Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"sweet! 4-day weekend!"

this is what i woke up to this morning: a completely hyper, overstimulated gus running around the house yelling "FOUR-DAY WEEKEND! FOUR-DAY WEEKEND! WHOO-HOO!!!" school was cancelled today because maybe a millimeter of ice fell last night and god knows no one should go outside during that kind of treacherousness. people in iowa are so laughing at us right now. thus, in a classic example of no-good-deed-goes-unpunishedness (on my part), gus is not at school again today. and he has taken it upon himself to irk his sister to the fullest extent of his capacity, just shy of the point of getting punished. big fun.

but i did learn something cool today--has anyone ever heard the urban legend about millions of atari games being buried somewhere in new mexico? it's true! see this site for all the gritty info.

Monday, January 28, 2008

gus and his monday morning stomach ache

rich and sophie over the rio grande gorge (it was freezing and windy!)

gus, not so happy to be out in the cold

gus is home with a monday morning stomach ache. it isn't his first, but i was so mean to him yesterday that i didn't argue much about his staying home today. and he may really have one (but i doubt it). we were in taos all weekend, which was lovely and clear--a perfect ski day for gus and rich (sophie and i stayed in town). then on the drive home gus was being annoying so i basically yelled at him the whole way back, hence no argument about staying home today. if kids only knew the extent of parental guilt for whatever reason...

taos was incredible--really good food, really good beer, really good music, and the ski valley is 100% open. we went to the earthship community for the first time and were totally impressed. we're trying to figure out if we can retrofit our house to take advantage of the passive solar part at least. they use water four times before it is discarded, and all of it is sourced from snow melt or rain (however since they only get 8 inches a year it seems like there must be another source--that level of water certainly couldn't hold up to rich's obsessive bathing rituals). the first use is for the tap, the second is for the plants that grow inside along the south-facing windows, the third is for the toilets, and the fourth is for exterior plants. very cool. i have to say, with our energy bills approaching $1000 for this month alone i totally dig the idea of an energy and water independent home. we desperately need an energy audit.

it was great to get away from everything for a while--last week was no fun (but, thankfully, gus' strep was negative!), and unfortunately this week doesn't look much better. my mom is doing very badly with her move. she is depressed into total stasis and hasn't unpacked a single box. i'm going back to houston on friday to try and get at least her kitchen and bedroom set up, which means that gus and sophie will be left here FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER with their dad. i figure gus is old enough to at least feed himself; sophie is on her own. i'll make sure to leave some horizon vanilla milk boxes down at her level. i'm guessing i'll hear about this from rich for quite a while.

gus warily eyeing the entrance to an earthship

detail of earthship construction

the mission church at las trampas--san josé de gracia de las trampas--along the high road to/from taos (we took the high road back, which was a mistake, as gus cannot handle winding mountain roads)

detail of the outer wall at las trampas

side view of las trampas church--it was built in 1760 (the NPS site has the date wrong) and clearly needs some attention today...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

wednesday 23 jan 2008

so. so here i am. so here i am, going in a thousand different directions, none of which are productive. i am trying to help my sister with her wedding from 1000 miles away; i am trying to help my mother with her move from the same distance; i am perpetually mediating between gus/sophie, gus/rich, mom/dad, etc.; and the cherry on top today was that both kids ended up in the pediatrician's office (resulting in a prescription for one and a strep test for the other). but i did get to have green chile sushi with tracy today, so that was good.

i did buy that awesome back for my hasselblad (see above). i still have little to no idea what i am doing with it, but i am learning. the main thing that i have learned is that i must become much more proficient with photo editing software. i have photoshop elements right now, but it is kinda weak for what i need. this picture hasn't been tweaked at all yet has a great vintage/nostalgic feel to the palette on its own. i do miss the super-saturatedness of my film...

(p.s. argusgallery.com t-shirt contest update: no winner! it'll go back in the pile until the next contest. the answer was that it was my neighbor's house in iowa city. he leaves his lights on the tree all year...)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

happy birthday tracy!

happy birthday trace--see you for tempura-fried green chile sushi tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

as i slowly emerge from my viral haze...

...i realize it has been a while since i posted anything. somehow, gus' evil bug found me (two weeks and change later--is that even possible?) and felled me, greatly. it may not be gus' bug per se but it is behaving exactly like his did. and i have to say, he is a trooper and a half for allowing me to continue driving to houston while he was this sick. i think i might have welcomed death 72 hours ago. this has sucked and i am just praying that sophie won't get this, too. so that's what is going on here. aren't you glad this isn't your house?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

the el vado motel is saved! (for now)

the el vado motel, in happier times (2001), as portrayed by ken rockwell

we've been home just a few days from the trip from hell, and we all kinda hit the ground running--gus had a sleepover birthday party then school started back up (and he is the weatherman of the day today!), sophie is busy growing teeth and an attitude, and i came back to continue an uphill struggle (with many others) to save albuquerque's el vado motel.

a "developer," richard l. gonzales, purchased the el vado motel a couple of years ago for about $680,000. his intention was to knock it down and build what he calls luxury townhomes. there are many problems with this:
1. the el vado motel is listed on the national register of historic places (since 1993);
2. the el vado motel is the best example of pueblo revival architecture in a motor court setting--a style that is specific to not just new mexico but northern new mexico and albuquerque pre-WWII;
3. the el vado motel has no structural or engineering problems;
4. the el vado motel is not zoned for townhouses;
5. the el vado motel is a city icon that is beloved by albuquerqueans and route 66 enthusiasts alike;
6. mr. gonzales is not a responsible, informed, concientious or desirable developer, as evidenced by his involvement in the shameful sale of the atrisco land grant (see this for more info);
7. without sounding religious, there is a moral imperative to maintain a sense of place and history when possible that supercedes an individual's short-term wishes;
8. the el vado motel was not in a blighted state before mr. gonzales purchased it--it was a fully operational motel that was above water financially--and gonzales closed it and shuttered it.
9. mr. gonzales is asking an appalling $2.2 million for this property that he has ruined and that has been most recently appraised at just over $300,000.
10. mr. gonzales should not be rewarded for blighting his own property and thereby force the city to approve demolition...and too many other things to keep listing them here....

so, once we got back from houston i was armed with all kinds of good info from my dad about how to argue against land development and my own research about the historical/architectural importance of the el vado. the city council held a meeting last night to decide whether or not to designate it a city landmark, which would delay mr. gonzales' plan to raze the site for at least another 60 days until a hearing could be held to determine appropriateness for demolition. i prepared a spiel to give to the city council and, to my and everyone's surprise, at the 11th hour the city council allowed no public comments on the el vado situation. there were several of us there prepared to speak but no one was heard.

but, after a grueling, two plus hour slogfest between the city attorney and richard gonzales' attorney, the city council voted to designate the el vado motel a city of albuquerque landmark. i sat through the entire thing in amazement--five of the nine city councilors voted to landmark it (isaac benton, michael cadigan, sally mayer, rey garduño and ron harris) and four didn't (debbie o'malley, trudy jones, ken sanchez and brad winter). and their decision-making processes were as varied as an informed professional considering the elements (cadigan, benton), to someone who genuinely cared about place (garduño), to someone with future political concerns thinking this might hurt their chance at someday being mayor (winter, maybe o'malley)... there will be another hearing soon to determine the demolition certification, which will now be made more difficult with the landmark designation.

there is a lot of info on the web, some of which has been penned by me, if anyone is interested:
duke city fix, "that was a close one"
duke city fix, "speak out for preservation"
duke city fix, "don't let albuquerque lose this"
albuquerque tribune, "albuquerque designates motel city landmark..."
the national trust's reportage on the el vado
new york times article with a favorable review of the el vado from 2003

let's hope things improve over the next couple of months and that the city and the owner can reach a reasonable agreement.

Monday, January 7, 2008

HAPPY (belated) 2008!

we are finally back home after a crazy busy two weeks. the day after christmas (merry belated christmas, as well), gus, sophie and i left for houston to go and help my mom move out of her house. i knew it would be bad--i had always thought it was going to be the trip from hell because a) sophie has never been on an extended car trip and gets impatient driving gus to school; b) my mom has lived in her house for 27 years and is VERY emotionally attached to it and c) my mom also has a slight tendency to hoard, so her rather large house is rather stuffed full of, well, stuff...and it is very hard to convince her to part with anything. so it was always going to be bad.

what i didn't foresee was that gus was going to contract a stomach virus, which kicked in two hours into the trip.

yep, that's right. i had a vomiting child in the car with me and sophie for two days. it was truly the trip from hell. the first day we stopped about a dozen times and ultimately ended up spending the night in fort stockton, texas. i was under the complete delusion that gus was throwing up because he had motion sickness (which he does get, just not usually on car trips) and that eventually his body would absorb enough dramamine to make him stop throwing up. it didn't happen. it did, however, create pretty orange designs all over my car. i kept asking him what he wanted to do--did he want to go home or go to houston--and every time he said he wanted to keep going. oddly, he felt fine after each episode--that was why i never suspected a virus (to my/our peril).

when we finally checked in to the hotel he really went downhill and started feeling terrible. sophie wouldn't go to sleep so she kept bugging him; the only pharmacy in town (wal-mart) closed at 6:00 p.m. and didn't reopen until 9:00 in the morning; and the urgent care center that served like a 100 mile radius was completely booked solid with patients having actual life-threatening disorders. gus wasn't dehydrated at that time so there was no way i was going to take him and sophie and go sit in a waiting room all night. we were 500 miles from home, 550 miles from where we needed to be--we were completely stuck.

eventually sophie went to sleep and gus stopped being sick long enough to snooze and the next day we headed out for houston. we got there at night, checked into a really nice hotel near my mom's house and went to bed. i genuinely thought i would have to sell my car after that experience, but the good people at bubbles car detailing took care of it and made it smell more like some form of chemical smart bomb had gone off in my car rather than what it had been. it still smells like a chemistry experiment in my car--there is no telling what it is doing to us. gus does have some lingering psychological damage from the experience, which might make me have to sell it anyway. poor gus.

suprisingly, the rest of the trip didn't seem too bad in comparison.