Wednesday, July 31, 2019

russian sage and convolvulus

Not ours, unfortunately - spotted on the side of the road whilst out on a morning walk (this was after discovering that some neighbors up the street do the illustrations for the Paw Patrol books - which  I've never heard of.  Very canine-centric, seemingly.  Are they a Thing?).  But maybe next year I can plant some convolvulus to grow up inside our own Russian sage - which remains more straggly than it should.  I blame gophers.  In today's episode of rural life, the Gopher Trappers came round and removed two small rodents from the traps they set two days ago - they'll be taking them off to feed to ravens.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

community garden

To dinner with some friends tonight - who have a plot in the community garden at the end of Cerro Gordo - up past where I lived in the summer of 2001 - and we went to water the plants, in what's the . most idyllic, rural setting.  The parsley, basil, chives and other things that found their way into dinner were pretty fresh and amazing, too.  It's hard to capture the luminosity of late summer, late evening, and this understates the magic - but it really was like spending a quarter of an hour in a retreat.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Dots. In detail.

I've not put up any images of lichen for a while: this, and the Many-Spotted Tiger Moth, are from just outside our front door.  Look not just at that moth's spotted wings, but at its furry face!  And its proboscis!  

Sunday, July 28, 2019

hollyhock update

The blooms are over: now I'm waiting to harvest the copious seeds.  I'm slightly dismayed to find that one of the stems - see the center of the second image - seems to be a complete ant trap: something that I hadn't noticed before blowing the picture up large ...

Saturday, July 27, 2019

a new hike (and a New Mexican Horned Toad)

A new and beautiful hike, this morning.  About ten days a year, the National Parks Foundation opens up a trail on the old Greer Garson Forked Lightening ranch - more recently owned by Jane Fonda - which allows one to see a hidden valley of the Pecos (very near where I used to teach summer school, near S. San Isidro) - as well as wonderful views across to Rowe Mesa and to the Pecos Wilderness.  It's about a four and a half mile loop, and very well worth doing.

The real wild life treat was a New Mexican Horned Toad - which isn't a toad at all, but a kind of lizard - I've only ever seen one once before.

And on our way back, we drove up to Terrero, to see the huge array of humming bird feeders, which were buzzing and whirring with little birds, as always in late July ...

Friday, July 26, 2019

rain tonight?

Why, yes.  Not as much as one might think, perhaps - and certainly nothing like last night's torrents - but certainly enough to make the tumbleweed sprout (alas).  After our walk (this was taken from Descanso Road) we sat in the dark and watched the light show for a while, whilst the cats cowered.

Thursday, July 25, 2019


The monsoon storms truly broke this evening!  No need to water the plants tonight.

And this, of course, is pretty much how my last book began, wondering what, if any, connections there might be between flashes of lightening and flash photography.  Little did I know ...  I could have spent a long time outside this evening taking flashy photos, but I would also have got extremely wet.

Five thousand miles away, as the heatwave broke in London, one of the iconic buildings in Wimbledon Village, the Old Fire Station - with a little clock tower on top - took a direct lightening hit and caught fire.  It's beyond strange to see a (minor) catastrophe in a very familiar place happening on-line.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

quail family

For the second day running, this completely adorable quail family has appeared in the back yard: one parent (who flies over the wall), and six chicks (who come through a drainage hole).  I'm very impressed with their independence, trotting around cheeping, and getting their own insects, seeds, and the rest of it, even though they are barely the size of a fluffy hen's egg.  This is why we never eat quail, obviously.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Monday, July 22, 2019

will it rain?

... that's pretty much our nightly question, as we go out for our post-dinner walk ... Tonight looked pretty much like a near certainty (which is why Alice can be seen on the right-hand side, disappearing from view, before the drops start to hit).  Only - Eldorado is capricious.  Twenty minutes later, it's still dry.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

baby carrots

These carrots are so young that they pretty much qualify as neo-natal.  From yesterday's farmers' market: sweet and tender.  And, in fact, the white ones turn out to be baby parsnips, and they are very tasty too.  Since you're wondering: dipped in a bowl of yogurt mixed with green chile mustard and black garlic powder - more market bounty, from earlier in the year.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Judy Chicago's birthday fireworks

Down to Belen this evening, to see the firework-and-coloured-smoke display for Judy Chicago's 80th birthday (and to celebrate the opening of Through the Flower, her new art space, although to be honest, we spent our time admiring the former).  It was a weird mixture of the surreally beautiful and the visual effects for a disaster movie - at times it looked as though the Hotel Belen had just exploded.

For me the most spectacular parts were the views through the clearing smoke - especially the deep blues and purples -

and the drone.  Particularly the drone.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Moth inspects

At the Folk Art Market on Saturday, Alice bought a Mexican wooden, painted deer - who, it was explained, symbolizes good luck - and so he seemed especially propitious.  Digging around on line, I find that there may be more than this going on:

For the wixaritarie people who inhabit central Mexico and are more commonly known as huicholes, the deer is an animal that translates the language of the gods for men. For the huicholes, the deer is the first shaman or mara’kame that later becomes an interlocutor between the shamans and other gods. The deer is closely linked to two plants: its heart is a peyote – the animal and the plant are one in essence – and corn, which is a deer and is represented by its antlers. In this tradition there is an infinity of deer and the most important are the original five, which are located at the five cardinal points (the blue, red, white, black and yellow deer). The reproductive cycle of the deer is connected to the huicholes’ ritual calendar.

And that's before we get to all the positive significance that deer hold in other countries.

Moth, however, seems singly unimpressed, and really, thinks that she should be the center of attention.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Gourd. With bee.

At this time of the year, these gourds start to spring up and flower and proliferate at the sides of the road - very pretty, and also fairly poisonous, however tempting their marrow-striped round fruit may be.  What that mild toxicity does to honey, I don't know.  Our own back yard is thick with tiny bees - smaller than this one - harvesting the Russian Sage and the catmint, especially - and we trust that they head off to some neighboring hive.  But I'm not so sure about Cucurbita foetidissima (not an encouraging name), aka Buffalo Gourd.  Apparently people are investigating whether it can be grown in large quantities and used as bio-fuel, which, well, would be something ...

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

prayer flag tree

A week in, and these are still - I hope - doing their job in keeping birds away from our main windows (although I have seen a towhee sitting on the string, and wondering where to fly next).  And they aren't putting the humming birds off their feeder.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

scott's oriole

There was a sudden commotion at our hummingbird feeder this afternoon - not the customary bullying of the Rufous (the true Trump of hummingbirds), but something much larger.  It was this Scott's Oriole - which likes nectar, apparently (and so my bird books confirm) - though I've never seen one there before.  Apropos yesterday's post, apparently it also likes to feed on yuccas.  Later in the afternoon, it was having fun in one of the bird baths, although I'd probably have done a better job in capturing it if the rather grubby window in my study didn't interfere with focusing.

Apparently it's called after General Winfield Scott - who had a fascinating and long career (Wikipedia tells me), though was very involved in the removals of Native peoples, especially Seminole and Cherokee.  So I think I'll stick to calling it  Icterus parisorum, or Bolsero Tunero, in Spanish (given is role in the Mexican-American war, that feels like a form of reappropriation).  Or maybe I'll rename it Maria's Oriole, since his wife Maria barely lived with him at all, but was mainly in Europe, especially Rome "for health reasons."  I'm sure there's a story there ...

Monday, July 15, 2019

the annual celebration of soapweed yucca

It's my annual trespass: down a neighboring driveway to photograph the magnificent tall stems of the Soapweed Yucca (yucca elata, not yucca glauca).  I know I've written about its characteristics before, including the fact that it's supposed to cure dandruff; that it's edible (at least if you're a cow or a goat); that its leaves are used to make baskets.  Above all, it's just a startling sight - this must be seven or eight feet tall.  

Sunday, July 14, 2019

the end of (our) hollyhock season

There are, of course, hollyhocks still out all over town - but our main flowerer has reached the top of her stem.  This seems to be an unwanted symbol for the summer moving towards - well, if not an end, at least a point of seasonal no return.  Today found Alice working on syllabi, in other words, and me gloomily contemplating the composition of the Art History Department's self-assessment document.  There's a dark and gloomy thundercloud over head, to complete the picture.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

folk art market colors

This was the first year that we've gone to the International Folk Art Market since - well, we think 2008.  In this time, it's become bigger, better organized, slightly less funky, but with an extraordinary amount of really quality work on sale.  Why the gap in our attendance?  We've been in Colorado Springs, in England, or just plain lazy.   But today, we were up at the crack of dawn (an Early Bird entrance ticket is clearly the way to go) and were up on Museum Hill before it was too hot and crowded.  It was probably a very good thing that Alice kept me moving along, or I would be downloading and sighing over three thousand pictures ... so I focused on colors and shapes;

very few people, this time;

and then I just loved all the incidentals: the paper flowers marking the steps;

the hangings from portales;

the glimpses of outside through tent sides;

the behind-the-scenes boxes of decoration;

and, for those who were going to have to wait for a bus back down to Santa Fe late in the day (and the park and ride system worked extremely well), an attempt to make crowd cattle-pens look, at the very least, festive.

Nothing here was purchased by us ... you'll have to wait for images of that ...