Wednesday, February 27, 2008

From fission-fusion societies to Cosmic Cowboys

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — One of my favorite lines from the late, great series, “The Gilmore Girls” came when Loreli Gilmore’s aunt cautioned her that you can’t leave WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) alone without anything to do for long, “or they’ll start forming clubs.”
Actually, the clubbing urge affects every ethnicity and group of like-minded souls on the planet, and has since the days of the cavemen and women, who probably formed the first clubs to compare clubs. Maybe that’s where the name came from, in fact.
New incarnations of clubs seem to be burgeoning these days. I spent a recent Sunday with more than 100 women in red hats and pajamas, judging a Red Hat Society (RHS) talent contest. I was amazed to find out how much the RHS has grown in the decade since its formation, and since I wrote about the first Las Cruces chapters a few years back. The RHS now has a million members worldwide, including 14 chapters with intriguing names in Las Cruces alone.
“Although we have a lot of silly fun, we know that we play a special part in bringing joy to many lives, and by association, to our own as well,” e-mailed Carolyn Martinez, Queen Mum of the Vivacious Viejas and a member of the Las Cruces Queens’ Council.
One member joked that the group is in quest of world domination. Another explained that good times are the real agenda for women of a certain age who have juggled children, careers and charitable work, and now feel it’s time for some seriously frivolous fun.
With its free-floating FUNventions and offers for anyone to start their own “dis-organization’s” without rules, dues or red tape, I think the Red Hat Society is another sign of new millennium trend toward different ways of gathering; supplementing, and maybe eventually even replacing, the entrenched institutions, secret societies and old boys’ clubs that have dominated the world for centuries.
I call it the fission-fusion society model, named for something I heard about when I lived in Florida in the 1990s. Dolphin researchers were studying the migratory habits of dolphins and discovered the sociable cetaceans had a kind of international club of their own. Every now and again, a few dolphins would break off from the local pod and head out to hang with another pod. There, they’d pick up a few dolphins in the mood to have some new adventures, maybe leave a couple of the visitors behind and set off for yet another adventure.
I observed the Red Hatters in their natural habitat, noting the Lavish Ladies of Las Cruces seem to feel fine about forming conga lines with the Red Hot Roadrunners from Silver City and the Meadowland Matriarchs of Rio Rancho. Many diverse groups happily joined for a can-can at the Hotel Encanto, before heading back to their home pods, maybe making plans to get together later with the Butte Beauts from Elephant Butte, the Hot Toddy Doo Dahs to El Paso, the Sombreros Colorado Scarlets of Alamogordo, or ... well, you get the idea.
There’s a lot of synchronicity involved in all this, whether you call your group a club, a fission-fusion society, a pod, or nothing at all. I was thinking about Jean McDonnell of Tularosa, who is involved with a truly international fission-fusion society with members in Tibet and India, when I ran into a new art gallery owner from Tularosa at one of my favorite pods in Mesilla. When I got back to the office, I found an e-mail from Las Cruces artist Debbie Levy, who told me she and her amigas Karen Currier, Brenda Parish and Nancy Bergman were planning “a fun adventure time” in — you guessed it — Tularosa. Their group has been christened the “Sisterhood of the Tallulah Rose” and they already have a clubhouse (actually a family cabin) and a motto: “What happens in Tulie stays in Tulie.”
I thought about all the ad-hoc clubs and societies I’ve been a part of in my life.
The Scorpio-Aquarian Birthday Club, with Ginger Ness and Carolyn Bunch, has met formally (i.e. with birthday candles) only twice in 14 years.
The Cosmic Cheerleaders spring up all over the planet, usually with a different cast each time, for secret missions as needed. It’s a co-ed group, but the guys usually won’t wear their T-shirts, so you may not know you’ve had a CC encounter. I don’t think the Millennium Blondes or Cosmic Cowgirls and Cowboys have ever had an official meeting, though artist Sallie Ritter and I address correspondence to each other with one or both club references and I believe we agree that we sense we have a discreet but dedicated membership throughout the world, and perhaps the universe.
Search your souls, Millennium Blondes and Cosmic Cowboys and Cowgirls: You know who you are.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

When Doña Anas blow, it’s prime time to go fly a kite

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — I opened the garage door during high winds and was attacked by an eagle, a giant fish, a Navy jet and a ship with red and black sails.
It was my kite collection, jumping off their hooks, wagging their tails, raring to fly.
I can sympathize. This is the time of year when a young man’s fancy allegedly turns to spring thoughts of love. Many of us are just ready for winter to be over.
Even here in high desert country, where the February snow that finally frosted my backyard was bracketed between two 70 degree days and only lasted from about 2 to 3 a.m. If my ancient Michigan snow-alert genes had not activated and awoken me, I would have entirely missed the big blizzard of ’08.
I feel embarrassed even mentioning it to anyone but my Florida relatives.
Loved ones in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest tell me sad tales of being snowed in for days, in an inaccessible Iowa cabin the snow plows can’t reach, or e-mail photos of a blue VW almost totally buried in the icy Idaho drifts.
Here, all we have to contend with are the blustery Doña Anas, but that’s enough. They may seem refreshing at first, especially since we know they are the dues we must pay for full-tilt spring. But it doesn’t take long to wear us down. We go from being delicately air-brushed to feeling brutally sand-blasted.
We go out to investigate the state of the yard and notice the peeling paint we should do something about, the cracks in the stucco and adobe.
Then there are the piles of debris, organic and manmade, all democratically windblown into my previously neat little courtyard. It’s mostly yucca and evergreens, red rock and bark mulch. There’s nothing much to shed or blow away.
Maybe it’s a matter of balance. I don’t know if it’s true that nature abhors a vacuum, but nature in my neighborhood seems inclined to vacuum up everybody else’s leaves, twigs, leftover Halloween candy, Styrofoam and plastic and airlift it into my yard.
I’ve already done one autumn run with the leaf blower and was saving the next blitz for the end of the worst siege of Doña Anas. But when will that be? Quién sabe? Who knows?
No, I should probably stay indoors, build bookcases to replace the ones that collapsed and organize the closets and throw things away. Then I would finally have room to stash away those holiday and birthday gifts and display the For the Love of Art Month purchases I swore I would not make this year.
But after watching dozens of happy ladies in red and purple doing the can-can and forming a conga line to dance through Hotel Encanto, I found I did not feel guilty at all about lingering with a friend over Sunday brunch and cool jazz at the wonderful new incarnation of Meson de Mesilla.
When I got home, I contemplated spring cleaning, but decided the eagle, fish, jet and ship have the right idea.
Maybe I should just go with the air flow. I think I’ll go fly some kites.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Top 5 Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year?
Sometimes, the best things in life — like love —are conveyed in the simplest ways. Here ‘s a list of top five ways to brighten someone’s day, including your own, on Thursday, Feb. 14.
5. Start the day with a V-Day breakfast. Serve red foods: strawberries or raspberries, red juice (or mix a little cranberry juice with the kids’ milk to rosy things up), scrambled eggs with fiery red chile salsa, and toast or scones with red fruit preserves.
4. Leave anonymous Valentines for your colleagues at work. Make your own or get a kids’ school pack. If you have a mentor at work, honor him or her with a “thank you, teacher” Valentine.
3. Write little love notes and stick them in the kids’ lunch bags, or the pockets or purses of significant others.
2. Wear red, including at least one unexpected accessory: red socks, a red hat or a red rose or carnation in your lapel.
And the No. 1 way to celebrate Valentine’s Day: Say “I Love You” to at least one person.
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Need more ideas? Here are some romantic events coming up. For more, check For the Love of Art Month listings in this week’s Sun Life section or online at
• “Love Letters” at the Black Box Theatre: Eighth annual No Strings Theatre Company production, starring Toni Marie and Mike Cook. Performances on Valentine’s Day will be at 5 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for regular admission, $9 for students and seniors over 65. Info: (575) 523-1223, or
• Treat your Valentine to tea. Las Cruces Friends of Chamber Music Tea at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Victorian Tea Room, 1605 S. Main St. will feature music by Madera Wind Duo, scones, sandwiches and sweets plus a silent auction. Tickets are $30 and must be purchased in advance at the tea room or call (575) 523-7714.
• “Amour, a Multilingual Love Poetry Reading” at Border Book Festival: Multilingual love poetry readings and love songs will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Cultural Center de Mesilla, 2231-A Calle de Parian in Mesilla. Sudeshua Sengupta reads and sings the poems of Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore in Bengali. Others will read in French, German, Spanish and Urdu. Also featured are photos by Daniel Zolinsky from the Border Book Festival archives. The readings will be with emcee Claude Fouillade, French professor and poet from NMSU. Donations accepted. Info: Border Book Festival at (575) 523-3988.
• Wayne Crawford hosts a Valentine Day open Mic at the Bean Coffeehouse, Avenida de Mesilla. Sign in starts at 7:30 p.m. “ Love and love-lost poems are especially welcome on this holiday reading,” Crawford said.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at