FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH

Writer Sharon Vander MeerCovid-the-curse of 2020 may soon be one for the history books as more meds are created to slow the pandemic down and maybe even bring it to a halt. In the meantime, the battle rages about whether to mask or not, gather or not, be vaccinated or not.

It appears abundantly clear that masks do work, social distancing does work, and vaccines can get us back to what passes for normal. Are there risks? Perhaps. One thing we know is that the pandemic has killed more than 1.5 million people worldwide and left many survivors with lingering symptoms. The good news is that 97 percent of affected patients did survive.

For me, 2020 can be distilled down to things more personal. Our best friends died in a horrific accident in February; my son went through multiple health problems and continues to struggle; my husband fell at the end of June and broke his right femur, had surgery, and ended up in rehab for three months. He’s home now but needs in-home care. Mentally he’s 100 percent; physically he fights the good fight… with help. I developed chronic back pain, which is proving to be harder to get rid of than I’d hoped.

This is not the great whine, the 2020 Vander Meer pity party; this is the reality we’re living with. You have your reality: sickness, loss of a loved one – perhaps because of Covid, but likely from some other illness or circumstance; your plans have been harpooned because of the pandemic, moments lost forever, never to be regained. The political absurdities of 2020 I will leave for someone else to talk about, as well as racial inequality, which is a systemic barbed wire woven into the fabric of – not just our nation – but the world.

So, where is hope? It is found in every dollar given to feed the hungry. It is every first responder, nurse, doctor, and health care worker logging hours of overtime (for which they will never get adequately compensated). It is in all the agencies finding help for the homeless and in every person who puts on a mask to protect those he or she may encounter. It is the scientists working on a cure. It’s in the phone call you make to check on a loved one… Hope is everywhere and bolsters us now when we need it most.

The holidays are upon us, and by all accounts, there will be less giving in the gifting sense, but there will be lots of sharing. We have found within ourselves – it would seem – wellsprings of generosity and kindness. Perhaps by entering 2021 with a spirit of hope, we will find in others that something special that sets them apart, and help them celebrate that.

There is a public announcement, I think it originates in Albuquerque, but I’m not sure, that asks everyone to look within themselves and find their unique gift or skill and find ways to put it to work. Giving isn’t just about dollars donated; it’s also about how you engage with your community, following safety protocols, of course. We all have something to give. We can all point to people in our town who have made a difference, whether it’s collecting food for distribution or making masks back when there was a huge shortage. Giving and helping and reaching out are not activities limited to times of trial. My particular local heroes are the visionaries who are working on the natural waterway that runs through the heart of Las Vegas and creating a beautiful Gallinas River Park along the route. While the heavy-duty work is paid for by grants, a lot of volunteers are showing up to help when and where they can.

We have lots of reasons to be hopeful about the future. This year has been a test, but it has not broken our spirits. If anything, it has given us reasons to look around and appreciate living in our small town. It’s not perfect, but nothing is.

There will be less spending this year, so the talking heads say, but may I suggest that whatever you spend this year, try your very best to spend it at a local business. We need them to be strong and able to weather this financial storm. They are braver than any superhero and made of stouter stuff than you can imagine. Let them know you appreciate them. Spend your shopping dollars in Las Vegas in small businesses. Find out more about hometown merchants at the Las Vegas First Business Alliance website lasvegasfirst.org or by emailing lasvegasfirst@gmail.com.

Have a blessed and beautiful Christmas and look to the New Year with hope in your heart.

–Sharon


Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting, and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares, and comments are welcomed. I am an indie author of six books and two chapbooks 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 fsvandermeer@gmail.com.


BOOK TALK NOV. 22

We are so excited about our next Literary Salon event. Book Talk will feature two of our favorite booksellers talking about the books they love and getting your feedback about the books you love. The holiday season is upon us. This is a great opportunity to find just the right gift for the readers in your life. Thank you Dennis Ditmanson and Nancy Colalillo. Readers and writers, you won’t want to miss this!

Books of the Southwest

Ditmanson is a dealer in used books with a focus on the American West and an emphasis on the Southwest, New Mexico, and Las Vegas. Hence the name – Books of the Southwest. Ditmanson has a smattering of other non-fiction and general fiction, cookbooks, trail guides, etc.  His main outlet is at Frankie Ann Tiques, 247 Plaza, and He keeps a small space at Rough Rider Antiques. He and his wife Carol, came to Las Vegas in 2001 when Ditmanson took on the Superintendent posts at Pecos National Historical Park and Fort Union National Monument.  “Books have always been a must for me. I got the bug as a seller after a stint working for Nancy at Tome On the Range!”

Nancy Colalillo is the founder of the original Tome on the Range independent bookstore, which she owned and operated from 1996 to 2013. After a brief retirement, Nancy resumed her retail career with the founding of Paper Trail, a quirky gift shop located in Tome’s second home at 158 Bridge Street in historic Old Town Las Vegas, NM. In addition to flights of fancy for home, office, kitchen, garden, and kids, she has integrated a carefully chosen selection of books for all ages into Paper Trail’s offerings, proving that once a bookseller always a bookseller!

Nancy has also been involved in commercial and economic development ventures that focus on shopping local, historic preservation, and community improvement. She is the quintessential emcee at fundraisers and her entrepreneurial savvy has been a great inspiration to many small business owners.

Don’t miss this Literary Salon!

Sign up below for the November FREE Book Talk
Las Vegas Literary Salon

Media File(opens in a new tab)

Thanks to Jim Terr for his help in preparing videos of Dennis and Nancy for posting. Check out Nancy’s personal invite here…


Sharon Vander Meer

Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting, and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares, and comments are welcomed. I am an indie author of six books and two chapbooks 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 fsvandermeer@gmail.com.

Lit salon featured guest

Las Vegas Literary Salon

Ray John de Aragon 09-27-20 from Sharon Vander Meer on Vimeo.

Patti Romero and I began with a fully conceptualized Literary Salon, intending to launch in April with poetry readings by a published poet, educator and trainer. The event would have included a round table discussion about the craft of writing in general with a focus on poetry. We even had a small grant to launch the organization.

And then, COVID 19 hit. The virus crisis shot down our plans and for several weeks, we took a breather and regrouped. Susie Tsyitee from the Arts Council suggested we consider doing a Zoom literary salon using the Arts Council’s Zoom platform. Through this technology, and with thanks to the Las Vegas NM Community Foundation, many artists and their work have been introduced to a whole new audience.

Since our first event in June, we have featured eight writers. The September Visit With the Author featured Ray John de Aragon, a respected writer of New Mexico history, myth, legend, and lore. Watching his interview is a great way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. His book, Eerie, New Mexico is now available at Paper Trail, 158 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM.

Our next event on Sunday, October 25, is a FREE poetry workshop featuring poet Carolyn Martin.

One of the questions readers predictably ask poets is “Where do you get your ideas?” The most common answer is anywhere and everywhere. But what does that mean specifically? In this lively workshop, Carolyn Martin will use her own poems as examples of concrete sources of inspiration. She will challenge participants with “homework assignments” for each source and send them searching for new poems in terrain they may not have traversed before.

From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has published poems in journals throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Her fourth collection, A Penchant for Masquerades, was released by Unsolicited Press in 2019. She is currently the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation. Find out more about Carolyn at www.carolynmartinpoet.com. More details about the workshop will be forthcoming. If you are interested in participating in this free poetry workshop, email lvliterarysalon@gmail.com. In the SUBJECT line, type FREE POETRY WORKSHOP.

Upcoming in November

The Las Vegas Literary Nov. 22 event will feature Dennis Ditmanson talking about the Southwest History books for sale at Frankie Ann Tiques, 247 Plaza, Las Vegas, NM, and Nancy Colalillo talking about Paper Trail’s expansion into books. See her growing selection at 158 Bridge Street. Details to come

Our thanks to Mary Rose Henssler who has joined our planning team, and Susie, the host and techie behind our Zoom events. And the Las Vegas Arts Council for its commitment to bringing the arts to all of us, especially now, when we need what only art can provide. Las Vegas Community Foundation, a big thanks to you for funding Zoom, an important and much-needed resource.

Enjoy the video.


Sign up below for the October FREE poetry workshop as an audience member or workshop participant.


Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting, and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares, and comments are welcomed. I am an indie author of six books and two chapbooks 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.

IN A FALL MOOD

Red Chile

CHILE NEW MEXICO

The aroma of
chile roasting warms my heart
conjuring autumn.

SQUIRRELY

The squirrel is busy,
so industrious!
Running about, gathering…
what?
It can’t be nuts,
unless it’s pinon,
we have a lot
of that around.
Our shade trees are elms,
not oaks,
the Chinese variety.
They’ve nearly lived out
their life spans,
with crusty bark and spindly limbs
subject to fracture
when autumn winds blow.
But, the squirrel doesn’t mind,
scurrying about in a mad rush,
running up one tree and down another.
Its busyness is calming somehow,
nature welcoming fall
as the squirrel prepares
for a change in the weather,
as must we.

NESTING RESTING

An autumn nip
in the air
sends you snuggling
in your chair.

Pull in,
regroup,
make yourself
some Harvest Soup.

Be alone
by yourself,
take a book
from the shelf.

Time enough
to reconnect.
For now, sit awhile
and reflect.


Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting, and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares, and comments are welcomed. I am an indie author of six books and two chapbooks 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.

HOW TO BE ORIGINAL

To say Adam Grant is a professor and an author of nonfiction books about social and business psychology is to say a candle and a 100-watt bulb are lights. Read more about him here.

I just finished listening to the audiobook of his best-selling Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. It is inspiring and eye-opening. What does it mean to be “original” in an age when everything is accelerating at speeds beyond our imaginations? How does one stand out in a crowd? How do you take a novel – sometimes controversial ­– idea, and get other people on board?

The answer might not be what you think. Great thinkers, brilliant innovators, and Nobel prize winners top the list of originals, but how about the office worker who has a brilliant idea for improving an internal process. Is she shot down because the idea is so novel, so unconventional the hierarchy can’t see its value? How does that lower-level staffer get past barriers of groupthink and cautious management?

The book is based on real-world examples and research done by, well, innovative social psychologists in different fields of expertise. It delves into –

• ways you can improve family dynamics and raise children who can solve problems and think for themselves;
• coalition-building to achieve transformational objectives;
• managing fear;
• understanding why listening to your critics makes your ideas scalable and achievable;
•how entrepreneurs create sustainable products and businesses;
• why it’s okay to procrastinate;
• yes, and more.

Originals aren’t born, they are made, or perhaps better stated, they make themselves. They are not always dynamic, take-it-to-the-mat personalities. Originals learn the skills necessary to carry their invention or idea from coulda, shoulda, woulda, to a revolutionary product, inspirational message, or life-altering concept.


What to look for (from the author’s website)

Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent.

You’ll learn from…
​• An entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by highlighting the reasons not to invest
• A woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below
• An analyst who overturned the rule of secrecy at the CIA
• A billionaire financial wizard who fires employees for failing to criticize him
• A TV executive who didn’t even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor


Adam Grant explores the journeys of several successful originals and looks at why some things work and others don’t. He explains how the non-innovator – which covers most of us – can take the behaviors of originals and create change within their own businesses, organizations, and families. You can even take a quick test to see if you have the traits of an original. Typically, respondents got 6 of 15 answers correct; I got 9 of 15 and I read (listened to) the book! I suspect I’ll listen to it again after I’ve had time to distill the wealth of information it contains.

Originally published in 2014, the book is available through online retailers and in bookstores. I’m sure if Nancy at Paper Trail doesn’t have the book, she can order it for you. I got Originals through Libby, the Carnegie Library application on which you can download digital and audiobooks. To use the app, you must have a library card.

Happy reading! I also invite you to learn more about the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a writing and reading group sharing ideas and information. Learn more here and here.


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


%d bloggers like this: