09/18/17
Albuquerque sky

Albuquerque Sky in 30 Minutes

Albuquerque Sky in 30 Minutes

Albuquerque sky in 30 minutes? Well, yes. Especially regular readers here know I love the skies in Albuquerque and New Mexico and all of the desert Southwest. I see something worth noting almost every day. Because late yesterday afternoon was especially noteworthy, I want to share a few images. Most of all, these all occurred within 30 minutes. Maybe this happens every day, but this time I happened to catch it. 🙂

Crepuscular Rays, 6:39pm

Albuquerque sky

Crepuscular Rays

Rainbow and Rain, 7:00pm

Albuquerque sky

Rainbow and Rain

Thunderstorm over the Sandias, 7:02pm

Albuquerque sky

Thunderstorm over the Sandias

Muted Sunset, 7:06pm

Albuquerque Sky

Muted Sunset

09/1/17
monsoon rains

Monsoon Rain and Roses

Monsoon Rain and Roses

Monsoon rain and roses have been outstanding this year!

Monsoon Rain

In July, I showed the first real rain at my house of the 2017 monsoon season. It was unusual, dropping 2.5 inches of rain in 40 minutes. Overall, I’ve gotten almost 7 inches of rain this monsoon season. The transformational power of rain in the desert is remarkable.

July 17, 2017:

monsoon rain

Monsoon Rain and Pond

August 21, 2017:

monsoon rain

Back Yard, A Month Later

Roses

The roses have responded in like manner.

The hybrid tea ‘Gemini’ has put out many sprays, which will appear at a later time. The one-to-a-stem blooms have had the perfect form for which this particular rose is known. This image is from the other night, after a brief monsoon shower. The new ARS guidelines that will be coming out later this month strongly suggest avoiding images with water droplets on the petals. I agree with avoiding such images if the light is wrong and the droplets light up as blank, a real distraction. But raindrops on roses after a gentle life-giving rain in the desert? I will photograph and show such images, happily. ‘Gemini’ is one of my favorite hybrid tea roses to grow in Albuquerque. “Raindrops on roses…” The stucco of my house, against which most of my hybrid teas grow, is the background.

monsoon rain and roses

Raindrops on Roses – ‘Gemini’

Another of my favorite hybrid tea roses in the desert is ‘Veterans’ Honor.’ It has also responded to the monsoon rains. While I frequently get sprays on ‘Gemini,’ most ‘Veterans’ Honor’ blooms for me are one-to-a-stem. However, it produced a spray this year. This is not any kind of classic spray form by any stretch of the imagination. Nevertheless, I kind of like the almost ‘golden spiral’ effect of this spray, the always-gorgeous color, and healthy foliage seen here.

monsoon rain and roses

Spray of Hybrid Tea Rose, ‘Veterans’ Honor’

Although Albuquerque will see some additional rain this year, the monsoon season is rapidly drawing to a close. From my perspective, as well as that of my yard and flowers, this has been a great – and much needed – monsoon year!

07/23/17
roadrunner

Roadrunner Visit

Roadrunner Sunday Morning Visit

A roadrunner visit is pretty common in this neighborhood. After all, it is the State Bird of New Mexico.I see them daily up and down the street, even if not always in my back yard. This morning I was out enjoying all the avian visitors, when I saw this one. It was hanging out in the shadows, waiting for a tiny tasty morsel such as a goldfinch to drop by.

roadrunner

Roadrunner Waiting for Breakfast

The camera click startled this one a bit (not a common reaction). It jumped down and ran away from me.

roadrunner

I Think She Still Sees Me

Roadrunners really do run, although they are capable of flying. Fastest running speed is often reported at 20 mph, but some have been clocked as fast as 26 mph.

This one decided to show us some running form.

roadrunner

I’m Going to Run!

roadrunner

I Think I’m Safe Now.

roadrunner

Dang! She Still Sees Me!

roadrunner

I’m Outta Here!

The ubiquitous walls (block, adobe, rock, etc.) are like superhighways to the roadrunners. This one came back as soon as I went in the house, strolled onto the patio, and grabbed a lizard hanging out under a rose bush.

If you are not squeamish, you might find these two YouTubes of encounters between roadrunners and rattlers interesting. Life in the desert…

07/17/17
monsoon rain

Rain! The Monsoon Rain!

Rain! The Monsoon Rain!

Rain! The monsoon rain arrived at my house this afternoon! Two and a half inches in less than 40 minutes! The rain falling straight down is coming off the roof. The rain at an angle is what was blowing through. And that pond…well, I’m actually happy to see it. The temperature dropped at least 20 degrees on my back porch.

monsoon rain

Monsoon Rain and Pond

My neighborhood slopes downward from the Sandia Mountains on the east to the Rio Grande on the west. Each individual home plot is more or less level, but the yards were designed with a depression precisely for the monsoon rains. They catch the rain and allow it to sink into the ground, rather than running off. Water was running high in the streets, and there was some flash flooding. But the yards just held the excess that fell there until the ground could absorb it.

The area of such heavy rain was fairly small. For those of you who know Albuquerque, the warning was for “around Academy, east of I-25.” I only wish I had gotten some fertilizer out 🙂

I know this image in terms of beauty is not a monsoon sunrise or monsoon sunset image. But for those of us who live in the high desert, a monsoon rain is beautiful and life-giving.

Edited July 18, 2017 to add the following:

1. Southwest Desert Monsoon Season:

Southwestern Monsoon
North American Monsoon (really the Southwestern Monsoon!)

2. Albuquerque’s Localized “Little Rain” 🙂 ))))))))) yesterday

From KOAT TV “Flash Floods Slam Duke City”

07/13/17
stormy sunrise

Stormy Sunrise

Stormy Sunrise: Pink to Orange in Less Than Three Minutes

Stormy sunrise this morning, bringing at least the hope of rain. I did not get rain at my house, but I did enjoy photographing the sky. The gif is made with jpgs straight from the camera with no photo editing other than cropping.

stormy sunrise

Stormy Sunrise

stormy sunrise

Stormy Sunrise

This may not be as impressive as the crepuscular rays at sunset a few nights ago. Nevertheless, as we enter our monsoon season, I am looking forward to seeing – hopefully – many spectacular skies. Some actual rain would also be nice. 🙂

07/11/17
crepuscular rays

Crepuscular Rays at Sunset

Crepuscular Rays at Sunset

Crepuscular rays intrigue me. Most of the images I have shown you from my back yard are from sunrise, over the Sandia Mountains. A couple of nights ago, this was the view looking west. I knew trees and houses would be in the image, but I did not care. I could not get what I wanted to get without including other things. This was another spectacular New Mexico sky!

crepuscular rays

Crepuscular Rays at Sunset, Summer 2017

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

07/9/17
wearable sun protection

Wearable Sun Protection

Wearable Sun Protection – A Necessity in the High Desert

Light – Beautiful and Potentially Damaging

Wearable sun protection – I have known of its existence for some time. Several years ago I even bought a UPF blouse. I disliked it so much, I have worn it maybe a dozen times, probably less. And, it was relatively expensive. I’ve never worn hats; I never looked right in them. For almost as long as I have worn glasses, I’ve had Transitions lenses. I knew they did not darken in cars, but that never bothered me. I never considered extra protection for settings in which the Transitions lenses did not darken.

Not only am I a physician, but virtually everyone in my family has had cataracts (well, that is partly age, but UV exposure is certainly a contributing factor), and one form of skin cancer or another, and the major cause of that is UV exposure. So you would think that before now I might have figured out that sunscreen, unless religiously applied every two hours to any and all exposed parts, was not enough. And, of course, that would not protect the eyes. Here in the desert, wearable sun protection, including for the eyes, is something everyone should consider.

Light, with a capital L, has been important to me since childhood. Those of you who read here often know that. To say merely that I love Light is an understatement. A fellow anthropologist and writer friend describes life on earth as pretty much “Purgatory, a place between Heaven and Hell.” Although my approach to life tends to fall a little more on the Heaven side, much of the past six months of Winter/Spring felt a bit like Purgatory. I was definitely paying for my exposure to the beautiful Light of New Mexico. All’s well that ends well. As a result, however, I have almost completely changed my wardrobe. I have found some things that I can tolerate wearing, and some things that I actually enjoy wearing.

Wearable Sun Protection I Have Found

Because some of you may also be interested in wearable sun protection, I am going to share some of my finds. In the interest of full disclosure, I am an Amazon Associate and receive a few pennies from any items purchased from Amazon through links here. I have no relation other than customer to other suppliers of skin or eye protection whose links are given here.

Eye Protection

Because I’ve had glasses with Transitions lenses for so many years, I never gave thought to additional sun protection for my eyes, even though I knew those lenses did not darken in the car. They darkened every where else. I have known I had cataracts since 2011, but they never bothered me until late November of 2016. With multiple risk factors for them, I didn’t give them much thought at all until the night driving home from Corrales I was truly “blinded by the light” of all oncoming cars. I definitely thought I would *never* wear those very large, dark glasses that “old” people wore when their eyes got “bad” (feel free to laugh at me for that one. Karma).

Most cataract surgeons require that a patient show up with a pair of glasses to wear home (among other things). The glasses in the “cataract kit” I purchased from my surgeon’s office came with a two-for-one coupon from Dioptics for equally effective, but more aesthetically pleasing fits-over sunglasses. And I often wear mine alone as sunglasses, given that I only need reading glasses now. I have two pairs, one of which I like better, but both are functional without looking too awful. My eyes can definitely feel as well as see the difference.

This is Haven’s “Ranier,” and I liked it so much my mother ordered a pair for herself:

wearable sun protection

Wearable Sun Protection for Eyes

These are Haven’s “Morgan Signature Mother of Pearl,” which I wear every now and then just for a change:

wearable sun protection

Wearable Eye Protection

Skin Protection

Retirement brought jeans (which I had never owned until then) and shirts in place of suits and dresses. Mohs surgery on an ear for a skin cancer has brought hats and sun protective shirts in addition to religiously and regularly applied sunscreen. I’m gradually getting used to these. 🙂

1. This is my favorite sun-protective outfit. The shirt is Columbia’s fishing shirt. I don’t fish, but the shirt has all these practical pockets; washes and dries quickly; layers over tanks, tee shirts, and turtlenecks; I can wear the sleeves rolled up or buttoned down; button it high on the neck or wear it open. It carries a UPF 30 rating. Ha! Look what I just found for my Oklahoma friends! I bought this pink one at Amazon for a good price because it is an older color for Columbia. It is a new color to me.

The hat has no special UPF protection. It is my favorite hat for short times of being out in the sun. It is sort of my “social hat.” I wore this outfit to a concert by the Santa Fe Opera Brass Quintet this morning, and I did not feel at all inappropriately dressed. The hat was an Amazon purchase, and it is so much better than what I had expected. I always get compliments on the entire outfit, including the hat, wherever I go.

wearable sun protection

Wearable Sun Protection

2. This is my most practical sun-protective outfit. I wear it when gardening (here prepared to dig weeds) and when photographing down on the bosque. The shirt is also the Columbia fishing shirt, rated UPF 30, just in a different color. I got a good buy at Amazon the day I bought it.

The hat is from Sun Protection Zone and is rated UPF 50. I bought it at Costco. While I don’t particularly like the look, I do like protecting my neck and ears. Sometimes protection is more important than style.

wearable sun protection

Sun Protective Clothing

This is the same shirt, but worn over a Coolibar tank and with a Solumbra hat.

wearable sun protection

Sun Protective Clothing

3. This top is from Coolibar, and has a UPF 50 rating. I have a matching neck gaiter, but it was too hot for that the day I was doing photos. I also have one of these in burgundy with a matching tank top that makes the neck coverage more complete. These will be more comfortable in the fall and winter.

The hat is the one from Amazon.

Wearable sun protection

Sun Protective Clothing

4. In these next two images, the shirt is another Columbia fishing shirt, this time in Collegiate Navy. Can you tell I really like these shirts for my lifestyle? This was another Amazon purchase for me, for a very good price on the day I purchased it.

The two different hats are from Solumbra. Solumbra has a wide range of sun protective clothing, but overall I find them to be relatively expensive and not particularly flattering. “Free shipping” with orders of $175.00 or more doesn’t seem particularly “free” to me. However, I do like Solumbra’s hats for real sun protection that is not overly ugly. Every now and then Solumbra has a flash offer for honestly free shipping, and that is when I’ll order a hat I may have been watching. I do think Solumbra has the best sun protective hats I have found so far.

wearable sun protection

Sun Protective Clothing

wearable sun protection

Sun Protective Clothing

5. Finally, my favorite summer shirt (again), and favorite but not-so-sun-protective hat, paired with a Coolibar tank top.

wearable sun protection

Sun Protective Clothing

Shortly after my birthday in the fall I came face-to-face with the reality of sun damage from the Light I have so loved all of my life. I intend to continue being out of doors for photography and gardening for the rest of my life. However, I am learning – still in the process – how to protect my eyes and skin in whatever ways I can, such as with wearable sun protection in addition to sunscreen, which I will be much more religious about applying. Maybe some of you will consider wearable sun protection to be an option for your lifestyle also.

(For my friends who read both blogs, I intend to post this a little later on my gardening blog. It will be the exact same post. Thanks.)

07/5/17
Nature's simple beauty

Nature’s Simple Beauty

Nature’s Simple Beauty

Nature’s simple beauty is refreshing after a wonderful, colorful, noisy holiday. My neighbors, organic gardeners, grow many things. While they harvested their onions last week, they left these for a few days so I could photograph them. I thank them!

First of all, a relevant quote for this post:

“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Nature's simple beauty

Onions – Intertwined Beauty

Nature's simple beauty

Intertwined Onions

Nature's simple beauty

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem – Onions

Although these are plants, I could not help thinking of two posts Tim Price did on his blog this spring: Lizard Love and Snakes in Love. Nature is so full of interwining, whether you interpret them as the same or opposite in plants and animals.

In addition to the two onions in the three images above, a small one especially caught my eye. Most of all, it seemed so elegant in its simplicity.

nature's simple beauty

07/4/17
rose

Happy Independence Day

Independence Day 2017

Independence Day 2017: A rose and wish for my friends in the USA:

Independence Day 2017

Happy Independence Day to My Friends in the USA!

And, for friends who might want to know, this is the miniature rose ‘Tammy Clemons.’ David Clemons hybridized this beauty.

Finally, wishing everyone have a safe and joyful Fourth, no matter where you are or how you are spending your day!

07/3/17
rose sprays

Rose Sprays

Rose Sprays

Rose sprays – the appearance of two or more blooms on a single stem – have been exceptionally abundant in my yard this year. After doing one draft of a PowerPoint presentation about photographing them, I decided I really needed to create two or three separate but related presentations. These would be for rosarians planning to enter their photographs in rose shows. But many of my photographs of roses do not meet the new ARS Guidelines (even though I helped write them, at least at the beginning), but would be quite acceptable in other venues. Sometimes I enjoy putting quotations with my images. That is what I felt like doing today. 🙂

This is a spray of the shrub rose, ‘Distant Drums.’ Those of you who know this rose know that these blooms are long past their prime, and lack many of the defining characteristics of the variety. But, the light was so glorious, illuminating them at early dawn.

And, I thought of this quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera:

“Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom. Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.”

rose sprays

Faded ‘Distant Drums’ Rose Spray

Several years ago I developed a habit of photographing a rose from “the back” as well as from “the front.” Those of you who aren’t into roses know that is really a meaningless distinction. In roses, “the front” most usually refers to what you would see in a rose catalog. That is because the American Rose Society was founded by rose hybridizers to encourage the sale of roses. Photographers, in contrast, look for interesting angles.

This image is of two different views of a spray of the hybrid tea rose, ‘Gemini’ with three florets. Visually, I prefer the one that would not be seen in a rose catalog.

rose sprays

Two Views of the Same Spray of the Rose ‘Gemini’

rose sprays

‘Gemini’ Spray with Coreopsis

I have enjoyed photographing the abundant rose sprays this year! 🙂 You can expect to see more over time. 😉