Damsel in Distress

Muddy damselfly that can't fly. The spider's leg is barely showing above its eye

Critters root around in the mulch every night, and I assumed it was either raccoons or skunks or both. I went out at 4:30 am Sunday morning to put down the gate and let the water in, and came across a large critter waddling toward the ditch. It was a very large porcupine — so large and fat that I think it was a pregnant female.  Ever since I stepped on a skunk in the dark a few years ago, I don’t go out in the yard at night without a flashlight. Now I have even more reason not to walk around in the dark without a flashlight.

When I went out to shut off the water there was a damselfly covered with mud on the edge of the gate.  It couldn’t fly and a spider was going for it. I picked it up and carefully  rubbed some of the mud off it’s wings. It flew a little, decided it was still too had to fly, flew back and landed on my finger. I rubbed a little more dirt off its wings, then photographed it while it worked on getting the mud off it’s head. It took another test flight, flew back to my finger and I again worked on rubbing mud off its wings, while it scraped it off its head. We finally removed enough mud that it flew off toward the rising sun.

A tiny preying mantis got on my arm. It was so small I could hardly see it, and I might have squished if I hadn’t noticed it. I coaxed it onto a rose bush and it posed nicely, although it was so small I had a terrible time focusing on it. Then a fly landed next to my plate and started rubbing its front legs together like it wanted my food. The photo ended up looking more like it was praying, So I called it a praying fly.

We were sitting on the deck while I was writing this blog, but the temperature was dropping fast and drove us back inside. Hot, windy then cold — totally silly weather.

Damselfly cleaning mud off its head
Before we got it cleaned up enough to fly off
Tiny praying mantis
Praying fly

29 Years on the 29th


It’s gotten very late, so tonight I’m writing a quick rundown of the day with photos of our anniversary dinner preparation.

After irrigating first thing this morning, cleaning house, installing firmware updates on my cameras, and herding cats, I gave myself a kitty bath (licked my arms, put on deodorant and changed into some reasonably clean clothes), then Laurie and I ventured out to the nursery and bought a hibiscus and a color bowl for anniversary presents.

Dinner included the Vietnamese beef dish, stir-fried vegetables with black sesame seeds, brown rice and sparkling wine. Family came over for dessert. We all sat out on the deck and had a wonderful evening.

Color Bowl
Meal Prep
Main Dish
Ready to Eat
Stretch Helping

Got Milk?

Rosencrantz wanted to me to put a “Got Milk?” ad on my blog — being a cat, he doesn’t understand the milk mustache that celebrities sport on the ads in the magazines. He thinks everyone should lap milk out of a saucer like cats, and quit wasting it on their upper lips.

The line-up for our anniversary dinner includes: Vietnamese style beef, stir fry vegetables. brown rice, Asti sparkling wine and devil’s food cake. Although it may seem a little dull, the recipes are from our Fine Cooking magazines, so they are anything but dull. The cake is made with buttermilk with a chocolate ganache frosting.

I made one of my best ever carne adovada stews this afternoon. One change I made was cutting the potatoes into small cubes and frying them like hash browns before adding them to the stew. The stew has Anasazi pinto beans, carne adovada, potatoes, fresh onions and garlic, red chile, smoked paprika and herbs. I made about 14 quarts that we will freeze in lunch-sized containers.

I was messing around with my camera this afternoon and made a pinhole lens out of an extension tube. The photograph of the chairs and table are done with the pinhole lens. I need to do a little more experimenting with the different lengths of of the extension tubes and different sized pinholes. Laurie thinks it’s silly to make a pinhole camera out of a modern DSLR, but I think it’s cool!

One think nice about hot days is the nights are very comfortable for sitting out on the deck to work on photos and blogs. The rose today is another bloom from Cherry Parfait. Laurie thinks it looks like the coloring was affected by the cold. The pink peonies are still blooming and I found a stink bug and made it pose for me. It was very reluctant and raised quite a stink.

Love that Rose

We sat out on the deck tonight and watched the Sandias turn red as I worked on photos and Laurie made a shopping list for the meal we are going to prepare for our wedding anniversary on Sunday.  We are celebrating 29 years on the 29th.

The insects and spiders were in pretty good form tonight, and Rosencrantz looked good peeking out from the deck chair he was sitting on. Tonight is the warmest night we’ve had this spring, but the mosquitos are starting to pester.  The temperature is supposed to be 90º F tomorrow with cloudy skies. As long as the wind doesn’t blow that forecast is fine with me.

Spider Galaxy

In a spider galaxy not far away, a web teams with tiny arachnids scurrying hither and thither in the myriad twists and jumbles of threads, as the sun sets on their first day of life in their tangled universe.

A pink and purple iris, faded by the sun, wrapped its petals up like it was preparing for a cold night, and resembled a distant nebula. Aphids are feeding on a rosebud, swaying in the wind, against the afternoon sun, making the best of life before the ladybugs find them.


I had a cute inch worm get on my finger this afternoon. It was just about an inch long. Then a baby grasshopper was playing peek-a-boo on one of the roses. The little butterfly is a Pearl Crescent. I learned that from the butterfly guy, and puck was peeking over the top of the roof this afternoon. He wouldn’t look at the camera for some reason. The lead photo is an aging dandelion that looked interesting in the late afternoon sun.

The Harley and the Bike

My blood draw and port flush went well, other than how the port kept oozing blood after the nurse took the needle out. I had five bandaids on the port when I left. Today was one of those rare days that I had a bleeding heart. The blood stopped oozing when I read that Obama and Cameron were comparing themselves to Reagan and Thatcher. Give me a break! They are complete opposites.

Laurie usually eats green chile stew or carne adovada stew for breakfast on the way into the university in the morning. This morning she decided to try granola with milk on the way in. She managed not to spill it all over herself on the bumpy roads, and stop and go traffic, which was really good, but I think the granola influenced my bleeding heart.

I didn’t stick around for the results of my blood tests, and I assume they are normal since I didn’t get a call from the nurse telling me anything was out of whack. I have my PET scan on the 31st, the day after Memorial Day. The problem with that is I’m not supposed to eat carbs or exercise 24 hours before the PET scan. Hmmm! I guess I’ll have to laze around and eat steak all day on Memorial Day;• )

I actually did the Post Office run around today without getting PO’d. I purchased a business reply mail permit (BRM), “no postage necessary…” for the office. I had to go to the main post office once, and the downtown post office twice to complete the process; but the postal workers in the business department were nice, and got kind of excited to have something to do for the 45 minutes it took to complete all the paperwork.

On the way to the PO today, I came across a new Harley parked outside a bank. The sunset behind the leaf was irresistible, and another new iris bloomed.

Hula Cow

Holy cow! They put a hula cow outside the Corrales Bosque Gallery. I don’t know who made it, but it’s a great sculpture.

The critters were out this afternoon, but between the clouds blocking the sun and a lot of critters hanging out on the east side of the house in the late afternoon shadow, only a bee came out the way I wanted it to.

I also got a white iris. White, slightly translucent flowers are difficult to get detail on and still hold the white. The iris came out pretty well tonight.

I have to go in for blood work in preparation for my PET scan on the 31st. I’m not sure if I’ll get any results tomorrow or not. It’s been over three months since my last blood work, so I’m interested to see the results if they give them to me tomorrow. They may just draw blood, flush my port and let me go, since there really won’t be any reason that I need to wait for results other than curiosity.

Spiders and Things

The cutest little spider hopped up on my finger while I was holding the leaf it was on trying to stabilize it in the wind. Once it got on my finger it was easier to photograph. Lane commented that the spiders are good models for me. I told him it’s because I tell them how cute and beautiful they are. Even spiders react well to complements!

I notice we have some different bees working the salvia. They looked like honey bees at first, but after a closer look, I could see that they are darker and their eyes are shaped differently from what I would call a standard honey bee. These bees were feeding on the plants, but didn’t seem to be collecting pollen.

There was a tiny little hopper hanging out on Pink Cascade this morning that turned out to be a great model.  It posed in several different position and looked very cute.  Laurie was trying to decide if it was beneficial or not. If not, a predator will have to take care of it — since it was such a great model, it earned it’s right to live as far as I’m concerned.

On the other hand, a lady bug on one of the roses was a terrible model. It would not hold still for a moment, and with the low light in the late afternoon, a 30th of a second was not fast enough to freeze the movement of a hyper lady bug. There weren’t any aphids on the rose it was racing around on. I’ll have to wait until the roses have aphids — I think lady bugs will hold still for a moment while they are chowing down on aphids.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern ARE NOT Dead

Neither we nor the cats nor the bird were raptured. Oh well, I guess we have to live on in our ever-changing world. Coast to Coast AM had interesting guests and calls last night, and one common thread that developed was that people like to believe in doomsday soothsaying because they have trouble dealing with a rapidly changing world. They find comfort in the idea of being taken away rather than having to cope with reality and change.

We just finished listening to the last hour of last night’s Coast to Coast AM, and George Nori apparently disappeared in the middle pronouncing of the word “taken”.  Ian Punnet is on tonight, so maybe we’ll learn more about what happened to George. He could have been raptured or abducted by aliens.

The speaker at the Last Breakfast today was New Mexico’s Butterfly Guy, Steve Cary. He gave a good presentation and we bought his book Butterfly Landscapes of New Mexico. We have quite a few butterflies in our yard, but there are a surprisingly large number of butterflies that live at even higher elevations. The most interesting thing we learned is that the larvae and caterpillars eat a few specific plants, depending on the species, but the adults eat pretty much anything.

The wind was blowing most of the afternoon, so I didn’t see many butterflies, although the bird in the photo series tonight did catch a white butterfly on the wing. Besides Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, I included a dandelion and a peony.