Sunday, June 22, 2014

Moving On

We moved June 19th from our mountain home of seven years to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  You may ask how that happened because we seemed perfectly happy at "El Cheapo Ranchito".  It involves the website and listing a "Make Me Move" price a couple of months ago.

Ron and I have talked about moving into the city, but we were thinking it would be in a year or so from now.  As we age, we thought it would be more desirable to be closer to town amenities and to reduce our physical chores (such as shoveling snow).  In March, my husband and I casually decided to list a "Make Me Move" price on our Sandia Park home on Zillow because if anyone really wanted our house and made the right offer, we'd move.  In May, someone did just that. The buyer wanted to move in before the end of June so we rushed to find a new home in Albuquerque (about 20 miles west of where we were living).

After a few days house-hunting, we found a much smaller home (900 sf smaller in the house and 450 sf smaller in the garage) in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains and we made an offer.

We have some nice views of the city lights and sunsets to the west

A smaller backyard but room enough for a new hot tub

We closed about 30 days later and moved in to our little townhouse.  This move was completely unexpected,  but we are very happy we did it.  Our new place is close to Albuquerque parks and open space for walking and also we're next to several National Forest trails.
We have north and east views of the Sandia Mountains...

...and trails for hiking are just steps from my door.

I've already planted my vegetable garden

Our selection of restaurants and stores have certainly expanded now that we are in the Big City. We're just steps from the city bus stop. Albuquerque bike and walking trails are all around our neighborhood. My garden is a lot smaller but that means a lot less work.

One feature I like is the eastern facing private courtyard off our master bedroom.  I put in my rock fountain, a bistro table with umbrella, sculpture and plants and now it is a nice oasis for us in the morning or afternoon.

We have laminate floors, big vigas in the great room with views of the top of Sandia South Peak through eastern-facing clerestory windows

We have plans to install central AC (this week), convert the wood-burning fireplace to a gas insert, put in a new pantry in the kitchen, and a few other home improvement projects.  Overall, this is a good move for us as we move into retirement.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Early June Wildflowers on Tecolote Trail in the Sandia Mountains

Leather Flower Clematis bigelovii 

On Saturday, June 7th, I led my first Forest Service wildflower walk of 2014.  I selected a favorite trail of mine, Tecolote Trail.  This trail is an easy hike through various micro-climates from about 8600' at the trailhead to 8800' near the summit.  You find this trail where the Dry Camp day use area used to be at Mile Marker 6 on the Sandia Crest NM Hwy 536.  The Forest Service took down the signage for Dry Camp, removed the picnic tables and the pay station, and all that remains is a "no camping sign".  There are pit toilets at the trail head by the parking area.

We started out under overcast skies with a group of 6 participants.  It was in the high 50's.  Near the trail head, we encountered Dragonhead, Jacob's Ladder, Twisted Pod Draba, Spreading and Trailing Fleabane, Western Wallflower, Rocky Mountain Penstemon, Whipple's Penstemon, Mountain Parsley, Snowberry, Slimleaf Purple Mustard, Mountain Parsley, Louisiana Sage, Perky Sue, Creeping Mahonia, American Vetch, White Peavine, Northern Rock Jasmine and Red-root Buckwheat.

Red-root Buckwheat

Western Wallflower
American Vetch

Northern Rock Jasmine

Twisted pod Draba

Oregon Grape Holly/Creeping Mahonia

White Peavine

As we climbed toward the first switchback, we found the first of many Stemless Evening Primrose.  They are abundant on this trail and open their white petals in the evening for a moth to pollinate it and close to a pink color the next day when the sun is bright.

Stemless Evening Primrose
At this first switchback, just before the TecoloteTrail sign, we found Chokecherry still bloming but waning this late in the season. The Little-leaf Mock Orange is not yet blooming but should be opening its fragrant flowers in the next two weeks,  The purple flowers of the Wavy-leaf Thistle are not yet present, but the toothed gray-green foliage is growing profusely at this turn in the trail. As we entered the forest canopy area of the trail, we found a Striped Coralroot orchid amid the leaf debris, but it was past it's prime.

Showy Flameflowers will be visible in July and August 
after the monsoon rains begin to fall

James Penstemon

We reached the second switchback turn where a rocky slope faces southwest.  Later this summer, in July and August, the Showy Flameflower will send up beautiful flowers among the rocks from its succulent leaves.    As we walked northeast through the Ponderosa pines and White Fir trees, there were some "snags" hanging from the dead tree branches.  Take care along here, particularly on a windy day, as these dead branches hanging over the trail could fall on a hiker.

To the left of the trail is a rocky out-cropping that will yield bright blue Day Flowers later in the summer.  As we began to hike out onto the Tecolote ridge among the scrub oak and rocky meadow trails, we found Leather Flowers in abundance, along with Wandbloom Penstemon, Perky Sue, Paintbrush, and Stemless Evening Primrose.  American Vetch, White Peavine, and Alpine Clematis twisted their vine among the Snowberry, Mountain Mahagony and Gambel's Oak.

Leather Flower and Paintbrush

Yellow Flax

Sweet Yellow Clover
Leather Flower

Leather Flower

Spreading Fleabane


I even found Yellow Flax which I have never seen in the Sandias before.  The views on the ridge were stunning and you can seen three mountain ranges to the south: Sandias, Manazanitas, and the Manzanos (from closest to farthest).

Right next to the trail as it passed through a rock strewn flowery meadow, we spotted the Pitaya Cactus or Green-flowered Hedgehog.  It was beautiful.

Green-flowered Hedgehog/Pitaya Cactus

James Penstemon

Paintbrush and Perky Sue

We stopped at the Beebalm/Bergamot patch but these flowers are a couple of weeks away from blooming.  This marks about a mile walk at this point.  We turned back while two of our company continued on to hike the loop trail which features views to the east.

Here is a list of wildflowers and some guidebooks to help you identify flowers you may see this summer on the Tecolote Trail:


  1. Aster, Hairy GoldenHeterotheca villosa Aster Family
  2. BahiaBahia dissectaAster Family
  3. Bearcorn – Conopholis alpine var. Mexicana – Broomrape Family
  4. Bergamot/BeebalmMonarda fistulosa Mint Family
  5. Buckbrush, Fendler’s/Mountain LilacCeanothus fendleri Buckthorn Family
  6. Buckwheat, Red-rootErigonum racemosumBuckwheat Family
  7. Buckwheat, Winged Erigonum alatum Buckwheat Family
  8. Cactus, Green-flowered Hedgehog/Pitaya - Echinocereus viridiflorus - Cactus Family
  9. Chokecherry/CapulinPrunus virginianaRose Family
  10. Clematis, Alpine/Rocky Mountain – Clematis columbiana – Buttercup Family
  11. Clover, Yellow SweetMeliotus officinalisPea Family
  12. Coralroot, Striped Corallorhiza striataOrchid Family              . 
  13. Daisy, Tall Easter/Townsend’s Aster - Townsendia eximia  –Aster Family
  14. DayflowerCommelina dianthifoliaSpiderwort Family
  15. Draba, Twisted-pod Draba hellerianaMustard Family
  16. Dragonhead Dracocephalum parviflorumMint Family
  17. Drymary, Slim-leaf Drymaria  molluginea Pink Family
  18. Evening Primrose,  StemlessOenothera caespitosaEvening Primrose Family
  19. Flameflower, Showy – Talinum pulchelum – Purslane Family
  20. Flax, Yellow - Linum vernale Flax Family
  21. Fleabane, Beautiful DaisyErigeron formosissimusAster Family
  22. Fleabane, Spreading Erigeron divergensAster Family
  23. Fleabane, TrailingErigeron flagellarisAster Family
  24. Four O’Clock, Narrow-leavedMirabilis linearis  Four O’ Clock Family
  25. Geranium, PurpleGeranium caespitosumGeranium Family
  26. Gilia, Scarlet/SkyrocketIpomopsis aggregataPhlox Family
  27. Goldeneye, Showy Viguiera multiflora Aster Family
  28. Goldenrod,  Few-flowered Solidago velutinaAster Family
  29. Goldenrod, Rigid  – Solidago rigidaAster Family
  30. Goldenrod, Wright’sSolidago wrightiiAster Family
  31. Goosefoot, Narrow-leavedChenopodium leptophyllumGoosefoot Family
  32. Gromwell, WaysideLithospermum multiflorum Borage Family
  33. Groundsel, New MexicoSenecio neomexicana Aster Family
  34. Hoptree – Ptelea trifoliate – Rue Family
  35. Hyssop, Giant Agastache pallidifloraMint Family
  36. Jacob’s LadderPolemonium foliosissimum Phlox Family
  37. Jasmine, Northern RockAndrosace septentrionalis Primrose Family
  38. Leather FlowerClematis bigeloviiButtercup Family
  39. Lily, Sego/Mariposa Calochortus gunnisoniiLily Family
  40. Mahonia, Creeping/ Oregon Grape HollyBerberis repens -  Barberry Family
  41. Medic, BlackMedicago lupulinaPea Family
  42. Menodora, RoughMenodora scabraOlive Family
  43. Little-leaf Mock Orange Philadelphus microphyllumHydrangea Family
  44. Mountain Spray Holodiscus dumosusRose Family
  45.  Mullein, WoolyVerbascum thapsisFigwort Family
  46. Mustard, Slimleaf PurpleSchoenocrambe linearifolia Mustard Family
  47. Onion,  Nodding Lilium cernuum Lily Family
  48. Rue, Meadow – Thalictrum fendleri  – Buttercup Family
  49. Pea, Golden – Thermopsis montana – Pea Family
  1. Peavine, White – Lathyrus leucanthus – Pea Family
  2. Paintbrush, FoothillsCastilleja integra -  Figwort Family
  3. Parsley, Mountain Pseudocymopterus montana – Parsley Family
  4. Pennyroyal, DrummondHedeoma drummondiiMint Family
  5. Penstemon, Wandbloom – Penstemon virgatus Figwort Family
  6. Penstemon,  Red Penstemon barbatusFigwort Family
  7. Penstemon, Rocky MountainPenstemon strictusFigwort Family
  8. Penstemon,  Whipple’sPenstemon whippleanusFigwort Family
  9. Perky SueTetraneuris argenteaAster Family
  10. Pinedrops Pterospora andromedeaIndian Pipe Family
  11. PinesapMonotropa hypopithysIndian Pipe Family
  12. Rose, Wood’sRosa woodsiiRose Family
  13. Sage, Louisiana Artemisia ludoviciana Aster Family
  14. Sagebrush, RagweedArtemisia franseriodes  - Aster Family
  15. Sage, Fringed/Estafiata – Artemisia frigada – Aster Family
  16. SalsifyTragopogon pratensisAster Family
  17. Scorpionweed,  VarileafPhacelia heterophylla Borage Family
  18. SnowberrySymphoricarpos oreophilusHoneysuckle Family
  19. Tassel FlowerBrickellia grandiflora Aster Family
  20. Thelypodium,  Longleaf FalsePennellia micranthaMustard Family
  21. Thistle, WavyleafCirsium undulatumAster Family
  22. Umbrellawort.  Velvet Mirabilis oblongifolia –  Four O’ Clock Family             
  23. Vetch, AmericanVicia americanaPea Family               . 
  24. Western WallflowerErysimum capitatum Mustard Family
  25. Woodsorrel, VioletOxalis violacea – Woodsorrel Family
  26. Yarrow –Achillea lanulosa – Aster Family

Wildflowers of the Manzanos by Gene Jercinovic with drawings by Robert Dewitt Ivey, now available only on internet site: The author categorizes the plants by family with an index.

A field guide to identify wildflowers by color is Wildflowers of the Sandia and Manzano Mountains of Central New Mexico, by Larry J. Littlefield and Pearl M. Burns. Sandia Plant Books, Albuquerque, NM, 2011.

A guide for the Sandia Mountains is the Field Guide to the Sandia Mountains Edited by Robert Julyan and Mary Stuever, UNM Press, 2005.  This field guide covers, flora and fauna, geology, trails, ecology, and cultural history of the Sandia Mountains.  It is available for sale in the Sandia Crest Visitor Center. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

It's Gary King vs Susana Martinez in November, 2014

Gary King, the current Attorney General of New Mexico, came out on top in a field of five candidates in the New Mexico Democratic Primary Election for Governor held yesterday.  Gary won with 34.89% of the vote with newcomer Alan Webber second with 22.78%, followed by Lawrence Rael with 19.77%, Howie Morales with 14.33% and Linda Lopez with 8.22% of the votes cast by approximately 22% of registered Democrats. According to political blogger, Joe Monahan,  "[i]nsider polling showed that at least half of those who cast ballots in the Dem primary were 65 or older."  Gary King will face Republican Gov. Susana Martinez in November.  Debra Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo, will complement the ticket as the candidate for Lt. Governor. Ms. Haaland is the first Native American to run for Lt. Governor in New Mexico.

Deborah Haaland and Gary King are the Democratic nominees for Lt. Governor and Governor of New Mexico for 2014

Many in the Democratic Party gave Gary King little chance at success when he came in last with 10% of the vote of Democratic Party activists at the Pre-Primary Convention in March.  In fact, King made history when he became the first Democratic candidate with less than 20% of state-wide party delegate votes to go on the primary ballot and win the office he was seeking.  His fund-raising was positively anemic and he had to contribute $500,000 of his own funds to get a TV commercial up in the final two weeks of the campaign.  But, Gary had the largest name recognition being the son of a popular four term governor of New Mexico, Bruce King.  And he took advantage of that in an overly large field of five candidates with the other four running as more progressive Democrats.

King will have to overcome the lack of enthusiasm for his candidacy among many activists and grassroots Democrats who donate most of the money and do the ground game needed to win an election. The truth is that a large percentage of the 65% of the Democratic primary votes not cast for Gary King were "ABG" votes ("Anybody But Gary").  Those voters were very excited about the candidates they were supporting and it remains to be seen how many of those grassroots supporters will transition to work as hard for Gary as they did for their candidate.  The Democratic Party has one big advantage though,  and that is Susana Martinez is universally disliked by the Democratic voters who are the majority in the state.  Many Hispanic voters who voted for her in 2010 are disillusioned with her performance as Governor.  All five of the Democratic contenders were well aware that the Democrats needed to come out of the Primary united and so they ran respectful campaigns without attacking each other.  Democrats will need to appeal to the 19% of independent voters in New Mexico, a growing trend from previous elections where Democrats took for granted support from their majority Party base.  Now Democrats represent 47% of the registered voters and Republicans represent 31% of registered voters.

Here is my analysis of some of the weaknesses in the New Mexico Democratic primary race:  Too many candidates ran, thereby allowing a "minority" vote candidate to win by only 35% of the the vote. The weaker two candidates who were polling low in the last month of the campaign probably should have withdrawn and ceded support to one of the stronger three candidates (King, Webber or Rael).  Morales and Lopez (who had very loyal and dedicated, but small, regional voting bases) effectively acted as "spoilers" for a clear majority candidate when they took away 12.5% of the vote.  Also, early on, it was clear that Rael and Webber were the most effective fund raisers and had strong support from the larger counties. When a March poll showed Gary King with the highest polling numbers and name recognition with less than three months of campaigning left,  campaign strategists should have seen that Rael and Webber were drawing from the same voting base and perhaps a "deal" could have been made between the two of them to insure that one of them would have been elected by combining the financial and voting resources for only one of them. And lastly, I want to put an old canard to rest: you do not have to have an Hispanic name to win in New Mexico.  In a state where 47% of the population is Hispanic, 57.5% of the Democratic primary votes went to the two non-Hispanic candidates.  I can't tell you how many times I spoke to Democratic voters who wanted to vote for the more visionary newcomer (Alan Webber), but said they would vote for Lawrence Rael instead because they felt that the Democrats needed an Hispanic candidate to run against Susana Martinez.   In other words, they voted for their "second choice" because of a false premise.

Another weakness Gary King will have is in engaging younger voters and the working class poor to vote in November.  He is not a great public speaker and his performance as Attorney General doesn't particularly stand out despite many opportunities in the last three years to aggressively challenge actions of the Martinez administration.  Democrats in the 2014 legislative session missed an opportunity to put a Constitutional Amendment on the November ballot to raise the minimum wage in the state when several chickensh*t Democratic legislators were AWOL for the vote.  Additionally, a Senate Resolution to vote on a Constitutional Amendment to legalize marijuana died in committee. I consider these failures a problem for the Democratic Party in New Mexico -- Democratic politicians are short-sighted and rarely work together strategically to accomplish their goals.  If they had been thinking about the implications of having a minimum wage raise on the ballot, they would have done so and ensured that the Democratic base would have showed up in November on such an essential economic issue.  Presently, signatures are being gathered for a petition for an initiative to de-criminalize possession of marijuana in New Mexico in two of the largest counties: Bernalillo and Santa Fe. A successful petition drive could put the issue on the November ballot in those two counties and motivate many younger voters to come out and vote on election day, benefiting the Democratic candidates.  However, Gary King is on record opposing the legalization of marijuana.

Despite these potential weaknesses, I challenge all the Democrats in New Mexico to get on board and support Gary King.  For the reasons I previously blogged about, we cannot afford to miss a beat in building the campaign to defeat Susana Martinez.  Apathy and disappointment is not an option.