Dick’s patio open for business

Dick's back in the day
Dick’s in the early days

Dick’s has been around since 1940, managed and owned by the Dick Elias family. In 1974, the business was taken over by the Moore family and has, over 45 years since then, grown into a local favorite.

Owner Charlotte Moore, said Dick’s has evolved over the years from the liquor store, deli counter into a pub and restaurant.

“We have continued to reinvent Dick’s with the ever-changing times,” she said.

Dick’s has undergone several updates/remodels over the years. The three that created the most change happened in 1998. The owners built a two-story space over the parking lot as a two-level night club. The space is now the kitchen (bottom floor) and restaurant (top floor).

“In 2012 we acquired the Historic Serf Theatre adjacent to us, and in 2014 we restored it to house our special events venue, and finally in 2015 (five years ago), we transformed our liquor store/bar area from two areas to one room to house our pub/restaurant. The new pub area is cozy, brick walled reminiscent of an old historic building found in Chicago, New York, or Colorado,” Charlotte said.

Forward motion and innovative thinking could not overcome the unexpected reality of Covid-19.

“This has completely turned our business upside down, many new procedures are needed just to open daily,” she said. “Face masks are required as well as much disinfecting constantly, table condiments are eliminated, disposable menus are required. QR codes are used for menu access as well. Technology is the way of the future for sure!”

Food for thought
Food for thought

Just before the most recent closure to in-door dining, the Moore’s reupholstered many of their seating areas with virus-resistant fabric and increased to a higher level the percentage of disinfectant required in dishwashers, and running them at a higher temperature.

Now, the restaurant and pub customers are seated outside and served under a big tent placed on the sidewalk and parking spaces directly in front of Dick’s property. Social distancing is observed with tables spaced in keeping with health requirements. Masks are worn by patrons until they are seated for dining. Staff wears their masks all the time.

“We were only allowed 50 percent occupancy when we were serving inside. Our Venue (Historic Serf Theatre) is virtually non-existent since large gatherings are not allowed. This would have been one of our busiest years with weddings and graduation celebrations.

“Dining at Dick’s, for now, means being seated in our outdoor patio since indoor dining is prohibited under the current health restrictions. All tables/chairs have been strategically placed to assure social distancing. Condiments are available only in individual portions served on request. We have had difficulty getting crew to return. However, we have moved much of our venue crew to Dick’s to help with daily duties.”

Dick’s loyal patrons continue to accommodate to the changing rules at this popular eatery.

“We’d like our customers to be patient as we are conforming to special requirements. Many of us are running with a skeleton crew to provide our services. Things will be different for now and going into the future for the hospitality industry due to Covid-19,” she said.

“The most beneficial to me as a business person, is having such a great community to bounce ideas and advice on. Under Covid restrictions, daily tasks are a challenge.

“One great benefit is enjoying time in the kitchen – I call it ‘Back to Basics,’ which has given me control of so much – specifically recipes, labor and food costs. I have simplified my menu, which I hope will continue to bring my labor and inventory down as well as increasing our quality of food,” Charlotte said.

Her greatest concern moving forward is rebounding from closure for three months, becoming financially stable, and keeping staff and customers healthy.

“Throughout our 28 years here at Dick’s, we have had such a great crew working for us. They’ve become family/friends along the way, which has made Dick’s a special destination. We’d like to continue that tradition of providing a great place for celebrations of life. Cheers to many more years!”

Dick’s hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday – Saturday. For more about Dick’s, check out their website: dickspubandrestaurant.com


Sharon Vander Meer is an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow her at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. Please like, share, or comment – or all three!


 

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Save the Date: 7/26/20 – Vera Jo Bustos Interview

Vera Jo BustosLas Vegas Literary Salon invites you to an interview with native Las Vegan, Vera Jo Bustos, author of A Mindful Journey. The book is the compelling story of Vera Jo’s personal growth through athletics and emergence as a motivational speaker. Listen to her demo video here to put a zing in your step today.

A graduate of West Las Vegas High School, Bustos was a standout student and athlete, and known throughout New Mexico as a three-time Athlete of the Year selection. She still holds records at WLV for points, rebounds, assists, and steals during her high school career.

Bustos went on to play at Adams State University, where she was All-Time career scoring leader, helped lead ASU to their second straight – and second ever – NCAA tournament appearance, led the Grizzlies to their first three post-season wins in 19 years and made it to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.

Among her many successes was her year playing professional basketball in Thessaloniki, Greece. She averaged 11.2 points and 4.9 rebounds as a rookie in the Top Division Greek League.

She was inducted into the Adams State Hall of Fame in September 2019, one of the youngest inductees in Adams State history.

Bustos holds degrees in Exercise Science & Sports Psychology, and a Master’s Degree in Sport Administration.

At the conclusion of her athletic career, she coached at Western Colorado University for two seasons and the University of New Mexico for five seasons. She currently serves as the vice-chair on the New Mexico Athletics Commission Board.

Bustos’ memoir, which will be the topic of the LV Lit Salon interview on July 26, is entitled A Mindful Journey.

This is more than a book about an outstanding athlete; it is the story of a young woman growing into her gifts through facing and embracing opportunity. It wasn’t easy and required her to step beyond self-imposed boundaries and take on new adventures that brought on unexpected challenges.

A Mindful JourneyFrom Vera Jo’s website: A Mindful Journey gives the reader a first-hand experience of Greece and its culture. With humility and humor, Vera Jo tells a story of resilience powered by connection to others. She takes us with her as she discovers the honest and sometimes brutal truth of the struggles of learning a foreign language, the obstacles of self-doubt, homesickness and loneliness, and the heartache and heartbreak that accompanies constant defeat.”

The book is available by special order from Paper Trail in Las Vegas (454-1337), from Vera Jo’s website and from online booksellers.

Zoom in on Sunday, July 26. To get the Zoom link, sign up below.


Note: Content for this blog was drawn from Bustos’ website: mentalitysolutions.com.
Las Vegas Literary Salon is sponsored by the Las Vegas Arts Council and by the Las Vegas NM Community Foundation. Support the arts through your financial support of these organizations. Thank you.


Sharon Vander Meer: I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M. Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsharon@msn. com.


 

Lit Salon celebrates writing

ToolsLas Vegas Literary Salon hosted its first event Sunday, July 12, thanks to the Las Vegas Arts Council and the Las Vegas NM Community Foundation. A special thanks to Susie Tsyitee who walked us through the Zoom technology and acted as host for the event. Below is a video about the event we hope you will watch. It features Patti Romero and me talking about Las Vegas Literary Salon in a broad sense and giving our thoughts on this premier event. Please note that this is a first “video interview” either of us has done and I was at the tech wheel, which in and of itself speaks of disaster! But, all things considered it gets our message across.

And what is our message? Writing is an art. We want to encourage emerging, young, established, genre, literary, nontraditional, fiction, nonfiction, poetry – basically writers and writing across the spectrum. We will do this through workshops, events like the Zoom Writers Roundtable, book fairs, tapping into the skills of experts in areas related to getting the book, essay, memoir, novel, whatever it is, from your brain to the page.

This is not for everyone. Some writers want solitude and choose not to network with other writers. I get that. But for those who do want to be part of a learning and networking community, come on board! And we want readers as well. You are important to the process. You consume our words and make them a part of your story from the time you start reading until you reach the end, and sometimes beyond. Along the way, we hope we’ve made you laugh or cry, pissed you off or lifted you up, perhaps even broadened your horizons.

The Sunday event was a success largely because of our five readers: Joy Alesdatter, Kathleen Lujan, Ray John de Aragon, Tim Hagaman, and Beth Urech. We thank them for the time and effort they put into preparing for their readings.

What’s next? We will be scheduling an event with former Las Vegan, Vera Jo Bustos in the near future. Look for details to be released soon.

We have a lot of ideas, and now we need bodies to help implement them, and come up with more. Join us! Fill in the form below the video and let us know if you’re ready to join, or whether you need more information. Also consider donating to one or both of the organizations working through the pandemic to figure out ways to keep the arts alive and thriving!

Las Vegas Arts Council
Las Vegas NM Community Foundation

Patti and Sharon talk about LV Lit Salon #1

zoom_0 from Sharon Vander Meer on Vimeo.

Please sign up below to join Las Vegas Literary Salon or to find out more.


 

Light

Hope

Whenever I’m afraid, I put my trust in you… Psalm 56:3

When fear becomes a driving force
I sometimes seek dark places
and avoid the Light,
places where it is close, confining.
Places where the voices I hear
are the voices of

Gloom.

Doom.

There is Light all around,
but fear hustles me
into that dark space.
There I will be hidden,

safe.

It is the great deceit.
In that dark space,
the voice of fear gets louder,
faith gets smaller.
Only in the Light
can the deceiver be exposed;
only in the Light can I find
hope and healing, faith and renewal.


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. Please like, share, or comment – or all three!


 

Andy Trujillo: Calm in the COVID-19 Storm

Andy Trujillo

Massage therapist Andy Trujillo is a native Las Vegan, although he didn’t grow up here. He was born in one of the small buildings on the Plaza, but never thought he would return after his family moved to Albuquerque. His story is in his calming nature and you can hear it as Andy recounts how he grew into his profession.

“I feel like I have been doing massage most of my life. I have memories of massaging my father’s back and shoulders by walking on his back as a small child. I also remember doing the same for my uncles and somehow knowing where and how hard to press. As a pre-teen or a teenager, I remember my relatives bringing babies to me if they were fussy or crying a lot and I would know how to quiet them down very quickly and put them to sleep. Sometimes rubbing their tummies or just knowing why they were crying.

“My work was never truly satisfying until after I was injured in a car accident in 1990 and underwent regular massage therapy in my recovery. I knew in my heart that I could help people through massage and decided then to pursue my Massage Therapist education and license. I have been licensed as a massage therapist since 1992.”

Andy has owned his business for the entire 28 years of his career, and prides himself in providing a therapeutic, but gentle massage. He specializes in pain relief and practices on all ages.

“My youngest client was an infant and my oldest client was my 99 year-old grandmother. In my practice, I offer a combination of different types of massage to fit the client’s individual needs, including Swedish, Deep Tissue, Shiatsu, Polarity and Reflexology.”

Andy said COVID-19 down time was used to complete the the process of moving his office.

“When the health and safety restrictions were instituted, my wife and I decided to renovate a part of our home and create a new office during the time I was unable to work. The loss of income was worth it for me to allow me the time to rethink my business and how I would operate moving forward,” he said.

For Andy, the good that came out of temporary closure  was a renewed emphasis on continuing to provide a safe environment for customers.

“Massage therapy is truly an individual session, in close quarters to the client, so I now conduct my business with even closer attention to infection control practices,” Andy said.

His practice if fully reopened. He controls the number of clients he sees each week, which takes care of social distancing, but Andy also follows mandated restrictions set forth by health officials to protect his clients and himself.

“I have been cautious as I reopen by screening my clients and taking temperatures before we start.”

Andy will continue to maintain high-level precautions by limiting the number of people he sees.

“By spreading my appointments out, I have time to disinfect my entire office, including not only my table, but all the furniture, lamps, down to the pens I have for clients to use. I wear a mask and have my clients wear a mask during the session. I ask a short series of screening questions and take the individual’s temperature before we start. My wife and I have both been tested and are negative right now for the virus.”

Andy loves his profession and is committed to the safety of clients, himself and family members.

“I will not compromise on that,” he said. “I will probably keep most of the new precautions in place in my business even after we have a safe way to live in the world with COVID-19 because they make sense and provide a much healthier way to serve the community.”

Few are prepared when something as devastating as a pandemic hits. Andy said he was fortunate his professional organization provided the guidance he needed as he prepared to reopen with safety in mind.

Moving forward, Andy shared a concern many small businesses owners have, that they, or their clients might become infected despite all the precautions. He will continue to operate under the new guidelines, now and into the future. For Andy, it is simply the right thing to do.

Andy Trujillo Massage Therapist is located at 2910 8th Street. The entrance is on Williams Drive.

“I work mostly Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but am available for weekends or later hours if needed.”

Contact information for the practice is 505 250-7928.

“Please leave a message if I do not answer. “I silence my phone and do not take calls when I am with my clients.”


NOTE: I am featuring local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in this series of articles about how COVID-19 has affected our community . If you would like to participate, email fsharon@msn.com for more information.


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. Please like, share, or comment – or all three!


 

TIME TWO

Time and Change

Time can build a mountain
or turn one into sand.
Time can take a small boy
and change him to a man.
Time can take a second
and end up with a day,
or take a week in January
and March it into May.
Time is always present;
it is here to stay.
Do all you can to make
the most of every day.


Follow Sharon at:
www.vandermeerbooks.com
https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks
Amazon Author Central


 

The customer connection at Bar Castaneda

In the kitchenWhen COVID-19 hit in New Mexico, restaurateurs had the choice of closing or doing curbside service. Chef Sean Sinclair at Bar Castañeda kept that all-important customer connection by offering curbside delivery and tasty treats, including his award-winning Smash Burger.

Currently, Bar Castañeda is offering its dinner menu from 3 to 8 p.m., six days a week, closed on Tuesdays. Opening of the fine-dining venue, Kin, has been delayed.

“We do not have an opening date for Kin, but we are keeping a close eye on the ever-evolving situation to make the best decision possible on when to debut the restaurant,” Chef Sinclair said.

Sean said that at first, the COVID-19 impact was scary.

“Luckily, we quickly got to work and made tough decisions and are now in a pretty decent spot, all things considered,” he said. “The big impact is not being able to open Kin yet.”

He said that doing curbside pickup from the beginning was a plus for his business.

“It was mentally helpful to have support from our community through the scariest (so far), part of this thing,” Sean said.

“Contact tracing is a completely voluntary admission process. We do have a sign-in sheet and sanitizer station at the front,” he said. “If guests would like to help us in contract tracing, they are welcome to do so. However, we are not requiring a sign-in for entry. We are requiring a mask to enter the premises. No dogs are allowed to join diners at this time, unless they are certified service animals.”

Sean said all tables, chairs, service ware, and all surfaces are sanitized before and after use.

On the padio“We are not seating guests inside at this time. We have a spacious patio and outdoor dining is much safer. All tables are generously spaced beyond any social distancing standards. Guests also must wear masks everywhere on the property except when seated and dining,” Sean said.

He said Bar Castañeda is back to normal, pre-covid hours. “Hopefully we will expand beyond that in the near future,” he said.

Recovering from a setback like a pandemic isn’t something you can prepare for. As Sean and Katey get back to normal they want their customers to know, they’re okay.

“We aren’t going anywhere and I am so grateful for everyone’s support through these increasingly difficult times. We are taking every precaution possible to keep everyone safe while dining in our establishment. We are thankful for everyone’s patience and help while patronizing our restaurant. We are doing our best to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 while still remaining open.”

Sean’s greatest concern currently is that most – if not all – data points regarding this current health climate are getting worse, not better.

“If we are forced to close again, it would be challenging. That being said, we would be more prepared for a second closure than we were for the first.

“Katey and I feel lucky to have opened our business in the wonderful city of Las Vegas, New Mexico. The local people have been so supportive of both our business and the mitigation of COVID-19. I have never lived in a city more united, or in a place I am more proud to call home. Stay strong everyone; we will get through this together.”

For more about Bar Castañeda and Kin go to kinlvnm.com


NOTE: I am featuring local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in this series of articles about how COVID-19 has affected our community . If you would like to participate, email fsharon@msn.com for more information.


 

Young entrepreneurs pay it forward

LilKLilKy Spa Products is an unusual business with two enterprising young ladies at the helm. Lily Arguello and Kylie Lopez, 10-year-old best buds, took their idea from a dream to a reality in January of 2019. After attending a tea party where they used a hand scrub, the two became intrigued by the idea of it and whether they could create similar products on their own. The two took what they thought of as a fun idea and – with the help of their moms – turned it into a growing enterprise. Lily and Kylie started with hand scrubs but their business has expanded and now includes hand/body scrubs, lip scrubs, lip balms, and body butter.

Surprisingly, Covid 19 helped the two entrepreneurs get back into business. They had stopped making scrubs for a while, but decided to make the products again and donate profits to a local organization.

A good cause“They sold enough to donate $1,000 to The Las Vegas Vegabonds in May of 2020,” said Kylie’s mother, Katherine Lopez. “They did this because they wanted to help people in our community get the food that they needed.”

LilKy Spa Products are produced in the homes of Lily and Kylie. Before Covid-19, the two worked together to make the scrubs and balms, but now make them separately. Products are sold on Facebook and Etsy.

“We want everyone to know that we make good products. We really want to grow our business and add more products, such as hand sanitizer, which we are currently testing,” Kylie said.

“Our customers’ support has been important during this difficult time. They have purchased a lot and have helped us to grow our business,” Lily said.

The two agree that their greatest concern moving forward is that the business won’t make it, but their concerns may be premature. Recent orders are encouraging. Returning and new customers are buying more products, which gives them an optimistic view of the future for their growing business.

Order products at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lilkyspaproducts/
Etsy: Etsy.com/shop/LilKySpaProducts
E-mail: lilkyspaproducts@gmail.com


NOTE: I am featuring local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in this series of articles about how COVID-19 has affected our community . If you would like to participate, email fsharon@msn.com for more information.



 

 

TIME

Time

Sunrise,
daylight,
the shimmer
of today.
On again,
off again,
the flood of Time.
Too new,
who knew
what today
might bring?
Days of memory,
emergence,
resurgence,
once,
and then again.


Follow Sharon at:
www.vandermeerbooks.com
https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks
Amazon Author Central


 

My Town – Las Vegas, NM

Eighth Street - Las Vegas, NM

So, what would you like to share about Las Vegas – NM that is? I’ve decided to be more intentional about posting information about my home town, a little community with amazing potential. In the middle of a pandemic, people stepped up to help each other, to make masks, to encourage one another, to make the most of a bad situation. Now we’re getting back to business and hopefully on the road to normal as defined post-COVID-19. I’m a one-person operation, so I rely on you to contact me if you would like your story posted here.

Here are links to articles posted so far:

The Las Vegas Economy: MSLV Initiatives Attack the Virus
Tortillas, donuts and more, Oh My!
Skillet Casting its Culinary Magic
Las Vegas NM Community Foundation
Small business, big heart: Unikat Fine Jewelry
Semilla Natural Foods, a nurturing environment

I welcome you to be a part of this series. Articles will be posted as responses to questions are received. Reserve your spot now. I’m looking forward to sharing news about you and your business, nonprofit or organization.

There is a mix of content on this site. I am, after all, a writer, so you will continue to see poetry, essays, short stories and whatever else I decide to post. If you have a Las Vegas, NM, article idea, share it with me at fsharon@msn.com and I will follow up.


Please become a follower to receive updates when new content is posted. Thanks for reading, liking and sharing this post.


 

Small business, big heart: Unikat Fine Jewelry

Jeweler Andrea GotschalkUnikat Fine Jewelry opened its doors in Las Vegas, N.M., in May of 1998. Owner Andrea Gottschalk has been a self-employed jeweler since 1988 and subcontracted with many jewelry stores in the Santa Fe and Las Vegas area prior to opening her own gallery. Her store at 160 Bridge St., provides space for seven large showcases and plenty of room for paintings, Navajo rugs and other wall art.

Andrea studied to become a jeweler in Germany, her home country. Most of her skills stem from hands-on training with various master jewelers around the globe. She traveled to countries around the world from 1985 to 1987, seeking out jewelers to teach her new skills. In this way, she became versatile in technique and skill level. It is her strong suit as she moves into an uncertain new normal.

“I offer custom design, repairs, watch services, and ear-piercing. I have showcases filled with jewelry from many local artisans and of course, my own designs,” Andrea said. Unikat Fine Jewelry sells wedding sets, antique jewelry, men’s and children’s jewelry. Items are available in gold, silver, copper, titanium, stainless steel and just about every precious and semi-precious gem stone set in jewelry. If Andrea doesn’t have what you’re looking for, she will order it, or make it for you.

Andrea made Las Vegas her home in 1996. “I’m happy to have been able to maintain my store here for 22 years.”

As with many stores deemed non-essential in the early days of COVID-19, Andrea had to close her doors to the public in mid-March.

“There was no guarantee of re-opening. I remained closed until June 15, three months of no business,” Andrea said. “I am open by appointment and at reduced hours because business has been slow and spotty.” She encourages customers to call ahead (contact information below) to make sure the doors are open.

As a self-employed owner-entrepreneur, Andrea used a strategic approach to keep her business as financially secure as possible, while accessing much-needed income. She received money from an emergency relief fund through the Small Business Development Center and state unemployment when it became available for those who are self-employed.

“Without that I would have had to consider closing for good should the pandemic and resulting restrictions to small businesses continue for many more months,” she said.

Andrea’s other “job”, albeit a volunteer position, continues to further the support efforts of the Las Vegas First Independent Business Association (LVFIBA). As its president, Andrea coordinated weekly Zoom (virtual) meetings of the association.

“LVF has been a good source of information on what financial assistance people can apply for since they stay in close contact with the small business administration office up at Luna, and were always able to update business owners on what help is available,” Andrea said.

Zoom meetings helped LVF members stay connected, supported, and sometimes acted as a place to share grief and anxiety during COVID-19’s uncertain times.

“It’s also nice to be able to join a meeting wherever you are in the moment. That has attracted more members to participate and bring in leaders from other organizations,” Andrea said. “This way we were always able to share helpful information with each other and every organization, and City of Las Vegas staff Through Zoom, we were able to provide guidance and help to each other.”

With positive energy running through her comments, Andrea notes that she is current on ALL her repairs and custom-orders. That means that turn-around time for pick-up is minimal.

“My customers will be most happy to hear this news, since in very busy times waiting has been as long as six weeks!”

The common challenge for owner-operators of small businesses going forward is having revenue coming in the door. Andrea feels it deeply for herself and others who are in the same financial boat.

“Once you go over the amount of your base unemployment, you get thrown out of the system. You make some money now, but still not enough to cover your expenses, and then unemployment runs out. It could take months for businesses to return to normal and be financially stable,” she said.

Andrea encourages everyone to engage in the MainsStreet de Las Vegas shopping experience Cash Mob, an online live shopping event held every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Local stores will be featured each week.

“The first one with New Moon Fashion was an incredible success,” Andrea said. “Items for sale are presented by a host and viewers on Facebook reserve the item they want to buy, then pick up and pay for the item in the store the next day.

“It’s a great way to avoid crowds and still support your local economy! All store owners who are interested will get a turn. Contact mainstreetdelasvegas@gmail.com for more information and to sign up.”

Andrea continues to be a strong advocate for small businesses and expressed deep appreciation for the small town she chose as her home 24 years ago.

“I appreciate all my customers who give me so much positive feedback all the time, but especially now for hanging in there. I love this little town and have made the most precious connections and friends out of my client base,” Andrea said.

“I am planning to be open full time soon, but for now I appreciate the patience and understanding for limited hours and calls for appointments until the crisis has stabilized.”


Unikat Fine Jewelry
160 Bridge St.
Las Vegas NM 87701
Phone: 505-425-6113
Cell: 505-617-6113


 

Semilla Natural Foods, a nurturing environment

Semilla Natural Foods

At age 17, Jane Lumsden opened Semilla Natural Foods in 1971 with her boyfriend at the time.

“We were excited about the natural foods and healthy lifestyle movement that was happening in the ‘70s. We left Santa Monica, Calif., and found Las Vegas, N.M. We decided this would be the perfect spot to open a natural foods store. Over the years as the natural foods movement grew, so did our store. Eventually, I became the sole owner and continued to expand and serve the community.”

Semilla’s growing clientele is a testament to Jane’s determination to bring a unique and much-needed shopping experience to the area. When COVID-19 forced closure of many businesses in March, Semilla Natural Foods remained open because as a grocery store, it was considered essential. Little did Jane and her staff know what an impact that would have.

“When restaurants closed and people were ordered to stay home, widespread panic about food and supplies shortages had people running in to buy as much groceries as their pantries and monies allowed,” Jane said. “Our business and our demand grew exponentially overnight. Myself and my employees had to put in more time and effort for the increased demand. Our store became a place where people needed to feel hopeful. On top of being able to provide the increasing grocery needs within our community, we also had to provide emotional and mental encouragement to our patrons.”

Semilla’s clientele grew as regular customers continued to come in to do their shopping, and new customers began to arrive from surrounding areas, people who didn’t want to be exposed to big cities like Santa Fe where they would usually do their shopping.

“We even had new customers from within our city come to us because they didn’t want to risk exposure at the big chain stores,” Jane said. “Our orders increased by three times and we also became a designated donation drop-off location for several groups that worked towards providing food to community members and to our local animal shelter. Our community stepped up in a huge way and the response to helping those in need was incredible. We donated cases of food ourselves.”

Jane said Semilla has a large elderly customer base so her priority was to make the store a safe space for them and consequently for all patrons and employees.

“We could not afford to have a single employee get sick and we were all working overtime. We had regular employee staff meetings to check in and make sure everyone felt safe coming to work as the rest of the country was staying home.

“I reiterated that anyone who felt uncomfortable coming to work or felt sick could stay home with pay. Not one employee hesitated about continuing to work, and I am so grateful to all of them,” Jane said.

Communication about safety continues to be a constant among staff. During store hours, masks are required for employees and customers, and social distancing is encouraged and adhered to as much as possible. For a time during heightened awareness of possible COVID-19 spread, Jane and her staff were required to limit the number of patrons allowed in the store.

“We began offering free curbside pick-up and at home delivery within city limits for patrons who didn’t want to risk exposure. Overall, our customers have been incredibly gracious and patient with us and our new policies,” Jane said.

With the state opening more and more, Semilla follows the state and city-mandated recommendations requiring customers and staff to wear masks.

“We’ve been able to team up with the Las Vegas Peace and Justice Center to provide masks to people who do not have one. We want to continue to be as safe as we can for our patrons. We all dislike having to wear our masks, but fully believe that it protects our customers. We will continue to honor what science tells us works.”

SemillaBusiness for Semilla increased because of the pandemic, but Jane’s concerns for her staff remained. “I wanted to make sure my employees were going to be taken care of in the long run. I applied for the PPP loan (Payroll Protection Program), and the SBA loan, mainly because I had no idea what the future was going to hold.

“Our application was not accepted during the first round of the PPP, but our bank, Community First, worked diligently to ensure that we were on the list for the second round. Las Vegas First IBA (Independent Business Alliance) and Luna Community College offered information and support during this time as requirements were continually changing. Thankfully, I had someone in-house who could navigate through this complicated process. The SBA loan took months to come in.”

As Jane reflects on COVID-19 and its lingering presence in a time of uncertainty, she is grateful.

“If I could say anything about these past few months, it’s that Semilla cares. My employees did an incredible job to make sure our community knew Semilla was a safe and welcoming space for all. We worked hard to keep our shelves stocked and adapt to people’s new shopping habits. We all came up with innovative ways to give back to our small community and we ensured everyone had access to fresh and healthy food.

“As people resume their previous shopping habits and begin to eat out, we have no idea what the future will bring for Semilla. Hopefully people will realize the importance of shopping locally, supporting local businesses so Las Vegas can once again pick up where we left off; at a time of exciting growth and recognition. We need to stick together. This is a great community,” Jane said.

“As things begin to open back up, COVID-19 is still a huge concern and we are going to continue to practice safe policies. Semilla will continue to offer the best in natural, wholesome foods and products for individual health and the health of our planet,” Jane said.


Images: Courtesy Semilla


Semilla Natural Foods
510 University Ave.
Las Vegas, NM
(505) 425-8139
http://www.semillanaturalfoods.com
https://www.facebook.com/SemillaNaturalFoods/


NOTE: I am featuring local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in this series of articles about how COVID-19 has affected our community . If you would like to participate, email fsharon@msn.com for more information.


 

The Las Vegas Economy: MSLV Initiatives Attack the Virus

Support Local

Main Street de Las Vegas (MSLV) is responding to COVID-19 by being proactive. Executive Director Michael Peranteau said the organization has raised $15,500 to give out in $250 grants to families in need. “We held a community Zoom forum for businesses and we held the Las Vegas NM Cash Mob on June 17.

Cash Mob :
The Las Vegas NM Cash Mob is a group of volunteers who are coming together to help save small Las Vegas businesses during the pandemic. Sponsored by Main Street de Las Vegas, the Cash Mob will hold virtual sales and auctions on Facebook each week at a different business to promote that local business and help boost their sales. Starting Wednesday, June 17 from 6 – 8 p.m., Cash Mob will happen throughout the summer. “Stay tuned for more information,” Peranteau said. He noted and gives thanks to Raton Cash Mob for its help and inspiration.

Show your supportThe mission of MainStreet de Las Vegas is to unify the historic commercial corridor and engender pride in the community while promoting economic development and preserving historical, cultural, architectural, and natural resources through partnerships and community collaboration.

This mission is reflected in the ways MSLV has stepped up and created opportunities for funding and other help.

LVCEF:
The Las Vegas Emergency COVID-19 Fund (LVCEF) grants program is a time-based grants program that has been created to help mitigate the crisis caused by the COVID-19 Virus. The LVCEF will provide essential support to the people in the greater Las Vegas community who have been, and will be, most severely impacted by COVID-19.

“The challenge presented by the new corona virus (COVID-19) is unprecedented and therefore requires our community to come together in equally unprecedented ways. The needs in our community are vast — and in many cases, immediate — particularly for vulnerable people who may already be socially isolated, in fragile health, or in financial crisis,” Peranteau  said.

The MSLV executive director said coming together as a community to help the most vulnerable is one of its most important values. “Compassion and charity are central to our lives, and at the core of greater Las Vegas community. We are working to fill the gaps for the many in our community who have been, and will be, most severely impacted by COVID-19,” Peranteau said.

Requests for support MSLV will consider:

    • Basic needs, such as food and utilities for the elderly, people in financial distress, and those who are socially isolated.
    • Targeted financial support for those given the extreme measures of social distancing required to keep residents safe.
    • Need for assistive technology for those facing social isolation, allowing them to participate in virtual religious services and other programming.

The Las Vegas Emergency COVID-19 Fund (LVCEF) grants program is a time-based grants program that has been created to help mitigate the crisis caused by the COVID-19 Virus. The LVCEF will provide essential support to the people in the greater Las Vegas community who have been, and will be, most severely impacted by COVID-19.

The LVCEF will provide one-time $250 grants on a first-come-first-serve basis for basic essential needs, such as telephone, internet, insurance, utilities, and prescription drugs for the elderly, people in financial distress, and those who are socially isolated. These grants will help the most at-risk by providing a safety net when other resources are not available. The needs in are vast — and in many cases, immediate — particularly for vulnerable people, especially the elderly, who may already be socially isolated, in fragile health, or in financial crisis.

MSLV also conducted a Zoom Community Forum on May 28 that focused on the survival of small businesses in Las Vegas during and after the pandemic. Many small businesses received funding from the federal government through its Payroll Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and enhanced unemployment. Forum participants discussed ways to help businesses survive and thrive when funding runs out over the next few months.

“It’s a unique and complicated situation that we have never experienced before, Peranteau said. “This meeting was the first in a series of community gatherings geared to help small businesses cope.”

Panelists at the first meeting included Briana Montaño-Baca, Luna Community College’s Small Business Development Center Associate Director; Allan Affeldt, hotel owner and member of the Governor’s Economic Recovery Council; Sean O’Shea, Business and Entrepreneur Development Specialist with New Mexico Main Street; Sara Jo Matthews, owner of Borracho’s Bar and co-founder of the Vegabonds; and Bill Hendrickson, the new Community Development Director for the City of Las Vegas.

Art Park:
MSLV is also turning the park at the corner of Lincoln and Grand Avenue into an actual art park. Three large sculptures and a new mural will be added to other installations.

For more information about MSLV and how you can help or become involved contact:
Michael Peranteau
Executive Director
MainStreet de Las Vegas
500 Railroad Avenue
Las Vegas, New Mexico 87701
Office: 505.617.6800
Cell: 832.215.0436


NOTE: I am featuring local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in this series of articles about how COVID-19 has affected our community . If you would like to participate, email fsharon@msn.com for more information.


 

Tortillas, donuts and more, Oh My!

Charlie SandovalCharlie’s Spic and Span Bakery and Café is an established eatery owned by only three people during its more than 60-year history. Founded in the early 1950s, its primary offerings were chile and tamales. Carmen Fernandez expanded the bakery and added breakfast and lunch. In 1998 Charlie and Elizabeth Sandoval acquired the Spic & Span and have added fresh-made tortillas and increased the menu items. Its core reason for being is to serve customers Northern New Mexico cuisine and good old-fashioned comfort foods in a friendly atmosphere. Generous portions, fresh ingredients and friendly service are the standard.

COVID-19 brought everything to a screeching halt on March 15. Charlie’s, and many other businesses deemed non-essential, closed and their owners wondered what to do next, and what to do now that restrictions have been partially lifted.

Charlie, his trademark smile and optimism firmly in place despite what his business has been through, said, “I’m a lot slower, now. By 50 percent!”

That is somewhat a consequence of restrictions that limit restaurants to half their capacity, plus reluctance by some long-time customers to venture out.

Charlie’s was closed for two months, time spent on ongoing repair and maintenance and some sprucing up. He opted to start curbside pick-up service on May 15 and in-house dining on June 1.

Signs of the times
The sign on the left reads: STOP We wear our masks to protect you and your family. Please wear your mask to protect us and our families. Thank you, Charlie’s crew.

As a customer, you’re required to wear a mask to enter, sign in with your name and phone number, and wash your hands with a sanitizing solution. Of course, you can take off your mask once you sit down. Servers, however, must keep theirs on. If you’re ordering to-go, you’re asked to keep your mask on and observe social distancing (six feet apart).

 

Although Charlie’s Bakery and Café is now open for in-restaurant dining, the café is operating on reduced hours, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. “It’s been a slow start. I guess a little revenue is better than nothing. I’m trying to make good business decisions to benefit my employees and my operation.”

Donuts and moreOne program that has been of great help to the restaurant is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). “This program has really saved my business,” Charlie said.

“I want to thank my friends, customers and family for all their support and ask that they please bear with us on all these new changes. I have a lot of good customers and a lot of them are my good friends now. I hope one day we can be normal and operate freely like before, without so many restrictions.”

Charlie’s Bakery and Cafe continues to serve a full menu, has fresh tortillas daily, and dessert favorites like apple fritters, donuts, sugar cookies, biscochitos, cream puffs and more.


Charlie’s Bakery and Café
715 Douglas Ave.
505-426-1921


NOTE: I am featuring local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in this series of articles about how COVID-19 has affected our community . If you would like to participate, email fsharon@msn.com for more information.


 

Skillet Casting its Culinary Magic

From the Skillet website: Sometime in 2012, Isaac Sandoval was challenged to design and build the world’s largest cast iron skillet. The skillet itself didn’t break any world records but people loved the unique menus and crowd-pleasers cooked in the giant skillet. Thus, began the journey into food and pure wonderment of all things culinary. Isaac and Shawna set up shop in Vegas (NM) as a food truck, and two years ago went full brick and mortar in a historic building downtown. Skillet today is an immersive art, food, and drink experience.

How did they navigate the restrictions imposed by COVID-19? Below are Shawna’s responses to questions about the virus and its impact.

Artfully designed
The foodie entrepreneurs have not been idle during their down time. The Zen pool and new artwork are just some of the additions to the patio. That’s Shawna in the background.

“We were forced to close our doors March 15,” Shawna said. “Ourselves and our employees all went on unemployment directly after. Although the government left opportunity for restaurants to serve takeout, we made the decision that our efforts were best placed elsewhere.”

The fan-favorite foodie-friendly restaurant was closed for two and one-half months, reopening on June 1.

Shawna said the Skillet is reopened at 50 percent capacity because of mandates from health officials. “Our business hours are basically the same as before. We decided to cut our late-night menu for the time being, which so far gets us home earlier on the weekends.”

Looking to the future early on in the shutdown, the Sandovals set about making changes designed to add and enhance seating, and expand food options.

“We expanded our patio seating during the quarantine knowing that outdoor dining is considered substantially safer than indoor dining. Skillet has a large outdoor patio and our outdoor occupancy at 50 percent is 100 people. With the recent beautiful weather, Pizza anyonewe’ve been serving more customers outside, which was made possible because of the expansion. Our order-at-the-counter service is actually conducive to the “contactless” approach. We eliminated all duplicate menus and have just one menu for customers to see without touching, and our servers still bring all food and beverage to the customer. We have security staff for busy nights who remind people to sign our book at the door for the required contact tracing. Recently we’ve implemented digital temperature readings for all customers entering the restaurant. Employees that are in direct contact with the public are required to wear masks at all times.”

Like many businesses, the Skillet has taken advantage of stimulus programs geared toward small businesses.

“Through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), we are able to rehire and pay all our employees who went on unemployment for the quarantine. The grant portion of the loan will assist with our payroll while the business is getting back on its feet. This is particularly beneficial for restaurants such as ours as we employ around 20 people, a significant proportion of our operational costs.”

Operations day-to-day requires attention to detail and a willingness to work toward specific goals. Shawna and Isaac want to return to – and continue – the ambiance and atmosphere the Skillet has become known for. The young entrepreneurs are equally concerned about their business friends and neighbors.

Art Installation“In spite of uncertain times, we fully intend to provide the same fun and safe environment as we always have,” Shawna said.

“Please continue to spend money at local businesses in our community; our friends and neighbors have been more than gracious and we need to do everything in our power to make sure Las Vegas continues to thrive.”

Isaac and Shawna aren’t worried about the future so much as ready for new challenges. “As a relatively new business we are already accustomed to constantly evolving and changing things in our business per the market and trends. The COVID restrictions are just another hurdle to jump for us, although this is a difficult time for everyone, our newness works to our advantage.

“It’s one day at a time for now,” Shawna said. “This will most certainly change us and all restaurants in small ways forever, however, I remain optimistic with regards to the outcome.”

For more information about the Skillet, go to giant-skillet.com


Courtesy Photos: The Skillet


NOTE: I am featuring local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in this series of articles about how COVID-19 has affected our community . If you would like to participate, email fsharon@msn.com for more information.


 

Las Vegas NM Community Foundation

Note: This is the first in a series of articles about how businesses, nonprofits and event planners are navigating the future post-COVID 19. Partial reopening is a first step, and there is no predicting the future should there be a resurgence of corona virus. Responses to these questions are from Elmo Baca, president of the Las Vegas NM Community Foundation.


Community Foundation

The Foundation and Its Mission

The Las Vegas NM Community Foundation was founded in January 2017 by Bob Mishler along with founding board members Felix Alderete, Elmo Baca, Cindy Collins, Doyle Daves, Bill Hendrickson, Donna Rivas, Jennifer Sanchez and Max Trujillo. Founding volunteer Jean Hill assisted with non-profit by laws and designation. The Las Vegas Foundation is a 501©(3) charitable organization created to support philanthropic giving for non-profit organizations in Las Vegas and the immediate region, including Mora County. The Las Vegas Foundation is an affiliate and partner of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, where Las Vegas Community Foundation funds are currently invested, ensuring the highest fiscal and programmatic integrity to its work. The mission of the Las Vegas Foundation is simply “Help Las Vegas Thrive.”

How has COVID-19 had an impact on the Foundation?

The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact in a few critical ways. After the state effectively closed businesses and other public venues in late March, the Board of Directors decided to postpone the “Chili Challenge” annual fundraising reception which was scheduled for April 30. Last year the Chili Challenge (so called because a chili pepper icon is used as a measuring gauge for donations) was well-attended by community members and raised over $17,000 to benefit the community. At this date the Chili Challenge event has not been rescheduled due to the continuing restrictions on public gatherings in New Mexico. After the serious economic impacts of the pandemic have mounted, the Foundation created an Emergency Grant Fund to provide support to local humanitarian nonprofit organizations, such as soup kitchens, health and community centers, and family assistance groups. The Las Vegas Foundation has had two rounds of grant making since April funding a dozen local non-profit organizations in Las Vegas, Mora and Villanueva with $10,125 in grants. The Foundation is prepared to consider future rounds of emergency grants as the pandemic continues to impact the community.

Bob Mishler’s Legacy

Bob MishlerThe sudden passing of founder Bob Mishler on May 24 was a tragic event that has affected the entire community, as Bob was involved in many projects and organizations. Bob had a great interest in people, their histories and social fabric. He was involved in historic preservation projects for nearly 50 years after his family moved here from Colorado in the late 1970s. He served for many years as Chairman of the City’s Design Review Board, Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation and the Friends of the Las Vegas Museum. Bob saw the need for Las Vegas to have a community foundation that could create an endowment for Las Vegas to support the vital work of nonprofit organizations and also collaborate with city and county governments on essential community projects. Bob worked tirelessly to attract volunteers and board members to the Foundation, raise funds, and provide its guiding vision. He was active in a review of an Emergency grant application on the day of his passing.

Eligible Grantees

The Las Vegas NM Community Foundation provides modest grants to local nonprofit organizations in good standing (properly filed corporate reports and tax forms). Eligible nonprofit organizations must serve the people of San Miguel and Mora Counties, be nondiscriminatory in staffing and services, and be at least one year old. The Foundation can’t contribute to capital campaigns or endowments, individuals, private school tuition assistance, religious projects or scholarships. The funding categories include Arts and Culture, Community Development, Cultural and Historic Preservation, Education, Health Care and Natural Conservation.

Application Process

The Las Vegas NM Community Foundation has offered grants to nonprofits for the past two years and is expecting its third annual cycle beginning in September with a public announcement of grant availability. Grant applications are available by emailing info@lvnmcf.org . We also notify nonprofit organizations directly via email of our grants program. Grant applications are due in mid-October, with announcement of awards in December. Funds are provided in early January. Also, as noted above, the Foundation may create emergency or project grant cycles at its discretion. Interested groups may see our website at www.lvnmcf.com, contact a Board Member or contact our Administrative Coordinator Linda Anderle at info@lvnmcf.org. Correspondence and donations may also be mailed to LVNMCF, P.O. Box 1002, Las Vegas NM 87701.

Fund Raising Campaigns

With Bob Mishler’s sudden passing on May 24, the Board of Directors has established two Bob Mishler Memorial Funds in his memory. The Bob Mishler Memorial Fund is a general donation fund with a primary purpose of building the endowment, as Bob had wished. The second fund is called the Bob Mishler Memorial Clock Fund. Bob rescued the historic Gordon’s Jewelers cast iron street clock, which stood on Douglas Avenue near the corner of Sixth Street for decades. After the passing of longtime owner Calvin Baker, the iconic street clock fell into disrepair. Bob bought the clock with the intention of restoring it. Bob had nearly finished the project when he passed. The Board of Directors have recognized the clock project as a fitting symbol for Bob’s community service and his philanthropy. The Clock Fund will provide the financial support to restore the clock and reinstall it. The Clock Fund will also create a “Pillars of the Community” Award program to honor deserving individuals who have made significant contributions to the community.

The Board of Directors is also considering Donor advised funds whereby generous individuals or families may support projects and programs of particular interest such as the arts or health care for example. Legacy gifts of property, financial equities, and other items of value to benefit the community are also encouraged. Donations may be made at www.lvnmcf.com and also through the Santa Fe Community Foundation by inquiring about the Greater Las Vegas Fund.


NOTE: I am featuring local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in this series of articles about how COVID-19 has affected our community . If you would like to participate, email fsharon@msn.com for more information.


 

Writers Roundtable

A WRITERS ROUNDTABLE
Sponsored by
Las Vegas Arts Council
LVNM Community Foundation

Sign up form at the end of this article!

Invitation

You are invited to join the first Las Vegas Writers’ Roundtable, Sunday, July 12, 2020, 4-5 pm, via Zoom. Participate as a writer reading your original work or as an audience member (our writer slate is full!) Sign up deadline: for audience July 10.

Roundtable. Through Zoom, each writer will read from their published work or a work in progress, for no more than 10 minutes. The writers confirmed for this event are Joy Alesdatter, Tim Hagaman, Kathleen Lujan, Ray John de Aragon, Anna Aragon and Beth Urech.

Event coordinators: Patti Romero and Sharon Vander Meer
Event host: Susie Tsytee, Las Vegas Arts Council

For more information or to sign up, email fsharon@msn.com or pattiport57@gmail.com. In the subject line indicate: WRITER or AUDIENCE. You may also sign up as an audience member below using the contact form. The Zoom link will provided to registrants only.

 Sign up deadline: July 10.

There is no cost to participate. Contributions to the Las Vegas Arts Council will be greatly appreciated but not required. You may donate online or send a check to 140 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM 87701.

Please sign up to be an audience member at this first-ever Las Vegas, New Mexico Writers Roundtable and share the invitation with others. Links to the Zoom Roundtable will only be provided to registered participants.

Contact Form: Please fill out and submit. Thank you for your interest.


Note: Our confirmed readers include Joy Alsdatter, Ray John de Aragon, Kathleen Ebell Lujan, Tim Hagaman, and Beth Urech . This is a first for Patti and me, and we believe, for Las Vegas. We encourage “audience” members to sign up. If you enjoy books, poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction, and discovering (or rediscovering) writers, this event will appeal to you. Zoom has become the virtual meeting place for events. Help make this a stellar event by your participation and support. Zoom link will be provided to registered participants by July 10, which is the deadline for signing up to participate in or attend the Writers & Readers Roundtable.


 

And now for the next adventure

Yes or No

I’m in that battling through ideas stage, wondering what thread of excitement engages me enough to begin story development. It sounds easier than it is. Some ideas will be best expressed as poetry, others as a short story and others in a novel.

How does one get past the muddled mess and move forward? Here are five questions to help you determine how you want your inner storyteller to tell the tale.

Is this a story with interwoven plots and subplots?

  • Complex stories can be told in any form, including poetry. Think of The Iliad by Homer, a marathon Greek poem about the Trojan war, or Caged Bird, by Maya Angelou, a story about freedom. Could these tales have been told in a different way? Probably, but not as poignantly. That said, if you have a story that’s deep and wide, consider writing a novel, or at the very least, a novella. You have more time and space for compelling characters and intriguing plots.

Is this story a shovel or a knife?

  • A shovel digs deep and uncovers what is hidden; a knife is more precise and goes to the central theme without a lot of lead in. Deep is best handled in a novel; precision in a short story or poem. O. Henry was the master of short form writing with satisfying – often unexpected – endings. Remember The Gift of the Magi?

What audience is the story geared toward?

  • I don’t like to bring it up, but yes, you do need an audience for your work, no matter what you write. Children’s books are written in a certain way for very good reasons. Consider carefully the profile of your reader and forge ahead accordingly. One of my favorite authors is David Baldacci.  This is a writer who knows his audience and creates powerful characters in compelling situations. His novels sell worldwide and have been translated into many languages.

How much do you love your idea?

  • Writing a story is a process. The seed is just that, a seed. For it to grow into something that will inform and entertain requires nurture (creativity), weeding (editing), and feeding (revising).

But – as writer and literary agent Lisa Cron would ask – how much do you know about your  character before you push him or her onto page one of your novel?

  • Cron, the author of “Wired for Story” encourages writers to understand their protagonists’ deeply and well before proceeding. This isn’t pre-writing; it’s exploring the lead characters backstory so, as the author, you know going in the “inside intel” that drives the character and mucks up his or her life as they make their way forward. It sounds easy, does it not? Well, it isn’t. It is probably the most difficult thing a writer must do. Is it worth the effort? Cron says, yes, citing authors in her acquaintance who – by way of this process – went from rejection to seven-figure book sales.

My stumbling block is focus. To write, one needs to set everything else aside an focus on the goal, and be willing to do the work.

Back to basics. Who is my story about? What does she want? What does she fear that will keep her from achieving that goal? How can she overcome her fear and succeed? Therein lies – THE STORY.

Wish me luck!


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central



 

Hello –

Las Vegas entrepreneurs, nonprofits and event coordinators:

cropped-Sharon-VWould you be interested in an article on my blog www.vandermeerbooks.com? I want to feature local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations. If you would like to participate in this free spotlight opportunity, send me an email at fsharon@msn.com. In the subject line type ARTICLE CONFIRM. In the body of the email please provide a good contact phone number and that you want your business, nonprofit or local activity to be featured in the series.

You will receive 8 to 10 questions via email. Your responses will be used with limited editing.  I will also accept submitted photo(s) to run with the article, or I will come by a take a photo of you and your business, or other appropriate photo.

The article will be promoted across my social media platforms with a potential reach of 1,100 followers, multiplied by the ways you share the published article. The focus of the articles will be how your business or organization is reentering the new normal following weeks of closure. This is at no cost to you. Here are links to recent articles:

The Las Vegas Economy: MSLV Initiatives Attack the Virus
Tortillas, donuts and more, Oh My!
Skillet Casting its Culinary Magic
Las Vegas NM Community Foundation

Next up – Semilla Natural Foods and Unikat Fine Jewelry.

Even if you’ve been featured before, you’re welcome to be a part of this series. Articles will be posted as received. Reserve your spot so I can send you questions. I’m looking forward to sharing news out about you and your business, nonprofit or organization.

– Sharon
505-617-0839


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I also create content for existing social media sites as part of my writing business.


NCOA Website Offers a Treasure Trove of COVID-19 Help for Older Adults

Editor’s Note: This may not apply to you, but you know people to whom this would be beneficial. Pass on the article or the National Council on Aging link to elders you know.


Networking(NewsUSA) – The COVID-19 pandemic is generating fear, confusion, and economic uncertainty for many older Americans, especially those living on a fixed income.

Fortunately, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a trusted nonprofit that has been helping older adults age with dignity and economic security for the last 70 years, is providing valuable information about coronavirus on its website, www.ncoa.org.

NCOA experts are regularly curating and updating resources that are of vital importance to older adults and their caregivers. You will find blogs, links, and videos that address a wide range of issues, including:

Food
If you or someone you care for needs meals delivered, NCOA offers links to Meals on Wheels and Feeding America with options to search in your zip code for local services. Feeding America and other food banks are adapting to the situation by setting up social distancing guidelines and smaller community drop-off points. For those who qualify, there is a link to apply for SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, which helps individuals pay for nutritious food.

Finances
Many older Americans, especially those living on a fixed income, are concerned that COVID-19 will impact their financial situation now and in the future. In fact, many federal, state, and local benefits programs are available to older adults for help with financial challenges, including utility payments, medication costs, rent, and other expenses.

NCOA’s companion website, www.BenefitsCheckUp.org, offers information about eligibility and how to apply for billions of dollars in benefits.

In addition, although older Americans are advised to avoid non-essential travel, older adults can find options for critical transportation for essential medical visits or to pick up food and medication. NCOA provides a link to Eldercare Locator to help find local transportation services, and also offers information about navigating telemedicine visits, which are becoming easier and more commonplace.

Those concerned about Medicare benefits in the COVID-19 health care environment can use NCOA’s links to state and government sites for the latest information.

Feelings
The stress and isolation of the coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on everyone’s emotions. While NCOA urges older adults to follow physical isolation guidelines to remain physically healthy, it also offers tips for older adults, their caregivers, and families to use technology to stay in touch with loved ones and friends, and remain emotionally healthy as well.

Visit www.ncoa.org for what older adults should know about COVID-19, as well as other information about healthy aging. It’s a treasure trove of valuable resources for older adults and their caregivers.


Source: newsusa


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsharon@msn. com.


 

Social Media

Sometimes a bit of a reminder triggers creativity. Social media is a burgeoning beast, but the tried and true platforms we’re all familiar with are good places to start, or even expand, your social media presence. I can’t build social media sites for you, but I can write content. Contact me at fsharon@msn.com. For additional information go to Write Stuff. This infographic distills the dialog into quick reminders about what social media can do for your business.

Social Media

Source: canva.com


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I also create content for existing social media sites as part of my writing business.


 

KINDNESS

Be Kind

 

In an unsettled and unsettling time,
when life’s surprises can turn on a dime,
we look to each other for reasons to smile,
to leave fretting and worry behind for a while.

Tomorrow has never been certain;
it hides behind Future’s opaque curtain.
Be thankful you have this day,
to be kind to others along life’s way.

Give when you can in this murky rift,
to help those who are suddenly adrift,
cast into the darkness of what’s next,
their hearts and minds equally vexed.

Kindness does not resolve fears;
it can wipe away worried tears,
giving for a moment, a little relief,
restoring, hope, trust and belief.

In an unsettled and unsettling time,
when life’s surprises can turn on a dime,
we look to each other for reasons to smile,
to leave fretting and worry behind for a while.


Follow Sharon at:
www.vandermeerbooks.com
https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks
Amazon Author Central


 

Day 132

Alone

Abigail rose from the tangle of blankets, wringing wet. The bedding reeked with her sweat. She staggered to the window, chilled less by a limp breeze, more by what she would see when she looked out.

The barren street mocked her.

She rubbed her thin arms and turned away from the emptiness: empty cars that would never go anywhere again; empty benches where no one sat; empty sidewalks devoid of walkers. The worst? Lack of noise. No screaming sirens, wailing babies, horns honking aggressively, people arguing, the swish of skirts and click of high heels; coughs, snorts, sneezes and wheezes. Laughter. Nothing.

Simply silence.

She grasped the handle of a pan and threw it across the room just to hear the sound as it hit the wall. It thudded unsatisfactorily and clanged unconvincingly when it hit the wooden floor.

Abigail had selected the apartment for the view out the window. The pandemic that wiped out the world population, apparently leaving her the single survivor, had driven people from the neighborhood looking for safety somewhere; anywhere. The stench of death didn’t hover here, as it did in many places she’d encountered in her search for other survivors.

She was it. There were no others, not one.

She picked the pan up from the floor and returned it to the counter, setting it down with more force than necessary, just to hear the sound.

She’d had her pick of places to settle in. The complex she’d chosen wasn’t fancy but it was well-maintained. The studio apartment was on the second floor, facing the street. The higher you went, the better the view and the more expensive the rent. That didn’t matter anymore.

Her selection of the studio apartment came down to one thing – apart from the view; it was the only apartment on the second floor facing the street that stood open. All the other doors were closed tight and locked even tighter. Whoever had lived in 227 B had left in a hurry.

In her wanderings, before arriving at 227 B, Abigail had seen a perplexing mix of evidence that humanity was crazy as hell. She had heard – when communications networks were still functioning – that as bodied piled up in make-shift morgues, people went nuts, burning, looting, killing. Entire neighborhoods were decimated by violence. If the creeping, killing virus didn’t get you, the guy next door might, probably would, and then he’d steal you blind, rape your wife, kill your kids. You gave up trying to decide who was friend or foe. Survival meant you trusted no one.

Now there was no one left. Trust was no longer an issue, was it?

Abigail had plenty of food, most of it in cans with tab-top openers. For the cans that didn’t have tab tops, she had found a manual can opener at a trashed hardware store. At first, she left money on the counter when she took something, until she ran out. By then she’d come to realize she was the only one left.

Why?

It was a recurring and unanswerable question. Everyone in the world – as far as she knew – was gone. Dead. Until she’d come to this town, this neighborhood and settled in 227 B, the stench of rotting corpses had clung to her hair, her clothes, her body. She’d left death behind and was glad to be rid of it.

In her heart she believed – hoped – there were other survivors, but where? In this town, state, country? How did she find them? In the beginning, she’d taken cars abandoned along roadways, driven them until they ran out of fuel and then commandeered another one, searching always, honking the horn, hoping someone would run into the streets to flag her down; to say, “Here! Here! I’M HERE, YOU’RE NOT ALONE!”

But it hadn’t happened.

Yet.

She hadn’t given up hope.

Yet.

And if she came upon someone? What then?

Trust no one. Her mother’s dying voice rang in her head during the day and haunted her dreams at night.

The apartment, at least for the moment, had running water and electricity. The appliances were electric and in working order. If she didn’t know bone crushing loneliness, she would be fine. How long everything would continue to function was something Abigail chose not to think about. She was okay for now, and now was all the mattered.

The apartment also had the advantage of being small, which suited Abigail very well. Despite knowing she was alone, she was terrified of potential unknowns that lay beyond her door. When she was in the apartment, she set the deadbolt and for insurance, lodged a chair back under the knob to prevent anyone from entering. For added protection, she kept an archery set close by. She’d found it in a sporting goods store and taught herself how to use it. It was a skill she practiced every day so it became an extension of who she was.

Abigail went out every day, bow and a quiver of arrows strapped rakishly over her shoulder. She did not walk openly in the empty streets. She skittered down back alleys, looking for anything she could use to survive. Stores of any kind that had battered down doors were fair game. She pilfered from a Walgreens, stocking up on bandages, over the counter meds, makeup (why makeup she didn’t know; she never used it), paper goods and nonperishable foods, books, magazines, batteries, anything that she could use to make her life bearable. There was also a neighborhood grocery store, not one of the chains, but well-stocked, although the fresh meats, fruits and vegetables had long ago gone bad, the bread products moldy or rock hard. She took sparingly from the freezers, hoping they would last as long as the food in them did. She stocked up on clothing that spanned the seasons, sensible shoes, practical and sturdy. She took what she could, day-by-day, stacking it up outside the apartment when she ran out of space inside 227 B.

How much would she need? She didn’t know, but she didn’t want to find out by not having enough.

Some days she would ask herself, “Why bother? Why not just roll over and die, take the still-functioning elevator to the top floor of her 24-story building and fling herself off the roof? She didn’t know why, but she was determined to survive.

Her restless night clung to her as she put on distressed jeans, found in a trashed boutique; $200 price tag, more than she’d spent on clothes in a year in the time before. She slipped a hoodie over her T-shirt and stepped into her favorite tennis shoes. It was a chilly day, early signs of fall in the air.

As she walked along, she wished she’d stayed in the apartment as she trundled her pilfered shopping cart down the alley, packed full of her finds. She hummed some half-remembered song from her youth to keep herself company.

“HELLO! HELLO! ANYONE? ANYONE?”

Abigail froze.

“HELLO? ANYONE THERE?”

Where was the voice coming from? Abigail darted her eyes side-to-side, not looking for the owner of the voice; she sought instead a place to hide.

Male? Female? She couldn’t tell. The voice was raspy, raw from yelling, as hers had been when she screamed and screamed the same unanswered greeting for days on end.

“HELLO! ANYONE THERE?”

The voice was coming closer. Trust no one.

Abigail quaked. What was she to do? She scurried down the alley like a frightened mouse and hid behind a dumpster that had never been emptied; its sour smell stagnated by time.

Footsteps approached, the sound plodding and dreadful.

Trust no one. Abigail swallowed a gasp of fear  and squeezed her eyes shut, as if she could shut out approaching doom.

“Well, well, well. What have we here?”

Abigail swallowed a sob and opened her eyes expecting something – someone – to be leaning over her.

“Looks like somebody’s been shopping.”

Abigail dared to peek around the edge of the dumpster. A woman, if the long brown hair was an indicator. Still, it could be a man, which worried Abigail. A man would take over. Steal everything, leave her with nothing, maybe not even her life.

The figure rummaged around in the cart and pulled something from the carefully arranged stacks. A Payday. Abigail’s favorite. For one foolish second she thought to leap from her hiding place and snatch the candy bar from the intruder.

Intruder? Isn’t this what she’d hoped for, another survivor, someone to share the burden of survival with her? But she remained still.

“What do you think of that, Chloe?” The voice asked.

Definitely a woman. Who the heck was Chloe? Abigail leaned further around the edge of the dumpster to see if there was another person there. No one, just the woman eating her candy bar.

“I think we found home, Chloe. What do you think?”

Dead silence.

“I agree. Now we have more provisions to add to the store we already found. Let’s go home.”

She started pushing the cart quickly down the narrow alleyway.

Trust no one.

Abigail knew then that she’d been found, that this greedy woman was taking over her life. She wasn’t about to let that happen. She rose from her hiding place, an arrow already notched in place and let it fly just at the woman turned and fired a gun point blank at Abigail, as though she’d known all along where she was hiding.


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central


 

Dance Today; It’s Okay

DanceDelight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Dance today. It’s okay. God knows your joy. Remember its source. He knows your fears, your sorrows, your fury, your confusion. The Lord of all walks with you and lives in you. He is not a distant and unconcerned God; He is the God of possibilities; He is the God of the impossible. Let him in. Take comfort in his presence.

“How can I?” you ask, “My home was washed away in a massive flood!”

“How can I? I lost my job!”

“How can I? My husband/wife left me!”

“How can I in the middle of a pandemic?”

“How can I when racism rages?”

How can you not? The anchor in every storm is the assurance of God’s presence. Studies have shown that those who lean on their faith are more likely to overcome troubling times. Dance, even when the dance is one of sorrow or disappointment or anger. Even in those times know God is present, not to fix what’s wrong, but to give you strength.

Dance on the flames of hate until they are stamped out. Dance so justice is served. Dance so the dying embers of hope spark anew. Dance in memory of innocent men, women and children everywhere.

The music of life is a curious thing and a reminder that we are never alone in our dance. The spirit of hope and the hammer of faith give us strength, wisdom and helpers along the way. We aren’t forgotten even when we forget. God’s love for us is as real as the breath we take in and the breath we let out. God doesn’t care what color we are, what language we speak, the way we worship Him – or not. I believe God is color-blind but very attuned to the melody of renewal.

Dance. The band is in full swing. “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isiah 55:12


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central


 

Isolation

Kafka

Isolation is a way to know ourselves. Franz Kafka
The arts don’t exist in isolation. David Byrne

We’ve been in forced isolation because of this pandemic. Some don’t mind it at all; others chafe under the restrictive boundaries. It isn’t just the “staying home” edict that grinds. Mask-wearing has, for some, become a line in the sand. Personally, I don’t like them but if by wearing a mask I protect others, I’m okay with masking up.

Not interacting with others is a bit more of a challenge. I like people. Although I’m inclined to fade into the background, I still want to hear what others have to say, even when I don’t agree with them.

Kafka – a man full of self-doubt about the thing he most valued, his writing – perhaps sought isolation to better understand who he was and how the complications of his life shaped him. A tyrannical father, the deaths of siblings when he was young, a mother who loved being a homemaker but who didn’t quite know what to do with an intellectual child who would become more so over time. These factors affected his relationships and colored his work. Interestingly, little of his work became known during his lifetime. Were it not for his friend Max Brod, his unpublished manuscripts would have been destroyed.

I’m inclined to agree with David Bryne (Talking Heads), identified by Time Magazine in 1986 as Rock’s Renaissance Man: “The arts don’t exist in isolation.” According to the Time article, Byrne enjoys success as a singer, composer, lyricist, guitarist, film director, writer, actor, video artist, designer, photographer. Always engaged in creating art.

These very different men identify with isolation from perspectives based on their own experiences, and most certainly through the lens of the eras in which each live(d). Bryne works in collaboration with others to bring art to the masses in different forms. Kafka, although a genial fellow in certain circumstances, was so haunted by self-doubt about his writing, he asked his good friend to destroy his work after Kafka died.

Isolation 2020 will have repercussions on society that are yet to be determined. The impact of COVID-19 on those who lost family and friends is incalculable. The economy reels and will continue to do so for some time. The emotional toll will emerge slowly, catching us unawares, showing up in unexpected ways.

Kafka was a pessimist and probably for good reason. He lived in scary times. If you want a nightmare, read Metamorphosis. His work is overall bleak. Byrne on the other hand appears to be the ultimate optimist. He confesses to being “mostly” happy.

In the days ahead (weeks, months, years?), we have a choice to make: be an optimist or a pessimist. I don’t think there is a middle ground. Pass on your optimism to those around you. If you must be a pessimist, find people who know you well enough to help you see the up side, even when it feels like there isn’t one.

To say the future is a bit wobbly around the edges isn’t being a pessimist; it’s seeing the world for what it is and doing what you can to make it better. Two things you can do – optimist or pessimist: VOTE and fill out your census form. See, that isn’t hard!


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. Please like, share, or comment – or all three!


 

 

 

TRUST

Trust

 

Bring peace and justice
in equal measure.
Give hope to hearts
broken by hate and fear
so we become alike it this:
we are equal,
we are the same.
Trust sets the standard
for how we live,
giving feet to faith,
hands to helping,
bringing joy to hearts.
In all and with all
we see His promise,
taking us from fear to clarity,
from fury to assurance.
Trust opens doors to possibility.
Break the barriers between us
so we see each other
for who we are,
not the color of our skin –
equal, the same.


Follow Sharon at:
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Weekly Digest

I thank you for reading, commenting and sharing these posts. I also welcome your feedback. Reply to this email or call me at 505 617-0839.

https://wp.me/p1IcOU-3aT Navy Blue, a tribute to my dad.

https://wp.me/p1IcOU-3bq Writing effective copy infographic

https://wp.me/p1IcOU-3bA Mr. C Returns

https://wp.me/p1IcOU-3bN Plant-based protein


 

 

 

Shortages Inspire More To Try Plant-Based Protein

By Dan Curtin, PresidentBurger Time,
Greenleaf Foods

(NewsUSA) – In periods of change, we often find comfort in simple pleasures. A great burger is one of them.

Yet, some of those simple pleasures have been compromised by the dramatic changes caused by COVID-19, including the disruption of the animal meat industry. Meat plants are closing, causing meat to be harder to find and its prices to rise. Some grocers are limiting the amount of meat shoppers can buy to curb pantry loading.

I know these issues will be resolved as the pandemic subsides. The animal meat industry will recover, and supply chains will be restored. But right now, you may be asking: What do I do without meat?

Now is the time to try plant-based protein. Made from simple ingredients you know, Lightlife plant-based meat is as nutritious as it is delicious. And you can find the products in your grocer’s meat case.

To be clear, I’m not against the animal meat industry. I believe we’re all trying to solve the same complex challenge: how to feed Americans during this pandemic. But I do believe no diet should be entirely dependent on animal meat. That’s why Lightlife is committed to delivering plant-based protein throughout the country to ensure as many people as possible have access to the food they need.

At Lightlife, we’re not asking you to give up animal meat. If you want to eat meat, eat meat. But we believe you should also eat plants: whole plants and plant-based protein. That’s why we strive to bring more high-protein options to your table. Fortunately, the trend toward eating more plant-based protein began well before COVID-19, driven by a desire for more balance and variety in our diets, as evidenced by the fact that 44 percent of Americans now describe themselves as flexitarian.

In fact, Lightlife sales were up significantly in the first quarter of 2020. And longer term, the plant-based meat category is expected to grow exponentially, with the Good Food Institute predicting a threefold increase in the number of American households regularly purchasing plant-based protein1.

The reality is it takes a little more work these days to make a good burger, even the ones we make with simple ingredients. I want you to know that we’re committed to your dinner table. And your lunch table. And if you want a burger for breakfast, your breakfast table, too.

I am so proud of our production teams working around the clock to ensure our products are available at your local grocer. To ensure their health and safety, we have taken additional steps including social distancing wherever possible, daily temperature checks and health screenings, face coverings, increased sanitation efforts, and staggered breaks and start times to reduce the potential for congestion. This is in addition to the sanitation procedures our team is already accustomed to, and the variety of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) we routinely wear.

This is all part of our dedication to getting high-quality, plant-based protein to your tables. Because whether your burger is made from ground beef or plant-based ingredients, a good burger is something we can all agree on. And I believe that together, we will celebrate that simple pleasure once again.


Editor’s Note: Yes, this is a bit of an infomercial, but it’s timely information we can use right now. I’m sure Semilla also carries plant-based protein burgers and other products. Be sure and check out our local indie stores.


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central


 

Mr. C Returns

Quick Fact

Mr. C is back and has taken up residence in my bladder. I know, TMI, but I’m sharing this information because bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers in the U.S., affecting about 68,000 adults each year. According to the Mayo Clinic website, it occurs more often in men than women. I appear to be one of the lucky women who has it. Bladder cancer can happen at any age, but it is more common in older adults. I’m 75, prime time.

Early detection – as is often the case – means treatment is likely to be successful. Someone asked me what stage the cancer is. You’d think I would know, but I don’t. I start treatment next week, one a week for six weeks, followed by two years of treatment, one every three months. With bladder cancer, frequent monitoring is a must as it – as my doctor said – is unlikely to go away permanently. The best course of action is vigilance.

The first procedure, before the treatment plan was determined, took place on May 6, delayed because of COVID-19 and the need for critical care facilities. The procedure determined the presence of tumors and the likelihood they were malignant. Further testing revealed there are tumors, and yes, they are malignant.

The good news is, I won’t have chemo; I’ll undergo an immunotherapy regimen, which is less intrusive and arduous than chemo. It is not without risk as the drug I will be taking contains TB cells, which creates a hostile environment in the bladder that prevents the cancer cells from growing. (I hope I got that right.) I won’t go into detail about what one must do once the drug is eliminated. Suffice it to say one must be VERY careful.

So, prayer is appreciated. No worrying allowed. I’m a tough old nut and have survived Mr. C’s other visitations to my body.

Because it is fairly common, I’m including some of the symptoms you might want to talk to your doctor about if you have them.

Bladder cancer signs and symptoms may include:
• Blood in urine (hematuria)

• Painful urination
• Pelvic pain

If you have hematuria, your urine may appear bright red or cola colored. Sometimes, urine may not look any different, but blood in urine may be detected during a microscopic exam of the urine.

People with bladder cancer might also experience:
• Back pain

• Frequent urination

Be well; stay healthy. As we age, it is ever more important to be alert to symptoms and see the doctor about concerns you may have. It – whatever it is – won’t magically go away, just because you want it to. It’s your health; be proactive. See your health care professional regularly.


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central


 

NAVY BLUE

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 WWII.


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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

Redesign

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.


Follow Sharon at:
www.vandermeerbooks.com
https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks
Amazon Author Central


 

Remix

Awakening

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

THE GIRL WHO DREAMED

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.


Follow Sharon at:
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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

WORDS OF ART

“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.


BEING OTHER

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

Change suggests
being other
than we are now,
influenced by
opinions,
facts,
experiences,
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?
Society?
Friends?
Enemies?

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


COMMUNICATION

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.



Follow Sharon at:
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https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks
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Poetry in Notion

Apple Blossoms

SPACED OUT

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…


FOLLOW THE LIGHT

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


 

A NEW WORLD

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.


Follow Sharon at:
www.vandermeerbooks.com
https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks
Amazon Author Central


 

April PAD Challenge

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

QUIRKS WORK

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.


 

SOCIAL DIALOGUE

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.


 

WANDER ON A CROOKED ROAD

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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Friday

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.

Joy

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


 

Hope

Hope

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 fsharon@msn.com. 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.

Rotary

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 fsharon@msn.com 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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Abundance

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
projectY
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

Casablanca

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.

Parasite


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.

Casablanca


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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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THE BROKEN LIFE

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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THINK POSITIVE – BE POSITIVE

Calendar

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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LIFESTYLE MUSINGS

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.

https://wp.me/p1IcOU-2Km
https://wp.me/p1IcOU-2t0
https://wp.me/p1IcOU-1Rj
https://wp.me/p1IcOU-5R
https://wp.me/p1IcOU-pv

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.


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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 www.thomaslfriedman.com.


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HONESTLY – A POEM FOR 2020

pexels-photo-3036525.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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
Boredpanda
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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.”

“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?”


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ADVENT WREATH

Advent

Advent reminds us
that around the Christ candle there is –
Hope.
Peace.
Joy.
Love.
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

cropped-Christ-Child.jpg

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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Christmas

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.


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Photo: pexels-photo-1652109.jpeg

Mist

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



 

FUTURE IMPERFECT – FOUND

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.

ΔΔΔ

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.

“Councilman.”

“Commander.”

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.

“Walker.”

“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.

ΔΔΔ

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.

How?

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.

ΔΔΔ

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.

ΔΔΔ

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.

FUTURE IMPERFECT

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.


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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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Courage

Sundown

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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