06/21/17
summer solstice

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice, National Selfie Day, and a Day to Celebrate

Summer Solstice – the most amount of daylight in one day for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and the official beginning of “Summer.” I never heard of National Selfie Day before, but the Twitterverse says it is so. For me, I do not have to see an eye doctor or a skin doctor again until November. I really have nothing to complain about, because my issues were minor and fixable, but the process seemed to drag on from last October until today.

In that time, I have learned a lot about sun protection for everything, including eyes and ears. I now have UPF hats, shirts, neck coverings, etc., etc., as well as UV A&B protective glasses with dark gray lenses and my favorite, amber lenses. I want to do a few more photographs, and then I’ll post those in a post at Southwest Desert Gardening. All gardeners everywhere need sun protection, some just more than others. 🙂

But today, for Solstice (and National Selfie Day 😉 ), I wanted to say “Hello,” dressed appropriately for summer: hat for ear and face protection; UPF 30+ shirt, and very dark glasses as UV protective as possible. I should have been dressed more or less like this all the time I have lived here.

summer solstic

Summer Solstice – Susan in Sun Protective Hat, Shirt, Glasses

What looks like a BandAid is a silicone pad designed to to help flatten the scar from where skin was taken for graft to cover part of my ear where a little skin lesion was removed. It is all healing up very well.

‘Mermaid’ is just about finished with its first bloom, but I thought this bloom this morning was really pretty. I hope you enjoy it, too.

summer solstice

A Beautiful ‘Mermaid’ Bloom on Summer Solstice

Happy Solstice, and may the summer not be as hot throughout as it is today.

06/5/17
sky clouds sunset

The Sky Tonight

The Sky Tonight; and It Is Not Even Monsoon Season Yet!

The sky tonight was reminiscent of Monsoon Season The monsoons are more than a month away. The wind was definitely blowing, but no rain fell in my part of town. But the clouds and the colors provided a spectacular end to the day. Those of you who read here regularly know the view from my back yard, looking west. I usually avoid photos in the front yard, because the “view” is basically of houses and driveways and parked cars. But the clouds and color to the northwest were spectacular enough to demand a photo. This is one of those evenings I long for an unobstructed view. Nevertheless, I remain grateful for what I do see here.

sky clouds sunset

Tonight’s Sky from the Back Yard

sky clouds cunset

Tonight’s Sky from the Front Yard

Colorful sunrises and sunsets are something we almost take for granted here. Monsoon season especially can provide spectacular skies. But even “ordinary” days here can end with a sunset like this one!

06/2/17
bosque

Along the Corrales Bosque

Along the Corrales Bosque

The bosque along the Rio Grande is a beautiful, fascinating place. A bosque is a forest found in a narrow band along the floodplains of rivers and streams in the American Southwest. It is a prime feature running through the Greater Albuquerque metro area.

This past Sunday, when I noticed the Painted Lady swarm here, Tim and Laurie noted they had hundreds on the salvia at their property in Corrales. Of course I jumped at the chance when they invited me to come out the following day, Memorial Day, to photograph the swarming butterflies there. When it was time to leave my place in the NE Heights, I could see stormy weather in the direction of Corrales. But storms often blow through quickly here, and I wanted to go. I had no weather to speak of on the drive to Corrales, but as soon as I turned off Alameda onto Corrales Road, I could see the storm really had blown through there. Tree limbs, leaves, and puddles of water were everywhere!

However, the Painted Ladies were nowhere to be seen. They had sought shelter – somewhere – from the storm.

Over the years, I have learned that plans for photographic excursions often change in detail, but that there is always something interesting and/or beautiful to photograph. When the sky cleared a bit, Laurie went for a run in the bosque, and Tim and I walked down to the river. It was a beautiful afternoon and evening, sans butterflies!

bosque

Bosque Bridge to the Rio Grande

bosque

Reflections in the “Clear Ditch”

bosque

Walking toward the Rio Grande, the Sandia Mountains Come into View

Bosque

Rio Grande, with Sandia Mountains Beginning to Show Alpenglow

bosque

Crescent Moon at Sunset

05/28/17
Painted Lady Butterfly

Painted Lady Butterfly Sunday

Painted Lady Butterfly Sunday

Painted Lady Butterfly – singly or in pairs – is not unusual here in Albuquerque. This Sunday morning I saw something I did not even know existed until today – a painted lady butterfly swarm! From around 10:00am until I had to get ready to meet a friend a couple of hours later, my yard was filled with these beautiful little flutterby’s. I thought I was imagining things. By the time I got back home, they were gone. But I heard about that time from Tim Price – they were swarming in Corrales! I’m sure he will have photos to post at Off Center and Not Even later on.

These are a few of my visitors today.

What are you looking at, lady?

Painted Lady Butterfly

On Coreopsis

Painted Lady Butterfly

On Coreopsis

Painted Lady Butterfly

On Coreopsis

Painted Lady Butterfly

On Pansies

Painted Lady Butterfly

On Coreopsis

Painted Lady Butterfly

On Coreopsis

As it turns out, swarming of these butterflies is a well-known phenomenon. YouTube has a beautiful video, but embedding is not allowed. You can see it by clicking here.

Life is never boring in New Mexico. There is always something to see!

05/27/17
ants

Standing in Ants in Corrales

Standing in Ants in Corrales

Standing in ants in Corrales is easy to do if you are the least bit distracted by scenery when you are out walking. Last weekend, after checking on the giant Dr Huey rosebush, Tim, Laurie, and I walked down to the Rio Grande, which is their front yard. The river was running quite high then.

Corrales

Laurie and Tim Looking Across the Rio Grande to the Sandias

We hadn’t been in that spot long when Tim and Laurie spotted something:

Corrales

What Do They See?

A short time later, we saw this:

Corrales

A Man in a Kayak!

It was a man in a kayak, and there were two other helpers on the bank. The story behind the encounter will be the subject of another post.

When everyone was safely out of the river, we headed back to Tim and Laurie’s. The sun through the cottonwoods in the bosque was beautiful:

Corrales

Setting Sun on the Bosque

Laurie and I were enjoying the beauty of the bosque, and Tim was ahead. He turned around to see what we were doing. “Lars, you’re standing in ants!!”

ants

Standing in Ants

It was not for long, and no harm was done.

Back on their deck, we were joined by Rosencrantz, one of their very sweet cats. He partially burrowed under my hat and stayed with us as we talked and ate, as always, delicious food.

Corrales

Rosencrantz

Photographic excursions in Corrales are full of surprises and delights. More in future posts…

05/23/17
giant Dr Huey

Giant Dr Huey 2017

Giant Dr Huey 2017

The giant Dr Huey has become probably the most important stop on the Corrales Rose Society Annual Dr Huey Tour. It is huge! We like to document its existence each year, in case it should ever disappear. We kind of laugh at ourselves when we say that, though, because this hybrid wichurana is so hardy it will probably “always” be there.

It has been so warm this year that we planned the tour a week earlier than usual. Some roses were out much earlier than usual after an unusually warm winter. Dr Huey in Corrales and Mermaid in my yard were not fooled: they hit their peak at the regular time. The first scheduled tour was “no dice.” The rescheduled tour at the regular time – third weekend in May – was perfect. For discussions and images from prior years, check out the Dr Huey section on my Southwest Desert Gardening blog.

I have many images from many very different things in Corrales that day, and those will appear in many different posts. After the Dr Huey Tour, we went back to Tim and Laurie’s place. As is usual, the day produced a lot of fun and surprises, most of which were photographed. But, this post shows the giant Dr Huey alive and well and huge in May of 2017.

giant Dr Huey

Tim Price (Over 6 Feet Tall) Under the Giant Dr Huey, for Scale. Note the Trailing Blooms on Either Side of Tim.

giant Dr Huey

Tim Price at the Giant Dr Huey. After you have gazed at his photographic equipment, note the trailing Dr Huey blooms over his right shoulder.

giant Dr Huey

Laurie Sketching Tim and the Giant Dr Huey

giant Dr Huey

Tim Photographing Laurie and Laurie Sketching Tim at the Giant Dr Huey

04/29/17

Beautiful New Photography Book

Beautiful New Photography Book

This beautiful new photography book was a gift from a dear friend earlier this month. I have found it to be a source of inspiration for reassessing my own photography, as well as just a joy to view. I do not ordinarily use posts here to promote the work of others. However, I think some of you will enjoy this book as much as I have, and I wanted to let you know about it. This Land: An American Portrait by Jack Spencer with foreword by Jon Meacham:

photography book

My Amazon Review

This magnificent volume of some 140 photographic images spans thirteen years and the Lower 48 States. Begun in 2003, partially as a response to 9/11, this photographic essay, with intense and raw beauty, is a search for meaning by a photographic artist. The images as they came out of the camera were a starting point for creating images Spencer saw in his “mind’s eye.” This is not a glossy travel brochure with beautiful travel images designed to entice tourists to visit, jump out of the car, take a snapshot, and move on to the next spot. Indeed, it is the exact opposite. These are images over which to linger, to contemplate what the artist was thinking as he created each image and what he hoped to show us. These are images that open the mind and encourage the viewer to look deeply and differently at the world around him/herself. What is the meaning of each image, and, taken as a whole, what do they say about the meaning of America? There are probably as many answers as there are viewers of the book.

Jon Meacham, in his Foreword, writes of what he finds “surprising images” in the book. Those were not surprising images to me. I live in “The Land of Enchantment,” which, in some ways, is still a frontier. But Spencer’s treatment of images from places I know, such as Truchas and Cerrillos, New Mexico, made me see them in a different way. This is a book that will influence my photography going forward.

Spencer is saddened, appalled that the majority of people he encountered seemed to be unaware of the beauty around them: “I was constantly stunned by the sheer volume of sleepwalking masses.” And, “…a phrase from the Gnostic Gospels of Thomas does come to mind: ‘The kingdom of heaven is spread out across the earth but men do not see it.’” I was not surprised when he noted that sometimes the beauty was so great he knew no camera could capture it, and that he would watch a scene, with camera packed.

I was fortunate to receive the book as a gift from a friend who knew the images would speak to me. Photographers and artists will find much to enjoy here. People who have quietly enjoyed the beauty of this country, whether in their own back yards or along country back roads or in local, state, or National Parks, or anywhere, for that matter, will find the book and its images offer a chance for reflection about many facets of life. Those groups are a natural audience. But, a group to whom I would especially recommend this book are parents with children of all ages. Study the images and your responses to them. Show them to your children, and let them tell you what they see. Discuss the history of this country, and the magnificent beauty there for the seeing. Help them open their eyes, not just to look, but to see. Five stars.

If you have the time and interest, take a look at this beautiful landscape photography book, available at Amazon and elsewhere. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

04/26/17
Spunk, the Photographer's Model Cat

The Photographer’s Model Cat, Spunk

The Photographer’s Model Cat, Spunk

The photographer’s model cat, Spunk, is always good for a smile. I needed a smile today, and I thought you might, too. Going back through photos from last year, I came across this image of Spunk. Many of you who read here know that Spunk is one of Tim and Laurie Price’s cats, with a personality that goes with his name. Periodically he has to work to pay down his running tab for things he destroys. He is not a mean cat; anything but! However, he sometimes gets carried away with play, which is why he has to work periodically. He has to be the best! Here he is, showing off his style.

Spunk, the Photographer's Model Cat

Spunk, the Photographer’s Model Cat

On Southwest Desert Gardening, I have posted some images from Tim and Laurie’s garden that day.

04/22/17
Earth Day 2017

Earth Day 2017

Earth Day 2017

Earth Day 2017 is happening on a day when my roses are about three weeks ahead of bloom time compared to even several years ago. I am enjoying them, and hoping that the summer won’t be too hot.

This rose is the miniature rose, ‘Starla.’ It actually has a bloom that is quite large for a miniature, and some days I wonder if it will be reclassified a mini-flora. It is a beautiful rose in any stage from bud to fully open.

Earth Day 2017

Earth Day 2017

04/20/17
orchid

Orchids, Unique Personalities

Orchids, Unique Personalities

Orchids, like all flowers, have their own unique personalities. They are beautiful when viewed as a whole. A really close look may show something completely different, or in addition to. I had fun looking at these.

orchids

Sweet, Grandmotherly Orchid Angel

I had fun playing with this one. I created it for a special long-distance friend, but some others of you might also enjoy it, today especially. 🙂

orchids

Orchid Angel Dude