Archive for April, 2018

Wait! I have to see the mashed potatoes again!

Snow capped

Oh, look! Last night’s rain here was snow on the peaks!

Museum entry

Off to the last museum of the trip (right???). Turns out no photography inside. [Mr. Plaid is a ringer, not a member of our party.]

Apache Mtn Spirit dancer

Thankfully, there’s a sculpture garden and scattered monumental art. This is a giant Apache Spirit Mountain Dancer (Craig Dan Gosayun, 1995).

Rail runner photog

We looped by the Rail Runner, the train down to Albuquerque. Oregon and Michigan have the same problem, in that the capital city is not the business center of the state. Here, they’ve implemented a train to zip commuters back and forth. Yay!, New Mexico.

Rancho Rosita

Beautiful sunset light on our compound’s main residence.

Goodbye flowers

Will miss the flowering shrubs…this place is lovely. [Surveyors were here today marking off lots in the land that’s presently part of the property, so I suspect the main house and the casita will be amidst many houses, driveways, and hubbub, and not the quiet oasis in the high(ish)-altitude desert that we are enjoying. Sigh.]

Title refers to exclamation overheard from an 83-and-a-half-year-old this evening during a viewing of a few food pictures from our recent France trip; she may have had just too many pinto beans.

Los Alamos and Bandolier

RioGrande V SIldefonso

From our rural rancho, we headed north, in general up the Río Grande Valley. Then we turned west, and descended to the river. This is looking up the valley before we crossed the river and began our ascent of the eroded flank of a extinct volcano.

Tall trees

As we climbed, we eventually reached elevations where we saw the tall pines I suspect are Ponderosas.

LosAlamos algae

We stopped in Los Alamos. We recommend the Bradbury Museum. It’s not named after Ray. The displays are eye-catching and up-to-date. This is from the section on current research.

Thick gloves display

The nephews tried the thick-gloves and found it not-so-easy to pick up light plastic shapes and put them in large-ish test tubes.


After lunch, we headed over to Bandolier National Monument. Because the winds were kicking up, we headed off on the main train, near the visitor center, which goes to, through, and by kivas, room-block ruins, and cliff dwellings.

Tyuonyi rooms

This is the room-block ruins of Tyuonyi (Qu-weh-nee) village today—I’m left in black.

Tyuonyi 1923 1 pre stablization walls

For comparison: 1923 US government photo of Tyuonyi, before stabilization of walls.

Tyuonyi walls eye level

Stabilized walls of Tyuonyi at eye level.

Petroglyph wall

Here’s a section of wall that has rows of holes that held beams that were roof/floors (low in this shot).

Petroglyphs CU

Here’s a close-up of petroglyphs on the wall (a crop of the photo above).

Canyon wall

Here’s another section of wall. The roof/floor beam holes are even more obvious…. At the base of the canyon wall are the ruins of rooms. Some of these rooms would have been for storing food, rather than for living in.

Alcove house

Farther up the valley is a high-elevation cliff dwelling; it’s in that ovate. Starting from the left in the lowest blob of tree shadow you may be able to pick out a gleam from a handrail. That’s already one ladder up from the valley floor. Visitors continue to the right to three more ladders, eventually reaching that large cave to the upper right. It’s large enough to have a kiva (closed) with ruins along the margins of the space (I’m told).

Frijoles Creek

We also really enjoyed walking in the Frijoles Valley. The wind was kicking up, and we were glad we set off walking just after our arrival in the valley. It’s now several hours after we left Bandolier, and the winds are fierce—as they were last night. This is mildly concerning because the fire warning levels are “extremely high” and we are out in the bush (as it were), and the electricity has already flickered twice. But, it’s on now, so I’m going to get this up! Or at least try to.


Wooden patio bench

The other day I learned that the city of Santa Fé’s architecture overseers permit forty-four shades of adobe, whether of clay, or of the far more common cement stuccoing (if I have it right).

Lilac artsy gal

I realized by the end of today, that I had a bunch of shots with different adobe(like) walls in them.

Sectioned giant head

So, here’s a chance for you to compare shades/hues/tints/colors.

Messy wisteria patio

What names would you use for the various, um, terra cotta shades?

Maybe vibernum

It seems I also managed to get a bunch of flower pictures today.

Canyon road long wall

The flower colors—and organic shadow shapes—do highlight the natural light brown shades of the walls.

Canyon Road dorr

I also like the weathered wood matched with the adobe.

Canyon Road gallery porch

This building is not unusual in having different parts/wings/walls in different shades, and in having the normally shadowed porch the lightest shade of all.

Window Mark White garden

That large tree-trunk shadow is from a cottonwood, álamo in Spanish.

Maybe apple

This is probably some kind of ornamental apple.

Parking lot n beyond

Here are shade-variations on commercial buildings downtown.

Upon reflection, photographing the adobe walls was easier than naming the shades, and far more interesting.

Santa Fé potpourri

Closed door

Closed alley(?) gate, New Mexico History Museum.

Acoma facade copy

Façade/roofline copying Acoma church/mission/convento, New Mexico Museum of Art.

Plaza obelisk

Obelisk, center of plaza. All Spanish land grants legal descriptions near Santa Fé are measured from this point. The plaza used to continue two blocks east and two west from the remaining portion.

Holy water hotel StFrancis lobby

St. Francis Hotel, holy water in lobby. With lapdogs. The beeswax candles are only lighted at night. The name dates to 2008; prior to that, it was the De Vargas Hotel, and it relocated here in 1924.

Hotel StFrancis lobby fireplace

During the 2008 renovations, this old fireplace surround was discovered intact behind later materials. It was a surprise find. Note that to the left is the doorway to the Gruet tasting room; sadly, we skipped it.

Capitol leg art

Art in capitol walkway. The mandate to acquire/buy art dates to 1992.

Capitol rotunda up

Rotunda ceiling. This 1966 building is round, the only state capitol building to be so. There is no dome.

Capitol exterior

Capitol exterior, state seal sculpture above main entrance.

Old not adobe

Historic building that is not adobe, and has not been adobe-ized.

Stag or elk

The followign are all modern pots. Deer or elk?

Taos modern

Taos pottery is known for the mica flakes in the clay.

Indian bingo

Channel 4 is an Albuquerque station.

Big bird

Big bird. But what species?



Threatening lizards

Threatening lizards. Additionally creepy that the faces aren’t depicted.

Airbrush style

Airbrush style. If this is in the clay pre-firing, I hypothesize that the technique is very complex/difficult.

Empty birdfeeders

Sunset view

Last night’s sunset. This landscape is dominated by light and shadow and shape. No wonder artists flock here. That is the visual dominance; living here you also notice the wind, dust, and temperature. Also sounds of birds (here), perhaps cattle elsewhere.

Drywash moonscape

We cross a dry wash to our casita. In the solar lights along the path, the footprints in the sand looked like a lunar landscape with the treads of sports shoes not those of space suit boots.

Kitchen still life

Here’s a still life from the counter and wall left of the range in the main house.


This is the handle of the cupboard in the left edge of the photo above. The rest of the knobs are normal.

Rancho breakfast omelette

That’s Green Chili Bread on the left, quite spicy for bread. From the ovens of the restaurant/store we ate at last night. Paired with a normal, simple omelette. Superb breakfast.

Foot in pool

After breakfast, I went out to the pool, took my shoes and socks off, and stood in the shallows. The Foot in the wild!

OKeefe BellaDonna 1939 crop

Our main focused activity today was to visit the historic plaza of Santa Fé, eat lunch, then head for the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. Stunning paintings, of course. Loved the photos of her, as a window into the person through her choice of garments, shoes, accessories, etc. This is a crop of O’Keefe’s 1939 painting Bella Donna.

OKeefe library titles

Here are titles from her library. The display included a few sentences from a 1963 letter in which she observed that she’d taken three-and-a-half months to go around the world, then went across the Pacific to Bangkok and back with island stops. She went on to note that twice she’d been to Egypt and the place that stood out to her always was Peru. I assume the mountains….

Steiglitz photos

Of course, there are few Stieglitz photos. And there were soundless moving images of them together, interesting—he seems to be putting up with being filmed while she seems to be somewhat cajoling him to participate (my hypothesis).

These are considered by some the first abstract photos. These two are from 1930 and 1929. Others in the sextet dated back to 1926. They are lovely dark, ghostly smudges, and not the kind of image I think of when I think of AS photos.

Off to cocktail hour chatting and laughing.

The title refers to my viewscape out the picture window in front of me at the casita, and what I noticed as I tried to formulate a title for this post. Very stream of unconsciousness.

Visiting the living past

Acoma view down

We visited an ancient pueblo (village) atop a mesa today…still without electricity and with perhaps fifteen year-round, permanent residents. This is the view down; I have no good shots of the view up at the plateau-top architecture. This is considered the winter housing, roughly, of the people. In summer, they mostly lived down by their fields on the flats below.

Cistern of three

There are no flowing water sources atop the mesa, and this was an open cistern the people used anciently, and empty today. Residents now customarily drive water in barrels and plastic containers up the steep, paved road to their homes. Part of the road is visible in the first photo.

Oldest in pueblo

These are among the documented oldest walls/homes in the pueblo. Using a cannon and other means, Spanish thugs destroyed much of the pueblo in 1599, so the many buildings standing in the 16th C were more than decimated.

Kiva double ladder

This is a double ladder to the roof of a kiva that post-dates the Spanish destruction. The Spanish were keen to convert the Acoma to Christianity and get them to abandon their pagan practices. But the Acoma people disguised their previously circular kiva ceremonial rooms by making them rectangular like the house rooms. The second ladder behind the double one descends into the kiva. Except for a few special events, only men entered the kivas. Our guide, the young woman shown, did not say if that is still true, but I’m guessing it is. The Acoma are matriarchal, and the women own the homes, fields, crops, and most other household items.

Horno edge

This humped structure is a baking oven, used for food not pottery. These days, I’m guessing they are mostly only used at special times of the year, and not on a weekly/monthly basis.

Mt taylor view

That snow-dusted mountain in the far distance is Mount Taylor, a sacred place to the native peoples of this region. The beams supporting the roof of the early 17th-C church atop the mesa were cut on the mountain and brought by the men of Acoma under order and direction of a Spanish priest. The Spanish did not permit four special beams used in the altar to touch the ground during the whole process of carrying them BY HAND (not using animal labor) to the church. What high-handedness.

Casita walkway

Okay, switch gears. This is the walkway to the casita the Guru and I are staying in, an independent outbuilding of the main house, where the rest of the party are staying. The whole place is lovely, wonderful, and relaxing. Except maybe this stepped path for The Foot—no, really, it’s good exercise.

Casita view

Here’s the view from the living room area of our casita. See? Relaxing.

Chile relleno yum

We went to a nearby restaurant for our evening meal…boy, are we lucky; the food is outstanding; I mean, it could not be better. Oh, yum. This is a version of chile relleno I’ve never had, with a splayed roasted chile stuffed with a mixture of corn kernels, mushrooms, and pine nuts, with a bit of cheese on top. Soooooo tasty. I expect we’ll be eating here again, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. We shall see.

Of wildlife and waiting

RioGrande upstream

Our first scenic stop was a wildlife area on the left bank of the Río Grande. Mile wide (not quite), and all that. Lots of suspended sediments. Also saw a trio of gulls (ring billed?) standing in the water; didn’t expect to see gulls.

Golden currant

This bright yellow flower was labeled as golden currant. We thought it smelled like honey, and the scent even wafted over the blooming rosemary causing confusion in identification.

Turtle posse

These turtles had this section of a backwater/pond totally staked out. Love the one to the left of center with its head down and feet sticking out. Watched it for a while, and it never moved.

Cottonwood buds

The cottonwoods are budding, yet the old leaves remain. The wind in the dry leaves has a different tone than the summer-green leaves. Duh.

Roadrunner posing

Roadrunner. Posing. Like turtles: never moved.

Wedding party

Then we went to Old Town ABQ. This wedding party, as near as we could tell, was waiting to be summoned into the church, which dates to 1793. I ducked inside the church, and the priest was asking people where they’d come from…. Love the dads (?) standing off to the side in the partial shade.

On, above, and near the high plains

Two bison

I haven’t mentioned wild critters so far. On day one we saw a beaver crossing the road. Pretty sure on that ID, and definitely on the location. Strange. On day two, we spotted antelopes. Not many, but they were out there in the windswept terrain. Today, we just moseyed along pretty early, and whoops, look in with those cattle…odd shapes…yup, two bison. I don’t think we will do better tomorrow and the coming days…unless…elk?

Two couches

Off in a nearly abandoned part of town, we found this pair of couches perhaps commiserating on the lousy neighborhood…or waiting for a parade?

Tamale lunch

For lunch we found a real Mexican place. I had a red and a green tamale. With a side of beans. I was stuffed. The two sauces provided were both cooked, so a real contrast to yesterday’s salsa offerings.

Baptist church

The Guru made this shot, a real grab of an abandoned ranch with a butte not far distant (I was driving; foot’s doing quite well, thank you). The sign says “Baptist Church.” Life after ranch.

Distant sandias

That line of mountains in the distance, that’s the east side of the Sandia Mountains, which are the east side of the Albuquerque basin. There’s a road to the top, very winding and slow; it passes a ski area and a parking lot signed winter play area. We took that road. It hammered our mileage even worse than the winds and gentle upgrade have over the last two days.

Iced rime

The vegetation at the top was rimed in a snow-ice combo. The wind was fierce. We made a quick walking loop, clicked a few frames, and scuttled back to the quiet of the car. And warmth; the car indicated it was 22°F outside. [Remember, we were in 104 yesterday.]

Iced rime CU

The rime was pretty thick, and one sided. The wind was strong enough to blow pieces off and we could see small white bombs scattered on the blacktop.

Flags horizontal

We headed down, garnering all the battery-energy we could. The battery level went from below zero (zero on the gauge not being empty but false empty that keeps a bit of charge in the battery at all times), to 59%. Now, that’s a downhill!

And in ABQ: yup, still windy. Supposed to slack off in the evening. Can’t wait!



Most of today’s photos were through a bug-marred windshield or a reflection-blotched side window. We walked up to this overlook with a good view of the Arkansas River—which must have been great when the trees were younger, but now they hold more carbon.

Lupitas lunch

We got away from the interstate and went to a tamale place. The menu was on a sign, but didn’t include tamales. Uh oh. But we asked, and indeed got two plates of pork/red sauce tamales. Apparently the local preference is for the homemade hot sauce on top, so we had that, too. The other four salsas were offered in a salsa bar. The salsas were stupendous. The owner is from Michoacán—so the food is not TexMex as it is most places—we were told.


We kept grinding westward. Hot outside; strong AC inside. Look at this: 104° at 4:03pm in western Oklahoma. Yikes. That was the high. There’s a weather system passing through…um, tomorrow?…and temps will drop. This might have been a record-high. It was also super-windy. The big commercial flags were totally horizontal; we heard gusts were expected to be up to 50mph.

Wind plants

Not surprisingly, after we left the trees behind, we saw lots of wind plants…whole forests or plantations of them. We agreed that we were seeing more than a couple of years back.

Blade in motion

We did encounter this one blade traveling down the highway. We wondered if it was defective. Perhaps a half-hour later, we saw two other blades on trucks that had pulled off the interstate. We figured that somehow the two parties and three blades had gotten separated. [We make up stories all the time to fit what we notice as we go down the road.]


Seems like the windmills—the old-fashioned kind like this—are fewer and fewer. Stands to reason. And they are difficult to photo at highway speeds!

Dusk sky

And oh my was the sky pretty as we traversed the final miles of the day. The camera makes it darker and more contrasty than it was. Still: nice god-rays, looking even better against the empty, distant skyline.

Of peonies and pecan praline

Peony bud ants

I didn’t know the ants got on the peonies when they are still tight, tight buds. Proof.

Pecan praline icecream pie

However, today’s most interesting serendipity is that we had a Burnsian lunch, including with John’s bro, and, this was super unplanned, we had dinner with my brother. In western Mississippi. Texting can facilitate last-minute planning…. The texting frenzy that made arranging for the later meal possible began around 4pm (local time), and we met up at 7pm. Of all things.

And this is the celebratory pecan praline ice cream dessert that five(!!) of us shared….