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

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Making A Rosary

Although I have several sweet rosaries, I have decided to make myself some perfectly to my taste, in terms of heft and handling and colors.

Oh, I know the actual rosary doesn't matter. But I like little beautiful things. Not necessarily valuable things, but things I find charming.

I buy used broken rosaries for their parts and incorporate them into new rosaries. I like vintage things and to reuse things. Sometimes it's a whole broken rosary, and sometimes just a collection of the crucifixes and the centerpieces and medals. Sometimes it's new bronze parts if I know they are from Italy, France, or U.S.

First I get my helpers alerted that a bed-based project is going to begin. Not shown: Red the cat, up on the pillow at the head of the bed.

two dogs on the bed waiting for the rosary-making to begin

The materials are placed in a TV-dinner type holder.

beading materials in a plastic divided dish

And it is begun!

beads on link, handmade beaded chain for a rosary

Kitty cat "Red" is modeling the first few links. Red is the kindest, smartest, sweetest, largest cat in the whole wide world, and that was said by our vet back in Texas so you know it is true. He would let Red just wander the clinic, and liked him to stay the day whenever we brought him in. And Red was always the perfect guest. Red came into our lives when as an emaciated young cat he pushed in through our dog door, slowly walked to a dog bowl, and began eating. 

first links of beaded chain rosary

I like to make the rosary decade by decade, and then put the five decades together. 

several decades of a rosary being formed

Now it is zusammen, all together.

blue green and red rosary

I used coral beads for the Paters (the Our Fathers), and aqua terra jasper for the Aves (the Hail Marys). Modest beads, but pretty. 

aqua terra jasper and coral beads links
The Aves look like little globes to me.

It is not as lightweight as a plastic or wood rosary, but it is still very easy on arthritic hands and wrists. I like to carry a rosary with me at all times. I never know when I might need to whip it out.

The centerpiece is of a thistle, which represents not only the beauty and resilience of Mary, but torment, suffering, and Christ's Passion.

One somewhat-former friend told me after she knew I was Catholic, "You Catholics are so weird and overwrought." It hurt my feelings but became somewhat of a joke between me and my priest.

thistle rosary centerpiece with mary medal

I always put a Mary medal riding along on any rosary I make. I used to sell rosaries and may begin again, because I really loved sitting with the window open, the pets around me, and just the beauty of it.

dainty rosary in my hand
I like a dainty rosary for daily use. 

I think next will be a pale blue with peach or again the red. And then I need to get an autumn one ready, and I always rush the coming of autumn so I need it by August 1st! And then an Advent one in purples and pink. 

Now to pray it, as I should! I will get it blessed at noon Mass today. I like to go to the cemeteries, not just in November, but all year 'round, to pray for the souls. I stick to the Catholic cemeteries so as not to push my beliefs on others who may hold different beliefs.

I hope you are having a wonderful day, or at least a peaceful one!

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Toad Went A-Courtin'

I went back to my community plot after a hiatus, and it was overrun with bindweed. Ugh! Bindweed everywhere, and nutgrass, too. And the sunflowers are looming -- glooming -- over the other little plants. I wanted them to shield the plants from the worst of the sun, but there are too many. The tomatoes and the onions are not growing well in constant shade. And so I began thinning them.

community garden plot
The sadly thinned plot, boo!

And I saw him. Mr. Toad. Backed into his little scooped-out hollow, with the soaker hose above his back, looking at me. And I had already pulled several large sunflowers. Boo, hiss! His little living area, now quite possibly too light.

woodhouse toad in the desert with funny face
I think he is making a gesture at me...

I decided to start on the other side, and leave him the middle area and the other end. He will have to dig another hidey-hole, because the sun now gets through to that one. So the pulling began of sunflowers on the other side and other end of the plot. I just wasn't thinking. Or, I was thinking too much of what I wanted.

And then I saw HER! Oh, she jumped, and I jumped. I screeched, as usual. Another toad, a smallish one! His little ladylove, perhaps, leaping frantically away from the now-sunny corner of the plot and into the thicket of sunflowers still standing!

NOW what? I tucked some chile pepper plants into the sunny spot and sprinkled them with the hose. May they grow quickly and lend some shade again. 

I sprinkled water on some mint at the very end of the plot. And out jumped another toad, and hop hop hop, hop hop hop, sought shelter under the lemongrass at the opposite end of the garden. 

lemongrass clump

But...THREE toads? I was all ready to throw the first two a lil' toad wedding, with a piece of Kleenex for her veil, and a chunk of cat food to attract flies for the elegant repast at the reception near the third turnip.

little hidden toad
It's a terrible picture because I completely lose my bearings at such an exciting time. 

I am not going to pass judgment on the living arrangements of these three toads. Ménage à Toad might be their nature, or maybe they aren't even dating, but are forced into that little oasis together!

So, I've decided: I can grow vegetables, or I can grow toads. And I have chosen toads.

No more pulling of the sunflowers. Not a single one can now be moved, or it will get too hot and bright on the dear amphibians. And extra watering dishes will be placed in the plot (there is just one right now), one deep enough to hold tadpoles just in case one of them is a lady toad. No more gathering cilantro because it would take away the leafy undercover they are enjoying. No pulling of the onions. But if I get some tomatoes, I'm picking them. I will leave them one. I will share.

Because they are plug-ugly to most, toads get mistreatment. They are the lowrider gargoyles of the garden, and don't get the love the prettier froggies do. I wish love of all God's creatures was emphasized in grade school. 

I have gone from "Toad Catcher" to "Toad Hatcher." I feel I have been blessed with these handsome toads, out in the desert. Would you choose the veggie plants or the toads? 

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly, Toad Wrangler

Monday, May 31, 2021

Sunflowers on Memorial Day

Tall sunflowers blooming in summer in las cruces

These sunflowers are standing tall and still in the heat, as if they know of the solemnity of Memorial Day.

"All gave some. Some gave all."

pretty sunflowers in a field

My father was an ensign in the U.S. Navy in World War II. Beyond dirt poor and extremely thin, he borrowed as many coins as he could from friends and filled his pockets, so that he could "make weight" and enlist. His first non-home haircut, his first train ride, his first venture out of a small town in Louisiana, all courtesy of the Armed Forces. 

His first swimming lesson: He could jump, or he could be tossed from, a high platform into the deep pool below, in San Diego. After seeing a few thrown off the diving platform, he jumped, despite his intense fear of heights.

In the mess hall in San Diego, the sailors were served two "alligator pears" each at every meal. One of his buddies bit into his, right through the peel, then spat it out, quick. "It's bitter," he said. Not having seen them before, or even having heard of them, he, like many other country boys, threw them out, untouched. 

My father loved to tell that story. "I threw away a fortune in avocados," he would say, ruefully. "If only I had known."  

Something else courtesy of Uncle Sam: A Harvard education, free, gratis, no strings attached. And no say in it, either. You signed up, you took their tests, you went where they said to go. My father wanted to study engineering and serve on a ship. No, said the Navy. You are going to be an actuary.

I do not glorify war, but I do not want the wars forgotten. But as the history teacher at our school was explaining, the wars of our fathers and the wars during our youths will be as big an abstraction to today's students as the War of 1812 is to us. It will carry no emotional import, even second-hand import. Although I was not yet born, the tales of WWII are vivid in my mind, were vivid in my childhood; part of it, ever-present, really. 

His remarks really distressed me. "It's how it is," he said. "Just remember, as long as you can. Just remember." 

sunflowers memorial day

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Friday, May 28, 2021

Life Is Like An Onion

From Seed to Shining Seed

onion field with blooms

Here in New Mexico, onions are an important crop. But lately, more than for the onion bulb itself, the seeds are being grown. So we get to see hundreds of thousands of seed heads, which I think are very pretty. "Summer snowballs" or maybe "smelly summer snowballs" would be a good description of some of the onion fields. 

"Life is like an onion," Carl Sandburg wrote. "You peel it year by year and you cry."

onions going to seed

But no! No crying today, I hope. If there be tears, may they be happy tears, healing tears.

Those onions are tall. Waist high. It is hard to tell in the photos. 

Large onion field in Las Cruces, Mesilla


Taking photos in the strong sun, I felt like an overbrowned crouton, next to a big bunch of baking onions.  The onions scented the hot air. I was awash in French Onion Air. Before I knew these were being grown for seed, I kept saying, "Why don't they harvest these? They are going to get soft and bitter!"

I didn't get very many nice photos, because even though I would try to adjust the camera in the car, once in the sun I couldn't see anything on the screen, even in the shade. Boo! Yet some bloggie frens are having freezing and near-freezing weather, and rain, rain, rain.

I met my husband at Cracker Barrel for lunch. He eats like a bird, but at Cracker Barrel, he eats better than usual. I love those purple-leaf plums they have planted all around the restaurant. You can see some plums ("no culinary use," as they say) in this photo below. I wonder, though if they do have a culinary use: perhaps to tint an apple or other light-colored jelly a beautiful color? 

purple black leafed plums

I like the light through the leaves, giving them a flame-like look:

purple leaves on a black leaf plum tree

On the way home, I stopped by my community garden plot and got these: Mint, Lemongrass, and more Egyptian Walking Onions that were arching over, out of the garden into the path and getting squished.

walking onions, mint, lemongrass blades of grass

I should have taken a picture of the lemongrass clump. It is thigh-high. Sharing the bigger clump freed it to grow!

My blog is named "The Merry Needle." Lately, it has been too much The Idle Needle, but I did get some needle-weaving done, making a little pair of what I call "Persian Lantern Earrings." I have made many of these. They are based on a rope design by Jill Wiseman. I just make a little piece and cap it top and bottom. I am grateful to have a job, but gone is my energy by the end of the day! I can barely keep up with the household chores. 

I am not in the mood for needle-weaving, though. I am in the mood for beaded cross stitch! Gah! Come on, eyes, stop drooping down and shutting! Help me stay awake and make some pretty beaded designs!

 Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Olden-Thyme Oil Lamps / Holy Candles

Hello, my bloggie frens. I hope today finds you well and contented. And well contented.

oui yogurt with cute reusable glass jars
Oui Brand, bought at local Walmart

I like to reuse things, but always with an eye to avoiding any "hoarding" behavior. I had two neighbors and a boss who were hoarders, back in Texas, and the people across the street here in my new city are hoarders, and if seeing hoarding with your own eyes doesn't give a person a jolt, nothing will. So, I keep the house pretty bare. 

All of this to say, I bought two packages of yogurt that are packed in small glass jars. I wanted to keep the little "glass pots" and reuse them for things like salsa servings, pudding, dip, and so forth. And I have! I use them a lot, and they are also good for portion control. 

I was hurt at being excluded from the "End of the School Year" party at our school. I think I have already whined about that on the blog. I've been in a funk about it, a blue funk. One of the things they had to eat was different kinds of berries. Those berries really caught my attention. Blackberries as big as a squid's eye, fragrant raspberries just melting into pools of sugar, huge frosty-looking blueberries! Enormous strawberries, hollow-hearted at that size, to be sure, but sweetening the very air around them! Oh, I wanted those berries! 

Today, on the way home, I stopped at the grocery and got some berries, too, and had some in my little glass jars. Ha! My own party! I have the other jars loaded up, so that all I need to do is reach in and grab one. Party on.


I stopped off at the church on the way home from the store, went in and said a Rosary and just sat in the cool and the darkness of the church, and then lighted some Holy Candles. It's funny, but which church I stop at depends on my mindset and my pocketbook. Holy Cross's candles are just $1 but they are small, thumb-sized. Then again, a ten-spot buys you ten sweet dancing candles and they are right under the new statue of Jesus! VALUE-ADDED! The priest at Holy Cross is a riot.

St. Genevieve's are only 50 cents, because of the dire poverty of their parish, but I light only one per the $10 so that any profits are not eaten into. Flashy San Albino rakes in the tourist money and theirs are $3 to $5, but they are the big ones, and last at least two full days, and they are in cobalt blue glass. If I'm flush with cash, I go there. Immaculate Heart of Mary, my home parish, has medium ones for $2 each, and each has a picture of Mary.

Today I went to Immaculate Heart, mainly because I wanted to light candles in the votive bank nearest the statue of Mary. Many times, in the gloom, I have to be careful not to step on another parishioner, prostrated before her statue. Seriously, they are all over the floor sometimes. They must not only be devout, but have really good knees. Today, I was not alone in the church, but there was no one lying about the floor. But I think a lizard was on the wall, heading for Mary. It was very dark in the church; the photo is light for some reason.

lizard climbing up to Mary

Since rejoining the blogging world, I always light a candle for the other bloggers when I am doing my candles. 

But I also have candles at home burning almost constantly. I make "oil candles." It's easy to make these "oil candles." It lets you reuse the pretty glass holder after the wax candle has burned. You just fill the holders with water most of the way up, then pour in some cooking oil to a depth of one or two inches, depending on how long you want your candle to burn. The oil floats atop the water. (I use regular cooking oil, the cheap bottles!) Then you poke a small bit of waxed candle wick into a floating wick-holder (just a bit of cork), just barely poking through, so that the wick brings up the oil, and doesn't push through into the water part. 

homemade holy candles using oil

Place it, light it, and a steady flame burns. Once the oil is burned, the wick will sputter and pop, having encountered the water, and will self-extinguish. I have some stoneware discs and some lantern wicks that I use in a similar way, but lately I use the floating wicks. I got mine from Ebay, from Israel.

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Making the Grayed

Pshew, I am exhausted from battling Blogger and trying to make my blog back to looking like itself after the strange Blogger glitch that shrank my header and then took away my Blog Roll. I am still working on the roll, but I got the header back to a reasonable size. Then I decided, what the hay, I'm going to change to a gray theme for summer. Summer is so hot here that I need a calm, cooling color. 

That battle has lasted for days. I guess I forgot most of my tinkering tips and tricks, but I think it's ready for its debut. I must have hit "Edit HTML" and "Restore" fifty times. 

But first, a word from our sponsor:

black and white mutt dog licking lollipop

That's Sophie, our part Bichon mutt, queen of our household. That dog is the love of my husband's life. She has brought such joy into his life. She brought him back INTO life, really. She is licking her "puppypop," a Tootsie Pop that has been "started" and has the chocolate center exposed. There is so little real chocolate in it that it's not a danger to her, but our vet frowns on letting her have sugary things. She has such a sweet tooth, and we are putty in her paws. You can see ol' Champie the Chiweenie in the background, waiting for his chance to get a few licks in. He doesn't really like it, but he likes to participate. With both of them, I have to hold the stick very tightly because they try mightily to pull it away.

I miss Charm pops! They were only a nickel and lasted for days. I think I had some a few years ago, but either they or I have changed. No chocolate in the middle of them, though.

Today was busy. In the hot weather the front courtyard has to be watered daily. I noticed how the tangerine iceplants hold the water they receive:

water droplets held on tangerine ice plant blooms

Today, my husband wanted to eat at what I call a "dive." He does not eat home-cooked food anymore. I just am glad he eats, although it is less and less and less. I knew the food was going to be bad, but he had his heart set on it. The decor was nice; the food, no. Each chair had a carved, painted scene of Old Mexico. Here is a burro, in one piece.

Donkey carved on chair back.

Outside were some pretty petunias and a rose! The rose is just a partial shot because the sun was so bright I could not see what I was taking. I try to cast my shadow on the flowers I'm photographing, but it's just too bright sometimes. The fiery colors of the rose were gorgeous in real life.

pink and white petunias

rose in the desert

Hope your weekend is going well!

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Driven Almost to "Violinsce"

Hi Bloggie "Frens," as I used to call my visitors back on my Penniwigs blog. I also, for some reason, called everyone my Elven Friends and Donkey Frens. I love donkeys. Donkeys and mules are really bright and have such determined personalities. Or at least it seems that way, of the donkeys and mules I have known.

Well, frens (don't even ask how that word got started), were you with me back when I posted this post, called "Beauty All Around"  (<--- Link but don't bother) or somesuch saccharine title? About a fancifully dressed older Mexican lady from Juarez across the border, a poor displaced musician, starving during COVID? Her only possession her beloved violin, which she would play untiringly, making beauty in order to feed her family, song after song? HMPH. If you did read it and listen to the video, here's an update: IT WAS ALL FAKE.

Grrr, grrrr, gnashing of teeth!

Today after school I went to make a deposit at the school's bank. It's right near where I saw the woman playing the violin the first time. Lo and behold, again in the parking lot, another sign about a starving violinist who had "2 starving kids," another identical set-up with amplifier, another person playing like a cheap version of Doug Kershaw. To those who don't know, Doug Kershaw was from my neck of the woods and was a crazy Cajun fiddler who played with energy, verve, and insane moves. But real music, real moves.

This "violinist" certainly didn't look starving. In fact, he looked pretty plump. And he looked just like the man who last week was holding up a sign begging for donations to help his "dying niece" get medical care for a "rare tumor." I rolled my window down to hear the tune, yep, it was the same tune as before, played exactly as before. Exactly. Per-zack-ly. Just a recording. Oh, I don't know why, but I got so irate. I felt the hair lift up on my head, I was so incensed. And I was grimly disappointed. 

I pulled over and watched a minute. Yes, the next song was just as before, when the lady had played last year. And the violinist "played" with a fury just as she had, but less gracefully, whipping that bow back and forth like a labrador's tail, but not playing a note on the fake fiddle. 

All these "violinists" with the amplifiers are fake. A quick Google search really set my teeth on edge. All these scams, all this fakery, ugh!

Gah! And then to get home to a scene from The Godfather, played out in the tiny courtyard. Take a look at my expensive shatterproof "fiberglass" donkey from a street vendor from Juarez, and to think I felt bad for the man and was impressed by his ability to create "fiberglass" statuary in that border town: 

broken cheap plaster yard ornament

Yes, fake again. It was just Plaster of Paris, coated with a shiny paint. Oh, the perfidy.

I hope everyone is having a good day -- certainly a better day than poor Donkey had.