Hike to Piedra Falls, Almost

Here we are loaded onto the “Mule” for the short drive to Piedra Falls. Then we planned to hike. And Jessie is in the back with Betty and Dan. She seemed to think it was a pretty cool ride.

Bob, the Goof Man driver!

Just realized I may not have a face-on photo of Jessie. Hmm …

Aspens among the pines

This was one of those crystal clear days that made you take a deep breath and be thankful!

Now for someone afraid of heights and hiking ahead by herself this seemed very daring – and I did it!

The river below
River in the shadows

I kept climbing higher and looking back. Bob had stopped earlier due to breathing troubles. Then Betty and Dan stopped so she could catch her breath. I passed people with dogs and told them about the Golden Retriever behind me. And then uh-oh. Trail turned muddy and slippery.

Having fallen at the end of a trial in Smoky Mountain National Park I was reluctant to proceed.

Then Betty and Dan arrived and said no, not for them. Then to my surprise Bob arrived! and he agreed not a good idea. So we were close, but the trail told us not to go further. This must be the lower falls?

Using the telephoto we could glimpse the falls, or at least the first falls.

No idea how much further past the downhill mud trail. I was delighted Bob had made it this far. Learned later it was quite a struggle for him, lung-wise.

The actual falls according to http://pagosa.com/adventureguide/piedra-falls-hike/ “The falls are impressive, thundering off a cliff into a V-shaped canyon of huge boulders. The hike takes about 15 to 30 minutes each way.”

And then the trip began to take a turn towards Camp Grenada.

Autumn Unfolding

Thought you’d like to see some garden and tree shots before all the leaves fall. Below is a annual decorative plant called Persian Shield. I have had it in a planter in years past. The last couple years I went ahead and put it right in the garden. This one looks a little tired from the summer sun, but still flashes of purple! And the sweet volunteer sunflower next to it!

As I have chosen to garden less and less this is the only chrysanthemum that remains. My neighbor offered me some recently, but I just did not have it in me to be out there digging right now.

Our maples are blazing bright yellow! The morning light at my chair for prayer and meditation has changed dramatically. It will only last a couple weeks this way!

One of our favorite shrubs, discovered on a drive down the Natchez Trace, then seen again at our favorite doughnut shop, is “American Beauty Berry.”

I think next year I will feed it and see if we get more berries!

We Arrived on Sunday

That is Bob undoing the combination lock on the Ranch gate. After this it was my job, or whoever was not the driver.

My sister made several houses available to us for our anniversary celebration. The houses are named after the previous owner. Our son as unable to go with us as he would have had to pull kids out of school. Our daughter arrived with her family later in the afternoon. They flew in and drove from Durango. They stayed in the “Minor” house. Cookseys stayed in the “Dot.” We were in the “Honeymoon” house. We decided Bob and I were more like the Honeymooners (think Jackie Gleason) than any newlyweds. At 50 years we felt lucky to get up the couple of steps. But this was the only house with a king sized bed and that is what we are accustomed to, so Bob chose this one.

Here is Bob on the steps of the Minor house talking with Emily and daughter, Lizzie.

Porch of the Dot house where Cookseys stayed. and Below is the Honeymoon house where we stayed.

Look at the size of this tree next to the house! Gorgeous!

A wonderful place to celebrate. We saw one person come through the week we were there. He was the water man. Our son-in-law spoke with him. Turns out this is one of the largest stands of Ponderosa Yellow Pine in the state of Colorado. Mountains, stream, ponds, blue sky, great company, shared evening meal preparation, such quiet, private quarters. We were so blessed!

Bob and I had headaches the first couple days due to the altitude. Bob had some difficulty breathing especially on exertion. We did not let that stop us from having fun though!

Why Albuquerque?

When going to southeastern Colorado, Pagosa Springs area, you can fly to Durango, Denver or Albuquerque and rent a car. When your best friends live in Albuquerque and plan to travel to Colorado with you, then ABQ is the obvious choice. The Governor of New Mexico had a rule that if you live in New Mexico and travel outside the state, when you return you must quarantine for 14 days. We were uncertain until the very last minute if the Cookseys would be able to go with us or not. If they had to quarantine that would knock out their volunteer activities for a total of 3 weeks. We prayed the Governor would change her mind and she did!

We had planned to spend a couple days with them to get accustomed to the 5,000 foot elevation, then travel on to the San Juan mountains where we would be at about 8,000 feet. In Ohio we live at about 600 feet of elevation.

From El Dorado Drive looking towards the Sandia Crest

Not only is their terrain radically different than our green lawns and maple trees, but the wild life is too. Walking in the neighborhood I noticed the house below with weird fencing.

The landscaping is called zeroscaping.

When I asked the Cookseys what the deal is with the curved fencing at the top of the extra-tall fence they said it is to deter the coyotes from getting into the yard. We have coyotes in Ohio, but nothing like Corrales or Albuquerque.

Below is sunset on Sandia Crest, also known as Watermelon mountain because of the sunsets!

Autumn is Invading

Not quite caught up from being away, but some things could not wait. Such as putting the sewn together dryer sheets in the space created by the screens. It was finally cool enough to open the windows and YUCK! The stinkbugs are seeking shelter AGAIN! These nasty, ugly creatures try to gain shelter in our house every autumn. They crawl in anyway they can. One person told me to mix Dawn dish detergent with water in a spray bottle. Spray them when they land on your screens. Evidently it eats through their shell? Well, it also leaves sudsy residue on the screens. Then I learned that if you cut in half lengthwise and sew them together you can put them in the space between window frame and screen where they like to enter. Their legs catch on the dryer sheets and they choose to go elsewhere.

UGLY INVADER!!

And if they can get inside, they hide in the house; in folds of curtains, behind photo frames, under bedding. They fly through the house. If you catch them in a paper towel or tissue they put out their stink which you may or may not be able to get off your skin.

I went to grill something and the inside of the grill cover was crawling with stink bugs. So once I got the dryer sheet strips in the window cracks they were literally covering parts of our screens trying to get in. At times, 8-10 gathered at once!

Below is one of the prettiest things I have seen lately! I was on hold on the phone and looked out office window. Hollered for Bob to go get his camera.

Hungry Praying Mantis by r m dutina

Yes! The autumn praying mantis feasting upon a stink bug! Honey, we have a bounty for you to feed upon. This one is likely a female as the wings do not cover her entire abdomen.

Now back to her meal of choice that day. Wikipedia, the source of all truth (LOL) says: “The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is an insect in the family Pentatomidae, native to China, Japan, and other Asian regions. In September 1998 it was collected in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where it is believed to have been accidentally introduced. The nymphs and adults of the brown marmorated stink bug feed on over 100 species of plants, including many agricultural crops, and by 2010–11 had become a season-long pest in orchards in the Eastern United States. In 2010, in the Mid-Atlantic United States, $37 million in apple crops were lost, and some stone fruit growers lost more than 90% of their crops.[6] It is now established in many parts of North America, and has recently become established in Europe and South America.”

Yep, they have spread and we see more here in Ohio every year! And Stingbugsguide.net says: “Another distinct characteristic of the brown bugs is that they go into the state of hibernation in winter seasons and invade homes or structures where temperature does not fall critically. Their hideouts include under siding, windows and door frames. However, in spring they remain active in feeding on plants and vegetables.”

I will not honor the stinkbug beyond the photo on the screen. But that little mantis, when I finally got off the phone she had eaten that thing, shell and all!

Just a few crunchy bits left!

Obedient?

Years ago my friend, Marsha, gave us some Obedient Plant. She did not like it because it was not obedient enough for her! This year it is a wonder! Click to watch the video please. It runs just about one minute. I will get better at adding music to Videoshop!

Enough said, unless you want to research the topic. Then type in bumblebee to your search engine.

After 3 Inches of Rain

Over about a 36 hour period we had almost 3 inches of rain. Not surprising I was able to catch this beauty with diamonds on it’s back! Filling out nicely and sporting water drops!

The edge of the leaf shows you how busy this monarch caterpillar has been! That ridge is the center vein of the leaf! Only half a leaf remains.

Then there is the dueling duo! (With Lucky’s leg in the lower background! What a good dog to sit while I take photos!)

Wonder which one eats the fastest? The one in rear of photo looks largest until you notice the curve in the head of the one closer to you! Wonder if the eggs began side by side?

When I saw this adult female in the garden I had to wonder if it was newly hatched? I have never found a chrysalis in the wild. I have seen them formed in my terrarium when I was raising caterpillars a time or two. This year I did not bring them inside at all. When they first emerge it takes a while to pump up their wings, dry their wings and then a little rest. Next they go find a flower to nourish them. No more milkweed leaves for them! No, that is not bamboo forest in the background. Those are stalks of Cosmos!

These chrysalis are from a terrarium. The only thing in nature I have ever seen with gold on it! The butterfly has just hatched out. The black chrysalis will open soon. The caterpillar that is curved is about to form a chrysalis.

Make time for the small wonders. Perhaps they are the best wonders of all!!

Song of the Month?

By now if you have read my blog for any amount of time you likely know I talk about the Holy Spirit “haunting” me with a song. A song I cannot get out of my head. A song that usually ends up being just EXACTLY what I need for that season of my life.

Here is the latest. I repeatedly kept looking it up on YouTube. Finally purchased it. And now I share it with you. I won’t be climbing up on a horse like Chris Tomlin, though it looks like fun. I won’t be climbing up on a huge rock, but I might get to the mountains soon!

Most recently the song reminds me that no matter how dark I THINK things are, Jesus is right there loving me and helping me carry any burden that I am willing to give Him. More than once lately I have said, “Well, Lord, here You go!”and I cast it into His arms.

Remember that applies to you also. But only any burden you are WILLING to give Him. And if you take the burden back, you must be willing to give it to Him again, and perhaps again, and again, and again.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV2011

My Friend Mike Powell and 1669

He seems to follow me everywhere! His interest in dragonflies, butterflies, flowers and nature in general keep me intrigued with his blog. Until he gets to the snakes. Then I tune him out. Yuck. http://michaelqpowell.com/2020/09/04/dragonfly-and-duckweed/

Because of him I am exponentially aware of dragonflies, though I cannot identify hardly any of them. As my oldest friends are aware I love butterflies, but Mike researches his and posts details about them. I merely admire. Well, except for the monarchs and especially their caterpillars. My husband and I garden milkweed especially for those!

Recently Bob and I made a trip to the Cincinnati Art Museum, wearing our masks and social distancing in the almost deserted museum. One exhibit was called “Women Breaking Boundaries” and this painting was done by Maria van Oosterwijck in 1669 entitled Flower Still Life. I was admiring the flowers: nasturtium, peony, tulip, lily of the valley, carnation or dianthus, rose, iris, poppy unfolding and greenery and POP UP! There was Mike Powell! Almost center of the painting is a dragonfly. Closer inspection brought two butterflies into view. Perhaps a beetle, wasp or fly on the edge of the table? Makes me want to return to the museum with a magnifying glass to identify the insects 🙂 Maybe you can study the painting below and use my list as a hidden object puzzle. You might even find more details than I did!

I wanted to purchase a copy for Mike, but alas they only had one small print and a large poster. Then I remembered I do not even know his address, just contact through his blog and mine!

So here is the painting description:

Even with Bob’s best computer photo enhancement tools we have trouble seeing that confident signature!

This is my favorite (without the frame). Thanks Mike for keeping me on my toes!

https://secretimages.org/2019/11/06/flower-still-life-1669-by-maria-van-oosterwyck/ wrote on the blog Secret Images about Maria, “Her signature motif, a Red Admiral butterfly, appears in most of her significant paintings; scholars believe that van Oosterwyck included the boldly-patterned insect to send a hopeful message about resurrection.”

Well I for one love that hopeful message about the resurrection!

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

1 Peter 1:3 NIV 2011

Pleasure of Keeping An Untidy Garden

I don’t think I shared with you the pleasure of not keeping a tidy garden?

May 11 the bachelor button volunteers were coming up from last year’s seed that had dropped in the garden.

You can see one flower almost perfectly centered under the window!

Here is a photo from June 1 taken from inside our office when the flowers were getting more full.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Matthew 6:26 (NIV2011)  

And eventually they went to seed. I was not quick to go out and cut the stalks back. Lo and behold my surprise when I caught this vision out the same said window!

As the seeds kept coming, so did the goldfinch. Male and female! Such delight.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Matthew 6:26 (NIV2011)