Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Mexico: Architecture 3: Alamogordo: New York Avenue

New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

I suspect only the most devoted archiphiles will look at the slide show of these New York Avenue houses. You can be pretty sure I wouldn't be sitting here looking at what appears to be a listing page for a realtor. Nevertheless, I just couldn't stop taking photos of the houses on New York Avenue because they are so damned interesting. No cookie-cutter-itis here.

So before I lose you, I'll tell you about the man who owns this house:

New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

We got to talking; he was sitting outside on the front porch while his two granddaughters played in the yard. Considering I was slowly walking down the street taking pictures of his neighbors' houses, I thought I'd at least better say, hey, to set his mind at ease. So glad I did.

I told him I was admiring the many housing styles on the street, and we agreed that some had been beautifully maintained or rehabbed and some were in pretty dire straits. He told me he'd lived in this house for 20 years and that he'd rehabbed it himself.

He built that wall. And you know where he got the metal pickets? He salvaged them from the braces that hold up the "t" bar of a wooden telephone pole. And the fence finials? Bowling balls.

I also like how his house telescopes: 

New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Here are a few solo shots of houses on New York Avenue.

New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

On New York Avenue in Alamogordo, there are houses made of adobe, stucco, brick, wood, and stone. There are white, gray, taupe, butterscotch, cream, cafe au lait, brown, blue, pink, green, and mustard houses. There are bungalows, arts-and-craftsy sorts of houses, ranches, colonials, shotgun houses, and I don't know what else.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Cot's Better Than Sleeping on the Floor, Right? Right?

You'd think sleeping on a cot would be better than sleeping on the floor, right? Especially when the floor is concrete underneath budget carpet and pad?

Let me explode that myth right now.

If you'll recall, my comfortable airbed, which was in my bedroom, deflated and never got back up. I do have two very comfortable second-hand hospital beds, one in the den, and one in the living room (serving as a couch/guest bed).

My mother always told me, "never give up your own bed to guests," and I took that rule to heart except for the one time when my brother and sister-in-law stayed over night and my sister-in-law was way pregnant.

With three visitors this past week - my daughter and her two young'ns - we had between us two comfy hospital beds and two cots. The original plan was for us to try and move one of the beds into my bedroom, and I would sleep in comfortable splendor in my own room, but with a very narrow hallway and an unusual foyer situation on the bedroom side of the bedroom door, it was impossible. Oh sure, we could have dismantled the bed, but I only have the one Phillips screwdriver, so ...

Thus I ceded the two beds to my daughter and her son. Her daughter took one of the cots, and I took the second cot into my bedroom, my desire for privacy having trumped bed possession.

I had no idea cots were so hard. And because there's just air underneath the cot, it's cold. The second night was better - I encased myself in a sleeping bag, added a neck pillow, and then a pillow for under my knees. The third night I had the bright idea to switch cots because the other one looked "softer." It was the worst night of all.

On the final night, I slept on the floor, which was more comfortable than either of the cots.

I'm glad to learn all of this, so I won't ever be tempted to buy a cot for camping in the belief I'll "be more comfortable." Those cots that have the cushion on them might be better; I don't know.

Haven't decided yet if I'll get another airbed just so's I can have a quasi-real bed in my actual bedroom. The $35 price tag for an airbed isn't much, but I've got options that don't cost anything - like sleep in my den or just toss the two hospital-bed mattresses on my bedroom floor. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Alamogordo: Sphinx Moth

White-lined sphinx moth, Alamogordo, New Mexico.

A white-lined sphinx moth outside my front door the other day. AKA hummingbird moth.

In fact, I saw one of these in Missouri one year; it liked to check out the flowers on my deck. And it did seem like a hummingbird.

Indeed, in Missouri on that same deck, I saw the caterpillar version, though I didn't know it at the time  - huge, fat, long, a vivid green - that scared the bejesus out of me when I first spied it on one of my plants. I was so stupefied (no exaggeration) I called a friend to come to my house to take a look.

Holy Mother of God, look for yourself:

White-line sphinx caterpillar. Credit: What's That Bug

Monday, March 25, 2013

Alamogordo: The Disappearing Mountains

I live perhaps half a mile - maybe less! I will clock it - from a front line of the Sacramento Mountains.

My apartment is oriented north-south, and I'm near the easternmost edge of town, and whether I look out my front window or back window, I see the mountains right there, so very close.

Alamogordo, New Mexico, 2013
The constancy of their presence is pleasing. I like to see how a day's changing light creates shadows on the mountain planes, shifting colors and depths in interesting ways.

Alamogordo, New Mexico, 2013

Some days the mountains disappear.

Alamogordo, New Mexico, 2013

Could be dust or snow or fog. It's uncanny.

The other day, I took the video below going east on Indian Wells to show how a dust-wind can completely obscure the Sacramento Mountains. You're looking right at the mountains in this video - but you can't see them, not til about 1:24.

Below is a video of the exact same route on a clear day. Mountains!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mexico Preview #1: I Want to Go Here: San Juan Chamula

San Juan Chamula. Credit: Wikipedia

It feels a little sacrilegious to focus on my future residence in Mexico when my present in New Mexico is still so nice, but nevertheless, a blog post from Wandering Earl caught my attention in a big way.

In this post, The Most Amazing Church I've Ever Seen and Can't Show You, Earl describes the church's interior and what goes on there in such vivid detail, you don't miss photographs much. Besides, the photo taboo only adds to the attraction.

The church is in a city called San Juan Chamula in the state of Chiapas, Mexico.  

I want to go there.

Friday, March 22, 2013

China: White Wine

Sound of car coming to a screeching halt. China????

Yes, this is way off my blog topic - at least for now - considering I've never been to China and am not contemplating a trip to China in the near future.

Credit: Vinn Distillery

But with my online EFL job, I have some Chinese students. Awhile back, one of them mentioned enjoying some white wine. I asked which white wine he favors, and he noted it was Chinese wine. I was unfamiliar with Chinese wine, and made a mental note to study up on it later. Then another student mentioned white wine, and while we chatted, I did some simultaneous online research and discovered a fun fact.

Chinese "white wine" - also known as the "white devil" - isn't wine at all. It's baijiu, a very, very, very strong distilled liquor made from sorghum, rice, or another grain. Contains between 40-60% alcohol.

Many Chinese consider baijiu to be the national drink.

Prompts fond memories of Georgian chacha.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Mexico: Insect Life

This morning, I was startled to see a medium-large roach on the kitchen floor, on its back, apparently dead.

After gazing upon its inert body for awhile, feeling relieved that it was dead, I got around to wondering how it got onto its back and how it became dead.

Which made me wonder if there was an even larger insect in my apartment that killed this fairly-large roach. This is unsettling.

Spring is here in New Mexico. I'm not sure what all to expect in the way of insects. For example, when will the tarantulas come out?

The little red ants are back in business on my front walk.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Alamogordo: New York Avenue

New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

My guess is that New York Avenue was Alamogordo's first main commercial street. One or two blocks to the west, along a parallel track, is White Sands Boulevard, aka Highways 54 and 70.

New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

If you were just passing through Alamogordo, you might not know about New York Avenue at all, which would be a pity. Not because of its charming, tiny historic business center, because, frankly, the little business center is not very charming.

New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

No, it'd be a pity to miss New York Avenue because of the interesting residential architecture you'd see, from its beginning at First Street to where it dead-ends at a bleak trailer park.

I'll address the architecture more specifically in another post, but for now I'm including photos of government buildings on this street, along with former residences made over into business establishments.

New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

There are two well-regarded restaurants on New York: Memories and Country Kitchen. Haven't been to either yet. There are two Otero County buildings here. Law firms. Accountants. Eye docs. The historic theater, the Flickinger, which is a rather unattractive building, but which enjoys fervent community support. So I'll say its spirit has beauty.

Flickinger Theater, New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

There's an unexpected minaret on a building that's on the corner of New York and 10th.

New York Avenue and 10th Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

A New York Avenue resident I talked to noted that his street is the widest in town, a feature he appreciates. And I'll add that there are sidewalks on both sides of the street, another plus.

More photos below:    

New York Avenue, Alamogordo

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Goodbye Sweet Bed

It lasted for six months.

A small, L-shaped tear, unstaunchable by duct tape, seam sealer, double-sided tape. No, nothing deterred the hissing sound of escaping air, deflating air bed.

Goodbye bed.

Monday, March 18, 2013

For the Inept Rootless: 23 Ways to Tie a Scarf

Generally speaking, I'm spatially inept, which includes scarf-tying.

The great thing about scarves for the rootless is that they:
  • Are so portable - hardly take up space or weight
  • Can be used to protect you from dust
  • Get a woman into just about any house of worship in the world
  • Offer variation in a monochromatic, traveling wardrobe

If you can endure the obnoxious 25 seconds of advertising that fronts the video, I think you'll find 23 Ways to Tie A Scarf to be very clever. Created (and prostituted) by the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Update, only one day later: I could not abide the aggressive, auto-start of the audio ad on the video that I'd embedded in my post, so I've just put a link to the video here. It really is a clever video. Just hate the invasiveness of the ad, and I really hated that I was an unwilling agent to forcing my visitors to hear the ad just because they stopped at this blog page.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cloudcroft, New Mexico: A View of White Sands

Cloudcroft, New Mexico, is a village in the Sacramento Mountains, surrounded by the Lincoln National Forest, on Highway 82.  (The old commercial road is on Burro Road, off of 82.)

There are plentiful forest trails nearby, some walking distance from the village. Below is a photo of White Sands - 40 miles away - from one of the trails.

It was a gorgeous spring day yesterday, and two acquaintances and I met for coffee in the village, took a walk, and then had lunch. The road and the village were alive with like-minded folks, including a large contingent of motorcyclists, all out to get the warm sun on skin.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Alamogordo: View to a Kill

When it happened, I was working at my desk. On the phone, in fact. With the IRS. So I couldn't just hang up and see what was up, because I was deep into my own surreal drama.

But what happened is this. I was on the phone and I heard, then saw, a rustling of dead leaves on the ground in front of the french doors. Whatever was happening was happening in front of the wooden part of the doors, so I didn't actually witness the attack.

But I saw the aftermath.

While I was pinned to my phone call with the IRS, I watched the hawk methodically pluck the fine feathers from the dove's breast, pull out some meat, eat. Pluck, pull, eat. Pluck, pull, eat. It was like watching stuffing being pulled out of a pillow. Presently, the hawk moved the bird aways from the breast feathers. 

Above and below are the deshabille of the dove's downy breast feathers. 

Finished with one part of the bird, the hawk took its dead prey to a different location (still in front of my french doors) and commenced to denude the bird of its larger feathers, as evidenced below:

Once released from my engagement with the IRS - an hour or so - I went outside to get the pics of the feathering grounds. The hawk, annoyed, carried its meal up to my backyard tree and laid it in the crook of some branches. 

The hawk dined on the dove into the afternoon, and then left it alone. The next morning, I saw that the hawk had returned for leftovers.

Even later still, I noted the carcass was gone from the branches, but was now on the ground nearby: 

A feast for smaller forms of life.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Alamogordo: Spring

Alamogordo in spring, New Mexico 

Alamogordo in spring, New Mexico

Alamogordo in spring, New Mexico

Alamogordo in spring, New Mexico

Alamogordo in spring, New Mexico

Alamogordo in spring, New Mexico

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Portable: Duct Tape Refresher

You get a little complacent when you're settled in one place for awhile.

And so it was that I recently needed to dig out a large roll of duct tape from my camping gear and make a new portable pack.

So I looked around for a business card .... and went back into the past.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Mexico: Architecture 2: Alamogordo: Desert Palms

Desert Palms Mobile Estates, First Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Whatever you call them - trailer parks, mobile home communities, tornado magnets - they have a legitimate niche in the housing food chain.

My biggest gripe with trailer parks is that most are designed for efficient packing and not human living. The trailers are lined up like horizontal dominoes, with narrow streets, and barely any (or scrubby) landscaping. By design, they are like storage units for people.  There's no ... dignity, no appreciation for beauty or how the residents might interact. 

The Desert Palms Mobile Estates is an exception to all of the above.

Desert Palms Mobile Estates, First Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

The community - and it's clear right away that this is a community - is set back from First Street, with an attractive xeriscape park between the boulevard and the first mobile homes.

Desert Palms Mobile Estates, First Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

There are three wide boulevards that take you through the community. These are real streets, not stingy, trailer-park alleys. They invite strolling.

Desert Palms Mobile Estates, First Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Not all, but most of the trailer homes are arranged around cul-de-sacs, creating mini-neighborhoods.

Desert Palms Mobile Estates, First Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Pony walls accentuate the feeling of micro-neighborhoods in many of the cul-de-sac arrangements.

Desert Palms Mobile Estates, First Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Desert Palms Mobile Estates, First Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Pleasing common areas also support the community feel.

Desert Palms Mobile Estates, First Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Desert Palms Mobile Estates, First Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Here's a drawing of the trailer arrangement in one part of the community:

Desert Palms Mobile Estates, First Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

A couple of mobile homes are for sale. This isn't any high-falutin' place. For example, the two trailers for sale were built in the 1980s and 1970s.

Below is the trailer described in the above flyer:

Desert Palms Mobile Estates, First Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Here's the other mobile home for sale (on the left):

Desert Palms Mobile Estates, First Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Another thing I like about Desert Palms is that the people here get the idea about shade. Most of the trailers have covered side decks. It must be so pleasant to sit outside to catch the desert breezes.

While I was walking through the community with my camera (a suspicious activity, certainly), a woman asked if I needed any help. (A good sign for residents to take an active interest in who's hanging about.) Through her, I learned that residents aren't allowed to rent out their homes here, that the pad rent is currently $245 for a single-wide and $280 for a double-wide, and that the rates will go up about $10 per month soon. Water and trash pick-up included in the rates. The community is for seniors only; I don't know how seniors are defined.

Buying a home for $23k with a $250 monthly fee. Not bad, not bad at all. I'd think this would be a sound down-sizing option for many people. The woman also told me that the two bus systems in town - one for seniors and one for the general community is very low price (or she thought even free for one of them).

But I'm sidetracked for a moment. My main point with this post is that mobile home parks can be places of beauty, that promote a sense of well-being and community.