Showing posts with label desert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label desert. Show all posts

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

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?

[ =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-   <--- cat walking on keyboard made this interesting border! ]

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

An Eternal Blending

An interesting facet of living in "the borderlands" and in an area where three distinct cultures -- Mexican, U.S., and Native American -- existed, is to see the blending of those cultures into a new, hybrid culture.

The "ghost cow"  (<--link) of a previous post stands right outside the cemetery in Old Mesilla. It's a fitting sentinel, as it prepares the visitor for the juxtaposition of beliefs within.

In the cemetery for members of the Basilica of San Albino, the strong Mexican Catholic culture is evident.  Most headstones are in Spanish, and many are extremely modest, yet all richly illustrate the deep faith of the "gente humilde," the humble folk.

san albino cemetery in the blazing sun

Without romanticizing poverty and lives impacted by prejudice, I will say that whenever I have been lucky enough to interact with such individuals, I have been touched. These are the people who have what I call "natural class" and sweet, clear, glass-like hearts.

While our house here was being built, the first time I lived in Las Cruces, I rented an extremely modest house of perhaps 600 square feet in a very tumbledown neighborhood. One next-door neighbor was handicapped with scleroderma and extremely poor, yet she loved to invite me over for coffee in thanks for rides to church. These dear kaffee klatches consisted of a cup of Taster's Choice (because I was company), and a carefully split flour tortilla, with me somehow always handed "the big half." A little saucer of cinnamon sugar was placed between us, and the rolled-up halves were to be stuck in the mixture with each bite. She would barely touch her tortilla to the sugar, eager for me to have the lion's share. Every movement caused this gracious lady pain, yet move she did, to fuss over me. And I have yet to see the match of her hospitality.

san albino graveyard mesilla new mexico

But back to the graveyard. Doesn't that sound strange? Who says that? The ghosts, as the sun nears rising? "Ah, back to the graveyard, my fellow spirits. Day is nigh." I imagine these spirits never being into mischief, but gathering peacefully at the Basilica to say the Rosary for their brethren.

I do have to smile at the designation "Basilica." It was actually declared a "minor Basilica," after much imploring, but they don't use the "minor" part of the name. I do not think God frowns at such an innocent pride.
shrine grave

Mexican tradition has joined with some uniquely U.S. aspects in the San Albino cemetery. There are no typical restrictions of a cemetery here, and free reign is given to the families, yielding a gravesite where a four-foot Virgen de Guadalupe stands guard over silk flowers and little angels playing with pretty pieces of glass. A huge "wall rosary" has been draped on the headstone, and the gravesite has been neatly tiled. The idea of family is taken very seriously here. La familia is tantamount. When I first saw this grave, I thought it had plaster squirrels on it, due to poor eyesight. But no, they are angels with arched wings. But squirrels would not have been a surprise.

If you'll excuse a pun, the grave poverty of this area shows in this cemetery. There is no room for strict codes here.

Virgen de Guadalupe at san albino graveside

Nearby, a patch of outdoor carpet sets a comfortable tone. The yellow-and-green color scheme of a devoted John Deere Tractor fan is seen.
outdoor carpet and john deere theme of grave

A few yards away, a grave is decorated with "calaveras" (skulls), spiders, angels, and crosses intermingling freely. Instead of changing out seasonal decor, some choose to just keep adding more throughout the year.

old world meets new san albino cemetery

Pocket rosaries are everywhere, often simply laid at the base of the crosses. There are many homemade wooden crosses marking graves, with handpainted names and nicknames on them.

simple graves at san albino

Some graves have all wording worn off. Nothing remains but a simple wish it be remembered that here lies a Christian. 

simple worn headstone

So many of the old names are here, the gentle, devout settlers of the region, the original farmers of the valley. These are the same names you will see on the war monuments, including so many on the monuments devoted to those who were on the Bataan Death March, which hit New Mexico very strongly. The people of the area are very patriotic.

I hope these pictures from a desert cemetery have not depressed you, but have cheered you with the knowledge that God has sprinkled the "humble people" among us like gems among the dust.

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly