Day 5 (Delayed): Eat, Play, Spa - Ojo Caliente

I was happy to get some time off between spa treatments (now there's a statement I never thought I'd make) so I could enjoy my final day of luxury with my two college friends, who joined me for the last leg of my two week trip in Taos. It was a scenic, 50-minute drive to Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Spa...
 where we all had massages, took a mud bath (sorry, no photos provided) and were treated to an hour in a private pool.
After a soak in the private pool. It was too warm to build a fire.
My massage was called "Ancient Echoes of Ojo," an 80-minute trip to heaven including massage and energy balancing techniques of the upper back, shoulders, arms, neck, scalp, face and ears, finishing off with a luxurious foot massage. (Highly recommended. Ask for Gwynne.)
One of the many mineral pools at Ojo Caliente.
After our afternoon of bliss, we got dressed and enjoyed an early dinner in Ojo's Wine Bar and Lounge, starting with their Green Chile "Fries," which are actually potato-crusted chiles with hot 'n' sweet vinegar for dipping. Out. Of. This. World.
Needless to say, we all slept like the ancient rocks of Ojo on our last night in Taos. I credit that 80-minute massage for allowing my body to survive the 14-hour drive home yesterday. (Yes, I cut my trip a little short. Two weeks was long enough to be away from my home sweet home.)

Santa Fe School of Cooking

Before leaving Santa Fe for Taos last Sunday, I was fortunate enough to get schooled in the art of making chile rellenos at the Santa Fe School of Cooking.
The fabulous, high-tech classroom at the Santa Fe School of Cooking
Relleno is Spanish for "filled" or "stuffed" and our teacher/chef, Michelle, showed us four ways to make this Mexican classic.
Making a beer batter which was almost as light as tempura. The secret: Lots of warm egg whites.
 The class was hands-on and a lot of fun, and I learned basic cooking tips I never knew including never hit the edge of the bowl with your spatula when folding in egg whites, always refrigerate garlic, and Monterey Jack was a real guy from Monterey, California, who invented the cheese.
The class was divided into three groups so each team could make two recipes and easily observe the other two recipes being prepared.
Filling the ancho chiles with chorizo, refried beans and Monterey Jack cheese.
Cream cheese stuffed jalapenos, ancho chile rellenos with chipotle tomato sauce, chile rellenos and chiles en nogada.
At the end of the three-hour class, we got to sample the fruits of our labor (the chile pepper IS a fruit, not a vegetable) with complimentary beer, wine or delicious iced tea. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Chimayo with the girls

Fun day with my friends. Bought $77 worth of chile powder. Still no wifi. That is all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Day 13

I left Santa Fe after breakfast in bed at the La Posada ....

and took the low road to Taos in the rain (pause to listen to locals cheer)...

My friends were delayed overnight in Dallas so I had one more meal alone, a delicious chile relleno at Doc Martens in the Taos Inn.

My pals are here now and there's no wifi in our apartment. But, stay tuned for catch-up posts on my rellenos class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking (amazing) and more.

This trip ain't over till I sing on Friday!!

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The real silver of Santa Fe

When someone says "silver" in Santa Fe, you immediately think of the beautiful Indian jewelry sold all over this town. What I've noticed, however, are the number of women with gorgeous silver hair walking around, far more than I've seen at home or anywhere I've traveled. Here are just three examples of women I met who are rocking the gray. Here's to the natural look, Santa Fe style!
Spa receptionist
Art gallery associate
Artist and curator

Last day in Santa Fe...with no agenda

With no itinerary except a dinner date with my new friend, Evelyn, I'm making it a resort day with a brief shopping session thrown in this afternoon. La Posada de Santa Fe is known as the art hotel which ensures that, everywhere I roam, I will be surrounded by fabulous works of local and regional art selected by the resort's own curator.

And the food at Fuego Restaurant is a work of art, too.
Benedict del Mar Verde
Southwest Omelet (dig the little jam and butter plate!)
After eating a hearty breakfast, one can walk off the calories on the expansive grounds or in the well-equipped workout room.

That doesn't necessarily mean that I will...but it is nice to know it's available. I'm leaving my options open today. Happy Saturday, everyone!

Eat, play, spa: Day 4 - Yes, Santa Fe, there is a Virginia.

From 7th to 12th grade, I attended Loretto Academy in Kansas City, run by the spunky Sisters of Loretto. It was a progressive and innovative, all-girls school and I loved the nuns who taught there. (Most of them, anyway.) So, when I learned that my beautifully appointed treatment room at the Spa at Loretto used to be a classroom in the old Loretto School in Santa Fe, I felt right at home.
The room looked just like this. Clawfoot tub, private bathroom with shower, gorgeous old pine floors.
The spa director set me up for a Mindful Massage. "Oh, you have Virginia," the spa receptionist said. "You're going to love her."  I wondered if there really could be too much of a good thing. Four spa treatments in four days? How impressed could I be? An hour later, I was telling Virginia that she was put on the planet to rub people and that it was the best massage I ever had. Some people are simply gifted and Virginia is one of them. Highly recommended.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Eat, play, spa: Day 3 - La Posada de Santa Fe

   Let me preface this by saying I fully realize how obnoxiously fortunate I am on this assignment. My youngest sister reminded me of this yesterday when she called me the 'b' word after I told her where I was and what I was doing. (Where is the love?)
   Today, I checked into the La Posada de Santa Fe, where I spent a memorable vacation with my parents and second sister (the one who doesn't call me names...anymore) in or around 1967. After bonding with the friendly staff - two of whom have strong Lawrence and/or Kansas connections - I was shown to my home for the next three days: The Photogenesis Suite.
 Bedroom with fireplace, just off the living room. 
The entrance to the spa. Serenity now.
St. Francis as seen on the walk to the spa.
The signature treatment of the spa's choice was the Santa Fe Chocolate Chile Wrap. I've never had a wrap before, so I don't have a lot to compare it to. But, if you like being scrubbed all over with a dry loofah, slathered with liquid chocolate infused with Chimayo chile powder, given a heavenly scalp and neck massage while you're wrapped in warm linens, then (after showering) massaged with white chocolate butter.... baby, this one's for you! My epidermis felt smooth and detoxified - and I smelled delicious - as I kicked back in the art-filled relaxation room after my treatment.
Happy feet. Happy body.
Today, I will have a tour of this beautiful 6+ acre property then head to my fourth and final spa treatment this week. (There may be one more next week.) Seriously considering specializing in spa reporting. That's got to be a thing, right?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Goodbye, Governors!

This gypsy travel writer is moving on today. I will miss the Inn of the Governors, especially their fabulous breakfast buffet - one of the best I've had.
Breakfast with a fire in the kiva. (The waffle was just for show. I didn't really eat it. Not all of it, anyway.)
This is a warm and friendly place - and a great value - for anyone visiting Santa Fe, especially for the first time.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Eat, Play, Spa - Day 2: Four Seasons Rancho Encantado

Today, when I needed both things desperately, I scored a five-star facial and a new friend at the Four Seasons. Located thirteen minutes from downtown Santa Fe in the serene foothills near the Santa Fe Opera, the Four Seasons resort and spa is an oasis in the desert with all the luxurious amenities you'd expect from the illustrious hotel chain.
Exterior view of the spa at the Four Seasons.
The "warming room" where you relax and wait for your treatment to begin. Luscious.
I had a heavenly 80-minute signature facial, compliments of the wonderful Monica, which featured HydroPeptide products infused with natural fragrances and lots of good-for-you stuff like Vitamin C. I didn't take an "after" photo, but the treatment made me feel (if not look) like I'd had a little facelift.  Afterward, I met the charming sales director, Evelyn, in the Four Seasons bar for cocktails and conversation. 
That's my Honey Badger on the left (made with local whiskey and liqueur) and Evelyn's Manhattan Project.
We enjoyed drinks (and the best blue corn breaded trout appetizer I've ever tasted) as the sun began to set over the foothills. We rattled on about our kids, her divorce, our 80-something moms and deceased dads, career shifts, her Japanese/Hawaiian culture and my life in Kansas. We mutually agreed that we really hit it off.
The adorable Evelyn.
The best part about travel assignments are the connections you make with people. It doesn't happen that often, but I'm certain Evelyn and I will stay in touch....because, for one reason, I am determined to be her virtual matchmaker.

Boomer Girl Review: Ultimate Oriole Feeder

I've still got a way to go before I'm feeding pigeons on the steps of St. Paul's (which I never thought was a bad thing to do ...