What makes Las Vegas special II

Viva Las Vegas! Sign at Charlie's
A sign at Charlie’s Bakery & Cafe on Douglas Ave. – Las Vegas, NM

Earlier in February I wrote a post asking, “What makes Las Vegas special?” I posted a similar question on Facebook. I got such great feedback from the Facebook post, I decided to print all the responses here and share them. These responses tell the story of Las Vegas from the heart of the people who live here. If you want to add your thoughts, please add a comment, or e-mail fsharon@msn.com and I’ll add it to this list so it becomes part of the main body of the post.

Mark Gillingham: There is live music nearly everywhere you look in Lil LV.

Kayt C. Peck: This town has more talent per capita than any place I’ve ever lived.

Victoria Evans: NMHU music department and their wonderful shows that showcase students and community members.

Annette Velarde: Great food, artists, galleries, Fiestas, Roughrider Rally, history, film, tourism, astronomy, clear skies, music, outdoor adventures, animal watching, true stories of outlaws, railroad history, cowboy history, ghosts, educational institutions…

Joan Minner: Free movies at Ilfeld, great pizza, a sweet little bowling alley, art galleries, great music, movie theater, and the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I could go on and on, but I don’t want to repeat what others have said. Oh – and a great university that is just getting better and better

Patrick Alarid: Rich multi-cultural history, superstitions, architecture and faith.

Pam Abreu: I love that I can run in to people I have known for decades and people I have just recently met. Having a shared history and shared memories with so many people is priceless.

Barbara Casey: LV has an abundance of volunteers who provide necessary services to the people in the community. CASA volunteers, CCHP, Samaritan House, Literacy Council, EDC, Friends of the Library, Food kitchens… the list goes on and on!

Carol Cutler Linder: Diversity of the people, the landscape, the buildings, the views (expressed and visualized), ideas, weather, talents, education levels, educational opportunities, ages, wildlife, and most of all friendships

Tori Crawford Conway: After being away for a year, I miss playing with the Rainbow Ringers at the Presbyterian Church.

Juli Salman: Great weather for exercising outdoors, friendly community of runners and cyclists, Highlands University is ranked near the top of the nation’s schools for ROI and upward mobility.

Judy Long: Incredible sense of community and support.

Richard Lindeborg: No matter where I am in town, I am just a few minutes away from seeing or being in the mountains or the prairies,

Rosalie Lopez: The uniqueness and acceptance of Las Vegas. More to do here and to be involved with here, than most towns this size.

Lupita Gonzales: Came here over 50 years ago because of NMHU, and that was just the beginning of my odyssey!

Jill Baskerville: Kissing the sunshine

Kathy Hendrickson: All of the above plus, Montezuma Hot Springs and Montezuma Castle/ UWCUSA, Historic Plaza Hotel, Castaneda Hotel, Media Arts Building, which is in the Trolley Barn ( McCaffrey Building), and Mayeur Project, the amazing Dwan Light Sanctuary. Over 900 Historical homes and buildings. Historic home tours and walking tours.  The theme for PWAP (Places With a Past) in August will be The Rejuvenation of Las Vegas! All these places have or – are being – rejuvenated! Spend a day touring Las Vegas with Southwest Detours. www.southwestdetours.com.

Rosa Latimer: Creative energy abounds!

Jim Abreu: Smiles, friendly greetings, classic upward nod of the chin to say “Hi.” Grit, Charm…Heart…

Nan Colalillo: Fundraising dinners by non-profits.

RaeDawn Price: When I think about why I love living in Las Vegas, I think about family and the friends that have become family. I love the coffee drinkers at the different restaurants. Seeing a group gathered over a cup of coffee warms my heart.

Cindy Collins: New businesses and renovations: E. Romero Fire & Acequia Museum, Castaneda Hotel, the Skillet, Olivia’s Cafe, Mayeur Projects, Borrachos, JC’s Pizza, Indigo Theater, PLAZA HOTEL, Palms Event Center, Serf Historic event venue, Charlie’s Event venue, NMHU Media Arts Center in old trolley building, 70 trees on Douglas, new benches and trash cans, Rawlins Building with upstairs apartments and two retail spaces!

Kathleen M. Rodgers: Castaneda Hotel! Can’t wait to stay there once the renovations are done.

Richard Lindeborg: Moving back to Las Vegas after four decades away, it was a delight to discover the connectedness of having peers whose grandparents and parents I knew, as well as their children and grandchildren.

Lydia Palomino: The beautiful people… traditions

Carol Ditmanson: Two national parks – Fort Union National Monument and Pecos National Historical Park in our neighborhood!

Sherrie Doke: We still miss LV so much and we moved away 27 years ago! It is such a unique, caring and busy place to live. The people are so varied and talented.

Paula E. Geisler: Arrott Art Gallery (now closed)

Jeanette Yara: History

Izzy Manning: People look you in the face and say good morning and smile.

Connie M. Coca: Plaza Hotel, Montezuma Castle, Highlands University, historical buildings and homes. Culture, music, language. The 4th of July Fiesta and especially friends and family. Radio stations. Mexican or southwestern New Mexico food. Our churches of all denominations.

Juanita Estrada: Who is not to Love a community where everybody knows everybody and every body’s business, but yet love one another. Viva Las Vegas!

Rose Contreras-Taylor: Beautiful parks – Plaza park, Lincoln Park, Carnegie park

Kristin Reidy: Sharon, I love working in Las Vegas and can never get enough peaceful time at the ranch. At work I often call a patient into an examination room for their eye appointment and they ask if they can wait a little longer so they they can finish a conversation with an old friend! The beauty of Vegas. Time stops and we appreciate what matters.

Kerry Holderbaum: The sight of Hermit’s Peak brings a smile each time I come home and a tear each time I leave.

Margaret Villanueva: Driving north on 84,  the old adobe church in Gilia and the sight of Hermit’s Peak in the distance, the piñones…  Almost Home!

Dolores Dodie Maese: Our nearby public lands!

Susie Tsyitee: We should brainstorm and celebrate our assets at least once a year! Thanks, Sharon! I love this thread!

Lydia Lovato: What I like about Las Vegas are the people when someone dies they are there to support you and comfort you the community pulls together.

Charlie Sandoval: History, culture, and New Mexico Highlands University

Robert Vander Meer: Location, location, location!

Please Follow, Like, Comment and Share this post. Your feedback is important to me. Thanks for reading One Roof Publishing Magazine. The publisher may be reached by e-mail at fsharon@msn.com.


A happy happenstance

Michael Lucarelli, a musician par excellence

I hope Michael doesn’t mind me sharing this story before you get into reading his Q&A. He is first and foremost an artist worth listening to. Sharing his story is an honor. This began with an query from Michael that indicated he’d gotten the One Roof Publishing Q&A link from the Las Vegas Arts Council, and was interested in participating. I, of course, welcomed the opportunity. I always want to have a digital dialog with artists from every discipline. Fortunately, my first question was, “With your varied and successful career as a classical guitarist, what brings you to Las Vegas, N.M.?”

Michael LucarelliI can almost imagine the pregnant pause when Michael received the question. He promptly let me know he was in NEVADA and was unaware there was a Las Vegas in New Mexico, until now. So the crux of this story is that the local Las Vegas Arts Council ranks high in search engines! And Michael Lucarelli came upon it when searching for resources in that other place. Perhaps he will visit this Las Vegas and enjoy the history and charm of a true original.

Once Michael and I worked out the where, I welcomed his responses to my questions, which follow. Incidentally, he moved to Las Vegas, Nev., because of weather, which is more agreeable than the weather in Salt Lake City. “But it’s also great to be where the action is,” he said.

Michael’s bio excerpted from www.michaellucarelli.com: Award winning Classical guitarist Michael Lucarelli  has enthralled audiences throughout the U.S. for more than 30 years. He is known for his diverse programming and expressive style, tastefully blending classical, popular, jazz, Spanish, South American, as well as his original compositions. He is an annual favorite at The Sundance Film Festival where he has entertained for industry notables such as Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks Animation and Arts & Entertainment. His music videos on YouTube have received more than 35 million views from fans world-wide.  He has twice received an Individual Artist grant from The National Endowment of the Arts. In 2014 Martha Stewart Weddings named him one of the top weddings musicians.

ORP: What drew you to pursuing music as a profession?
Michael: Luck, really. I was days from joining the military. I worked at Sperry Univac (computer factory ) for almost eight years, while studying classical guitar privately with Ricardo Lineres from Peru. I was also studying martial arts and going to competitions. After my roommate talked me out of joining the  military, things fell into place and I took a leap of faith. I walked away from a career job with full benefits and went to the University of Utah in 1985. I started playing the guitar at various gigs the day I started college. Hard to believe I’m still doing it after 32 years.

ORP: When you started out, what was your goal?
Michael: I began playing the electric guitar in 1973. I wanted to be a rock star. I started classical guitar in 1980. When I began my career professionally in 1985, my inner wish was to write one great piece for the guitar. I’ve been blessed. Now I’ve written many. I am very goal oriented.

ORP: In what ways has your goal changed over the years?
Michael: I’m still composing much more prolifically than the early stages. One recent goal was to write compositions that were more intermediate. Another goal is to write a method book, which is 70 percent finished. But my current goal is to get something going in Las Vegas, Nevada.

ORP: In terms of your accomplishments, are you where you want to be as an artist?
Michael: I believe I did more than I ever expected I would do with music. I never thought I’d have 38 million views on YouTube, or I would release 15 CDs, or compose so much music. In some ways, I’m lucky; I just follow where the guitar leads me.

ORP: What gives you the greatest joy, practicing or performing, and why?
Michael: They’re different. Each is extremely enjoyable. Practicing is a sacred and special place, a completely different experience from performing live. There is a reason – if you love music – you practice for five hours a day.

ORP: What do patrons say that gives you the greatest satisfaction as a classical guitarist?
Michael: That comes from different angles. I love the comments I get from YouTube, people who say they started playing guitar because of me. In my case, it was Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin. As an artist, when you give a concert, you always love when someone says how great you are or how much they enjoyed it, but when I read comments like these on YouTube it really moves me:

“My sister died last week. Thank you for helping me get through that.”
“I have a chronic heart condition. Whenever I’m having a heart attack, I put on your Moonlight Sonata and concentrate on my breathing. That’s helped more than anything I tried.”

It’s strange and heartening to know that what I’m doing can effect people on such a personal level.

ORP: Solo performance seems to be your preferred style. How do solo performance and performing with others differ?
Michael: Yes, I mainly do solo. I did play with a trio a few weeks ago. Several concerts I’ve done titled Lucarelli and Friends, are a mix of various ensembles. I love playing ensemble but it is a bit more work. Solo guitar creates its own unique world. But playing with so many ensembles over the years has helped me be a better soloist. You learn to phrase things differently. More importantly you learn to listen! I do have a CD, Romantic Christmas, with violinist Kellie Parkinson, and Romanza with mandolinist Martin Swick, who passed away a few years ago. I did release a CD this year titled Blue Sunday, which is more jazz and New Age, but I’m doing all the instruments, something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s on YouTube. You can stream it or purchase it on iTunes. It features me playing electric guitar on four tracks. I haven’t played Electric guitar since I was 23.

ORP: At this point in your career, are you satisfied with your level of performance, or is it always evolving?
Michael: It’s always evolving, and yes, I am satisfied. When it stops evolving that’s when I’ll call it quits. You get older, your vision changes, you have to deal with those things along the road, but you always seem to reach higher ground, explore different avenues. I never saw YouTube coming. That’s a whole other world. I was lucky to be at the starting gate. I never dreamed people would be able to see me play the guitar all over the world, and having viewed, would enjoy and be inspired by what I do.

ORP: What excites you as a musician and performer?
Michael: To make a better world and to light up the inside of people who connect with my music. Physicists think music is one of the highest achievements of man. I think most people would agree. To be able to try and express the inexpressible. Some people call it God. I don’t think there’s a word that could describe how it makes me feel. It would have to be a musical sound like om. To think that there are an infinite number of dimensions and we are only living in four! What else could you do but create art. I love to think what music would sound like in the fifth dimension, or 100th or 1000th or one millionth. It’s lovely to think about what I do with my spare time.

ORP: What is the one thing you want people to know about you?
Michael: I love the Beatles, and that I finally got – after years of study – the meaning of “…all you need is love.” It is the path to freedom.

ORP: What performances to you have coming up?
Michael: Aug. 5 I will be playing at the Park City (Utah) Arts Festival, Oct. 20 Las Vegas, Nev. I mainly play private events. We’re playing on the biggest stage – YouTube. I have several videos coming out including Take Five, House of the rising sun, and Come Together, starting the first Friday of each month.

To book Michael Lucarelli for an event:
E-mail michael@lucarelli.com
Phone: 702-343-1009

Website: www.michaellucarelli.com
Image: From Michael Lucarelli website
Music: YouTube


Short Fiction

The Music of Life

RoseI hate to dance. Period. That’s it. Today is my sister’s wedding day. She’s three years younger than I, which means I’m the spinster sister, although I’m a mere twenty-six. What does one have to do with the other? Nothing really, but it does contribute to me hiding out in the house while the bride and groom, and everyone else, twirls with abandon on the outdoor dance floor my father paid an arm and a leg to have installed just for the occasion.

My sister’s wedding.

I won’t be missed. Everyone knows I don’t like to dance. I’ve tried it, don’t get me wrong, even had dance lessons. My instructor kindly told my mother I was hopeless. If I was told to go right, I went left; if I was told to twirl, I stumbled; if I was told to dip, I dropped.

Let it be said, this put quite a damper on my social life.

A dancer I am not.

I wandered into the kitchen and dodged the caterers as I put together a small plate of food and filled a champagne flute with OJ. So much more elegant than just any old juice glass.

Flute and plate in hand, I plopped into an armchair in my dad’s home office. It was as far from the music as I could get and still be inside, away from notice.

I had helped select the menu for the dinner, so I had no problem plowing through the food on my plate. I should have gotten more, but dared not make a foray into the kitchen for another run. It would be just like my mother to be in there making sure the caterers knew what they were doing.

The froth of my dress, yes, it’s one of those too, too much in every way dresses brides force their bridesmaids to wear so we look ridiculous while she looks amazing. Fortunately for me mauve complimented my fair skin and chestnut hair. The sweetheart neckline and fitted bodice was okay. The mutton sleeves I could do without, as well as the miles and miles of silk and tulle worked into the skirt. We all looked like pudgy Swan Lake ballerinas on speed, even those of us with a slim figure.

I love you Sis, but some of your friends don’t need extra bulk around their butts and thighs. Just saying.

I jumped when the door opened. The most handsome man I have ever seen in my life stood there grinning at me.

“There you are! Joe told me to look for you in the most unlikely spot.”

“Joe?” I queried stupidly taking in the specimen before me with palpitating heart. Yeah, I know, treacly word, but my, oh my, my heart was stampeding like a herd of wild ponies.

“Yeah, Joe, your new brother-in-law. About my height, dreamy green eyes…”

He palmed the air when I raised my eyebrows at the dreamy green eyes comment. “That’s Pam’s description, not mine!”

Pam is my sister and Joe does have dreamy green eyes.

“So, come on. They’re wearing out the dance floor. Pam told me to come get you.” He put his hand out and expected me to take it. It’s the hardest thing I ever did to look at him like he was certifiable. I tucked my hands under my butt like a little kid to avoid temptation that might lead to something like dancing.

“Who are you?”

Let me see. How many witty opening gambits are there for meeting a hunk and half? Surely anything would be better than, who are you.

He gave a hokey sweeping bow, “Jake Morrison, at your service.” He straightened and that grin was back. “Joe’s friend. We grew up together.”

I did not remember Joe mentioning a Jake Morrison, and as one who poured over the guest list with razor like precision because it kept growing like weeds after a rainstorm, I knew Jake Morrison’s name was not there.

“I’m here as a surprise. I’ve been out of the country, but I had to be here for the most important day in Joey’s life.”

One, only Pam called Joe Joey, and two, had this man just read my mind?


“So, how about it. Let’s join the party.”

The music I hadn’t been able to hear, at least not very well, seemed to drift into the room. His hand hovered in front of me, palm up. Not clear exactly why I did it, I took his hand and let him help me up. I actually made it to my feet without falling on my face. As if it were meant to be, he brought me close, into a dancer’s embrace, my right hand in his left, his arm gently around my waist, and for reasons beyond my understanding, I placed my left hand on his shoulder (and a mighty fine shoulder it was) to steady myself.

“You are as beautiful as Joe said.”

I gulped. Nobody called me beautiful. Ever. Pam, well, she’s just a knockout. I’ve never minded. I’m okay, I mean my looks, don’t get me wrong, but beautiful?

He twirled me in time with the distant music, and I didn’t trip. Now that made my lips turn up in surprise, and maybe a touch of happy.

“And you have a lovely smile.”

I blushed.

“I hear you’re quite the artist, too.”

Painting, my guilty pleasure.

“How do you know about that?”

“Pam, she brags on you all the time.”

See, the thing is, my sister is my biggest fan, so I wasn’t surprised by his comment. However, my dabbling was just that, and I told him so as we dipped and swayed around Dad’s office, which seemed to have taken on dimensions I’d never realized before. Of course, when you know how to dance, and how to lead, it doesn’t really take that much space, I thought.

“What type of artist are you?”

“I just told you, I’m not an artist. It’s a hobby, that’s all.”

“You don’t think much of yourself, do you?”

Now I took offense at that statement. It’s just that I know my limitations.

“If you have limitations, you put them on yourself.”

Did I say that out loud? No, I did not.

“Let go, Anna, dance to the music of life.”

“I don’t dance.”

He grinned. “You are dancing,” he said, and spun me around, then caught me in a feather light embrace.

A slight frown marred his countenance. Abruptly he let me go and stepped back.

“Excuse me, I have to take this.” He pulled a cellphone from the pocket of his suit coat.


I fidgeted and wished we could get back to doing that thing I don’t do: dancing.

“Now!? But I’m at my friend’s wedding.”

He turned away from me and nodded his head to whatever was being said on the other end of this annoying conversation. “Yes, I know you said I shouldn’t, but…” When he was done, he slipped the phone back in his pocket and turned to me, disappointment written all over his handsome face.

“Sorry, I have to go.” He smiled with such warmth and kindness, I smiled in return, even though in my heart I suspected I would never see this man again.

“Remember what I said, Anna, dance to the music of life.”

“I don’t dance!” I yelled as he walked out and closed the door.

I sat back down in the chair and wondered what the heck just happened.

“Here you are!”

I startled awake to find my sister, wedding gown still sparkling, wrinkle free and gorgeous, leaning over me.

“I found her!” she shouted, as if I was at the North Pole.

Alex, one of Joe’s groomsmen poked his head around the door. “Can I come in?”

What was I going to say? No?

“Listen, Anna, no hiding out. I may be the star of this show, but you’re my best supporting bridesmaid. Everyone’s asking where you are.”

“I got this, Pam,” Alex said. “You better get back before Joe starts to wonder if you’ve already come to your senses and left him.”

Pam punched him in the shoulder hard enough to make him wince. My sister, in addition to being runway model beautiful, is a black belt in karate.

She left me with Alex who turned to me with a dazzling grin and put his hand out to help me up from my chair. I surreptitiously pinched myself on my underarm to be sure I wasn’t asleep and dreaming. I mean, really, what are the odds two gorgeous men would be paying attention to me when there were bevvies of beauties out on the lawn just dying for a flirt fest?

I took his hand and stood up gracefully despite my frou-frou flounces of fabric. I must have looked a bit pensive because Alex’s smile disappeared to be replaced by concern.

“You okay?”

I realized he was still holding my hand and it felt darned good. I took it back and smoothed the fabric of my dress.

“Of course. I… I was wondering what happened to Jake.”

The expression on Alex’s face could only be defined as stunned. He visibly shook himself, or maybe shuddered, and smiled a ghost of a smile.


“Morrison. Jake Morrison. What happened to him? He was…”

“How did you know Jake? Joe and Pam just got together two years ago.”


He looked at me with a mixture of bewilderment and distress. “Sorry, it was just such a surprise to hear his name after all this time.”

I knew I didn’t want to hear whatever he had to say and lifted my hand in a useless gesture to stop him.

“I thought everyone knew. Sorry to be the one to tell you. Jake died in a skiing accident three years ago.”


He looked at me and swallowed. “He would be here today, if he could. In some ways…” He glanced around and then back at me. “In some ways, I think he is. Wherever there was music, there was Jake, charming the ladies and spinning them around the dance floor.” Alex drew in a deep breath and blew it out. I sensed he, like I, was on the verge of tears. “His mantra was dance to the music of life.”

He knuckled a tear from my cheek I didn’t know was falling.

“He swore he would dance with the most beautiful girl at the party when Joe got married. He can’t be here, but would you do me the honor of allowing me to fill in for him?”

As we walked into the hallway, I looked back. I swear Jake Morrison was standing there grinning at me. I blinked, and he was gone.

I hope you enjoy this little bit of romantic fantasy. Be sure and drop by my booth (59) at People’s Faire on Saturday, Aug. 27. I’ll be selling signed copies of my books.