Monday, December 31, 2012

A Blogger's Year: Looking Back at 2012

A nice way to review a blogging year is to take the first sentence written from the first post of each month. Here's a look at our 2012, month by month. 

JanuaryLive every day as if it were your last and then some day you'll be right.  ~H.H. "Breaker" Morant (Enjoy Yourself!)

FebruaryIf there is one thing that I have learned in my many decades of life, it is that any given group of women will have some amazing stories to tell, and my knitting group is no exception. (Maggie and the Blessings)

MarchI'm having a little trouble blogging lately, mainly because we are doing so many bloggable things! (Memories at the Window)

AprilIn the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. ~Tennyson (Springtime in New Mexico)


MayI was slow to embrace cell phones, but I'm catching up. (Dialing Back the Calories)

June: We are far from our southern New Mexico desert in every way. (What We've Been Doing Lately)

July: Pretty catchy name for a clothes store, isn't it? (Allsaints Spitalfields)

August: What a summer it has been! (Vacationing in a French Country House)

September: What do you do when your doctor disappears? (The Case of the Disappearing Doctor)

October: One of the first places we visited while in France last summer was the town of Chauvigny in the Vienne  department of Poitou-Charente. (A Day in the 12th Century)

November: City-light diamond necklace at the throat of the mountains... (New Day in November)

December: December may be my favorite time in New Mexico. (A Night Filled With Light)

That was our year, filled with some surprises and more adventures than I might have imagined. I hope that your year was a lovely one.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Photos from The Pintada Kid

If you've never heard of the Pintada Kid, go to the top of this blog, right under the header photo, and click on "The Pintada Kid" tab. There you will find links to the posts on this blog telling his unique life story, starting with growing up in a sheep camp in central New Mexico; and the tale of his life's work, the investigation of one of New Mexico's unsolved murder mysteries, The Heberer-Lorius Case.

The Pintada Kid is a unique New Mexico character; I can't imagine anyone like him anywhere else. He recently sent me some photos, which I am passing on to you. Descriptions of each photo are in his own words (in italics). 

The Pintada Kid at the Historical Indian Writings. 
Note the Big Snake called a Vivoron by the Old People.

The Area of the Longwalk, [known as] the Pintada Trail, the shortest route from Ft Defiance to Ft Sumner. It is also the Playground of the Pintada Kid. 

(Note from ClairZ: You can read about the Navajo "Long Walk" in this article from the Office of the New Mexico State Historian).

My Lady Friend [Rose Keaton] Holding a Big Rattlesnake that was Guarding the Resting Place of the Heberer Lorius People.

Vaughn City Park after a Blizzard Snowstorm
[You can see that PK takes the road less traveled!]

 The Pintada Kid at a Sacred Indian Ground. 
The Old People called these Rocks Los Paragues; the Pintada Kid named them the Mushroom Rocks. 
I named the one on my right shoulder E.T.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's a Family Tradition: He Scares Us All

This is me, pointing out the mother who needs to come and get me. Now. 

A couple of years later, I am still reaching for my parents.

Here is little Billy, who (much later) became my husband. 
I can't imagine why Sinister Santa is poking him in the stomach. Neither can he. 

  Ah, Uncle Ronny.  You just know he is about to shriek.

Uncle Ronny again, with brother Billy along for courage. 
He wants the gift, but the terror! The terror!

 Billy and Ronny, older yet. Billy gets the game, Ronny still knows the fear. 

Another generation: Dee loves Santa, you can tell

Third generation: Grandson Mason is pretty sure that Santa is there to steal his ears. 

Even our dogs know that Santa is a scary guy. 
Petey screams; Leny just begs with her eyes. Take me home! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dweezil's Christmas Miracle

My little foundling pup, now named Dweezil, was just snuggling in my lap and reminding me that some stories have happy endings and that we sometimes cry tears of joy. Here is the re-posted story of how he came to us, just one year ago:


A weary stranger on the road, seeking shelter and warmth and safety. It sounds like a Christmas story to me.

He was cold. Cold and very hungry, and so thirsty. The days were long and dangerous enough with all the honking cars, but the nights seemed to last forever. He didn't know where to go, but he knew he had to get away from those mad singing coyotes and the big owls hunting in the orchard. He wasn't sure how to deal with the huge roaring monster of a train that came through every few hours, and he had crossed the track several times.

But, oh, he was so cold and lost and afraid.


We live on a road that runs between two heavily traveled streets. Although our place in the orchard is fairly quiet, there is a railroad track about half a mile away.We first saw the little dog when we were on our way out to breakfast and were worried that he was so near the road, but then he headed off toward a fenced yard and we figured that he had just been out for a little stroll.

Many hours later, I spotted the little guy once again. This time he was outside our fence, visiting with our dogs. I was worried about the traffic, and enlisted Beez's help. Grabbing a package of string cheese, I went out to see if I could get him to come in to safety.

It took over an hour of signalling cars and trucks to slow down and go around, and calling softly to Beez for more cheese. We learned early on that he was frightened of people, but terrified of men; so Beez stayed way back. Remembering the lost pup's lack of fear of other dogs, I got Little Pete to help. That did the trick: The little wanderer came into the yard to see Pete and to get another bite of cheese, and Beez materialized behind us and closed the gate.

Little Pete is always willing to help out

People began arriving for supper. My sister almost wept when she realized that this was the same dog she had tried to call to safety two days before. She had been haunted by the thought of him out there on his own, but he had been too frightened to come near. Now he seemed to remember her voice.

My husband, that good Beez, spent another hour out in the yard, getting the little guy to trust him enough to come into the house before nightfall's below-freezing temperatures. This is the man who earlier had put together his rightly-famous white lasagna and got it into the oven, while still managing to work patiently with the little wildling. Our dozen dinner guests quietly cheered him on from the living room until he arrived with the cold, tired pup cradled in his arms.

Once inside, with access to plenty of food, water, warmth, and comfy laps, the terrified and exhausted little pup underwent a pretty amazing change. He asked Helen to lift him up and hold him. He snuggled right down and fell asleep, safe at last. He was sleeping so hard, that first Jeff and then Jean took over the pup-holding duties, and he didn't even stir.

Around the big table, we smiled at each other and talked quietly of Christmas miracles.

Safe at last

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Night Filled With Light

Looking into a candlebaggio

December may be my favorite time in New Mexico. It seems as though the month isn't long enough for all the festivities. This year we started the pre-Christmas celebrations by going to Noche de Luminarias at the New Mexico State University with a group of good friends. 

To give you a little background: In northern New Mexico, a luminaria is a little bonfire, lit to welcome and guide the spirit of the Christ Child during the nights leading up to Christmas. Up there around Santa Fe, farolito is the name given to a little paper bag holding sand and a candle; down here in the southern part of the state we call the candle-in-a-bag a luminaria. Our friend, Lou, has simplified the matter by calling them candlebaggios, and many of our friends have adopted the term (see Those Little Whatcha-Call 'Ems). 

The local high school band members lit 6500 luminarias all over the NMSU campus, and a back-breaking business it must have been. By the time we arrived, the sun was just going down and we watched and strolled as the sky darkened and the luminarias began to glow.

Inside the student center, there was music and dancing and food. Outside, it was quiet and quite warm for early December. We walked and chatted and took pictures, and eventually made our way along the paths to the duck pond, where the early evening sky and reflecting waters made for some great photo opportunities.

For some really lovely shots, check out our friend Patrick's post on the evening, Noche de Luminarias.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Visit to the Bosque del Apache

The Bosque del Apache ("forest of the Apache") is a National Wildlife Refuge that straddles the Rio Grande in central New Mexico. My first question, when I read that the refuge is an arid wetland, was: Where does the water come from? Our Rio Grande is not so grande in these drought years, and seeing all that water is a rare and delightful experience for us desert dwellers. Here is the explanation from the Southwest Region Fish and Wildlife Service:
The heart of the Refuge is about 12,900 acres of moist bottomlands--3,800 acres are active floodplain of the Rio Grande and 9,100 acres are areas where water is diverted to create extensive wetlands, farmlands, and riparian forests.
To visit the Bosque in the fall is a delight - the cottonwoods have turned a bright gold; the air is warm enough for shirtsleeves, yet cool in the shade; and there is water everywhere. That would be enough to make a wonderful outing, but the real point of going at this time of year is to see the Sandhill Cranes, Ross' Geese, and Snow Geese, as well as thousands of ducks and migratory birds.

As we drove in to the Refuge, this was our first breathtaking look at geese resting in the shallow water.

There were geese in the water and the sky for as far as the eye could see. 

On the other side of the river, we came across small groups of Sandhill Cranes feeding in the water and in the fields. Crops of alfalfa and corn are planted in the refuge, then the alfalfa is harvested and the corn left for the birds.

We were just a week late for the best cottonwood color, but the trees were still lovely. That metal contraption in the foreground of the above photo is part of an irrigation gate on one of the ditches. 

This field was full of sandhill cranes gathering at the end of the day. Too bad I wasn't using a telephoto lens--all of these photos were taken with my iPhone.

If you would like to see the amazing photo winners from the recent Festival of the Cranes photo contest, click here. To hear the incredible sound of thousands of geese "flying out" in the morning, check out this recording from the Friends of the Bosque.

For even more photos and news, you can friend "Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge" on Facebook. They have recent posts showing the rescue of some mule deer fawns from a water-filled ditch, and a trail camera shot of a mother mountain lion and her frolicking kitten.

At the new visitor center, you can buy CDs to play in your car for an audio tour of the refuge, or you can download the seasonal tours for free on this page, put them on your iPod and play them through your car speakers as you drive along.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ghost Town

Last summer we took a ride up to Lake Valley, located in Sierra County. There were no lakes to be seen, of course - this is New Mexico and water is pretty much a rarity. The valley was apparently named for ancient lake beds long gone.

Such big empty spaces

It was a beautiful wide open space, appearing pretty empty to the casual eye. There were few signs of people, other than the couple of cars we passed along the road and the ever-present stock fences. We saw a roadrunner (our state bird) and a few distant cattle. When we stopped the car, the only sound was the breeze through the grass; all else was hot and still.

It hasn't always been that way. Back in the late 1800s a huge silver deposit was found at one end of the valley. There are stories told that the silver was so pure that it could be loaded from the mine into railroad cars and taken straight to the mint with no need of smelting.

Enlarge this photo to read a bit of town history


Old safe

Sign creaking in the wind
 All that's left now is a ghost town, with just a few buildings still standing, but there were once 4,000 people living in Lake Valley. Saloons, churches (way more saloons than churches), a school, stores, a hotel, and houses once stood here. With not a single tourist in sight, you are free to sit in the shade and imagine what it might have been like in its heyday.

If you would like to read more about the ghost town, you can check out these links, or just google "Lake Valley, NM ghost town:"

- A page from the New Mexico Ghost Towns website: 

- Bureau of Land Management site, gives directions and information for visitors: 

- Official Bureau of Land Management Brochure, with some historical photos: 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Day in November, for Skywatch

City-light diamond necklace at the throat of the mountains
Twinkles, then winks off
The wind chime hangs very, very still

A shiver-cold desert night is ending
Scarlet fingers from the rising sun
Reach up, into a warming sky

Distant dogs bark up into the orange pink gold light
Coyote gives one last commanding howl, and
The November day is born


For sky photos from all over the world, be sure to visit Skywatch Friday.