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!

02/18/18
crocus

First Crocus !

First Crocus of 2018!

First crocus of spring means true Spring is not far away. A harbinger of Spring…

crocus

First Crocus of 2018

Leaf buds are already swelling on the roses. Peach buds are swelling. Weeds are already popping up. 🙂 Longer daylight is also clearly here. The crocus is small and will be short lived. But its bright color announces it presence without question and portends a colorful season ahead.

02/10/18
blazing sunrise

Another Blazing Sunrise

Another Blazing Sunrise

Another blazing sunrise, which have been happening frequently this month.

blazing sunrise

Another Blazing Sunrise

Many of you have seen Tim Price’s recent skies. The skies are ablaze. You can see just a hint of crepuscular rays here… I kept hoping they would fully develop, but they remained a hint only. It did not matter; it was another spectacular New Mexico sky.

02/2/18

Ground Hog Day 2018

Ground Hog Day 2018

Ground Hog Day 2018: anything emerging at dawn today in Albuquerque will see its shadow. Six more weeks of the winter weather we have had to date would be fine with me. The lack of moisture, however, does not portend well for the spring and summer. But to live in…? It has been a beautiful winter so far.

This is Inoki, a lab/shepherd mix belonging to neighbors. He and his brother Samson are beautiful, friendly dogs who always greet me – quietly – when I go out. They say Hello, and then go about their life and leave me to go about mine. It’s almost like having two fabulous pets without the work. 🙂

Ground Hog Day

Inoki – a Lab/Shepherd Mix Belonging to My Neighbors

Flowers will begin appearing before too long. Bulbs are already coming up, and the pansies seem to be waking from their winter sleep. They should be spectacular in a month or so. Although I think it is a little early, the roses are also developing swelling leaf buds. The sunflowers and cosmos, flowers loved by many pollinators and birds, will come later in the summer and fall. But, this year I already have the seeds for these. Here is a sneak peak at one of my favorites from last year:

Ground Hog Day

Bee and Cosmos

With six more weeks of the winter weather we have had so far in Albuquerque, Spring will soon be here. The days are already longer. Happy Ground Hog Day!

01/31/18

Blue Super Moon with Blood Red Lunar Eclipse

Blue Super Moon with Blood Red Lunar Eclipse

Blue Super Moon with Blood Red Lunar Eclipse: I thought about sleeping in. I was pretty sure I would have to go elsewhere to see this one. I had really enjoyed the September 30, 2015 Blood Red Lunar Eclipse. That took place on a beautiful autumn evening, at a reasonable hour. This is winter, and the eclipse was during sleeping hours! Not intentionally, I woke up at 3:30 am. “OK, why not go see where this moon is now?” It was actually in a reasonable spot for me to see and photograph it from the beginning of the eclipse until its height. I would not be able to see it set, but in the end, that was OK. Once dawn arrived, the moon faded in the light, even though it was still red. You just couldn’t see the red in the light of day. It worked for me. 🙂

The first image in this gif was photographed at 4:02am MST. The last image in this gif was photographed at 6:25am.

The weather was remarkably good for the last day of January. Climate change has blessed New Mexico with an extremely mild winter (with a resulting curse of return of drought and greater risk of wildfires, etc.). The temperature was right around 32 degrees F throughout. Early on there was a light breeze, but no breeze at all toward the end.

Blue Super Moon  Blood Red Lunar Eclipse

Blue Super Moon with Blood Red Lunar Eclipse

I know how fortunate I am to have witnessed a blood red lunar eclipse twice in less than two and a half years (along with some other remarkable celestial events).

Thanks for stopping by and allowing me to share this with you.

01/30/18
blue moon super moon

Prelude to a Blue Moon Super Moon Blood Red Lunar Eclipse

Moon Rise as a Prelude to a Blue Moon Super Moon Blood Red Eclipse

Prelude to a blue moon super moon eclipse: the night before was sublime!

blue moon super moon

Prelude to a Blue Moon Super Moon Blood Red Lunar Eclipse

Moon rise tonight was beautiful less than twelve hours before the blood red total lunar eclipse. For information on where to see it in your area, check out this link.

Happy viewing (or sleeping in 🙂 )

(A post on the September 2015 Blood Red Lunar Eclipse is at this link.)

01/28/18
sky watching

Beginning of a Spectacular Week for Sky Watching

Beginning of a Spectacular Week for Sky Watching

sky watching

Sunrise at the Beginning of a Spectacular Week for Sky Watching

Beginning of a spectacular week for sky watching: sunrise today was one of the most brilliant I have seen in a few weeks. It was an appropriate beginning for this week.

January 31 a Super Moon Blood Red Eclipse occurs. This is a useful link for information about timing of the eclipse. This is set for Albuquerque, but can be adjusted for your spot for viewing.

I photographed the September 2015 Blood Red Lunar Eclipse. The link to that post is here.

This past week, the Super Moon has been rising in the afternoon. Even in a bright sky, this moon stands out as different from the usual. It is large, and bright even in the afternoon.

Sunrise this morning was simply a spectacular beginning to a spectacular week ahead for celestial events. Happy watching!