March 24 2018

Da Vinci the Genius and Big Bird

We recently visited the temporary Da Vinci, The Genius Exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and it was wonderful!  The exhibit will be in Albuquerque through July 29, so if you get a chance to go, I recommend it!  The exhibit is comprised of two parts: an inventions area that has seventy-five large-scale models of his machine inventions created by modern day artisans and an art works area including a special section all about the fascinating Mona Lisa.  When I first heard about this traveling exhibition, I was very excited that we would get to see it in Albuquerque.  Quite honestly, I knew da Vinci was an amazing man but I didn’t realize just how much of a genius he truly was.  I was amazed at the sheer scope of his works.  This was a man who was not idle!  I walked around in awe at all that he accomplished in his life.

The first thing I learned was that he had a unique way of writing – in mirror-image cursive.  Some say it was a way of guarding what he was writing about as you have to concentrate to read it.  But most likely, it was because he was left handed and it was easier to write that way and the ink would not get smeared. Pretty cool no matter how you look at it.


Here are some pictures from the inventions area:

One of the inventions I found most fascinating was the mechanical drum.  Leonardo’s idea was to make a mechanical device that could be pulled by a horse or two men and would replace a dozen battle drums.  Traditionally, hundreds of drummers would accompany the army with their rhythmic sound of drumming.  The mechanical drum could fool the enemy into thinking the army was bigger than it was (and maybe spare the lives of a few drummers!)

Another fun invention – a portable piano!

I have to say though that this invention was a bit scary:

It’s a room full of mirrors so that when you walk in, you can see yourself from all angles.  Yikes!  We jokingly referred to this as the room of regret.  haha!

So many fabulous ideas and many of them were too advanced for his era.  Imagine what he could have done with today’s technological advances?

But on to the artwork, which da Vinci is most known for:

A whole room dedicated to the secrets of the Mona Lisa.  All of it was quite fascinating but the thing that intrigued me the most was the fact that da Vinci never felt the painting was completed and worked on it until he died.

The painting that I found most interesting, however, was of John The Baptist.

It’s difficult to see in the photo but his smile had a mystifying quality to me.  Was it a smirk?  Almost as if he knew some secret.  And why was he pointing upward?  I learned that when John and Jesus were depicted together in a painting, John would frequently be pointing at Jesus, however when John was depicted by himself, he points to Jesus in his heavenly residence.

Throughout the exhibit, there are quotes from da Vinci and two of them really resonated with me.

Wise words and da Vinci certainly lived his life by them.

Tragically though, despite his many amazing accomplishments, I found this quote very sad:

So now you may be wondering why my post title has Big Bird in it.  Well, let me tell you!  Since the da Vinci exhibit is located in the Museum of Natural History and Science, our ticket included a free planetarium show.  So when we were done exploring, we headed to the first available show.  We could only see titles of the shows and no descriptions.  No big deal.  I mean the title of our show was One World, One Sky.  Sounds good, right?  Well, as it turns out, the show’s description was given as we settled into our seats: Join Big Bird, Elmo, and their new friend from China as they find simple shapes in the stars above Sesame Street and then take a trip to the moon. *head smack*  Yeah, that was not the kind of show we had anticipated!  haha!  Well, learn from us and go to the website of the museum which gives descriptions of all their planetarium shows.  Duh.

Anyway, it was still a fun time and I am now utterly fascinated by da Vinci – currently reading a book about his life!



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March 9 2018

Five Favorites Friday – Broadway Musicals

Hey, it’s been a while since I did a Five Favorites Friday post so l thought I would do one!  I’ve had Broadway musicals on the brain this week.  You see, Star-Lord and I just booked our flight to New York City for this December and I’ve been put in charge of planning our activities.  I’m super excited to be going to NYC at Christmas time – I can’t wait to see all the Christmas lights and displays!  We are definitely going to see the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall but I also want to see another Broadway show while we are there.  I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about Hamilton but after watching a preview, it didn’t appeal to me that much.  But what did catch my eye was The Phantom of the Opera.  It’s one I haven’t seen yet and it’s been playing in NYC for 30 years.  So I think I’m safe in saying this one will be fantastic!  Anyway, we have been fortunate to be able to see a lot of wonderful shows right here in Albuquerque at Popejoy Hall.  I am grateful we have this venue that brings us some culture.  Hah!  As a matter of fact, we are going to see A Chorus Line tomorrow.  I am really looking forward to this one!  So all of this got me thinking about all the musicals we have seen the past few years and here are my five favorites of the shows I’ve seen so far (in no particular order).


This was the first live Broadway musical I ever saw and I was just blown away.  It is fantastic!  I had read the book on which it is based and wasn’t that impressed.  However, the musical is definitely impressive with enjoyable songs and interesting sets.  There are some really clever moments that tie into the Wizard of Oz which I loved.


Mamma Mia!

This is my absolute favorite. I’ve seen it twice – once in Albuquerque and once in NYC.  And I’d see it again in a heartbeat.  It’s a great story and the music, well, it’s Abba, so it’s awesome!


Million Dollar Quartet

I’ve also see this one twice.  We enjoyed it so much that we just had to see it again when we had the opportunity to in Las Vegas.  It’s just fun, fun, fun and will get you dancing and singing!  Not only that, it’s a wonderful story about Sun Studios and a recording session with four musical greats.  Who knew that Elvis was not the original singer of “Blue Suede Shoes”?  I sure didn’t.  In any case, there’s not a bad song to be found here.  Loved everything about this.


A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love & Murder

This one surprised me as I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did.  I was just blown away by the creativity in showing the demise of several characters.  It was done is such a clever and humorous way.  And the ending had a nice twist which is always fun.


The Lion King

This one is a visual treat.  Many of the songs were very familiar as I have seen the movie dozens of times.  I find I enjoy a show more if I know the music beforehand.  Of course, there are some new songs too.  It’s interesting to see how the costumes are done to portray animals.  Some of the performers even have extra tools to move their costumes, in particular the giraffes.

If you have any recommendations for shows to see, I would love to hear them!

Honorable Mentions: Mary Poppins and Pirates of Penzance

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March 4 2018

My Birdy Little Secret

Some of you may remember that a little over a year ago, I got a cockatiel for my birthday. I had been wanting a bird and had intended to get a parakeet. Getting a parakeet was a sound decision as I had experience with them and knew what to expect. But somehow I wound up with a cockatiel. It was not what I intended that day at all. The best-laid plans… All I can say is I had a momentary lapse in judgment and the mostly non-existent spontaneous side of me decided to make an untimely appearance. So that day I brought home a hand-tamed young cockatiel that had stolen my heart at the pet store. At first things seemed to be just fine. Levi was a lovely little cockatiel – very affectionate and curious. I started teaching him songs to whistle, preparing special foods for him, and spending most of my free time playing with him.  But it soon became clear that no matter how much time I gave him, it was not enough. Cockatiels need A LOT of attention. I hung in there for four months hoping that we would all adjust and things would get better. But I’m not the type that can ignore the attention-seeking peeps (sometimes screams) from a cockatiel. When I started having daily anxiety attacks, I knew I had to find him a new home. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I do not adopt pets just to give them away again. I was angry with myself for my impetuous purchase. Fortunately I was able to find Levi a new home with several other cockatiels and I know that he is much happier where he is now. Still, it took me a long time to forgive myself. It was a hard lesson to learn that not all birds are alike.  Cockatiels and parakeets are vastly different.

Anyway, the longing for a feathered friend was still there even when I got over my sadness about Levi. I fought it for as long as I could but eventually I found myself looking at parakeets every time I was in the pet store. So, you guessed it, I eventually got what I should have in the first place – a parakeet. But this time, having done much more research, I decided to adopt two. I knew that getting two would mean they would not bond to me as much but I also know they are flock birds and do better when not alone. So my two new babies came into my life last October. And while I am someone who likes to share, I kept this to myself. It was my “birdy” little secret. I wasn’t sure how people would react since I had failed so epically with Levi. I wasn’t prepared to hear any potential criticisms of my decision. I mean, what if I had made another mistake? But I know now that I haven’t. My two parakeets bring me a lot of joy and no anxiety attacks.

So without further ado, meet Kiwi and Sydney!

I thought I was getting two boys but it turns out that Sydney is a girl! Thank goodness for androgynous names!

Sydney is a total goofball.  She’s the bravest and the first one to explore new toys. She loves hanging upside down while playing and can be quite the contortionist. Here she is playing in one of her favorite toys.

Kiwi is the more cautious one but he’s also more vocal. He will sing and chirp from the time he gets up in the morning until bedtime. He loves Sydney and is constantly watching her every move. He lets her have first choice when it comes to food and will scold her if she doesn’t eat first thing in the morning!  Hah! Besides Sydney, mirrors are his favorite thing.

I love these two sweet birds and they just make me laugh and smile every day.

So, my birdy little secret is out. Whew!


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March 2 2018

March Madness

I’ve never been fond of March. It’s an odd time of year in which winter is starting to lose its grasp but repeatedly rears its head anyway. I don’t like that “in between” time in which I am freezing one moment and sweating the next. Fluctuations in temperatures often give me raging migraines as well. And when things start blooming, my allergies kick in. March generally brings with it a lot of wind too – my least favorite weather. Cool breezes are nice but the extreme winds of March are anything but pleasant. So, yeah, not fond of March. Even so, there are a handful of days when the weather is so gorgeous and the sun feels so delightfully warm, I just want to drink it in.  I begin to look for the first signs of fresh green sprouting from trees – a welcome sight after the depressing brown of winter.  Even the evergreen trees seem dull this time of year.  But today I spotted my neighbor’s daffodils beginning to bloom and I know that soon enough there will be lots more green. And I’ve been diligently been taking my allergy meds all year in hopes that this spring will not have me sneezing too much.

Anyway, today I write from my new desk! We have begun renovating our spare bedroom into an office and clearing out the loft area where we used to have our office.  After Marena moved out on her own (and we were certain she had no intention of returning *sob*), we made her room into our spare bedroom so the old spare bedroom was now available for our office. Does that make sense? Hah. We are not exactly fast when it comes to renovating things. Okay, so maybe it’s just me that needs to be dragged kicking and screaming through the whole process. Thank goodness my husband is not one to procrastinate; otherwise we would never get anything done. So the progress thus far includes new carpeting in the office, loft, and stairs.  Star-Lord made shelving for the office closet, painted the room, and hung new blinds. My contribution? I picked the color of paint and donated some stuff we no longer needed. Wait. I’m sure I did more than that… Oh, and I decided I needed a new desk!

And here it is in all it’s glory. Ta-dah! It’s a writer’s desk, don’t you think?

Look at all that wonderful space to fill up! So what am I doing? I’m writing, not organizing. But I will get to it tomorrow.  Yes, I will! And once we finish up the room, I will share more pictures.  We have a lot of work to do this weekend! As for the loft, I have a sort of vision for that space but that will take more time. A funny thing happens when you put in new carpet, all of a sudden you realize that the walls need a fresh coat of paint. So the loft and stairwell are going to get some fresh paint at some point.  I’m still trying to recover from the new carpet odor. Curse my most excellent sense of smell!

While shopping for my new desk last weekend, I realized I had a coupon for CostPlus World Market and since we were in the area, we had to stop. Well, we didn’t but, well, they have Milka chocolate there and other European goodies. So what did I get? A bottle of wine I will never drink. Yup. I got it because it was puurrrty.

Okay, so maybe one day I will drink it but for now, I’m just enjoying looking at it.

Oh, I wanted to talk about the Ten Tenors. We saw them last weekend at Popejoy Hall and they were fantastic.  They are Australia’s premier classical-crossover group.  They sing songs from great classical composers as well as songs from contemporary music’s most popular artists. And these guys sure can sing! They were funny too. The show has something for everyone. Frankly, I loved it all. Such a great time so if you have the chance to see them, go!

Can you see Star-Lord and I in the crowd?  I circled us in red! hehe!

With the beginning of a new month, it was time to get some fresh pictures for Maxwell’s Facebook page.  I swear as soon as I get out my camera and props, he goes into supermodel mode. He knows the routine. Sit pretty for pictures, get lots of treats. Yup, that’s how it works. But I also think he enjoys all the attention. What a ham!

Happy March!

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February 17 2018

I’m Baaaaack!

Last year I started this blog in an attempt to be writing more and to share things about my life in Albuquerque. I wasn’t completely sure where I was headed with my blogging. I tried different things to find my voice. My main intent was to be a positive force in a world where I felt the focus was mostly on bad things. I did short posts with lots of pictures, longer stories about things happening in my life, and posts about different places in Albuquerque.  Early on, I started a regular Friday feature in which I shared five of my favorite things which often turned into trips down memory lane.  I had a lot of fun and it definitely got me writing more; but by the end of 2017, I was starting to feel a bit burned out and I wasn’t sure what my focus should be. I decided to take a break to reevaluate and figure out what I wanted from this venture.

Quite honestly, I felt a bit let down that I did not have more followers by the end of the year. I started to analyze the statistics of my website to try to gain some insight into what was working and what wasn’t. I could try to explain my thought process as I contemplated everything; but in the end, I can only say I have no idea what makes for a successful blog post. And since I’m not good at self-promotion and don’t like to spend endless amounts of time on different social media sites trying to gain followers, it seems to me that I should simply write for myself. Sure, I want to feel like there are people out there reading what I write but since I don’t know the magic formula that gets people to follow a blog, I’m going to quit trying.

That said, I have given my website a new look to go along with my fresh start for 2018!  I’ll still be writing about Albuquerque, doing movie reviews, and occasionally writing about five favorites on Friday (it just won’t be every Friday anymore.) Unless, of course, I’m flooded with suggestions. *wink*

So… onward and upward, as they say!

This past Monday, I turned 50, and I still can’t quite wrap my brain around that number. It doesn’t seem possible and yet all the signs are there – my metabolism is nonexistent, there are wrinkles and grey hairs, and there are aches and pains. Ah yes, and there are reading glasses in practically every room of my house! And just a couple of weeks ago, I got mail from AARP! Geez, I thought they would have waited until I was 60. As I contemplate all these physical reminders of my age, there is a feeling of loss but mostly a sense of urgency. Time is running out.  I can only describe this feeling by saying it’s like the sands of an hourglass. When you first turn that hourglass over, it seems like the sand is falling slowly and there is still so much sand in the upper part of the hourglass. It’s like when you are young and have your whole life before you. But now that sand is starting to run so fast and there is more sand on the bottom than the top. Yup, time is running out. So I must make every day count, be grateful for each day, and find a damn plug to stop that sand!

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December 1 2017

Hitting the Pause on 100

My New Year’s resolution for 2017 was to “just do it” and write more; thus began my blogging journey with The Q and I.  I’m proud to say that I kept that resolution and this is my 100th post. Ironically, as I was reflecting on this milestone, I decided it was time to hit the pause button. I want to take some time to reevaluate the direction of my blogging and think about what’s working and what isn’t. Do I hang up my hat and focus on other writing pursuits or do I revamp and start with a fresh approach?  At this point, I am still undecided. I do want to thank everyone who commented and supported me in my efforts this year. I am most appreciative. If you have feedback, good or bad, that would help in my decision-making process, I would like to hear it!

In the meantime, I plan to enjoy the holiday season and savor this glorious time of year.

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and many blessings in 2018!


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November 24 2017

Five Favorites Friday – Famous Dogs

It’s the day after Thanksgiving which means I have a turkey hangover, I can officially start playing Christmas music, and I’m avoiding the Black Friday madness by shopping online! And since today is Friday, it’s time for some favorites. As I was contemplating my choices for today, it occurred to me that I may have to eventually do two posts – one for famous real dogs and one for famous animated dogs. For today, I am focusing on the real dogs. Be sure to let me know what your favorites are too!

Lassie – I can still remember watching Lassie on TV every afternoon when I was in elementary school. It didn’t matter how much fun I was having playing outside, at 3:00pm, it was Lassie time. I loved it when she lifted her paw to say goodbye to her viewers.

Benji – This little guy had so much personality and so many great expressions – almost human! My favorite scene is from the second Benji movie (For the Love of Benji) in which he steals a string of sausage. I laugh every time.

Hooch – Speaking of dogs with great facial expressions, this guy from the movie, Turner and Hooch, was hilarious. The slow motion scenes of him running are too funny. Of course, his tendency to drool made me cringe.

Wishbone – Of course, we all loved Wishbone in our house because he was a Jack Russell Terrier and he loved imagining he was the lead character in classic books. There have been quite a few Jack Russells on TV and in film. It’s really not surprising as they are so cute and smart.

And speaking of cute and smart Jack Russells…

Maxwell Smart – Okay, he’s not famous on the scale of my previous choices but he has a decent group of faithful followers on Facebook. And, well, I just think he’s the most awesome dog ever!


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November 21 2017

7 Things I Learned At Court

If you follow my blog, you will know that I was recently summoned for jury duty. I have to admit I was not thrilled to receive my summons. I sternly reminded myself that this was a privilege and honor to do for my fellow citizens and my civic responsibility. With that in mind, I began to prepare for my week at the courthouse in downtown Albuquerque. I read everything I could online but the information wasn’t quite as detailed as I would have liked. It was frustrating and I had to resign myself to not knowing what to expect. After my term of service, which wound up being three out of the five days, here’s what I did learn:

  1. You do A LOT of sitting around and waiting. It’s boring, boring, boring! Yes, I had my iPad with books to read, the internet to browse, and games to play. But the hours dragged by.
  2. The boredom tends to make you want to people watch. One young woman was working on her laptop computer which entailed watching videos of women in lingerie pole dancing. She appeared to be editing the videos in some way but I couldn’t tell for sure and I certainly didn’t ask! Wonder what her job title is?! Another gentleman was reading a book that had him laughing loudly at times. I became so intrigued by a book that would cause so much laughter, I made a note of the title: A Man Called Ove.  Must read that at some point.
  3. Every employee at the courthouse was very nice and friendly. It was almost uncanny. After we were dismissed the first day and were exiting the building, the security personnel were waving at us, smiling, wishing us a good day. Maybe they knew the majority of us didn’t want to be there and were trying to make it as pleasant as possible.  I lost count of how many times I was thanked for being there and serving as a juror.
  4. Every time one of the court staff entered the room, there was immediate silence. Secretly, you hope your name won’t get called but then again, you are curious to find out what happens next if you do.
  5. Eventually my name was called and I wound up in a courtroom with 20 other jurors. We were given a brief rundown of the case by the judge and then the lawyers started asking us questions, presumably to determine which of us would make the best jury of six. Yes, a jury of six and not twelve. Guess that’s all you need for misdemeanor trails. All I’ve ever known about courtrooms is from what I’ve seen on television. Yeah, it’s really not like that. No slick talking, clever lawyers. In fact, they seemed rather nervous and it was a bit disarming. I did find the judge to be a bit stereotypical – not happy with interruptions and stern when necessary. The most interesting thing to me was that they played “white noise” whenever the attorneys approached the bench to talk to the judge – so, of course, you couldn’t hear what they were saying.
  6. Courtrooms are FREEZING! Are judges’ robes made of wool? Hah.
  7. I was not chosen as a juror and I’m not sad about it at all. I really have no interest in the law, don’t want to be on the wrong side of it for sure, and I certainly prefer a TV drama to the real thing! But I did my duty and let’s hope that will suffice for a long time.


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November 19 2017

Murder on the Orient Express – Movie Review

One of Agatha Christie’s most popular novels is brought to the big screen and it is done lavishly and with style. I confess to not having read Christie’s novel but, of course, that made the movie all the more fun, not knowing the ending. It is refreshing to see a movie come from Hollywood that is not filled with gratuitous language, sex, or violence.  A good old-fashioned mystery with lots of interesting characters portrayed by some great actors – Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, and Willem Dafoe to name a few. I was pleasantly surprised to see Olivia Colman in the movie, a wonderful British actress who I first noticed in the BBC program, Broadchurch. Kenneth Branagh plays Hercules Poirot, the self-proclaimed greatest detective in the world. Yes, he’s arrogant but with good reason. He is able to solve mysteries that stump others largely due to the way he views the world. Poirot is obsessed with symmetry, perfection, and order. He’s almost a tortured soul in that regard – viewing the world as he thinks it should and could be, but disappointed in how it falls short. I could really relate to him on that score.

The story takes place on a train ride from Istanbul to Calais when twelve passengers come under suspicion after a murder takes place. Detective Poirot is intent on having a vacation in which he wants to do nothing more than read “A Tale of Two Cities.” But after the murder takes place and an avalanche has stopped the Orient Express, Poirot is reluctantly drawn into solving the murder. As he interrogates all the passengers and searches for clues, you can see his transformation from reluctant sleuth to determined detective bent on discovering the killer before he/she strikes again. I loved the use of camera angles in this movie, particularly the overhead shots which cleverly helped you to see clearly into the tight spaces of the train. Being a mystery, the pacing has to start slow while building up to a quick conclusion in which all the clues come together to reveal the culprit. Since I have not read the book, I do not know if the movie had glaring oversights or blunders. All I know is that I enjoyed watching the mystery unfold and I really had no idea how it would end. I’ve seen a lot of discussion about Poirot’s incredible mustache but I think it speaks to who he is as a person and I, for one, would like to see him in another movie.

My score: B  (or 4 out of 5 mustaches)


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November 17 2017

Five Favorites Friday – Pie!

As Thanksgiving draws ever closer, my thoughts turn to comfort foods and decadent desserts.  In particular Thanksgiving makes me think of pies, so for this Friday, I am sharing my five favorites.

Cherry – I have to say I’m an oddity because I do not like apple pie – positively un-American, right? Oh well, I hear George Washington was a fan of cherries!


Chocolate – I especially like it if the layers of chocolate and whipped cream are of equal height!


Peanut Butter – I first had a peanut butter pie at The Daily Grind here in Albuquerque. Oh my! Positively decadent.


Pecan Cream Cheese – This pie is soooo easy to make and it is so delicious too. Click on the picture for the recipe.


Pumpkin – This simple pie just screams Thanksgiving to me. I never have it any other time of the year. Guess that keeps it special!

What pie will you be making for Thanksgiving?



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