Friday, September 28, 2012

Narrow Gauge and round ups

Cumbres and Toltec Steam Engine

The good old days are not that long ago in parts of the highlands of New Mexico. We still play around with narrow gauge steam engines and still herd cattle on horseback. Though in all honesty there was someone on and ATV just off the frame. All the drovers still knew what to yell. No doubt passed on by those before them as what gets cattle moving toward the cattle trailer.

Round up - time to leave the high country

Still when you are driving through the wide empty spaces at what seems the top of the world it is nice to pretend you are not in a fancy SUV, and shooting a state of the art digital camera.

Rusting Away
And you have to ask if the pick up will last as long as the train and even the old car. And other stuff around the rail yard. Or that you job will still be here like the drovers' is way down the trail.

Snow plow car


Maybe things would be better for the earth if we had stuck with horses and trains and rounding up cattle instead of using Round Up on our weeds.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Adventures in Pet Sitting

Days begin before dawn

Some years back when the economy was trashed I decided to augment my "entitlement" SS check by taking on another self-employment option. Pet and property sitting seemed perfect. And at the time one of the big movers in the business had moved out of the area. Gasoline prices where out of the world and so I restricted myself to the center of Angel Fire south. Yes, I do not have to drive as far but my area is more wild.

Morning of the Elk
 Herd of elk on the snow one morning driving to feed a kitty. A drive slow and keep my eyes and ears open. We live in bear country.

Oops wrong picture - Albuquerque Zoo

But just last week while driving down a client's driveway I found myself surrounded by a herd of elk in the dark. And on opposite sides of my aging Corolla were two rutting bulls grunting and bugling over the cows and their calves from this spring. Yes, I had the camera but I do not have a night lens. The Corolla is beige and I hoped the elks night vision was better than mine.

And just this morning, unable to find the switch that illuminated the path from house to barn I caught a huge dark shape in a grove of aspen beside the trail. Too short to be an elk and it growled at me. Well it sounded like a growl. I raised the camera, put it on auto and pressed the flash button. It was a large Angus bull surrounded by his herd of cows and calves. Later I captured the picture of the small herd that seemed more afraid of me thankfully.

Maverick herd?

Nobody mentioned the cattle. But they do seem to be self-feeding. Most adventures in pet sitting are of the phantom cat nature. You have been asked to look after two beloved cats and for days you only see one. Worse than one accidentally getting out is that it accidentally got locked into some closed off segment of the house. I have become a pretty good estimator on volume of food gone, etc. And not bad at deducing where the phantom cat is hiding. Though sometimes I never see them.

I can become overly attached to the pets I sit. And my own pets often complain they do not get the same standard of commitment. I explain they are able to get pet food because of this side job. And they do get interesting play dates.

Monday, September 17, 2012

More on the Poly Tunnel Experiment

Expanded Poly Tunnel with five ribs

My original experiment with the poly tunnel went well this summer. Plants grew lush and quickly and neighbors avoided talking to me for fear that I would thrust more lettuce upon them. So when the plastic was damaged by a huge hail storm with 1 inch hail I decided to wait to replace until I was able to expand the basic tunnel from four ribs to five ribs. The tunnel is now 25 feet long.

 And I have learned a lot not just about growing vegetable in this quick type of green house but also in how to put on new plastic, something I needed help with the first time, and how to more effectively lash it down to resist the rougher winter weather. But the wind was amazingly not a problem this summer. And even the hail storm made only little 1 inch long tears which I lived with in the warm August weather. I would let the sides down at night but not use the inner tunnel.

Original Tunnel with only four ribs

In the last week, however we have been getting sub-freezing temps at night. Last night it was 29 F. So replacing the plastic and lengthening the tunnel by four feet had to be completed before temps fell. I have been using the inner tunnel as well as the outer for a week.

Old tunnel with outer plastic removed.

To lengthen I merely made another arched set of ribs. Cut the spine between the last two ribs. I used two connectors to insert a four foot piece of PVC extending the end brace out and added the new set of ribs. One of the reasons for the extension was the end tomato plant that was too close to the plastic in these colder temps. The extra room also allowed me to put an inner tent over the tomato plant which has lots of green tomatoes I want to see ripen.

All boot laced up

The 29 F last night would have been the end of my growing season without the tunnel. But as you can see in the picture with the plastic off everything is doing fine. I think mustard greens and Swiss chard and some of my herbs will be going for some time. Supposedly the double tunnel can extend my growing season for two more weeks. I have a late planting of lettuce that is now about 4 inches high and as I mentioned before the green tomatoes. And the summer squashes continue to produce zucchini and crook neck squash. I have been pruning back herbs and drying them daily.

An internet article I read said I could even put another layer of plastic over the one I have and lash it down separately and thereby create another thermal layer to further extend the season. I am just not sure how far I want to go with this experiment this year. I find my mind wandering to plans for an early spring start next year. And hoping that with the tunnel my herbs winter over.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dodged that Bullet

Some days it just seems like everyone is out to get you

If you have never done a complete recovery on your computer let me mention right up front you do not want to. I have done one before. One I argued with the computer technical assistance about the need to even do. And in the end it did not need to be done then, but it was. It takes hours to do and then you have to reinstall all your programs and all your backups and remember all your passwords. Luckily it did not have to be done this time. And I dodged the bullet.

As I waited for the recovery discs HP support was sending I was quaking in my boots. I was even ready to come out fighting to avoid the dreaded recovery. And it was a near miss. I read the directions carefully twice, inserted disc one of the set they sent and followed the directions to step 5. The computer refused to comply with its own suicide and did not go to step 6. I called the upper level tech support number HP gave me when I asked for a conversation about my computer in an effort to gain a stay of execution.

First level of tech support
The wizard I was lucky enough to get connected to asked me to remove the poisoned disk and insert the supplemental one instead. Then he asked for permission to do open heart surgery from afar and I agreed. I almost swooned when he said he did not believe a recovery was necessary and he had found the "missing" diagnostics and all seemed to be fine with my computer itself. He would fix it. And 2 1/2 hours of tinkering he had. Leaving me to wonder why the first tech was so intent on execution.

Do not go gently
My appeals technician even found the "missing" diagnostic files. And while he did not reveal what had gone wrong beyond saying that the programs were stacked wrong for some reason, he is monitoring the performance of my computer for 48 hours to be sure the problem is solved. He has also created a mirror "drive" to assure that all my programs and files are there should my computer corrupt files again.

Once I get the all clear I will upgrade Corel Paintshop pro to 5x. And I will install the wireless wide format HP photo printer I bought in Albuquerque and resume a normal life grateful I have dodged a bullet.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Oh, So Fed Up With Fedex

Where Fedex seems to think I live

I was standing outside with some visitors to my studio yesterday afternoon at 2:00 when I watched the Fedex truck first go one way on down State Hwy 434 and then a few minutes later the other way. Yes, I can see the main highway from my house. And traffic on the road can see me. I have been known to wave at passerbys. I do not live in a cliff dwelling in the wilderness.

The urgent package from HP,that I had paid to be delivered on second day, (mind you not next day because I know better) was not delivered. Why am I not surprised? Had it been UPS it would have been here. I groan when service or order departments tell me it is coming Fedex. I beg for alternatives. I have been known to whine when the product like a fix for my computer is sorely needed.

So last night after my visitors from Florida (who found the studio) left I got on the internet on my laptop and tracked the Fedex package. It is in Eagle Nest. Why Eagle Nest? There is no Fedex facility in Eagle Nest? It was not dropped at the Visitor's Center or the Chamber of Commerce in Angel Fire which they sometimes do without notifying you. Nor did Fedex call me. My telephone number is included in the shipping information. I have always assumed it is to get a hold of you if they cannot find your aerie.

What I think the Fedex delivery service looks like

Supposedly it is going to be delivered today. But if they could not deliver it yesterday why do I think today will be any different. I don't. And I have to leave here today about the time they usually deliver if they deliver. BTW they drop packages off at my next door neighbor's house all the time.

So yesterday, realizing my connection to the world depends on a 6 year old laptop for the foreseeable future, I got down to cleaning up its files and hard drive and deleting programs long ago no longer used. And low and behold I found a disc D: that contains the recovery info that is being sent to me via Fedex for the desk top. Hmmm? So I risked another boot up of the fatally ill desktop and low and behold the same thing exists on it.

So why am I paying Fedex special fees to not deliver something already on my computer? And more important why did the HP technician ask me if HP had sent me a recovery DISC with my computer? Course if my hard drive is in free fall it might not be accessible but then again the disc being sent via Fedex is also in free fall.

BTW I ordered Swanson vitamins on Monday and they arrived UPS yesterday by standard delivery. Don't you love it?

What I think the Eagle Nest Fedex center looks like

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Still Ticking

The once new year of 2012 seems to be moving to a rapid conclusion. Well, unless the Mayans (or our translations of the Mayans) are right in which case it will end before it ends on December 21st. There are times I think that would not be such a bad thing but then I do not fear the end of days.

It is the steady plodding forward that sometimes seems the most disconcerting. That an our propensity to make the passage of time into milestones. I just returned from my first ever class reunion. We were marking the 49th since graduation. I don't think we looked much worse for wear.

A small sampling of the best and brightest

And the day after the September 8th reunion I realized it was 27 years of sobriety, two years since my ex-husband died because he would not get sober, and ten years since 9/11 was today. They do seem to be making people better these days, even if China is turning out inferior merchandise. I was more surprised at the reunion at those that did not make it to this date than those that did. And we look so much better than our parents did at the same age. We are definitely not our mothers.

In the last couple of weeks before the reunion one of our former BMOC types remarked that high school was the best years of his life. How very sad. For me life just kept getting better and better. Not that you can measure that in income or property owned or milestones reached. But my enjoyment of life just gets more complete as time marches on.

I treasure sun rises, and rainbows and flowers. I do not just stop and smell the roses (or hollyhocks) but photograph them too. You really don't want to miss anything. Who knows. This could be our only pass.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fall in the air

Looking forward to fall

A visitor to my studio asked me yesterday asked me if I had taken any pictures of aspens that I had for sale. No photographer in New Mexico doesn't take pictures of aspens. But they are so glorious in and of themselves they cease to be unique. I am constantly looking for some new approach to recording their beauty. But it isn't something you get to practice daily. In fact since the weather influences their glory some years you do not get a fair chance at them at all.

Last year was very dry and that hurts. Or the rain comes at the wrong time and scatters them upon the ground to quickly. Or we get a bout of bad weather that does not show that wonderful contrast of yellow and blue sky. I did better last year with cottonwoods.

Down on the Rio

And maybe that is because I was on vacation when the cottonwoods on the rivers were in their glory. Time is also a major factor.

Fall Reflections

And if you live in the mountains fall is a really busy time. All those things not done during the summer have to be completed before winter settles in. So maybe it is easier to rave about our aspens when you do not live here. It takes time to stalk them because they do not all go gold at the same time. It is a process based on the temperature of their roots, the chill in the air, and the weather and how exposed to it they are.

But there is no denying that soon the aspens will turn for better or worst and I will either be able to capture a great picture or not. But I will have my camera.