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Slow Burn And More

You’ll remember I’m writing about our trip to Albuquerque where we were to attend the memorial service of Martha’s good friend, Shirley. I had just gotten us to the AirB&B, a Casita just off Mountain Road.

That night, we slept well...which also surprised me. Sometimes, one of or both us has trouble sleeping in a new place and after travel. But not that night. We were off to dreamland by bullet train and didn’t stir until dawn.

Here's a snap of a slightly amused Martha at the Slow Burn with coffee. Fortunately, she is tolerant of her husband's efforts with a camera.

We got up around six local time, which is seven Texas time. In any case, we had coffee and then took a quick stroll around the Casita. We discovered that between it and the main house was a shared patio, in which there was a little fountain that bubbled along. There were also a couple of garden areas and various plants, plus a small, brown, ceramic statue of St. Francis, with (of course) the obligatory if unhygienic terracotta bird sitting on his head.

Also, on the inside of the wooden gate was a painting of Ganesha, the Hindu god who is famed for having the head of an elephant. It was cheerfully but, I believe, respectfully done. It was no mere cartoon, which is, alas, not always the case when Westerners draw his image.

I think he was there in his role of patron of the arts and sciences.

But the other discovery of interest was that behind the Casita, at the end of a narrow path, was yet another patio, this one private and restricted to the guests. It was smaller, but there was a sofa and chairs, and it was shaded by one of those sail-like patio covers of cloth. Also, there was a huge ceramic stove or grill. It was no longer functional, and a hand-lettered wooden placard on the tiles warned us not to try to use it, but the piece itself was rather attractive. I thought of it as a kind of found art.

Anyway, we enjoyed the patio, and that evening we would have a glass of wine out there, after the sun had set, remembering Shirley.

But, getting back to the morning...we decided to walk to breakfast. I suppose that was a little foolhardy of us. I wasn’t entirely sure of Martha’s stability...and she wasn’t entirely sure of my well-being at the time. I suffer from altitude sickness when I travel to high altitudes (ironic, given that I grew up in Albuquerque, a city a mile above sea level), and I had had a rather bad attack of it just after we landed. But, she seemed fine, and I was better, and we both of us were so enjoying the cooler temperatures that we gave into temptation and decided to try and hoof it.

We set out and walked Eastward (toward the Sandias) along Mountain Road. When we’d lived in Albuquerque, there had been a coffee shop just up that way. I think we’d been there once, and it hadn’t been memorable, but at least it had coffee and pastries, and so we headed out.

We soon discovered the bad news. The cafe was gone. But, there was also good news. A new cafe, Slow Burn Coffee, had opened just across the street ( We entered and found ourselves in a pleasant space with a counter and espresso machines against the wall, tables and chairs scattered around, and a large coffee roaster in the back. We ordered at the counter -- an Americano for Martha, a latte for me -- and two pastries.

We also chatted with the woman who made us our drinks. She guessed straight off that we were visitors...out-of-towners. We admitted it, but I said we’d lived in the city some years before, and, in fact, that I had grown up there. She said she’d moved here from California. We discussed how much Albuquerque had changed even in the few years since she’d been here. When I told her what the neighborhood had been like when I’d been a boy, she was intrigued, but perhaps not surprised. What the neighborhood had been is as obvious to the interested observer as what it is becoming.

We ate our breakfasts. I took some pictures of Martha and then we walked back in the sunshine. As we walked, we talked about how pleasant it was to be out of the heat (the New Mexicans we met kept telling us how unseasonably warm it was. We smiled back at them with the infuriating smugness of Those Who Know What It Is To *Really* Suffer). We talked as well about how charming the Casita was. We talked, finally, about just how nice it was to be here.

What we did *not* but which we did think was that it was unsettling. We had come here to say farewell to Shirley. We should have been melancholy. We should have missed her.

Yet...we were happy. And, somehow, in some way, we felt...

That Shirley would have been glad of that fact.

More to come.

Copyright©2022 Michael Jay Tucker


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