Friday, July 9, 2021

I Heard A Caterpillar Chewing

Howdy there! I'm "glad" you're here!

Happy summer's day, my bloggie frens! I went out into the courtyard this morning, coffee cup in hand, to look around, sweep, and just enjoy. The pups especially love going with me, so it is our new routine. We used to go to the back patio first. Now that's second. 

pretty blue and red flowers

Old, new, borrowed, blue!

A big bush squash of some type is growing in one of the fire-rings! It has silvery leaves. That is some lemongrass in there, too.

The doggies are so good about staying inside the gate, which they can squeeze through. I just say, "Enh-enh-enh, no-no!" and they stay inbounds!

doggies at the courtyard gate looking out

Catmint! Growing well now.

Looking up the courtyard towards the circle driveway. I love the little circle drive because I hate backing up! 

One of the first things I saw this morning was that my orange mint was quite raggedy, with many a bite out of its leaves! I put the coffee down and started looking closely at the clump of mint, trying to spot the caterpillars. I was having no luck, and that's when I heard it.

mint eaten by caterpillars

Crunch -- crunch -- CRUNCH! I could hear the caterpillars as they took each bite! And I could just listen a bit, and know where they were! It was quite noisy at first, and then as each was found and relocated, it got quieter, until I could hear no more bites being taken. It was a plucking sound, a snap and a crunch kind of sound.

I Spy...a little minty caterpillar!

As I picked the stems they were on, immediately they would go into their defensive posture, designed to scare predators, I guess. They rear up, Caterpillar Rampant. Poor things, just an inch or so long, and trying to scare me (it worked; I frequently shrieked). I don't want to kill them, because I am just worn out with all the death and misery on the news. I don't want any carnage in my own courtyard. But I worry that by moving them, even with a goodly supply of plucked mint (and basil, which they were also eating but less heartily), I might be sentencing them to death. 

I love the little canning jars with the solar fairy lights in them. I have two hanging on the gate, two hanging off a pine near the street so the walkers can enjoy.

The sun is bleaching the pink color of this jar!

My husband says he thinks they will inch right back over and get on the mint again, anyway. I put them about four feet from the mint. I will have to go "listen" for them later, and see if they did find their way back to the caterpillar salad bar. I will let them stay if they come back. Mint has good regenerative powers even eaten to the ground.

The sedum is coming along. It was just a little stem I planted this spring.

My winecup blooming again after the rains, against a pretty silvery neighbor.

I do not know what kind of squash I planted. Or if it's a bush pumpkin. We will find out, I hope!

Any pests over your way? Weekend plans? 

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Flower "Fireworks" and Some Actual Ones!

Hello Bloggie Frens...and Happy Independence Day!

My tiny crop of striped and bright zinnia blooms are the garden "fireworks." Pop, pop, pop -- pops of color that I hope you will enjoy seeing! The photos don't do them justice! They are so bright!

zinnia striped dotted dashed

magenta zinnia bloom

peppermint zinnia

huge zinnias bright petals

And below is nature's "Cherry Bomb" - a big burst of flavor, for sure! I handed all the other ripe ones through the fence to some picnickers who had been admiring them! 

single cherry tomato

And sadly, there were no Friendship Pagodas, which I always miscall as Happiness Pagodas, in our firework stands. I walked into three different stands but...did not find any. Something fun was that one of the stands was owned by an older lady, like me! And she suddenly remembered them and looked them up on her iPad thingie and said she will order some for New Years! 

TNT fireworks hen and rooster fireworks

But I did find something interesting, as you can see above, and I will probably remove and throw away the fireworks part and just leave the cardboard, because I am like these fireworks - a big chicken when it comes to the POPS and BOOMS! Defused, these will go on top of one of my Mexican primitive cupboards.

Lastly, here is a lil' video of my fireworks "haul." The "crackling balls" are going to be given to the teens across the street, who love to light fireworks, as they don't exactly "crackle" but rather POP! I lighted one after the video and it was so loud that both my dear chiweenie and I cowered.

I will be lighting the smoke balls and smoke bombs tomorrow to celebrate, and as always, I have my "Freedom Fire" going in the firepit in the back yard. I go poke it up and keep it going all night, so that at least in my yard, the fires of freedom glow and shine! 

I have been around the blogs today finally, and have seen a lot of lovely patriotic and interesting posts! So much beauty, so much heart, in this renaissance of the Blogosphere! Hip-Hip-Hooray! Although, I was sad to see a blogger I admire taking a month off! But -- that's how it goes. 

And although I don't cotton to hymns being sung, as I have a terrible voice and a tin ear, I have been walking around singing "Yes, We Have No Bananas" for several days, and as much of "It's A Grand Old Flag" as I can remember, although sometimes I get the Mad Magazine version popping up in there, after fifty years! The Fourth just brings "forth" light-hearted summer songs!

If you are having a bleak day, sing "Yes, We Have No Bananas" and see if it takes some of the doldrums away! We had a real-life version of this, after asking at a restaurant if they had a certain dish: "Si, tenemos, pero no hay." Which is: Yes, we have it, but there isn't any. Oh, we laughed and laughed. It makes sense while not making sense. 

Plans for the Fourth? As always, I cherish any comments you share! 

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Free Patriotic Printable Tags

Oh boy, I'm just getting in under the wire here!

Below is a sheet of printable tags for the Fourth of July, Independence Day!

The Fourth was probably my most favorite holiday of all as a child -- possibly -- maybe even with Hallowe'en as "favorite." I loved Christmas Eve very much, too, but the Fourth was just resplendent in my mind. 

Since I was age 10, when I asked for an American flag for Christmas, I have flown our flag at every place I've lived. 

Until recently, I had a 40-year-old shot-off firework called "Happiness Pagoda" on display. Oh, how I loved that particular firework. It would spin, rise up to three little stories, and then have a flame inside to glow through red paper windows. I never liked the loud "popping" fireworks. I liked the pretty ones and the quiet ones, the "fountains" and the "snakes" and the "volcanoes" and the "ground flowers." 

We used to buy something called a "punk" to light the fireworks. Punks burned at a slow, constant smolder. There were buckets of punks on the counters of the firework stands. Punks were 2 cents each. The smell of a punk -- I think Heaven will smell like that. These punks were maybe eight inches long, probably made from compressed cellulose if I had to guess, with some gunpowder mixed in. The smell reminds me of the incense at High Mass. In fact, now that I think of it, punks look almost exactly like incense sticks, only uncolored, always tan.

The patience of the people who waited the counters at the fireworks stands! May God have blessed them and if they are still with us, continue to bless them richly. Their patience was astounding, as a bedraggled child put up stacks of pennies, nickels, dimes, and a rare quarter, and began a long, long laundry list of little fireworks in a shy whisper. 

Out of the past, and into the present!

We had a fifty-degree drop in temperature here two days ago, and then RAIN! And it has drizzled ever since. What a blessing and a boon to the desert! I can rest easy about "my" toads in my community garden plot, at least during this weather. 

The "ditch sunflowers" below are at least 11 feet high now. They tower over all the other plots.

I did get a picture of an unusual sunflower at the plot, right before the rain started. I think it is one of the Autumn Mix sunflowers. I don't pick them, as much as I'd like to, because some little yellow-green tummied birds were feasting on the seeds of the older blooms. Tiny little birds, like dull canaries!

pretty unusual sunflower orange and chocolate in the desert


The zinnias, despite being too shaded by the sunflowers, are starting to bloom, too. They are supposed to be the "candy stripe" zinnias, but the striping is quite subtle. I think the genetics that governed the striping went kaput.

zinnia blooms

I hope you will enjoy these printable tags, which are part of a set I have up on Etsy. But here some are, free to my Bloggie Frens. "Free and worth every penny," as they say. As always, use this
LINK TO THE DOWNLOAD <---- and don't try to just save the image below. It won't print nicely. The link is stored on Google Drive and it is safe, or as safe as anything can be, I do believe.

Are you prepping for the Fourth? How do you and how DID you celebrate it?

Saturday, June 26, 2021


Did you ever yell just for the sheer exuberance of being alive? At the school where I work, we have been holding "Summer Camp" and sometimes the kids will just shout for joy on the scorching playground! One especially droll little girl will yell "Hot-cha-cha!" and "The heat never bothered me anyway," which I thought was a very clever riff on Frozen for a third-grader. 

Sometimes the shouts are just wordless: "OooooWeeeeeHeeeeeee" and "YeeeeeeeeeeeeeHeeeeeeeeeeee." Sometimes they almost manage a yodel or two. My father could yodel beautifully, and whistle beautifully.

I wonder if my hollering for joy days are over? Oh, I holler still. "OW, my poor knees!" and "For the love of pickles, the LIGHT is GREEN, so GO!" But those aren't joyous shouts! 

usa patriotic bunting at cracker barrel

But hot weather or not, errands still must be run! Early is best, of course, which means I'm always lagging and running them in the worst part of the day. My husband hasn't been too strong lately, but has wanted to eat out, so we went to the Cracker Barrel one day and Chick Fil-A the next. I love the bunting and the porch at "The Barrel," and for some reason, the fast food places have the nicest landscaping in town, as you can see in the Chick Fil-A drive-thru pics. 

cracker barrel porch

chick fil-a landscaping

The CFA manager has misting fans rigged up for his outdoor staff, and I was glad to see it. Those kids work so hard. The first place I saw misting fans was in dairy sheds in Tucson. I think they ought to be all over but they are so durned expensive.

I like to divert and drive through some nice areas on the way home from errands, if we haven't been away from the pets for too long. This past week we stopped along one of the main irrigation ditches, the California Lateral as it's called, and took a video and some photos. Most of the year, these ditches are dry, but during growing season, they have water periodically. The homes in the deepest part of the valley have "water rights," which means they have the right to some of the water that flows along the ditches. These are the homes with the biggest trees, best trees, and sometimes even lawns.

irrigation ditch las cruces

The ditches are "attractive menaces" as they say in the insurance trade. Young people are drawn to them, as they are to the river (the Rio Grande). The Rio Grande here isn't very dangerous (you can splash right across it), but the ditches are. It's the power of the water when the "gates" or little doors are winched open to let water flow along a set route that's dangerous. The water, not that deep, is deep enough to push a person against the open gate and trap their heads underwater. The pressure of the water doesn't allow them to stand up. 

If you click on the image below, a short video should play, showing the scary water! I think Blogger did something awful to the quality of the video, but as they say, Blogger is "free and worth every penny." 

And speaking of errands, I have some to do today! One of them is to GO BUY SMOKE BALLS. Yes, even being in my 60s does not stop me from wanting to "shoot off" a few (quiet, no popping) fireworks on the Fourth! So I need to get some smoke balls before all the best colors are gone. Have a lovely weekend, I hope, and see you around the blogs!

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Super-Busy Week and Our Pretty Downtown

I have just been going a mile a minute for the whole week. My job was just hoppin' and I wore my hand-chained rosary (<--- link) to work and to Mass, and got five rosary orders and sold my rosary right out of my hands! So it's been busy and I have not been around to see anyone's blog! Boo!

Running errands for work yesterday, I had to go downtown to the Post Office there, and I saw such a pretty little shop that I pulled over and got a few snaps really quickly! It was SO bright, and SO hot. It was just like wading in hot gasses, which I guess it actually is! There were currents of hot and less-hot air, and from the dark courtyard next to the really pretty shop, there was a thin snake of air that was almost cool! 

I really, really want to do something like this over my door, too!

Hope everyone's week went well and I can't wait to get my chores done and hop back online to go see what everyone has been posting!

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Saturday, June 12, 2021

A Quick "Hello" to Meet the Pets

Hmph! I am STILL trying to repair whatever it was that happened to Blogger about a month back. If you do not see your blog on the Blogs I Follow list, please let me know! I found TWO MORE of the blogs I love that were inexplicably off the list again. I have missed some very nice posts! Ugh!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

But here's the pet family, as of the moment. All of the pets are "rescues." 

Another charging cable bites the dust
Morgie sleeping

The one who is newest and "poorly" is little Morgus the cat. No vet can find out why he is so thin or why his eyes water. We got Morgie two years ago. He seems happy and energetic. I ply him with treats constantly, but he doesn't gain and he barely nibbles. I think I have tried every food, restaurant food, home-cooked food, vet food, and fancy concoction known to PetSmart and man. I'm afraid one vet was right: He was likely a malnourished feral kitten, and will have lifelong impacts. He was very ill and crawling across an interstate when my son stopped his big work truck and put him into the cab. Of course, he ended up with me...He is standoffish and likes the back porch most of the time, and we have him a good setup back there. We sit on the ottomans because "the chairs are Morgie's." While I would like Morgie to stay inside, like Red does, he is wild at heart and becomes distressed inside after a bit.

Morgie on one of his chairs

You have heard of Red already. Red was so emaciated he was just days from death. However, unlike Morgie, Red fattened up nicely! Red and Morgie look similar, but there is over a 20-pound difference. Red has been with us for 12 years and never was a sweeter, more mild creature encountered. Here's Red's dating profile, although he has no interest in any such activity. All our pets are neutered! 

"Hi, I'm Red. I'm a big boy and I am monochromatic from my eyes to my toe beans. I enjoy snoozing, napping, sleeping, dozing, and eating. I like birdwatching from a special perch at the living room window during the 30 minutes I am awake each day. Other activities include purring, tapping humans with my paw to get my chin scratched, and gazing into the water bucket."

Red is a big boi

Sophie is the reason my husband is alive, I feel. With his friends all dying of old age, with the world changing in ways that are wounding and confusing, with his own health troubles, he was slipping away. And then came Sophie. Suddenly, he had a reason to live, to get up, to stay up. If I cannot implore him to seek medical care, I must play The Sophie Card: "What about Sophie if something happens to you?" I love Sophie, too, but my husband loves her with such an intensity. They bonded immediately, when my son pulled out a tiny puppy from his jacket on what turned out to be the coldest day of the year. He rescued her from a box with "free" written on it, set out by a curb. She was so chilled she had stopped shivering. Under the heated blanket she went with my husband, and just like that he found a reason to live. Sophie is a maniac for "the ball." She is rarely without a tennis ball in her mouth. She will even bark with one in her mouth, and when she sleeps, there is always one near her that fell out. Sophie must be hand-fed. She will not eat food unless it is fed to her one tiny piece at a time, and that is a job my husband likes to do.

A very muddy Sophie -- she cannot resist a mud puddle...

Champie was an abuse case before rescue, and I will just say he has a bad back leg, greatly deformed due to the abuse, but the vet says it no longer hurts him. He uses it like a peg-leg. He lived on the end of a chain, no shelter, without a name, for almost two years before a rescue group saved him. He then was adopted and returned within a day three times (shockingly, people are pretty shallow about his appearance and his guarding of food) before I walked into a Petco store and had a large, intimidating woman call me over. She said, "You need this dog" and placed Champie (as they had named him) into my arms. His poor little leg hung down, but his eyes were serene and sweet. I still am not sure what happened, as I was NOT in the market for another dog, much less a stinky, constantly shedding chiweenie, but he went for a "sleepover" with me to see how he and Sophie would do (she ignores him), and then he was mine. Champie has ramps all over the house, so that he can participate in getting to the beds, benches, dog door, chairs, etc. Champie has no idea he is differently abled. He loves everyone, everything. He is always willing to go anywhere. There is one caveat about Champie: Do not touch him while he is eating. He will snap. 

Showing that awful chihuahua-shaped head on a fat dachshund body...
Red and Champie

If you have a moment, please tell me about your pets, past and present! 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

A Walk Through the "Bosque"

In the lower elevations of the Southwest, we don't have "woods" naturally occuring, other than those around a water source. We do have "bosques" (BOHS-kays) that form along the Rio Grande. They are just a few yards wide along the banks of the river. Some of you may not know that much of the year, the Rio Grande is just a sandy, dry riverbed in these parts. Only when the various governmental agencies "release" some water does the river run. This year, because our extreme drought is continuing, the river is very shallow. They released very little water. It's easy to walk across the river.

I drove my husband around for an outing on Sunday, and ended up going down a washboard dirt road to what is called the Mesilla Valley Bosque. I had never been before. When I lived here a long time ago, the roads were "free" and we would just take a truck down the ones that paralleled the river. But the state developed the area, with hiking trails and bird feeding and watering areas, and native plants, along with picnic areas and educational displays and buildings. We were very surprised to see how beautifully done the little state park is. 

So, come along with me as we walk around in the bird-watching area! We were told that many animals, such as rabbits and skunks, also venture up to get some water. Indeed, I startled a cottontail taking a sip. The river runs beside this bosque, but over a slight rise. The watering pans are easier for the wild animals to use than the river. I took a good look at the watering pans: They are upside-down garbage can lids! Reduce, reuse, and recyle, I guess! 

It was very hot so I could not keep my husband out in that very long. But he did walk a bit and seemed to enjoy the area. We saw quite a few black-chinned hummers but they are too fast for me and my phone camera! 


Mesilla Valley Bosque state park new mexico opening

The entrance was very inviting.

bird nest mesilla valley bosque

One of the first things we saw in the birding area was a nest in the arbor.

bosque along the rio grande in new mexico

The river is just beyond that rise. Pecan orchards are along the banks for many miles from this point.

red and yellow yuccas in bloom

Red and yellow yuccas in bloom. Their bloom stalks stay pretty six months.

Fairy duster tree, aka desert willow

This was labelled as a "Fairy Duster" tree. They bloom in the raw desert without any irrigation. 

close up of desert willow blooms

Close-up of their gorgeous blooms.

mesquite yellow pom pom blooms

Mesquite trees (known for being good wood for barbequeing and smoking meats), have little puffy yellow pompoms, but take a good look at those thorns all around them.

picnic area at mesilla valley bosque
Hubby resting in one of the pretty picnic areas.

desert cone flower by spring

These strange, low-growing plants were along a mushy place where I think the river has a tunnel stretching out from the bank. The cones of the flowers were really very pretty, polka-dotted with white, but I couldn't get too close.

dry side of the bosque

This is a pretty set of doors opening onto the dry side of the bosque, farthest from the river. There is some prairie and a line of salt cedars. The hiking trails go in two directions from here.

hot pink weed

Just a little weed underfoot, but the tiny flowers were a bright shade of hot pink!

yellow mound of flowers new mexico

A barrel of brilliant yellow flowers bid us goodbye as we made our way back to the parking lot.

I hope you enjoyed your bosque trip! I try to find and appreciate beauty in this area, although my heart is somewhat heavy and wishes for a place more like "home" as I get older. But I do try to appreciate what the desert offers. God's handiwork is truly amazing and I work on that.

Have you ever found yourself in a place that doesn't feel like "home" to you? And what did you do? 

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly