The Sublime Experience of Poetry

Kathleen Lujan
KATHLEEN LUJAN

Poet Kathleen Lujan has carried her passion for the written word with her from childhood. It was where she focused her education and career trajectory.

Lujan has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and History, a Master’s Degree in American Studies (Southwest History and Literature) from NMHU, where she taught for four years. She also taught for 10 years at West Texas A&M University, where she received a Teaching Excellence Award in 1998-1990.

Lujan developed a writing and reading process called the ARQ (Active Reading Quest), which she presented at a seminar at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and presented to teachers during two-day seminars in New Mexico. She taught Language Arts at Coronado High School for two years and then five years at Lybrook School as the project coordinator for literacy for Alaskan and Native American children.

She is an awarding-winning educator who has conducted studies and seminars in India, England, Scotland and Italy, and served as adjunct faculty for Navajo Technical University to teach AP composition class at Alamo Community. She has always made time for writing with a focus on poetry. Her recently release chap book of poetry, Puddles of Years, is available from the author. Email her at katlujan62@gmail.com for details.

Lujan will be the featured writer at a Zoom Las Vegas Literary Salon event on Sunday, Aug. 23, at 4 p.m. The Zoom link for the event is here.

Q: What writers did you enjoy reading as a child?
Lujan: My father taught me to read at the age of five and I developed a passion for reading. I loved Greek and Roman Mythology. I had two red, cloth-bound books of mythology, which were at least five pounds apiece, and read them from front to back. I loved Homer, Hawthorne, Austen, Bronte, du Maurier, Dickinson, Keene… among so many others. I was a voracious reader. Even today, I usually have three novels going at the same time.

 Q: Did you write as a child?
Lujan:
I started writing poetry when I was about 12. I loved the rhythm and sounds of words and saying so much with so little.

Q: How did you get started as a poet?
Lujan:
At age 12, because of Emily Dickinson and her lyric poem: ​Success​.

Q: Do you find writing easy?
Lujan:
The only time writing is easy is to be totally in the present moment and letting the words come; not forcing the words to appear. And that’s not easy!

Q: How did you manage to fit writing in with other demands on your time? Are you good at managing your time?
Lujan:
Teaching, consulting, and traveling consumed large portions of my time, but I would always carry paper and a pen or find a napkin if a line or idea hit me in a restaurant, at a seminar, or during a class. I had pieces of candy bar wrappers and cocktail napkins that would have my scratches on them. I would empty out my purse on a Sunday, usually, and write poems from the lines I had scribbled down.

Q: Who are your favorite living poets?
Lujan:
My absolute favorite poem is on my refrigerator door held up by a portrait magnet of Frida Kahlo. The Everlasting Self, by Tracy K. Smith. You can find it on poets.org.

Pubbles of Years
PUDDLES OF YEARS

Q: How do you prepare yourself for writing?
Lujan:
P.P.P. (Prior Proper Planning). I never know when an emotion or a tanager or a kiss will inspire a poem, so trying to always have pen, paper, or now, a phone, to jot down the initial true thought or feeling is essential.

Q: What do well-written poems have in common?
Lujan:
I can only speak for myself and what calls me to read and reread what I believe is a well written poem. The “show me don’t tell me” aspect, a rhythm, which matches the image, idea, or emotion being expressed, and a required quiet to read and reread slowly to savor the words.

Q: Talk about your recently published chap book of poetry, Puddles of Years.
Lujan:
Puddles of Years ​is a compilation of poems which have been previously published and written over a twenty-year period. My sister kept after me to publish, and after my sister died last September, I was encouraged to retire and do what she asked me to do: finish the chapbook. I also received, from my brother, a folder kept by my father of all the poems I had written since I was twelve. No one in the family knew about the folder, myself included, until Dad died. When my brother went through his desk, he found it. He sent it to me and encouraged me to keep writing and complete the chapbook. Thus, the dedication to my Dad. I suggest the reader read the poems, enjoy, and take with you the sublime experience of poetry!

Zoom in for the Las Vegas Literary Salon interview with Kathleen Lujan, with Patti Romero as host.


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


 

Dick’s patio open for business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food for thought
Food for thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


 

Lit Salon celebrates writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Las Vegas Arts Council
Las Vegas NM Community Foundation

Patti and Sharon talk about LV Lit Salon #1

zoom_0 from Sharon Vander Meer on Vimeo.

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


 

Light

Hope

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

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

Gloom.

Doom.

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

safe.

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


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


 

Andy Trujillo: Calm in the COVID-19 Storm

Andy Trujillo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact information for the practice is 505 250-7928.

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


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


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


 

TIME TWO

Time and Change

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


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


 

The customer connection at Bar Castaneda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


 

Young entrepreneurs pay it forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Order products at:

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


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



 

 

DO NOT GET SICK OR HURT!

Smile away the bluesCOVID-19 has become painfully personal. No, I don’t have it, and neither does my husband Bob, but he did fall and break his left femur and consequently ended up in Santa Fe at Presbyterian where he is – as I write this – in surgery. It is, a doctor friend tells me, a short and straightforward surgery, one he has had before on the other side. The personal part of this is that I cannot be with him or see him after surgery. Strict rules regarding patient safety in the age of COVID-19 prevents family members from seeing or being with their loved ones while they are hospitalized.

I’ve read about other people going through this, but you don’t “get it” until it happens to you.

The surgery is the first step. Following that he will have PT. The last time this happened three years ago, he was away from home for nearly six weeks, but I could be with him during the day and keep him supplied with newspapers for reading and Starbucks from Charlie’s to make him smile. Can’t do that this time!

Frustrating? Yes! There must be a better way. And yet, I know because of the precautions the local re-hab/nursing home has taken, it has had no cases of COVID-19. So, if Bob has to be in re-hab, I would hope he could do it in Las Vegas where I could at least wave at him through the window.

I believe hospitals are doing the right thing to protect patients and the public, but that doesn’t make it easier. Please keep my dear one and me in your prayers. And to all our friends and neighbors who have been through – or are going through – similar circumstances, prayers lifted for you all! I no longer simply sympathize, I understand.

Oh, crap! An update. Bob’s surgery was supposed to be at 3 o’clock this afternoon; now postponed by a day because they couldn’t get him into the surgery schedule! This means at least another day added to the estimated 4-day hospital stay. AAAAARRRRGH!

One day at a time, Sweet Jesus, one day at a time.


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