First Crocus !

First Crocus of 2018!

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


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.

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.


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!


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.

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.)

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!


DNA Does Not Lie

DNA Does Not Lie

DNA does not lie. Watson and Crick published their Model of the structure of DNA only in the 1950’s. Fascination with the Watson-Crick model was a major reason my mother chose to major in Biology, especially genetics. Once Kary Mullis developed the Polymerase Chain Reaction for amplifying DNA in vitro rather than in vivo, we began to see DNA used everywhere. It has rewritten everything I learned about the history of human migrations as an undergraduate in Anthropology. In my Ob/Gyn practice, I saw it used to document paternity. It is used to follow response to the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI’s) used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia. A variety of forensic tests rely on it. DNA testing has become inexpensive enough that many people can do it just for fun, as I did. Keep in mind, DNA does not lie.

First, a few recent photographs. 🙂

DNA  cranes

Cranes Flying to the River at Sunset in Winter

DNA sunflower seed heads

Sunflower Seed Heads in the Bosque at Corrales

Those were both taken on a cloudy day, January 6. Even in winter, New Mexico produces some spectacular colors. This was sunrise on January 15:

winter sunrise

Winter Sunrise

Back to DNA

You have read my response to “ethnicity by DNA.” I need to back track. The report said “30% Ireland-Scotland-Wales” and “19% Great Britain.” Since I knew I had no ancestors (or very few) from Great Britain, I just collapsed those into “49% Irish-Scots-English.” I guess I temporarily overlooked the fact that DNA does not lie. I’ll come back to that.

Next, I looked at how my ancestors migrated west over time. I enjoyed that. I’ve played with making sourdough bread with just water, flour, and salt, plus sourdough starter that has just flour and water. I started the starter on January 1, and the recipe said within 7 days it should be ready to use. Fortunately, a lot of comments said to give it more time. On the 11th, the mixture suddenly blossomed and smelled heavenly. Now I’m having fun with sourdough bread that really does taste good, has a soft interior, and a chewy crust. You know, “getting in touch with your roots.” 🙂 )))))

sourdough bread

Sourdough Bread

Really grasping your DNA is like peeling back an onion. I started looking at “DNA Matches.” A second cousin on my mother’s side is an expert genealogist, and he had already worked out a lot of that tree. It all made sense. Everyone was who they said they were, the records said the same thing, and the DNA matched. You know, the kind of boring, but reassuring, stuff I had expected. My father’s father and his parents had all died before I was born. So I never knew actual people on my father’s father’s side.

Growing up I spent time on trips to Texas with my father’s mother and sister, my great aunt, and, of course, my cousins. I heard bits and pieces of this and that, but most of it didn’t mean anything to me. I think my mother still remembers most of the bits and pieces 😉 Interestingly, my father’s mother’s mother was a midwife. The only person who told me that was the wife of a cousin, because my great grandmother had delivered her mother. I still do not know why none of my direct relatives told me that important little fact about my great grandmother. The relationships in my DNA matches just weren’t right. An “uncle” really wasn’t by DNA. A “first cousin” really wasn’t by DNA. I finally figured out that my grandmother and her sister had to have had different fathers.

My mother said that right after she and my dad got married, she was at my grandmother’s one day when some ladies were visiting – Martindale ladies. My mother was told never to say anything to my great aunt about the Martindale ladies being there.

What the DNA Had to Say

The internet can be great for genealogical research. My grandmother was born in Martindale, TX, a town founded in 1853 by a Nancy Martindale. I started looking for any relationship of Martindales with my great grandmother, Mary McKaughan. These tantalizing hints started appearing, and all ended with “to see this image, you need to go to an LDS Resource Center or Library.” Well, that’s just great, I thought to myself. It seemed like Mary McKaughan had been “scrubbed” from anything easily accessible. Finally I checked to see where the nearest resource center was – less than 5 stop lights from my house!! It is open only for 1.5 hours four days a week. All the resources are free for anyone to use, and an LDS member is there to help with computer questions, searching questions, etc. They want you to find your ancestors, and they were very helpful to me. The first night I found the marriage license and certificate for Mary McKaughan and Benjamin Martindale, December 10, 1882, Guadalupe County, Texas. I actually thought it was quite beautiful. It came as news to all my living relatives, as well as to me.


So, my biologic great grandfather turned out to be Benjamin Franklin Martindale, and my great great great grandmother, none other than Nancy Martindale herself. And that is where all the Great Britain in my DNA Ethnicity Profile comes from. And, with that knowledge, my Ethnicity and DNA matches suddenly made perfect sense.

Things didn’t end particularly well back in Texas. My grandmother was born in mid-September 1886, and in late October 1886 Benjamin Franklin Martindale married another woman and had a daughter with her in July 1887. I don’t think old Ben was a much better husband to that wife than he had been to my great grandmother. But one thing I know has to be true, because DNA does not lie – Ben had to be severely colorblind; that’s where my father and son inherited it. Half the sons of his daughter by the second wife are statistically likely to be severely colorblind.

The town of Martindale today is dead, just not quite dead enough to be considered a real Texas ghost town. I don’t know if, in 2018, the town remains dry.
Martindale, Texas

Martindale, Texas: Dead-but-Not-Quite-Enough-to-be-a-Ghost-Town

I’ve never been there, and have no plans to go there. I relate much more to the old German towns.

I still have questions from my DNA, but I *think* most of the major ones are now somewhat settled. I did the DNA test just for fun. I knew DNA does not lie. I just did not know how many lies would be uncovered. I’m glad I did it. Would I advise other people to do it casually? Only if you are prepared to accept what you find, because DNA does not lie!


Epiphany: Corrales, Cranes, Migrations

Epiphany: Corrales, Cranes, Migrations


Sunrise, January 6, 2018

Epiphany has multiple meanings. Today, January 6, is a day some Christians celebrate as the day the Three Kings visited the Baby Jesus. In Spain, Epiphany is known as Dia de los Reyes, or Three Kings Day. Having lived in Spain, the Prices celebrate Reyes with an open house, featuring Spanish Chocolate. Yum…

I got to go out a little early today, the plan being photography of cranes and “pink.” Although we make plans for these times, most often things present themselves in their own way. Today was no different. The afternoon was overcast. It is not cold today, nor is it windy. But, it looks like winter. There would be no pink this evening. Driving into Corrales, I saw the cranes already headed for the river. We got out just as the sun was beginning to set.


Cranes Against a Winter Sky

Although it seems the cranes just arrived, within a month, most will be gone, headed north on their annual migration. While thinking about that, my thoughts turned to that of human migrations, most specifically that of my ancestors, in a sense a kind of epiphany. Although I had given very little thought to that most of my life, I’ve spent the holidays building family trees. Ancestry has a lot of information. FamilySearch has many resources that are free. Eventually I may want to order copies of some documents. Not far from where I live is an LDS center. I can pay for ordered documents there.

My Family’s Migrations

Do I really have a boat load of Irish ancestors? Surprisingly, yes, I do. On my father’s side a 5th Great grandfather is
Archibald McKaughan Sr.
Birth 1715 • County Antrim, Provence Ulster, Ireland
Death 1793 • Pennsylvania, Somerset, Pennsylvania, United States
and he married my 5th Great grandmother
Rebecca Boyd
Birth 1716 • County Antrim, Glass Island, Ireland
Death 1816 • Jackson, Madison, Tennessee, United States
while they were still in Ireland.
They arrived in Lancaster, PA in 1747.
His line can be traced back to his grandfather, William,
Birth 1638 • Ireland
Death 1692 • Ireland

A 4th Great grandfather on my father’s side is
William Simpson
Birth 1765 • Templepatrick, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland
Death 9 NOV 1834 • Hardeman, Tennessee, United States
In 1789 he married my 4th Great grandmother, Mary Frances Moore, who was born in the US in S Carolina. I have not yet been able to trace her lineage back.

There are more Irish, and I found one person from the Netherlands and one from France. Most, but not all of my German ancestors seem to have come fairly recently (late 1800’s).

I still have a lot more work to do (until I get bored). DNA doesn’t lie. I had no idea I had all these Irish ancestors nor that so many of my ancestors were colonists. Perhaps most of all, I was surprised that my family echoes much of the way parts of this country were built. Growing up, virtually all of my relatives were in San Antonio and the Hill country of Texas. As a result, I guess I thought that when they immigrated here, they just went straight to Texas. 🙂 ))))))))) No. Most formed part of the Great Westward Migration. Especially relevant are these maps of my ancestors through time:

migration epiphany

Location of Known Ancestors, 1700-1750

migration epiphany

Location of Known Ancestors, 1750-1800

migration epiphany

Location of Known Ancestors, 1800-1850

migration epiphany

Location of Known Ancestors, 1850-1900

migration epiphany

Location of Known Ancestors, 1900-1950

migration epiphany

Location of Known Ancestors, 1950-2000

I do have German Great grandparents on both sides who did, indeed, go straight to Texas. Both German great grandfathers were born in 1858, and left, so far, no traces of their roots in Germany. My father always said his grandfather changed his name when he came here, and I wonder if the same is true of my other Great grandfather. I’ll still keep looking for records for a bit, but not forever.

Talking with Laurie, I learned for the first time she has relatives who settled in Fredericksburg, TX, and have since spread out to parts of West Texas such as Lubbock and Midland-Odessa. It makes me wonder if we don’t share some distant cousins, perhaps.

This just scratches the surface of what has appeared from a simple DNA test done just for fun when the kit was on sale this past Black Friday. I’ve only done direct lines so far, and not bothered researching the siblings of all these people. I have not purchased copies of original documents, although there are one or two I might. It has also raised some questions I may not ever be able to answer. I’ll keep working on it until I reach the point the process becomes boring. However, I am very happy I have learned this much.

Epiphany 2018 was filled with thought of migrations of birds and people.


2017 Reflections

2017 Reflections

2017 Reflections: how could something that seemed at times to drag on end so quickly? Maybe it was like the brevity of the reflection of the Sandias in the Rio Grande near sunset, on a beautiful day spent with friends Tim and Laurie:

2017 reflections

Sunset Reflections on the Rio Grande

New Year’s Eve also brings my mother’s birthday. Today she turned 98 years old. In December I got a little into genealogy after buying a DNA test kit at a low price on Black Friday. Playing a bit with family trees, I found my mother has a third Great-grandmother who was born in 1782 and lived into 1887. My mother is very competitive, and is determined to outdo this relative in terms of longevity!

2017 reflections

My Mom on Her 98th Birthday

DNA is interesting. I’ll spend time in 2018 figuring out how I’m “49% Irish-Scotch-Welsh-British” when I thought for sure I was 75% German. At the moment I have 465 “matches”of fourth cousins or closer (I don’t know who all these people are!). Additionally, two of those are third cousins I feel like I should have known but even my mother had not heard of. DNA does not lie!

Reflections on Roses: In 2017 The ARS Board of Directors, approved Rules and Guidelines for Judging Rose Photography. I have posted a series of PowerPoint Presentations for this at Southwest Desert Gardening. The series is also posted at rose.org That was a nine-year commitment, much of it spent swimming upstream! Was it worth it? I’m still reflecting on that.

Photography in 2017: I exhibited locally this year, at ANMPAS in April, the Corrales Fine Arts Show in October 2017, and Shades of Gray in December 2017.

I did a couple of series as well. “Insects amongst the Flowers: A Microcosm of Life, Work, and Death” was a lot of fun! (Click on the link to see the series.)

As always, Light was a favorite subject. Crepuscular rays continue to fascinate me. Here is a slideshow of crepuscular rays in 2017:

If you would prefer to just look at the images, you may view the gallery here.

The last moon of 2017, not quite full, gives of hint of the beauty to come in 2018!

2017 reflections

Last Moon of 2017

Tomorrow, January 1, 2018 the moon will be a full super moon. Even more exciting is the Super Blood Red Blue Moon that will occur on January 31. Here in Albuquerque, totality will occur in very early morning and in a part of the sky for which I do not have a clear view. I’m going to spend some time figuring out how can get a good view and stay relatively warm. 🙂 )))))))))) (The Blood Red Moon of 2015 was at a convenient time, and I could sit on my back porch eating strawberries and drinking tea while photographing it. Not this next one…)

As 2017 fades away, 2018 promises much to enjoy.

Finally, I would like to thank Oli Robbins for a very kind biographical narrative in the Sandoval Signpost. It was a great end to 2017.

Wishing each of you an enjoyable, calm, peaceful New Year, full of joy. ~ Susan


Thanksgiving 2017

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


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!



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.


Happy Thanksgiving