Thursday, November 5, 2009

‘Veterans deserve a nice park’

by John Larson

SOCORRO – Nineteen year old Isidro Baca was killed in action while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam August 21,1967. Less than three months later, on Veterans Day, Isidro Baca Memorial Park, between Center and Court streets, was dedicated to all servicemen who died in the line of duty.
Monday night, the Socorro City Council approved a Memorandum of Agreement between the city and Socorro County to begin renovating the park.
Ann Baca, Isidro’s sister, publicly thanked the city and the county governments for making the agreement. She said the park would honor veterans of five military branches.
“It is a long time coming. Veterans do deserve a nice park,” Baca said of the renovations. “Without them we would not have our freedoms today.”
Councilor Chuck Zimmerly said veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan were also being recognized.
“It helps to have a nice place for a gathering to honor all those people,” he said.
In an interview, Ann Baca remembered her brother as a good older brother.
“I was 14 years old when he was killed in action, so there was a five year difference in our ages,” she said. “Isidro was a typical older brother, always playing jokes on me. One time while I had braces on my teeth he told me if I went outside I would be electrocuted.”
She said she went to her first rock concert because of Isidro.
“He was a huge fan of the Dave Clark Five, and they were coming to the Civic Auditorium in Albuquerque,” Baca said. “He wanted to go and our Mom said, ‘you can go if you take Ann.’ That was my first concert.”
Isidro Baca was studying to be an X-Ray technician when he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was in Vietnam six months when his squad was ambushed by Viet Cong near Ca Lu in Quang Tri province.
When the park was dedicated, the memorial was a simple brick memorial.
“In 1993 my dad got together with committee members and came up with the pyramid. And to add all the names on the pyramid,” Baca said. “It was wonderful how the community came together and dedicated the park so soon after Isidro was killed.”
In addition to Isidro Baca, the dedication plaque honors Socorrans David R. Alexander, Willie B. Lee, Florentino Tafoya Jr., George Eloy Tafoya, and John V. Tafoya.
Baca said she was invited to a Marine Corps reunion to be held in Arlington, Virginia in August, 2010.
According to County Manager Delilah Walsh, the county commission approved the agreement at its Oct. 27 meeting.
“A few changes will be made, including removing the coastal artillery cannon,” Walsh said. “The look of the park will be similar to that in front of City Hall, with a central walkway surrounded by landscaping, and five towers with plaques dedicated to each branch of the military - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.”

Tech gets $23 million grant

By John Larson

SOCORRO – New Mexico Tech has been awarded a $23 million federal grant to continue its first responder program for the Department of Homeland Security.
John Meason, Director of Tech’s Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center, told the Mountain Mail the first responder program has become the nation’s top training center for law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, and military personnel.
“We serve as the training facility for all 50 states and U.S. territories,” Meason said. “The appropriation will fund the first responder program through next fiscal year. Like any other agency with the government, the money is appropriated on a yearly basis.
The main courses offered are Incident Response to Terrorist Bombing (IRTB), and Incident response to Suicide Bombing (IRSB).
“The terrorist bombing courses are held here in Socorro, and the suicide bombing is covered down at Playas,” Meason said.
Tech Vice President of Research Van Romero said the first responder program has continued to grow since its inception in 1998.
“This program brings first responders from all 50 states and U.S. territories to Socorro for an advanced training for any situation involving explosives,” Romero said. “We’ve been focusing on terrorist acts, but we probably will start to evolve beyond that into other situations, to all hazards.”
Continued on Page 3
Romero said “up to 50,000 people have come to EMRTC for the training [since 1998],”
“This week we have a big program for bomb squads,” he said. “It’s v very rigorous weeklong program. We train in all kinds of explosive devices up to, and including, car bombs.”
During this type of training Socorrans are used to hearing booms from ‘M’ Mountain.
In the recent past, during certain atmospheric conditions, the loudest booms were from the diamond shots at the base of Strawberry Peak.
The diamond shots were moved to EMRTC’s facilities in Playas last year.
Romero said he was surprised to learn that residents in Deming, 70 miles from Playas, heard the shots.
“It was a surprise to us. Since the Playas facility is so far from Deming we didn’t think it was necessary to check the atmospheric conditions, but apparently the sound carried one day,” he said.
Romero said he was scheduling to attend an upcoming Deming City Council meeting to explain the program – and the sounds.

Contreras man treasures 102-year-old lifetime of memories

First Person
By Gary Jaramillo

Sometimes in life you get the chance to get and feel a real win in your life. Wins come in many different ways, shapes and forms. Most of the time the wins in life are few and far between, but this is one that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. My win had absolutely nothing to do with money but everything to do with good fortune.
Early Wednesday morning, I drove out about 30 miles north to the village of Contreras and met Abenecio S. Tafoya who recently celebrated his 102nd birthday.
My father, Tony Jaramillo, and I made the trip to talk with Mr. Tafoya and his daughter Anna at their longtime home.
We were met by their two feisty dogs in the drive way and then by Abenecio’s wonderful daughter Anna. I wasn’t sure what I should expect when I finally met Mr. Tafoya and I guess my thoughts were that he would be a frail, slow moving, slow talking gentleman who could no longer understand much around him. I was very surprised when I had my first look and heard the first words from Abenecio.
He was watching television and smiling when his daughter began to introduce us to him. She told him that we were from the Mountain Mail newspaper and that we had come to talk about his latest birthday and his lifetime of memories. He immediately stood up and invited us into his front living room where we could sit and talk more comfortably. As he rose from his chair my father (81) and I (55) automatically reached out to help him up, but by that time he has scurried around the chair and left us well behind as he headed toward his living room.
He waved his hand behind his back and said, “this way.”
We sat, and he was ready to talk - and man could he talk and tell a story - making us laugh and feel really good about the whole interview idea. He told of his lifetime living pretty much in the same small area all of his life. He pointed out the front window to the west and said he lived in Ranchitos de La Joya earlier in his life but always in the same small area. The only five year break he got from farming the land in and around Contreras was his time in the Army during World War II.
He traveled just about everywhere in Europe and did just about everything for our country that he possibly could. He saw action in Africa, Italy, Spain and other countries during his time at war. He was sent home only after both knees were destroyed in an explosion.
As he lifted his pant leg over his scared knees to show that he no longer had knee caps I asked him what he thought about making it back home and he said, “I came back to work again.”
He talked a lot about where he had been in the war but never mentioned the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal Award, WWII Victory Medal or American Theatre Service Medals that he received for his courageous service to our country. It seemed the only important part to him was that he did what our country asked him to do and he made it back to the place he loved, home.
When I asked him why he thought he’s had such a long life he replied, “God said, you’re now born and you won’t know when I’ll be back to get you, so here I am, 102.”
“Who knows?”
Abenecio loves beans and chili and eggs. He told me he’d been eating them all his life and he really like them. One of his favorite sweets is pie. He enjoys a little wine from time to time and told us a story of a man who used to make the wine by stepping on grapes in a tub all day and always had a very good finished product for everyone to try. I asked him where people went to get food and supplies when he was a child and he said there were little tienditas (neighborhood stores) scattered about the land. Some were far and some were a little closer. Different stores hand different things. The only way to travel then was by horse or mule, or by foot. He said the “wind up cars” came later.
When asked about what people did in the early 1900’s about doctors, he said they “either traveled for days to find one” or “did their very best to self medicate and get better on their own.”
Many didn’t and some did.
“Those who found a doctor paid cash, and cash was so very hard to come by 100 years ago,” he said. “They only paid 50 cents a day and you worked from sun up to sun down every day. He said he couldn’t believe that they pay up to eight dollars an hour now just for one hour, and shook his head.”
He told us the story of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s CCC camps coming to the area and paying one dollar per day. It saved many peoples family’s and lives.
Then out of nowhere, he begin to sing the CCC Camp song that everyone sang in those days. It was about the President bringing jobs and money to everyone who was willing to put in a decent days work for a decent days wage. He smiled and sang the song like it was just yesterday.
The Mountain Mail will have his song clip on for everyone to hear and see.
He showed me photos of his family and kept that smile going the whole time. His memory was absolutely remarkable, and as he and my father reminisced about people and friends they both may have known, his eyes were bright and full of excitement. He reeled off name after name of people who had walked through his life and were all now gone. He talked of the banditos of the Manzano Mountains that in their day were some pretty bad people.
“Everyone took care of themselves any way they could back then,” he said. “Banditos tried robbing and stealing and anything else they could get away with. But we all protected each other when we had to.”
Benny had eight siblings and was married to his wife Mary for 55 years. They had three daughters and six grandchildren of which he is very proud. Daughter Emilia passed away in 1952 and his wife Mary passed in 2006. Abenecio’s daughters Anna and Antoinette stay with him and keep him company as well as care for his daily needs.
He’s still active enough to keep a little garden where he grows his tomatoes and chile. He has always been an avid horseman, farmer and rancher.
I’ve had never met or even talked to someone who has lived more than a century. Like he said, “you won’t know how long you’ll be here until God comes for you.”
We can all hope that he forgets to come for us for a really long time.
It was an absolute pleasure to shake hands with a man who lived through all of the history that I could only read about in books. He’s no worse for the wear for living over one hundred years and I’ve got a feeling that he’s going to be walking and fixing fences around his property for many more years to come.
Congratulations from everyone in Socorro, Valencia and Catron Counties to Mr. Abenecio “Benny” Tafoya on his 102nd birthday.
This was such a special opportunity and story for the Mountain Mail Newspaper staff and myself. Perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Contreras has some high hopes in state X-country

by John Severance

DamiAna Contreras missed the Socorro girls soccer team’s game against Santa Fe Prep on Oct. 30.
But she had a pretty good excuse.
The freshman was the top finisher in the district meet and led the Socorro girls cross country team to a second-place finish in the district championship at Bataan Park in Albuquerque.
On Nov. 7, Contreras and the Lady Warriors will run in the state cross country meet at 9 a.m. at Rio Rancho High School.
“I am hoping DamiAna can run into the top ten and that would be considered all state,” Socorro cross country coach Steven Montoya said.
It just so happens if the Socorro girls soccer team reaches the state final, it will play at 10 a.m. in north Albuquerque. The AAA girls state meet starts at 9:25 a.m.
When asked if she would try and make the soccer game, Contreras said: “Probably yeah.”
Contreras admitted it was tough to miss the soccer game last week.
“It was hard but I knew they needed me more in cross country than in soccer,” she said.
Contreras, backup midfielder on the soccer team, said she is going to do the best she can on Saturday in the state meet.
“I am just going to run as fast I can,” she said.
She also has the blessing of Socorro soccer coach Mitch Carrejo.
“I don’t blame her at all,” Carrejo said. “It was great for her to win a district championship.’’
Montoya said Contreras is in excellent shape.
“She has not done a lot of training with us,” Montoya said. “It’s just fitness from being an active girl. She is in real good shape.”
Three other members of the Socorro soccer team are eligible to run in the state meet. They include Contreras’ sister, JeriAna, Zoe Howell and Victoria Lopez. But if the Lady Warriors are in the state title game for soccer, those three will play soccer.
Even though JeriAna Contreras, Howell and Lopez did not run in the district meet, they are eligible to run in the state meet because they competed in 25 percent of the cross country team’s competitions.

OBITUARY: Lonnie Zamora

Dionicio E.(Lonnie) Zamora, 76, passed away on Monday, Nov. 2, in Socorro.
Lonnie was born in Magdalena on Sept. 7,1933 to Domingo and Rafelita (Gomez) Zamora. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Mary (Baca) Zamora of Socorro; sons, Michael Zamora; and Dennis Valdez, both of Albuquerque; daughter, Diana Martinez and husband, Roland of Albuquerque; Sisters Manuelita Sedillo of Socorro; and Marcella Sisneros of Albuquerque; granddaughter,Theresa Recio of Albuquerque; Grandson, Anthony Recio of Albuquerque; great granddaughters, Adrianna Recio- Hernandez; and Kassy Recio, both of Albuquerque.
Lonnie was a Socorro Police officer for 15 years and worked as Landfill Supervisor for the City of Socorro until he retired. He retired from the T6 New Mexico National Guard after 23 years of service. Lonnie was an avid Dallas Cowboys fan.
Lonnie is preceded in death by brothers, Luis Zamora; Tom Zamora; Frank Zamora; and sisters, Mary Chavez; Benita Sedillo; and Sofia Chavez.
A Visitation will be held at Steadman-Hall Funeral Home on Friday, Nov. 6, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. A Rosary will be recited on Friday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. at San Miguel Catholic Church in Socorro. A Mass of Ressurection will be celebrated on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 9 a.m., at San Miguel Catholic Church with Father Andy Pavlak as Celebrant.
Burial will take place in the San Miguel Cemetery. Pallbearers are Michael Gonzales, Raymond Gonzales, Albert Chavez, Johnny Sedillo, Anthony Recio, and Frank McQuerry. Honorary Pallbearers are Damascus Smith, and Santos Hernandez.
Arrangements are under the care of Steadman-Hall Funeral Home, 309 Garfield, in Socorro. (575)835-1530.

LETTER: Finley Gym Location A Secret

To the editor:
In dragging my name into the fray, Mr. Gonzales appears to be making one of his little “points”, but it sounds to me like a tired old propaganda trick -- if you can’t prove what you want to, just demonstrate something else and pretend it’s the same thing.
And the context is entirely missing. The 2004 election to which he refers was a shootout between Vicente Torres and David Wade.
My candidacy counts more as comic relief (I got four votes) than a statement about SEC politics. It certainly is not relevant to current issues.
As for the potshot about people not knowing where Finley Gym is, we can thank him for airing a long-standing problem, in spite of his intention to use it like a club against his enemies. I have long wondered why the city wants to keep the whereabouts of the gym a secret.
The legal ramifications of this are questionable validity of all meetings held there for which notice is required, at least when the notice contains only the name “Finley Gym” and no clear directions.
Bear Albrecht
San Antonio

LETTER: Thank You To Walmart Employees

To the editor:
Many years ago I read about the origins of Socorro, and how it came to have its name. I was quite impressed to know that the foundation of this town rested on kindness and caring for others.
Recently, I had what could have been a bad experience in our local Walmart, but instead, the incident is recalled as a positive event.
In the early afternoon, I hurried around the store trying to find a couple of items, when I suddenly began to feel weak and shaky. I hadn't eaten any lunch, and only a small amount for breakfast, and I think what happened was that I simply ran out of fuel.
Knowing that I had better sit down, I did exactly that --- on the floor. A young female employee saw me and came to be of assistance.
When I asked for water, she suggested a soft drink. I agreed, and she hurried off to get it. Then a woman who I assume to be a supervisor came over and offered help, asking if I was diabetic. I'm not, but a person with diabetes could have the same symptoms. She suggested that I drink some orange juice, but the younger woman arrived, bringing me a 7-Up.
After drinking some of it (and feeling quite stupid sitting on the floor), I made it to the check stand, but then felt too weak to sign my name for the credit card. I had to sit on the edge of the check stand until I was a bit better, then signed and got to a chair which had been pointed out to me. The same supervisor came to check on me, and suggested I call my husband to come and get me. She borrowed a phone for me to use, and I made the call.
After my husband had arrived, we had walked almost to our vehicle when a young male store employee came running after us. He handed me a pint of orange juice and said "You're supposed to drink this".
I drank it on the way home and it helped a lot.
Aside from saying a very public "Thank you" to the Walmart employees, I'd like for the rest of you to know that the spirit of caring and kindness is still alive in Socorro. These were young persons who helped me, so that means that those of you who are their parents have done a fine job of passing on the tradition.
My sincere thanks to all of you.
Audrie Clifford

Sometimes it takes a while to determine your politics

by Paul Krza

I didn’t know about him then, but back in the 1950s, when I was fine-tuning my ABCs in an isolated, Socorro-size Wyoming coal town, another, slightly older, kid lived across town, also growing up, and he says, getting pummeled by local toughs. Now, he’s in the U.S. Senate, filling the committee chair left vacant by Sen. Ted Kennedy, and himself becoming a key player on health care reform.
In the same decade, TV arrived – but because of the town’s remoteness, via “cable,” with the lines carrying not Wyoming but Utah stations. Along with Howdy Dowdy and Ed Sullivan, I also remember seeing stuff on the news about a Salt Lake City guy named Cleon Skousen, who now, it turns out, is the idol of Fox’s Glenn Beck.
The place was Rock Springs, Wyoming, a grimy, deserty industrial town whose greatest redeeming social value was its crazy-quilt nationalities stew, including Balkans, Italians and Irish, a sprinkling of Mexicans and Asians, and yes, even a few African-Americans.
If early influences determine your politics, I guess I could have gone either way. Wyoming has always been conservative and solidly Republican, but Rock Springs was an anomaly, the down-and-dirty working-class bastion of the Democrats. And that Salt Lake City TV also tempted our young brains with Utah’s then-weird brand of religious politics.
That older kid across town, I learned later, was Sen. Tom Harkin, who has represented Iowa in the U.S. Senate since 1984. He mentioned his Rock Springs experience in a 1992 interview, when he was a presidential candidate, saying when his mother died and he was age 11, his father sent him to live with relatives there.
I heard more about Harkin the other day, in an article by Reuters news, in which he gave his no-nonsense prediction of where health care reform would end up: “I’m convinced we’re going to have a bill on the president’s desk before we go home for Christmas … with some form of a public option … we’re not going to accept defeat.”
Maybe it was poverty and depravation in his little Iowa hometown that influenced Harkin’s politics, or perhaps it was the hard edge of Wyoming. Whatever, he’s now an unabashed liberal, Kennedy’s successor on the Senate Health Committee and, I’m happy to report, a hard-charging leader on the top issue of our day when a lot of other Democrats have gotten cold feet.
Back to Skousen, whose name leaked into my consciousness from Utah TV, I guess because he was at the time in the news as police chief in Salt Lake City.
Then, a month or so ago, I got a mind-opening refresher course on the guy, courtesy of an article I ran across on “A once-famous anti-communist ‘historian,’ Skousen was too extreme even for the conservative activists of the Goldwater era,” a “right-wing crank,” fired as police chief because he ran the department “like the Gestapo.”
Gosh, I thought, recalling that as I maneuvered in youth to find my political legs, I had once embraced Barry Goldwater. My Goldwater-ese curiosity also led me to subscribe to a monthly politics pamphlet called “The Freeman,” I think mainly because it was free, and as kid I liked to get mail.
Turns out, the pamphlet came from Skousen, who also wrote several books, attacking communists, socialists, the new world order and arguing that the U.S. is a “Christian nation.” Not long ago, Beck rediscovered Skousen, and gave new life to his writings, some of which, according to the Salon article, notes had “echoes of the original Nazi 25-point plan.”
That hasn’t stopped Beck’s “9/12 project” and its followers from adopting one of his books, “The 5,000 Year Leap,” as its “bible,” and made it a modern bestseller. Meanwhile, Beck has gone primetime, his face even recently landing on the cover of Time, and his backers show up at town-hall meetings, berating health-care reformers as “socialists," and worse.
So when it comes to politics, I could have gone either way. A juvenile flirt with Glenn Beck’s idol might have landed me in a teabagger’s shoes.
But I think my roots in raucous but honest and tolerant Rock Springs, where, like Socorro, reality simmers close to the surface, re-set my leftish (and perhaps naively optimistic) compass direction, on the same course set by Tom Harkin.
And, it seems, both hope and hate can spring from the heartland. Remember, while change may be on the horizon, the hate-mongers are still lurking in the shadows.

From The Editor

By John Severance

This is a plea.
I received a call from a gentleman who said he lived in Catron County and he wanted to know why the Mountain Mail does not publish any columns from the right or conservative viewpoint.
I told him I have been making calls and sending out emails to Republican Party affiliates but my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. If there is anybody out there, who wants to present the right point of view on a consistent basis, get in touch with the Mountain Mail. Email me at or call 575 838-5555.
Sorry, but I already have a full stable of left-handers in my bullpen.
Fast meetings
I am not sure what’s going on with the council meetings in Socorro. After covering an hour-long county commission meeting last week, I went to the City Council Monday night as a spectator. From gavel to gavel, the meeting lasted 30 minutes. I am sure it was just an aberration.
Big weekend
It should be an exciting couple of weeks of high school sports this weekend.
It all starts Thursday Nov. 5 when the Socorro girls soccer team travels to Albuquerque for the AAA state quarterfinals and it will face Hope Christian in a 2 p.m. clash. Then at 7 p.m., the Socorro girls volleyball team will play what amounts to a district semifinal game when it travels to Truth or Consequences to meet Hot Springs.
On Nov. 6, the Socorro girls soccer team will play at 10 a.m. in the state semifinals if they can get past Hope Christian. It will be senior night back in Socorro for the football team as it looks to improve its state seeding when it meets Cobre at 7 p.m.
Reserve, meanwhile, will make the trek over to Mountainair for a first-round state eight-man matchup. That game also starts at 7 p.m.
Friday is a busy night because over in Magdalena, the Lady Steers will take on Quemado in a first-round Class A matchup with the winner advancing to the state tournament in Rio Rancho next weekend.
And then on Saturday Nov. 7, the Socorro cross country teams will take part in the state championships at Rio Rancho.
And if the Lady Warriors soccer team keeps winning, it will play for the state championship at 10 a.m. in Albuquerque.
The Mountain Mail will be there to cover all the events.
Fair warning
Everybody, please be careful out there. There are hackers out there just waiting to steal your bank information or even your identity. It happened to me this week and it’s a HUGE pain to get everything rectified.
Correcting the editor
Well, the bleeding has stopped for at least a week. With the exception of a couple of dropped words, the Oct. 29 issue of the Mountain Mail turned out all right. Remember, though, if you see
anything that needs to be corrected or clarified, email me at or call 575 838-5555.

Saving a small place in the world for our beloved children

Magdalena Potluck
by Don Wiltshire

It was a joy, seeing all the trick-or-treaters at our door last week. Some were first-timers while others were experienced veterans. Some were even costumed parents enjoying the night as much as their ghoulish brood. Margaret and I have lived in Magdalena now for ten years and remember some of the teens as toddlers: wide-eyed, behind their masks, not knowing quite what to expect.
All Hallow’s Eve always reminds me of just how precious our neighborhood children really are and how quickly they grow into young adults. It makes me wonder what kind of world they will inherit. What problems and/or solutions are we creating now that they will have to live with?
One problem we will be facing very soon is the preservation of access to water in this region. We are the first community in New Mexico to face a water grab of this magnitude.
It started back in October of 2007 when an innocent legal notice appeared in the Mountain Mail, an application with the State Engineer’s Office to drill 37 water wells, 2,500 feet deep and to pump 54,000 acre feet of water a year. This notice raised some eyebrows and 382 individuals and groups filed official protest letters to the NM Office of the State Engineer.
In August of 2008 the application was amended to increase the depth of the wells to 3,000 feet. This opened the window of opportunity to protest again and another 500 letters were filed. In itself, this was a noble effort by our community members. It has taken two years for the State Engineer’s Office to sort out this massive protest and to prepare for a hearing.
Some of the Datil protestors, with the help of Carol and Ray Pittman organized the San Augustin Water Coalition in May of 2008. SAWC will represent many of the protestors at the upcoming hearing. Legal expertise will be provided by Bruce Frederick, attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. SAWC is also dedicated to educating members of the surrounding communities about this very real threat to our survival.
Several of the Magdalena protestors to this obscene water grab, with the help of SAWC, are organizing an informational meeting at the Magdalena Public Library on Tuesday, November 10th at 7:00 PM. Featured speakers will be Bruce Frederick to discuss the legal battle ahead of us and Frank Titus, Hydrologist, to answer questions about the physical realities of this massive pumping operation. Coffee and munchies will be provided. (Sorry; no potluck this time).
Well, this lumbering beast, the San Augustin Ranch LLC and the 900 or so protestors is about to take off. All of the official protestors should have received a Docket Request from the OSE last week. (That’s Legaleeze for “we’re putting the case on the calendar and we’ll get back to you”). The next item of business will be a request for the official protestors to cough up $25 to the OSE to reserve our “spot at the table” (and what a large table it will be)! There is a lot of money and/or Political Muscle behind this water grab so we are looking to raise funds for a Hydrologist to represent us.
This “Water Grab,” should it proceed, would be the death of our little corner of the world. It may not die in our lifetime, but our children and their children would inherit a desolate, parched wasteland. Get involved; learn what you can about our precious ground water, help out in any way you can. Do it for our children.
As always, if you have any Comments? Problems? Solutions? Up coming Events? Contact me at mtn_don@ or (575) 854-3370.

Socorro High School freshman Nico Seamons received a $3,000 scholarship to New Mexico Tech from Tech President Dan Lopez last Thursday. Lopez said Nico represented the kind of student Tech needs. “We need young people like you to carry forth new ideas,” Lopez said. “Students who always think about the answers to ‘what if’ questions.” He said the scholarship represents a move by the university to attract the brightest and most talented minds earlier in their secondary academic years.

Pictured: Nico Seamons (left) and Tech President Dan Lopez.

Tech to appear on MythBusters again on Nov. 18

SOCORRO – New Mexico Tech will make its fifth appearance on MythBusters in November.
The new episode on Wednesday, Nov. 18, will include footage shot at the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center during the spring of 2009.
“I’m excited to see that MythBusters will air footage from New Mexico Tech again,” Vice President of Research Dr. Van Romero said. “Originally, this footage was scheduled to appear in a show last spring, but it was so dramatic that they held it over for a later date.”
The show airs at 8 p.m. on the Discovery Channel. Romero said he could not divulge the test that was filmed near Socorro, but he did say the footage will be visually dramatic.
“This is the most spectacular stunt ever done at New Mexico Tech for MythBusters,” he said. “I can’t reveal the exact details of the test, but I can say that it involves a high rate of speed and a very dynamic response from the target.”
New Mexico Tech was first mentioned on MythBusters when Romero was interviewed as a guest expert. During those filming sessions, Romero suggested to the show’s stars and producers that they visit Tech to conduct tests.
The MythBusters cast and crew filmed two experiments in Socorro in late 2008. EMRTC technicians taught the stars how to make diamonds using explosives and set up a high-speed test track experiment that mimicked a two-vehicle collision at 650 mph.
Romero said the new footage will be the best footage yet.
“Every time we appear on national shows, I personally see an increased interest in New Mexico Tech – both from people contacting us directly and casual comments while I’m traveling,” he said. “Plus, the MythBusters’ audience is right in the sweet spot of the type of students that we want to come to Socorro. Because of that, the exposure is priceless.”

Socorro advances in district volleyball

By John Severance

SOCORRO – The Socorro girls volleyball team had its foot on the accelerator during its district matchup with Cobre. The Lady Warriors, though, let up on the gas pedal and it almost cost them but they still were able to advance by winning 25-17, 25-12 and 26-24.
Socorro will travel to Hot Springs on Nov. 5 in what amounts to a district semifinal and if it wins, it will travel to Hatch Valley on Nov. 7 for the district final.
In game three, the Lady Warriors led 18-8 and coach Marleen Greenwood made numerous substitutions to give all of her players some playoff experience. Cobre, though, got back into it and rattled off 10 straight points to tie it at 18.
“We lost our focus,” Greenwood said. “The good thing is that we did finish it.”
A big key for the Lady Warriors was playing at home. They won at Cobre in their final regular season game to earn a home playoff game.
“That was huge,” Greenwood said. “That is a 200-mile bus trip and that makes for a really long day so it was pivotal that we were home.”
And for the first two and one-half games, the Lady Warriors looked poised and relaxed as they powered past the Lady Indians.
Socorro was led by Roxanne Silva, who dominated inside and Cobre had no match for her.
“She can play like an an all-state player and she did tonight,” Greenwood said.
After the match, though, Silva admitted the Lady Warriors let up.
“Nothing really changed,” she said. “But we might have relaxed a little too much.”
Mag wins district
The Magdalena volleyball team got the wakeup call it needed during its last regular season match when it fell to Gallup Catholic at home.
On Oct. 31 at home, the Lady Steers swept past Temple Baptist and Menaul to claim the district championship. With the win, Magdalena will host Quemado in a first-round state matchup at 6 p.m. Friday.
“They kind of clicked and came together,” Magdalena coach Liz Olney said. “They got excited and became more confident.”
Magdalena and Quemado met twice during the regular season and Olney knows the Lady Steers are not taking the visitors lightly.
“The first time we played, we won in three at their place and then they came to our house and we won in five,” said Olney.

Socorro girls roll into state tourney

By John Severance

SOCORRO – Playing in wind gusts of 20 to 25 mph, the Socorro girls soccer team rode the wind in the second half en route to a 2-0 victory against Santa Fe Prep on Oct. 30 in the first round of the state playoffs.
The Lady Warriors (17-3) will take on fourth seeded Hope Christian at 2 p.m. on Nov. 5 in the state quarterfinals in Albuquerque. If Socorro makes the semifinals, the game would be at 10 a.m. on Nov. 6 and the final would be at 10 a.m. on Nov. 7.
“We outplayed them,” Socorro coach Mitch Carrejo said. “We had the ball in their end 70 to 75 percent of the time and we outshot them 17-2.
“The wind was against us in the first half and when we played the ball in the air it would come right back to us.”
After a scoreless first half, freshman Dezara Armijo, battling the flu bug, found the net 15 minutes into the first half. With 10 minutes left, Janell Lopez added some insurance with a blast from 30 yards out for a 2-0 lead.
Next up for Socorro is a matchup against Hope Christian.
“We have not played them but the Santa Fe Prep coach said we match up well with them,” Correjo said.
Socorro and Hope Christian have played some simlar opponents.
Hope Christian (11-9) beat Santa Fe Prep 1-0. Bosque School beat Socorro 2-0 and Hope Christian 2-0 and 2-1. Socorro beat Robertson 4-0 and Hope Christian beat Robertson 2-0.
“The scores were similar and I think it is a pretty even matchup,” Carrejo said.
The key for Socorro’s success has been its defense.
The Warriors have not allowed a goal in their past five games. And for the season, they have only given up 21 goals.
“We have a pretty good defense,” Carrejo chuckled.
That might be the understatement of the year.

Warriors run to state meet Saturday

By John Severance

SOCORRO - The Socorro cross country team has made some big strides this season. On Saturday, coach Steven Montoya will find out how far they have come when the girls and boys team will take part in the AAA state meet at Rio Rancho High School.
Last year was the inaugural season for the Socorro boys and they finished fifth in the district meet and qualified one runner for the state meet.
“Since last year, our biggest goal was to qualify for state this year,” Montoya said. “I just want them to run their best races of the season. The kids feel pretty fresh and if they run to their potential, we can compete for a fourth or a fifth place finish.”
Montoya said the favorites likely will be Santa Fe Indian School, Pojoaque and Zuni.
The Socorro girls, meanwhile, did not even field a team last season.
In the District 3 AAA meet at Cobre on Oct. 30, Socorro won the boys event with 32 points followed by Cobre with 39 and Lovington with 83. The Warriors won because they had Trey Thunborg, Owen Azevedo and Dylan Gallegos finish second, third and fourth.
Cobre won the girls event with 30 points and Socorro was second with 44. The Warriors finished 1-2 individually with Contreras and Dayna Guerro.

Pictured: Socorro’s Dylan Gallego finished fourth in the district meet last weekend.

Warriors clinch district football championship

By John Severance

In dramatic fashion, the Socorro football team clinched the district championship with a 26-21 win at Hatch Valley Oct. 30 when it scored with 19 seconds left.
The Warriors will honor their seniors Nov. 5 when they host Cobre. But there is a lot more on the line.
“We are the district champ no matter what happens,” Socorro coach Damian Ocampo said. “But as far as seeding goes for the state tournament, this game means a bunch.”
Ocampo said the Warriors fought through the mistakes they made against Hatch.
“The kids showed a lot of will, they competed and they didn’t quit,” Ocampo said. “Obviously, they made enough plays to win the ball game.”
Socorro (6-3, 2-0) trailed by eight points in the fourth quarter. The Warriors scored but missed the two-point conversion. The Warriors forced a fumble and then drove 83 yards for the winning score.
Ocampo is wary of Friday’s matchup with Cobre.
“They are one of the best teams in the state and they are solid across the board. Talent-wise, they probably in the top five in the state but they have had some issues,” Ocampo said.
“They lost their quarterback four weeks ago but probably will be back for us. They are super physical on offense. They spread you out and on defense they like to bring blitzes from every angle. They are tough and have nothing to lose.”
Before the game, the Warriors will honor their seniors who will be playing their final regular season game.
Socorro seniors include Clarence Barela, Joe Carilli, Sky Chadde, Brandon Garcia, Allen Gonzales, Leroy Lopez, Chris Rigel, Charles Savedra, Johny Sedillo, Derrick Vinson, Ryan Romero, Jose Alvarado, David Chavez, and Andrew Contreras.

Mag end season with loss
Magdalena finished its regular season with a 3-6 overall record and 0-2 district mark when it fell at home to Animas 52-14 Oct.30.
Animas won the district and Reserve, which had a bye week, was the district runner-up.
It was senior night for the Steers. Honorees included Robbie Zamora, Nathan Apache, Bryce Milligan, Gerardo Romero, Reggie Peralto, Nicholas Padilla, Tedmund Apachito and William Guin.
Reserve, meanwhile, received a fourth seed in the state tournament and it will travel to Mountainair at 7 p.m. Nov. 6.
“It is about what I expected,” Reserve coach Don Cole said. “We are on the Melrose side of the bracket and they have not lost in two years. But in order to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

Socorro boys fall in state soccer

By John Severance

SANTA FE – It was not the way that Socorro wanted to end its boys soccer season.
The Warriors went toe-to-toe with the Griffins at Santa Fe Prep before falling 2-1 on Oct. 30.
Santa Fe Prep scored the winning goal in the 47th minute when fullback Kevin Lowe launched a long pass downfield and forward McCall Sales touched the ball past goalie Erik DeCosta and a Socorro defender.
“It was a miscommunication between our keeper and defender,” Socorro coach Chuck Ngo said.
Socorro, actually, got on the scoreboard first in the third minute when Erik Garcia navigated his way through a bevy of Santa Fe Prep defenders and rifled a shot past goalie Danny Quinn.
Garcia also had a golden opportunity in the opening minute when his shot caromed off the crossbar.
“We had some really good chances early on,” Ngo said. “It easily could have been 2-0 or 3-0.”
Santa Fe Prep tied it in the 25th minute on a goal by Sales, who launched a shot past goalie Erik DeCosta. It was DeCosta, who kept Prep off the scoreboard early on with a number of spectacular saves.
At halftime, Socorro coaches pleaded with their players to win one for the seniors.
And they almost did.
After Prep scored in the 27th minute, Moazz Soliman just missed on a left-footed shot on the left side that went just wide of the net.
And when Socorro turned up the pressure in the final 10 minutes, it looked as if the Warriors had tied it on a shot by Garcia. But the linesman put his hand up for an offsides call.
Ngo strongly disagreed with the call. “That cost us the game,” he said. “Kevin, he was offside but he was not part of the play. When Eric got the ball, he was onside.”
The Warriors ended their season with an 7-12 record.

Quemado to honor vets Monday at school gym

Quemado News
by Debbie Leschner

Quemado will pay tribute to its Veterans on Monday Nov. 9 in the school auxilary gym, beginning at 6 p.m.
The evening will include the following recitations:
• 10th grade, the Declaration of Independence;
• Fernando Alverez, a Quemado senior, the Preamble;
• 8th grade, the Bill of Rights;
• 6th grade, the American’s Creed;
• 7th grade, the Soldiers Creed..
Caitlynn Atwood will sing Come Home Soon and our soldiers will be honored as her dad, Mr. Atwood, sings American Soldier. Sam and Kate Eberly will play the National Anthem and Dr. Heineycamp will play his bagpipes.
Children from kindergarten through the 6th grade will also participate during the celebration. Significant items to the POW's and MIA's will be displayed at a special table. The Quemado Veterans group will have a color guard under the direction of Commander Rick Sharp. The evening will show “what it means to be an American and how fortunate we are to live in the United States” says Kelly McKinley who is coordinating the festivities. Everyone come and show your support !
Trip to Gallup
Quemado Senior Center will be going to Gallup on Wednesday, Nov 11 at 8 a.m. for shopping, medical appointments, lunch and anywhere else folks need to go. Please let Diana know by Monday the Nov. 9. The cost is $8.00. The Datil seniors will join the Quemado seniors for bingo on Thursday afternoon. Quilting group meets on Wednesday and Thursday. They are starting to quilt a lovely Christmas patterned top. The senior quilting group is raising funds for the center by selling a hand quilted twin size quilt for $125.00. It is a patchwork pattern in various shades of blue. Stop by the center to see it. The center phone number is 773-4820.
Teaming up
The Quemado Veterans Auxillary is teaming up with the Pie Town “Toys for Tots” Christmas program. This is a way to help provide the children of families in our community with the things they need for the holiday season. Donations of food items, toys, coats, scarfs, mittens and other items are accepted. In Quemado, please call Sonja Sharp at 773-4350 or Carol Baker at 773-4990 to drop off items or bring to the VA meeting on Thursday, Nov 19. In Pie Town, drop off boxes are located at the Community Center and the Pie-o-neer Cafe. You may also call Tony and Joan Shannon at 772-2528 for more information.
Quemado volleyball
The Quemado girls volleyball team plays the first round for a spot in the State Volleyball Tournament on Friday, Nov 6 at 6 p.m. in Magdalena. A Spirit Bus will leave Quemado at 4 p.m. and stop in Pie Town and Datil. The bus is free
The Rural Book Mobile will be in our area on Tuesday, Nov 10. They will be at the Datil Post Office from 1 to 2 p.m., the Pie Town Post Office from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. and the Quemado Post Office from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. … Know of anything going on or a special event in a family or school, c all 773-4119 or email at

Tech rugby team finishes fall season with 16-3 record

by Dave Wheelock
Tech Rugby Coach

The final margin may not show it, but the New Mexico Tech Rugby Club's 47 - 27 win over New Mexico State University in Las Cruces Saturday was a hard slog all the way. But while the Chiles enjoyed the lion's share of ball possession, the Pygmies once again rode their phenomenal long-range scoring talents to victory. Tech scored seven five-point tries to State's four, with all but one of the breakaway Pygmy scores grounded between the goalposts to provide easy two-point conversion kicks.
New Mexico Tech finished the fall campaign with a record 16 wins versus three losses. Two of those blemishes were in championship matches, 19-12 to the University of New Mexico in the Santa Fe Tens Tournament on September 6, and 13-7 at the hands of the Clovis Nomads at Albuquerque's High Desert Classic on October 18. The Pygmies went undefeated the weekend of October 3-4 to win the Northern Arizona Tens Tournament.
In still and cloudless conditions, most of the first half was played in Tech's territory. The hosts held the upper hand in the scrums and stole the ball away several times in open play. After five minutes, and against the run of play, NMT outside center Nick Aldape found a gap 10 meters from his own try line and streaked up the field. Wing James Fallt was there to take a pass and score 70 meters later as the cover defense closed in on Aldape. Dustin Webb drop-kicked the conversion for a 7-0 Tech lead.
Five minutes later Bart Hegarty scooped up a loose ball from his flanker position on the side of a scrum and passed to Fallt, who kicked ahead as he was tackled. Fullback Isaiah Sanchez raced forward to recover the ball and touched down another try converted by Webb to stretch Tech's lead to 14-0.
At fifteen minutes NMSU number eight forward Wes Woods ran a ball from the base of a scrum and crashed 15 meters to score. The conversion attempt by Alex Andrews was unsuccessful but soon the Chiles were back for another scrum put-in close to the Tech line.
The Chiles closed the halftime gap to 14-12 when flyhalf Farrakhan Mohammed sneaked across for a converted try.
Three minutes into the second half Aldape repeated his earlier feat with a long run up the left side, this time covering the entire distance himself.
Webb's conversion moved matters to 21-12. After eight minutes the Pygmies were penalized and Andrews drew the Chiles within 21-15 with a place kick from 30 meters.
Tech's forwards began to assert increasing pressure in open play and after an extended run of possession Dustin Webb got over the line for an unconverted try, NMT 26, NMSU 15. The Chiles kept it close at 26-20 seven minutes later when Tim Worley scored a heads up try in the corner from a quick tap and run on a penalty.
As both teams began to feel the fatigue of a hard-hitting match, Tech's backs took over as they had so often throughout the season. Flyhalf Royce Beaudry stepped through the first line of defense and linked with Sanchez, who streaked up the field before scoring from a high-speed give and go with mobile lock forward Jerod Aragon. Shortly after, Jay Herrera, playing in his last match as a New Mexico Tech undergrad, made a break and fed Sanchez for his second long-range try in five minutes. Webb converted both tries to make it 40-20 in favor of Tech.
Seven minutes from full time the Chiles brought the ball into a driving maul close to Tech's line and Wes Woods scored his second try with a burst through the middle. Andrews' kick was good for a 40-27 Chile deficit.
In the 79th minute Beaudry made another slicing break and carried 50 meters before passing off to Aldape to score Tech's last try of the fall season. Webb provided the conversion to bring the final score to New Mexico Tech 47, New Mexico State 27.
Tight forward Max Crowning was named Man of the Match by his Tech teammates. The Pygmies now turn their attentions to off-season conditioning while finishing the academic semester. Outdoor practice sessions resume on the first day of spring semester classes February 19, 2010.

November Skies

by Jon Spargo
New Mexico Tech Astronomy Club

Jon Spargo, New Mexico Tech Astronomy ClubJupiter will still dominate the early evening sky shining high in the southwest. The best observing will be in the early evening before it gets close to the western horizon. If you have a moderate sized telescope you might hunt for the dark scar low in the southern hemisphere that appeared last July when a comet or asteroid struck the giant planet.
Saturn rises in the early morning hours and is best viewed when it is the highest about 45 minutes before sunrise. Saturn’s rings are beginning to open rapidly and will reach 4 degrees from being edge on by the end of the month.
Mercury reaches superior conjunction with the Sun on the 5th as it passes directly behind the Sun’s disk.
Venus begins to slowly sink in the eastern sky. Early this month it rises about an hour and a half before the Sun. By the end of the month it will rise less than an hour before the Sun and will be difficult to find in the bright glow of dawn.
November also brings the Leonid meteor shower. Last year the experts were fooled as the shower was more productive than expected. This year there are many predictions. Some confusion arises because the Earth will pass through two of Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle’s debris trails, one on the 17th and another on the 18th. The best viewing will be in the early morning hours and will be aided by the lack of a bright Moon. If the most optimistic predictions come true we might be in for a spectacular show. However, the event on the 18th favors folks living in Asia and Eastern Europe.
The Moon will be full on the 2nd, last quarter on the 9th, new on the 16th and 1st quarter on the 24th. On the 3rd, around 8 pm, a nearly full Moon will cross the southeastern part of the famous Pleiades star cluster. At 11 pm on the 8th a waning gibbous Moon will be just below the planet Mars as it peaks above the east-northeastern horizon. On the 12th about 30 minutes before sunrise, the Moon will be found keeping company with Saturn and finally on the 23rd an almost first quarter Moon will be about 3 degrees above the planet Jupiter.
Jon Spargo, New Mexico Tech Astronomy Club

OPINION: Daily price of things proves too pricey for Sylvia

by Anne Sullivan

Sylvia eagerly accepted her doggie biscuit, sitting prettily as she’d been taught.
Then, not so prettily, she spat it out on the floor.
“Sylvia!” I shrieked. “What’s the matter with you?”
“Ugh!” she said. “You call this a biscuit? It’s awful. I’d like to see you eat it.”
Instead of taking her up on her offer I attempted to explain, “It’s a different brand. I just thought you’d like to try it for a nice change.”
“Whatever made you think so? Oh, I know,” she said. “I bet it was cheaper.”
“As a matter of fact it was. Do you realize how much the price of your regular biscuits has gone up lately? It goes up every time I go to the store.”
“Phooey,” Sylvia exclaimed. “If this is the best you can do, I’m going to eat somewhere else.”
“And where would that be?” I called her bluff. “Everyone else around here already has
dogs. You won’t like them and they certainly won’t like you.”
“You don’t have to insult me.” She sniffed and soon her sniffs turned into snivels. “I’m only trying to get a decent meal without spending my entire fortune.”
“I wasn’t aware you had a fortune.”
“Not a fortune exactly, but now that the Mountain Mail is back in business, I should have enough to buy tasty and nutritious dog and cat food.”
A plan came to mind. “I’ll make a deal with you,” I said. “Next time I go to Socorro, you’ll go with me.”
A look of horror washed across Sylvia’s face as she wailed, “No – not that. Not drive with you.”
“You can do it. We managed very nicely when you went to the vet’s this summer.”
“Yes, I did, didn’t I?” Sylvia remarked with satisfaction.
“Yes, you did. And this will be a more enjoyable journey; no vet, just the supermarket. You’ll take your week’s salary and we’ll see what you come up with. What do you say?”
“I guess I could go. There’s only one caveat. I haven’t heard from Washington yet about solving the Health Care Crisis. As soon as I have an appointment with the President and as soon as they send me a first class plane ticket, I’ll be flying there. Or maybe Minneapolis, the way things are going. But, until then, I’m willing to go to Socorro. When are we going?”
“The day after tomorrow.”
Scene 2 – The Day
After Tomorrow
A scowling Sylvia exited from the store pushing a cart with but a few bags in it.
“I’ve spent it all,” she called across the parking lot to me. “The price on my Iams went up two days ago. I couldn’t find the brand of cat food Gordo likes. The price on my Meaty Bone biscuits went up so I had to buy smaller ones.” When she reached me, she wailed, “It isn’t fair.”
I felt for her but all I could say was, “It’s the way the economic game is played these days. The less money customers have, the more the prices go up.”
Sylvia loaded her paltry loot into the back of the pickup. “I don’t understand that at all,” she said. “Who buys these expensive things? Somebody must have money.”
“The only ones I know of are the ones who got large bonuses for getting us into this financial mess.”
“That’s not right!” Sylvia kicked her empty cart sending it skidding across the lot narrowly missing a new yellow Hummer.
“A temper tantrum won’t accomplish anything,” I said. “Some think those financiers got those large bonuses because they’re so smart.”
“Bah, humbug.”
“Get in, Sylvia, and fasten your seatbelt.”
As we headed out of town Sylvia expressed further dissatisfaction, “Why don’t we have a lap-top so I can concentrate on something else while you drive? That way I won’t even know where I am or when I’m home.”
“Why on earth would you want that?”
“I’m studying to be an airline pilot. They get paid for not paying attention.”

Socorro is home to dozens of fine artists, and the Socorro Chamber of Commerce features a different artist every month. B.J. Lesperance is the featured artist for November. Lesperance has won several awards for her artwork, including a Day of the Dead competition, and blue ribbons at the county fair. She also won the 2005 SocorroFest design contest, and has sold her paintings at the New Mexico State Fair. She also has artwork on display at Sofia’s Restaurant. This is the third time Lesperance has been featured at the Chamber of Commerce.


From Ken Ludwig, the writer of Lend Me a Tenor, comes Socorro Community Theater’s fall production “Moon over Buffalo”. This comedic farce brought Carol Burnett back to Broadway.
Set in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1953, the plays hilarious misunderstandings and misadventures are sure to please the audience. The show is fast paced, incorporating running gags and physical humor while paying homage to the stars of the 1950s.
The play centers around traveling actors George and Charlotte Hay, fallen stars performing repertory in Buffalo. Their daughter, Rosalind, has left the theater and her fiance, Paul, to try to live a "normal" life. She returns to visit her parents and introduce them to her new fiance, Howard, a TV weatherman. George's philandering ways with a young actress threaten to break up the Hay's marriage and the company; meanwhile, the company's lawyer is ready to whisk Charlotte away with him. Charlotte's near-deaf mother, Ethel, lends a helping hand in the theater as well. Will George and Charlotte reconcile their issues? Will Rosalind come back to the theater company?
The cast is an even split of newcomers and actors experienced with the community theater.
"We have half and half, new and experienced actors and I'm really pleased with that," director Bryan Hurtgen said.
The cast includes Dr. Bill Stone, Theresa Apodaca, Kelly Kempton, Luke Hanks, Katherine Noe, Alan Roes, Rose Smith, and Warren Marts.
Performances will be held at Garcia Opera House, Friday and Saturday Nov. 13-14 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m.
Tickets are $8 adults/$7 seniors/$6 students.
A special dinner theater will be held Wednesday, Nov. 18. at 6 p.m. Tickets are $32 by prepaid reservation only before
5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15.
For more information or to make dinner theater reservations, call 835-2564 or visit

OPINION: Miracles are what you make of them

Straight Shot
by Jess Hardin

I remember well, back in the late 1970’s, the excitement generated by what many considered to be a modern day miracle. A short order cook in the tiny mountain village of Taos Junction had flipped over a tortilla that he was frying, only to come face to face with a sepia-toned portrait of a sorrowful but all-forgiving Jesus Christ.
And apparantly a Jesus with earthy sense of humor. After rescuing it from the heat and saying the appropriate prayers, the perspiring chef showed it first to his envious coworkers and then to their astonished customers. Meals and conversations came to a halt, while all clustered around the breakfast apparition.
Of those there at the time, the already devout had the fires of their beliefs well fueled, their convictions confirmed, their faith rewarded and confirmed. One woman later claimed to have been cured of some unrecorded illness, and nobody contradicted her. The sole atheist, it is said, began to reconsider his position, and to have actually admitted in public that not everything in the world could be adequately explained by the rational mind, nor qualified and quantified by scientific method.
I was only one of the several thousand people who came to witness the miracle over the course of the following few weeks, on display there for all to see. There were up to 50 vintage pickups, family station wagons and low-riders parked there at any given time, as well as a smattering of chopped Harley-Davidson motorcycles driven up from EspaƱola.
The least persuaded about its holy origins were the bikers, ordering two plates of huevos rancheros each... and the most convinced were the local farmers and ranchers, who felt there must have been a special reason why the apparition had appeared in New Mexico instead of El Paso, say, or in the rural West instead of somewhere in the more settled and sometimes more disbelieving East.
To settle the matter of the tortilla’s divine origins, the interested parties brought in the Arch Diocese of Santa Fe, but in the end he decided it was better not make a proclamation one way or the other.
He was a wise man.
Who can say, after all, what is a miracle and what is not? The greatest mistake isn’t finding divine inspiration in the everyday, or holiness in the commonplace. The greatest mistake is to take things for granted, failing to see in the familiar people, places and objects around us the suggestion of something larger, numinous and blessed. We are surely all products of, and participants in, miracles, whether we are paying attention to them or not.
First, there is the miracle of life, no matter what you believe its cause.
What a tragedy, to forget even for a moment the wonder of each necessary breath, of our flesh and blood enabled somehow to move, to see, to know and better itself... to fall in love, to learn and to explore, to define and defend family and home, to serve something greater than ourselves alone, to paint pictures and write songs.
Some are big, like a precious little boy surviving a difficult brain operation.
Some seem smaller, but are still amazing, such as the way a cut heals itself until it disappears. Or the way a pokey caterpillar turns into a butterfly, and then flies away. It seems like a miracle to me, that we are allowed to outlast and potentially learn from our misjudgments and distortions.
That there are still exist rural communities like mine, in spite of the pressures of expanding world population and increased global regulation.
That there are still national forests, neither privatized nor subdivided, which all citizens have a right to and a responsibility for. That there still exist places that appear fashioned by a specially empowered hand, land still unpaved and undeveloped, a home for myriad animals and plants and a place where all citizens can go to be quieted, nourished, strengthened and inspired.
As for myself, I see reflections of the miraculous in the eyes of loving children and in the way the mirror-like San Francisco river turns the world upside down. In towns too touch too die and filled with frontier spirit, like Magdalena, Quemado, Reserve. In the ascendent arc of little birds when they make their first scary flight. In every gesture of caring or mercy, in these often uncaring and unforgiving times. In wildflowers that somehow make it through waves of both flood and drought, and in the smiles of neighbors that still wave! In the way that nature’s herbs can help heal you, and the way the most amazing plant begins its existence in the form of a most tiny seed. In everything, most likely, can be found some evidence of the miraculous and the marvelous when we suspend our preconceptions and open to their greater meaning.
Over time, the image of Jesus faded as its edible canvas its inevitable decomposition. Some say the short order cook and the faithful who flocked that followed were all mistaken in their interpretation. I think that the bigger mistake (and this is no jest), is to look into even the most mundane and shapeless tortilla – into what can be the revealing patterns of our wondrous world and everyday lives – and behold anything less.
Jess Hardin is the author of Old Guns & Whispering Ghosts: Tales & Twists of the Old West.

Just an old-fashioned girl

Luna News
by Kaye Mindar

Especially now around the holidays when we shop in the stores we will be enticed as they have made room on the shelves for fancy shaped crackers and cookies to adorn our Holiday tables.
I fought the urge to buy a more expensive, fancier cracker; the kind you serve at a party or dinner gathering. But I gave in and splurged. When I relaxed later that evening I decided to go ahead and I ate a few, some with cheese and toppings.
They really didn’t taste that much better to me and the left over crackers still sit untouched on the cupboard. You see I went back to my plain old box of saltines and was much more satisfied as I snacked away.
I suppose I am just a simple old cracker girl and I suppose no matter how appealing they make it look, that is pretty much how I live the rest of my life too; just plain and simple.
Simple can be defined in many ways; no matter where we live we have the problems of everyday life. I told my daughter last Sunday that about one more thing on my calendar in the next week and my head will explode! Living here in the Luna valley it definitely is a slower pace of living than in the rest of this busy world but we can make each day whatever we chose.
We can take time to watch the forest trees sway in the breeze or we may have to almost race across the mountain for an appointment or errand in town.
I love this time of the year when we can wake a little earlier and see a beautiful sunrise light the sky with brilliant shades of oranges and reds and no matter what is on the calendar for the day, this plain old cracker girl will find time to visit with friends and family and hopefully just sit and watch the trees sway in the breeze.
Court of Honor
The Luna Boy Scout Court of Honor and pot luck dinner will be held at about 1:15 pm Sunday the 15th in the L.D.S. Church cultural hall. Visitors and family are all welcomed to attend. Like the saying goes “it takes a community to raise a child”.
Many in different aspects have been involved in raising such fine young men and they need to know that we all support their efforts. We have many boys from the area that have worked hard on their advancements in the scouting program.
A special thank you goes out to Lou Ann Mitchell who has been overseeing the 11 year old boys in the scouting program and was recently released from her calling. She will be greatly missed as she and her husband Clifford have spent so much of their time and talents in guiding so many of our youth through the Scouting program over the years here in Luna.
Thanksgiving Dinners
The Alpine Community Center annual community Thanksgiving dinner will be held at 1 pm Saturday. There is a flyer at the Luna Post Office for food requirements and bringing dishes for the pot luck to add to this Thanksgiving feast; organizers are taking into account those with food allergies and special needs. All are invited and welcome to attend.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Luna Ward annual Thanksgiving dinner will be held at 6 pm on Friday November 13. Again all are invited for an evening for a great meal and socializing to keep our holiday spirits up spending time with great neighbors and friends. Everyone is welcome to bring a complimenting side dish and we are all being asked to bring our favorite dessert to share.
Luna Community Center
The Luna Community Center market place is holding a special holiday themed sales weekend from 10 to 4 each day; this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There will be baked goods, Holiday crafts and yard sale items. You may contact Diana Moyers for more information on this or upcoming community center market place activities.
Christmas Music
A follow up “Night of Christmas Music” program to last Marchs’ “Night of Sacred Music” is being planned for 6 pm Saturday December 12th at the Luna L.D.S. Chapel.
This includes all of our neighbors and friends from all denominations and we are looking forward to a night filled with a wonderful Christmas spirit. Please contact Alberta Nicolds for more information and watch for flyers as more information becomes available.