Metallic: Past Future

My earliest memories include traveling through airports: moving to Belgium with my father’s military career or travelling to / fro the US.

My father was a pilot in the first half of his military career.


This is a different version of the B-17 he flew. On a mild day last winter, with the high desert air bracing on my skin, I couldn’t help but remember where I had been with my late father, yet seeing this restored plane as almost an art object.

Metal shining under a blue sky.

Desert mountains behind him taking off into the blue.


The futuristic use of clean, gleaming metal was common in each airport I remember growing up, travelling between Belgium and the states, and after that.


Did this influence my appreciation for morning light on aluminum artwork? I know, light, light, light!


Seeing Donald Judd’s 100 Untitled Works in Mill Aluminum at dawn was an unexpected pleasure, my trip to Marfa last July. The shift from orange to pale blue in the sky, the Yucca elata and assorted species of Bouteloua grasses below.

Grasses lusher than those even above my past foothills house.

I cannot describe the glow inside, but the outside view where photos were allowed drops some hints.


It was an airport for the imagination. Back to the 1970’s when I was just a kid, what I perceived of “Texas” outside JR Ewing or oil and cattle barons, and their jet-setting for work and pleasure.

How it would feel to be out of school and in a great job doing something I’m appreciated at, travelling to and fro, though I knew the fields I was interested in would probably not afford my own plane.

I think I wanted to be an astronomer until 1980 or so, when I was 14.


I’m grateful every day and many moments, regardless of what my detractors claim. I see the good now and in the past, while looking forward to the unreached heights that might wait around the bend.

Maybe I’ll also take off into the gleaming metallics and blues?

Water vs. Rock and Sand

Our monsoon season was late in starting, but it’s now in full force. Our plants are sporting fresh leaves, new flowers, and storm water flashes down arroyos to seep into the soil. Mornings are cool.

Picacho is the isolated, volcanic mountain north of my neighborhood, topping out at 4,959 feet elevation – a mere 1000 feet above the river.


Past the low, gravelly hills there’s a canyon. The action of water can be seen, then skirting around the rock “dam” until it finds a gap to keep flowing to the Rio Grande.



Bluish or cool gray rocks in sections of the canyon look like volcanic ash or tuff to me, but I’ve never found any information on that.


Good scour action there.


More scour action from a recent storm, including a lone Rhus microphylla growing out of the rock outcropping. And a gallery of Chilopsis linearis on the far bank of Picacho Arroyo. Burrowing Owl habitat…


Back to the house, so I can get ready for work. As the burrowing owls sound out to announce another day.

7/28/17 weather: 95 / 67 / 0.00

Colonia or Community

Home to 35+ colonias as designated by the federal government, our county and area is in need of continued planning efforts, plus escape from the extremes of apathy and gentrification.

That takes a moral compass that’s stronger than politics.

Let’s take a quick drive south. Crossing the Rio Grande, the banks lined with Salix exigua as far as the thunderheads build.



Principal-centered folks will be part of the solution, helping turn colonias into communities. These are opportunities for where people already live.

Entering tiny San Miguel, adobe row buildings define NM-28.


The nicest woman who I assume owns the market helped me, after the younger woman in front of me was sharing her day in Spanglish!

Older, she spoke of how this time of the year – the monsoon season – “we want the rain but now we don’t.” My guess is 2006 and 2008 are fresh in the minds, not to mention the 2-3 inches of rain that fell the night before.

Water used well and problems becoming made the solutions are a low-cost, high value solution – green infrastructure. So is getting people to take pride in what they have or could have.


These houses are growing tomatoes and other plants for themselves.



We can redevelop better so water after our every-other-day downpours is put to use.

Shade is the first thing that comes to mind, but I have many others including public spaces for residents and tourists alike, with maintenance programmed in.


At about 50 miles of driving, Mount Cristo Rey in the high background is near where I turned my vehicle around; see my previous post.

7/27/17 weather: 89 / 70 / 0.02