Friday, August 28, 2009

Something Else You Need to Know About Clovis

I've been noticing lately that a lot of the cars here with out of state plates--and there are so many from everywhere in the country these days in Clovis--tend to ignore the speed limit and tear along merrily on their way out to the Base.

Beware!! I, too, used to drive at whatever speed seemed reasonable, given the road and traffic conditions. DON'T DO IT! OBSERVE THE POSTED SPEED LIMITS VERY CAREFULLY! Sorry to shout, but I can't convince you of this fast enough and loud enough.

Look out for Sycamore Street. Driving along it you will pass a middle school that does not have a decreased speed limit, but all along that cursed street the speed is posted at 35 mph. Do it. Concealed somewhere along there--sometimes
in the church parking lot--is the Clovis police guy my family now calls Sgt. Sycamore.

He is like one of those tricky spiders. He will hide, then he will dart out to get you. I was driving my sister to the emergency room when he got me. Did he worry about her health? Noooo. He was more concerned that I was a) speeding 7 mph over the limit and b) (gulp) unable to produce my current proof of insurance card, which I had apparently forgotten to put in the glovebox when I had received it.

So, I got not one, but TWO tickets. I hadn't gotten any kind of moving violation since I was 17, so this ruined a pretty long-standing record for me. I was able to talk to the nice judge and produce my danged insurance card the next day, so only had to pay for one ticket, but my record was ruined.

Every day on Norris Street I see you guys from Hawaii and Alaska and Connecticut just bowling along.
What you probably don't realize is that the speed limit there changes quickly from 45 to 40 to 45 to 35 to 15-when-flashing, back to 35 and then to 45 again--all within a few blocks. And here's the trick: The speed limits are all different on the other side of the street, so cars on one side are, for example, required to travel at no more than 40, while their neighbors in the next lane going the other way must not exceed 35 in the 20 feet or so where that is the limit.

One of these days, the Clovis Police Chief is going to let Sgt. Sycamore come over to Norris, and he is going to FEAST on you guys.

Just don't say I didn't warn you. Oh, and anybody want to buy a house?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Santa Fe Skies and Buildings for Skywatch

I've been posting photos of Santa Fe all week, taken during a recent and all too quick visit. I wish the pictures could convey the very peaceful and quiet feeling of the downtown area. There are beautiful, shady trees and amazing flowers everywhere. The tiny streets were fairly empty in the early morning when we were there. The smells were amazing--clean air, pine trees, flowers, and the occasional whiff of breakfast cooking in the restaurants as we passed.

I can't wait to see the city in all of the seasons, especially at Christmas time.

For city and country skies around the world, be sure to go to Skywatch Friday.

The flowers at this motel stopped me in my tracks!

Cemetery entrance. I wish that I had taken this photo from another angle. Next time...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More Santa Fe Photos

Our time in Santa Fe was way too brief; I snapped away with the camera as fast as I could, hoping that we will be going back many, many times.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Santa Fe Architecture

Downtown Santa Fe doesn't look like any other American city. Parts of it are really old--it will celebrate its 400th anniversary next year. The buildings are low and earth-colored. Adobe is the dominating building material.

Set those unique buildings against the gorgeous, clear blue sky, and place them on tiny, meandering streets and you have it--the Santa Fe style--a style unlike any other.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I've been reading the blog, Free Range Kids; Giving Our Kids the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry, by Lenore Skenazy. Here, I will quote from the blog's description: Do you ...let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk alone to school? Take a bus, solo? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a Free Range Kid! At Free Range, we believe in safe kids. We believe in helmets, car seats and safety belts. We do NOT believe that every time school age children go outside, they need a security detail. Most of us grew up Free Range and lived to tell the tale. Our kids deserve no less. This site dedicated to sane parenting. Share your stories, tell your tips and maybe one day I will try to collect them in a book. Meantime, let's try to help our kids embrace life! (And maybe even clear the table.)

It's a wonderful blog, full of people's experiences and ideas. It reminds me of something I wrote on this blog in 2007. Here is part of that post:

When I was a child in the 1940s and 1950s, our neighborhood in San Francisco was noisy with the shouts and cries of the children who lived there. We rode our bikes, we roller-skated, we played dodgeball, and we played jump rope. We raced on foot, on bikes, on scooters, and on skates. We took our skates apart and used the wheels on various invented riding vehicles. In quieter moments, we sat on stoops and played jacks and pickup sticks. We collected rocks and cracked them open on the sidewalk, always searching for that elusive geode. We played every sort of game of “pretend” that we could dream up, most memorably something called Covered Wagon, where we used a sturdy wooden gate as a wagon seat for the lucky wagon-driver-of-the-day, while the rest of us hunched down behind him in the “wagon” bed as we traveled west. We took turns playing good guys and bad guys, riding pretend horses and shooting at each other with our cap guns. We ran, we skipped, we hopped, we jumped, and we turned cartwheels. We fell off our bikes, my sister’s foot got caught in the spokes of my bike when I gave her a highly illegal ride on the back fender, my friend Skippy broke his arm roller-skating, and Trudy’s little brother broke several things when he discovered that he couldn’t fly off a second story porch. It was an exuberant, vigorous, and yes, somewhat dangerous life, at least by today’s standards. In those days it was just what kids did all day until called in for supper.

We learned so much, out there on our own. We used our imaginations, we made up rules and figured out how to stick to them--governing ourselves--we made friends, had arguments, made up, and--best of all--we had adventures, every single day.

When it came time to raise my own son in our small New Hampshire town, it never occurred to me to keep him inside and safe from possible dangers. He enjoyed what we in the family then called a "Tom Sawyer childhood"--he had plenty of unscheduled time, with the barest minimum of organized sports. With the free time at his disposal, he ranged through the woods and the streams with his friends, camping out, climbing trees, swimming, making up elaborate survival games, and having a wonderful time. And yes, he was a latchkey child from fourth grade onward. I was just a couple of miles away at work in the Town Library, and had been told that I could tack a note to the front door if I ever had to run home for anything. That actually happened once--Ben accidentally locked himself outside in a rainstorm when he dashed out in his sock feet to fill the bird feeder (one of his daily chores). He was resourceful and solved the problem by running a couple of doors down to use the neighbor's phone to call me. I came home to let him in and returned back to work. The socks were a loss, but Ben turned out to be an independent and able individual who has traveled the world on his own, starting with plane trips across the country alone to meet family members at an age when most kids are still being driven to parent-organized baseball games.

If you were to drive through that same New Hampshire town after school these days, you would see deserted yards and streets. The kids are "safely" inside, playing video games and texting their friends and posting their self portraits on Facebook. I feel sad for them, caught up in a nervous, paranoid, and overprotective culture that lets them venture out only when accompanied by parents.

Here is my question to you: Are you a parent (or grandparent) of a free-range child or are you worried about the dangers that kids might be exposed to? Is there anything we can do to allow our kids to experience the world on their own?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Clear Skies Over Cochiti for Skywatch Friday

Cochiti Lake is in the northern part of New Mexico, located on the Cochiti Pueblo about 30 miles south of Santa Fe. From the lookout at the campground you can see the Sandia Mountains, the Jemez Mountains, the Bajada escarpment, Tetilla Peak, the lake itself, and the Rio Grande, which supplies the water to the manmade lake.

The skies were clear on the day that we visited. The air was still and hot and smelled of pine duff, one of my favorite fragrances. I just stood in one spot and turned in a circle to get all of these views.

Looking across the lake and toward the Sandia Mountains

Part of the campground with the Rio Grande in the background

A little west of Peña Blanca

Cochiti Lake Campground, looking toward the Jemez Mountains

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Memorial Garden at Cochiti Lake

There are actually three places called Cochiti: The Cochiti Pueblo, Cochiti Lake, and the Town of Cochiti Lake. All are located about 50 miles north of Albuquerque and about 30 miles south of Santa Fe.

These photos are of the Memorial Garden made by volunteers from the town. It smelled of pine and roses and clean air on the day when we visited.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tortured Logic

Watch this video, then go to The Tortured Logic website to see what you can do to demand justice. If we don't do something about this awful chapter in our history, we will be doomed to repeat it.

That's just not what we are about.

Friday, August 14, 2009

19 Pueblos: The Languages

Looking across Rattlesnake Ridge toward Cochiti Pueblo

Here is something wonderful about moving to the northern part of New Mexico: We will be nearer to the 19 northern pueblos, which are Acoma, Cochiti, Jemez, Isleta, Laguna, Nambe, Ohkay Owingeh, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Tesuque, Zia, and Zuni. I hope to be able to learn about the people, their culture, and their language.

We heard a little of what might have been Keres (the language of the Cochiti and the nearby Santo Domingo Pueblos, among others) being spoken, mother to child, in the store at Cochiti the other day.

To hear audio samples of the most of the languages being spoken, go to Language of the 19 Pueblos.

Here are a few common words in English and in Keres, as spoken at the Cochiti Pueblo. The list is part of one from Vocabulary Words in Native American Languages, which is a section of a larger resource, Pueblo Indian Languages.

One ishk
Two kyuh'mi
Three chahm
Four kya'nah
Five t'ahm
Man hachtzeh
Woman k'uyaw
Dog tiya
Sun oshach
Moon tahwach
Water tz'itz
White k'ahshah or sch'amotz
Yellow kuchin
Red kukain

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beautiful Clouds For Skywatch Discovered While Drinking Wine With Auntie Bucksnort

Funny, they just look like regular clouds now...

For clouds observed by all kinds of people in all kinds of altered states (maybe), go to Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What He Said

Hardly any rubber left on the tires after all our driving

We've been driving hundreds of miles every weekend lately, looking for the perfect place for our retirement home. As a place for my retirement, this home where we live works for the moment. However, Beez will retire in another year and we will no longer be tied to Clovis, with its feedlots and ultra-conservative culture. We just don't fit in, although we have enjoyed our time here. It's been a very stress-free place to live, except for when the conversation turns to gun ownership or politics or religion. I'm sorry to say that it often does.

For an explanation of how we've gotten to where we are, you couldn't do better than to read this post, called Circles, written by our very own Beez with a comment from Auntie Bucksnort, who is certainly involved with us in all these life changes.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Life on the Tiny Farm

Back in my younger days, we bought a house that sat on an acre and a half and suddenly we felt like we were countryfolk. Behind the house sat a small red barn and behind the barn was first, a barnyard, then some lovely land for gardening. Obviously, it was time for us to buy some books and expand our relationship with nature, the land, and the animal kingdom.

Real farmers don't learn how to farm out of books. I'm a librarian and I was raised in San Francisco, so I did the best I could with what knowledge I had. Here are some of the things that happened at the Tiny Farm, taken from my list of When You Give a Sheep a Shot; 55 Things You'll Never Know About Me.

Yes, I've started quoting myself now. There must be something very wrong about that. If you need to know about the rest of the 55 things, you'll have to click on that link above.

6. I learned many of the skills I needed from books.

7. I can make a blanket from the sheep onwards.

8. I used to have milk goats and that one goat, Lily, and I have been known to make a big ruckus out in the barn. She always waited until the pail was full before delicately placing her hoof right into it.

9. I believed that book about raising backyard goats and really thought they would weed
around the fruit trees for me.

10. During the same period of my life, I once turned the geese into the strawberry patch because another homesteading book said they would clean the weeds between the rows.

11. I know to never turn your back on a gander and I didn’t have to learn that out of a book.

12. I once sheared a sheep by hand with manual clippers, but only the back half. My hand got tired. She looked like a lion.

13. I can give a sheep a shot, but it makes me nervous. It makes the sheep nervous, too.

14. I once owned a weaving store and taught spinning and weaving.

15. I think chickens are fascinating and I can sit and watch them for hours. Their behavior is a metaphor for something that I am still trying to figure out.

16. I once startled a skunk when reaching into a nest to get the eggs out.

17. I helped deliver a lamb in a dark barn while reading the directions, with a flashlight, from yet another homesteading book.

18. In my first garden I planted several rows of corn (reading the directions as I went along) with my little bantam chickens for company. While I was busy looking at the book, the banties were scratching up and eating the corn--another lesson learned about companion animals.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Road Trip to Santa Fe for Skywatch Friday

I am falling in love with New Mexico. It has taken me long enough, but our recent road trips have sealed the deal for me. I first knew only the state's southern deserts and, though I tried very hard, they looked like a lot of rocks and dirt to me. Lately, though, we've spent a bit of time road tripping through some of the central and northern parts of the state, and I can't get the wonderful sights out of my mind.

These photos were taken last weekend as we approached Santa Fe from the south on Route 285. The company was good, the hot day was perfect, the mountains were blue, and the skies were amazing.

For more amazing skies all over the world, be sure to visit Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chickens on My Mind

All my chickens are wooden ones, at the moment

I was reading a blog post the other day at Owl's Farm (Putting the Recess Back in Recession) about the opportunities for simplicity in these tricky economic times, when I came across a mention of "city chickens." That led me to a wonderful website called

There is a great gallery of little backyard chicken houses combined with small chicken runs. Believe me, you have to check it out. These houses are so cleverly designed--you might find that you covet the house first and add the chickens later as an afterthought!

There is also a page that pictorially explains the concept of a chicken tractor, a phrase that had not been included in my past agricultural education. I recently saw an ad--which I hadn't understood--somewhere on Craigslist for a chicken tractor that was going for $800. I had no idea what that might be, but thanks to I now understand it to be a bottomless cage or pen that is moved from one spot to another. It's a familiar idea from my old Tiny Farm days, although it wasn't called a chicken tractor back then.

If you've ever visited the Laughing Orca Ranch blog, you'll see some wonderful chicken photos of a flock that anyone would be glad to know. The post, Encouraging Chickens, is as good a place to start as any. I love the fact that there is a chicken chair for human observers of poultry behavior.

I've had chickens on my mind a lot, because the Pecos property that we covet has a fixable chicken house out back that has made me think that chicken ownership just might possibly be in my future. In the meantime, I'll just have to make do with chicken dreams.

Monday, August 3, 2009

You Know You're From New England...

Spring in New England--those are my cars, and this is why I still keep an ice scraper in the car year round

I found this list on Facebook. There is actually a group there called "You Know You're From New England." This stuff is all true--when I first read it, I realized that I still marvel at all the free parking out west.

You know you're from New England if...

-your local Dairy Queen is closed from September through May.

-someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't work there.

-you use the word "wicked"

-you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time.

-you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number.

-if you hit deer on a regular basis.

-you know that the things you need to start a campfire are matches, newspaper, tinder, sticks, fuel logs, and spent motor oil.

-you find a snowmobile as a reasonable means of transportation for 4 months out of the year.

-you consider 65 degree ocean water "warm."

-all of the potholes just add excitement to your driving experience.

-if your car is parked outside because your snowmobiles get parked in the garage.

-chocolate sprinkles will forever be known as "Jimmies."

-"Vacation" means going anywhere south of New York City for the weekend.

-you've been to Cape Cod.

-stop signs mean slow down a little bit, but only if you feel like it.

-$15 to park is a bargain.

-you can go from one side of your hometown to the other in less than 15 minutes and see at least 15 losers you graduated with doing the exact same thing they were doing the last time you saw them.

-you keep an ice scraper in your car year 'round.

-you've pulled out of a side street and used your car to block oncoming traffic so that you can make a left.

-you've been to Six Flags New England.

-if you know that its not really "Six Flags New England"... but "Riverside".

-you know what a whoopie pie is.

-you measure distance in hours.

-you know what "Shaw's" is.

-everyone in town over 50 goes to Florida between October and April.

-you know several people who have hit a deer more than once.

-you think Vermont has the best skiing in the world.

-you have switched from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again.

-you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching.

-you know what a bubbler is and you drink soda and pop someone in the face.

-you stay on the same road long enough, the name will change at least 3 times.

-someone has honked at you because you didn't peel out as soon as the light turned green... Or you have honked at someone because they didn't peel out as soon as the light turned green.

-you go to camp every year.

-you install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both unlocked.

-you carry jumpers in your car and your wife knows how to use them.

-you refer to 6 inches of snow as a "dusting."

-you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

-the speed limit on the highway is 55 mph -- you're going 80, and everybody is passing you.

-you could own a small town in Montana for the price of your house.

-there are 25 Dunkin' Donuts within 20 minutes of your house.

-driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

-you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.

-you have more miles on your snow blower than your car.

-you find 10 degrees "a little chilly."

-you've ever gone candlepin bowling.

-you think 3 straight days of 90 degree weather is a heatwave.

-the transportation system is known as the "T," subway is just a fast food place.

-your town or a neighboring one has a rotary/circle/roundabout.

-someone says "Patriot" and you immediately think of the football team.

-you meant to go to CVS, but you miss the turn by five feet and wind up at Walgreens; look across the street, and decide you'd better go to Brooks instead.

-a Crown Victoria = undercover cop.

-you keep tire chains in your car at all times.

-your first motorized vehicle with four wheels was an ATV.

-you have ever put studded tires on your street racer.

-Sox-Yankees games are a life and death matter.

-there is a town green in the middle of your town.

-you refuse anything but real maple syrup.

-you regularly drive on roads that are as narrow and windy as a deer trail.

-you have ever missed school due to "Mud."

-you can choose exactly where your Senator sits on a political party map... Democrats on the Left, Republicans on the right... and that one little white dot in the middle is where our Senator sits.

-you ever have been asked in a school hallway if you have Duct Tape on you.

-you think if somebody's nice to you, they either want something or they are from out of town and probably lost.

-you know how to cross 4 lanes of traffic in 5 seconds.

-you know that a yellow light means that atleast 5 more cars can make it through before it turns red.

-you get pissed off when people assume New York is part of New England.

-you actually understand these jokes.

-you've skipped a day of school to go to the Big E, or... you've taken a field trip to the Big E

-a yellow light means "You can make it if you go a little faster"

-a red light/stop sign means STOP... but only if you want to

-the first day after winter that's it sunny outside, you roll down all the windows of your car and pretend its summer, and even though its still 30 degrees, you refuse to roll up your windows.