11/23/17
Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017 and the Story of Biscochitos, the Official State Cookie of New Mexico

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2017 was important to me on many levels. Every other year my son comes for this holiday, and at Christmas in the alternate years. This year is a short visit. He arrived Wednesday night and will leave Friday morning. He misses New Mexico cuisine terribly. But, with one main meal this year and a mother and sister who don’t really appreciate that cuisine, I needed to somehow work around that.

I decided to make biscochitos. I’d made them before with butter. They never tasted “real.” I had never used lard (for many reasons), and was not excited about using it this year. But, I decided to give it a try. New Mexico Nomad had a recipe I decided to try.

A friend asked me where I was going to get “real lard.” I never thought about “real lard” before, having just decided to try “lard.” So, at the gym, I asked a few people who would know. Several people said Keller’s, one said ProRanch, and one said “you start by rendering the fat…” Every one of those conversations ended with “why don’t you just use Morrell’s? That’s what I (we, my mother, my grandmother, etc….) use.” Simple enough…

Next, I needed to buy anise. The first I saw at the store was “organic anise” for about $9.00 a bottle. I thought, “I don’t think that is what most people here use…” Looking further, I found the little cellophane pack for $0.79. “That’s the stuff” I thought to myself.

Baking Biscochitos

I could hardly believe the beauty of the dough made with lard. I’d never seen a dough quite like it. It was so easy to work with. When the cookies were baking, the smell of lard – to me – overwhelmed the smell of anise and cinnamon. I was not sure I had made a good decision. But, when the biscochitos cooled and I tasted one, I knew it had been the right decision. These were real biscochitos!

Thanksgiving

Biscochitos

My Son’s Response

When my son walked in last night, the first thing he said was, “This house smells great!”

It’s the beef. It has been cooking all day

“Yes, but I also smell something sweet.” (I wonder if that is an enhanced sense from some color vision deficiency.)

I made biscochitos.

“Can I try them? You know I’ll be brutally honest.”

Stunned expression and silence. Then, “These are as good as (former girl friend) makes. Did you use the lard in the blue tub?” (Morrell’s)

That made my Thanksgiving happy for sure!

Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving, and a safe and joyful weekend! I’m very thankful for those of you who read here.

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

11/10/17
Veterans Day

Veterans Day 2017

Veterans Day 2017

Veterans Day 2017 officially falls on Saturday, November 11. The Federal and many State and Local Governments are observing this on Friday, to allow for a day off work. Next year, the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice officially ending World War I will fall on Sunday. Therefore, many official observations next year will take place on Monday, November 12, 2018.

Veterans Day

Veterans Day 2017

Veterans Day

Thank You!

Finally, the rose, appropriately, is a hybrid tea that does well in Albuquerque, ‘Veterans’ Honor.’

11/5/17
Hover Fly

Sunday Musings

Sunday Musings

Sunday Musings: return to Standard Time, Marigold Parades past, the fascinating world of insects… First of all, today marks the return to Standard Time in the US. Although it is not quite so awful now that I am retired, I remember the long winter months of driving home in the dark at 5:00pm. Because daylight hours are already shorter, the long nights seem even longer. Regular readers here know I am a lover of light. So, the fall time change is not something I welcome. People ask why the Winter Solstice is not my least favorite day of the year. That is simple: the next day, the hours of daylight start to increase. But, enough of that…

The Marigold Parade

More Sunday musings: Albuquerque’s Marigold Parade tends to fall on the same day as the change to Standard Time. Now there is more than a bit of brightness. The South Valley has managed, so far, to keep it as its own. While some photographers focus on the wonderfully painted faces, I have always found the cultural statements especially fascinating. To me, the 2012 and 2013 parades were especially vibrant and creative. In contrast, the overall political mood just before the 2016 election dampened, in my opinion, the Marigold Parade. I have not publicly shown any of my images from last year. Here are a few “postcards” from previous Marigold Parades. To see large views, first click on the image. Then, on the new page, click on the dimensions shown, and you will see a detailed image.

Ofrenda (“altar”) at the West Side Community Center. I especially love the Sandia Casino bingo marker!

sunday musings marigold parade

Ofrenda

In the park before the start of the parade:

sunday usings marigold parade

Muertos y Marigolds

Painted Faces and Lowriders

sunday musings marigold parade

Painted Faces and Lowriders

Painted Faces, Low Riders, Ofrendas

sunday musings marigold parade

Marigold Parade Potpourri

I think every New Mexico parade has lowriders – “low and slow for show.” The Marigold Parade certainly features them.

Sunday Musings marigold parade

Ubiquitous Lowriders

Political Statements

Sunday Musings marigold parade

Marigold Parade and Politics

Kids and Families Are Active Participants

sunday musings and marigold parade

Marigold Parade and Families

I did a series of Kindle ebooks about Albuquerque’s Marigold Parade and Dia de los Muertos obsrvances. These are at Amazon:

The Joys of Macro Photography

Another Sunday musings macro photography is fun. This summer I worked a bit more with macro photography. I have a few images that surprised me. You have already seen the hover fly. Although I did not know what it was at the time, I was pleased with the image from the time I first saw it on the computer. In real life, I could not tell what was going on. For all intents and purposes, it appeared the insect was making love to the flower. I took around 20 images, and this is the only one that clearly shows what was going on. The hover fly was gathering nectar from a tubule of the Mexican Sunflower. It was stabilizing the tubule with its front appendages, and drinking the nectar through its specialized “suctorial proboscis.”

Hover Fly

Hover Fly on Mexican Sunflower. Note the specialized “suctorial proboscis.”

I was very happy late last week when CanonUSA on Twitter tweeted

Canon USA Imaging

@CanonUSAimaging

We’re happy also! We love the detail! This photo has been selected as #CanonFavPic

This image has definitely been added to my portfolio.

Enough musing, time to get to work. I hope you are enjoying your weekend, and that we all get through winter and standard time without too much major depression. 😐

11/2/17

Photo Ark Review

Review of The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals, Joel Sartore, Photographer

Friends gave me The Photo Ark as a gift, one I have very much appreciated. I have not seen the PBS special. I do plan to watch it when it reruns. I wrote this review at Amazon:

My Photo Ark Review

My first copy of this book was a gift from friends. When I opened it, I could not put it down until I had at least briefly seen every image, even though I had visitors. Each image of many diverse animals was compelling. The “animal portraits” were created against black or white backgrounds, eliminating all distractions from the animals themselves. Sartore knew he could not photograph such a wide range in the wild even if he had several lifetimes. With a goal to document animals alive on earth, and with many in decline and/or facing extinction, he knew the best chance would come from photographing animals in captivity and in breeding programs. That does not mean the photography was easy! As a photographer, I appreciated a series of vignettes scattered through the volume on “Making the Photographs.” The images alone are reason enough to buy the book.

The collection of images was meant to convey messages about the fragility, beauty, and interconnectedness of life on Earth. It does that powerfully. I appreciated the interspersed vignettes on “Heroes” scattered throughout the volume.

A few reviewers stated that the paper and printing of the book were not of the quality they expected. Personally, I was both amazed and grateful that this beautiful book was available at a price many people could afford. A true art book would be beyond the reach of many people, which would defeat Sartore’s purpose in creating the book. I’m quite satisfied with the quality of this volume.

I have now purchased this book as a gift for friends, who I know will share it and discuss it with their grandchildren. The next generation will painlessly learn about biodiversity and our responsibilities as caretakers of our Earth.

A wonderfully conceived and beautiful effort everyone can enjoy.

I have enjoyed this book, received as a gift. Thank you, Char and Pilar!

10/30/17

Uniquely New Mexico

Uniquely New Mexico: Spirits of the Old Adobes

Uniquely New Mexico: old adobes, week of many observances across cultures of visiting spirits, and especially of Day of the Dead with Albuquerque’s – so far, not commercialized – Marigold Parade, Muertos y Marigolds. Several years ago, during more than one “photographic excursion,” Tim Price and I photographed a lot of old adobes, and Laurie sketched them. Those images sat around for a while, as did some images from a couple of Marigold Parades. I don’t remember exactly when I decided to make some composites. I do remember I had a lot of fun playing. My son really likes the series, so I decided to revive a few of the images. The Gallery, Spirits of the Old Adobes, is at my portfolio site. This seemed an appropriate week to share the images.

uniquely new mexico

Surprise!

(Click to enlarge image.)

10/29/17

National Cat Day

National Cat Day 2017 – Who Knew?

National Cat Day. Who knew October 29, 2017 was so designated? I didn’t until I woke up and turned on the computer. So, here is a pic of Tim and Laurie Price’s Spunk, the cat who is really sweet but who also is so curious he can get into a lot of trouble. He had to become a photographer’s model to earn enough to pay down his running tab for things destroyed. 😉 The other is my cat Paco (RIP), a sweet little companion in his final years.

national cat day

National Cat Day 2017

Some quotes about cats:

“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats.”
~ Albert Schweitzer

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”
~ Christopher Hitchens, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever

“What’s your name,’ Coraline asked the cat. ‘Look, I’m Coraline. Okay?’
‘Cats don’t have names,’ it said.
‘No?’ said Coraline.
‘No,’ said the cat. ‘Now you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.”
~ Neil Gaiman, Coraline

“I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?”
Death thought about it.
CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.”
~ Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

Whatever your feelings about cats, I hope you are having a great day!

10/26/17

Feeling Winter

Feeling Winter

Feeling winter? The weather in Albuquerque is still that beautiful autumn weather those of us who live here love so much. But, a change – hopefully brief – is coming. You know, the cold wind and significant drop in temperature. We know we are very lucky here. Even in the midst of true Winter, we will have sunny and often warm days. But I tend to turn inward in winter. I can feel winter coming.

feeling winter

New Mexico Autumn (Click to Enlarge)

Others’ Thoughts on Feeling Winter

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“But if I was still alive, I’d have a damned fine day despite the rain, despite the depression, think of something you like doing and do it!…As for me, if I was still alive, I’d have a great cup of coffee, a nice breakfast, then I’d take a drive, walk around, smoke a cigar, eye the pretty ladies…hmmm, nice lunch, yes sir! Read a good book and listen to music, maybe hang out with friends, watch some baseball on TV, love good conversation…and maybe end the night with a little romance. You know what I mean? Live, live everyday, every night, then when you get over here on the ghosty side, you’ll say like me, hey, I did pretty damned good. I hardly moped around at all. I enjoyed my precious human life to the full! Yes sir, I sucked the marrow outta them ribs! ~ Jim Stallings, If I Was Still Alive

For me, I have stockpiled what seem like endless photographs I can edit, maybe composite, play with through the cold and dark days of winter. And before Winter truly sets in, I have more photography to get done.

Finally, make the most of your day!

10/23/17

Cycle of Life

Autumn is such a reminder of the cycle of life:

cycle of life

Mexican Sunflower: Cycle of Life

To every thing there is a season,
and a time for every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…

10/20/17
Cosmos with Butterfly

Butterfly and Cosmos

Butterfly and Cosmos: Point of View

Butterfly and cosmos: same flower, same butterfly, different point of view

Butterfly and cosms

Cosmos with Butterfly

Butterfly and cosmos

Butterfly with Cosmos

No matter how you look at it, butterflies and flowers of late autumn are a visual treat!

10/19/17
New Mexico

Uniquely New Mexico

Uniquely New Mexico: Spectacular Skies and Hot Air Balloons 🙂

Uniquely New Mexico: so many things! All of you know how much I love so many things about New Mexico. Just because wanted to, I took a few minutes to unwind with new software, my kind of sunrise, and a perfect New Mexico balloon. I think of the D H Lawrence quote almost every time I see a sunrise here with clouds.

uniquely New Mexico

The Unique Beauty of New Mexico

I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had. It certainly changed me forever. . . . the moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning shine high up over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend. . . . In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly and the old world gave way to a new.

There are all kinds of beauty in the world, thank God, though ugliness is homogeneous. . . . But for a greatness of beauty I have never experienced anything like New Mexico.

Wishing you a spectacular day wherever you are.