New Mexico Diaries

I have been writing New Mexico Diaries since moving to New Mexico in 1992. Each is a sort of family history, covering a period of a year to nearly two years, and after the first two in the series, each is cast as a sequence of diary entries for days of notable family events. Each diary is accompanied by one or more snapshots, which are available below. The diaries were mailed to extended family and to friends, but beginning with the 2007 January 15 entry, I have moved to a system of notifying family and friends by e-mail that a diary has been posted here.

Carlton M. Caves
2007 January 15

2016 February 28

Thursday, 2013 December 26 :  It's Karen's 60th birthday party (there's a bit of anticipation here, as the actual birth date is a month hence). Seventeen people---Doug, Sherry, Jeff, Josie, Carl, Jeremy, and Eleanor Caves; Jeremy's girlfriend Maria; Alex and Ryan Tallant; Tom and Linda Archer; Daavid and Carin Kahn; Abby and Ben Hellwarth; plus Karen herself---gather for a week of celebration in Albuquerque and at sites throughout southern New Mexico. Today most of the party ventures to Crest House, at the high point of the Sandias, to see the rosy finches---seeing all three species at once is unique to the crest of the Sandias in winter---and then to snowshoe. Abby sits out the snowshoeing at Crest House, while Ben, Carin, Carl, Daavid, Doug, Eleanor, Jeremy, Josie, Linda, Maria, Sherry, and Tom, their snowshoes obtained by Karen in a city-wide borrowing frenzy, slog through the snow for the mile to and from Kiwanis hut, which sits on the edge of the cliff that overlooks our house 4,000 feet below. Karen stays behind to pick up Jeff, and he returns to the airport to pick up Alex and Ryan. The party complete, the evening is spent consuming New Mexican food at Casa de Kahn-Caves and exchanging gifts in a Secret-Santa exchange organized by Josie.

Sunday, 2013 December 29 :  After a couple of days in the Silver City area, staying at Bear Mountain Lodge and seeing a bit of the Gila, and a morning of dawdling at the splendid City of Rocks, the party makes a mad dash for Carlsbad. The dash is interrupted briefly when the car carrying Maria reveals---honesty is sometimes not the best policy---that she is not a US citizen and is directed to the secondary area at the Border Patrol station east of El Paso. We arrive in Carlsbad just in time, moments before our 6:15 pm Christmas-on-the-Pecos boat tour departs. The air is bracing, the festive lighting of private residences and businesses along the river spans kitsch to sublimity, and the frigid temperatures are relieved by the complimentary, perhaps radioactive WIPP blankets. Whatever. We enjoy 40 minutes of leisurely boating with compatriots on a wintry evening, not something any of the party regularly gets a chance to do.

Monday, 2013 December 30 :  All seventeen participants are up bright and early for a day at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We take the elevator down 750 feet to the Big Room, where we join the 10:00 am Kings Palace Tour. Eleanor and Carl, the most claustrophobic of the party, opt out of the lights-out story-telling near the end of the tour; everyone else survives, suitably impressed that anyone could have explored the cave before reliable artificial lighting. After the Kings Palace Tour, the highlight is self-guided exploration of the Big Room, a natural limestone chamber that is 4,000 feet (1,220 m) long, 625 feet (190 m) wide, and 255 feet (78 m) high at the highest point. It's a phantasmagoria of formations, which pleasingly combine immensity with delicacy, all assembled by mindless geological processes without attention to style or design. Exiting by hiking out through the Natural Entrance, an opportunity available now because elevator repair has reduced service, the party enjoys a very late picnic-style lunch at 3 pm before driving away to Roswell for dinner.

Tuesday, 2013 December 31 :  It's back to Albuquerque after a morning in the Roswell area. Doug, Sherry, Karen, Carl, Eleanor, and Jeremy get up early for bird watching at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, where hunters punctuate the birding with shots that tumble ducks from the sky as the birders watch, and the remainder of the group tours the ostentatiously titled International UFO Museum and Research Center, where a touch of history is overwhelmed by a suffocating dose of conspiracy theory. We all meet at the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art; discovered by Maria, the Museum is a big surprise, an interesting and varied collection of contemporary art supported by an artists-in-residence program. The birthday celebration concludes with a New Year's Eve party at the house.

Monday, 2014 February 10 :  Eleanor acquires a dog for the first time in her life. Black, with a couple of white spots, Lux was found in South Carolina on I-95. She is as sweet as a dog can be, but has a regrettable tendency to eat nearly anything within reach, including things not so good for her innards.

It is worth remembering that Eleanor's desire for a pet dog goes back a long way. Shortly after we moved to Albuquerque in 1992, she expressed this interest forcefully, but was repelled by Karen's allergy---physical and metaphysical---to dogs (Carl's not so keen, either). When asked by a friend when she might get a dog, Eleanor replied evenly, "When Mom dies."

Monday, 2014 March 10 :  Carl arrives in Brisbane early in the morning for a six-week stay. Before leaving the airport, he visits the Coffee Club for an inaugural flat white. The lady sitting next to him is conversing on her mobile phone in a clearly Australian accent and mentions to her interlocutor that the hummingbird feeders should be put up. Puzzled, Carl apologizes for eavesdropping and inquires why an Aussie is concerned about hummingbirds. He learns that she is very, very solicitous of the Anna's hummingbirds at her property in the Sierra foothills below Yosemite, from which she has just returned to Australia.

Monday, 2014 March 17 :  Carl sits down to lunch and discussion with colleague Warwick Bowen at Wordsmiths, a campus eatery a short walk from his UQ office. Suddenly, there is a loud splat, and Carl finds his head is the recipient of a direct hit from an Australian white ibis perched in the tree above. Warwick hurries off to find a napkin, but Carl opts for a bathroom near his office, where he washes his hair in the sink. Returning, he finds Warwick at a different table---the ibis being disinclined to move and the time between dumps being uncertain---and enjoys a lunch of mushroom risotto together with a discussion of superfluid films on microtoroids.

Sunday, 2014 March 30 :  Carl wakes to the dawn chorus in the Victorian bush about 70 miles north of Melbourne. He's at the house of Manfred Ruff, which sits on a bluff on Manfred's square mile of property, a mixture of forest and meadows, fronting on the cleared pastures of Victorian sheep country on one side and backing up against the forest of Heathcote-Graytown National Park on the other. In the guise of a business called Box-Ironbark Birding, Manfred guides guests around his property to see the birds he nurtures by managing his property for wildlife. Carl selects the all-day guided tour and is rewarded with one of the great birding days of his life. An Australian owlet-nightjar, a small, secretive, owl-like bird, usually seen only as a pair of enormous eyes peering from a hole in a tree trunk, flushes from its hole and perches on a branch about 20 feet away, contemplating the two humans with its bottomless eyes. A crested bellbird tolls its five-note peal repeatedly, the call echoing through the forest, seeming to move from one side of the landscape to the other as the call crescendoes. Manfred says he rarely locates the source in this haze of ventriloquism, but lurching through the forest in the direction of the loudest peal, Carl and Manfred eventually sight this one, a male tolling its piercingly loud notes from a high, bare branch of a eucalypt about fifty yards away across a meadow. Manfred hears the manic chattering of a swift parrot. He hasn't seen one in years, so Carl is skeptical, but they follow the calls till Carl sights the green and scarlet foraging on the flowers of a eucalypt. Manfred hears the persistent whistles of a Gilbert's whistler and warns Carl that this is another bird often heard, but rarely seen as it scurries along the ground in thick, chest-high bush; they follow the calls nonetheless and at last a male, rufous throat patch on a grey background, pops to the top of a bush to sing as it surveys the surroundings. As the day draws to a close, they stumble onto a small flock of diamond firetails foraging across the ground; a small finch with red beak and eyes and flanks of white polka dots on a black background, the firetail's highlight is the rump that flashes crimson every time the bird faces away. At the end of the day, ...  Much more

P.S. The photos show
Sunrise, sunset, New Mexico style, 2016 January 30;
Abby, Jeremy, Maria, Ben, Josie, Eleanor, Daavid, and Carin enjoying dinner at the house during Karen's week-long 60th birthday party;
Maria, Jeremy, Karen, Daavid, and Abby a few days later in the Gila;
Jeremy, Eleanor, and Karen on the Lost Coast;
Wizard Island surrounded by Crater-Lake blue and accompanied by Jeremy, Karen, and Eleanor;
Bosque del Apache in December;
Eleanor with $20 recovered from the ocean floor;
Karen, Jeremy, Carl, and Eleanor at the SJ-Daavid wedding at St. Mary's Church in Ufford (note the fascinators and aboriginal-art ties);
Karen, Jeremy, and Eleanor lunching on the top row of the Roman amphitheater in Avenches;
Jay, Jeremy, and Wally at the wedding;
Eleanor, Daavid, Jeremy, and Maria at Bruisyard Hall after the wedding;
Maria, Jeremy, Eleanor, and Patrick at the Balloon Fiesta;
Ryan, Josie, Sherry, Karen, Eleanor, Jeremy, Jeff, Maria, Julie, and Carl clustered around a snow coach on their way to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone;
Patrick, Eleanor, Rachel, and Karen at the Devil's Courthouse;
Maria and Eleanor in the relative warmth of a Yellowstone snow coach;
Carl, Eleanor, and Karen on the slopes of Mt. Washburn;
and Maria, Jeff, Josie, Jeremy, and Eleanor skiing north of Old Faithful.

2013 September 1

Friday, 2012 February 10 :  Jeremy joins the New Mexico club as he becomes a California resident. Venturing to the California DMV to get a California drivers license, since his New Mexico license expires this month, he finds the office surprisingly efficient. Before he knows it, he has paid, taken the written test, and been fingerprinted and photographed. The clerk who graded the test informs him he has passed, asks for his New Mexico license, looks at it and her computer screen, and informs him that he will have to take the road test, just to make sure he actually knows how to drive. By way of explanation, she adds, "It's because your old license is from out of country." Taken aback, Jeremy eventually replies, "Oh. ... No, New Mexico is actually part of the United States." Blank stare. Jeremy expands, "Really. It's just east of Arizona." The clerk is flustered, but recovers sufficiently to blame the episode on the person who processed Jeremy initially, who is said to have entered his information incorrectly.

An historical note: Every New Mexican eventually joins the club. Carl joined 20 years ago as the family transitioned from Southern California to New Mexico. He and his PhD student, Shang Song, were mailing boxes of work-related material to UNM from the post office across the street from Carl's office at the University of Southern California. Shang returned from the post office with a sheaf of forms for Carl to sign. After signing half a dozen, Carl paused to examine one of the forms and discovered they were customs declarations.

Sunday, 2012 February 12 :  Eleanor takes a morning train from Cambridge to London and meets Uncle Kenny and Aunt Mary for a day of celebration of Kenny's 60th birthday. The party begins with lunch at a sushi restaurant in Kensington called Yashin, whose schtick is the absence of soy sauce. The hole is filled by all sorts of inventive sauces and marinades, and the sushi is delicious. After lunch, the group saunters through Hyde Park, past the enormous Albert Memorial, and across Kensington Road to Royal Albert Hall for a matinee performance of a show called Totem by the Cirque du Soleil troupe. Themed on the evolution of mankind, the show is a magnificent example of what a circus ought to be. After the performance, the group adjourns to nearby Launceston Place for a three-course dinner. Eleanor starts with poached duck egg on toast with a truffle sauce, continues to a main of spinach and ricotta tortellini, and finishes with an apple tart accompanied by fresh clotted cream. Farctate, Kenny and Mary head back to Tackley, and Eleanor takes the train to Cambridge, arriving at her Downing College room at midnight after a very full day.

Friday, 2012 February 24 :  Eleanor turns 23 and celebrates with a birthday pot luck hosted by friends Alyssa Read and Brett Kennedy at their off-college Downing housing. The 25 attendees are an international potpourri, and thus so is the food. Everyone is asked to bring either a vegetarian dish from their home country, a dessert, or drinks. Eleanor and visiting friend Kate Lewis, whom she met at Woods Hole last summer, make jalapeno diego quiche, rice and black-bean salad, and a lemon cheesecake. Others bring halloumi cheese bread (Cyprus), mac 'n' cheese (America), manchego cheese (Spain), and Dutch brussels sprouts (Holland). With all the emphasis on food, Eleanor receives some chocolate, a cupcake cookbook, and a cookbook provocatively titled 100 Reasons to Love British Food.

Sunday, 2012 March 4 :  Karen, Janet Gaines, and Rachel Grey snowshoe along the trails at the Enchanted Forest, outside Red River. The day is sunny and warm, the sky is the deep blue of the Rockies, and the snow is deep.

Sunday, 2012 March 11 :  Carl, arrived in Brisbane a week ago, pedals along the Kedron Brook Trail, through the Boondall Wetlands, and on to the Pacific at Shorncliffe. He is rewarded by a sighting of a Brahminy kite patrolling the shoreline at Cabbage Tree Head.

Roque Sanchez gives Jeremy and Karen Leu a personal tour of the White House in the afternoon. Roque is a White House intern, with an office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across the street from the White House, where he works for the Office of Climate Change and Energy (part of the Domestic Policy Council). President Obama not being in, Jeremy and Karen get a glimpse of the Oval Office; Jeremy is impressed by the framed photos on the wall, taken by the White House photographer, which show the President doing the official things a President does. The Roosevelt Room, a meeting room near the Oval Office, displays a grand set of portraits of former presidents. Jeremy's chief impression is how small the West Wing is and how low the ceilings are, perhaps what is to be expected for what is, after all, government work.

Sunday, 2012 March 18 :  We all hook up by Skype---10:45 pm in Cambridge, 4:45 pm in Albuquerque, 3:45 pm in Palo Alto, and 8:45 am (Monday) in Brisbane---for an hour-and-twenty-minute conversation, to exchange recent experiences and to discuss plans for the summer. It now appears that we might all be able to meet in Europe in the latter half of July, with Jeremy coming from field work in Mongolia and Karen and Carl flying from Albuquerque.

Saturday, 2012 March 24 :  Jeremy and three friends, Mandy McLean, Dana Thomas, and Mollie Petit, fellow Stanford graduate students, are in the middle of a week-long trip to the Owens Valley and Death Valley. Today they climb 11,331-foot Telescope Peak, the high point of the Panamint Range, which bounds Death Valley on the west. It's a spectacular day, high clouds shielding the party from direct sunlight as they wend their way up the mountain to the snow-covered reaches just below the peak. From the top, they gaze down into the furnace of Badwater Basin, below sea level, and then turn around to view Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous 48.

Friday, 2012 March 30 :  Eleanor and nine friends from Downing College enjoy a dinner of cheese fondue at the source. They are in Chamonix in the French Alps, in the shadow of massive Mont Blanc, participating in the Cambridge Graduate Union spring skiing trip. They arrived a week ago, having taken a bus to Dover, a ferry across the Channel, and another bus to Chamonix. All the skiing here is above tree line, in big bowls on the north side of Mont Blanc, with grand views of the Chamonix valley and into Switzerland. The weather has been ridiculously warm, and the group has generally been in T-shirts as they explore the slopes of the four Chamonix ski areas. Downhill skiing has an uphill side, of course, and Eleanor has been introduced to the button lift, a sort of frisbee that you sit on, with a pole between your legs, as you are dragged up the slope. Tonight there is traditional fondue in a pot and a raclette, a big slab of firm cheese, melting under a heat lamp as you scrape ...  Much more

P.S. The photos show
Karen snowshoeing in the Enchanted Forest;
Karen and Carl pausing on the ascent of the La Luz Trail;
a puffin at Sumburgh Head;
Eleanor and Karen on the cliffs at Hermaness National Nature Reserve on Unst;
Eleanor, Karen, and Ivan Deutsch on the cog railway from Puchberg to Hochschneeberg;
Jeremy skipping across the cog railway tracks with a just-acquired pastry;
Carl and Eleanor near the top of Schneeberg;
Karen, Jeremy, and Ivan enjoying pre-dinner drinks at the Cafe Restaurant Kahlenberg;
Carl and Eleanor in fly-avoidance gear at Lake Bindegolly;
Carl, Sherry, Doug, Jeremy, Eleanor, and Karen above Adalvik Bay;
Jeremy and Eleanor in a heroic pose on the cliff overlooking Isafjardardjup;
Eleanor, Karen, Jeremy, and Carl in Askja's middle caldera;
Karen surveying a minor waterfall during our return from Askja;
Eleanor birding on Heimaey;
and the rattlesnake in the yard.

2012 February 5

Sunday, 2010 July 4 :  Carl arrives at the Brisbane Airport from LA early in the morning, proceeds by train to Toowong, only to find his apartment at the Toowong Villas not yet available. He walks the two blocks to the Coffee Club, where he enjoys a breakfast of toast and eggs and takes advantage of the free wireless to Skype with Eleanor on Saipan and Karen in Albuquerque.

Just over three weeks into their extended trek along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), Jeremy, Erin Morrison, and Roque Sanchez celebrate Independence Day by conquering Muir Pass. Over the last week they have traversed the Sierra's still snowy high internal passes. The first, Forester Pass, was the toughest: after slogging across two miles of morainal flats covered in deep, post-holing snow, they ignored the trail and hacked their way directly up the 600-foot headwall to the pass, where they were able to glissade for half a mile down the steep north side. After Forester Pass came Glen Pass, Pinchot Pass, Mather Pass, and today the last, Muir Pass. The pass is broad and long, too gentle for glissading, so they are forced to slog across 7.5 miles of snow, the longest stretch of snow of the trek. Fortunately, they have perfected the ability to tread as lightly as possible to avoid post-holing thigh-deep in the deep snow.

Friday, 2010 July 9 :  Jeremy, Erin, and Roque detour to the Iva Bell Hot Springs, a series of hot pools strung along the head of Fish Valley. Small and hard to find, the pools are a welcome respite from weeks of cold water, and the party spends two hours luxuriating in the second-highest of the pools. Perched 500 feet above the valley floor, they soak in the warmth and the superb view of the distant Clark Range extending south from Yosemite Valley.

Saturday, 2010 July 10:  Eleanor dives at the Blue Hole, a tunnel in a submerged limestone plateau on the west side of Guam. Entering the 25-by-35-foot opening at about 60 feet, she descends another 70 feet and exits through a window onto the side of the plateau. The water is crystal clear, and the limestone wall provides a ghostly backdrop for ...  Much more

P.S. The photos of Jeremy show him in Israel's Negev Desert at the Makhtesh (literally, "crater,'' though it's not a crater at all, but rather a crater-shaped erosional feature), overlooking the hoodoos at Chiricahua National Monument in southern Arizona, and perched atop Sheepshead Peak in the Sangres, with Truchas looming behind. The landscape changes some, but Jeremy changes not at all as he goes from one side of the world to the other. Eleanor appears doing research in the Marianas, on the flanks of Mount Lemmon behind Tucson, in the uncharacteristic pose of Teddy Roosevelt, though she is thinner and certainly more attractive, and in the winter wonderland behind King's College with South African friend Stuart Scott. Karen is waiting in the rain, along with Jeremy, for the 2011 Pomona College commencement to begin, and Carl is celebrating his 60th birthday in the company of a Harris's hawk.

2010 July 1

Monday, 2008 September 9 :  Hurricane Ike roars through Houston shortly after midnight as a Category 2 hurricane. The eye went right over Galveston, saving it and Houston from the worst destruction, but condemning the Bolivar Peninsula, on the east side of Galveston Bay, to devastation. Between 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm yesterday evening, Jeremy watched as transformers and power lines near Wiess College went down, hissing and spitting, and then, along with the rest of the residents of Wiess, he retreated to the Wiess servery for the night. Dawn reveals a Rice campus of downed trees and branches, but no major damage.

Saturday, 2008 October 18 :  Carl is visiting Rice as he returns from giving a colloquium at LSU. Today Jeremy organizes a birding trip to prime sites south of Houston near the Gulf in the company of expert birders Cin-Ty Lee, Rice professor of Earth Science, and Blake Dyer, Rice junior. At the tiny Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary, they spot a couple of common ground-doves, a dickcissel, a white-tailed kite, and a white-tailed hawk, but the best birding turns out to be in the vast wetland at the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, not far west of the tip of Galveston Island. For Carl, the most memorable sightings are an American bittern and a crested caracara, neither of which he has seen before, but there is also a smug satisfaction when the experts get excited over a distant pink shape, speculating about a roseate spoonbill, only to discover it is an errant pink balloon.

Monday, 2008 October 20 :  Eleanor and ten companions take advantage of Pomona's Fall Break to spend a long weekend camping and exploring in Death Valley. Today the group hikes into the low mountains on the east side of the Valley, past several abandoned mines and ending at Zabriskie Point, where they have a grand view of nearby badlands, the Valley, and the high Panamint Range that bounds the Valley on the west. ...  Much more

P.S. The photos show Eleanor under attack on the Farallons---you knew there was a reason for that hard hat---and taking advantage of the diving in Guam, Jeremy with fellow birder and Rice professor Cin-Ty Lee at the Rice commencement, Karen and Jeremy packing up after commencement, Karen with her pal at the Charles Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa, and in lieu of a picture of Carl, the considerably handsomer cassowary he met at Cassowary House.

2008 September 1

Tuesday, 2007 February 6 :  Eleanor wins first place in the New Mexico section of the 2007 National High School Essay Contest sponsored by the United Nations Association. Her essay, on the required, but unwieldy topic, "What should the United States do to improve maternal health and ensure that Millennium Development Goal Five can be reached by 2015?," was written over the Winter Break, when she could receive gratuitous advice from Karen, Carl, and Jeremy. Her essay becomes the New Mexico entrant in the national competition.

Tuesday, 2007 February 8 :  Jeremy attends a speech by Bill Clinton at Autry Court on the Rice campus. Rice's Baker Institute sponsors the address, and members of the Baker Institute Student Forum, one of whom is Jeremy, are authorized to ask Clinton questions after the talk. One provocative question is, "Since we're at the Baker Institute, and you're sitting next to Jim Baker, what do you think of his role in stealing the 2000 election?" Jeremy reports that after some hesitation, Clinton whispers the response, "Life's greatest curses are answered prayers." Curse indeed.

Friday, 2007 February 9 :&nsbp;&nsbp;Eleanor is named a National Merit Scholar.  Much more

P.S. The photos show Jeremy surveying the spectacular scenery along the Grinnell Glacier Trail in Glacier National Park, Jeremy in a lavalava with Selai and Foga Levao in Samoa, Eleanor in her element, Eleanor with her just captured turtle, and Karen and Carl at the narrow neck that connects North and South Bruny Islands.

2007 January 15

Saturday, 2005 April 16 :  Carl, working in his garden for the first time this year, bends over to transplant a desert marigold and feels a sudden, sharp stab in the rump. He turns around just in time to see a curved-bill thrasher preparing for a second strike and so moves quickly away from the very prickly cholla where a thrasher couple is tending a brood of three nestlings.

Tuesday, 2005 April 19 :  Jeremy returns from three days in Santa Fe, where he won the Best Senator and Best Bill Presentation awards at a Youth and Government meeting. His bill was aimed at energy conservation.

Friday, 2005 May 6 :  Eleanor attends the La Cueva High School end-of-year band banquet and learns that she has been selected as a Drill Master for the low brass section in next year's band. In the fall she will mainly be in charge of organizing sectional rehearsals for the low brass section of the marching band.  Much more

P.S. If you think too many days in this diary started way too early, you're right, but on any school day, Karen, Carl, and Eleanor get up at 5:30 am to get Eleanor off to band practice. The photos show Eleanor on the Amazon and Jeremy on the CT.

2005 April 1

Saturday, 2003 October 4 :  Carl rides his bike along the Tramway trail early in the morning on the first day of the 2003 Balloon Fiesta. Emerging from behind the Sandias, the sun shines fitfully through ragged clouds, and a light rain, little more than enough to wet the ground, falls on the bikers and joggers and walkers on the trail. As the sun clears a cloud, a rainbow grows out of the horizon, ...  Much more

P.S. The photo shows us, along with artist Janet Long Nakamarra, in the Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery in Darwin. Ms. Long painted the spectacular canvas behind us---wouldn't you just love to have it---and also the one we're holding, of which Jeremy is the proud new owner.

2003 October 1

Saturday, 2002 August 31 :  We're spending the Labor Day weekend at southern Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. We have a big group, seventeen in all, including us, the Greys, and the Hollingers from Albuquerque and the Oster-Beals from Denver. Our chief objective is to test the Australian method of sand tobogganing on the Great Sand Dunes, which are among the biggest dunes in the world. We experienced the Aussie technique on Moreton Island, a sand island just off the coast at Brisbane: you lie chest down on a thin masonite board, lightly waxed on the bottom with a candle, and slide down, holding the front of the board up out of the sand to avoid a catastrophic blast of sand in the face. Steering is not an option. The technique works beautifully, just as it did in Oz. We have some great descents down steep dunes, and Eleanor and Aaron Oster-Beal experience memorable wipe-outs on a dune that is far too big for this activity. ...  Much more

P.S. The photos show J in the Sawtooths, K and C in front of E's cabin at CIMI, and E dressed to kill.

2002 August 1

Monday, 2001 January 8 :  Karen returns to the work force, working part time as an attorney at the Sutin law firm in Albuquerque.

Saturday, 2001 March 31 :  Jeremy, Eleanor, and Carl end the season with a day of spring skiing at Ski Santa Fe, the eleventh day for Jeremy and Carl this season. A discovery this year ...  Much more

P.S. More for your money this year: nineteen months for the price of a year. The photo shows us all in our costumes for Eleanor's bat mitzvah party.

2001 January 1

Saturday, 2001 January 1 :  Jeremy becomes a Bar Mitzvah today. He gives a rousing speech on how to avoid the enslavement the Israelites endured in Egypt. A free-lance AP reporter, accompanied by a news photographer, covers the service, the second U.S. Bar Mitzvah of the new millennium. ...  Much more

P.S. The photo shows the four of us, all flashing award-winning smiles and all but Jeremy wearing sunnies, cruising through the Katherine Gorge in Oz's Northern Territory. Thanks to Abby Hellwarth for the photo.

2000 January 4

1999 January 9 :  Today finds us at El Malpais National Monument, west of Albuquerque. The Monument encompasses an extensive area of lava flows, beneath which a network of lava tubes extends for miles. We intend to explore the Four Windows Tube, to make plans for Jeremy's birthday party, which will be held deep in the Tube three weeks hence. We set off across the flow on a crisp, but clear mid-winter day and quickly discover that this kind of hiking requires constant attention, partly because it's easy to get lost, but also because the surface consists of jagged rocks, some of which tilt and sway under foot.  Much more

P.S. The photo shows Karen, Eleanor, and Jeremy outside the Jelly Belly factory, celebrating the acquisition of several sacks of Belly Flops.

1998 December 15

1998 January 8 :  Uncle Doug, Aunt Sherry, and cousin Josie are living for a year in Costa Rica, at a place called Monteverede in the cloud forest of the central highlands. Eleven days ago we flew to San Jose with Carl's parents, where we joined Doug's family for a tour of Costa Rica's wide range of terrians, climates, and flora and fauna. Carl got a taste of the '60's driving a rented '69 Volkswagen van. The van and its occupants survived the pot-holed secondary roads and the national test of machismo called the Pan-American Highway, but Karen always opted for security over excitement by riding in the safety of Doug's fortress-like Toyota Land Cruiser. ...   Much more

In the photo Jeremy and Eleanor confront a thorny problem in the teddy-bear cholla garden. Watch out! The spines on those deceptively cuddly "jumping cholla" can jump right out of the snapshot.

1997 November 27

1997 February 16 :  A Sunday with no Religious School prompts us to try downhill skiing at Sandia Peak. It's a sunny day, warm enough even at 10,000 feet. Resuming skiing after a thirteen-year hiatus, Carl breaks nothing and decides skiing is not a bad idea. Jeremy and Eleanor take a day of lessons, from which they emerge enthusiastic for more. Karen steadfastly refuses to try skiing, but enjoys relaxing with a book at the base lodge. All agree we should take advantage of this convenient skiing opportunity, which can be reached from our house by a 45-minute drive or by trekking just half a mile to the Sandia Peak Tram and taking it to the top of the slopes.  Much more

P.S. The photo shows Jeremy and Eleanor, windblown and suntanned, watching for marine life in the Santa Barbara Channel from the deck of the Condor.

1997 January 1

1996 January 5 :  A long day of travel, begun before sunrise in Hawai'i, ends after dark as we pull into our driveway in Albuquerque, patches of snow reminding us that it's winter. Carl's parents, accompanied by their children and grandchildren, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with nine days in Hawai'i, three days among the volcanoes on the Big Island and six days at Kapalua Bay on the northwest coast of Maui. The party of fifteen, ranging in age from six to 72, provided compelling evidence for Newton's First Law---that's the one about inertia---but nonetheless enjoyed a wide range of activities, including turtle watching, swimming, surfing and body surfing, hiking, sightseeing, bird watching, snorkeling, horseback riding, a luau, and memorable whale watching.  Much more

A stop at the National Academy of Sciences nets the photo of Jeremy and Eleanor resting on Einstein's capacious lap.

1996 July 16

Dear Jeremy and Eleanor,

This is a blow-by-blow---or spout-by-spout---account of our trip to Hawai'i to celebrate Grandpa and Grandma's 50th wedding anniversary. The letter was written over a period of six months, beginning shortly after our return from Hawai'i. It represents to some extent the collective memory of all the participants in the trip. Undoubtedly more incidents and experiences could be included, but much is here. I specifically don't mention each game of hearts and dominoes and Skip-Bo nor each of the pineapples that we consumed, so I summarize at the outset by saying that there was plenty of all of these, especially dominoes and pineapples.  Much more

Although the above was not a diary letter, I include it because I like it.

1995 November 25

1994 December 23 :  A wintry dusk, clouds stretching from horizon to horizon, the light grey and diffuse. The Sun hides from those hurrying along I-25, deep in the Rio Grande Valley, first behind clouds and then, as it sets, behind the West Mesa. Suddenly, a narrow band stretching along the base of the Sandias flares the deep red of dying embers. The Sun, reluctant to surrender in this Land of the Sun, has found a crack between clouds and earth and lit a lingering fire, which fades slowly and then goes out.  Much more

Embarking after lunch, we climb through desert scrub and pine forest to the upper reaches of La Luz Canyon (see photo). There we discover aspen gold shimmering amidst the dark green of firs, all set against a background of pink Sandia granite and a cloudless blue sky.

1994 December 13

"My part comes first." "No, mine does." "Guys, it doesn't matter who comes first." "I said it first, Eleanor." "Jeremy, I never get to be first in this house!" "Guys, this is your dad speaking." Silence. Don't let it slip away. "I can put your parts on opposite sides of the page. There won't be any first." And so it is.  Much more

The photo shows Jeremy and Eleanor in their Purim costumes.

1993 December 4

Dear Friends,

This is an interim report on life in New Mexico. When we left Los Angeles in August of 1992, we pulled up deep roots. After transplanting ourselves to Albuquerque, we could only hope to put down new roots in the desert soil of New Mexico. It is a measure of our dissatisfaction with LA that we were willing to leave what we valued most there: our friends, our neighborhood, and our synagogue. It is a tribute to our new friends, our new neighborhood, and our new synagogue that we already feel at home in Albuquerque.  Much more

P.S1. In the snapshot, taken the first weekend in October, Jeremy and Eleanor sit amid the chamisa in full bloom in our front yard.

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