Archive for May, 2011

Grow Your Own – The Things Around The Middle

by John Weckerle

In our previous article, Grow Your Own – The Thing In The Middle, we showed the initial construction of the two-level, circular bed for vegetables and flowers, now designated as Bed 4.  Since then, we’ve completed the setup and planted the bed.

Round bed showing soaker hose

Our first photo this morning serves the purpose of illustrating the soaker hose placement.  The upper layer has a single circle of hose, while the lower – which is wider and supporting more plants – has two.  A couple of tips for working with soaker hose: 1)  leave it out in the sun for a bit to soften it up before placement, which makes it easier to work with; and 2) use some inexpensive landscape staples to hold it in place as you work your way around/through your project.  In this photo (taken May 7), a few of the colder-weather varieties are already in the ground and awaiting mulch.  Now that things have warmed up, we’ve added some of the other veggies, as shown in the second photo, taken this morning.

»» Grow Your Own – The Things Around The Middle

And I Feel Fine…

by John Weckerle

Well, the entire population of New Mexico Central headquarters, including Senior Theological Correspondent Wilson, were greatly surprised to wake up yesterday morning and find that, based on the lack of earthquakes and pitchfork-wielding revenuers, we had apparently been taken up in the Rapture.  Apparently, both computers and Internet connections are operative in Paradise, and so we are able to report to you live from the hereafter (to the extent that the phrase makes even the least bit of sense) that things up here are not too much different from what those of you down there are likely experiencing – except, of course, for the aforementioned geologic disturbances and demonic government officials. 

Now, for those of our readers who are s avoiding (for the time being) the unpleasent experience of dismemberment by goat-headed mutants, we’d like to let you know that Heaven is in many ways similar to what we were all used to in the pre-Apocalyptic age.   For one thing, there’s still wind up here – a good bit of it in fact.  Today, it was enough to eventually drive us out of the chairs on the Divine Deck.  We’re figuring there’s a reason for this, but since the welcoming committee has not yet made it by, we don’t know what it is. ? A Prairie Home Companion plays on Saturday afternoon on KANW just like at “ex-home.”   Senior Ecclesiastic Personage Wilson (elevated to a loftier title due to his elevation in – well – metaphysical status) did find himself with extra stamina for chasing The Ball, which also apparently made the salvationary cut.  So also, did the various purchased and home-sprouted vegetables, and Thine Editor didst verily plant them in the hallowed soil of Eden, which is unexplainedly pretty darned similar to that back on the home planet. 

We are also happy to report that the roads we’re used to using are still in order.  There’s at least one Costco operating in Heaven, complete with a full complement of shoppers, and we will note that the lines here are relatively short.  We’re pretty sure that there’s at least one driver who got in on a technicality, though.

For Our Out-Of-State Readers

by John Weckerle

Unfortunately, they don’t have a New Mexico operation, but for our readers in other states who may not have thought of everything in preparing for tomorrow:


Press Release: Full Closure On Mountainair Ranger District

Mountainair, NM – May 16, 2011, The Mountainair Ranger District hits Extreme Fire Danger Levels.  Fire officials have been monitoring and evaluating the current fuel moistures in anticipation for full forest closure starting this week. The criteria used for evaluating the closure includes safety and concerns for our communities, forest users, employees, firefighters and protection of our natural resources. Extremely low fuel moistures, winds, temperatures, low humidities and drying winds are factors evaluated to support full forest closure.  These factors can result in high fire danger and rapid fire growth. Additional fire resources (engines, firefighters etc.) have arrived at the Mountainair RD to support and enforce closures. Due to the increase of Fire Danger, the District will go into full closure beginning, Wednesday May 18th at 8:00am.

Signs will be placed along highways and flyers will be posted throughout the communities to remind the public that the Manzano & Gallinas Mountains are closed. The use of all campgrounds, day use picnic areas, and trails on the District will be prohibited. All National Forest System Roads on the District will be closed; State and county roads through the District will remain open.  If traveling State and county roads within the boundaries of the Mountainair District, do not stop along the roads.

The Manzano and Gallinas Mountains will remain closed to the public until sufficient precipitation is received to adequately reduce the extremely dry conditions and reduce the risk of wildfire.  To report a fire, call the 24-hour toll free number at 1-505-346-2660 or Dial 911.

For further information on the closure and the extreme fire danger, contact Adrian Padilla or Arlene Perea at 505-847-2990 or email or

We’ve Got Some ‘Round The Back

by John Weckerle

Last Friday, we decided to give the Backside Alehouse in Sandia Park a try.  Located in the A-frame structure at the intersection of NM 14, Frost Road, and the road to Sandia Peak, the restaurant and pub represents the latest enterprise to occupy a space that has held a variety of restaurants and other businesses.

We entered the establishment and were promptly seated.  The decor was eclectic, with relatively warm colors, and seats were comfortable.  One of our party thought the music was just a bit loud, but two of us did not; with the predominance of hard surfaces, it seems likely that the sounds of conversation would fill the space if the music were not there, and the music was enjoyable enough not to get in the way of discourse at the table.  Your editor ordered the carrot-ginger soup (attempting to order a cup but, alas, it comes only in bowls) and shared it with the rest of the party because, quite frankly, that is one darned big bowl of soup.  It is also one darned good bowl of soup, and that may be understating the case substantially; the Backside’s carrot ginger soup is one of the best we’ve had.  Your editor ordered the cedar plank salmon, and the other diners ordered fish and chips, chicken tenders, and fries.

Let’s start with the cedar plank salmon.  It is not clear why the dish is so named – if somebody said “I’m making cedar plank salmon,” I wouldn’t expect what I got at the Backside.  While it may have been cedar-plank grilled, there was much more to it than that.  The salmon is prepared with a delightful glaze and served atop a bed of creamy polenta with a side of vegetables, in this case green beans that were perfectly done and nicely seasoned.  The name “cedar plank salmon,” and to some extent the description in the menu, just don’t do justice to the dish.

Those of us who have been eating fish and chips for a very long time have  a certain understanding of what fish and chips are supposed to be.  In this day and age, many establishments wrap their fish in a superfluity of batter, obscuring the taste (and perhaps the size) of the fillets.  Not the Backside Alehouse.  The batter was traditional and very tasty – thick enough to be an integral part of the dish but thin enough not to overwhelm the fish.  Neither was the batter greasy.

Your editor is not usually given to commenting on French fries, but these were worth mentioning: just the right blend of crispy outside, soft-but-not-mushy inside, and again, not greasy.  I did not partake of the chicken tenders, but they were very well received by those who did.

About the only suggestion we have to offer the Backside is this: offer the soup in a cup.  You might have actually sold us a dessert if the soup had been smaller.


Priest Canyon Fire – Original Release And Update

by Arlene Perea, U.S. Forest Service Mountainair Ranger District

MOUNTAINAIR, NM., April 30, 2011- Update #2– Mountainair fire crews as well as NM State Work Camp and Southern Pueblo Agency crews worked hard on lining the Priest Canyon fire today.  Weather was a big factor in establishing a fireline around the fire as winds were lighter than originally forecast.  The 2.5 acre Priest Canyon Fire is now 80% contained.  Crews will continue work until sundown in this steep, rocky area, then resume mop-up in the morning.

For further information please contact the Mountainair Ranger District at 505-847-2990.

MOUNTAINAIR, NM., April 30, 2011– Mountainair Ranger District Employees are currently suppressing a fire on and around the Pine Shadows Trail in the Manzano Mountain Wilderness on the southern end of the Manzano Mountains.  The Priest Canyon fire was reported late last night by Torrance County Dispatch.  Torreon Volunteer Fire Department monitored the fire overnight while crews mobilized for the early morning hike.  The fire is currently approximately 2 acres with creeping and occasional single tree torching fire behavior observed.

There are currently 2 engine modules (8 firefighters) on scene from the Mountainair Ranger District with 1 Type 2 hand crew, 1 NM State Forestry Inmate Work Camp Crew and 1 Type 1 Incident Hot Shot crew on order or in route.  Air resources are currently on stand-by to respond if needed.  The cause of this fire is undetermined at this time but will be investigated.

For further information please contact the Mountainair Ranger District at 505-847-2990.