Friday, July 16, 2021

Bluewater Lake New Mexico

 Most likely the nicest lake and campground we have visited in New Mexico. And the nearly perfect weather that we’ve had this summer. It was about 84° with a nice breeze and low humidity. I would say that the water it is not very inviting for anyone who likes to swim. But apparently fishing and boating are very popular pastimes here.

It is not our beloved Province Lands and National Seashore in Provincetown, MA but it will do for now. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Finally a Bit of Joy From My Garden

 As I have mentioned before, gardening in New Mexico can be quite a challenge: horrible soil, worst drought in years, gale force winds in May and June and into July this year, intense scorching sun all day, cold nights in April and May, monsoons in July and August, hungry, thirsty squirrels and other critters, etc. 

But today all the effort and hard work of protecting my growing things began to give me a reward. Not so much the small harvest of veggies, but more so just the lushness of the vegetation...tomatoes, squashes, herbs, flowers all sharing space in the really made me happy...the reward was emotional...

It broke through a bit of a depression I and hubby both have been going through. (I guess I could write about that, but not today). Today, the garden made me happy.

So we had home made scacciata a Sicilian "spinach" pie with Swiss Chard (from the garden) instead of spinach, sautéed in garlic (from the garden) and olive oil, potatoes (from the garden), and Italian sausage. With a garden tomato and basil salad. Trying to do it "Mediterranean" style.  

The garlic is not large, but it will do. Plant on the shortest day, harvest on the longest day (approximately).

The four o'clocks are profuse this year.

Sunflower - a volunteer.

Parsley has re-seeded itself every year and is growing wild beyond the fence and outside the garden beds.

Today's harvest included red potatoes which were volunteers, Swiss chard, zucchini, tomatoes, basil, parsley and a handful of green beans (there should be lots more but the squirrel ate the first planting just as they emerged from the soil, so I had to replant.
"Volunteers" are plants that grow in the garden but were not purposely planted by the gardener. In winter I bury kitchen scraps directly in the garden instead of putting them into the compost pile (composting here in New Mexico is almost as challenging as gardening because it is so dry). 

So all those peelings from the potatoes, the seeds from pumpkins and squashes and other veggies survive the winter and start growing in the spring.

So this year the volunteers are acorn squash, pumpkin (or is it a pump-cchini?) butternut squash, one tomato plant, red potatoes, zinnias, fennel, parsley.

I'm tempted to "just see what grows" next year and have an "all-volunteer" garden!

Homemade bread and scacciata.

Friday, July 9, 2021

San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Forced to Close Their Office Over Death Threats

 San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus receiving death threats over a song they did about "recruiting" kids not to hate. The comments on the YouTube posting of the video are filled with hate, lies, homophobia and vitriol. 

How discouraging it is to see so many anti-LGBT comments about the lyrics taken entirely out of context. If the comments are any indication of the sentiments of our society...things are much worse than I imagined and we are in for much more than hateful words.

The video is creative and quite innocent. But the trolls have been having a field day with it. It is not the video that should be taken down but at some point perhaps YouTube should suspend comments. 

The video has been blocked but may still be available to view on YouTube.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Growing Things

 Growing things in New Mexico is sometimes a challenge. With the intense burning sun (the thin atmosphere does not filter out any burning rays) and the record drought and the nearly hurricane force daily winds in the spring, the plants are easily parched and stressed. 

Even though the back yard is fenced, there comes in the dead of night or early morning, the critters - squirrels, rabbits, pack rats, and then come the insects, the birds - all looking for juicy morsels, eating leaves, pecking at fruits, etc. not to mention an occasional hail storm.

After using humane traps to relocate 6 squirrels and concentrated fox urine to discourage other wild life (it didn't work) I have put cages around the most vulnerable plants and when that did not seem to be sufficient I finally erected a cage of bird netting enclosing the entire main vegetable garden, sides and top, which is approximately 12'x14'. 

Talk about keeping busy. (Mitchell, you wonder why I envy your being by the ocean. I could lay on a beach 8 hours a day and be content and shop for fresh produce at the market.)

We have begun our "monsoon" season here in New Mexico and have had a few rainy days. The garden has responded. Natural rain does wonders - that water from a hose or spigot or irrigation system doesn't do.  

So here is a tour of my gardens.

Four O'Clocks

Grown from seeds brought from Connecticut 6 years ago

Four O'Clocks have multi-colored flowers on the same plant

Bougainvillea I purchased a few years ago from Lowe's "Almost Dead Plant Rack" Otherwise known as "Frank's Bargain Gardening Rack"

Geraniums and Succulents (The ceramic guitar was from an "antique" shoppe.) 

Petunias and other assorted plants
(for some reason I have a lot of purple flowers)

The Palm from the "Almost Dead Plant Rack" a four or five years ago,
surrounded by a forest of Basil (which almost died from one day without water and the scorching sun and relentless wind back in May)

Some Geraniums, Coleus, Petunias
The two-tone Geraniums are "Martha Washingtons"

Mom's Virgin Mary looking over the front gardens
(OK, the people down the street are "christian" MAGAs, had a T___p Flag that some folks gave them grief about...and have in their front yard, a large cross made of logs with a crown of thorns and a bible verse about sin. They have mentioned on Nextdoor social media that they "disagree" with other peoples' flags (we have a rainbow flag all year long).
So I am certain that Mary in our yard has got to be heresy to these Fundies. They just don't get the Blessed Virgin at all.
As I said to someone, we Catholics don't talk directly to Jesus, we go to Mary, then she talks to her son. That just makes so much more sense. (Well as much sense as anything in religion, I guess)

So ever since Leon relayed a news item to a couple of lesbian neighbors about a shortage of gnomes in England, they have been decorating our front yard with all kinds of things, this gnome being the first one. Virgin Mary probably doesn't approve.

And then a pinwheel

And a rubber snake

And toy dinosaurs

More Dinosaurs and a Plastic Plant
When will this madness end?

The Giant Yucca

Russian Sage in bloom and the bees love it.

This Fig Tree arrived mail-order in April as if it had come off the
"Almost Dead Plant Rack"
It is surviving with some loving care. Notice the chicken wire cage.

I have resorted to putting cages around many of my veggies because of critters - squirrels, pack rats, rabbits? They raid at night and eat the tender plants.
This is an artichoke, grown from seed.
I will be surprised if it produces anything this season

The peaches are getting big...may be ripe by the end of July!?

Ordinary Kale, Lacinato Kale, Green Beans
The darn critters ate the green bean sprouts and I had to replant.
Last year I was picking beans by this time

One of several heirloom tomatoes - San Marzano

This Acorn Squash was a "volunteer" meaning I did not plant it - it grew from the kitchen scrap compost that was dug into the garden soil.

I did plant zucchini. Luckily the squash bugs haven't gotten the word that I have zucchini at this address. Last time I tried growing squash, two or three years ago, the bugs invaded and killed it all. Couldn't even use the dead plants in the compost for fear of the bugs surviving the winter.

Another Zucchini

I bought grass seed two years ago. One does not plant grass in New Mexico unless you want to water it almost daily and "mow" it eventually. However I decided to plant a patch because Benni, the dog loves to roll in the grass at the town green. He presumptively has Degenerative Myelopathy and so I wanted to provide a nice grassy area in the yard for him. Maybe I'll rent/borrow a goat when it needs mowing.

Golden Raspberries - last season, after bearing some nice fruit, they seemed to develop a disease of some sort - the tips of the stems where the flowers would be and where fruit would develop were withering. So I cut them all down to the ground (they are ever-bearing so usually bear fruit on one-year-old stems. Hopefully we will get some fruit this season on the new stems.

Egyptian onions. I have no idea/memory where these particular ones came from. I remember my grandma used to have them and we had them at my childhood home. They reproduce and re-seed. I use them in cooking very infrequently. 

Another "volunteer" - it is a squash or melon of some type. No fruit yet.

So I had emailed the plant retailer when the fig tree arrived almost dead. They sent me another one weeks later but whoever packaged the replacement fig  put it up-side down in the packing box(purposely? no, I'm not that cynical) which clearly was marked "This End Up" It arrived rather crushed from having been scrunched by the pot/soil it was planted in. I planted it next to the one that was "half-dead" and now I have two very small fig trees that are alive and thriving.
(Did I mention how it took me several days with a sledge hammer and rebar and shovel to dig a hole through the New Mexico caliche for these fig trees?) 

Rosemary "Rosmarino"

Another heirloom tomato "German Queen"
I have about 6 varieties of tomato, several of peppers and eggplants

A third planting of green beans in a cage. I will tell you that the effort and frustration I've expended/experienced this year in trying to grow veggies has been more than the satisfaction. But if I give up gardening, what would I do for exercise? To keep busy? Also, as Leon says, I pray a lot, though the folks down the street would probably call it taking the lord's name in vain, a definite sin.

Oregano - the critters don't touch it.

Parsley, basil, fennel - thankfully, also not appetizing to the critters 

More purple petunias

Another rubber snake courtesy of the neighbors

Montauk Daisies - a perennial from a store in Connecticut. These are common on Cape Cod and New England and are doing well here. Blossoms in late summer - autumn.

Drought tolerant Lavender 

Black-eyed Susans just beginning to bloom

Red Yarrow, also drought tolerant 

I already harvested the garlic. It is drying/curing on a rack in the garage. Garlic is a staple in our kitchen. We also ate all the lettuce and arugula as they are early veggies.

And that is my garden tour for July 1, 2021. I will be sure to post an update or two or three as things progress.

Have a great Holiday weekend!


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