Saturday, July 19, 2008

Home again

Flying in to Albuquerque Friday evening, looking down on the lights and the Rio Grande.

The last trip home we had a breathtaking sunset of endless shades of lavender and peach among all manner of misty clouds and atmosphere. I thus sat at a window seat with my camera in hand this flight. Not as spectacular but I was still rewarded with something ABQ is known for - a great desert sunset.

Two blocks from my house this morning: a balloon having touched down. I grabbed this quick shot before hanging a left and going my way.

I pulled over on Alameda near the Balloon Fiesta Park to take a distance shot. Those little bumps in the far distance are (currently) dormant volcanoes. They mark the west as the Sandias mark the east.

This is Corrales Road, the road to my best friend's house.

And this is the gate to the front garden of my best friend's house.

And this is my best friend Bill, having risen from weeding among the strawberries.

Which are very happy. And tasty (based on a sample of one).

The onion family is well represented.

And corn for later this summer!

Here you have typical New Mexico adobe home architecture across the street from our mission's new location.
Speaking of which, lo and behold! Here is where I will be preaching tomorrow morning. My dear friend Diane gave me the idea for the sermon, so h/t to her.

The coyotes announce my arrival back in town.

This is a close-up of cottonwood leaves. Los alamos are part of the poplar family and the leaves flutter much like quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides). Oh dear, when I do something like this from memory I worry that taxonomic terminology has evolved since I learned it but I will stick with this and resist the temptation to google it immediately.

And here is a shot from early in my midday walk (more of that later) showing the Sandias Mountains which are, in my opinion, the soul of Albuquerque (along with the Rio Grande flowing through it).

So a further reflection is that as a western boy who always could see mountains in the distance (well, always on clear days), I really do need to live near mountains. Western style mountains, not low hills. But then, I grew up spending my summers in the Sierra Nevada, so it's little wonder that mountains are, for me, like roots, anchoring me to the land.
--the BB

Not an endorsement but....

It will come as no surprise to sentient beings that Obama's suggestion for withdrawing from Iraq, corresponding as it does with long-known Iraqi sentiment, was approved by the Iraqi Prime Minister.
“Iraq PM backs Obama troop exit plan,” the headline read over a story about an interview of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki in the German magazine Der Spiegel, in which he expressed support for the senator’s plan to withdraw American combat brigades from Iraq over the next 16 months.

That is from a NY Times article noting that the White House accidentally sent out this news, thereby ensuring it would be widespread. Oopsy.

The Associated Press is less than subtle with this headline:
Iraqi PM says US should leave as soon as possible

This may come as news to some die-hard believers in the fantasies of warhawks. Some with long memories, good google skills, or the right resources may note that McCain once believed that if the Iraqis want us to leave that is what we should do. That was back in 2004 but it may as well have been last week, given McSame's proclivity for changing positions.

More NOLA with ABQ to come

Where Mimi and I had brunch a while back. So nice.

This is just to tide you all over until I download the pics I took today here in New Mexico. Need to chill a bit, get some liquid into me (all that walking in the sunshine, you know), find where I put the camera-to-laptop cord.

If anyone wants to buy a 4-bedroom house in SW Albuquerque - no, not mine, the one next door to me - the neighbors are moving out this weekend. They are going to rent it but really hope to sell it.
--the BB

Friday, July 18, 2008

Synchronicity at work - big time

This is just too totally awesome. It has been almost a month since the last time we had a first-time visitor from a new nation (or a new flag for our virtual collection).

I just logged in at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and saw that the counter showed 126 countries. Where would our new guest be?


Now, are y'all sitting down? My driver to the airport is from Mostar. He just gave me a small Bosnian flag on the drive. The flag is in my briefcase. And I just learned to say Zdravo (hello) and Fala (thank you).

A very hearty welcome to today's new visitor and any future guests from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Zdravo!

The driver, to whom I dedicate this post, though I do not know his name, also popped in a CD of Bosnian music that was lovely to listen to.

From Wikipedia:

Bosnia (Bosnian/Croatian (Latin script): Bosna i Hercegovina, Serbian (Cyrillic script): Босна и Херцеговина) is a country on the Balkan peninsula of Southern Europe with an area of 51,129 square kilometres (19,741 sq mi). The last official census in 1991 recorded 4.4 million people, which was prior to the 1992-1995 war, while an unofficial census in 1996 by UNHCR recorded a post-war population of 3.9 million. Its 2007 residential population is estimated at approximately 4 million. Formerly one of the six federal units constituting the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina gained its independence during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Bosnia and Herzegovina can be described as a federal democratic republic that is transforming its economy into a market-oriented system, and it is a potential candidate for membership in the European Union and NATO.

Here is your visual tour!

I can only guess at a few words of this but the music is soothing and I am all about balm for souls these days.

Perhaps you are needing something more energetic and modern feeling with a touch of modern dance thrown in?

Zehra Deović singing MOJ DILBERE

--the BB

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's back!

For tonight, anyway. Yes, it's Thursday Constitution Blogging.

You may have thought it would be about the recent FISA vote in the Senate or some court decisions relating to the rights of prisoners and captives but it is much more mundane this evening.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
While being driven about last Sunday afternoon I saw some beads hanging from telephone wires.

I asked Belle and Maggie if they knew anything about this. With a very offended air they informed their old man that, on the advice of Carlo Verro, Esq., the family attorney, they were claiming the Fifth Amendment on the grounds that anything they said might - with heavy emphasis on "might" as if to say it would certainly not conclusively do so - tend (more emphasis) to incriminate them.

They then smiled as if to say "gotcha, Mr. Constitution Blogger."

I have very lippy, but beautiful, daughters.

Pray for New Orleans. People are not only still working hard to recover from Katrina but Belle and Maggie will be here this weekend without parental supervision.

[Carlo, the family boar, and a scruffily handsome one at that, is the attorney of this clan. He has also been known to play nurse when daddies were feeling under the weather.]
--the BB

Un peu plus de Nouvelle Orléans

Never just a number

AP: More US troops may go to Afghanistan this year
Pentagon leaders on Wednesday signaled a surge in U.S. forces in Afghanistan "sooner rather than later" ? a shift that could come later this year as they prepare to cut troop levels in Iraq.

07/16/08 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (4 of 4)
The DoD announced today the death of nine soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died of wounds suffered when their outpost was attacked by small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades from enemy forces in Wanat

07/16/08 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 4)
1st Lt. Jonathan P. Brostrom, 24, of Hawaii,
Sgt. Israel Garcia,
24, of Long Beach, Calif.,
Cpl. Jonathan R. Ayers, 24, of Snellville, Ga.

07/16/08 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 4)
Cpl. Jason M. Bogar, 25, of Seattle, Wash.,
Cpl. Jason D. Hovater, 24, of Clinton, Tenn.,
Cpl. Matthew B. Phillips, 27, of Jasper, Ga.

07/16/08 : DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 4)
Cpl. Pruitt A. Rainey, 22, of Haw River, N.C.
Cpl. Gunnar W. Zwilling, 20, of Florissant, Mo.
Pfc. Sergio S. Abad, 21, of Morganfield, Ky.

07/16/08 AJC: Snellville man dies in Afghanistan
His parents had already begun buying decorations for Jon Ayers' homecoming party. The Army corporal was due to return to Snellville in three weeks. He had but one week remaining on his first tour of Afghanistan.


Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Lance Cpl. Jeffery S. Stevenson, 20, of Newton, N.J., died July 13 from a non-hostile incident in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force...

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Staff Sgt. David W. Textor, 27, of Roanoke, Va., died Jul 15 in Mosul, Iraq, of injuries suffered from a vehicle incident. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Lewis, Wash.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. Vrooman, 28, of Sioux Falls, S.D., died Jul 15 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated while his unit was conducting combat operations in Kn'an, Iraq.

MNF: MNF-W Marine dies of wounds
A Multi-National Force - West Marine died of wounds he received in action against an enemy force in al-Anbar Province July 14.

Corporal Jason M. Bogar, mentioned above, was the son of a friend of KJ, someone denizens of OCICBW know and care about. We are all linked in the web of life on this planet. I wrote in the comments there that "Though I track the toll on my blog I am aware that they are not numbers, not a single one of them. They are our brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, spouses and partners, fathers and mothers, cousins, friends, neighbors, buds, companions, beloved children of God."

As are all the dead and the living, good or evil or in the vast somewhere in the middle.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy on us.

--the BB

Balm for the soul

Have you done anything lately to soothe your soul? How about a trip over to the Cunning Runt's place, Little Bang Theory, to enjoy his writing and nature photographs. That's where I stole the one above (you may see the original in all its glory at this post).

We could all use a little soothing.
--the BB

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

We note with sadness...

... the passing of Rosemary Makhulu, the wife of the Most Rev. Walter Makhulu. She was laid to rest from All Saints Church in Fullham, as reported by Jim Naughton at the Lead today.

I received a very gracious letter from Archbishop Makhulu immediately following the last Lambeth Conference. He was a bright light amid the fulminations and silliness during that go-around.

May he and she both rest in peace and rise with Christ in glory.

My coworker Jay's nephew Alfred was slain and I ask your prayers also for Alfred and the family.

Sandi's husband Louis (finally spelled correctly) is healing though he struggles with pain and the reality of losing sight in one eye. Their son arrived yesterday and I hope this helps them all.

Let's keep Kirstin in our prayers and my sister's niece Jan and Being Peace and all the rest.

For Central Africa, its nations, its peoples, its Church.

For the Lambeth Conference that the Holy Spirit may move graciously and powerfully, bringing us surprises laden with life and healing.

May we hold this world closely and tenderly in our hearts that we may be transformed into agents of peace and healing.
--the BB

Technical schmechnical

So then, why on earth would I fearfully assume that with a new camera and a connecting cord I also needed the proprietary software that comes with it just to download pics from the camera? Silly me.

Hook that sucker up and see what happens. And it works. So here are a few. I am omitting pics from last night's party to protect the few innocent and the many guilty.

I'm lovin' the French "welcome to Louisiana" Bacardi sign. How Cajun, how local, how delightful. Captured in a corner store as my carpool partner picked up a couple pieces of fried chicken for dinner.

When I got home this evening the girls appeared rather tuckered out. I try not to question them too closely about their adventures but I suspect they have seen more of greater New Orleans than I have. Given that I arrived home rather tired myself, we have declared a weary truce on sharing our days and all look forward to snuggling up for a good night's sleep.

Here are a few more downtown shots. Gotta love the iron work here. As you can see, old buildings being restored and renovated after Katrina.
I like this photo for its rhythms and colors.

And here is a row of stanchions protecting pedestrians from toppling off this raised sidewalk into the street. Granted, I have not seen those "go cups" with serious alcoholic beverages on Gravier Street but you never know. It is only two blocks from the Quarter, after all and this may be more practical than it appears. In any case, it is delightfully decorative.

Two nights from now I will be back in Albuquerque. Yay! I think a green chile cheeseburger might be in order. Or a breakfast burrito with green chile. Something with green chile. I will be preaching this Sunday at San Gabriel Episcopal Mission in Corrales and then having brunch with two very dear friends, we hope out under the cottonwoods. I hope I sneak in some dolce far niente.

And that's tonight's report.
--the BB

This little cottage blog...

... is certainly not one of the big dawgs (nor one of the episcopal ones - thank you, Jesus - they do it well without this bear).

But at some point today we passed 25000 page views since last October 7. Thanks to all the guests and regulars who come here, share stories, play, make friends, and enrich my life.
--the BB

We note with undisguised pleasure....

... that even some Republicans voted to forward the Kucinich articles of impeachment to the Judiciary Committee.


My personal fantasy is that if we kept Dubya busy defending his criminal ass he would be too distracted to start a war with Iran. Though I know that may be the very circumstance in which he would do something so unspeakably evil and stupid (both, by orders of magnitude) to distract Henry Waxman from uncovering the truth.

Meanwhile the narcissistic thug is, once again, claiming broad executive immunity to keep the truth about the Plame disclosure from coming out.

À bas la tyrannie!

--the BB

Lighter than usual

Two nights ago I headed to bed and turned out the lights at 9 p.m. Last night I was out carousing (see post below). Sunday, of course, was church and the grand tour. Lighter than usual blogging as a consequence.

I am still here and alive and reasonably well. Still taking photos (with the new camera, so download on the weekend - technical issues).

Keep the faith, keep on pushing for justice, be of good cheer, and be nice to one another.
--the BB

Submit, or else

Images courtesy of Wikipedia

A number of years back we finally got around to visiting a local historic site, Fort Point. It is situated on the tip of land by the south anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a Civil War era fort constructed to defend against enemy warships and is now administered by the National Parks Service.

In what was once the kitchen area there is a sign with text from cooking instructions from the Civil War period, stating quite authoritatively that vegetables should be cooked for several hours until they are soft and tender and easily digested.

I don't remember if we were initially gobsmacked or sent into gales of laughter but it certainly explained one (rather fallacious) theory behind much American cooking. Having discovered the joys of vegetables that still have color and texture and flavor (i.e., vegies that are lightly cooked or undercooked), we viewed this notice with humor and abhorrence.

My friend Bill's phrase for such 19th century cooking methods is vegetables "cooked into submission," the result being described as "gray." This latter is because the original bright greens (usually) have been lost.

The crowd at work, or many of us (this anti-social hermit included) went out to a restaurant last night. This exhausts my extraverted sociability budget for the quarter so it won't happen again on this project. Anyway, the broccoli arrived in mushy pale green and carrots "melted in the mouth." No crunch, almost no flavor, certainly few vitamins left. Very sad.

The lowliest line chef in California would be fired for doing this to food. No one around me seemed to notice.

I am in an alien land here.

If you ain't into fried you're somewhat out of luck. The thought of super fresh with minimal but very thoughtful preparation and fabulous presentation is not part of the general culture.

And I am reminded of how radical the "California cuisine" movement was and remains. Blessed be Alice Waters.
--the BB

Monday, July 14, 2008

À bas la tyrannie!

Anyone want to take a stab at who invested $43 million in the Taliban in the months leading up to 9/11?

Check out the answer at a vintage article at The Nation.

Then stop at Mimi's to bring things a bit more up to date.

h/t to Brandon Friedman and, before him, to Chris LeJeune.

Facts are so inconvenient.
--the BB

Sunday, July 13, 2008


9 US Soldiers Killed in Attack in Afghanistan
New York Times - 2 hours ago
By CARLOTTA GALL KABUL, Afghanistan, July 13 - Taliban insurgents mounted a large-scale attack on an American forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan in the early hours of Sunday, killing nine American soldiers in fierce fighting that continued ...
Ten foreign troops killed in Afghanistan in militant attacks AFP
Nine NATO-led soldiers die in intensified Afghan battles Xinhua

07/13/08 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Spc. Samson A. Mora, 28, of Dededo, Guam...assigned to 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard...died July 10 in Babo Kheyl, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when their vehicle was struck by an IED.

07/13/08 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Spc. Brian S. Leon Guerrero, 34, of Hagatna, Guam...assigned to 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard...died July 10 in Babo Kheyl, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when their vehicle was struck by an IED.

07/13/08 AP:
Afghan attack kills 9 U.S. troops
A multi-pronged militant assault on a small, remote U.S. base killed nine American soldiers Sunday in one of the deadliest attacks on U.S. troops since the 2001 invasion, a Western official said.

07/13/08 BBC:
At least eight US soldiers killed
At least eight US soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in clashes with Taleban militants. US commander Daniel Dwyer told the BBC the soldiers had been killed in clashes in the north-east of the country.

07/13/08 Reuters:
Coalition soldier killed in Helmand province
A roadside bomb killed a soldier from the U.S.-led coalition force on Sunday in the southern province of Helmand, the U.S. military said.

07/13/08 AFP:
Suicide attack in Afghanistan kills 24
At least 24 people were killed on Sunday in a suicide attack at a crowded bazaar in southern Afghanistan, police said, raising an earlier toll. "Some people died in the hospital. We have now 20 civilians and four police officers killed,"

07/13/08 BBC:
Forces in Afghanistan 'for years'
The UK's armed forces are set to remain in Afghanistan for "a few years", Air Chief Marshall Sir Jock Stirrup, the chief of defence staff, has said.

07/13/08 Quqnoos:
Body of NSP chief found beheaded
THE DECAPITATED body of the National Solidarity Programme’s (NSP) Nimroz chief has been found by residents three days after he went missing.
07/13/08 quqnoos: Parliment member abducted in Logar Province

GUNMEN have kidnapped a Member of Parliament in the eastern province of Logar, which borders the capital Kabul, a local official said. Dr Abdul Wali Ahmadzai, the MP for Logar, was kidnapped on Saturday morning...

07/13/08 Reuters:
4 Taliban killed, six wounded in northeastern Nuristan
Four Taliban insurgents were killed and six more were wounded in an operation by Afghan forces in northeastern Nuristan on Saturday, a district governor said.
07/13/08 Reuters: Roadside bomb kills 3 policemen in Zabul
In neighbouring Zabul, three police officers were killed when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle late on Satruday, police said.

07/13/08 Reuters:
Taliban insurgents kill two female police officers
Taliban insurgents killed two women detective police officers and dumped their bodies in a ditch in a graveyard in Ghazni province on Saturday evening, a senior provincial police officer said.

07/13/08 AP:
NATO soldier dies of wounds in Afghanistan
NATO says one of its soldiers died of wounds sustained in northern Afghanistan. NATO said in a statement that the soldier was caught in an explosion in the country's north. The alliance did not identify the soldier's nationality.

Courtesy of Operation Enduring Freedom

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The grand tour

A gracious local took me on a long drive this afternoon, allowing me to see lots of minor back streets of New Orleans. We went through the park past the New Orleans Art Museum and into neighborhoods where one of the levees broke and saw the combination of devastation and reconstruction that is nearly omnipresent here.

We walked along Lake Pontchartrain on the north side of the city.

We had beignets at the Café du Monde. See, photographic proof (though I had, at that point, tried to remove all the powdered sugar from my face).
We took lots of wrong turns and just kept going because there were always sights to see no matter how many detours. I called it "having an adventure" (my current euphemism for taking wrong turns and trying to find my way back) and he used the term "excursion."

I got to see Tremé and the Marigny (with me pronouncing the latter in Parisian French it took a while for him to figure out what the hell I was saying - I can now anglicize it into the local dialect).

This shot was taken with my hands and the camera sticking up through the sun roof while waiting at a light. A look at shops along Magazine.

A church steeple shot taken from, I believe, the intersection of Magazine and Napoleon.

And here is a shot of the Mississippi from its banks just south of the Audubon Zoo.
We then drove pretty much parallel to the river back into my neck of the woods where I could navigate by passing just blocks from where I attended Mass this morning.

This tour, which lasted several hours, would have run at least two days if I had asked to stop every time I would like to have taken pictures, so there are, in fact, only these few shots. But I got to see a lot, know some spots I'd like to revisit, and actually bought a new camera today. The old one works fine but the new one is about one fourth the size of the former and can hold about 1900 photos. I can shoot to my heart's content.

I need to have some work done on my laptop next weekend so until then we will only upload pix from the old camera. After that, look out.

Had a nice 48 minute chat this evening with my nephew back in California.

With that, it looks a lot like bed time.

I had a lovely weekend and hope y'all did too.
--the BB