Imagine walking into Stone Moth Canyon

At the far end of the trail you pass beyond a ridge and can no longer see or hear any signs of the city. No houses, no traffic noise, not even the tinkle of the popsicle truck. Thankfully, no litter.  Just the trail and the volcanic basalt, and the markings. The canyon has a low, continuous hum. Bending low, you realize it is the sound of small bees.

Imagine the petroglyphs scratched into the black basalt are symbols of moths. Hundreds, thousands of moths marking the boulders. You would have to climb in and around the stones to spy moths on every side, even on the top to be viewed from high on the ridge. What do the moth symbols mean? Who made them? Why?

We can only guess at the meanings of the petroglyphs in Albuquerque's magical National Petroglyph Monument. We can only be open to the wonder and the connection to those artists of so long ago. Are there moths painted deep inside caves? Are there moths in the art of indigenous peoples of Africa, Australia, even the polar regions?

Thank you to the moth-makers whose images I edited onto the basalt of the canyon. They seemed like images across millennia. Here are a couple sites that intrigued me as I went on this imaginary hike:

The petroglyphs below were made 400 to 700  years ago. Most were made by Native Americans, but a few were made by early Spanish settlers in the area. They are very young compared to the estimate of 20,000 years old for the Lascaux cave paintings.

This one is my favorite. It seems to tell a tall tale of long-billed birds eating lizards and snakes. A person with big feet walked through the story!

When I see the hand symbols my thought is always, "I am. I make."

Keep making.

© 2013-2017 Nancy L. Ruder


Signs are up at the water walk

Stopped over at the Environmental Ed.  Center to check on the water walk signs. Sure I was procrastinating going to Walmart for Swiffer Wet and Swiffer Dry, Tide, and t.p., but still, I wanted to know if the signs would be up for my granddaughter's arrival.

The messages are clear, if brief. The design is cohesive and child-friendly. I like that many of the photos were taken at the site.  I continue to hope for a future phase to include a kiosk with more detailed explanations for adult visitors.

Sometime this fall a big guy named Herbie will be installed.

And yes, I forgot the Swiffer Dry. But I got three $1.00 mums for the balcony pots.

© 2013-2017 Nancy L. Ruder


Where's Waldo wildlife photography

Took a crazy number of photos on my two day trip, trying to catch bees, lizards, ground squirrels with fluffy silvery tails, and jack rabbits on the go. I saw more jack rabbits on this trip than ever before. They pop up, zigzag off at great speed, then freeze completely blending into the vegetation.

Back home I've downloaded the photos and fired up the Photoshop. Let the search begin! There are about seventy images that must have some creature in them...

1. A cooperative Painted Lady butterfly at the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area in the Sandia foothills. The million dollar views up there cost one dollar admission weekdays.

2. Also at the picnic area, a jack rabbit. Yes, there really is one hiding in this photo. Hint--it's on the right half. Out of all the photos, this is the only one I where I can spy Waldo.

3. Piedras Marcadas Canyon of Petroglyph National Monument was full of jack rabbits. I'm not making this up.  See half a dozen of them in this photo? Me neither! Remember the olden days of film cameras? My photo failures would have cost a fortune!

4. My walk in the canyon was accompanied by a constant low hum. Bees! Big, small, tiny, all very busy and not the least interested in people. The petroglyph symbol lower right looks like a bee to me.

5. Turtles at the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park.  Three more dollars well spent to see this nature center and learn much about the ecology of the Rio Grande River. Walked the Bosque and River trails, and had enough sense not to attempt hummingbird photos.
 6. The lizards were surprising willing to pose for pictures. Note the blue-tailed juvenile.

I wish all the moth-makers of the Moth Migration Project could visit this enchanting state and experience the creative refueling I always find. And good luck with the jack rabbit photography!

© 2013-2017 Nancy L. Ruder


Things are looking up!

No wonder my neck is sore. What a week of looking skyward!






© 2013-2017 Nancy L. Ruder

Pollen goes bowling

An unexpected delight at the 516 Arts "Cross Pollination" exhibit was an arrangement of  Jo Golesworthy's pollen grain sculptures. The size of a bowling ball more or less, each of the pollen sculpture forms was a fascinating insight into nature's geometry, economy, and beauty at the most minute levels.

When my young sons had bad allergy and asthma problems we spent a lot of time in allergists' examining rooms staring at the medical charts hanging on the walls. Those illustrations showed magnified pollen, tree-branch lungs, and constricted airways. Waiting for the breathing treatment to kick in, watching a child's face slowly get back to normal color, listening to each breath and cough, felt like being rolled over by another heavy bowling ball of parenting stress. During happier check-ups the pollen images were intriguing Bucky-balls, Nerf balls, or death stars.

View pollen grains here or here.

© 2013-2017 Nancy L. Ruder


Mural walking in Duke City

Popsicle stick fence in melted ice cream colors
Flew into Albuquerque for two days of creative refueling. I was there to see the Cross Pollination exhibit at 516 Arts in downtown. Started my adventure with the downtown mural walking tour.  This was one of two Cross Pollination theme murals new this summer:

Botanical Mural Project by Argentinian artist Pastel

Sam-I-Am takes the train to Night Vale
I really liked the mural at Silver Street Market. I would have taken better photos if standing in the middle of the street was a good plan. Albuquerque is a slow-moving small city most of the time, but getting run over would be a bad thing for the rest of the already short-staffed folks at my workplace. It reminded me of Green Eggs and Ham, Roswell aliens, and the Night Vale podcast. That's just the kind of place ABQ is. Would you, could you on a train?

Albuquerque has been called "Duke City" since conquistiadors arrived to complicate life for the Pueblo Indians who lived there. The minor league baseball team was named the "Dukes." Nowadays the baseball team, the Albuquerque Isotopes, is named both for Homer Simpson's Springfield Isotopes, and for New Mexico's connection to nuclear energy and science.

My other favorite was the 2016 mural "Color Sphere" on Gold Street. It looks like my friend Bonnie's blouse on a much larger scale. Bonnie and the blouse are not larger, just the mural. It's an unusual mural because of its loose, watercolor painting style.

© 2013-2017 Nancy L. Ruder


Eclipse brunch pizza

Pizza in totality quickly became partial. With special glasses zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, arugula, basil, green peppers, black olives become visible.

We gave away all the eclipse viewing glasses at the library. That's okay. Nice strangers at the park were happy to share.

I saw several people with cereal box viewers. Using a colander for a viewer is not impressive, but you can summon Batman:

© 2013-2017 Nancy L. Ruder


Eclipse of reason produces squirrels

Merlin whispered to me that a miracle may occur Monday, August 21st, in the early afternoon. There's a slight chance a significant number of Americans may look up, up and away from screens of their phones, tablets, and computers, the wizard mused. Even the toddlers!

Wooooee cool, I whispered back. I didn't know they could still do that! Will it be dangerous???
Indeed, hinted the magician, this foretells an era of liability, litigiousness, and neck strains. These are anxious times deep in the pit of your being. Lo, the tower will fall in darkness and dragons will battle in the sky.

On the upside, there will be increased tourism on Guam. You can watch it all in real time on your devices with hashtags and tweets. Just don't look directly!


We have received numerous calls regarding the proper way to view the solar eclipse. None of the glasses, sunglasses or dilating glasses provided by our office are safe to use during the viewing. Glasses must be stamped with an ISO 12312-2 certification. Any product without that designation is to be deemed unsafe. Looking at the sun without proper protection can cause irreversible retinal damage and is not advised. Unfortunately, our office can not supply you with this product.

Merlin has drifted off on a time-travel nap, and I'm trapped in the body of a squirrel.

© 2013-2017 Nancy L. Ruder


Water walk--Time is

How long does it take a fallen tree to decompose? How long does it take to build a bridge? Realism says I am squinting ahead a shorter distance than the one I gaze back upon. And that's okay. But time is on my mind, perceptions of time.

Just a few days ago now, well two and one-half years, a fantastic hollow log was delivered to a nature playground to be a chute, a boat, a rocking cradle, and many other things for imaginative children. How long would it last?

When I stopped by Friday I was stunned that some of the log remained with evidence of children using it for a treasure hiding spot. The decomposition of the log has sculpted new shapes and revealed surprise patterns in the wood.

How long is five-minutes of public-speaking? Much shorter in the giving of the talk than in the agonizing ahead of time!  My talk was about the hollow log and other aspects of our Nature Explore Classroom (aka nature playground), and about our future extension of a water walk to the site. Five minutes was way too short! I was yanked from the podium and the slide clicker pried from my hand.

How long does it take for that water walk to become a reality? I worked on the committee researching the project to use a Keep America Beautiful grant for about six months before I left for my current job. I still feel a deep investment in the project which will be used as a site for clean waterway and litter prevention education.

Driving home on a scorching Friday afternoon we suddenly had dramatic lightning, and rain. Just as suddenly it was gone, and the late afternoon sun was shining prisms through the moisture and cooler air. The sight was so hippie-dippy I took a detour to check  on the water walk construction now finally nearing completion. And it looks terrific!

Why has the project taken so long? The original completion date was supposed to be December 2015. The legal and purchasing wheels of a municipal project grind slowly. Contracts, bids, flood plain and storm water sign-offs, approved vendors and contractors, project management vocabulary (argh), encumbered funds all make one want to hide in a magical hollow log! Removal of invasive species and habitat restoration took time, as did relocation of other educational projects. I'm really pleased to find so much of our original concept in the finished water walk. I look forward to installation of sculpture and signage soon.

We wanted a gathering spot by the creek under a tree, and obtained leftover stone for seating from another city project.  I'm not sure if the stones in the photo are from the donated rock.

The shaded gathering point Friday.

Big pile of rocks near future seating circle autumn 2015.

Rock seating will be under nearest tree in photo taken fall 2015.

We wanted easy access to the creek level at a specific point for sstudent water testing experiences. These very shallow steps will provide that:

Special photo effects by Mother Nature!

A long view site for teaching about storm water outflows and litter prevention.

An attractive third class area for discussion of riparian habitats and the food web

Awesome spot for watching herons , turtles, and dragonflies.

And, yes, It's A Beautiful Day.

© 2013-2017 Nancy L. Ruder