Monday, February 25, 2019

cold weather hummingbirds
and wine bottles

This shot was taken on one of my hikes in the Canyon Rims Recreation area when I was back in southern Utah. It’s been a while.

I enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings while reading and listening to music. I’ve handled many wine bottles over the decades, so I was bound to write something about them in these pages.

Wine has been stored in various containers for thousands of years but the glass bottle and cork combo didn’t arrive until the 1600s. Glass wine bottles come in various shapes depending on the type of wine and in over a dozen sizes. The large novelty bottles are named after biblical figures and predominant kings of Israel. The largest, 18 liters, 24 standard bottles, is named after Melchior (a king of Persia, one of the three wise man) and Solomon (a king of Israel). That’s two cases of wine! How many wine drinkers does it take to pour from a Solomon bottle?

In 1975 the European Legislation on packaging declared that wine could be sold only if packed in certain measure containers. So how was the size determined? Well, as I understand it, one guy’s wife told him if he didn’t choose the size bottle her brother’s shop was making, he’d be sleeping on the sofa.

I might have got that wrong.
The 750 ml (0.75 liter – 1/5 of a gallon) size was determined to be the most convenient for both winemakers and the public. There are different theories to explain this size.

As you know, back when wine started to be stored in glass bottles, the bottles were made by glass blowers. So one theory is based on the limit of pulmonary strength. 750 ml pretty much capped it.

Another theory is the quantity of wine per six serving glasses (125 ml) used in a small Italian restaurant, an osteria.

A third one points out that the 750 ml standard is the metric adaptation of the fifth, which was standard in the US and Britain.

Then there are the different shapes and sizes of wine glasses. Although, at this time, I think that would be pushing it.

I met an interesting couple of ex-teachers taking a road trip in their Scamp. They painted the bottom half of the Scamp, so theirs stands out from the norm. Nice. They live in Ruidoso, maybe 60 miles north of Timberon, in the Sacramento Mtns. Had a really nice visit. Wish I had more experiences like this.

I heard on NPR that there are some hummingbirds that winter as far north as British Columbia. Remember, I only have daily web access for a few weeks each winter, so I can be way behind on common knowledge. On my town runs during the rest of the year, I do not spend any more time on the web than it takes me to drink a medium Americano. Anyway, when I heard this about the birds, I questioned how they could survive. I mean, they do not have down feathers and they need to be taking in so much nectar. Hummingbirds have nearly 1000 feathers on their body, a ratio of more feathers per body size than that of any other bird species. I think they can fluff them, so that could help. Although I might be wrong about this.

It’s mostly Anna’s hummingbirds that are found that far north, but three others are named to a lesser degree (at least from the four sources I pulled data from). It’s individual birds that remain in the north for the winter. I wonder what brings a bird to go against the odds. The hummingbirds are taking advantage of widely planted flowering plants and shrubs, and hummingbird feeders. I would guess that it would take much more of a commitment for those who maintain their feeders through the winter. I wonder if they bring their feeder in at night.

The little ones go into a sort of nightly hibernation, a really deep sleep. They put a major damper on their high rate of metabolism by entering a state of torpor where their metabolism will lower to roughly 7% of normal. This state can save up to 60% of their available energy.
Hummingbirds also survive in the high Andes. I wonder if they are just on the west facing side.

In winter, hummingbirds are slow risers. It takes 20-60 minutes for a hummingbird to fully recover from topor. Care to guess what is the first thing on their mind? They eat 25% of their daily intake as soon as they recover.

I don’t know. If I was a hummingbird, I think I’d stick with the general consensus and head south. But then again, not all birds make it through the trip.

Two things about a different kind of bird. Yesterday, I caught the end of a talk on birds of prey. As you know, an owl’s eyes are in the front of the head, and, the eyes cannot move in the sockets. So they need their awesome ability to turn their head 270 degrees to each side. There are sites that explain how owls are able to do this; definitely worth a visit. Owls also have asymmetrical ears, with one being lower than the other. This aids the triangulation of sound. Way cool birds.

This past week, once again, I’ve been set up in goat’s head country. Bummer. M&M go out, pick up these nasty sharp stickers, come back in the Nash, use their teeth to pick them off their feet, and drop them on the floor. Remember, I do not were shoes inside but I do sweep the floor once or twice a day. Sometimes that is not enough. If I miss a goat’s head, I’m the next one picking one off the bottom of my feet. Guano. The joys of sharing one’s life with feline companions.

The ball is in your court. Pick it up.

January sixty minutes sixty years—1800 minutes
January Triple 18—upper: 1800; core: 2190; legs: 2445

Don’t expect anything original from an echo.
Joanna Wick

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

groovy yurts, the arrow and the green book

On one of my walks, I came across this yurt. What caught my eye, was how well insulated it appeared. I never saw the guy who is living in it, let alone talk with him. So I accessed the company’s website, Groovy Yurts. It’s definitely worth a look-see. Watch the video of the story on these authentic Mongolian yurts, and you’ll understand their slogan, come full circle. There are also some great photos.

The FedEx logo has an arrow in it, symbolizing the company’s forward motion.

So far the most interesting people I’ve talked with this winter were a Canadian couple, Gord and Suzanna. They are spending a few months traveling around; at the time, they were five weeks into it. They wanted a rig that they could take off-road. Forest River’s No-Bo (no boundaries) trailer was their choice. I had never seen one and was impressed with what they had done with theirs. The size of the wheels, robust frame and ground clearance set this type of rig apart. I downloaded this photo from Forest River’s site. The trailer comes in different lengths and offers a number of options.

Check out the white space between the E and x in “Ex.”
Sorry, now you’ll never be able to look at a FedEx truck or box without seeing the arrow.

I read somewhere that some car insurance companies offer a discount for those over 65. I found out mine does not. Bummer, but I’m sticking with the company. Leave a comment if you know of a company that offers a senior discount. A reader might be interested.

The guy prefers to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half empty. And cracked. And he cut his lip on it. The wound became infected. And he also chipped a tooth. (^_^) (Tweaked a line from Janeane Garofalo)

I first heard about the Green Book while listening to NPR’s Weekend Edition three or four weeks ago. Calvin Alexander Ramsey, the author of the children’s book, Ruth and the Green Book, was being interviewed. I jotted down some notes, drafted a story and then looked for more info the next time I has wi-fi access. That’s when I learned about the movie. Bummer. So, what I had planned to write here would not be all that informative. But I’m writing it anyway.

The Jim Crow era was not one of America’s best periods. Back in the ‘40s-‘60s, and in some places, probably for another few decades, blacks had trouble when traveling. Finding a place to spend the night, gas up their car, finding a restaurant that would serve them, all while keeping their family safe, were part of their lives. Tell me that does not rot. And some places were safe during the day, but you did not want to be black and in that area after dark.

Victor Hugo Green, a postal carrier in Harlem, had grown tired of the discrimination blacks faced whenever they ventured outside their neighborhoods. In 1936, inspired by earlier books published for Jewish audiences, Green developed a guide for black travelers, with the goal of insuring some measure of safety. The 15-page first edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book only covered hotels and restaurants in the New York area. The book gradually expanded its scope by gathering info from fellow postal carriers, black travelers and offering cash payments to readers who sent in useful information. An early example of user-generated content.

By the early 1940s, the Green Book listed thousands of establishments from across the country, all of them either black-owned or verified to be non-discriminatory. Hotels, guesthouses, stores, service stations, pharmacies, taverns, barber shops and restaurants that were known to be safe, and the listings were verified annually. An important sponsor for the Green Book was the Esso Standard Oil Company, which distributed the books and solicited African American customers through them. Nice.

The introduction to the 1948 edition ended with:
“There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment.”

Green retired from the postal service in 1952 to become a full-time publisher. He charged enough to make a modest profit—25 cents for the first edition, $1 for the last. At the height of its circulation, Green printed 20,000 books annually, which were sold at black churches, the Negro Urban League and Esso gas stations. The final 99-page edition was published in 1966-67.

Victor Hugo Green died in 1960, four years before Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, finally banning racial segregation in restaurants, theaters, hotels, parks and other public places.

For black Americans traveling by car in the era of segregation, the open road presented serious dangers. The Green Book was one item African-Americans did not leave home without. This guide, no doubt, prevented beatings, deaths and other atrocities. One man, taking a step and making his world a safer place. Way to go, Victor.

It is hard to grasp that this was happening in this country not all that long ago. The United States was the best country in the world for many years, and even now, it is certainly the most powerful—but, is it still the best? How could the situation in Washington occur in the ‘best’ country in the world? It could not. I am thankful to have been born, and able to live in the United States. Doesn’t seem right, however, that for the last two years, I’ve been somewhat scared to be one of its citizens. Definitely looking forward to changes for the better. But how does that occur between two warring tribes? I would venture to guess that it would take truly ‘wise’ individuals working together toward solutions. How likely is that?

And there are those searching for ‘other’ intelligent life forms. From my way of thinking, one word should be dropped.

Back in November, a winter friend came over and asked for help with lifting something. I knew I was still weak but this task finally drove home exactly how weak I was. It was the stimulus I needed to finally get me back on an exercise program. The ball was in my court. I bent down and picked it up.

I had a new experience a couple weeks ago. The same friend only has a motorcycle for his town runs. He has a guest card from a mutual friend to Sam’s Club. Jerry doesn’t live by one when he is living at his home base and so he wanted to stock up at the store in Roswell. I drove him into town and he let me use his card. I’ve never been in a Sam’s Club. I grabbed one of my canvas LL Bean tote bags and we headed in. I learned that the store doesn’t provide bags. I like that idea. The first time I came across it was the summer I bicycle toured through Europe. Anyway, the whole store was an eye opener. But a membership would certainly not fit my lifestyle. I left Sam’s Club with a nice bottle of Kendall-Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon and three boxes of energy bars.

Mind how you go.

Making someone smile lightens ones Karmic burden.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’


Friday, December 28, 2018

e-MTB and milk paint

At the beginning of last summer, I made a deal with myself. If I got back into as good a shape as I was a few years ago, I’d purchase this e-MTB (electric mountain bike). I have the experience and knowledge to achieve this in maybe three months. I would just have to keep my mind focused on the long-term goal over the coming months.

This is not the type of electric bike one just sits on and is pulled along by the electric motor. I mean, seriously? It’s me.

The Trek Powerfly 5 is a pedal assist, 10-speed with different modes. Pedal assist means one must be pedaling to tap into the electric assist. No free ride. The bike has an approximate range of 20–100 miles depending on the power mode (4 in all), terrain, incline grade, wind, and one’s riding style. 20 mph is the top-assisted speed, at which point the assist cuts off. The bike can go faster, but it will be all pedal power. The bike comes with stellar components, including hydraulic disc brakes, a Bosch electric motor (the best), and 29” wheels, which I prefer. The power goes to the crank rather than the hub, as with lesser-priced e-bikes. Power to the hubs can cause broken spokes. Not good.

As I understand it, one can get all or most of the power through pedaling, with no, or only a little assist. Otherwise, I would think of it as a pretty lame way to bike. One could start off a long ride peddling out for miles with no, or only a little assist, and when beginning to tire, switch on more assist to get back. This bike would extend the miles and also give me access to more steep slopes. All in all, sounds pretty good.

The Trek Powerfly 5 is $3600. I could justify it if I met my goal. I did not, hence, no bike. My own fault, I didn’t put in the effort. Maybe another time.

I like how the paint turned out in your Nash, Rob. It makes the interior look cozy, warm, and homey. Good job. I wasn’t familiar with Milk Paint that you used so I looked it up. Sure seems a much healthier way to go when painting a RV’s interior walls. Smart move. Did you buy pre-mixed or did you mix your own. I thought you were only going to paint the galley wall. Are you going all around?

The winter solstice, my favorite day of the year—rebirth of the sun. The shortest day of the year kicks off six months during which we gain back six more hours of daylight. The solstice has been celebrated for thousands of years as a sort of birth of light, with light being a big part of the celebration.

Mind how you go.

Exercise will prolong one’s ability
to operate positively in the world.
Michael J. Fox

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’


Friday, November 30, 2018

back in the parks, cargo trailers,
and stimulating the brain

Why does this photo almost look scary?

Back in the NM state parks. I’ve met a couple of new interesting person and have been catching up with my winter acquaintances. Feels good. Sure wouldn’t want a lifestyle of this, though.

Down on the flats east of the Sacramento Mtns., I’ve been accessing NPR from a different station. The first Saturday, I tuned in early to see what time Wait, Wait would broadcast. I got a chuckle when I heard ‘Best of Car Talk.’ I haven’t heard these re-runs for quite some time. What a treat.

Has a psychic ever won the lottery?

Had new larger drums and brakes put on the Nash. Sure feels good to have working brakes again on the trailer.

The last couple of winters in the parks, I’ve noticed more cargo trailer campers. There are a number of companies now that convert the trailers into campers. A good number of people still choose to do the work themselves, as in this trailer. The owner purchased a top-of-the-line cargo trailer, constructed for heavy use. The forward section, in the ‘V’ is walled in for storage with a lift-off top. Stellar job.

As I wrote last month, walking and stimulating the brain help ward of dementia to some extent, as shown through studies and common sense. Two Moab friends provided me with something to supplement my daily Nikoli sudoku puzzles—word games. Many of you probably do them, but I’ve never been into them. The apps combine the best of word searching and crosswords. The free Wordscapes, from PeopleFun, app is rated 4.9 out of 5. Don’t be put off by how easy it starts because it gets challenging fast. You might want to first off, go to Settings, and turn off Music, Sound, and Notifications. I guess it would be okay to leave them on if you’re pretty much deaf. So now I’m doing daily walks, one or two Nikoli puzzles, and some Wordscape puzzles.

Mind how you go.

Not making time is wasting time.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

poppycock, park from above, and hope

I’ve been to Central Park and seen many photos of it. But not one from this angle. Pretty cool.

I came across most of these in a newspaper (remember those?) and they brought to mind others that I remember. How long has it been since you heard any of these lines? I remember them all and I’m kinda glad they are no longer in use. A couple of these words did not even show up in a spell check.

Everything Hunky Dory?
You drive that jalopy? and Don’t touch that dial.
You sound like a broken record. and Let me have a carbon copy.
That’s poppycock. and That’s gobbledygook.
You young, Whippersnapper!
It could be a boondoggle.
Heavens to Betsy! and Holy Moley!
Gee whillikers! and Jumping Jehoshaphat!
Living the life of Riley. and We’re in like Flint.
Not for all the tea in China. and What a nincompoop.
Gee, that’s just swell. and Knee high to a grasshopper.
Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. (How could one come up with this?)
Kilroy was here. (I had read somewhere that a riveter, or maybe it was a pipefitter, on Navy ships during one of the world wars wrote this along side his work. Sounds feasible.)
This is a fine kettle of fish. (What?)
Hey, it’s your nickel. and Don’t take any wooden nickels.
Oh, golly. and Phui or Phooey

It’s strange how our expressions have changed so much in only a few decades.

I got back into sudoku this past summer. It feels good to work out puzzles. Research shows that participating in such activities, as well as daily walks help hold back the onset of dementia. Simply taking responsibility for one’s health. Doesn’t look as if most people do that.

I’m somewhat apprehensive of getting back to hard-wall camping off-the-grid, next year. What if I was up in Oregon or Montana, as I could have easily been, when I picked up the bacteria? If my Moab friends didn’t help me out with my setback on the Kaibab Plateau, M&M would have died, and I don’t know what would have happened to my home and truck. And my friends in Salt Lake, with their visits and taking me out, lifted me up more than they can imagine. Then Lynn was there holding my hand in Tucson, with my next unexpected surgery. I was feeling so dull when I got to Lynn’s, that I apologized to her. After two months, she got me back up to snuff. I owe her.

I guess I’m starting to realize how vulnerable I can be. I’ll have to find some friends here in southern NM, who I can offer help to, and feel comfortable to ask for help from them. Don’t quite know how I’m going to go about doing this, however. I have not come across any of my kind of people yet. Still have hope.

Mind how you go.

Change the way you think.
Change your life.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’


Friday, September 28, 2018

wilson, belly butting, neuter, and a checklist

This is the view from another lot I was thinking about purchasing. It was an acre and the asking price was $5,000. I liked the view better than from my lot, but I did not think I could have towed the Nash to it with my truck’s power problem. There are four routes to it, but each has steep, rocky hills. Bummer. It quickly sold.

This doe would lower the level of the seed an inch, whenever she came by. This was after she ate all the corn. I moved the feeder.
A few weeks ago, I saw a fawn taking milk from her mum. Good grief. The little one was not merely sucking on the nipple, but forcibly butting against the doe. No way could it have been comfortable for the doe. Maybe that’s why it did not last too long. I love this lifestyle.

‘Blood is thicker than water.’ This commonly means one should always put family ahead of friends. Originally, it might have meant the opposite. The full maxim was, ‘The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb,’ with covenant referring to friendship. It was one’s friends who were with you through thick and thin. Maybe something like, brothers in arms.

As I wrote before, the medicine cabinet never stayed closed on rough roads. Tweaking the latch helped a bit but it still occasionally opened. I picked up a length of clear, plastic corner protector from the paint department in a home improvement store. I cut three pieces, glued them on, and all is well.

One day as I was pushing the wheelbarrow, I thought about some of my mishaps during the first two weeks of using it. I don’t know how many times it tipped over. I balanced the load, but the ground isn’t level and I was still quite weak, so if it started going, it went. Sometimes, with me along with it. If someone was around filming these occurrences and edited them, it might have looked like a Charlie Chaplin skit. Thankfully, I’ve made progress.

I stopped in a store down in the valley to have something faxed. On the wall behind the counter, was ‘Wilson.’ The soccer ball was decked out exactly as it was in the movie. I love unexpected smiles.

1. Rise
2. Coffee
3. Shine

I took M&M to the vet in Cloudcroft. It was overdue. They’re fine. There was a sign in the office.
‘Please neuter your pets and weird friends and relatives.’

Mind how you go.

Today is the youngest you will ever be.
Live like it.
Mark Cuban

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’


Friday, August 31, 2018

lizard, goat herder, and missed

Last year I wrote 14 pages about Timberon. I don’t understand why one would choose to build a house here. At least five or six Arched Cabins and some houses have gone up in the last year of so. Unreal. If one wanted a house here, there are a number of houses that I’ve never seen a person, vehicle, or tire tracks around, and a couple, just a time or two. There is even a new pre-fab that has been on the market for a couple years and I was told the people only lived in it for six months. One could look into seeing if the owner of these unused houses would be up for selling. One would save tens of thousands of dollars over the high cost of building here.

This lot has a nice secluded house on a little used road (my kind of spot). Their tower provides an awesome view. Never saw anyone here, and no tracks on the access road.

I have not seen my neighbor from last summer, the horny toad. But now I’m thinking I might have been seeing two of them. Recently, I saw a young horny toad but could not get a photo. Glad to know they are still on the property. I wonder how a lizard copes with being referred to as a toad.

Ever notice that if you ask someone how they are, you get the standard reply, ‘fine?’ Instead, for the last year or so, I ask, ‘How’s your day going?’ A real simple change, but it seems to catch the person off guard. A good deal of the time, I get a response that warrants one back from me and we start a dialog. Not bad. Sometimes, like with a cashier, they open to a talk, to break the monotony. If I’m lucky, I can get her to smile. It’s the simple things.

I live in a 22’ trailer and I have a chainsaw and a wheelbarrow. Seems kinda strange. I could not have done the work I’m doing this summer without a wheelbarrow. I’ll hide it in the scrub oak for the winter and hope it will still be here in the spring; I’ll need it.
Never thought I’d be purchasing 40, and sometimes 50 lb. bags of scratch grain and cracked corn with this lifestyle.

I was given two bird books, which I’ve found helpful and informative. But other than ‘my’ birds and whenever I see them, ravens, I have no interest in bird watching. But I certainly enjoy watching the birds that come in to feed outside my back window.
I get a kick out of watching the white-breasted nuthatches. They are so hyper, I have not yet been able to get a photo. This painting was given to me by a winter acquaintance from the NMSPs. Nuthatches have a spur on the back of their feet that enables them to move down a tree headfirst. It looks so cool.

More turkeys have been coming around. Makes me think of the term, “eating me out of house and home.”

I thought my birds could use some water so I purchase a bowl and tied a hanger from 1/8” line. It was quick and rough. I didn’t even use square knots as I did for the dozens of macramé projects I’ve done in the past. The birds never used it, as I should have known; it wasn’t practical. Now I use an enameled plate on the ground.
When it rains, I place two buckets under the rain spots to gather water for the deer.

It’s not known for sure, how or when coffee was discovered. However, I have my favorite legend. It goes, that a goat herder first discovered the potential of these beans. Kaldi noticed that after eating the berries from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night. So he milked a goat, drank the milk, got a buzz, and discovered coffee.

Oh wait, maybe I got that wrong. Kaldi might have told a monk at a nearby monastery about his observation and the monk made a drink from the berries. It’s the monk who got the buzz, and knowledge of the energizing berries began to spread.

Doesn’t it seem that those who came up with the word ‘missiles,’ were not overly optimistic?

Mind how you go.

Be grateful for what you have,
or the universe will give you less.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’