Wednesday, August 27, 2008

this is getting old...and so are you.

"vecchia, come Lei?" an exact quote from an italian baker in venice when i refused a particular slice of pizza because i told him it looked a bit old...

again, it is the middle of the night, and, again, i am awake. my years upon years of familiarity with insomnia and the oppressive solitude it creates are starting to get to me. my former zen-like mantra of "be like a leaf on the river of life" is quickly giving way to the demotivational "perhaps your life exists as a warning to others." (i LOVE are evil geniuses and i highly recommend viewing their work.) in any event, i'm awake and i don't want to be. i should probably find a psychiatrist.


sophie, enraptured in her playhouse

paco is perplexed trying to figure out how sophie is going to get out of this prison

these are my fish

you can hold them really far away from you if they are stinky

these two match


gus recently started taking cello lessons

gus' first day of school!

gus after his first day of school!

my boy working hard for that extra ipod money

gus (with crazy eyes) and cole at the isotopes game


Monday, August 25, 2008

summer's over for gus...

...but i think he's okay with it. after the adventures of camp-o-rama, and after having to spend way too much time with a typical two-year old, he was pretty ready to get back to his own normal routine. he started school last week without his best buddy george, and that was hard. he and george had been attached at the hip for two years but now they each have to go it alone. i don't think george has started school yet in england--i'm not sure he's even registered anywhere! we do miss him.

gus started school with a new backpack (tarantula-themed), a new lunchbox (also tarantula-themed), and a new teacher. i think she drove nascar at one point in her life--very nice. gus likes her very much so i have great hopes for the year. he has even managed to do homework without complaining too too much. paco, however, is devastated by the loss of gus. he keeps following me around (like a puppy), chewing up gus' shoes, and stealing gus mementos to chew up later. paco is all dog.

gus' big accomplishment recently was saving/earning enough money for an ipod shuffle! he is absolutely enamored and enraptured by this bite-sized little piece of auditory heaven. it is red, and part of the (product)red campaign, so he is doubly-thrilled about his purchase. he was about $10 dollars shy of paying for the whole thing himself so i had him pull weeds and pick up fallen apples in the backyard. he was a sweaty mess of a boy, but an hour later he had enough for his ipod. and now we can't talk to him because he is wearing it all the time and can't hear us. i'm sure there are some advantages to this that i'm failing to see...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

sophie's absolutely, positively, biggest school day EVER!

and why was that? because it was her absolutely, positively FIRST day of school EVER! she started in the 2-year old class at the little school gus used to go to when he was two and three. gus adapted a little better when it was his time to start school...but he had had more experience with babysitters (sophie has almost exclusively been with me all of her life--the one weekend i left her with rich to go see my mom i came back to a beshingled sophie).

sophie was fine while gus and i were there; once she realized we were leaving she went into full-out panic mode. i really think she will eventually get better--at least that is what her teacher is telling me. while sophie wasn't exactly happy, she was at least checking things out and kind of looking at the other kids there. that is, at the very least, a start.

sophie ready to tackle school! (sorry it's a little dark)

they even have tricycles there!

gus talks things over with miss sarah, who remembers him fondly

dig, sophie, dig!

stretch, sophie, stretch!

sophie showing gus how she plays with trains...

...and how she sorts her blocks...

...and then she drew a picture with miss barb

"they give you cookies here! i LOVE school!"

sophie's cubby (this just struck me as so precious, in a good way)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

what's up with rich's job?

that has been the $64,000 question at our house (and if that question was only to cost us $64,000, we would have been very happy people) over the past several months, and now i think there is an answer.

to recap: rich has worked like a dog for the Corporation ever since we got here; two years prior to that he was doing his second fellowship which also required an insane amount of hours (like 80+ regularly, but it was expected and we knew it would end). so we have had four years of him working 60 to 80 and beyond hours a week continuously with few breaks save those for medical conferences. then, on my 40th birthday, he formally quit his most hated (by me) job with the Corporation. it was an outstanding gift. we spent about a week trying on the idea of him staying home for a year, because he has a wicked evil noncompete clause, and while i would have loved that he clearly would not have been comfortable. so we spent another week trying to figure out if we could withstand a half-million dollar judgment against us if he were to work and violate his noncompete. that didn't sit well with either of us--basically we would have had to leave the state for him to go into private practice for the rest of his life somewhere else to afford the payments, so that wasn't a solution. then, we spent a week trying to find a solution in another state, which also didn't pan out. finally, i think i developed clinical depression and became absolutely of no use whatsoever to anyone so rich had to work directly with the attorneys and the Corporation and he worked out a deal.

rich is still with the Corporation, and he is still there all the time. he signed another contract. but over the course of the year he will be transitioning from Corporate medicine back into Academic medicine, which is really where he should have been all along. he was trained as a medical scientist and the Corporation has no use for that--so a rather large part of rich's skills, and i hate to say it but his identity as well, were being disregarded. he really had few options at the end of the day to leave--we couldn't afford the fee, which was of course the whole point of the noncompete, thus he has to stick it out for another year.

i'm not terribly happy with the compromise, but my understanding is that the Corporation isn't happy either so i guess it's all good. however my reasons for dissatisfaction are completely different than Theirs--i'm not looking forward to the continued domestic absence of rich and the Corporation isn't looking forward to the multi-million dollar annual loss they will endure in rich's impending void. rich, however, is perfectly happy--he wanted to leave slowly so he could treat his patients that need more immediate care and he wanted to start slowly at his new job so he wasn't overwhelmed (again). we have learned too much about how Corporate medicine works over the past few months, and i have to say, it is an ugly beast.

stay healthy, compañeros.

one thing that kills me in all this is that there is absolutely no ethical consideration in any of this. ethically, it is right for rich to practice his particular super-subspecialty to the best of his ability, regardless of the wants of a Corporation. he should be allowed to leave a private practice if he so chooses to go into a public practice that would allow him to treat any patients he wants--particularly those without insurance or who are otherwise not going to receive any medical care at all. this is one exceedingly rare instance where i believe the state should legislate ethics--it is in the state's best interest for rich to switch from private to public if he so chooses (and he would be taking a pay cut to do so, so this isn't a money thing), so why not afford him some protection against a noncompete judgment? if you have a physician practicing anything--primary care, tertiary care, super-subspecialty, etc.--and they are grossly underrepresented in the state (as rich is--he has a patient base of around 2 million people, which is almost 10 times what the average oculoplastic surgeon needs), then i truly believe there should be legislation to protect these doctors from leaving the state just because they are done with private practice and want to go into primary indigent care. but that is just my opinion, and we all know what opinions are like...

so that is the very long version of what is up with rich's job.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

salinas pueblo missions national monument

after thoroughly enjoying ourselves at tammie and randy's ranch, we all headed out the next day for salinas pueblo missions national monument. it is in the estancia basin, to the southeast of albuquerque. salinas is made up of three major sites: gran quivera, abó, and quarai--quarai has the most intact cathedral ruins and was at one time in the mid-17th century the seat of the spanish inquisition for this part of the world. you would have been sent to quarai to be judged then sent to mexico city to be punished. yikes.

abó and gran quivera also have mission church ruins (gran quivera actually has two churches--one was unfinished). gran quivera even housed around 1500 people at one time in the early 17th century--i think about 15, maybe 20 people live near it now. famine, apache raids, and fighting between the catholic church and spanish crown regarding tributes/tithes all led to the demise of the missions. it is a phenomenal experience to go see these sites--you are so isolated within our current landscape yet there was obviously so much activity here at one time. tammie's ranch is just over a forested mesa from gran quarai and there were many people living near her place as well, as is evidenced by the metates and some incredible archaeological finds made by her soon-to-be brother-in-law on his land. the way the roads are now it takes over an hour to get to gran quivera from her ranch, but it can't be more than 25 miles away as the crow flies. it would be wonderful to know what type of communication went on between the sites.

very highly recommended by me (and gus).

gus entering gran quivera's original cathedral

gran quivera cathedral interior detail

gran quivera cathedral interior detail

ruins of las humanas at gran quivera--these are the living areas for the roughly 1500 people who lived and worked here in the 16th and 17th centuries

kiva ruins at las humanas--there must have been an odd blending of the traditional and missionary religions at these sites

abó cathedral and ruins

"and over here you got your mission church..."

abó interior detail

abó interior detail

abó interior detail

quarai cathedral and ruins

quarai cathedral interior

quarai cathedral interior

quarai cathedral interior

quarai cathedral interior

a room with a view at quarai

gus running around the maze of rooms at quarai

i love how the neighbors stole the bricks to make their houses, like this...

...and this, and about a half-dozen other structures in punta aqua

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

corona light

this is corona light.

gus and i spent a wonderful weekend with übermom tammie and her son randy at their (technically, tammie's fiance's) ranch in corona, new mexico. and, oh my god, it was glorious. corona is lovely, tiny, in the middle-ish of nowhere, and honestly i feel bad about disclosing its location for fear that people will discover it. we loved it.

the beautiful thing about driving off the main roads in new mexico is that you are so unlikely to meet another motorist that you can take pictures while you are driving

gus and randy on the front porch of the ranch practicing their roping skills on a steel calf

tammie in her element

gus--and he now so wants a jeep (and a ranch) when he grows up

gus meeting one of the friendliest horses in the world--i can't remember her name, but she had to be acknowledged first or else she'd get jealous

randy and super-friendly horse--another horse (lateral excursion) had just bitten a chunk out of the jeep just before i shot this

rattler! we left it alone.

gus and randy throwing rocks off the top of the mesa

this is angelo, tammie's angel in the guise of a great pyrenees, and he runs the ranch

sketcher forced me to drive a couple of extra hours to procure an inhaler because i very stupidly forgot mine...

angelo after a long night of guarding the ranch

martin houses line the eaves of the main house

ancient gas tanks--how much more charming can this place get?

angelo accompanied me on my morning trek to photograph the bajillions of little flowers that not only survive but thrive in corona (these are globemallow, and they are everywhere right now)

in case you needed a reminder about how easy your life is--these are metates, found on the property, and they were used for grinding grains/corn. and you'd have to do this every day for your family. i would guess they date from the 15th or 16th century--there were considerably more people living in this part of new mexico then than there are now.

and then we travelled to salinas national monument (pictures to come)...