Friday, April 24, 2009

Optimism Is

Yesterday was the rabies vaccination expedition to the Deming Animal Clinic for dogs and the cat. Everybody was due except Sandia, who's a year off the schedule.

This included the nearly 13 year old Randir the Scottish Deerhound (which the clinic hilariously recorded as a Scottish Terrier...).

It's a 3 year vaccination.

That's optimism.

Living Bottle Brushes and Desert Porn..

Yep.  We're growing bottle brushes,

and these yellow, fuzzy balls (protected from the trunk on up by very sharp thorns!),

And if this isn't just a little bit disturbing.... I don't know.

Some of the many life-forms popping up in the yard now.  And there's more we're going to miss because we're about to take off on a 7 week torture tour. (See schedule to the right).  And I can say without any problem at all that if we'd had any inkling we were going to be settling down to a life of landed gentry we certainly wouldn't have committed to the bulk of these.  By the time we get back this will all be gone, I'm sure.  The next excitement will come when the rains start in August.

If anyone can ID these plants, please do so in the comments section.  Adios!

UPDATE:  big Hat Tip to friend Val (who should know!)  From the top:
Bottle Brush...  and I thought I was making a joke,
Sweet Acacia,
and the small yellow flower with the 10 (10 is the number and the  number shall be 10) massive erections stamens is
Desert Bird of Paradise!

We also have an almond tree!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Busy Busy Busy..

No rest for this little guy.  He's working the ocotillo from sunrise to sunset.  My "blind" is just sitting in the parked car next to the flowers.  I wanted to add this because I noticed the shot of the black chinned hummer I posted the other day is actually out of focus when you click to enlarge it.  Not so on this, which is my best hummer shot ever!  Click it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

In The Yard Today.

Tarantula Hawk.  Check it out, this is one big wasp.  The body is about 2" long.  Click the link for the scientific stuff.

Wow! That's A Lot of Pixels!

You won't believe your eyes.  Hat Tip to Frank Vigneri..  Hmm, I've got some tree frog close ups in my archives...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Birds and Blooms.

In the past, we're usually long gone from Deming by this time of year.  We've never seen the bursting forth of life that starts happening in the desert about this time of year.  Now that we live here, that's about to change.   Having  the plants we have in the yard gives us a front row seat.

First up is the Ocotillo,
of which we have half a dozen samples in the yard.  A couple of weeks ago, they sprouted a group of red buds at the ends of their "stalks".  I took a closer look at them and realized that they would bloom even further, but I had no idea this plant that actually looks dead most of the year, would bloom like this.

The nectar naturally attracts members of the local hummingbird population, like this Black-chinned Hummingbird .
There's another, larger hummingbird hanging around, but I haven't captured his image yet.  It's either a Broad-tailed, or a Ruby-throated.  My money's on the Broad-tail.

Not hanging around the Ocotillo, but a new bird for me, is this 

Wilsons Warbler.  A bird that looks like it bought a bad toupee.

I've also seen a Scott's Oriole in the yard on a couple of occasions now, but haven't got its picture yet.

This is only the beginning.  I can't wait to see what happens with the prickly pear cactus.  Still no sign of the Mexican Poppies on the mountainside.  Still waiting.  If it happens while we're still here, (we have to take off on a shooting trip late next week), you'll be the first to see it.

"The Bird" 1954-2009

All through its history, there has never been a shortage of characters in baseball.  In 1976, there was no bigger character than the Detroit Tigers Mark "the Bird" Fidrych.

It was quite a jolt watching the local news tonight and hearing that Fidrych was found dead under his dump truck in Massachusetts today.

In 1976 I was living in Saginaw, MI. The local and national media was all abuzz about this eccentric, but amazingly talented pitcher who was starring for the Tigers.   Several of us with the day off, decided to drive the hundred miles south to see Fidrych pitch.  We got there, but the game was rained out.  We spent the next several hours drinking beer at the legendary Lindell AC bar.  So, while we missed seeing history on the mound, we did spend some time in a historic bar before schlepping back to Saginaw.

R.I.P.  Bird and the bar.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Little Quiz.

So... I took this picture on my mountain hike yesterday.
It was on the side of the road up the mountain.  I know what it is.  Do you?
(click on image for larger view)

Mission Accomplished!

Don't think I mentioned it, but I'm going through one of those "bachelor periods" that happen a couple times a year.  Margaret flew off to New York late last week to visit with her kids, then made the hop to Michigan last night to visit her mother.

The fun addition to this trip is that she'll also be looking at vehicles.. something to load up with a fair amount of stuff from our storage unit and haul back here to New Mexico.  Right now, so I've been told, the leading candidate is a Ford cargo van.  We'll see what happens.

So with a lot of free time on my hands, and a cool (but very windy) day at my disposal yesterday, I decided it was time to climb a mountain.  There're plenty of them available, but I picked one that I can see from the back porch.  There are a couple of towers up there, so it makes an inviting target.

I filled my pack with water, a box of crackers, my Kabar knife, and binoculars, put my camera on the harness and walked away from the house at 11am.  By noon, I was probably a little better than halfway up.  I should note that this isn't exactly "technical climbing".  I only had to use my hands a couple of times, but the last bit was damn steep, and the rocks were shifting around. The wind was blowing strong enough to practically blow me up the hill.

Two hours and fifteen minutes after I started, I was back at the house, soaking my shaking legs in the whirlpool bath.  Today my legs are very sore, as I knew they would be, but not too bad.
Next time I do this, I'll make sure that someone knows what I'm doing.  It's not exactly wise to go off on an excursion like this alone.  But I do want to do it again.  There's a higher point on the Little Floridas I want to try.

Meanwhile, here's a little slide show.. images I stopped regularly to capture (and catch my breath) on the way up and back down again.  Enjoy.

Monday, April 06, 2009

We Go "Hunting"

"We are Fam-i-leeee"... That's Sandia and his sister, Maya in the image above. While she's longer than tall, and he's taller than long, the family resemblance is still unmistakable.

Maya's owners came down to Deming for the open house on Saturday, and became the first overnight guests in the cabin. They pronounced it very comfortable.

Yesterday morning we headed out to the well known big ranch with Dutch, and another acquaintance with some rookie Azawakhs. Recently, the jackrabbits at this location have been bountiful, to say the least. On this day, for whatever reason, they made themselves scarce. Maybe the increased coyote activity we noticed had something to do with it. We almost never see coyotes here, and on this morning, we saw 4 in the access road as we arrived, and later, two followed Sandia's aunt Camille back from her first run. The stopped when they noted the people in the equation, and returned to whatever nefarious deeds they were originally involved in.

On a typical recent day we would have run 6 or 7 jacks by 10:30, and been on our way back to Deming for brunch at the Campos. Yesterday, we were still struggling to find a 4th rabbit so everyone could have run twice at 1PM!

That's when we put Sandia and Maya off-slip to better scare up the hares. As the picture above shows, they worked very well together. Not straying too far, stopping periodically, then moving, right to left, left to right in front of the gallery. We'd been at this for nearly an hour and were walking in the direction of the vehicles when they took off at a run. Not an all out run, but purposeful, until they flushed a group of meadowlarks. Oh. Birds. And as soon as we relaxed again, Sandia was right on the butt of a jackrabbit! So they did see something.

They were quite a ways away when this race started, but Dutch released Phyllis, and the Azawakh was slipped and everyone was away. The pack followed the hare right towards the vehicles, which smart ones sometimes try to use as a "pick", but this fooled no one, as the 4 dogs stayed right on it.

They were out of sight briefly, then we could see them still in a group, way beyond the vehicles... a quarter mile for more. My binoculars were in my pack, so I was doing my best to see the course with the naked eye. I saw the dust cloud, then saw no more.

We waited for further developments, when someone said, "they're coming back." We started walking towards the trucks, as a couple of the hounds waited there. Then I heard, "one of them's carrying something". It was Sandia, and they'd caught the hare on a roughly two minute chase. Dutch, who had watched with binoculars, said Sandia would have won the course if he'd been judging it, but all 4 hounds would have had an assist in the kill, as the group was turning the hare every 50 yards or so. I've seen Sandia not bring the hare back when he wasn't the hound who picked it up, so I know he got this one. It will be in the crock pot by this evening.

So, here's the "money" shot I didn't get a couple weeks ago. He dropped it about 50 yards short of us.. I guess it felt pretty heavy after running it almost a mile, then carrying it back almost a half mile.

People are always discussing.... (arguing?) the difference between "coursing" and "hunting". My definition has always been pretty simple: If you go out with your hounds and don't bring back a jackrabbit... you were coursing. Yesterday, Sandia and his kin, and buddies went hunting!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Shrinking Bedroom.

Don't ask me.

The king-size bed that came with the house was fine with me.  But Margaret's been pretty much living at the 2nd hand store downtown, and there was this bed.  We saw the headboard a month ago.  I really liked it.  I wanted it, because the bed in the house was just that- a bed.  The headboard would really make it look nice.  It's identical to the bed used in the TV series, Medium.

Problem.  The headboard, and matching footboard were part of a California king bed.  Same width, but 6 freakin' inches longer, and they wouldn't sell just the headboard.  Oh well, I thought, ...and thought about it no more.

That didn't stop Margaret from pursuing it, however, while also picking up more chairs, tables, lamps and such.  As it turned out, they took our basically brand new bed in trade, and today they delivered it and set it up.  All of a sudden, the bedroom looks a whole lot smaller!  Amazing what 6" of mattress and some lumber can do to shrink a room.

But it is very cool.  The mattress, it turns out, is a brand new Sealy- still in the bag- with a cushy pillow top.  It also came with the matching bedside cabinet!

At 30" high, we were worried about our resident octogenarian*, but he continues to amaze...  

Think about the effort required to kip-up those rear legs!  I've said it before, and I'll say it again about this old man who is now the lone surviving member of his litter: What a guy!

*at the human equivalent of 88 years old, he's very nearly a nonogenarian!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

After All, What's Money For...?

...If not to spend.

What a story I have for you today.

If you were thinking about coming to our open house this Saturday, but you live, say, on the other side of the country, or even up in the northern part of the state and you didn't have the time to make the drive, I've got great news!

Yesterday, I was clearing brush in the backyard in preparation for fencing in a dog area.  As I pried up a mesquite root, I spied something green underneath.  A bit of digging produced a ragged canvas satchel, and through the many holes I discovered the "green" I saw was cash.  Green bills... lots of them.  We haven't counted it all yet, but I can tell you they're old.. early 20th century.  We think there's a couple hundred thousand dollars here, maybe as much as half-million.  

The local paper picked up the story, and tomorrow we'll be dealing with the major networks.. crews from the Today show and Good Morning America will be here, and of course the local news affiliates from Albuquerque.

Where did it come from?  Well, the Butterfield Stage ran not far north of here.  Billy the Kid was active in West Texas and southern New Mexico.  We don't know.  We don't care.  We just know it's ours!

But we're simple folks at heart.  We're pretty happy with our new place, so we're not going to invest very heavily into any major improvements (except maybe central air!), and we might spend some on a major overhaul of the Hare-Brained Express, but we made a decision to mostly try to blow it all on the housewarming party this Saturday!

Through Margaret's son, Tony, (who knows the DIY lady on the show), we've got Rachel Ray coming to do the catering.  When that news leaked out, we heard from Emeril and Bobby Flay, who also want to come and turn it in to some kind of cooking competition on our back deck!  So friends, the food is going to be spectacular, as are the free blimp rides we've arranged with the Goodyear people.  We'll have lots of wine from the local winery.  A string quartet, fronted by Yo Mama on cello will provide the music during the day, and country rockers, Cross Canadian Ragweed will keep the neighbors (those that aren't here) awake long into the night.
And that's not the best part-

- this is:  If you want to come, just let us know.  We'll arrange for your airfare from wherever you are to the El Paso airport, and then have you choppered directly to our back yard!  We want this to be the biggest party  in New Mexico history!  Be a part of it!

Just email us your itinerary and 

do it TODAY: April 1st.