Monday, February 22, 2010

Cabin Trip, February 2010

These photos are from our trip to Pinegrove cabin on February 19-21.  We essentially invited everyone to come along, although Kiley had to stay home for a jazz festival and a cello audition.  We specifically encouraged Dorine's brother Don (and his wife Margarita and daughter Rosita) to come up, inasmuch as we'd volunteered to replace the baseboard heaters in the cabin -- and Don, an electrical engineer and a knowledgeable electrician, was needed in that regard.

I had good weather and clear roads when I drove up by myself in my truck during the day on Friday, which I did so that I could pick up all the new heaters and thermostats at the Ace Hardware store in Pagosa Springs.  However, by the time everyone else came up that evening, the weather and road conditions in the area had deteriorated dramatically.  Nonetheless, everyone got to the cabin safely, and we were able to have some fun over the weekend -- it's always a highlight for me to go into town and get ice cream at the Malt Shoppe.  Installing the heaters on Saturday took quite a bit of work, so I never really had a chance to play in the snow or take a walk with the kids along the frozen Rio Blanco.  It continued to snow on Saturday and Sunday morning, so we decided to leave a little early to come home.

Most of our cars had four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or at least front-wheel drive; however, Heidi's Kia Sorento has two-wheel/rear-wheel drive (and she didn't have chains for it).  I ended up driving it from the cabin to EspaƱola, and U.S. 84 to the state line was extremely snow-packed and icy.  Despite driving 20-25 mph most of the way to the New Mexico border, I must have started sliding sideways at least a half-dozen times, especially on the sharp curve at the bottom of "Confar Hill," where we almost slid off both sides of the road (and where at least one car had gone off the road into a snow drift).  Thankfully, the NMDOT had already started sanding and plowing the road, so things were better once we got back into New Mexico.  (As we were approaching Chama, I finally noticed that I'd been gripping the steering wheel so tightly that several of my fingers were numb!)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The "U"

This photograph shows the southern part of the Sandia Mountains, circa 1930. (It comes from a postcard that was published in a recent book on the history of Albuquerque.) It is significant to me because it contains the small peak that some people now call "U Mound" (but which my family always simply called the "U"). Evidence of the white-painted "U" (for "UNM") has now all but disappeared (or has been removed) from the western face of the "mound"; however, this is how I remember it looking when I was a child, when UNM students still repainted the "U" periodically. The photo also reflects the great amount of open space that once existed on the East Mesa of Albuquerque; the bridge crossing an arroyo at the left-center of the photo is interesting in that it is evidence of an early north-south road that traversed the mesa in a location east of present-day Tramway Blvd. The city has established open-space areas in the foothills, but almost all of the land shown here has been developed now. South Sandia Peak is visible to the left.

[Update 11/1/11: Here is a current-day view of the "U," taken on October 23, 2011 from the ridge to the south.  Note that there's still a hint of white paint on the upper part of the west face, probably stuck to big rocks.]

[Update 4/12/12: Here is a photo, taken from my high school's 1963 yearbook, looking in a southeasterly direction from the school's practice football field.  It doesn't show the "U," which was just out of the frame to the left, but it does reflect the broad expanse of undeveloped land that still existed on the East Mesa of Albuquerque in the early 1960s.  (It also shows the ugly blue gym uniforms that girls had to wear -- and still had to wear, when I was a student there over a decade later -- when dressing out for PE class.)]

[Update 11/27/12: I can't resist adding another photo.  This one, of members of my high school's girls' track team, comes from my senior annual published in 1977, and it reflects how the "U" looked at that point in time.  (This photo was probably shot within 50 feet of where the "1963" photo above was taken; note the apartment buildings in the background.)  The "U" probably hadn't been repainted in 8-10 years, but it was still very visible.]

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ah, Grandkids!

Here is a photo, taken today, of Dorine with our five youngest grandchildren (L-R: Hailee, Tyler, Mason, Maddison, and Kayla). Each of the kids has a very distinct personality, and it's a lot of fun to watch them all grow up. I sometimes wonder about people who, whether for philosophical or for selfish reasons, haven't had children; what a sense of loss many of them must feel when they reach a certain age and don't have grandchildren! (I must say, however, that with the trajectory the civilized world is following in the post-industrial age, I can't help but fear for my grandchildren's future.)

Kayla, now three, seems caught between wanting to play with her older cousins and her younger ones. In some ways, Maddison and Hailee (who will turn two next month) don't even look like sisters, much less twin sisters. Tyler, a very good-natured baby, looks extraordinarily like Heidi did in her baby pictures -- except there's no mistaking the fact that he has his dad's ears! Mason, who likewise has a sweet disposition (laughing and cooing much of the time), is a big kid who, at three and a half months, is already poised to overtake a very-petite Maddison in weight. They are all one of the greatest joys of my life!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fifth Grade at McCollum Elementary

The "class photo" above is from my fifth-grade year at McCollum Elementary School, 1969-70. It obviously took some abuse at some point in time, undoubtedly from my younger sister in a fit of pique. I include my own picture -- taken sans glasses -- at the left in case anyone wonders what got scratched out.

My teacher in fifth grade was Miss Fifield, who was easily the youngest teacher (~25 years old at the time) I had in elementary school. She was also sufficiently pretty that I probably would have had a crush on her but for her somewhat conceited, off-putting manner. Her younger brother John was the star basketball player at Highland HS that year (he went on to play for UNM), and I remember she taped newspaper clippings of John's exploits on the wall behind her desk. (Which was of interest to me, as my brother Jeff played for his high school team that year and was actually assigned to guard John when they played Highland.)

The people pictured are: Top (L-R): Miss (Vera) Morrow (principal), Miss (Marilyn) Fifield (teacher), Patrick Sena, Cella Dewey, Stan Esquibel, Perri Stovall, Ricky Manes, Kaye Grass. Second Row: Tammy Massoth, Gerald S_____, Yvonne Cleland, Mark Brogdon. Third Row: Roxanna Davis, Danny Fox, Elisa Banda, Jeff Kainz, Brenda Burns, Rodney Nordstrom. Fourth Row: Debra Schwardt, Patricia Serna, Trina Stewart, Scott Felder, James Snider. Fifth Row: Duane Grammer, Tonya Farson, Howie Weimer, Laura Madrid, Kevin Kartchner, Cathy Ames, Kathleen Coombs, Toni Lopez.

That year was Miss Morrow's last year as principal of the school before she retired. I look back on her now only as a person to be avoided, if possible; however, I do remember being called into her office once that year. Some kid, whom I really didn't know, had gone around our neighborhood showing hard-core pornographic Polaroids (I still wonder where he got them) to other kids, including me. He must have been caught with those photographs at school, and apparently he told Miss Morrow the names of all the persons to whom he had shown them, whether on or off school grounds. Anyway, she called me in and asked me, "Who showed you The Pictures?" I honestly didn't know what she was talking about, so I replied, "What pictures?" which she took as evasion. Once I finally realized what she was referring to, I told her everything I knew in that regard (which wasn't much) and was forced to give her a graphic description of what the photos depicted, using a ten-year-old's limited (and crude) vocabulary. A very uncomfortable experience, notwithstanding the fact that I wasn't really in trouble for anything.

Brenda Burns was the cutest girl in my fifth-grade class; I had had crushes on her in first and third grades, and I think she actually liked me that year (or in sixth grade -- I don't really remember), but for some reason I shied away from her. She moved from the immediate area after sixth grade, and I later found out that she attended Del Norte HS. (I remember looking, in 1981, at my friend Ken Mantlo's 1977 Del Norte yearbook and seeing Brenda's picture; I commented to Ken that I had known Brenda in elementary school, and he told me that she had been the object of the lust of just about every guy at Del Norte.) Ironically, Brenda ended up marrying a member of the LDS church -- Tom Divett, brother of Dorine's good friend Ruth Divett -- and joining the church herself, although the marriage ultimately didn't last, and I doubt Brenda stayed active in church after she remarried. (I know she and Tom lived for years in the east mountain area in fairly primitive conditions.) One of Brenda's friends in the class was Kathleen Coombs, whom I saw a few years ago at Chuck E. Cheese's on Wyoming Blvd. here in Albuquerque. I decided not to intrude by speaking to her, but there was no mistaking who she was -- she looked almost exactly the same as she did in elementary school.

A sad case was Gerald S______, who was one of a mere handful of African-Americans at the school. Gerald was a bright kid and talented, but his life went off the rails in high school, probably due to drugs and drink. I understand he served two years in the juvenile detention center at Springer for his involvement in a killing that took place at my high school in 1976. And I remember sitting in the UNM law library, sometime while I was a student at the law school in the mid-to-late 1980s, reading the New Mexico Bar Bulletin. That particular issue contained the advance opinion from Gerald's appeal from a conviction of aggravated rape (which conviction was sustained). The facts of the case were pretty disgusting, leaving me to wonder what had happened to the promising kid whom I'd known years earlier.

Finally, I remember fifth grade as the year when The Brady Bunch first aired on TV. It quickly became my favorite show, and I watched it every week.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Treading Water

Now that the holiday season and our cruise are over, I'm struggling to find things to look forward to. It doesn't help that I came home from the cruise with a case of mild-but-constant vertigo, which hasn't even started to go away, despite our being back from the Caribbean now for over two weeks. (It's making me wonder if it isn't a symptom of some underlying ailment, as I don't remember having this problem, at least for this long, the last time we cruised in 1991 -- I really need to call the doctor to schedule a physical exam.) It's making everything, especially running at the gym, a little more difficult. I seem to be developing a tolerance for Temazepam, as it isn't keeping me out all night, even with a benadryl kicker. It's clear to me now that the psychological component of my sleep disorder, which I've never fully understood, has become the crux of the whole matter; in short, I simply can't sleep while my mind is "on," meaning I have to turn it "off" chemically. I'm supposed to see a practitioner at the UNM sleep-medicine clinic later this month, just to see if she has any ideas that my other doctors haven't thought of; however, at present I can't see my way clear of using both a breathing machine and prescription sleep meds for the rest of my life. That's a depressing thought, no matter how fully resigned to it I am.

What would I like to do? We'll probably be going to the cabin later this month for at least a couple of nights. I want to take my mother to Ruidoso (actually Ruidoso Downs) to see the Hubbard Museum of the American West. Dorine and I may be going to Colorado next month with the Albuquerque Youth Symphony on its spring tour of Colorado Springs and Denver. John Brewer and I have talked about doing the granddaddy of all hikes in the Sandia Mountains (after the snow melts): the entire Crest Trail (~28 miles, with loads of elevation changes) in a day. It would also be fun to visit Las Vegas after not having gone there in well over three years. Finally, I'd still like to go camping at at least a couple of state parks, something we managed not to do at all in 2009.

(The photo above was taken at Fort King George on the island of Tobago, which was my favorite of the islands we visited on our cruise.)