Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just a Note . . .

First off, I want to thank all of you for your support. In my last entry I expressed some doubt as to the direction this blog was taking.

Now, having heard from so many of you, I'm quite comfortable writing about whatever I like! And I want you to know that I have two entries I'm working on, one of photos from around Socorro and another of an event we sort of fell into that was just delightful (more serendipity).


I just took a look at the Cholula Red site, and realized that I haven't updated it for close to eighteen months, OOPS!

I started that site as both a travel log and a diary of the changes we made to the motorhome, but this blog has completely replaced the travel log portion of that site (although some early entries still remain posted). That said, we have made so many changes to the rig that I feel that site needs some attention.

Unfortunately, that site is all done with html, something I can struggle by with, but I am by no means proficient, so it will take a while.

I'll be here, but the entries will be sparse for a week or so, or at least until I can get some of that site up to date,

Keep in touch, I'm still here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thoughts on the Blog

Let me start out by clearing something up . . .

I started this blog thinking it would be just about our travels in Cholula Red, but it seems to have evolved into something else entirely.

I enjoy sharing recipes and it seems that many of you like this also, so now I do that every once in a while.

Then there's my soapbox, which I just can't help but get up on every once in a while

Then there's the random thoughts that seem to flutter through my mind, willy nilly. I try to keep these to a minimum, but sometimes, of their own volition, they seem to pop up.

And then there's the various books, movies, etc that I particularly like to share.

I just wanted to let my readers know that I am drifting away from the absolute stated purpose of the blog and I hope it's OK.

I don't get a whole lot of feedback about the blog, so I'm not sure if this matters a lot. Still, I wanted to put it out there.

So I hope the direction the blog is moving is something you might want to continue reading.

Life is good.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Serendipity Part 3

Life is good. I sure hope you aren't sick of hearing this, but it's just a fact!

So here's the story.

We had decided to leave the bosque on Tuesday, Jan 22.  Note the word had in that sentence.  Like all our plans, this one was written in moving water, and once we got to talking about it we decided we still hadn't quite finished with this area.  I know, but we like to be thorough, you know?  After a bit of discussion, we decided to stay another ten days, promising ourselves that we would actually leave after that time.

Now why did we REALLY decide to stay? Because good things were coming our way, even though we didn't know it!

On Monday night, we decided to go to the movies, a HUGE event, since we are so rarely near a movie theater (and lately, when we are, our choices are often something like Alvin and the Chipmunks, NOT).  This is such an event for us because when we lived in Felton, we had access to over a dozen movie screens, at least half of them obscure titles.  A week never went by without us going to a movie theater at least once a week, usually more.  I believe our record was three in one day.

Anyhow "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" was playing and we figured it would be at least one step up from singing rodents, so off we went. It was pretty mediocre, but entertaining in a mindless sort of way.  I love the premise of these stories, but do they not know how to edit a film? They go on way too long and have no timing or momentum.  I really want to see "No Country for Old Men" but I think that's an extremely long shot for Socorro. . .   National Treasure and its mediocrity aside, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Disney has once again started making original animated shorts for theater viewing. This was a continuation of the old Goofy "How To" series titled "How to Hook Up Your a Home Theater".   It was a delight, hitting on the universal frustrations of modern electronics, funny and true.  Let's hope they continue the tradition.

After we left the theater and came back to Cholula Red.  To our surprise, parked right next to us was another Lazy Daze, small world! Nosy girl that I am, I went right over and knocked on the door, and was greeted with a brand new friend.

Her name is Marie and she is from Louisiana (a wonderfully spirited Katrina survivor). Just a few weeks ago she picked up her brand new 2007 Lazy Daze midbath and is slowly wandering home. We talked on into the night, finding that we had a lot more than Lazy Daze in common. She is a wonderfully talented nature photographer (you can see her work here) and we had the best time! Geez, once again, Serendipity strikes home. It's sure a good thing we didn't leave, huh?

The next morning we spent some time sharing and commiserating. I taught her a little about the computer and she filled my head with new ideas for photography (the more I learn, the more I find I need to know . . .)

Marie has been visiting the bosque and Birdwatchers RV Park for years. She mentioned that she was taking Jackie, the owner of Birdwatchers, to lunch and asked if I would care to join them. Of course, I said yes.

Jackie is a delightful lass who was born here and lived most of her 80 plus years in this area. We've enjoyed talking with her during our stay, but the afternoon was a real eye opener. After lunch (hamburgers at the Buckhorn, of course) we went on an extended tour of Socorro and surrounding areas. I have to say, there's nothing like a personal guide for learning the history of an area! In case you've forgotten, let me say how much I love New Mexico.

So once again, we've stumbled onto a new adventure, complete with new friends and wondrous experiences.

Life is good.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Italian Sausage-Tortellini Soup (and cranes!)

It's time for another tasty treat, and this one has a small history.

Several years ago we spent Christmas in Death Valley with a group of Lazy Daze owners. One night we had a potluck (I LOVE potlucks!) and there was the most wonderful soup. I asked around and It turned out that it was made by Barbara Berggreen. At the time I hardly knew her, but we've since become friends, and she was gracious enough to share the recipe.

And is it ever yummy! Thanks Barbara!

You start out with a pound or so of sweet Italian sausage (although I once goofed and bought hot sausage and the soup was still good, just different). Brown the sausage along with one chopped onion and as much garlic as you like (I like about five cloves, but we LOVE garlic).

After this is all browned, if there is too much oil, drain the mixture. Then you'll want to add two cans of stewed tomatoes and a box of beef broth. At this point I add my spices, which vary from batch to batch, but usually include basil fennel, rosemary, oregano and whatever else strikes my fancy).

Bring this up to a boil then simmer for about ten to fifteen minutes.

After the flavors are nicely blended, add a package of fresh, uncooked tortellini. I prefer Buitoni, and I use a twenty ounce package, but you might like a smaller package. We like a LOT of tortellini, and usually prefer the three cheese flavor, but use whatever you like. You could use dried tortellini, but we like the fresh, again, it's a personal preference.

ANYHOW, once you put the tortellini in, just let is simmer till the pasta is nice and tender. Now you want to check your broth because depending on the pasta, you may need to add a bit more. At this stage, either beef or chicken broth works just as well, you just want to make sure you have enough to make a nice soup.

When serving, we like to shave a bit of fresh Parmesan to put in the bottom of the bowls, then a bit to float on the top. This is a perfect winter meal, especially with a nice crusty warm bread, and oh so easy!

I just wanted to recommend it to any of you who are in cold climes and wishing for a nice hot meal.

To make things easy for you, here's and ingredient list

1 pound Italian sausage
1 onion, chpped fine
garlic, chopped fine
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 large box beef broth (you may need more)
italian seasonings.

That's it!

Oh, and about the cranes . . .

Several of you received an email a while back with a teensy tiny slide show from a program I was trying. I found the program unsatisfactory, but kept looking and finally, found a program that suits my needs.

If you click here, you'll see a smallish slide show of some of my favorite pictures I've taken while we've been here at the bosque. Most of them have already been posted here on the blog, but I liked the idea of a slide show. It's rather large, so give it a while to load. If I get a good response, may add more of them later.

We will be leaving here next week, so hopefully I'll have pictures and stories of somewhere new to post!

Life is good!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Serendipity, Part 2

Several days ago, I wrote about Serendipity, and here it is again!

For the last several months, I've been considering learning to paint with watercolors. I've always been attracted to the subtleties and shadings in both watercolors and pastels, but recently the light and skies of New Mexico have drawn me more and more towards the idea of trying to put brush to paper.

Now keep in mind that I do not have an artistic bone in my body. I've never even taken an art class and the few attempts I've made at drawing convinced me that if I had a future in art, it was not down that road! Still, the idea of watercolors keeps nagging me like a squeaky wheel.

So while the spirit is willing, the flesh and brain is kind of weak.

Where do I start? Well, duh, the internet of course! And if you want to experience complete overwhelm, I suggest you google watercolor lessons. To save you the grief, I'll just let you know that you'll get one hundred and thirty two THOUSAND hits.

So what to do????

Well, I found a beginner watercolor set for $15.00 online and ordered it, only to find that most of these kits are total garbage. Something about how much pigment they put in the wells or something. A total disaster.

So I'm getting pretty frustrated and figuring maybe I should just learn how to take better pictures and forget watercolors. Depression begins to set in . . .

I take a few days off from the idea of becoming a person who can paint a passable watercolor.

Then a few days ago, a rig pulls into the park where we're staying. Because we're nosy (sad but true) we watch as they try to park and get set up. In a few minutes the park owner comes out with like a two hundred foot extension cord and plugs one end into the new rig and then starts plugging it in to all the different posts in the park. Well. this is more than I can stand, so I jump out of the rig and go over to the newbies.

Hi I ask, having problems? Well, they say, everything was working fine, then we went to make a up of coffee (electric coffee maker) and the power just went blooey!

So while Terry and the park owner were checking the power at the pole, I ask "Have you tried resetting the GFCI switch" (ground fault circuit interrupter switch? The gentleman in the rig states that he's tried all the fuses and breakers, and I say, no, go for the GFCI switch. he says OK, and in half a shake of a lambs tail, they're back in business! Now, I'm not an electrical genius by any means, but I do know that when that happens to us, nine times out of ten, it's the GFCI switch.

They say thanks and I go home, happy to have been of some assistance

An hour or so later, we get a knock on the door and it is the lady half of the couple we helped. She introduced herself and we started chatting. She asked how long we'd been here and I told her several months, and we got to discussing the bosque. I then asked how long they planned on staying, and she said that they had to leave on Sunday morning because she was the President of the Watercolor Club an Las Cruces and they had to be back for the monthly meeting!


Of course, I pumped her for all the information I could think of (and probably scared her half to death!), but angel that she is, she agreed to help me get started. She made me a list of what I need to begin, told me what to avoid (like the cheesy set I already purchased) and was just a wonderful boon to my confidence and my budding watercolor career!

We spent the evening together, they're a great couple and new friends I'm sure. As I've said before, the people we meet and the new friends we make are the best part of life.

And boy howdy, is life ever good!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cranes (finally!)

We finally are well enough to go and see the cranes, HOORAY!

Most of these shots are silhouette shots since it was just that time of day. A lot of them are repetitive but I already cut this album down from over 300 photos, so bear with me!

PLEASE, remember to click on the photos for a much larger, more detailed shot. They really do look so much nicer when viewed at a larger size.

I have very little to add to these, so I'll just post them, OK?

Bosque del Apache is like a little slice of heaven on earth, and Life is Very Good!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Shepherd's Pie

Because we're still not getting out a lot, this will be another recipe post (which have been pretty well received!)

Probably twenty years ago we went over to a friends for dinner and were served Shepherds Pie. Well technically if it's not made with lamb or mutton, it's cottage pie, but what the heck. Anyway, we loved it and I have been making it in various forms ever since.

Start with a pound or two of hamburger, sauteed with garlic and onions till its nice and brown and the onions have released their juice and are translucent. Then add in some veggies, whatever you have on hand, but peas, carrots and corn are my favorites. If you have a bag in the freezer that will do just fine. Let these all mix together till nice and warm and bubbly.

When this is all blended I like to add in a can of cream of mushroom soup and a cup or so of milk. When this is all blended, add in a package of dry gravy mix. Now you can use beef broth here, or even chicken stock, or even make your own gravy, just be creative and use what you have on hand. The consistency you are looking for here is like the filling for a meat pie, neither too dry nor too wet. When it looks just right, it's time to begin the final seasoning.

I like to add a bit of Worcestershire, and then see where it goes. A bit of rosemary, a pinch of oregano, a hit of Cholula, use your imagination, but be sure to taste it to make sure it's heading in the right direction.

When it tastes really scrumptious, put it in a casserole and go on to the next step which is the potatoes. Ideally, this will be freshly mashed potatoes, but I've been known to use leftovers, instant mashed potatoes and even frozen hash browns in a pinch. I like to add some cheese to the potatoes, just to give them a bit more flavor but this is optional. Next, slather the mashed potatoes all over the beef mixture and make it nice and pretty. Sometimes I make rows in the potatoes with a fork so there will be a bit of design to brown up on the top of teh casserole.

Bake it for about thirty minutes at 350 degrees and it should be dandy!

As I write this, I've just taken mine out of the oven and OH NO, I've made a HUGE mistake. I'm such a ninny . . . Instead of making it in a nice flat cake pan, I made it in a taller sauce pan, and it never got crunchy on top.

But you know what? As Terry says, "It still eats good".

And it is yummy if I do say so myself. That said, it's not going to win any points in the presentation category! C'est la vie!

While I'm talking about cooking, I'd like to mention my newest most favorite kitchen item. They're called Ove Gloves and they are just the best thing since sliced bread.

I've been wrestling with oven mitts in various forms for years. The quilted ones are never thick enough and I've gone through three sets of silicone mitts, all too thick and clumsy to actually perform the job they were designed for.

Ah, but the Ove Glove, now that's a thing of beauty. These are actual gloves, knit (knitted?) from kevlar, with some blue silicone applied on the surface so that they are not only heat resistant but non slip.

Since they are gloves rather than mitts, they give you great flexibility. While you will feel a teensy bit of heat if you go all the way into the oven, they definitely allow you to reach right in and pick up anything that is piping hot without ever coming close to hurting yourself. They even say that you can reach right into a fire pit and move logs with these gloves, but I haven't tried that, I'm a chicken. The one thing you need to know is that if they get wet, they will conduct heat, but if you use them dry, they really can't be beat.

While they're a bit expensive at $15.00 per glove (and you REALLY need a pair, one won't do) they're totally worth it.

We have high hopes of going out to view the cranes tomorrow, so maybe I'll finally get some more pictures to post.

Life is good.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey


I just finished reading The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey and am I ever impressed.

Several entries ago I mentioned my curiosity regarding Theodore Roosevelt. Since this was the first book I could find on this remarkable man, I picked it up and finished it in just two days. My initial interest started after learning that he was the one person who had the foresight to set aside so much land for our National Park System (and don't we wish we had someone who appreciated it as much as he today!). But I digress . . .

This volume chronicles an adventure he undertook in the later years of his life, traveling to South America to lecture and then travel some of the as then unexplored tributaries of the Amazon River.

I have to say, this reads like an Indiana Jones adventure. Insects the likes of which no one had ever seen, man eating fish, cannibalistic natives, malaria, this is the stuff of true adventure.

The fact that this all happened, less than one hundred years ago, and that the journey was undertaken by a man who was already over 50 years of age (remember life spans were much less 100 years ago), it was just thrilling.

I find myself fascinated by this man, and have ordered another book on his earlier years. What a compelling individual!

On another note, I believe that we are almost 100% recovered. We even took the rig into town today to get propane! Tomorrow, I have hopes of getting out and taking some more pictures, so maybe this blog will get back on track!

I'm so happy to be feeling better (and hope Terry will soon follow suit).

Life is good and getting better!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

New Mexico Skies

As I keep saying, the sky here is vast and the light unlike anything I've seen anywhere else.

Every evening, for just a few moments, the light bands the mountains, making a mosaic of the landscape, it's magical.

Tonight, I looked out and caught this landscape where a small mountain range sits off to the east. In this photo, you can see the incredible sandy colored ridge in the middle of the photo.

And just to show you how unusual it is here, facing west, just thirty seconds later, this is the same sky. One could get dizzy just looking at the skies!

I love New Mexico.


The dictionary defines Serendipity as an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

I am a huge believer in Serendipity. In fact I count on it and it has rarely let me down.

Those of you who know me realize I'm kind of slippery with plans, but that is by design on my part, since I always want to leave room for the unexpected. This practice has opened doors I never would have expected, which is kind of the point, isn't it?

This may become a recurring theme in the blog. . . In fact, if I don't get well and out of the rig soon, all blog entries may be like this! Sorry, I'm just not getting out a lot lately to take pictures . . .

Anyhow, I did go into town yesterday. Terry is one week behind me in this hellish affliction, so chores are falling to me, and we needed some staples, so off to Socorro I went.

And do you think I could go into town and pass by that great thrift store without going in? I think not!

In my junking adventures, I always look for books, music and movies, as well as whatever strikes my fancy (assuming it will fit in Cholula Red of course).

For new music, I usually just go by my gut feelings. Sometimes I like the liner art, or the inner notes, sometimes I just like the sound of the song titles. Since CDs are usually only a couple of bucks, I'm always open to trying something I've never heard.

Yesterday I picked up a 3 disc retrospective of Janis Joplin, a collection of Paraguayan harp music by a gentleman named Alfredo Rolando Ortiz and the true treasure of the group, Painted Desert Serenade by Joshua Kadigan.

Now I've never heard of Mr. Kadigan, but something in the look of the CD and the names of the songs told me it would be a treasure, and is it ever!

Have you ever heard of him? He composes his own songs, plays a perfect piano and writes songs that play like stories. They allow you to enter a specific place in time, experience people and their relationships in an intimate fashion, making them instant friends, all set to exquisite music. That he writes from his heart is obvious on the first listening, but as you listen repeatedly, they really work their way into your consciousness. A lovely find.

Of course, I had to look him up on the internet, thus opening whole new aspects to this artist. His website is a real window into his life, making his music all the more real and poignant.

He shares his feelings on so many subjects, and he also shares a good bit of his music, much of his music is available on his website as a free download,

Please, take a listen, I promise you wont be disappointed.

Life continues to be very good!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Ramblings (again) . . .

Well, we're STILL sick, although well on the road to recovery. We're still staying in, but feeling a bit better.

I've been meaning to post but our life is so restricted right now that there really isn't much to report. We stay in, cook, eat, nap and watch movies and TV series on DVD.

Ah, such an exciting life we lead!

For lack of anything else to write about, I thought I'd mention one of the movies we've seen that I really love.

Just this morning, the Station Agent was on the Independent Film Channel, one of my favorites. I had seen this small film when it was first released and was charmed by it, but truthfully had completely forgotten about it.

After a second viewing, I have to say I liked it even better than the first time. A charming character study coupled with perfect casting and fine acting makes for a lovely, intimate meditation on loneliness and the value of friendship. I recommend it highly.

Lately I've found that whether in a movie or a book, I value character over most everything. Action movies are fun and mystery novels are involving, but what stays with me are the characters.

This has changed my reading habits of late to include a more commentaries, travelogues, history and biographies.

As regular readers know, I am enthralled with New Mexico and just finished a book that encapsulated just about everything I love about this awesome state.

Titled the Lightning Field, it's a series of essays written by Robert Eaton, who has lived and worked in and around New Mexico for years. His writing is what I aspire to, his descriptions perfect. If you'd like a true feel for this state, this book will do it.

I also find myself intrigued with Teddy Roosevelt, so my next reading will be something about him.

And that's it for today! At least I'm still posting . . .

Life is good (and getting better the better we feel)