Monday, October 29, 2007

Visitors from Art History

Look who came calling to wish Flan a Happy Birthday.

Savoring the Sweetness

I am still savoring the sweetness of Friday evening. Bennie and I drove down to Albuquerque to celebrate Flan's 21st with the kids. For starters, Oakley showed up in an elegant, double-breasted pinstripe suit, which he wore with a Kennedy-era narrow tie--a simple black affair, solid save for a single understated green polygon. (Bennie purchased the tie at a San Francisco thrift shop in the Eighties, and a couple of years ago, he passed it on to Oaks. Oaks got the suit at Buffalo Exchange in Albuquerque. Yes, thrift and chic do go together.) The tie was held together by a Masonic tie tac which belonged to my dad. The kid has style!

Flannery was lovely in a tapered long gray skirt and a white low-cut knit top, layered with a black lambswool cardigan with small white buttons. She wore classic black pumps and her recently acquired faux diamond hypoallergenic studs (from our ear-piercing adventure) and a choker that sparkled in the light of her birthday candles. Flannery's unique glamor combines the classic and the artful and typifies her fashion sense as well as her life.

We had a delectable northern Italian feast at Scalo. I had quail for the first time, and had Flannery not kept reminding me of those sweet little crested birds that frequent our property, I would have been in gustatory paradise. Seriously, it was a succulent treat--quite rich--the smallness of the species is a good thing when it comes to feasting. The golden quail was nestled in the center of a graceful arrangement of winter squash tortelloni. I never would have anticipated that squash could prove so decadent-tasting, but once that subtly sweet vegetable is encased in freshly made pasta dough, the result is dessert-like. Not terra-misu-dessert-like, but dessert-like nonetheless. We had terra misu too, and a cheese plate with currant jam, sliced pears, and strawberries. Oh well, a 21st birthday is a momentous occasion. To the vomitorium, shall we? Make room for more! ("More" would be a BIG cake at Flan's place.)

Flannery enjoyed her first legal cocktail, a pear gimlet. I tasted it and it was sublime. The real sublimity, though, was being in the company of my family. Dinner conversation sparkles all the more with each passing year. To see each of our children coming into their own as uniquely spirited individuals is sweeter and subtler than winter squash.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

And a sadder synchronicity...

I am very sad to report that my Uncle Kermit (as in that gentle frog) passed away rather suddenly yesterday afternoon, the day after Flannery's birthday. He had suffered from Alzheimer's for a couple of years but had been able to remain at home on his beloved farm. Last week he took a dramatic turn for the worse, was hospitalized for a couple of days, and then went home to be under hospice care. The family was told Thursday he had about 72 hours. He went even more quickly. My mother is heartbroken. That is her baby brother and she is the last surviving member of her birth family.

Although it sounds so trite to say "he's in a better place," I do feel that on some level, he made the choice to take off without troubling people overmuch. That was Kermit's way. He lived a quiet life. The things that mattered to him were his family, his faith, and his farm. What brought him satisfaction in his later years were feeding the ducks on his pond and talking to my mother on the phone. Before the onset of the insidious Alzheimer's, they used to chat regularly. Together, they could take their health and family troubles, and with a gentle complicity, joke about the darkest subjects, making them somehow tolerable. My mother, who is disabled by arthritis, seldom leaves the house. Conversations with Kermit enlivened her days. She is beyond sad. And that makes me beyond sad.

When I think of Kermit, the word "artist" doesn't readily spring to mind. He was an electrical contractor by trade and he raised Texas longhorns as a hobby. Then, twenty or so years ago and to the family's surprise, he took to writing country/western tunes. He even traveled to Nashville to have them recorded by a professional musician. When the love of his life Nancy died, he had her mausoleum wired so that, at the touch of a button, that part of the cemetery comes alive with a soulful rendition of his musical tribute to Nancy. Truth be told, it's pretty hilarious. Even my mother has said, "Future generations of children will dare one another to press that button on Halloween night." He paid a small fortune to have that button kept in operation for the better part of a century.

Then there was the commissioned Texas longhorn painting. We were home one Christmas, and Kermit and Nancy were perusing a portfolio of paintings by an oil painter from the Bay Area Figurative School. Suddenly Kermit lit up. "Do you think he would paint one of my bulls?" He was so impassioned about the idea, we asked the artist Bill if he'd consider it. Bill, being an amiable man, and like most of us, always appreciative of a sale, agreed to the commission. In a moment of quirky inspiration, he painted the bull beside a rosebush. Kermit immediately recognized the rosebush in Bill's painting as the same rosebush that he transplanted from my grandmother's garden upon her death. Sometimes there's much, much more to a work of art than even the artist realizes.

Although I see much humor in both of these stories from the book that is Kermit's life, I relate them to honor his individuality and his passion for life. It's often the eccentricities of a person that we miss the most. And when it comes to our own quirks, we should probably celebrate them--they're what make us the true artists of our own lives.

I am including my own painting "Night Textures," which now resides in Seattle, in the way of a small tribute to Uncle Kermit as well as to that sometime disturbing mystery we call life.

Synchronicity Boomlet

Remember my "Crossed Trajectories" post about our Chicago visit and the ensuing coincidences? Well, on that trip in June, Oakley had a blast touring the city with his friend Kayla, formerly of Santa Fe. Then Kayla joined us all for a few days at cousin Paul's lake cottage. One night, over take-out pizza, she talked about her excitement over the anticipated birth of her little sister Olivia, due in early October.

As it turns out, Olivia took her sweet time arriving. She, in typical strong-willed Scorpion style, held out, not only to be born under the sign of Scorpio, but on our Flannery's birthday! As you can see from the photo of Kayla and Olivia and Brother (whose name I cannot recall--apologies, Bro), lovely Olivia was well worth the wait. With her siblings, it's clearly a case of Enamored at First Sight. Looking at her picture above, we too are smitten.

Kayla, when you come out west to spend Thanksgiving with us, any chance of smuggling Olivia into your carry-on???

Thursday, October 25, 2007

You've Come a Long Way, Baby!

Today at 3:20 p.m. (Mountain Time) Flannery will be 21, a card-carrying adult.

I couldn't resist posting a picture of my baby back when. Those eyes say it all: Don't toy with me, people. I am on to you.

AND a picture of my baby now.

Never one to shy away from challenge and hard work, she's come a long way. A few of the things she's done in her 21 years:
* Worked the graveyard at a recovery center
* Volunteers in the University Hospital ER
* Volunteered in the Agora Crisis Center
* Editor-in-chief of her high school paper for 2 years
* Won the UNM RA Iron Chef title 2 years running
* Sold a painting at our gallery at age 14
* A Santa Fe Super Scholar
* Presidential Scholarship winner
* Flew to London on her own, paid for it herself
* Was a teen reporter for the Santa Fe New Mexican
* At the age of 4, embellished a five-foot painting and a brand new white comforter with my brand new lipstick, in five minutes flat
* Was born 20 minutes after we arrived at the hospital--a mover-and-a-shaker from the start!

Happy Birthday, Flannery.


My First Painting Sale

I'm a newbie at painting on canvas. For several years I collaborated with Wild Bill Tick Tock on painted wood constructions. We called them story doors and they were a hit. I also tried my hand at painting pots. They did well too. But Bennie kept saying, "Hey, you have a way with color. I'll bet you could do some nice work on canvas." And yes, I'd been privately tempted. So in the spring of 2005 I got together a rather small body of work and with great trepidation, hung half a dozen paintings at our gallery. For a couple of weeks, nothing happened. People walked right by. My paintings were invisible.

Then one day a man strolled in. He was one of those quiet people, the kind who takes his time and looks at everything in the gallery quite seriously. I sat at the desk, hesitant to disturb his looking, wondering which artist he might take interest in. Would it be one of Albert's skyscapes that caught his fancy? Maybe one of Laura's jaw-dropping realist paintings? Could it be a Wild Bill Tick Tock or a light-suffused interior by Mimi? When he turned around and said very casually, "Tell me about this San Merideth," I was stunned.

I got up and began babbling like an idiot. Now, when it comes to those other artists, I have spiels--they're sincere spiels, but they're rather practiced deliveries, polished from years--count my gray hairs--of experience selling art. I didn't know what to say about my own paintings. So he did it for me. "Would you consider a little better price were I to take three?" I liked what he had to say! He just wanted a modest courtesy discount for a multiple purchase and I was happy to oblige. Turned out he was an architect with a prestigious firm in Dallas--he didn't brag on himself like this--I googled him after he left--and he wanted my paintings for his very own home!

The paintings each measured 24 inches by 24 inches and their titles, from left to right, are "Irresistible Impulse," "Primal Identity," and "Messages from Undersea." (Now that the images are loaded, they're overlapping, at least on my browser, but they can be enlarged individually.) As someone once remarked, "You have to come up with catchy titles after you paint them." You don't really have to, but titles seem to serve as doors into paintings. Many people find abstract imagery inaccessible, and titles sometimes provide an entryway of sorts.

I've been lucky since that time. I've sent my paintings to L.A. and Seattle and New Orleans and Miami and Omaha, among a bunch of other places. (I have a map in my head and enjoy picturing my art on the walls in various locales. It's a spirit-booster on dark days.) They've been purchased by cardiologists and particle physicists and actuarial consultants. Twice they've been purchased by employees of art museums. I've been especially flattered when someone has elected to add a second and third painting down the way, after beginning with one. In these cases, I think: Yes, they enjoy my art enough to want more. Then my Shadow, the Doubting One, says: No, they're hoping to replace that disappointing one with something else. That's when I bribe my shadow with tickets to Cleveland. I figure if I can get my doubting, shadowy self far enough away, I might get some painting done.

Wild Bill Tick Tock

One of the many hats I wear is that of Mrs. Wild Bill Tick Tock. That's right. Bennie has been making clocks under the name of Wild Bill Tick Tock for better than ten years now, and we have shipped hundreds of them worldwide. Some of the more interesting places where they reside: a Tasmanian sheep farm, an auto dealership in Albuquerque, a headmistress's office in London, a New Jersey town hall, and finally, our living room. (It took "Bill" about five of those years to get around to making one for us!)

How'd he get the name? When Oakley, always an original soul, was 8, he walked through our bedroom mumbling to himself. What he said was "Wild Bill Tick Tock." Bennie was just starting to make the clocks then, and in a moment of marketing math, I put 2 and 2 together and asked Bennie what about donning the pseudonym Wild Bill Tick Tock? It stuck. Now it's amazing how many emails we get at the gallery addressed to "Bill."

The purple and black clock is called "Soul Train." It, like all of Wild Bill's clocks, has a top that lifts off to reveal the contents of your choosing. We keep those pesky Estimated Tax forms in ours, along with dental appointments, the occasional love letter, and utility bills. Wild Bill always tells people to hide their chocolate there. In our household, chocolate never seems to make it that far.

We recently shipped one of the "grandfather clocks," which are large enough to stand on the floor, to Australia. Diane, the buyer, is pictured above--she's the one holding onto "Grandfather Magic"--with her entourage, a group of family and friends who'd decided to rendezvous here in Santa Fe. Once her clock arrived in New South Wales, Diane emailed to tell us that "Grandfather Magic" is bringing her family and friends much joy, reminding them how good life is. They use the box as a repository of well-wishing messages to one another. And when we receive such messages from our clients, that's as good as it gets.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Safety First

Just as I thought Junko Shimada had outdone herself with sideways heels, now another Japanese fashion designer has come up with awesome threads that do double duty as urban camouflage.

My son Oakley, who has his finger on the pulse of absurdity, sent me the New York Times story which discusses, among other things, a dress that converts to a coke machine and a purse that looks like a manhole cover--you just lay it on the street and criminals walk right by! They're the creations of Aya Tsukioka. According to the story, the designer "lifted a flap on her skirt to reveal a large sheet of cloth printed in bright red with a soft drink logo partly visible. By holding the sheet open and stepping to the side of the road, she showed how a woman walking alone could elude pursuers by disguising herself as a vending machine."

As you can see from the picture, the coke machine dress is pretty convincing, but once they catch on, won't it become second nature for the criminal element, when confronted with a line of vending machines, to stoop down and look for tell-tale feet? I mean aren't we all conditioned to do this already in a public restroom? And when everyone starts to lay their sewer cover purses on the street, how can you tell which is which? People will be walking away with each others', and occasionally, they'll run off with an actual sewer cover. Then you'll have people falling into sewers. YUCK.

And what'll happen when this trend crosses over to America? In Manhattan will there be any number of sleek black garments that double as hot dog stands? Fairbanks, will it become known as the home of dogsled trousers? Mush! Texas ladies will have their big hair coifed into..let's see...into...come to think of it, I'll bet that hair's already hiding plenty of valuables. Mississippian fashion will add another layer of meaning to the expression "play possum." Here in New Mexico, broomstick skirts will slide open to reveal convincing fajita concessions and Stetsons will convert to orange highway barrels. I shudder, God forbid, to think about what convincing replicas they'll be wearing in D.C.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Rakish Spirit

A commenter on my last post said that my "Wayward Angel" reminded her of the photo atop this blog. And Flannery says the "blue being" looks lonesome. Yes, I can see that too. You both may be on to something. A couple or three years ago, two of our prized pinon pines succumbed to bark beetle infestation. It was a heartbreaker. Those trees held memories. The kids had hung swings from those trees and climbed them, and built make-believe houses and castles under their branches. Those branches provided shade for the trampoline and privacy for the deck. But we were in a drought and that's what happens during a drought--things die.

We couldn't bear saying goodbye completely, so Bennie decided to leave the stumps on our property with a vague intention of turning them into totems or something artful. A few months passed and no one made any move to transform the stumps; their desolate forms reigned over the east side of our house with a misplaced, forlorn air. Then one day I came home to see the old "captain's chair" barstools perched up there. For all the world, they looked like they'd been picked up and blown there in a Wizard of Oz kind of storm.

Bennie called them the Spirit Chairs, thinking that perhaps wandering spirits, or ancestors, or who-or-what-have-you, weary from a night of moving between this realm and the next, might enjoy a seat now and again. He was right. The one I call Lily has claimed the left chair, the more upright one that sits atop this blog. Lily is quiet and mannerly and I believe she followed us here, demurely, all the way from Pacifica, California. There, within our cozy little walls on Banyan Way, once in a blue moon, Lily would appear and ever-so-softly walk across the hardwood floor at the top of the stairs. We would look up from a "Night Court" rerun we were watching downstairs, look at each other, and acknowledge in silence: Lily. She was kind of fun to have around, never truly disruptive, just a gentle reminder that there's a life beyond TV and checkbook-balancing and PTA fundraisers.

Hiram, he's another story. He has laid claim to the chair on the right, the one at the rakish angle. That chair keeps falling down, the back detaching itself from the seat, and Bennie keeps putting it back together again, and back up on the stump. It's as though someone repeatedly falls off that chair, laughing his ass off. Yeah, Hiram laughs at his own jokes. His idea of a joke: Just yesterday, as I sat at the computer, on the east side of the house, a knocking began on the roof above me. There was no wind. Even if there had been, there just isn't anything on the roof up there something could knock against. Even so, the knocking became more insistent; it turned into a clanging, like someone was banging a hammer against a metal post. No metal post up there. No hammer. No wind. What the...?

Despite knowing deep down it was Hiram, I found myself getting up and stealing down the hall to the living room, where I could peek through the window and get a vantage point of that part of the roof. For a moment, I'd thought I might discover some carpenter's truck in the driveway. I halfway expected--was hoping?--to find a carpenter on the roof of the wrong house. But no. The minute I peeked at the roof, the clanging stopped. And did I hear laughter coming from the right chair, now swaying in the breezeless air?

Hiram, what is it you require of me? Am I to paint your picture too? And, if I do, what exactly will "A Rakish Spirit" look like?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wayward Angel

I've got a love/hate (or at least like/dislike) relationship with my latest painting. Bennie named it "Wayward Angel," since I was at a loss. He said that's what popped into his head when I said, "What can I call it?" and I guess that describes my own feelings towards it. The sunniness of it appeals, but that predominant form just left of center feels weird to me. I kinda like it, but there's an awkwardness that embarrasses me. I remember a term of my mother's that seems to apply: "engagingly ugly." It's like when I was younger and had a crush on some guy who I knew was all wrong.

Bennie says it reminds him of a bison walking away. Why, I ask, did he not call it "Wayward Bison"?? My wayward one has been hanging in the gallery a couple of days and is getting something of a positive response. One woman said, "That one does it for me." She just didn't say exactly what it did and she didn't proffer a credit card either.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Yesterday I did the honor of accompanying Flannery to the mall to have her ears pierced. It's tradition in our family for the women to late-bloom with regard to piercings. A tendency to maintain intact earlobes for decades of one's life has been solemnly passed down in the DNA on both sides of the family. My mother is 75 and has yet to let a piercing professional anywhere near her clip-ons. My mother-in-law waited until she was well into her 40s. We have an unwavering, stubborn attitude when it comes to elective surgery. Don't suggest we relinquish our tonsils, or tie our tubes or, God forbid, have our ears altered to suit the fleeting, flimsy fancies of fashion.

Yesterday, as Flannery sat on a stool outside Claire's in Santa Fe Place, she methodically read, line by line, every word of every clause of the innumerable disclaimers of the several-paged piercing agreement. I explained to the piercing lady how Flan's father had had one of his ears pierced years before I even thought of doing mine. She was properly impressed.

It was 1984 and I was 31 when I finally succumbed to the pressures of fashion and the downright torture of Eighties clip-ons. Remember those enormous, pendulous earrings that were so in vogue then? (If you're too young to do so, maybe you've seen them in the movies.) Feeling decadent and fashion-victimized, I underwent the harrowing procedure at a boutique on Polk Street in San Francisco, then promptly went to--I believe it was called--Gadzooks on Clement Street and purchased the two weightiest pairs they had in stock. One set was geometric, enameled stainless steel, manufactured by the Memphis Design Group. They were kind of like end tables for the ears. I still have them. What's depicted in the smaller image above (pirated from someone's retro e-store) is reminiscent of them, although mine are a bit more elaborate and involve two ladders, one ascending the right ear at a rakish 30-degree angle, the other climbing down the left.

The other pair was all ethnically inspired, with little silver balls hanging from itty-bitty brass tubes hanging from somewhat larger brass tubes suspended from an elongated, very thick, brass loop. Everything was connected by an intricate series of teeny-tiny gold circles. You could hear me coming from two blocks away when I wore them, particularly when one of the little tubes detached itself and fell to the sidewalk. This would happen when I sneezed.

As the danglies aged, they took on a rich patina not unlike what I was going for in this painting I called "Relics." I called it that because of the way I applied layer after layer of color, allowed each to dry, then scratched out areas to reveal the painting's past.

While Flan and I were having her ears pierced at Santa Fe Place and joking about our family's past, Bennie was at the gallery selling "Relics" to a couple from Wichita who were celebrating their 44th wedding anniversary in Santa Fe. What stylish synchronicity. Beverly told Bennie she loved the green in the painting. That would be the oxidized patina of my 1984 earrings. She also said the red area reminded her of a flame. Wow! As often happens when someone talks about one of my paintings, I begin to see my own art with refreshed eyes.

I still see the green, memory-infused patina, but I also see an abiding flame in the presence of change. How perfect for a wedding anniversary. How perfect a day. Flannery initiated into the deeper mysteries of ear adornment. "Relics" placed in the proper home.

Friday, October 12, 2007

el Rancho de las Brujas

Yesterday Bennie and the kids and I drove up to Ghost Ranch, or el Rancho de las Brujas (Witch Ranch.) Those of you familiar with northern New Mexico will know that this is Georgia O'Keeffe country and that photographs simply do not begin to capture the vastness of the spirit of this land. People around here speak of "those northern New Mexico spirits." Sometimes they're referring to las brujas, the witches from Spanish folklore. Sometimes the reference is to Native American spirits such as Changing Woman and Spider Woman, felt by some to inhabit this area. Others may be thinking of the ghosts of cattle rustlers who were murdered here when this was an actual ranch. And some refer to the dinosaurs whose fossils reside here.

To whatever source you attribute the power of el Rancho de las Brujas, its visible bones and harder-to-see spirits of the past, no one can be unmoved by it. It is wide-open, red-rocked, stark, and weirdly nurturing. Once I read that all of the major religions of the earth were founded in desert regions. Easy to believe when standing at the base of Kitchen Mesa. Look up and you can see three layers of geological history, a huge puzzle assembled by weather and time. It seems the most natural impulse to wonder--where do I fit in this puzzle?

Begin to ascend the trail to the top, as we did, and the already thin air--at the bottom, we're 6400 feet up--thins a bit more. Follow the red clay trail round and round the walls of the mesa, and you can look down and see where you were. It looks a lot like where you are now, just a little nearer the ground. Climb a bit higher, and the trail gradually becomes steeper and rockier. Then suddenly it turns into rock climbing. We didn't make it to the top, although my three companions went a little farther than I did. I've never been great with heights and neither my feet nor my lungs seemed up to the task.

Instead, I enjoyed a few minutes of solitude perched on a rock more than three-quarters of the way up. It was here that I felt that weird nurturing thing I mentioned earlier. I sat down really slowly, prepared to feel completely uneasy with the height and the dryness and the rockiness. But instead of feeling at odds with it all, I felt very much at peace and taken care of. A quiet breeze blew my way and a few little insects began to visit. The sagebrush whispered. I looked at the steep walls across the canyon and was reminded of how people used to go to such places to vision quest. You could do some serious questing here, I thought.

Then I heard Bennie and the kids coming back down. They said they didn't feel quite confident about the rock climbing that began about 250 feet above my station and so they came back to join me for the slow, careful walk back down to the car parked near the yellow cottonwoods.

When we got to the car, we looked at the clock and saw we'd been hiking for more than three hours. Strange. It felt like much less time. We drove north to Echo Amphitheater, where we shouted our names into the rocks. They kept repeating themselves until they dissolved into silence. Oakley...Oakley...Oakley...Oak... Flannery...Flannery...Flannery...Flan...

Hearing ourselves resonate into nothingness made us very hungry, so we headed back to Espanola where we had enchiladas, chile rellenos, and stuffed sopapillas, all of it smothered in green chile. We also had amazing posole, laden with chunks of delicately seasoned pork. Flannery said, "Northern New Mexico food is real comfort food. I miss northern New Mexico. I like Albuquerque, but Albuquerque feels like a regular place. Northern New Mexico isn't a regular place."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Empty Nest Syndrome Surfacing in Unlikely Place

So I'd just hoisted two gallons of Minute Maid orange juice (with extra pulp) into my cart at Sam's Club. I was wheeling past the frozen entrees when an unexpected thought entered my head: What'll it be tonight--pueblo pie or vegetarian lasagna? That thought seems innocent enough. Only thing is I haven't purchased ready-made pueblo pie since...well, let's see...1994? Wow, I had time-traveled back to when the kids were 5 and 7.

1994, that was a lean year. The gallery wasn't in the best of locations, business suffered, and so Bennie took a job selling electronics. When I could orchestrate it, I swapped child care with other parents. When I could find an affordable, nurturing family day care arrangement, I consigned the kids there. When I had to, I would pack up Flan and Oaks and carry them to the gallery with me. Labor-intensive, homemade meals were not a regular occurrence. Defrosted pueblo pies were.

Do I want to go back to those days? Not on your life. But, despite myself, that afternoon at Sam's I found a tear rolling down my cheek while I remembered the good old days. Must have something to do with Oakley leaving the nest. Never mind he's at UNM, an hour's drive away. Never mind he's a thoughtful e-mailer. Never mind I've seen him twice since he moved out and that he's coming home in a couple of days for autumn break. In a warehouse club, in Frozen Foods, I experienced a pang of Empty Nest Syndrome. What's next? A head-banging episode in Home Depot?

Why do they call it Empty Nest Syndrome? I mean the Empty Nest part I get. But doesn't syndrome imply a group of symptoms? As in The China Syndrome? Or irritable bowel syndrome? I looked it up. A syndrome doesn't necessarily include a bunch of symptoms. It can just be a pattern of behavior that is associated with a certain situation, as in sadness associated with kids leaving the house.

According to the Psych Today website, "feelings of sadness are normal at this time. It is also normal to spend time in the absent child's bedroom to feel closer to him or her." I'm not at home right now, so I'm doing the nest best (get it--nest best?) thing: I'm posting a picture of Oakley's room. When he comes home for autumn break, he will see it just as he left it. Well, maybe a little neater. The scream poster still pulls the colors of the room together--pumpkin, cobalt blue, and jungle green. These were colors of his choosing and yes, they SCREAM. As does the painting of the flaming Volkswagen van Oakley salvaged from the reject pile of Santa Fe High's art department.

Then there's Dave Archer's reverse glass painting of outer space, won by the future Empty Nester in an art sales contest in Sausalito in 1982. "Galactic Moment" is a reminder of a still more remote past. A time when I went about my business winning sales contests and ordering lattes at midnight and sleeping in until 8 a.m. A time when the persons I now know as Oakley and Flannery had not even come into existence. Way back when I had no way of knowing what I was missing. Now, that, friends, is an unbelievable thought, a truly galactic moment.

Blue Plate Spectaculars Crash onto Culinary Scene

Although the umbilical cord was severed almost 21 years ago, I've a new link to my daughter. That would be Flapjack Flanny, a cooking blog with blow-to-blow reportage on the gustatory exploits of The Blue Plate Spectaculars. Who are the Blue Plate Spectaculars? The One and Only Officially Unofficial Culinary Club of the University of New Mexico. The brainchild of a couple of pre-meds (Flannery and Lorenzo), their Mexican wrestler mascot Alberto (and to think I knew him when he worked the popcorn machine alongside Oakley at UA-DeVargas), Mike (a line cook at Flying Star, known for prodigious knife-wielding skills), and Amy (whose specialty is alcohol-food pairings.)

Just remember, kids--knife-wielding, Mexican wrestling, and alcohol do not mix!

In an email Flannery has implored her parents to "prepare to be amazed this Saturday." She and Oaks will be home for autumn break and she has sent me a shopping list whose ingredients will facilitate her preparations of Navratan Korma seasoned with her own homemade garam masala of spices brought from India by her friend Jesse! AND a two-layer pumpkin cheesecake. How do you spell salivation???

I am honored that Flannykins chose to top her blog with a photo of my miniature Deluxe Dream Kitchen appliances, circa 1963. Doesn't that Revere Ware loom oh so large?