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.



 

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

Coming Soon

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.


 

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

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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https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks
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Tears are not enough

Sad situation

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

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

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

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

Note: Photo of Rowe property from AWC Facebook page. Healthy dog feature photo from WordPress images.


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Autumn Leaves

Harvest moon

MOONLIGHT

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

__________

THE MUSIC OF NOW

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

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

_________

NATURE’S NURTURE

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

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

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

________

EMERGENCE

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

And then – change comes.
Light.
Air.
Stretching.
Unfolding.
Free,
flying into the day
wing color like
jewels in the sun.

Yes,
this thing called change
is good.


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


 

Connection

Connection


Image: canva.com

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Daily Dose of Reading Helps Boost Brain Power

Books in Print

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Key Questions to Help You Choose a Medicare Plan

Decision time for Medicare

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

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

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

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

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


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NFPW contests now open

Editor’s note: From a NFPW press release.

The annual National Federation of Press Women’s communications contest has officially opened. The contest is open to writers, authors, copy editors, public affairs professionals, photographers, publishers or others in the communications field.

Entries must be published in 2019 and entries are open to writers of all ages.

The early deadline to submit entries – and avoid a one-time additional fee of $25 – is Jan. 28, 2020. The final deadline for books is Feb. 4 and the final deadline for all other entries is Feb. 11.

The contest is sponsored by NFPW affiliates and people living in states without an affiliate hosting a contest are eligible to enter the NFPW at-large contest.

First place winning entries in the affiliate and at-large contests are eligible to advance to the national competition. To enter the national contest, the entrants must be NFPW members, or must join by March 15, 2020.

National winners will be announced in April and honored June 20, 2020 at an awards dinner in Little Rock, Arkansas. ENTER NOW!

In addition, the High School Communications Contest sponsored by the NFPW Education Fund is also accepting entries for the 2020 contest.

The contest is open to middle and high school students throughout the United States. Affiliates in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Texas are hosting state contests.

Students in other states are welcome to enter the high school at-large contest.

For the high school contest, the entries must have been published between Feb. 1, 2019 and Jan. 31, 2020.

The deadline for all student entries is Feb. 11, 2020. First place entries in the affiliate and at-large contest automatically advance to the national level of competition. A third round of judging will take place for the first place winners in the national competition and three judges will select a “best of the best” winner from all the winning entries. All the national winners will be honored at a luncheon on Saturday, June 20, 2020 in Little Rock, Arkansas as well as receive a check for $100 per winning entry. ENTER NOW!

Questions relating to contest entries and categories should be directed to Teri Ehresman, contest director at islandpark723@gmail.com.

Questions relating to issues submitting the entries and issues with the online contest should be directed to Michele Cook, contest manager at michele@nfpw.org


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Fade to fall

Fade to fall

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


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Sculpture inspires song

Duke Sundt

Memorial - American Gold Star Mothers

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


 

Strength

Strength

 

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


PHOTO: WordPress

My town

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



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One day at a time

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

Peace

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



A musing on aging gratefully

My books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Artist Profile: Tom Anderson

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


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

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

Q: What inspires you?
Tom: Exotic woods.

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

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

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

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



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Artist Profile: Carol Anderson

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Artist Profile: Alice Carney


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Chef Sinclair brings it: A new and exciting dining concept

Kin at Castaneda

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



 

Artist Profile:Carl and Lisa Bartley

Lisa and Carl Bartley

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

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

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

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

Q. What inspires you?
A. Nature – God’s AMAZING CREATIONS!

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

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

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

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


 

Author Profile: James Blackshear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



Artist Profile: Doris Miller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author & Artist Profile

Sally Kruse and Melanie Faithful

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

Saints and Sinners

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


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

Melanie Faithful, poet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sally Kruse: Photography and Watercolor

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

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

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

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


 

Author Profile: Edwina Romero

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

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

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

Q. What inspires you?
A. My daughter.

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

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

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

Q. Where can you work be purchased?
A. www.edwinaromero.com; Paper Trail, 158 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM; amazon.com; pattiport57@gmail.com.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist Profile: Nancy Condrey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artist Profile: Fran Ryan

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

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

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

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

 

Artist Profile: Duffy Peterson

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Author Profile: Kayt C. Peck

Kayt's Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Artist Profile: Emma Lujan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books at Paper Trail

Thunder Prime Hunter's Light

My books

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

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

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

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

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


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


 

Author Profile: Dr. Ronald Maestas

Folk Art

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q. Is this your first year as a P.A.L. participant and what appeals to you about being in this show?
A. It is my first year and I am delighted to join other local artists

Q. What is your one-line invitation to the Pendaries Art League show?
A.
Come out to see local, fantastic artists!


You are invited:
Pendaries Art League
Pendaries Event Center
31 Lodge Road, Rociada, NM
Opening Reception

Friday, July 5, 2019
5:00 – 7:00 pm

Art Show
Saturday, July 6, 2019
10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday, July 7, 2019
10:00 am – 3:00 pm


Artist Profile: Chuck Wallace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Artist Profile: Nancy Wallace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Artist Profile: Kathy McCoy

Kathy McCoyFrom the artist: Kathy McCoy has been a soldier, artist , museum director, published author, performing arts director and lecturer. She holds a B.F.A. in sculpture from Northern Arizona University. She worked primarily in bronze and showed professionally in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Kathy was selected as the inaugural artist to show at the DeGrazia Gallery of the Sun in Tucson, now a National Historical District.

Kathy returned to her home in the southeast to complete studies in Applied Anthropology at University of Tennessee and Georgia State University. She became the founding executive director of the Monroe County Heritage Museums in Monroeville, AL, the home of Harper Lee and Truman Capote. At that time she began her journey from visual arts to performing arts. She founded, directed  and toured  nationally and internationally the production of To Kill a Mockingbird,  which was selected as a Millennium Year production at the Kennedy Center.

Kathy continued her visual arts artistry as a performing arts director in Pell City,  Alabama until her retirement . At that time she returned to her “roots” and began finding her way back into visual arts. Kathy now spends her time between Alabama, Florida and LeDoux , New Mexico.

In the eye of the artist Q. What art medium do you work in?
A. Oil and ink.

Q. Why that medium?
A.  I like the flows and colors.

Q. What inspires you?
A. Natural surroundings, animals, people. The  profound beauty of New Mexico is so overwhelming that one has to stop and take notice. And being an artist , I have the passion to interpret that beauty through my oil and ink paintings, whether they be on canvas, tiles or anything with a surface!

Q. What is your preferred work environment?
A. New Mexico!

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. I am not influenced by one particular artist  but, like all artists I believe, I am influenced by the works of many ,many artist , past and present.

Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as an artist?
A. I have been both a visual and performing artist all my life.

Q. Where can you work be purchased?
A. Black Belt Treasures, Camden, Alabama, and ARTSCAPE Gallery, Pell City, Alabama. Both are cooperative galleries.


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


 

 

Author Profile: Carmen Baca

From Carmen’s Amazon Author Page: Hello! I’m Carmen. As if 36 years in the classroom weren’t enough, I now “teach” from home, helping aspiring authors with their own manuscripts, researching marketing strategies, and working on my next book. You can find me in the mountains of northern New Mexico where my husband and I enjoy a peaceful, quiet life caring for our animal family and any stray that happens to stop by.

Below are Carmen’s responses to a Q&A interview about her work as a writer and published author.

Carmen BacaQ. What genre do you work in?
A. The majority of my works are literary regionalism with a touch of magical realism. My first book, El Hermano, is a historical fiction based on my father’s induction and subsequent rise to leadership of our community’s brotherhood of Hermanos Penitentes. My second book, Las Mujeres Misteriosas, is a ghost story mystery, which pits La Muerte against la Llorona in a fight over the soul of a young woman. My third book, Cuentos del Cañón, is a short story collection. It’s a companion book to the first because it’s comprised of the backstories of characters featured in the first book. My fourth, Viajes con Fantasmas, is a sequel to the second, which will publish this summer. My fifth, a short story cycle, is called La Quinceañera. It’s a parallel narrative of three plots which intertwine in 12 separate short stories. It is currently in the editing stage. I have also published 17 short pieces, fiction and non-fiction, in online literary magazines since 2017.

Q. Why that genre?
A. I found my voice in the first book and discovered that my readers appreciate both the stories I tell and the style I use to tell them. The realization that I could be a small voice whereby I could inform, educate, and entertain those who are interested in my culture is why I love writing regionalistic literature. It’s what I know, what I love, and what I want to leave behind as my legacy to New Mexico’s literature. We New Mexico Hispanics have a rich history, but we are not well-known. We are distinct from Latinos of other countries, and I want to tell everyone I can reach about our uniqueness.

El HermanoQ. What inspires you?
A. A locked wooden box, which revealed the secrets of los Hermanos’ brotherhood, inspired my first book. I was disappointed with the way their religious practices were sensationalized in other publications. I wanted my book to show readers that the brotherhood is so much more than what people think. That box gave me the historical information I needed to set the record straight – so to speak – without revealing private information none of us has to know, since we are not of them. Now, I’m inspired by elements of my culture in addition to religion: dying traditions and customs, superstitions, folklore, and beliefs, lifestyle, dialect — all of which I include in most of my works to show younger generations how our ancestors lived, to remind those my age and older of the old days we share, and to preserve the past. I’m inspired by life and death, real human struggles, my career — so many themes in life to write about. I’m also inspired by a variety of writing genres. This allows me to experiment in writing.

Q. What is your preferred work environment as a writer?
A. I worked as a teacher for 36 years, leaving my beautiful home built by my husband on the land of my ancestors. I retired in 2014 and am living the life of my dreams: working from the comfort of my home surrounded by mountains and meadows. Several times already I have caught a movement in the reflection of my PC, which turns out to be elk or deer peering in the window next to me. There is nowhere I’d rather be.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by this individual?
A. That’s a hard one. I can’t focus on anyone, other than Jesus Christ. I admire those who persevere, who are honest, and humble, and who attain their goals through willpower and courage — too many to name individually.

Q. Where can your work be purchased?
A. All my books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and Goodreads; they can also be found on a variety of other websites as well as local venues: Tome on the Range in Las Vegas, Op.cit in Taos, Bookworks in Albuquerque and several other locations.

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Artist Profile: Sharon Stillwater

Sharon Stillwater

Bio of an ‘Accidental Artist’: From Sharon Stillwater’s website
I was born on a cold, snowy night Dec. 18. 1942—a volatile mixture of Native American, faded aristocracy, Scottish reclusiveness and French haughtiness. I grew up in far northern Ohio surrounded by flowers, farm and animals, and looked after by sainted, salt of the earth Midwesterners. It was out of this Edenesque early childhood, that I developed the strength and courage needed to face the struggles of life and to endure. Read more…

Sharon Stillwater has a lovely website. I recommend you go there and look at her stunning art and read her complete bio, including the tribute to her husband. This tells you much about a woman who has found a lifeline in art. She expresses herself in compelling ways with rich colors and creative imagery.

Below are her answers to questions about her has an artist. She is one of the coordinators for the Pendaries Art League show scheduled for July. See event details below the article.

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

Q. Why that medium?
A. It is where I first started painting and learning to mix colors in about 1997.  I had actually planned on heading to sculpture but fell in love with colors and oil paint. I love the sheen of oil and find it easier to get soft edges. I do a lot of mixing on the canvas. I also like that you don’t have to put it under glass.

Q. What inspires you?
A. Wilderness and the human psyche.

Q. What is your preferred work environment?
A. My home studio, which is also my sun room.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by this individual?
A. It is not one individual but so many friends and others who live with integrity. They inspire me to keep going, keep hoping and keep trying.

Q. What do Aspens in Winteryou most want visitors to the show to know about you as an artist?
A. That I feel that the art comes through me as a gift and I do not feel that it is something my ego can take credit for.

Q. Where can your work be purchased?
A. My home studio and through my website as well as my agent, (see my web site).

 


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


 

Canva Classic

Canva, a design website, is an amazing resource for bloggers and content developers. Much of the content is free and even the premium backgrounds are inexpensive. There is a pro version for a monthly subscription fee. Depending on your needs, it is an excellent affordable resource. The graphic below, and it’s content, is downloadable as is, or you can use the template and add your own information. I can’t recommend it highly enough. To be an exceptional graphic designer, consider a degree from New Mexico Highlands University Media Arts. It is a cutting-edge program that has led graduates to stellar careers.

How to become a graphic designer


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


 

For Writers

Eat the Cake

Thunder Prime Hunter's Light

Sitting in the eye of the storm,
in front of a handful of skeptics.
Will it be an epic fail,
or an open door to converts?
Readings are a test of a writer’s mettle,
something you must do… and do again.
Writing is but half the battle,
sales and reviews become your goal.
The fun is over. Now the work begins.


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


 

Dandelion Light

Dandelion

Dandelions dot the landscape,
yellow bright against spring greens.
Once, I thought them a nuisance,
now I give thanks for their value,
providing nectar for bees
and salad greens for the daring gourmet.
Mostly I love their perky color
and joyful reminder of spring days
and the lazy hum of life.


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


Quick Look @ Thunder Prime, Hunter’s Light

Thunder Prime, Hunter's Light

Book signing and reception, 2 p.m., May 4
Paper Trail, 158 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM
Tune in to KFUN May 1, 9 a.m., for a preview.


Thunder Prime Hunter's Light


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


 

Easter

Tulips

Cross

Jesus didn’t come into the world
to save the good
and decide who is bad.
He was not an obstacle-maker,
he was – and is – a bridge-builder,
the connection to salvation and freedom.
That’s the man who suffered and died,
rose again on the third day
and remains a guiding light for all.
Not just the believer,
but all who will see the way ahead
through the eyes of love and compassion.


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


5 Reasons you are important

Volunteers Wanted

When I go to meetings, I often see the same faces. These are dedicated folks who believe in making a difference, and who believe there is a difference to be made. They Will Rogerssometimes suffer criticism instead of praise for their efforts, but this does not deter them. They show up, give their opinions, lend their support, stand up for the promise of a better tomorrow, and forge ahead. They volunteer for business groups, animal welfare activities, social justice causes, civic improvement organizations, and anything else you can think of that will make your life and mine a little better. They don’t get paid, and most go unrecognized. These engines for change are the lifeblood of a vibrant community. If you aren’t currently working for the betterment of the community as a volunteer, here are a five reasons you might want to come to the next meeting of interest to you, and sit down at the table.

Ideas

Ideas are the seeds of change. Without ideas, there would be no iPad, iPhone, or iMac. There would be no interactive notebook that responds to a touch. There would be no music, no art, no books, no invention of any kind. It all begins with an idea. If you think your ideas aren’t important, think again. You can and will make a difference, but only if you are at the table.

Perspective

I’ve been at the table many times, perhaps too many times, some might say. My perspective comes from my frame of reference. I still believe my perspective has value, but so does yours. When decisions are being made your thoughts count. If you aren’t present, those thoughts won’t be heard, not because your perspective is being ignored, but because you aren’t there to present it.

Kick the lid off the box

It is an unfortunate fact of organizations that sometimes leaders become mired in procedure and process and forget their primary purpose, whatever that may be. The board and membership ages. Individual members become complacent or overburdened. In either case the lid must be kicked off the box so new energy, new leaders, new members can come pouring in. Leadership development is as critical as new ideas. Your presence and participation as a new volunteer can make that happen. You can learn from and be mentored by seasoned volunteers.

Your Experience

Nobody brings to the table what you bring. Your experience at every level will help inform and define the organization you become involved in. You will get out of it exactly what you put into it. Your experience will make the organization better and stronger for your participation.

Self-development

Getting acquainted with people you don’t ordinarily encounter is an excellent way to expand your horizons. Their energy, their ideas, their dedication will energize you, inspire you, and broaden your creativity. Studies have shown that people who are more involved and engaged in life are happier. Volunteering is good for you. So, come to the table. Be a part of making your community great. Just as seeds need water and sun to grow, organizations need your fresh ideas, perspective, and experience. They need you to kick the lid off the box and pour in your creativity and energy. And isn’t it encouraging to know you will benefit from the experience?

All About You

Productivity

Stand OutYour purchase of a single-page artist or business profile will serve multiple purposes for a one-time fee of $67.50. Purchase includes 30 color copies of your profile on quality paper. Uses for the profile include:

  • Outline for news releases
  • Sales stuffers
  • As a flyer for promotional purposes
  • For openings
  • To share your expertise
  • Sets you apart from the competition
  • May be used as your website business profile

View samples: Andrea GottschalkTito Chavez

Next steps:

  1. Provide a list of all web addresses where you post information.
  2. Provide digital images (2 or more) to be used with your profile.
  3. Provide email address and cell phone number
  4. Email this information to sharon@vandermeerbooks.com

Within 48 hours you will receive 10-12 questions. Respond to the questions and return your responses to sharon@vandermeerbooks.com.

Within five days you will receive the first draft of your profile. You will receive subsequent drafts until you give final approval. Upon approval, you will receive the following:

  • 30 color copies of the profile on quality paper
  • A PDF copy of your profile for distribution in whatever manner you choose
  • One-time revision of copy within the first year

FREE BONUS
A featured article on www.vandermeerbooks.com


Click here for more information about Sharon, call 505-617-0839 or email sharon@vandermeerbooks.com.

Order profiles in the shop.

2 Ten April Show

Perspective

Corner ShotPerspective. It has more than one definition, but for an artist, perhaps it is the vanishing point of reality from which creation occurs. In the mi casa es su casa show at 2 Ten Galeria on the Plaza, it takes on new meaning in the context of how artists selected the work they chose to exhibit. Some is new work; some was selected from a prolific body of work by individual participants. Each artist looked at the theme with different eyes. Some stayed true their artistic roots while others ventured into unfamiliar mediums.

For this piece I asked the artists who wished to participate to answer three questions:

  1. What appealed to you about the theme mi casa es su casa for the April show?
  2. Did you create something new for the show, and if so what and why? If no, other than theme, why did you select pieces from your body of work to exhibit?
  3. What word best reflects who you are as an artist, and why that word?

The feeling one gets from reading the responses is one of personal connection that extends beyond the work. Perhaps Duffy Peterson’s comment – which touched on all the questions and expressed the connectedness of an artist to her work – best captures the celebratory nature of creativity.

“My painting, Home At Last, references my past and present. Having lived all over the country, finding Las Vegas, NM 15 years ago was almost a calling! We couldn’t move here fast enough! Finding friends and fellow artists who continue to support artistic endeavors has been enriching and most of all fun.” -Duffy Peterson

Fran Ryan also addressed the questions as a reflection of her creative process.

My small painting was done for the show, when I was away from home. It is not like my home at all except for the chair and bird feeder, which are mine. My paintings always have some feeling I experienced when I took the reference photo or painted on site. Most of the time I don’t realize this until the painting is done. -Fran Ryan

I found the artists’ responses to the questions thoughtful and revealing. They are reproduced here with permission.

Theme responses:

Michael Peranteau and Linda AnderleLinda Anderle:
I had made a number of the felt embroidered houses for family members and the ideas just multiplied. I share my studio time long-distance texting with an artist friend in Texas, Laurie Davis, who is primarily a watercolorist. She had sent me a watercolor book-marker of a house and at the time was concentrating on tiny (2″x2″) house watercolors. She was painting one a day and I suggested we do a HOUSE show. That’s how it started. I further decided to do an invitational show of our local artists. It worked out nicely for our 3rd anniversary, asking artists to bring their idea of house/home to our “home.”

Lisa Lawrence:
When Linda first mentioned the show, I thought she was referring to concepts of “home;” what “home” meant to different folks. The piece I had done that came to mind immediately had the word “home” in its title, “Home Is Where You Hang Your Beret …,” and took the concept away from bricks and mortar, placing it squarely between a person’s ears, in the mind. But, this does not necessarily make it less accessible or less likely to be shared with another. As a state of being, a relationship with all the multidimensional data one collects in one’s lifetime as one goes down the road, “Home” is where one docks, where an anchor is thrown down, where lamps or candles are lit for the duration, however long that may be. It is a place of insights, inner vision from whence to launch action in the outer world.

Lin Chibante:
Home is a comfortable place for me. Many images come to mind that represent my feeling of house/home.

Mary Search:
The show appealed to me because Linda’s exuberant personality motivated me to play with the house idea in the clay studio. Since I’m committed to making the 2 Ten Gallery a vital presence in Las Vegas, I thought I would join in the “house idea” and see what I could do.

Sharon Stillwater:
I saw House as a metaphor for Home. Home, the place where we can be protected nourished and made whole again. Home, a place of nurture and love, a place for ourselves, and a place to share with others. Homelessness is a human condition which brings out in me the profoundest of compassion, and so sharing home feels like something that heals.

Meredith Britt:
I knew the warmth associated with thoughts of house and home would pull together a cohesive exhibit. Besides that, I have many pictures of houses and other buildings because I like to work with angles and perspective.

Kim and ElaineElaine Querry:
Mi casa es su casa is an inviting and welcoming slogan. It reflects a generosity of spirit for which I think most people long. The theme evokes a sense of openness and sharing to friends and strangers both.

Frank Beurskens:
The theme is curious for its timing while as we live in a political period where people are being driven out of their home of origin, to seek a new home in another country. The phrase usually implies a welcoming, but in the current time, it seems the phrase is reversed to suggest “my house is mine and you stay in your house.” The theme conjured up a primitive image.

Kimberly Reed-Deemer:
I’ve always been drawn to interesting and/or historic structures, whether it’s the form, or the location and how people use or have used them.

New or selected from existing work responses:

Linda Anderle:
Some new… I added the paper and cardboard houses to other work I had created.

Lisa Lawrence:
While I made the piece in the late 1990s, it is interesting that my first time exhibiting it comes precisely as I have put my renovated house – my bricks and mortar “home” – on the market.

Lin Chibante:
New. I had nothing appropriate. I found “house” images that suggested my ideas of ” home” and I went along with the images using fabrics and objects that seemed right.

Mary Search:
New. I thought I would join in the “house idea” and see what I could do, and alas! A little solar casa came out of the kiln the morning of the show.

Sharon Stillwater:
I simply selected pieces from my collection that fit with the theme. Many of my pieces deal with Home at a personal level for me. I chose the ones I felt were the most accessible and might most clearly evoke in others the notion of home.

Meredith Britt:
I entered work I already had. I picked images of houses in the two places I love most: Westcliffe, Colo., and Las Vegas, NM. The three paintings and the collage all depict humble homes.

Elaine Querry:
I selected pieces from two existing bodies of my work. When I began searching for images that would fit the theme, these pieces jumped out for their sense of timelessness, peace, and connection to the spirit. The Teepee image was taken at a Taos Pueblo Buffalo Pasture Powwow. The two Grand Canyon River Trip images are of the Nankoweap granaries that date back to AD 1100 and are located high above the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Frank Beurskens:
The simple ceramic huts appeared spontaneously while staring at some cut out slabs Mary Search had in her ceramic studio. When she mentioned the show’s theme, the simple structure emerged, technically primitive and childlike.

Kimberly Reed-Deemer:
The paintings I have in this show are some I had done many years ago when I was just out of school and living in my home town, which like Las Vegas, has many historic buildings. I’ve never had the opportunity to show them in New Mexico, so this exhibit was a good match for the paintings.

What word best reflects who you are as an artist, and why that word?

Back to FrontLinda Anderle:
Eclectic. I like the way it sounds. And I am truly multifaceted as are my artistic endeavors.

Lin Chibante:
Newbie. I only discovered fabric art a few years ago and I’m having fun exploring its possibilities. I love using the mediums of fabric and thread in new ways.

Mary Search:
Learning. I feel so fortunate to have my own space for playing and creating as I join the post- work seniors in retirement. It is very soothing to find satisfaction in the use of my hands to learn the skill of hand building and throwing on the wheel. Being in the studio allows me to enter a state of meditation. Life is good here in Las Vegas for me.

Sharon Stillwater:
Accidental. I did not set out to become an “artist” and do not think of myself in those terms. I am just a person who is drawn to create. I feel that it is as much a devotional act as anything. It is a gift that allows me to stay connected with the deeper levels of myself and the Great Mystery. I have been drawn to creating all my life and have often used it as a way to express myself, both to myself and on a deeper level to the Great Mystery/Presence especially during my hardest times emotionally. It did not occur to me until late in my life that what gave so much to me and made me feel the restorative power of love, might also produce something that touched others. I am glad to share what I can. Art simply comes through me, I do not own it even though it heals and restores me. As such I do not really think of myself as “an artist.”

Meredith Britt:
Inspired. Why else would I do it?

Elaine Query:
Shadowcatcher. I’m a photographer. Someone who records light and shadow, and shadowcatcher to me represents what I do as an artist.

Frank Beurskens:
Bricoleur. To create with what is at hand, in the moment, into what the material wants to be. Never with forethought, done largely to shut off the conscious mind which is the escape art can be; allowing something to emerge out of nothing.

Kimberly Reed-Deemer:
Dogged. I will keep working, keep showing where I can, and keep doing what I have to and want to do.

2 Ten Galeria is itself a matter of perspective. When you walk in the door you might believe that what you see is what you get. Do not be deceived. Walk the corridor and check out the wall spaces and tiny rooms packed – artistically, it must be said – with wearables, food, art and more. And the best part is that this gallery joins with all the others in the Plaza/Bridge Street corridor in providing artists a means by which they may show and sell their work.

Happy 3rd anniversity, 2 Ten Galeria.

Other aritsts participating in the April Invitational Show are: Laurie Davis, Denise Fox, Stuart Gelzer, Bob Henssler, Mary Rose Henssler, Harry Lieppe, Angela Meron, Martin Montoya, Terry Mossman, and Patty Nelson.


Photos: Sharon Vander Meer

PAD – April 2019

Poetry

I am participating in the Poetic Asides annual Poem a Day challenge. I’ve done it in the past, but for some reason, skipped last year. It’s great writing exercise and gives me food for thought about poetry in general, and my engagement in particular. I’ve published two chap books of poetry, some of which have shown up on this site, as well as several brand new poems as time and the tides of life inspire me. Below are the poems I’ve posted on the PAD site thus far. The poems are based on writing prompts from Robert Lee Brewer, senior content editor of the Writer’s Digest writing community and author of Solving the World’s Problems. He is a poet and writer (yes, I know, a poet IS a writer, but for some reason the two disciplines seem to be taken as separate children of the pen), and is the catalyst for me to be as much a poet as I am a writer.

DAY 1: A morning poem

GOOD MORNING
Morning bursts over the horizon,
joy-filled with bright bunches of red
shot through with gold
tinged with orange sherbet,
infused with soft yellow cream.

Silhouettes of trees
outlined in stark relief
against this burst of color
a dance of nature in the raw
making a statement about God’s creation.

There is no power
like the power of daybreak,
streaking across the sky,
tendrils of light bringing anticipation,
charged with hope.


Day 2: Worst case / best case poem

FRAMED
My life is framed by you.
Is that a good thing, yes or no?
I have no life outside the boundaries
of who we are together,
no activities, associations, plans…
It’s all about us, we, together forever.
Am I comfortable in these confines?
Are you? Do you just want to hide sometimes?
I do, but there is nowhere to go beyond the frame.

FRAMED 2
I am framed by your love,
enclosed in the warmth of
who you are, who we are together.
You are my heart, my joy in life,
my today and my tomorrow.
I can think of no better place to be
than inside this frame, with you.


Day 3: An animal poem

PANDA
Panda black and white
eating bamboo bright and green
rain falls crystal light.


Day 4: An artist poem

JACKSON POLLACK
splatter and spatter, drizzle and drip
down a canvas awaiting the tip
of an artist’s endeavor to astound

the public perception
of artistic perfection
can be nowhere found

in Jackson Pollock’s
thousand-dollar frolics
in which mockery resound

did he question our sanity
as we peruse Pollack inanity
or was it simply ego unbound


Day 5 – A stolen poem

THE WRITER
Sometimes – not often,
but sometimes – I feel as
though writing fiction
is stealing from real life,
but I do it anyway
because as a writer
what I’m putting on the page
is – for that span of time –
more real than real life
will ever be. The woman
on the page is who I want to be,
vibrant and sassy, brave and constant,
controllable in the way the real me
can never, ever be,
until suddenly
the protagonist asserts her personality,
and my momentary control
is stolen, just – like – that!
Ah, the joy of writing fiction
and the conundrum of what is real
and what is the woven web
of the writer’s imagination!


Day 6 – An after poem

AFTER THE STORM
So it is written
in the loopy tendrils of
greening vines, life is.


My chap books of poetry are available online or at sharon@vandermeerbooks.com.
Type Poetry Book in the subject line. Read more here about the chap books of poetry.


 

It’s all about health

Infinite Health Center

Drs. Carlos and Elena SandovalAs health care providers, Las Vegan Drs. Carlos Sandoval and Elena Sanchez Sandoval want to take their patients’ health to the next level. They believe you can unleash your body’s innate ability to heal, and are trained to help you get there. Their chiropractic office, Infinite Health Care in Santa Fe, NM, provides a range of services with that in mind. The couple earned their doctorates in chiropractic medicine at Life Chiropractic College West in San Jose, Calif. Below they respond to questions about their health philosophy.

Q: You had different experiences that influenced your decision to become chiropractors. Would each of you talk briefly about those experiences?
A:
Carlos: We both discovered chiropractic the same way the majority of people discover chiropractic, a low back injury. I was 21, and at that time had no idea what a chiropractor was or did. I was working out one day. When I went to rack the weight after a set of squats, I missed the rack and dropped 350 pounds on my back. It was the worst injury and pain I had ever experienced in my entire life. The low back pain was excruciating. I went home and took painkillers, and iced it, thinking it would go away in a day or so. I was wrong. I woke up the next morning not able to stand up, and the pain was worse. This continued for the next five days. I finally went to my medical doctor and he did the only thing he knew to do to get me out of pain, which was to prescribe opioids. Little did I know a person is not supposed to take opioids for more than four days. My prescription was good for two months; it got me out of pain, but didn’t fix the problem. I took the pills but was not back to living my normal active life. I was on opioids for a month a half before I ran into a friend who was a nurse. She explained to me the dangers of opioids and suggested I go see her chiropractor. I immediately made an appointment with Dr. Powers, the local chiropractor at the time, to see if he could help me out. After a consultation and a couple of x-rays he sat me down and explained exactly what was wrong with me, and laid out his recommendations to fix it. I followed his recommendations and just after a few visits I was completely out of pain and no longer in need of the opioids. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. The longer I stayed under care, the more I noticed how other health issues such as digestive problems and chronic sinusitis, started to improve or diminish. At the time I was going to school at NMHU to become a physical therapist, but after my time in Dr. Powers office, it inspired me to become a chiropractor. I applied to schools and that’s where my journey to become a chiropractor started.

A: Elena: When Dr. Carlos started chiropractic college I was trying to figure out what I wanted. I knew I wanted to be in the health field, I wanted to have opportunities to teach others about health through nutrition and exercise, and was also fascinated by the field of radiography. The college we went to offers something called “Champions Weekend.” They host you at the college for a weekend to learn what chiropractic actually is. I went into the weekend thinking it was all about pain relief. My world was completely turned upside down. Not only did I learn that chiropractic is about health and how our bodies heal and function, but I also realized how my own body had changed while under chiropractic care myself. When Dr. Carlos was under care with Dr. Powers in Las Vegas, I got under care as well, not really knowing what it was for or about, I did it because Carlos said it would be good for me and that it would help with my workouts. After about three months I noticed that I no longer needed my inhaler to be active; I could breathe and recover completely on my own. My menstrual cycle was for the first time since it started completely normal and regular; it used to come and go and last for weeks to a month at a time and the cramps were unbearable. Seasonal allergies I had every spring no longer existed. Chiropractic has given me my life and potential back.

Q. After practicing in California following graduation, what brought you back to New Mexico and why Santa Fe?
A.
After California, we initially moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., thinking that was going to be the place we called home. However, after living there for three months we realized that it wasn’t the place for us. New Mexico is our home and we felt called to come back to our home state to serve the people here. There are not that many chiropractors in the area and we felt that our friends and family were not getting the care they deserve. So we packed up, left Colorado and settled down in Santa Fe. The moment we got back to New Mexico, we knew we made the right decision. It’s been amazing to help our friends and families who have come into the office, as well as all the other amazing people we have come across.

Q: In life, we look at obstacles as challenges or opportunities. What are the opportunities you face in building your patient base in the City Different?
A:
Two things come to mind and both have to do with educating our community. First, there is a major misconception about chiropractic. People think it is only about neck pain and back pain. There is so much more to chiropractic than that. Chiropractic has the ability to influence a person’s overall health because of the intimate relationship between the spine and the nervous system. Your nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and individual nerves. This system is what controls every function in the body. The main point of the spine is to support and keep us upright, but also – and more important – to protect the spinal cord. A healthy spinal cord is essential to our overall health. If the spine is not in its normal position, this could affect the function of your overall health.

Second, people don’t value their health enough to be proactive about it. Health is our greatest asset and if we lose our health, we lose everything. The majority of people wait until they get a symptom or get sick, then want to cover it with a pill, lotion or potion. They think that if they look good or feel good then that must mean they are healthy. The unfortunate problem with that is, by the time someone is experiencing a symptom it can be a lot harder to get back to health, or too late for successful treatment.

Q: Talk about some of the ways you are getting your name before the public?
A:
One is utilizing social media such was Facebook and Instagram. We do our best to put out tons of valuable information to the public on chiropractic and health. Another way, and one of our favorites, is doing corporate health talks and lunch and learns. We partner with local businesses to arrange a day we can take them to lunch and do a health talk for them. They are always fun and a great way to get our name out and educate the community as well.

Q: What services do you provide that address your patients’ overall health?
A:
What sets us apart is that our office is a “health center” not just a chiropractic center. Chiropractic is the foundation to getting our patients back to 100 percent health. We know there is a normal position for the spine, which is perfectly straight from the front, and from the side there should be 3 perfect 45-degree curves. When our spine is in that position, there is no stress on the nervous system, the brain is communicating with the body the way it should at 100 percent, and the body is functioning and healing the way it is intended to do.

Most people we see don’t have spines in that position. This is where we implement our spinal corrective technique to get the spine back to its normal position, which allows for better overall health, functioning and healing. We also work with our patients on nutrition, exercise, developing a positive mindset and becoming more aware of the toxins around them. We do one-on-one consultations, but the big thing we do is our monthly educational workshops on specific health topics. This is to help our patients become more health conscious and to make better-informed decisions about their health.

Q: What do you most want potential patients to know about you as providers of health care?
A:
Health is a journey, and we are with our patients the entire journey. We truly care about people, want to see them well. Our goal is that people are THRIVING and not simply surviving, we want our patients to enjoy their lives with their loved ones doing what they love doing. We offer our help and guidance to everyone.

Q: What can a patient expect when he or she comes to your office?
A:
Our office is unique compared to most other chiropractic offices. It takes a little more to become a patient because of the specific spinal corrective process we implement. It is a 3-day/step process. Day 1 is data-gathering day. This is the visit during which we gather all the information we need to determine if we can help that patient. This includes a comprehensive consultation, examination and necessary x-rays. The second visit, we bring the patient back the next day to let them know if they are a good candidate for our office, spinal correction and chiropractic. If they are, they will receive their first chiropractic adjustment and a follow-up stress x-ray to see how they responded to the chiropractic adjustment. At this time, we have all the information we need to determine how many visits and how long it will take to correct the patient’s spine back to its normal position. That brings us to the third visit, our required new patient workshop. In the workshop we teach them what normal x-rays should look like, how it affects their health and why it is important to get adjusted. We teach them and give them all the information they need to be the doctor so that it is a doctor-doctor relationship not a doctor-patient relationship. This helps our patients understand their problem in more depth and detail, which helps them get better, quicker results. After the workshop, which is about 20-30 minutes, we go into private rooms, go over the patient’s x-rays, the care plan on what it’s going to take to correct the problem, and the financial investment.

Once the patient signs up, every time they come in for a visit they follow a three-step process. Step 1 is to warm up the spine. We teach our patients specific spinal corrective exercises to help warm up their spines for the adjustment, build strength and mobility in the spine and help hydrate the discs. Step 2 is the adjustment. We meet with the patient at the table to deliver the specific chiropractic adjustment. At the table we have the x-rays pulled up along with the listings of subluxations (misalignments in the spine) that we found, and we use a variety of techniques and tools to adjust. After the patient gets adjusted, they go to our spine and posture rehab area. This is step 3. We use complete body weighting systems and high frequency vibration platforms to reconstruct the spine and posture back to the normal position that it is supposed to be in. This 3-step process is repeated every time they come into our office for the number of recommended visits. We also give our patients a homecare kit and teach them specific exercises to do at home. This a way they can support what we are doing in the office.

Q: Do you treat children and teens as well as adults? How are treatments methods different based on age, or are they?
A:
As chiropractors we do not treat anything. We practice a salutogenic model, which gives birth to health, not the treatment of a specific condition. What we know and do is improve the function of the nervous system, which allows the body to heal and improves overall health. We do have specific CARE for infants, children and teens. We are a family-based office and aim to help our patients from womb to tomb. Dr. Elena is the pregnancy and pediatric specialist and one of the very few in the state. Adjusting and caring for children is different from adults. Infants, children and teens have different spines. Adjustments for children are very gentle, safe and effective. The amount of pressure used to correct the spine of a child is about the same amount of pressure you would use to test a tomato. Since children have not lived and accumulated the stressors that adults have, their care and frequency is much less than that of an adult, and they respond quickly to care, in some cases instantly. Parents have reported that through chiropractic care their children have improved immune systems (get sick less often and recover from colds quickly), improved sleep (especially with infants, they sleep through the night) and improved disposition.

Q: What do you most enjoy about the work you do?
A:
The thing we enjoy most is seeing the health transformations people go through, which allows them to get their lives back. We have truly seen some amazing things happen while people are under chiropractic care.


Infinite Health Center is located at 2860 Cerrillos Rd., Suite C-2, Santa Fe, NM. For appointments contact their office at 505-772-0114. For more information e-mail info@infinitehealthnm.com and check out their website at infinitehealthnm.com,


 

Writing is what I do

The writer's tools

Thunder Prime Hunter's LightAuthor Sharon Vander Meer: I love sci fi and I love contemporary fiction and I love mystery/adventure and I love poetry. As a writer, I’m told I should stick with one thing or the other, but if a story or poem pops into my head, it will end up getting written. Not everything gets published, but the work of creation is my heartbeat. A writer is what I am; writing is what I do. My dream is that you will enjoy the results of my labor of love.


Character and plot development are like 1000-piece puzzles: you start with the edges and work toward the heart. You don’t get the full impact of the image until the last piece is in. Therein lies the secret of storytelling.

My latest novel – Thunder Prime, Hunter’s Light – is now published. The last piece of the puzzle is in place. The book is available as an e-book  ($2.99), or as a paperback ($15). I will have copies available by April 5 if you would like to buy directly from me and get a signed copy.

Sci-fi action and futuristic politics combine in this story of a young woman who is on a quest to find her mother. Pella Soames will allow nothing to stand in the way of her search for Trish Soames, taken from Earth by a known galactic trader in slaves. Not a downed transport, attempts to abduct her and well-meaning friends who want to stop her mad and dangerous search for a woman who may not even be alive will stay her resolve. Fate, unexpected help and Pella’s wily sense of self-preservation keep her out of the hands of abductors… mostly.

When events conspire to bring her closer to reaching Chandor, a planet at the edge of the galaxy, Pella is faced with the difficult choice of protecting the children who have come into her care or using them as a means of reaching the holding of the hated Chandorian chieftain who took Pella’s childhood away.


This is my fifth novel. If you are looking for genre fiction from me, you will be disappointed.  If you’re looking for stories about independent female protagonists, then I have great tales to tell.


 Thunder Prime, Hunter’s Light may be purchased from online retailers and directly from the author. For more information contact sharon@vandermeerbooks.com.

Other works include Blind Curve, Finding Family, Future Imperfect, and The Ballad of Bawdy McClure, two chap books of poetry and a book of daily inspirational readings.


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

 

The Creative Spirit Freed

Never Stop Dreaming
Graphic image - clipart.com

You have made art in some magical form.
The thing you made is ready to sell.
Excitement pounds! Gallops, if you will,
stirring the heart and mind
to unnamed and unnameable possibilities.
Think of the thrill, the accolades, the glory!

But, wait! What if your brilliant creation
falls flat, has no resilience, gains no traction,
ends up on the scrap heap, a dud, a flop, a bomb?
Snickers and derision scrape like thorns
across your naked heart leaving you only slightly alive,
hope buried under insecurity, a shuddering fear of failure.

Stop. Right. There.
Doubt never lit a fire under anyone.
Fear frustrates flights of fancy,
stabs the brain with “I can’t! I Can’t! I CAN’T!”
That kind of thinking mocks the creative spirit,
binding her with thorny creepers.

You are ART. You are WRITER. You are CRAFT.
Believe in your work. Everything begins
and ends with your confidence in what you
have made, through your sweat and tears,
laughter and fears, worries and joys.
Believe in your WORK or no one else will.

Let excitement pound!
Thrill at the galloping hooves of hope!
You are an innovative life force.
Put it all out there and trust your gift –
whatever that gift may be.
Leave a mark. Inspire laughter. Arouse passion.

You cannot know what your work
will do to, or for someone else.
And does it matter?
What your work has already done
is made a difference in you.
You have done something no one else can do.

Ply your craft with dedication
and single-minded focus.
Create to your heart’s content.
Let excitement permeate the sweating artistic process,
believe and be proud. You produced something unique.
Put it out there with courage and not an ounce of doubt.

Color Graphic

My newest baby!

Thunder Prime, Hunter's LightYea! It is this close to publication! Thunder Prime, Hunter’s Light, is the sequel to The Ballad of Bawdy McClure (now under the title Thunder Prime, Fog Island),published more years ago than I care to admit. Thunder Prime, Hunter’s Light, has been a long time in the birthing.

Some readers will receive a print copy in the next week or so. Thank you to those who signed up to receive the episodes one-by-one over time as they posted on my website, www.vandermeerbooks.com. I hope you will all read the final version as some things have changed.

I can’t express how happy I am to get this into print. It’s a good read with strong characters and a story that could be told in any era, this just happens to occur in the distant future. I read somewhere that space novels are really nothing more than westerns with rockets in the cowboys’ pockets.

I don’t know about that, but in most westerns the good guy wins and rides off into the sunset with the girl. In this case, the cowboy is a girl and you’ll have to read the book to find out if she wins the day, and the guy.

Expected publication date: March 29, 2019. If you would like a review copy, please email sharon@vandermeerbooks.com. I will appreciate you posting your review in all the obvious places, and providing me with a link to the review.

The book will be available in paperback and ebook formats.


For more information or to pre-order Thunder Prime, Hunter’s Light, email sharon@vandermeerbooks.com.

A creation story

Apple Blossoms

Blanket Flower

 

God created people in his own image.
What an amazing thought.
The Spirit that permeates every molecule of creation
is in us as much as it is in
the nurturing soil that brings forth food,
the flowing streams that give life to all,
the neighbor who looks different
but who is of and from God, too.
We and they, are part of a woven blanket,
each thread laid in a pattern we cannot know or see,
which touches us as we touch the other threads.
Our actions
become part of the blanket,
the Spirit that covers us all.

Inspired by Genesis 1:27

Prairie Madness

Prairie Madness

Prairie MadnessPrairie Madness – Conspiracy at Fort Union
Author: Edwina Romero
Publisher: Random Horse Press
Cost: Paperback $18.81, Kindle e-book, $3.99
Available at: Amazon

Edwina Romero is the author of three books about Las Vegas, N.M. history. Prairie Madness – Conspiracy at Fort Union is her first novel. For more about the author go to www.edwinaromero.com.

If you like historical novels, you will thoroughly enjoy Prairie Madness – Conspiracy at Fort Union, by Edwina Romero. If you like a plain old good read, you are in for a treat.

Patti RomeroRomero has blended history and mystery to write an intriguing puzzle surrounding the death of personable Sean Flannery, a first sergeant at Fort Union in the late 1800s. The story involves the complex social structure of fort life with its military personnel, civilian workers, and privately-owned trader’s store. The ever-present winds sigh and bluster across the barren landscape, lending a haunting backdrop to this story of two women and the men in their lives.

Forget stereotypes, with washer women being the low rung on the social ladder, and think instead of the hardy women who ended up at the edges of the wild west. Their resilience is the true story behind this window on the past.

When army laundress Mary Margaret O’Keenan learns Sean is dead, she is convinced from the get-go that it was no accident. Who took the life of the man she had come to love? Mary Margaret intends to find out, ready to confront authority and bring to light clues she comes upon in her determined investigation.

Despite threats and pushback from military officials, she forges ahead with the unlikely but welcome help of Olivia Foote, wife of the post’s contract trader, a man whose motives appear to be less than honorable.

Mary Margaret and Olivia form a bond of trust and friendship that helps them in their pursuit of truth. The historical facts and setting take the reader back to an era when changes were underway for forts across the country. Howling winds batter at adobe walls and trickle through the mind, perhaps scouring away sober judgment and replacing it with the bare bones of greed and self-interest.

Place and character define a good story. In Prairie Madness, these elements are woven together beautifully. The tale moves apace revealing a conspiracy that reaches right into the office of the fort’s commanding officer and beyond.

Mary Margaret has good instincts, but deciding whom to trust isn’t easy. All she knows for sure is that the facts of Sean Flannery’s death must be revealed and the culprit brought to justice.

Paper Trail in Las Vegas, NM, will host a book signing on Saturday, March 16, at 1 p.m., featuring Romero and  Prairie Madness – Conspiracy at Fort Union. The book is also available online in paperback and Kindle format.

 

Monday Musings

Poetry
Easter Morning

 

BRIGHT IDEAS
My bright ideas
are in stacks of notebooks.
Articles, stories, essays…
 begun but never finished.
Now it’s doc after doc
in a folder called “works in progress,”
yet they never do,
progress, I mean.
Why do I hold onto these tarnished gems?
Beats me.
Perhaps they are like children,
waiting to grow up
and go out on their own.


 

PICKING UP WHERE YOU LEFT OFF
What did you start,
but never finish?
What did you say
you wish you could say
in a different way?
Can you walk off –
give your hat a doff –
and come back
another day
to pick up,
where you left off?
Is going back
possible?
Doable?
Advisable?
What detritus was left
in your wake
what mistakes did you make?
Can you – I – pick up
where we left off?


Line, Poetry in Notion

Tree of Peace

Plant a tree of peace

Our minister played this during worship today. I thought it was so beautiful I wanted to share it. The song was adapted from a Quaker poem, “Oh Brother Man.” The rendition  below was adapted by Gwyneth Walker. Read more about Walker here.

O Brother Man

by John Greenleaf Whittier

O Brother man! fold to thy heart thy brother;
Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there;
To worship rightly is to love each other,
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.

Follow with reverent steps the great example
Of Him whose holy work was ” doing good ” ;
So shall the wide earth seem our Father’s temple,
Each loving life a psalm of gratitude.

Then shall all shackles fall; the stormy clangor
Of wild war music o’er the earth shall cease;
Love shall tread out the baleful fire of anger,
And in its ashes plant the tree of peace!



Review

The Death of Bernadette Lefthand

The Death of Bernadette Lefthand

The Death of Bernadette LefthandA good story is made up of a collection of elements, the most powerful is that magical thing called voice. Who is speaking and what is the storyteller saying from the heart to engage the reader? In The Death of Bernadette Lefthand, author Ron Querry nailed it with Gracie. As the primary source of insight into Bernadette’s life and tragic death, Gracie can’t know everything, so we get to hear from a few other perspectives. But at the core, this is as much Gracie’s story as it is Bernadette’s.

Through Gracie’s eyes we get to see her sister’s world falling apart, attributable to human foible as much as anything, but assigned to fable and witchcraft Native American style, with Singers/medicine men making chilling appearances that portend no good thing.

Gracie reveals the meanness of living on a reservation with little to rely on other than family and tradition. She is not described, but you get the sense of a young woman whose appeal lies in the heart, not in outward appearance. Without guile or jealousy, she concedes to her lovely sister all the attributes she does not have. Her admiration of Bernadette’s spirit, her beauty, her charm, her talent dancing to the music of the drums, all serve to create the love story between sisters. Gracie seems content in Bernadette’s shadow, as though it is the perfectly logical place for her to be. In this shadowland, perhaps she sees what’s coming before anyone else can as Bernadette’s handsome Navajo husband’s life takes a nosedive into the bottle.

The bittersweet truth of the novel is the unanswered question of whether the bad buy gets his comeuppance. It’s left to the reader to decide, but I like to believe that in this good-vs-evil story, evil met his doom in fitting Native American fashion.

The Death of Bernadette Lefthand was first published in 1993 and won the Border Regional Library Association Southwest Book Award and the 1994 Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association Book Award. It has since received critical acclaim for the author’s ability to depict the intersection between white and native worlds.

Regarding this 25th anniversary edition of The Death of Bernadette Lefthand, Kirkus Reviews wrote: This…beautiful story deserves to be back on the bookshelves of American readers with its innovative, organic use of Indigenous prose form and strong, lovely personalities.

The Death of Bernadette Lefthand is published by Cinco Puntos Press and is available online and in bookstores.

Querry lives in Northern New Mexico in a century-old Queen Anne Victorian house, with his wife, fine art photographer Elaine Querry, and their three cow dogs.


Cover image from Cinco Puntos Press

 

Book Review

Book Review

Haunted Santa Fe

Haunted Santa FeIt’s that time of year when ghosties, goblins and ghouls come out of the woodwork. Literally according to Haunted Santa Fe, a historical overview of legends and lore born of real people living real lives, and then in the afterlife returning with spectral visitations that make things go bump in the night.

What I like about Ray John de Aragón’s wonderful book is how he ties history to these legendary figures. His richly told accounts stir the mind to a time long before statehood, when many cultures were streaming into New Mexico to join the native peoples already here, not always with favorable outcomes. The tales recounted in Haunted Santa Fe reveal that cultural montage with Martyr Mysteries, Koko Man, Julia Staab, the Forlorn Spirit, La Llorona, and Billy Bonney’s Ghost, among others.

He is an educator who uses stories to bring life to northern New Mexico’s deep and wide history, whether he is delving into fiction, writing nonfiction, or creating a melding of the two. The most interesting tales come from a grain of truth. Aragon broadens the horizon of his prose in Haunted Santa Fe to engage the reader and perhaps elicit a shiver or two.

A native Las Vegan, he brings authenticity to his work by drawing on his roots and remembered stories told to him by elders in his family over the years. Haunted Santa Fe is one of fifteen books he has authored. He has written for or been featured in more than one hundred publications.

As a traveling storyteller, Aragón has thrilled audiences with his frightening and enthralling tales of ghosts and the supernatural. Holding advanced degrees in Spanish colonial history, arts, legends and myths of New Mexico, he has presented on these topics for the New Mexico History Museum, the Museum of International Folk Art, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the University of New Mexico, the College of Santa Fe and many more. His books are available at online retailers or in bookstores.

Autumn

Fall Trees on the River Walk

Trees turning golden
against a robin’s egg blue
sky I am joy-filled.

Declutter and explore

TreasuresI am bushed! Today was the day I finally tackled the closet into which we shoved everything when Bob went out of private practice and began working for Eye Associates. Yeah, I know, that was a long time ago, 2006 in fact. He’s been fully retired for about two years +/-, but I guess it’s fitting I’m taking on the task in October, since that’s the month he started with EA.

All that stuff we squirreled away? Into the trash, eighty percent of it. Old magazines, old questionable receipts, old eye drops, old letterhead… just old stuff. I still have TWO BOXES TO GO! But I’ve given up for the day.

I’m a person who believes that if you haven’t looked for or used something in three years, you probably don’t need it. Toss it out or see if the Salvation Army Thrift Store can make a little money by selling it.

Once a upon a time I was a Mary Kay Cosmetics rep. I wasn’t very good at it, but I learned this – and should apply it more often – act on it, file it or throw it away. Mary Kay was talking about paperwork, but it applies to a lot of things. How many cords to something do you have in your house but you’re not sure what the something is the cord belongs to? My husband is a pen and paper clip hoarder. Today – without his knowledge (tee hee hee) I threw a slug of them out – only the ones that didn’t work… mostly – and there’s still a bunch left!

So before your dungeon ­– oops, excuse me – storage closet turns into what feels like an insurmountable task, try the five declutter tricks below to bring calm out of chaos.

  1. Mary Kay was right. When it comes to paperwork deal with it immediately – act on it, file it or throw it away.
  2. That magazine you are going to read “later” might still be there three months from now. Consider carefully what you subscribe to so you don’t accumulate stacks of reading material so high the thought of reading it makes your head spin. Recycle by taking to nursing homes, hospitals, doctors’ offices, or preschools and day care centers to be used in crafts. Call ahead to make sure your donation will be accepted and useful.
  3. Take on decluttering one room (maybe one space in a room!) at a time. I’ve been cleaning my office for three days. Yes, it was that bad. Trying to do too much all at once will wear you out and discourage you from moving forward.
  4. Tomorrow isn’t a good day to declutter. Today is. Even if you tidy up your desk or the junk drawer in the kitchen, you will feel so good once it’s done, you’ll be inspired to take on something else… maybe tomorrow.
  5. Be ready for a journey of discovery. Go through everything carefully, you don’t know what you might find. I discovered photos of Bob’s grandparents in a double frame, the Optic announcing when I moved up from society editor to managing editor in June 1993, an Optic photo of me when I worked as a new accounts rep at First Federal, a carved elephant (quartz I think) and an article about Bob and Orville Hughes (prof at Highlands back in the day) announcing a Rotary fund raiser!

So, I’m done for today, even though there are still two boxes to go and a lot of shelf organizing to do, and yes, it was tiring, but it was also fun. More important, I can get into the closet without seventeen things falling out of boxes when I open the door!


Check out Tiny Tome #1.

Tiny Tome #1

Yellow Tulip

cover 6x9I write daily devotionals; it is part of my faith practice. The resulting brief essays are part meditation and part writing exercise. I have quite an accumulation and decided to select 31 for my first tiny tome digital book, Joy in the Morning, Words of Hope and Encouragement. Some are in prose form, some are written as poems.

The books will only be available on this site and in e-format. I hope you are inspired by Joy in the Morning, Words of Hope and Encouragement. Below is a sample.

 

Day 25
Temptation
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV

Temptation is a beast. Not always a ravening beast, one that is evident and huge, jerking you around with relish; sometimes it is far more subtle, a gentle nudge here and there to compromise your values and your morals. C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters pointed out the gradual slide into sin. “You are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness,” Screwtape says to Wormwood. “It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing… Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one.”

God’s promise is the trump card. When we know the beast is at our doors, we know God is there ahead of it, ready to stand with us to overcome.

~§~

I will appreciate you downloading Joy in the Morning, Words of Hope and Encouragement, and tell me what you think of it. The next tiny tome will be a collection of short stories.

The revision of Future Imperfect, a story of the apocalyptic consequences of manipulating nature, will begin posting soon.


 

Las Vegas, NM Book

Las Vegas, NM

Now Available

Las Vegas, NM Pages

It has been a long time in the making, but Las Vegas, NM, 1835 – 1935 is now out and ready for purchase. The price, $39.95, and well worth the investment. It began as the germ of an idea and transformed into a gem of a book. More than 150 pages packed with historical photos, essays, maps and images.

On the flyleaf, Friends of the Museum supporter and bibliophile Nancy Colalillo writes, “… here is our origin story, the birth of Las Vegas, NM. The original Las Vegas as most residents will tell you. Within these pages are the answers to who, why, and how.”

Who were the early leaders, movers and shakers of Las Vegas? Why did development progress in the way it did? How did multicultural influences come together to create the Las Vegas of today? You can find the answers in this beautifully constructed book that covers 100 years of Las Vegas, NM.

This ll” x ll” publication might be looked upon as a coffee table book, interesting to look at and a bit of a conversation starter, but it is also an historical record that is enlightening and entertaining.

“It’s all here: The Spanish explorers and pioneers, the wagon trains, the Rough Riders, the Harvey Girls, the outlaws and desperadoes and ranching legends,” wrote Hampton Sides, best selling author of Blood and Thunder. His review is one of several by noted historians cited on the book’s back cover.

In her summary statement about the book, editor Edwina Portelle Romero writes that Las Vegas, NM, 1835 – 1935 is a snapshot of the 100-year period covered by the book. “…revealed through photographs, each capturing a single moment in time, frozen and selected by a human being… All photographs were selected by Las Vegans of today looking back, reflecting, making sense of the past and its people.”

How the book came together through the agency of a committee peopled by different volunteers over a span of time is a testament to the dedication of the Friends to make sure this story was told in this way. It is a book worth buying. Currently it is available at the City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Rider Memorial Collection gift shop.

 

Boat Lift – 9/11

Boats

I posted this sometime ago, but feel it is worth repeating. This is who we are as Americans. When the worst happens, we stand together and help where we can.

BoatsThere are many inspiring stories that have been told about the amazing feats of bravery and compassion on 9/11. I have never seen or heard about this one. I was looking for something inspiring to post today. This is a story that transcends any one event. It is about the best of who we are. Click on the link below. It runs a little longer than the usual quick clips you see, but it’s worth watching.

Boat Lift – 9/11

“A hero is a man who does what he can.” Romain Rolland

____________________

This site is the work of Sharon Vander Meer, unless otherwise noted. Please subscribe to this blog to receive future posts. Thank you for “liking” and “sharing”.

My latest book, Blind Curve, is available at amazon.com, in e-book and soft cover formats. You may get the e-book version of my novel, Finding Family, through Xlibris and other online book sellers. Purchase the e-book here at Xlibris.

Getting healthy

Weight Loss

I hope…

Weight Loss

When I was young, I weighed 100 pounds soaking wet. And then I got married and rocketed up to 153. I took control of my weight and successfully used the Atkins diet, now referred to more commonly at the ketogenic diet. This high protein/low carb eating plan worked. Lots of meat, no potatoes.

Back in the day, Atkins was THE THING for serious dieters. I went from 153 to 120 over a three-month period, and kept the weight off for several years. It slowly crept back and nothing I did seemed to make a difference. I hovered around 140. Not the best weight for someone who is 5’1” (now 4’11”). Yes, I am shrinking vertically; horizontally, not so much.

I did try Weight Watchers, and I must say, it was helpful, but I hated going to all those meetings! Yeah, I know, you can do it online now, but there’s too much of a disconnect when it comes to accountability. What worked with the going-to-meetings thing was an element of competition. Every week I wanted to be the one who lost the most weight.

Anyway, my next major weight loss was the divorce diet. I don’t recommend it. Months of stress, not eating and generally feeling like shit. I went from 140 to 104 in four weeks. No lie. That weight I kept off for quite a while.

Life took a happy turn when I married a wonderful man. I sort of managed my weight without really trying until I quit working full time. And then it packed on. I have no interest in being svelte; I just want to be healthy. So, I thought I’d once again try the Atkins (ketogenic) approach. Turns out, I don’t really like meat all that much, no matter what form or what animal it comes from. I am now embarking on a mission to reduce carbs, eat healthy and avoid meat, especially red meat. Aging doesn’t help, of course. Losing weight in my mid-70s is proving to be more of a challenge than I anticipated.

I would like some helpful feedback from readers, and tasty recipes (which I will be happy to share with permission), on this blog. You can e-mail recipes directly to me at sharon@oneroofpublish.com, or post in the comments below.

Here’s a favorite frittata recipe you might enjoy. Serves two.

Egg and Broccoli Frittata

Flash boil 1 cup of broccoli for 60 to 90 seconds. Drain and set aside
Beat four large eggs with a tablespoon of milk. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

¼ cup each, chopped red and green bell peppers, sautéed
Chop cooled broccoli and add to bell peppers and continue to sauté.
½ cup feta cheese
½ cup +/- cheddar cheese

Spray pie plate with salad oil. Sprinkle feta cheese over the bottom. Layer the broccoli/pepper mix evenly. Pour egg mixture over everything. Bake in 375-degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Cut like a pizza and serve. Note: you can substitute or add green chile. As a side, I marinate chopped tomatoes and avocado in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. Very tasty and it all fits into the ketogenic diet!

There are lots of resources online and I’m checking them out. My arbitrary restrictions are tofu, eggplant and Portobello mushrooms. Sorry, but the texture of those foods makes me want to retch up every cookie I ever ate.

I wish I was one of those people who post photos of themselves to show the “before” and “after” of a weight loss plan, but I’m not. So, I’ll simply say I am beginning today – Thursday, August 30, 2018, at 153.4 pounds – on a mostly vegetarian quest to lose sensibly with the intent of being healthy, not skinny. I left skinny in the dust decades ago.

Here are five healthy body affirmations to keep me motivated. If you have some you would like to share, send them to me!

  • Nothing tastes as good and being healthy feels.
  • Healthy body, healthy spirit.
  • Saying no to carbs means saying yes to the dress.
  • I will eat to live, not live to eat.
  • Being active strengthens body, soul, mind and spirit.

Why am I doing this and sharing it with readers? Health, pure and simple. I can’t walk a block without breathing hard. I can’t climb stairs easily. There’s more, but you have better things to do than listen to me whine. I’m making a personal contract to make this work. Goal? Good health!

Lift a little prayer for me to stick with it. If you feel like joining me on this quest, please let me know about your progress and your struggles. Perhaps we can encourage each other.


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Text two-step

>I know you said not to text you, but we need to talk. Meet me for lunch, Packer’s.

apple applications apps cell phone

Alice frowned. She’d never told Elise, her BFF, not to text her. What was that all about? And then she realized the phone in her hand wasn’t hers; it was Joe’s, her loving husband of twenty-five years.

A ball of ice formed in her chest. Her guts went watery.

The car behind her honked, joined like a flock of irritated geese by several others.

Alice swallowed the peach pit sized ball of alarm in her throat and accelerated through the light. Why would Elise be texting Joe? And why would they need to talk? Talk about what?

Alice was tempted to pull over and go through Joe’s text history and see if there were more messages to her husband from her long-time friend, but traffic was heavy, she was already late and she had a presentation to give at ten o’clock.

That’s what she should be thinking about, the presentation. She ran nervous fingers through her carefully arranged hair. Damn! The engagement ring from her wedding set got caught in a tangle. Driving one-handed, she tugged and tugged but could only manage to free her finger from the ring leaving it stuck in her hair. Crap, crap, crap, carp, crap!

Alice clutched the steering wheel with white-knuckled determination. Focus! This was her chance at a major promotion. She’d been working toward this for three months, since the V-P of marketing announced her plan to retire.

Maybe that’s why Joe was talking to Elise? Maybe he felt like Alice had left him out, not been paying enough attention to him? But he said he understood. He knew how important the promotion was to Alice; he’d said so many times. But did he mean it, or was it a cover for chasing after someone more attentive, more available?

The message revolved around in her head, stealing away her concentration on the upcoming presentation.

Elise and Champ were going through a nasty divorce. Maybe Elise was using Joe as a shoulder to cry on? That kinda made sense. With her all-out effort to get the V-P job, Alice hadn’t been available to Elise at a time when her friend needed her. But Elise had said she understood. “You can’t do anything but listen to me bitch,” Elise had said, when Alice apologized for being so busy. “And I’m trying to save all my rage for that asshole I was married to.” She had laughed bitterly. “Don’t worry about me. You do what you must do. You’re the right person for that job.”

Her husband and her friend were so supportive! And now this? But what was this, or was it anything at all?

Alice wrangled her car through the parking garage and pulled into a space without hitting anything or running over anyone, which was a mercy given how rattled she was. This was not a time to be distracted! Something slid against her cheek and she almost jumped out of her skin before she remembered the ring tangled in her hair. She jammed it into a clump of curls and breathed in a calming breath. She would untangle it when she reached her office.

Winded and anxious – despite using her time on the elevator to regulate her breathing and reach deep for the last shred of calm she could find – Alice stepped into the lobby of Able Analytics with a smile and cheery hello for the receptionist.

“Good morning, Alice,” Sally said, and tipped her head in that bird-like way she had. “Are you okay? You look a bit frazzled.”

Leave it to Sally to see beneath the pasted-on grin.

“I’m fine. Bit nervous about my presentation.”

“Well, you never mind about that! You have the veep job in the bag.” She winked and answered the gentle tinkle that indicated an incoming phone call.

Alice hurried to her office. “Hold my calls, Scott,” she said to her admin as she sailed by. “I want to go over my presentation one more time.”

Scott raised an eloquent eyebrow. “Are you all right? You seem a bit…”

“I’m fine!”

She fished Joe’s phone out of her handbag. “Run this up to Joe. He’s probably going nutso without it. And see if he has mine. I think we accidentally switched this morning.” She was babbling and knew it. Normally Alice didn’t ask Scott to run non-job related errands, but Joe was partner in a venture capital company that occupied a suite of offices on the top floor of the building, so it wasn’t a big deal and wouldn’t take long. She wanted to make sure her husband got his phone. He had to see the message.

Inside her office, she dumped her briefcase and purse in the middle of her desk and pulled a mirror out of a drawer.

Shesh! No wonder everyone asked if she was okay. Her face was flushed. Her hair looked like she’d been tackled by a tornado. There was a definite ‘v’ between her eyebrows that indicated she was mad, worried or thinking. She drew in a breath and relaxed her face. The ‘v’ smoothed out. Light flashed off the diamond ring caught in her hair. She began untangling it hoping she wouldn’t have to resort to scissors.

A plan had been hatching in her head. She wanted Joe to get Elise’s text message. It was the only way for her to find out what he would do. Meet her BFF – Alice stuck her finger in her mouth and made fake gagging noises – and – and what? She didn’t know, but she was for damned sure going to be there!

Right now, she had a hair emergency to resolve and a presentation to make.

Alice was a serious contender for the V-P position because of her ability to focus and perform under pressure. By ten she was ready. At ten forty-five she walked out of the meeting with a lock on her dream job, which gave her plenty of time to get ready to spy on her husband (maybe not for long), and her best friend (gag, gag).

She was in a hurry to leave, but a bit disappointed there were no well-wishers waiting in her office to toast and roast her. Everyone had been so supportive. Where were they now? She shook her head. She needed to leave anyway. The phone on her desk buzzed.

“Hunky husband on line one,” Scott said.

Damn! He would want to know the outcome of the meeting. How thoughtful. Unclenching her teeth, she picked up the phone.

“I hear celebration is in order. Congratulations!”

“Yes, well, it’s a good thing in more ways than one.” Did she sound a bit bitchy? Yeah, probably, but if she found out he was cheating on her…

“Hugs and kisses ‘til this evening. We’ll go out to celebrate!”

Sure, Joe, you bet, depending on what happens at Packer’s!

She told Scott she had an appointment she’d forgotten about and left with her gym bag over her shoulder. In the lobby, she ducked into the public restroom where she changed into workout clothes she kept at the office for those times when she actually went to the gym. Something she hadn’t done in months, so fortunately they didn’t stink. She jammed her hair under a cap and donned a pair of sunglasses. Nobody would give her a second look.

“Have a nice day, Mrs. Foster,” the security attendant said as she scurried by.

Three more people said, “Hi, Alice,” as she emerged from the building, which she managed to pretend she didn’t hear, and another said, “Have a good work out, Alice. See you at the gym!”

So much for nobody giving her a second look.

Her cellphone sang her daughter’s ringtone as she power-walked with her head down. Yes, Scott had made the switch. She had wanted to ask if Joe acted nervous or strange when the switch happened, but that would seem strange, wouldn’t it?

“Hey, beautiful girl!” she said to her daughter.

“Mom? Are you okay? You sound a bit, I don’t know, winded, like you’re running or something.”

“Oh, uh, no, no, I decided to work off my excitement with a walk. I got the job!”

“Amazing! I knew you were a shoo-in. Listen, I was wondering if we could meet for lunch. I know it’s short notice, but I was in the area and wanted to see how things went and maybe celebrate with you.”

Alice bit her lip. “Uh, well,” she stuttered. “I, mmmm, have an appointment, uh. I’m running late. We’ll talk later, okay? Bye.”

A boatload of guilt washed down on her when she broke the connection. She was the absolute worst liar!

She sped up. She had to arrive in time to get seated before noon, hopefully in a strategically located spot, a vantage point from which she could watch the door.

She arrived at eleven forty-five. Packer’s was already busy, not unusual for mid-day in an area surrounded by offices and retail shops.

She took a quick look around to see if she saw Joe or Elise, but there were too many people milling around waiting to be seated, many of them from her office. Several waved.

This wasn’t going to work. What a stupid place to have a secret meeting or to spy on people having a secret meeting.

Right. A very stupid place. If this was an assignation… a rendezvous… a romantic hook up… Aaaargh! Nothing she could think of fit. Her husband with another woman? Her BFF with her husband? It didn’t add up. What was she thinking? Noon on a workday at Packer’s was the least likely place for them to meet privately. The chances of the two being seen together was astronomically high. Then why didn’t they say anything? Why hush hush?

“How many?” the hostess asked, jerking Alice’s attention back to the moment.

“Uh, I, one.”

“Name?”

Alice blinked. “Miller. Sally Miller.”

Shit! What if Sally decided to come for lunch here? Worse, what if Alice didn’t get seated before Joe and Elise showed up? What if she was seated somewhere at the back where she couldn’t see anything?

Alice searched frantically for a place to wait inconspicuously. She sidled over to stand behind a spreading fichus and felt like an idiot. She should leave. Instead she sat on a cushioned bench next to a hyper toddler whose mother looked ready to fall off her seat from exhaustion. Those were the days. Alice thought back when the kids were small. Marissa three, Caleb four and baby Andrea, eight months – Andy Pandy, they called her, waiting to be seated at an Applebee’s. Alice had just wanted to go home and sleep for a week. And then suddenly, they were teenagers and didn’t need her as much. That’s when she got the part time job at Able Analytics in the public relations and marketing department.

The mom and her toddler left to be seated. Alice, head down and trying to avoid making eye contact with anyone she knew, scooted over to make room for a woman wearing spectacular Jimmy Choo’s. Hmmmm. Did they look familiar? The shoes made her ratty trainers look even more grotty. A man sat on the other side, his grey slacks sharply creased, his black brogans polished to a high shine. This was not possible. Not friggin’ possible!

She bit her lip and ducked her head lower.

“Alice Foster, party of thirty-six,” the hostess said.

What?!

The familiar scent of citrus and the unique smell of her man assailed Alice’s nostrils as Joe whispered in her ear, “Gotha!”

The tinkling laugh that was signature Elise washed over her from the Jimmy Choo’s – or at least the woman wearing them.

“We decided the only way to surprise you was to get you here under false pretenses. I knew you couldn’t ignore the possibility handsome here was seeing me behind your back.” She giggled and winked. Alice wanted to slug her. Instead, she embraced them and cried, grateful they had gone to such lengths to make her day even better. Now that she was looking up and not down, she saw all three of her children, her co-workers, people from Joe’s office, her parents, Joe’s parents and several friends. If the hostess was right, thirty-six people all gathered to celebrate her promotion.

She’d known all along that the very idea of Joe and Elise together was ridiculous. Wasn’t it? Alice slipped a possessive arm around Joe’s neck and gave him a thorough kiss, which – after a few seconds of surprise – he returned enthusiastically.

“Eeew!”Marissa said. “Save it for later!”

With that they filed into Packer’s events’ room to the sound of popping corks, laughter and Cyndi Lauper belting out Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.


Image: Tracy LeBlanc on Pexels.com

 

Rats!

Throw all your anxiety onto him, because he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 (The Daily Life Bible)

adult alone anxious black and white