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 watercolor, 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.


Day by day

Golden Lily

The doing of a thing
shapes who we become
making each life ring and sing.

Do a thing today
that makes you smile
or helps another along life’s way.

Make your story chime
rich and vibrant,
splashed with colors sublime.

Sometimes the thing
is a softly spoken word
like the gentle brush of an angel’s wing.

Sometimes it is creating
art, or music, or a tale
so beautiful it’s breath-taking.

Sometimes it’s praying,
knowing God is listening
to what you are saying.

The things we do and say
define our stories
and shape our lives day-by-day.


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!