Roaming the Northeastern New Mexico Mountains–Day Two

While everyone else slept late, my host and I headed to their ‘wild’–a couple of hundred acres which they put in Santa Fe Conservation Trust.  The Trust requires land restoration and has a lengthy list of do’s and don’t’s one must follow.  However, if the owners follow these requirements, the results astonish.


The land is mountainous with meadows, ponderosa pines, and a few aspens and fir trees.  Before restoration it had been overgrazed at times and no streams ran year round.


This stream starts on a property to the north and ran only on rare occasions when it rained.  With careful riparian restoration, little waterfalls now gurgle here and there.


This is the view downstream where water is now running and new grasses and other plants that like water have begun to grow.


After following the other stream, we turned left and found this stream running from higher land to the east.  When the restoration began, this was like a ditch with not much growing.


Where there once was nothing, pools form.  To my friend’s surprise this one contained numerous fish.  They had not been there on his recent visit.



If my memory is correct, this is a type of wild onion in flower.  So many different kinds of grasses and flowers thrive now where only a few years ago there were few.  Even big blue stem grows in various areas of the property.


A grove of aspen in the shade on the north side of a rock bank.  The small ones in the foreground remain encircled in fencing to keep the elk from killing them before they have a chance to grow.  Elk like to rub against the bark with their antlers.


We climbed up to the highest points of the land.  Trespassers in the past, when the previous owner did not check on it, made a road.  Restoration activities slowly allow the vegetation to grow back.


From this high point, one can see Hermit Peak in the background.  Near here the current owner found many fir trees sawed off near the ground.  Of course, they died.  No wood was taken, nothing except the outer most parts of their branches which can be made into Christmas wreaths.  Luckily, they missed a few trees.


The view of the previous stream and pool from above. The fencing near the stream protects willows and cottonwoods which would normally be found near streams in this area if undisturbed and not subject to overgrazing.


Remains of such houses stand everywhere.  These people had a water catchment system with gutters running into a cistern.  Down the hill near the stream an old well could be used when the cistern ran dry.


More than any other this photo shows what overgrazing does.  On the left the land has been overgrazed for years.  Even though no cattle have been on it since last October, all that grows is sage and blue grama.  Cattle will not eat sage therefore limiting the food available for future grazing.  On the right is the Trust land filled with biodiversity.  It can be grazed, but to do so effectively requires certain grazing methods many are only now beginning to practice.


Later, after trekking around the Trust land for a couple of hours, I drove to another friend’s house nearer the actual town of Rociada.  This is the view from her yard.  We decided to take a little hike to an old cemetery, Santo Nino, Sainted Child (Jesus), located on the property of an old Spanish land grant.


We found graves from the late 1800’s as well as new ones plus a crumbling wall, the front of the long, narrow chapel of the original hacienda.


Finally, we headed home and as always there lays the fabulous view from 104 dropping down the escarpment.


Roaming the Northeastern New Mexico Mountains-Day One

Last weekend I went to three visit friends I had not seen in years.  These two sets of friends live in the mountains north of Las Vegas, New Mexico, a place which some people confuse with the other Las Vegas and quite to their surprise, end up in a small, quaint college town totally unlike the other Las Vegas.  While the place is always extraordinary, this past summer’s rains have infused it with an incredible endless green.

I awoke before everyone else, watched numerous species of hummingbirds through the windows then stepped out on the front and took these photos after sunrise.


Hermit Peak in the background–north of Las Vegas, New Mexico, near Rociada.



We decided to spend Saturday wandering around, visiting several wineries, enjoying the countryside.


Luckily my friend who lives there drove because I would have become lost on all the winding mountain roads.  The silvery vegetation near the fence is a type of sage.

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I took a lot of these photos from the passenger seat of the car as we wandered along.


Many trees like those on the right looked partially dead.  Apparently, last year while still in a drought many nearly died but now, with so much rain this summer, they seem in recovery.


We drove through mountain valleys, then up through mountains repeatedly.  This road goes to Sipapu Ski Resort.  Behind the simple lodge a mountain stream tumbles over rocks.



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For lunch we stopped here at Sugar Nymphs, a tiny, quaint restaurant in Penasco, New Mexico.  We entered the restaurant on the side looking down this simple street to a series of what appears to be residences.


Sugar Nymphs operates on laid back time.  If you want to hurry, forget it.  After lunch we headed to our first winery, my favorite, small, hidden, grapevines growing nearly to the door and up one side of the building.



The vintner was friendly, welcoming.  I noticed grapes of which I had never heard.  He explained that approximately 6000 different varieties of grapes are grown throughout the world.  Only a minority remain suitable for wine making.  Because of  winters in this part of New Mexico, they grow varieties that can stand the cold, e.g. Dolcetto.


We dropped down altitude and arrived at Black Mesa Winery on a more heavily travelled road which goes to Taos.  This colorful fence stands between the parking lot and the tasting room and wine making facilities there.  It is a larger winery with so many people on a Saturday that we had to wait our turn.


I decided to look around and play photographer while waiting.


You can see tiny grapes ripening on this trellis.


I selected my two bottles rather quickly and wasted time doing this while waiting on my two friends to pick theirs.  We kept seeing rain clouds and I predicted we would get rained on.  It rained while we were there.


Our wanderings took longer than we expected so we headed to our last winery of the day.


This particular winery has a sitting area outside and snacks to order.  They sell local beers as well as wine.  Since already running late, we made our choices and left.


Dramatic storm clouds and the smell of rain greeted us as we wandered home.

Don’t eat This or Else…

This title showed up as an article in my latest “Yoga Journal”.  We hear warnings all the time about various foods so much so that sometimes I wonder just what I should eat.  The article details research on three foods which may be dangerous to ingest.

The first one is rice which really frightened me at first because I really, really like rice and eat it multiple times a week.  The problem with rice is arsenic, yes, arsenic.  Everyone knows that arsenic is not good.  Due to arsenic containing herbicides and pesticides, harmful levels have been found in rice.  Why?  Rice grows in water and therefore absorbs ten times more arsenic than other grains.  This not only means humans need to be careful about eating rice but also other products such as brown rice syrup found in infant food and energy bars.  Is organic safer?  No.  And forget eating brown rice because it contains 80 per cent more arsenic than white rice.  These rice warnings also apply to products made from rice including crackers, pasta, cereal, even rice milk.

Does this mean eliminate all rice?  Not necessarily.  Some rice has much less arsenic than others.  The safest rice from the arsenic standpoint is white basmati from India, Pakistan, and California.  Lundberg is one company that tests for arsenic so their rice should be safe as well.  Rinsing rice thoroughly helps.  You can also cook it in extra water and drain like you would pasta.  Boiling leaches out the arsenic.

The verdict is still out regarding GMOs.  Some countries have banned GMO foods totally.  According to the article in “Yoga Journal”, the only GMO crops commercially grown here currently are soybeans, corn, canola, cotton, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya and some summer squash.  The FDA has approved an apple that does not turn brown and a potato that produces less carcinogenic compounds when cooked at high temperatures.  If you want to avoid GMO, look at the list above.  Some farmers are growing non-GMO soybeans.  However, they usually go to foreign markets which do not want GMO products, e.g. China.

For me, the worst on the list, carrageenan, remains the most hidden because most people do not even know they are eating it.  Where is it?  In ice cream, yogurt, nut milk, canned whipped cream, cottage cheese, salad dressing.  Why care?  New evidence indicates it may cause all sorts of health problems from gastro-intestinal inflammation to cancer and diabetes.  The only way you will know if this is in a food product is to carefully read the label.  Some zero fat yogurt contain it and some do not.  Silk brand nut milk does not contain it whereas several other popular brands do, e.g the ones that are not in the refrigerated section at the grocery. Some companies are fazing it out of all their products; this includes Horizon and Silk.

The only way to eat for good health and be safe it seems is to keep up on the latest research and read the labels.  Know what you are eating.  Bon appetit.


Note:  the rice used here is basmati from Pakistan.

The Roar Sessions: Khadijah

Juliana Lightle:

Khadijah is a fellow board member of the Story Circle Network, a group of women writers who encourage women to write their stories including through classes and publication. Take a look.

Originally posted on Jena Schwartz:

IMG_0266The Many Voices of Roar
by Khadijah

You know
this roar
of mine
a whisper
a cry
a hard look
that pins you
to the wall
a hand held out
a push
a low, languorous
This roar
fills me up
so close to
my skin can’t hold it
A child
to God
Let my mother live
A mother’s cry
as bombs fall
of where they land
whose limbs they
Let my children live
Wrapping justice
strong, supple body
flinging it like
sweat from a runner’s brow
hot embers rain down
I welcome the fallout
it means
Strike One
a beginning
A human,
shredded by
weaves a roar
of broken shards
of glass
a dream of wholeness
made real


11800451_751910364917344_3441734197550424571_nKhadijah lives and roars on a small homestead in rural Missouri…

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Ancestry and DNA–Part Four

Since I hit several dead ends in my previous endeavors, this afternoon I went back to all the hints and started more research.  My last ancestry post indicated my surprise at the DNA results.  In that post I failed to mention that the reports indicate a possible range as well as exact numbers.  Today’s endeavor made me reconsider once again because everything I was able to trace went back to England over and over again.  Although the DNA results specified Europe West as 77 per cent, it did show a possible range with a low end of 50 per cent.  Great Britain’s number is 9 per cent with a range up to 27 per cent.  My guess is that the reality is more like 20  per cent Great Britain and  60 to 65 per cent Europe West which I can trace to specific places, e.g. Switzerland mostly.  An acquaintance had her DNA done by two different sources with somewhat differing results.  I also realize that over many centuries people have migrated to Great Britain from continental Europe.  In the south the Romans were there for centuries.  However, no Italian showed up in my DNA even though I know the name of one ancestor who migrated from Italy.  Perhaps she was from northern Italy–all I can find is simply Italy so have no idea from where.  Northern Italy, unlike southern Italy, is included in Europe West by

After quitting for the day, I went back to the matrilineal part of my grandson’s National Geographic Genotype data.  It provides a totally different type of analysis that goes back even further into history with illustrations of the movement of your ancestors over thousands of years and provides your exact Haploid Group.  I am J named after Jasmine in the book, “The Seven Daughters of Eve” by Bryan Sykes, a British geneticist.  This book traces the mitochondrial DNA of modern Europeans back to seven women located in different parts of the world.  Jasmine was the result of a mutation that occurred approximately 45 thousand years ago in the Near East/Caucasus from which I probably get that small percentage of Caucasus DNA.  Today not only are J Haploid people found in Europe but also in the UAE, Yemen, Iran, etc.  More specifically I am J1C3B which is found most commonly today in Switzerland and Austria.  Only  .2 per cent of the Genotype project participants have that DNA.  Furthermore, unless you were born in Africa below the Sahara or are a descendant of Africans, you will have some Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA, usually between one and four per cent.  My grandson has 1.2 Neanderthal.  Scientists now believe that for non-Africans, a great deal of our immunity comes from those genes.  The Genotype project provides links to a different family tree source than if you wish to go that route.

The book also indicates that working out your family trees with who married who and all their children may not be accurate because what is official may or may not be what really occurred.  The author tells the story of a friend who insisted his DNA get analyzed and eagerly awaited the results which provided the author with a dilemma once he realized his friend could not possibly be who he though he was.

The Unelected and Unaccountable Men Who Decide Our Fate by Laura Shannon

Juliana Lightle:

Most people in the USA where I live have no clue what is occurring in Greece or realize it will one way or another affect us all. Nowhere in the world today are economies isolated from each other. Another example of how our current world is ruled almost, if not, totally my money.

Originally posted on :

Bas relief of Atropos, shears in hand, cutting the thread of life Bas relief of Atropos, shears in hand, cutting the thread of life

In Greek myth, the Fates, the Moirai, are three sisters – Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos –  who spin, measure and cut the thread of life for every person born. Their rule is law; even the gods, so the legend has it, have no power to bargain with the one who cuts the thread and ends the life. Her name, Atropos, means ‘she who cannot be turned’.

In Greece today, others are making the life-or-death decisions. It is not the three sisters of ancient folklore, but a bunch of men in suits now wielding the power to uplift or cast down an entire nation and its millions of citizens. I would like to shine a little light on just two of these groups of (mainly) men who have had the most impact on the recent decisions to bring Greece to the brink of bankruptcy…

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Ancestry and DNA–Part Three

The DNA results came back two days ago; I was surprised, not exactly what I had expected.  Considering that my last name traces back to Ireland and a number of relatives on Dad’s side also go back to Ireland or England, I expected I would have a considerable amount of both.  Wrong!!  Very little:  7 percent Irish and 9 percent English.  I have almost as much Caucasus (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Georgia, etc) as I do Irish–4 percent.  Once I actually considered that and thought about my haploid group (see previous DNA posting), it made sense. There is a trace of Iberian Peninsula (two per cent) and one of Scandinavian.

I am 77 per cent western European which in terms encompasses, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, northern Italy (I did find one ancestor from Italy) and some of Denmark.  Looking at these results, I went back and looked at what I had learned on Mom’s side since my last DNA post. After hitting repeated dead ends for my great grandfather on her paternal side, I concentrated on the other.  My grandmother’s father came from Switzerland in 1844.  That makes two great grandfathers from Bern which would give me a certain 25 per cent Swiss even if no one else was from there.  I traced more to Alsace and the part of Germany next to Belgium.  And then there were the Dutch traced back to New York where they married in the Dutch Reformed Church, Isaac VanDeventer and Saartje Couwenhoven in the early 1700s.  I keep coming back, however, to the Swiss and nearby. Once I kept counting all of them, they numbered far more than anything else–names like Kaiser and Werth (the two great grandfathers), Zimmerman, Spainhauer, Fiscus, Rufener, Meyer, Binckele.

Today, a fourth cousin found me through the ancestry site, sent me a message, and the site sent me information on two third cousins.  They can actually “match” using family trees.

Although I have discovered the majority of what I wanted to know, I will continue to attempt a search regarding the one great grandfather.  While searching, I remembered a story my aunt told me, how she never knew him because the story she was told is this:  He went to town one day and never came back, simply disappeared.  Eventually, he was declared dead–the ancestry info has a birth date in Tennessee but no recorded date of death.  My great grandmother eventually remarried and this husband raised her children by my great grandfather.  My aunt even took me to the cemetery where the second husband was buried.  I thought I would remember the gravestone, but I could not find it when I returned years later.  If I had only written down all my aunt told me.