observer crow

The Observer, The Observed

The Observer, The Observed with “Spontaneous Poem from a Treetop Crow” by Jim Stallings

The joys of gardening include much more than just plants, no matter how much we love our plants for the beauty they provide. The joys also include the variety of wildlife attracted, and that is nowhere more true than here in the desert Southwest. I love the variety of birds, bees, butterflies, and so forth that are attracted to my yard.

In early January I was out photographing a cloud bank rolling over the Sandia Mountains, with a storm predicted to follow it. Suddenly, a “murder” of raucous crows appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and they perched briefly in a neighbor’s tree, very close to the house, meaning no decent images. This one crow, however, stayed behind, briefly, and seemed to pose for this one image.

observer crow

The Observer, the Observed

This was at a time when my family was dealing with some bad news. In response to that, and seeing this image of the crow, Jim wrote this poem (a gift of encouragement to my family), and I asked if I could post it here.

Spontaneous Poem from a Treetop Crow

In the lofty life of a wise old crow
Swaying in the topmost backyard branches
Like a magical clock counting down mortality’s coil,
May it not be in some secret way
We the awed observers
Have all along been honored by a wiser watcher?

– Jim Stallings

To read more of Jim’s work, visit Jim Stallings: Books, at Amazon.com.

Thank you for letting my readers enjoy your poem here, Jim.


Daylight Savings Time Returns March 9

Daylight Savings Time returns to this coming Sunday, March 9, 2014. “Officially” the clocks at 2:00 am move to 3:00 am, but I certainly change mine the night before (well, usually).

Remember, it is “Spring forward. Fall back.”

Read a history of Daylight Savings Time here.

Some people prefer Standard Time. I am not one of them. I love having the longer afternoon/evening time, whether for working in the yard, photographing flowers, or photographing birds, insects, or sunsets.

I think I began to fully understand the effects of Daylight Savings Time when I began cooking with a simple solar oven. (Use the Search box for “solar” to find related posts on this blog). I generally use it from May through September. Mine is very low tech, but quite functional when used as a slow cooker for many things. If I start it heating at 9:00 am, it is warm enough to cook by 10:00 am. At 4:00 pm, regardless of outside ambient temperature, the heat in the oven drops rapidly because of the drop in UV rays from the sum. So, I basically have 6 hours to cook, from 10:00 – 4:00. This is Daylight Savings Time because it is summer. If it were Standard Time, it would be 9:00 – 3:00, or the three hours before and after Noon. Just a bit of trivia…

Preheated solar oven

Preheated solar oven

Love it or hate it, remember to “spring forward” this Sunday.


Albuquerque Rose Show, 2013

The Albuquerque Rose Show was held today, June 1, 2013.

In spite of very warm weather back in April, followed by a couple of freezing night temperatures later, people managed to pull together some nice roses and some very nice arrangements, to make a good show.

albuquerque rose show

Albuquerque Rose Show, 2013

The work of a lot of people is required to have a successful rose show. Here are some images, in no particular order, of some of the Albuquerque area people who helped to make today’s show a success. (In another post, I’ll show some of the judges for today).

Charlene Bacchus keeps the Rose Garden running, which is a year-round job. For today’s rose show, she was in charge of the classification table, making sure entries were correctly named and placed in the correct classes.

Charlene Bacchus

Charlene Bacchus

Jack Ortega was Judges’ Chairman. He and his wife Juanita are outstanding exhibitors.

Jack Ortega

Jack Ortega

Jody Ifversen took reservations for photographs; served in classification and placement for photographs; and was the blue ribbon runner for the show.

Jody Ifversen

Jody Ifversen

Beth Baker was busy helping exhibitors in the morning, and then visitors later in the day. She took out just enough time to allow me to photograph her.

Beth Baker

Beth Baker

Rose friends in the Pacific Southwest District probably know Carroll Sue Wagner quite well. She has been both a Horticulture and Arrangement Judge (now Emeritus in Arrangements), Consulting Rosarian, famed pruning lecturer at the pruning demonstrations in the spring, and is another person who worked hard on the 1998 National Convention.

Carroll Sue Wagner

Carroll Sue Wagner

Debbie Butcher did whatever needed to be done. She is also the treasurer for the Albuquerque Rose Society.

Debbie Butcher

Debbie Butcher

Pat Jeremia has become a wonderful arranger since joining the Albuquerque Rose Society. For years she worked at the shows putting extra roses into bouquets and arrangements for sale, which helped as a fundraiser for the local society. Here she is shown before the show, working on what became her award winning arrangement. She won the Princess Award for an arrangement of all fresh roses.

Pat Jeremia

Pat Jeremia

Pat Stone had been a member for some time before I joined the Albuquerque Rose Society. For those of you who remember the 1998 National Convention in Albuquerque, Pat, along with her husband Hal (“Stoney”) contributed much to that convention. Pat has worked hard every year that I have been a member.

Pat Stone

Pat Stone

These are just some of the people who helped to make the 2013 Albuquerque Rose Show a success.

In the next few days, I’ll post some images of some of the judges, and separately, some of the winning arrangements and more roses.


PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris Winner 2012

PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris Winner 2012

This is the image that was a PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris Winner 2012. ‘Lily’ was awarded a Bronze Medal (third place) in the category “Nature.”

PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris Winner 2012

PX3 Winner of the Bronze Medal in “Nature” – ‘Lily’

I was very pleased about this PX3 award for several reasons:

    The winners were chosen from thousands of entries from 85 countries;

    My mother grew this lily;

    As I was photographing this lily, my mom held things for me so I could get a “clean” image.

It is a photograph to which many memories are attached.

I have been using this image for note cards; it just seems to lend itself to that purpose. While it is available for purchase on regular photographic paper, this is an image that looks best on fine art watercolor paper. This image (and others) are available for purchase at Susan Brandt Graham Photography.

You may see all of the winning entries at PX3.

June 2012 was a very good month for me for international photography awards. My image ‘Instruments 3’ was a 2012 Black and White Spider Awards Nominee.

The winning image in the 2012 Black and White Spider Awards may be viewed here.

‘Instruments 3’ is available for purchase here.

Thanks to the jurors in both competitions for selecting my images for awards!


About the Header

The new header was taken on May 20, the day of the annular eclipse, for which Albuquerque had a prime viewing location. My mother, a friend, and I had watched from a spot which gave us an unobstructed view of the western horizon. We had our “Eclipse Shades” and were able to see the eclipse from the beginning until the still partially eclipsed sun sank below the horizon. It was at that moment that the photograph from which this header came was taken.

Blog Header © Susan Brandt Graham

Blog Header © Susan Brandt Graham
Setting sun, still partially eclipsed; view across the Rio Grande Valley from the Sandia foothills

This view from the Sandia foothills, looking across Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley to the West Mesa, gives a feel for the high desert in which those of us in Albuquerque garden. You can see the rocks, and you can almost feel the heat and dryness. Just to clarify, I love the high desert with its brilliant light. But gardening here is not like gardening in a non-desert climate.

Continue reading


Looking Back at the Year in Skies

To regular readers here, it is no surprise that I love the skies of New Mexico. As we get ready to say good-bye to 2010 and ring in 2011, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the skies, mainly from 2010 but with two from 2009.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

Prints of the skies in the slideshow are available in a variety of sizes and prices here.


Book, “The Beauty of Albuquerque, New Mexico,” Now Available

Just in time for holiday gift giving, and for those who have asked for a book with more photographs of the Albuquerque area, “The Beauty of Albuquerque, New Mexico” is now available for order. You may preview it here. Thanks for the interest you have shown in my photographs.


Autumn in the Bosque

acequeias in autumn

acequeias in autumn

Yesterday I walked in the bosque along the Rio Grande River. It was a glorious autumn afternoon. Spectacular in so many ways.
This is one of the ubiquitous acequeias, “little canals,” used along the Rio Grande for irrigation for centuries.

If you wish to purchase any of the images you see here, or to see more of Susan’s work, please visit Susan Brandt Graham Fine Art Photography.