There was joy among “Sheltered Women” cast members, director, other supporters and, yes, me, the playwright, when Gene Irby, co-chairman of the 2015 New Mexico AACTFest, announced that our play would be one of two to represent the state at Region VI competitions. It was a fruitful end to a long journey. Added celebration came with announcement that we were honored also for Best Costumes and three of our players – Lisa Cisneros, Justina Rivas, and Sandra Nepstad – were named to the all-star cast.
When I first wrote the play in 2011, it was an act of love, trying to keep alive the stories of Iraqi women suffering under the heavy hand of radical Islamic rule. In the end it will always be their story and those of us involved in the play are simply the tools for telling that story.
As one adjudicator said when giving us our comments, when she read the script she thought, this could be either really good or really bad. It will take some incredible actresses to pull this off.
“You did it,” she said, and she was right.
The cast, crew, and director of “Sheltered Women” became a family during the process of bringing an important story to life. It is a family I will always value.
I love New Mexico, from its mountains in the north to its deserts in the south. I love the mix of cultures and variety of recreational and cultural activities. My favorite place is Las Vegas, in the rural county of San Miguel. Things are happening here. Walk down Bridge Street, and you feel the vibrancy and energy. Take a peek inside the Plaza Hotel, a graceful reminder of days gone by yet full of modern amenities.
Check out Charlie’s Bakery and Cafe on Douglas Avenue and see just about everyone you know. Take a trip down 7th going toward Storrie Lake, and you will see new construction popping up. Don’t forget to give the Railroad district a once over. You will be back. The railroad era Castenada hotel and Fred Harvey dining room is under restoration. You might even get a glimpse of a Harvey Girl giving tours or making a stop at events around town, or around the state. Here are just five of many reasons to love this Northern New Mexico town.
The City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Rider Memorial Collectionopened in 1961 as a unit of the City of Las Vegas. The Museum is housed in the historic Municipal Building, a 1940 Works Progress Administration project. The museum collection includes more than 7,000 items relating to the heritage of the Las Vegas area. Many items may be viewed through an on-line collection catalog. The Museum offers educational opportunities through classroom visits and activities. Entertaining and informative programs for all ages are offered throughout the year. (From Museum website.)
Citizens’ Committee for Historic Preservation: “The Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation was formed in 1977 to encourage the preservation and appreciation of Las Vegas and San Miguel County historic resources. Established by land grant in 1835, Las Vegas was originally called Nuestra Senora de Los Delores de Las Vegas Grandes (Our Lady of the Sorrows of the Great Meadows). The history of Las Vegas is influenced not only by many different cultures, but also by two major forms of transportation. As a major trading point on the Santa Fe Trail, Las Vegas became a prosperous Spanish town with a wide variety of adobe structures. As trade on the trail increased, so did the variety of settlers and architecture in the town. The arrival of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad saw a further increase of new residents many of whom built Victorian houses reminiscent of their homes in the East. While the Victorian residents are quite a surprise to visitors, used to the Pueblo revival of Santa Fe, it is the combination of the indigenous adobe architecture and the variety of Victorian architecture that makes Las Vegas unique.” (From the CCHP website)
Annually in August CCHP puts on a Places With a Past tour that features six to ten properties more than 100 years old, many of which have been restored and are currently occupied. A favorite on the tour is the Montezuma Castle, now part of the United World College. CCHP also conducts other historic events throughout the year. For details contact CCHP at 505 425-8803. Also see the site’s photo tours to get an idea of what PWAP tours might consist of.
Fiestas is a 4th of July celebration combined with Hispanic cultural events. This year it kicks off on Friday, July 3. The parade on Saturday highlights a day filled with music and dancing at the Plaza. Food vendors, presentations and down home fun for the entire family. Events and music continue throughout the day on the 5th. There are 5 and 10 K races and events for children. It’s not too early to think about summer fun.
Artists and their work. I am amazed at the degree of talent we have in Northern New Mexico. Is it because the clear skies and beautiful landscapes are irresistible magnets for creative spirits? Is it because we have so many galleries? Does Highlands’s art department contribute by providing exhibit space at the Ray Drew Gallery, in Burris Hall and at other sites around campus? Perhaps it is the town and it’s eclectic character. Whatever it is, Las Vegas and San Miguel County rival any other “arts” community in the state with the number of outstanding artists and craftspeople working in a variety of media. Public art is popping up, folk art and sculptures and murals, all depicting some aspect of life in all its complexity.
And then there are the wonderful, kind and hospitable folks who live here. Jim Terr, a creative fireball, recorded this at Charlie’s Bakery and Cafe on Douglas Avenue. Goodness Knows, Goodness Shows.These are only five wonderful reasons I love my town. There are many more. Add yours to the comments section. And if you agree with me, share this post.
I never knew you, Grandpa.
Your life ended long before
my mother met my father,
yet because of Mom’s
memories of life with you,
you are as real as anyone
I have ever known.
I see you herding sheep
in the high Arizona mountains,
bringing them into the fold.
I see you laughing with your children.
I see you running for sheriff
and serving faithfully after
you were elected.
I see you worn out,
not with age, but with work,
struggling to feed your family
of fourteen children from two dead wives
killed by time and childbirth,
and hard labor.
Your legacy is alive though Mom is gone
and so is the man she married,
he who was like you,
Comments welcomed. Poetry submission welcome. Send submissions to email@example.com
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
In “The Screwtape Letters,” C.S. Lewis writes, “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. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
Mother Theresa wrote, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
The message from both these inspirational writers is about faith. Remaining faithful; being courageous in faith; willing to step outside your comfort zone in faith; faithfully resisting that which takes you away from the Light; and standing on faith when the world is falling apart around you.
Lewis returned to his Christian imperative in his thirties. With his new-found faith he wrote compelling narratives calling attention to how the world can shape who we are when we lose faith, not necessarily all at once, but rather by dribs and drabs, an undone thing here, an unkind or thoughtless word there.
Mother Theresa dedicated her entire life to serving the helpless and the hopeless, stepping out in faith, not that all would be well, but that she had a job to do and that job was right in front of her to be done now. Not later, not tomorrow, not when she had time, but now, in this moment. Today.