Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A month of artistic mini vacations, right here at home

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — It’s become a joke in my family. Whenever we gather for vacations and getaways, the first place I head for, usually before I’ve unpacked my toothbrush, is the nearest museum, art gallery and/or bookstore.
“Hey, mom, didn’t you give at the office?” my son once quipped, though he didn’t complain. He understands.
When I was coordinator of a library network in metropolitan Portland, Ore., he happily accompanied me to bookstores, one of his favorite haunts, too.
When I was in charge of festival marketing for Palm Beach County Council of the Arts in Florida, he cheerfully joined me at assorted fiestas ... even the music ones, even while he was on breaks from touring with his band and later, when he was involved in festival promotions himself.
The artistic apples do not fall far from the creative mother trees.
When my mom, an art and American History teacher, took a break, and during my own stint as an art and crafts teacher, after a long week with students, we both found that nothing was more fun and restorative than curling up with our own arts and crafts projects: painting, sculpture, crewel embroidery, knitting.
I noticed during our last family vacation, there was some healthy diversification, involving the enticing diversions of large bodies of water. We all did a lot of walking: the boys ambled off to fishing holes and grandson Alex the Great, like me, a swimming fanatic, joined me for swims in lakes and pools. We all hiked to galleries and museums and fiestas, of course.
When we returned to the ranch or hotel or B & B, out came the books, the guitars and the arts and crafts materials.
We decided these vacation pursuits did not, as some might think, indicate that we are Type A, sadly work-obsessed individuals. Instead, it’s proof that we’re lucky souls who love our jobs.
And something more: art and creative pursuits in general restoreth one’s soul. The right painting, a bit of music or poetry, a play, movie, novel or eloquent dance move can be healing and inspiring, regenerating your outlook on life, your sense of hope and commitment and your very will to live.
Of course, there are limits, I thought, as I braced myself for the mountain of CDs, media releases and e-mails relating to For the Love of Arts Month. As I wend though the announcements and jpgs and personal e-mails from artists and galleries and event planners, I always get a second wind and make a resolution to budget some time to maybe make some art myself this year, and to get out and see a lot more of what Las Crucens are creating, even if I gave at the office and am arts hopping on my own time.
I remembered the very first FLAM gathering more than a decade ago at the Mesilla home of artist Miriam Lozada-Jarvis, who founded the month-long celebration with sculptor Kelley Hestir and other members of ArtForms.
Arts marketing, along with showcasing and sharing our artistic resources, were goals of that group and each year the February celebration has grown to encompass more activities and more forms of art. I have fond memories of art happenings in impromptu venues, of concerts and poetry readings, an art car parade and a Food As Art extravaganza with artistic, hand-crafted place settings, exotic cuisine and costumed dancers frolicking among the tables.
I love the big and little FLAM exhibits:from the big museum shows to one of my favorite must-see traditions, the Munson Center Mini Gallery for artists over 50, Feb. 17 to 20.
I love the displays in offices and restaurants and the fact that everyone gets into the act: young and old artists, pros and beginners.
In fact, I love For the Love of Art Month. I hope you do, too. Plan some time for a month of artistic mini-vacations and cultural tourism, right in our own backyard.
Watch for listings of special events, art demonstrations, workshops and other For the Love of Art Month events in the Las Cruces Sun-News SunLife section on Fridays during February, in Pulse, online at at Things To Do and in a new 2009 For the Love of Art Month Event Guide. Look for studio tours maps online at the ArtForms Web site at at

Want to lobby for the arts? Georjeanna Feltha sends this: “Quincy Jones has started a petition to ask President Obama to appoint a Secretary of the Arts. While many other countries have had Ministers of Art or Culture for centuries, the United States has never created such a position. We in the arts need this and the country needs the arts — now more than ever.” Sign a petition and, if you’d like, add comments at
Arts advocate Heather Pollard notes: “The New Mexico Finance Committee wants to cut $400,000 from New Mexico Arts” and suggests calling your state legislators to support continued funding for arts programs, especially crucial in a state that depends so heavily on arts and cultural tourism.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Resisting the hiberation urge

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — Sometimes, like last weekend, when I was watching yellow butterflies and guys driving their vintage convertibles and motorcycles around the Mesilla Plaza in 70 degree weather, it’s hard to remember why I always feel like hibernating in January.
My older sister Sally once noted that it’s not true that you forget moments of great pain, like childbirth, because of the happy memories that follow.
“That’s why we each had just one child,” she opined.
We have similar feelings about our PTWSS (Post-Traumatic Winter Stress Syndrome).
If you’re born and grow up in the frozen and gloomy Northlands, the urge to hibernate runs deep this time of year, even if the weather can be almost balmy where you now live.
After walking on the beach in bathing suits during seven years of Florida Januaries, it’s only logical that I should have completely forgotten my urges to crawl into a cave.
In fact, I’ve now lived almost half my life in temperate, even tropical, lands.
But I don’t need postcards from the front lines to remember doing hard time in frigid climes. When I see e-mails of my Michigan brother Tom and sister-in-law Mary in their snowsuits, my mind and soul instantly flash back to horrors of the past: long wintery walks to school, frozen breath and nose, that January at Michigan State when the snowdrifts arched to the second and third story window of our dorms and kids broke their legs, jumping out.
When Dr. Roger e-mails me that Iowa temperatures have dipped to 17 below, but maintains that “real men don’t wear longjohns,” I immediately e-admonish him: “Yes, they do! Protect your assets!”
When my son is snowed in for nearly a week in the Pacific Northwest, I remember those crippling mountain country ice storms, nearly as frightening as the Mt. St. Helen’s volcanic eruptions, and those long, long winter months of drizzly, dim-lit angst, when so many succumbed to Seasonal Affective Disorder, depressed, Vitamin D deprived and chronically crabby.
I think of my friends in Santa Fe and relive my last winter there, which lasted from October to May. I remember the dry, frosty, bone-aching cold, skidding on icy mountain roads and getting stuck in the adobe mud thaws.
People talk of the beauty of winter and I remember a magical Christmas with the cousins at our grandparents’ log cabin resort, with deer lingering picturesquely in the snowfields in front of frozen Lake Margrethe.
And then I mourn for all the wildlife trying to survive this brutal winter. How can Bambi and his mom and dad, or any mammal, survive record cold temperatures that have plunged to minus-46?
I try to explain to natives of gentler lands why caves and cocoons are so appealing this time of year, why it’s hard to talk me into a group hike or even lunch on winter weekends. When you grow up in the frozen tundra, only masochists make plans to go outside when they don’t have to.
January is supposed to be a time of new resolutions and new beginnings, but in fact we are also dealing with a lot of cleanup, maintenance and unresolved issues this time of year. While getting together tax info, bracing for that post-holiday weigh-in, and contemplating spring cleaning, we must face up to harsh realities.
This is true even during weeks like this one, when global warming has smiled on our high desert January, with sunny, bright blue skies, and unseasonable warmth, when a new president has been greeted with hope, optimism and a yes-we-can spirit that’s incomparable in my lifetime.
Of course, President Obama not only did not get the customary honeymoon period generally allotted to our new Chief Executive, but he is also starting the “marriage” with a battered bride pregnant with another guy’s septuplets ... in the middle of a record-hard winter that poses so many cruel challenges and dilemmas, so many wars on so many fronts.
When those dark cave-retreat impulses threaten, I suppose, we can start out by being grateful that at least we do not have to be President. And maybe that will help us summon the courage, skills, energy and determination to help him and ourselves, to remember that the only constant in life is change, and that spring and summer always come around again.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A children’s history museum is my idea for the Amador. What’s yours?

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — It’s been said if you think that history is boring, you don’t live in New Mexico.
History seems to have a drama and immediacy here in the Borderlands, where in a short space of real time, you can wander through lands that have seen thousands of years of diverse cultures and explore territory that has witnessed everything from multicultural settlements, wars and border raids to the birth of the atomic bomb and the space age.
That’s why I’ve done a lot of pondering since I was asked to give my input on the city’s new history museum.
Chuck Murrell, chairman of the Amador Museum Foundation Board, sent a letter explaining that the city and the foundation “have embarked on a transforming venture that will change the role of the historic Amador Hotel in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County.”
Their goal is to “create a first-class museum of history for the people of the region and add to the city’s status as a community at the ‘Crossroads of History.’”
They hope “to build a facility that would be an outstanding addition to the Las Cruces family of museums and a significant educational and cultural resource for local residents, tourists and citizens throughout the region.”
It’s a vast goal ... and there’s a lot of history to try to cover in such a small space.
And there have been some Herculean efforts to do so in our corner of southern New Mexico. Some of the most intriguing attempts at a broad-spectrum approach come from Geronimo Springs Museum in Truth or Consequences and at one of my all-time favorites in many decades as an international museum buff: Deming’s Luna Mimbres Museum, a sprawling slice-of-life emporium that offers everything from recreated Main Streets to an impressive collection of ancient pottery and artifacts, military memorabilia, vintage dolls and toys, automobiles, what has to be one of the world’s most impressive collections of themed liquor decanters and much, much more. T or C has a smaller, but similarly eclectic collection.
In fact, almost all of our regional museums have some impressive historical collections.
We can see collections of space age artifacts at three area museums: Space Murals Museum in Organ, the White Sands Missile Range Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Museum of Space History in Alamogordo. The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum covers much more than agricultural and ranching history in its permanent and rotating collections. The Branigan Cultural Center has a permanent Las Cruces historical exhibit and some nice historical collections featured in periodic exhibits. The Las Cruces Railroad Museum covers an important part of transportation history in a restored depot that’s an exhibit in itself. The New Mexico State University Museum also has an extensive collection of historical objects and artifacts and often focuses on historical and cultural aspects of our region in its exhibits.
The Mesilla Plaza home of J. Paul Taylor and his late wife Mary has been bequeathed by the Taylors as a state museum brimming with artifacts that will offer a vivid picture of how people have lived in the Mesilla Valley. The Gadsden Museum, San Albino Basilica, The Double Eagle and other sites make Mesilla itself a charming little walk through history. A New Mexico Veterans Museum is in the works. El Camino Real International Heritage Center and Ft. Selden Monument focus on other unique aspects of Borderland history. If I had more space and time, I could cite many more examples, from Ruidoso’s Hubbard Museum of the American West to War Eagles Air Museum in Santa Teresa to Cloudcroft’s Pioneer Village.
All this raises some obvious questions: Do we really need another museum that focuses on history? And if, so what’s left?
My answer is yes, and what I’d like to propose is a high-tech children’s history museum. It’s unusual enough to make us a tourist destination. And the size and layout of the Amador leads itself to small scale, intimate exhibits and displays that would appeal to kids.
And in a time when cultural tourism and arts and cultural marketing are hot topics, a children’s history museum could be a terrific focal point and model project to unite some diverse groups with common goals.
What the American Girls historical character dolls and books have done to introduce the historical lives of little girls (from 1764 Kaya of the Nez Perce to 1824 Josefina of New Mexico and Addy Walker escaping slavery in 1864) to new generations, our museum could do to introduce our fascinating Borderland history to the world.
A museum both for and about kids could draw on all the museums I’ve mentioned here and more.
Imagine a journey through kids’ rooms spanning hundreds or maybe even thousands of years, stocked with artifacts on loan from a dozen or more area museums. (A nice cross-marketing strategy to inspire other museum visits.) Think of periodic reenactments, lectures and dramatizations, vintage arts & crafts, historic dance and music, calling on resources of school and community theater and visual and performing arts groups.
And imagine recruiting students from NMSU’s Creative Media Institute and Doña Ana Community College’s film tech program to make dramatic vignettes to show onsite and stream to the world online. Think of teachers using our museum as a way to bring a bit of history alive in their classrooms. That’s the high-tech part, and an inducement to entice families to visit here and stay a little longer.

And I think it could be a great way to turn on new generations to the wonders of museums and history.
What do you think? If you have some thoughts and ideas about a children’s history museum or other suggestions for the Amador, let me know and I’ll pass them on. E-mail me at, write S. Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News, 256 W. Las Cruces Ave., Las Cruces, NM 88004, or go to, click on blogzone, then Las Cruces Style and “comments” at the end of this column. (Or Post your name if you like, or click “anonymous.)
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at or
• Derrickson,

Thank you for your article on the Amador Museum and your opening the discussions on how to use it most effectively. The decisions we make now and during the renovation phase will help us prepare for meeting the ongoing needs and requirements of a dynamic and responsive history museum. The added benefit is the saving of an important landmark, the Amador Hotel, and developing it for reuse to continue serving the Southern New Mexico area.

The City accepted the transfer of the Amador from Dona Ana County some 2 years ago. We have been working with the City and State Legislators to develop the first phase. All officials have been encouraging and now we are starting the first step in the planning of the Amador Museum process.

As you know, the current City Museum system directed by Will Ticknor, has made giant strides in both facilities and exhibits over the last few years. The fact is, however, we have not had a museum solely dedicated to the history of the Las Cruces area and the Mesilla Valley. The individual stories of Prehistory, Spanish Colonization, the Territorial and Frontier period, and Nuclear development as they relate to this area all deserve to be told, preserved, and enjoyed.

The City of Las Cruces and the Amador Foundation have engaged the services of consultants to evaluate 5 areas specific to the Amador Museum restoration and development. Experts in the following areas will furnish a report in July of this year that will include:
Museum Site and Building Planning
Structural Engineering
Interpretive Planning and Exhibit Design
Mechanical Engineering
Cost Estimation

We are beginning that process now. Citizen input and financial support will be needed if we are to be successful. The interest in saving the Amador and the expressed desire on the part of citizens for a history museum has been encouraging. As we receive public input, finalize the plans and estimate the cost more information will be shared with the public when it is available.

We will campaign for funds for this project and trust the public will respond as they have in other worthwhile community projects.

Again, thank you for your interest and know that your invitation for public input is timed just right. As you receive that input you should know I will be more than happy to visit and share where we are in the consultant process.


Chuck Murrell

I read your tory about the Amador & what they could do with it.
I would like to see a Toy Box for Girls-Ladies for dolls, teddy bears, childrens games, doll houses, more fun things you played with some years ago.
I have some that I would like to see in a memory museum. There are others I think would like something like this here.

Nadene Schneider

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Jan. 19 is a day to celebrate creative dreams that come true

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — Where were you on Aug. 28, 1963?
If you’re a Boomer or beyond, it’s one of those iconic days from the 1960s that are forever etched on your soul, like the moon landing on July 20, 1969, or those horrible days that seemed to dash the dreams of an entire generation: Nov. 22, 1963, and April 4 and June 5, 1968, the dates of the assassinations of the legendary leaders we came to know by their initials: JFK, MLK, RFK.
But Aug. 28, 1963, was a happier time, a day of enlightenment, hope, inspiration and transformation: the day that thousands gathered in Washington, D.C., to hear Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his “I have a dream” speech.
Lola Lestrick said she will ask everybody to pause and remember where they were the day of that historic gathering, when she is M.C. at the Doña Ana Branch NAACP’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 19 at Days Inn and Suites. (Today’s the deadline for reservations: see the story on this page for more information.)
Lestrick has vivid memories of her own to share: “I was at Holoman Air Force Base sitting up close to the TV,” she said, and the feelings of hope the speech evoked had an intensity that came again in 2008.
“I remember that back then, I just wasn’t that interested in politics, I guess. Before that, I thought they were all just politicians. But then, after hearing Dr. King, I had more hope than I ever had,” said Lestrick, who’s 76.
The breakfast’s keynote speaker, McKinley Boston, also recalls the speech as a life-changing moment.
“I remember it well. My recollections and life lessons learned are very, very vivid. I grew up in the South, in North Carolina, in a time of whites-only drinking fountains and segregated movie theaters where whites sat on the bottom and blacks sat above. I was arrested for marching in a civil rights demonstration,” said Boston, 62.
The speech was a goosebump-inducing, rejuvenating moment for those of us at the height of the Baby Boom generation, who were just entering adolescence when John F. Kennedy was shot.
We learned early on that the times, they were a-changing ... and that the changes could come at a very high price.
Much is made of the new Millennium generation being the “first” to face terrorists invading America, but of course, that’s not true at all.
Those who fought for change, whatever our race, creed or color, learned that terrorists could be in our own backyard, in our committees, our schools, even next door or in our own homes.
Many remember the 1960s as a decade of rage: an uprising by many groups who have suffered centuries of oppression, discrimination and assorted forms of historic terrorism, from American Indians and Black descendants of slaves to migrant farm workers, women, gays, the poor and others. A caldron of anger boiled up and over. There were blackened cities and shootings of protesting college students, civil right leaders and others who dared to say “no” to the status quo and say “why not?” to dreams of justice and equality.
King was that rare soul who was both an idealist and a realist. He bemoaned a society that spawned “guided missiles and misguided men,” but also stressed our common goals and destiny.
“We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now,” he said.
“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.”
Through it all, King held firm to the principles of non-violent resistance and activism. He was resolute and dedicated. Many of his most inspiriting quotes contain the words “spiritual” and “love” and he stressed that morality and integrity are crucial components of any change that is lasting.
“A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan,” he said. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,” he opined. “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
Creativity is another concept that shows up in King’s quotes and his life path.
“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted,” he quipped. “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better,” he believed. “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
He stressed that the process of change takes deep thought, dedication and hard work.
“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable ... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
Many of King’s writings show he had a firm grasp of what changes were coming, and his own possible fate: “I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.”
He left behind a legacy of wisdom that seems very timely indeed, based on principles that are timeless. As King noted: “The time is always right to do what is right.”
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

Musings on Shopping Season of 2008

y S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — Before we get started here, let me assure the retailers of Las Cruces and the nation that I’m an all-American girl. I love to shop, and while I’m not a shopaholic, I have been known to occasionally shop until I drop, and I’m a big supporter of the holiday season. I’ve also worked as an employee for a big corporate chain and know the stress of being on the retail front lines.
So know that you are not dealing with a heartless curmudgeon when I tell you that I understand why retail sales dropped so sharply this holiday season.
The economy is a big factor, all right, but I don’t think it was the major reason. Maybe Americans are changing their values and thinking about what we truly value. Could it be that tough times remind us of what Christmas is really all about?
It’s time to change your ways, retail dudes, if you want us to change ours. And that goes for car dealers, too. Listen up. There will be some tips for you, too.
First of all, you should understand the difference between hunters and gatherers. I have a feeling many marketing decisions are still made primarily by the hunters, but most of your customers are creative gatherers.
And I emphasize the “creative” part. We are not wimps. We enjoy the search, or would like to, for bargains and perfect gifts and basics and treats for our loved ones and ourselves.
But shopping should not be a blood sport, much less a combat mission. As the tragic events of this shopping season have shown, trying to whip us into a frenzy can be dangerous, even fatal.
In a time when we’re cautious about spending, anyway, you should make it easier and more pleasant to patronize your store, rather than harder and more stressful and hazardous.
Even the hunters and highly competitive souls among my circle of family and friends decided to skip the early bird Black Friday Olympics this year.
In fact, Post-traumatic Black Friday Stress Syndrome convinced me to abandon the season all together, which is why I usually have most of my holiday shopping done (and usually at bargain prices) six months early. That’s real early bird shopping, without stress.
And you should help us, in these troubled times, cope with our stress, not add to it. That means you shouldn’t make us get up at dawn and meet all kinds of fake deadlines and feel like we have to wait in line and jump through hoops to get the best deals. Cut your hours if you have to, but hire a few more employees and pay them a little more, instead.
Take note that while online shopping declined a bit this holiday season, the figures were much better than retail statistics. That’s because online’s easier, and a lot more pleasant, even for those in your prime target groups, those people you’ve been ignoring, neglecting, maybe even abusing. I’m taking about people who like to shop and would still rather stop in person than online and who still control megabucks in this country: Baby Boomers and beyond.
And women. Car dealers, pay particular attention here, because this could be your last chance. I’ve done the research and made the final decision on every new car purchase since I was in my 20s, though I learned to take a guy with me as a “cover” after some very bad experiences. Last time, my guy missed our appointment, and I ended up doing the feint-and-parry dance all by myself. Armed with online research, I actually got a deal pretty close to dealer cost.
But it was an ordeal, and I decided that though I would like to support my local dealers and have a chance to test drive and shop and have intelligent discussions about options, next time, I’ll probably go through an online broker.
When you’re paying that much for something, it shouldn’t be an ordeal. Give us a cup of tea, pamper us a little, be honest and direct and efficient with us and skip at least a couple of rounds in the barter square dance. We’re all online now and probably know as much as you do about how low you (and “the boss”) will go.
Going greener is another big concern for many of us, and we’ve noticed that green shopping experiences are also more pleasant. Lately, I’ve been doing more and more of my shopping for everything from food to gifts and clothing at local crafts and farmers markets, festivals, specialty markets and smaller stores and galleries. Things are fresher, more creative, often cost less, and people are friendlier and more helpful.
Want us to stay with you, retailers? Why not try appealing to the best instead of the worst in us? Let’s declare an end to the era of arrogance and greed and experiment with concepts like integrity, respect, even intelligence. Or if that’s too hard, maybe we could boil it all down to one basic rule. The Golden one.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

For more on this, see a reader's intriguing response to this column that follows:

Another Miminmalist checks in

Hello DMoore -

I enjoyed your story in the Sunday paper about shopping/retailers/shoppers. This Christmas my wife and I did the following: no Elvis xmas cds or any other, no xmas family gathering at our house (2 hours with her family on xmas eve), no check to my mother, no gifts to each other, no outdoor lights, nothing for the 3 little sled dogs (Chihuahuas), no big single gift for us, no travel, no early shopping as on Black day, no living Christmas tree, no church services, no eggnog (only wine), and no caroling. We did Christmas cards and Christmas cookies (wife and sisters) and the fiber optic tree was still up from last year. Does this list depress you?

This was probably the most enjoyable Christmas either of us can recall. I have a lung disease and my wife works hard so some of our avoidance was tactical in order to rest and stay healthy. We went to Kohls to look at stuff and left the stuff there. We did not want any more stuff. We do not enjoy the lines and clerks with their bad attitudes, ignorance, and weak English skills. We find the traffic light; but with the lack of traffic control and with so many uninsured drivers we drive as little as possible and very seldom at night any more. The ads did not raise our pulse rate. The relatives didn't either. I am 64 and the thrill is gone from shopping and exchanging and acquiring and heavy duty visiting during the holidays. I no longer want to buy anything much. My wife is 15 yrs younger and doesn't care to shop except for clothes at stores I can't mention here because she would pound me to a pulp.

So we had a happy and peaceful time. Maybe we are part of a trend that your story partly alluded to. We don't worry about money because we have enough most of the time. We live in a safe and nice neighborhood. We don't ignore the community. We watch out for our neighbors. We read the opinions and we vote - just tired of consuming. We think there may be many more like us. We may be in the vanguard of a population segment that no longer derives satisfaction from America's leading activities - buying and having and owning and displaying. Thanks again for your story. It makes me feel less like a curmudgeon.

I always read your stories because my past is similar. I was born in Michigan - between Flint and Detroit. Spent 12 years with the nuns. Came here in 1964 and keep coming back. I still miss the snow. Usually I dream about it in January; white flakes coming down from a black sky. I miss the cold and the quiet of the winters there. But, here we are hoping you have an inspired and busy 2009 and wanting the same.

Las Crucen L.J.H.