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.

Owen & NM Green Chiles

Owen’s job around the homestead is security, and he takes it seriously. No trash/mail/delivery truck goes unnoticed and un-barked at. The sound of their jaengines arouse him to race through the house to the front gate, grumblings in his basset-derived chest. But, Owen also keeps the ground squirrels from raiding our green chile patch.

We set aside a small part of the backyard for flowers and a few New Mexico green chile plants. The rest is a place for indigenous flora and fauna of the high Chihuahua Desert to play out the roles prescribed by nature. New Mexico is renowned for its green chiles that the locals use to season stews, and add zest to other recipes.

The chiles from the area around the farm town of Hatch in the Mesilla region on the lower Rio Grande River have trademarked their product.

However, Hispanic farm communities throughout the state claim unique properties to their chiles and preserve the seeds that have been passed down since the Spanish introduced chiles into New Mexico centuries ago. LINK

And not just the Hispanics are aficionados of the chile. A Jemez Pueblo friend gave me a chile that had been passed down in his family since the mid-18th century.

Jemez State Monument, preserving the ruins of a 17th century Spanish mission and 13th century Indian pueblo,

The peppers from those seeds rated 10 (maximum hot) on the chile heat scale. Chefs around the state compete for the blue ribbon at the state fair that is awarded to the best green chile cheeseburger. Owen loves green chile cheesburgers.

Locals buy their stash of green chiles at supermarrkets, road side stands, and at the farm. In early fall, the air is filled the scent of chiles being roasted in store parking lots and roadside stands.

Roaster

We harvested a few chiles from the three plants in our garden.

We popped them under the broiler.

Turned them every few minutes, and out they came, ready to be peeled, de-seeded, and ready to be added to home made green chile stew.

Owen finds the chiles uninteresting as a diet item, but the green chile cheeseburgers are a hit with him.

Owen Visits Ft. Union, NM

Owen enjoys riding in the Prius, and he’s on the job — watching for other dogs and for pedestrians who are in his sense of territory, and growling and woofing at them. He instinctively knows that his job is security.

We set out to explore the Fort Union National Monument in northeast New Mexico. The fort served as the major supply depot for the United States Army posts in the Southwest from 1851 to 1891. Colonel Edwin Vose Sumner (later commander of the II Corps in the Army of the Potomac until he died following the Battle at Fredericksburg) supervised the construction of the first of three forts at the site. Supplies for the army in the Southwest came by wagon from Missouri, following the Santa Fe Trail. Ruts of Santa Fe Trail wagons score the fragile high prairie around the fort.

Sumner sited the fort near where the Cimarron Cutoff branch of the Santa Fe Trail rejoined the Raton branch a few miles north of Las Vegas, NM, and near the Mora River. The livestock grazed the lush prairie grasses in the area.

Most of the fort buildings were constructed of adobe bricks, although some buildings were built of logs cut in the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Some masonry was used where appropriate — such as to line the latrines.

The fort comprised barracks for the rank and file, officer quarters, and a vast array of workshops needed to repair wagons, harness, and shoe horses and mules. Warehouses stored the supplies that were distributed to forts to the south and southwest. The munitions were stored apart from the operations and residential areas.

As befitting his role as head of security, Owen kept a keen eye on the fierce antelope he spotted far way on the grounds of the National Monument.

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.

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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.

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