Monday, September 27, 2021

Treasures of Nature, Early Autumn Edition!

Rain in the desert is a wonderful thing. You won't hear people out here singing, "Rain, rain, go away," as I did back on the Gulf Coast. It's such a rare treat here, and it makes all the plants perk up and bloom, or turn green or into their fall colors. 

When he was four, my son said, "Mama, why do you always say, 'God's Green Earth?' It's brown!" He was a desert boy! Yes, it's brown, usually. Pretty shades of brown and red and ochre, like a piece of a Picture Jasper gemstone! But when sparked with the green or the changing leaves or the blooms, it's lovely. It puts heart into the viewer.

We had such gully washers Saturday and Sunday, and lovely sunlight inbetween! It was exciting, although the dogs don't share my enthusiasm for lightning and downpours. I drove my husband around for a ride both days during the sunny part and we went to see the sights. 

tiny yellow crab apples

I snuck into the closed botanical park again, to get some more windfall crab apples. They are all over the path, and I don't know why, but the ants are not interested in them.
I got two fallen pomegranates, too! There were some teeny tiny yellow crab apples, but I didn't get them.

We drove around in the valley and up into the foothills as well. We always see something new! I am going to try to pan for gold dust in the arroyos near the mountains! I just have a feeling...but I'll wait for true fall weather. The water runs like a torrent through all the arroyos big and small during these storms. Very dangerous to be in them when it's raining on the mountains, even if you are miles away. But I looked at the sandy arroyos and thought, "gold dust." We shall see! 

sandy arroyo las cruces nm

Up in the Terrero area in the north of the state, I found nuggets of silver in the Pecos River! Big nuggets! That was almost 30 years ago. I don't think we have silver here, but I have heard many settlers thought there was gold.

I did find treasure, though! 

Pyracantha berries turning all shades of orange! While I was taking pictures, a very elderly gentleman with a wild mane of purest white hair stopped his old truck and called out to me. He wanted to make sure I was okay and not having car trouble. That made my day! Such kindness!

2021 pyracantha berries ripening to orange

More treasures:

Beauty Berry, in shades of metallic magenta. As a youngster, I made "ink" from the berries. But it dried gray.

beauty berry metallic purple

A stump filled with fallen leaves!

Fragrant eucalyptus leaves from a tall tree!

Prickly pears with their ripe "tunas" along an old fencerow!

A bee's feast where birds have torn open a ripe tuna! You can see a flying bee "at 7 o'clock" coming in for a landing next to her friend!

And this is pretty enough for a Christmas card, nature's red and green composition!

This week, it's fall cleaning in preparation for the holidays. It's just me and my husband, and our four pets. But I like to keep up our little traditions, and one is to clean thoroughly before the holiday decorations go up in earnest. Since this is "the Land of Enchantment," it takes a lot of dusting and sweeping to keep all that "enchantment" corralled!

A guilty pleasure: Listening with half an ear to sappy holiday movies -- Hallowe'en, Thanksgiving, or Christmas -- while cleaning or while drawing my new digital tags for the Etsy shop, or applying for jobs on the computer. Oh, those are sappy, sappy, dripping with sap movies, and I find them to be balm to the soul! 

This week is exciting because our parish is having a potluck on Saturday. I am thinking of taking a pecan pie. The meats will be provided, by the Knights of Columbus. Whenever our priest mentions "the Knights," he will solemnly intone, "I myself am a Knight." I think that's so cute.  

I hope each and every bloggie friend has a WONDERFUL week! If you have time, please drop a little comment and tell me your news or a thought! 

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Hurry, Fall! And Millions of Golden Yellow Blooms

This year, we are having a week of FALL WEATHER, when it is usually still very hot. Amazing!

Come along with me and see a spectacular sight in our area. It is a display of millions of yellow daisy-like blooms, on the property of a wealthy individual who has a house perched atop an area of low peaks. He sows and irrigates these flowers with miles of drip irrigation pipe. I almost want to say they are Maximillian Sunflowers, but the leaves are different.

expanse of sunflowers in the desert in fall

From across the valley, an area of yellow/chartreuse is visible. That's his property! And that's how I discovered his display when we moved here in 2019. I thought, "What's making that color?" Chartreuse is probably my very favorite color. I am somewhat of a "prepper" and in my grab 'n' go bags, I make sure I have a couple of Prismacolor colored pencils in chartreuse. I don't want to be caught in a disaster without a chartreuse colored pencil.

As we drove up, they got yellower and yellower.

I like how the road signs and hydrant match the flowers!

There was a greenish light on the flowers underneath the palm fronds

Actually, I do have drawing paper and several puzzles and word game booklets in each bag, along with a deck of cards. I'm kind of divided on the deck of cards. Have you read "The Hiding Place"? It is a true story of WWII. Middle-aged Dutch resistance member Corrie ten Boom is put in a concentration camp for helping Jews. Someone gives her a deck fashioned from pieces of paper, perhaps toilet paper. Her father had always been against card-playing of any type, but she was fascinated and played Solitare to while away the days in, fittingly enough, solitary confinement. Eventually, she stopped, feeling that she was letting the cards function as some kind of good luck power instead of concentrating on God's power.

If you haven't read the book, it's fascinating. I had an old copy of her original telling of her story, "A Prisoner and Yet," that she wrote herself without the help of professional writers, and it was quite different than the eventual bestseller they crafted. It was plainer, more down-to-earth, unpolished, lighter on "miracles," and the events didn't dovetail nicely as they do in the better-known version of her story. It was, in fact, very different. It is hard to find any mention that this was her FIRST book, published in 1947, perhaps because it is so different from "The Hiding Place." Lots of wisdom in her books.

But I digress from our flowers! 

I could not manage to catch a butterfly with its wings open as it drank. This one has its wings folded.

I have never seen as many butterflies in Las Cruces as I have this year. Even far away from the swath of daisies, the butterflies are everywhere, mainly yellow ones, quite small. WHY does everyone LOVE butterflies but HATE poor caterpillars? 

Millions of butterflies flew over millions of blooms! Where the irrigation pipes had leaked and the ground was still wet, thousands of butterflies gathered along the length, constantly flying up and reforming little groups. I don't know if they were siphoning up water, or minerals. I poured out a thermos of cold water, in case it was water they were wanting.

These blooms have already become a part of autumn for me here. I love the markers of fall, wherever I have lived. I am sad to "lose" some with each move, but there is always something new to embrace, too. 

When I lived in Maryland, there was the turning of the leaves. In Ohio, pots of mums -- the huge pots -- were on every stoop and porch. On Whidbey Island, there were the sea storms of great force, human-sized "porch scarecrows" at most homes, and maples deep in the fir forests that had leaves the size of turkey platters in yellow, then orange, then red. In Tucson, the green corn tamales started to appear for sale. The signs along the Gulf Coast were more just a mental feeling and the items that started appearing in the stores.

What about where you live? Is there something special that happens each autumn? 

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Monday, September 20, 2021

Shine On, Harvest Moon!

The huge and lovely harvest moon, bathed in a rich golden hue, rose early tonight! I don't take photos of the moon anymore; they always come out like a dot or a little yellow pea when I try! But I hope the moonbeams found you, wherever you are! 

I redid a bit of my mantel, to showcase a fine fat gourd and its tiny "baby." The large gourd is a bottle or birdhouse type, and the little one nestling at its side is a "spinner" gourd. Can you believe the gourd was only $3?

A bit of candlelight, and the room felt very different, very cozy and fall-like!

I just adore candlelight. I am excited to have found a little candle -- and now I can't recall where, which is ridiculous since I go so few places -- that came with a cork lid. When it has finally sputtered out, I will have a sweet tiny container, perhaps for little safety pins or buttons or beads. The glass is a pretty amber color. My mother had many, many amber glass items, and I never liked them, until I turned 60. Then, I adored amber glass! 

I added a little stool I have and put a fake punkin atop it, and I think I'm finally happy with the mantel...but perhaps not. I think I have a fake mouse or two to add to it, somewhere!

I did buy a non-essential item besides the candle and gourd, too...a ristra! A long one that is very pretty. Ristras are green chiles (that turn red when fully ripe) that are strung together in a lovely swag, and sometimes into wreaths. But the swag is the most common. They are a beloved symbol of the turn of the year and of Christmas here. They smell very good when drying.

They hang from most houses, both inside and out, and also hang from the light posts in that little nearby village of Mesilla that snuggles up against the city of Las Cruces. I think it's precious that most manger scenes include a ristra here.

Mine is drying by the front door. If I manage to get another job, I will get one of the four-foot ones. But this one is about 3 feet and quite nice. Once it's drier, it will go inside. I use them in cooking but not enough chiles are plucked from it to make it look scanty. It stays pretty until the next year. Ristras are said to bring luck to a house.

We had a scare with one of the pets, the Chiweenie. He didn't want to eat, and that is a huge red flag, so we took him straight to the vet clinic and he had to stay there a few days, on an IV. The vet thinks maybe he had food poisoning or "just a sick tummy." But he's back home and I have him eating turkey and rice, and chicken and rice, and some little white bread and turkey sandwiches! He's not 100 percent yet...lighted a candle for him and all pets today after Mass...

The vet bill almost sent ME to the hospital! Dreadfully expensive. Insanely so, but what can someone do? These are strange times, changing and in scary ways, I think! Some changes I like, but the pace of change seems to be so fast, the older I get, and I think a lot of the changes are toxic! But there's still beauty...and I hope you have a BEAUTIFUL week! 

Tell me, have you finished your fall decorating? And did you see the harvest moon?

Kind regards,

The Olde Dame, Holly

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Pumpkin Men, Bridge Mix, and Pretty Free Art Deco Hallowe'en Tags

It is time for my wooden Pumpkin Men to come out and greet passersby, the FedEx guy, neighbors, and if I had any here, friends. These are about five feet tall and made of wood. One of the members of a "primitives" group I belong to makes them and this is the 3rd Halloween they will be up. And they were reasonably priced, too!

Sometimes I hang a pumpkin bucket or a pail from their hands. This year I think they will be plain until I can gather some discarded corn husks from some of the ditches near the local farms. Then I'll tie on some corn husks.

The photo is before I added strings of lights to the courtyard. I got eaten up by mosquitoes last night but I am so glad the Hallowe'en lights are up! I got up about four times to look at them glowing in the night! I finally found true purple lights (at Walmart), not those red-violet lights often sold as purple. They're too pinky for me at Hallowe'en, although actually a lot of vintage graphics do show pink at Hallowe'en!

And...speaking of vintage graphics, I made up a quick tag set of Hallowe'en bridge tally ladies of yesteryear! Remember all those bridge tallies? Well, remember BRIDGE?

Oh gosh, when I was young, it was played so much more than now, I think. It was a weekly get-together at many homes. Gosh, they even named that collection of various chocolates, "Bridge Mix." I think it was the biggest seller at the Sears candy counter. 

By the time I entered college, the bridge tables in the Student Union had given way to the backgammon craze. Backgammon was everywhere, and I never learned to play it or bridge. My husband can play bridge excellently, and learned at about 10 years old. His mother would have numerous tables at her house once a week, and if someone didn't show, she'd grab him and he would sit in. And woe to him if he played poorly. She also held many dances, had studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory, and taught him to dance, which he despises. He does not remember any of it fondly, but I was impressed that she had taken pains that he have the social niceties. My brother nearest to me in age and I were raised like wild wolves.

Many fans of ephemera collect bridge tallies. I think I have one or two in my box of vintage cards and papers. I took these images from eBay auctions and cleaned them up. 

As always, USE THE LINK ---> Click for Tallies - because mean ol' Blogger squishes and reduces the image sizes of photos and graphics placed in our posts, making them print ugly. So, go right to the source for better printing.

In the Bridge Mix (chocolates must be capitalized in my book) -- notice my mind goes right back to candy -- I think there were (chocolate covered) raisins, peanuts, almonds, could it be Brazil Nuts also, vanilla creme, a rare "jelly" center, perhaps a licorice center. There was an all-nut bridge mix, too, but we didn't get that one.

Does anyone remember Bridge Mix? If so, what was your favorite piece? What's your favorite candy now? I'd love to know!

Kind regards,

The Olde Dame, Holly

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

dANGER Not Ahead!

I was walking around in Walmart, as I often do. That's how I find many interesting things. I wander around at my pace. And wandering through the Hallowe'en items, I saw this:

danger tape for halloween decoration at walmart

I had never realized that the word DANGER has ANGER in it, but that really resonated with me. Danger: Anger ahead! Righteous anger can be very useful, but at some point, it can become dangerous. Maybe it's a psychological protection or advantage to "nurse one's wrath" at times, especially if someone is trying to right a wrong for someone. 

But for me, the anger I have been feeling over the attempt to make me commit fraud at my former job is not serving me well, at all! I have not properly dealt with the confusion and fright I felt, or my fear at being without a job, and just lump it into "anger." As the college students say, I was "triggered!" I think it's easier to feel the anger than to feel the fear. 

The fear and fury has been just sticking me right into a molasses mindset! Stuck, scared! So, I'm working on that. I went to the cathedral yesterday and just sat two hours. Said the rosary several times, lighted candles, poured my troubles out to Jesus and Mary. Sometimes I am like a child who wants to be told she is right, and get a pat on the head and a lollipop! I felt that Mary did indeed give me that sweet pat and sent me out much stronger and calmer.

Going to the cathedral always gives me "ganas." Ganas is the Spanish word for "guts" or "gumption," for energy, for effort. If you tell someone "Ponle ganas!" it exhorts them to "get crackin'" and to take heart, to TRY! The very air in the church tells me √≠Ponle ganas! (Pohn-lay Gah-nass!) Pick yourself up, try! (see the candle flames like dots above the holy candles, to the right of the photo above? One of them is the Bloggie Frens candle!)

I was energized after being in the silent, cool church. I put up some indoor Hallowe'en decorations! Not much, but it feels like enough for this year. Closer to Hallowe'en I will get a pumpkin. I got the vintage cutouts for something like 30 cents after the season at Hobby Lobby in years' past.

And there is nothing like NATURE to get one's head on right and put things into perspective! I went for a drive and took my husband along, as it cheers him, also. We went from the very bottom of the Mesilla Valley to the foothills of the nearby Organ Mountains. 

The big reservoir upstream from us is not releasing any more water into the Rio Grande this year. It will not run again until March or April of next year. Now there's just a ribbon of water in the center of the river. I walked around in the riverbed and was so surprised to see that freshwater mussels of some sort clearly live in the river!

In a few days, even the ribbon of water will be gone.

You can see the mountains on the horizon. We left the river and drove up to them. It only takes about 15 minutes to drive to the foothills. 

I can tell by the color of the brush that autumn is nigh. 

What do you do to lift your flagging spirits or to combat anger and fear? Do you seek out nature? I know some of you do, from reading your delightful blogs. Do you also like to go into darkened churches to recharge and seek guidance? Or are you more the cup-of-tea or bubble-bath type? I like all of those things! 

Kind regards,

The Olde Dame, Holly

Saturday, September 4, 2021

It's Apple-Picking Time in the Desert!

As strange as it may seem, this area -- the Mesilla Valley -- was once known in the Southwest as an apple center. There is still a local family who as a labor of love run a very old orchard that had fallen into disrepair. They offer U-Pick during a few weeks of the year. As this is a missionary family who go overseas most of the year, they are not able to keep the orchard as spruced-up as those who are living here full time. Plus, the family is just a lil' bit weird. No judgment! So it's a wild and woolly little place. 

In the desert, trees don't grow as tall as they do in less harsh areas. A
very old tree might be only 10 or 12 feet tall. 

I went apple picking yesterday. I love to pick apples or any fruit or vegetable! But the mosquitoes were fierce and it was very humid in the orchard. I had mosquitoes trying to go up my nose and light around my eyes, the only places I hadn't put Off Deep Woods! 

It was still a lovely time, though. My husband didn't come with me, as it would be too far for him to walk to get to the trees, and I was also going to go from there straight to Mass.

TIP if you're apple picking this fall: If you see a spider web on an apple's stem, pick that one! Mrs. Spider has kept the bugs off of it and it will be a pretty apple! 

A few of the photos I took reminded me of the Garden of Eden, with a veil over the apple tree, before All The Trouble!

There were big apples and very small apples. There was a row of Jonathan apples, too, maybe my favorites! Below is a big apple of unknown type, and there were even bigger ones. I got one the size of a grapefruit.

A lot of what looked like "Grandpa Ott" morning glories were twined up in the trees and garlanding the apples. It was so beautiful. I wish the photos were as vivid as it looked in real life.

The windfall apples were everywhere and footing was tricky. Stepping on an apple in the tall grass either gave me a jolt as it rolled underfoot, or the unpleasant sensation of sinking in mush. I told the owners that they might want to "run hogs" in the orchard to clean up all the fallen apples, but I don't think they understood what I meant.

"Run hogs?" "Yes, borrow some hogs, let them eat up the apples." "Hogs?" "Yes, folks raising hogs, ask them if they want to bring their hogs and let them eat up the fallen apples. Run some hogs." "Hogs, like pigs?" "Yes, pigs!"
I bought two peck bags to fill. Each one holds about 14 pounds, but I put so many little apples in there between the huge apples that it was quite a bit heavier! "I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck!" So I got to see first-hand a "peck!" 

I love the twin apples still connected at the stem!

I picked early so as to be able to make noon Mass. One peck was hauled into the church and put up on a table where there are free holy cards and such. 
I was early, and kept peeking over there instead of attending to my prayers, to see if anyone wanted any apples. I was getting anxious because no one took any. Oh ye of little faith! I finally settled down and looked up at Mary and stopped worrying no one wanted the apples. I always try to sit closest to a statue of Mary in any church.

After Mass, I stayed for what is called the Sacrament of Healing, where you can get blessed and annointed for maladies physical and emotional. I was nearly the last in line and when I left, there were only three little apples still in the bag! Hooray! Today I'm bringing most of the other bag, too. And I'm keeping some out for the priest. I'm keeping a few for us, to make some "fried apples" to put over ice cream, because I think that will tempt my husband to eat. If ONLY needing to be tempted to eat was my problem.

I am hoping the corn maze place will have pumpkin U-picking this year! Last year, nada, due to COVID, of course.

Do you go to any U-pick places during the fall, for apples or punkins or what have you? Or any special outings to gather things from nature for fall or winter?

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