Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Not Just Sitting on a Horse!

Two riding sessions ago I snapped awake from a nap and rushed off to riding. I was pretty unfocussed, and stiff too, so that when I tried to mount Lightning she bolted. Or would have if her halter hadn't been properly tied. She's easily spooked anyway, but I think it was just my clumsiness from being so unfocussed, even though Paula kindly blamed the horse. When I went to my next lesson Paula called it a "disaster." We didn't even go to the arena, but just to the little corral near to the stalls, that day.
I made sure I was not in such a state on the next lesson, which was my latest. Always cautious and safety conscious, Paula brought us to the corral again. I guess my stretching and thinking about things beforehand paid off.
When I was riding it was like a totally new experience. I did all the right moves correctly without much outside thought--heels down, hands low, look where I'm going to turn, move feet to seat to hands, etc.
In fact, it was so easy and pleasant that it was a like an entirely new experience! It was actually riding, not sitting on a horse and moving around. Even lightning agreed, giving me the blessing of several of her snorts that mean she is happy and comfortable! Heck, I didn't even have to hold onto the saddle to trot!
I just hope I can stay so centered all the time! It was sure worth the experience. It was maybe 20 minutes of pure pleasure--the kind with the whole world is right. It's better than I thought I'd get, and want to do it some more.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


We did this yesterday, with many friends; and also blew off about $200 worth of fireworks. We could not ask for a more fun time! I would show the whole betting form, but its in an incorrect file type. Oh well, just come next year and get your own!

2nd Annual Mighty Small Farm


Chicken Races Betting Form
Betting is 25¢ per bet.
This is your betting form.
1. Choose Your Chicken from the list below
2. Write your name on the space provided, and the time of the race.
3. Find the bet-meister.
4. Pay the bet-meister 25¢per entry—exact change only!!
5. The bet-meister will confirm (initial) your bet and return your form.
You have to bet to win!
In case of ties, the winners will have a quiz-off.
Each winner will blindly choose a question from the Chicken Box. The youngest person answers first, then in order of increasing age. Who ever get the right answer first wins!
Prize: A fresh chicken egg, payable later this week

The MOST WONDERFUL events concerning Humbolt Roller Derby

   So I love Roller Derby, and I’ve got two special announcements to share! One is waaaay cool.
First, you know roller derby is an all-female sport. This is one of the things that I find so exciting. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch a bunch of well fit women skating around real fast and knocking each on their asses? One of the best things is how much confidence it instills in these women. Another is that it’s so new that everything about it has a wonderfully raw, wild feel to it.
   But as I said, it’s all-women, and there is no part in it for a guy. Wait a minute! Yes there is! The team has a board of directors who do all the shit work for them! That’s right up my alley! I interviewed for them a couple of weeks ago, in addition to having the kick-ass job of being the volunteer parking director! How cool is that? So I presented my potential assets to the board: 35 years of running a business, bubbling and energetic personality, not afraid to talk to anyone--and most importantly—plenty of spare time!
   So just a couple of days ago I heard back, and I got in! So I am now able to help out this fantastic organization to establish itself as one of Humbolt’s coolest things going. And not only that, but I also get a derby name! So from now on at any roller derby event you can address me in my official moniker: Señor Moment.
   But that is not the coolest thing! What is absolutely knock-my-socks-off farthest out is that we heard today that Suzanne has been chosen from the pool of qualified gals to play on the Widow Makers! They are one of the two teams that compete publicly.
   So not only do I get to tell everyone where to park (see below), but I will be watching my honey babe on the track kicking ass! I say, HOT RATS THIS IS COOL!
   So local friends of ours, you GOTTA come and see a bout now!
Page 20, Codex Nuttal

Mexican Treasures

   So Don and I had some extra time in LA after our fabulous Oaxacan lunch. I said the only thing I knew of was the La Brea tar pits, but they seemed to be on the other side of town. Don wanted to go to a great bookstore that he’d heard about, and we decided on that. On the way we passed the tar pits, and then we passed a museum with an exhibit of ancient Mexican treasures. Ooooh, I hoped we’d have time to go there.
   Alas, the book store had closed! Another tragedy of literacy! We debated briefly whether to go to La Brea or the exhibit, and since the tar pits will always be there, we went to the Mexican exhibit. And am I ever glad we did!
   The exhibit had lots of cool stuff, most of it really similar to things I’d seen before. But two items in particular had me in goose bumps from excitement at seeing them. It is always way cooler to see a real artifact instead of a photo or reproduction. Always. And there I looked upon two ancient codices, the Selden and the Nuttal,
   Codices are the ancient Mesoamerican screen folds. Once they had hundreds, if not thousands, but in the throes of religious zeal the earliest missionaries burnt them all, losing a vast treasure of ancient knowledge. Fewer than a dozen or so, depending on how it is defined, now exist. Slightly more lienzos exist, of a document made after the conquest to document land owned by indigenous people. Those provided the initial keys to translate the codices, which document the history of royal houses.
I love those things! They excite my imagination and sense of wonder and I’ve spent a lot of time studying books about them, reproductions of them with explanations. I was so excited I started translating the pictures to Don—it was the story of Lady 6-monkey. At one point a high school kid yelled out, “Hey, come here, this guy can read these things!” So I began again, explaining each panel to the students. When I looked up I was surrounded by twenty or so, plus a couple of instructors, all of them wide-eyed Latinos.
   “How do you know this stuff?” one asked.
   “I study!” I am imagining that I will have interested one or two of them to do the same!
With just a few minutes more we whisked through other parts of the museum, some permanent exhibits, but I don’t actually recall them as I was still swimming in the fact that I’d been inches of two literary treasures that excite me incredibly.
   As a closure to the adventure, we actually got misguided by the GPS while trying to return to the car rental place, and nearly ended up driving on the airport runway! What fun! We eventually found our correct way, and got home OK.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tlyuda, open faced

Mi Estómago Está en los Cielos

One of the things that Suzanne and I really miss around here is Oaxacan food. Nearly every state in Mexico has some sort of regional cuisine, and it’s likely unknown in other states. For instance, when I was teaching down there my students insisted that a burrito was American food, like hot dogs. I asked them, “Where do you get burritos in Oaxaca?” They all had the same answer: “MacDonalds breakfast burrito.” And they were right! 
   It is said that the last words of Porfirio Diaz, the dictator “president” who was finally tossed out by the Revolution and died in Paris (I have seen his tomb!), were lamenting for Oaxacan food.  I’m a bit surprised that he didn’t take any decent cooks with him into exile, but am not surprised that he died because he didn’t get any.
   Our favorite food Oaxacan food is Tlayudas. Memelitas and Chiliquilles are close behind. We have a “Oaxacan” restaurant in Eureka nearby, but they don’t serve those—they only have several moles, which is something else Oaxaca is famous for. It is impossible to find Oaxacan food anywhere except two places: Oaxaca and Los Angeles.
   Los Angeles has a huge Oaxacan population. It’s so large that they celebrate Guelaguetza (pronounced Gway-la-gates-a) there, which is a strictly Oaxacan fiesta. Eight indigenous groups live in Oaxaca, and on Guelaguetza representatives from all of them come into the city for a mutual dance fiesta. The government has a huge formal presentation of a favorite “foundation story,” a love story which ends with the Oaxacan heroine being beheaded. It’s in a stadium and is a huge production with lights and a band and all. We never saw it, but we always attended the more casual one in one of the city squares. Even without understanding Spanish we loved it. And Los Angeles has one!
   I went to Los Angeles with my friend Don to translate and be his “stand behind” while visiting a curandero (healer) from Guatemala. Don got a nerve nicked in a surgery, and none of the neurologists are able to do anything for him. However, Tata, the curandero, did help. Lots. In fact, one of the neurologists told him he was better off getting results from the healer than with further modern procedures. So off we went. The healing went fine, but for me the really high point was that we visited el restaurant Guelagetza. Don was a bit worried at first since it was in east LA, reputedly a dangerous place. Not so, we went with some friends from down there.
   And it was scrumptious.
   And the next day we went again for lunch, as we had some time to kill. The waiter was from Puebla, and when he realized I’d actually been there—I mentioned admiring the statue of General Zaragosa, the victor of the Battle of Cinco de Mayo—he was quite pleased. (Puebla is just about the only place in Mexico that celebrates Cinco de Mayo. No one is sure why it became the American Mexican holiday.) I had chilaquiles this time.
   And it was scrumptious.
   Mi estomacha