Caramelo

Feb 28 2011

caramelo cover

Each morning Uncle rolled out huge dusty towers of fresh flour tortillas for his boys and served them hot with butter and salt for breakfast, or if he was feeling daring, with peanut butter. —Nothing like a hot peanut butter taco and a cup of coffee, Uncle said.

♦♦♦

In 1915 more than half of the Mexican-American population emigrated from the Valley of Texas into war-torn Mexico fleeing the Texas Rangers, rural police ordered to suppress an armed rebellion of Mexican Americans protesting Anglo-American authority in South Texas. Supported by U.S. cavalry, their bullying led to the death of hundreds, some say thousands of Mexicans and Mexican Americans, who were executed without trial. The end result was that Mexican-owned land was cleared, allowing development by Anglo newcomers. So often were Mexicans killed at the hands of the “Rinches,” that the San Antonio Express-News said it “has become so commonplace” that “it created little or no interest.” Little or no interest unless you were Mexican.

From Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

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Snow Day

Feb 10 2011

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Easter in West Texas

Jan 21 2011

Last Easter (2010), Brad and I took a road trip several hours west to the desert land of Monahans, Texas. Brad needed to take some photos for an art project he was working on, and I decided I wanted to take some photos too.

We visited the Monahans Sandhills State Park to take some photos of the desert terrain. It was surreal watching truckloads of visitors frolicking in the sand as if they were enjoying a nice day at the beach. But it’s at least 10 hours to the nearest coast.

Sand Dwellers

Majicki Bug 2

Sand Hills - Oil Rig

Monahans Sand Hills

Sand Hills Photographer

Sand Hills Photographer

Sand Hills Photographer

Sand Hills Photographer

Monahans Sand Hills

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Blue Cords

Jan 19 2011

I don’t know why, but I really just want a pair of blue corduroy pants. I have a pair of brown corduroys that I bought at Forever 21 a couple of months ago, and I’d live in them if I could. They are so comfy and fit perfectly. Unfortunately, they no longer carry them. Zara only carries a similar color. And I want blue!

Am I crazy? They look pretty good, don’t they?

Blue Cords

So Bonobos is the only place I’ve seen that carries them, but they only have them in boot cut. They’ve got brighter shades of blue, which is what I was originally thinking, but I think I like this color just fine. They are $98 though … and that’s a boat load of cash for a pair of pants.

But they are nice though. And I really like this sweater (Gant Rugger), but it’s $135 (or $126 at Blackbird… still really pricey though).

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All Sewn Up

Jan 19 2011

Exquisite Corpse

So I am now in full recovery from last Friday’s surgery. All went well, although the doctor said he had to cut a little deeper than he had planned. And while I do have some internal stitches, I have to be careful because the main incision is on the surface and must be left open to heal on its own.

Today was my first day back in the office, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. But by 4:30, I was definitely ready to go home. Recovery’s been OK. I’m not in too much pain, and changing the dressings is only mildly annoying. The worst part, though, is the anesthesiologist caught my bottom lip between my teeth and the metal instrument they used during intubation, and now I have these enormous painful lip cuts from hell.

But it’s over. Hopefully, this means all my health problems will gone within a few weeks. Last month’s tooth abscess seems to have cleared up since I got the root canal, and once this incision heals, I shouldn’t have any more pain or constant infection from the undying cyst. Even my physical back in October reported that my extremely low Vitamin D levels had improved to normal. And of course, I’m still at my ideal weight (even if I’m on hiatus from the gym because of surgery).

Yes, 2010 was all about expelling the ill and trimming the fat… This year I get to focus on the good stuff.

IMG SRC: Cadavre exquis

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Reason #10,000,001 US Healthcare Sucks As-is

Jan 11 2011

I have very good insurance, but a high deductible ($5,000). My employer got us secondary insurance for gap coverage on our deductible, which means they cover $4,000 of it — I’m effectively left with a $1,000 deductible. This means, I pay $1,000 for my upcoming surgery. OK. Fine.

But the hospital wants payment up-front. Which means, they won’t wait for my insurance to process the claim, or my gap coverage to pay the remainder of my deductible. So, I have to pay the full amount up-front, sans the $473 allowable on my primary insurance.

Confused yet … or just pissed off?

UPDATE

Well, it’s a good thing I’ve got insurance. Total cost of upcoming surgery is $8,716.31. I am responsible for $1,000. IF I didn’t have insurance, the cost of surgery would be more than $24,000. Tell me, how are low-income citizens supposed to afford healthcare?

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Don Kenn’s Monsters

Dec 19 2010

Don Kenn Gallery

A friend just turned me onto Don Kenn Gallery, a blog featuring the monster doodles of Danish children’s television writer/director John Kenn Mortenson. The imagery is a bit macabre, but has an innocence that adds a bit of fantasy. I like it. I especially like that these are all done on Post-It notes, my own canvas of choice.

http://johnkenn.blogspot.com/

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Hello, Holidays

Dec 16 2010

Happy Holidays!

Well, I’ve had a few posts started, but haven’t mustered the energy to finish them. So I’ll just gloss over the past few weeks… Thanksgiving in the Valley was wonderful, came back with a swollen face due to an abscessed tooth. Had the root canal this past Monday and also saw the doctor about removing this cyst on my upper leg, which turns out is a larger (though not life-threatening) problem, which will be taken care of early next year. Work has been alright; I’m just ready for this year to be done with.

One of the great things about the past few weeks is that Brad and I have, once again, been able to hang out with our friends. Kat is one of my good friends that I met during my semester in Italy. She and her boyfriend Ryan live in Dallas, and we’ve finally been able to get our schedules in sync. Our mutual friend Kelly is in Dallas until the end of the year, and it’s been amazing to just hang out like we did back in Italy.

As a holiday gift, Kat bought us the paper wreath kit. The outcome is pictured above. We had a great evening of crafting and chatting, and even though it took a couple of “do-overs,” it came out beautiful. Monday, Brad and I put up the Christmas Tree, made some cookies, and yesterday we got all of our gift shopping done.

The holidays are here, and I’m ready to put all the dentist and doctor stuff aside, and just concentrate on what matters… family, friends, peace and love.

Christmas Decor 2010 - 1

Christmas Decor 2010 - 6

Christmas Decor 2010 - 3

Christmas Decor 2010 - 2

Christmas Decor 2010 - 8

Christmas Decor 2010 - 9

Christmas Decor 2010 - 10

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Rochester

Nov 17 2010

They say that Texas has unbeatable home prices, but after extensive house hunting this past summer, Brad and I were dismayed that in order to get something even half way decent in Dallas, we were going to have to make a lot of sacrifices. Small, older two bedroom/one bathroom homes in remote, questionable neighborhoods start right around the $100,000 mark. And many new constructions lack the character and detail that we desire, and they are still out of our price range. The search was frustrating and a factor in choosing to put off buying until the time was right.

Brad and I are constantly in search for the right place we can call home. A place where we’ll be paid fairly, where we can own a home for a decent price, and where we’ll have a high quality of life with culture and entertainment. It looks like Rochester, New York may be just the place.

The home pictured below is being offered for $72,900. It’s described as a ready to move in Colonial with new kitchen, new maple cabinets, new counters & ceramic tile. Updated main plumbing lines, circuit breakers & windows. Recently refinished hardwoods. New paint, light fixtures, two remodeled baths, a garage and large backyard!

True it isn’t the absolute best neighborhood in Rochester, but it isn’t the worst either. And judging from Google’s street view, it actually looks like a great neighborhood.



Beautiful period woodwork and gleaming hardwoods!



Completely renovated bathrooms!



A beautifully updated kitchen.



A nice spacious living area.



A large backyard with storage garage!

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Music and Family

Nov 12 2010

Mikey with Parents

A nice, quiet end to an eventful week! As I mentioned earlier, the Resounding Harmony Singers performed “A Suppertime Celebration” on Wednesday evening at the Myerson Symphony Center here in Dallas. This was my first performance with the group. We’ve been practicing for this concert since August, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. The music was fantastic. I had an incredible time. It’s been longer than 12 years since I sang in a choir, and all the joy just came rushing back. I expected to be nervous on stage, but I couldn’t have been more excited. It was wonderful. We sang our hearts out… and all for a good cause. Thanks to ticket sales, fundraisers and donations, we raised more than 200,000 meals for the North Texas Food Bank!

One of the best parts of this experiences was having my parents see me perform. They live more than 500 miles away and don’t have much money, so it’s rare that I even get to see them. They haven’t been to Dallas since last year. I really wanted them to see the show, so I bought them tickets front and center and they made the trek up here. They enjoyed it thoroughly. This was also the first time Brad has seen me perform on stage. Of course, he’s used to me singing songs from The Little Mermaid at the top of my lungs in the shower. But this was a whole new experience for him. I’m so happy he enjoyed it.

It was so nice to have my parents over for a visit. It was too quick, but Brad and I will be down in the Valley for Thanksgiving. That, too, will be a quick visit. But it’ll be nice to be with my sisters, nieces and nephew and all the family I rarely get to see.

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