January 29, 2013

A Serendipitous Affair

Last weekend a moment arrived that I have waited for. A full moon, rising over the Organ Mountains to the east, just around sunset. We loaded up my camera gear, put the Skippster on his leash and walked out the door, only to see clouds stack on clouds. I was disappointed for sure but we also planned to go to Caliche’s for ice cream and a poochie cone for Skippy so we had that ahead of us. I decided that I would take this opportunity to scout out a location and still accomplish something on this outing.

As we began to drive, the clouds moving a swirling in the strong winds and the ever changing lighting from the setting sun, began a spectacular show. It seemed like I was stopping about every 5oo feet to snap a picture or two. This culminated in a double rainbow, one that even impressed my friend Lou. The light on the mountain was changing by the second, due to the clouds in the west and the setting sun interacting. I shot a lot of nice photos and inclde a few here.

But this story did not end with the sunset. We arrived at one of my favorite spots in the desert, the wind pump in Baylor Canyon. This picture I took of it on a sunset evening won a ribbon at a camera club competition. 

However, this time I barely recognized it at all. It was spinning so fast, you could hear the metal creaking a quarter mile away. The angry clouds in the north east added an almost surreal feeling to this, and off in the distance a dust and rain storm approached. I quickly set up and under cover of the car rear hatch, started snapping pictures. I like these a great deal too. I will sometime soon publish them to an album on Facebook, so keep your eye out for it.

Wanted a moon rise that ended up being blocked out by clouds and a storm. Ended up with pictures of the mountains splashed with color and a scary wind pump. All followed by ice cream. Serendipitous for sure!

January 23, 2013

And the winner is...

Over the last 7 months I have really enjoyed the different things I have been involved in here in Las Cruces. The camera club experience has been great. I’ve made some good friends, good connections to the community and have learned so much more about photography. I was able to coordinate and plan a photography exhibit at the Bosque State Park that was very well received. All of this leads me to talking about the Park itself and the Friends Group that focuses on the goal of exposing more and more people to the park.

I loved the Bosque the first time I went there, when we visited Las Cruces in February 2011. We spent an afternoon there, soaking up the sun and the beauty. Of course, we went back during our second visit to Cruces as it quickly became  obvious to me that this park and the desert were to be the places I searched for my calm, thoughtfulness and reflection. As happens when people retire, I had some time on my hands and so became a volunteer at the park, but it did not stop there. I went to the park in June of 2012 to see the opening of the Camera Club exhibit. I was not a part of it but enjoyed meeting the members and made a mental note of the level of talent and expertise.

When I first started volunteering at the park, on the application form, I made note of computer skills. Well this day, at the park, the park superintendent introduced me to the president of the friends group. He immediately told me he was overwhelmed by doing the Friends newsletter and wondered if I might be interested in taking on this project. And thus, I became part of the Friends of the Bosque Group. Over the course of the next 4-5 months, I wrote and edited the Newsletter and enjoyed it. As the fall came to a close, I was asked by the staff at the park to plan the Park’s holiday festivities. With this project I was working both with the Friends and the Park and generally speaking, the day was a success. A friend of mine played Santa and posed for pictures with pets with the donation going to the Friend’s group. Over a hundred people came to the park that day and 10 pets got photos with Santa.

 This is the Park Supervisor, Jan and her dog Murphy. Unfortunately he had to be put down a week after 
this photo was taken due to the spread of his cancer.

 These are two of countless gods belonging to our friends Bill and Clair. Obviously, they have gotten into 
the spirit of the season, caroling for our entertainment.

Finally I was asked about doing a beginners class for digital photography and with several members of the Camera Club, we have completed a 6 hour workshop that also was a great success with 15 participants.

This is one of the photographs taken by a class participant

This brings me to last Saturday. The first Friend’s meeting of the year was a chance to review what was done over the course of 2012. Also there was election of a board for the group. The president entered my name into the mix and I am now the vice president of the Friends group. Then came the surprise. The president announced that they were going to give out a “Best Friend” award,  in recognition of things done over the year. There were plenty of people there who have done lots of good things for the park, so I didn’t give it a second thought until the president called my name. He game me a certificate and a gift card. I was totally surprised, honored and humbled. I just felt good that I was doing something nice for the park but the recognition felt so good, that I was taken aback.

So 2013 has begun and I figure to have a very busy and great year. I will get to continue to do camera workshops at the park, the park staff have asked me to be an event planner and the friend’s newsletter and other projects call. On tap, a Native American Heritage Day and an “Accessibility Day” just waiting to be planned. I can’t wait!

January 7, 2013

The Hat Trick of Indignities

“A hat-trick or hat trick in sport is the achievement of a positive feat three times or more during a game, or other achievements based on threes. The term was first used in 1858 in cricket to describe HH Stephenson's feat of taking three wickets in three balls. A collection was held for Stephenson, and he was presented with a hat bought with the proceeds. The term was used in print for the first time in 1878. The term was eventually adopted by many other sports including association football, water polo, and team handball, but did not become popular in North America until the mid-1940s in the National Hockey League”...Wiki

Well this past year our cat Kanye, has suffered a hat trick of indignities, so foul, so inconsiderate, I am surprised he did not simply pack up and leave. I would like to take a second to detail them for you.

Kanye used to be an outdoor cat. We lived on 3+ acres of heavily wooded Massachusetts countryside, surrounded with land that could not be built on. It was idyllic for him. He would be out all day in the woods stalking whatever met his fancy. He would go over to our neighbors home daily for a tummy rub and some treats. What a life. However, we ruined this paradise for him. We threw him in a cat carrier, drove 2500 miles to the southwest, and moved into a home in a neighborhood where cats are not allowed to roam. Besides that restriction, there are also coyotes and bobcats so he is safer inside. He hates us for it but it is for his safety. Indignity number one.

Kanye was used to being the ruler of the roost. He was our only pet after MollieJupiter moved to her own place and took her cat Millie. Kanye enjoyed this role very much. So what did we do? We brought in a dog. Not just any dog but one who was a tad hyper. It took several months for them to settle into a routine but they eventually slept on the same couch or chair and allowed each other plenty of space. So what did we do? We got a second dog, a chihuahua, even more hyper than the first dog. They have not yet settled down to a peaceful coexistence, it is more like a riot, and Kanye has taken to sleeping in our closet, on our bed, and in the dirty laundry in the bathroom, to avoid them. Indignity number two.

So now, Kanye is an inside cat who doesn’t even feel safe in his own home. He obviously has been feeling stressed and one of the things that happen to a stressed cat is matting of their fur and Kanye hit the jackpot in this game. He got one and we carefully snipped it out as best we could but then suddenly overnight he got about 8 of them. This was way beyond our capabilities so we brought him in to get groomed. The groomer, a cat expert who had been grooming them for 13 years felt there was no choice but to shave most  of his fur off and have him start again. Indignity number three.

So now, he is stuck inside, hated by the dogs and so stressed about this that he got mats and now is a very naked, cold cat. At this point I figure he has suffered so much at our hands, what is a little more embarrassment in his life so I present a picture of him in his current state.

I can only imagine that in those quiet moments he is just sitting there, giving us the finger. Poor guy.

January 3, 2013

Winter Slams Las Cruces...

The news broke early Thursday afternoon. The US Weather Service had issued a “Winter Storm Warning” for the borderlands which include El Paso and Las Cruces. Local news this night was dominated by doom and gloom forecasts from meteorologists and news pieces about the city making plans for the Snowpocalypse 2013 heading right for us. Reports called for 1-2 inches of snow. It was reported that ALL SANDERS WERE BEING FILLED TONIGHT! Sanders here in New Mexico use a mix of sand, salt and small rock. The small rock is imported from Arizona. I guess we don't have enough rocks in NM /sarcasm.

I could tell this was serious stuff because Mrsfabp was camped out on the couch watching coverage of the storm all night. Imagine, we may get 1-2 inches, YIKES! Declare a national emergency.

When people refer to this as a blizzard, I tell them that in Massachusetts we refer to this as snow flurries. As I write this, it is 3 pm and has essentially been snowing lightly since 10 am. Five hours of snow and we basically have some trees and bushes wearing soft white caps of snow. Roads are wet and this is about it.

Now I realize the seriousness of the weather situation. Last year in December 2011, we got about 1 inch of snow. It took me 90 minutes to drive about one mile to get home. Traffic crawled at 0 miles per hour and I actually saw several cars riding along the curb in order to avoid slipping.

So, this is it. Our first winter storm of the season. In like a lamb, out like a baby perhaps. Panic in the streets. Everybody talking about it. I don’t think there was this much excitement in this town since the big freeze a couple of years ago. Or when that coyote walked through the center of town.

I’ll keep you posted

January 1, 2013

Two Dog Nights

Get a dog, they said. He’ll keep you young, they said.

Thus Skippy joined our family just under a year ago. He was a rescue dog. He attached himself to Mrsfabp and absolutely hated me. Barked at me for months. Would only take a treat at arms lengthy and sometimes not even then. Wouldn’t let me put his leash on and wouldn’t let me take him for a walk. We’d get outside and he would simply stand at leash length and not move, until we went back inside. Over the year, he has slowly changed. He comes when called, loves his crate and likes sitting next  to Mrsfabp as she watches TV or knits or even naps.

In September, Mrsfabp and I celebrated belatedly, our 30th anniversary with a trip to Santa Fe. As always, our friends Bill and Clair offered to take Skippy in for a couple of days. We took the high speed commuter rail there and had a wonderful time. Skippy too had a great time, hanging out with the Pirate Dogs (read about them here). When you have that many pets, what is one more. Skippy fitg right into the pack and enjoyed his stay. Maybe enjoyed it too much. We picked him up when we got home and when we got inside, he plopped himself, chin down, on the kitchen floor, barely moving a muscle. He obviously was depressed and in need of puppy uppers for sure.

That next Saturday we went to Nellie’s as usual and told our friends about our depressed doggie.

Get another dog, they said. It will give him a playmate, they said.

And with this encouragement, we went to the animal shelter booth at the Farmer’s Market where we found a little chihuahua. He was skin and bones, shaking nervously and loved to be held. I didn’t want a big dog and this one, fit the bill. We named him after our favorite restaurant here in Las Cruces, Nellie’s. Now for those who might think that that is a girls name and silly for a boy, I say Nellie Foxx, Nelson Briles, Nelson Figeroa, Nelson Cruz, Nelson Liriano,  and Captain Tony Nelson (kids, ask your parents) all say hello. So Nelson it was.

Skippy on left, Nelson on the right

How do they get along now? Like two brothers, they fight and taunt and get under each others skin at times. They still are figuring out the Alpha dog thing, although Skippy wins that battle most days. He will take Nellie’s whole head in his mouth when they play fight but Nellie rarely backs down. There is nothing quite like seeing them asleep together on the couch or walking on their hind legs begging for a treat.

Playing tug of war
Mrsfabp quote "No need to fight over the sweater boys, its 70 degrees

Now if this post was written by our cat, Kanye, it would simply say, “I HATE THOSE DOGS...”