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June, 2022
By: Esther Powell
Posted on: Wed, June 01 2022 - 3:58 pm

June 30, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico

Just got a phone call today from a senior Silver City neighbor who was in Tuesday’s train wreck in Missouri. He was thrown to the other side of the car he was in and knocked unconscious. Four people on the train were killed and over half the other passengers injured.

When he regained consciousness he found himself in the middle of chaos, with little children and adults walking around dazed and injured. A strong young man helped him up, then he himself helped his rescuer assist other passengers get up ladders that had been put in the cars for their escape. Before the ambulances arrived at the scene nearby farmers were helping with the rescue.

I am pretty sure this was the same train (with a different name) that I took decades ago to get from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Chicago, Illinois and back. I loved it. These folks were not so fortunate. The train hit a dump truck stalled in the middle of the tracks with terrible consequences.

He suggested that I call the local paper to tell them that a local senior citizen was in the crash.

Maybe I will, but he lost his phone in the accident so I do not know how the paper would verify the report. At any rate, I am reporting it here.

June 29, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico 

If an artificially intelligent robot can say all the right things in a conversation, does that mean it is human? Could it just be a sociopath? How about sociopaths, then? Can they be considered human?

If you have to be flesh and blood and look human to be human - and that’s all - who cares  about?

Or is it a case of quantitative changes among robots with artificial intelligence adding up to be a qualitative, humanizing change?

At any rate, why should an employee be fired because he brings up the subject?

Sounds like a fascinating person to have around. Maybe he should be rewarded for thinking outside the box..l or should I say inside?

June 28, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico 

It has been rainy and cool here,which is a good break from hot weather when you know that weather will be back. I’m reading a book called Lifespan by David Sinclair that says being cold and/or hungry and/or out of breath sometimes is good for you, so I am trying to be a little more ascetic and long-suffering with regards to my physical comfort.

I bought cake at Diane’s Bakery over my birthday weekend, though, and it was so good I fully intend to indulge in her yummies a little more often. I think maybe I can make up for that occasional indulgence  with a little more everyday forbearance of physical discomfort.

...but maybe I’ll read a little further first.

June 27, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico 

The directions that came with my omeprazol say if you want to avoid heartburn do not bend over after eating.

I think about the admonition often, as I put on my shoes and socks for the gym, make my bed, return food to my short little refrigerator, wash my face, and pick up and dispose of dead or dying cockroaches (yes! I know, yuk!)

Just as I knew I should not do stoop labor at the nursery twenty years ago when I was assigned the job of cutting off the growing tips of long-stemmed chrysanthemums so they would branch out more, I fail to see that I have much choice.

Who does not have to bend over in life? I cannot imagine. Even a wealthy person has to pick up their children or the dog.

Come on!

June 25, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico

My true love is the rising sun, but I confess daybreak takes more time on any given morning than I am willing to devote to it in one uninterrupted chunk. Luckily the sun has billions of worshippers, so unlike some people’s concept of God, it will not notice my absence.

This morning around daybreak the sky was a mysterious bright but slightly murky orange. Was that unusual sunrise due to the rain doused forest and brush fires northeast of Silver City? Was that ash instead of dust catching the early morning light, or just rain clouds?

I have read that some Native American tribes would get up before sunrise and accord the ascent of the sun the respect due to the giver of all life; I got the impression they watched the whole show. It was not until I moved here that I realized what a long process that is.

Maybe if I had realized how my true love the rising sun would be, I would have been more tolerant of the sameness of days offered by human mates over the years.

Why even the coming of the sun can be ordinary or even (gasp) boring!

Who knew? But it is all right....

June 24, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico 

Yesterday if front of the Visitor Center I saw a young man picking fruits from a purple-leaved tree. I asked him what kind of tree it was. He answered that it was a purple plum, or alternatively cherry plum. He said the fruits have to be cooked and sweetened, but his wife was hoping to make some truffles with them. Intriguing!

He showed me one. It was the same color as the leaves which was maybe why, he speculated, that the birds didn’t eat them. Could be - or maybe they are too sour or bitter for the birds.

Maybe the birds say, yuck! Those are for the humans!

June 23, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico 

After several days of cooler weather the temperature is climbing again. Luckily the hard rain that fell the other night also fell on the forest fires, which are now mostly contained - at least the fires near us.

My little cherry tomato plant has now yielded six tomatoes at a cost of $7.50 apiece. Hopefully my final harvest will be late in the Fall and significantly less per tomato! I’m encouraged - the first two, which I gave to a family member as a joke, cost me $22.50 each. If I can manage to keep my tomato plant alive maybe they will average supermarket price by the end of the summer.

In addition to two tomatoes, today I put a couple of cool blue borage flowers on my salad. To be honest, I didn’t taste anything. Next time I’ll try more.

June 22, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico

We finally had a real rain yesterday. I hope an equivalent storm hit forest fire locations!

Walking over the foot bridge on my way to the laundromat I heard a positively torrential rush of water. The level of water was in no way threatening to escape the banks of the big ditch, but the water was brown and foamy. Big sigh of relief for the wildlife.

June 21, 2022
Silver City, NM

Phainopepla is calling a lot these days; I hear it almost every time I go out. I don’t see its tidy relative, cedar waxwing, at all. Maybe it doesn’t travel to such a high altitude.

Now that the festival weekend is over, I have heard about all we have missed. Not only performance art was displayed, but also visual arts - painting, pottery and the like, were also on display. Hopefully it will come back around this time next year.

June 19, 2022
Silver City, NM

Last night family and I went to the Buckhorn Restaurant in Pinos Altos, a destination normally out of reach for carless me. We saw the old opera house there. It dates from the 1860’s and was fun to see. It was a surprise in several ways, but I won’t tell you how because I want you to be surprised, too! The Buckhorn Restaurant itself was not such a surprise, because I had heard the food was pricey but good, and it did not disappoint!

We saw several magnificent agaves around town yesterday, and also one on the way to Pinos Altos.

Something else magnificent I have experienced lately here is a wonderful chocolate cake purchased at Diane’s Bakery for another family member’s birthday. It was awesome, and I was so lucky to get it, because I thought of it on impulse late in the afternoon.

June 16, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico 

Last evening I took a little stroll along the river and saw a bird kicking up some dust. Ah! A spotted towhee scruffing around the way I expect towhees to do! Of course he was doing that because he had to in order to get something invisible to me that seemed like small reward for the trouble he was going to.

After he flew away I went over to his work site. The only edible-looking thing I saw was a good-sized ant. I do not know if their varied diet includes ants in particular.

This morning I went into my kitchen and saw something out the window that looked like something rather large - from the animal kingdom. I thought it was probably a vegetative form, but I looked more closely. No! I was right the first time, except there were two! Deer - a half block away. I began to wonder if my little container garden (notice how we can no longer say pot garden?) was safe from them.

I went to my workout uncertain.

The deer looked uncertain themselves, but two very tall intervening fences combined with a high vertical cutout of the rock (maybe fifteen feet?) probably made my small would-be feast pretty unworthy of the effort.

Yesterday the owner of a mine hoping to reactivate it told me their water supply was temporarily cut off because a bear had chewed through the pipe that carries their water to them!

This drought means hard times for the wildlife.

June 15, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico 

Tourism is slowing again, maybe because of fires. Rain that was predicted for Monday is now supposed to visit at the same time as my relatives. I am afraid they will get drenched, which I think is the most ironic thing that could happen to visitors who expect it to be uncomfortably warm. Rain would be a blessing, though, for obvious reason: it would help douse the wildfires.

Yesterday I coincidentally went for a walk at 8:00 - the only time yesterday it was predicted to rain - 50% likelihood, the report I access on my phone read. There was not a cloud in the sky.

June 14, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico 

 It seems that to most people, a tree is a tree is a tree, and a bird is a bird is a bird.

Maybe they have been reading Gertrude Stein (whom, quite frankly, I found boring.) I have read only one of her books, A Rose is a Rose is a Rose or whatever - don’t remember how far the title takes it, but the book is a little eternity unto itself.

Plus who needs more? After all, a book is a book is a book....

Well, of course not. I spent a little time today helping one of our local booksellers shelve kids’ books, and they come in all shapes and sizes - including books I wouldn’t think were for kids at all.

Who am I to say? I started heading up to the adult section of our local library when I was very young indeed, and one of the “adult” series I believe I encountered there was a magical series of Fairy Tales all starting with a different color. The Blue Book of Fairy Tales, etc. If the color in the title helped the editors categorize the tales by country of origin or some other organizational plan, I was too much of a child to notice.

At any rate the more sophisticated books I unpacked, possibly for “young adults,” are out of reach of young children - on the top shelf.

June 13, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico

Lately I have noticed a brightening of the river area north of the street I usually take down to the walk along the San Vicente. Some boards that are part of a retaining wall were being painted in bright colors. Today, coming home on a path from errands in the other direction, I saw a brightly-colored sign under a bridge. It indicated that the downtown was a block away.

Young people were painting the structures under the bridge. The whole project is making this whole section of river feel welcoming, where before - in spite of picnic tables - it felt deserted and derelict.

The young folks represented the workings of a joint project of the YCT and I believe the YMP (Youth Mural Program) to beautify public areas and encourage alternative ways of getting around to the ever present automobile. (Or maybe that latter is my projection. At any rate, I like it, especially in this weather!)

A dirt path and shady trees appeal, especially when compared to hot concrete, noise, and exhaust. I hope the merchants along that block of Bullard are not affected too adversely.

P.S. I also learned that Goff Park is not spelled the obvious way, but Gough Park. Who knew? Everyone but me, probably.

June 12, 2022
Silver City, NM

This morning I encountered some lovely people and learned something about another former place to stay in Silver City - a mercantile building the owner of which built a motel around it. 
It is located on the east side of Bullard, the current Main Street. Now it is an apartment building. I kind of envy them their proximity to the river, because it might be handy to observe bird life, which like almost all wildlife is attracted to water.

My new acquaintances report that there is still a lot of the original structure inside. Maybe some day I will get a tour.

June 11, 2022
Silver City, New Mexico

This morning I got up before dawn. Great! I could get to the gym early. I did the usual chores, played the usual games, ate breakfast, put on socks and appropriate shoes, and strode out of the house, confident that I would have a good workout, in spite of the fact that it had been three days. Three days! I could not believe it... and should not have.

It was not until I got into the building that I began to have doubts... then when I got to the door of the weight room, I knew. It was Saturday, not Monday. The gym would not open until ten.

Students of dementia, take note. Is this dementia, or normal aberration? I am sure I have never done this before, but what do I know?

Maybe I just forgot.

June 9, 2022
Silver City, NM

Ooo, a spotted towhee! Quite showy! And a finch with the reddest crown I have ever seen on a finch before. Maybe I better start working on learning the local birds.

There is a cloud cover today and actually a twenty percent chance of rain. The breeze is quickening and it actually feels as if it might rain. Very refreshing.

This morning I heard a phainopepla with its whistle greeting and was looking frantically in the tree branches for it. Then I finally saw it - fully exposed on a telephone wire. I never heard one give so many whistles in such a short time. I wonder if he lost track of a mate or if he is getting desperate in his search for one. They do breed here.

June 8, 2022
Silver City, NM

Last night I learned a couple of things from a man I occasionally run into during my wanderings around town. He was wearing a t-shirt that promoted the great American Duck Race held in Deming. I guess it has not happened for a couple of years now because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it has been held for twenty years or so at least. His shirt was from 1998. It probably will be held again.

The other thing I learned was from his clothing also. What an interesting dresser! He had a hat with running text like the stock market’s. It was in blue lights and he said it was programmable. I did not think to ask if he could control the color of the display, but I am guessing probably not. The hat he got online. I liked the blue.

Oh, the possibilities offered by modern technology!

June 6, 2022
Silver City, NM

Trying again with the help of a young librarian to get the loan of ebooks free online through Overdrive. We’ll see how that works.

I have been learning about more shady trail paths to different parts of town. So much quicker (think hypotenuse of a right triangle) and more comfortable.

June 5, 2022
Silver City, NM

I talked with some people today who were living in a brick house with plaster walls that, unbeknownst to them, had been originally built from chestnut wood in the seventeen hundreds!
Eighteen by eighteen inch wooden - what did they call them - beams? Planks? 

The house was destroyed when someone bought the farm it was on in order to build warehouses. There went another piece of history, not to mention natural life and beauty.

When the wood was exposed, a man in his nineties identified the wood by laying his cheek against it and smelling it: chestnut.

Chestnut trees used to be a real staple of American life. These trees, of course, were mostly gone before I was born.

I witnessed the virtual demise of the American Elm, and never realized that the loss of the chestnuts was possibly even more tragic.

June 4, 2022
Silver City, NM

Went to the Silva Creek Botanical Garden today to see if there would be a blooming agave there. No such luck, but I did see a yucca with its bud chopped off! The lovely lady who was watering there told me that it had been eaten by deer.

I would like to have seen that. Luckily yucca don’t bloom once and then die like agaves do... if they do.

I asked the woman why she was watering a dead plant and she said it wasn’t really dead, that they send out shoots and new starter plants. She pointed out some green at the base of the plant. Hmmmm....

June 3, 2022
Silver City, NM

I see a lot of salamanders and/or lizards these days. They are so varied that for the first time in my life I am getting curious about them. I wonder if the Visitor Center has a list of reptiles in the county like their list of birds.

This morning on my way home from the gym I went by some folks who had been shearing some of the plants around a very interesting house. I commented about how good their work was making the air smell. They replied, Rosemary! Well, no wonder!

This afternoon was supposed to be so warm that I was leery about venturing out, but it is breezy and definitely not humid. A good thing - except it has not rained for weeks!

June 2, 2022
Silver City, NM

Well, as it turns out, the two sightings of bear - one on Combs Street  and one on 6th Street - could have been the same bear.

Then my daughter told me the only bear she has seen loose in “the wild” was one she saw just outside the sign saying welcome to Silver City probably on highway 180 on the west side of town.

Are bears like cockroaches? If you see one there are twenty-five more you don’t see? Slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

Maybe our local pet isn’t a refugee from the Black Fire!

Speaking of which, this morning the horizon did look a little smoky-gray, and the air smelled a little acrid.

June 1, 2022
Silver City, NM

Early in the morning on Memorial Day after I entered the Spring Street Trailhead, at some point I thought “Bear.”

Immediately afterward I thought, no, they aren’t around here. Think cats!

Well, think again, Esther!

There have been two recent sightings of a bear in town that I have heard of, and at least one of them was well before my hike! On a street a block away from mine, although that could still be a mile away on the other end of town nearer the Black Fire.

So was it a coincidence? Do I have an ancient subliminal sense of smell trigger?

At least one other person besides myself thinks it - or they - are probably refugees from the fire, which is now twenty-odd miles away.

Whew! Maybe it is time, as my former partner says, to invest in some bear spray.

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