Sunday, January 31, 2010


I haven't been posting much for a few day because we've been busy.

We decided to take a bit of time and do some upgrading, housecleaning, you know, those kinds of chores.

The ones you always put off.

The list includes
disassembling the couch/bed
(to save weight & use the wood elsewhere)
to make an assembly to make better use of my oddly shaped closet
to build two shallow book cases
(for the living room)
to complete scanning
every piece of paper we can do without
thinking about removing the carpet . . .
to accomplish all this
without killing ourselves

We did get the couch project done yesterday.

Today we go for parts for the book cases and maybe the closet project.

And maybe when we're all done, I'll reward myself with a Canon EOS Rebel T1i.

So bear with me for a few days, keep checking back. I'll eventually start shooting pictures and cooking again.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Serendipity and Snow

Serendipity is one of my favorite words, concepts, ideas.

So it was with great delight that I read that on January 28, 1754, one Horace Walpole, in a letter to Horace Mann, first coined the word Serendipity.

I am eternally grateful.


Yesterday, I spent the day working on my endless task of cleaning out the various closets, drawers and bins of the motorhome.

Remember the Muck Boots I was so happy to have while we were up in the snow at Ghost Ranch? Was I ever happy to have them when we had snow for six weeks. They kept my feet dry, they were easy to walk in, they were perfect.

But since we've been down here in beautiful Bosque del Apache, they've been pretty much in the way (they're somewhat large). Yesterday I looked around the rig and realized we have the large unused space behind the couch where they would fit perfectly. Not easily accessible, but hey, we're out of the snow, so it's time to stash the winter boots, right?

I woke up this morning
to this

Trying for the positive attitude,
I dug the boots out
and went to take pictures.

Then I ran right back in to play with the pictures on the computer because it was COLD out there.

This is the same picture as the first one, slightly lightened, slightly sharpened. I couldn't decide which I like better. The artistic side of me likes the first one, but there's another part of me that loves how clean and crisp this second shot is.

You can click on either image
and decide for yourself.

While it was freezing cold,
it was also unbelievable gorgeous

This bush is right outside our rig.
While I hadn't really
noticed it before,
it was transformed by the snow.
I think the snow
makes it look
somewhat tropical.

A wider view,
I'm surprised how blue
the snow looks
straight out of the camera.

So I decided
to warm it up a bit.

Since we have this beautiful
old windmill,
I thought I'd make this photo
look like it came
straight out of the old West.

Terry and I talked about it and decided this would be the perfect day to hunker down with the heater turned to high, watch movies and amuse ourselves without going outside.

I made more cheese (this time a mozzarella roll with a pesto filling) and think I'll bake a couple of loaves of bread.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ropa Vieja

A few years ago, we had dinner with friends and they made us a lovely Cuban dish called Ropa Vieja (Spanish for "Old Clothes").

I had forgotten about it until I ran across a bunch of recipes for the dish while searching the internet for something to cook in my pressure cooker.

Now I have to wonder how I could have forgotten this delicious stew!

As always, I add a little of this and that and change most recipes, but I found the base recipe on the Food Network.

I'll include the regular recipe and tell you what I did in my version.

Ingredients for Ropa Vieja

1 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck stew meat
(I used closer to 3 lbs, what I had on hand)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
(I didn't measure, but I used a LOT more)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
(again, I didn't measure, but LOTS more)
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Olive Oil
1 14 oz can whole tomatoes
(Mine, this plus about 3 cups fresh, chopped)
2 carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
(Mine, about 5 large carrots)
1 large onion, halved and sliced
(I diced the onions)
-Actually Terry diced the onions-
3 tbsp tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
(Mine, about a dozen cloves)
1 bay leaf
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red or yellow bell pepper diced
(Mine, 5 red bell peppers)
1/2 cup halved pimento stuffed green olives
(Mine, about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley

LOTS of ingredients, but well worth it.

Now on to cooking . . .

Make sure the meat is dry, so the spices stick better. Season the meat with the oregano, cumin, salt and pepper, then brown well in olive oil. Use lots of spice, this is the basis for the yummy broth.

When all the meat is brown and crusty (you may have to do this in batches), add the tomatoes, carrots, onions, tomato paste, half your garlic, a bay leaf and 1 1/4 cups water.

Now I made mine in a pressure cooker, but I'm sure this could be made in a slow cooker, or on top of the stove. In a pressure cooker, bring it up to high, and when your pressure is up, lower the heat to keep it at medium high for about half an hour. You want the meat to be nice and tender.

While this is cooking, saute the bell peppers and remaining garlic in a bit of olive oil.

When the meat is done, stir in the cooked peppers, the olives and the fresh parsley.

Now, be prepared to sit down to a flavor combination the likes of which you wont believe. When I make this again (and I will be making it again), I'll leave out the parsley, because I've decided that fresh parsley is disgusting, but that's a personal decision. I will also add even more garlic, probably a few potatoes and maybe more carrots (Terry loves carrots).

Serve this with some fresh hot No Knead Bread and I can guarantee that you'll be adding this your recipe book.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crane Wings and Cameras

First off, I'd like to thank everyone for their kind comments about my photography, it is appreciated.

I got up today to such a sunrise, it was beyond belief. It was also thirty degrees outside. So I'm embarrassed to say I sat inside with a hot cup of coffee and enjoyed the dawn through my windows.

I did get out later and took the camera out for a bit of exercise.

I seem to like shooting
straight into the sun these days.
It blinds me
so I'm never sure what I'm getting,
but usually I like the results.

This next shot
is the exact reason
I want a new camera.
I love the action,
but take a look
at that digital noise!

The same thing here.
I have to start saving my pennies,
or find somebody
with a good used DSLR to sell

I occasionally get shots
I'm happy with

But truthfully,
with these skies
and these lovely birds
shots like these
are a piece of cake.

As always,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More Pictures, and Cameras

I don't know what's wrong with me, I keep wanting a new camera . . .

I LOVE taking pictures, but I'm never quite pleased. Would a new camera help? I keep looking at DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex). Better sensors, supposedly faster, certainly sharper, but also a hefty chunk of change, which I don't have right now.

I have never even shot one photo with a DSLR, but I lust after one.

Oh well, I just thought I'd share. Maybe I'll find a good used one somewhere along the way.

It seems that my photography goes in cycles. I see something, I like it, I shoot it and the next thing I know, I'm off on a new tangent. Ghost Ranch started me on black and white photography, but now that I'm at the bosque, color seems to be on my mind.

Black and white
seems years away

By the time I got out to shoot,
the sun was declining.
I liked the way
it made itself felt,
refusing to be ignored

The light and color
was really perfect,
changing by the second

These tall shrubs
are one of my favorite plants
here at the bosque.

The silhouette they make
against the sky
always attracts

I stole this photo idea from Terry,
he always shoots pictures
in the rear mirrors.
Now I see why he does it!

The combination
of the blue skies,
the various foliage,
the water . . .

Shooting straight into the sun

Those shrubs again
they provide such
striking contrast

I thought I should include
at least one picture
of the cranes

one shot of the moon

I can't help but wonder
what these would have looked like
if I had that DSLR . . .

Friday, January 22, 2010

Old Pictures

I was doing some cleanup on the computer and I ran into some old pictures I took back in 2004.

I'm much better with photo manipulation than I was back then, so I started playing around. In looking them over, I seem to have been shooting a lot of pictures against a completely blown out sky. Was I just unaware of what poor pictures they would make or is it just that California seems to lack the amazing New Mexico skylines?

Here's a few I thought I'd share with you.

We used to love to go up to the city of Colma, a few miles south of San Francisco. Years ago, realizing that acreage was at such a premium in San Francisco, Colma became a city of the dead. These cemeteries go for miles, and I find the history fascinating.

I also love to roam
among the beautiful statuary.

Here you can see
the acres of monuments.
The sepia cast felt appropriate
for these shots

I remember taking this shot
from the top of a parking structure
when I was in San Francisco
to attend MacWorld.
That means
it must have been January!

And finally,
one of my favorite shots
of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Not so realistic,
but I love the soft warm effect.

I may be including a few more of these old shots (I have thousands).

Like in real life, it's hard for me to throw anything away!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Made Cheese!

So here I am, looking around the internet, and I see a reference to making your own cheese. I immediately dismiss the idea, since we live in about 200 square feet.

But the idea keeps nagging . . .

What's wrong with me? I'm a go-to kind of girl, what's with this negative thinking? Of course I can do it! After all, I cook all kinds of things in this compact little kitchen. I bake bread, make cakes and pies, roast beefs, make huge pots of chile verde, so why not cheese?

I look into it a bit further.

There are literally hundreds of sites covering this subject, but finally, due to the fact that we're currently in San Antonio, New Mexico, population 719, it looks like the easiest way to get what I need is via the internet.

To be honest, all you need us whole milk (fresh would be better, but I can't seem to find a local dairy), rennet (tablets or liquid), citric acid, a decent thermometer and salt. I'm sure that in a large city all of these would be readily available, so if this inspires you, get on the phone and track them down.

For myself, I went online and found this Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Making Kit.

At the market, we bought homogenized, pasteurized (NOT ultra pasteurized) milk and this morning, we set out to make us some fresh mozzarella cheese.

We started early, because even though they say it only takes thirty minutes, these things usually take me a lot longer.

That said, with the instructions from, in about forty five minutes, we had perfect mozzarella cheese!

The site is great (they don't call her the Cheese Queen for nothing). After looking around, I discovered it was her kit that I had purchased (although I'm sure you could get the ingredients locally).

So now I can add cheese making to my repertoire, what a hoot!

As an added bonus, apparently the whey is packed full of nutrients, so I now have a pound of beans soaking in the whey for later.

I see a dinner consisting of a big old pot of beans, some homemade bread and fresh cheese in our immediate future, perfect for this overcast day.

I think I'll try flavored cheese next.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just One Picture

Just a short post
a picture of the sunset
from our "yard"

As Always

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cranes and Ducks

I do dearly love looking at the birds here at the Bosque.

We went out today and all of us took photos. I didn't do as well as I'd hoped, but then I rarely do.

I'm feeling the itch for a DSLR, but money is tight right now, so I'll just have to make do. That said, if any of you hear of any used, fairly new Canon or Nike DSLRs for sale (at a good price, with at least one lens included), please let me know.

Now on to today's photos.

I'm still at the place where I get excited when I get a shot of one of these birds that's sharp and in focus.

I realize the composition
leaves a bit to be desired,
but when you enlarge it,
I love the detail.

I like the composition
in this one a bit better.
At least there's a background
that serves the main subject.

My favorite crane shot of the day.
I'm not sure why,
I just like it a lot.
Maybe it's his little
heart shaped cap.

Finally, here's the only duck shot
I got that's even half way usable.
Out of thousands of ducks
I can only share pictures
of these two.
How sad.

I'll try to do better next time.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gifts (and Ramblings)

Today has been perfect.

A good nights sleep, waking easily without the shock of an external alarm, early morning is my favorite time of the day,

The morning is quiet, I start my coffee and open the windows of the rig to this.

I go outside for a few moments, marveling at the hundreds of cranes flying overhead. For the life of me, I can't seem to capture them with my camera.

Sometimes memory will just have to serve.

Then I hear a bird, singing sweetly off to the side, and he is kind enough to pose for me.

Such a gift.

I spend the day with my sweet man Terry, reading, playing on the computer, a little of this and and a little of that.

I get a call from a friend I haven't seen in quite a while and we decide to meet for a late lunch/early dinner.

Friends are such a treasure. We enjoyed good food and shared what has been happening in both our lives. We discovered we both needed to stop at the market and decided to get our chores out of the way while continuing our visit.

We got to the market parking lot and there, in the middle of the road was a neatly folded up twenty dollar bill. I saw it first, but decided the only fair thing to do was to share, so we are both better off by $10.00!

When I got home, I thought about that $20.00 and felt badly for the person who had lost it. After all, it is Friday, payday for many.

Then I came across this website.

Haiti has been on my mind of late so I looked around the site and decided to make a donation to Doctors Without Borders. They have an excellent reputation, are already established in Haiti and work directly to alleviate pain and suffering.

Might I suggest you take a look at this website and pick a charity you feel comfortable with, then donate whatever you can afford? Even a dollar will help someone.

Now I feel much better about that $20.00, and I hope whoever lost it can afford the loss.

While in the market, I always look at the sale DVDs, since we are bonifide movie freaks.

There, in the $5.00 bin I found a movie I've never heard of called Hank Williams, the Show He Never Gave.

Are you a Hank Williams Fan?

If not, why not?

Personally I love his voice, and I think his phrasing is beyond compare, but I understand that many people don't care for his delivery. Even assuming you don't care for his voice or phrasing, surely you can't deny his contribution to American music.

Below are just a few of the 700 songs he wrote before his untimely death at 29.

I Can't Help It If I'm Still in Love With You
Your Cheatin' Heart
Hey Good Lookin'
Honky Tonkin'
Settin' the Woods on Fire
Cold Cold Heart
I Saw the Light
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
Long Gone Lonesome Blues
Mind Your Own Business
You Win Again

Quite a collection for such a young man. It's hard to imagine what he would have done had he not died so young.

I must say, this movie is not for all tastes, but if you're at all a fan of Hank, I can't recommend this movie enough. Now I want to tell you that when there isn't a performance going on, it can be a bit slow, but when Sneezy Waters (yep, that's the singer/actor's name) is on stage, he absolutely channels Hank Williams.


On my way back home, I simply had to pull over to the side of the road.

Is there anywhere else on earth that has that sublime mixture of coral pink segueing into the intense turquoise of a New Mexico sunset?

I swear, it's a gift. And a perfect end to a perfect day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Back at the Bosque!

If you're a regular reader, I guess you'd better prepare yourself for a bunch of bird pictures, because we're back at Bosque del Apache!

It took us a couple of days to get settled, and tonight we took our first sunset jaunt out to watch the cranes settle in for the evening.

The following pictures aren't all that great, but it seems like each year I have to start somewhere, so here goes.

the sunset

While this is a fairly dark shot,
I'm a huge fan
of the Sandhill Crane
when it's coming in for a landing

I'm also a fan of
the Sandhill Crane in flight
you can click to enlarge)

I guess you could say
I love just about everything
about the Sandhill Cranes.
I find them endlessly fascinating

So awkward
yet so graceful

I'm including this next shot
to remind you
to never delete a photo
from your camera.

This is a really poor shot
too dark
too blurry

But thanks to Photoshop
look what we can get.

This is the cutout filter

And this is the Neon Glow Filter

And this is my very favorite
the Poster Edge Filter
I LOVE the look of this

One more shot of the evening fly-in
but there will be many more
in the coming month

I'm so happy we're back!