05/23/18
Echo Amphitheater

Echo Amphitheater: Mineral or Murder?

Echo Amphitheater: Mineral or Murder?

Echo Amphitheater

Echo Amphitheater, Northern New Mexico

Echo Amphitheater in Northern New Mexico is known for unique echoing auditory properties. We chose it Sunday as the destination point for our drive through the Jemez. The entire drive was breathtaking. As a brief thunderstorm approached, the light on the sandstone cliffs after we rounded Abiquiu Lake was spectacular. So many different layers of colors were visible. On reaching the Amphitheater itself, in shade from clouds overhead, I did not immediately appreciate the colors. They appeared muted.

From the parking lot, a very nice walk leads to the Amphitheater itself.

Echo Amphitheater

Paved Walk To Echo Amphitheater

As we walked in, I was impressed with patterns hollowed out in the sandstone by running water. In addition, I noted small trees growing in cracks, which would, of course, lead to larger cracks and falling rocks over time.

Echo Amphitheater

Water Carved Sandstone Cliffs

Echo Amphitheater

Water Carved Sandstone

Echo Amphitheater

Tree Growing in Crack in Sandstone

At the very end are stairs. At the top of the stairs is a landing on which you stand in front of the center of the Amphitheater. This is the point for the best echoes. Of course we clapped hands, said “Hello,” and a variety of other things. Things really do echo!!!

We photographed the impressive stains running down the sandstone.

Echo Amphitheater

Center of Echo Amphitheater

 Echo Amphitheater

Stains on Left Wall of Echo Amphitheater

Echo Amphitheater

King Douglas Photographing Echo Amphitheater

At the time we were there, I thought the stains were probably from iron carried in running water during storms. Today, however, I decided to see what I could find about minerals that might have caused the stains, whether iron, manganese, or something else or a combination. I easily found an overview of minerals in the region. I took this photograph as we were leaving the site.

Echo Amphitheater

At Echo Amphitheater

I have not yet found a scientific analysis of the mineral(s) streaking the sandstone.

However, I did find an Old West myth in the Atlas Obscura:

According to legend the curved stone cliff wall now known as Echo Amphitheater was the site where a group of Navajo executed a family of settlers. As the story goes, the victims were brought to the top of the cliff and killed, their blood running down the cliff wall and permanently staining it. Possibly in response to this legend another story says that years later a number of Navajo were in turn murdered in the same spot, once again staining the cliff wall with their draining blood. Now the natural echoing caused by the site’s geography is often ascribed to the voices of the unquiet dead.

I guess that can serve as an alternative explanation while I continue to search for a scientific explanation. The fact a story like that never occurred to me when looking at the Amphitheater at the time or the images later confirms the thoughts of a friend that my scientific view of the natural world prevents any possibility of a story telling imagination. 😉

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Old West Murders

Old west murders really are not my thing, but seem to be a recurring theme for some reason this spring. I’m still working through all of the things I have found from simply following things out from the DNA test I did just before Christmas. On my father’s mother’s side, one 2nd great grandfather was William Benjamin McKaughan and my 2nd great grandmother was Charlotte Clarenda “Lottie” Spencer (I guess I really am part Irish and part English). They married in Nacogdoches, Texas in 1852. He purchased properties along rivers in Texas, and became a merchant. In the 1860 Federal Census he had significantly more land and personal property than any of my other relatives at that time. Then came the Civil War, and all of my relatives as far as I can determine were Confederates. I’m still working on swallowing that. They had more children after the Civil War ended. He became known in Dallas for business trips he made after the Civil War. Then, on May 5, 1868 he was murdered. The generally accepted story is that one of Charlotte’s brothers (would be a great grand uncle of mine) killed him over a “family matter” (nothing more specified). The Spencer brothers were also merchants, but I do not know if they worked together or were competitors. But I found one website where someone says quite simply, “His wife killed him and her brother took the rap.” I have no idea, but I am trying to find out more. No one in my family talked about that 🙂 )))))))))) It was new to me!

In the 1870 Federal Census Charlotte was still living in Belton, Texas with her younger children. She did not possess William B’s land, but still had a fair amount of personal property. By the 1880 Federal Census she was living with an older daughter as well as some of the younger children in Nacogdoches, Texas. The 1890 Federal Census burned. In the 1900 Federal Census she was living in San Antonio with my great grandmother, Mary Rosella Mckaughan Webb and her third husband, George C Webb, along with two of her grandchildren – my grandmother and great aunt – and also her unmarried younger daughter, “Mattie” McKaughan. Charlotte died in San Antonio in 1902, and is buried in the Confederate Cemetery there.

When I graduated from medical school, my father’s sister gave me a pair of earrings with the hand written note, “Charlotte Spencer McKaughan, mother of Mary R McKaughan.” No explanation beyond that was given, and it was the only time her name was mentioned to me in any way. William Benjamin McKaughan was never mentioned to me, and on old death certificates of various family members, both my grandmother and great aunt gave false information about his name and place of birth (and they didn’t even tell the same lie!). On one my grandmother said there was “no information” on who her aunt’s mother was, which would have been my grandmother’s grandmother, Charlotte Spencer McKaughan. I guess they figured telling different lies would make finding the truth that much more difficult. It was, and I’m still searching.

What happened to the body of William Benjamin McKaughan? I don’t know. He has a cenotaph memorial in Salado Cemetery, Texas.

Salado Cemetery Texas

Salado Cemetery, Texas. Photo by “Longwired” 2005

Forgive the digression…

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Back to New Mexico

For those of you who live here, a day trip through Northern New Mexico with Echo Amphitheater as a destination point is fun. Plan many stops along the way for colorful vistas and photographs. See what your imagination tells you. Thanks for coming along with me on this trip.

05/21/18
New Mexico

New Mexico Weekend

New Mexico Weekend

New Mexico: images are better than words. This was a weekend of great company plus beauty, floral on Saturday and landscapes on Sunday.

Saturday was the Fifth Annual Corrales Rose Society Dr. Huey Tour. Time flies!!! You can read about and see Tim Price’s images at his blog, TandL Photos. Days spent with Tim and Laurie in Corrales are always beautiful.

Sunday I had a remarkable day with a photographer friend from Dallas, King Douglas. (Hello to our friends from the old 1X!!!!). Over breakfast we discussed what to do. He pulled out a map and circled a few places. It was clear we were not going to “usual” places. I am so glad. I’m also glad I filled up with gas before I picked him up. We settled on Echo Amphitheater as a destination (photos of that another time). I warned him that I always get rained on in the Jemez, even if there is only one tiny cloud in the sky. The rain came just as we arrived at Echo Amphitheater. It was short-lived, and produced a cool and refreshing afternoon. The magic of the Jemez! We chatted about so many things. And, when we stopped to photograph, I got some tips from a master. What a day!

New Mexico

Abiquiu Lake Looking North. Very Low!

New Mexico

Northern New Mexico. More Colorful than the Painted Desert of Arizona.

New Mexico

More Color, and Look At That Sky!

New Mexico

Abiquiu Lake Looking South, with Georgia O’Keefe’s Pedernal Mountain

Finally, for our mutual friends, King Douglas with his wife’s dog, Cooper, in Echo Amphitheater. Cooper is not only adorable, he is an extremely smart Service Dog. He was a great little companion on the trip.

New Mexico

King Douglas and Cooper in Echo Amphitheater

This weekend was full of great company and visual delights. Thank you for sharing what was a remarkable weekend, even by New Mexico standards!

05/5/18
lady banks rose

Lady Banks, Laurie, and Critters

Lady Banks, Laurie, and Critters

Lady Banks, Laurie, and critters: what more could a day in May need to be perfect? This old species rose was breathtakingly beautiful in the late afternoon light. Many different roses are doing well this year. But this one was spectacular!

lady banks rose

Soft yellow beauty!

lady banks rose

This rose grows to be quite large!

Laurie adding to the spirit of the day:

lady banks rose

Laurie with Lady Banks Rose

In addition, this little damsel fly seemed to want to be photographed:

damsel fly

Damsel Fly Too Beautiful Not to Try to Photograph

Finally, would a visit to Corrales be complete without The Man, Spunk?

Spunk

“You know it’s time-and-a-half on weekends, or I’m just going to lie here and study you.” Spunk is always adorable!

05/2/18
miniature rose incognito

Miniature Rose Incognito

Miniature Rose Incognito

Miniature rose Incognito has long been one of my favorites. In usual years, it produces some perfectly formed blooms. The colors are always amazing. The Albuquerque area had a very mild, dry winter. While that does not bode well for the summer and potential for fires, the spring bloom of roses has been the best I have ever seen here. I’ve been here for over 30 years. This little bloom and bud gave a delightful splash of color. Finally, the bloom had perfect form.

miniature rose incognito

Miniature Rose “Incognito”

05/1/18

Spring Color

Spring Color

Spring color is everywhere in Albuquerque. Everything looks so fresh. The roses are a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. Because the weather is not hot yet, the roses haven’t become crispy critters, as they sometimes do. Everything around town seems colorful and clean. Of course, nothing beats a sunrise here! A riot of floral color makes things that much better!

spring color

Miniature Rose ‘Cinnamon Delight’

spring color

Riot of Color with Spring Flowers

spring color

Brilliant Southwestern Sunrise

04/29/18
curve-billed thrasher

Curve-Billed Thrasher and Beautiful Song

Curve-Billed Thrasher and Beautiful Song

The curve-billed thrasher is not the most elegant or colorful or powerful bird that visits my yard. At times it looks rather clumsy compared to some of the other birds, almost clown-like. But its song is like no other.

curve-billed thrasher

Curve-billed thrasher on the chimney, surveying its world.

This audio also contains in the background the call of the white-winged dove (“who cooks for you? who cooks for you?”).

These are the sounds of life in the high southwest desert. I hope you enjoy this little snippet.

And, finally, yes, that really was the color of the sky this morning. 🙂

04/21/18
roses "Ruby Baby

Days of Wind and Roses

Days of Wind and Roses

Days of wind and roses certainly characterize Albuquerque in Spring. That seems to have been especially true for the wind this year. The wind has blown ferociously! Yesterday morning I was surprised to see not that a few roses were blooming, but that the blooms appeared fresh.

This little beauty is the miniature rose, “Ruby Baby,” a sport of the classic miniature, “Hot Tamale.” My “Hot Tamale” died some years ago, but “Ruby Baby” has hung on surprisingly well.

roses "Ruby Baby

Miniature Rose “Ruby Baby”

Wishing everyone a “grounded” weekend.

04/1/18
spring pansies

Spring Has Sprung

Spring Has Sprung: Easter and April Fool’s Day in Albuquerque, 2018

Spring has sprung in Albuquerque! Although the sky was overcast most of the day, the temperature was pleasant and no wind was blowing.

The dwarf peach ‘Bonanza’ had begun to bloom when we got a hard freeze. I was afraid no peaches would form this year. And, for a variety of reasons, I had not photographed the tree at the height of its bloom. But, one bloom was left today. An extra bonus was that I could see one or two peaches were just beginning to develop!

spring peach bloom

Bloom of Dwarf Peach ‘Bonanza’

spring developing peach

Tiny Developing Peach

Although the flowering Bradford pear trees around town have bloomed out, the pear trees in my yard have just begun to bloom. Some of you may remember that I have a pollinator pear that produces fruit the birds love. The smaller tree produces pears that people love.

spring pear blooms

Pear Blossoms

Pansies and crocus (the crocus from a couple of weeks ago) round out today’s spring offerings.

spring crocus

Crocus

spring pansies

Pansies

spring pansies

Pansies

Finally, I hope you have had a wonderful day wherever you are!

03/4/18
Sourdough bread

Sourdough Baking

Sourdough Baking

Sourdough baking is a new hobby developed after I did Ancestry’s DNA test. I always liked to bake, but sourdough just wasn’t part of my repertoire. When I found out I was more Irish than even German (I still identify mainly as German), I thought maybe I should try Irish soda bread. But Laurie Price makes the best Irish soda bread that can be made. So I decided to I’d try something else. Another thing I learned is that so many of my lines started out in the original colonies, and over generations formed part of the Great Westward Migration. On January 1, I decided a trial of sourdough might be fun. I wanted to make the bread without commercial yeast. King Arthur Flour had a simple starter recipe. Some of the comments said to keep going with it even if it were not ready in 7 days. That was good advice. Mine took 12 days to “mature.”

Sourdough

My Sourdough Starter

In the first couple of weeks, I made 4 loaves of regular sourdough bread, and then branched out to try whole wheat. I – and the people who receive 1/2 loaf when I bake – seem to like both versions. After that, I tried rye. Rye flour is very dense. I quickly learned not to simply substitute it for other flours. After I found a recipe that added molasses and a higher percentage of water, the rye sourdough bread was good also.

Making Bread with the Sourdough

Simple sourdough bread without commercial yeast involves making a fairly wet dough, letting it rest for several hours, folding the dough in on itself, then letting it rest again. The next step is forming the dough into a ball, which is then placed into a form of some sort. I did not have a bread form. However, a bowl sprayed with vegetable oil and sprinkled with corn meal seemed to work OK. The dough then ripens in the refrigerator over night, in the form or bowl. In the morning it rises at room temperature for another 3 to 5 hours. When it is ready to bake, I turn it out onto parchment paper, score the top, and pop it in the over.

I’ve enjoyed this so much, I decided to buy a true bread form for making this simple bread. It came at the end of last week.

Sourdough Bread Form

Unpacking the New Bread Form

Sourdough Bread Form

Sourdough Bread Form

Sourdough Bread Form

The Pattern in the Bread Form

Sourdough bread

Whole Wheat Dough after a Night in Refrigerator

Sourdough Bread

Whole Wheat after Being at Room Temperature for a Few Hours

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Bread Ready to Bake

Sourdough bread

The Finished Loaf of Whole Wheat Bread

Baking this simple bread and its variations has been a fun winter hobby. It is one that I think will continue for some time. There are so many combinations of flours, fruits, and nuts to explore. Sourdough seems so earthy and natural; a really enjoyable throwback to an earlier time. 🙂

ETA: Interesting article on the history of sourdough baking!

02/22/18
Crepuscular Rays

Stormy Sunrise with Crepuscular Rays

Stormy Sunrise with Crepuscular Rays

Crepuscular rays, as many of you know, delight me when they appear. Although the term itself refers to “twilight,” Albuquerque provides a unique setting for sunrises. The uneven horizon of the Sandias to the east, with frequent mountain-capping clouds there, are perfect for these rays at sunrise. The past couple of days have been stormy, which can sometimes make for colorful images.

Crepuscular Rays

Stormy Sunrise with Crepuscular Rays

These rays this morning were short-lived: 2 minutes. I was lucky to see them! Now a light snow is falling. The temperature on my back porch is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.I would be very happy if a heavy snow fell in the mountains! We have had so little moisture this winter. We depend on melting snowpack for much of our water.

While the sky is dreary at the moment, the sunrise definitely made being up worthwhile!