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Cookbooks, rain, taxis and turquoise plates

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On Sunday evening, the wind began to howl, the sky darkened and lightning streaked down from the heavens.

Oh, I thought, Sue Jimenez must have just completed her official cookbook count. What else besides nearly 3,000 cookbooks could cause the world to stand up on its hind legs and put on such a show?

I’m delighted to announce that Jimenez’s attempt to become the Guinness World Record holder for the title of largest cookbook collection went off without a hitch on Sunday, with two witnesses from the local culinary industry doing the official count.

Their total: 2,970 books. Now it’s in the hands of the Guinness record book people to decide whether Jimenez gets the recognition. I’ll be watching the sky for a sign that they’ve made their decision.

Green grass

I’ve got some other updates on previous column topics also worthy of lightning strikes:

At Lane Grau’s ranch near Grady, where he showed me around in late April when the grass was crumbling and gray and Grau was worried about the worst year of drought he’s ever seen, it finally rained.

“Two weeks after that article ran,” he told me on the phone the other day, “we got about one inch and seven-tenths.”

A couple weeks later, another inch and a half fell. Just the other night, close to another half inch came.

“We’ve still got some dead turf,” he said. “The rest of it is trying to grow.”

While a total of less than 4 inches of rain isn’t going to turn things around, “It’s better than it’s been any time since 2010,” he said. Some of his grama grass is 2 to 4 inches tall. And he said it was about the prettiest day you could imagine on the range – in the 70s with a nice cloud cover.

I told him I’d heard from people in Albuquerque who were watching the TV weather map for the Grady area in eastern New Mexico and sending good thoughts his way.

“Tell people we appreciate their prayers,” Grau said.

Taxi man

Taxi Bob didn’t need prayers; he just needed persistence.

Robert Torch, aka Taxi Bob, showed up in this column when he won a provisional victory in his quest to be issued a license to run a taxicab company in Albuquerque.

I relayed the saga of Taxi Bob, a veteran of Yellow Cab who wanted to run his own business. He bought two used Crown Victorias and had them painted with his name and logo: Giant Cab Co. (The name is aspirational: Bob is a sole practitioner.)

He applied for a license to the state Public Regulatory Commission. And he waited. For years. When I encountered Taxi Bob last year, he had finally gotten a provisional, or temporary, license and was still waiting for a permanent license.

Persistence finally paid off. He got his permanent certificate in the mail just last week. Bob told me that means he can get more cabs and hire drivers, giving himself a break from running a 24-hour-a-day on-call business all by himself. He’s 69, after all.

Getting the license, he said, was “Fantastic. All the hard work paid off.”

Plate change

Speaking of getting licenses, finding a yellow New Mexico license plate when you register a car has been a snap lately, but snagging a turquoise “Centennial” plate has been tougher. That led to a rumor that the turquoise plates were being phased out, which led to great angst among turquoise plate fanciers, whose numbers are legion (and include me).

“It is a very popular plate,” Motor Vehicle Division spokesman S.U. Mahesh said when I asked him what was up with the shortage.

The good news is that the plates are still being manufactured – a shipment of 16,000 just came in and is being distributed to MVD offices this week. But they will be phased out in favor of a turquoise plate that does not include the “Centennial 1912-2012” designation.

That plate is still being designed (the words “Land of Enchantment” will most likely move up to replace the centennial wording) and in the next few months the new turquoise plates should roll out and the centennial plates will become collectors’ items.

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Leslie at 823-3914 or Go to to submit a letter to the editor.