First Dragonfly


I had seen a few dragonflies zip back and forth across the yard over the past couple of days, but none of them landed in camera range. So Laurie ended up getting the first dragonfly of the season this morning when it landed on one of our plants on the edge of the deck.

Chicken Spinner

We got a chicken spinner (that’s a rotisserie for those of you who don’t speak Viking) for our 30th wedding anniversary, and spun a couple of chickens for our anniversary dinner. Our nephew coined the term “chicken spinner” several years ago when we gave him a Lego Viking ship that had a chicken on a spit that turned over a Lego fire — we’ve used the term ever since.  The recipe we used for the slow cooked rotisserie chicken is from the most recent issues of Fine Cooking Magazine. You make a tarragon butter that you spread under the skin, and put a sprig of tarragon under the skin over each breast. Laurie wanted to see how the spinner handled two chickens, as she plans on making this recipe for her book group in July. The chicken came out super moist, tender and very tasty. We had asparagus sautéed with shallots, bell peppers, garlic and orange juice and potatoes with the chicken. .  Laurie made a wonderful Tres Leches cake for desert, which we had with coffee. Altogether they made a wonderful anniversary meal.

A spider caught a little bee this morning, and the first photograph shows the spider biting the bee. In the second photo, spider is dragging the bee into its web tunnel. A ladybug posed nicely for me this morning, as well, and the rest of the photos are of some of the wildflowers and cactus from yesterday’s venture back out to the area west of Rio Rancho overlooking the Rio Puerco valley and Mount Taylor. Laurie did some sketches and paintings of the landscape and wildflowers. The photo of her painting shows the layers and diversity of plant life in the area.

Believe it or not, we got light frost last night, which wilted some of our vegetables. We covered the vegetable beds tonight in case we get frost again. I thought we were going to get by without any late frosts this year, but it seems May cannot pass with out a late frost on the property.

Alien Kitty

The moon is white tonight and I can see the stars, but last night the smoke blotted out the stars and turned the  moon orange. While I was out photographing the moon from the front porch about 10:30 last night, I felt a presence, like someone was watching me. I looked up at the roof and could see the outline of pointy ears, so I pulled out my flashlight and there was an alien looking kitty staring at me. I thought the kitty would have run off since the light shining in its face, but it sat there intently looking at me while I talked to it. It didn’t act afraid at all, since it was out of my reach.

We went out to look at wild flowers and the landscape where we watched the eclipse last week. We were planning to go out yesterday, but it was too windy. Since we just got home, and I don’t have time to go through all the photos tonight, therefore, I’m only posting a photo of Mount Taylor at sunset, with the giant windmills at the base of the mountain shinning in the low sun, and a cow I photographed in the twilight on the way home.

Black Butterfly


There was not much smoke until about 7:00 PM when the winds died down and the smoke they blew in settled.  This butterfly looks almost completely black when it flutters around, but the morning sun reveals a lot of reddish brown in the wings.

Smokey Morning

The one positive aspect of smoke from wild fires is that it makes for nice photo opportunities with the sun in the background. But that’s about all the good I have to say for the smoke. My sinuses are messed up, my eyes are irritated and I have a headache. The smoke makes it hard to work outside, plus we have to run the refrigerated air units inside, because the swamp cooler pulls smoke into the house.  Actually, there is one more positive feature that I can think of about the smoke  — it often makes flying insect sluggish so they are easier to photograph.

And There Was Light

When I first studied cartography back in the technological stone age — 1979 — I drew maps by hand. All research and data collected for maps was either done in the library or out in the field, and the results were compiled and tabulated by hand for manual analysis that was eventually drawn on the maps. I even had to calculate the projection I wanted to use  and then project the map based on a globe. Cartography was a very time consuming process. By 1980, we were allowed to use the mainframe at the university to analyze some of our data. I wrote programs using Statistical Analysis System (SAS); each line was a punchcard (a typical program had hundreds of punchcards), and the punchcards were fed into a card reader. Then I sat in the computer center drinking coffee and doing homework for great lengths of time until the output of the program came back. If there were errors, I would fix the lines, produce new cards, replace them in the stack of cards, feed the card reader, and wait for the next output with errors or results of the program. Even though I got to use the computer to run the stats, I still had to map the results by hand. By the time I graduated in 1983, GIS was just coming into use at the university.

I was thinking back to those days today as I struggled with getting map servers working on my workstation for testing and development, before I deploy them on our production servers. As I hacked installers of the various components to force them to find dependent programs that had different paths to the applications than the installers expected and beat my head against the desk hacking postgres so I could force-install postgis needed to deal with spatial data, I started to wonder if the world of GIS and web mapping were really advancements over old fashioned cartography.  Once the hacking was done, and I had my workstation serving maps on the web, I thought better about doubting GIS’s ability to process and map large data sets in seconds that would take weeks or months to process and map by hand. In reality, the frustration and time spent hacking installers, and fighting programs to get them to work the way I want them to is well worth the trouble for the resulting efficiencies in mapping services we can offer. Although all this efficient technology ends up taking a lot of the art out of mapping.


Working four ten hour days is difficult to adjust to after two years of working a more traditional schedule. Up until May of 2010, I worked 10, 12, 14 hours a day, four days a week, and always took Fridays off. Part of the problem is that it’s difficult to get to bed early as spring moves toward summer. We often work outside until dark, then sit out on the deck, eat, read, listen to the concerts drifting over from the casino, watch the critters play in the darkness, and lay out on the lounge chairs and look at the stars — early evening quickly passes into late night, then the sun gets us up earlier each morning.

Blooms Under The Eclipse

Between shots of the solar eclipse yesterday afternoon, I photographed the cactus and wild flowers that were blooming around where I set up to photograph the eclipse. All the cactus were low, and pear shaped, so I’ve labelled the photos as “prickly pear” and the color of their flowers, but I can’t swear they are all truly prickly pear. We are planning on going back out to this area this weekend, because there were a lot more varieties of cacti and wild flowers preparing to bloom. The landscape was surprisingly green considering how dry it’s been.