Peaceful Pandemic-Times Pics (a photo anthology)

Ciao Readers!

How are you doing?  Strange times, no doubt.  I am doing fairly well as long as I stick to my morning runs, evening walks and chillaxing at home.  I know why we’re doing it, but as someone who’s used to reading people, all the masks make me feel discombobulated, so I’ve pretty much stopped going anywhere. There’s been some amazing scenery on my walks and runs, with the spattering of cool painted rocks to make me smile (and some look like they were put there just for me).  Here are some of the things keeping me mindful and grounded (as much as possible) – walk with me….

All the pretty plants, scenery,  and rocks brighten up my daily runs:

The Sandias always make me feel more peaceful, whether I’m looking at them or hiking on them:

And, last but not least, I can watch these adorable twin brothers for hours…pure joy!

Until next time Dear Readers, stay healthy, breathe deeply, and be well.

Harmonious Holiday Happenings (with helpful hints)

Ciao Readers!  And happy and healthy holidays to you and yours!

Before we head off to Portugal to eat as much seafood as deprived desert-dwellers can (and I run the Lisbon holiday 10k – yay!), I thought I’d share some happy holiday happenings with a helpful hint or two.

It’s been an interesting month and from what I’ve experienced in the universe (and on the inter- webs) many people are suffering.  I try not to be preachy, so I will just share my experience – Headspace is a meditation app that is really all that and a bag of chips (and no, they didn’t pay me to say that).  It’s pretty much how I go to sleep every night, plus there are cool mini meditations (3 minutes) for everything from feeling “overwhelmed” to “frustrated” to fear of flying. If you’re finding yourself frazzled this time of year (or any), you can try it out for free.

So, now that that “public service announcement” is over, on to the festivities.

Almost every year we go to the River of Lights at our bipoapark – it is super sparkly and festive. I blogged about it, complete with tons of photos, two years ago here. Since you can see those photos, I’ll just add a few new ones and a helpful hint. They now sell tickets to what they call the “magic hour” – this means you get in at 5:00 instead of 6:00 when it usually opens.  Now, granted, it is more expensive, but if you can swing it this is the difference: on a normal night you wait in a line of cars to get into the parking lot for 1+ hours, you are then sent to the farthest reaches of a back parking lot located in another state, and then you trudge through the River of Lights like a sardine lined up end-to-end. Pay the few bucks more and you drive right into the parking lot and pretty much have the entire place to yourself – score!!!   It’s gotten so big they even went into part of the Japanese Garden this year:

Another thing I do pretty much every year, but did much differently this year, is attend the Festival of Trees. It’s an annual fundraiser for Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation which works with kids with disabilities. The Albuquerque Convention Center is stuffed full of 100+ trees and 200+ wreaths, plus festivities, a mini village, kids crafts, etc. You can go for free or donate any amount you like. While it’s over for this year, next year you can volunteer to help decorate!  That’s what I did this year – I had no idea they had to start in September or what a precise science tree and wreath decorating were.  I was mostly a “helper elf*” – for example, I made all the bows in the tree behind me in the photo (and sourced the supplies for the Hanukkah tree pictured). (*Okay, full disclosure, I relegated myself to helper elf as I don’t seem to have the decorating touch – the cool (at least I thought so) travel/foodie wreath I sourced and made (first photo) was in the silent auction – and purchased by me, the only bidder!)  Steve and I even went to the opening night shindig.  Fun, festive, and for a good cause:

Finally, what Festivus would be complete without a festive holiday run and an indulgent ooh-laa-laa fancy-pants tea at St. James Tea Room:

Whatever you do or do not celebrate Dear Readers, I hope you find a nice warm peaceful space this holiday season.  Here’s to a bright 2020!!!

(Not quite) More Muppets than Imaginable (or a trip to a museum closer to home)

Ciao Readers!  Happy Almost-Back-From-Turkey-Day!

So, today we venture to the Albuquerque Museum for the Jim Henson Exhibition, which just got underway this past week.  While our museums can’t compete with the big guns (or apparently even Omaha, Nebraska – which gets a Monet even though they have 100K less people than we do (see last post)), this is a pretty cool exhibit.  It features a history of Jim Henson and the muppets and we even get some of the real muppet puppets on loan from a bigger museum in NY.

So, a little personal history, which also explains why this exhibition is a big deal to me….

I was just a few months shy of turning 3 when Sesame Street premiered on November 10, 1969. As you may know, it just marked its 50th!!! anniversary!  When I was a kid I LOVED the muppets – so much so that my 13 imaginary brothers and sisters that all lived in an imaginary dresser were muppets, not people (insert psychoanalysis here). My favorite easy-read books were all from Sesame Street, and the one pictured below, The Monster at the End of This Book, was my all time favorite, and an original is on display at the museum (notice the price in the corner):

Even as an adult, I still love the muppets and my own Jim Henson Muppet Factory puppets have starred in their own epics, such as “The Puppetinos Move to Italy.

 

In any case, there were several cool old muppets from the 50’s and 60’s (I didn’t realize most of the muppets were created for commercials, like Rowlf the dog for Purina), some old sketches, notes and videos, and several actual muppets (though not the 47 the museum in NY has – play small violin here). I tried my best to take photos without people in them, but this is a big deal for little ‘ol Albuquerque and it was a full house….Enjoy!:

 

 

Balloon Fiesta Fun!

Hola Readers!

It’s been quite a while!  As you know, we’re back here in the Land of Enchantment…and one of the most enchanting things about New Mexico (and Albuquerque in particular) is the International Balloon Fiesta!  This morning the weather was perfect and there were hundreds of balloons aloft, so I had to share some photos.

For those of you unfamiliar with the festival, hundreds of hot air balloons (many in “special shapes”) from around the world take off every morning from the festival grounds throughout the 9 day event (always the first 2 weekends of October), and then in the evenings stay tethered to the ground while lighting their burners for the “Balloon Glow.”   Since the balloons take off at about 7:00 a.m., you have to leave your house very early (we got a late start today – 5:45) and then sit in traffic to park – but once you’re there, there are balloons, food and merriment galore!  (I love hearing the excitement in the voices of first-timers – sometimes, like this morning, in several foreign languages.) And, in honor of the gluttonous pleasure of American festivals, yes, that is me eating a giant turkey leg at 9:30 a.m. (YUM)!  Enjoy…

 

“The Puppetinos Leave New Mexico” (The Prequel)

Ciao Readers!  And Happy (early) Birthday Sachi!!!

Back by popular demand, today I again present “The Puppetinos,” starring in their very own prequel.  In this episode, we go back across the pond and see how it all began (thanks for seeding the NM idea, Tuscan Traveler!) (and thanks to my sis-in-law for the photo of Hurricane’s “Disaster Burrito”).  And yes, I know, I currently have too much time on my hands…

So, dear Readers, I will leave you with this video for now.  As Steve has time off from work coming up and we have a fabulous train trip through three countries planned, I am going to sign off for a couple weeks and come back when I have new and interesting things to say (you’ll get to find out which countries then….).  (Hopefully my toe will be healed enough in time for our trip!)

Feel free to send an old-fashioned e-mail in the meantime (wow – is e-mail already passé?).  Ciao for now!

Ode to Our “Old” Home (Albuquerque)

Since this blog is entitled “New Mexico to Italy,” I thought it was about time to give a shout-out to the place we’re leaving.  I also thought you readers from abroad would appreciate a view of this side of the pond (on a semi-related aside, my assignment for Italian class this week is to present this post in Italian – gasp!).   This is specifically about the place and not the people (you know who you are and that we’re gonna miss you!).  Here are just a few of the cool things about our current home we’re going to miss:

International Balloon Fiesta – this is the largest balloon festival in the world, with upwards of 800 balloons coming from all over the world each year (for 9 days in early in October).  In the morning they take off and in the evenings they stay tethered to the ground for a “balloon glow.”  Balloons are pretty common here (when the winds are calm I can always see at least few on my morning run) and we have been up in one a few times (the unwritten rule is that you “crew” – help man the balloon – to earn a flight).  I have no idea how we got on the topic of balloons in my school in Italy but everyone seemed amazed when I said they could come visit and go up in one – reminding me how truly special/unique the experience is!  Here are just a couple of the many hundreds of photos I have take over the years…


                                           

Sandia Mountain – this is the beautiful mountain that turns “sandia” (watermelon) colored in the evening.  It is great for hiking and skiing.  It is also the way I have not gotten lost for the past 18 years (you can see it from everywhere in town so you always know which way is East).  A couple of years ago I hiked up to the top (9 miles total, to over 10,000 ft.) and then took the tram down (the signs claim it is the world’s longest tram, but I have seen similar claims at other trams…).   (you can read more/see more photos here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandia_Mountains).

The Fiery Food Show – this is the HUGE spicy food festival here that we have been attending for most of the past 17 years (first weekend of March).  There are hundreds of booths where you can taste-test the latest in spicy foods – some are so hot that you get a sticker or some-other trinket if you can actually stand to try them!  Here I am with my sister-in-law a few years ago (and here she is after tasting something VERY spicy!):

Run for the Zoo (and other runs) – I really love running in New Mexico.  Except for the middle of summer, it is almost always perfect weather here in the mornings for a run and there are so many cool organized runs.  I started off with 5k’s, then after many years worked up to 10k’s, then finally to half marathons.  The biggest and most fun is the “Run for the Zoo,”  where you actually run both for the zoo (it’s a fund-raiser) and through the back of the zoo (in how many 10k’s do you get to wave to elephants?!).  Just ran this year’s on May 6.

 

Huevos Rancheros (and all other Mexican, Tex-Mex and New Mexican food!) – It’s always about the food with me!  The best thing about food in New Mexico is the Hatch green chile.  Every year at the end of the summer, the chile is harvested in Hatch, NM, and brought to groceries and stands all over the state.  The tradition is you buy a huge sack full and then wait in line outside to have it roasted in a big roaster (you can pick from gringo mild to HOT – we like it HOT!).  You bring it home and peel it (an all day affair, and one which we learned the hard way our first year here requires wearing gloves!), then bag it up and freeze it to see you through the year of green chile stews, huevos rancheros, green-chile-cheese fries, and just about anything else you can to add green chile to.  YUM!

There are many more great things about Albuquerque – the nearly perpetual sunshine, rollerblading along the Bosque (nature area that runs along the Rio Grande), our very cool Zoo and BioPark, funky Nob Hill where you can stroll and shop and eat outside (closest thing we have to a European city center).  And, yes, there are also not-so-great things we won’t miss… hearing about yet another visitor having their vehicle/belongings stolen from a motel parking lot, the fact that police have shot and killed dozens of people in the past couple of years, Walmart (and the other Walmart, and the smaller, but no less annoying Walmart), the spring winds, and having to drive almost everywhere!  But, as with most things, I am sure we will look back with rose-colored glasses and miss the balloon-filled sky come October…

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