A Weekend in Santa Fe

Santa Fe & Española, NM – 17-21 April 2018

Spent a really nice long weekend with my sister and sister-in-law at their lovely home in Española. I was coming from a business trip in Phoenix and I flew directly into Santa Fe Municipal Airport. It was a bit pricier than Albuquerque Sunport – but not having to wait for the shuttle to Santa Fe and spending over an hour en route from there was well worth it.

Andrea met me at the airport, since it’s just up the road from her work and I was off the plane and out of the tiny airport in about three minutes! We picked up Marybeth and then headed to Gabriel’s for dinner. It was as good as always – with the notable exception that we didn’t get our second round of margaritas we’d ordered, so the entire trip was obviously ruined… We did however stop at the highly glamorous Kokoman liquor store so we could at least have that second round of drinks once we got back to the ranch.

It was nice to get back to their place. It’d been four years since my last visit (#worstbrotherever) and they’d made some changes around the place, most notably putting in a new staircase to the upstairs, which was now the location of my guest suite! Very comfy – though cats Parsley and Donut, as lovely as they are, didn’t provide the same level of hostess service that Porkchop (#RIP) provided on my last visit – she would snuggle with me at night and then wake me up in the morning by sneezing in my face. Try to find that at the Waldorf Astoria!

Friday was spa day. Andrea works at the Sunrise Springs Spa and Resort, so she treated us to a morning massage, followed by lunch. The whole property is lovely. The massage facilities were just gorgeous and I had 90-minutes of deep tissue massage and reflexology from the very-skilled Oliver. My only complaint was how quickly those 90 minutes flew by!

Lunch on the terrace at the Blue Heron. I had their deservedly award-winning green chile burger and we all shared a lovely bottle of rosé. The meal was really delicious and the service was wonderful. And an hour soaking afterwards in one of the private hot pools was the perfect way to wrap up our visit.

Back home, we alternated between watching reruns of The Royal Wedding and napping, before having a yummy dinner of shrimp with rice and zucchini.

Saturday we visited a lavender farm up in Abiquiu, which was fun – though perhaps not quite meeting our expectation of endless vistas of waving fields of lavender à la Provence. But the scenery up there is beautiful nevertheless.

We’d not reserved early enough to make a visit to Georgia O’Keefe’s house in Abiquiu, so we had to content ourselves with a nice lunch out on the terrace of the Abiquiu Inn. We also stopped at Freddy’s, a regional fast food place, that serves burgers and frozen custard. I got the “Hawiian Delight Concrete” – a blend of frozen custard, pineapple, coconut and macadamia nuts (hold the strawberry, please #c’estleger) and it was pretty darn tasty.

Another dinner at home, prepared by Marybeth, followed by a few episodes of “House Hunters International,” with the three of us all yelling at the contestants and their stupid choices and opinions. In other words, a perfect night.

Sunday we were up and on the road early. Annie and Marybeth dropped me off in the center of Santa Fe, where I met up with my guide for a two-hour tour around town. It was really enjoyable, insofar as I’m always happy when I have an opportunity to ride. With that being said, my guide, while pleasant enough, wasn’t exactly overflowing with knowledge about Santa Fe – or even about alternative bike routes. I mean, it was fine – but I’d probably have been just as happy renting a bike and exploring on my own. Next time…

Meanwhile, though, Annie and Marybeth were on an important mission: visiting a litter of puppies, with the hopes of adopting one. And lo and behold, they did! They picked me up downtown along with the new addition to their menagerie, Pearl, an eight-week-old Great Pyrenees! And she already weighs 17 lbs. – she’s gonna be a big girl.

When we got back to their place, Pearl was a little woozy from the long ride in her crate and had a bout of carsickness. But soon enough she’d had some food and water and was bounding around the yard, settling into her new home, while also getting lots of hugs and belly rubs from the three of us.

While Marybeth got started on dinner (#hero), Annie and I went out to run some errands: getting wine and going to Dairy Queen. Seems simple enough – but not so fast! First liquor store was closed since it’s Sunday (#wtf), so we had to go back to Kokoman, a bit further down the highway. It was actually pretty convenient, since the DQ is just up the road.

Anyway, we got the wine and then popped into DQ where the woman working there greeted us and then advised she had some bad news: no ice cream today! The machine was broken (#insertMcDonaldsjoke) so we were out of luck. I let her know that my weekend was ruined and then suggested they rename the place “Non-Dairy Queen.” (I didn’t actually do that.)

Luckily, there was another DQ back on the other side of town, so off we went and I finally got my fix. And the silver lining? Got to stop and take a photo of a really amazing old sign for the long-gone Arrow Motel.

Had another fine dinner that evening and hit the hay early. Annie drove me down to Albuquerque and we stopped into the Los Poblanos Inn. Their restaurant isn’t open for lunch, but we visited the shop and explored the lovely grounds for a bit. It’s quite charming.

Some lunch up the road (with wine for me since I’m still on vacation!), a walk around Old Town (which was kind of a snooze) and then to the Albuquerque Sunport for my ride home. It was a really great weekend and I can’t wait to come back to see my family and all the animals again soon.

Oh, and here’s a nice “now and then” bit. While there may have been some wine involved, no Donuts were harmed during the making of these videos. What a difference four years makes!

Compare:

 

And contrast:

La Gon, Calvin…

Today was a special day for me here in Bangkok – both happy and sad simultaneously. My best little buddy and world’s most delightful cat died this past December. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with his ashes back home – but then I read about a Buddhist temple in Bangkok that performs funerals for pets. Since Calvin had already been cremated, I didn’t need the whole funeral ceremony – but I really liked the idea of scattering his ashes in Chao Phraya here in this city that I fell in love with so quickly last year and to which I hope I’ll return many times.

My dear friend Ak was kind enough to make all the arrangements, reserving a boat to take us out onto the river once we’d made it up to Nonthanburi. After a short ride, we were in front of Wat Bang Jak where a lay Buddhist (and our boat’s captain) said prayers to the river goddess and for Calvin while we burned incense. We tossed some coins into the river for Calvin for his journey, along with a garland of flowers. I scattered his ashes into the river and and then Ak and I strewed some more flowers and a bottle of fragrant perfume in his wake.

It was a lovely way for me to say my last farewell to an amazing cat who brought me so much joy. And it certainly makes me happy knowing that I can visit him every time I’m in Bangkok and that the great golden Buddha at Wat Bang Jak will be watching over him.

 

The Cat Who Came in from the Cold

After nearly ten years in my place, I’ve finally decided to turn on the radiators. They were on when I first moved in and were constantly clanging and spewing rusty water. Not cool. So I relied on a nice little space heater. Granted, it wasn’t perfect, but it generally kept the living room warm enough.

But, presumably thanks to global climate change, SF is apparently in for another bone-chilling winter. The last two winters have been uncharacteristically cold and my little heater wasn’t cutting the mustard. Of course, what with being old and infirm, I seem to take on a chill much more easily than when I was young and spry…

So, I turned on the radiators – and so far, so good. Had some clanging issues which the management company fixed quickly. And I’m still adjusting to having to keep the windows wide-open so that I’m not roasted alive.

But guess who is the happiest little creature on earth thanks to the new apartment heating protocols? Yep, the cat. Frankly, I’m a little jealous. While he hasn’t completely given up on lap-sitting, he prefers to spend his time splayed out in front of the white-hot grill. But on the up side? Good opportunity for me to find an adorable new kitty bed! And really, if he’s happy, I’m happy…

UPDATE: My mom pointed out that he’s closer and closer to the radiator in each photo – like he’s been building up his tolerance for the surface-of-the-sun-like temperatures he has to endure. Tonight one of his little paws is actually underneath the radiator. Soon, he’ll probably be sitting right on top of the thing…

Birthday Redux

For my  birthday, my father and belle-mère got me a great new Chrome backpack – in fact, the very one I’d specifically indicated as my favorite. A really wonderful gift!

I was visiting the Chrome site, looking at the accessories for the backpack (specifically the little attachable pouch for cellphone, etc.) when I noticed that there was another backpack that was perhaps slightly more to my liking – not quite sure why I hadn’t noticed this before. So, ingrate that I am, I decided to exchange the thoughtful gift I’d received. I attempted to do this on the DL so my ingratitude could go unnoticed, but a receipt was required, so I had to request said receipt from the ‘rents. “Hey, remember that great backpack you got me? The one that I specifically chose, even sending you a link to the website and to this particular model of backpack? Yeah, well, I don’t want it, so where’s the receipt so I can return it?” OK, I actually tried to be a bit more gracious than that…

At any rate, all went well. I got the other backpack and I love it! Even better – it was on sale! So in addition to the backpack, I got the cellphone holder, a little organizer bag and four pairs of socks! And no, this wasn’t my plan from the beginning as a way of maximizing my birthday haul!

And let me add this – when I was visiting Chrome’s website, all of the people who reviewed the socks were kvelling about them. Really? Socks? Whatever. Or so I thought until I got them home and put them on. OH MY GOD! They are the most delightfully comfortable, well-fitting socks I’ve ever worn. Not only do they come in four sizes, there is a “left” sock and a “right” sock in each pair! And yes, they are marked “L” and “R”. They are a delight – not only am I kvelling about them, I am plotzing!

Happy Pride!

Let’s not forget the debt we owe to the fags, dykes and trannies who fought at Stonewall almost exactly 42 years ago.

And this is an amazing photo, and captures just a bit of what I’m feeling tonight.

Une semaine merveilleuse à NYC

Four trips to NYC in the last six months – I was going to say I’ve fallen back in love with the city, but I don’t think I ever stopped. I simply wasn’t spending time there…  Now I just need to win the lottery so I can afford an apartment. Sigh…

Arrived Wednesday without incident and was welcomed with antipasti and a bottle of wine chez Ralph. A good night’s sleep and then a morning walk before work to Murray’s for a bagel with cream cheese and bacon (dairy and pork on a bagel – so many rules broken!). Swung by Rocco’s for a cannoli, only to discover it was being “remodeled” – at the demand of the Health Department. Quel dommage! If there were any rat feces in my cannoli last time I visited, I didn’t notice.

Dinner Thursday evening at Le Gigot. We sat at the bar and had a good meal – steak for me, boeuf bourguignon for Ralph. We had excellent wine and a very friendly bartender, who I regaled with jokes (“Would I? Would I?” “Hunchback! Hunchback!”). I’m sure he breathed a sigh of relief once I’d finally left. Oh, and Ralph shushed me at one point, if that gives any indication of my demeanor…

Friday spent working hard – and discovered how to tether my netbook to my EVO. The 4G connection on my phone was WAY faster than a wired connection to Verizon DSL. Oh these modern times!

Took a lunch break and got a turkey sandwich at Torrisi Italian Specialties. I’d read that the pepper sauce on the sandwich combines with the mayo to create heroin. I would not argue with this hypothesis… Also had a quick stop at the New Museum to see Cronocaos. A fascinating take on the preservation of architecture in the modern world…

Friday night, Ralph and I headed to Lincoln Center to see War Horse. The story was perhaps not the most subtle or nuanced piece of theater – but the horses on stage were completely magical. There’s really no other word for the puppetry that brought these animals to life – they were the most engrossing, engaging and poignant characters on the stage. I’m honestly welling up with tears as I write this, just remembering how incredibly alive they were, whether they were galloping around the stage, rearing up on their haunches or standing nearly still, nickering while their ears twitched. It was a theater experience I will never forget.

Post-theater dinner at Rosa Mexicano, a really cool looking place just down the street from the theater. Guacamole made tableside, margaritas, giant slabs of beef – all was right with the world…

Saturday: le shopping! Made the usual stops at Uniqlo, Topman and Ben Sherman. I bought the most adorable pair of cropped khakis from Uniqlo – and they fit perfectly! Sadly, though, to quote Michael Kors, the crotch was insane, so I had to return them (by which I mean I told Ralph to return them once I’d flown back to SF since I’d forced him to pay for them – because I didn’t want to try them on at the store and figured he’d have an easier time returning them if they were on his credit card. So really, I was just being polite!). Also, a trip to K-Mart (in Manhattan – I know!) so I could pick up a beach chair. Priorities, people!

That evening we saw The Normal Heart. It was preachy, statistics-laden, heart-wrenching, polemical – and marvelous. Joe Mantello turned in an amazing performance. And Ellen Barkin (!) delivered a monologue in Act II that elicited sustained cheers and thunderous applause.

Dinner was going to be at Maria Pia, a nice little Italian place I’ve been to after the theater a couple of times. But the kitchen closes at 11PM! In New York! On a Saturday night! WTF?! Boo, Maria Pia!

So we wound up at Uncle Nick’s for some Greek mezes – roasted peppers, tzatziki, scordalia, etc. All really tasty. But the tastiest thing of all? Our adorable Greek waiter. Seriously. Handsome as the day is long, with a charming smile and a twinkle in his eye. He must rake in the tips from all the swooning ladies and dudes-who-like-dudes. Quel bateau de rêve!

Of course, since we were in the neighborhood, a visit to Posh for some drinking and dancing was in order. It was as fun as always…

So, Sunday. We didn’t arise quite as early as we’d hoped. But we still managed to make it onto the 1:30 ferry to Sandy Hook. A wonderful ride past the Statue of Liberty and then a lovely afternoon laying on the beach and walking along a huge and nearly empty expanse of sand adjacent to the main beach. The water was too cold for swimming, but what a wonderful afternoon. The boat ride home took us under the Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges – twice. It was a perfect day…

A late dinner in the East Village at Arcane. It was late and still delightfully warm out. Cucumber-coconut soup and pork curry for dinner, reggae music and a leisurely walk home. It was a perfect evening…

Monday was for walking. A subway ride up to the Armory to see the amazing Ryoji Ikeda installation, which was rapturous. A stroll down Park Avenue, where we debated which building was sufficiently lovely to actually warrant buying a co-op in the boring Upper East Side after acquiring winning lottery tix. A snack and a couple of glasses of rosé at The Drunken Horse, followed by a marvelous walk along the Hudson.

Dinner that night at Morandi, where I had a very delicious and dainty plate of hand-rolled pasta with lemon and parmigiano. Ralph had a veal cutlet that was larger than his head – and had no problem eating every bite. For dessert, I had a plate of excellent cannolini and some moscato d’asti. Another wonderful evening.

Home to pack, a brief but good night’s sleep (530AM pick-up!), on-time from JFK – and I was back in my office in SF before noon. And already plotting when I can make my next visit…

Un Weekend de Printemps à NYC

Well! Spent a wonderful five days in NYC – it was a leisurely visit with Ralph that also seemed to end in the blink of an eye. Good thing I’m heading back next month!

I’m quite liking United’s “Premium Service,” offered on all flights from SFO or LAX to JFK. Coach is entirely “Economy Plus” with extra-legroom but no additional charge. Plus, with a very large business class section, there’s always plenty of room for overhead storage, even on a full flight. It’s not quite Virgin America, but it’s pretty great for United – and I’m racking up the miles…

Arrived without incident in the West Village on Wednesday evening and, after some snacks and a glass or three of wine, went for a very late dinner at Bar Pitti. Ralph and I shared some wonderful polpette and then I had a simple and delicious penne all’arrabbiata. And to cap the evening, I spotted Fran Lebowitz as she exited the restaurant and lit up a smoke before heading off into the night. My favorite NYC celebrity sighting ever.

Thursday and Friday spent working during the day, though I did go for a walk on Thursday for lunch. It was a lovely spring day, the dogwood in bloom everywhere. Dinner on Thursday night at Negril, a very lively Jamaican place in the West Village. Had a jerk pork tenderloin with sweet potatoes – spicy and yummy.

Friday night Ralph prepared an Italian feast. Antipasti of bresaola, cippoline and broccoli rabe, followed by saltimbocca, patates fritte and fagiolini. The pictures pretty much speak for themselves – but I can assure you that everything was molto delizioso. And for dolce? An amazing tiramisu – seriously one of the best I’ve had, due not only to the fact that it was homemade, but that ingredients included both Cointreau and amaretto.

Saturday was rainy and cold – but we still managed a nice long walk with stops at Chelsea Market, the studio where Ralph works and La Maison du Macaron (whose macarons were decidedly mediocre). We’d thought about hitting the town that evening, but the pouring rain, thunder and lightning changed our minds. We stayed in noshing on salumi, cheese and tiramisu while debating politics and concluding that the world would be a better place if one or the other of us were in charge (though obviously I’d be the best choice to be King of the World).

On Sunday, we joined the rest of the gray-hairs for a matinee performance of The Importance of Being Earnest. I’d actually never seen nor read the play – how lucky I am to have this production be my first! It was marvelous, most notably for Brian Bedford’s hilarious portrayal of Lady Bracknell.

A fine post-theater dinner of steak frites at Marseille, then home to pack, sip prosecco and get a moment or two of shut-eye before my 430AM departure for JFK. On-time departures, though I didn’t especially enjoy the screaming toddler kicking my seat most of the flight home. But I did get some much needed sleep. Then straight to the office from SFO. Was I even actually gone? Sigh…