Monday, September 29, 2008

Aztec Ruins

Since we spent Friday in Albuquerque, we passed a lazy Saturday in Farmington. Waking up far too late, we decided to go to Ancestral Puebloan ruins in nearby Aztec.

The coolest thing about these ruins is your able to walk through them. Turns out Ancestral Puebloans were short rounds (catch that Indiana Jones reference?), so it makes getting through the doors, complete with a Sherpani kid-carrier somewhat difficult.

Thankfully, Elliot dug going horizontal.

Here's a little more of the ruins.

This last photo is of a kiva, which is a religious ceremonial structure. This kiva has been rebuilt, and is neat inside.

We sat through a presentation on Ancestral Puebloans and their use of turkeys. Turns out, for most of their history, they used turkeys, not for food, but for their feathers, which they made into clothes, including shoes. It was only when they suffered deep droughts, that they started eating those tasty, tasty birds.

Pretty good stuff, for a lazy Saturday.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Rest of The Day

Like I said, the best part of swearing in day was what we did after being sworn in. First, we ate at a darn good Greek restaurant in Albuquerque named Yanni's. Scallops, good stuff. Braised lamb shank, fall-off-the-bone tender. Spanakopita, tasty.

Next, we went to the arts festival downtown and visited an old family friend, Paul Wisdom, from Cold Bay. It had been eighteen years since I had seen him. I forgot his beard; although, having seen it again, I wondered how I ever forgot.

Saying goodbye to Paul, we headed to the aquarium. Elliot was mesmerized, as he is with most everything at this point in his life.

The jumping stingrays caught his attention first. But what he really enjoyed was the big tank, filled with tortoises, fish of all stripes, and a shark with an unexplained teeth bearing problem (as in, it bore its teeth continuously). Maybe this is its way of paying homage to Fire Marshal Bill.

And here's one last shot of Elliot with Dem, just for good measure.

Another fun day for the Browns.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Swearing In

I was sworn in as a lawyer yesterday. It was a pretty elaborate ceremony actually. We all conglomerated at the Albuquerque Convention Center, and the Supreme Court called itself to order.

Our first speaker was a former alcoholic lawyer who talked the entire time about how lawyering drove him to addiction. He then noted there is a large minority of New Mexico lawyers addicted to either drugs or alcohol. Honestly, dude was a total bummer. I hope for future generations' sake, they never ask him to speak again.

We then listened to admittees' bosses extol their virtues while moving the court admit them to the bar. Primarily, these went off without much too much fanfare. There were even truly touching moments of fathers admitting their daughters, etc. Unfortunately, it was not all so touching. When it came to the new ACLU and other public interest lawyers, they felt the need to wax loquacious about how they are the true harbingers of justice in America, and about what a great sacrifice they are making in becoming public interest lawyers. There was some additional self-ingratiating blah, blah, blah, and yada, yada, yada, but you get the gist.

Following the yadas and blahs, the court had us raise our hands and promise to serve our clients well, be honest, and strive to do what is correct. We all said, "I do." (No joke, it was like we were getting married to the bar.)

And that was that. Walked out a lawyer. As you can tell, this wasn't an impressive swearing in ceremony. Anyway, the best part of the day was yet to come, but that's a post for a later time.

Quick Crepe Breakfast

If the French do one thing well, it's crepes (pronounced with a short first e, not an a sounding e). This is a quick and relatively healthy crepe and fruit breakfast which will satisfy just about anyone.


Fruit filling
• 3 cups fruit of your choosing, cut small
• 1 1/2 tablespoons honey

• 2 cups milk
• 2 large eggs
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• Pinch salt
• 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
• 1 tablespoon butter to brush the crepe pan

Cream–honey sauce
• 1/2 cup cream
• 1 tablespoon honey


Add milk and eggs to blender and combine. Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, blending after each addition to ensure there are no lumps. Add pinch of salt and melted butter then blend for 30 seconds until you achieve a smooth, silky consistency. Set aside in refrigerator for 30 minutes to rest.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees F.

While crepes are resting, make your fruit filling. Start by cutting your fruit into small pieces. Place those pieces into a medium size bowl, and mix in honey. Let sit while you cook your crepes.
Dip a corner of a paper towel in butter and grease a small frying pan (you only want a light coat of butter). Ladle either 1/4 or 1/3 cup (depending on your preference) of batter into the pan. With a flick of the wrist swivel the pan in order to get a nice even covering all over. A good crepe should be paper-thin. Cook on a medium–high heat and flip it over when you see the edge turning golden brown. Cook for another 15 to 20 seconds, then remove from pan, place on plate, and cover with kitchen towel to keep warm. (To assure warmth, place covered crepes in a 170-degree oven until ready to serve.)

Place cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Introduce honey, and stir until incorporated and mixture is warm.

After crepes are cooked and sauce prepared, place one crepe on a plate, fill with fruit filling, and roll. Repeat process with another crepe. Spoon some of the cream–honey sauce over top. Enjoy.

(Attributions: I adapted the crepe portion of this recipe from Tyler Florence. The rest is all mine.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Water Slide

Dem signed Elliot up for swimming lessons about three weeks ago. Turns out he's a little fish. Well, today was graduation, and for graduation Elliot got to ride the waterslide. Dem thought it would be good if I participated, so I came down and we got our swimmin' on.

After dunking Elliot a few times, we moved on to the slide (i.e., we got our slide on).

Having finished our family swim time, I returned to the office and got my lawyerin' on, and Dem went back home and got her casalinga on.

Monday, September 22, 2008

BYU v. Wyoming (a.k.a., Elliot's First BYU Game)

So Rise and Shout, the Cougars are out.
We're on a trail to fame and glory.
Rise and shout, our cheers will ring out
As we unfold our vict'ry story.
On we go to vanquish the foe
For Alma Mater's sons and daughters.
As we join in song,
In praise of you, our faith is strong.
We'll raise our colors high in the blue
And cheer our Cougars of BYU.

Thus is the last half of the BYU fight song, which we heard seven times this Saturday, as BYU routed the Cowboys 44-0. More important than the score, however, is it was Elliot's first game. More on that later.

Denis and Lisa graciously allowed us to stay at their apartment. They even went on a hike with us before the game in Rock Canyon.

Dem and I loved Rock Canyon when we were in college. It's just gorgeous.

After the hike, but still before the game, we ate lunch with some friends at Cafe Rio (we had a pork salad, like always). This was Elliot's first time meeting Matt and Evige Warner's adoptive son, Jorgen.

We even got to see the elusive, and now high-powered attorney, John Anderson.

Not disparaging our wonderful friends, but nothing was better than the game, which we attended with another friend who drove nine hours from Montana, Josh Campbell. (We were bummed not to see Naomi, but not all our wishes can come true at once.)

Elliot took a nap through the second quarter and part of half time, but after that, he enjoyed himself.

Having witnessed a blowout, and having bought some books at the BYU bookstore (Huevos Verdes con Jamon, a couple Italian boardbooks, and Glimpses of Lehi's Jerusalem), we ate at the Bombay House. The chicken coconut kurma and the lamb saag and the saag shorba were drop dead awesome. In my hierarchy of world cuisines, Italian is on top, but Indian food runs a very close second.

Finally, pooped out of our minds, we went to bed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First Legal Publication

I just had my first legal publication as a lawyer -- I was published during law school, but they were just op-ed columns in the newspaper. It's a book review in the New Mexico Bar Bulletin. While it's not a big deal, it's nice to have the first publication out of the way. I have a couple other ideas in the pipe, one of which is a larger, more scholarly piece on the New Mexico constitution, but those will take a while. In the meantime, enjoy.

Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, A Book Review by Marco Clayton Brown

Monday, September 15, 2008

Elliot's First Symphony

We took Elliot to his first symphony tonight. It was family night, which meant (1) the symphony was only an hour long, and (2) there were more than a few children squirmin' about. Elliot did really well through the first few numbers:

1. Hoedown by Copeland
2. Entrance of the Queen of Sheba by Handel
3. Symphony No. 5, 1st Movement by Beethoven
4. Zapfenstreich March by Beethoven
5. Ode to Joy by Beethoven (if you could tell, the conductor, big Beethoven fan)

But then came Orpheus in The Underworld by Offenbach. Elliot, who gets a little hammy when he's tired, went absolutely ape. He was jumping around, clapping his hands, and repeatedly hooting "Woooooo! Woooooo! Woooooo!" (Only the elongation of the O vowel differentiated him from Arsenio Hall.) Needless to say, everyone within four rows was checking him out.

He calmed down during the Harry Potter Symphonic Suite and the Simpson's Theme. By the end, he was good and ready for bed -- as were we.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Anniversary Number 7

Our seventh anniversary is actually tomorrow, Monday, September 15, but we celebrated it on Friday and Saturday. First, we ate at a Nepalese/Indian restaurant in Durango, Co. Demaree had lamb kurma, and I had a traditional Nepalese yak stew. FYI, yak is a bit grainy and lacks good intramuscular fat, so it's dry to boot. I wouldn't suggest replacing beef with yak, but it's always good to eat new foods. (Or, in the words of Andrew Zimern, host of Bizarre Foods, "If it looks good, eat it.") Dry yak notwithstanding, the mango lassis were wonderful and the culinary experience was good.

So, after dinner we drove about 15 miles north of Durango and stayed at a bed and breakfast called Country Sunshine. It's a beautiful place run by Jodi and Walter Hammerle. They made us dessert -- creme brulee, and a very good creme brulee at that -- before we sat and talked with some English patrons about English and Saudi politics. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

We started the next morning by eating a blueberry pancake breakfast on the patio, which is in the background of the following pictures.

Having gorged on pancakes, we drove to Silverton, CO. Silverton is an old mining community, that has now become a tourist trap, although it still retains much of its old timey charm.

One of out favorite Silverton features is the Christ of the Mines. It's a marble statute of Christ that was supposed to watch over the town's miners.

Another cool Silverton attraction is the Old Hundred Gold Mine, which we toured.

Our guide, a man with an uncanny ability to mix ten-cent words with atrocious grammar, gave us a primer in excavating a gold mine.

He even introduced us to the long-forgotten, but very useful, miner's honeybucket. Lo and behold, it was on the tracks.

And, finally, the gratuitous photo of us with spade and pickax in hand (as if we'd ever mine. Come on, we went to college for a reason ;)

What a wonderful day. As has been the case for the past seven years, Dem and I loved just being with one another.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Bar, Sisyphus, and Redemption

There's a part in Dante's Purgatorio in which Sisyphus -- son of the king Aeolus of Thessaly and Enarete, and the founder and first king of Ephyra -- rolls a rock up a hill for all eternity to expiate for his sins. Actually, he rolls the rock up the hill a ways, only to see it roll back down, causing Sisyphus to start all over again.

I've felt like Sisyphus over the last few months. Studying for the bar for hours on end, and still not understanding the basics of commercial paper, was oddly akin to rolling that rock up the hill and then watching it roll away.

Well, my Sisyphean task is done. I have passed the New Mexico bar! The rock is gone, and I have entered Paradiso. It's been a long journey, and I'm eternally grateful to Demaree for shepherding me through. Hopefully, some day, Sisyphus will know the joy of casting off his rock and reaching the summit of his hill.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Translation Frustration

As many know, we are teaching Elliot our respective languages (Spanish and Italian). French will likely follow when Elliot's a little older and we find a good tutor. Our attempts notwithstanding, Elliot seems intent on not following the plan. For example, when we try to get him to say "babbo [i.e., daddy]," Elliot smiles and says either "da-dee" or "da-da." It's like he knows what to say --obviously he does because he's translating correctly -- but just wants to play with us. Little punk.

If this is how he acts now, we're going to have our hands full, in a really fun way, when he's older.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Flagstaff & Grand Canyon

We took advantage of Labor Day weekend and camped in Flagstaff, one of our favorite cities. We stayed at the KOA (bad move). It was a bit loud being right next to the road, and this made it difficult on Elliot. He woke up often; thus, we woke up often.

We attended Sacrament meeting Sunday morning, and we were amazed at how nice people were. Families were offering Elliot toys. Others kept us twenty minutes after the meeting just to talk. Them Flagstaffers got 'em some mad fellowshipping skills.

After church, we drove to the Grand Canyon. It was incredible.

At one stop, we were able to use our new favorite toy: the Sherpani kid carrier. It's essentially a kid backpack, and it worked like a charm. We descended into the canyon for quite a while, almost reaching the floor before turning around because of fog and overcast skies.

Best part about the Sherpani is Elliot loves it.

And just because the Grand Canyon was gorgeous, here's another photo.

On the way home, we stopped by the Four Corners Monument. There's really nothing to it, but you can be in four states simultaneously, so it was worth the detour, I guess.

Elliot was slightly less than impressed; however, he did find the Navajo fry bread stand and the fifty port-a-potties rather amusing.

So, while we didn't get much sleep, we had a fantastic weekend together.