My how time seems to fly [away]. Before Solstice, I managed to finish smoothing all the walls in the hallway and livingroom (right), except one. The finished product makes for a much brighter room during the day, and requires fewer lights at night. Shortly after the New Year, I got to work on the last wall and had it finished within a week (photo below).
Now I can officially say that there are no more cammo colors in all the public areas of the house. Instead, I chose a palette of fall grass colors, that I think are beautiful, bright and warm.
After I finished the renovations, I headed to Texas for six days, on shorter notice than Peter would have liked, to chase some rare birds in the Rio Grande Valley.
The bird search was very successful. I found all the but two of the reported rare birds, adding 5 to my life list of birds and 15 to my North American list. I had a fantastic day in Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, where I found a Groove-billed Ani, and a lot of incredible butterflies, including this Mexican Bluewing.
After my trip to Texas, I continued the Bermuda grass battle, weeding the rhubarb bed and digging a trench around my gardens to install the weed barrier.
In my spare time I finished this quilt top. I’m having some friends over this week to help me baste it. It’s amazing what you can do with an hour here and an hour there. I’ve been wanting to make a new quilt for our bed for years now. The last one is almost 20 years old.
For my Birthday, we went to Albuquerque NM, the best place in North America to find all three Rosy-finch species. The exact location is the Sandia Crest House at 10700 feet atop the Sandia Crest. We got there between 8:30 and 9 AM to find the top in snowy clouds. You could barely see the lower feeder, but I got my first Black Rosy-finch there. I didn’t think I would see much more, as the parking lot was crowded with people getting ready for a snowshoe race.
So we moved to the upper parking lot and waited for the coffee shop to open at 9:30 AM. The sign was absolutely correct. We couldn’t set our car alarm.
When the coffee shop opened, we settled down at the table closest to the feeder with a cup of cocoa and waited. My patience paid off in spades when a flock of about 100 birds alighted on the porch to feed. All three species can be seen in this photo (if you know what to look for). I was elated and Peter decided that kind of birding was his cup of tea (or cocoa in this case).
The next morning I set out with my friend Rob to find another long sought bird, the Sage Sparrow. Luck was still with me. We located three of them and got wonderful views. When we returned to Rob’s house, where Peter had been enjoying some online time, I found out there was an ice storm headed South and was going to blanket almost the entire route we would drive the next day (Monday). We decided for caution’s sake, to leave New Mexico that afternoon, and drive straight home. We got in at 1:30AM on Monday.
When we awoke the next morning the ice was already starting to fall, earlier than expected. So we quickly suited up, and headed out to get the dogs from their various keepers. We were home by 11 AM, with ice still accumulating. During the night and all the next day, the precipitation turned to sleet. We ended up with a quarter inch of ice and an inch of sleet on the ground.
Temperatures quickly rebounded, but I’m still waiting for the last of the sleet to melt before I start planting my peas. Yes, I said planting peas in February. Believe it or not, Feb 1st is the earliest planting date for peas. My overwintering scallions and lettuce are doing well, too. It’s very different gardening in the South, compared to what I remember in Montreal growing up, or Illinois. Spring planting season is starting. It’s time to order seeds!