Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Q 's Mayor Elect R.J. Berry

It's been way too long since I have blogged here, and I have a pile of "Blog about this on QontheQT" notes to prove it. I have a lot of catching up to do. Let that be a warning, blogging is about to get crazy. Life finally settled down a bit.

But  today I want to start my return to Q-blogging with Mayor Elect R.J. Berry, the recently elected Mayor-To-Be of Albuquerque, and the first fiscally conservative, common sense, Republican and TALL Mayor the Duke City has elected in over a quarter of a century.

Talk about CHANGE!

He didn't just squeeze by, he nailed this election which is appropriate for someone in the construction business. And he also has a conservative Council to work with, it just gets better and better!

Thank you to the voters for recognizing the need for change. Thank you to Mayor Elect Berry for his common sense approach to governance and for working his tall-self off during the campaigning.

And thanks to those who are leaving office who have served the City of Albuqueruqe selflessly and honorably.

And to quote the Mayor Elect: "Common sense in nonpartisan." What a concept; Turkey Town is about to see how government should work.

The Q has a new Mayor. Let the real enchantment begin!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hotel Albuquerque, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Why go to Santa Fe for hotel ambiance when you can wander into the Hotel Albuquerque and feel as if you are there?

The New Mexico Turn Around Conference was held at the Hotel Albuquerque this past week and it was my first time in the recently renovated hotel. I was impressed.

Located in Old Town Albuquerque, the Old Town Hotel exemplifies “Albuquerque Style,” a unique blend of New Mexico’s Native American, Mexican, Spanish and Western cultural influences and was listed in the April 2001 issue of Travel + Leisure as one of “25 Stylish Hotels under $200.”

Q-bar was the place to be at night and the live music was great. From their website: "Voted 'Albuquerque's Best Happy Hour' venue 3 years in a row and 'Best Ladies Night Out.' This multi-venue bar is Albuquerque's most sophisticated and ultra-chic hot spot."
I would recommend Hotel Albuquerque for lunch at CafĂ© Plazuela & Cantina, or a conference/meeting or an overnight stay; no matter the reason you won't go wrong at this venue when looking for the ambiance and spirit of old New Mexico.

Hotel Albuquerque just enhances the enchantment of New Mexico....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pueblo Harvest Cafe & Bakery, Albuquerque, NM

The night couldn't have been more perfect. It was warm enough to sit in shirt sleeves but just cool enough that the crackling fire behind our table provided a soothing warmth. Located within the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the Pueblo Harvest Cafe &  Bakery serves breakfast and lunch on Sunday and Monday, but expands to include dinner service for the remainder of the week. With the fresh air of patio dining, also featuring live music for entertainment, I think the Cafe is destined to become one of my favorite places.

There is over 1000 sf of dining area on the main floor, and another 1000 sf of private dining room space upstairs, Pueblo Harvest Cafe can accomodate any size party.

Last night we gathered to celebrate several birthdays as we enjoyed the casual ambiance on the outdoor patio. And we weren't the only group who chose the Cafe for their birthday celebration, there were at least two other groups of 10 -15 that also celebrated last night. The entertainment was phenomonal, with Hillary Smith's amazing vocals rocking the house for several hours.

The food was good (we had the amazing appetizer nachos) and reasonably priced. Others had various main courses and everyone raved about their selections. Some in our party tried the Green Chili Beer and found it 'interesting'. Let's just say she didn't order a second of the same variety, having satisfied her curiosity with the first.

In the words of the Cafe management: "Our Native-Fusion cuisine is inspired by the traditions and ingredients cultivated by our ancestors. We bring to the table, 25 years of experience and we are enthusiastic about crafting delicious food that will bring diners back to us again and again.”

There was a selection of bakery goods that looked irresistable, but somehow we resisted. Next time I doubt we will have as much control.

My friends and I  wandered over to the Gift Shop, which was closing before 6 PM, so we were disappointed and saved our dollars. They might consider leaving the Gift Shop open a bit later when someone like Hillary Smith is going to be there and a crowd can be expected.

All in all, it was a lovely night with good folks, great music, bubbly drinks and a comfortably classy but affordable venue. I would recommend the Pueblo Harvest Cafe to anyone, and will also add that if you have a chance to see Hillary Smith live - do it! She's amazing, as were the musicians behind her.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I am missing the Q. Who would have thought that I would fall in love with New Mexico?

But I am enchanted and that is all there is to it. I am homesiQ.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada

No, it's not a new place in New Mexico, I am (oddly) blogging about Canada (as in, just north of Buffalo, NY) on my Turkey Town blog.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, what an amazing place. Quaint, friendly, clean, colorful, with the Falls, Fort George, shopping, dining and more. It's wine country too. I had no idea!

Bike wine tours. Just think about that for a minute. Pedaling your way from tasting to tasting along the highway that borders several Canadian Wineries and vineyards. No DD here; just a van to pick you (and your bike) up at the last winery. Wobbly is probably an understatement when thinking about how that final bike ride might be without the rescue van.

I am definitely visiting again. Have bike, will taste.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Marriott Pyramid, Albuquerque, NM

Earlier today I found a great deal on a trip to Egypt, but why spend the money when you can wander North on I-25 and find Albuquerque's own Aztec-style pyramid?

The Marriot Pyramid on San Francisco Rd NE in Albuquerque is a beautiful hotel beginning with its unique architecture. With 10 floors, over 300 rooms and over 18 meeting rooms, the Pyramid is the perfect venue for a conference, meeting or convention.

The Pyramid is a "Santa-Fe", southwestern-style hotel featuring an open ten-story atrium with a rock waterfall and lush greenery. Artistically designed after the style of an Aztec pyramid, the Marriott Pyramid offers the Marriott standard of service, comfort and hospitality along with the imposing shape and size of an ancient pyramid. It's a winning combination.

Our company held our annual lunch meeting there yesterday. The staff was efficient and attentive. The meeting room was clean and the tables were set with an eye for simple detail. As is often the case, food for 170 was not quite the same as it would have been if 6 of us were dining in the hotel restaurant, but it was good and again, the service was excellent. We will return next year.

The Marriott Pyramid is a hotel I would choose to stay at, if I didn't already live here, but you can be sure it will be at the top of my list when friends come to town! And they will be enchanted.

Egypt can wait.

Monday, July 27, 2009

23rd Contemporary Hispanic Market, The Burrito Company, Santa Fe, NM

I headed north on Sunday and spent the day in Santa Fe. I love that place.

The 23rd Contemporary Hispanic Market (art festival) was in its second and final day and I managed to walk the whole thing. This event is the largest annual contemporary hispanic art event in the nation and is held in Santa Fe's historic downtown plaza.
The market vendors share artwork that is unique and amazing, althought the artists were sweating buckets - and not from a lack of sales. New Mexico is having record temperatures this summer (of course, since it's my first summer here), and we are all feeling it. Sleeveless blouses, sandals and capri's, shorts or skirts are the only option. I am gonna get to be a hippie yet. Although cowboy hats were not something hippie's typically wore, and I was wearing mine on Sunday so I guess I looked like a hippie cowgirl or something.

A delicious vegetarian burrito from The Burrito Company ended my day perfectly; located just off the plaza on Washington Avenue, my linner (lunch and dinner) was a whopping $4 and change. I will definitely mark my calendar for the Market next year, it's always in late July, so I can start saving money right now so that I can increase my southwest art collection. I plan to be there in 2010, to buy art and more art and to have another burrito too; if I am careful with my art purchases I should be able to afford the 4 bucks and change for another delicious linner.

But in case you can't wait that long (and I probably can't), there is also a 9th Annual Contemporary Hispanic Winter Market 0n November 27 & 28 this year. It will be held at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe. For information call: 505-296-2749.

See you next year at the Plaza! (I'll be the one in peasant blouse, daisy chain, sandals and cowboy hat.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

La Dolce Vita, Albuquerque, New Mexico

It never fails. When on a diet, I find great restaurants and bakeries, and yesterday was no different.

La Dolce Vita, SERGIO'S La Dolce Vita to be exact, is located at 4300 Lomas Blvd NE in Albuquerque, New Mexico (505-232-7023). It's a real Italian bakery with everything from pizza to canoli,donuts to bagels and rolls to breads.

And ohhhh, it smells so good! I wandered in yesterday and exclaimed in one breath, "I am so glad to find you, I wish I had never found you"! They laughed, but I was dead serious. Ecstacy and Agony relived.

Everything is baked on the premises, and based on my very thorough taste testing, everything is authentic, old school Italian baking.

And they deliver! You just can't beat friendly folks, authentic baking, Italian flavor and free delivery. All in Albuquerque.

I am sooooooo enchanted.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Dog Digs Albuquerque, New Mexico

Yep, that's right. I am not the only one who is enchanted. My dog digs New Mexico too - literally and figuratively. And I have the holes in my backyard to prove it!

Actually, as true as this may be (my dog "Doodle" definitely digs ABQ), this phrase came from a bumper sticker that I saw today on the back window of a Toyota truck that was waiting for the light at Jefferson and Osuna in Albuquerque. I just had to share it!

Her dog digs Albuquerque and my dog digs Albuquerque. If you've got a bone to pick over that, just toss it to Doodle!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Coronado Center Mall, Albuquerque, New Mexico

I went to the mall yesterday, it was a deja vu experience.

It's been a LONG time since I have shopped at the mall. I have spent decades honing my skills as a bargain shopper at boutique shops, antique stores, TJMaxx, REI, gun shows and online, and I haven't needed to wander the mall.

And I am not a mall walker either. High stepping laps in tennis shoes around the two levels of Coronado Mall in Albuquerque, NM is not my idea of a fun way to exercise. I think it's great for others, don't misunderstand, but it's not me.

Anyway, I went to the mall and it wasn't all that bad. There were a lot of people since it was a Saturday, and there were too many kiosks lined from one end to the other with rather aggressive sales folks calling me "hon", but other than that it wasn't bad. (I have always had an issue with 18+ year olds calling me "hon").

I really hadn't walked the entire mall before, my typical errand is a direct line in to The Body Shop and then out again, but yesterday I took my time.

Coronado is anchored by three major department stores - Macy's, Penny's and Sears - putting it right in the middle of mall greatness, in other words it's not a high end mall. No Nordstroms. No Dillards. But between the 3 anchors going every which way (this is not a long straight mall, it curves and heads in different directions) are most of the "to be expected" mall stores, including Banana Republic, Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, etc. And because we ARE in New Mexico, there is a large Boot Barn as well - a favorite of mine.

I will go back to the mall someday, probably to The Body Shop and to Boot Barn, but I have to admit that Banana Republic caught my attention and managed to lure me in long enough to take some of my $ too (probably because the sales staff was trained well enough to NOT call me "hon").

Coronado Mall in Albuquerque is located off of I-40 between Indian School and Menaul just west of Louisiana. It's a fun excursion into the past. Can tennis shoes and mall laps be far behind?

Nah, if we wore tennies we couldn't hit the gun show later that day.

After all, this is the Land of Enchantment!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Denzel Washington, Costco Warehouse, Albuquerque, NM

He's there. Almost every day. Denzel works at Costco, who would have thought. Evidently the economy is tough on everyone!

Obviously, the Denzel Washington of movie stardom is not really working at the Costco Warehouse on Renaissance Blvd. NE in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but his double is. And if you don't believe me, go see for yourself!

Twice now I have ended up in Denzel's line. The first time I simply stared and opted to say nothing at all (knowing that every other person in the line probably had and would). Yesterday I couldn't restrain myself, "Does everyone tell you that you are the spitting image of a younger Denzel Washington?" His response (swoon), "Every day."

Like the famous Denzel, this guy is very handsome, very fit, and very married - the glowing gold ring on his left hand cannot be missed. And very nice too. I am certain he puts up with comments from people all day, every day.

I noticed, while searching for the link to Denzel Washington, that according to their popularity poll, the real Denzel's popularity is down 7% this week. I have no doubt that his decline has a direct correlation to Albuqueruques' Denzel's rise in popularity.

I love Costco, it's a great place to shop for just about anything, unless you only want ONE of that 'anything'. I love it more now that Denzel is working there. It gives me a reason to stand in those long lines.

I am heading there today, in fact. I need some berries. And while I am there, I think I will get an autograph. If you want one too, you'll have to get in line, but trust me, it will be worth it!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Batty Tickers

He's a redhead too, my new doc; John Batty is his name. Dr. John W. Batty, MD, FACC. He is a cardiologist.

I like him because he is a redhead, but I like him more because he didn't seem too concerned that I was about to check out. Life looks like it's going to continue for awhile longer!

Dr. John Batty has been practicing medicine for several decades and his patients seem to love him (I just met him, so at this moment I can only comfortably say that I like him). Two men stood and chatted with him for quite some time while I was filling out my paperwork. One had been a patient for over 7 years and looked pretty darn good, the other had been a heart patient of Dr. Batty's for nearly 30 years and looked fantastic.

They were a living testimonial to Dr. Batty. Not only were their tickers still working, but they looked healthy and seemed happy!

But, Dr. Batty seemed happy too which always helps. It's no fun to go visit a grumpy doctor. And I will be seeing the good doctor again in few weeks, after a bit more testing on the ol' ticker (so far so good), and at this point, I am happy about that.

If you are in need of a cardiologist, you can find Dr. John W. Batty, MD, FACC on the Second Floor at 715 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Albuquerque. His office number is 505-248-1800.

Dr. Batty has a website, but I am not going to link to it because all of the information is inaccurate. I mentioned the need for updating and offered marketing services while propped on the exam table; I am certain he thought I was nuts, but he nodded his head in agreement. It appears his business cards need updating too, they say he is on the First Floor - but I can assure you that he is not!

Ah well, as long as my ticker keeps ticking I don't care what floor he is on or if he does think I am nuts.

After all, I think he's Batty and we're both redheads.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Extra Mile

Above the call of duty. I never thought I would apply this phrase to my garbage man. MY garbage man. I am suddenly extremely possessive. I don't want him to go anywhere else, he needs to stay on this route, on my street, he's my garbage man. Mine.

Albuquerque's Residential Waste Management Department cruises up and down the streets of the Duke City on a regular basis in those big rigs. You don't hear music blaring from the cabs. You don't see trash strewn along the street after they have passed by and collected garbage from the cans left at curbside. You hear them passing, that's about it. Like clockwork.

And this morning I heard MY garbage man passing on the opposite side of the street. Being the procrastinator that I am, with a little OCD to boot, I finished what I was doing, washed my face and forgot that I still had not put my garbage can at the corner. When I heard MY garbage man returning down my side of the street, I started to run outside to drag the can to the street but that was when the OCD kicked in and I turned around to run back into the house and grab the kitchen trash bag (and stopped to dump the bathroom trash in too). AFTER all of this, I ran outside with the now quite full kitchen trash bag, only to discover that a) the trash on my side of the street had already been picked up, and b) MY garbage man was driving by my house on the opposite side of the street and I was too late.

I stood there shaking my head and wondering why I was so damn irritating, even to myself. As I was dumping the stuffed kitchen bag into my very full garbage can that was still sitting by the side of my house instead of by the side of the curb, something rather amazing happened. MY garbage man went above and beyond the call of duty (he had seen me run out of my house) and he started backing up. BACKING UP.

Yes, he backed up to directly across from my house on the opposite side of the street and I DASHED across the street hauling the very full garbage can over to him. He maneuvered those scary arms and lifted the can to dump it into his rig and returned it to the street. I waved and mouthed "Thank you!", he waved and smiled through a nodded "You're welcome".

I heart MY garbage man. I suppose I could just say that MY garbage man went the extra mile reverse. Kudos to him and his department.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Enchantment Ballroom, Albuquerque, NM

Well, it's official. I am entering the golden years. Why is this suddenly apparent? What happened to make me just randomly come to that conclusion?

Two words: dance lessons. And the kicker: BALLROOM dance lessons. Yes, it's true. I have started ballroom dance lessons. Stranger things have happened, but not many.

Tonight I spent an hour with about 15 other folks at the Enchantment Ballroom - looking into mirrors on all sides and trying not to step on my partner's toes or trip and take us both down.

It was mind-boggling. Quick, quick, slow, quick quick, slow....that part's fairly easy, but in what direction? To the side, forward, backward? And with which foot? Lead with the right, or the left. Step forward first, or back? Toe or heel? And what does she mean that I am not supposed to lead, sheesh, isn't this the 21st century?

Obviously, I have some work to do before next week's class. :)

Now, having spent the first four paragraphs on my ineptness on the dance floor, I will talk a bit about what happened tonight.

The Enchantment Ballroom is an independently owned dance studio on San Pedro in Albuquerque, basically located across from the fairgrounds. The dance floor is large (and I already mentioned the 'eternity' mirrors) and everyone looked happy (and serious) about being there. The studio specializes in Ballroom, Latin and Country Western dancing. Tonight we learned the box step, the promenade, and how to mix those up a bit. We "danced" (and I use that word very loosely) the rumba and the fox trot. It was a lot of fun. And to be fair, my fellow dancers were a wide span of ages which made it quite fun.

Our instructor, Sharon, is one of the several professional dance instructors at the studio (with over 100 years combined experience) and she was very good. We all traded partners throughout the one hour class, rotating counter clockwise through the room, each having a turn with Sharon (the women outnumbered the men by one, of course).

And wow, what a difference when you were dancing with Sharon. She is not only a wonderful dancer, but she knows the men's steps too and leads better than any of the men. Of course, she has been dancing for decades and they are in a beginner's ballroom class, not sure what I expected EXCEPT that she would be the best!

I love to dance and have always wanted to take lessons so that I will know the basics. I am just like their typical customer (as described on their website) who wants to learn to dance for one of a variety of typical reasons: to dance at a wedding, going on a cruise, something new to do, hobby, an activity you can do with your partner, special party soon, exercise, and want to dance with the stars.

Obviously the last reason is mine. Now I need some sexy dance shoes, but the skimpy dance costume is not happenin. Not yet, anyway. I'm saving that for the cruise.

Come out and do the cha-cha with us! We promise not to step on your toes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

alphagraphics, albuquerque, nm

There are printers, and then there are PRINTERS; alphagraphics on Osuna in Albuquerque, NM is a PRINTER.

Owned and operated by Kent and Melanie Cravens, alphagraphics on Osuna has repeatedly and consistently delivered quality, timely print jobs for me, both personally and professionally.

Kent Cravens is a NM State Senator and has been since 2001; Kent sees the economics of politics from the point of view of someone who values liberty and opportunity. He is a good guy.

Melanie Cravens is the girl-next-door, best friend, professional expert all wrapped up in one; working with her is always a pleasure.

The staff at alphagraphics is friendly, competent and responsive. I get the feeling that they are all a family of sorts. I enjoy my visits when I have to stop by to place an order or pick up a print job.

Creativity, professionalism, quality; alphagraphics on Osuna just off of I-25 in the city of albuquerque in the land of enchantment.

Stop in and say hello to the family.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Taylor Park, Albuquerque, NM

There's nothing like a picnic beneath tall shade trees on a Sunday afternoon. Well, unless you are in Hawaii, or backpacking through Europe, or hiking the red rocks of Utah, but today was pretty darn nice right here in Taylor Park, Albuquerque, NM.

Today I made my lunch and sat down at my kitchen table to eat only to think, "What am I doing? It's a gorgeous day and I need to get out of this house!" I immediately stood up, tossed my lunch into various sized baggies and threw it into my car along with a lime green beach chair. Off I went to Taylor Park where a bunch of fun loving, good humored and dedicated volleyball players had gathered for a regular Sunday afternoon get-together.

I sat in the shade and watched as the group played, chatting with others who were not playing. I really enjoyed myself but am a bit concerned that I may not be invited back. Why you ask? Well, because not only did I NOT play volleyball, but I made wise cracks from the sidelines.

New rules are undoubtedly in the works; I can hardly wait.

Taylor Park is an oasis of shaded grass in the middle of residential, industrial, freeway and commercial areas. Located on the corner of Indian School Road and Pennsylvania (just east of the outdoor Uptown Mall there is parallel parking on the North and East sides of the park.

It was a lovely Sunday afternoon. I may have to crash the next gathering since the invitation is iffy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Solo Club, Albuquerque, NM

I remember when some neighbors of ours in California used to leave on Friday nights to go dancing at "the club". This was not wild and crazy teenage dancing; this was old folks dancing to me - the waltz, the cha-cha and square dancing.

Tonight I joined my friends at "The Club" in Albuquerque and let me tell you...there was not an old folk in the house, at least not on the dance floor. These people (40 - 80 years old) were rocking the house. They could do the Electric Slide, they could cha-cha, they could twist, they could rumba, they could waltz, they could two-step, and this being New Mexico, they could salsa!
The Solo Club on Candelaria was packed and nobody cared. The only thing we cared about was the heat - no a/c and a bunch of "more mature" dancers cuttin' the rug for 4 hours was almost a deal killer, but we were a tough bunch and nothing stopped us.

For over 45 years the Solo Club has been a social club for single adults. With a large dance floor, live music, lots of dance partners and a cute bartender, this place packs 'em in.

With few exceptions, everyone hit the dance floor at least once, even hard core bikers in Hawaiian shirts who claimed they couldn't dance (the softies, all that leather is just for show).

The people are friendly, happy to be out and about, and pretty darn good dancers with more energy than you might expect.

The band tonight was Juntos Unidos and they were fabulous. Established just over 10 years ago, Juntos Unidos plays music from every genre. They had people dancing the waltz and the twist and then the salsa and then the two-step. They were non-stop energy and GREAT music.

This is a fun place for the 40+ crowd. Check it out and don't forget your dancin' shoes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Crazy Croc's, Rio Rancho, NM

It's a long haul from the east side where I live, but tonight I made the journey to Crazy Croc's on Unser in Rio Rancho. From what I heard tonight, Crazy Croc's has come a long way from their historical reputation as a very dark biker bar. New owners have gutted the place and redone everything inside and out. With a dance floor, Techno programmable music, 3 pool tables, and a large outdoor patio, Croc's is set up for success.

Unfortunately, tonight - a Friday night - there were not as many people there as we expected. Our group was about 25, and there were several other groups of 4 -6 that wandered in and out during the night, but for most of the evening I don't think there were more than 40 people in a place that could easily accommodate 100.

An interesting tidbit about Croc's is that they do not have a kitchen, but they don't mind if you bring food in, so everyone walks in carrying pizza from their favorite pizza place or munchies from the local supermarket. It's a bit strange and I wonder what the food licensing issues could be, but it's mighty convenient.

It's been 30+years since I was able to really use my geometry and hit the balls into the pockets of a pool table, but tonight I tried my best and actually pulled of a handful of GREAT shots. Of course, there were dozens of really BAD shots as well.

Crazy Croc's has the opportunity to be a great weekend venue, but they need to notch it up a bit to really be competitive. It's worth the drive so I will go back and I have no doubt that I will improve my game and double my GREAT shots at the pool tables. I can't help but get better; after all, I did get an A in geometry in 9th grade.

May Cafe, Albuquerque, NM

Tucked into an almost forgotten strip mall off of Louisiana and supporting a 20' tall lumberjack figurine from days of old on its roof, the May Cafe in Albuquerque is one of my favorites.

In spite of the curious location, the service and food at the May Cafe are consistently good. The Vietnamese cuisine is authentic, fresh, ample and reasonably priced.

When in a hurry I will drop by and order 2 fresh spring rolls and walk out the door with a healthy and delicious lunch for under four bucks.

I have tried several of their traditional dishes (vermicelli with pork and shrimp, deep fried shrimp, wide pan-fried rice noodles with chicken and broccoli) and have enjoyed every dish without exception. The iced Thai Tea is addictive and their hot green jasmine tea is my favorite.

May Cafe is in competition with several Vietnamese restaurants in the area, but at lunchtime the UNM crowd arrives - both students and professors - and it's obvious that the curious location and towering lumberjack make no difference in the restaurant's overall appeal.

Stop in and order a spring roll, I guarantee that you will go back again and again.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chama River Brewing Company, Albuquerque, NM

You are right, tonight was not my first visit to the Chama River Brewing Company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It wasn't even my second and it certainly won't be my last.

Chama River is a happening place around Happy Hour. Tonight our group met and filled the meeting room just behind the bar. With the Mets playing the Dodgers and 45 people in a room set for 25, you can imagine the chaos! It was fun and it was loud.

Our server, who was expecting 25, did a great job of keeping up with our musical chair movement and random ordering. He was on top of it and managed to not only get drinks and food for everyone, but he also had the checks out to each of us fairly quickly so that we could each pay and leave at a decent hour. After all, it's a work night!

Chama River has a good menu including steak, seafood, pasta and sandwiches, great service, a solid wine list and since they are the Chama River BREWING Company, they also have great beers: award-winning, hand crafted ales and lagers brewed by their own brewers. The ambiance is upscale casual and the outdoor fireplace just adds to the fun. The dinner entree pricing is on the expensive side but you can enjoy an appetizer or soup/salad and beverage for $15. Tonight their chili was smokin' hot and I enjoyed every fiery spoonful.

Off of I-25 at Jefferson, Chama River Brewing Company. They have it all and I am once again enchanted.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Missing the Q

I have had a great weekend - in Utah - not New Mexico. And I wouldn't want to change even a minute of it, but....I miss the Land of Enchantment.

I have missed the sunsets. I have missed walking through Nob Hill. I have missed my friends. I have missed the cool night air. I have missed my morning wake-up walks. I have missed my little house. I have missed quiet moments to reflect. I have missed my routine.

I have loved my time away from home, but as they say, there's no place like home. But home is where the heart is, which creates yet another dynamic that I don't want to go into right now. Let's keep it simple: I missed Albuquerque; I missed New Mexico.

There's no question about it, I love the Q.

And I am enchanted.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company, Rio Rancho, NM

Turtle Mountain, sometimes called "The Turtle" has been Rio Rancho's neighborhood brewpub since 1999 - and that's how the Turtle Mountain website begins their story. Any reference to turtles always brings to mind the story of The Turtle and the Hare, and makes me think of a life in slow motion, but there is nothing slow moving about this favorite gathering place. The Turtle was hopping, so I kept looking for "The Hare!"

Tonight Turtle Mountain's website story was experienced by 34 friends who gathered around lawn tables on the Turtle's patio to share pizza, drinks and conversation. Great atmosphere, friendly staff, the BEST pizza, great brew and lots of TV's to watch whatever game you choose.

The most frustrating part of The Turtle is deciding what to eat. Between calzones and pizza, burgers and sandwiches, fish and chips or steaks, it's a tough call. Maybe that's where things slow down in this active restaurant, when customers are trying to make up their minds.

A MUST try is the Adam Bomb pizza, a tasty combination of mozzarella, pepperoni, green chili, Italian sausage, spinach, pine nuts and special sauce (lettuce, meat, pickles,, just kidding).

This amazing thin crusted pizza doesn't bomb, it is LIKE a bomb. It fires up your mouth as if it exploded against your tongue. Those green chilis are HOT. There may be an ulterior motive beyond simply serving something so good it's a standard for repeat customers, The Turtle owners may have found the perfect encouragement to move customers to order more beer! Something needs to wash down the ADAM BOMB! Don't miss this place or this pizza.

The Turtle. It's da bomb!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ned's On The Rio Grande, Albuquerque, NM

It's not really a photo op venue, I think it's more "a place filled with characters" than a place with character, but what can you say about a place where the environment makes everyone feel welcome and you can get $2 tacos and enchiladas on Tuesdays? I guess you could add that drinks are $2 on Tuesdays too, for those that are interested. ;)

And interesting it was. Tonight I joined friends for Two Buck Night at Ned's. We met right after work and were home before 8 PM and paid for our dinners with (basically) pocket change. My chicken tacos were delicious and the enchiladas have been rated in Albuquerque Magazine as the "Best Tuesday Enchiladas" in the city.

You just can't beat that. Ned's is a winner - literally. Voted BEST DIVE, BEST SANDWICHES and BEST HAPPY HOUR, along with the BEST TUESDAY ENCHILADAS, Ned's is a happening place.

Add an outdoor patio, spraying misters, a collection of folks from every walk of life, cheap drinks and a great staff, and you have yourself a mega-winner, an obvious fact when you pull into the full parking lot and walk by the long line of perfectly positioned Harley's (and etc.) that are parked along the length of the patio wall.

Becky was our waitress and I am not exaggerating when I say that she carried an order from an adjacent table in her head, while clutching 7 empty bottles which she had retrieved from that table AND made change for four checks at our table - right from her apron, all at the same time, without a pause and 100% in control. We gave her a great tip.

And here's a tip for you: Ned's on the Rio Grande. A great place on Tuesday night...and Monday, Thursday, Saturday....

You get the picture.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Liberty Gym, Albuquerque, NM

Oh my aching muscles! Many thanks to the folks at Liberty Gym for a warm, welcoming, what-did-I-get-myself-into workout. (Not to mention the thrill of being a 50+ out-of-shape woman huffing and puffing beside a trim blonde 20? year old).

Liberty Gym has a great facility and excellent, well-trained staff and I worked my a** off (one can only hope). I am working with Renee - The Joy of Fitness - a personal trainer who contracts with Liberty Gym. I not only like the facility, but I like the name. Liberty is part of who I am, what I work for, what I believe in. Physical fitness will allow me more liberty in my choices and my life and I am ready for that.

Who ever thought I would be looking foward to aching muscles and sweat-drenched workout clothes, but that's my reality. Freedom. Liberty. Aching muscles. But then again, freedom has never come easy.

I am glad I found Liberty Gym. I just wish they would take out all those mirrors....

The Cooperage, Albuquerque, NM

The Curio Cowboys, Albuquerque's Own Western Swing Band (nearly as large in number as a football team) rocked the house last night at The Cooperage in Albuquerque. A local favorite the toe-tapping group managed to keep us entertained until way past the normal Sunday night (day-before-back to-work-Monday) quitting time.

Once again, local folks, local entertainment and a local venue outdid my expectations. The service was great, the food was good and the evening was fun, although I was a late arrival after procrastinating for hours about leaving the comfort of my home in my flipflops, tshirt and old jeans.

The live music fills the barrel-themed restaurant (even the exterior looks like a huge barrel), so seating should depend on your taste and desire for live tunes.

The Cooperage is tauted as one of the best steakhouses in Albuquerque, and is also known for their prime rib and seafood. Since I arrived late, I ate light and enjoyed the soup and salad bar.

Looks like I need to make another visit to check out the beef and seafood, and Friday Salsa Nights (and I don't mean red or green)!

The enchantment continues...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Graham Central Station, Albuquerque, NM

I love train stations, they remind me of the summers of my youth when Mom, my sis and I would travel by rail from California (through Albuquerque!) to Illinois for our two week vacation with my grandparents. And as an adult I had a similar love affair with trains when I stood in the middle of New York's Grand Central Station for the first time and felt as if the world was literally rushing by me on all sides, going every which way in a hurry....but I digress.

Graham Central Station in Albuquerque is not a train station. It's a dance hall, and more. Self-promoted as "America's finest nightclub facility featuring multiple club and music formats!", GCS lives up to the marketing tagline. Karaoke in one corner, rock in another, a bachelorette party moving through all genres and rooms, and country western/swing in yet another corner.

I had never heard of Graham Central Station until last night, yet this is a chain of several "finest nightclubs", spread through Texas, New Mexico (Albuquerque and Las Cruces), Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Arizona, with sister clubs in several other states as well.

I am a country western girl at heart, so my night at Graham Central Station was spent in the country western music/dance hall portion of the finest nightclub facility in America and it was knee slapping, toe tapping fun.

The music was nonstop and the dance floor was never empty. The crowd was a mix of young and old bootwearing folks who love to two-step. We were a sweaty but energized bunch. The swamp cooler was working overtime, but it was barely keeping up. But no matter how damp our cotton shirts were, nothing could dampen our spirits and it was a great night.

Now that I have danced, I want to take a train ride - maybe a ride on the Cumbres and Toltrec in Farmington. I think it would be good for my soul. I love the way a train feels, the cadence of its movement over steel tracks, the soothing sway of the railcars as they pull and tug against each other, the cool air that flows in through windows that slide down or vents that push air upward.

We had a two-stepping good time last night. Graham Central Station may not be a train station, but it was definitely good for my soul (and my calves).

I am in the Land of Enchantment and I am enchanted still.

ABQJOURNAL OPINION/EDITORIALS: Metro Court Rationale Victimizes the Victim

ABQJOURNAL OPINION/EDITORIALS: Metro Court Rationale Victimizes the Victim

Once at the ABQ Journal website, you will need to sign up for the one day only FREE trial session to view the linked article. Not sure why they offer to link to Blogger if you can't get to the article easily, but that's life in the world of instant media gratification, I suppose. Someone has to put a stop to the craziness!

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Double Whammy

The editorial in the Albuquerque Journal yesterday was spot on, I just hope someone was paying attention. (see article above this post)

All too often we hear about domestic violence and look to the abused as if asking, "Why didn't you stand up for yourself, where's your will to live?" Unfortunately, their will to live is buried beneath the physical and emotional scars of abuse - spousal, parental, partner abuse. Their will to live is exactly what made them NOT stand up for themselves. They knew that if they did, they might not live; they might not live one more day, or to raise their kids, or tell their story, or see their grandparents, or protect their siblings, or protect their children, or play at school or go to work (hiding bruises and cuts beneath clothing), or have the chance to stand up for themselves.

But even in a safer environment when the abuser is behind bars, it's tough for abused women and children (and abused men) to tell their story as it needs to be told, even to their nonabusive parent, or their best friend, or their siblings, let alone a judge, or a guy in a uniform, or a stranger in social worker clothing. In their damaged thought process, they honestly believe that keeping quiet is their last hope for survival, because they have been threatened with much worse than the abuse they have already endured if they tell anyone.

The reaction of the abused is confusing, if not unbelievable to most of us who have not suffered abuse from another. We don't get it. We can't understand how someone can lose their will-to-be in their fight-to-live, but they do. They become whatever they need to be, they endure whatever they need to and they don't tell a soul, all for one reason - to stay alive.

When the court system and government entities who are charged with the role of protection of citizens whose lives are endangered choose to rationalize their decisions on the trembling voice of the abused, they have failed in their role to protect the innocent and in so doing, they have become an enabler to the abuser.

We have buried common sense and protective logic beneath so many rules, regs and red tape, that something as simple as a judge's order indicating that something is "allowed" is passed through the system matter-of-factly.

It's no longer about abuse, it's no longer about protection, it's now routine. Process the form, unlock the cell door (hey bud, you got lucky!), lock the ankle bracelet (this won't really do anything, but we want you to wear it), wave goodbye (hope you get to see your kids while you are out, just don't go too far) and go back to whatever it was you were doing before the court papers arrived. Routine. Deadly. Avoidable.

I have great respect for Albuquerque's best, the APD, and I believe in the justice system. They are often as spot on as the Journal's editorial. The issue I am concerned about is the evolution of impersonal justice. Court orders or instructions that aren't thought through in relation to who they might affect. Interpretations that allow violent, threatening abusers to return to society and do more harm, instead of keeping them locked behind bars in an effort to protect the innocent and already abused. In this case, the system failed three young boys and their mother at every level. There was more concern for the rights of the abuser, than the abused. There was more focus given to allowing a dangerous man back into society then to why he should never be allowed to return. It is a tragedy that didn't need to happen. It shouldn't have been routine.

Shame on the system and shame on us.

We all need to pay better attention.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Identity Crises

If New Mexico's State Investment Officer Gary Bland can compare himself to Prometheus of Greek mythology, and South Carolina's Governor Mark Sanford considers himself a modern-day King David of the Bible, I can hardly wait to see who comes out as Gandhi.

Anyone care to make a prophecy?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Calico Cantina Cafe, Albuquerque, NM

CCC takes on an entirely new meaning at the Calico Cantina Cafe. This is not the place for motivated but unemployed young men to hang around hoping for work, this is a neighborhood haunt located on 4th Street in the North Valley. The "Cantina Cafe" is an appropriate name for this lovely restaurant and its outdoor patio, because it is both a cantina and a cafe.

Inside the cafe, couples and families (along with Albuquerque's finest - which is a good sign when you are looking for good food) were eating and conversing at cozy tables. Outside on the patio beneath huge umbrellas, folks were tapping their toes while drinking and eating to live music provided on this particular occasion by Chris Dracup and Tommy Elskes, two amazing musicians on guitar, vocals, and spoons (yes, spoons). They were fantastic, providing a rousing combination of blues, reggae and funk music. We are already planning another opportunity to hear these two talented men, maybe at the July 16th BioParkSummer Concert Series (yes, that's a shout out).

The service at Calico Cantina Cafe was great (Kevin was our waiter), the food was tasty, and the drinks were sometimes slow to arrive but worth waiting for. The crowd seemed to be a mixture of locals and blues fans. I was there with 4 girlfriends; we passed by the dessert case on our way to the patio and didn't even pause, but it was not easy. Everything in that case looked homemade-yummy. We will be going back again...soon.

The Cafe's food was tasty, the outdoor ambiance couldn't be beat, the music was A-list, the crowd was friendly, and the prices during Happy Hour were excellent; maybe this North Valley CCC isn't a bad place for the unemployed after all. And considering today's economy, having a CCC just around the corner could be a boon for all of us.

I was enchanted.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mannyc Depression

The Return of the Dreds was a flop. I suppose the rain is to blame. It can't be the leading man's fault, he didn't show.

Isotopes Park was packed. The starting line-up had been announced with Manny hitting first for the Isotopes. The tarp had been pulled back to uncover the field and it was finally time to play ball!

Until it started raining again, that is, and the tarp was pulled back over the field. The fans waited it out, sharing drinks and conversation, all huddled together beneath awnings and grandstands to stay dry. It was like an uber-campfire without the fire and marshmallows.

The rain stopped. The loudspeaker crackled as we were returning to our seats: Manny Ramirez couldn't play because of the rain - too much rain increases risk of injury, at least that was the excuse given to the sold out crowd of dred-topped fans.

Isotope Park was not resounding with the cheering of happy campers after that announcement. Even S'mores wouldn't have lifted our spirits. We went from overly-enthused to downright grumpy almost instantly. I mean really, rain is NOT going to hurt dreds. We didn't see the problem. We were going to sit in the rain. The Isotopes were going to play in the rain. Why couldn't Manny?

It reminded me of being a kid and knocking on the door of my best friend on a cold day. "No, hon, Ronda can't play today, it's just too wet out there." Well, duh, of course it was wet, it was raining; so what?

To be fair, I suppose I should acknowledge that my friend Ronda wasn't on a multi-million dollar contract where risk of injury from a fall in the rain is a financial liability, not just a bruised knee. Manny, on the other hand, does have a multi-million dollar contract to PLAY baseball and he was here in New Mexico (the PAY-TO-PLAY state for so many), it just seemed logical that he should have played, rain or shine.

People mumbled about heading home after learning that Manny wasn't going to play, but most of the crowd chose to stay and support the team. And in spite of the disappointment of not seeing Manny play, it was worth it for those who stayed. The Isotopes played well and once again proved they don't need dreds to please the hometown crowd.

I didn't stay until the end, and I wasn't one of the hundreds who bought a Dodger-scarf-dredset. In retrospect, I am not sure what all the hype was to begin with, Manny is not a role model, or a hero, and I've never really liked dreds, but he is an extraordinary hitter (when he plays). The game was called in the 6th inning because of the rain, but I wasn't there to see it. I had left at the bottom of the 4th, with the 'Topes up by 4.

It was just too wet out there.

The Return of the Dreds

It sounds like a sci-fi thriller, but in reality, The Return of the Dreds may be an action comedy. Tonight is the last Isotope's game with Manny Ramirez, the self-proclaimed baseball icon who is loved by people everywhere in spite of his violation of baseball's drug policies which relegated him from Dodger Stadium to Isotopes Park.

Tonight's Manny Maniacal game is going to be the game of games for many Isotopes fans. I know folks who have tickets, I know folks who want tickets, and I know folks who want to sell tickets.

In pro-Dodger Albuquerque, (yes, the Isotopes are the feeder team to the infamous Dodgers) tonight is a big night, and I (along with most of Q-town) don't plan to miss it. I will be standing somewhere in the stadium, listening to the cheers from the dred-adorned crowd and hoping for just one glimpse of Manny. Maybe he will even hit it out of the ballpark. Now THAT would be the return of the dreds.

As he said, people love him everywhere he goes, and those of us who live in the Q aren't much different. We even change our hairstyles to look like his. Who ever thought a redheaded grandma would wear dyed black dreds? Not me, that's for sure.

It really does promise to be an interesting evening. But considering the innate skills and natural ability of Manny, there's one question still in everyone's mind here in the Q: "Red or Green, Manny?"

Go 'Topes!

QT on the QT

Welcome to my new blog from the center of Q-Town. I'm keeping it on the QT for now. I want to see where it goes, but wherever that is, I hope you come along with me!

This is the Land of Enchantment, and I am ready to be enchanted...are you?!