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…

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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”

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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. 🙂

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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

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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.)

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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.

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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!

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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

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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!

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