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Rumilluminations September, 2021
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Wed, September 01 2021 - 11:25 am

September 30, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

Topsy-turvy days. Rain when you expect none and vice-versa. 

My daughter, visiting, went with me to a couple of stores and commented that every place you walk into is like a little universe of its own, with its own creation.

That's a very apt description of Silver City! And everywhere you look, people have added their own creative touches, for decades it seems.

Yesterday I was grumpy and wanted to put on the heat, so today I read the instructions on the old-style new-fangled electric-triggered gas heater. I can't even tell where the pilot light is.

Someone did tell me they put on their heat last night, so I guess I'm not alone. And if I cry uncle tomorrow (rent day) at least I held out until October.

Now maybe I can cool it with the hyphenated words.

September 28, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

A little chilly here today. I finally got motivated to check out my oven to heat the place up a little. I have no idea what my fellow citizens are up to with their heating yet; I smell no pinon smoke in the air. Just (in my home) the smell of applesauce and roasting chicken.

My guess is that like me, most folks are going to wait awhile before turning on the heat. A yielding to the inevitable this early in the Fall season seems a little too sissy for the Wild West.

It rained this morning but now the sun is shining for a while and the pavement is already dry.

That's New Mexico for you!

September 27, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

No rain expected today, bit if the weather men aren't giving warnings, the clouds sure are; they are bold, dark, and beautiful.

Yesterday I bought cupcakes at Diane's Bakery for the second time. The first time they sold me two, one each of two different kinds. The yesterday they wouldn't sell me two different kinds even though I bought half a dozen. I guess it depends on their supply situation. All three kinds were reported good by the recipients - including me. I have only tried the chocolate.

I have seen something else at the bakery that tempts me, though: a chile cheese croissant. So far I've had too many indulgences lately to give into one the those... yet. I hope Diane's is still making them when I decide to take the plunge.

September 25, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

This morning I went to Farmers' Market for the second time. Last week I bought, among other things, one tamale. I went early this week, planning to buy a few more along with fruits and veggies.

I needn't have bothered with the early start; there was a line that reminded me of a line for a cinema waiting for the Market to open. I did get a few things that I might not have seen if I had come later; including a big beautiful bunch of fresh carrots. There were lines in front of the stands, even, for a while!

Some people selling apples of several kinds were kind enough to sell me a combo of apples that would be good for applesauce. Too bad I don't have a pot big enough to hold all three pounds I enthusiastically bought.

Across the way I bought a spaghetti squash, in preparation for its entry into my kitchen I had bought pesto. I thought spaghetti squash inedible without some kind of sauce.

I had some trouble cracking it open, but after that everything went beautifully. After cooking half of it, I tasted it. Miraculous! It was the first spaghetti squash I have tasted that would have been fine eaten plain. Surprisingly sweet.

Now I'm in the always hospitable Murray Visitors Center on the San Vicente Creek (I'm told it's called - not river, although it is wetter than the Santa Fe River usually is at this time of year) while outside there is a deluge, complete with thunder.

The Center closes in one-half hour. Maybe I'll get lucky. Could this storm possibly hold up for another half hour?

P.S. No tamales today - at least while I was there. Great scene, though!

Oh, and I forgot to mention the WNMS homecoming parade. It was a small one, but at least there weren't pushy crowds!

September 24, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

This wave of cooler weather had me sorting through some old stuff, wondering when a trade of bin locations might be appropriate. I decided - not quite yet. I'm going to wait until it is just too cold to wear what I have handy. That day has not arrived yet this year.

What I did pull out of storage are some of my old writings from way back when, including a piece I was going to send to a columnist back in the 'eighties, with a cover letter dated two decades later.

The columnist, Joe Murray I believe (if I remember wrong I will correct this later) wrote a column castigating women in general for their materialism.
(Maybe it is just as well I didn't respond at the time; to write that bitterly he must have been hurt mightily.)

At any rate, my response to his column was a piece I decided to call "pornedy". I was sure it would shock him and probably offend. In fact, I'm not sure I ever showed it to anybody.

I read it again this morning, though, and it made me laugh out loud. 

And, unfortunately, marvel. Where has the person who wrote that gone? Was she hypomanic?

What with life, loss, sanity, fear of judgment and cataract surgery, I fear she is gone for good - although, for better or worse, the times have now caught up with me.

September 23, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

After seeing one hawk with an entourage of five or more vultures at Lake Roberts, I decided to see what the possible relationships between the two species might be.

It turns out vultures are afraid of hawks, so they were most likely harassing the hawk, behavior which in birds is called "mobbing."

Smaller birds tend to mob bigger ones, especially if the larger birds are in their territory. Although the attacks look painful, they aren't, usually - just annoying. The larger birds don't put the smaller ones in their place because they can't. The smaller birds are quicker and more maneuverable than the larger ones, so if they get too annoying the bigger birds just fly away.

In addition to the article on "mobbing" online, I spent time on a site called up by Googling "hawks nm." That site is a fount of knowledge which among other things features Cornell Lab of Ornithology tape recordings of hawks' calls. They are surprisingly distinct from one another.

It's a fun site to peruse. It even offers a little tidbit about the cry of the red-tailed hawk as featured in movies! 

September 22, 2021
Silver City, NM

This morning I got up and threw on a robe. First day of Fall, indeed.

This afternoon I called the Gila National Forest with my question about the solar panels on Lake Roberts. I got a message machine and stated my business, idly wondering how many days it would take them to get back to me - if ever. I guess I have been made too cynical by internet businesses; it took no time at all for this government agency to return my call and refer me to the branch of the agency presiding over Lake Roberts.

This individual I spoke to said the panels on the lake were to help control the moss, but he didn't know how they worked. I tried to find the answer online and the only association I found besides cleaning moss off solar panels was to solar panels that could keep the moss in ponds down using aeration. How that is effected, I don't know. Maybe the panels intermittently turn fountains on and the water is aerated that way.

Amazing how answers to questions generate more questions; I remain unenlightened and curious.

September 21, 2021
Silver City, NM

The friend I went to Lake Roberts with was not overly impressed with the site, especially with rules against swimming and boating.

He did notice some solar panels on the water. (I only perceived odd little platform thingies that I thought were for swimming out to. Obviously I didn't see the no swimming signs.) What were the solar devices on the lake for, I wondered.

I tried to look it up online. Lo and behold, I saw tons of articles and advertisements about solar panels on lakes - and not little dinky ones but great fields of full-size panels covering acres of water that are used to reduce evaporation as well as generate electricity.

There are debates about its use; pros and cons as to whether they are really good for the environment are under consideration.

I, for one, didn't even know they existed, and would not have if my friend had not noticed the little floating platforms.

As for those, I don't know their functions. I did, however, see something about photovoltaic cells in reference to cell phones. Maybe that is just with regards to charging, but could they help with transmitting signals out in the middle of nowhere? More research time might have yielded more information, but I am getting more and more frustrated with what I consider bait and switch techniques used by search engines or the corporations themselves when you're just trying to access very specific information.

It's as if, in the old days, you were to open a card catalogue drawer and find a pile of cards that you had to sift through to use. Alphabetize them yourselves, folks! What you need is in there somewhere.

Tomorrow I will try to remember to call the National Forest. Maybe someone there can answer my simple question with a simple answer.

September 20, 2021
Silver City, NM

Yesterday was a big day. In addition to takeaway from WandZ (no luncheon specials on Sunday - instead you'll have to pay more and get dinner for two days instead of lunch for one) a friend and I went to Lake Roberts.

It's a good thing it wasn't absolutely cloudless like today, because once we got there after traversing miles of green forest, viewing fascinating rock cliffs and distant mountainous vistas, one of the spectacular natural phenomena of the lakeshore (is it called that if there is no beach?) was the clouds.

We saw several vultures who seemed to be hanging around a solitary hawk, all of them soaring in seemingly serene loops. We had to wonder, though, what the motive of the association might be. Do the vultures hope to scare the hawk away from a successful kill? Are they hoping for scraps? Or is the apparent association mere coincidence?

There were several family groups fishing and enjoying the breezy day by the lake, but except in the picnic area there was no seating except for rocks. Some of them seemed designed for sitting on, though, even though most of the folks there brought their own collapsibles.
They were there for the day.

These last days of summer have been idyllic; on the way to the library (closed on Mondays) I saw a monarch butterfly, half flying, half gently tossed by the wind. Maybe it feels like a rocking cradle to a butterfly its size.

Which reminds me: the Gila River Festival outreach person I met yesterday - Jody Norman - told me yesterday that although the monarch butterflies had lost 90% of their former numbers as of an unspecified date (my factoid from a fundraising letter) recently they have been coming back. Good to know. I hope the upward trend continues.

September 19, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

I brought my Kindle to the laundromat this morning intending to write and encountered some people setting up tables for the last day of the Gila River Festival, which I had not heard of. (I really have to start reading a newspaper! Don't you miss the days when you would encounter someone selling local papers on the street?)

The festival sounds like a wonderful opportunity to get to know the environs better, with kayaking, birding, geology, and art as some of the many offerings  - 28 field trips and workshops in all.

The kayaking is iffy because of variations in river conditions and the availability of the person who leads them, and of course any outdoor plans are subject to the weather to some extent. The weather certainly cooperated this year.

It's too late to participate now, but the organizers that plan the festival will start next year's planning next month. I hope to be here to go.

Jody Norman, who I spoke with this morning, is GRIP's (Gila River Information Project's) Communication and Outreach Specialist who will probably be the one to respond if you contact the organization at but I also got to meet Carol Beth Elliott, one of the organization's original founders, who didn't miss a beat working on their set-up for selling souvenir t-shirts. She named three other founders but I did not get their names. My clothes were lying baking in the dryer!

On my way home a little later I met one of the festival instructors, Ann Nate, who was going to guide a plein air painting session. She is an excellent advocate for the activities of sketching and painting.

For more on what is going on in Silver City, check out the Silver City Independent - the town's "free paper covering the arts • entertainment • outdoors"


September 17, 2021
Silver City, NM

No sooner had I closed my Kindle yesterday evening after writing about how sound might be traveling around town when I was startled by a big blast of music the like of which I haven't heard before. It sounded like some kind of hybrid; it didn't sound like the popular music I usually (over)hear these days.

I followed the music and before too long heard live applause!  It was coming from the University, between A and B Streets on College Avenue.

WNMU was hosting a free outdoor concert performed by Rely Tchaco, as one gentleman heading for the concert told me. She is from the Ivory Coast and a very talented performer, as well as being a model and fashion designer. Tchaco probably has more talents - painter? I forget.

Last night took me back to my youth at UNM in Albuquerque. The air was soft and a comfortable temperature. The evening was magical.

I headed home early because I didn't want to walk home in the dark even though the concert was slated for an early close. I could hear the music well until it stopped completely, I assumed for an intermission, but it never resumed again - that I could hear.

On my porch I could imagine that maybe I could her a tone or two, but nothing definite. Without that substantial hill between the concert venue and home? Maybe I could have.

But what a wonderful happening! On a Thursday night.

It's good to live close to a University again. One of these days I will have to go on campus and see what else is happening.

September 16, 2021
Silver City, NM

On my way over to my writing location for the day, I heard some church "bells" strike 6 o'clock. Admittedly they are kind of wimpy sounding, but why can't I hear them from my place?

It makes me think that the exceedingly hilly terrain here really does deflect, divert, and absorb the sound to make it the (relatively) quiet place it is.

Of course I'm not talking about Broadway or Highway 180, which seems to be the main drag in town. No town is without its traffic noise - except that town that allows no cars. I wonder why I don't think of it when I start thinking of moving?

Oh wait: that's right, it's in the North. And have I heard anything else about it? I'll have to look it up - but it doesn't really matter. I lost my heart to Silver City when we came through a few years back.

Someone said to me, "But you thought Madison was cool when you moved there. So I did, and so it still is in many ways. I definitely advise a visit.

But did I want to live there for the rest of my life? Definitely not. Nor have I ever made that promise to anyone, even myself.

That may be quite a relief to the people and places I have loved and left!

September 15, 2021
Silver City, NM

Day before yesterday as we were nearing the highway from the catwalk my friend surprised me by turning away from home and heading toward Mogollon.

Up nine miles of winding mountain road we went, kind of freaking out at the curves, the narrowness of the road and the rocks in the roadway presumably fallen from above.

The views, of course, were spectacular. At one point I looked downward and saw a depression that reminded me powerfully of the Valle Grande in the Jemez Mountains. The shallow bowl shape with its curved edge looked like a caldera to me, maybe the Mogollon caldera, which was supposedly partly obliterated by a bigger, later megavolcano.

The town was a little bit of a disappointment, because evidently it is only open Friday through Sunday, if even then during these coronavirus days.

If I were to make the trip again I would try to go during the weekend. Access is so primitive it's hard to imagine what the climb would have been like one hundred years ago. A few hours enjoying what culture the town offers would enrich the experience in compensation for the uphill drive.

September 14, 2021
Silver City, NM

Yesterday a friend and I took an exciting field trip to the Catwalk Recreation Area in the Gila National Forest near Glenwood, New Mexico in neighboring Catron County.

The first catwalk built along the Whitewater Canyon was hardly for recreation, though; the gold and silver mining industries of the area used it to get ore downhill to Whitewater (or Graham) where a mill was constructed. In fact, the parking lot of the present is on the site of the mining community of the past.

The parking fee is three dollars, but you are exempted if you have a pass, although three dollars seems like little enough to pay. As soon as you walk towards the path to the catwalk you can see a wonderful shady picnic area that looks like paradise when approached from the hot barren lot.

It really is a gateway to paradise, with huge old trees, fresh cold water, and a steel structure that allows you to glide through the volcanic tuff canyon rather than stumble over rocks.

In the old, old days it was a wood and steel structure replaced in the thirties by the Civilian Conservation Corps and again after flooding demolished it in the puberty of this century. It provides awesome and sometimes scary views of the canyon river rapids below.

Some of the canyon walls are reinforced by huge bolts because of faults in the cliff. That's the scary part. A variety of butterflies were visible, and there are supposed to be a lot of birds around the area, which I am hoping to see in the future.

 I saw (after our return to Silver City) that it's advised you wear close-toed footwear, and I add to that waterproof, if you don't want to squelch around with soggy feet.

Definitely a site worthy of hiking and picnicking, the  Catwalk provides beauty and thrills, too, without putting you in danger of adrenaline addiction.

We explored further than that, though, thanks to my intrepid friend. More about that tomorrow.

September 12, 2021
Silver City, NM

Today I did what I wish I had done when I first moved here. I took a walk to my friendly town hospital. I now know exactly where it is and how long it takes to get there, give and take some time for traffic.

Obviously I couldn't have walked there the night I called 911, given the hour and my state of confusion, but at least I would have had a better idea of where I was going.

You never know when you might need that info, and there's nothing like a major move to stress you out enough to sicken you.

But enough said. I'm out here writing in the dark. Time to go home.

September 11, 2021
Silver City, NM

I've been wondering what's eating up the Siberian elms to within an inch of their lives. I've also been wondering what are the little beetles turning up dead on my windowsills.

So I asked the internet about the former and got two answers in one. It is the little 1/4 inch elm leaf beetle larvae that are eating the town's elms, and I'm pretty sure those are what are appearing uninvited in my house. 

This is not surprising, since the trees outside my window are elms. What is surprising is that the elms in our yard aren't as hard-hit as others I have seen in town. In fact, from where I live some of the trees down by the river look dead-brown. Guess I should take a closer look to make sure those aren't another species of tree being attacked by another insect.

It looks as if our season of thunder and lightning shows might be over for the year. Without the clouds the sunrises and sunsets aren't as stunning. The dry, breezy weather is wonderful, though. Here I am outside in -what? - eighty-eight degree Fahrenheit weather without suffering any discomfort at all.

Makes me understand that long-ago met Barstow boy a little better.

September 10, 2021
Silver City, NM

Today my praises go to the Grant County Art Guild for their wonderful variety and quality of artwork. When I saw they had a little Gila wildlife show in their annex I decided to drop in.

There I met the woman who had the idea of moving the fifty year old Guild's showcase from Pinos Altos to downtown Silver City - a genius of a move. Unfortunately I did not get her name (bad reporting!) but I was able to ask her about a painting I saw this morning at the Hidalgo Medical Clinic (kudos to them, too - I highly recommend them) by an artist named Rousseau - Rebecca Rousseau, as it turns out. My guide in the annex pointed me toward the main gallery, where Rousseau has about fifteen exuberant paintings displayed.

How often do you get wish fulfillment like that?

The two people in front were charming, too, and I ended up yielding to temptation and buying some of their work, making a liar of myself because of my constant protestations that I can't afford anything.

Blame it on credit cards - I sure can't use stimulus money as my rationalization any longer. Bruce Bloy (photographer) and Jackie Blurton (wildlife artist) are their names. I blame their salesmanship for my fall from monetary grace, along with a potter whose first name, anyway, is Wendy. I can't name others because I really did not have time to even pretend to see everything in the gallery.

And that is only one of the many exciting venues here.  There is still a lot to look forward to in Silver City.

September 9, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

When my partner and I moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Corvallis, Oregon, my bones hurt. I blamed the humidity. He said, take fish oils. I did, and the pain went away.

I didn't have the problem of bone pain again until I moved here, from a humid climate to a dry one. I couldn't figure it out. It's dryer here! I shouldn't have a problem.

So I blamed it on the hills, the stairs, and the laundry I had to carry up and down the hills and stairs. Maybe less weight, I thought using my arms to help me get into and out of chairs.

This time the fish oils were recommended by my daughter - for my mind. What do you know. My knee pain, which was beginning to be debilitating, is almost gone. Maybe my new daily regimen of Ceylon cinnamon (delicious!) in my morning oatmeal is helping also.

How often do we blame our environment for things over which we have much more personal control, not just with regards to physical health, but our mental health and social lives?

How much do we live and not learn?

In my case, it seems to be a lot.

September 8, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

The hospital here in Silver City is full of patients thanks to the coronavirus. In Madison, Indiana there are people getting meals served to them in emergency rooms because there are no more regular rooms for them.

Jefferson County, Indiana has had a total of 91 deaths out of a population of 32,000 while my new home, Grant County, New Mexico has suffered 45 deaths out of maybe a couple thousand fewer people.

It is true that Grant County is much larger in area than Jefferson County, and harder to reach from bigger cities;  but regardless of why we have fewer cases here, we do have reason to feel a little safer than in many other parts of the country.

More people here, however, have expressed to me an unwillingness to go into enclosed places with others - in spite of the governor's orders to mask up in places of business. Many people seem to have an abundance of caution, and I'm with them.

I must confess, though, that since the mask-up rule has been reinstated I'd prefer not to go inside at all. People looking at me can't see my lower face and I, looking at them through foggy glasses, can't see much of anything at all. If I take my glasses off I run a very real chance of losing track of them.

So here I sit, happily outside with breeze, birds, bugs and trees, not at all in a hurry for the winter months, when I will have to move indoors. The alternative of trying to type (keyboard, that is) on my device with mittens covering my thumbs, while amusing to visualize, is just not an option. Static electricity which causes ghostly reactions from keys I haven't touched plus essential tremor plus cold fingers plus knit mittens?

No. It makes more sense to wear a mask, darn it.

Or hey, there's still more time before winter sets in to cut way back on the number of new cases we're generating.

How about it, folks?

September 7, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

The noise level has picked up in Silver City; it's weedwhacker time. A few folks have mowers, but most people nearby seem to prefer weed whacking. The man who was working on the land where I live has so far spared the hillside. I hope he leaves it that way, because I am afraid of erosion loosening what soil there is.

I heard more unusual sounds during the night, also. Maybe people were heading home from their holiday weekend or otherwise recuperating from festivities.

At any rate, the temperature will be going up into the upper eighties for a few days, so summer people, enjoy it while you have it! The butterflies are.

Here is a question for you: when the littlest piggy went home, was he going "wee wee wee"? Or "we we we"?

When I was a little piggy myself, I heard it the first way and giggled. Now I'm thinking, maybe "we we we."

Or here's a third alternative: "whee whee whee!"

September 6, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

It's Labor Day, but you wouldn't know it by me. It seems as if the grasshoppers do, though. For the past few days they have been congregating in groups in seemingly random locations for what? Picnics? It's a mystery to me.

All I know is that frequently when I step off a curb or alongside some cracked or weedy portion of sidewalk, fifteen or twenty grasshoppers fly (leap?) off in all directions from right under my foot - a crown of them.

I have never seen them first, because I am busy ogling my new city. One time I must have really angered them, because I got dive bombed by several. Usually, though, they just flee.

The wildflowers around the house I live in got mowed down yesterday and today. I loved those orange mallows - never ever saw them so high, five feet plus. Those and the lavendar silver leaf nightshade make a lovely combination. I'm sure that most of the residents prefer a tidier look, though; so be it.

On the whole, it was a good day for me to go on a walk, vacuum my room and shop for food.

Maybe I'll picnic another year.

September 5, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

Yesterday was not the best of days. Seventy-four might be the new four, but not when it comes to modern technology. A four-year-old probably has less trouble with it than I. And for sure she would be less resentful of the time spent on it.

You can enroll for a subscription almost instantly, but just try discontinuing it! Yesterday I called the New York Times to stop what was a weekend email newspaper which has been essentially an eight-dollar-per-month donation (because I haven't read it for months, being more and more "off" email.) They are making me pay (automatically) through December! It seems that I may have once gotten the bank to stop paying for a subscription in a similar situation, but I don't want to get a reputation for it, even though it is over half my current electric bill.

Fearing the worst, I called Amazon to cancel my Kindle Unlimited subscription, which I also haven't used for new books for months. The customer representative for Amazon gave me two months rebate - twenty dollars! That almost made up for the NYTimes' mercilessness.

Add to all that phone time the time I spent making sure that I no longer had a credit card with a company that belatedly sent me information about my account and aggravating business took up too much of my day. Of course a young modern would have just tossed it. Silly me.

If you consider that humans are often described with one hand not knowing what the other is doing, imagine what corporate reality is like. Octopus doesn't begin to describe the appendages of a corporation! Millipede would be more like it, except millipedes aren't grasping enough.

Later it did occur to me that my sour mood was partly because it is early September and the light is going away. I must rejoice in the positive - it is getting cooler.

Also, another positive you may not know about. There are people selling tamales at Farmers' Market! Next time I go I'll make sure my mini refrigerator has some more space in it so I can buy produce. The fruits and vegetables looked wonderful, too!

September 3, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

An acquaintance asked me the other day if I felt in need of a spiritual community. Honestly, I haven't felt that need in a long time.

Part of the reason I wouldn't look for a spiritual community here, though, is I get the feeling I already have one just by living here.

Oh sure, I have had some difficult experiences here, and I'm sure people behave in undesirable ways at times, but it almost seems there is a fundamental humanity and decency in the air.

As if just being relaxed and friendly is most people's natural mode in Silver City.

September 1, 2021
Silver City, New Mexico

More than I ever realized, the car is the new horse.

I don't have a car, but I volunteer at the Gospel Mission getting food bags ready for people who have cars.

It's not as if most people have much of a choice. Jobs come and go, and if you don't have money, you can't always afford to follow them. If you have family you need to be able to get where food is available.  The same goes for housing.

This morning I met a poet who has never owned a car. He rides his bicycle 150 miles a week (I think he said) and lives quite a way out of town. I don't know if he was at the food bank to get food; if he was, he is going to be riding home with burdens. He is sixty years old, and doesn't seem averse to self-promotion, so I would like to congratulate Raven Drake for his lifestyle. His poetry I have not seen, but I will definitely be on the lookout for it!

I meant to walk away with a couple of food items myself, but I forgot! Oh well, next time.

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