Thursday, April 28, 2011

Something I Forgot to Show You, for Skywatch

I forgot to show you this sunrise I saw one morning in March. Its beginning caught my eye through the curtains...

... then the desert sky lit up with fiery colors.

I saw the silvery moon through a pink cloud and was glad that I had awakened in time.

For skies everywhere, at all times of the day and night, please be sure to visit Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Scene from a Road Trip

Mountains, cabin, limo, and mystery

I love everything about this scene. I'm partial to log cabins and I always have been. Is this one being built, or is it falling apart? It never looks any different to me.

I love the view of the mountains through the front door. What happened to the front door, by the way?

And that limo--why is it there? Is it ever moved? It is parked in the very same place whenever I pass by the Blue Moon Bar in Radium Springs, which is where I took this photo. I couldn't get close enough to read the blue sticker without trespassing. What could it possibly say?

I love a good mystery. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Water, At Last!

Caballo Lake

New Mexico is big, but dry. Geographically it is the fifth largest state, yet it has the least amount of surface water of all fifty states, as a percentage of its land mass (0.2%).  (From Quick Facts About New Mexico).

We have had .04 inch (not a typo) of precipitation so far this year, and that came as a dusting of snow back in February. It's so very dry here right now that I am starting to have dreams about the sound of rain falling on the roof. 

Because water/moisture/rainfall has become a distant memory, we took a trip to Caballo Lake a few days ago. We needed to see water, lots of water. 

And it really helped to see all that water. We'll still take any excess rainfall you might have that you can send our way. 

Monday, April 25, 2011


Seen in San Antonio, New Mexico on Maundy Thursday
I love that I live in a place where people still go on pilgrimages, and where the highway department has pilgrimage signs on hand. I asked about this one and learned that the pilgrimage would be taking place on the following day, on Good Friday; and that the people would be walking from their church in San Antonio to another church in Socorro, almost 11 miles away. 

I first learned about pilgrimages when I took my undergraduate class on Chaucer at Dominican College for Women, where the nuns were still dressed in very medieval-looking habits. In Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, his people were going on pilgrimages in April, too. 

Whan that Aprile with his shoures soote
The droughte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne en swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour...
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages.

If you would like to hear a reading (in the Middle English, the way I learned it) from the opening portion of the General Prologue of the Canterbury Tales, click here; and to see a modern English translation side by side with the Middle English text, click here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

On Earth Day 2011

Oh, dear Earth 
Some people complain that recycling is just too hard to do 
We love to recycle so much that we risk our all for you 


This is the sign we see when we take our yard waste to be chopped up and made into compost at the recycling place out in the desert:

As Beez says, these rattlesnakes must be extra-extra snakey, as they warrant the two-word title of Rattle Snakes. I don't know--I'm picturing a desert cha-cha rhythm band, complete with gourd rattles and tambourines. I'll let you know if I see them.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring Greens Three Ways, for Skywatch

On our way to pick up our box of locally grown organic vegetables...
Spring greens

... we stopped to admire the new grass and foliage at this farm in Mesilla... 

Spring greens

... and to watch the beautiful cattle munching away at... spring greens! And all of it was happening under a beautiful southern New Mexico blue sky.
Spring greens

For photos of scenes under skies all over the world, please visit Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's in the Garden, Mid-April

These smell so good

I love this petunia, called Antique Shades

Double Delight rose.
Those tattered hollyhock leaves got that way because of certain cats hunting lizards underneath. There's a whole lot of leaping going on.


I'm very excited about these hollyhocks, which are my first. Last year, as biennials do, they put out lots of leaves. This year they are shooting up, growing inches in a day and are loaded with flower buds that will bloom in shades of pink, rose, and burgundy. These plants come up to my chin now.
Thank you, Diane, for the seeds! 

Here is beautiful Gracie, part of the lizard patrol. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Knit for Kids: 100th Sweater Completed!

My knitting friends and I celebrated with a 100 sweater cake

Back in 2006 I first heard about Knit for Kids, a charity outreach project that sends hand knit sweaters to children all over the world. Once I started knitting these easy little sweaters, I decided that I wanted to complete a hundred of them. This project is something that I do it because it is so much fun picturing kids receiving a gift from someone they don't even know--someone who wishes all the best for each and every one of them. It's surprising how many spare moments there are for knitting a few rows--perhaps while riding in the car, waiting for an appointment, or watching a baseball game--and I've learned to take along my knitting basket wherever I go.

I finally met my goal a couple of weeks ago and guess what? I had some leftover yarn, so I just kept on knitting more sweaters, because knitting is what my hands have become used to doing. Now I find myself working on sweater #102, and I still have lots of ideas for patterns and colors; probably enough ideas for the next hundred sweaters. 

Here is the latest batch: Numbers 91-100. 


Monday, April 18, 2011

All We Need is a Smell-O-Vision App

Roses from my garden, picked a few days ago

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dirty Skies, for Skywatch

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you that our skies are not always a beautifully clear and cloudless blue here in the southern part of New Mexico--especially not in the early Spring, when the wind begins to howl. 

It's like the Dust Bowl all over again--the very earth from the fields all around becomes airborne and our nice mountain views disappear. We batten down the hatches and ride out the storms from inside the house, where we hear the wind howling and hurtling itself at the windows and doors, trying to come inside. No matter how well we close things up, a fine dust sifts over everything inside. If we are crazy enough to venture out (to take some Skywatch photos, for example) we will literally be digging dust out of our eyes, ears, and teeth for hours afterwards. 

Here was the sky as seen from our house during a recent storm. The views are first to the east, toward the Organ Mountains; and then to the west, toward Picacho Peak. For contrast, I have included photos taken from the same points the next morning when the wind had died down for a bit. We were experiencing actual clouds that morning--but no rain, alas. 
Toward the Organ Mountains during the storm

The Organs on the next day

Toward Picacho Peak during the storm (look hard, it's there)

Picacho Peak, next morning

For skies around the world containing clouds, dust, birds, and other things, please visit Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Potstickers. Nostalgia.

Wonton skins with filling

Every once in a while, Beez asks for a batch of potstickers. The process for making them is kind of involved--grind the meat; mix in chopped vegetables, egg, cornstarch, and a bunch of seasonings (recipe is here); lay out half of the wonton skins, spoon filling onto each, moisten the corners and fold the skins to form the dumplings, brown them in some oil, add stock and steam them; then repeat with the other half of the wonton skins. 

Dumplings formed and ready to brown
While I was working I had plenty of time to recall our family watching one of the early cooking shows together, learning how to make these little Chinese dumplings.

As I set out the wonton skins in the familiar grid pattern on the sideboard, I found myself thinking of all of our kitchens where I've performed these very same actions: In New Hampshire in the old red farmhouse with the lamplit kitchen and the scratchy radio playing in the background, in the very old house on High Street with its wonderful sense of history, in the little country apartment with the view of the woods and the fields, and in the house where the bears and the moose lived all around;  then in New Mexico in the little adobe house in town, in the big brick house out on the High Plains, and now in our adobe home in the orchard.

Little Pete helps out
And in every one of those kitchens, I've always had a helper. In the past, there were children in the kid-sized aprons I had sewn for them, standing on chairs or stools to help. Nowadays, I have a no less eager helper with an enthusiastically wagging tail, cheering me on from the floor.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lunch at Sparky's in Hatch

After our drive up to Hatch last week, we stopped at Sparky's for lunch. Of course, we had their famous green chile cheeseburger, which was juicy and good. But the star of the meal was the basket of green chile cheese fries. Green chile cheese fries can be limp and soggy and pretty nasty; these, however, were hot (in every way) and crisp and really flavorful. 

I know, I know, this stuff will kill you, but we've been eating so many beautiful fresh organic vegetables (stir-fried, steamed, raw, in salads, etc. etc.) that we figured we could handle just one little meal that was really bad for us. Besides, chiles are vegetables, for sure!  

The perfect accompaniment to the meal, according to Beez, was his green chile mango shake. Cool and hot, too, with just a little bite--and it contained vegetables and fruit--what could be better?

I love restaurant bathrooms that are decorated with vintage posters, so I always take my camera along!

I guess this would qualify as roadside kitsch, no?
(Click photos twice to enlarge)

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Back Road to Hatch

We drove the back road up to the town of Hatch last week. It was a beautiful day. 

The Rio Grande was running a bit fuller than we have seen recently; irrigation season is here.

For such a dry land with no rain here since last September, water is always a potential danger. When it does rain, much of this road is impassable. There are big dips in the roadway to allow the water to run down through the arroyos, because the dry and sandy soil can't absorb the sudden onslaught of water from the rain.

Here we are looking up a dry arroyo from the road. 

And this shot was taken directly across the road, showing how running water can cut through the dry land as it heads down toward the river. At this point, though, any free running water is just a memory.

You can see the effects of irrigation, though. I love the contrast of the spring greens with the dry rangeland. 

And here is one of the obligatory standing-in-the-middle-of-an-empty-road photos that all New Mexican photographers just have to shoot. Who could resist, with the lack of traffic and the incredibly empty spaces?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Uncle Sam Loves Chile, for Skywatch

This really big guy stands outside Sparky's in Hatch, New Mexico. Sparky's is an important stop along New Mexico's Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail.

Since Hatch is considered The Chile Capital of the World, perhaps they can be excused for this piece of roadside kitsch.

Look, Skywatchers--there's our infinitely clear blue New Mexican sky in the background! To see skies all over the world, please visit Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Request for Your Help

Patrick before rescue

If you remember Patrick, the donkey who was rescued from a life of pain and abuse (see Surprised by Joy for the story of his dilemma and rescue), you will be stunned to know that three more young donkeys have taken his place at the same ranch that abused Patrick. We need your help--please go to the Morning Bray Farm post We Have to Stop This for information about a letter that you can send to help stop this abuse. Thank you!

Patrick after rescue
(photos borrowed with permission from Justina at Morning Bray Farm),

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Keeping Up With the Vegetables

Just look at this lettuce, picked the same day we got our box

Before we started buying a box of produce a week from some local organic farmers, our idea of vegetable consumption was to pick up some frozen peas and maybe some iceberg lettuce at the grocery store. Note that I didn't say anything about eating them. They just hung around, peas in the freezer (they are supposed to last forever, aren't they?); and the lettuce down inside the Invisible Vegetable Drawer until I cleaned out the fridge and tossed the moldy remains away a few weeks later. 

Ah, that was then, and this is now. Every Friday afternoon for the last few months, we've been taking a lovely ride through orchards and fields down to Mesilla to pick up our box of produce from farmers Charley and Emily. Now this is real food--it's beautiful, it's produced locally (for the most part), it's grown organically, and it tastes delicious. 

Until I tried this stuff, I thought that carrots were supposed to taste kind of soapy, which is the way supermarket carrots taste to me. Who knew?

The trick is to keep up with it all. This week's box contained apples, valencia oranges, carrots, garlic, snap peas, lettuce; red, yellow, and green onions; mixed stir-fry greens, chard, tangerines, and turnip greens. 

Here's how I've learned to deal with it all--I divide everything up right away. Fruits get separated--fruits to eat out of hand and citrus to juice (we just can't keep up with all the grapefruits, oranges, and tangerines otherwise).

I sort all those vegetables for roasting, steaming (Freshly washed and still wet greens go into a covered casserole in the microwave for 4 - 5 minutes--foolproof method, and it never burns!), stir-fry, salads, and some to eat raw. I roast a big pan full right away (my recipe is here), and eat those for lunches all during the week. We have salads almost every day, and build menus around the rest of the vegetables rather than the way we used to cook, with the menus built around meat. Last week I chopped up bok choy and added it to my recipe for potstickers, and they were outstanding!

Beautiful vegetables ready to roast: Sweet potatoes, red and green onions, colored peppers, carrots

Monday, April 4, 2011

Come Walk With Me

Scene from the Morning Mile and a Half

Will you come along with me...

We will watch the budding trees

In the fresh spring-tide,
While the murmurs of the breeze
Through the branches glide.

~From Will You Come Along With Me? by James Clerk Maxwell

Having finished knitting a hundred sweaters for Knit for Kids (more about that later), I've decided that a person can accomplish a hundred of almost anything. It's just a matter of starting and then going on, one step at a time. 

Here are my new goals: I am going to read a hundred books this year, up from 92 last year; walk a hundred (and hopefully more) miles; and get started on another hundred little kid charity sweaters. Why not? Perhaps I'll live to be a hundred because I will have so many things left to do. 

Won't you walk along with me? All you have to do is to figure out the length of your favorite walk (mine is a mile and a half); or you can wear one of those little gadgets that measures how many steps you take. I understand that phones have apps that will measure the length of your walk as you go. Then you can just add up the miles every day.

This is not a competitive thing, no sir! I am announcing my intentions publicly with the hope that I will embarrass myself into continuing toward the goal. It worked with the hundred sweaters, why not with the walking?

I've put a little box down below on the left of this blog called "A Hundred Mile Walk" that will show us all how far I've walked, starting 4/3/2011. There! Now there's no turning back...