Saturday, July 25, 2009

July 2009

Rural electricity

Rural electricity
Somewhere in western Texas or eastern New Mexico

You know how I am drawn to electric lines.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hematite Concretions

Hematite concretions
West Odessa, Texas

July is usually a dry month, but not this year. We've had lots of rain, and rain not only makes everything green and pretty, but also makes it a good time to go scouting for these little "rocks," hematite concretions. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some in other parts of the world are big enough for a person to stand on! I find these little roundish, ones regularly -- being round they like to roll into the ruts of oil field and utility roads. The first one I found last summer was so perfectly round I thought was some sort of buckshot.

Concretions can be found in many parts of the earth and these could be many million years old. In this batch, I especially like the one on the far left, still embedded in a piece of caliche. The larger ones on the right are split in half :( And the split one at the very top you can see is concave.

Interestingly, concretions like these were found on Mars, nicknamed "blueberries." They are part of the reason that it is believed that there once was water there, as concretions are formed by water and a bunch of other science stuff I don't quite understand.

For more information you can read these links:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Aunt Sylvia

Aunt Sylvia, through the kitchen window
at home in Roswell, New Mexico

Aunt Sylvia, my mother's sister, made our visit to Roswell special with many loving touches, all making us feel welcomed. Here I've caught her making for us a surprise dessert -- tiramisu! -- that sent us all to heaven while we ate it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Mexico #2

Grandma Cates
July 18, 2009, age 93,
Roswell, New Mexico

My beautiful grandmother is the mother of 5 children, grandmother to 14, great-grandmother to 22, and great-great grandmother to 9 (and a half) and counting.

My counts might be off. Grandma, though, can tell you each and every one. She has a better memory than I do!

Photo of a photo on the left: Cecil (my dad), Lois, Albert, Ruby, and Julian, circa 1950.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Mexico #1

U.S. 380 between Plains (TX) and Tatum (NM)
New Mexico

The differences between West Texas and Eastern New Mexico are subtle. Crossing the state border, heading west toward Roswell, I always get a deep sense of home.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Buffalo Gourd Portrait

Buffalo Gourd (Cucurbita foetidissima)
West Odessa, Texas

One of the most common wild plants here is the buffalo gourd which produces a baseball size fruit and as the Latin name indicates is pretty darn stinky (think B.O.). Today I learned that a plant can live to be up to 40 years old and its large taproot can weigh as much as 100 pounds!

For all that, though, looking at the bloom and leaf closely suddenly the stinky, old gal looks awfully pretty to me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lantana pillows

Lantana (Lantana sp.)
West Odessa, Texas

I love looking at these common (common here anyway) flowers with the camera. Suddenly they become a whole other world.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

White Beauty

"White Beauty"
West Odessa, Texas

A surprise. For us both.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Indian Rush Pea

Indian Rush-pea (Hoffmanseggia glauca)
West Odessa, Texas

I have to explain that, while out taking photos, I periodically take photos of intersections, highway signs, street signs, whatever so that when looking back through the photos I have an idea of what area I was in when I took them. (Good idea, eh?)

So, today I was going through some batches of my photos and noticed something in one of those marker type photos. I noticed that in a mere two days the Indian rush-pea had exploded. Take a look at these two photos of almost exactly the same area to see what I mean. The first one was taken June 30, the next one on July 2nd. Amazing what a little rain will do. Rush pea is right.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Lemon Horsemint for Jomamma

Close up of Lemon Horsemint (Monarda citriodora)
Coke County, Texas

I've had a great time looking at Jomamma's West Texas photos (so far she's posted part 1 and part 2) taken while she visited her brother's ranch recently. There were photos of fish, longhorns, vinagroons, tarantulas, fishing, fire arms, breakfast tacos, a pet bobcat, fishing, a stinky dog, er, Stinky the Dog, a tire swing, catching the first fish of the day, and more. Every photo depicts family having a great fun being together. And did I mention, photos of fishing?

And while there, I spied a flower that I wonder if was the one she commented that she wanted to know the name of. I took these photos along the roadside back in May when we went camping. And say, we were fishing, too!

Reading up on this showy native flower, it seems like it should be in every Texas garden. It's supposed to be easy to grow, not picky about soil type, will fill in any unused spaces, and even though it's an annual, should pretty much self-seed. When you crush the leaves they smell lemony (it's part of the mint family) and the First Peoples and Settlers made tea from the boiled leaves.

According to my newly purchased 1928 Texas Wild Flowers by Ellen D. Shulz -- I'm so tickled pink I found a copy -- the beekeepers of Texas at that time considered this plant one of the most important. And if you keep chickens (that would be you, Mom, er, Bobbie) Shulz writes that the dried plant put in the hay of their roosts will keep away mites and fleas.

I also was suprised that Linnaeus himself gave the plant its genus name! Monarda is after the Spanish botanist Nicolas Bautista Monardes who, while never actually visiting the Americas himself, did study them. Ok. I know this last bit is rather botageeky, but I thought it was cool.