Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thank you, Lady Bird

One beautiful thing about Texas

Texas has had a legacy of men who were tough and a little rough around the edges, while the women were seen as a softer, civilizing influence, providers of grace and beauty. Gender roles have become less strict since then, but back in the 1950s and '60s, this model was strong.

Pat's parents were fairly typical of the Texas upper-middle class of the era. In his younger days, the Old Soldier had run a little wild, parting ways with Texas A&M University over rules infractions and then bouncing around through miscellaneous jobs, including a stint as a rodeo cowboy. After the war, when he settled down, he was still stoic and tough.

It was his wife who provided the civilizing influence, and even a hefty dose of glamour. She had stunning good looks and a strong fashion sense, and she was active in women's activities such as the Junior League. She helped to found the McAllen Public Library.

In photos from that era, the two look like figures from the golden age of Hollywood – she was statuesque and graceful, while he was a little more rugged. No matter where they were or what they were doing – going on a cruise on a freighter, fishing on a tuna boat, traveling in Europe or South America – they were always properly dressed. They made quite the pair.

A more famous Texas couple from that era were Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. He was the tough deal-maker in the Senate, the strong leader of the country, who once got into trouble for being rough on his dogs. She, meanwhile, promoted beauty, including that of the natural world. Even before the two rose to national fame, she saw a need for Texas to make its highways beautiful. Her efforts led to the state Department of Transportation planting and encouraging wildflowers along the highways.

This time of year, spring comes to Texas. The winter Texans migrate back to Minnesota or Colorado or whatever other cold place they took refuge from over the past few months, and the wildflowers burst into bloom, aided this year by greater than average rainfall. The most famous of the flowers are probably the bluebonnets, which symbolize the whole flowers-along-the-highways project. However, there are many more sorts of flowers out there, in all different colors – red, yellow, white, pink, lavender, violet, in addition to the indigo bluebonnets. It's like looking at a carpet with multicolored swirls and patterns.

On our way home from South Texas, we stopped along the road between Three Rivers and San Antonio to photograph the profusion of colors. One thing we discovered that is not part of the experience if you just drive past: These flowers smell sweet, too.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Sending the Old Man Home

While this song may be about a sailor rather than a soldier, the sentiment is the same ...

We laid the Old Soldier to rest this morning. It was a simple ceremony, the way he wanted it -- no fancy church service or procession to the cemetery, just a graveside service with no frills. Thanks to the American Legion, he had an honor guard of other old soldiers to fire a 21-gun salute and blow Taps on a bugle for him.

We shared stories of his adventures during the war, and generally remembered him and the way he was -- he went through the Great Depression and World War II, and he never considered anything after that to be anything important. He just went about his way.

In honor of the Old Soldier, let us remember all of the veterans of that war.

Sending the old man home
By: Jimmy Buffett
They're sendin' the old man home
Back where the buffalo roam
Out in the Pacific, they say he was the best
Now he's in his "civies", headin' home like all the rest

He'll never forget Rosa Lee
Or sleepless nights he fought upon the sea
He'll only have the memories
Or great books by James Jones

'cause they're sendin' the old man home

Faraway (faraway)
Faraway (faraway)
Another life so very far away

They'll tear down the officers clubs
And write off the overdue subs
So let's drink to their memories
Our heroes and our pals
To those crazy navy flyers
To those swell Hawaiian gals

The sailors will dance in the street
Then they'll mothball the whole damn fleet
We'll only have the picture books
Of land, and sea, and foam

'cause they're sendin' the old man home

He'll only have his memories
Or great books by James Jones
'cause they're sendin' the old man home

(Thanks to for the words.)

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wrath of Grapes?

The new Okies

I have spotted an interesting trend among eastbound Interstate traffic. We keep passing vehicles, some singly, some in convoys, with California license plates. There are cars packed as full as they can be, vehicles pulling rental trailers, trucks and trailers piled high with household furnishings, haphazardly lashed down, sometimes covered with tarps.

These rolling refugees remind me rather much of the Okies in The Grapes of Wrath. The one difference: In the 1930s, people were going to California; now they're leaving the state.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Getting banged up at the lake

A weekend of bruises

The second spring series regatta wasn't too different from most of the others I have reported on, so I'm not going to go into details. The most noteworthy aspect was having a new crewmember on board. He's just bought himself an Etchells back home in Maine, although he hasn't sailed it yet. He's in El Paso for the winter, and he happened to visit Elephant Butte a few weeks ago, when he saw Black Magic and Constellation in the marina. Zorro happened to be around, so this guy (we'll call him Boothbay, since that's where he's from) came down to visit.

The upshot is that for the past two regattas, we've had Boothbay as crew. He's a very experienced sailor, so he's mainly on board to learn the specific ways an Etchells operates.

For the first regatta, we had light air on Saturday, and then on Sunday, Pat and I got shanghaied to be on committee boat, so we didn't get in much good sailing. This past weekend, we had really fierce winds to start with on Saturday. We went out and got banged about, and absolutely cold and miserable, waiting for the committee boat to show up. When, a half hour after races were to start, the committee boat still hadn't showed up, we went back to the marina to warm up and straighten some things out on the boat. About as we were tying up at the marina, the committee boat finally showed up, but at that point I was shivering uncontrollably and had no feeling in my hands, so we didn't go back out.

It took the committee boat a time to get around to running a race, and by the time the first race was finishing, we were warmed up and the wind was abating. We headed out to the course in time to make the second and third races of the day. Boothbay had loads of fun.

Sunday, winds were light – very light. We drifted out to the race course while the committee boat motored out and got there on time. Eventually, a trace of wind showed up. I turned the helm over to Boothbay, and we had a good race – at last, conditions under which we could show how the spinnaker works. Shortly after we finished, the wind went away nearly completely, and it took the rest of the fleet nearly an hour to finish. We drifted back to the boat ramp near the marina, where we were to meet Carguy, take his boat off our trailer, put our boat on, and generally pack things up.

Boothbay was interested in the procedure for getting deep-keel sailboats onto a trailer on a boat ramp; he'd never seen the process before. He got quite a lesson. As we waited our turn on the ramp, he got to watch as a J/22, a J/24, a Freedom 21, and an S2 34 were all loaded onto trailers. He probably now has things down cold, so he can show all those people up in Maine how things are done in New Mexico.

Meanwhile, I have developed a craving for wild blueberries. Come summer, we're going to have to take a trip up to Maine to sail with Boothbay.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Just thinking ...

Well, like I said, just thinking ...

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Voter registration shenanigans

Only in New Mexico …

It is probably true that most states have some irregularities in voter registration. Organizations such as ACORN have hired people to register voters and given these hires commissions based on the number of voters they register. Even though ACORN officially forbids fabricated registrations, putting people on commission gives them a strong motivation to fudge things a little.

But New Mexico has more odd things going on than most states. For example, we have had a law on the books that forbids idiots from registering to vote. The state legislature has attempted to overturn that one for a while, but last I heard, the efforts hadn't been successful.

Meanwhile, the legislature attempted to enact legislation that would allow a county clerk to remove a person from the voting rolls if that person died. That proposal failed. This means that there are only two circumstances under which a person gets removed from the rolls – either the person is convicted of a felony, or the person fails to vote in eight straight elections. If a dead person continues to vote, he or she remains on the rolls.

A couple of summers ago, Gerald got a job as a canvasser for a political candidate. He went around Albuquerque, from neighborhood to neighborhood, knocking on doors of registered party members to encourage them to get out and vote for the candidate. It was an eye-opening experience. In many cases, the voter no longer lived at that address. In some cases, the voter had died – one of them had been dead for eight years. He was sent to an apartment complex where many registered party members supposedly lived, only to find that the apartment complex had been torn down a long time before. He also found a large number of voters with registration addresses that turned out to be motel rooms.

In Rio Arriba County, things get even fishier. There was one election in which a candidate's campaign worker showed up at the poll with a large number of highly intoxicated persons. These voters were literally falling-down drunk, and they needed the campaign worker's help to stand up. Because the Americans with Disabilities Act allows someone to assist a disabled person, the campaign worker was allowed into the voting booth with each of the drunks.

Lately, it appears that our cat, Dulce, has been registered to vote. She just got a letter from Joe Biden that started out "Dear Fellow Democrat," and followed with a summary of the party's initiatives and a request for contributions to support the party's efforts. Well, she certainly is not an idiot, so she can't be disqualified on that point, but she's not quite old enough to vote yet – she's only 15. Unless one counts in cat-years … then she'd be a wise old lady.

We had a home burglary a few months ago. In Albuquerque, there has been an identity-theft ring that has bought bills and bank statements from home burglars, run credit checks, and then stolen the identities of the most credit-worthy burglary victims. Pat and I didn't pass the credit check, but maybe ACORN was willing to buy Dulce's information from the burglars.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

If cats ran Broadway

I thought about waiting until National Cat Herders Day to run this, but then I decided I just couldn't wait ...
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Hey, what’s all this green stuff?

Of course, when you're in Arizona, you gotta take pics of saguaros …

Pat and I just spent this past weekend in Arizona. The original plan was to sell a boat, but that deal fell through, so essentially we ended up making a very expensive green chile delivery to Gerald.

It's been rainy in Arizona lately. According to Gerald's roommate/landlord, the Phoenix area has, in the first two months of this year, received about as much precipitation as it usually gets in about three years. As a result, the desert is looking … well … not so desert-like.

In Albuquerque, there's a company that used to sell and install sprinkler systems. Now, it still does sprinklers, but it also does artificial lawns that don't need sprinklers to stay green, and other landscape components. Until recently, it had a patch of artificial lawn out front, with a saguaro cactus (presumably also artificial, but very real-looking) in the middle of it. Every time I went past it, I thought, a saguaro surrounded by green grass … that's so … so … wrong.

Well, maybe it isn't, as demonstrated by these shots taken along the Carefree Highway near Lake Pleasant.

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