Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Feral Fighting Chickens Fly In

WILDWOOD LANE SW--This just in from Mike "Taxman" Moye, whose camera is always close. Two chickens have flown over the fence into his yard. They are not his, although they frequent his yard and pond quite regularly.

I used to raise chickens when I lived in the North Valley, and had a trio of Old English Game Fowl that looked pretty much like these. But there was more to this than looks.
  • OEG birds fly really well for chickens. They certainly fly over walls. They also escape dogs. These are as close to wild birds as any breed of chicken I have ever seen.
  • OEG hens get really broody. They not only lay lots of eggs in secret places, they will set on them and hatch the little critters. I still remember the little chicks following their mother around our yard scratching in the leaves and dirt right behind their mother.
  • OEG cocks have a long history of cock-fighting. In fact, their combs and wattles are usually cut off to minimize fight damage.
  • After two years, I owned 84 Old English Game Fowl...all home-grown.
There are several varieties of OEG's with different coloration, but after consulting some on-line sources, I am convinced that this is what we have here. These birds were probably at some point part of a flock raised for cock-fighting. But with their propensity for hatching baby chicks (most breeds will not set and hatch chicks) these grew up and got away. They have been hanging out in Wildwood Lane cul-de-sac for several months. It will be interesting to see if baby chicks are the result.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Johnny_Mango's Sunday Wallpaper: The View from the Homestead

Near Cabezon Peak, NM--The homestead was abandoned...but the little stone house bore witness to the builder's sense of beauty. This is the view from the front door.For best results, click on picture to enlarge before setting as desktop background.

The Sunday Poem: Some Boys are Born to Wander

American Life in Poetry: Column 048

Every parent can tell a score of tales about the difficulties of raising children, and then of the difficulties in letting go of them. Here the Texas poet, Walt McDonald, shares just such a story.

Some Boys are Born to Wander

From Michigan our son writes, How many elk?
How many big horn sheep? It's spring,
and soon they'll be gone above timberline,

climbing to tundra by summer. Some boys
are born to wander, my wife says, but rocky slopes
with spruce and Douglas fir are home.

He tried the navy, the marines, but even the army
wouldn't take him, not with a foot like that.
Maybe it's in the genes. I think of wild-eyed years

till I was twenty, and cringe. I loved motorcycles,
too dumb to say no to our son—too many switchbacks
in mountains, too many icy spots in spring.

Doctors stitched back his scalp, hoisted him in traction
like a twisted frame. I sold the motorbike to a junkyard,
but half his foot was gone. Last month, he cashed

his paycheck at the Harley house, roared off
with nothing but a backpack, waving his headband,
leaning into a downhill curve and gone.

First published in �New Letters,� Vol. 69, 2002, and reprinted from "A Thousand Miles of Stars," 2004, by permission of the author and Texas Tech University Press. Copyright © 2002 by Walt McDonald. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Juniper Pollen: Blowing in from the Hinterlands?

NE OF CABEZON PEAK--This area near the new Ojito Wilderness is basically barren of trees. What trees there are, however, are junipers...and right now they are just loaded with pollen. Anytime you see a brown juniper you are looking at pollen. The slightest breeze wafts clouds of it into the air. If you hit a branch with your hand, the clouds are plainly visible.

John Fleck and Sophie Martin are looking at this from a global warming perspective. I imagine they are correct. But I do know that certain areas around here are extremely heavy with this pollen at certain times of the year. I would recommend staying away from this area SE of San Ysidro on the Cabezon road. From experience in previous years I would suspect that the road that goes around Ladron Peak to Magdalena is also full of pollen-bearing trees. That last road might even be dangerous for those with severe juniper allergies until things settle down.

Around my neighborhood in Nob Hill, the junipers are not yet emitting pollen. Down the street on one of those "bushy type" junipers (in picture above), there are a lot of berries but no pollen at this point.

In my own front yard are a couple of the "pole" type junipers commonly called cedars, although they are actually a type of juniper. It is also free from pollen. This tree has a lot of pollen in the spring, but right now...everything is quiet.

One of the commenters on Fleck's post talks about urban landscaping being part of the problem. It is...but I have a feeling that the allergy situation is also largely due to the native junipers which dot the wildlands.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Johnny_Mango's Sunday Wallpaper: Frost and the Faustian Photographer Adrift in the High Lonesome

HIDDEN MOUNTAIN--Photographer Steve Bromberg and his son Seth settle into that most passive of spectator sports, Gate Watching In The Middle Of Nowhere. Of course, photographing people who photograph seldom-used gates is only one step removed from recording the sound of easy wind and downy flake.

Here's a toast to all whose inner voice whispers, "Stay, Moment, thou art so fair."For best results click on picture to enlarge before setting as desktop background.

The Sunday Poem: Robert Morgan, "Holy Cussing"

American Life in Poetry: Column 047


The poet, novelist and biographer, Robert Morgan, who was raised in North Carolina, has written many intriguing poems that teach his readers about southern folklore. Here's just one example.

Holy Cussing

When the most intense revivals swept
the mountains just a century ago,
participants described the shouts and barks
in unknown tongues, the jerks of those who tried
to climb the walls, the holy dance and laugh.
But strangest are reports of what was called
the holy cuss. Sometimes a man who spoke
in tongues and leapt for joy would break into
an avalanche of cursing that would stun
with brilliance and duration. Those that heard
would say the holy spirit spoke as from
a whirlwind. Words burned on the air like chains
of dynamite. The listeners felt transfigured,
and felt true contact and true presence then,
as if the shock of unfamiliar
and blasphemous profanity broke through
beyond the reach of prayer and song and hallo
to answer heaven's anger with its echo.

Reprinted from Southern Poetry Review, Vol. 43, No. 1, 2004, by permission of the author. Copyright © 2004 by Robert Morgan, whose most recent book is �The Strange Attractor: New and Selected Poems,� Louisiana State University Press, 2004 This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Snapshots From the Duke City Fix Chalk-Up

ANODYNE POOL HALL, DOWNTOWN--Last night the Beautiful MaryAnn and I went downtown to the Duke City Fix ball-clicker at the Anodyne. Here are a few snapshots from that event.

Chantal and Kate compare notes on some kind of girly-beer flavored with fermented cranberries.

The visually elusive Eckleburg and Grumblecake spent the whole evening talking about the sex habits of owls...burrowing owls.

Cue in hand, Forrest hypnotises the Beautiful MaryAnn with with stories of his prowess.

Sophie puts on her coat and heads for the door. She has other fish to fry tonight.

Paul lives two lives: one in Socorro and one in Albuquerque where he has a condo in EDO. His home in Socorro is near the "Eastlake house," if you know where that is. If you don't, you should really find out. That area is beautiful.

In other news of the evening...

  • I lost every pool game I was in.
  • The owls are going to have a better website than Yours_Truly.
  • The Anodyne does not charge for non-alchoholic bar drinks like just tonic and lime.
  • Table rates are $5 per hour.
There are a bunch of wonderful people in this virtual community...show up next time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Fill 'Er Up...Premium Please!

NOB HILL--Now I admit a windy day is not a good time to bring up the subject of compost. But in keeping with my recent posts on a $6 composter and a $10 coldframe I thought that it might be the perfect time to talk about being cheap...as well as smart.

Adding compost to your soil is always a good thing here. And believe me, garden fever is about to set in. So before it gets too hot, borrow that old pickup truck from your brother-in-law and let's head down into the south valley to Soilutions. It is located right next to the railroad tracks at 9008 Bates Rd. SE.

MaryAnn and I went down there last weekend and brought back 2 yards of their premium compost. The cost was $64. That might seem like a lot of dough, but actually it is a lot of, well, compost. 2 yards is about all a full-size pickup can handle. They also sell this stuff by the one-cubic-foot bag for around $6. Figuring 54 cubic feet in 2 yards makes this worth $324.00 on a bag by bag basis.

Hey, a truckful for $64: that's cheap...and smart. There is another aspect as well. What can possibly compare with driving around Albuquerque in an old pickup truck filled to the brim with premium compost! Especially on a Saturday morning. Now that is a $64 good time all by itself!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pictures From Hidden Mountain

16 MILES WEST OF LOS LUNAS--Last weekend I made two trips to Hidden Mountain following a lead on an incredible story I read in a skinny little yellow book at the Old Main Library on Central Ave. Dixie Perkins, in her thin 1978 paperback entitled The Meaning of the New Mexico Mystery Stone, relates the tale on an ancient Greek mariner who had been exiled from his Mediterranian island and ended up on the Rio Puerco. This was in 500 B.C.! I tell the whole story of the stone on today's Duke City Fix.

For what it is worth, here is the Perkins translation:

I have come up to this place to stay. The other one met with an untimely death one year ago; dishonored, insulted, and stripped of flesh; the men thought him to be an object of care, whom I looked after, considered crazed, wandering in mind, to be tossed about as if in a wind; to perish, streamed with blood. On Samos I was respected and honored, of blessed lot or fortune, with a body of slaves, and so many olive trees; also, and I planted them, a peg to hang anything upon! Men punished me with exile to exact retribution for a debt; meanwhile, I remain a rabbit. I Zakyneros, just like a prophet, out of reach of mortal man, I am fleeing and am very afraid. I am dross, scum, refuse, just as on board ship, a soft effeminate sailor is flayed with an animal's hide, or all who speak offensively are beaten with a cane; but after a very short time the hurtful and destructive ones may be satisfied; at an unseasonable time I remain to protect from the wet, rainy south, the ravine. Very much harvest is gathered in, very much is in the woody dell and glen, very many bags of young deer. Very many hides with delicate, luxuriant hair; by the channel of a river, swift - flowing. Very much is given by the gods, the best kind of gift, to call upon the gods for again and again, at the unseasonable time I become hollow from hunger.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Johnny_Mango's Sunday Wallpaper: Rock Art

NOB HILL--You'll have to look closely to see the man dancing with the bird on his head. Then maybe your eye will wander to the rock itself: basalt cracking in sheets as the sun and rain paint their own picture.

The Sunday Poem: Geology by Robert King of Colorado

American Life in Poetry: Column 046


We constantly compare one thing with another, or attempt to, saying, "Well, you know, love is like...it's like...well, YOU know what it's like." Here Bob King, who lives in Colorado, takes an original approach and compares love to the formation of rocks.


I know the origin of rocks, settling
out of water, hatching crystals
from fire, put under pressure
in various designs I gathered
pretty, picnic after picnic.

And I know about love, a little,
igneous lust, the slow affections
of the sedimentary, the pressure
on earth out of sight to rise up
into material, something solid
you can hold, a whole mountain,
for example, or a loose collection
of pebbles you forgot you were keeping.

Reprinted from the "Marlboro Review", Issue 16, 2005, by permission of the author. Copyright © 2005 by Robert King, whose prose book, "Stepping Twice Into the River: Following Dakota Waters," appeared in 2005 from The University Press of Colorado. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Fleck Beavers

NORTH BOSQUE BIKE TRAIL--Just about opposite the Old Town exit from the bike trail are not one but TWO beaver dams. I had been out there looking for them before and didn't find them. I must have been trying too hard, for they are pretty obvious.

It is hard to prove they are beaver dams in a direct way. I wish I could see beaver footprints and tail marks in the soft ground, but I couldn't. All I could see were long and skinny sneaker tracks that just might belong to John Fleck, who has been reporting on these beavers for a few weeks.

For you doubters out there let me show my own version of proof. Fleck already wrote about chewed off branches. And I will show you a picture of it. But notice one more thing: those shredded scraps of wood waste left by the beaver as he worked his way through the soft branch. Also, I should mention that the branches are gone, dragged off.

This is big news. To have beavers take up residence near downtown Albuquerque is big, big news.

Whoever is able to take the first picture of them deserves a prize! I am sure John Fleck or I would be willing to come up with a big one...how about two passes to the Biopark train, Old 63?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Johnny_Mango's Sunday Wallpaper: Near Socorro

SOMEWHERE NEAR SOCORRO--Late in the day, the sun plays with her mountains.

The Sunday Poem: Alaskan Anne Castan...At Maybe "The Golden Corral"

American Life in Poetry: Column 045


Poets are experts at holding mirrors to the world. Here Anne Caston, from Alaska, shows us a commonplace scene. Haven�t we all been in this restaurant for the Sunday buffet? Caston overlays the picture with language that, too, is ordinary, even sloganistic, and overworn. But by zooming in on the joint of meat and the belly-up fishes floating in butter, she compels us to look more deeply into what is before us, and a room that at first seemed humdrum becomes rich with inference.

Sunday Brunch at the Old Country Buffet
Madison, Wisconsin, 1996

Here is a genial congregation,
well fed and rosy with health and appetite,
robust children in tow. They have come
and all the generations of them, to be fed,
their old ones too who are eligible now
for a small discount, having lived to a ripe age.
Over the heaped and steaming plates, one by one,
heads bow, eyes close; the blessings are said.

Here there is good will; here peace
on earth, among the leafy greens, among the fruits
of the gardens of America's heartland. Here is abundance,
here is the promised
land of milk and honey, out of which
a flank of the fatted calf, thick still
on its socket and bone, rises like a benediction
over the loaves of bread and the little fishes, belly-up in butter.

Reprinted from "Flying Out with the Wounded," New York University Press, 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Anne Caston. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

FLASH!! Fire in the Southeast Heights...ONE DEAD!

ZUNI & WYOMING SE--10:00 AM. Passed by a rescue unit and a fire truck, we looked to the right and saw SMOKE billowing close-by. These are the first (and perhaps only) pictures of the scene.

The unit on fire in this neighborhood was a small house on Bell SE. It looked like it was behind another house. Everything is pretty packed together out here, with a lot of chain-link fences separating the yards. Dogs chained outside the house on fire were going crazy. All the neighbors came out. Most were on cell phones.

One has to be careful taking pictures in this neighborhood. Everyone was looking nervous as more and more emergency vehicles rolled up to the scene.

One of the trucks hooked a hydrant on the way up the alley and the fireman, J. Trujillo, connected the hose and awaited instructions. Finally someone by the house waved his arm in a circle over his head and the Trujillo got ready to charge the line.

First he opened up the nozzle he had already attached directly to the hydrant. He only ran it a couple of seconds...just enough to flush any rocks or debris that might be in the water line. Then he used his hydrant wrench to turn the big five-sided nut at the top. The charged line ballooned to life.

The fire was mostly out by this time. They had plenty of equipment and personnel to take care of whatever they were going to find.

The large column of gray smoke that drew us down here seemed to me to indicate that this fire may have smoldered for quite a while before it finally got some air. If that is the case, sleeping victims are a possibility.

Update!! I regret to say the it turned out that there was a person inside the house who died as a result of the fire.

There also seems to be a controversy between a neighbor and the fire department over rescue efforts and on the one hand, and interference on the other. While my picture do not show any of that, they may help establish a time and order of events, if needed, through the time stamp in my camera.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Man on the Bench

NOB HILL BUS STOP--"Nice jerkin' socks!" he said. I nodded. He was looking at my feet...at my warm wool socks and sandals. "They're too expensive for me," he continued.

But he had a pretty expensive-looking car magazine on the bench next to him, and he started leafing through it. The man in the dirty University of Michigan jacket paused occasionally to get my opinion of the various autos.

"You like sports cars?" I asked.

"Well, I like to follow Formula One, mostly." He held up a picture of a '65 Cobra Coupe. "What do you think of this one?" I really didn't care much about the car. I wondered if the bus was coming.

"Nice," I offered. I stepped into the street looking for the bus.

His bright blue eyes followed me over the tops of his dark glasses. "You teach? I used to teach...graduate students. Boring!" He had something orange sticking in his beard right under the corner of his mouth. For the life of me I couldn't figure out what that might be.

"I'm on disability," he went on. "The military sends me 13,000 per month."

"That's a lot of money," I said figuring that amounted to over $150,000 a year. Maybe he meant 13,000 per year. Before I could ask, he continued with his story.

"Yeah, my daughter gets a lot of it. She's in college in California. You know how it is...'I need some help Daddy.'"

Yes. I knew how it was. How important it is for all of us to be able to help our children...or to find some way to live with not being able to. How important it is to be respected in this world. How important it was that I respect him.

The bus came. He did not get up. I got in the bus and went to the back looking for a place to sit down. As I sat there looking at my warm feet, it suddenly hit me: He hadn't said, "Nice jerkin' socks!" He had said, "Nice Birkenstocks!"

I wondered what else I had missed. I wondered what else we all miss.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Rove Screws Up...Books Bush Into the El Vado

NOB HILL--The conversation went something like this:

Mr. Bush: Where are we staying in Albuquerque?

Mr. Rove: I was thinking of The Doubletree.

Mr. Bush: Merv Griffin owns that. I don't trust that sombitch. How about the El Vado?

Mr. Rove: Well George, I have reservations...

Mr. Bush: Good work! I hope we got adjoining rooms.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

'Burque Men in Burkas Can't Fill Their Shirts or The Pit

NOB HILL--I took a vow last week to not touch this subject for love nor money. But Richard Stevens, ABQ Tribune columnist and great-grandson of Montague Stevens, made a big point today of comparing attendance figures for the men's and women's basketball teams at UNM. It seems the record for attendance this year (so far) goes to the women. It isn't that Stevens is surprised...he just thought it was worth mentioning, that's all. And it is.

Now I am not going to go into ALL the reasons for this, just use it as something of a springboard to jump into basketball uniforms and how that affects ones enjoyment of the game. The men's uniforms suck! And it has been that way for quite a while. Oh, many of us thought the wispy satin blouses and ankle-length shorts were just a passing phase. We put up with it and kept buying tickets...for a while.

But when it comes right down to it, there is more to sport than winning. It has to be enjoyable to watch. And basketball has a special place in sports. For one thing bball is the most like dance. The ball is the melody and the players, like dancers, leap and streak into a multitude of jazz variations of that one theme: the flight of the basketball. It flies from player to player, end to end, riff to rumble, and eventually we watch someone with artistry and deftness stick it just right.

Part of the beauty of it is watching the athletes themselves. Their physiques are totally awesome. At least we think they are...because we really can't see them for all that loose and shapeless clothing.

I am not going to venture as to where this style came from, but it looks like it is meant to be primarily a way to cover up being overweight. There must be a lot of overweight tough guys out there, because somehow it became "fashionable" on the mean streets and "spread out" from there.

There certainly is no athletic reason for those suits. They actually look more like casual clothes...and not clothes that were well-selected either. They make the men look small compared to their shorts and shirts. They look shapeless, fat, and blocky, with skinny little legs sticking out the bottoms of yards of material.

The women's uniforms aren't much better. And frankly, the Lobo opponents are usually looking even worse. It is almost like puritanism has improbably visited itself upon a hip-hop generation. And then there is the "spirit squad." How did they get away with tight uniforms. Now I am not saying the Lady Lobos should trade uniforms with the cheerleaders, but the physicality of the players is part of the beauty of sport!