Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beach combing #1

Monday morning, Liz and I walked almost three hours along the beach, instead of our usual walk along the bicycle/walking lanes on the bluffs above. I had only my iPhone with me for photos, and wished I had had my Canon SLR.

I want to share some of what we saw that day. It may take a few postings. Today we'll start with the colorful public restroom at the top of Swami's, the local (and world renown) surfing hot spot a few blocks from here. Growing up, this was a mere dirt parking lot with ramshackle stairs and no hope of something as civilized as a bathroom or water fountains. I'm deciding that maybe some of these changes, over time, have been for the positive.

The tree overhanging is a Torrey Pine, the most restricted and rarest pine in north America. It is recognizable by its clusters of five needles. These tree is just a gorgeous specimen. Further south along the coast, between Del Mar and La Jolla, is the Torrey Pines State Preserve, where they have set aside approximately 2,000 acres and have over 8 miles of hiking trails in these magical trees. The seeds are edible and I have seen some amazing baskets made from their needles.

I was saying this morning how much more I appreciate these things at this point in life than I did as a younger person, and I feel fortunate to be in a place in life to be able to see and enjoy with new eyes and heart.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Growing in the mountains

One treat this week, at home in Taos, has been to see things green and flowering. The flora and fauna were still in quiet repose when I left here on May 7. Anila (my friend who lives with us) has taken complete charge of all things related to gardening here at our place, which is no small feat. Amazingly, she has a garden flourishing outdoors, complete with corn. This is no small feat at our elevation of just a hair under 8,000 ft.

Early in the week, we discovered cutworms happily devouring the leaves of the Beet that Ate Taos. This is a volunteer that popped up last fall in our greenhouse, and was given no major attention all winter. At one point, Mr. Sunflower and I decided it was having such a happy time, we'd just leave it to see what would become of it. Well, this photo is the result. This big girl weighed in at 10.75 lbs.! I wonder what it could have been, had not the cutworms had their way with it?

Yesterday we visited Monte's house, down in town and in yet another one of our many micro climates. We discovered this Lamb's Ear plant gone haywire. These velvety stems reach to a good 5 feet into the air. This was just a wee plant she brought home from the nursery a couple of years ago. No one she has shown it to has ever seen such a happy Lamb's Ear plant. Any feedback from you on this one???

Last, but not least...I am headed back to California today, with a happy tummy full of green and red chile. I met my goal! Chile for lunch all five days I was here in Taos.

Life truly is good. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Some chile each day

...keeps the doctor away (if not exactly true, I like the idea). My dad used to tell us that people who eat lots of good chile won't get heart disease (another fantasy). Wherever the truths lie, I love chile and have, for the most part, missed good old New Mexican style green chile while I've been in California these last 6 weeks.

It's not exactly the reason I've returned to Taos for this week, but it sure was near the top of the list. As I drove up from Albuquerque Sunday afternoon, I set a goal for myself: green chile for lunch all five days I'm here. So far, I'm three for three. Dad would be proud of me.

If you're ever in our area, my favorite green chile is at Abe's Cantina in Arroyo Seco (on State Road 150 just below the Taos Ski Valley). They are open for breakfast burritos and lunch is served from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00ish weekdays (closed Sundays and only limited food service on Saturday mornings). Their chile is just chock full of (surprise!) chiles that they roast each fall when the new harvests come in, as opposed to the rather thin-sauce green chile from another restaurant I go to in El Prado for smothered cheese burgers. There, you see only the occasional piece of chile bobbing around in the watery base, and while it tastes good, it should not even be considered in the same category.

If you have a favorite place for green chile in NM, I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rocking and rolling

I grew up in Southern California and should be used to these things, but apparently, I'm out of training.

I was watching a movie night before last when suddenly my bed felt like it was sinking...then my bed, and my house started shakiing from side to side. There was a creaking noise for accompaniment, just like in the movies (the walls, no doubt). It was, well...creepy.

I catapulted out of bed and hit the USGS site. Turns out it was a 5.7 "after shock" to the much larger Easter Sunday earthquake that rattled the southern border of California, near Ocotillo. Those poor folks. A quick peek at the USGS site showed me there have been after shocks approximate every couple of minutes since Easter. There were literally dozens that had occurred between the one I felt Monday night and when I check their site again yesterday morning.

Ah, life on the fault lines. Guess I need to get my earthquake juju back if I'm going to be happy hanging out here for a while.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The noisy neighbors

One of the trade offs for being here with all the conveniences is the noise factor. I've probably talked about this in another post (forgive my memory, or lack of). There is a major interstate (5) about 4 blocks, as the crow flies, and if the air is just right, it can sound like it's just outside my bedroom window. Then there's the fire department a few blocks away, the highway (101) just below our house, and my dearly beloved (seriously) train at the end of our street.

Having said all of that, I have found a new environmental noise that has been perplexing: birds singing all night long. My son finally told me it's probably Mockingbirds, because they are at his house as well. In fact, he has one that mimics a car alarm. Guess I should count my lucky stars mine only seems lonely. I just checked in out on Wikipedia, and it is, indeed, a Northern Mockingbird, and here's part of the story:

The Northern Mockingbird, in addition to being a good mimic, is also one of the loudest and most constantly vocal of birds. It often sings through the night, especially unmated males, or when the moon is full. It sings year-round except sometimes for the late-summer molting season. Individual males have repertoires of 50 to 200 songs; females sing as well, but more quietly and less often than males. Mockingbirds usually sing the loudest in the twilight of the early morning when the sun is on the horizon.

I have decided, now that I understand, to pay more attention after this, and not be so quick to get annoyed. After's much better than listening to the human neighbors, at any time of the day!

Reference and photograph courtesy of Wikipedia.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sew and sew

My mom bought me my first sewing machine when I was 10 years old. It came from Sears, where mom worked. The Sears lady came to our house a few times to give me instructions on how to use it, and from there, I was pretty much on my own. I am thinking I wore some pretty goofy looking clothes for many years!

I spent the next 33 years sewing and sewing...making many of my own clothes and most of what my son wore to school all through high school. Then I worked at a quilt fabric store for one year before moving to NM in 1993...and managed to stash enough fabric for lots of quilts that are now wanting to be made.

These last weeks have been such fun, getting back to sewing again. I've made several baby quilts, small enough to fold easily and stuff in a diaper bag. Small enough for me to see an accomplishment in a day's work. Fun enough to keep me wanting to do more...and a nice balance to my evenings of hand quilting on the antique quilt. However, having said that...there's a new spinning wheel in the house, and it's calling my name....

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mi trash es su trash

I try hard not to spew depressing thoughts on this blog, feeling most of us get plenty enough during the course of the average day. This morning I just can't help myself.

Since I've been here on the coast, I've been able to get out and take walks along the coast highway, over looking the ocean, and around the little old neighborhoods near the beach. It's really been bugging me to see so much trash on these walks, and I've been wanting to talk about it with someone. Empty plastic bottles, straws, and wrappers, mostly...have caused me to make a commitment with myself to pick up things as I see them and deposit them in the next trash bin (which are frequent along the beach and downtown area). I was thinking if each of us would even just pick up one single piece of trash each time we saw one, it could really add up in the long run. (Caveat: I've also seen some disposable diapers out there, which is gross, but I don't advocate handling those unless you're prepared.)

Then last night, on the evening news, I watched a man talk about having collected a bucket of oil from the sand on the beach and when presented to cleanup workers to dispose of, he claimed he was told it wasn't their which time he dumped the bucket's worth of oil back on the sand in front of them. Whether this is true or not, it really got me going on the trash thing again. If you think it's not yours and you shouldn't bother, trust me...ultimately it is yours. We're all in this together. Think about the masses of plastic and trash bobbing around out in the Pacific Ocean*, one of which is estimated to be approximately twice the size of Texas.

Not yours? You're's ours.

P.S. For those of you who are suffering the direct results of this heinous oil spill, my heart goes out to you, and my anger at all involved, as well. I cannot imagine what you are going through. Seeing the oil coated wildlife on the news each evening is hard enough; knowing generations of folks are losing their livelihood and traditional ways of life is beyond horrible.

*Silverman, Jacob. "Why is the world's biggest landfill in the Pacific Ocean?." 19 September 2007. 07 June 2010.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Great news

It's a girl!

Saw the sonogram this morning...she's right on track and appears to have all working parts in order. We're all thrilled, but her brother is a little disappointed because he wanted a little brother. I told him he can teach her to fish, too.

And to go shopping...buying things for little boys wasn't that much fun. Look out, Visa card!!!