Monday, September 25, 2006

In the Digital World

I finally bought a new digital camera on Saturday, which will enable me to share much more of Santa Fe in this journal. Digital cameras and I have an interesting history--I bought a very early digital camera 8 or 9 years ago--an $800 Sony with a pop-out 3.5" diskette that I bought to support my eBay antique sales. It was quite big (about the size of a Polaroid camera), and it took great close-up photos of objects (my goal in purchasing the camera)--but not particularly good pictures of groups of people, for example. It really was a relic! I had a great little Olympus 35 mm camera that took wonderful pictures that I dropped on a 17th century stone floor in Mexico in January--it was already held together with duct tape at that point, so I decided it was time to upgrade.

The frustrating thing for me (are you listening, camera companies?) is that's hard to know what to buy--there are so many models--even if you pick a company and a brand (and I had selected Canon PowerShot because its Macintosh compatibility was touted, and because it seemed to be good value for the money according to Consumer Reports) you can't find the model you're looking for because it's already been discontinued. Why do there need to be so many different models? (Per Canon's website today, there are 22 different PowerShot cameras.) I don't see any consumer advantages in this complexity....In their defense, I can only imagine that their R&D departments are perfecting and expanding the technology so quickly that they just can't justify continuing to make old models.

I have this thing about technology--a love/hate relationship. I've been involved with computers one way or another since the late 1960s--keyed punch cards, worked on terminals in the computer room, backed my files up to huge computer tapes, worked on early word processors, wrote technical users' guides, trained sales reps to use PCs in the 1980s, etc. But every time I have to buy a new piece of electronic equipment, I procrastinate. Even though I know I want something, and that having it will be a good thing, I put off buying it because the absorption of the new piece into my household appears fraught with difficulty. (Even though it's rarely ever as hard as I imagine it will be.)

So I finally summoned enough courage to go the store on Saturday and buy the new camera. I brought it home and left it alone for the first day. (I've had bad experiences starting new technical adventures after 5 p.m.--they generally lead to staying up too late and not being able to get to sleep!) Yesterday, with a new day and a fresh pot of coffee, I approached the camera. As is often the case with electronics (are you listening, electronics providers?) the manual was terrible, but I was able to take excellent pictures quite quickly. Having listened to my brother's advice (thanks bro!), I did not install the software that came with the camera, but just opened iPhoto on my Mac, attached to the camera to the USB port, pressed one key and instantly transferred the photos to the computer. Yay!!! So here is a picture from my back portal (accent on the -al, Santa Fe language for the concrete pad outside the sliders).

You can see the mountains that ring Santa Fe in the distance, and the coyote fence between me and the land that slopes down to the road behind my house. This development is set up is with very small lots and a good deal of shared open space. The garages are often used to buffer the properties--you can see my neighbor's garage at the bottom of the yard to the right--its wall acts as a garden wall for me. On the other side of my house, my garage and my neighbor's garage share a common wall. It's very close, but you really don't have the sensation of being on top of your neighbors--my whole back yard is fenced in and is very private and quiet.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Santa Fe Farmers' Market

This morning I made my first visit to the Santa Fe Farmers' Market. I've been in farmers' markets in a variety of communities, and it's very interesting how different each is. Some are overwhelmingly large--others consist of a handful of trucks with small amounts of produce. Some are very formal--much of them indoors--I'm thinking of the lovely market in Vancouver, BC, which is indoors and outdoors over a variety of buildings, or the market in Guanajuato, Mexico, which is indoors with stalls and traditional merchants (and includes whole hogs for sale), as well as outdoors where the village natives come to sell their wares in the city. Some are very New Age--like the Olympia Farmers' Market in Washington State--which sells herb-based body lotions and gorgeous Washington State fruits. Others are old and in-your-face, like Haymarket in Boston which has been there for centuries, and doesn't make much attempt at beauty.

The Santa Fe market reflects the character of Santa Fe. For starters, there are lots of green chilis--fresh, roasted, or made into chutnies, jams, and relishes. They roast chilis in big rotating drums right on the spot--and up close, roasting green chilis smell a lot like a nice marijuana haze--puts you into alternative lifestyle mode right away! And there are red chilis--fresh, dried to hang, or woven into wreaths. There's a lot of organic meat and chicken, live performances from local singers/guitarists, the lavender lady who has dried lavender sewn into little bags--some of which feature Elvis (!?!) on the front. Still good sweet corn and juicy tomatoes, even this late in the season. Fresh flowers by the bunch--I bought a huge beautiful bouquet, which includes glads, mums, asters, sunflowers, for $8. And there's an Artists' Market right next door (which I didn't discover until I was in my car and on my way home--but it will definitely warrant exploration next time). KSFR, the local public radio station, broadcasts live from the market on Saturday mornings. The market runs three days a week outdoors (in three different locations) until early November, and then indoors over the winter. It was beautiful to look at, with wonderful smells, friendly farmers, joyful buyers--I know, I know.....but it really was! The sun was shining, the sky was an unbroken blue without a single cloud, and I promised myself to bring my own canvas bag and basket next time. What a wonderful way to start the weekend!

To read more about the market, click here to visit their website (and you'll see the photographs I lifted from the site to illustrate this entry!)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Why Santa Fe?

Almost everyone (including old friends from back East and new friends from New Mexico) have asked me: "Why did you choose Santa Fe?" Most have assumed that either I had family here, or I had vacationed here extensively over the years. Neither is true, and here is the real scoop on why I chose to come here.


There are a lot of things I loved about Boston, but the weather was often not one of them. A beautiful September day--great! (Except for my allergies!) But hot and steamy summer days (and nights)? Shoveling out 10 inches of snow so you could get your car out of the driveway? (Especially living in the city where there was no place to put the snow--once we filled up the two 6x6 patches of front yard to the top of the fence there was nowhere else to go....we'd sneak it into the street at night when we didn't think our neighbor was watching...) I was tired of damp and sticky summers, dangerous streets in winter, and cold snaps where we just couldn't get the heat in the house to keep up.

I talked about the weather here in my opening post. Besides not needing AC in the summer, what surprises East Coast folks about the weather is that there is a real winter. It's not like Arizona! It does snow--typically 10-20 inches a year. But it's a "dry snow"! It tends to melt pretty quickly (except in the mountains) and there isn't the extended, icy, slushy, muddy road and sidewalk mix to contend with. Temperatures do get cold in the winter--sometimes down to the single digits at night. But the sun is warm in the daytime, and cold snaps are not extended. Real seasons are important to me--there's something wonderful about spring and fall and cold in the winter, but it's a kinder, gentler kind of season transition here. More of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff!

Proximity to Colorado

Both of my sons live in Colorado, and 2,500 miles away from them was just too far! It meant we didn't get to see each other very often. I hope that will change, now that I am only a little over 400 miles away. WIth only a few exceptions, most of my friends live relatively near their grown children, and there's something very nice about that frequent contact. We don't need to be on top of each other, but a day's drive is good.

A Sense of History

I've lived too long in Boston, with its fine (though sometimes self-important) sense of history, and the region's role in the founding of our country. I've dressed in colonial costume for my brother's full-dress Patriot's Day parties, marched the 7-mile wooded trail from Acton to Concord in the clear and dappled dawn of an April morning, accompanied by fife and drum and a lot of Cub Scouts, boarded Old Ironsides, visited the Salem witch houses, toured Plimoth Plantation and Sturbridge Village and Paul Revere's house, the list goes on and on. Living somewhere without a sense of history was not an option for me. Santa Fe is chock full of history going back as far as that of the East, and I'm looking forward to learning about it!

Shopping and Eating

Two of my greatest pleasures. Great restaurants and fun shops are key--even if I'm only browsing! And I'm not going to complain about the tourists--it's because of them that there are so many fine shops and restaurants...And there are lots of culinary pleasures here beyond restaurants--the Santa Fe Farmer's Market on Guadalupe Street on Saturday mornings, the Hatch chili people roasting chilis in shopping center parking lots up and down Cerrillos Road, the roasted corn for sale on the Plaza during Fiesta and other celebrations, cooking school classes--mmmm!!!


Again, the presence of museums, theatres, concert halls, art galleries is critical. I look forward to the Sante Fe Opera next summer, to gallery walking tours, to the Christmas festivities here which I understand are fabulous! This weekend is Santa Fe Fiesta, which started Thursday night with the burning of a four-storey tall strawman, named Zozobra, who is supposed to burn away the gloom of the people of Santa Fe. It is stuffed with shredded paper and other items that represent bad karma for the locals--a wedding dress from an unhappy marriage for example, which was shipped here from Louisiana to be added to the mix. Last night I attended a mariachi concert--four mariachi bands, as well as other singers and dancers--and most of the event was delivered in Spanish. There is a true sense of being part of a different culture here. It's one of the reasons I studied Spanish for the past three years--though I still have still have a ways to go on that front. . . However, when the master of ceremonies yelled: "Listos?" just prior to the show, I was able to shout "Si!" right back!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Few Words About Andre Agassi

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Andre has been in the news a lot this last week, and I have read all the articles and watched all the videos, and stayed glued to my chair (uncomfortable rattan because my new couch hasn't arrived yet) during all the matches, and cried during his farewell speech. And one of the things I've heard over and over again is sportscasters and pundits (including Bud Collins, whom I adore) basically saying the same thing--we didn't like him much when he showed up on the scene, he was a punk, he was self-centered, his game was erratic, but now he's fabulous, mature, a great tennis ambassador, a statesman, a humanitarian, a family man, etc.--what a change....

Well I love where Andre is now--most of us are better women and men at 36 than we are at 17--but I have to say I loved Andre when he was a teenager too. I saw him play in one of his first professional matches--at Stratton Mountain when he was 16 or 17. We (my then-husband, and our friends Bill, Katharine, Jeannie, Pat, John, and Wilma) all loved him--punk attitude, bleached hair, spangled shirt, grandstanding, and all. For a number of years thereafter we always looked forward to seeing him play--you never wanted to take a break at the food court during an Agassi match. I was an enormous fan always--during the high and low spots--saw him play at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta because someone (you know who you are) was generous enough to buy scalped tickets so we could get out of the court that had some unknown middle-Europeans playing doubles, and onto the court where Andre was playing. I have followed his play as the oldest guy playing top level tennis the last few years with the same breathless enthusiasm my younger son used to display for the Celtics when they were down by 15 points with 3 minutes to go--"all they need is five three-pointers!"

I will miss him tremendously--I don't think tennis will be the same game for me without him, even though I'm trying to transfer my tennis affections to James Blake. Unlike Pete Sampras, who basically said that after tennis he didn't want to do anything except stay home and play golf, I think Andre has a great future ahead of him, and will be better known in 20 or 30 years for what he's doing then than for his tennis career--if you can imagine that possibility.

So thank you for 20 great years of tennis, Andre. It's been my pleasure.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Labor Day. . . and I sold my house

Welcome to my blog! I've promised so many folks that I'd keep them posted on my new adventure and this seemed the best way to do it. I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico from the Boston area in late July to change my life.....I won't say "starting over" because that implies that everything that came before somehow needs to be replaced and that's certainly not the case. I've titled my blog "Choosing Santa Fe" because it is about moving forward with choice--choosing a life, rather than just accepting one.

Just before the weekend, I finally closed on the house I was selling in Massachusetts. It's been truly nervewracking (not to mention expensive) to carry two houses for the past few months--especially since I finished working in Massachusetts at the end of June, and only just started working in Santa Fe.

But I love being here! The weather--one of the huge factors in my coming here--has been wonderful--though slightly damper than usual. July and August are monsoon season here--somehow, I thought that only happened in India.....But we've had more rain in August than usual--in fact, it's rained every day but two since I've been here. But very different from East Coast rain. The day dawns beautiful and clear--it stays beautiful all day....Late in the afternoon you can see thunderclouds moving in over the mountains that ring the city, and huge and fabulous lightning that's so far away you can't hear the thunder. Sometimes it rains then--sometimes later at night (just like Camelot!!). But it comes through fast and hard and usually goes away pretty quickly. Twice there has been hail--both times while I was driving on the highway--and that is an experience I could do without! Yesterday it was cloudy until early afternoon, that's the first time that's happened.

I do NOT have air conditioning in my house--many folks who don't know Santa Fe weather are shocked by this! It does get hot during the day--high eighties, typically, but it gets cool every night (fifties at night--all summer). And "it's a dry heat". I always used to make fun of people who said that, but it's true. The house gets cool at night with the windows open, then you close the blinds and most of the windows in the morning and the house stays cool all day. Hottest it got inside all summer was 78 degrees--and it was very comfortable.

Pictures will start following as soon as I get a new camera. I will post at least once a week--more often when I can. I welcome your comments!