Owen & the Breaking Bad Tour

Blue “meth” candy from the candy lady in old town

Great excitement for Breaking Bad fans — the New Mexico Film Office announced that a major Sony Studios film will begin production in Albuquerque in a few weeks. Industry leaks indicate that this will be the long awaited big screen presentation of the iconic TV show Breaking Bad.

Owen was tugging on the leash to check out a discarded taco on a street in Albuquerque’s Old Town, recently, when we spotted a sign for a guided tour of important Breaking Bad production sites in and around the city. Owen’s interest waned when this particular tour meant spending three hours in a simulation of the Breaking Bad RV with strangers. Not in his nor the tourists’ best interest.

However, we Googled up several web sites that mapped the sites for key filming locations for those who wanted to drive around the area and find them without a guide. Here’s an example.

Perhaps, after walking in the Bosque, from time to time, we’ll use a shooting location map take in some Breaking Bad sites.

Day of the dead

In Albuquerque, as in many Latino communities, we celebrate Day of the Dead as well as Halloween. It’s a lovely holiday that allows us to feel close to our departed loved ones. We build altars commemorating their lives, use marigolds to invite their spirits to visit and decorate with sugar skulls and other day of the dead regalia.

Instead of the scary aspect of Halloween, Day of the Dead celebrations are more like a celebration with family of loved ones.

Some additional activities in the area.

Santa fe celebration

Zuni Fetishes

Zuni fetishes are beautiful art pieces which also have great meaning in Zuni culture. Each animal has particular powers to help people.

New Mexico Bead and Fetish in Old Town New Mexico has an extensive selection of beautiful hand crafted, artist authenticated fetishes. So recently, we made a visit there to pick up some specific fetishes for loved ones. They make great gifts, especially when a loved one is going through a difficult time.

Roadie in Our Habitat

Our approach to our backyard garden was to minimize our toil and, because we live in the high Chihuahua  Desert, water.  Our solution was to establish a backyard habitat populated with plants indigenous to this desert country. Two types of cacti were already thriving — a claret cup and a cholla.

 

We planted a few more specimens. This one is an early bloomer.

This claret cup cactus is nestling with a sage brush plant.

We added small agave of various types, and, over the years, they have flourished and created a fence of agave.

Salutary neglect along with Nature has produced a habitat in which lizards, bugs, birds, pollinators, and the occasional coyote make their living.

One of our favorite visitors is the roadrunner, a member of the cuckoo family.

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), Arizona, Perched on cholla cactus branch, With mouth wide open, Large crested terrestrial bird of arid Southwest, Common in scrub desert and mesquite groves, Seldom flies, Eats lizards, snakes and insects

Roadie hunts lizards, bugs, nestlings; an opportunistic feeder. Roadie also hops onto our patio and peers through our sliding glass door. It’s as though he knows he’s safe behind the glass, and it appears he enjoys tormenting the cats and dog. “Roadie” is in Owen’s canine vocabulary, along with “mail truck” and “trash truck.” When we call out “Roadie!” Owen races to the patio door growling.

 

 

Roadie, our name for whatever individual hunts lizards and bugs in the habitat

 

Taiko drumming, New Mexico style

Ray and I had so much fun trying out Taiko drumming in Tokyo that we decided to find classes in New Mexico. Bushido Kenkyukai is a well-known dojo for taiko drumming and martial arts. We went to an introductory class which included demonstrations by local students and practice drumming.

As usual, New Mexico artists have added their own twist to a traditional Japanese art. The New Mexico version includes more drummers, extra instruments, and special riffs that aren’t heard in Japan. Still, the foundation is traditional so it’s a fascinating fusion of cultures.

Another local group NM Taiko is also seen at local events like the very popular Aki Matsuri, a Japanese fall festival.

For practicing, since taiko drums are expensive, many artists make use of old tires coveted tightly with packing tape.


It doesn’t give the depth of sound that a real drum does but it definitely is good for an active taiko workout.

So, are you tempted to try taiko drumming?

Our Moochers at the Feeder

Birds that live in the neighborhood and those that migrate through find our backyard habitat easy pickings.

All year round, various finches (gold, house, and who knows what) hang out in a desert willow tree and empty the feeder of nijer thistle seed in a day and a half, to the delight of our nearby bird feed storekeeper.

During the winter, we add a feeder with seeds for the canyon wrens and curved bill thrashers who hang out all year.

Image result for curved bill thrasher

Pigeons and doves mop up the seeds that the more interesting (to us) birds dribble onto the ground. As do the ground squirrels. In the spring, a wide variety of hummingbirds migrate to New Mexico, so we put out a feeder with sugar water. We miss them when they migrate south at the end of September.

Image result for hummingbirds

They are aggressive little guys. They buzz one another in aerial combat and even dive bomb us when we’re sitting on the patio. We discovered one of their nests, a tiny cup, on a branch of our apricot tree.

Upon occasion, the multiple birds in the habitat swish away, none to be seen. A hawk, usually a red tail but sometimes a Cooper’s) descends and perches in the desert willow, wondering why it was shunned.

Great horned owls frequent the Ponderosa pines in the front yard. They hoot in the wee hours before dawn and deposit pellets that provide clues to their diet.

Of course, the local cuckoo darts around the habitat during warmer months.

Image result for road runner

During the winter, the road runner descends into the Rio Grande Bosque. But, like the hummingbird, returns to our habitat in the spring.

Coyotes & Folks

Just past dawn, one morning, a coyote hopped over our garden wall and settled in under a bush for a nap. We had heard coyotes yelping from time to time during the night, so perhaps this one was part of that pack. We had seen them while hiking, but having one snoozing just outside the kitchen window was a new one for us. This picture of a coyote was taken in the Rio Grande Bosque.

They are intelligent and curious creatures who shadow hikers apparently to see what humans are up to in their territory.

A coyote’s territory varies widely. In rural areas of the southwest and south, where resources are scant, a coyote might roam over forty square miles. With an urban environment or in the northeast, food sources are more plentiful and the range is much less. Coyotes now encroach upon Central Park in New York City from time to time.

Here is a pack of about nine coyotes trotting along a path in the Bosque. The hind feet of a coyote settles in the print of the front feet. An entire pack might trot along a path and leave only one set of footprints.

Coyotes (canis laprans) are descended from the wolf line of canids, and are cousins of the domestic version, the dog. Like the dog, which adapted to exploit human waste dumps after our species settled down after learning to produce food with in agricultural technologies, the coyote is very adaptable.

Humans evidently encountered coyotes in the American southwest, and the Aztecs referred to Coyotlinauatl as the god whose faithful wore coyote skins. The Aztec moon goddess, Coyolxauhqui, was known as one who bays at the moon. Link

Over the last hundred years or so, coyotes have spread their range to New England and the South. The DNA evidence is murky and still being worked out, but northeastern coyotes are larger (befitting a lusher prey environment) and southern ones are smaller. And, there is evidence of repeated inter-breading with wolves and dogs. Today’s coyote is a mix master slush of canine DNA.

Regardless, listening to coyotes bay at night and glimpsing them observing you in the brush is an exhilarating experience in nature.