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.


Book review: Eerie new mexico

If we’re honest we will all admit to having heard something go bump in the night. Chills race down our backs! Or a shadow races around the room and makes our our mouths go dry. It’s human nature to be wary of the unknown. Hollywood has tapped into our fear factor and made billions off horror movies. The big screen gives us just the right amount of shiver. We’re ever so grateful we’re not the idiots going into the darkened spooky house. We’re not the shivering girl standing alone in the hall listening to footsteps on the stairs. And haven’t most of us – at least once, if briefly – seen inexplicable lights dart across the night sky?

In Eerie New Mexico, author Ray John de Aragon delves into events that have happened over the years that make us think twice.

“Did that really happen?”

“Did I really see that?”

“Are my troubles the result of getting the Evil Eye?”

Well, okay you probably don’t think about that last one, but maybe you should. In Eerie New Mexico, the author explores superstition, the unusual, the supernatural, and old wives’ tales that seem to have a grain of truth, or as the very least, send a cautionary message.

Inter-mixed with history, he recounts folklore passed down from generation to generation, altered and embellished over time. Some tales have the charm of a scary story told around the camp fire. Others cause an in-drawn breath of horror. De Aragon weaves historical fact into the narrative while calling attention to rituals and celebrations based on a deep belief in the spiritual, the unexplained and the unknowable.

Ray John
DE ARAGON

So, dig into the Wonders of the Invisible World with tales of Mal Ojo, Bolas de Lumbre, Raising the Dead (it may not be what you’re thinking), the Dark Side of the Moon and Children of the Stars. Check out the Mystical Missions with stories of Spirit Master, A Holy Ghost, Mystical Hermit (think Hermit’s Peak), Ascending Spirits, the Passage to Strangeness (corridos el muerto had me closing the book and regrouping), New Mexico’s Inner Superstitions, and the morality tale of Patas Chuecas.

This is a lively book, despite there being a lot about death, but as the author wrote in the section entitled, Homeland Overview, “Everything in existence is interconnected and interrelated between life and death.”

At 150 pages, it’s a quick read chock full of interesting tales and lots of New Mexico’s forgotten or ignored history.

Eerie New Mexico is published by History Press and sells for $21.99. It will be available for purchase after its release date of Sept. 22.

Zoom in to an interview with the author on Sunday, Sept. 27, 4-5 p.m. Registration is required. Please register below. You will be sent a link to the Zoom event, A visit with the author, Ray John de Aragon.


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.

Perfectly imperfect

This is my way of procrastinating. I have every intention of starting a new novel that’s been churning around in my head for a while, and I started working on a book of inspirational prose and poetry entitled, Echoes. And then stopped.

But I digress. This is about filling one’s time in the age of COVID. Lower case or uppercase? Depends on how pissed off I am when I’m typing the word. The restrictions caused by this pandemic keep loved ones from being with the people they need most – family. It makes me crazy, and yet… I know people in medical care of any kind are more vulnerable and I do not want my dear one to be exposed to the virus, so not being with him is in his best interest… I guess. I feel as though I am in isolation as well, which is ridiculous. I can – and do – get out and about, but life isn’t the same without him by my side. Enough of that!

BEFORE

And back to the topic. I’ve been doing other things to occupy my time, instead of writing. Well, not really, if you follow this blog you know I write now and then, essays and poems, and about local folks and how they are coping with Covid-19. But some of what I’ve been up to has nothing to do with writing at all: keeping my potted plants alive in this dry, dry weather; trimming the indoor plants so my patio doesn’t turn into a jungle; cleaning closets; working with Patti Romero and Susie Tsyitee (and now Mary Rose Henssler) in the development of the Las Vegas Literary Salon series of events for writers and readers; church committees and projects… and a real departure for me, painting furniture. I was inspired by Juli Salman and Angela Meron who are WAY better at this than I am, but it was something to do and I wanted to try it out. I’m also dabbling in water color, but we won’t go there. I’m a little heavy-handed with the brush.

Anyway, the table belonged to Bob’s mom. It has been painted and repainted a number of times. I suspect there is decent wood under all the layers, but I decided to give it a bit of flair, with what I consider to be a fairly decent result. It is perfectly imperfect in every possible way. Close inspection will reveal some quirks and mishaps, but I consider these to be marks of unintended panache.

The table has gone from being functional as a plant stand to being… I don’t know what the heck! Anyway, the table has been transformed and my writing is waiting in the wings. My book, Echoes is taking shape; I just need to get back to it. I’m writing a review of Ray John de Aragon’s latest publication, Eerie New Mexico, and will have an interview with him on my blog sometime next week. This is in advance of his spot as a guest on the Las Vegas Literary Salon’s Zoom A Visit With the Author, Sept. 27 from 4-5 p.m. And yes, this is an invitation to register and be in the virtual audience. Go to lvliterarysalon@gmail.com to register. Type September Salon in the subject line.

AFTER

Back to the table. I really enjoyed working on this piece. It took me about a week, not counting the drying time between coats of shellac. And it fired up my brain with writing ideas, so in terms of writing, it was not a complete loss. (Smiley Face Here!) Mostly it energized my flagging spirit. When you have a family member (in my case members) dealing with illness and you can’t be there physically, it does drain you and whittles away at your resolve to be upright and bright. You know what I’m talking about; having a positive attitude goes only so far when the control you thought you had is taken away. Covid-19 did that to many of us. Ask any business person, health care practitioner, those who have lost a jobs… You get it. You know what it means.

What the perfectly imperfect table did for me is help me remember that I’m not the sum of current circumstances; I am someone who knows that defeat is the end game only if I let it be. I have a choice every day to use what God gave me and make the most of it. So, back to writing and back to being creative in the best way I know how. I’m not the bubble gum pink table, I’m the bright new-looking one with something to say. I hope. Anyway, I will be doing it in my perfectly imperfect way.


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.

WALK WITH ME

I have been thinking about – and missing – my friend Kathy Allen a lot lately. In truth, I think about her, and Fred, every day, but on some days, more than others. I still have blink moments when I think, “We’ll see them for dinner on Saturday, or next time they’re in town, or I’ll call her later and catch up.” And then it settles in. Kathy is gone, Fred is gone, and there is an empty spot that only good memories can fill.

I can’t look in many rooms in our home that don’t hold a reminder of Kathy. Our friendship began in the ’60s when we worked at what at that time, was known as Ma Bell, the telephone office where we were operators. “Operator, number please?” Back when a human voice connected one person with another via a dial-up telephone. Over the years we exchanged gifts. In the kitchen I see holiday trivets I keep up year around, on the patio a tinwork angel, a wooden angel wall hanging in the hall, Christmas ornaments and nativities on China cabinet shelves, tiny books and big books here and there, handmade pot and dish scrubbers in the kitchen, drawers full of handmade scarves, bracelets… These small reminders bring on a smile along with a catch in my throat.

I wrote the poem below sometime ago with Kathy in mind, and posted it on this site long before her passing. I repost it today because I wish for one more walk and chance to talk with my friend. I have so much to tell her, all of which , of course, she may well already know. As a believer, I know there is only a thin veil between this shadowy and insubstantial thing called life, and the people we have known and loved. Kathy loved yellow roses, but what she loved most were the people in her life, Fred, Mark and Marlene, her sisters and their families, her friends. I miss her.

WALK WITH ME
Let us stroll along today and talk.
Tell me what makes you laugh, as we walk.
I want to listen to what you say.
Share your heart with me today.
I want to know what makes you cry.
May I ease your worry, wipe your tears dry?
Share with me your anger deep inside.
I will help you slay that dragon, and turn the tide.
I am your friend come what may.
Please share your heart with me today.


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