Subtle Sunset Hallucinations (Pictures of a Trip of the Imagination)

~~By NM-GRL

Yesterday we had ANOTHER snow storm…a heavy wet snow that resulted in a couple of inches and some shoveling for old times sake for me.  Of course, by today, you would never known it had ever happened!

But it’s cold and a wind moved off most of the leftover clouds. Tonight, I was out just as the sun was setting and just had to run to get the camera.  The sky over the Organ Mountains was especially sublime…the pictures really don’t do it justice, but here goes:

Sometimes we get clouds that look like flying saucers. This one over the peaks certainly is not the most perfect of examples, but the location and the colors….it will have to do!  For a moment I thought I was watching the craft from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” descending to pick me up…

A close encounter?

Then, I noticed to the left, a sight over the St. Augustin Pass that made me wonder if I were seeing a wormhole of sorts.  Time rippled around the edges of this massive gateway:

A wormhole?

Then, a closer look revealed what looked like a distant, imaginary mountain range covered in snow as I looked through the pass:

A far away mountain range? Shangri-La?

The colors of the mountain changed into a copper glow….was I on a red planet, like Mars, near an icecap?

Copper Mountains

As the light ran out, I returned to the house and back to planet Earth to cook dinner…But it had been a lovely dream!

An Early Season Snowstorm with a Magnificent Reward…(Pics, including an adorable dog, too)

~~By NM-GRL (IA)

Okay, last time I posted it was green chile time…but hectic months stopped me from getting up a couple of ideas…but they will go up!

Today I awoke to our first snow of the season….several weeks early, by my reckoning…and quite a bit more dramatic than usual. It started yesterday afternoon with a nasty, cold rain and overnight it shifted over to snow.

The big deal here is not just getting snow on the ground (although it was already gone from the streets and sidwalks by the time I woke up!).  For me, it is watching the stormy weather clear and getting a clear view of the Organ Mountains and the snow on them!

So, here’s how it unfolded over the last 24 hours:

As you can see, Slick wasn’t particularly interested in getting up this morning! In fact, all the dogs were not going out yesterday and it was a cliffhanger for a couple of them in terms of how long their bladders would hold out. Even Slick rebelled at the cold rain late in the afternoon, although I got him out for about 2 seconds to pee pee.  Toro went out into the backyard, but Tico stayed put in the back of his crate all day until I threw him outside after things cleared today!  He is deathly afraid of storms…we adopted him from the animal shelter in February 2002. He had spent a month with people who had found him in a ditch. He was about 6 months old when we got him, so I figure he was out in some pretty cold, rotten weather as a baby.  So, I can understand his penchant for hiding under the bed, in his crate, and generally refusing to go out at all.

Slick Lingers in (My) Bed

I don’t blame him, because this was going on outside:

It was still snowing in fits and starts...

Fence Peaks

Not Even the Birds Were Out for Their Morning Meal...

Pretty icky for these parts, but sissy weather for back in New Jersey!  But, it’s so fleeting here, that this sort of raw, cold, dreary sort of weather is a shock!

Ah, but then it began to clear…the clouds started rolling away and sun came…and finally, I went out to the back…and…

The Organs Show Off Their Winter Coat...

…At least here there’s a magnificent payoff at the end of the nasty weather!

A Trip to Albuquerque: Along the Road, a Wind Turbine Blade and a “Watermelon”

By NM-GRL (IA)

It’s been such a long time since I’ve posted here!  But things might be easing up, finally.

My brother visited and we’ve just completed a long two weeks enclosing our back porch.  Tonight, we sealed the grout, so all I have to do is wash the floor, lay the new indoor/outdoor rug I bought yesterday, and start setting the room up, including moving some plants out of the house to the new room.

Before that happens and I get some pictures together on the final project, I’m catching up with my overnight trip to ABQ a few weeks ago. My brother flew into the Sunport for the first time (instead of El Paso) and it gave me a chance to get out of town.  I drove up that morning and that Saturday night we went to an Isotopes baseball game which was a blast. The next morning we took the Sandia Tram, which I’ve always wanted to do. It was fantastic and I will be posting about that shortly.

But for now, here are a few pics from the drive up. Along the way, I came upon a big “wing.” I had seen one being transported back home and figured it was a blade of a wind turbine.  This one I saw close up.  I passed it, but the blade and I wound up at the same rest stop a few minutes later!  If you’ve never seen one of these babies, they are colossal and look like a whale!

First, the sign from the rest stop.  History and modern technology were together that day…

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And here is the turbine blade…

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Look at how this thing is attached to the tower…

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If I recall correctly, this blade was on its way to Utah.

Seeing this thing up close was a pretty great start to my trip!

Just before hitting ABQ I stopped at the Isleta Indian Reservation for gas. It’s a popular place along the road to take another quick rest stop and top off the tank.

I drove directly to the airport and hanging in the main lobby is an old biplane, with an engine that “pushed” rather than “pulled” the plane, sort of like how a VW Beetle had an engine in the back!  There was a fascinating display which told the story of aviation in New Mexico.

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I got a peek of the Sandia Mountains from the waiting room.  From Wikipedia:

Sandía means watermelon in Spanish,[2] and is popularly believed to be a reference to the reddish color of the mountains at sunset.[3] Also, when viewed from the west, the profile of the mountains is a long ridge, with a thin zone of green conifers near the top, suggesting the “rind” of the watermelon. However, as Robert Julyan notes,[4] “the most likely explanation is the one believed by the Sandia Indians: the Spaniards, when they encountered the Pueblo in 1540, called it Sandia, because they thought the squash growing there were watermelons, and the name Sandia soon was transferred to the mountains east of the pueblo.” He also notes that the Sandia Pueblo Indians call the mountain Bien Mur, “big mountain.”

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My brother’s plane came in on time. Eureka! Last year, flying via Dallas, he had a huge delay and it took him 12 hours to get back to New Jersey. So, we decided to try Southwest into ABQ and it worked like a charm.

Spring Finally Arrives in New York! Hurray! Photos from Highland Park (Near Rochester)

~~By Grail Guardian

After the longest Winter I can remember in quite a few years, Mother Nature has finally blessed Upstate New York with her bounty once again. Temperatures Saturday soared into the high 80s, and I actually was able to turn off the furnace and sleep with the windows open!

NM-GRL may have the New Mexico weather advantage, but we have the glorious eruption of a never-ending cascade of color and foliage that reminds us why we still live here. Basically, I think most of us will move once Governor Paterson figures out a way to tax the flowers and trees (I’m sure he’s working on it…)

So until then, let’s start with the sea of daffodils!

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This photo was taken last week, and many more have since come out. These are some early blooms at Highland Park (my favorite place to enjoy nature until my Dad gets his yard finished – I’ll do another post when his artistry is in bloom).

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The first Magnolias starting last week – they are now out in full force and walking through this section of the park sends you on a sensory journey that just has to be experienced! I love to just stand there with my eyes closed and breathe in the sweet fragrance…

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More Magnolias, surrounded by an incredible blanket of blue Glory of the Snow…

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A splash of Spring colors blankets the old Oak tree…

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I think this is a member of the Dogwood family. This park features an abundance of flora from around the world, and many unique species of lilacs created here for the annual Lilac Festival

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These pics were taken just before the 2008 Lilac Festival. I cannot even begin to describe the heavenly aroma that surrounds the park when these babies are in bloom…

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Some white Lilacs (photo from 2008)…

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Since I’m taking the trip down memory lane, here (again from 2008) are a few of the magnificent Azaleas that are taller than I am!

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Back to this year, Spring wouldn’t be complete without the forsythia. Again, this was taken last week, so they’ve filled in quite a bit.

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And here’s a preview of the Lilacs! Starting to leaf out…they’ll be glorious in a couple of weeks!

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And today the Bradford Pear outside work is in full bloom…

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And our birds’ favorite tree – they love to eat the flower buds, but the tree seems to withstand their assault quite nicely. The cardinals keep trying to build a nest in it, but it’s too close to the building so they give up every year. Thanks to the security coating on the windows, we can watch them quite close up. We have to hang feeders off the windows to keep them from flying into the glass, but our male cardinal still tries to fight the “other male” he sees in his reflection at least once a day.

***

Editor’s Note:

Highland Park in Rochester was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead:

Renowned park designer Frederick Law Olmstead was responsible for final development of Highland Park. Among his other accomplishments was the design of New York City’s famous Central Park.

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 25, 2009) The Squirrels Invade

Originally Posted at InsightAnalytical

~~By NM-GRL (IA)

I had a very busy week in the garden this week and posted the details here.

Today, I finally got the chocolate flower into the ground. Hopefully, I won’t drown this one…it’s tricky with desert plants because they need some moisture to get established when first planted. BUT…it’s sometimes hard to tell what is too much.

The big event of the week actually occurred yesterday. The SQUIRREL WARS have begun in earnest! After the carnage in the garden a week or so ago, when all my baby swiss chard and mesculin was munched on by bugs, I bought on the spur of the moment a 9-pack of buttercrunch lettuce. To be safe, I planted them in the patio pots, in with the tomatoes and peppers. Perfect, right? Wrong! Yesterday afternoon I caught not one, but TWO squirrels brazenly eating the lettuce!

Last spring they also ventured far into the yard. It may be that they are raising a family and need a lot of food. Since the dogs are out for most of the morning, they stay away. But their past behavior has to start coming over the wall from about 1 or 2 pm until about 4. In the morning, the white-tailed doves eat most of the cracked corn I set out in this old plastic fountain that I found in the trash, so this afternoon I put more out and guess what? The two buggers munched happily on the corn and didn’t wander onto the patio. Of course, I had put up some gerry-built chicken wire to deter them…but… Here is a shot of how they peek over the wall…

Surveying the food situation...

Surveying the food situation...

Enjoying the free grub…

Wallowing in the food dish...

Wallowing in the food dish...

Frankly, I do have a soft spot in my heart for any animal that sits in its food dish. I had gerbils that did the same thing…the enthusiasm of the act is rather endearing.

I don’t know if I can keep them from my peaches for much longer. I’ve developed a new strategy. Instead of picking up the dog poop and putting it in the garbage, I’ve been tossing it along the other side of the wall near the burrow entrance that is hidden by big rabbitbrush bushes. Why I think any squirrels would be deterred by this, I don’t know…but I figure it’s worth a try! This year I have the most peaches ever and they are already HUGE!

Peaches waiting for squirrel visitors...

Peaches waiting for squirrel visitors...

I still haven’t finished the new trellises for the new grapes and I have to start training the Flame grape which is already full of little bunches. And, if I had time, I would be bagging those peaches now…my luck can’t hold out!!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 18, 2009) Glorious Organ Mountains; Apricots; Quail on the Wall; Sneaky Slick the Min Pin

Originally Posted at  InsightAnalytical

~~By NM-GRL (IA)

It’s been a frustrating week in the garden as the winds have continued and the temperatures have dipped the last day or so.  I’ve managed to put a couple of veggies and flowers into the patio pots, only to cover them up again to protect them from the weather.

Yesterday I bought a new Belle of Georgia peach to replace the one that is languishing.  I’ll get that in the ground over the weekend.

A big surprise is that I found a little apricot growing.  One seems to be finally showing on the flower I saw…but this one never seemed to have a flower that I ever saw, so imagine my surprise to see a an actual baby apricot!!  Let’s see if anything more shows up!

Last Tuesday I took advantage of the short trip over to my chess teacher’s house and took some wonderful pictures of the Organ Mountains. These views are literally a couple of minutes from my house…I’ll share one with you now:

Organ Mountain 4/16/09 Looking Like a Painting...
Organ Mountains 4/14/09 Looking Like a Painting…

New Mexico has wonderful light, which attracts a lot of artists.  The changes in the skies and the light that changes from second to second are things which never cease to amaze me.

Closer to home, the quail are beginning to show up on my wall.  I love these guys and their plaintive calls.

A Curious Quail...
A Curious Quail…

Finally, Slick the Sneak was into all sorts of trouble yesterday.  We left the house for an appointment and when we got back we found garbage all over the floor!  This hasn’t happened in quite awhile.  It really was close to the boys’ dinnertime, so I guess Slick was the leader of the pack in search of some grub.

This picture, which I took a couple of days ago, shows the little flash of the devil in his eyes:
Sneaky Slick
Sneaky Slick

Let’s hope the winds die down next week! I have to put up the new grape trellises, plant a chocolate flower and really have to decide if I should bag the peaches. So far the squirrels haven’t shown up, which is amazing. I see the papa or mama when I look over the wall and they gobble up the lettuce and other veg scraps I toss over right away.  I suppose they’re busy with babies and as they grow, I’m sure they’ll be hunting for a lot more food…including peaches!