October 8, 2014

Sounds of Silence

In a post not too long ago I talked about going to the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park and hearing and seeing the different birds in the garden there. Well recently I have been hearing more and different things.

People might call what I do meditation. I prefer to think of it as just slowing down and listening. When I arrive at the Park on Friday mornings, I like to go out near the garden to look and hear. I close my eyes and listen for the silence. If I concentrate I can just hear the sounds

-the buzz of the hummingbirds
-wind rustling the leaves of the cottonwoods
-a covey of quail calling their kids together
-far in the distance, some construction work

Well a few Fridays ago it was overcast and threatening. We have been having a nice monsoon season with frequent rain so the weather this day was not unexpected. I went out to the garden, closed my eyes and listened. In the distance there was the booms of thunder. The hummers were frantically filling up. The wind was really moving the cottonwood branches. Suddenly, I heard a sound, far away. It sounded at first like hands clapping but it was moving, I could hear it moving. It got a bit louder, a bit more frenetic, more intense. It got closer and soon was very close to where I was.

It was then that I recognized the sound of a drenching rain advancing on the area. The drops were hitting the ground and the trees and bushes and made almost a hissing sound.I turned and moved toward the visitors center about 25 yards away as the first drops hit the plaza bricks and by time i got to the door of the building, was very wet, almost soaked. I sat there in the doorway, watching the rain fall, feeling the coolness of the breeze

I was impressed…..

September 17, 2014

A Groundhog’s Day Redux

I wrote this several months ago but never posted it. Right now my leg is doing great but it was different at the end of the winter and thru most of the summer. I looked at this and read it over and decided to post it because it reflected a dark place where I was and no longer am. Here it is...

Did you ever get that feeling that you are trapped in a never ending life loop, seemingly repeating the same things over and over again? Welcome to my medical nightmare. By February it has been an issue for more than 2 months marked by doctor visits, referrals, more visits, referrals without getting any sort of solution. However this month marked a breakthrough in which a problem has been identified and remedied. Now we just wait to see the results.

So in summary, vein ablation, infection, partial healing, infectious disease referral, IV antibiotics. Well, this did not do the trick either and the infection was still present. My ID doctor then referred me to a vein specialist, a different one than the one who did the original surgery. I saw him on a Friday when he opened up the wound a bit and saw an infected end of a vein. It seems the ablation did not get rid of all the vein tissue and it festered and kept the infection and abscess going. As March came roaring in, I had surgery to remove the piece of vein and underlying infected tissue.

A note on anesthesia. I love it. As I lay on the table in the OR I remember the anesthesiologist saying “this will take about 30 seconds” and I remember starting to count and got to five when I awoke in recovery. Although I will never get that 90 minutes back, they can have it I am glad not to remember a thing.

So now I have a golf ball hole size hole in my leg, or rather had one. For the past two weeks I have been on a wound vac which sucks out all the yucky stuff and forces the leg tissue together to heal. Except for carrying around this small appliance wherever I go, it has not been too problematic.

Blogger’s note: Well the wound vac worked and all that is left now is a small indentation in my leg. There were a couple of setbacks along the way and I was not able to get into the pool this summer until just a couple of weeks ago. I am finally feeling that things are getting back to normal.

One final note - the Southwest Photographic Symposium I have been organizing takes place this Saturday and all the major work has been done. People in the club have stepped up and done a great job in organizing and volunteering and I expect it will go off without too many problems. What will be nice is getting a part of my life back, free of symposium worry and angst. The next month will be busy but recreational. A trip to Santa Fe and a 4 day outing at the Southwest Rendezvous, a photographers get together. Looking forward to both.

July 3, 2014

Home and Home Away From Home

As we relocated to New Mexico we came to the belief that we wanted to live in a city again. It had been about 30 years since we had lived in THE city (NYC for the uninformed) and really missed the conveniences of city life. Here in Las Cruces we are minutes from all the amenities - restaurants, movies, doctors, desert, mountains, museums and the like. However, not everything is peaches and cream. We are about 100 feet from a main road and so traffic, motorcycles, police cars, fire trucks, trains and the like. Therefore there are those intrusive sounds all the time. It does not help that Nelson has taken to howling at the sirens either. It really does not bother us but is very different than our former life in Massachusetts. We deal because it is our home.

Every since we visited Las Cruces for the first time, The Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, has been maybe my favorite place in town. The biggest reason that I have for liking the State Park is the solitude. It is just so quiet and peaceful. Such a reversal of where we live and lived. I work at the park on Friday mornings at the visitor center and I feel like an ambassador of the park. Frequently when I first arrive, I take my coffee and sit out by the native plant garden. In the last 3 Fridays, here is what I have seen and heard.

-a group of bullock orioles, calling each other and moving from hummingbird feeder to feeder
-several mockingbirds imitating every other bird in the garden
-the constant buzz of hummingbirds approaching the feeders. Sometimes they fly so close to my head, I swear I can feel the air move as they pass
- a mated pair of quails, running round the garden eating seeds
-a covey of quail, 2 adults and 9 youngsters doing the same thing
-a roadrunner, trying to get some quail babies for lunch, being screamed at and chased off by the two quail parents, who were puffed up to 2-3 times their normal size
-a mockingbird building a nest in the honeysuckle vine
-a family of phoebes preparing to fledge at the urging of their parents, because they were now too big for the nest
-two rabbits checking out the garden for some greens.
-two swallow nests brimming with babies, waiting for their next meal to swoop in.

This all beats firetrucks and motorcycles anytime.

June 15, 2014

My Dad

Just a quick thought...

I don't have a lot of personal pictures of my dad. We have some old ones on the wall here in our home, and I have a bunch of his 75th birthday party but that is about it. One day recently I found this program called "Lost Photo" which scans your hard drive and finds photos that are not in the usual places and I came across this photograph. I worked on it a bit and posted it to Facebook. I like it because it is 3 generations in one shot. Here are the color and the B&W version of it.

June 2, 2014


In my last post, I mentioned telling you about an experience at the Lake Valley Cemetery. The graves are on the opposite side of the main road past the ghost town and a friend mentioned that it was a necessity to see it. Many old gravestones including Lake Valley residents who died in the Civil War are there. The approach road was a bit difficult to drive and as we turned onto it, we could see a rather large group of people in the cemetery. At first I thought it was some kind of tour but when we got closer we realized it was something else.

This group was a family, an extended family, and they were standing and sitting near a grave site. In the middle was an older, hispanic man, sitting in a chair and playing the guitar. As we parked, the group, which include this man and his wife, several other adults and a number of younger children, began to move toward the exit. This older man walked right next to our car and I could not resist talking to him, asking him who he was singing to. I am going to put the next part in quotes just to represent that these were his words. They are not exact. He spoke with a fairly thick accent which made him difficult to understand at times but I believe that I got the gist of what he was saying. He began…

“I was playing for my father. He lived in Lake Valley his entire life. For the last several years we, my family, have come to his grave on Memorial weekend. I play him some of his own songs that were his favorites. Then I played some of his songs that were my favorites. He was blind the last 15 years of his life but he still liked to play and write songs that he sung to us. He used to use a cassette recorder to tape his songs for us so that we will always have them. Now we are headed to Hillsboro for a family reunion.”

At this point, his wife stepped in and in true New Mexico fashion, invited us to attend the reunion with them. She was holding one of her grandchildren as she talked to us. Here was present a 3 generation family remembering their patriarch, inviting us to be a part of it.

I was moved, so moved that I needed a couple of minutes to gather myself before leaving. I couldn't go into the cemetery to take any pictures because I felt like I would be trespassing on their memorial. Besides, my eyes were watery and I never would have been able to focus the camera.

When we got to Hillsboro, we were driving around and stumbled upon the the high school on the end of one of those horrible roads. The families’ 3 cars that were at the cemetery, were there, along with several others. We did not go to the reunion, I felt that we would be trespassing on their memories. Besides they had already given me a great deal.

May 31, 2014

A Sunday Drive

I have mentioned in the past that growing up, our family had the tradition of the Sunday Drive and that we continue this even still to this day. Here (http://penguindroppings.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-sunday-drive.html and http://penguindroppings.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-sunday-drive-part-2-city-of-rocks.html I mention our drives to Deming and City of Rocks. Well, recently we packed up some water, doggie treats, doggies and headed out for a day trip to Lake Valley, NM. Our primary goal was to see the ghost town there but we ended up seeing, feeling and experiencing a lot more. Let me explain.

After a quick highway drive to Hatch, where the 10 am line for green chile cheeseburgers was already outside the door, we got off the beaten path and drove some less travelled paths to Lake Valley. We passed a large solar energy farm and then came to a wind farm. I was not aware that these were here so it was a nice feeling to see some renewable energy being created.

When we arrived at Lake Valley, it was impossible to miss the ghost town, situated on the side of some small hills, presenting itself to the road. We went inside the gate and proceeded to drive around. Before leaving, we made a stop at the Lake Valley cemetery and had an experience which I will detail in my next post.

(Photographers note: This is a nice place for picture making but it is difficult to do so with two dogs in the car who would jump out and wander if given the chance and who would bark at everything that moves - people, leaves, birds, dust, etc. Thus I only took a few pictures which I will post at the end of this piece.)

We then continued on our way up to Hillsboro, taking a nice drive on a winding, hilly (Mrsfabp’s favorite type) road, where we saw lots of nice springtime desert flowers. 

Upon arrival there, I was in for a bit of a shock. Yes, it is a small town, I expected that. Yes there was not much going on, I expected that. Outside of Main Street, the roads there were treacherous. That I didn’t expect. Main street is paved but that is the only pavement in town. We drove some of the side streets to see some of the ruins there but the roads themselves were ruins. I doubt ancient Rome’s roads were worse. These Hillsboro roads (and I use that word loosely) were rut filled, hilly, rock strewn disasters. A 4 wheel drive would have been more appropriate that a PT Cruiser. It was amazing to say the least.

The day was winding down, we were hungry and so a stop at Sparky’s in Hatch was in order. When we arrived, the line was out the door and around the corner of the parking lot. But that did not stop us. We ordered and waited...and waited...and waited but it was all worth it when our number was called and the food delivered. We grabbed it and went to a local park where we feasted on green chile cheeseburger, pulled pork burrito and green chile cheese fries. The fries were loved by man and dogs alike.

A quick drive home and our day’s adventure was complete.

Now some photographs:

Old schoolhouse, now the Lake Valley Museum

Old building foundation

Lizard Rock up behind the schoolhouse

May 21, 2014

All Aboard!

I like trains, no doubt about it. As a kid we used to take the subway into NYC. We had a train set in our basement that provided many hours of fun. When we had our own children we took them on many train rides - Conway NH and Lancaster PA to name a couple. When we first moved to New mexico, one of our early highlights was taking the Rail Runner Express up thru Albuquerque to Santa Fe. I like trains.

Recently when taking a couple of photography classes, the professor mentioned an abandoned Southern Railyard up in Hurley, NM, near Silver City. When we planned a little getaway to Silver City, a stop in Hurley was a necessity, which we did.

First, a couple of notes about Hurley. There was/is a town in Wisconsin named Hurley, a mining town. Well it seems that many of the inhabitants decided back in beginning of the 20th Century to move to New Mexico because of the new industry there, copper mining. They settled in a small community, one square mile in size, and worked the mines. And yes, there in an abandoned railroad repair yard there.

We visited the town for a couple of hours and I took a set of pictures. They are in black and white because I felt that this lent itself to the feelings of abandonment and solitude so prevalent there. Hope you enjoy them.

Yard station
Two abandoned engines
Shock spring - the yard was strewn with them
Cooling vents
Drive wheels and engines
Old water tower