The Past Week: July 12-18, 2009 (Energy-Saving Porch Project; “Full Plates Full Lives” Food Campaign; JFK, Jr.)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

We’ve been busy for the last week or so having our back porch enclosed. It’s costing some bucks, but we figure we get an extra room out of it and eliminate the dust and dealing with the wind, which has made the area virtually unusable, except to pile up a lot of junk!  It’s unheated, but we bought E-366 doors and windows and have insulted the walls with above spec insulation. Here in southern New Mexico this means that we will have a delightful place to hang out during the winter and also in the cool mornings and evenings during most of the warmer months. Even all closed up now the temperatures are no more than what’s going on outside, which means our choice of the E-366 glass and the insulation is really paying off already!  Our AC isn’t working any harder, so we’re very pleased!

Here’s what the room looks like before caulking and final finishing. By next week I’ll be able to show you the entire room painted and in all its glory!

Porch Enclosure in Progress...

Porch Enclosure in Progress...

Unfortunately, the dogs aren’t getting out into the backyard very much because of all the mayhem.  But Slick, in particular is enjoying the gated area at the front of the house:

Slilck hangs out...

Slilck hangs out...

As we prepare to write a large check for this project (which is being done by neighbor who teaches but has a contractor’s license, too), it seems we’ve been musing a lot about money and the economy this past week. Here’s something in particular that is something to consider supporting:

Full Plates Full Lives

U.S. Foodservice, a 150 year old company that supplies food and related products to “restaurants, hospitals, hotels, schools and governmental operations” is running a “STEMulous Drive” now through October 15, 2009.  They’re organizing neighborhood drives, selling a cookbook, etc. all with the aim of feeding families who need help during these tough economic times. “Operation STEMulous” is specifically aimed at getting fresh fruits and vegetables to needy families.

***

Speaking of vegetables…this porch project has really cut into my gardening time…I’m barely able to water everyday, but as of last night the patio outside the new room is finally cleared of lumber!

***

And finally, this:

Jul 16, 2009 10:25 am US/Eastern

10th Anniversary Of JFK Jr.’s Death Passes Quietly

NEW YORK (CBS) ― The tenth anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr., in a small plane crash off Martha’s Vineyard passed with relatively little notice Thursday, overshadowed by attention paid to the 40th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon mission.

I remember that night clearly…It was a sultry evening in New Jersey and after hearing the initial reports I stood outside on our back patio and gazed up at the sky for a long time and prayed it wasn’t true…but it was.

***

THE PAST WEEK

CNBC (Among Others) Caught in the Act “Reporting” Nouriel Roubini’s Comments on the Economy…He Responds

HEADS UP! It’s HERE! The New World Currency Design, Presented to the G-8 Delegations (With Pics)

The Past Week: July 4-11, 2009 (Where We Are Now re: The Economy-Robert Reich, Nouriel Roubini, Robert Shiller, Chris Martenson)

Take a Ramble…

over to our new “sister site” —  Open Range Ramblings!


Sometimes we just don’t have the time to do a “serious” post everyday…and sometimes we just feel like taking a break and doing something relaxing and fun. And there are the times when we’re so pooped that we NEED to take a break…

That’s where Open Range Ramblings comes in…

We’ve enjoyed doing the “Saturday Sanity” post lately so we thought we’d create a new site to provide a “haven” to escape to.  And our gang here at IA will be contributing pics and other things as time goes on, so we’ll be able to see what’s going on in other parts of the country, too.

The site has more additions planned and it will be developing as time permits. Plans are to get the live cam set up there, too, and to have pages for gardening, health topics, and pets and other lovely animals.

Today, we’re looking at the fruits that are already taking shape in the garden…so, especially if you live in colder areas of  the country, stop by Open Range Ramblings to lift your spirits!

ENJOY!!!!!

***

Here’s the URL:

http://openrangeramblings.wordpress.com/

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 4, 2009) Spring Winds; Squirrel Wars; Bees Invade Feeder; Wounded Butterfly; Sunrise Over the Organs; Slick Lounges Around

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

It’s been a tough week for the garden in some ways.  The spring winds have arrived so I’ve had to put wind barriers up around the raised beds. I’m using the sunshade for this, because it’s bright and I don’t want my plants to dry/fry!!!  The temperatures are still in the 40’s overnight so with the winds coming through, although they weaken overnight, I don’t want too much of a temperature shock.

Still have some of the plants saved for the pots…a couple of peppers, an eggplant, and a couple of tomatoes…but I’m keeping them inside overnight. I bought some annuals…zinnias, petunias, a new geranium and an interesting spirally plant called “Rush.”  But these are all sitting safely under protection for now…

The squirrel wars have started. They’ve been gnawing at the cactus in the far corner of the yard and nibbling at the eggplant and lettuce. I’ve got tons of peaches on the tree in the warm corner and I’ll have to “bag” the fruit soon or else the squirrels will be busy there too as soon as they start smelling something sweet.

The hummingbird is coming all the time now…until today. The feeder was full of swarming bees!  This happens every year and I think these may be Africanized bees. So, the hummer and I will back off until they go.

A few days ago I spotted this butterfly on the ground. I picked it up and placed it in the Texas Ranger.  The poor thing obviously had some problems with its wings. A short while later it had gone…

Wounded butterfly

Wounded butterfly

This past Thursday I had an early morning blood test.  The Healthplex branch of one of the hospitals is near our house and has stunning views of the Organ Mountains.  And being up so early, I knew I could catch the sunrise….

2009_0401sunrise0037

As I write this, I’m just back from a rendezvous with Animal Control. This morning I was walking Slick and Toro in the arroyo and suddenly spotted a golden lab (?) who had obviously recently given birth. I thought I had seen this dog barking from behind a wall on the far side of the arroyo. We left in a hurry and I figured she could easily jump back over the wall and get home.

At 8:30 PM as I as out with Slick and Toro again for their last walk, I thought I saw the dog near the path into the arroyo. It seemed to go back down into the arroyo.  I immediately call Animal Control and I took the officer down to the path and pointed out the house I thought the dog came from. We scanned around with a flashlight but didn’t see anything moving.  The officer was going to stop by the couple of houses where she could have come from to find out more from the owners.  I sure hope this all turns out OK, because if there are puppies involved, I’d hate to have the mother wandering lost for days or sitting in the shelter.  It’s expensive to get dogs back these days and I wouldn’t want her to be left there and the puppies orphaned.

This sort of thing always makes me go and give mine a hug…I’m not bragging, but they have a really good life…because they run mine!!

Slick lounging, safe and sound

Slick lounging, safe and sound

Let’s hope next week bring less wind so I can finish planting…and that the lost dog is found.

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (March 28, 2009) First Hummingbird and First Cactus Flower!; Wisconsin Robin; Happy Birthday, TORO the Dog!; Trooper Shows Off)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Just because we’ve been enjoying some great spring weather lately (although the last couple of days have been cool and windy), it doesn’t mean there aren’t signs of spring in other places, too.

Kenosha Marge sent in this report from way up north in Wisconsin after reading last week’s Saturday Sanity:

SO and I have seen a couple of Robins the past few days and were getting that “Spring Is Coming Soon” spring in our step. Yes, yes I know that the offical first day of Spring was Friday the 20th. That’s what the calendar says. When a Robin is in your backyard birdbath and on one of your backyard bird feeders that really means Spring is coming. Or maybe not. Here’s some expert who just had to rain on my parade.

Steve Lewis of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Division of Migratory Birds in Minneapolis said some robins in northern Wisconsin might have come south from Canada, “but they’re not birds that are coming back early from their wintering areas.”
Some may wonder how a bird weighing under 3 ounces can survive in a climate that can drop below zero degrees without warning.
For robins and other winter birds, it’s simply a matter of sprouting a few more down feathers for extra insulation and finding a steady source of food.
Frozen ground means no worms and frozen air inhibits crowds of insects, so robins and other birds like cedar waxwings will seek out fruit from crabapple trees and other berries still hanging on branches.
If they can keep their stomachs full, they see no reason to leave, said Dick Verch, a retired DNR employee who organizes the annual Christmas bird count for the Chequamegon Audubon Society.
“If you look at a lot of the fruiting trees – mountain ash and others – they still have fruit on them, and very often at this time of the year they’ve been stripped by birds,” Verch said. “That’s an indication there’s a good quantity of food, so maybe as the birds went into the winter with a lot of food around them, it kept them here.”
Verch said participants in the 2008 count spotted 76 robins – 56 more than the previous record of 20, set in 2004.
A few weeks ago we had this in WI...

A few weeks ago folks in in WI were doing this...

Wisconsin Robin!

Last week...a Wisconsin Robin!

While we’re on the subject of our animal buddies, I thought I’d share a pic of  Toro, our first dog, who turns 10 on March 31st!  Happy Birthday, TORO!  With spring in the air, Toro has taken a fancy to eating al fresco!

Birthday Boy Toro

Birthday Boy Toro

Here’s an update on TROOPER, my betta fish.  Over the last few weeks he seems to have really “grown up” in his behavior….he’s gotten larger and more aggressive about going after his food. He’s probably reached maturity and he certainly is robust in health, especially since I change him every 4 days!  I picked up a calendar at my State Farm office which feature golf courses…and the greens and traps seem to bring out Trooper’s colors very nicely.  He’s such a dark blue that he needs the contrast to be seen at his best!

Trooper likes to hang out on the 18th hole...

Trooper likes to hang out at the 18th hole...

Disappointing news…I’ve had to give up hope that I could entice Mario, the runaway chihuahua. The food was being eaten by birds, so it seems Mario is gone.  Best of luck, little guy…

But, some good news…On Tuesday (3/24) I was buzzed. A few moments later I saw my first hummingbird of the season!  The feeder is up and it looks like it’s being used.

The desert plants are beginning to wake up and within a couple of short days, the cactus in the front yard started blooming!

Cactus flower

Cactus flower

The NM privet that was flowering last week is now leafing out and the larger privet in the front yard is also starting to show some leaves.

Backyard NM privet

Backyard NM privet

The peach, fig, pomegranate and apricots are all continuing to bud out and the baby figs and peaches are really growing fast.  And my oldest grape vine is really starting to rev up:

Flame grape

Flame grape

Finally, here’s a shot of my garden beds with a lot of the plants waiting for transplanting under the sun shade. I cover them at night because it still gets chilly and the wind over the last few days dries things out in a very short time.  By the way, I found Ichiban eggplant and those fantastic pimiento peppers this week, so I can’t wait to get all these wonderful things into the ground!!

Waiting for a little less wind...

Waiting for a little less wind...

Hope spring is happening wherever you are!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (March 21, 2009) (Flowers, Fruit and a Miniature Spider Web)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

HAPPY SPRING!

Things have really progressed this week in the garden!  First of all, the temperatures have been getting into the low 80’s and the overnight temps have stayed in the 40’s the past few nights.  I’ve started planting some of the veggies, but am holding back on the tomatoes a bit longer as it’s supposed to be windy on Sunday into Monday.  The last few nights I’ve kept the plants out overnight, but covered.

A lot of annuals overwinter well here.  The petunias, for example.  A couple of years ago I had some petunias that lasted 2 years!  Tthe purple and fuschia petunias from last year started blooming this week.  The purple flowers are particularly striking, but seem more fragile…here’s the first one of the year:

Returning Petunia...

Returning Petunia...

Snapdragons do well in the ground and pots, too…and they take only a short break depending on how mild the winter is….

Yellow Snapdragns in the Garden...

Yellow Snapdragons in the Garden...

An Interesting Snapdragon in a pot...

An Interesting Yellow/Red Snapdragon Combo...

The New Mexico Privet in the backyard is starting to bud out!  Meanwhile, out front, the NM privet that I’ve been training as a tree hasn’t even started. That’s what micro climates are all about here.

Backyard NM Privet

Backyard NM Privet

In the fruit department, the grapes and figs are really on the move! And the peaches on the tree in the warm corner have doubled in size. Meanwhile, in the more sheltered area, that peach tree is just barely getting bud swell.

Baby Figs!

Baby Figs!

Baby Peaches!

Baby Peaches!

By the time the April winds die down, half will be gone…

Here’s one of the artichokes…I bought two, but each pot was a double and I managed to tease out 4!  I’m going to see how they do and if they can grow as perennials here…

Artichoke

Artichoke

Finally, here’s very lucky shot I got of a very small spider web on  the slow-developing peach tree at the side of the house.  It’s a miracle I got this shot!!

Tiny Spider Web

Tiny Spider Web

In the raised beds, over the last couple of days I’ve planted a couple of eggplant and peppers in the garden, and took the stray potato that started growing in the composter and planted that, too.  I soaked the chard and okra seeds overnight and planted them yesterday as well.

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (March 14, 2009) (Lost Dog; Budding; Pruned Grapes; A Robin Visits; Clouds Around Town; Biker Chic) Pics!

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Last week a little chihuahua from across the street was roaming and I picked him and returned him a couple of times. Then, he disappeared and it seems that the owner is happy to get rid of him; she prefers the large Rottie she inherited from her son.  This angered me a great deal, to say the least, because if I had known I wouldn’t  have returned him to her.  Last Thursday and Friday neighbors told me that they had probably seen Mario about a block away.  I’ve been walking in that direction with my dogs but haven’t seen him.  I decided to put out some food and water just in case a few days ago.  This morning the water dish was pushed off the big rock were I had put it and the food looked disturbed. I thought it might be the birds.  Then, just a few moments ago when I was taking Slick out for his last short walk before bed, I saw that the food was gone (except for one kibbie) and the water was almost gone and the bowl was lopsided again!

I don’t know who’s visiting, but I’m hoping it’s Mario. I’ve talked to the neighbor across the street who just lost a dog and he said he might consider taking Mario if I find him, depending how he gets along with kids.  These folks already have an old boxer named Sugar who has met Mario with no problem. Mario, used to big dogs,  has just strolled through the gate on one of his jaunts.

So, I’ve moved the bowls to be in the range of the cam. I bought the cam to try to spot another dog (to no avail) so we’ll see what happens this time!

***

I’ve been following the little flowers near the adjacent driveway for the last couple of weeks.  A couple of the original blooms have died, but…Now there are 7!!!  From 3, to 4, to 7 and still going strong!

Now there are 7!!

Now there are 7!!

In the backyard there’s a lot of budding and flowering going on and today I saw the first flower on one of the sage plants!

2009_03131stsagecloudsmall0042

This week I finally pruned the main grape vine. This vine yielded about 25 bunches of “Flame” grapes last year…

Flame Grape after Pruning

Flame Grape after Pruning

We don’t really have robins that stay for too long up here at about 4500 feet although we have a pair or two that seem stay for part of the winter. They seem to stay down in the valley but up here they pass through in late January on the way north.  I happened to catch this bird up in the tree in the arroyo behind our house a couple of days ago, but I think he/she was just passing through.

A Robin is a big deal here...

A Robin is a big deal here...

Today I was out doing errands and wound up at the Mesilla Valley Mall.  Since I had my new camera handy, I decided to take a few pics.  When I first moved here about 10 years ago, I remember feeling constant awe every time I came out of the grocery story and saw the Organ Mountains looming beyond the parking lot.  I’m still amazed!  And yesterday the clouds were rolling in.  One thing I’ve noticed is that at a mile high, you see the SIDES of clouds, not just the bottoms, like in Jersey. It’s another thing that often amazes me even after all this time…

Here’s a view from the back of the mall looking out toward the west…That’s Picacho Peak, the remnant of an old volcano…

Looking West

Looking West

A closer look at Picacho Peak…2009_03131stsagecloudsmall00102

JC Penney and the Organ Mountains…

2009_03131stsagecloudsmall0013

As I went home I caught this biker in front of me at a traffic light…she went into my development so she must be a neighbor!  Wonder who she is??  Look at that helmet with the pigtails attached!

2009_03131stsagecloudsmall0029

Finally, I got home and checked out how the clouds were looking from the backyard…

2009_03131stsagecloudsmall0032

This weekend I have to get the garden planted and set up the plastic covers again.  The temperatures still go down into the 30’s sometimes although the days are lovely. This is typical and soon the spring winds will really start, so the plants have to be protected so they don’t get battered and dry out…

Even though those clouds look ready to burst, usually they don’t give us any rain…just great excuses to take pictures!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (March 7, 2009) (The Many Faces of Pansies and Other Garden Delights; Tico Goes Belly Up!) Pics!

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Another miserable week in Obama’s Land of Hope…but let’s not dwell on that…we’re here  today to forget about it!

My old camera died and I went out and bought a Canon Power Shot SX110 IS.  I bought it because I wanted more zoom.  It’s already paid off because I got a really great series of shots of the mystery thrasher this week. I thought it had left, but he/she was at one of my feeders yesterday. This pic is so much better than the one in last week’s Saturday Sanity because with the zoom I could get the “close-up” shot from my usual spot at the kitchen window.  I think it’s a “cressal” thrasher for sure…with its beak open.  This bird is apparently endangered…

Cressal Thrasher (I Think...)

Cressal Thrasher (I Think...)

Last week I posted a picture of a flower that had sprung up next to my neighbor’s driveway, where a tire had formed a tread in the sandy soil.

Well, this week, we now have FOUR flowers, all lined up!

Now there are FOUR!

Now there are FOUR!

The little cacti are starting to bud out…

Budding cactus

Budding cactus

The stars of the garden are the pansies, which are rejuvenated in the warmer weather…at least until the heat gets to be too much for them…

Violas

Violas

Interesting pansy color combo...

Interesting pansy color combo...

Love the color contrast...

Love the color contrast...

Unique...

Unique...

I love the black lines and the yellow/blue combo...

I love the black lines and the yellow/blue combo...

Cool an elegant...

Cool an elegant...

Most dramatic of them all...

Most dramatic of them all...

The purple stock is really beautiful this year…

Purple stock

Purple stock

And so is this first bloom on the verbena…

First verbena bloom...

First verbena bloom...

And, to finish up, here is Tico in one of his more unusual poses…He loves belly rubs, but yesterday he was especially…provocative!

Tico Belly Up!

Tico Goes Belly Up!

After the belly rub ritual, I went out and took advantage of the overcast day and cool temperatures to prep my two raised beds!  All I have to do is add some compost and we’re ready to roll!  I’ve already planted the thyme and cilantro, so now it’s time to get the artichokes, tomatoes and peppers in soon.  I’ve also got a couple of sprouting sweet potatoes sitting in water, in hopes of getting some slips so I can try a crop out this year.

Enjoy the day! And get dirty…