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!

Oh, The Heck With It All…It’s GREEN CHILE TIME!

By NM-GRL (IA)

Things have been so incredibly busy here that my blogging at both of the sites has been slowed in the last week or so. Also, I’m in one of those moods where I just can’t stand politics anymore!  But, the one bright spot?  CHILE!!  To be specific, Hatch ORGANIC green chile peppers, roasted, rushed home, and stashed for the next year!

If you’ve never seen how it’s done, here are a few pics of what happened on Tuesday (9/1/2009) in my kitchen…

First, I went down to the co-op, Mountain View Market, with my receipt for my pre-paid chile and waited for a few moments as the attendant fired up the chile roaster.  Within about 5 minutes, wonderful aromas wafted through the air as my 25-lbs. of  peppers were tossed over the flame. When the roaster stopped, the peppers came down the chute into their box, now lined with a plastic bag.

I rushed home and began getting them ready for the freezer. In past years, I’ve spent a long time peeling the skins off the peppers, but this year, on the advice of regular visitor “ea” I just popped them into bags.  Funny, for the first time I also ran into someone while we were watching the roasting who also said that it was easier not to peel them until use.  So, here’s how things unfolded:

First, here’s the box they came in…direct from Hatch, NM, our local “chile capital”:

2009_0831CHILE20090030

Here’s a picture of what the chiles looked like as I opened the bag/box when I got home:

Chiles ready to go...

Here are a couple of roasted chiles, close-up:

Roasted chiles with charred skins...

Of course, highly specialized tools are needed to process these beauties!!  I get 10 bags at a time opened and ready, then use a gloved hand to pick up about 6 oz. of chiles.  That portion size yielded 55 bags of chile for the freezer, to allow for 52 weeks of chile plus a few spare bags to make sure we have enough until the next roasting day next year.  I still have a few bags of last year’s peppers that we have to finish off before we start on the new batch.

You’ll notice a straw…since I don’t have a vacuum sealer and won’t get one (way too expensive!), I simply close the bag around the straw, suck in hard, then pull the straw out quickly and seal up the last small section of the bag. Voila!  A pretty good vacuum seal!

Tools of the chile trade...
Tools of the chile trade…

Finally, here’s a shot of some of the bagged chile ready to go into the freezer!

Packages of joy...
Packages of joy…

Just before I closed up the box to throw it out, I fished around the line and lo and behold!  a few errant chiles hiding in the corners!  I popped them into a bag and that was it!

Another year of good eating lies ahead–always something to look forward to!  I usually open up a bag on Sunday morning, then have another day of chile later in the week.

I have to say, as a transplant from New Jersey, I had no idea that I could become so hooked on green chile.  But, am I glad I picked up on this New Mexico tradition.  It’s just plain delicious!!

***

Related site:

New Mexico Chile

Last year’s report:

Exhausted….from GREEN CHILE!

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…

2009_0620AlbuquerqueTrip0007

And here is the turbine blade…

2009_0620AlbuquerqueTrip0005

2009_0620AlbuquerqueTrip0004

Look at how this thing is attached to the tower…

2009_0620AlbuquerqueTrip0002

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.

2009_0620AlbuquerqueTrip0008

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.”

2009_0620AlbuquerqueTrip0012

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.

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (May 16, 2009) Cactus in Bloom! Gorgeous!rtw

~~By NM-GRL (IA)

Temperatures are heating up…we went into the 90’s then it cooled and today I caught a sign saying 95.  So…summer is on its way!

Which means the desert plants are starting to come into full flower.  Before I moved here I didn’t realize how wonderful cactus plants could be when they bloomed!

But before I get to some pictures from my house, I have to report on the squirrels. One is particularly bold, heading onto our back porch a mere couple of feet from my back door!  The same guy, I think, was caught on my little “couch” (actually a storage unit) picking up corn that had spilled from the containers I use to fill the feeders.  Today, I caught one at the side of the yard and I’m betting he’ll be at the pomegranate, which is not starting to form flower buds. (Last year, a squirrel nibbled on those.)  The squirrel contingent has devoured petunias and I bought a few more hanging containers for portulacas and cardinal creeper vines, whose red flowers are also a tasty treat. Meanwhile, in the veggie garden, a squirrel has nipped at the sweet potato plants!!!  And, I found a big, unripe peach half eaten!

This is getting nasty!  I’m seriously thinking of getting an electrified fence around the vegetables at this point!

This weekend I should start bagging the grapes, which are now the size of peas…the work never ends!!

At least the cactus flowers aren’t being eaten!!!!  So enjoy!  These pics were taken over the the course of a few days, so they are in chronological order…

First, we have a few from 5/8:

Here is a cholla. I picked up a small section and planted this myself a few years ago and now it’s HUGE!

Cholla budding...

Cholla budding...

A bee wallows in the yellow flower on this cactus:

Bee in pollen...

Bee in pollen...

Another version of a yellow flower, but with a splash of red!

Red and yellow flowers in full glory...

Red and yellow flowers in full glory...

A couple of days later I took this picture with the cholla bursting into bloom:

Cholla blooming...

Cholla blooming...

Cactus Flowers

Cactus Flowers

The next day on 5/11:

A cactus pad full of flowers...

A cactus pad full of flowers...

Finally, a shot of the ocotillo now leafed out and the cholla:

2009_0512CactusOther0057

Except for the ocotillo which we had planted by a nursery, all the cactus have grown from a single pad that I stuck in the ground.  Needless to say, I’m extremely please with the results!!

P.S.–that long “stick” on the left is the base that hold up my longwire antenna that brings in my shortwave radio signals!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (May 9, 2009) ROADRUNNER in the Yard!

~~By NM-GRL (aka InsightAnalytical-GRL)

This week I planned to post some pictures of all the cactus blooms, but an unexpected visitor changed my plans!  For the first time in the 10 years I’ve lived here, a roadrunner strolled onto my patio and hung out for a long time in my backyard!  I’ve seen them on the wall and sometimes they’ve hopped down into the yard, but they’ve always stayed away from the house.  This time was totally different…and I got to see this visitor attempting to find a meal, too!

I ran to grab my camera as soon as I saw this fellow on the patio. He (she?) then hopped up on a flower pot:

Perched on the petunias...

Perched on the petunias...

Here’s a closeup:

2009_0506FrontRoadrunner0036

For a moment I thought this wild thing would take a drink from the fountain…but, it didn’t happen.

No drinking today...

No drinking today...

Getting bored on the patio, our friend decided to head on over to the side of the yard, toward a couple of the bird feeders I have there (I have others on the wall facing the arroyo toward the back, too):

Heading toward the feeders...

Heading toward the feeders...

Once at the feeders, the visitor eyed the situation and decided to stay awhile. I watched him/her lie in wait for small birds and try to fly up and catch them.  He/she literally hunkered down and then “launched” in pursuit.  Didn’t catch anything this time around…

Planning an ambush strategy...

Planning an ambush strategy...

Finally, I decided to try out the video function on the camera. Toro came out of the house to bark and the bird didn’t care at all.  A short time later, Toro figured out that there was a big bird and he went over to bark at it directly.  Without any panic at all, the roadrunner decided to take leave of the yard. Unforunately, I couldn’t figure out how to get the video over into WordPress…

Amazing!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (May 2, 2009) Orioles!

~~By NM-GRL (aka InsightAnaltyical-GRL)

I’m trying out something new…posting directly to Open Range Ramblings with a link over at IA for visitors to that blog.  Hopefully, folks will find their way here!

Well, this week I bought a product at Home Depot called “Critter Ridder” which is supposed to “deter” pests lik squirrels. After my local little devils munched on petunias and newly planted lettuce in pots on the patio, I got frustrated. So I bought this stuff (organic) and sprinkled it on the other side of the wall, hoping to keep my squirrel invaders at bay.

WITHIN 10 MINUTES…I was in the house and glanced out the window…and there was the ringleader on the wall and down on the ground taking a drink of water in the bowl I have there.

So much for “Critter Ridder” when it comes to squirrels!!!  However, it MAY help with another problem…my two little ones, Toro and especially Tico,  have be digging in the garden for some reason. Tico seems to love digging holes and sits in them.  I filled in the one in the grassy area near the house and covered it with a flower pot so now he (with assistance from Toro) is digging by the wall under the plants and hanging out there.  So, I may have to use the rest of the “Critter Ridder” to discourage Tico…it’s safe for dogs, so I’ll see if I’ve wasted my $15.

The Big Event of the week is the arrival of the orioles on a regular basis to my yard!  I’ve been hearing them for a couple of weeks and my neighbor had them in her yard. Now, I’ve got at least two males visiting. One goes to the feeder, the other likes the grape jelly I set out.  The females will start visiting soon, I hope.  Last year I decided that the two types visiting were the hooded and Bullock’s orioles…

Hitting the bottle:

Enjoying the sugar water...

Hooded Oriole enjoying the sugar water...

Grape jelly!!

Jelly!

Jelly! (Bullock's Oriole)

Out in the plant world, the mesquite trees are finally leafing out…and doing the pollen thing.  I’m allergic so the last couple of days have been a bit stuffy…and the high mulberry pollen counts haven’t helped much either.  Mulberry trees aren’t being planted anymore but the ones that are still around are pretty potent especially when the wind blows.

Mesquite Tree

Mesquite Tree

Lots of sweet smelling pollen going on here:

Pollen Attack!

Pollen Attack!

We’re also beginnning to see a lot of yellow cactus flowers popping out…

Cactus Flower Duo

Cactus Flower Duo

There is a lot more yellow in store from cactus plants. The cholla is beginning to get ready to blossom as well. I’ll be posting some pics of other flowering plants soon!

In the vegetable garden, the first banana pepper is about and inch long and I’ve already started picking basil for drying. I finally have cheescloth down over the sprouting squash, okra and chard in a last ditch effort to keep the bugs away!