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2004

August

  • Erin packet soup

    So there will always be foodstuffs the expat misses from home, but then again, there’ll be some he doesn’t miss.

    We’ve tracked down Kerrygold butter, Jacobs Cream Crackers, Wensleydale cheese, brought our Barry’s tea with us, and also secured supplies of Marmite, liqourice allsorts and other goodies.

    Today in Cost Plus World Market, we came upon the motherlode: HP sauce, Heinz Baked Beans (no they’re not the same here), Cadbury’s and Nestle chocolate and McVities biscuits.

  • 500 words before breakfast

    So you might be wondering what I’m doing, when I’m not riding bikes or camping or such like.

    Two things mainly: writing the new book, and working/trying to get paid work.

    On the book writing front, I’m part of the way through the first draft of the Mississippi book, tentatively titled ‘Only Bike’. I try to write 1000 words a day. Sometimes that takes 90 minutes, sometimes it takes 4 or 5 hours, and sometimes it doesn’t happen at all.

    I’m not much of a believer in waiting for inspiration to strike. As the old saying goes, inspiration seems to find me more easily when I’m sitting at my desk in front of my computer. I’m aware that some days it will be a struggle, and other times a joy, but I prefer to keep plugging away.

    This morning, for example I tried to surprise myself by not letting myself go for breakfast until I’d written 500 words. I couldn’t do that every day, but it worked on this occasion.

  • After an absence

    Sorry it’s been a while since I posted. Here’s a breakdown of what’s been occurring:

    Camping: last weekend a bunch of us went up to the nearby campgrounds in the hills and ate until we couldn’t eat any more. Car camping has its advantages - including the ridiculous amount of good food you can bring with you - and we sat around the fire, told ghost stories, cooked, then cooked some more and went to sleep under the stars. Very good.

    Olympics watching: my once-every-four-year foray into unlikely sports. Watching Paul Hamm and Svetlana Khorkina in the gymnastics was like meeting old friends again. And there’s always time for a bit of archery or kayaking. And the track and field stuff hasn’t even started yet. US coverage is a bit patchy - tons of softball, but no field hockey and precious little cycling - but I’m doing OK with it.

  • New Mexico fact for the week

    On Friday it was pointed out to me that New Mexico licence plates not only have the state written on them, they also have “USA” beside it (there’s also space at the top for the county name, and the motto at the bottom: ‘Land of Enchantment’).

    Exhibit A:
    NM Plate

    Licence plates from other states don’t include the country description.

    Exhibit B:
    MS Plate

    The reason for this (and I’m not making this up) is that many of our fellow Americans outside the Southwest don’t know that New Mexico actually is a state in the union, and tend to lump us in with the real Mexicans over the border.

    So, just to clarify, the New Mexico licence plate has USA on it so that other Americans don’t think we’re from another country.

  • Saturday’s rainbow

    The view from the house on Saturday evening, with storms and a rainbow over the city.

    santa fe rainbow

  • Return of the Finn Brothers

    From the earliest days of Crowded House (and then some archaeology to unearth the Split Enz stuff I was too young to have listened to at the time), I’ve been impressed and moved by Neil Finn’s music.

    He’s just about to release a new album with his brother Tim (no mean musician and songwriter himself), and you can listen to the new single here.

    It’s tender and uplifting, and getting news of it in my mailbox has made Monday morning a lot better than it might have been.

  • An Evening with Richard Ford

    Richard Ford reading at the Lensic last night was just brilliant - warm and urbane but with a clarity and precision to his prose that made me very jealous.

    He read a couple of extended passages from his forthcoming novel - the third in the Frank Bascombe trilogy that started with The Sportswriter and continued with Independence Day.

    As well as his spare and beautiful prose (I think only Martin Amis can match him for this), he manages to be funny and wise while absolutely nailing his characters and their world. Ford’s soft Mississippi accent was great to hear - and that’ll be the voice in my head now when I’m reading his stuff.

    It’s enough to make me think about writing fiction, but also enough to scare me horribly.

  • Up Hyde Park Rd II

    Seems I’m not the only who likes the challenge of riding up to the ski basin - this Sunday they’re holding the annual Hill Climb Race.

    The fastest time to the top (3,300 vertical feet in 14.7 miles - that makes it over 4% gradient) is 53 minutes and 55 seconds, or an average of 16.3 miles per hour.

    Don’t think I’ll be doing it this year - but I’ll definitely keep riding it in my own time, getting nearer the top each time (I hope).

    Get the full story from our local paper, the Santa Fe New Mexican (free registration might be required).

  • Up Hyde Park Rd

    Out on the bike today - for the first time in anger, not just riding into town (a flat couple of miles).

    Decided to try the spin up towards the ski basin - not that I was planning to go that far. It’s 17 miles straight up to the basin at over 10,000 ft (santa fe is at 7,000 ft). I only wanted to be out for an hour and a half, and it was my first time, so I only went up about 6 miles with my heart rate monitor showing me a 85% of max and above all the way.

    It was great. Now all I have to do is keep going a little further up each time.

    Off to see Richard Ford reading tonight.

  • blogspam explosion

    OK, so last week I had 200 comments on this blog - maybe half of them spam that I hadn’t tidied up yet. This week I have 1300 comments - all but a handful spam.

    Paul’s kindly installing something that should keep them at bay for a while. More news as and when.