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

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