Thursday, August 27, 2009


Today we moved into Santa Fe. Lots of business to take care of so we had to leave the idyllic life of the ranch for the big city.

Both Terry and I think moving is a huge PITA, but whenever we get to the new place, once again, were all excited. Such is life.

For the next week or so, we'll be going to the big grocery stores, seeing movies on the big screen, eating at restaurants and generally whooping it up.

Funny how such things that we used to take for granted now seem like such a treat.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Regular readers know that I love movies, and I love computers.

That said, I'm getting to the point where I'm not so sure I love the combination.

This morning, I've been watching the 1962 spectacle Taras Bulba and WOW! It really makes me long for the pre CGI days of film.

A cast of thousands, literally. It just has something that the teeming hoards we see in films today seems to lack.

Could it be realism? Or maybe it's that the sheer numbers, while huge, are still believable.

It seems that film makers today feel the need to have a cast of hundreds of thousands. I believe they think they will stagger us with the multitudes they put on the screen rather than with the storytelling and close ups that make a film seem so real.

Just my thoughts.

While I'm on this subject, other films that (for me) illustrate the wonder of pre-CGI include El Cid (1961), Spartacus (the 1960 Kirk Douglas version) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). These films are truly thrilling in their scope and majesty.

Wow, I just realized these are all 1960s films, maybe the height of spectacle in pre-CGI moviemaking.

But we can go back even further. Have you seen a 1930 film called the Big Trail? If spectacle is your thing, you owe it to yourself to see this movie.

Starring an incredibly young John Wayne, and filmed in eye popping 70mm wide screen by a young Raoul Walsh, this film is a true wonder to behold. A western, it tells two tales, one of revenge and another of a wagon train making the westward journey.

What sets this aside is the fact that, made in 1930, they pretty literally had to actually make the journey west in order to make the film. With locations including the Mississippi River, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the National Buffalo Range in Montana, the deserts of Arizona, the rivers of Oregon and the forests of California, what can I say?

And when they show pioneers lifting those wagons over those cliffs and bracing them down those mountainsides, people are really doing it. Now that's moviemaking!

If you haven't seen this film, you really should, it's a wonder on many levels.

And while I'm talking about movies, I'll conclude with another pre-CGI film that always amazes me.

That would be Darby O'Gill and the Little People.

Have you ever seen it? While it's loaded with great actors (including the awesome Albert Sharpe and a beautiful, young Sean Connery), it also features a boatload of amazing effects from a time when they had to figure these things out without the use of computers.

Take a look at those shots of the leprechauns when they're in King Brian's Hall, then watch the special on the DVD and be amazed at the lengths they went to for these classic shots.

Add this to a delightful story, beautiful scenery, fine acting, a few thrills, some scares and a ton of charm, and you have a great film. Watch it and I think you'll agree.

They just don't seem to be making them like this anymore.

Or maybe I'm just getting old.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tortillas, Fajitas and Rainbows (Part 2)

Part 2.

There was just too much of this post to put in one entry, so here is part two. Part one can be read here.

While Charmaine and I were inside working on tortillas, Victor was outside showing Terry how to cook on his amazing homemade wok.

This was made completely from scrap pieces found around the ranch. The wok bottom was made from a disc from a machine that turns the earth in the fields. One nice thing is it can be raised to a standing level by attaching the legs. The rest is made up of pieces he's fabricated himself, very cool!

We've noticed in our travels around New Mexico that a lot of the local folks use this kind of apparatus instead of a regular barbecue. The work wonderfully, and you can cook everything on the one surface.

Before using it,
he always cleans it
with heat, oil and salt.

The propane
quickly heats it to a very high heat,
so meat cooks very fast.
Just like in a Chinese wok

Then he adds
the potatoes and the jalapenos.
He covers it for a while
to let the contents cook.

Now it's time
to add the peppers.
Red, yellow and green bell peppers,
along with the onions.
What great color!

And boy, was it ever tasty,
spread inside the home made tortillas.

After dinner, we sat on the porch
and watched as the sun began to set.

The fields look so beautiful,
freshly cut, waiting for the balers.
But uh oh! It's beginning to look like rain.
Rain is not good for the hay
that's drying in the fields,
waiting to be baled.
Fortunately the rain was short.
And we were gifted with
the most beautiful double rainbow.

A shot from another angle.

A close up view.
I can truthfully say
I've never seen such color in a rainbow.

An even closer view.

One more wide shot
and then it was gone.

But that doesn't mean the skies
weren't just as beautiful.

you can click on any image
to see better detail.

We still have so many hummingbirds.
I love watching them
against the reflections
in the rigs windows.

And one final sunset shot.

Looking at these photos, can you understand why we love it here so much?

Tortillas, Fajitas and Rainbows (1 of 2)

I'm back!

Actually, I've been back for a few days (changed my allergy meds) but I've been lazy about blogging.

Yesterday we had a perfect day, hanging out at the ranch, reading, being lazy, in awe of how very lucky we are with this life style.

Then we were invited to the house for cooking lessons. Victor was going to make fajitas and Charmaine was going to teach me to make tortillas, yum!

Get ready, here's today's lesson. First, the ingredients.

4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons Crisco (more on this later)
1 to 1 1/2 cups warm to hot water

Here we go!

Here's Charmaine,
mixing the flour, salt and baking powder,
to which she adds
what she calls
four heaping tablespoons of Crisco.
is Charmaine's idea
of a heaping tablespoon.
As you can tell,
she believes in measuring precisely.
She uses her hands
to mix the Crisco into the flour.
When done, it should look like this,
nice and mealy.Then she adds the water.
Don't be squeamish,
just jump right in there with your handsUntil it hangs together
in a nice ballThrow it out on the counter
and knead it a bit
to make sure all the ingredients
are thoroughly incorporated.Then start making balls.
Charmaine seems to know the size
just by feel.
I would call it somewhere
between a ping pong ball
and a tennis ballMake up all the dough
and put it in a bowl to rise for a bit
The stove top is a great place
to rise the dough.
After fifteen or twenty minutes,
the dough should have risen a bit.
It will be nice and soft.
Flour both sides
and squash down to form a circle.
The rounder the ball and circle,
the rounder your tortilla will be.

At least that's the theory.

Notice the very cool rolling pin.
If she's not careful,
it may find its' way into my motorhome

Charmaine did the first batch,
then showed me how to do it.
Hers are on the right.

Sure that given a bit of time,
I would get the hang of it
she left me to finish the batch.

making round tortillas
sounds a LOT easier than it is.
Or maybe I'm just tortilla challenged . . .But they all cook just fine,
in a nice hot cast iron pan.And look at this!
Tons of tortillas,
all ready for the fajitas
that are cooking outside.
But you know what? This was such a long post that I had to do this entry in two parts, so make sure to click here to see the rest of the story.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

a Wedding, Haying and Damned Allergies

LOTS has been going on.

I finally finished my blanket, and have pictures. We went to a wedding and took a ton of pictures. It's haying season around here, cutting, drying, baling and storing. Again, lots of pictures taken. We took a drive and again took a bunch of pictures.

But I've not been posting.

Want to know why?

Because I have the allergies from Hell!

Running eyes, I mean really running, like a faucet. Itchy eyes, swollen, red and very tender. Sneezing, coughing, liquid discharges from my nose (sorry). My head seems to be full of some sort of liquid filled balloon that affects my balance. And my ability to think. And walk. And talk.

It would seem I have suddenly built up an immunity to my allergy pills, nasal spray and eye drops. All at once.

So until I find something that relieves my current misery, I'll be taking a short break.

See you then.

Friday, August 14, 2009

More of the Ranch

We woke up this morning to a pretty healthy rain. Sitting inside, looking out at the horses, I decided to try a few shots through the screens.

Kind of interesting.
I wont be doing it often,
but I don't hate it . . .

When the sky started to clear,
I caught the horses
on the other side of the rig.
I'm playing with
the saturation in Photoshop here.

Then I went back to work
on some of the photos of the ranch.
Years of initials and carvings.

Great buildings.

Again, in the tack room.
I had no idea horses required
so much gear!

These are two of the ranches brands.

I love this old tractor.

Here's a shot from
another angle.

And once again,
I'm intrigued with
the shapes contained
in old machinery.

And like so many ranches
we see here in New Mexico
there's a collection of old vehicles.

Here's another shot of the water.
I can't seem to stop shooting
this creek.
I think it's really beautiful.

I also can't seem
to stop shooting hummingbirds.

And one more silhouette
of the rig at sunset.

As always

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Again, the Ranch

We have so enjoyed our time here on the ranch. These folks have been just wonderful and we really appreciate the opportunity to share their lives for a while.

To do a small bit to thank them, we're working on a small photo book for them. Today I wanted to share just a few of the photos we will be including.

There are many buildings here on the ranch and I find myself fascinated by many of the wooden ones.

The harsh New Mexico
sun and wind
is pretty brutal on wood and paint,
but the textures they create
are beautiful.

I also like the shapes
created by the
various pieces of machinery.

Then there's the tack room.

And the old log buildings.

Here's one of the hay barns.
Antlers are all over New Mexico.

Another hay barn.

Aren't these shapes wonderful?

I was watching Tori
(she's my new friend)
as she walked down by the creek.
I liked this shot
with her reflection in the water.

And I keep taking pictures
of the water flowers.

Since we're drycamping
(no electric or water hookups)
we're relying on our solar
and the 55 gallons of water in our tanks.
Today we had to go dump
and get more water.

I took this shot
as we were coming back
to our idyllic spot.

It is really wonderful here, and as always,