Thursday, July 20, 2017

anyone for bocce?

Bocce balls on the court at Los Poblanos - like pastel colored eggs.  We didn't take up the implicit challenge - too busy sitting in the beautiful gardens for a few minutes before Alice had to go and catch her plane and precipitate herself into the Travel Hell that involved a long-delayed flight change in Atlanta airport.

Here's a gardener raking the gravel paths, and below, the paths themselves ...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

a very small vacation, with lavender

Alice catches a plane to NYC in the morning - so we're taking the opportunity to have a one-night vacation at Los Poblanos, a lavender farm on the outskirts of Albuquerque - a lovely old NM property, with the kind of gardens that make one instantly want to re-do one's own tumbleweed-ridden back yard (although probably not with the water features).

So this is the view across the gardens to our room ...

But.  We've stayed here twice before - and the last time, in particular, Los Poblanos was an idyllic, slightly funky, lavender-full establishment, with great hens and other animals, and a wonderful laid-back, escapist vibe.  Now - they've just finished building a whole lot (maybe 18?) of vacation units over half the lavender fields, and have expanded, expanded ... Sure, there's still lavender growing (and ready for consumption - I had a lavender champagne cocktail and we had peach and lavender gelato for desert) - but all the same, we're anxious that the success of this establishment could have killed the goose that laid the golden - or at least lavender colored - egg.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Keep? Or compost? (and, quietly, a memorial for Torrey Reade).

I was on my way out to the composter with these, when the sun caught them, and they suddenly didn't look so wan, and it looked obvious that they might have a second life as dried flowers ... at least for the rest of the summer.  So in they came again, and they're now part of the dust-catching apparatus in my study.

But this is also a memorial post in honor of Torrey Reade, Alice's old friend and roommate from college, who died two evenings ago.  She was an avid, daily reader of this blog, and so it seems strange not to be writing with at least an eye on her ear and eye - this is the second post that I can be sure that she'll never read.  I thought about waiting for a spectacular sunset, or capturing some quintessentially Santa Fe vista by way of a suitable farewell visual - but then, it was very clear to me that carrying on as I would have done anyway, and posting my daily image and piece of writing that works to capture that day's simultaneous quintessence and ordinariness was surely the only way to go.

As befits her desire not to make a fuss and performance about anything - especially being sick; especially dying - it's a low-key memorial, but at the same time I can hardly let her passing go without a comment (the whole of this last year has been an exercise in saying nothing here about her illness, of course - above all when we went east to visit, and when she was out here in Santa Fe in late January - and hence acts as an exemplary instance of how what's very much on one's mind is very much what one doesn't write about).  So this is to say: I'll miss her.  I'll miss her sharply inquiring mind - about what one's been reading; about what one thinks of what one has read; about what one should read.  I'll miss the passion with which - especially two summers ago - she entered into the culture and history of Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico: she soaked up local knowledge and information and filed it neatly away in her capacious memory.  I'll miss her knowledge about farming and organic food (she ran, until quite recently, an organic farm in Southern New Jersey - a place of great serenity as well as lovely sheep, cows, and proliferating barn cats),  When she and Dick visited me in North Carolina nearly two years ago, and we went out to a local farm-to-mouth Italian restaurant in Durham, with another young couple they'd befriended, the precision and curiosity with which she talked about their interest in charcuterie, and in food writing, and their developing ideas, was spectacular.  When she and Dick flew out to our wedding in 2013, she quietly and tactfully and confidently - not exactly took charge, but kept us sane as we put the day together (and then they stayed and house-and-cat sat for a couple of nights - a wonderful gift).  And I could pile on other memories, from the first time that I met her when she came to a house-warming party we had in Highland Park in 2006, to a meal in Hamilton NJ when she'd just come from some kind of important meeting in Trenton to do with agriculture in the state (and, of course, if the tables were reversed, and she were writing about that evening and I'd just come from a meeting, she would doubtless be able to remember, even after all this time, precisely what it was).  There's no way that isn't trite to end reminiscences: it's just so very sad - writing about her necessarily brings her presence sharply back, and makes one very much the more aware of loss.

Monday, July 17, 2017

morning glory

When we arrived here, I did my normal trip to Agua Fria nurseries to stock up on plants for the containers - something greatly aided this year by the thoughtfulness of the university that gave me a $200 gift card for a writing up a promotion case.  It's always a surprise and a treat to get paid - one doesn't expect it, whatever one's views about remuneration for professional service, etc, but one can't deny that each case takes a lot of care and attention and careful - albeit usually very enjoyable - reading.  But a gift card?  That stops the money just sliding off to pay the bills, and ensures that one buys something - at least in this case - that's a treat: lots of plants.  I bought (among many other things ...) two morning glory plants - one is somewhat sulky; wants to grow outwards not upwards, and seems prone to being eaten by something.  The other one - this one - took one look as some string that I nailed to a post on our portales, and is racing up - I swear it grows an inch a day.  And this morning - a veritable First Flower.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

sweet peas

This was conceived of as a vibrantly colored photo - pink and purple sweet peas from the farmers' market, in a mid-and-dark blue mug, on a black and white mat.  Somehow, it all worked in black and white.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

betanin, carotene

- or: various shades of red and orange in the farmers' market.  I didn't know, however, until I checked, that the orange in carrots doesn't come from the same source as that in beets.  That may be a completely useless factoid.  By coincidence, however, I met carrots in print later in the day, in Michael Pollan's Second Nature, in which he asks (p.118, in my copy), "What does a carrot care about?"  What does it need, in order to fulfill its destiny?  The answer would seem to be shoulder room - don't plant your carrots too close together - and light soil (I knew they preferred sandy soil, but the fact of lightness seems to be key).  However, I wasn't reading for carrot wisdom, but actually for stuff about weeds and, especially, dandelions (just for reference, those are dandelion leaves in the top right-hand corner).  Research takes one down some great strange paths ...

Friday, July 14, 2017

crow on a painted post

Our Eldorado neighbors have a large number of different things in their front yards (besides cactus, tumbleweed, chamisa, and rabbits).  "Front yard" is a bit of a misnomer, when we all have an acre and a half of land, and we're only allowed, by statute, to enclose a very small amount by our houses, so we all look as though we're living on exhausted grazing land.  But there's a life size (and very realistic) metalwork bison, a tin elk, various pieces of Westernalia in the form of real or fake farm carts, bird feeders (of course), bluebird nesting boxes, a paint-fading Kokopelli figure, the occasional beehive, Tibetan prayer flags strung between posts, stacks of wood, and so on.  One particularly decorative-minded household not only has a spruced-up vintage flat bed truck, a tin coyote, and various Western-themed objects, but these painted poles - which, today, functioned as a crow post.