Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mountain Mail Delivers Early Christmas Gift

The Mountain Mail ownership and staff have decided to pitch in even further during this economic slow down by rolling back the price of the only locally owned community newspaper to just “two bits”. That’s right – only one quarter. The first thing the ownership and staff decided after buying the Mountain Mail a little more than a year ago was to lower advertising prices to a more affordable level in order to help fellow businesses continue to have the ability to advertise during these tough economic times, and pass the savings on to their customers and our loyal readers at the same time. It’s no secret that the Mountain Mail offers the lowest newspaper advertising prices in New Mexico.
“We understand that the current business and job situation is tough on everyone,” said former Socorro Mayor and business partner Tony Jaramillo. “If we’re going to get through these hard times together, everyone in Socorro and Catron Counties need to work as one. This just seems like the right thing to do right now.”
Your hometown Mountain Mail begins its lower price in this edition and will continue with the new price through the holidays and into the New Year, and revisit the question of pricing again in July. Subscribers will still be charged our very low annual rate due to the fact that we still have to pay labor to have every individual subscriber’s newspaper labeled, and weekly payments for postage must still be paid to get the news and great stories to all of our loyal readers across the country.
“We wish we could cut the price for subscribers, as well, but it’s just not financially feasible, so we’ll sell all counter and coin machine papers for only 25 cents,” general manager Gary Jaramillo said. “We’re not exactly sure how long it’s been since a newspaper has sold for two bits anywhere in New Mexico, but we felt like it was a great opportunity to pass this price cut on to everyone at this time.
“It’s a matter of helping our business clients by getting more papers into potential customers hands with their advertising in it, and making it easier for our neighbors here in Socorro and Catron Counties to buy a Mountain Mail for 50 percent less and still get the same great weekly stories, columns and news to which they are accustomed. And if we can keep more quarters in our readers’ pockets, maybe they’ll have just a little bit more to save and spend at local businesses on the important things that they have to have for their own family needs. If everyone in our little corner of the world helped one another, we’ll all come through during these hard times all right – just like we’ve done so many times before.
The Mountain Mail is still – and will always be – your No. 1 news source and only locally owned community newspaper. So grab a quarter for your newspaper each Thursday, and use the other one for a down payment on the future. We’re proud of the work we do, and proud to be a part of Socorro and Catron Counties – and we count everyone as dear friends. With a positive attitude and all of us helping each other in any way we can, we’ll be just fine – even if we do it one quarter at a time.
Enjoy the holidays, everyone!

Scientists at Observatory Make Quick Discovery

By John Larson

A husband and wife astronomy team at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory on Nov. 16 documented the second-fastest spinning asteroid on record, missing the earth by about 20,000 miles.
Asteroid 2010 WA was tracked by Bill Ryan, the leading astronomer at the New Mexico Tech facility, using a 2.4-meter telescope. The rock measures about 10 feet in diameter and completes a rotation about every 31 seconds. By comparison, the fastest spinning asteroid, known as 2010 JL88, also discovered by Ryan, takes 24.5  seconds to complete a rotation.
His wife, Eileen Ryan, director of the 2.4-meter telescope, says that the only danger that the asteroid presented was that it had entered the path of satellites in geosynchronistic orbits, which stationary orbits generally above the equator. Those satellites are generally used for global positioning (GPS), weather forecasting, television broadcasting, and defense or intelligence purposes.
There are about 300 satellites at that altitude, according to Eileen Ryan. “If an asteroid were to hit one of those,” she said, “it would understandably cause disruption of services on which we commonly depend. And those are quite expensive pieces of equipment.”
Tracking asteroids is one of the main operations of the telescope, which first went into operation in November 2006.
“We’ve tracked four asteroids in the last month that came that close to the earth,” said Eileen Ryan. She said studying the rotation rate can help scientists understand the geology of the rock passing by.
“The rate of spin, which we are learning about for the first time,” she said, “can tell us about the material of bodies in the asteroid belt.”
In years past, she added, there wasn’t a reliable system for studying an asteroid’s rate of rotation, but her husband has since devised a method which involves spotting them early on and picking out the best candidates.
The Magdalena Ridge Observatory has been involved in a variety of asteroid studies and has built a reputation on being a leader in the field. On a recent Discovery Channel program, “Phil Plait’s ‘Bad Universe: Asteroid Apocalypse’”, Eileen Ryan discussed the observatory’s asteroid studies, explaining that 10 or 12 asteroids might be discovered on any given night.
“We have to assess are they a danger, how strong are they, how big are they,” she said during the program. “All of the work we do can be used for predictions on when or where an object will hit.”
And what about other flying objects?
“We work with NASA, the National Science Foundation, and Los Alamos National Laboratory,” said Eileen Ryan. “We’re also working with the Air Force to track satellites. And if we’re called on to track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, we’ll do what we can.”

LEPC Says Red Cross Center Needed in Socorro

By Patrick Jason Rodriguez

The chairman of the Local Emergency Planning Committee wants the Red Cross to have a resposnse center in Socorro.
Doug May made his proposal to the city council at its meeting on Monday night.
He said that the city is under prepared for any sort of catastrophic event like an earthquake, huge fire and a great deal of flooding, and gave examples of past local disasters such as the tire fire of 2000, the hail storm of 2006, and the derailment last year of a train traveling through the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge when three cars carrying fuel oil spilled.
May stressed the need for shelters in the city and said his committee is working on being able to find lodging for those who must evacuate from their homes in case of floods or other emergencies. He also said that he recently took part in a shelter management class.
Volunteers who are trained and administered by the Red Cross would provide much needed assistance for Socorro, according to May. He said that some of their training would be conducted locally but that a bulk of it would take place in Albuquerque. He also mentioned that the city, county, New Mexico Tech and other local businesses should be accommodating to volunteers and trainers.
May said that shelter management survey teams would visit shelter sites and evaluate capacity, make agreements with local business owners, and ensure that structures are free from damage, including the section of Interstate 25 that flows through the Socorro.
The Red Cross doesn’t need a formal endorsement from the city to launch these services, said May, “but I think it would be helpful if the city council passed a resolution, encouraging cooperation, to send a good message.”
Mayor Ravi Bhasker asked May if he had any conversations with other emergency planners in other towns comparable in population of Socorro that already have Red Cross teams, and whether May planned to make the same presentation to the county, the schools and New Mexico Tech. May replied that Truth or Consequences was the only city with a similar size in the state that offered these services.
Mayor Bhasker then brought up the question of whether or not the Red Cross team would duplicate emergency response services already offered by the city and the county.
May said that the Red Cross team would not duplicate services but rather would actually supplement existing local government agencies.

Petition To Recall Trustee Wolberg Now Underway

By Patrick Jason Rodriguez

Another recall campaign by the Socorro Electric Cooperative Reform Group is officially underway in District 3.   
A petition to recall Co-op Trustee Donald Wolberg commenced on Friday, Dec. 3. As per the co-op’s written bylaws, petitioners need at least 10 percent of member-owners signatures to remove a sitting trustee.
Wolberg is one of six current board members representing District 2, which encompasses the city of Socorro.
The petition’s proponent, Charlene Wagner, in an email sent out Friday said that Wolberg “has been granted this honor because so many members consider that he has betrayed them by running as a reform candidate and then joining the board majority in actions detrimental to the members' interests.”
Also cited in the email were concerns regarding the costs of an informational meeting in March, which, according to Wagner, was little more than propaganda disguised as a lecture, and ballot issues regarding the annual members’ meeting in April. “This ballot,” Wagner wrote, “included threatening comments and untruths and voting was held by a show of hands which limited members’ freedom of action as opposed to a secret ballot.”
Wolberg, in a telephone on Wednesday, said that he has no interest in the petition and plans to go about his business as usual. In fact, he added that if the petition comes his way, he’d add his name to it.
“If they can find 400 people to sign the petition, that’s fine,” he said. “I’ve always been independently minded.”
This most recent campaign comes less than a month after a petition with allegedly a sufficient amount of signatures to recall Co-op President Paul Bustamante, the only board representative in District 2, was presented at a regular meeting by member-owner Richard Epstein.

Socorroan Wins Sweepstakes’ Grand Prize

By John Larson
Christina Albeldano got a surprise visit to her home on Thursday, Dec. 2.
The Socorro resident was chosen as the Grand Prize winner of Aaron’s National Lucky Dog Days Sweepstakes and received a houseful of furniture, appliances and electronics valued at around $10,000. Atlanta-based Aaron’s, Inc. is a lease-to-own retailer with one location in the Socorro area.
The items arrived at Albeldano’s residence in one of Aaron’s delivery trucks. She’d been informed that she was one of the company’s 99 prize winners, but not specifically that she had won the top prize.
“I’m still numb,” Albeldano said afterward. “I don’t know what to think. I’ve never won anything in my life.”
Her prize package included an eight-piece living room set, an eight-piece bedroom set, a 60-inch Mitsubishi 1080p big screen TV with stand, a 32-inch Panasonic LCD flat panel TV, a Frigidaire 23 cu. ft. refrigerator, a Frigidaire front load high-efficiency clothes washer and dryer pair, a Dell Inspiron laptop computer, and an HP Mini netbook computer.
Aaron’s Inc. sent out more than 1.6 million letters with unique prize numbers during the contest, which ran from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.
Brandon Kellogg, manager of the Aaron’s retail store in Socorro, said that Albeldano has been a customer of his store since 2008.
“We’ve become friends over the last two years,” he said. “Sometimes she comes into the store just to say hello. I can’t think of anybody who deserved to win the grand prize more than her.”
Aaron's regional manager Brooks Hartmann added, “All of us at Aaron’s hope that winning the National Lucky Dog Days Grand Prize is going to brighten the holiday season for Christina and her family.”

Pictured: Christine Albeldano reacts to being told by Aaron's manager Brandon Kellog she won the grand prize.

Photo by John Larson

5 Charged in Connection with Walmart Theft

By John Larson
Criminal complaints were filed in Socorro Magistrate Court on five people Monday on shoplifting and burglary charges in connection with an incident on Dec. 3.
Socorro police Det. Rocky Fernandez said the suspects – Elisa Montano, 23, of Socorro; Gavin Eads, 24, of Belen; Charmayne Lopez, 20, of Belen; Antoinette Martinez, 27, of Belen; and Dillon O'Brien, 24, of Los Lunas – were operating as a shoplifting team.
“This wasn’t your everyday shoplifting situation,” Fernandez said. “They left the business with two plastic bins full of merchandise, mostly children’s clothes and some other small items.”
He said the incident was similar to a shoplifting that occurred at Walmart on Sept. 21.
Antoinette Martinez and Charmayne Lopez were arraigned Monday, Dec. 6 on burglary and trespassing charges. Dillon O’Brien was arraigned Monday on shoplifting charges and possession of drug paraphernalia. Gavin Eads was also arraigned Monday on one shoplifting charge, and a criminal complaint on Montano was filed on shoplifting and criminal trespassing charges.
The total amount stolen was $633.05, said police Sgt. Richard Lopez.
Fernandez said shoplifting rings are becoming more numerous, not only in Socorro, but nationwide. “When the economy is bad, you’ll see people being recruited by ‘kingpins’ to do the shoplifting,” he said.
Fernandez said stolen items are also sold on the internet, using e-Bay, Craigslist, or any one of dozens of online sites.
“Does anyone ask why a DVD movie costs only a couple of dollars?” he said. “It’s not out of the question to think they are bootlegged movies.”

Animal Humane Group To Sponsor Herbal Medicine Class

By John Larson

Magdalena’s animal humane organization, The Grizz Project, is sponsoring a workshop on herbal medicine at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11.
The class, which includes a Power Point lecture and discussion period, will be taught by medical herbalist Judyth Shamosh, Ph.D. She will be covering many of the most common questions people have about herbal medicines.
“People will learn how to use the right herbs for a specific situation,” Shamosh said. “We’ll also cover how herbal medicine was discovered, why an herb works for you and not someone else, and why herbal medicine can work so well sometimes.”
Shamosh, a part-time Magdalena resident, heads an herbal health clinic in Phoenix, Ariz., called Green Fingers Herbal Medicine.
She said if someone tells her that they tried an herbal remedy for arthritis on their own and it didn’t seem to work, she then asks what kind of arthritis they have.
“I tell them what they used may not have been right for their problem. There are four or five kinds of arthritis in eastern medicine,” Shamosh said. “That’s an example of how Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine works. We have to know our tools, the herbs, and the condition of the person’s body.”
Shamosh said herbal cures, especially from ancient East Indian (Ayurveda) and traditional Chinese medicine, go back thousands of years.
“It’s extremely well documented,” she said. “What I use in my practice is not something I came up with. It has a history going back three to four thousand years.”
Herbal medicine was more commonly used in this country up until about 200 years ago, she said.
“In the early 1800s, treating things by symptoms became the popular practice in mainstream medicine,” Shamosh said. “Using the right herbal medicine deals with the root cause of what’s going on in the body.”
Shamosh’s class is being held from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Magdalena Senior Center on Main Street, and the class costs $25 for the general public, $20 for Grizz Project members.
Proceeds will benefit The Grizz Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people find solutions to problems of unwanted, abused or neglected animals through a spay/neuter program and other help as needed.
For more information on The Grizz Project, call Marguerite Sweeney at 505-206-3565.

OBITUARY: Florence Ruth Martin

Florence Ruth (Wesner) Martin, 98, passed away Sunday, December 5, 2010 in Socorro.
Florence was born on April 19, 1912 to Frank R. and Rose (Dalley) Wesner in Las Vegas, New Mex.
She is survived by her devoted son, James Martin and wife Cathy of Socorro; her loving daughter, Wanda Martin of Socorro; two grandchildren, Jennifer Aimone of  Socorro; and Sara Yazdian and husband, Ali of Salt Lake City, UT; her sister, Betty Schwede of Las Vegas, New Mex.; three great grandchildren; and her nephew, Danny Schwede of Rio Rancho, New Mex..
She was a lifelong resident of New Mexico.
No formal services have been arranged at this time. In Lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Socorro Hospice. Those who wish to send condolences may do so at Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services, 309 Garfield, Socorro, NM, 87801 (575) 835-1530.

OBITUARY: Diane Dee Phillips

Diane Dee Phillips, 66, passed away Monday, November 29, 2010 at her home in Socorro, NM, surrounded by her loving family.
Diane was born on April 28, 1944 in Massillon, Ohio to Crawford and Maxine (Osborne) Isbell.
She is survived by her loving husband of 48 years of marriage, Roger Phillips of Socorro; her devoted sons, Scott Phillips and wife, Christine of Albuquerque, NM; and Steven Phillips of Socorro;  her adored grandchildren, Justin; Eric; Haley; and Ryan; and her loving mother in law, Jeanette Phillips also of Socorro.
Diane was a resident of Socorro since 1965. She enjoyed Elvis Presley music.
Diane was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. Being a Mother and Grandmother brought Diane so much joy and happiness.
She was preceded in death by her Parents.
A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 11:00 am at The Daniels Family Funeral Services Socorro Chapel. Those who wish to send condolences may do so at Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services, 309 Garfield, Socorro, NM,  87801 (575) 835-1530.

OBITUARY: Renate H. Lange-Romero

Renate H. Lange-Romero beloved Wife, Mother, Grandmother and inspiration to all who knew her passed away peacefully November 25 to rest until the coming of our Lord.
She was born in Germany and later moved to New Mexico where she lived for nearly 50 years.
Renate resided in Polvadera, New Mexico, with her husband Roman Romero. Together they enjoyed a peaceful rural life, morning walks, and shared a beautiful garden she created and nurtured.
She is the daughter of the late Ida and Franz Lange.
Renate will forever be remembered and loved by the family she cherished, her loving husband Roman Romero; loving sons Franz Griego, Glenn Griego and wife Tonia, Ahren Griego and wife Meredith; loving grandchildren Ahren M. Griego, Leanna Saiz, Jonathan Griego, Joshua Griego, Gabriella Griego, Justin Pirtle; great grandchildren Josiah Saiz, twins Alaina Renee, Jazmin Marie Griego.
Renate is also cherished by a loving family in Germany, Uncle Siegfried Gruber and wife Ilse, Aunt Lotte Lange; Cousins Carlo Barone and wife Eva, Wolfgang Gruber and wife Birgit and Children, Dieter Doehring and wife Christa, Gisela Forrester, and Renate Lange.
Her faith in Christ was evident in her radiant smile, pure soul and gentle words.
She loved life and all its rewards, her many dear friends, Stella Cota, Frau Engelhart, Corine and late husband Tony Vigil, Nino Gonzales and wife Annemie, Joe P. Valdez and wife Frances, Archie and late husband Joe Romero, Mr. and Mrs. Zack Romero, Mr. and Mrs. Nick Romero, Mr. and Mrs. Sip Romero and family, Mr. and Mrs. Andy Romero and Family, Sokie Romero, David Griego and wife Leticia, Julia Nicklin, Gary Chrisman and wife Shirley, Ilza and Yvonne Magener, Maggie Panzer, Katie Mirabal, Helga Eiching, Ernst Brandt, Gisela Plank, Susan Miller and many more.
Renate made a difference in this world; she was an inspiration and positive influence to all who knew her.
It is with great sadness that we must grieve the loss of this wonderful woman, but we can rejoice in the love she bestowed on each of us, a love that will never fade. We can only hope we may soon put our selfish thoughts aside so that we may be overcome with joy and happiness knowing that she will be in Heaven with God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and once again in the warm loving embrace of her mother.
Memorial Service: Sunday, December 12, at 2:00 pm: First Baptist Church, 203 Spring street, Socorro.

OBITUARY: Ray Lee Baker

Raymond Lee Baker, 23, passed away Monday, December 6, 2010 in Albuquerque, NM. Ray was born on September 14, 1987 in Albuquerque to Richard Baker and Valorie (Lee) Lesperance.
He is survived by his loving wife, Samantha Baker of Socorro; his son, Richard Devin Baker; his devoted mother, Valorie Lesperance and step dad, Harold of Socorro; four sisters, Shelby Pace; Crystal Lesperance and fiancĂ©, John Michael Evans III; April Lesperance; and Kayla Baker; his grandmothers, Rosella Lee; Gertrude Baker; and Macedonia Lesperance; grandfather, Dale Lee;  his nieces, Joslin Baca; Mariah Baca; Jayden Baker; Isabelle Evans; Elizabeth Evans; and Aleyah Evans; and many other loving family members.
Ray was a lifelong resident of New Mexico and graduate of Socorro High School, class of 2006. He was a proud member of the Socorro Warrior Football Team. Ray proudly served with the US Army.
He was preceded in death by his father, Richard; his Uncle, Bobby Lesperance; grandmothers, Pat Baker; and Bertha Lee; and his grandfather, Robert Baker. A Visitation will be held, Sunday, December 12, 2010 at the Daniels Family Funeral Services Socorro Chapel from 1:00pm until 3:00pm. The Funeral Service will be on Monday, December 13, 2010 at 10:00 am also at Daniels Family Funeral Services Socorro Chapel with Deacon Mike Ybarra officiating. Burial will take place in the San Acacia Cemetery.
Those who wish to send condolences may do so at  Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services, 309 Garfield, Socorro, NM,  87801 (575) 835-1530.

OPINION: From The Publisher

Just Thinking Out Loud
By Gary Jaramillo

It’s this time of year when we all seem to think more about everyone staying safe, healthy and prosperous.  We seem to care a little bit more about one another at holiday time. Like clock work in the fall season, people begin to get a little softer and are more willing to sacrifice more for the betterment of their neighbors and even stick their necks out for their neighbors during the holiday season.
But there’s a group of people who feel like this every day of the year and are always there for all of us – no matter what. They work tough hours, they see the very worst in all of us, and they’re willing to jump into the most terrible of situations to help everyone they meet in spite of the stress and dangerous circumstances they face each and every day. Why? Because it is what they have chosen to do in there lives.
They are our firefighters, police officers and the emergency room teams that save lives and rush to our aid 24 hours a day – every day. Whenever a loved one is in desperate need of protection or medical help, they’re always there. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion or holiday for these wonderful people to come running, any time, day or night. It’s a special kind of person that does this type of work. They are people who have decided to put others lives before their own with no questions asked. Firefighters run into burning buildings as we are all running out. Police officers stand between you and the bad guy knowing that it could be his last day alive. Doctors, nurses and techs work feverishly on you or a family member until you go home or there is nothing else that can be done.  
They are on the streets, in a burning building, or in a crowded emergency room, while we are sitting at home in front of our Christmas tree enjoying the moments of the holidays and all of the joy they bring.  We are all having a nice family meal while they haven’t eaten in 12 hours and haven’t had time to even think about food.
This Holiday Season – say a little prayer for those who are willing to be there for you and your family every day of the year. Give thanks that they chose to be who they are, and pray that whoever needs them, meets them in their most desperate hour. May those brave and caring people who sacrifice so much for our safety and welfare each and every day, be blessed and kept from harm always.
The Mountain Mail Staff wishes the police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses and techs a most joyful and safe holiday season and New Year!

LETTER: Price Of Co-op Membership

Dear Editor:
The member-owners of the Socorro Electric Cooperative need to examine this new rate increase closely. Most of the increase is in the system charge (from $9 to $15) and only a small amount in the kilowatt hourly rate (from 12.15 cents to 12.5 cents per hour). The Co-op has intentionally designed the new rate this way to prevent a loss of revenue if the consumers start conserving energy. By the same token, this hampers the consumers ability to save money by installing those funny light bulbs handed out at the annual SEC meeting or implementing the energy saving tips printed in the Enchantment magazine. Such measures will only affect the hourly rate portion of their bill and not the system charge. The SEC might be fully justified in structuring the increase in this way, but it limits the member-owners opportunity to lessen the impact on their wallets.

Anne L. Dorough
Pie Town

OPINION: Finding Solace in the UU Church

From The Editor
By Patrick Rodriguez

It's about a quarter to four in the afternoon on a Sunday and I’m in the unfamiliar situation of being bored out of my mind. I'm also depressed because my favorite football team is getting a pasting from my least favorite football team. And my Internet connection speed is too slow. It’s getting dire.
I need something to take my mind off of things, and because poker games seem to be pretty rare in this town (not that I play, but I do like to watch on occasion), I already went for a jog, drinking isn’t my thing, drugs I wouldn’t even know where to begin and my girlfriend lives more than a hundred miles away, I decide to go for a walk.
About fifteen minute later I end up in front of the Epiphany Episcopal Church building. There’s a sign out front that piques my interest, something about the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Albuquerque. Apparently the Socorro branch of the church meets in this building in a few minutes. And though I planned on going for a longer walk, something (other than the sign) tells me to attend this service, so I do.
Before I go any further in the narrative, I want to point out that I am not, nor have I ever been, religious. It’s not that I find the subject objectionable or anything, but rather that I was raised in an irreligious household. Talking about religion or God or whatever in my family home made about as much sense as discussing astrophysics or Dostoevsky; we were a secular bunch, sure, but by no means were my parents considered intellectuals.
It turns out that I am not the only one. According to a study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, about 15 percent of Americans identify as non-religious, atheist and agnostic. To put it in perspective, that’s nearly five times as many than those who classify as Jewish (though some view being Jewish as also being an ethnic term without any sort of religious connotation).
Before moving to Socorro, however, there was a time when I was attending services at the First Unitarian Universal Church in Albuquerque. I also didn’t view the services as typical sermons carried on by a preacher spreading the word of God or whatever, but rather as a well thought lecture delivered by a member of the intelligentsia. In other words, it was like going to a college class that you’re actually pretty excited about attending.  Whatever. I’m feeling stoked now.
I’m not surprised by what I discovered inside. There are 16 members of the UU branch of Socorro already in the meeting room, and not one of them – barring a couple of children whose family members brought them – is anywhere close to my age. I don’t consider myself young, of course, though I do sort of represent the key demographic that media outlets target. And by no means am I back at the megachurch that I used to attend with my girlfriend, who self-identifies as a Christian. (You see, I really don’t have a problem with religion.) Weekly attendance at those churches puts the David-esque UU congregations to shame.
Anyway, I don’t care about the disparity in age – and perceived ethnicity (I am also the only one in the room – barring one of the children – who would be classified as being a “person of color”) – because I actually do find it charming that the UU church has a branch – albeit a small one – in Socorro. Not many cities with populations fewer than 10,000 can make that claim.
Although I am staunchly an introvert, I muster the courage to make the rounds and introduce myself to a few of the other parishioners. Soon after, the service begins.
After the lecture, er, service, I’m meeting a few more people also in attendance. I find out that most used to belong to one of the more popular denominations but decided that it was best they part ways and seek spiritual enlightenment elsewhere. For some, though, the UU church is the only church they have belonged to. There are also a lot of people in some way or another associated with New Mexico Tech, which I also don’t find surprising seeing as how most of the UU churches I have attended all seem to attract certain elements of academia.
About half an hour later I leave the church building having met more great people in my new city. I even made some new professional contacts.
And best of all I now know that I’ll have something exciting to look forward to come late afternoon next Sunday.

OPINIO: A Much Belated Thank You Note

Magdalena Potluck
By Don Wiltshire

In my next life, I think I’ll be an Anthropologist. We’re dog-sitting for Pearl, a miniature Boston Bull Terrier. She and our dog, Abby, an Australian Cattle Dog, four times the size of Pearl, have been friends since puppyhood. Like Dian Fossey, I could spend hours watching them work out just who has senior bed-sitting rights. With a minimum of fuss, Pearl always seems to claim the bed for the duration of her visit.
Like Dian’s Gorillas, there is more going on in a dog’s head than we usually give them credit for. They most certainly communicate with each other: vocally, through play, wrestling, posturing, preening, and, of course, the “looks.” An equitable solution is usually worked out as long as each of them gets their fair and rightful amount of attention. If only we could work out solutions to our water rights problems, our unemployment situation and our equitable taxation dilemma with as much care and finality.
At the same time, I’ve been reading Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World by Jack Weatherford. Written in 1988, it is still an eye-opening book.  When Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492, thinking that he was in India, he called the native people “Indians.” When asked where the peppers were that flavored their foods, the Spanish explorers were handed our famous chilies. One thing led to another and for the next 500 years, the food crops, the agricultural techniques, the medicinal plants, medical knowledge and the forms of government developed by the Native Americans have changed the world. At the same time, however, the Native American people have undergone systematic genocide, enslavement and plagues of diseases brought to them from the Old World for which they had little or no natural immunity.
The culture and development of the potato alone was one of the greatest gifts of the Americas to the world. A field of potatoes produces more nutritious food with less labor and with more reliably than the same field planted in almost any other crop. The population of Ireland alone more than doubled in the century following the introduction of the potato to the Emerald Isle. If only the Irish had adopted a mix of the potatoes developed by the American Indians, the effect of the great potato blight of 1845 would have been minimized.
Corn, squash, yams, wild rice, beans, peanuts, chilies, avocados, tomatoes and peppers in hundreds of varieties were all introduced to Europe, Asia and Africa.  They certainly improved the varieties of nutrition available at the time, not to mention the improvement of flavors to rather bland European diets, with the help of vanilla and chocolate. Of all the food crops now in cultivation in the entire world, more than three-fifths of them were developed by the Native Americans.
The American Indians also had their medical kits far more developed than their counterparts in the Old World. Surgical techniques and medicinal remedies derived from plants and barks were in common use throughout the Americas at the time of Columbus’s arrival.
The form of government that had been developed by the Native American people proved to be the greatest gift of all. The Iroquois League of five Indian Nations served as the model for our own Congress. Nothing like it had ever been seen before in the world. It has served as an inspiration of democracy and freedom for all of mankind.
Personal liberty with freedom from authoritarian rulers and freedom from social classes based on the ownership of “private property” or masses of money along with a deep respect for the Earth seem to be the hallmarks of the Native American’s form of government. Problems were discussed in councils where one member at a time got to express their opinion without interruption. The final solutions were arrived at through much thought and compromise. The idea of coupling an extension of unemployment benefits with the extension of tax breaks for the wealthy never even came up. Somewhere along the way we seem to have lost touch with the basic concepts. Perhaps it was our insistence on the concept of “private property.”
So here is my Thank You note to our Native American Brothers: Thank You for all that you have so carefully and thoughtfully provided for us. I’m sorry that we screwed things up so badly for you; that we took your land, slaughtered you, pushed you westward, ignored our treaties, polluted the Earth and just didn’t take the time to understand you. Could you find it in your hearts to help us fix our government again, and get us back on the right track?

The Magdalena Public Library is offering three programs for kids of all ages this year.  On Saturday, Dec. 11, Dinotopia: Quest for the Ruby Sunstone will start at 10 a.m.
On Wednesday, Dec. 15, Prehistoric Planet: The Complete Dino Dynasty will start at 6 p.m.
Santa is scheduled to make a special visit on Saturday, Dec. 18.

If you have any comments, problems, solutions, upcoming events or little doggie crowns for “Queen of the Bed,” contact me, Don Wiltshire, at

OPINION: ‘Bring ‘em On’ not Exclusive Domain of Tyrants

The Pencil Warrior
By Dave Wheelock

On October 30, 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt, nearing the end of his second campaign for president, addressed an enthusiastic crowd of supporters at Madison Square Garden in New York. In a voice that betrayed his patrician northeastern seaboard upbringing, Roosevelt recalled the situation his first administration had encountered in 1932: “For 12 years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government.” The audience of 20,000 cheered its approval. “The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away.” More cheering. “Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines.”
Roosevelt turned his audience’s attention to those who still opposed government that served the middle and lower classes. “Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent to mankind.” He went on to name those powerful influences: “the old enemies of peace – business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs.”
FDR didn’t need to remind the crowd of the savagery of the Depression, but he did anyway: “And we know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.”
As one listens to the speech today, Roosevelt’s defiant pride comes through the scratchy recording. “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today.” And then, in an exultation of defiance comes Roosevelt’s call to electoral battle, and the crowd explodes: “They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred!”
(An Internet search for “FDR I welcome their hatred” will quickly return an audio recording of this speech.)
The rest is history, of course. Although the U.S. economy dipped into recession again in 1937, there is no doubt the government’s involvement in addressing people’s needs and attempting to control runaway financial speculation got the nation’s economy headed in the right direction again.
I believe a solid majority of my fellow citizens are convinced we need more men and women with that spirit in government today. As the arguably false hopes many of us held for Barack Obama to lead that charge fade, there is a tendency to believe Roosevelt’s type died with his times.
Enter Bernie Sanders, an Independent Senator from Vermont, with some very “uncustomary” words on the floor of the Senate on November 30, 2010. In a 13-minute speech that’s still stirring rave reviews around the blogosphere, the white-haired senator with the thick Vermont accent delivered a frank assessment of the state of things in Washington and beyond:
“There is a war going on in this country, and I’m not referring to the war in Iraq or the war in Afghanistan. I’m talking about a war being waged by some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country, against the working families of the United States of America, against the disappearing middle class of our country.”
With diction that probably wouldn’t threaten FDR, Sen. Sanders lay bare our mounting income and wealth inequality. “When we were in school we used to read the text books that talked about the banana republics in Latin America . . . in which a handful of people owned and controlled most of the wealth of those countries. Well, guess what? That’s exactly what is happening in the United States today. . . . We talk about a lot of things on the floor of the senate, but somehow we forget to talk about who is winning in this economy and who is losing.
Bernie called out Congressional Republicans, their allies and their lobbyists on their demands to keep tax rates for the wealthiest Americans at historic lows, eliminate the estate tax, send more jobs overseas, lower corporate tax rates, stay the course in Iraq and Afghanistan – and balance the budget.
“Gee, how we gonna do that? We’re gonna cut back on health care, we’re gonna cut back on education, we’re gonna cut back on child care, we’re gonna cut back on PELL programs. We just don’t have enough money for working families and their needs – we’re gonna cut back on food stamps. We’re surely not gonna expand unemployment compensation. We’ve got a higher priority . . . we’ve got to – got to – got to – give tax breaks to billionaires. I mean, that’s what this whole place is about, isn’t it? They fund the campaign; they get what’s due them.”
Unlike FDR’s Bring It On speech, you can see and hear Sen. Sanders’s speech at his website, See if it isn’t like therapy to watch Bernie in action.

Dave Wheelock, a member of the Oneida Nation, is a collegiate sports administrator and coach living in Socorro. Reach him at Mr. Wheelock's views do not necessarily represent those of the Mountain Mail.

Huge First Quarter Buoys Lady Steers to Tourney Consolation Win

By Kyle Smith
For the Mountain Mail

The host Magdalena girls’ basketball team, playing in the consolation bracket of the Steer Stampede Tournament for the first time in several seasons, defeated Alamo 77-20 on Saturday, Dec. 4.
The Lady Steers used a strong full court press defense to force several the Cougars to commit costly errors, such as poor ball control, catching, and shooting. This helped Magdalena to score 50 first-half points.
The Lady Steers opened the first quarter on a 21-3 run. Magdalena continued this torrid scoring pace by leading Alamo 29-9 in the second quarter, giving the Lady Steers a lofty 50-12 halftime advantage.
Thanks to 12-0 run that started at the end of the second quarter and went into the third, The Lady Steers outscored the Cougars 23-1 in the third quarter. At that point Magdalena coach Wally Sanchez put in the JV squad to finish out the game.
Kameron Armstrong scored 19 points, Camille Mansell had 15, and Alicia Amijo chipped in with 12 for the Lady Steers (3-2).
Magdalena next plays in the Alice King Memorial Tournament in Moriarty from Dec. 9 to 11.
In an earlier consolation game, Magdalena beat the Rio Rancho junior varsity squad 50-11.
The Lady Steers were able to use their strong full court press defense to take advantage of several Rams miscues, such as poor passes, poor ball control, poor catching, poor rebounding, and problems shooting.
Magdalena opened the game with a 17-0 run. The Lady Steers built on that lead, going into the second quarter with a 24-2 advantage.
Early in the second quarter, Rio Rancho was able to trim the lead to 28-4, however, that’s as close as the Rams got. The Lady Steers led 38-4 at halftime.
Riding the wave of a 10-0 run to start the third quarter, Magdalena outscored the Rams 7-0 in the third quarter, and then went on a 17-0 run in the fourth.
Rio Rancho didn’t score again until the 2:58 remaining in the fourth quarter, trimming the deficit to 48-6. The Rams, however, were able to outscore the Lady Steers’ JV squad, 7-5, in the fourth.
Kameron Armstrong scored a game-high 14 points, Alicia Armijo had 13, and Nicah Montoya chipped in with five.

Magdalena Boys Can’t Tame Tigers in Tourney Final

By Kyle Smith
For the Mountain Mail

Playing in the Steer Stampede Tournament championship game for the third consecutive season, as well as playing against Hot Springs for each of those seasons, the Magdalena boys basketball team looked to repeat as champions.
Not this time, as the host Steers came up short in a 42-30 loss on Saturday, Dec. 4.
Both teams traded the lead several times in the first quarter, which ended at 6-6.
Hot Springs took an 18-15 advantage into halftime. The Tigers kept this momentum going into the third quarter.
Hot Springs went on a 3-0 run to begin the quarter, resulting in a 23-16 deficit at the end of the third quarter. Magdalena then quickly fell more behind, allowing the Tigers to go on an 8-2 run to open the fourth quarter.
The Steers then caught fire, outscoring Hot Springs 12-8, to make it 39-30 with about 1:30 remaining in the game.
Then, with 1:14 left on the clock, Magdalena lost its inside man as Miles Parscal fouled out. Parscal finished with a team-high 11 points and three blocks for the Steers (3-2).
Due to late fouls committed by the Steers’ defense, Hot Springs added three more points before the end of the game.
Duster Apachito scored 10 points, and Parscal and Kendall Apachito were both named to the 2010 All-Tourney team for Magdalena.
The Steers play on Thursday, Dec. 9, at Mountainair. Their next home game will be against Carrizozo Saturday, Dec. 11.

Warrior Invited to Football Combine

Mountain Mail reports

Ray Vaiza of the Socorro High School football will be spending this Christmas about 2,000 miles away from home.
But Ray Vaiza won’t be sipping egg nog and singing carols in some far off destination. Instead, the junior defensive back for the Warriors was invited to participate in the National Underclassmen Football Combine All-World Classic in Charleston, S.C.
He and his father, Ray Vaiza Jr., will depart for South Carolina on Dec. 25, and plan to spend a week there.
However, the combine does not pay for travel expenses such as airfare lodging. Vaiza and his family are hosting a dinner on Saturday, Dec. 18, to raise money for the trip. For more information about the time and place of the dinner, call 575-418-0156.

Local Bistro Cooks Up European Style Dishes

By John Larson

The dictionary defines bistro as “a small, modest, European-style restaurant or cafĂ©.” That was the inspiration for the Old Town Bistro, the restaurant J.P. and Terry Moore decided to open in the historic Baca House, previously occupied by the Stage Door Grill.
“We wanted it to have an old world ambience, with a variety of continental food, as well as New Mexico favorites,” J.P. Moore said. “We also serve espresso drinks for late night coffee drinkers.”
The Moores reside just down the street where they operate the Socorro Old Town Bed and Breakfast at the corner of Bernard and Baca Streets.
“I live just down the block and walk past here everyday,” Moore said. “When the Stage Door Grill closed, I would find myself hoping that a new restaurant would open with good food.
“We decided to do it ourselves to make sure it had good food.”
The restaurant opened without fanfare for lunch Tuesday, Nov. 7.
As for the quality of the food, Moore said he was able to acquire the services of former Albuquerque chef Jim Greer. “We first met when I took a science class at UNM in the early seventies,” Moore said. “Jim was the professor, but he’s also one of the best chefs in the state.”
Greer told the Mountain Mail he has been cooking professionally “on and off” for about 50 years.
“One of my first jobs cooking was when I was hired as a chef at a country club while I was in college,” Greer said. Later, Greer became the head Chef at Casa Vieja in Corrales, “at one time, the finest restaurant in the Albuquerque area serving continental cuisine.”
And after that, he worked at Gallery International Cuisine on San Pedro in Albuquerque.
The restaurant’s cuisine is varied, ranging from New Mexico Parmigianino to Thai Delight.
“We will also be featuring specialty dishes from Fettuccini Cellini to Mandarin Press Duck,” Greer said. “The Fettuccini Cellini and other presentation meals will be personally served by me at the table.”
Old Town Bistro manager Erin Moore said there are plans for returning live music to the main dining room. “As everyone in Socorro knows,” she said, “this location has a reputation for great live music, and we have already installed a sound system.”
Ronna Kalish, of the band Roon, said the local musicians she’s talked to were looking forward to the venue coming back. “I know the music community would be thrilled to be a part of it,” she said. “We all want this to succeed.”

Picture: Chef Jim Greer prepares an espresso at the Old Town Bistro. Manager Erin Moore said after the dinner hours the restaurant would be like a “late night coffee house” in the evening. The Old Town Bistro is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Photo by John Larson


Socorro Police On Lookout For Toys

By John Larson

The Socorro Police Department is in the process of collecting toys and donations for its annual Toys From Cops To Tots program.
According to police Capt. Angel Garcia, there are many children in the area that have benefited from the yearly project.
“The reason we do this is simple – we want the underprivileged boys and girls of the community to have a little happier Christmas,” Garcia said.
He said the entire police force tries to get involved.
“Just before Christmas we take Santa Claus around in the police van to the children’s homes,” he said. “The kids will then see Santa himself come to their door with a gift.”
Both individuals and local businesses are getting involved, Garcia said. “We will also accept monetary donations to purchase toys.”
“Right now we have a shortfall on toys,” he said. “We get with the people at CYFD for families that are most in need. We’re trying our best to supply all children with something nice.”
Garcia said they are in need of toys of all types and “all age groups.”
For more information or to make a donation, contact the Police Department at 575-835-1883.
All donations must be made by Dec. 19.
“We’ll get toys to the kids no matter where they are, and try to make this a happier Christmas for them,” Garcia said.

School Employees Face New, Tougher Retirement Policy

By John Larson

Employees of most public schools, including New Mexico Tech, Socorro Consolidated Schools, and Magdalena Schools might have wait until they put in 35 years of service before they can collect retirement benefits, if recommendations by the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board are approved by the state legislature.
According to a press release from the Retirement Board, the Legislature established a task force in 2009 to study New Mexico’s public retirement plans and prepare solvency plans and recommendations.
Recommendations were made public this week, which include raising the number of years a person is employed from 25 to 35 years, raising member contributions to 9.9 percent of salary, and reducing benefits by 2.4 percent if retirement is before age 60.
The changes would not apply to employees who are within three years of retirement under the current plan. The proposals can be viewed online at 
A final vote on the retirement plan will be taken by the Board on Dec. 17.
The NMERB will hold a public comment session on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 4 p.m., at Central New Mexico Community College’s Smith Brasher Hall, located at 717 University Blvd. SE in Albuquerque. The session is open to the public.

December Skies

By Jon Spargo
Tech Astronomy Club

This month we’ll lead off with news of a spectacular Lunar Eclipse that will be visible from all of North America during the night of Dec. 20 to 21. This is going to be a beauty with totality lasting for one hour and 12 minutes. We will be able to see the entire eclipse from beginning to end. Mark your calendars because this won’t happen again in North America until April 2014.
The fun starts at 10:55 p.m. (MST) on Dec. 20 when the Penumbra will first be visible. At 11:33 p.m. the partial eclipse begins followed by totality beginning at 12:41 a.m. Dec. 21. Mid-eclipse occurs at 1:17 a.m. and totality ends at 1:53 a.m. The partial eclipse ends at 3:01 a.m. and the Penumbra will be last visible at 3:35 a.m.
This month also brings the Geminid Meteor shower during the night of Dec. 13 to 14. The Moon will be just past first quarter and will set around midnight. This is one of the more productive meteor showers and can rival the Perseids for the number of meteors seen. The Geminids will appear to originate from near Castor and Pollux in the constellation Gemini. The peak should be about 2 a.m. on Dec. 14 when you could see an average of about two meteors per minute.
This month Jupiter, Uranus, Saturn and Venus are the stars of our planetary show. Jupiter is high in the southern sky at sunset. At the beginning of the month, Uranus is three degrees east of Jupiter. By month’s end, Jupiter will have moved to within a mere 40 arc minutes of Uranus making it a great opportunity to see both planets with a small telescope.
Saturn rises around 2 a.m. and its rings have opened to a tilt of 10 degrees, the best in several years. Venus, at magnitude -4.9, rises about three hours before the sun and will knock your eyes out with its dazzling brilliance. A small telescope will reveal that the percentage of illumination of the planet will grow to about 45 percent by the end of the month.
From Dec. 18 to 20, the nearly full Moon will be found skimming past the Pleiades and the Hyades (Taurus) clusters winding up between the two stars that form the tip of Taurus’(The Bull) horns. Owing to the brightness of the Moon, it will be a challenge to see these constellations and stars. A good pair of binoculars will help.
The night of the Dec. 21 to 22 will be the longest night of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere and will mark the Winter Solstice, which begins at 4:38 p.m. on Dec. 21.

Letters To Myscie: A Western Love Story By Suzanne E. Smith

Part 13 of a Series

Letters to Myscie is a true story. It reveals to us a “yankee’s” view of the area and the times, and the impact it had on newcomers.
Suzanne E. Smith

Saturday morning
Socorro, N.M.
In my room
May 12, 1883

My dear dear Myscie
Your loving letter telling me about the fire came this morning. I was so glad to hear from you again before I left town, because it seems so long to look ahead and think I will not be able to get another for perhaps two whole weeks. Myscie I can't help thinking how good you have been about witing to me ever since I came out here. On our way in last Wednesday we stoped at the Magdalena camp, left Jim (I will tell you how he came to be with us after awhile) and got the mail. I had three letters there waiting for me all from you my dear Myscie and some papers. After we got the mail, we came right away so I read them while we were riding in. Clate said I was two hours reading them. Well, I don't know but I was, for some of them I read over twice and I took my time about them all and a pleasanter or happier two hours I haven't spent since I came to New Mexico. Myscie they were the best letters you have written me. So full of love and trust and confidence and they did me so much good to read them and know your true loving self, dear dear Myscie I know how much you love me, how much you miss me and how you would love to see me. I know it all and it is mutual; it could not be less so on my part. Dear Myscie you shall never regret this love nor this trust and I shall always strive to make you so very very happy, Myscie. Do you know I am all the while looking forward to and picturing to myself our future happy home. Oh Myscie, my dear dear girl, how happy we shall be and how we will strive to make it so pleasant for each other. Such thoughts as these are continually going through my mind. I can not help it. I don't wish to help it, for they make me so happy and willing and so anxious to do all I can.
You mentioned in one of your letters Myscie about the letter I wrote to Vence. Yes I did write to him. I like Vence, he asked me to write when I came away. I promised I would and as I was feeling just like it one day, I did sit down and scribbled quite a letter off to him, but about the contents, I don't think at least I don't remember of writing him anything I would not be writing for you to read. Myscie of course I did not write about the same things entirely that I would write to you, neither do I write to you about some of the things perhaps that I wrote to Vence because they would not interest you as there are rough sides, bad sides and hard sides of life in this country that you would not care to know and yet I would be willing to write to you about them if I thought they would interest you. I take little interest in them myself and try and keep out of the hard places as much as I can for I have seen many samples of the ease with which boys are led in to utter ruin out here in no time. Gambling, drinking etc, etc is the past-time of most all, and it is hard to be clever and be liked (and one must be clever and liked or else he is U.G.?) with out falling into these H--- holes all over. I have little fear, and yet I don't care for those experiences only so far as they may help me to get on with others. Now for instance last evening, I fell in with about eight of some of the best boys of the city; they were out on a "lark". I could not get away from them after they had caught sight of me with out playing the wrong card. I knew that some time I may want to use some of them and they will stand by me. I also knew what it meant to get in with them, but I could work that all right which it did about 9.30 in a very clever way and went to my room with the good use of all the boys and yet all OK myself.
The boys from what I hear this morning did have a pretty hard time before the night was over as I anticipated. Now this was the best thing for me to do, as I did do. Yet there was quite a risk to me because it's easier to get in with the boys than to get out after you are over in, but I had no fear for I have been there before.
Myscie trust me in these things, for I would be willing for you to know all my out side experiences here if I thought they would interest you. I always have you in mind my dear dear Myscie and do nothing that can reflect on you or that I would not be willing to tell you all about. I know you do trust me in these matters or I should say more. So about Vence's letter though it was not like I would write to you Myscie, Yet I know of nothing I wrote I would not be willing for your eyes to read for I am careful what I write always. Myscie I am real glad you have written to mother. You are so good to and is with out my asking you too, but I wish you would tell me what you wrote her Myscie. I know how you have under-rated yourself to her from the very start and now it's my time to write to her. You have given her your standard and your description and now I want to give her my opinion of my little girl. There she can put the two together and form her own opinion.
Myscie your letter this morning was full of the "blues" but no more so and perhaps not as much so as I had expected, for I know how sad it must make you all. But don't get discouraged dear Myscie for it never will do and don't give up your music for it is one of your best and dearest friends at all times. You know this yourself and last of all you must not give up going to Boston. It may seem just now out of the question, but you must not give up the idea Myscie. Where there's a will, there's a way you know, September is a long way off you know yet. Do you know what I am calculating for you to do this summer Myscie? I want you to spend next August in Rockland Mass at my house. They would be so happy to have you visit with them. It is the best time to visit on the sea shore and we do not live far so you would have a grand good time and I know it would be so good a change for you on the health question. Myscie do you know you worry me? Dear Girl you are all not well that is sure. You have no business or right, a young girl like you to be as unwell as you have been the past four or five months. You need a rest and a change and you must have it. You may laugh but it is truely so and if you will stop and think about it you can't but say so too. Myscie you must keep your health, let that be the first thing. Now about you going East this summer.. You must not say no to me Myscie. Don't say you can't or that it will never do, for it will do. By that time you will be well acquainted with my mother and I know you will not hesitate if she asks you to come, as I know she surely will do. Uncle, Auntie and my two cousins Jessie and Authur are to be at grandpa and grandma Smith's all summer, July and August so you will meet them for father will surely take you down there and they live right on the coast, where there is bathing and sailing and fishing untill you can't rest. This change will do you so much good dear Myscie, and I want you to consent to go and you will won't you?
Have you told your mother about our engagement Myscie? I thought perhaps you had by some things you wrote in your last two or three letters. I have not had a chance to write to her as yet, but shall very soon, as quick as we get settled down from running all over the country as we have been doing for the past three weeks. We have traveled over four hundred miles during the past three weeks. Give my love to your mother and tell her not to worry about her boys out here for we are all right.
Jim is going out and stop with me for a little while I guess we will stop for him when we go back. He has been a little blue I guess for some time back for he has been promised jobs several times and has lost hem each time some how. I have been rather fortunate in this way some how for I have had several good chances offered me with out hunting them.
How would you like to know what we have been doing the past two or three weeks? I can tell you in a very few words= Locating Ranches= That is just puting up notices of possession not all for our selves but in other parties names. When you knew of me last was the first night-after we started out when we camped at the "Milk Ranch" and where I wrote you a letter, the next day we went out forty miles, reached "Snake Ranch" about noon. We were doing so well we pushed on thinking we could reach what is called "White water spring" by dark, but night over took us and we were obliged to make what is called a dry camp. This is to camp with out water. We had had no water since noon except about two quarts which we carried with us in a canteen for drinking purposes. We drove about an hour after dark but finally gave it up for fear we would loose the trail as we could follow it with great difficulty in the dark. I wish you could have seen us winding along in the "foot hills". (There are small hills and swells which are found at the foot of every mountain range) I was on horse back picking out the trail and Mr. Cowles following with the team. We made our camp on a sort of a plain between two foot hills. This was my first experience in camp life. The first thing we did was to unhitch the horses, feed them and then turn them out to grass "lariat" them as we call it. That is we put a long rope around their neck and tie it to a stick fastened to the ground so they can feed and yet so we can find them in the morning. Next was to build a big fire and make our bed. There were lots of scrub cedar trees all about us. We cut down lots of these, some for fire wood and some were piled up all around us on three sides of the fire and made a sort of little house. In this we spred our blankets on the ground for a bed and after we had eaten our supper which I will not attempt to describe just here, we turned in for the night, with our camp fire burning. 

To be continued…

Picture: Saloon (speculated to be the Hilton)©J.E. Smith

Holidays Mean Open Season on Cookies

Fork Tender
By Nancy Newberry

The holidays are here – it’s open season on cookies, and I have a bird dog’s nose for a good cookie. I have standards: most cookies should be crisp outside, tender, even succulent inside. Unfortunately, altitude can shoot that standard full of holes. Every cookie recipe I made last year – save one – turned out rock hard and dry.
So in comes the idea of a Cookie Exchange, and I take this to mean two things: first, we’ll talk about how to hold a Cookie Exchange party. Then, we’ll take the concept further: Cookie Exchange as Exchange of Ideas and Culture.
Holding a Cookie Exchange party is simple: Email or call your friends, co-workers, or members of any group that you meet with. Invite them to bring a large batch of their favorite cookie (generally ½ to 1 dozen for each attendee, plus a dozen to taste during the party), with copies of the recipe to share, and set the time and place. Provide some backup zipper bags and paper plates for taking cookies home.
It’s also nice to offer something salty to snack on, cheese, nuts, or olives, to counteract the sweet. Each person bakes one kind of cookie, and goes home with many kinds, a maximum variety for a minimum of work.
I have been the unacknowledged Queen of the Exchange, and this is how: My secret weapon is the homeliest cookie on the plate, my home state cookie, a dark lump called The Michigan Treasure Cookie. The concern on my fellow bakers and decorators’ faces says, “Really? That cookie doesn’t look very festive! I kinda thought you were a better baker than that.” Then they taste them. An explosion of chocolate and dark cherry changes a lot of minds. And guess what – this is the one cookie I’ve made up here at 7200 feet that works!
I’ve also been playing with New Mexico’s favorite cookie, the biscochito, and my first attempts did not match the outrageously good version I found early last summer at the Socorro Farmer’s Market. They had the altitude problem: hard and dry. All the recipes I read, online and in cookbooks, were nearly identical, too, with the same proportions of flour, fat, sugar, and eggs. The only variation was in the choice of butter or lard as the fat ingredient. So I decided to work up my own version, with the help of my favorite culinary hunting guide, Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen.
McGee says that at high altitude, because air pressure is lower, the bubbles created by leavening break faster and more easily, so I decided to reduce the amount of baking powder. Water boils at a lower temperature up here, so the moisture leaves a cookie before it is really cooked. I made three other adjustments to counter this effect: I increased the egg, reduced the sugar, and raised the oven temperature by 25 degrees F. In addition, I performed one more experiment for you: I made one batch with lard, the traditional fat, and one with butter.
I belong to the Michael Pollan school of thought that says that butter and lard are both good for you, because they are traditional fats that humans have eaten for a long time.
The results: Both biscochitos rose nicely, were crunchy outside, and maintained a moist center. I’d say the cookie made with butter is a great sugar cookie, but not a true biscochito. Those made with lard had the signature sandy texture of my first biscochito experience. I think the hunt’s been a success.
So this is what I have to offer you: two tested recipes for great cookies, and my best tips for managing high-altitude cookie baking. I’d love to hear from you, too: what works for you? Shoot me an email (, and I’ll publish good hints, great cookie recipes, and ideas in a future column.

Biscochitos With Altitude

Makes: 1 ½ dozen small cookies
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup lard or butter
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon anise seed, lightly crushed
1 egg
1 tablespoon brandy
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Cream the lard or butter and the 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar until smooth. Stir in the anise seed, egg, and brandy. Stir in the flour mixture, working quickly to make a soft dough.
Whisk together the 3 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Roll the dough out to 1/3-inch thickness on lightly floured surface, and cut into small shapes with a cookie cutter. Dredge the cookies in cinnamon sugar, and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake until the bottoms of the cookies are pale golden, about 11 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely on a wire rack.

Michigan Treasure Cookies

Makes: 3 dozen
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups dried sour cherries
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
Additional granulated sugar to roll dough in before it bakes.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; set aside. Beat the butter, 1 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the flour mixture, 1/3 cup at a time, until it is all used, scraping the sides of the bowl between additions. Stir in the chocolate chunks and cherries. Cover the dough and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll chilled dough into golf-ball-sized balls. Roll the balls in granulated sugar; place 3 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Gently press with the bottom of a glass to flatten slightly.
Bake in the preheated oven just until cookies are set, 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven to cool for 5 minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Nancy Newberry arrived in Magdalena from Seattle about a year ago, where her DIY food exploits are, while not quite legendary, pretty daring. She has worked in coffee shops and deli kitchens, cooked for camps and field trips, and worked as a site producer for the #1 Food and Entertainment website on the web,

Scrooge Sylvia Battles Idea of Depressing Ides of Santa Claus

By Anne Sullivan

“Look out, Sylvia. Watch where you’re walking,” I yelled at her.
“Where can I walk?” she retorted. “There are boxes and papers all over the floor.”
“I’m getting the Christmas boxes ready to go out,” I said. “You’ll just have to watch where you walk for a week or two.”
“Or forever. There is altogether too much stuff in this house. Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, no matter what the season,” she grumped while trying to disentangle a length of red ribbon from her paw.
“You’ll sing another tune when Santa fills your stocking with treats and joy.”
“Treats I’ll accept. Joy is something I do not associate with Christmas.”
“No joy to the world?” I teased.
“None whatsoever. Christmas is simply something to be endured like winter’s endless snow and cold.”
“However did you get to be so cynical, Sylvia? If you continue to repudiate Santa like that, he’ll be loathe to put anything in your stocking.”
“Pshaw. Santa is a myth.”
“Don’t let Gordo hear you. He still believes.”
”Ah, youth. As they say, pity it’s wasted on the young.”
“As well as cynical, you’re very philosophical these days.”
“I think it’s the cold,” she said. “It gets in my bones.”
“Mine, too, I must admit. Could I warm up a biscuit for you? It might help.”
“Sounds like an excellent idea, boss. The Vitabone ones should take the heat well. A warm biscuit on a cold day. That’s a good title for a book, isn’t it?”
“Yes it is. Are you thinking of writing another book?”
“A real author always has a book in the works – or up the sleeve, so to speak. The only problem is: I can’t think of anything to write about.”
“The writer’s lament,” I commiserated with her.
“Too true,” she said, an all-too-prevalent tear forming in her eye.
“You mustn’t let seasonal depression get the better of you, Sylvia. You must fight it with all your might.”
 “By joining it. By decorating your doghouse and the surrounding porch. By putting up a tree. By sending cards to all your friends and fans. By giving presents to everyone you know – especially me.”
Sylvia’s expression was a combination of sorrow and stubbornness. “I can’t send cards to all my friends and fans,” she complained. “I don’t even know who some of them are much less having an address the post office will accept and I have to use the money I earn for dog and cat food. I haven’t any left over for stamps which are so expensive these days.”
“They certainly are, “ I said. “I remember when you could send a postcard for a penny and a letter for three cents.”
“You do?” Sylvia sounded incredulous. “Did the Pony Express deliver your mail in those days?”
“No, we had mail carriers who walked carrying heavy bags full of mail all over New York City. What’s more, they had deliveries every day. Why, you could mail a letter in the morning and it would be delivered across town that very afternoon.”
“I guess things were different in the Old World,” Sylvia said with a sigh. “Do you think it would be proper if I wished all my readers and friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in my column?”
“I think that would be very proper and much cheaper than sending cards.”
“Consider it done. That way, I’ll get my cards out before anyone else.”

Rummage Sale, Senior Center, Santa’s Workshop, Basketball, and Cantata

Quemado Connection
By Debbie Leschner

Western New Mexico Veterans Group Rummage Sale will be held Saturday, and Sunday (Dec. 11 and 12) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Veteran’s Hall located at the corner of Baca and Church Streets. All proceeds go to help local veterans, their families, and the renovation of the hall.

Women’s Fellowship Luncheon will be held Tuesday, Dec. 14, at noon in the Cowboy Church, located off Hwy 32 near Quemado. All women are invited to come.

Quemado Senior Center pool practice and exercise on Tuesday, Dec. 14; decorating for the Christmas party on Wednesday, Dec. 15; quilting and bingo on Thursday, Dec. 16; and exercise on Friday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. The center’s Christmas Party will be on Thursday, Dec. 16. Lunch for Monday – tuna casserole; Tuesday – chicken fingers; Wednesday – red bean burrito supreme; Thursday – baked ham with gravy; and Friday – hot turkey sandwich with gravy. All seniors are welcome. Please call the center at 575-773-4820 before 9 a.m. to make your lunch reservations. The center has posted a job opening for a Site Manager, as Diana will be leaving us at the end of the month. You may pick up an application at the center or in the Reserve Senior Center office. The application deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 21. For more information on the job, please call Nan Skelton at 575-533-6676.

Quemado Schools Santa’s workshop is Monday and Tuesday (Dec. 13 and 14) between noon and 2:00 p.m. If you have any old Christmas cards or ones you are not going to use, the art classes can use them. Please drop them off at the school’s front desk to the attention of Kathy Candelaria.

Basketball games for the week: Boys and girls junior high teams will each play a home game starting at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 16, against Pine Hill. On Friday, Dec. 17, the boys and girls varsity and junior varsity teams will each play a home game against Ramah starting at 4:00 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, is a busy day for our teams, starting with the boys and girls junior high playing at home against Cliff at 10 a.m. At 2:00 p.m., boys and girls varsity and junior varsity teams play Mountainair. This is also Homecoming night.

Last Chance to get your tickets to win a registered yearling filly and help the Cowboy Church raise some money to help the building fund of the church. Bettbesatton, her registered name, was born in May 2009 in Pie Town. She is a sorrel mare and is owned by Jim and Janet Leslie of Pie Town. The Leslie’s grandson, Jacob, is in the process of halter breaking her. The tickets are being sold for $5 each, or five for $20, and can be obtained from any member of the church or by calling 575-773-4119. The drawing will be held on Dec. 19. You do not need to be present to win.

A Christmas Cantata, The Journey of Christmas, will be performed on Sunday, Dec. 19, at 6 p.m. in the Quemado school gym. A community choir of 40 voices, directed by Jerry Armstrong, will sing and tell the story of the journey made at Christmas. Richard Parker is the sound technician. Come share an evening with friends and family to celebrate the reason for Christmas.

Quemado Schools Elementary Christmas Program will be on Monday, Dec. 20, in the school gym.

Other Catron County Activities:
The Reserve Senior Center is holding its Christmas Bazaar on at 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 10. Along with the many craft items, there will be a bake sale and an outside yard sale.

Spreading Well Wishes for a Happy Holiday

Luna News
By Kaye Mindar

Ann Snyder is doing much better now in time for the Holidays and family after her latest fall in October. The Snyder family wishes to thank all who have helped with care and with prayers sent their way.
There are many others in our community who need your well wishes and time, especially at this time of year and as the season turns colder here in the Luna valley.

Dan and Kaye Mindar welcomed a new granddaughter on Dec. 4. Joe and Kendall Mindar of Springerville, Ariz., welcomed Aphton Bale Mindar to their brood.

Luna Volunteer Fire Department
Luna Fire District training meeting was postponed until Saturday. All members are needed to attend and there is a dire need for recruitment of new members in every capacity of service in the department. Please Contact Fire Chief Eugene Snyder for more information. Our fire department is working closely with the county to provide training for department members for them to become increasingly knowledgeable and proficient in the areas of public education, fire prevention, fire suppression, emergency medical services, rescue and other related activities. It is their mission in the coming year to provide members with the necessary equipment and supplies to safely perform their duties. New goals are being set are to develop and provide educational programs to teach our community the services that can be provided by this department; promoting the deterrence of fire through proactive measures vs. reactive service and to encourage fire safe and fire smart activities. Goals of our members to reach firefighter I level certification are a top priority. Luna is working hard to invest in its members and the rewards are ours as a community. Saturday’s training will be driver’s training and certification.

Luna Community Center
Southwest Shooting Authority who has recently moved into the Luna area is sponsoring a disaster preparedness seminar to be held at the Community Center lasting from 9am to 4 pm on Saturday December 11th. Please contact Cope Reynolds for more information. There are only 150 slots available to attend this event. Concessions will be available during the day-long seminar. Be sure to visit their web site at for more information and to see the many other services they provide.

Christmas Events and Services
The Alpine Presbyterian Church will be holding Christmas Eve Mass at 7 p.m., and all are invited to attend services. Flyers have been posted on the bulletin board for more information.
The Luna LDS Church is hosting the annual “Night of Sacred Music” at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12. There will be special choir numbers and congregational participation. Bring your family and friends and plan on a special evening to celebrate the season.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Luna Ward is preparing to host their annual Christmas dinner and program on Friday, Dec. 17. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. Please watch for more information to be posted. This is a great family activity each year bringing friends and neighbors together for the holidays.

Preparedness Corner
Luna has been experiencing weather that fluctuates from the 60s in the daytime to below zero on clear nights. Prepare yourself by adding supplies to your shelves and kits, talk to your family and know how to react to different situations that might come on suddenly, be sure to check your vehicles for travel near and far and carry emergency supplies at all times, dress for the weather, layered clothing is best, and always plan for the unexpected. Remember your pets and animals need proper protection from the weather and altitude too. Have a safe season and look out for yourself, your family and your neighbors.

Quote of the week
“There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”
—Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle