New Mexico Weekend

New Mexico

New Mexico Weekend

New Mexico: images are better than words. This was a weekend of great company plus beauty, floral on Saturday and landscapes on Sunday.

Saturday was the Fifth Annual Corrales Rose Society Dr. Huey Tour. Time flies!!! You can read about and see Tim Price’s images at his blog, TandL Photos. Days spent with Tim and Laurie in Corrales are always beautiful.

Sunday I had a remarkable day with a photographer friend from Dallas, King Douglas. (Hello to our friends from the old 1X!!!!). Over breakfast we discussed what to do. He pulled out a map and circled a few places. It was clear we were not going to “usual” places. I am so glad. I’m also glad I filled up with gas before I picked him up. We settled on Echo Amphitheater as a destination (photos of that another time). I warned him that I always get rained on in the Jemez, even if there is only one tiny cloud in the sky. The rain came just as we arrived at Echo Amphitheater. It was short-lived, and produced a cool and refreshing afternoon. The magic of the Jemez! We chatted about so many things. And, when we stopped to photograph, I got some tips from a master. What a day!

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Abiquiu Lake Looking North. Very Low!
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Northern New Mexico. More Colorful than the Painted Desert of Arizona.
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More Color, and Look At That Sky!
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Abiquiu Lake Looking South, with Georgia O’Keefe’s Pedernal Mountain

Finally, for our mutual friends, King Douglas with his wife’s dog, Cooper, in Echo Amphitheater. Cooper is not only adorable, he is an extremely smart Service Dog. He was a great little companion on the trip.

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King Douglas and Cooper in Echo Amphitheater

This weekend was full of great company and visual delights. Thank you for sharing what was a remarkable weekend, even by New Mexico standards!

Lady Banks, Laurie, and Critters

lady banks rose

Lady Banks, Laurie, and Critters

Lady Banks, Laurie, and critters: what more could a day in May need to be perfect? This old species rose was breathtakingly beautiful in the late afternoon light. Many different roses are doing well this year. But this one was spectacular!

lady banks rose
Soft yellow beauty!
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This rose grows to be quite large!

Laurie adding to the spirit of the day:

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Laurie with Lady Banks Rose

In addition, this little damsel fly seemed to want to be photographed:

damsel fly
Damsel Fly Too Beautiful Not to Try to Photograph

Finally, would a visit to Corrales be complete without The Man, Spunk?

Spunk
“You know it’s time-and-a-half on weekends, or I’m just going to lie here and study you.” Spunk is always adorable!

Miniature Rose Incognito

miniature rose incognito

Miniature Rose Incognito

Miniature rose Incognito has long been one of my favorites. In usual years, it produces some perfectly formed blooms. The colors are always amazing. The Albuquerque area had a very mild, dry winter. While that does not bode well for the summer and potential for fires, the spring bloom of roses has been the best I have ever seen here. I’ve been here for over 30 years. This little bloom and bud gave a delightful splash of color. Finally, the bloom had perfect form.

miniature rose incognito
Miniature Rose “Incognito”

Spring Color

Spring Color

Spring color is everywhere in Albuquerque. Everything looks so fresh. The roses are a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. Because the weather is not hot yet, the roses haven’t become crispy critters, as they sometimes do. Everything around town seems colorful and clean. Of course, nothing beats a sunrise here! A riot of floral color makes things that much better!

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Miniature Rose ‘Cinnamon Delight’
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Riot of Color with Spring Flowers
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Brilliant Southwestern Sunrise

Curve-Billed Thrasher and Beautiful Song

curve-billed thrasher

Curve-Billed Thrasher and Beautiful Song

The curve-billed thrasher is not the most elegant or colorful or powerful bird that visits my yard. At times it looks rather clumsy compared to some of the other birds, almost clown-like. But its song is like no other.

curve-billed thrasher
Curve-billed thrasher on the chimney, surveying its world.

This audio also contains in the background the call of the white-winged dove (“who cooks for you? who cooks for you?”).

These are the sounds of life in the high southwest desert. I hope you enjoy this little snippet.

And, finally, yes, that really was the color of the sky this morning. 🙂

Days of Wind and Roses

roses "Ruby Baby

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.

Spring Has Sprung

spring pansies

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!

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Bloom of Dwarf Peach ‘Bonanza’
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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.

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Crocus
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Pansies
spring pansies
Pansies

Finally, I hope you have had a wonderful day wherever you are!

Sourdough Baking

Sourdough bread

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
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Whole Wheat Dough after a Night in Refrigerator
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Whole Wheat after Being at Room Temperature for a Few Hours
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Sourdough Bread Ready to Bake
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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!

Stormy Sunrise with Crepuscular Rays

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!

First Crocus !

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.