31 August 2009

SW thumbs, day 6

More thumbs! (or) Glorieta and Pecos

Saturday was the beginning of Indian Market, Santa Fe's biggest/busiest weekend of the year (apparently closely followed by Spanish Market). Being less than fond of crowds, Matt and I opted to leave town for most of the day. Our goal was simple, just to get out of town and maybe see some birds, bugs, and burgers. Mmm, burgers.

In Glorieta, Matt and I saw large flocks of Evening Grosbeaks (a new bird for both of us) and, as posted in the Sister & Skipperlings post, the lovely Arizona Sister (and later, Russet Skipperling). The photos below give you an idea of what you're looking for when you stare at a tree long enough ;-)

Other fun finds included Brewer's Blackbird and a bluet (ID pending).

By the time we finished traipsing around Glorieta, it was most definitely time for sustenance. Matt remembered a place from his youth, Bobcat Bite. Apparently it had been a bit over a decade since he'd last sunk his teeth into their green chili cheeseburger.

While chowing on the deliciously happy burgers (their beef is about as natural as it gets, shy of still being in the pasture), we were fortunate to be seated in front of the window. The bar seats are perfect for birding - their bird bath attracted Juniper Titmouse and House Finch, but the hummingbird feeder was constantly a blur of Broad-tailed and Black-chinned Hummingbirds. Much to our surprise, there was even one adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the mix. What immediately set him apart was the short little stubby tail that was quite hidden by his wings. His gorget (throat) was a little more angular than the others, if similar in color (they all reflected the red feeder rather obviously).

After thoroughly satiating our green chili cheeseburger curiosity, we adventured off to Pecos and the fabled Monastery Lake. Fabled, because the signs kept pointing and we never thought we'd get there. Specifically, I was getting drowsy from the burger and really wanted to loiter in the shade. Eventually we found it, surrounded by signs:

Since the lake proper was surrounded by people fishing, Matt and I wandered some trails. As usual, the water was ridiculously cold and I was unable to keep my feet out of it. Water beckons me.

Otherwise, it was this stop where Matt found our Russet Skipperling, and I pestered a lovely dragonfly (ID pending). On our way back to civilization, we stopped at a crossing of the Pecos River... and you can guess whose feet got wet. Again. Must be a peculiar genetic attraction to my toes being in water. Along the road to the river, however, we stumbled upon a rather fun looking (and rather deceased) insect that quite stumps me. Suggestions are welcome!

Edit: it seems to be one of the megaloptera or plecoptera, but is missing antennae.

Upon returning home, we found that the cousinlet was being awakened from her nap. And, missing our puppy, Matt was found at the top of the stairs, snuggling with their puppy. Not a bad way to unwind after a day of wet feet and green chili adventures.

Day 7 will likely be a lot of insects, beware!

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The Moth and Me #5 is now up!

29 August 2009

SW thumbs, day 5, part 2

...day 5, part 1 last showed the coils of silver before they headed to the basement. Then it was time for heating, squeezing, more heating and adding flux so the solder would stick.

It was quite similar to observing a mad genius, except for the mad part...

After a bit more poking and prodding (read: soldering), we got to play with rings 1.0

It was enough to catch a glimpse of the final, snag-free design... but first, some cutting.

Cutting served two purposes: re-sizing and snag-proofing.

More cutting, some gentle squishing. Then back to the heat, solder, less than cooperative seams, slightly more cooperative seams...

Add a bit of buffing and here's a comparison (buffed vs. raw)

At last, both rings were reasonably cooperative, the ring-maker was convinced to polish his prototype ring, and we paused for a family portrait:

28 August 2009

SW thumbs, day 5, part 1

First, a bit of background for the rings made on day 5 of the NM adventure.

When Matt and I decided that we were still talking to each other after our nearly month-long CA to TX road trip, we thought that rings were overrated. Both of us handle birds regularly and rings snag in mist nets. Rings get attacked by birds in captivity. Rings scare birds that you're trying to catch or handle. Besides, gold is the worst thing for the environment, ever. That link -
Ethicalweddings.com - for the record, is brilliant.

It tells us, in lovely pastel shades:
1 wedding ring creates an average of 20 tonnes of toxic waste by standard mining practices. Two thirds of newly mined gold is extracted from huge open pit mines, many of which can be seen from space.
Mines usually use cyanide, mercury, arsenic and sulphuric acid in their processing; mine waste can leach into the ground and waterways.

Um, yay? Diamonds would be entirely out of the question, in spite of the Diamond Mining Environmental Fact Sheet (which has a cute ad for conflict-free diamonds and eco-friendly gold). The only conflict-free and eco-friendly diamonds and gold are what's left in the ground. Wearing dirt does seem ethical in comparison to the facts and figures...

But Matt and I are reasonable people. And while neither of us likes yellow gold, we don't find silver too bad. In fact, we're even willing to exploit labor that we know and trust. We'd be making the rings ourselves - out of paperclips - if they weren't so darn prone to rusting. Hence we found ourselves with the cousin, in his unventilated basement shop. Oh yes, silver and fire and acid. The photo above shows Matt and his "deceptively small fingers." Ring sizing was interesting because we'd been away from the humidity long enough to have slightly thinner fingers.

The Ecologist article, "Can silver ever be ethical?" lends us this:
Generally, silver comes to market as a byproduct of the industrial mining of other metals, such as copper, zinc and gold. In 2005, only 30 per cent of silver came from actual silver mines.

The silver came from an unknown source, but was purchased at Santa Fe Jewelers Supply. The labor came from our own gene pool. The cores for wrapping the wire came from a nearby toolbox. And so, we were in business.

SFJS, cousin wrapping the wire, rings and their sizing utensils, off to the basement!

Pre-basement rings looked like this:

SW thumbs, day 5, part 2 = step-by-step ring documentation