Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dec. 14th

Note: I wrote this a week or so ago, but didn't get around to posting it with Marie's birthday week/weekend/month-long celebrations. Since then, there was another school shooting in Colorado, and several episodes of gun violence here in New Mexico, likely with many other gun-related tragedies across the nation. I hope everyone is having a great holiday season, we miss you all down in New Mexico and will surely write an update about Marie's birthday, Christmas in Santa Fe, our latest shenanigans, and who are we kidding, probably some kitty photos very soon! (Also as I was posting this, I found out NM is now the 17th state in the US to legalize same-sex marriage! WOOHOO! Very touching to see the reaction in my office.) Anyway.

It's been a year since the mass shooting in Newtown. That event sparked an anger in me that I haven't felt in my adult life. Something about Newtown was different than all the other mass shootings, at least for me.

I readily admit that I got caught up in the flurry of gun control media. I signed petitions, started my own, seething in private and in public at Americans' codependent fear and love of the gun. 

In the months since, I haven't forgotten. American gun culture is something that I think about on a daily basis. I think, before Newtown, I absent-mindedly accepted guns as a mainstay of American culture. After Newtown, I began to truly see how far guns have permeated the daily lives of so many people.

Guns to me represent the laziest kind of resistance to authority, a power grab that ignores the solution and contributes to the problem. The terrible irony is to consider the NRA's political influence as felt by John Morse and other politicians in Colorado now out of a job in the name of decreasing public safety. Not to mention the folks in positions of political power  on the national stage, pretending to represent those paranoid of a powerful, influential federal government, when they themselves comprise it.

I think I do understand why some people feel that they need guns. They feel threatened directly, indirectly, currently, or in the future. Gun violence is not a disease, it is a symptom. Or rather, a band-aid for a bullet wound, to use an unfortunately common metaphor. The bullet wound in this case being economic hardship, domestic and gang violence, substance abuse, mental health, and other factors that create fear and distrust. What can we do in the wake of Newtown to stem the tide of those epidemics?

I believe that gun-owners (for any reason other than hunting) possess a mental fear. This mental fear, I believe, is symptomatic of a greater irrational distrust, and a departure from the social contract that a citizen of society invariably finds their self in. I believe that the factions of society with this collective mental fear are responsible for enabling gun violence, and disabling the ability of civilized society to peacefully solve endemic problems. 

I believe most everyone wants the same thing: safety, peace of mind, freedom from fear. Gun advocates hide behind their weapons in a selfish pursuit of these virtues, breeding paranoia and distrust. A true tragedy of the commons. 

The above virtues are consistently squandered on the victims of both ends of the gun - those hit with bullets, and those who buy bullets.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


This weekend, we got over a foot of snow in Santa Fe, so it's almost impossible to believe that last weekend, we were in Florida wearing shorts and sitting on the beach.

These pictures make it seem like we spent a lot of time with animals... which is true. My mom has three dogs and two cats, and my family that we visited in Sarasota have two dachshunds and two cats. We also got attacked by seagulls on the beach. (Pro tip: Don't eat burritos on the beach, the seagulls will dive-bomb you.)

Aside from dealing with hungry seagulls, it was a great weekend!

Eric and Kermit
Eric and Ron Weasley
Me and my cousin Madeline, holding Mr. Edison and Taffy.
Chalk art at the Sarasota Chalk Art Festival
Giant statue that no one likes in Sarasota - Eric & I are standing next to it for scale.
Clearwater Beach!
My mom & I outside of the Straz Center, before seeing Book of Mormon!
Me with the statue of the first suffragist in Florida, Eleanor McWilliams Chamberlain!
Our view for Book of Mormon, which was AMAZING!
Now to make some hot toddies and play in the snow!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November Madness

November is looking to be a pretty busy month here in EricandMarieland, for a few reasons:
  1. It is National Novel Writing Month and I am participating! By the end of November, if all goes well, I will have a 50,000 word novel. (I just hit 17,000 words!) So I've been writing every day.
  2. The NBA season started! (Unfortunately, the Nuggets are not doing so hot.)
  3. We are going to Florida and Colorado this month.
  4. Now that it gets dark and cold much earlier, we have been going to bed earlier as well. (Which I guess doesn't make us busy exactly, except that we are busy sleeping more.)
 All of that doesn't leave a lot of time for blogging, BUT I wanted to post some pictures of our life recently.

Halloween, Part 1

I know he doesn't look happy about his costume, but he did keep it on all evening!
Halloween, Part 2
(Little and Big Dipper!)
New Car
(Yes, we got a Prius, and it makes us feel like Adults.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Zeezy's Half-Birthday

A few weeks ago, I read this piece on NPR, which is a response to the popular "Dogs Are People, Too"  New York Times article. Basically, what the author says in the NPR piece is, "Duh." Anyone who has known and loved a dog in their life knows, without empirical research to back it up, that they have feelings and emotions and plenty of brain activity. And even though all this talk is about dogs specifically, I can't help but relate it to our cat, Assisi, who turns two and a half today.

Look at that handsome cat!
 (Sidenote: Eric recently read that the reason there is so little research about cat brain activity and behavior is because cats are notoriously not very cooperative - it once took a researcher four years to prove that cats can count to four. This is what I love about cats: they don't let anyone else tell them what to do.)

Yes, today is our little adult kitty's half-birthday, kind of. We don't know when his actual birthday is, so we decided that we would celebrate it on April 28th, the day we brought him home. So today we are also celebrating six months with this little fuzzball.

We both feel so grateful to have Zeezy in our lives, especially because we were close to getting another cat. One of the first things we did after I got to Santa Fe (literally, I hadn't even been here for 24 hours) was go to the Santa Fe Humane Society. I had waited years to adopt a cat and I didn't want to wait even a few days longer. But the universe had other plans. After we had looked at the cats and picked out a few that we wanted to meet, the woman at the front desk told us that all the cats were being sent to a shelter in Colorado later that week and none of them were available for adoption. To put it lightly, I was bummed. I didn't have my heart set on any one cat in particular, but I was so in love with the idea of having a cat that not having one for another week seemed terrible.

Now I am so grateful that we didn't get a cat that day because if we had, we never would have met Zeezy only six days later. Of course, we probably would have adopted a perfectly great cat, but it is hard to imagine having a cat as awesome, lovable, smart, cute, etc. as Zeez. We both feel like we have found our cat soulmate.

 Here are some of our favorite things about Zeezy:
  • He is super playful. When you give him a catnip toy, or a string to chase, he gets the cutest look of excitement on his face. He does somersaults, jumps around, climbs up his scratching post - all of which keep Eric & I very entertained.
  • But he is also a cuddlebug! He plays hard and he sleeps harder. He has a lot of favorite sleeping spots in our house, like the armchair, his cat tower, our bed, and on the nicest rug in the house (which is permanently covered in cat hair). But he also loves to be close to Eric & I, and he will often plop down next to us on the couch OR he'll sit right on our laps. While he's napping on our laps, he likes to have his chin and neck scratched and he also liked getting his paws massaged. We are usually pretty willing to spoil him.
  • He loves potato chips. And tortilla chips, and pretzels, and cheese puffs... pretty much any crunchy snack that we have, he wants. Every once in awhile, we indulge him with a small piece, and it is so cute to see him crunching on a tiny tortilla chip. If you have never seen a cat eating a chip, you are missing out. 
  •  He is super cute. Not that we're shallow cat owners or anything... but it doesn't hurt.
  • He loves us. Whenever he hears Eric's truck pull into the parking lot when he gets home from work, he jumps into the windowsill so he can be the first to greet him. He pays attention to us even when he doesn't want food. He sleeps on our bed with us every night, and has even learned to curl up right at our feet once all the lights are turned off. And we can just tell that he feels the same way about us that we feel about him. There's a real deep connection here.
So thanks, Zeezy, for making us so happy!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


We have had a very pumpkin-filled October, and rightly so - pumpkins are delicious, nutritious, and all-around useful. Plus, it doesn't really feel like fall for me until I go to a pumpkin patch. So a couple of weekends ago, I convinced Eric that we should drive down to Corrales (just north of Albuquerque) so that we could pick out some pumpkins, instead of buying them from a store.

After we picked out four pretty sizable pumpkins, we bought some chocolate chip pumpkin bread and lemonade and had a little picnic with a great view of the Sandia Mountains. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon. PLUS, as we were driving back to Santa Fe, our friend Liz sent us a text and invited us to carve pumpkins at her house that very evening! We were so prepared.

Pumpkin carving pros.
The results - you can see my cat face and can kind of make out Eric's Zia sun sunset in the center.
After that, we still had two pumpkins to turn into various foodstuffs. In the past, I've mostly relied on store-bought pumpkin puree or pumpkin baking mixes to get my fix, but this fall we've been especially ambitious in the kitchen. First order of business: Chopping the pumpkins.

After peeling, de-seeding, and chopping a whole pumpkin.
Pumpkin #2 got a little messy.
It was definitely time-consuming and kind of a pain to prepare the large pumpkins, but it felt pretty satisfying - plus, now we have a ton of pumpkin chopped up, just waiting to be used in a bunch of delicious recipes.

Last week, we made coconut-spiked pumpkin soup, and it was so good (especially with a little parmesan cheese sprinkled on top) that we are about to put another batch in the crockpot. I have also been roasting pumpkin seeds like crazy and they are now my favorite snack to have at work. But perhaps our most impressive use of pumpkin was last Sunday, when we endeavored to make pumpkin beer.

Stirring the brew cauldron filled with pumpkin goodness.
A lot of beer recipes use only pumpkin spice, but we wanted to try it with actual roasted pumpkin in the mix. It's too soon to tell whether our efforts will be rewarded with delicious beer, but it did smell amazing the whole time we were making it, so that is a good sign. In about 3 weeks we'll know the results!

We still have a ton of pumpkin left - luckily, Eric bought me a whole cookbook of pumpkin recipes a few years ago! He's off to Texas this weekend to climb some rocks, so I'm going to have a lot of time to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin bread, etc.

And before I wrap this up, here's a picture of our favorite lil' pumpkin:

Oh yes, we bought Zeezy a Halloween costume, and yes, he looks adorable in it.

He doesn't particularly LOVE wearing it yet, but we're working on it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekend in Pictures

Happy Monday! It's always much easier for me to go back to work for the week when I've had a super fun-packed weekend, because I feel satisfied that I got the most out of my days off. That was definitely the case today - Although it is nice to be home, drinking a glass of wine and looking over some wedding invitation samples that arrived in the mail this afternoon. Anyway, here's what we did this weekend!


These are some of the first pumpkins of the season, displayed beautifully at the food co-op. We stopped there Friday night to pick up some food to bring to a friend's house, where our friend Jon grilled up some hamburgers. Between this pumpkin sighting and the chilly weather, it definitely felt like autumn. The six of us made plans to go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta the next morning.


We woke up before the sun on Saturday morning to drive to Albuquerque and arrived just as the first few balloons were setting off. I took the above picture right after we parked - it wasn't even 7 am and we had been awake for multiple hours. But it was worth it because soon the skies were filled with balloons:

Some of our favorites are pictured above, like the gargoyle and the Darth Vader head. Others included bumblebees, Elvis, Smokey the Bear, and a giant fire hydrant. But most of them were just normal balloon shapes with beautiful, colorful patterns. We got back to Santa Fe before noon, making it the longest Saturday morning that I have ever experienced. But it was definitely worth it.

In the evening, after some napping and relaxing, we went to the Railyard and saw a band from Scotland (Frightened Rabbit) play. They were a pretty fun live act, although we only made it through 6 or 7 songs before we needed to go home and sleep some more.


We went with our friends up to the ski basin and rode the ski lift up to the top. We had never been up there before and we were so glad that we got to see it in the fall - the aspens were beautiful and the view was all-around spectacular:

Not pictured: buying green chiles and goat cheese at the farmer's market, making a pork and green chile stew in the crockpot (thanks to Eric's grandma Bev for the inspiration!), and clocking some good Netflix time (Parks and Recreation and Freaks and Geeks!).

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fall Appreciation Post

I think we need to blog a little more. Not only do I love any excuse to write about my life and post great pictures of Zeezy, but I've noticed that our last few entries have been pretty long-winded. And since apparently everyone has a short attention span now that the internet exists, it's probably a good idea to keep things short-ish. (Although, I am kind of a long-winded writer anyway, so take that with a few grains of salt.)

 So, it is FALL. The best season of them all, in my humble opinion. It is cold enough to wear all of my favorite kind of clothing (hats, scarves, sweaters, etc.) but not so cold that you never want to go outside. At night it is cold enough for us to justify making a fire in our little fireplace, which makes for a very cozy evening.

Zeezy curled up next to the fire - awwwww!
Today was the coolest (temperature-wise) Santa Fe day we've experienced since moving here, with a high around 58 degrees. And it was glorious.  Suddenly there are fall colors abound, with orange and yellow leaves that are falling to the ground and that crunch when I step on them. (Is the crunching of leaves under your feet not one of the best sounds?)

Yesterday we went with our friends to an elementary school's Harvest Festival. This school in particular has an AMAZING school garden program - a lot of the food they grow gets used for their school lunches, which is so cool. They had a little event to celebrate their fall harvest with food that they prepared from garden-grown veggies. The students were selling seed packets that they put together and raffle tickets to win a pumpkin they had grown! It was adorable and inspiring to see kids so stoked about gardening - one girl ran up to us with her hands full of salad greens, so excited about what she had harvested that she had to share it with everyone she saw. It made me wish that my elementary school could've had a gardening program. This school even has a wood-fire oven in their garden. So cool. It was a great way to get even more into the fall spirit.

This weekend we're hoping to drink some pumpkin beer, go to the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, and get some nature time. Sounds pretty darn good to me.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Colorado Weekend Top Ten

After a fun and busy 3-day weekend in Colorado, we are back in New Mexico. It is especially exciting because it is officially FALL, and right on cue, the weather is chillier and the air is crisper, which means I can wear the hats and scarves and sweaters that have been gathering dust in the back of my closet since May.

But more on wonderful Santa Fe fall weather in another post. Right now we are going to share with you all the abbreviated version of our Colorado weekend, in chronological order for your reading pleasure!

1. Reuniting with my Bestie

Jordyn & I at a frolf course near her house.
I hadn't seen Jordyn, my best friend of forever, since last December, which was a ridiculously long time, so it was especially excellent to spend Friday afternoon with her. One of the things I love most about our friendship is that we are basically happy doing anything together, which is why we are always laughing in pictures of the two of us! On Friday we walked to a park and took cute pictures together and watched a random Disney movie on Netflix. And it was great!

2. Wedding!
At the core, I would say all you need to make a wedding successful is good people, good food, and good fun; Brandon and Ginger's wedding had it all. Plus, the ceremony was incredibly touching and we got to dance a bunch. Eric has known both Brandon and Ginger for a long time, and in the past few years I've gotten to spend some time with them as well, and it is so obvious that they are a phenomenal couple. It was so great to be there are bask in the happiness that their relationship brings.

Eric & me pre-wedding.
As Eric & I slowly approach serious wedding planning time, it is good to be reminded of the joy and love that weddings bring to everyone involved. Plus, it gave us some good ideas and inspiration. So congrats to the happy couple once again, and thanks for throwing a great party!

3. Breakfast at Silver Grill
Jordyn had a class at 9 on Saturday morning, but I really wanted to squeeze in more hangout time with her, so we went to the Silver Grill Cafe for an early Saturday morning breakfast. Silver Grill is one of Eric's favorite places to eat because they make their own fresh-squeezed orange juice and amazing cinnamon rolls. Ask him sometime to describe their cinnamon roll french toast, which is what he ate on Saturday morning. I got biscuits and gravy, which is always my first choice for breakfast food. It was a great way to start the morning.

4. Going to College
Eric with an outdoor sculpture at CSU.
We had a couple free hours on Saturday morning, so we went to Eric's alma mater and walked around. Neither of us had been to the CSU campus in a few years, and it was fun to hear some of Eric's college stories I had never heard before and see the new changes on the campus (although some of them, in our opinion, are quite ugly). Being on a college campus made me miss being a student quite a bit - the library, the student activities, the academia - but then I remembered homework and missed it a little less.

5. Brunch at Silver Grill
Yep, you read that right... back to the Silver Grill Cafe for brunch! As we were ambling around CSU, Eric's sister Lindsay invited us to brunch with the wedding party and friends, and we had to laugh when she told us that everyone was going to the same place we had just eaten at mere hours before. But hey, it isn't one of our favorite Colorado restaurants for nothing. We had an awesome veggie quesadilla, and we got to spend more time with our friends that we had seen the night before!

6. Longmont Oktoberfest
Did you know that Longmont has an Oktoberfest? I didn't, until we got to Longmont on Saturday afternoon and my dad suggested we go to Oktoberfest that evening. I guess it's usually a fundraiser for the Symphony, but this year they understandably had changed the focus to flood relief. Pizza and beer for a good cause? Fine with me! Apparently many other Longmonsters felt the same way, because there were a TON of people there (at least by Longmont standards). I also found out that three new microbreweries are supposed to come to Longmont in the next year, which will make 6 total! Is Longmont getting cool without me?

We also ended up running into a good number of people we knew, most of whom I hadn't seen in years! It was quite the pleasant surprise.
Eric, me, Debbie, and Eileen!
7. Food from our Parents
I know this is cliche, but it really is awesome to visit our parents and get food from them. Parents know what is up. When we got to Eric's parents' house late Thursday night, his mom had conveniently just baked some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that we had as both a late-night snack and a breakfast snack. In Longmont, we lazed around in the afternoon eating my dad's delicious kale chips (I was the one that got him hooked on them last year, and now he is almost better at making them than I am!) and homemade hummus. Then, back at Eric's parents' house, they gave us a big bag of potatoes from their garden and gifted us some cinnamon honey spread from a Colorado farmer's market! Our families have good taste.

8. Chopping Wood
Most of you probably know that Eric is essentially a lumberjack. He wears flannel shirts, he has a beard, and he loves pancakes. Turns out he is also really good at splitting wood. Eric's folks graciously allowed us to take some of their firewood off their hands, and it needed splitting, and Eric made it look so easy... so I worked up the courage to try.

Admittedly not wearing the best footwear for the job.
Despite my lack of coordination and my general aversion to using large, heavy tools, it was pretty fun and I sort of got the hang of it. So consider me a lumberjack in training! Still working on growing out my beard.

9. Costco
Another first from the weekend: I went to Costco for the first time. Ever. My brother generously took us on a Sunday afternoon, even though historically that is the most crowded day. (He lives literally next door to Costco, it is ridiculous.) It was overwhelming, and we of course ended up buying a few more things than we anticipated, but Eric has convinced me that it will save us lots of money. And combined with aforementioned food from parents, we suddenly have so much food in our house! Is this what adulthood is like?

My favorite thing about Costco was the fact that we bought a large block of Tillamook pepperjack cheese for like, $8. The high prices of Tillamook outside of the Pacific Northwest have made me sad since we moved here, but now we have enough cheese to last us a good while. Oh, and the free samples were pretty nice, too.

10. Amazing Skies
Okay, this technically isn't about Colorado, but on the way out of New Mexico and on the way back, we saw the most incredible skies, filled with orange sunsets, dark purple thunderstorms, and rainbows. I tried to take pictures but of course they look terrible in comparison to what we actually saw. We always talk about how amazing the skies are in New Mexico, and to have a reminder of that on each end of our weekend seemed pretty lucky. We are glad to call this enchanting land home.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Zozobra and Rainy Days

How is it already mid-September? One minute we're celebrating Labor Day and complaining about the heat, and then suddenly it is mid-September and there are massive floodwaters in Colorado and parts of New Mexico. And we realize that we have been neglecting the blog. Sorry, blog.

Zeezy watching the rain.
Eric & I will always be Coloradans at heart, and many of our family members still live there. To see pictures of roads completely destroyed, streets turned into rivers, families evacuated as their homes flooded - it was upsetting. My hometown, Longmont, got hit pretty hard. My dad still lives in the house I grew up in, and last Thursday he, along with the rest of the neighborhood, was evacuated and didn't get to return home until the next day. Here's a picture of some flooding about three houses down from his house:

More water on this street than in the Santa Fe River.
Luckily, my dad is fine, our house didn't flood, and everyone that Eric & I know is safe. Still, it is pretty emotionally unsettling to see your childhood neighborhood torn apart. Bike paths and bridges that were just built last year are completely destroyed. Eric & I can't sop talking about how much money this is going to cost Colorado, the cities, and the people that were affected.

We're going to Colorado this weekend, and I'm kind of nervous to see the aftermath of this disaster. On one hand, it felt weird and sad to see pictures of my home on the news when I wasn't there to experience it. On the other hand, it seemed really intense and I'm sure it will feel intense to be there this weekend.

That is the quick Colorado update. Here in New Mexico, there were some floods in parts of the state, but in Santa Fe we just had 4 straight days of rain. Eric & I didn't mind, because it gave us the opportunity to stay inside and brew beer, make pizza, and bake brownies. It made for a lovely transition to AUTUMN, my favorite season. The weather has been noticeably chillier, the sun is setting earlier every day, and it is totally acceptable for everything to be pumpkin-flavored. We are getting very excited about all the stews we are going to make in our crock pot.

Anyway. Since we are behind on the blogging, we also need to tell you all about the Zozobra.

Zozobra is a giant marionette that is burned every year in the beginning of September in front of thousands of cheering Santa Feans. Will Shuster, a local artist, created this tradition in the 1920s.
Will Shuster with Zozobra back in the day.
Zozobra means anxiety in Spanish, and Zozobra (also called Old Man Gloom) represents all the anxiety, worries, fears, and other bad things that Santa Feans carry with them. The idea is that when he is burned, everything bad is burned with him. Pretty good deal, right? Santa Feans are encouraged to submit their own worries and fears in various "Gloom Boxes" around the city in the weeks leading up to Zozobra.

About a week before Zozobra was burned, Eric & I went to a free gallery exhibit dedicated to Zozobra art. Not knowing what it would be like, I stupidly did not bring my camera, which I immediately regretted because there was SO MUCH Zozobra art. I don't know if I can convey in writing how into Zozobra people are here. There are Zozobra T-shirts, earrings, and posters. There are hundreds of pictures of Zozobra drawn by elementary schoolers in their art classes. There are paintings and sculptures of Zozobra; in fact, there is a solid gold sculpture of Zozobra that one can purchase for a ridiculous amount of money. There are fully-functional birdhouses that are decorated with Zozobra's face and topped with vanity plates that spell out "Zozobra." Most impressively, there is an awesome vintage car with Zozobra painted on the hood decorated with desert imagery. (Again, why did I not have my camera for this??)

At this event, Zozobra himself was displayed for all to see:
That is his head. His body is laying to the left of the picture. You can't tell exactly how huge he is, but take my word for it. When his head is attached he is just about 50 feet tall. FIFTY FEET! Definitely the tallest puppet I've ever seen. It was pretty crazy to see him up close, and Eric & I got to write our fears and worries on a piece of paper and put it in his body ourselves. (When I type that out it does not sound very cool, but trust me, it was pretty cool.) We also learned that Zozobra's hair is a different color each year, and the color of his hair stays secret until the day of the burning.

So, September 5th rolls around, and Eric & I walk down to Fort Marcy Park, where THOUSANDS of people are gathered (equal to almost half the population of Santa Fe, I kid you not), a rock band is playing, and Zozobra is displayed for everyone to see. We note that his hair is green this year. As it gets darker, the music stops, the lights go out, and Zozobra begins groaning and waving his arms around wildly. There is some ceremony involving people in white robes, torch-bearers, and a fire dancer. There are fireworks. It looks something like this:

Zozobras from previous years.
People in the crowd chant, "Burn him! Burn him!" And then, finally, he is set on fire.

Since he is basically made of newspaper, he burns very quickly, but it is still awesome to see him burn. Until his body falls apart, you can see the frame of his figure glowing from the fire. And then his whole body collapses into a smoking pile, there are more fireworks, and everyone is happy.

So now you know about the weirdest and coolest Santa Fe tradition. We were really glad we went, and now we don't have any worries or fears or doubts because they were all burned with Zozobra. (Ha!) Really though, we are happy and well, eating good food and making exciting plans for the near future.