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May 2022
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sun, May 01 2022 - 4:19 pm

May 31, 2022
Silver City, NM

Last year when I moved to Silver City I walked up Bayard Street and saw four immense agaves inflorescences in full bright yellow bloom. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I saw a few others around town as well.

This year so far I have only seen three coming up to bloom. I do not know whether they are the same kind. The ones I saw last year were maybe eight or nine feet tall. The ones I have seen so far this year are more like fifteen or twenty.

My kids joke about street asparagus. It is a good joke. The stalks really do look just like giant asparagus. Well, evidently botanists felt the same way; yuccas and agavaes are both in the asparagus family! Who knew?

Even the edible asparagus I have bought at Farmers Market is the biggest of its variety I have ever seen. Yummy, too.

May 30, 2022
Silver City, NM

This morning I left home at 6:15 for my hike on Boston Hill and hiked randomly, managing to get on a portion of the trail I had not hiked before. I was on the other side of the mountain! That part of the trail system was easy walking; it also lead to a cross trail which became my far point for returning home.

One of the highlights of my hike was not on the Hill at all!

On my way through town heading out, I heard a bird singing from the top of a tree like a mockingbird. That is, it sang a rollicking series of musical phrases, some of which sounded like other bird calls you hear around here. I even heard a little phainopepla in its medley. It was too far away to see, alas, but I thought it might be a thrasher. I have heard they can sing thousands of songs.

On the way back I spied an agave plant with red buds coming up to bloom at a height of what - fifteen feet? More? Finally! I was surprised at the small size of the basal plant that had produced  that awesome towering inflorescence. 

I was even more pleasantly surprised to hear the same birdsong as before from a few feet away. Looking over, I saw the curve-billed thrasher (do not remember the name of the new subgroup that resides here) sitting in a cholla cactus - on its nest! - singing a little before it flew away to the top of the tall agave plant and sing some more from there.

Wow! I am still in seventh heaven.

Happy Memorial Day to you, too!

May 29, 2022
Silver City, NM

Turns out the $20 for the blues festival was a suggested donation, not an entrance fee. I just wandered around the outside to take in the scene anyway. To hear the music much I would have had to be inside the enclosure.

Then I headed uphill to enjoy the sunset, which was nice even though I could not see much to the west. Of what I could see by far the best color was to the north and East.

Today has been relatively cool and breezy - a pleasant surprise for Memorial Day weekend.

Today I planted my little container herb garden. It makes the scraggly yard feel a little more civilized and welcoming.

Have a good weekend, all!

May 28, 2022
Silver City, NM

Camping still allowed in the Gila, I guess, although some people think there should not be. Campfires, of course, are not allowed. When I went outside this morning I definitely smelled an acrid smoke.

There is a blues festival scheduled for this weekend. Entrance is $20, but what I will hear I will experience from the outskirts - maybe even my front porch. The blues location is Goff Park. Right here in town.

May 27, 2022
Silver City, NM

Yesterday I saw a woman slanting across the same road as I but n the opposite directions. As we drew close to each other, I commented, We are two shameless jaywalkers!

She smiled and replied: Yes. Silver City - where the old jaywalk!

Yuk, yuk, - yep.

May 26, 2022
Silver City, NM

The big white poppies that grow wild here are now in bloom. So is the cholla. It took me a long time to be able to really enjoy a mostly brown landscape (as opposed to mostly green) but now I do - and the weather is so much more comfortable.

I am rediscovering the joys of fresh herbs and beginning to assemble plants for my container garden. If I can make a spot for them in the ground I will eventually try to move the hardy ones into a more permanent home. The other day I added just a little fresh basil to my easy borscht and improved the flavor dramatically. Nothing like cold soup on a hot day.

May 24, 2022
Silver City, NM

I have been reading about people using robots in their lives not to do their unwanted physical labor, but also to substitute for unwanted human companionship. The robots are their cup of tea, I guess.

One man flew a distance so he could take his robot companion to see the ocean. This is either major projection (delusional) or self-deception (delusional). Maybe self-deception is part of projection. Makes sense.

At any rate, thinking that a robot cares about seeing the ocean is insane. Sorry. It’s insane.

It seems that the only kind of person who would want such a relationship (which in itself is not a word applicable to the interaction, in my view) would be a narcissist.

Hey, whatever works! Better a machine that can be programmed to say what you want to hear than a real human to emotionally jerk around and beat up on.

(Written on a glorious day, but I wouldn’t want to bore the literary successors of George Bernard Shaw with too many rhapsodies!)

May 23, 2022
Silver City, NM

For the last few days I have occasionally wondered if I was smelling smoke from the forest fires. Today when I went outside I definitely smelled something acrid and burning. Whether it was from the fire I do not know. It cannot be good for a person’s lungs, and I worry that we will all get so used to smelling something that we do not realize the harm it might be doing. Not that there is anything we can do about it.

Wear masks, maybe? I do see people wearing them around still, perhaps in response to the news of the latest variant. I approve. I am just still not exposing myself to too many people.

My, that sounds a little risqué, does it not?

May 22, 2022
Silver City, NM

Perfect day for a walk on Boston Hill, I thought. And it was. I was by myself up there until I was fairly close to the trailhead on the final part of the loop I took.

First wildlife I saw was a bunny with the biggest cottontail I ever saw: it looked like a double. The rabbit was sized to match. Looks as if he did not have a hard winter. 

I was pleasantly surprised by a perfect Datura blossom on a small plant at my feet. First one of my year. I was so early I had hopes of seeing some deer, but it has been very dry. They might be hanging closer to the river during this drought.

The cholla have purple buds and one I saw is probably open by now. Usually magenta is not my favorite color but cholla wears it well!

On the way to the trailhead I saw a wonderful painting mounted a few feet above my head. In ten months I had never seen it before. Has it been there all this time?

That is one of the pleasures of living in Silver City. There is so much to take in that no way can you see it all when you have walked past the spot a mere hundred or two times.

May 21, 2022
Silver City, NM

A breezy day makes the warm weather quite pleasant. There is no sign of the fire raging northeast of here except maybe not quite such lucidly clear dawns as we had been having before this fire broke out.

New Mexico is now in officially the worst fire year since they have been keeping track of fire damage, and it is only May.

Every day as I walk by I look for the hummingbird and have seen the nest but nothing nearby. It seems a little early but for all I know the babes are fledged and gone. I doubt it, but I don’t know.

Every day something happens that makes me want to bitch and whine about current technology and corporations, but when I get outside I forget what all the fuss was about. Pretty idyllic.

May 19, 2022
Silver City, NM

On reflection, I think the sticker I saw was a joke highlighting the evil of taking a person’s words out of context.

Today, when I walked through campus after working out, I once again saw these most spectacular snapdragons I have ever seen anywhere. I complimented a gardener tending the plants with enthusiasm and he said he kept them alive over the winter.

How did he do that, I asked. I thought snapdragons were annuals. He said he just made sure they got enough water over the winter. I asked him if he did anything special to keep them warm. No, he cut them back in the fall and watered them. They already had plenty of mulch. As long as it didn’t get down to 10 degrees two nights in a row, they can survive.

Of course, I had already begun to realize that a lot of so-called annuals are really perennials in a hostile environment, but snapdragons?

I had no clue.

May 18, 2022
Silver City, NM

I saw a sticker on a car today that said, “Mean people will suffer.” Or something close to that.

What is that about, I wonder?

I just tried to find out. Maybe just part of a longer message, like “Hospital shortages will mean people will suffer.”

Ha, ha, ha, ha! I hope that vehicle is still there so I can check it out on my way home.

May 17, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico

This week around here the natural world is under attack by forest fires. We have not seen anything remotely resembling rain for weeks. Even though I have been in New Mexico for decades in the past, I don’t remember going so long without rain. I was very busy then, though. Maybe I just didn’t notice.

The fire near here is shedding smoke that just looks like clouds from my porch. They are surprisingly white - not what I would expect from a forest fire. As long as the winds blow away from town Silver City is not threatened, I guess. I do not know how many folks live downwind from and close to the fires. One friend mentioned that it is very early for the fire season to have begun already.

That is disheartening.

May 16, 2022
Silver City, NM

Last night was the most spectacular lunar event I have ever seen. I had an ideal view from the comfort of a cushioned wicker chair on my east-facing porch. How I wish I had invited some people over!

The fact is, though, I had forgotten about yesterday’s eclipse until I looked out the window and saw the moon with a big bite taken out of the lower left portion of its perfect sphere.

I grabbed my binoculars and settled down for a leisurely view of the encroaching shadow. How strange to see our shadow - ours! - cast in a curved line across that vast expanse! It made me feel  (ridiculously) powerful. Even more so when I could see it multiplied many times through the binoculars.

Strangely, at first the moon looked flat, but as it was more and more covered in shade, its spherical nature seemed more and more evident. The blood moon seemed more dried blood than red to me, but nobody promised fresh blood! Vampires might have been disappointed.

I know that part of my dedication to watching so much of the celestial action was due to the fact that I was alone and part of it was due to its easy visibility from where I live. I got very lucky.

Turns out this is another good reason to live in Silver City: not too many clouds.

I am going to try to pay more attention to what is happening in the night sky. I have such a wide stage on which to see the action.

May 15, 2022
Silver City, NM

I’m trying to grow a few things in pots. Yesterday some seeming wilting and yellowing of leaves led me to believe I was overwatering so I didn’t water them. Today they were just as much or more wilted, so I watered them more. They perked right up.

Someone I worked with in a nursery said letting a plant wilt set it back two weeks. I certainly hope not. Already I am seeing a cherry tomato form on one plant; I am looking forward to having a little bit of color and tang in my salads soon.

It is supposed to go up to ninety today. So far the house is staying comfortable. Imagine! I am still using a down comforter at night.

I don’t understand. Is this a consequence of being almost three quarters of a century old??

May 13, 2022
Silver City, NM

In the last town I lived in - Madison, Indiana - a woman who read my blog commented on it to me, “so intimate!” I do not know if she found it offensive or whether she just could not understand my openness.

A couple of weeks ago I was with an old friend and he said he appreciated how outspoken I was about what is going on with me. Not many people are like that, he said.

Since I arrived in Silver City I have not talked very much about personal stuff, but today I will. Maybe if it is so rare it is an important offering.

Wednesday I had two vaccines: my second shingles shot of two, and a new pneumonia vaccine. Wednesday night I had a spell of weakness that forced me to lie on the floor for a while. I have had these before; I guess they are ischemic strokes. It occurred to me to go to the Emergency Room, but the hours I would spend sitting there put me off. Besides, I was pretty sure what it was.

I also had worse than usual leg cramping. Were all these symptoms due to the vaccines? I did not think so.

My thoughts went back to what I had eaten the day before and some of the information I have come across about greens: greens are good for you, I have read - until they are not. Spinach, for instance, and borage. Too much of a good thing may be a bad thing.

My thoughts turned to the broccoli greens I bought last Saturday at the farmers’ market. They were good. Not only they, but the last too-large head of broccoli I had purchased at the co-op the week before was exceptionally good also. (I like broccoli, but I do not looove it.) So I had a lot of broccoli. A couple of times I had leaves and florets in quantity. It was all tasty.

The next morning I looked up broccoli and found out that while it is of course very nutritious, it can also have unintended negative effects. One source specifically stated that there is a possibility that an excess of broccoli might cause ischemic strokes, especially in women.

So there you have it folks, my latest report in intimate detail.

In case you’re wondering, borage does contain some liver toxins and spinach... well, I do not remember what spinach might do, but I do remember my mother telling me a decade ago that you do not need to eat large quantities of greens to get the nutritional value you want. She did not say that they might conceivably be, in excess, positively bad for you.

Now I know, and so do you.

Of course, it might have been the shots.

May 12, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico

On the way to the Visitor Center this morning I went to the spot where someone spotted the hummingbird yesterday and was delighted to see the bird sitting on its nest! And bulging out over its edges somewhat, which is hard to compute with such a small bird! Sweet.

Not such good news is the word that the accident involving the pedestrian on Bullard Street yesterday was a hit and run. At 2:30 in the afternoon. There had to be quite a few people around. The police are asking for any witnesses to come forward.

May 11, 2022
Silver City, NM

What a strange day! From males in the laundromat loudly and openly talking revolution and speaking dismissively about a Karen (moi??) to finding out I only had to pay $138 for my second shingles shot instead of the expected $200 and unexpectedly getting a free new vaccine for pneumonia (a shot in each arm, goodie) to interesting conversations on the bus ride to a man in the Big Ditch Park alerting me to the presence of a hummingbird nest and the hummingbird itself.

Run-on sentence? (Moi??)

Did not hang around long to see the hummingbird because I strongly suspected that two parties with their heads tilted up to see its nest might be just a little off-putting - especially since the man who told me about it could see a parent hanging out on a tree branch nearby. In my experience hummingbirds don’t just hang around much. They have to live life at a breakneck pace to keep the little hyper engines burning.

The nest was, of course, very small and looked to be partly made with soft fuzzy stuff perfect for small delicate creatures such as those babes must be.

P.S. Just heard someone got hit on Bullard Street. Very bad. So much for all my raving about how polite the drivers are here. But, hey, it’s tourist season! Drivers from all over right now.

May 10, 2022
Silver City, NM

Met some friends at Chentes at the Hub for Taco Tuesday today. Luckily I got hungry ahead of time and had half an apple and some leftover broccoli and carrots before I left home, because otherwise my four little tacos and chips and salsa would not have been enough. My, walking and working out for almost two hours of a morning really makes a difference in my appetite!

I wonder how much my food bill will go up every month as a consequence of my workouts. I cannot help but wonder, though, if I can credit the workouts with a significant improvement in my flexibility. For the month or two preceding beginning my pretty intense initial weeks working out on the machines, my fingers had been start to freeze in an extended position. I would have to shake my hands or physically unbend the problematic digit on one hand with the other hand. This was happening every other day or so. Scary!

Since I started working out a couple of weeks ago, though, it has only happened once. I do not know if the workouts cause the improvement but it is certainly a possibility. That alleviation of symptoms and the consequent fears of what sort of problems might be looming in the future are worth a few hours in the gym every week.

The WNMU gym is a spacious, comfortable place to work out. So far it has not been uncomfortably noisy or crowded. We will see what happens when the summer semester begins.

May 9, 2022
Silver City, NM

The second worst forest fire in New Mexico’s history going on right now: the result of an intentional burn gone wrong. This is the second time while I have been living in New Mexico that this has happened; the first hit the town of Los Alamos in addition to the intended area and houses in the community were destroyed. There are some cases in which the preventive medicine is worse than the disease.

The high winds we are experiencing this spring are not helping. This morning I talked with a man who lives on the ridge to the east of the downtown area who was lamenting what the wind is doing to his trees. They are getting an inordinate amount of leaves blown off. I hope they survive.

In my wandering around town I have noticed the wind, but I have experienced way worse both in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Maybe a good part of Silver City does not get the worst of the impact because it does seem to be in a shallow bowl with some protection from surrounding if distant mountains and ridges.

A relative reports the worst winds in over a decade in Las Cruces. The worst winds I have experienced here were in Albuquerque and Cerrillos. After one particularly grim day in Cerrillos I swore off visiting in the Spring - until some folks started an iris ranch there. Who could stay away from that? Not I.

May 6, 2022
Silver City, NM

I have been playing the fool so much lately that it might as well still be April. This morning, leaving the Family Dollar, I expected the door to open automatically. When it did not I thought it was nonfunctional and tried again. Ha ha ha ha! It was my mind that was nonfunctional. I was in the store yesterday and gee, the door wasn’t automatic then, either. For some reason I did not expect it to be then.

Yes, as my former partner was fond of saying, I am a nutcase!

Sometimes I feel I have spent my life seeing how many different ways I could make a fool of myself.

And goodness, have I had a lot of fun!

May 5, 2022
Silver City, NM

The other day I met a man who is multitalented. I first heard him singing as he was walking along with his dog, and he sounded good. He has sung professionally. He also is a finder of meteorites and diamonds and showed me some of his discoveries.

One was a silver-colored meteorite with a smooth surface a good size to fit in your hand as a worry-stone. Way cool, except he told me he was not sure what elements were in it. Might have some uranium. Does that automatically mean radioactive? That might give you something to worry about.

He also showed me a wee heart-shaped diamond he found in front of a local business at night. That is, according to him, when he finds diamonds the best. Pretty impressive. That Little rock  had a significant amount of fire. Of course, that does not mean it was not a synthetic diamond, but it was awesome. I would hate to have lost it myself.

He gave me what he said was an ordinary little meteorite, probably iron and nickel. I have bagged it just in case it is.

One thing I appreciated about him was the way he gave his dad credit for a lot of his knowledge about the natural world. Evidently his dad studied everything with enthusiasm and intelligence, and he benefitted from it. Including, he hastened to say, the genes for really good eyesight.

May 3, 2022
Silver City, NM

So often when people talk of love they talk about trust. It is so important to have trust, they say. Something about that always seemed a little off to me and made me feel inadequate. I could not seem to manage to summon up trust.

Then this morning it came to me: I think one of the important things in a relationship is to not to trust, but to be trustworthy. I am not saying I have always been trustworthy. There have been times I have failed in that quality.

Face it, though. The quality of trust cannot survive in the face of lies without insult to intelligence or endangering the grip of a person on reality.

So please quit already. Trust is nothing without at least the trustworthiness of honesty. And just as people can love without being trustworthy (as I see it) they can love without trusting. If trust is impossible or uncalled-for it becomes irrelevant, not essential.

May 2, 2022
Silver City, NM

Walking along the river this morning I spoke with a woman who thinks mountain lions and coyotes come out at night and might even come into town to drink from the river. She said that is why you see deer out in town sometimes; they have been flushed out of their resting places by predators.

Yesterday when I was on campus I did see two adult deer running along college street. I have also seen deer prints in the dirt driveway of a friend. There is quite a bit of open space around.

I may have reported inaccurately when I said I saw Bendire’s thrashers. I have heard other people call them curved-bill thrashers, but yesterday a birder at the gym told me they have divided that species into two subgroups and the ones around here are now called something else entirely. A long name - I will have to ask him again sometime and write it down.

May 1, 2022
Silver City, NM

All day yesterday I crossed the paths of groups of cyclists. I live in the middle of the city course set up for them to do laps. In Silver City, that means hills. To be honest, I did not envy the riders. I loved bicycling but not in races. Coming down the hill on Broadway from Cooper St. and whipping around onto Broadway looked, quite frankly, terrifying.

So the races definitely held some excitement, even for those of us who did not get out into the country to watch the more far-reaching events.

Walking around town you can see quite a few flowers - even climbing roses in full bloom - so there is definitely something to celebrate this May Day. Have a happy one!

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