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Monday, August 27, 2012

Salman Raspberry Ranch and Gardens

Yesterday we went for a quick visit to Salman Ranch, near the village of La Cueva, about nine miles away. Salman Ranch, store, gardens, cafe, nursery and raspberry fields are a busy place on a summer weekend, kind of like Tom's Farms in Corona, but with a real farm.

The summer rains have made the gardens riotous with native perennial and annual flowers carefully tended by a couple of guys who really know what works well in this high altitude-variable weather planting zone.

The gardens lay within the adobe and flagstone walled ruins of an 1850's grist mill and mercantile building where the tack and blacksmith shops once stood.

Benches are positioned here and there, making it a good place to just hang out and commune with nature.

Since it's raspberry picking season, the ranch's U Pick It fields were full of people enjoying a Sunday outside doing honest farm labor. Kids and dogs are welcome, and everyone was having a fine old time. After an hour of picking, M and I had four pounds of organic, local raspberries at the peak of ripeness.

I probably ate a pound while I was picking, but thank goodness the guy who assigned us our rows didn't really weigh us before and then after we were done, like he had threatened.

Here's our haul. The photo is significant: a meta moment, if you will.

Some of the raspberries were gobbled as soon as they got home, others were flash frozen and placed in freezer bags, and we made a cornmeal raspberry cake from the rest. More about that cake later. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Rough Day for Ms. Pearl

Yesterday Ms. Pearl had a traumatic experience. She is still recovering.

Pearlie came along while I was showing some visitors the bee yard which is surrounded by a portable electric fence. And you can guess what happened.

So today we have a somewhat subdued Ms. Pearl.

When Tom offered to go outside for an adventure, she thought about it for a second.

But staying in the chair seemed like a better idea. It's safer.

Perhaps a little game of Frisbee later today will make it all better.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Mexico Monsoon Days

It's been raining almost every day here. Mornings are blue sky sunny, the clouds building up in the distance. In the afternoon, the rain marches from the mountains and down the valley, thunder and lightning providing accompaniment while I watch, quilt wrapped, from the wicker chair on the porch.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Trude, Don't Look! It's a Snake!

I was puttering about in the yard when Tom and Ms. Pearl burst through the door from the garage and beelined their way to the house.

He was carrying a pistol on his way back out of the house and said, "Come see what's in the garage."

I kind of knew what I'd see. There were clues: the hurrying, the pistol.


So Tom dispatched the rattler while I kept saying, "Oh. Oh. Ew. Ew." Or as they say in Albuquerque, "Eeeeeee!"

Sorry Mr. Snakey. I know you were just looking for a cool place to rest out of the hot sun, but we walk through the garage many times a day. And you rattled at Ms. Pearl.

I allowed your buddy Black Snakeyboy to stay in the garage after I saw his skinny black tail disappear under the work bench a couple weeks ago because he eats mice and he won't kill Miss Bonnie like you would. She's only 6 and a half pounds, too small to withstand a poisonous bite.

And we have little dog relatives, like Cousin Murphy and Lexilulu, who we must protect.

Cousin Murphy (I lost my Lexi pics on the other computer!)
So rest in peace, Mr. Rattlesnake. May your heaven be full of rodents and cool garage floors.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mid-August Growing Dome Report

The tomato plants are loving inside the Growing Dome, basking in the heat and repaying us with fruits both sweet and tart. I ate my first Amy's Sugar Gem tomato yesterday: sweet and worth waiting for. More about this tomato later as they ripen.

The cucumbers are doing fine, too, and I may have enough for some small batches of pickles. Time will tell. So far we are keeping up with the eating part, but this last harvest may move us into preserving mode. This is The Year of the Tomato. We had eleven plants, with one that looked peaked and puny that I pulled out last week, so now it's ten.

Those heirloom tomatoes in the center of the basket are Cherokee Purple which were my dad's favorites. He loved to slice one up to show off its odd interior and offer it to unsuspecting friends. His long time friend Sal said, "Earl, that tomato looks rotten!" But after being persuaded to have a taste, he was a convert. Cherokee Purples have a rich, sweet flavor that is addictive.

A friend of the Sangre de Cristo Growers group  brought about 70 seedlings to one of our spring meetings.  I homed in on that Cherokee Purple plant and the rest is history. I am grateful for generous people, yes, I am.

When I was a 12 year old kid, I was always looking for jobs to do. I taught other kids how to play the ukelele for 25 cents a lesson, and one summer my brother and I painted house numbers on curbs in our neighborhood and beyond. Our hands were black and white for a long time.

Anyway, this all links up to tomatoes, eventually. I loved having money of my own, so I would walk to the Woolworth's lunch counter at the Orange County Plaza, peruse the menu and buy myself lunch. A favorite was a tomato stuffed with egg salad.

So that's what I had for lunch yesterday.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Around 4 a.m. I got up for a trip to the bathroom and remembered it was a meteor shower night and the best time to see them was just before dawn. So, being the nerd that I am, I grabbed my phone, a couple throws and a quilt from the sofa and went outside to a starry night with just a few clouds. I dragged the lounge chair from the deck out to the yard and settled in, using the Google Sky app to determine where the Perseids would be.

Before I had my covers sorted around me to keep out the morning chill, I saw my first meteor, a bright streak shooting across the sky. And another, and then yet another.  The photo below is not mine because those meteors are fast and I am not. But this will give you an idea of my early morning on the chaise.

My eyes would start to shut (I was still a bit sleepy) and another meteor would streak across the sky, reminding me to keep my eyes open. Quiet outside, not even any crickets cricketing, it was just me lying in the yard, watching.

When it comes to beauty and fantastic art, I am a crier. So I lay there watching the stars and crying. Maybe, too, I cried because it was two years ago that my parents died and those stars made me miss them. Terribly.

Then I heard my dad singing, "I've got tears in my ears from lying on my back in my bed while I cry over you," and I smiled and stopped my blubbering.

From the lounge chair, I could see the crescent moon, Jupiter and Venus keeping it company, and as dawn began to show up, an owl hooted from across the creek.

I realized how lucky I am to be alive. And how humbling it is to lie on my back, looking at all the suns in the sky, wondering if some other 60 year old lady is out there somewhere doing the same thing.

The owl hooted some more, the sky became lighter, and I went into the dark house and made coffee.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Judging Quilts in Cattle Country

Just north of Mora County is Colfax County where I went to judge quilts for the quilt show competition at the annual Colfax County Fair. 

Map thanks to
 Friend Shela grew up in this area, where the county fair was a big deal when she lived there. It still is, Shela, and my cowboy hat is off to the many hard working people who make it happen.

                                                      Abandoned ranch near Wagon Mound, NM
The fairgrounds are in Springer. In this part of New Mexico men wear cowboy hats and women wear t-shirts that say, "Silly boys. Guns are for GIRLS!" I am generalizing here, but several of the ladies I met at the quilt judging were both quilters and shooters. One quilter, Trudie Fay, is a champion rifle shooter, member and coach of the U.S. Rifle Team.

 The fair's program recognizes the brands of all the ranches in the area and livestock judging is an important event. For people used to really big county fairs this will seem small: One exhibit hall and one livestock barn. That's it. But people travel miles for the BBQ, rodeo, parade and kids' parade, pet show, dance, lots of food booths, exhibits, contests and other activities throughout the weekend.

And of course there's the quilt show, which is why I was there. Two able assistants guided me through the judging process and alerted me when there was a tie score. Those were the worst, because I really wanted to give two 1st prizes several times.  But that couldn't happen, so I had to be nit-picky which was difficult.

A significant number of Colfax County quilters practice the arts of hand piecing and hand quilting and their work is exquisite. Quilts were machine pieced and hand quilted, while others were done completely by machine. There were many categories and I was touched by the beginners' quilts, especially the ones done by children, because one can see their hearts and souls in those "first time" quilts.

Here are a few photos of the volunteer crew putting up the quilts in the exhibit hall after they were judged and the elaborate computer system the quilt show organizers were using to keep track of the entries, a record breaking 105 quilts.

Cowboys and computers
A system using baling twine, pants hangers, and a cherry picker, combined with volunteer muscle and ingenuity, hoists the quilts to new heights.

PVC Pipe and pants hangers hold the quilts
Judging quilts was tough because there were so many beautiful pieces and we could see how much work went into each quilt. Putting them into many classes helped, so we looked at groups of quilts with similar characteristics. My feet were tired after standing at a table looking at quilts for five or so hours, but oh, what a tough life I lead!

One thing I learned for sure was this: quilting is alive and well in  Colfax County, New Mexico, guns, girls, cowboys and all!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Northern New Mexico Traffic Report

The other day I answered a phone call from a local friend.

Friend: Hey Bridget! How are you?

Bridget: I'm fine! How are you?

Friend: Doing good. Hey, have you driven on the highway to Mora lately?

Bridget: Nope.

Friend: Well, at Mile Marker 5 there's a big old dead rattlesnake,  about 8 inches around! Somebody already cut off the rattles.

Bridget: Cool! We're going that way tomorrow and I'll check it out.

Friend: It's really big. Okay, bye.

Bridget: Bye

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Quilty Pleasures-Sewing Room Blues

The sun is thinking of peeking over the rimrock in the next half hour or so. In the distant mountains it's already there, and I'm drinking coffee in the sewing room, looking at a stack of miscellaneous fabric on the cutting table.

I should write a song called the Sewing Room Blues, about the mess, about all the fabric and so little time, about the many works in progress, the cat hair on the ironing board, the stacks of books on the floor and the dust bunnies scampering about underfoot.

I really need to deal with this. Yeah.

The fabric is stuff I pulled from the closet upstairs where I keep my stash along with some new purchases for projects that are just kind of dancing around at the periphery of my creative cortex. Is there a creative cortex? Hello, is it working?

The time spent in here lately has been used to finish the Los Muertos quilt which is now quilted. It needs a binding, so I must go "shopping" in the upstairs closet. The storekeeper should do a better job arranging her fabric, though. It's hard to find stuff!

I've also been spending time in here watching telly on the computer. I like Hulu's British comedy Rev. Usually British telly shows have their vicars working in bucolic country villages, but this one is set in the gritty inner city. So I get to see another side of England. Plus, it's funny and a bit raunchy, too.

Below is the fabric from the bottom of the stack, called Mod Garden by Michael Miller. I just had to have this because it would make an excellent focus fabric for something clean and modern.

So here's my question, folks: What should I make? Do you have any ideas? What fabrics to use with it? Any links to some cool photos? I think I need to abandon some works in progress to make a quilt with this fabric. I think it will help me get rid of the Quilting Blues!

Wish me luck tomorrow. I am going to be judging the quilts at a local county fair. It should be inspiring and motivating to be surrounded by a zillion quilts!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Santa Fe, NM, Spanish Market: Folk Artist Peter Ortega

Last weekend in Santa Fe was Spanish Market, a community and international event featuring Spanish Colonial Artforms: arts and crafts done in traditional style with painstaking detail. Actually, there are two Spanish Markets, the traditional one and its contemporary counterpart. Both are mind boggling, with over 350 artists along with music, food, dancing and hordes of local and international visitors.

One artist whose work blew me away was folk artist Peter Ortega who carves angels and saints, both large and small, out of wood.

Pete can make an Angel Gabriel from a dead tree branch.

I think this fisherman angel is San Pasqual, patron saint of cooks. 
(Edited 8/2 evening) Pete says this is Archangel Rafael, the healer. He adds, "San Pasqual also has fish but with bread and wine (for the cook):))"

I liked the little birds on this tree.

But my favorite was a St. Francis carving as tall as I. 

If our house were bigger, I'd buy St. Francis, for sure.

Looking at the ginormous volume of art at Spanish Market was like trying to drink from a fire hose. I couldn't take it all in properly, so you can bet I will be there next year.