Pumpkins

What exactly goes into the flavor of the season, ‘pumpkin spice’?  Pumpkins by themselves have a sort of vaguely vegetal flavor, but pumpkin pies (which have somehow overcome the odds to become an essential part of Thanksgiving) mainly taste of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and sugar.

But there are some choices one can make when choosing a pumpkin.

It was a beautiful fall day out in the country (a mere 25 miles from town) and there it was, a farm stand selling every sort of pumpkin for every sort of need.

For instance, here are albino pumpkins for those who dislike the color orange.  I have no idea if they are also white on the inside.

There were also pumpkins for those who find ordinary pumpkins somewhat boring, these ones had an attractive striping to them.

And then there are tiny pumpkins for those who don’t wish to do any heavy lifting (available in regular orange or white).

For those who appreciate a challenge, there are the giant pumpkins, which weigh as much as a small child.  All of these pumpkins will last for a long time as decorations, but these varieties are not really good to eat (unless one is a deer, the ones near my house think they are delicious).   And it is a lovely thing to have a choice.

Sunsets

One of the many ways that people divide themselves (without resorting to a sorting hat) are whether one is a lark (getting up early for the worms) or an owl.  I seem to be an owl.   I have heard tell of the beauty of sunrise, but whenever I experience it I am invariably groggy and half asleep.   But sunsets are a different matter.  First there is that lovely twilight, then the encroaching darkness.  And of course one does not get a spectacular sunset every evening, so it is more impressive when one does.  I don’t remember sunsets when I lived in the Midwest, I think the West has the best.

Like this one at M’s cousin’s, with the yellow to orange colors of the setting sun.

I saw this one over the mesa when I went to visit M’s uncle recently, it started out with just a touch of pink that burst into this lovely glowing spectacle before fading away.

Sunsets can also be more subtle, with just a smear of color against the horizon.

Or like this one, with faintly pink clouds contrasting with the twilight and the lights of the neighborhood.

I captured this view from my living room (good thing the window was clean).

Here’s a recent one, without even a tinge of pink and the mountain hidden, it’s still beautiful.

 

Kitties

When my friends complain that they are stressed out by the news, I have a simple solution:   quit watching the news and watch cat videos instead.  As I do not want to link videos (after all I didn’t create them) to my site I offer instead some cute pictures of my friend’s cats.

The young tom is quite probably a Maine Coon cat.  He has a long lanky body, especially hairy toes, and a long fuzzy tail, all of which are characteristic of the breed.   The yellow female comes from the local animal shelter, so her parentage is unknown.  But she has lovely stripes in her fur and on her skin, so she is possibly part tiger.

As tiny kitties they enjoyed sharing a basket when they got tired of romping through the house, chasing each other and imaginary foes.

When they got bigger it was a matter of one kitty to a basket.

But that was okay, as there is always a box handy.

Boxes are great places to rest in, and one can always bite and fight the box.

And boxes are perfect places for napping.

 

It is hard work being a kitten.

But they do grow up so fast, here he is today, ready  and alert, looking to pounce.

And he keeps getting longer and lankier, just like the breed standard.

She was rather standoffish today, not sure if I was a friend or enemy, so her she is keeping a wary eye on me.   And I noticed that as she has gotten older her tail has gotten more and more fluffy, so perhaps I am quite wrong about her parentage.  Based on her tail, she is possibly part squirrel.

 

Chili today

A reliable sign that it is officially Fall (besides looking at a calendar and the appearance of pumpkin spice flavored everything) is when the chili crop is ready.   There are roasting stands for green chili, and bushels and ristras (chili tied up in string) of the red.

So this is what they look like when they are fresh.

And this is what they look like in a dried ristra.  Well, what happens next?   To use this for more than decoration, one removes the stem and seeds, boils them for a bit in some water, whizzes them up in a blender, strains the pulp, and uses this to make a pot of red chili (or one starts with the frozen pulp from the grocery store which is much easier).

And voila, a pot of New Mexico Red Chili.   Actually, this one is not very traditional, because it contains beans.  A traditionalist would serve  the red chili and beans separately, so that one can put together a bowl to one’s taste.   But I made this particular pot for a reason.

My group of ladies made pots of chili of varying kinds as part of a charity fundraiser (mine is the puny pot on the end) held in a member’s empty barn.   I did try to make this a mild batch, but it didn’t taste right to me until it was fairly spicy (oops).  And the chilis ranged from hotter than mine, to one without any spice (I don’t know if one could even rightly call this chili).

And here is a very traditional recipe, from a cookbook published in 1971 by M’s favorite restaurant in Mesilla, NM.   And what I made was somewhat similar.

The mild-ish was a lie.

But a good time was had by all on a perfect Autumn day, trying all the variations and permutations of this humble dish.

 

 

Historic Buildings

I have friends that bemoan the demise and disappearance of lovely old buildings in their growing cities.   I even do this myself.  But there are also the shrinking cities, and their buildings are there to stay until they fall down of natural causes.   And because they were built in the face of a hopeful future, they were built to last.  Without any love or maintenance, these buildings have survived, putting to shame the plainness of modern architecture.

These buildings both have the same lovely window decorations, but on the building on the right they have at least slapped a coat of paint on things.  These windows are custom made and would cost a small fortune to re-create.

This building is currently undergoing renovation and the owners hope to open in a small way (7 luxury rooms) later this month.  Built in 1898 as a destination railroad hotel and run by Fred Harvey it was part of the soul of the town.   It closed in 1948, had some brief uses over the years, but has not really had any work done on it since then.  A lover of the railroad experience is pouring money into it fixing it up, and it could be part of a renaissance of the town.

This building across the street was originally used as a dormitory for the Harvey Girls who worked across the street.  It has been bought by an assistant district attorney, and is partially restored (well he at least had the top bit done).  It will be interesting to see if these ventures attract tourists (always a fickle lot).

This lovely building was built in 1885, and was a dry goods store starting in 1897.   It is untouched, unlike the building to the east, with it’s ugly tacked on frontage.  But wait, what’s that in the window?

One can see that this building was quite nice at one time, with cast iron pillars in front.   Who ever owns it now might be a bit of a hoarder as it is filled with all sorts of odds and ends.

Yes, that is a life-sized figure of a clown.   Why it is there and where it came from are a riddle with no answer.  But perhaps it will be something to draw in tourists, somehow.

More windows

Once I start noticing a thing, like the white stickers on car windows, I start seeing them everywhere.  Of course the very best ones that I glimpse are the ones I see as I am driving along.  And it would be impossible to pull my phone out of my pocket (the seatbelt holds me securely in place) and snap a picture before the traffic light changes.  Oh well, sometimes these things are just meant to elude one’s grasp.   But I did manage to capture these images on parked cars.

In lieu of stick figures, Star Wars seems to be the next most popular way to graphically illustrate one’s family.  I have seen Darth Vader as paterfamilias, various storm troopers, and this one, with the large war machines,  At-At’s, for the parents and the smaller war machines, At-St’s to show the number of kids.  Must be some sort of fan, eh?

I loved this sticker from the moment I saw them pull into the parking space.   The combination of the cheerful yellow truck and the image of the elephant, it was really quite striking.   (Although they probably don’t have a pet elephant waiting at home).

I saw this one in the same parking lot as the elephant, and I somehow don’t think that it has an ulterior meaning, it was just a pretty thing.

And then there is this creepy sticker.   It’s on a rather nice SUV, but this girl wants everyone to know that she is a scary person at heart.

So we have seen these people’s obsessions, and you see my obsession, taking a peak into their souls.

Pterror on Parade

Operating on the theory that any photo can be improved by adding a pterodactyl, I had decided that this years’ photographs of the parade should include Pteri.   There is a certain sameness to every years’ parade, we can only guess at what year the pictures were taken by the changes in the hairstyles of the spectators (although it is easier to guess which photos are from the distant past, they are in black and white).

One can always tell when the parade is going to start (never on time), some sort of police vehicle leads the way with ear-splitting sirens blasting.

Shriners are a service organization (made up of mostly old guys) that are an essential part of any parade.   Besides marching around (or riding, often in tiny cars; as I mentioned they are mostly old guys) they do raise money for a children’s hospital.  On this day one of the old guys fell off the float (he was okay) and this delayed the parade for a bit.

To be a proper parade, there must be floats.   And a float must have lots of crepe paper, possibly tinsel or glitter, and people throwing candy to the crowd.  And I must say, there was a delicious variety of candy on offer (we gave the bits that we didn’t like to nearby children.)

Because this is a large gathering of people in a sparsely populated area, the politicians were out in force flogging their wares in the hope of securing our votes.  In this particular parade anyone who wants to can participate, but, politicians have to pay $100 to be in the parade.   This thrifty group has the placards of several additional candidates on the truck.   The main politician is making a big deal out of her maiden name, to show that she is the third generation of this political family to be running for office, (no, apparently we can’t ever get rid of political families).

And a parade is as good an excuse as any to ride one’s horse down the main street.   There really is no other reason, as there are no businesses in town.

Then it was on to the main business of the day.  Free food (courtesy of the cattleman’s association) and a chance to visit with old friends and former neighbors.

4 Views

Well I have taken the annual visit to M’s relatives in this tiny town during the 108th festival.   And because I go there on vacation, I always have a really good time, and take tons of pictures of the same views that I always take.   If I actually lived there I am sure that I would not enjoy it half as much (because it is so far from stores, libraries, swimming pools, doctors and other trappings of civilization).   But then again, maybe I would get used to it.  And I really never tire of the view.

I stopped right on the freeway (motorway) off-ramp and snapped this picture as soon as I got to town (the word ‘town’ is used rather loosely).

The local cemetery is up the road a piece.

And this is what one sees if one takes the road out to the canyon.

But this is my favorite view, with the permanently parked truck rusting away into oblivion.

Here’s a factoid about the place.  It’s just a wide spot in the road, but I love it so.

Over in a meadow

Once upon a time I had an ordinary boring suburban lawn.  You know the sort, you water it to make it grow, then you mow it to keep it tidy, then repeat again and again.  It’s a mark of respectability to have a nice lawn.   Some years ago, we started out with a thirsty bluegrass lawn. Then there was a drought, and the bluegrass mostly died.   (We really never liked bluegrass, but it came with the house).   When the drought was over we replanted the yard in native buffalo grass.  (It does not grow very tall and it was what M’s Grandma had in her yard).  But over time various other plants have encroached into the lawn.

This yellow buttercup seeded itself into the lawn this year.

As did this sunflower, although I suspect that the squirrels may have had a hand in it’s being there.

Flowering sage was planted in the flowerbed near the house, but found this a little too confining, so it escaped out into the lawn.

Oregano flourishes near the front steps.   A favorite of the bees, the plants sprang up from seeds that leapt over the concrete.  Every year this patch gets a little bigger, perhaps it will completely take over my yard in due course.  That’s not a black snake hiding among the plants, it’s the hose.  (I do water things every now and again).

And who is the master of this tiny kingdom?   Why it’s the bunny of course.

Faces in Places

I had ended up downtown at the terminus of the annual cattle drive through town.  It always starts near the private college and ends at the former county courthouse, which is now a museum.

I had always noticed the large faces on the facade, there is a Native American (also known as Red Indians in the UK) over each of the large windows in the place.  These faces don’t look to be too pleased with the goings on in the building, but perhaps that is only fitting.

The animal kingdom is represented by this lion’s head.   He would be part of a fountain, if only the water had been turned on.

The intermediary between man and beast can be seen in the base of this light pole.   With cherub faces and lion feet, one wonders, ‘what on earth was the artist thinking’?

This woman is just part of the woodwork in this former district courtroom, but she appears to be happy about it.

Unlike the previous sculpted faces, this figure is painted and shows the entire body.   And what exactly the figure means is rather enigmatic.  She has wings (is she an angel?), she is holding a banner labeled gold (representing Fortune perhaps?), and has a dangling, trussed up person in front of her (no idea what so ever).   The more usual figure of blindfolded Justice holding a sword and a scale is nowhere to be seen in this courtroom.   Perhaps this is an allegory of how our local justice system works.