Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Right Time at the Right Place

May 31, 2009

I’m surprised by how often I’m in the right place and the right time. My latest experience came this past week when I glanced out Jeremiah’s window to see a man on the park road looking at something. A closer look and I could tell that ‘something’ was a snake. Aha, another park wildlife to photograph, I thought as I took my camera went out.

It was a fairly long gopher snake (sometimes called a bull snake); the man was Sandy Williams, head of New Mexico Bird Records Committee, and former Game and Fish employee. Of course we struck up a conversation and I learned even more about birding. He was here as part of the New Mexico Ornithological Society; his purpose for being in this part of southern New Mexico was the annual Breeding Bird Survey. Knowing that New Mexico has about 525 species makes my bird list look really puny. However, I did add to my list this week: Scaled Quail, Northern Mockingbird, and Bendire’s Thrasher

Back to the snake. This one is between 4 and 5 feet long. I’ve since seen another fairly long one in another part of the park, and just now saw a 3-footer working its way through my campsite. They are harmless snakes, and help keep the mouse and rat population down. Remember, if you double-click on the photos, they will enlarge.

The park Visitor Center/Museum has had few visitors and I’ve had time to read. I finished reading a biography of Douglas MacArthur, Old Soldiers Never Die by Geoffrey Perret. This 600-page book points out the colorful, controversial aspects of this dominate character in American military history. The book jacket says, “…biography charts the brilliant, if flawed, career of a unique American character.”

And I read Mickey Rooney’s autobiography, “Life is Too Short.” The book chronicles his life – his broken romances and eight wives, addiction to pills, and squandering of a veritable fortune. Even with all this, he became one of the most talented performers in the history of Hollywood.

My current book (thanks to the park’s book exchange which is bursting at the seams) I’m in the midst of Nobody’s Fool, a biography of Danny Kaye written by Martin Gottsfried.

I cleaned up the book exchange – dusted, shelved books and tossed out some old battered paperbacks. That’s how I found some interesting books.

Someone forwarded me a very interesting Internet link – God of Wonders -
It was fascinating and beautiful reminder that God DID create the earth and all that is in it.

Also during the week I got some good wildlife photos, including finally a good one of the Bullock’s Oriole.

I was sad not to have my camera the day I saw a Houseboat on one of the oversize-trucks that use the state highway for hauling the big stuff around. It took up nearly both lanes. The escort vehicles (one front and one back) has signs that said: California houseboat transport. I’ve decided that being a transport driver or passenger would be an interesting job.

My dueling cottontail rabbits have been at it again! What a hoot! I tried to take a ‘movie’ of them, and did succeed. I'll try to add it to this blog. No luck downloading the video. Drats!

I close with a poem, copyright 1991 by Lou Roberts. It is on a bookmark that I found in one of the book exchange books:


It comes from within,

It shows on the face;

It makes people grin,

It eases life’s pace.

It might cure an ill,

It may lessen pain;

It fosters good-will,

It weakens a strain.

It quiets the mind,

It comforts the soul;

It helps one unwind,

It brightens life’s whole.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rain, glorious rain!

May 24, 2009

Years wrinkle the skin but to give up wonder wrinkles the soul.

Listen … you can hear the cactus and other desert plants saying ‘thank you God, we were so thirsty.’

In fact, when I arrived at Pancho Villa State Park, the sad condition of the cactus concerned me. The prickly pear pads were shrunken and actually drooping, the ocotillo had produced blossoms but not leaves, and there was not a weed in sight. Finally last Tuesday evening a gentle rain started falling; Wednesday, Thursday and Friday brought more rain. Even the rainy days provided delights.

One day as the storm passed, the heavens provided beautiful clouds.

At 6 a.m. on Thursday – when it was barely light outside – I noticed something large in a tree. Was it an owl, I wondered? Or? Fortunately the ‘something’ stayed long enough for me to get my binoculars and my new camera. What was it? It was a White-faced Ibis – a rare occurrence here.

My new camera

I braved the rain on Wednesday and took the Columbus to Deming shuttle bus – destination Walmart to buy a camera. It’s a $5 round trip ride; what a bargain.

Now I’m stretching my brain to learn about my new Canon Powershot S3 IS digital. The ‘basic’ instruction booklet is 25 pages; the ‘advanced’ one is 170 pages. The camera has 15 buttons and dials including the menu and function buttons that produce even more options. Whew! Fortunately I have time when I’m staffing the Visitor Center (things are slow during the week) and can explore the camera.

Even the instruction booklet made me laugh: In bold letters under the WARNINGS I read, “Memory card: If swallowed accidentally, contact a doctor immediately.”

One of my first photo subjects was the unusual Yucca growing near Jeremiah. Yucca’s produce one flowering stalk a season. The stalk looks like a giant asparagus and grows at a fast pace and soon flower buds form and then blossom. This particular yucca started out normally with one stalk, but about 4 feet from base of the plant it divided into two stalks. Right now the plant is between 12 and 13 feet tall and as you can see from the picture, the lower buds have opened; the upper ones will open soon. This plant attracts the insect- and nectar-eating birds and bees.

Birds are hilarious entertainment

The window seed feeder entertains both Cat and I. Frequent visitors are House Finch, Pyrrhuloxia, and Black-headed Grosbeak. The quail and sparrows reap the seeds that fall from the feeder. Then there are the White-winged Doves. They finally figured how to land on the top of the feeder – no easy feat because the clear plastic feeder is sloped on the top. When doves succeed, they try to figure out how to get to the seeds. Occasionally one lucks out and gets in. I looked up from my writing the other day to see three doves on top of the feeder! Two were balanced side-by-side; the third was standing atop the two – one foot on each back! Sure wish I had been able to take a photo of this odd sight.

More birds added to my PVSP bird list: Western Kingbird, Bendire’s Thrasher, Black-headed Grosbeak, Great-tailed Grackle, Roadrunner, Common Nighthawk, White-faced Ibis, House Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbird, and Bronzed Cowbird.

Cat is adventurous, also

Cat is one happy feline – at least twice a day she goes out exploring. She checks all the smells, walks through the cactus with no apparent concern to the spines, and watches the birds and rabbits. She sleeps a lot during the day so she can ‘play’ at night. I leave the window blinds up at night so she can watch the comings and goings of other nocturnal critters.

Rabbits at play

We have both jack rabbits and cottontails. The other evening I was sitting out and saw two cottontails frolicking. They would face each other as in a stand-off, then one or both would lunge at the other, just before they collided, one rabbit would leap in the air and jump over the other one. They kept me laughing for a while when I remembered that my camera would take movies. Arghhh! By the time I got my camera and started figuring out how to do movies, the rabbits had disappeared in the brushy field.

My Personal Chef

I’ve been eating very well because daughter Sue – a retired personal chef – gifted me with some of my favorite meals. She cooked, packaged them into individual portions – my freezer is full! Some days, depending on the menu, I enjoy a hot meal at noon at the local Senior Center; only $3!

A gorgeous tote bag

A visitor at the Visitor Center was carrying a beautiful tote bag. Thought you’d like to see it.

I'll stop today with two things about stress:

Handle every stressful situation like a dog.
If you can't eat it or play with it,
Just pee on it and walk away.

Stress relievers from Daisy Hepburn

Forget the diet and send yourself a candy gram.
Make a ‘things to do list’ of things you have already done.
Retaliate for tax woes by filling out your tax return in Roman numerals.
Leaf through a National Geographic Magazine and draw underwear on the natives.
Brush your teeth vigorously with Cheez Whiz.
Pound your head repeatedly on a pile of Wonder Bread.
Stare at people through the tines of a fork and pretend they are in jail.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Adventure Continues – I’m back at Pancho Villa State Park

May 2009

I’m settled into campsite #44 – the one with the most shade trees, a sewer hookup, and a permanent bird bath. It’s also probably the least level site in the park, making leveling Jeremiah II a real challenge.

Job #1 was setting up my “critter cafeteria” – bird feeders and more water. My efforts were rewarded and in the first hour 12 kinds of birds showed up: Western Tanager, White-winged Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, House Finch, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Ladderback Woodpecker, Pyrrhuloxia, Gambel’s Quail, Cactus Wren, Curved-bill Thrasher, and Goldfinch. Circling overhead was a Red-tailed Hawk. Later in the day I saw my first-of-the-season Gambel’s Quail family – mom, dad and eight little fluff balls as they scurried across the park road to the safety of a large patch of ‘cow’s tongue’ cactus! This is better than winning a jackpot!

Sadly, I didn’t have a camera to take pictures. My trusty Olympus is missing; somehow I misplaced it while I was in Rio Rancho. So I’m researching cameras and will either ride the bus into Deming (closest Walmart) to buy one or order one from Amazon.

This morning a blustery north wind is blowing – creating a ‘rotating restaurant’ out of the sunflower seed feeder. A few birds have persisted in their seed breakfast; the rest must be hunkered down while they wait for the winds to subside. I’m hunkered down also, but will brave the wind for a walk to the post office.

I’ll be here until the end of July. My mailing address is: Carol Anderson, General Delivery, Columbus, NM 88029. Email is: or If you are in the area, stop by.

Two weeks in Rio Rancho

I’m backing up a bit in time. When I left Cave Creek Regional Park on April 21 I was eager to get to Rio Rancho because granddaughter Melody was visiting from Indiana and daughter Sue and hubby Dave are presently living in my Rio Rancho home. I was eager to spend time with them. That goal motivated me to abandon my ‘200-miles-a-day’ preferred routine, covering the 400 miles in one very long day!

Thanks to friends, Cat and I had places to stay: Jeremiah was parked at Jesse’s home a few days before going into service, Cat spent most of the time at Hilda’s, and I stayed a few nights at Selma’s. After picking up Jeremiah, I took it up to Cochiti Lake for three days in order to check it out before going to PVSP.