American Flag


You went to war,
at seventeen,
boarding a Navy ship
to unknown waters,
tearful and fearful,
yet brave for all that,
knowing not
what to expect,
but ready
– you prayed –
for what lay ahead.
You spoke only once
of the horror you saw,
but you lived it
in moments quiet,
when you withdrew
to think about
what you’d been through.
Grieving and baffled,
by innocence lost,
you served with pride,
to keep freedom alive.

In tribute to my father, Tommy Conkle, who proudly served in the U.S. Navy during WWI.

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Homeward Bound

Yellow Roses

Hat and yellow roses
on a bale of hay,
handmade cards on a table
ready to be signed and sent.
Homeward bound,
their work is done.

A small tribute to our friends, Kathy and Fred Allen.
Passed from this life into the next, February 21, 2020


Sharon VI am so psyched! For the past several months I’ve been dragging my fanny, and it isn’t funny! I’m so not the sit-on-my-bum kind of person. As a writer, I have options most people don’t have:

  • I can work where I want.
  • I can work when I want.
  • Inspiration is a window, not a door.
  • I can take on clients to write for, or I can get creative with my own writing.
  • I’ve been working from home before it was a thing.

I could easily attribute my lack of productivity to life events that sort of stopped me in my tracks, not the least of which is the mad virus that has brought the world to a stuttering halt. That’s BS, a big BULL and big load of SPIT!

My method of handling life is to write about it, in my journal (which no one will ever see), and through poetry, fiction and essays. Some get publish; most do not.

Why am I psyched? I did a website redesign, or more truthfully, erased a lot of color giving it a cleaner and crisper look. Why does that get me going? This sort of comes under the heading of what COVID-19 has taught me.

  1. Like my website, I live with unnecessary clutter, yet fill my days with procrastination and guilt. The wouda-coulda-shoulda syndrome. I’m over it. One day at a time.
  2. I tend to equate busyness with productivity. So not true! In future, I hope to have the good sense to ‘finish’ one thing rather than half-assing five.
  3. I’m a more social person than I realized. I miss seeing friends and – really, folks – ZOOM is a crappy substitute.
  4. Hugging is healing. Virtual hugs are wonderful, but there is no substitute for a hug from a friend.
  5. When it comes to the virus and the future, nobody has ‘the’ answer. There are too many variables.

My daily prayer is that my friends in small businesses can survive and thrive and that the virus dies out, never to return.

So, why am I psyched? Because there is no alternative. Living in limbo waiting for the next alarming news report is a sad waste of time. I choose to count today as the best opportunity to be… well, me. And, yes, I am ever the optimist.

What COVID-19 has taught me more than anything is to live each day as best you can. We’ve lost so many to this breath-stealing monster. Don’t let fear rob you of the best life you can live, now.

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This was originally written as a short story. It is recreated here as a prose poem. For every dreamer who wants to fly.


She stood on the very peak of the roof,
finding it not at all odd to be there.
She couldn’t wait
to ride the wind.
It was wonderful. Beautiful.
The sky dark indigo,
dotted wildly
with brilliant stars.
Fear did not touch her.
So much to feel!
A warm breeze fluffed her hair.
A kiss of fragrance,
the honeysuckle vine at the corner.
In this moment, she was sun and moon,
no one to tell her what to do
or how to do it
or when to do it.
She was the power of now,
calm and assured,
not at all like her real self,
fear-filled, tender of heart,
shy, leggy and thin, no one special.
She shook away the thoughts.
Let there be no intrusion.
Peace. Quiet.
Her heartbeat accelerated!
What brought about the change
sweeping over her!
Her victory over mediocrity,
snatched away, robbing her of serenity.
Tranquility fled.
Her heart raced!
The moaning wind
whipped her hair
around her angular face;
it pressed her gown
against her legs.
“Jump,” the wind said. “Jump!”
“I can’t! I can’t!”
“Jump, jump, jump,” the wind wailed.
“I can’t! I can’t!”
“You can, you must!
You cannot know who you are until you try!”
She leaned into the wind and jumped
taking in the arc of the sky,
the distant horizon.
The wind caught the sleeves of her gown,
lifted her gently, softened her descent.
She awoke, safely in her bed,
but the words echoed in her mind:
You cannot know who you are
until you try.
For the girl,
it was the beginning
of who she would become.

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Truth be told

More from the April Writer’s Digest challenge, the brain child of Robert Lee Brewer, a WD editor and blogger at Poetic Asides. The first of these is personal, based on the prompt to write an ekphrastic poem, a poem inspired by a work of art – photograph, sculpture, or some other creation. Words of Art is based on a wooden wall hanging given to me by Kathy Allen for my birthday last year.

Kathy Gift 1








“a good friend
knows all of
your stories,
a best friend
helped you write them.”
So reads the wooden wall hanging
given to me by a dear friend
for my seventy-fifth birthday.
On the backside she wrote,
“We’ve made many stories
during our 55 years
(and counting)
of friendship.
Let’s write more!”

Eight months later
she and her husband were gone.
A terrible accident,
one that took two amazing
people and the stories we
– and they –
would write.
They went from this life
to the most profound
adventure of them all.
Yet, I grieve still.
They were and are a part of my heart.
This crafty wooden work of art
carries wisdom and memories in equal measure.
Take no moment for granted.
Treasure those you love.


Change is a coin,
a thought,
a mind,
an idea,
a life.

Change suggests
being other
than we are now,
influenced by
truths and lies.

Being other
than who you are
right now,
can be better,
or worse,
an improvement,
or cataclysmic devastation.

Who decides if
you will be other
than who you are today?

Surround yourself
with people who
challenge you
yet give you encouragement.
it is the melding of the two
that makes being other,
be you.


If the missive is massive
the meat of the message
may get lost in translation.
Massive experience forms
intellectual confidence…
or does it form massive
pride and disregard for
opposite opinions?
When you communicate,
keep it simple
(not dumbed down)
but understandable,
relatable, perhaps
a touch compassionate.
A few words well said
may make a massive,
life-changing difference
to someone in need
of a voice whispering
in the light.

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Poetry in Notion

Apple Blossoms


Give me space!
I have no place
in life’s maddening race,
where I exist, by God’s grace,
yet hunger to see a familiar face
as distancing makes its case,
to be masked with haste!
To ward away the virus’ pace,
advancing, advancing! Lives laid waste…


One candle, one light
sputtering and stuttering.
Winds of change cannot,
will not smother its glow.
The light of truth
grows brighter
overshadowing the darkness of lies.



How will what I do in this moment
give hope and help to someone else,
so they know the hellish world of today
will not always be this way?

For something more, my heart yearns.

Make this New World, when it begins,
one full of kindness and comfort,
love, one for another, rippling, flowing
as toward the future we are going.

We ask for ‘normal’ to return.

For something more my heart yearns,
a New World where words of care
are backed up by action taken,
the status quo shaken, shaken.

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April PAD Challenge

RoseI’m belatedly taking part in the Writer’s Digest April Poem a Day Challenge. Below are three new works. Enjoy.


Life at its best is quirky for you,
and at its worst, it’s quirky too;
you start with one thing in your head,
and life throws you a spanner instead!
A monkey wrench, if you will,
a quirk to give you a chill
taking over your plan for the day
in an annoyingly unexpected way.
Or… it brings a new quest
that shows you at your amazing best.
The outcome of quirks are up to us,
Disasters or adventures, no need to fuss.
Make the best of life’s quirks;
find in yourself what really works.



You asked me to dance.
I said, NO! Not a chance.
There are many things I’d like to do,
one of them is to NOT dance with you.
Why, you may ask,
am I not up to the task?
You are an elephant; I’m a giraffe
everyone would look at us and laugh!
This social dialogue ends with a grin,
animals talking, it’s my poetic whim.



In the way of life on the dusty road,
it turns and twists, wanders here and there,
gives rise to questions without answers.
The chatter of dissenting voices mirrors the road,
turning and twisting, giving rise to answers for questions unasked.
The road bends and dips, throwing life onto a battered field,
knocking it cold but for the hot tears that stream from life.
What is that shooting up from the ground
where salty tears touched the soil?
It is a flowering vine, that quickly grows,
turning the field into a meadow,
lush and abounding with life.
Life shakes off despair and sets off once again
to wander on the crooked road.

More later this week. Please let me know what you think. Like, comment, share.

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When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified. Matthew 27:31 NLT

The Hill

I don’t like to think of the crucifixion, but then, who does? It brings up a lot of questions, not the least of which is, “Why would a loving God allow such a heinous injustice to a sinless man, his own son, at that? The Trinity is as inexplicable as it is Holy and essential. God suffered on our behalf through his human/divine self, his beloved son. We don’t get it; we never will. God “got it” that we needed saving grace and provided a means by which we could and do achieve redemption. God saw the road ahead and – I believe – wept at his Son’s suffering. I believe the Holy Spirit watched with tears streaming. Jesus. His agony laid the ground work; resurrection planted the garden of universal grace. I am not a theologian, but this is what I believe after a lifetime of trusting God.

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Have a laugh…

I confess, I outright plagiarized this from another source, but it had been forwarded and reposted so many times, it’s impossible to identify who wrote the original. With gratitude to my friend Sharon Caballero for sending it to me, I pass it along to raise your spirits.


When this is over –
• Half of us are going to come out of this quarantine as amazing cooks. The other half will come out with a drinking problem.

• I used to spin that toilet paper like I was on Wheel of Fortune. Now I turn it like I’m cracking a safe.

• I need to practice social distancing from the refrigerator.

• Still haven’t decided where to go for Easter, the Living Room or The Bedroom

• PSA: Every few days try your jeans on just to make sure they fit. Pajamas will have you believe all is well in the kingdom.

• Homeschooling is going well. Two students suspended for fighting and one teacher fired for drinking on the job.

• I don’t think anyone expected that when we changed the clocks, we’d go from Standard Time to the Twilight Zone

• This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her cat. It was obvious she thought her cat understood her. I came into my house, told my dog; we laughed a lot.

• So, after this quarantine, will the producers of My 600 Pound Life just find me or do I find them?

• Quarantine Day 5: Went to this restaurant called THE KITCHEN. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have no clue how this place is still in business.

• My body has absorbed so much soap and disinfectant lately that when I pee it cleans the toilet.

• Day 5 of Homeschooling: One of these little monsters called in a bomb threat.

• I’m so excited; it’s time to take out the garbage. What should I wear?

• I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to Puerto Backyarda. I’m getting tired of Los Livingroom.

• Classified Ad: Single man with toilet paper seeks woman with hand sanitizer for good clean fun.

• Day 6 of Homeschooling: My child just said “I hope I don’t have the same teacher next year.” I’m offended.

Better 6 feet apart than 6 feet under

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Easter Prayer

Stock Photography - Easter Lily Close Up

There can be no safer place to be
than in the certainty of God’s love.
Every bumpy, curvy road
can be made straight
by this assurance:
God’s love and protection
are always present.
Problems don’t disappear;
our ability to manage them
is strengthened in the light of his promise
to be with us always.

Christ lived that we might live.
Christ died that we would be saved.
Christ arose that we might have hope.

God knows our need;
God gives us tools
to be wise and courageous
in the most difficult of times.
He does not forget us
when we are less than faithful.
He waits for us to return to the rock of his refuge.

Thank you, God, for your presence.
In times of uncertainty,
relieve our anxiety,
give us strength and courage day-by-day.

– Amen

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go. Psalm 71:3




Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Psalm 95:6

We are blessed. We are loved. We are protected. God with us isn’t a sometimes thing; it is an all the time thing. As people of faith, we can trust in the Lord, which is all the more reason to have faith in tough times. This, too, shall pass, isn’t a sugar pill; it is hope, which sustains us in difficult times. Yes, bad things do happen; that is the way of the world. We are stronger together than we are apart, whether that distance is six feet in public settings or staying home. Connect with others in the ways you can; it will keep you moving forward when it feels like the world has come to a screeching halt.

Life may be more complicated for a while, but it will go on. The Las Vegas-San Miguel Chamber of Commerce has links to important information about COVID-19 and local restaurants serving take out. Call to order your favorite meal from your favorite eatery.

My prayer in the days ahead is for friends, family and neighbors to be strong and healthy and for our business community to survive and thrive. Be safe.



Good neighbors

So, encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Helping HandsCOVID-19 has everything topsy turvy. Encouraging each other is a must. There is much misinformation, scamming, and discouragement, but that is not who we are; that is not who God made us to be. What can each of us do to make life better for someone else? All that toilet paper you bought? Take some of it to a homeless shelter or other distribution center where it can be given to people who can’t even buy ONE roll of toilet paper, much less a case. Contribute to food pantries. Buy gift cards from your favorite restaurants so cash flow isn’t too hard-hit in this time of craziness. If you eat out frequently but hesitate to go out now, call and find out if you can get take out or if the restaurant will deliver. If you can provide child care for working moms and dads so they don’t miss work, offer your services. Volunteer to be a personal shopper for people who can’t get out. This is a very short list of all the opportunities out there. What can you do?

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Devotional Art at Ray Drew Gallery


Retablo by Geraldine Silva

Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University presents its annual Northern New Mexico Devotional Art exhibition Feb. 26 through April 3 in the Ray Drew Gallery in Donnelly Library at 802 National Ave.

The opening artists reception is March 6 from 4 to 6 p.m.

“Northern New Mexico devotional art is artistic expression that reflects Hispano culture and religious history through two-dimensional and three-dimensional images,” said Karlene Gonzales, the Ray Drew gallery curator. “This style of art is unique since it is driven by faith and belief in unseen forces of a higher power that influence how many people live their lives.”

Gonzales said most of the images in the exhibition are spiritual in nature and are influenced by the Spanish Colonial traditional style including images of Christ, the Virgin Mary and patron saints.

“The artists have a spiritual connection based on beliefs and passion which transcends from the heart through the hand to communicate from the soul to a symbolic artful object. Many artists are so close to the craft that their art is created in the traditional way using elements from nature and the land,” Gonzales said.

She said that historically this type of devotional art was created for churches or personal altars, but ultimately was motivated by the spiritual energy of its creator.

“This art form has survived through the history of Northern New Mexico since the 1700s because it is passed from generation to generation. The Cruz Flores and Adrian Montoya families are great examples of this tradition. In this exhibition, we have two generations of art displayed from both families. Devotional art is very strong within Hispano culture and is also appreciated across other cultures,” Gonzales said.

There are 11 artists represented in the devotional art exhibition this year.

“It is an honor to share this art because the art created is produced by practicing devotional artists in Northern New Mexico. The exhibition offers a diverse representation of styles and interpretations from traditional art using natural materials such as wood to contemporary media that project a certain image of divine emotion or belief from its creator,” Gonzales said.

 Gonzales said the exhibition features everything from tin work to paintings, sculptures and retablos, traditional devotional images painted on flat wood cut or carved by the artist.

The hours for the Ray Drew Gallery are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Article by Margaret McKinney, NMHU Office of University relations


Roaring ’20, Rotary Style

Tickets for this event are going fast, a party you won’t want to miss! On Saturday, April 4, beginning at 5 p.m., help Rotary of Las Vegas celebrate its 100 years of serving the community through youth and other projects locally, and globally through polio eradication, safe water in developing countries and others world-changing activities one village, one person at a time. Call the number on the poster for tickets, or contact me directly through my email Tickets are $60 per person and worth every penny. A delicious meal prepared by food services at the United World College, dancing to Contrafact, a live auction, and a few surprises. If you are interested in being a sponsor, see details below the poster.


Recreate the Roaring 20s in your own style

Sponsorship Levels Amount Dinner Tickets (normally $60 each)
Premiere $2,500 10 tickets
Gold $1,000   4
Silver $   500   2

Your contribution will help support community activities. Thank you for your support!

Our projects include:

  • Head Start coats & shoes for kids
  • Support of music & other arts in the schools
  • The Gallinas River Park
  • Academic and leadership scholarships
  • Vatos Rugby Club
  • Books for Kids
  • International projects like Polio Eradication
  • Other local community projects

Contact if you are interested in being a sponsor of this amazing event at any of the above sponsorship levels. Rotary continues to be effective through the support of donors, contributors and supporters of fundraising events like these. Thanks for your consideration.

Click Rotary Sponsorship Request for a printable version of the sponsorship form.

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A Rooster Tale

RoosterWhen I was a kid, we lived in a trailer house on my grandparents’ place. They had a farm with requisite chicken coop, cows, and garden. It was also the residence of the meanest rooster God ever created. It had wild red eyes that glowed in the dark, sleek reddish-brown and dark green feathers, oily with evil.

I hated that bird and was thoroughly terrified of him.

I was about five when the rooster from hell crossed my path for the first time. My brother was six. To this day I believe that rooster lurked in the yard, waiting for my brother or me to come outside. He was a sneaky creature, full of cunning.

Seventy-plus years have not dimmed my memory of the terror I felt the first time that cannonball of pure wickedness homed in on me. All I could do was stand there and scream my head off. Fortunately someone, probably my grandmother, came into the yard and scooped him up before he could fly into my face and peck my eyes out! Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I swear I can still smell that bird’s chicken yard breath!

For days afterward I wouldn’t leave the safe haven of our house. My parents had little patience with slackers, and threatened me with dire consequences if I didn’t do my chores, which meant at some point, going outside.

With quivering, wet-noodle legs barely holding me up and a belly watery with anxiety, I opened the door carefully, scanned the yard to see if the evil one was anywhere around, then stepped outside, watchful and alert. About the time I started feeling easy in my mind, that foul fowl came cartwheeling right at me, a flurry of feathers churning up dust. An awful squawk raised the hair on my arms and neck. After one breathless second of terror I was off like a shot heading up the steps to the house screaming, “ Mama, Mama, Mama!”

My mother hated that bird almost as much as I did, but she wasn’t afraid of him. She hauled out the broom and went after him with a vengeance. “Shoo, shoo! Out of here or it’s into the pot for you!”

My father didn’t hate the rooster, but he didn’t like the fact that my brother and I were terrorized by something with feathers. Dad told us to yell or throw rocks at the rooster to scare it off. “You’re bigger than that bird, don’t let him scare you.”

As I recall, I wasn’t bigger. In my mind I was about the same size and I didn’t have spurs.

Nevertheless, with my father’s words as a motivator I made up my mind, no crummy chicken-legged piece of poultry was going to keep me prisoner in my own house. My brother and I started carrying a stick or a broom with us when we were outside. The yard became a battlefield, one we defended resolutely, usually with me standing behind my brother as he did battle for both of us, until one night something got into the hen house and the rooster met its end. I’ve always suspected my dad had a hand in that, but maybe not. Dad insisted it was a fox.

That rooster, as much as I despised him, and my father’s insistence that we couldn’t let a silly bird whup us, taught me a lot about not allowing fear to rule my life.

In 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in a speech to Congress:

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want – which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings, which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear – which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world.”

There are a lot of roosters in the world, stirring up hatred and violence in every barnyard around the globe. Freedom from fear is something we lack in this anxiety-filled world. We’re afraid to speak out; we’re afraid not to speak out. We’re afraid we won’t have enough money to live. We’re afraid of terrorism – domestic and global. We’re afraid of illness. We’re afraid of death. We’re afraid nobody will like us. We’re afraid we won’t or can’t live up to the expectations of others. We’re afraid to marry. We’re afraid not to marry. We’re afraid our leaders are dolts. We’re afraid our homes are vulnerable to thieves. We’re afraid we are vulnerable to violence. We’re afraid of millions of problems that can arise in an instant over which we have absolutely no control.

The good news is that we have at our disposal two weapons to overcome that fear, much like the stick and the broom we used to defend ourselves against that wild-eyed rooster. We have courage and vision. It begins with courage based on wisdom and discernment, and is under-girded by a vision of ourselves as winners, not victims. Courage gives us confidence, vision gives us possibilities.

Be courageous and visionary. Don’t let the roosters win.


 Updated and reprinted from an opinion piece written by me in the Hermit’s Peak Gazette in January 1999. Given the state of the world, this seems as relevant today as the day I wrote it 20 years ago. Interestingly the words of President Roosevelt from 1941 resonate as well.

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Binging on streaming

NetflixI did something I swore I would never do. I’ve signed up for Netflix. I know. My dirty little secret, a secret no more.

Why did I put it off for so long?


We’re already paying for cable (too much); why on earth pay extra to get mostly old content? I mean really, how silly is that? Besides, my husband is not a fan of movies or TV series.

Anyway, with dozens of channels, I was finding less and less that was fit to watch on cable. You can only sit through so many versions of Pickers or ID True Crime, or reruns of Raymond and Big Bang. Big Footdocumentaries’? Not no, but hell no! The weirdness of superhero shows and zombies turns me off. I could go on, but you have your list and I have mine.

When it comes to the big three – ABC, CBS and NBC – don’t get me started.

The second reason I avoided Netflix and its’ like, is – I know me. I fixate and am therefore prone to binge watching. Not good. Not good at all. So far (with my free 30-day subscription) I’ve binged Lost in Space, Longmire, and Sherlock.

I rather enjoyed the Lost in Space 2018 version, which bears NO resemblance to the campy 1965 version. Yes, I watched it back the day. I watched all 20 episodes of the new series and was a bit disappointed with the ending. Will there be more? Are there more and I missed them? Does anyone care?

Longmire. Need I say more? I had been following the series, originally on A&E, and when it went to Netflix I was royally ticked! I refused the temptation to subscribe to the streaming service (then $9 +/-, I believe) just to watch a TV show! And then time passed and, what the heck, why not? The premium service is now $15.99 – free for 30 days).

Let it be said, I am a fan of the Longmire novels by Craig Johnson. I have all the books up to An Obvious Fact, many of them signed by the author when he made a visit to Las Vegas years ago. I am a reader and the experience of connecting imagination with the written word is magical to me.

So, the TV version. I liked it for different reasons, mostly because it tickles me to watch the scenes filmed in Las Vegas (NM for those who might not know there is a Las Vegas, New Mexico), and there were lots and lots of them. I also liked the actors Robert Taylor and Lou Diamond Phillips, cast as Longmire and Standing Bear. Never been a fan of Katie Sackoff, so less impressed with her. Cady Longmire was well-played by Cassidy Freeman. What I missed in the TV series was Dog, the mysticism of Native American practices, and a degree of gritty stoicism on the part of Walt. It’s there, but not as strongly as in the books. Anyway. Binge watched the last three seasons; had already watched the first three on A&E.

Sherlock wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, although I am a Benedict Cumberbatch fan. I think it ran for three seasons and I watched all the shows. I’m a long-time Holmesian (if there is such a word), and find his methods and quirky yet precise madness entertaining. The friendship and interaction between Holmes and Watson reveals a complicated but rock-solid relationship. The series captured that rather well in this modern-day version filmed against the backdrop of 21st Century London.

I’m forcing myself to curb my binging so I get real work done, but sometimes the most relaxing thing for me is to read or to watch a show from beginning to end in one sitting. Netflix does produce original content, but I haven’t gotten hooked on anything yet, although I’m tipping my toe into Virgin River. I’ve read Robyn Carr’s novels and confess, so far, I like the Netflix version as much, if not better, than the books.

So, there you have it, my nuttiness in a nutshell. I’ve given in to the lure of streaming and am enjoying the heck out of it!

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I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

LightJesus didn’t show up out of the blue, and nothing about his time on earth was a cake walk. These cliché observations reflect random acts and living the high life. Christ came – and comes – at just the right time so we, frail and flawed humans, may live abundantly. Not next week, next year or when we get to Heaven, but now. So, what does that word “abundant” mean? Not being a theologian, I don’t recommend taking my thoughts as gospel, but I think it means making the most of who you are, where you are and what you are doing right now. You can never know what a difference you make by speaking a kind word, smiling instead of frowning, sharing instead of hoarding, laughing instead of crying, being faithful and having faith in the face of doubt.  Live abundantly and pass it on.

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Opportunity knocks

Please Note: This information is taken from a Regional Development Corporation mailing sent out 2/12/20. Attend a regional meeting to learn best practices for submitting an application.

TEAM Fund Call for Applications Now Open

Old WoodThe Regional Development Corporation’s Technology and Manufacturing Fund (TEAM) is a no-interest loan fund available to technology-based and manufacturing companies. The fund supports growth-oriented companies who are on track to add jobs, grow revenues, and attract additional funding/investment. These companies have already secured, or have a way to secure, one half of the funding needed from other sources. Companies selected for this award do not give up any equity by accepting funding, and are not required to provide collateral or a personal guarantee.

The call for applications for the TEAM fund is now open, and the deadline to apply is March 13, 2020. To determine whether your business qualifies and learn how to put in the best possible application, plan on attending one of the upcoming free information sessions at a location near you:

Taos | Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020
5:30 pm
Taos TEN Meeting
Old Martina’s Hall
4140 Hwy 68, Rancho de Taos, NM

Santa Fe | Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020
10 am – 11:30 am            
Santa Fe Business Incubator
3900 Paseo del Sol Santa Fe, NM 87507
Please register for the Santa Fe session here

Mora / Las Vegas | Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020
10 am – 11:30 am
Media Visual Arts Building
Luna Community College, 336 Luna Drive, Las Vegas, NM

Los Alamos | Thursday, February 27, 2020
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
150 Central Park Square, Los Alamos, NM

Rio Rancho/Sandoval County | Tuesday, March 3
11 am – 12:30 pm
FatPipe Rio Rancho
333 NM-528, Suite LL-100, Rio Rancho, NM
Note: Business located in Sandoval County are eligible to apply; those located in Bernalillo County are not

The Regional Development Corporation (RDC) is a private non-profit 501(c) 3 organization dedicated to improving economic development in Northern New Mexico. The RDC provides private investment opportunities and technical assistance to facilitate job growth and diversify the economies of communities in the following seven counties: Los Alamos, Mora, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Taos, and the municipalities and Native American Pueblos therein.

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Oscar winners featured


From Ron Maltase, artistic director of Meadow City Academy of Music

The Shades of Indigo Film Series will feature two movies in February. The series continues to show select movies for Las Vegans, and is a collaboration between the Indigo Theater and Meadow City Academy of Music. Tickets are $10 for each movie and are available at the door. Please note that the schedule has changed from the previous announcement. Correct times are listed below.

Parasite (2019) Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 12 and 13 at 5 p.m. Nominated for 6 academy awards, including best picture and best director. Drama, rated R, 132 minutes, in Korean with subtitles.


Casablanca (1942) Friday, Feb. 14 at 5:15 p.m.
Casablanca won three Academy Awards: for best picture, director, and writing (screenplay). Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains were also nominated for best actor and supporting actor.


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This little light

Something for you Sunday…

Shadow Dance

Shadow Trees

Spindly and bare,
trees striped and spare,
look at them dance
and boldly prance
in shadows that flow
across fields of snow.

Spindly and bare
trees striped and spare,
Beautifully arrayed
this woody brigade,
rooted yet wild
like a sturdy child.

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Broken Life





Pain is plain,
a heart’s wretched stain
that weeps in the night
when hope takes flight.
Grieve as you must
for love withered to dust,
let go of your grief,
find release.
You’ve done your best,
lay your pain to rest,
you cannot repair
someone else’s despair.
Pray, pray for a better day,
for your loved one to find his way
from cracked and broken
to hope and peace re-awoken.

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Fear Not

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Day by day

In Genesis 37, we read the story of family treachery. The coat of many colors was tainted with blood. Jacob was convinced it was the blood of his beloved son, Joseph.

Though much loved by his father, Joseph was resented by his brothers. Relationships sink or swim on as little as this. None of them could predict what God could and would do with this act of betrayal. It is a reminder of how important it is to be absolutely certain that God’s plan is greater – and more intricately connected to end results – than anything we can do. Trust in the Lord. Be strong under fire. Make the most of who you are. God has promised to be with you, even when those around you sell you out, life hands you bitter gall instead of ambrosia, health fails, and trouble bubbles. You are stronger than you think, not because of who you are, but because of who God is.

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I believe

PrayerNow faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

I believe. I believe despite anything that tries to erode my belief. Life happens, not always in the way I want it to. Humans build elaborate castles of expectation and dream impossible dreams, but in the end we do not know what will happen or how we will react. As a woman of faith, I build upon the foundation of God’s love so when things go sour – and in the world they will and do – I am grounded on the sure promise of God’s presence. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NIV Joshua 1:9) God knows the road ahead; I do not. Whether I ride on a wave of success, or am in the throes of distress, I have the certainty of this: God is with me through everything.

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January 1, guilts many of us into making resolutions. I’m not much into assigning myself tasks I’m unlikely to fulfill, but it’s become part of our national tradition to think about all the things that are wrong with us and then figure out ways to fix those flaws in the next 12 months.

This is the way I see it, five ways times two, to a better you.

Five reasons not to feel guilty your resolutions have crashed and burned

Even if you don’t keep your resolutions, you benefit from having made them. Resolutions are practical decisions intended to make you a better you, which takes a positive mindset. Studies show that a positive attitude improves your outlook and your disposition, which does indeed, make you a better you.

It’s probably something that made you feel bad about yourself anyway. Resolutions to quit this bad habit or that bad habit throw you into a negative mode from the get-go. The day to start a healthier lifestyle isn’t Jan. 1; it’s any day you are empowered to make positive changes.

You’re not alone. A 2019 U.S. News & World Report report indicated an 80 percent failure rate among those who made resolutions, with most respondents losing their resolve by mid-February, if not sooner. The trick, if you must make a resolution, is to keep it simple, doable and with a short shelf life. “I’m going to clean my dresser, one drawer at a time, over six days,” (six drawers, six days; get it?) is more doable than, “I’m going to walk five miles every day.” I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Making a resolution gives you something to think about. So, you didn’t make or keep a resolution. So what? It made you think about changes you can make at any time to improve your health or some other aspect of your life. That is something to feel good about.

If you don’t make a resolution, you don’t have to feel bad when you don’t keep it. Guilt is a terrible motivator. It makes you cranky and resentful and dribbles salt into your wounded ego when you don’t achieve the often impossible goals you set.

Tackle self-improvement in a more holistic and creative way that avoids negativity and makes life better for you and those around you.

Five healthy habits to make your life better without the messy guilt of not keeping a resolution

If you smoke, quit. There has never been a scientific study that says smoking is in any way good for you. As a former smoker I can say categorically it is the worst thing you can do to your body. And vaping? Good grief. It is not a safe substitute.

Walk regularly, no excuses. Walking is good cardio, gets you out in the sunlight, creates opportunities for you to interact with other people, limbers you up, improves mood, boosts your energy, burns calories and contributes to creativity.

Call a friend and just chat. Friends are the family we create for ourselves. Good friends help bolster your sense of purpose and lift you up when you’re down. They listen without judgment and help you keep life in perspective. They are a shoulder to cry on and the ones who get it when you’re laughing about something that makes no sense to anyone but the two of you. These are inexplicable relationships you can’t do without.

Laugh every chance you get. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Align yourself with people who know what it means to bust loose with a guffaw, a giggle, a snort. People who laugh with babies and those who wipe tears from their eyes from laughing so hard at a well-told tale are among my favorite people. Know and respect the difference between laughing with others, not at them.

Become involved in a project or organization. Studies have shown that people who have a purpose are the happiest and most fulfilled. Every organization needs participants, members and volunteers. Lend your skills to a worthwhile cause and reap the benefits of better health and building relationships.

So, there you have it. Think about what you can do and have done, not necessarily to improve yourself, but to make the world around you a better place. That alone makes you better today than you were yesterday, and there is a ripple affect; it has a lasting impact.

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She said is a new series of posts, a collection of lifestyle articles that will cover an array of topics. The posts come under the topic of She said because – although I will cull information from experts – I am not an expert. So She said is my take on life, supported by information I’ve gleaned from a variety of sources. And sometimes it’s just my opinion.

Here are links to previous posts that in future will come under the She said category.

I would be interested in what you think. Please comment or like or share. And if you happen upon this post and aren’t currently a follower, I hope you will become one. Readership is the lifeblood of content producers like me.

Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares and comments are welcomed and hugely appreciated.

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She said…

Thomas L. FriedmanSo, you think life is moving too fast?

Guess what? It is. I just started reading Thomas L. Friedman’s 2016 book, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration. I’m hardly prepared to comment on the entirety of the book, because I’m just in the second chapter, but Friedman grabbed my attention early on, with this statement:

“It’s no surprise so many people feel fearful or unmoored these days. … I will argue that we are living through one of the greatest inflection points in history—perhaps unequaled since Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, a German blacksmith and printer, launched the printing revolution in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation. The three largest forces on the planet—technology, globalization, and climate change—are all accelerating at once. As a result, so many aspects of our societies, workplaces, and geopolitics are being reshaped and need to be reimagined.”

Does that make the world and its chaos a little more understandable, if not manageable?

Think about the life you are living today with instant access to just about everything, thanks to technology. What about globalization and its impact on national and international policy, the economy and social interaction? Climate change incites heated debate, less about how to deal with it, but whether it exists at all. And it’s all happening at the same time at an ever-increasing pace.

Is political chaos, violence, terrorist threats – domestic and global – economic uncertainty, fear, and general unrest attributable to these rapidly accelerating factors? I haven’t done the research, but just by observation, I would respond with a resounding, yes!

The most influential of these three factors (for good or ill) is perhaps technology and our easy access to information. We have hardly absorbed one change when we are bombarded with information about not one but multiples of change in areas over which we have little or no influence. We are barely able to take in reports of one horror or disaster, before we see on our phones yet another. We can’t catch our breath between one new bit of flashy tech and the next. Do we even know the lasting impact of globalization? Climate change isn’t just a political debate; it is an earth-changing behemoth.

This is not seeming to me to be a book that leads to optimism, yet I get it that we must not ignore what is going on around us. We need to learn more and understand more if we are to survive, much less thrive, as a species.

Change, it would seem, no longer comes as a process; it’s more of a bulldozer. If you can’t adapt, you get run over. The reality check for most of us is that we are looking the other way, trying to pretend we can go back to “a simpler time.” We can’t go backward, but I believe we can go forward with deliberation and intention.

The acceleration of technology, globalization, and climate change is already reshaping society – the world, if you will. At one time, big change happened in a bit of a vacuum, rippling into mainstream society over time. Years, even decades could pass before the general population knew about a major innovation, like the aforementioned printing press. Can humankind reimagine and thrive amid supersonic changes? I have about 400 more pages to learn what Friedman thinks, but this is what I think: We can’t control the world; we can control how we live in the world. I guess that makes me an optimist.

–Sharon Vander Meer

For more about Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration, by Thomas L. Friedman, go to

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I thought hard about the poem I’d write
as 2020 barrels toward me
and decided it didn’t matter
because life in the next 365 days
is something over which I have zero control.

I pray to be healthy and for my husband
and other loved ones to be healthy, too.
But that goes without saying,
does it not?
What do I want 2020 to look like,
in a perfect world, one where everything
– and I do mean EVERYTHING –
goes my way?

Family relationships will be reformed and strengthened.
The work I labor at
will go viral (in a good way) and I will become
the it author of the next decade.
So my personal aspirations are smallish.

On the world stage I would hope for
peace and well being for all,
a world where respect and civility
overcomes hate and violence,
a world in which war is a thing of the past,
and kindness determines the course of human affairs.

In my perfect 2020, I would
– listen more and talk less,
write more and talk less,
do more and talk less,
volunteer more and talk less,
be kind more and talk less,
laugh more and talk less.

I’m not about making resolutions;
I never keep them.
I can’t give sage advice;
my life is its own kind of mess,
so I’m in no position to tell you how to live yours.
Sanctimonious pontificating is a drug I don’t want to get hooked on.

What do I want 2020 to hold?
With anticipation I pray it will be one happy surprise after another,
and when there is sadness thrown into the mix,
I pray for the faith and strength to get through it;
– whatever it may be.
And as co-members of this thing we call the human family –
I pray the same for you.

Happy New Year – 2020

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Print advertising a thing of the past?

Print has a nearly 80 percent response rate; digital still plays second fiddle to visual call-to-action advertising in print media.

In the digital age, there is a perception that if you put your business offering up on Facebook or other social media, that’s enough. While social media is an important part of getting your customer’s attention, it is only part of the mix. Although it is “free” in the sense that posting doesn’t cost you much more than time, it is transitory at best and the number of people who will see that post is based largely on who’s on line at any given time.

Fido DeliversThe rule of thumb for ad space purchases is to budget 10 percent of your annual income to advertising. In a small town, that generally means radio and newspaper. It does not include charity or support giving to various school and community publications asking you to “buy an ad.” Advertising is any medium intended to reach the greatest number of people in which you include a call to action.

Many advertising surveys indicate consumers respond more readily to print – whether it be magazines or newspapers – or through direct mail – than to digital media. One report stated that 79 percent of readers are more likely to respond to print ads than e-mailed or digital sales pitches. Digital media will argue that is changing, and perhaps it is. The magic bullet of digital advertising is more difficult to measure.

My favorite explanation for effective advertising (Sales vs Marketing) –

Sales: A hitchhiker on the side of the road with a sign that reads, “To Dallas.”

Marketing: A hitchhiker on the side of the road with a sign that reads, “I want to get to Mom’s for Christmas.”

Your sales pitch is your goal. Marketing is knowing how to reach that goal by understanding the marketplace and your customer.

Print continues to be an important platform for getting your message out, but as the fellow going to Dallas figured out, tugging at the heartstrings of his audience was more important than saying outright what he wanted.

What works for you will depend on your expected outcome. A caution here, avoid buying advertising with the flawed expectation that one ad is going to result in customers flocking to your door in mass.

If you are selling furniture and your one page $2,000 full-color ad nets one sale of $500, you haven’t wasted your money, but perhaps you haven’t made best use of the space. Your goal is to make the ad as appealing as possible to assure you get enough sales to at the very least cover your cost. Five $500 sales would more than do it. The point is, manage your expectations. Know your reach. Understand your market.

Ad 1

Let’s say you have a restaurant and you want to run an ad that lets folks know you are now serving T-Bone steaks. Which of these two ads is more likely to work?

Ad 1 with address prominently displayed with a small picture of a T-Bone Steak and in small print “NOW SERVING T-BONE STEAKS,” is okay. You will likely get customers out of it, but the reality is the message has been lost.

Ad 2-2

Ad 2 with a grilling T-Bone steak prominently displayed, coupled with a 10% discount gives the buyer incentive to show up, ad in hand. It serves two purposes: getting customers in the door and being able to track the effectiveness of the ad.

If you spend $150 to $175 for the ad and the meal price is $25, you could easily sell 10 meals including the discount, and more than cover the cost of the ad.

Sometimes your goal is to let customers know who you are and where you are. The bonus is sales; the message is where to find you.

Advertising serves many purposes. While word-of-mouth has its place, advertising specific offerings provides updated information, provides actionable offers, and expands a business’ customer base.

As a business person, you likely know on day one of a new year what you hope to achieve in the next 12 months. Make planning for your advertising as important as planning for paying your employees, even if the employee is the person you look at in the mirror every morning. Advertising is as much of an investment as the fixtures in your store. Let it work for you and it will pay off.

These links lead to a series of ads that will inspire you to think more creatively about ad space purchases.

Word stream
I have not solicited or been given compensation for this content. If you found this of interest and worthwhile, please share with your network. Readers and new Followers make my day. Please add your thoughts or comments. Thanks for reading and following.

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Native Advertising Explained

There is nothing so alluring as being told you can have it all. In this very competitive – and not always easily understood – media frenzy called news, the consumer is often befuddled when products appear in an article, or the article is sponsored by a product. Do you trust the article or do you become suspicious of the journalism that produced it? This video of Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver sheds a little light on the subject. It will either make you laugh, or cry, depending on your take on this very funny exploration of native advertising.

From Short Biography:  John Oliver is a British comedian, political commentator, television host, and occasional actor. He is best known for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (1996), John Oliver: Terrifying Times (2008) and The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (2010). Oliver left The Daily Show at the end of 2013, and began presenting his own show on HBO, in: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, April 27, 2014. He also makes the podcast The Bugle with Andy Zaltzman.

The Christmas Gift

Merry ChristmasPenny was a trifle worse for the wear. Not terribly – but lovingly – shabby. Annetta held her close. This would be the last time Penny would be with her. She’d done her job; she’d protected Annetta and absorbed her tears when she was alone and afraid. Now it was time for Penny to be there for someone else, someone more alone and afraid than Annetta had ever been. Annetta still had Mom and Kit. Samantha had no one. Yes, there were grownups around her, including her mother, but they paid Samantha no mind except to order her around or tell her to get lost or… Annetta didn’t want to think what else Samantha had to run from when her mommy was too out of it to protect her.

Annetta’s mom was going to the do the hard thing, the right thing. Today she was going to take Sammy into state protective care. Annetta wasn’t sure what that was, but she knew it had to be better than the life Sammy was living now. Annetta shouldn’t have known about it, but she was an observant little girl, and a bit of a brave one. She had been the one to tell her mom of her worry about Sammy, who often came to school limping, or with bruises or burns. “From falling down,” Sammy would say. “From the stove,” she would say.” Annetta didn’t believe it.

Annetta didn’t know exactly what her mother did, but she knew her job was to protect kids.

She sat Penny on the bathroom sink and retied the bow she’d put in her yarn hair. Daddy had given Penny to Annetta the Christmas before he went to Heaven to be with Jesus. She knew in her heart that Daddy would not be mad at her for giving Penny to Samantha. She placed Penny in the shoe box, kissed her cloth face and tidied the blue gingham dress before putting the lid on the box. She wrapped it carefully and tied red ribbon around it.

“Hurry up in there,” her mom said impatiently from the hallway. “Your breakfast is on the table. You need to get a move on before it gets cold.”

Annetta opened the bathroom door, the wrapped package under her arm.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a gift, a gift for Sammy.”


“Samantha, the girl in my class I told you about.”

Her mother got that look she sometimes got when she didn’t know how to answer one of her children’s difficult questions, like, “Can Daddy see us from Heaven?”

“Christmas is tomorrow. I want you to give it to her. She will need Penny more than me.”

“Penny? You’re giving Penny away. But your dad…”

“Mom, Penny is for Sammy.”

“How did you know I would be seeing Samantha today?”

Her mother wouldn’t like what Annetta was going to say, but she couldn’t lie. “I heard you talking to Mrs. Kennedy on the phone. You said there was no other way to protect Sammy but to put her into state custody or foster care until her mother could get better.” Annetta chewed her lip. “What if she doesn’t get better? That’s why I want Sammy to have Penny. She needs someone to love. I have you and Kit; Sammy has no one.”

Annetta felt bad when she saw tears in her mother’s eyes. “Mommy, I didn’t mean to make you cry!”

“Oh, my darling child. These are not sad tears. Samantha is going to a safe place, and I have the best daughter on the planet. I’ll make sure your gift gets to your friend.”

Annetta grinned and skipped off to have her breakfast.

Kit stood in the doorway to his room looking at his mother in befuddlement.

“Mom, she loves Penny! Why would you let her give her away?”

She regarded her son in silence for a moment, thinking deeply about his question before answering.

“Because, Annetta isn’t giving away a doll, she is giving away her love. What better Christmas gift can there be?”

Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares and comments are welcomed and hugely appreciated.

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Advent reminds us
that around the Christ candle there is –
Words to live by
in an often tumultuous world.
Amazing Grace says eloquently
what we most need to know about these words,
especially Love.
We are redeemed, not because of who we are,
but because of who Jesus is,
born in lowly circumstances, Savior and Redeemer.
We cannot earn God’s saving Grace;
it is freely given,
Love personified –
Christ in a manger;
Christ teaching and healing;
Christ on a cruel cross;
Christ dead and buried;
Christ arisen, Triumphant!
The best gift we can give
is to be there for people when they need us.
God’s gift is the gift of Love,
a gift we can share all through the year.

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The Prayer


In a chaotic world this song – so beautifully rendered by these talented young men – reassures and uplifts. Merry Christmas. I’ve posted it before and will probably post it again.


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December Moon

December Moon

Night shades the cloud-shrouded moon,
cold white against the inky sky
framed by a lacework of leaf-striped limbs
intertwined by nature’s refining hand.

What stories does the moon observe
as it passes through the starless expanse
on its way to the other side to see
an end to one day, and the beginning of another?

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Light of the World

Not a holiday, a holy day.
If there be excess
let it be an excess of kindness and mercy.
There is no place in Christmas
for anything but joy.
Change the Christmas sprint
into the Christmas Spirit.
Jesus lived as humanly as any of us
and left an example for us to follow.
Love God
and love your neighbor.
Simple rules, easy to follow.
That is Christmas.

Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares and comments are welcomed and hugely appreciated.

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Photo: pexels-photo-1652109.jpeg


Misty morning

morning’s misty glow
filtered through foggy dawn light
a new day is born


future imperfect cover2Future Imperfect, a serial work of futuristic fiction is available to subscribers for only .99! Posts will appear every week until the book is complete. It will be offered in its entirety after the last episode is published in e-book format for $7.99. Save $7 by subscribing now! An unremembered past. A world in chaos. Read the first episode FREE here.

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I have shingles. Ugh!

 What I have learned:

  • Sharon VSince I found out two days ago, nearly every third person I’ve mentioned it to has had shingles, hence the staggering national average that says 40 percent of Americans will experience the itchy painful illness at some point in their lives.
  • Shingles is not the first thing that pops into a medical provider’s head when you go in complaining of an ear ache or other pain, especially when you are otherwise in excellent health. I saw three providers before I happened across an article my husband was reading about shingles shots. In reading it, I found that I had five of the eight symptoms listed. When I went to the ER here, I mentioned the possibility and guess what? By golly, Mrs. Vander Meer, you do have shingles!” I’m on meds and they are working, but I suffered about seven days of outrageous pain before treatment began.
  • Shingles does not always reveal as a cluster of pulpy sores as seen in medical site photos. It is on my scalp and hidden by my hair, which may be why nobody spotted it, despite my saying “My head is on FIRE!” But I digress. I’m much better now.
  • Stress IS a contributing factor. We all have stress and it doesn’t always lead to shingles, but let this be a reminder that every day counts, every moment can make or break you, don’t let tension rule your life.

I want to thank my friend Em Krall. When I was feeling my worst, she worked her magic and helped me get rid of a lot of tension.

I want to thank by friend Kathy Allen, who called last night out of the blue and made me laugh and feel her long-distance hug.

I want to thank my friend Mary Schipper, whose encouragement and positive outlook let me see the bigger picture. It’s more than “this too will pass,” it’s more about appreciating what you have right here, right now.

I want to thank my nephew and great nephew, Seth and Carter, for bringing us food and mail and newspapers.

Shingles is by no means life-threatening and most of us get through it without too much angst, but it does get your attention. The pain is indeed, painful. The blisters can be unsightly. The healing may end but neurological reactions may continue. There’s no guarantee you won’t get it again. (This is supposed to be the upside!) It does make you stop and think about being joy-filled and a joy to be around. I confess when this all started I was a bit of a grumpy puss, which is not like me at all. So, to anyone I snapped at, forgive me.

My poor husband has suffered from this as much as I have, maybe more. The poor guy has been house bound because I didn’t feel much like getting out, and I’m the official driver! Can anyone say CABIN FEVER! I’m mostly kidding. His greatest concern is for me, so I thank him most of all for being patient and doing everything he could to take care of me. I am truly blessed.

– Sharon on the mend

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Future Imperfect

future imperfect cover2Welcome to Future Imperfect, a serial work of fiction available to subscribers for only .99! Posts will appear every week until the book is complete. It will be offered in its entirety after the last episode is published in e-book format for $7.99. Save $7 by subscribing now! To read Episode 1 as a PDF, click on the book cover shown at left.

Click Episode 1 – Found to read the first installment as a PDF



Data access controlled servers tended the woman’s every need. The table upon which she lay was the only item of furniture in the stark white cubicle.

She stirred.

In less time than it took to draw breath the table reconfigured into a chair. DACS attachments retracted from beneath her gown and snaked out of her intimate and secret places. Delicate air and feeder tubes slipped from her nostrils, out of her throat and from around her wrists. She came fully awake unaware of the silent retrieval of all that had invaded her body. Unseen monitors registered mounting confusion and spiking panic.

She should be dead. Dead! But the image didn’t show a dead woman; it showed a woman slowly gaining control. The watcher’s hands clinched into fists as the woman breathed in and closed her eyes. After a moment, her eyes opened; her gaze scanned the room. She clutched the chair’s arm tightly with one hand, with the other she stroked the flowing, iridescent gown she wore. And then her hair. And then her face. Questing fingers exploring unfamiliar territory.

The woman stood, took tentative steps, arms flung wide for balance.

The video blanked out.

The watcher removed the disk from the reader and absently rubbed a thumb across its surface. Awake, and from the look of her, not for the first time. Claude had been lying. He was too caught up in her, too caught up by far. Like always, thinking only of himself – his wants, his needs.


The watcher swallowed the bile of fury. Perhaps this bit of knowledge could be turned to advantage, but first the woman must be removed from the Inquiry and Development Sector, away from Claude, but carefully.


Squad Commander Stone Walker strode through the main corridor, his attention divided between activity around him and a woman he had brought into Claude Stiller’s IDS more than a year ago. To his knowledge she remained unresponsive to every test Stiller had given her, if Stiller was to be believed.

Stone’s jaw flexed. His hatred of the man who ran IDS was best contained. Stiller knew well how to play on Controller Anadra’s sense of obligation. As her half-brother he used her influence to tweak systems to fit his plans, whatever they were. Stiller was a ruthless opportunist. Anadra was unable, or perhaps unwilling, to see that. Stone kept his own council. No need to draw attention. He and his troop were already targets of investigations that had no merit. The rumor mill spit out suspicion faster than spore could spread. Guardians who should be investigated got a pat on the back while those who did their jobs were challenged or ridiculed. More than one qualified and loyal Guardian had left the force and Habitat III because of it.

Stone nodded in response to a woman who greeted him as she passed by, his anger and frustration concealed behind a carefully controlled public face. All was well, at least for the moment. There were no clogged filters, air supply systems hummed efficiently, no infiltrations had been reported, nobody had died. And no births. He didn’t dwell on the latter, a mystery he was ordered to ignore. The matter was under advisement, according to Stiller. Whatever the council wished to go away was placed under advisement, like the murder of Stone’s father.

As a Guardian and liaison between Contoller Anadra and Habitat III Council, Emilio Walker had been a man of many secrets. Stone was sure one of those secrets had led to his death. He could no more believe his father had accidentally fallen from the observation ramp in Power Central than he believed he could fly from the self-same spot.

There was a connection between his father’s murder and the woman, there had to be. Why had Stiller insisted she be found on the very day of the suspicious accident that resulted in his father’s death? What was her value to Stiller? He cared about no one, yet he had demanded she be found and returned to Habitat III without official authorization. Stone’s emotional turmoil over the death of his father combined with the certainty his father would have gone to find her, sent him topside in search of the missing woman. The strained relationship between father and son, and Stone’s refusal to make amends wore on him still. Now there would be no opportunity.

Stone had found the woman within hours. Vines had already begun to grow over and into the tattered blanket that covered her. She was unconscious and at the mercy of the invasive vegetation. It was a wonder she had survived.

It went against Stone’s training not to report the incident, but Stiller held a position of authority second only to Controller Anadra. What he had not anticipated was how the young woman’s image would haunt him. Too often he found himself wondering what had happened to her. His efforts to get information led to inadequate glimpses of her inside an isolation unit where she lay unconscious.

A Guardian out of uniform with a dazer tucked into an over-the-shoulder sling holster, scuttled into a side corridor, but not before Stone saw him and mentally noted his name. He also saw a Guardian in uniform wearing a decorative mask, several citizens carrying dazers, Friends being shunned despite wearing clearance medallions indicating they had followed entry procedures, and the most likely to create trouble, Isolationists holding an open rally without a posted permit.

“Only regulations can save us!” a man shouted, unaware of Stone’s approach. “We are clean. We are protected. Every time another exception is made and another one of them,” he pointed to a Friend who had stopped to listen, “comes into our habitat, that’s another chance for you to get the plague!”

Muttered agreement rippled through the growing crowd. The Friend darted a nervous look at those around him and hurried away.

“Chaucer Mapes knows what’s good…”

“Citizen.” Stone’s voice cut short the man’s speech. People scattered as he walked into their midst leaving only a few behind.

“Ah, one of our own! Welcome, welcome!” Corbin Anders inclined his head in respectful acknowledgment of Stone’s position. The sneer on his lips revealed his true opinion. Those who remained in the circle of listeners looked on with malicious curiosity.

“Good day to you, Councilman. You failed to post your public gathering sign. As a member of Council and one who advocates for regulations, I’m sure it was an oversight.”

The sneer faded. “Yes, of course, I must have left it in my apartment. We will resume our gathering later, once I have the permit in my possession.”

The permit didn’t exist, of that Stone was certain. This was an illegal campaign rally.



Anders sauntered away followed by his bevy of believers. Stone continued on, his attention more keenly on the area he was passing through. There had been increasing numbers of thefts and muggings. Domicile invasions were on the rise. For all the threats from nature gone wild, it was the human threats that gave Stone sleepless nights.

Minor rule-breakers crept into dark corners as he passed by. Most regarded him with scarcely concealed contempt. They, like Anders, knew he would offer little in the way of challenge. Confrontations too frequently led to an offender complaining to a councilor, who would take it to Controller Anadra. She had enough to deal with. Petty complaints weren’t worth the trouble they caused.

NormStats – citizens who held the normal status health rating – treated Guardians like glorified maintenance people, bodyguards, and handy escorts. Many Guardians preferred escort duty, which often meant substantial gratuities for services well rendered. Services ranged from acting as a guide through the corridors or in GreenSpace, to providing more intimate services.

Stone’s communicator vibrated below his ear.


“I need to see you.”

Cecile Greve’s voice jolted him. Bad judgment, libido, temporary insanity, grief over his father’s death, maybe a combination of all these factors had led him into a relationship with the former Guardian now in service to the Habitat III Council. She was his father’s replacement on Controller Anadra’s staff. Their brief affair ended badly. He didn’t want to deal with her on any level.

“This is not a good time.”

There was a brief hesitation at his curt tone. Her voice turned clipped and cool when she responded.

“I want to talk to you about an unidentified female in IDS. I prefer to discuss this in person.”

Two people bumped into Stone when he stopped abruptly. How did Cecile know about the woman? Stiller would not share information with someone whose duty required full disclosure to the council and Controller Anadra.

“This could jeopardize Controller Anadra’s campaign. I know you support her bid for senator.”

She was right. Many saw reestablishing governmental systems as a sign life could get back to normal. Stone wasn’t so sure, but he wanted someone he could trust in a position of influence. So, yes, he wanted to see Controller Anadra elected to the reinstated legislature.

“Security Central, ten minutes.”

“No. I would prefer the recreation area. It is perhaps better if we are not seen together.” With that she disconnected.

When Stone arrived, Cecile greeted him from astride a rocket-shaped swing. The rec space was devoid of life, haunted by the children who didn’t play there anymore, a reminder of dramatic changes NormStats wanted to ignore, like the absence of anyone under the age of twenty-five living inside the habitat.

Stone approached Cecile with caution. Why had he ever become involved with her? For the months following Emilio Walker’s death, he had lived a monkish life, only going out when he was forced to fill the role of escort, something that happened rarely because he was smart enough to schedule duty hours when social events were going on. There were so bloody many it was impossible to avoid them all. When Cecile asked Controller Anadra to assign him to her as an official escort he was grateful to be out of the on-call pool. Before long their ceremonial pairing became something more. For a while Stone lost himself in the demands of Cecile’s body, grateful for those times when he could be free of nagging questions, persistent guilt and the haunting image of a woman he knew nothing about.

It wasn’t until Cecile began to talk about moving in togther that he’d come to his senses and ended it. She now watched him approach, arching her back in a provocative move that gave her slender form a voluptuous look.

“What’s this about?” His eyes scanned the deserted area with distaste.

Cecile let his abrupt manner pass without comment. She shifted her weight forward and gracefully dismounted the swing.

“The woman I spoke of has been a guest,” she lifted a cynical eyebrow, “in IDS for months. I checked her DNA against registered NormStats and can find no match.”

Stone leaned against the swing’s frame and crossed his arms. “This sounds like a discussion you should be having with the director of IDS.”

Cecile made a derisive sound in her throat. “And have him ask me questions I don’t want to answer? Like how I found out about the woman and how I got a sample of her DNA for testing? I don’t think so.”

She stroked the curved nose of the rocket.

“It seems she has been unconscious since you brought her into the habitat. She is now awake.”

Stone didn’t react, but his mind raced. Bringing the woman into the habitat could cause him problems; he could deal with that. Of greater concern was what would happen to her. Why he should care was a mystery. She was nothing to him.

“I was surprised to learn of your involvement, considering your position. What you did is highly irregular. Illegal, in fact.”

“Your concern is commendable. Take it up with Controller Anadra, or with Stiller. The two of you are friendly, so I hear.”

“Ah, so you do keep up with me. How interesting.”

Stone wasn’t so much interested in Cecile as in keeping track of alliances that could cause problems within Habitat III.

“What do you want from me?”

Cecile’s chin came up and the cool gray eyes turned smoky. Stone recognized it as displeasure. She didn’t like to give up control of any situation. By cutting to the heart of why she had contacted him he was pushing her in a direction she wasn’t ready to go. To his surprise, instead of sticking to her agenda she answered his direct question with a direct answer.

“I want Controller Anadra notified, but if I tell her she will demand to know who told me or she will go straight to Claude. I don’t want to risk losing my contact nor do I want Claude to know I…”

She hesitated and looked over her shoulder into the dim reaches of the corridor.

“Have a spy in place?” So, Stiller was vulnerable. That alone was worth the encounter with Cecile. “Your informant better watch his back. Stiller doesn’t deal kindly with treachery.”

Cecile shrugged. “That is my informant’s problem, not mine.” She pushed the rocket swing. The resulting dry screech made them both jump. Cecile stopped the movement and the sound ceased.

“If word gets out this woman is inside without council knowledge there could be a problem. I don’t want this to come back on Controller Anadra.”

Stone shifted his stance and studied the toes of his polished boots waiting for her to get to the point.

“This is a critical time in the campaign. Her election could be in peril if blame falls at her door for an illegal being inside. Because of your position, it is logical for you to notify her of the situation, and by doing so keep my name out of it.”

So, that was it. She wanted to prevent a campaign disaster without becoming directly involved. If the Controller were elected Cecile’s star would rise as well. Cecile was ambitious and predictable. He couldn’t cave too quickly. She was suspicious of anything that came easy.

“Why not leave well enough alone? As long as nobody knows of your mystery woman’s presence in IDS, what harm can it do for her to remain there?”

Cecile’s lips curled. “Are you saying you want her left with Claude? That you think this should be kept from Controller Anadra? I’m surprised at you, Commander Walker. The self-appointed conscience of us all, and you want this kept quiet?”

Stone didn’t rise to the bait.

“The thing is, if I found out about her so can others. I want the problem disposed of before word gets out.”

“Talking to the Controller might not be that easy,” Stone said, hiding his uneasiness at her choice of words. “She is busy with the campaign in addition to keeping up with her other duties. And I am not anxious to have my part in this made public. Stiller will lay blame at my door for any trouble that comes his way, and be glad to do it.”

She paced, frowning in thought. “You have a point. What if I,” she smiled slyly, “anonymously send you the information that I have gathered. You would have no choice but to pass it along to Controller Anadra, right?”

Stone nodded. “Of course. I would have to notify Stiller of this anonymous message as well.”

“Covering your ass, as it were.” When didn’t respond, she waved a dismissive hand. “Whatever it takes, as long as some scheming candidate rep doesn’t stumble onto this information and use it against Controller Anadara. It would be devastating to her campaign.”

Stone was more curious about the woman in IDS than he was willing to reveal, and Cecile was right about the impact on Anadra’s campaign if the mystery woman’s presence inside the habitat were to be discovered by an opponent. It wouldn’t matter that Anadra was unaware of Claude’s actions.

“Send me what you have and I’ll decide how to handle it.”

Cecile hesitated as if to say something more then turned and walked away.


She shivered. Not from cold. Panic trickled across her skin like insects swarming a carcass.

She remembered nothing. Not who she was, where she was or how she came to be in this blindingly white space.

She ran her hands up and down walls, along the floor, into the corners. No windows. No door.

She turned in a circle, her legs wobbly, arms and hands trembling. She could not bring herself to return to the chair and instead sat on the smooth floor with her back against the smooth wall.

Time had no meaning. Had she been awake an hour? A day? Bile eddied in her belly and surged into her throat. Tears spilled over and ran down her cheeks.

She startled awake sometime later. She was no longer on the floor. She was seated in the chair. She stood carefully and backed away, one hand to her throat, the other groping for the wall to keep from falling. Someone had been in the room. An icy finger of fear trailed through her belly.


Images flashed through her head. A man, leaning over a table, writing; a smiling woman standing with folded arms watching him; a cold, sterile room where someone lay inside a cylinder.

Her heart raced as she began another slow prowl, barely keeping terror at bay.

The chair was the only object in the room. There was no food service unit, toilet facilities, or bed, yet her body made no demands for food or elimination or sleep. She was clean and physically rested. This was not reassuring. The room was the enemy. Unwilling to give in to the power of nothingness, she paced the cell’s perimeter counting her steps to be sure nothing had changed, that the room wasn’t shrinking. Her skin prickled and the chill that had started in  her belly, crept over her. She was being watched.

After a moment she resumed the inspection of her claustrophobic surroundings and tried to ignore the cold itch between her shoulders. It didn’t work. Everything was closing in. The gown clung like a too-tight second skin.

It’s in my head. This is fear, nothing more.

Clammy sweat beaded her forehead and her heart thumped. Her throat swelled shut. The neckline of the gown tightened.

Her fingers clutched the neckline and ripped open the seam down the front. Relief was instantaneous. She gulped air and shimmied out of the gown. It fell in an untidy puddle at her feet. She was left clad in a thin garment that scarcely covered her. Reflexively she placed one arm across her breasts and shielded her feminine center with splayed fingers. She stood that way for a moment feeling angry and foolish, and then dropped her arms. No doubt whoever was out there watching had seen her buck-naked more than once. At least the chemise gave some cover. In a perverse moment of audacity she spread her arms and bowed to the audience she knew must be there, beyond the walls, and immediately felt ridiculous. She sank to the floor, drew her legs up to her chest and rested her cheek on her knees.

She had no yesterdays and no idea about today or tomorrow. Control. She had to stay in control. She squeezed her eyes shut. Remember.

“Where are Judith and Jason?” A man stood across the room from her obscured in shadow, his back to her.
“They are being cared for.”
“You said we would be together after the tests.”
“And so you shall. Right now you need rest. Lie down.”

 The images blanked out to be replaced by others.

A different man’s voice, warm and reassuring.

 “A thinking person will do what is best for all, and freedom is best, don’t ever let anyone tell you different. What imprisons us is not the disciplinary arm of the law. Too often we give up our freedom to those who say they know what is best. Don’t believe it. Freedom is what defines who we are and what we can achieve. Control your own destiny.”

 Another image took shape.

 “Come girl, you’ve got to help me! Your life’s not worth spit if you don’t get up!”
She rolled off the cot and stood on wobbly legs.
Who are you?” She couldn’t be sure if she said the words aloud or if they were inside her head. So much that wasn’t real went on inside her head.
“For both our sakes I’m not going to tell you. Come on! We have to move!”

She awoke with a jerk. Sweat jellied across her skin, thick and hot. Three men, shadowed forms with no faces, the last man in the series of images trying to – what? Help? Get her from some place to some other place? Who was he? A second man who knew something about Judith and Jason, where they were, who they were. A third man whose essence was as familiar as the sound of her own heartbeat but whose face she could not bring into focus.

She shifted and two thoughts flashed inside her head: I’m on the floor I need to pee.

She had wondered about her body’s lack of normal response. Now she was aware of her full bladder and growing hunger. She rolled into a fetal ball, face hidden behind the curtain of her silken hair, all thought suspended. The increasing pressure in her bladder became impossible to ignore.

“Please, whoever you are. I, I have to relieve myself. Please …”

The small effort sapped her remaining self-control and a warm puddle spread beneath her. She pulled the discarded gown to her and dragged herself to a corner. She huddled there, wrapped in the shining cloth, silent tears sliding down her cheeks.


The Controller was not available. Administrative duties would keep her away until late, after which she had personal time set aside. No use trying to see her then. Eirene Anadra’s time of seclusion was sacrosanct. Stone wondered if Cecile knew about Anadra’s secret? Somehow he didn’t think so.

His eyes shifted to the corridor monitors. The NormStats weren’t in a hurry. Why should they be? Their world was limited. Trades people who ran shops in the central mall were already in their modules tending to business. Legalists and medics who existed on the paranoia of Citizens, were in their office cubicles awaiting another chance to legally rob some fool of markers on trumped up charges of property infringement or a hypochondriacal ailment requiring lengthy treatment, but no cure. If only they would concentrate on the real threats that surrounded them on every front.

There were plenty who would call Stone a fool, that although the habitat way of life wasn’t perfect it had proven to be an effective solution to the Plague War and the spread of the plague. He would be reminded that Security Guard duties were at the discretion of the Council, duties limited to escort services, keeping vines from getting in, and making sure no one came into the habitat who shouldn’t be there. Many of the newly recruited guardians found this to be quite acceptable. They saw the position of guardian as an easy way to earn markers and gain access to the elite. Those who repeatedly inveigled their way into extra escort assignments were among the wealthiest residents in the sector. More difficult to ignore was the line developing between one faction of the Guard and another. Isolationist commanders and their ranking officers dressed in elaborate uniforms borrowed from the pages of history, flamboyant costumes unsuited for use in the field. They garnered habitat assignments for themselves and those under their command. Favoritism shown to Isolationist Guardians was one of many factors splitting the corps.

Loyalist squad commanders worked to police inside and topside as well. Isolationist commanders were confident the habitat was in no danger and needed no more than cursory protection. In theory the elected Controllers in habitats represented Security Guard leadership; in reality it didn’t work that way. They were politicians, not protectors. To return discipline and effectiveness to the corps, Loyalist guardians had recommended having a commander general in each sector to oversee what area commanders were doing with troops. If Stone’s experience was typical the idea fell on deaf ears. “If we learned nothing else, Commander Walker,” Controller Anadra had said when Stone brought the idea before her, “let us hope we learned to never put the future of Citizens in the hands of generals and scientists.”

The legacy of the Plague War. Stone had studied the history under his father’s tutelage. During the war the military imperative had been to kill off the vine introduced into the botanical order by scientist David Nolan. Nothing worked. The sickness caused by the spores and nettles of the vine combined with increasing levels of G-fog cut into the population like a scythe, wiping out entire cities. As more soldiers became ill and died, military protection turned into fear and then into fatalism and fury. Civilian law enforcement was put to the test when its ranks were faced with protecting the populace from presumed protectors.

The house where David Nolan was believed to be hiding was torched and burned to the ground. It was assumed everyone in the house died. Rage spread to anyone remotely associated with distributing or planting one of the inoculated seedlings. The terror bred a social plague that spread throughout the world. It was mind boggling in its consequence. Those not yet infected moved into basements of abandoned buildings where they set up armed camps in an attempt to find protection against increasing levels of spore-infested G-fog and deadly vines. The war began to wind down. In latter days, fighting amounted to no more than skirmishes, destruction for its own sake; battle that seemed to have no other purpose than to sustain a dwindling military. Ten long years of fighting against an unbeatable enemy didn’t end decisively, it faded away. Over time the basements became sealed heavily defended havens for those with enough markers or influence to bribe their way in, provided they had normal status health ratings.

Gradually a warren of regional subterranean habitats developed where those who feared the topside hazards could hide away. First the Americas succumbed, then Canada, Asia, Europe. There were recurring rumors that some areas of the world had escaped davnol infestation. Stone had yet to meet anyone who could vouch for that.

Technology suffered in the aftermath. Because few wanted to work in an environment where death could come from simply breathing unfiltered air, rebuilding the infrastructure was sporadic making reconstruction a slow and dangerous process.

Intellectually Stone understood the need for the habitat way of life, but habitats were in danger of collapse. A strong, disciplined security force was essential, yet there was little support for that from leaders. Society was at a stalemate brought about by politics, expediency and fear.

He should focus on changing that by winning Anadra over to his position, but the woman in IDS haunted him. Instinctively he knew if she was awake it wasn’t the first time. Stiller ignored his requests for information. After a while he’d quit asking. His feeling that she was somehow connected to the events surrounding his father’s death returned, urging him to action. Cecile had her reasons for getting the woman away from Stiller. Stone had his.


She was back in the chair, dressed in the white gown, feeling rested and refreshed. She saw no evidence of her earlier loss of control, and she had been moved again.

Her scream rebounded off the white walls. She stopped abruptly, throat burning and raw.

 “Have faith, Hana. Believe in your God-given abilities. Never give up your freedom.”

The voice inside her head was stern but kind. It brought warmth and comfort. The name Hana echoed in her mind. She said it aloud once, listening to the sound of it, and then again. Hana. It could be anybody’s name. She squeezed her eyes shut and scoured her memory. Evans! Her name was Hana Evans. She hugged herself in celebration, but when no other memories followed, elation drained away.

She paced the perimeter of her tiny prison and began to make a mental list of remembered experiences since waking.

Figures wandered past her mind’s eye, just beyond recognition, like a half-remembered dream. She thought they might be her family, a decidedly comforting feeling overshadowed immediately by the unsettled emptiness of loss. Every thought battered against the dark void of her unremembered past and tied her in knots. The one certainty was that if she fell asleep on the floor, she would awake seated in the chair. If someone could enter, she should be able to find a way out.

The first episode is FREE! to order the series, click here

Episodic Novel: Future Imperfect

FUTURE IMPERFECT COVERWelcome to Future Imperfect, a serial work of fiction available to subscribers for only .99! Posts will appear every week until the book is complete. It will be offered in its entirety after the last episode is published in e-book format for $7.99. Save $7 by subscribing now!

A woman wakes up in a strange setting with no past in a present she doesn’t recognize. A determined man searches for answers to the mysterious death of his father while appeasing the powerful but conflicting forces that control his life. These two individuals must figure out their future amid escalating political and environmental chaos.

Sometimes the best intentions lead to bad outcomes and in Future Imperfect the best idea goes horribly wrong. Hana doesn’t trust anyone and with good reason. Every person she encounters is using her. Stone is a man frustrated by a failing system and constraints that keep him from doing his job. Forces are at work that will take the world to the edge of oblivion.


Data access controlled servers tended the woman’s every need. The table upon which she lay was the only item of furniture in the stark white cubicle.

She stirred.

In less time than it took to draw breath the table reconfigured into a chair. DACS attachments retracted from beneath her gown and snaked out of her intimate and secret places. Delicate air and feeder tubes slipped from her nostrils, out of her throat and from around her wrists. She came fully awake unaware of the silent retrieval of all that had invaded her body. Unseen monitors registered mounting confusion and spiking panic.

She should be dead. Dead! But the image didn’t show a dead woman; it showed a woman slowly gaining control. The watcher’s hands clinched into fists as the woman breathed in and closed her eyes. After a moment, her eyes opened; her gaze scanned the room. She clutched the chair’s arm tightly with one hand, with the other she stroked the flowing, iridescent gown she wore. And then her hair. And then her face. Questing fingers exploring unfamiliar territory.

The woman stood, took tentative steps, arms flung wide for balance.

The video blanked out. The watcher removed the disk from the reader and absently rubbed a thumb across its surface. Awake, and from the look of her, not for the first time. Claude had been lying. He was too caught up in her, too caught up by far. Like always, thinking only of himself – his wants, his needs. Fool! The watcher swallowed the bile of fury. Perhaps this bit of knowledge could be turned to advantage, but first the woman must be removed from the Inquiry and Development Sector, away from Claude, but carefully.

The first episode will be FREE! to order the series, click here.

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Which do you prefer and why?

And what are you reading now?

This is something everyone knows, but I would like to use it to stimulate a conversation. Do you prefer fiction over nonfiction or nonfiction over fiction? Why? What are you reading now and what is it about the content that keeps you turning pages? Are you a writer or a reader?

Fiction or Nonfiction

The Last Leaf

Fall Leaves

The last leaf clings
to a tree stripped bare
by a chill wind that sings
stirring fall-scented air.

The last leaf shakes
on a limb holding tight
as the sturdy tree quakes,
oh, what a sight!

The last leaf comes down,
spins, spins and whirls,
then settles gently upon the ground,
as more of autumn’s color unfurls.

If you found this of interest and worthwhile, please share with your network. Readers and new Followers make my day. Please add your thoughts or comments. Thanks for reading and following.

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My New Mexico

Sun on Snow - Fall 2019

Autumn warm, the kind inside your heart
when you sit comfortably by the hearth.
A brisk and stormy day
when snow crystals come out to play.
The gentle swell of joy comes along
giving all of life a happy song.

Autumn warm, a stirring of leaves,
winter has surprises up its sleeves!
Take in those splashes of color bright,
iridescent in Autumn’s light.
The aroma of chili roasting and pumpkin pie
gives us all an Autumn high!

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Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 1 Peter 3:13-14

Sometimes courage shows
when we do the right thing;
when we stay quiet
in the cacophony of raised voices;
when gossip is being spread about.
Perhaps it is speaking faith
by your actions
when others say, “There is no God.”
Could it be prayer raised
on behalf of someone who is not like you
or who has treated you badly?
Don’t fear what other people think;
be true to who God made you to be,
that is the step-by-step journey
called courage.

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Tears are not enough

Sad situation

I’m working on an article for the Las Vegas Optic about animals – mostly dogs – in the most recent incident of a woman accused of animal hoarding. All I can say is, it’s heartbreaking. We do not have an animal in our home. The last dog we shared our house with was killed when he wandered out of our yard – despite our best efforts to keep him confined – and got run over. It was horrible. That was more than two decades ago. Our youngest son was in high school. It broke his heart, and ours. I vowed to never have a pet again. It was like losing part of the family.

The photo above is an aerial shot of the compound where 60 animals were sheltered, if that’s what you want to call it.

It is sad that anyone would knowingly create a situation in which animals were underfed (starved), medically neglected and caged in poor excuses for shelter. More troubling is the snail-pace judicial system that has resulted in a lengthy road to justice. The first incident occurred in January of this year. A second incident just a week ago, involved the same person. More than 60 animals were added to the 32 already under the care of the local animal shelter, a community resource that is stretched past its limits. Look for the Optic article, which will appear in the next week or so, which will talk about how you can help. In the mean time, if you are a Facebook user, you can find out more here. Looke for the DONATE button and conveniently give online.

Please help. Donate money or food. This is a serious situation. I commend the Animal Welfare Coalition and all it does to protect the animals who share this planet with us, but they can’t do it alone. They need our help.

Note: Photo of Rowe property from AWC Facebook page.

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Autumn Leaves

Harvest moon


Moonlight cantata
pumpkin spice against dark sky –
night melodies flow.



Who are you and where are you going?
What drives the truck and fuels the tank of your knowing?
In you I see light so brightly aflame and burning,
Seeking wisdom, courage, always bright, always yearning.

For just awhile turn off your mind, be at rest.
Sit beside the stream of life, watch the sun set in the west.
Do not think you must be more than you are today;
For this moment find joy, let the music of now play.



Spring sings,
Summer hums,
Autumn whistles,
Winter strums.

Each has a cadence
all its own.
Each brings change
by its tone.

In nature’s song
we play a part,
a melody
from the heart.



Is it good, this thing called change?
Yesterday I was free,
today caught in some
dark void
neither one thing
or another.

And then – change comes.
flying into the day
wing color like
jewels in the sun.

this thing called change
is good.

The haiku MOONLIGHT came to me on a sleepless night this past week. The other poems are previously published and reflect seasons of change.

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Composed using an image from

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Daily Dose of Reading Helps Boost Brain Power

Books in Print(NewsUSA) – If, like many people, you are concerned about how much screen time you or your kids are getting, there’s an easy remedy which can also help boost your brain power: Reading a book – in print.

According to the American Library Association, students who are independent readers score higher on achievement tests in all subject areas and have a greater knowledge of content than those who rarely read.

Need ideas and inspiration? Check out the Read 15 Pages a Day program from the Paper & Packaging – How Life Unfolds campaign, funded by manufacturers and importers of paper and paper-based packaging. The program is designed to encourage reading in print at all ages and reading levels while promoting the benefits reading in print provides.

By reading books and other print materials each day, children and adults could improve their brain power in two ways:

– Improve memory and information recall. Research suggests that the physical sensation of holding a book helps readers retain more information and absorb more details than when they read e-books or material online. Reading on paper promotes concentration on what you read, so you are better able to remember it.

Other studies suggest that taking notes on paper in classes or meetings and re-reading them improves recall and retention of information.

– Improved language and mental development. The 15 Pages a Day Program encourages parents to read just 15 pages with their children each day. Regular reading of print books can help improve children’s language development and inspire them to become independent readers, a gift that will last a lifetime. Even when children can read their own 15 pages of a print book, reading aloud will increase their understanding of how knowledge is acquired and shared and encourages active listening.

In addition, studies of older adults show that those who read and write regularly experience significantly slower declines in memory compared with those who are not regular readers.

Another benefit? A print book needs no charger, and you can read in a cabin in the woods, on a plane without WiFi, on a sailboat, on a bus, or on a beach, so the 15 pages can fit in anywhere, anytime.

Learn more about the power of printed books and the benefits of just 15 pages of reading each day at

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Key Questions to Help You Choose a Medicare Plan

Decision time for Medicare(NewsUSA) – If you’re one of 56 million Americans eligible for Medicare, it’s important to understand coverage options when selecting your health plan for 2020.

Research can take time, and many people find working with a licensed health insurance agent helpful when deciding between Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Supplement plans. Answering these three questions can help you make an informed choice during the Medicare Annual Election Period, October 15 to December 7:

  • Are my doctors, hospitals and specialists in network? Most Medicare Advantage plans offer online tools to help you find doctors and hospitals that are in a plan’s network. A licensed agent can also help you look up hospitals and doctors to see if they’re in a plan’s network and taking new patients, and confirm what’s in network if you’re a seasonal resident
  • Which plans will cover my prescription drugs? Original Medicare does not cover most prescription drugs. Many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, or you can sign up for a Part D Prescription Drug Plan separately. A licensed agent can look up the medications you would like covered and help you estimate what the cost of each drug would be on a plan.
  • Are there new, innovative benefits I should consider? Beyond vision, hearing and dental coverage, if you aim to become healthier, look for fitness program benefits as many Medicare Advantage plans offer a gym membership. If you travel or appreciate technology, virtual doctors are helpful services when you can’t see a doctor right away. Most Medicare Advantage plans now offer transportation to doctor appointments and the gym.

Resources are available to help you in this process, including licensed sales agents, local seminars, and websites such as and You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) (or TTY: 1-877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or call Humana at 1-800-213-5286 (TTY: 711) 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time seven days a week.

Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO, and PFFS organization, and stand-alone prescription drug plan, with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on plan renewal.

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Fade to fall

Fade to fall

Morning glory leaves fade from green to gold,
blossoms little more than a drooping husk, something old,
yet not gone for good; seeds drop, spring will unfold
and bring back watercolor splendor in stories yet to be told.

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Sculpture inspires song

Memorial - American Gold Star Mothers

I wrote an article in the Las Vegas Optic entitled Local artist creates AGSM tribute sculpture, which ran in the Aug. 30 edition. With permission, I am posting here the poster created to commemorate the dedication of Duke Sundt’s sculpture along with a link to a video about the song written by singer/songwriter Randy Huston. The You Tube video has commentary from the artists and Randy singing the song. Enjoy.


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Trouble comes.
Faith builds.
The Foundation is solid;
it is called the Foundation for a reason.
The mortar that holds it together cannot be broken.
Trouble is just another name for courage.
Trials come and go;
the Foundation remains.
We are better after the battle than we were before.
Stronger. Wiser. Resilient.

Photo WordPress

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My town

My town is people
who care about each other
and the future,
integrity and hospitality,
creative energy.
My town
has dedicated entrepreneurs,
some just starting out,
some stalwart and foundational
to my town.
Some struggle,
some thrive,
some have hope,
some have drive.
My town
looks to the future,
plans for tomorrow,
lives today with anticipation.
Many hands
work to make better
what is already pretty great –
My Town.

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One day at a time

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. Philippians 3:13 NIV


Not there yet in your journey?
Fallen off your horse a time or two along the way?
That’s the past.
Today and tomorrow are waiting for you.
Show up. Listen.
Be ready to come off the blocks in service to the Lord
through service to others.
Don’t put stock in mistakes of yesterday,
except to carry its lessons into what happens next.
Avoid poor choices and self-serving addictions.
Look for ways to be successful.
The reward of service is getting something back
you never imagined would or could come your way.
Peace. Joy. Renewal.
Embrace possibility.
God has a plan.
Be ready for it.

Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares and comments are welcomed and hugely appreciated.

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A musing on aging gratefully

My books

Yesterday I turned 75. Turned 75. That’s like referring to oneself as if you’re a tuna casserole that’s gone off.

I don’t feel a day over 75 – oh, right, I am a day over 75. I don’t think of myself as being old-ish. Okay, okay! Old! Even in middle age – 45 or so – I thought anything over 50 was ancient. The older I get, of course, the older young becomes.

Once, when told she didn’t look 40, Gloria Steinem reportedly said, “This is what 40 looks like.” This is what 75 looks like, wrinkled, a touch pudgy, and grey-haired.

I prefer to think of my hair as snowy, shot through with silver, but what do I know? I’ve never been one to gloss over reality, but I did go through the coloring my hair phase to take a few years off my appearance. Why? God knows. It was a pain in the butt and dried out my already-thin hair unmercifully. Plus – get real – my skin still looked papery and wrinkled.

I like being a grey goddess, a woman of a certain age who isn’t taken with the idea of forever young. I know, I can hear you laughing. A goddess I have never been. Wrinkles and grey hair don’t bother me. Not having something worthwhile to do bothers me. I want to be productive. I want to interact with others, not just my generation, but every generation. I still have lots to learn, and I even have a few things to teach.

Life is about the things you can do; it is not about the things you can’t. I will never be the great American novelist. I have neither the discipline for the talent. That doesn’t keep me from writing. It doesn’t keep me from sending in freelance articles for publication in hopes of being paid. It doesn’t stop the flow of words that demand to be put into a story.

Age does not stop us from wanting approval and feeling sad and rejected when we don’t get it. It must never stop us from loving what we do enough to get it out there and do it. Einstein didn’t stop because he got old; he stopped because he died.

Studies show that people who stay active doing the things they enjoy, live longer and are healthier than those who sit on the sidelines waiting for the next thing to happen, and expecting whatever it is, to be bad.

Life does get harder for many of us as we age, no doubt. Overcoming that isn’t easy, but making the effort is the difference between a life well-lived and one of despondency and loneliness. You don’t have to be the life of the party, just show up and participate. You have something to contribute. We all do. Getting old is not a card any of us should play to get out of living our best life now. Stephen Hawking didn’t and neither should we.

I am grateful for every day I’ve lived, even the ones that brought me to my knees, where I learned to lean on the Great Comforter and on my friends. I count every day a blessing, a gift, something to be opened with joy and anticipation. Seventy-five and counting! Thank you, Lord.

Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares and comments are welcomed and hugely appreciated.

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Artist Profile: Tom Anderson

Tom AndersonTom Anderson began wood turning in 2001, after retiring from a career in electronics. His products are generally Over Engineered, choosing to add his improvements to basic products. His Pepper Mills offer an integrated salt shaker and a saucer to catch pepper debris. His products have been sanded through 2000 grit, which gives the wood a natural high polish. An application of Mahoney’s ‘Heat Treated” Walnut Oil, followed by Mahoney’s Wax, complete the finish. “This food-safe finish is easily maintained with the Mahoney’s Wax that is supplied with each product,” Tom said. “No volatiles are used in any of these finishes.”

Pepper Mill TrioQ: What art medium do you work in?
Tom: Woodturning.

Q: Why that medium?
Tom: It gives me a chance to embellish nature’s beauty

Q: What inspires you?
Tom: Exotic woods.

Q: What is your preferred work environment?
Tom: My workshop

Q: Whom do you most admire and in what ways are you influenced by this individual?
Tom: Mike Mahoney, professional wood turner and his exotic creations.

Q: What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as an artist?
Tom: I like to produce utilitarian objects that are pieces of art when not it use.

Q: Where can you work be purchased?
Tom: El Zocalo Gallery, Las Vegas, NM. and through my website.

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Artist Profile: Carol Anderson

Carol AndersonCarol Anderson’s career as an elementary educator required continuing education. During an uninspiring course, she began sketching, which led to her becoming an artist. Over the years, Carol has investigated several medias, finally settling on gourds. “Each gourd is unique,” she said, “and leads me in its artistic creation.” On most, Carol uses pyrography to enhance and sculpt the gourd. Many gourds are embellished with other materials, such as dyes, leather, shells, and beads. The gourds may be displayed as they are, or for dry arrangements, fruit or other treasures.

Colorful GourdsQ: What art medium do you work in?
Carol: Gourd art.

Q: Why that medium?
Carol: Gourds tend to lead me. The texture and various shapes are fascinating to me. Many times the natural patterns on the ground surface leads me to the design.

Q: What inspires you?
Carol: The Beauty of nature, the colors and smells of the outdoors.

Q: What is your preferred work environment?
Carol: My studio and outdoors on a cool day.

Q: Whom do you most admire and in what ways are you influenced by this individual?
Carol: Rosario Wilkie, a gourd artist. Rosario is a spark of light, with a dynamic sense of style. Always reinventing her work.

Q: What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as an artist?
Carol: I love what I do. Trying new things, but usually going back to my basic style, carved and burned vessels.

Q: Where can you work be purchased?
Carol: El Zocalo Gallery, Las Vegas, NM and from our website.

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Artist Profile: Alice Carney

Alice WinstonIn a previous Q&A with Alice Carney about her writing, she said: “Whatever your creative urge is, writing, painting, drawing, music, photography, just walking in the woods, honor it.” Carney has expanded that passion to include art with an emphasis on water color. Her images are bold and colorful, a reflection of her Northern New Mexico connection, and her spirit of adventure, whether wielding a pen or a paintbrush. She is the co producer of the annual Green River Writers Workshop scheduled for July 11-14 at the Plaza Hotel.

Below she responds to questions about her work as an artist.

Q. What art medium do you work in?
A. Watercolor.

Q. Why that medium?
A. I was drawn to watercolor (especially the work of Ray Drew) growing up in Las Vegas and then attending Highlands University during the  Elmer Schooley era. In those days I was just an observer, later a collector, a dabbler. I didn’t start seriously painting until five years ago, when I began studying with Woody Hansen in Sacramento, Calif. I find watercolor challenging, as any medium is, but I like the freedom and surprise it offers. I am primarily a “shape” painter. Most of my paintings are abstract landscapes, pretty loose-goosey. I like finding my own interpretation of what I see. My background is in writing and teaching, which can be very linear. I like the sense of freedom in moving those fluid paints around on paper, seeing what happens.

Q. What inspires you?
A. The beauty in nature, the courage of originality in art and life.

Q. What is your preferred work environment?
A. Outside. No wind, no rain. Quiet.

Fire MountainQ. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. In general, I admire people who are honest, courageous, generous, and open-minded. It helps also if they have a good sense of humor and can laugh at themselves. I think art and writing are aids on the path to finding courage. Watercolor painters: Henry Fukuhara, John Marin, Woody Hansen, for starters.

Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as an artist?
A. That I am honored to be included in this show.

Q. Where can your work be purchased?
A. At 210 A Gallery on the Plaza in Las Vegas. I am grateful to Linda Anderle for offering to carry my pieces. For the past two years I have been included in the New Mexico Painters Invitational Exhibition sponsored by Highlands University.

Chef Sinclair brings it: A new and exciting dining concept

Kin at Castaneda

Chef Sean SinclairSean Sinclair is executive chef and proprietor at Bar Castañeda and Kin at the Castañeda, the historic hotel’s restaurant. He is a Tijeras, N.M. native and a keen advocate for New Mexico. Following high school graduation, Sean moved to Portland, Oregon to attend culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu.

Sean said that from childhood, he recognized the importance of knowing where the food he ate came from. His move to the Pacific Northwest made it possible for him to experience the deep-rooted farm-to-table dining culture Portland’s food scene is noted for. After several years working in some of the finest kitchens in Portland, Sean made the move back to New Mexico to become executive chef at Albuquerque’s Farm and Table. Under his leadership, Farm and Table was named “Best Restaurant Albuquerque” and received accolades from many publications, including USA Today.

To advance his career, Sean made the move to Washington, Va., where he became sous chef at the world-famous Inn at Little Washington, a Michelin Star property, which was recognized in 2019 as the fifth ranked restaurant in the world. At the Inn, Sean worked with Patrick O’Connell, a chef considered to be the Pope of American Cuisine.

“ I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity Chef POC gave me to work in his kitchen. The lessons I learned in that restaurant will be with me for the rest of my life.”
– Chef Sean Sinclair

In this Q&A, Sean talks about his new journey as executive chef and proprietor at Kin, the restaurant at the historic Castañeda Hotel.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself as a New Mexico native.
Sean: I am so excited to be back cooking in New Mexico for the people of my home state. We chose to open a restaurant here in Las Vegas because of the strong agricultural community that surrounds this area. I think of myself not only as a chef, but as a food economist. Restaurants spend tremendous amounts of money on food products. Most of the time those products are shipped in from other states or even other countries. It’s not practical to use strictly New Mexican products, but our goal is to keep 70 percent or more of the money we spend on food here in the state. We aim to help support our local farmers and ranchers as much as we possibly can.

Q: Talk about how this has influenced you as a chef.
Sean: Early in my career, New Mexican cuisine greatly influenced the way I cook. Some of my favorite foods are posole with pork and red chile, and tamales.  I like to look at New Mexican cuisine from a different angle. To me the new, New Mexican cuisine is to focus on the use of delicious and locally grown products and let that product shine. A well-grown ripe tomato has nothing to hide; it’s delectable all by itself. Instead of over-complicating a dish with tomato, I would rather showcase how delicious our locally grown tomatoes (or any other product), really is. To me, the cuisine of a region can’t be distilled down to one ingredient. Our chiles here in this state are among the many things that make New Mexico such an amazing culinary destination. They do not, by themselves, define us.  We aim to showcase the true bounty of the Northern New Mexican agricultural community.

Kin at CastanedaQ: Kin at Castañeda. How did the name of the restaurant come about?
Sean: Kin means family. It’s a nod towards the time my wife and I spent in rural Virginia. It was at first hard to fit in, but by the end of our time in Little Washington, Va., we were kin to the locals.

Q: What are your guiding principles as a chef?
Sean: My guiding principles as a chef are simple.

  • The food must be delicious. Delicious is not something you need to think about; it simply is or is not.
  • The food must be beautiful. Again, it’s pretty or it isn’t, a simple concept.
  • The food must be genuine. I want the food we cook to have some sense of place.
  • The food must be uniquely us. I don’t like to steal dishes from cookbooks or other restaurants. The food we serve is of our creation from concept to plate.
  • Finally, I am a big believer in the collective We. I do not cook the food at the restaurant all by myself. We have a team of dedicated and hardworking individuals who are the cornerstone of our success.

Q: How is owning your establishment effecting your choices about menu?
Sean: My standards have always been rigid when it comes to the food we prepare. Now that I am working for myself, my energy gas tank got much larger. By that I mean it’s much easier to work 100 hours a week for yourself than it is for someone else.  The more I work, the more I save for my business. I will be on the line every service overseeing the quality of food we produce and training our staff to meet and exceed any expectations set.

Q: What is it like to be affiliated with such an iconic historic property and how does that influence your management of overall food services in Kin and in Bar Castañeda?
Sean: I think the best part about being inside such an important historic building is that the Castañeda itself is a draw.  We will attract patrons that might not have made the trip otherwise and that is a huge plus. As far as the way it will influence our services, the plan is simple; put out the best quality product and service possible and give the great city of Las Vegas one more thing to be proud of.

Q: Are you serving food in Bar Castañeda and if so, what might patrons expect to find on the menu?
Sean: We sure are!  Bar Castañeda has its own menu and that will debut soon! The menu will be comprised of re-imagined Fred Harvey classics. Stay tuned on our social media platforms for updates.

Q: You and Katey come into this venture as a team. Talk about that and how you work together to assure everything runs smoothly?

Katey Sinclair
Sean: Katey is my best friend. We balance each other out really well. She has been a career teacher up to this point and the skills she learned in her past career come in very handy in the restaurant industry. Katey has a keen eye for detail and she doesn’t miss a beat! I don’t trust a single human on earth more than I trust Katey, so it’s nice having her around to be where I cant be, watching what I can’t watch while I am in the kitchen.

Q: In the hospitality business, back-of-house – making memorable food, and front-of-house – customer interaction and service, are complicated and require different approaches. How are you handling that?
Sean: I have been fortunate to work in some truly great restaurants and have worked for some absolutely amazing people throughout my career. I will take the lessons learned and apply them to my own business. It’s always some sort of controlled chaos. The trick is to hire the right people and let them excel in their respective departments.

Q: How many staff to you expect to hire and what are you looking for, first in the kitchen, and then in the dining room?
Sean: In the kitchen 14-15. In the dining room, 16 – 20.  We are seeking candidates with a willingness to learn and a strong work ethic. We will provide training and a fair work environment.

Q: What have you learned about your profession that came as a surprise, but taught you a lasting lesson?
Sean: I have done this all my life. I have learned to not let anything take me by surprise. We take each challenge in stride and become better versions of ourselves through adversity.

Q: Who is the greatest influence on you as an entrepreneur? As a chef?
Sean: Patrick O’Connell was my chef at The Inn at Little Washington. The man showed me that any dream is possible no matter how grand and unobtainable it may seem. I refined my skills working in his restaurant, yes, but I think the most important thing I learned there is to dream big.

Q: What was your approach to developing the Kin menu?
Sean: We want to feature locally grown products. The idea is to glorify the ingredient. We want to serve many courses of small plates to keep our guests engaged. Pace plays a large role in a multi-course tasting menu. Designing a menu where we can control the pace, to some extent, is part of that. The Kin menu will change regularly and will be a lifelong work in progress, constantly influenced by new techniques and most of all, by the farmer.

Q: When will Kin be open and what are the hours?
Sean: We will be releasing this information through our social media platforms. We do not currently have a fixed date for Kin. We will be open 4 nights a week from 5 to 9 p.m.


Artist Profile:Carl and Lisa Bartley

Lisa and Carl Bartley

Carl and Lisa Bartley live on Gascon Ranch where they have their metal shop. Carl grew up on the ranch, the son of Jim and Editha Bartley, grandson of Dr. Carl H. Gellenthein from the Valmora Sanitarium. After 35 years of being in the banking world, Carl retired and came home to Gascon. Carl and Lisa are active fire fighters. Carl served as fire chief for Bonito fire department in Lincoln County and continues to work with the fire department in the Gascon area. Lisa is an engine boss, and for the past 19 years has served as an EMT. The Bartleys have blended their talents to make metal art, from simple brackets to detailed layered landscapes. Carl is in charge of design, layout and computer cutting, while Lisa does the metal grinding, welding, painting and marketing. “We are a team.” Lisa says. “Carl’s the brains, I’m the enthusiasm!”

Below, Lisa talks about their love for creating unique pieces.

Q. What art medium do you work in?
A. Metal

Bartly ArtQ. Why that medium?
A. Carl has worked with metal all his life as the ranch life requires many skills – from blacksmithing to fence braces and now to artistic metal art. Carl is self-taught on the plasma cutter. I have used pastels and acrylic paints to express my art in the past. Now, I design, grind details, weld (Carl taught me to weld and use all the tools in the shop), and paint the metal pieces.

Q. What inspires you?

Q. What is your preferred work environment?
A. Alone – with Pandora blasting our favorite tunes from AC/DC to Lindsey Sterling!

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. Karen Emerald Reeder. My art instructor and dear friend Karen taught me to express myself through pencil, pastels, acrylics and metal, to see beauty even in the smallest way.

Q.What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as an artist?
A. That Carl and I are having a blast as a team creating beautiful art and that we are grateful for our God given talent. We treasure every individual that takes the time to admire our art.

Q. Where can you work be purchased?
A. The Log Cabin Restaurant in Ruidoso, at our gallery at the Gascon shop, and at the Pendaries RV Park coffee shop.


Author Profile: James Blackshear

James BlackshearJames Blackshear has written two books on the Southwest, one about land grant history in New Mexico entitled Honor and Defiance: A History of the Las Vegas Land Grant in New Mexico (Santa Fe: Sunstone Press, 2013), the other a social history of life on frontier forts, as well as an investigation of the Hispanic traders known as Comancheros. This second book is Fort Bascom: Soldiers, Comancheros and Indians in the Canadian River Valley (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016)Blackshear has published articles about similar subjects in both the New Mexico Historical Review and the Military History of the West, and occasionally reviews books for scholastic journals. He is also published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series.He teaches U.S. History at the UNT Dallas Campus, and Texas History at the Plano Campus of Collin College in North Texas. His current research includes the Comanchero trade, Comanchero trails, and the links between New Mexican mountain people and Plains Indians.He and his wife purchased land in Pendaries in 1999, and built a cabin, where they spend a couple of months each summer.Below he talks about writing and his specialty as a author of historical nonfiction.Honor and Defiance

Q. What genre do you work in?
A. Southwestern history, nonfiction

Q. Why that genre?
A. I have always loved history.  When my wife and I purchased our property in Pendaries in 1999, the land began to speak, or at least, started asking a lot of questions, which drove me deeper in this direction. One way I answer such questions is through the research process.

Q. What inspires you?
A. My wife, my grandchildren and Pendaries sunsets.

Q. What is your preferred work environment as a writer?
A. My favorite place to write is in our cabin in Pendaries, the Rociada Valley and Pecos Wilderness Mountain Range staring back at me.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. As far as writers go there are several. Three who stand out are Charles L. Kenner, who wrote The Comanchero Frontier, Pekka Hamalainen, The Comanche Empire, and David McCullough, 1776, and numerous others.

Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as a writer?
A. That New Mexico’s environment has always driven its history. Its topography, weather and rivers have shaped where people live, the economies and trade relationships that developed as a result, and the location of the routes they were created to connect a variety of cultures over several centuries.

Q. Where can you work be purchased?
A. Honor and Defiance can be purchased directly through Sunstone Press in Santa Fe. My book on Fort Bascom can be directly purchased through the University of Oklahoma Press. Also all the major online book services, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, carry these titles.


Artist Profile: Doris Miller

Doris MillerQ. What art medium do you work in?
A. Over the years I have worked in a variety of media.  I started out as a ceramicist, did that for about 25 years.  After a bout with cancer, I decided to try some less toxic materials, (glazes can contain lots of chemicals that are toxic, and I did mostly raku firings, which involved fire and smoke).  I moved to fused and stained glass. The sparkle of glass got me interested in beads, so I began to string beads from many different sources, rocks, glass beads, shells, etc.  The necklaces lead to earrings, which led to working with wire because it is so light and women are always looking for earrings that are lightweight.

Q. Why that medium?
A. I guess I just like trying new things.

Q. What inspires you?
A. So many things have been a source of inspiration. Primitive cultures, exotic jewelry, art deco objects, the far and near east, even religion.

Doris Miller ArtQ. What is your preferred work environment?
A. My studio in San Antonio.  Everything I need is there.  It has great light and a beautiful view.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. That would be my teachers, especially in ceramics. They were always so encouraging, and willing to share ideas. Two in particular were Dennis Smith at The Southwest School of Art, and Luis Guzman, a Chilean artist who also taught at the school.

Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as an artist?
A. I am not important; I hope they can know me through my work.

Q. Other than this show, where can you work be purchased?
A. I have pretty much retired from the gallery scene, although I do have a few pieces at the San Antonio Art League and Museum. I am lucky enough to still have clients who seek me out. I sell commissioned work from my studio.

Author & Artist Profile

Sally Kruse and Melanie Faithful

This duo collaborated on a book of poetry and illustrations to create Saints and Sinners: An esoteric collection of poetry and photographs from New Mexico.

Saints and Sinners

From the Amazon site description: Sentimental and sarcastic, serious and silly, with beautiful full-color photography and art, accompanied by accessible poetry reflecting a sense of place. New Mexico-centric, but with appeal beyond state borders. Perfect for gift giving or for anyone with an interest in multi-cultural perspectives. Topics cover every subject, but focuses include environmental issues, feminist issues, experiences of faith and observations on aging. With an iconic building from northern New Mexico on the cover, New Mexico readers (or those who love New Mexico) will be quick to recognize, pick up, browse, and buy.

From their personal statement: Even if this book didn’t exist, Sally would still be taking photographs and painting, and Melanie would still be writing and writing and writing. We’ve both been doing this for years, and after this book, we’ll continue and so will our friendship. And maybe, if we are all careful and do the right thing, the earth will continue as well.

Melanie Faithful, poet

Melanie FaithfulQ. What genre do you work in?
A. Poetry

Q. Why that genre?
A. I’ve tried others, but everything still comes out poetry, so I’ve just let that keep flowing. I have been working on some essays and that is becoming more fun, but poetry will always be my thing.

Q. What inspires you?
A. The magic of life. Symbolism, deep diving to discover what it means to be human. Art. Mountains. Food. Good wine. Cats. Kids.

Q. What is your preferred work environment as a writer? Laptop on a desk next to a window.
A. Sitting cozy while still feeling connected to the world.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. Oh, wow. The ancient poet Sappho – a feminist poet rocking the world thousands of years ago. John Donne, who was spiritual and connected to his physical experience of life all at the same time. Emily Dickinson who couldn’t not write. My friend Donna who is one of the first women ordained as an Episcopal Priest, who is also a Jungian analyst. My husband, who is the ultimate Be Here Now kind of person.

Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as a writer?
A. I am incredibly earnest in an introverted sort of way, but with an extroverted persona. We are all both of these things.

Q. Other than this show, where can you work be purchased?
A. Sally mentioned all the bookstores carrying Saints and Sinners. I’m not sure that anthologies and poetry journals that contain my work are that readily available, LOL!

Sally Kruse: Photography and Watercolor

Sally KruseQ. What medium do you work in?
A. Photography and watercolors. I have studied and painted watercolors since college in the late 1960s and early 1970s at New Mexico Highlands University where I studied under Ray Drew and Elmer Schooley, both amazing influences.

Q. What inspires you?
A. Northern New Mexico especially but all of New Mexico in general inspire me, especially the villages and the people who live and work there.

Q. What is your preferred work environment?
A. I love deeply this state and all of its people. Just driving through the villages, stopping to photograph and visit with members of the community bring me immense joy. So, naturally, the mountains and villages of New Mexico are my preferred work environment.

Q. Where can your work be purchased?
A. Our book can be purchased at Tome on the Range in Las Vegas, NM, OpCit Taos in Taos, Op Cit Santa Fe in Santa Fe, Collected Works in Santa Fe, and, of course, on Amazon.


Author Profile: Edwina Romero

Patti Romero is a longtime friend, someone I admire for her gifts of creativity, attention to detail and commitment to excellence. And I like her personally. She is a wonderful sounding board, a soul-sister sojourner in the world of writing and someone who gets it when it comes to writing and all things related. Click here to read a review of her book, Prairie Madness.

Q. WPatti Romerohat genre do you work in?
A. Fiction, non-fiction (Las Vegas, NM history), and memoir.

Q. Why that genre?
A. I feel most comfortable with prose and research.

Q. What inspires you?
A. My daughter.

Q. What is your preferred work environment?
A. I used to love writing in cafes, but cannot write by hand anymore, so love my study with its electronics, keyboard, and daybed.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. Authors Edna O’Brien, S. J. Parris, Diane Setterfield, for their writing styles, diverse characters, intricate plots; Anthony Trollope for his humor and sentences. Personally, my daughter Rachel–for overcoming many adversities and reshaping her life as desired.

Prairie MadnessQ. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as a writer?
A. I continually check facts and writing mechanics, and experiment with a variety of ways of composing sentences. I love the revision process. I wanted “to be a writer” since high school and wrote throughout  my life; first published four years after retiring.

Q. Where can you work be purchased?
A.; Paper Trail, 158 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM;;








Artist Profile: Nancy Condrey

Nancy CondryQ. What art medium do you work in?
A. I work in acrylic and oil.

Q. Why that medium?
A. I started in acrylic and have now done several paintings in oils. They are softer for blending and truer colors.

Q. What inspires you?
A. The sunsets over Galveston Bay inspired me to pick up my brushes after almost 50 years! The clouds and the colors have me in constant awe of God’s creation.

Q. What is your preferred work environment?
A. I love to paint at our home in Galveston with a whole wall of light coming in off of the Bay.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. As an art student at the University of Texas in the 1960s, I fell in love with the amazing sunsets of George Inness. His attention to detail and the golden glow of the sun as it set fascinated me.

Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as an artist?
A. I love creating things with my hands! Painting, sculpture, needlework, woodcarving, stained glass and photography are mediums that I have enjoyed working in over the years.

Q. Where can you work be purchased?
A. Sherwood’s Gallery in Houston, Texas.

Artist Profile: Fran Ryan

A woman of few words, Fran Ryan is a talented artist whose work reflects a gentle nature and deep appreciation for the natural world. In her brief responses she speaks to what is closest to her heart: working at the thing she loves to do in a place that brings her joy. Fran Ryan

Q. What medium do you work in?
A. I work in acrylics and gouache, paint landscapes of Northern New Mexico often with animals or a story line. Also birds and music themes.

Q. Is this your first year as a P.A.L. participant and what appeals to you about being in this show?
A. I’m an original Pendaries Art League Show participant; I don’t think I’ve missed one even when not a resident for a few years. I am happy to be back iFran Ryan Painting.n my original home which I built in 1995.

Q. Other than this show, where can you work be purchased?
A. My work can be seen at el Zocalo in Las Vegas and Tome gallery in Tome, N.M. Also other shows such as New Mexico State Fair Fine Art and Las Vegas Art Council.


Artist Profile: Duffy Peterson

Duffy PetersonBio from el Zocolo website: Duffy Peterson has lived, studied and exhibited her art from coast to coast but spent the majority of her life in Southern California. Loving the New Mexico landscape and its various cultures, she moved to Las Vegas, N.M. in 2006.

A painter since her early teens, Duffy primarily works in oils and acrylics. She has studied painting, drawing, natural dyeing and spinning wools and weaving. Duffy has been exposed to the breadth of the United States and its various local and national art forms.

With two mottoes guiding her, Georgia O’Keefe’s  “It belongs to me. God told me if I painted it enough I could have it,” and “Never apologize for your art,” (which Duffy always tells her students), she has savored a lifetime of artistic endeavors.

Duffy's HollihocksQ. What art medium do you work in?
A. I work primarily in oils but also acrylics, pastels and watercolors.

Q. Why that medium?
A. At the age of 11, I took oil painting lessons and fell in love with the medium.

Q. What inspires you?
A. All subject matter is interesting but I love landscapes primarily.

Q. What is your preferred work environment?
A. I work alone at my studio usually, but love attending painting classes or with the Camino Real 8 – a plein air painting group to which I belong.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. The artists I most admire are the early Taos artists, Sorolla and any artist who works at his art full time.

Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as an artist?
A. I hope my love of our beautiful Northern New Mexico will be evident in my art.

Q. Where can you work be purchased?
A. I am a founding member of el Zocalo Gallery at 1809 Plaza in Las Vegas, N.M., as well as at exhibits throughout the state and with the Camino Real 8 group


Author Profile: Kayt C. Peck

Kayt's Books

From Kayt’s website: Kayt C. Peck has been a professional writer for over 30 years while applying her skills in a variety of situations from serving as a journalist to being a public affairs officer in the US Naval Reserve to efforts as a highly successful grants expert who has raised over $30 million for nonprofit and non-governmental organizations both foreign and domestic. Read more…

In the Q&A below, Kayt responds to questions about her writing. In her day job, Flying Pigs Creative Services she is committed to incubating dreams for nonprofit organizations via fundraising, program development, organizational and project evaluation, and skills training.

Q. What genre do you work in?
A. In novels I primarily write contemporary westerns and magical realism. Although I Kayt C. Peckwrite for a lesbian press out of California (Sapphire Books), my novels are considered “crossovers” that appeal to a general audience. I also write plays, short-stories, and nonfiction articles.

Q. Why that genre?
A. Contemporary western because I love writing about the life I knew on the family ranch in the Texas Panhandle and even today living in the village of Rociada. Magical realism because it feeds my soul, and I pray it does the same for my readers. I think we all could benefit from being more aware of the unseen world.

Q. What inspires you
A. Life! I am amazed at the beautiful complexity of humanity and the world.

Q. What is your preferred work environment as a writer?
A. At my desk, a cat purring beside me as I write and the occasional glance out the window, especially if deer or turkeys happen to be crossing my property.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. That’s a hard question — choosing only one. Maybe it would be the fictional character of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird or Idgy in Fried Green Tomatoes. There are so many people who have earned my respect and admiration. I admire courage, integrity, individuality, creativity, humor, open-mindedness, and I have been blessed with many people in my life who embody those traits.

Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as a writer?
A. That I write because I’m called to do so. I pray my words provide what the readers need as they make their own journey through life whether that be entertainment, inspiration, or a better understanding of what it’s like to build a five-wire fence.

Q. Where can you work be purchased?
A. It’s available through Amazon,, at Tome on the Range in Las Vegas, NM, and through Barnes and Noble. Bella Books also sells my work.


Artist Profile: Emma Lujan

Emma LujanEmma Lujan’s cazuelas (Spanish for cooking pots) pottery reflect her heritage and creativity. This Cleveland, N.M. artist has 20-plus years of experience creating colorful, functional pottery. Her trademark is the vibrant, earthy hues in her cone 6-fired ceramics. She creates Northern New Mexico pottery, specializing in functional wares. Her work is available at El Zocalo in Las Vegas, Mora Spinning Mill and at the Pendaries Art League 16th Annual Show.

Q. What art medium do you work in?
A. My work is ceramics, specifically functional pottery fired at cone 6, which results in stoneware.

Q. Why that medium?
A. When I started learning pottery, 20 years ago, the choices were cone 04, a low fired method, almost like a Mexican pottery, or a mid-range stoneware. I loved the functionality of mid-range because it was food safe, microwave safe, dishwasher safe, all the aspects of a functional dish.

Q. What inspires you?
A. I am inspired by vibrant colors and my heritage, which is 47 percent native American. I am attracted to red and blues, yellows and greens. I love purple dishes too.

Q. What is your preferred work environment?
A. My house that we built in Cleveland when we retired, has a full pottery studio for myCeramic Bowl use. Perfect for production pottery. In addition I have a home gallery.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. Three people have inspired me. The first is Andrea Holsen, she was my first pottery teacher. She loved the clay work, whether it was hand building or teaching the wheel.  The second was my glaze teacher, Loetta Lowman. She loved to make glazes, which inspired my love for transforming color. The third was Bill VanGilder. He is a master potter. I took a class from him.

Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as an artist?
A. That my work is personal. I love that it is created with the basic elements that God has provided, earth, water, air, and fire.

Q. Where can you work be purchased?
A. At El Zocalo in Las Vegas, N.M., and various shows in Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Socorro.

Books at Paper Trail

Thunder Prime Hunter's Light

My books

Nancy Colalillo is once again into the book-selling business and has kindly added my books in the regional section, along with books by other Las Vegas and area authors. I’m positioned right up there with two of my favorites: Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire series, and Anne Hillerman, author of authentic Native American novels. They are a good bit more successful and famous than me, but I like sharing the shelves with them anyway.

Of course, Paper Trail sells many other items – more about that on another day – but the books are new and definitely composed of paper… and writing, lots of writing.

My friend Patti Romero, also has her book Prairie Madness at Paper Trail. Stop in and browse for books and other goodies. See a review of the Patti’s book here.

My Titles at Paper Trail:
Thunder Prime Hunter’s Light, Sci Fi / futuristic
The Ballad of Bawdy McClure (No, it’s not a western, more of a futuristic adventure)
Blind Curve, Contemporary fiction
Finding Family, Contemporary fiction
25 Days of Christmas, an Advent Journey, Poetry counting the days up to Christmas
Lines, Poetry in Notion, yes, as you might expect – poetry

For more about these books, click on the Books link in the menu and select the book you want to know more about.

Follow Sharon @
Amazon Author Central


Author Profile: Dr. Ronald Maestas

Folk Art

This is the sixth in a series of Q&A interviews with artists and writers participating in the Pendaries Art League 16th Annual Art Show to be held July 6 – 7, with an opening reception on July 5. There will be a robust body of work by talented creative spirits. Consider it Christmas shopping in July for a unique gift for yourself or someone special in your life. And you will be supporting the arts in the best possible way, by purchasing something created with love and dedication.

Dr. Ronald W. MaestasWith in-depth research, retired New Mexico Highlands University professor Dr. Ronald W. Maestas, has created La Fe de Mis Amigos, Vecinos, Parientes, y Padres – (The Faith of My Friends, Neighbors, Relatives, and Parents), a book full of rich details about Colorado santeros and santeras. In the forward to the book, Dr. Anselmo F. Arellano wrote: Lifestyles, diverse social and cultural habits continue to affect these people (santeros and santeras) and their families and friends, who now live in different areas of the United States, but they continue to retain their faith and an important aspect of their culture, a sincere devotion to their santos. It is sincerely hoped that this book will provide others with a better understanding and appreciation of this cultural and religious experience that has been retained among these families for centuries.

From an article in the Conejos County Citizen: With deep roots in the San Luis Valley, Dr. Ronald W. Maestas has completed La Fe de Mis Amigos, Vecinos, Parientes y Padres, (The Faith of My Friends, Neighbors, Relatives and Parents) a book on Colorado santeros and santeras, the historical and cultural legacy of Hispanos in New Mexico and southern Colorado. Read more…

Below are his responses to questions about his work and the publication of La Fe de Mis Amigos, Vecinos, Parientes, y Padres – (The Faith of My Friends, Neighbors, Relatives, and Parents)

Q. What genre do you work in?
A. Hispanic traditional colonial art.

Q. Why that genre?
A. This genre represents hundred of years of Hispanic art in New Mexico and southern Colorado

Q. What inspires you?
The quantity and quality of santero, santera art.

Q. What is your preferred work environment as a writer?
A. I do my best work in the wee hours of the morning. I am able to concentrate without any interruptions

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
Pope John Paul II; he was the most humble man I ever met.  I was fortunate to be in his presence twice in my life!

Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as a writer?
That I was fortunate to showcase the work of many of New Mexico’s Hispanic traditional colonial art. The artists opened their hearts, their homes to allow me to write about their fantastic work

Q. Where can your work be purchased?
A. My books is available on and from me directly. I self published the book; it will soon go into a second edition.  I have included additional artists.  Therefore, I will also self-market the book.  The book is available at Donnlley Library, West Las Vegas High School Library, and the Las Vegas Rough Rider’s Library.

Artist Profile: Chuck Wallace

Chuck WallaceFrom the artist’s website: When people find out I’m an artist they many times ask me what I like to paint. I never know how to answer since I paint what catches my eye or what I like. I saw this old truck in a field and thought it had a lot of character. Think of all the stories it could tell. So I took a photo and painted it. – Chuck Wallace

Chuck is a prolific artist who captures a variety of subjects. His website has a small sampling of his colorful and diverse work.

Q. What art medium do you work in?
A. Watercolor painting

Q. Why that medium?
A. I love the spontaneity and unpredictability of watercolor paint along with how clear the colors can be. I also love the ability to layer colors for affect.

DevotedQ. What inspires you?
A. I can be inspired by many different subjects. I’m drawn to the dramatic and/or different perspective of a subject. Color inspires me when it is used in the right way. The paintings of other artists, which stop me in my tracks are usually those which have a dramatic or unusual perspective, include high contrast and beautiful colors.

Q. What is your preferred work environment?
A. My studio with some good music playing. I also love being outdoors and I’m just beginning to do more plein air painting.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. Definitely John Singer Sargent. I’ve always loved his watercolors and a few years ago was able to see 30 or more of his paintings in person. I was mesmerized by his use of color and how he could seemingly with little effort make one brush stroke that made an object or subject pop off the page. His compositions were amazing. I would have loved to watch him paint.

Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as an artist?
A. I believe beauty is something our culture has lost as a value that each human being needs to survive. When God created the world he could have made it gray, white and black, but he chose to make it incredibly beautiful and full of color. I believe this is because he highly values beauty. It is something we all need. I’d like to think that in a small way my paintings when hung in someone’s home can encourage, inspire, and refresh someone. I’d also like people to know that I have a very personal and deep relationship with God from which I draw inspiration. God is the most creative being in the universe and I’d like to think that in some small way a very small fraction of that creativity makes it’s way into my paintings.

Q. Where can you work be purchased?
A. Anyone can go to my website to view other paintings and then contact me if interested in purchasing a piece.


Artist Profile: Nancy Wallace

Nancy Wallace grew up in Lubbock, Texas and graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Spanish. She has worked for a faith-based nonprofit organization for 44 years, and has lived in various places in the U.S. as part of her job. She currently resides in Austin, Texas. Nancy has been coming to New Mexico for vacation since she was three years old. A few years ago she and her husband inherited the family cabin in Pendaries from Nancy’s father. She has always loved being creative, and since moving to Austin has taken up the art of making mosaics, taking various mosaic classes over the years, and has participated in a couple of local shows in Austin.

Nancy WallaceQ. What art medium do you work in?
A. I do mosaics, so my medium is varied: vitreous tile, natural stones, found objects, stained glass, rocks, objects found in nature, broken ceramics and dishes.

Q. Why that medium?
A. I love the texture, the variety of materials, and the happiness of creating art out of broken pieces.

Q. What inspires you?
A. Ilana Shafir, a deceased mosaic artist who lived in Israel, is my inspiration.  She interpreted things from nature into incredibly stunning mosaics, using a variety of materials. The beautiful materials used to make mosaics inspire me.

Q. What is your preferred work environment?
A. The home studio I share with my husband, who is a watercolor artist.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. I most admire Jesus Christ. He is the Great Creator….everything was made through Him.

Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as an artist?
A. That I take great joy in creating and want to bring glory to God through the work of my hands.

Q. Where can you work be purchased?
A. At this point, my work can only be purchased at shows like this one.