Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Writing and travel in 2010

Our Bengal cat George seems to be doing well on his beta blocker, a tiny 6.25 mg pill fragment that if it fell on the floor we might never see again. We delayed our Mexico trip so he can have a Saturday morning follow-up at the vet, and then barring anything unexpected, we will head off on our trip on Sunday. Our first stop will be Nogales, Arizona, so we will cross the border on Monday. As everyone knows, there is a certain amount of mayhem down there, but none of it—knock on wood—seems aimed at tourists. Still, we'll be careful. The road to Mazatlán is a straight shot from the border.

While we're there, I'll be working on one of my 2010 goals of losing 33 pounds by my birthday in October. As for writing-related goals, those for once are easy to define and should be straightforward to keep. Long ago I set a goal of getting a particular novel published by a certain date, which quickly taught me never to set a goal where I can't control the outcome. So my goals include writing and submitting material for publication, editing and publishing a couple of writing club chapbooks, and maintaining the Internet Review of Books website. Oh, and I may decide to self-publish one of my old novels as an e-book.

What are your plans for the new year? Do you find it hard to stick with your annual goals?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A hopeful prognosis for George

George, doing what he does best

We learned today that our five-year-old Bengal cat George has a defective mitral valve and hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, which the vet tells us will shorten his life. Lately George has had a few seizures and lacks the energy he used to have, when no shelf was too high, no breakable item quite safe from a swat of his paw. He'll be going on a beta blocker, and his prognosis is "fair to good." Many cats survive only months with symptoms like his. We're hoping for him to have the best outcome possible.

We've been speculating that his life span may be shorter than his twin sister Gracie's, but we will be grateful for whatever time we have with him. Even without his full former spunk, he's a joy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Getting ready for Mazatlán

We're preparing to leave for a month-long RV trip to Mazatlán on January 1. Today we drove with our friends to the Mexican side of the Santa Teresa border entry to get visas. We're confident we'll be safe because our friends are going with us and have made the trip a number of times. In fact, they've lived in Mexico. So we were all mildly surprised when a woman in line for a visa warned us what not to do when we're on the road: don't pick up anyone, don't talk to strangers, don't leave the vehicle unattended, and at gas stations just pay for your gas and leave. Some of that is common sense; we don't intend to pick up anyone, for example. On the other hand, we aren't going to live in fear. The highway from the U.S. border to Mazatlan is apparently a straight shot, so we aren't worried about getting lost.

Last night our friends called an RV park in Mazatlán and were told we'd have no trouble staying at their park. Skittishness of tourists is one reason they gave, but they said the overall economy is the main problem. In any case it has security, has wi-fi, and is right by the beach. That way I'll be able to get sand in my toes, drink cerveza, maintain the Internet Review of Books website, and write blog entries accompanied by lots of photos.

Mexico is a beautiful country wracked in places by violence. Mazatlan itself is said to be safe for tourists; as with any big city, there doubtless are neighborhoods where strangers shouldn't go. But our friends, who've been there, tell us we'll get everywhere we want to go by bus or taxi.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

An uncommon snowfall

Organ Mountains near Baylor Canyon Road,
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Over the past weekend, a storm moved in and delivered two days of rain—not a deluge, but steady. Our Chihuahua Desert climate typically sees scattered rain, if any at all, between July and September, so our most recent storm was a surprise. As a transplanted New Englander, I listened with excitement as the El Paso weatherman predicted that the clouds would deliver one to three inches of snow in the region before disappearing.

I'm happy to write that the snow fell in the relative lowlands of Las Cruces, lasted long enough to titillate us, then promptly melted. Even the Robledos and Doña Ana Mountains were bare. But the Organ Mountains dominate our city's skyline, and they looked as though they wore a coating of confectioners' sugar. It might not happen again for years.

A view from Baylor Canyon Road

So Nancy and I set out for an afternoon drive up Route 70 to the San Augustin Pass (elevation 5719 feet), which leads to the White Sands Missile Range. From there we doubled back to the city side of the mountains and followed Baylor Canyon Road.

It probably won't last on the mountains but another couple of days. Snowmelt is already trickling in rivulets and will soon rush in sheets, watering the cactus, the creosote, and the grama grass. It will find its way into the arroyos and into the Rio Grande, and whatever people don't take out will either evaporate or flow to the Gulf.

Baylor Canyon Road parallels the Organ Mountains.
The White Sands Missile Range is on the other side.