Sunday, July 31, 2022

mountains under clouds

... at both ends of the day.  And both were spectacular.  This morning, there was a thick dew - and a dense layer of clouds almost burying the Sangre de Cristos.  This evening ... thunder clouds massing over the Jemez.  No complaints about the view, today ...


Saturday, July 30, 2022

more sunflowers (and the Cerrillos Hills)

Dimpled grey clouds - one of those evenings when it looks like it will rain, but it doesn't.  The whole of the day was like that - I took a magnificent load of cardboard boxes and old bottles down to the tip, and congratulated myself at tossing everything into the big dumpsters before the clouds opened - and they never did.  And yes - I am well aware that all I seem to write about is a narrative of clouds and sunflowers - with a few side excursions into morning glories and poppies ...


Friday, July 29, 2022

thunder clouds

Will it?  Won't it?  (it did, and with some fairly violent hail, too).   AKA sitting at my desk, and staring out of the window, and speculating ...


Thursday, July 28, 2022

second wind

The six-inch hollyhock spent a few weeks growing some more, and now may be all of a foot tall.  And yes!  It has started to bloom again - this looks like the first of quite a few.  Obviously a caterpillar of some kind has been chewing at it, but I still consider it a model of resilience.


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

morning walk

What you can see here is how relatively green it is.  What you can't really see - though I hoped it would be visible - is that the ditch is still full of post-storm puddles, which is a rarity.  Today - about two minutes of heavy raindrops, and then we drove into town, and it was full of huge pools of water, and post-storm steaminess.  Round here, we have micro-climates.


Tuesday, July 26, 2022


The monsoon returned this evening, with a fairly heavy downpour and much thunder and lightning; a double rainbow; and a small flying ant invasion in my study.  The rain - coming down in huge drops even as the sun was shining, at one point (enlarge the pics, and you'll see!) was impressive, and will certainly mean that I don't need to water again for a day or so.  The sunflowers on the table at the top are rescued from our beautiful sunflower plant, which we found smashed to the ground (an over-enthusiastic mail van driver?) a couple of days ago: I never thought that the tight potential blossoms would emerge into sunflowers, but they did!


Monday, July 25, 2022

framing the sky

This chile wreath hung on our door at Christmas, and then I moved it to a nail in the wall outside the back door.  But we just noticed that it seemed to be attracting battalions of ants (why?  I would have thought that it was a little spicy for them?) and, from various rustlings that have from time to time fascinated the cats, I think it might have seen a little mouse activity, too.  So I've moved it to a nearby tree, where it acts as a very convenient framing device.


Sunday, July 24, 2022

first of the season

I realize that not everyone may find my obsession with the flowering habits of Morning Glories quite as compelling as I do, but for me, it's an annual miracle: these are all - or at least mostly - self-seeded, and although they come from Heirloom Varieties, one can never tell which colors will reappear, or if they will have mutated or reverted along the way.  Here's one of the deep purple ones winning the contest to appear first: I believe that would be Grandpa Ott.  


Saturday, July 23, 2022

poppy in a dry spell

Perhaps it will rain tomorrow?  It's been dry - more or less - for about two weeks here, and we want the monsoon back.  Down in Albuquerque, the Rio Grande has run dry - for the first time in 45 years - which is shocking.  Rain is certainly in the forecast - but it can't come a moment too soon.  That promising start to the monsoon season seems, by now, a long time ago.


Friday, July 22, 2022

an elegant birdwatcher

There's a rather straggly tamarisk tree outside the bathroom window.  My only experience of bringing pretty pink tamarisk blossoms indoors (years ago, and out beyond Pecos) was fairly catastrophic, because these turned out to be full - full - of tiny and rather over-energetic black bugs.  But that's probably why the tree is always full of house finches, much to young Gramsci's fascination.  There is, of course, a mesh screen between him and this tempting outside world.


Thursday, July 21, 2022

balloon basket

This is one of the odder things that I've ever seen parked in a CVS carpark: a balloon basket (on a trailer) with, presumably, some balloon accoutrements - like the inflatable bit - under a little tarp in front of it.  My impression was that it was very small and fragile, relatively speaking: I have absolutely no desire to float above the ground - however magical it might be in some ways - in what looks like an old lady's shopping device.


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

sunflowers, again

Not ours - or "ours" (I'm well aware of the presumption of claiming ownership of wild flowers) - this time, but on the other side of our street, in the setting sun.

It'll be a miracle if this posts in a timely fashion ... my computer is tethered to my iPhone, with imperfect reception.  Our internet has been down since midday.  So has that of pretty much everyone in Santa Fe ... a dump truck managed to pull down the main fibre optic cable (HOW?) and Comcast/Verizon have been mending it ever since.  You'd think that this would be liberatory - but of course, with cell phone coverage limping along (limping, because everyone is using it), this becomes an exercise in frustration, above all ...


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

time for a claw trim?

We love our Moth so much - and she certainly has yielded far too much photographic space to Gramsci of late.  She's been very good and patient with him this summer - mostly - although she is determined to eat herself into a much more solid cat than we would like.  We're trying to push back against such emotional habits.  I suspect that she'd like to grow her claws into long talons so that she can defend herself against his occasional acts of what she takes to be aggression - Grammy thinks they are playful advances - but that's not quite what we have in mind.  As you'll see, she's developed a peculiarly sceptical look.


Monday, July 18, 2022

our first sunflower

Not, I hasten to point out, the first sunflower to bloom in Eldorado - they've been out for a couple of weeks.  But this is the first one that's bona fide on our property.  It's a feral one, in that it's not a relative (so far as I know) of the ones that I planted in large phalanxes last summer - there are a fair number of self-seeded plants coming up fast, but they'll be a few more weeks before they bloom - I just hope that we'll see them before we leave.  Despite the heat, and despite the recent lack of rain, the early monsoon has meant that there are spectacular wildflowers pretty much everywhere.


Sunday, July 17, 2022

evening walk

A curiously windy walk, although you wouldn't know that from this.  That was a welcome relief after another hot day - although nothing like as hot as is forecast for London and other parts of the UK tomorrow - thinking of you all, with much sympathy.


Saturday, July 16, 2022

in which Gramsci tries to figure out his taste in music

Gramsci is not, it must be said, a musical cat.  Music is one of those triggering areas (like anyone wearing a skirt, or going in a car) that makes us wonder What Happened in Foster?  That is - he particularly has an aversion to bass-heavy music.  He will make some exceptions (he seems to like Brandi Carlile), but in general music is very problematic for him.  However - just before lunch, Alice was playing some soft jazz, and much to our surprise, he sat on the table and - well, wondered about it.


Friday, July 15, 2022

basil flowers

It may not quite be tomato season at the Farmers Market yet - any moment now! - but our own basil - like the rest of our herbs - will be ready and waiting.  The purple basil, in particular, is flowering happily - I put a whole head in the vegetable soup I made this evening (plus parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.  Oh, and oregano) - very tasty.


Thursday, July 14, 2022


A pretty terrible image, technically speaking - but something worthy of record: Moth and Gramsci, calmly occupying the same space.  You might indeed wonder where Alice sits to work in her study, but the conventional option of desk and desk chair obviously isn't open to her.  We never thought that a peaceful sight like this would ever be achieved...


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

plums and matching sky

These plums taste just like plums ought to taste, and are exquisite.  So are their colors - which are curiously similar to tonight's bruised-cloud sky.


Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Native Beehouse

We went for a walk in the Railyard Park - after stocking up on salad greens and carrots and apricots and plums at the Farmers Market this morning - and came upon this Beehouse for Native Bees - a relative of the Insect Palace in London's Russell Square, and of the similar structure in the woods at Petworth, and doubtless lots of others that I don't know about (a quick Google reveals lots and lots - including a Bugingham Palace in Liverpool ...).  And there's a truly informative panel on the back, from which I learned all kinds of things.  These bees are super-valuable as pollinators, of course.  But they aren't honey bees - that is, they don't make honey at all; they are non-hierarchical, in that they don't have queens/workers/drones (so much for Victorian analogies of the hive, since they don't live in hives) - and so on.

Admittedly, the only creature who appeared to be in residence was a lizard (do they eat bee eggs?), but there were certainly lots of bees doing their work around the flowers.


Monday, July 11, 2022

sky and moon - two views

Same sky, same moon - taken about five minutes apart on this evening's walk when, as ever, we debated whether or not it was going to rain.  It hasn't done yet, but that doesn't mean it won't.  The moon is nearly full, but not quite there yet.

For anyone following the bluebird saga - the nest seemed to be empty, this morning.  And then, as we came up to the house at the end of the walk just now, a family of five bluebirds bounced across the sky in front of us.  I trust the latest Eldorado addition(s) were flying happily on their new wings.


Sunday, July 10, 2022

any moment now ...


You can't see it from here, but inside the bluebird house is at least one baby bluebird (judging by the cheeping, I would say two, at least, but only one can stick out their pretty new beak at a time).  The last couple of days they've been increasingly visible and curious - fledging should happen very very soon.  That bird on the Snake Baffler is, I think, a juvenile Mountain Bluebird from earlier in the summer: when I opened up the box when we arrived, there were two nests - one on top of the other - there already, so it looks as though it's been a successful year.

But it takes an army - an army necessary to fend off sparrows.  So in addition to the parents, and a few juveniles, there's a battalion of house finches, who will stand guard - the home barracks, as it were, is a tree by our front door, but they take it in turns to perch on top of the wooden house and, touch wood, have been effective so far.  This morning what (judging by Alice's description) was probably a ladder-backed woodpecker stuck its head in out of curiosity, but quickly flew off.  I will be so relieved when this year's nesting is - I hope - successfully brought to its conclusion - waiting for Deliveries of Bugs and Ants etc is bad for the nerves.

Saturday, July 9, 2022


We went out to dinner this evening downtown (at Horno - much recommended!) - on one of those unpredictable will-it-rain-or-won't-it days.  The light was - well, extraordinary.  One brief downpour during dinner (their patio has excellent umbrellas) and then another on the drive home.

This was the view from our back yard at lunchtime (and it didn't actually rain, then);

this is Burro Alley on our way back to the carpark (with Alice scuttling, as the first big drops begin to fall),

and one more, front-windshield-tinted, shot of the double rainbow.


Friday, July 8, 2022

two more poppies

We've been here a month! and our heads are, for the most part, as firmly down as are these poppy heads, even if they're not drooping.  It's been a productive four weeks reading/writing/revising - and taking a couple of walks a day - but this isn't completely conducive to taking non-repetitious photos.  However, each one of these fine papery poppies are different, and they look great against this pot I found last summer at Jackalope.


Thursday, July 7, 2022

our house from the road

Evening walk ... the temperature was still in the low eighties when we left the house, but if we'd waited any longer it would have been dark.  If you peer very closely, just to the right of the center of the horizon, you'll see the sunset reflecting off our windows.  I'm looking forward to the return of the monsoon next week, I hope - hoping to get some more seeds sprouting (fennel went in today, and some new sunflowers to supplement the self-seeding ones).


Wednesday, July 6, 2022


Gramsci has discovered the infinite pleasures of a rustling paper bag.


Tuesday, July 5, 2022


Apricots are one of the major treats of New Mexico summers.  I would plant a couple of apricot trees here if I could be sure that they were getting enough water while they were getting established, because the combination of soil and climate almost always ensures a wonderful crop.  One summer - 2002, I think it must have been - I was in a rental house with an apricot tree in the back yard, which meant that I (and a family of skunks) had a ready supply ... This was from last week's Farmers Market (I'm surprised it remains uneaten: I will remedy that), and is sitting in a spotted bowl that I bought in, I think, 2007, in Charleston.


Monday, July 4, 2022

Happy 4th!

To be sure, this is always a holiday I feel a little strange about "celebrating" - it's not just that I'm not American, but it's not exactly a pro-British day ... Nor, really, today, does a whole lot of America feel independent from - well, other Americans.  But on the other hand, it's wonderful to have an excuse to open a bottle of wine on a Monday night, and to take the day more-or-less off - that is, I did a great deal of tidying my study here, which involved re-discovering a lot of crazed pandemic buys (a box of mini flash-lights? complicated exercise bands, with handles?  a mask that covers my whole head, apart from the eyes, in the guise of an orange and white cat?).


Sunday, July 3, 2022


The cats find it very frustrating to be indoors when there are lizards scuttling (and lounging) around outside, but they give them plenty to watch through the screen door: quite the bonding experience for Moth and Gramsci ... I suspect it's not the best weather, at the moment, in which to be a lizard: gloomy and cloudy for much of the day (the kind of weather in which one's own work droops and withers under one's gaze, and one would have been far better off doing something useful, like tidying the garage).

And, for scale ...


Saturday, July 2, 2022

determined poppy

It really does take some determination to be a poppy in monsoon weather: buffeted by winds, drenched with sudden heavy bursts of rain and occasional sharp hailstones ... but the ones that have bravely flowered are doing ok.  So, alas, are the forests - the groves - the thickets of tumbleweed.  I spent chunks of today pulling it out of the front yard, but I can see the thick layer of just-sprouted leaves waiting to shoot up.  And the problem with simply turning it all over, and sieving it, and then putting down mulch is that interspersed with the wretched weed are a whole lot of enthusiastic self-seeded sunflowers from last year's bumper crop ...


Friday, July 1, 2022

research problems

I would love to report that research went really really well today - no commitments, other than picking up more salad stuff at the very local Farmers' Market, and some of the amazing tangerine and chile marinated olives at the cheese store.  But ... Gramsci had other ideas.  And he was upset by the thunder, so it seemed unfair to move him.  And, yes, it seems that he does sleep with his mouth open ...