Friday, April 29, 2011

It's easy to celebrate May Day

You’ve shared Cinco de Mayo, Noche de Luminarias, the Whole Enchilada Festival, the Deming Duck Races and so many other unique Borderland fiestas with me. (To say nothing of 24/7 availability of green chile treats, which make every day a fiesta.)
In return, I think I owe you, Las Cruces. And I can deliver.
Do I have a great Anglo fiesta to share with you? I do.
It’s today, but don’t panic. May Day is not a big credit card debt-incursion occasion and you won’t have to rush out to hit the malls for gifts and decorations.
In fact, you probably already have everything you need to create a memorable May Day for yourself and your loved ones, starting with the very newspaper you’re now holding in your hands. (If you’re reading this online, you now have a great excuse to go out and buy the Sunday newspaper, which is still more fun than a cold, hard PC, laptop or smart phone, to stretch out and curl up with in bed or on the couch, or in a hammock on the porch.)
And a newspaper is the only handheld daily informational device that you can transform into a traditional May Day basket.
Here’s how: Take a couple of pages of newspaper, fold ‘em in half, roll into a cone shape and secure with tape or staples. If you want to get fancy, you can fiddle with the cone shape and fold over or trim the opening neatly. Or you can search online and find all kinds of elaborate varations using woven strips of newspaper glued around empty paper towel or toilet paper rolls, cone designs that tuck into themselves and origami variations.
But I say, keep it simple. Once you have the cone, you can make a little handle by taping or stapling a hunk of ribbon, if you have it, or simply fold a few thickness of newspaper to form a strip for a handle.
Now comes the good part. Fill the basket with flowers — from your garden, wildflowers from a walk, pretty silk faux flowers, your own homemade paper posies or some combination thereof, maybe with a little greenery.
Go hang the May Day basket on the door handle of your amigo of choice, ring the doorbell and run like the wind.
If you get caught, the traditional “punishment” is a kiss, so plan accordingly.
That’s all there is to it.
In my family, we went beyond the basics. Both my mom, an art teacher and perennial springtime free spirit, and my sister’s daughter shared a May Day birthday, so it was a big deal and an excuse to go full-tilt medieval Celtic/Scandanavian.
With very little notice — or provocation — I think I could still whip up a daisy chain, floral wreaths and garlands and a respectable Maypole if the demand arises.
Mom used to tie ribbons and scarves to a clothesline pole in the back yard and let us invite all the neighborhood kids to latch on and dance around it. I don’t know if it would hold up with younger generations in the era of advanced virtual reality games, but I personally would still prefer a Maypole dance to an online round of “World of Warcraft.”
Especially on May Day.
So finish reading this newspaper, roll up some cones and fill them with flowers. Whip up a few boutonnieres, a wreath for your hair and maybe a few floral leis or garlands.
Get a posy posse together to distribute the May Day treats to your friends and neighbors.
Take it slow and do your best to get caught and kissed. Then invite everybody over to your casa for a Maypole dance and maybe some honey mead and tea cakes. You can make do with dark beer with a dollop of Mesquite honey, May wine or fruit punch, and cupcakes.
Because all occasions, and especially holidays like May Day that call for maximum euphoria, are better with green chile, don’t forget my traditional May Day favorite: nachos sprinkled with a few edible flower petals and lots of diced hot peppers for the ultimate Maypole dance-green chile endorphin rush.
¡Viva May Day!

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A chile cookbook & other fun freebies

Spring fever hits us all in different ways, but there seems to be a universal urge to get away from our usual routines, kick up our heels and plan breaks and adventures and fiestas, large and small.
It was a week that started with a belated income tax filing deadline, progressed through the Jewish Passover commemoration of deliverance of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and closes with today’s Easter celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In that spirit of freedom from bondage, transcendent spiritual journeys and new starts, there’s a lot to celebrate.
It’s a time to rejoice in the triumph of faith and hope, in highest aspirations of humanity and miraculous soul perspectives that soar beyond the material realm.
It can be hard to remember during an era when budget deliberations seem to be turning into a blood sport, but sometimes, some of the best things in life really are free, especially when you live in the creative Mesilla Valley.
This week, I’d like to share some of my favorite online freebies of 2011, portals to virtual adventures that could help cheer you up through the rest of the year.
The first involves our favorite fruit — or veggie, some say. Personally, I think chile transcends all limiting classifications and should simply be considered nature’s most perfect food, a legal endorphin rush that’s good for what ails you at any time of the day or night.
If you like some new ideas, or a refresher course on some chile basics, check out a free downloadable Chile Cookbook from Linda and David Taylor, who run Guacamole’s and The New Mexico Catalog in Fairacres. For your free copy, go to
And now, how about some uplifting music to go with your chile treats?
If you missed the semi-flashmob experience during February For the Love of Art Month, when more than 100 singers converged on the Las Cruces Museum of Art to make music among the sculptures, the magic (and the music) lingers on in cyberspace.
Jerry Ann Alt, director of New Mexico State Choirs, rounded up singers of all ages from throughout the community. Juan Robles, Jeanne Gleason, Tomilee Turner and Frank Torres worked together to make sure there was a YouTube record for posterity.
Here are three links for a good time.
• Hear “Five Hebrew Love Songs” at
• Enjoy “City called Heaven” and the angelic voice of soloist Guo Ying at
• And finally, check out my fave: “All You Need is Love” at
If you feel like a little getaway and aren’t in the mood to wrestle with luggage or reservations, check out, my current favorite of the online map sites for casual international virtual flights. I recently zipped out to Christchurch, New Zealand, and then checked out some of my favorite old haunts in Europe and the Caribbean. That inspired me to spend a little time in beaches I love in Michigan (Lake Michigan at Muskegon, and my grandparents’ old cabin on Lake Margarethe) before comparing the old growth pines at Hartwick Pines near Grayling to our own Gila Wildnerness.
From there, I headed for the Grand Canyon and Sedona, and decided to take the scenic route home, through Taos, Santa Fe, a leap to Shiprock, and then back to Albuquerque, where I did a quick zoo fly-by and pondered a Sandia Tramway ride before deciding to follow the Rio Grande south as far as Elephant Butte Reservoir.
Then I went soaring over White Sands and hung a left, landing on my own little adobe rooftop.
It’s nice to be back home, where we have a lot more chile and creativity to look forward to as we enter spring in the Mesilla Valley.
Life is good. Happy Easter.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A unified theory of space dust relativity

By S. Derrickson Moore
Let’s blame it all on space dust.
No matter how hard we try this time of year, even the most diligent of housekeepers can’t keep up with the challenges of living in a land where the weather forecasts are frequently “mostly dusty.”
I’m a big fan of the Great American Cleanup, a nationwide campaign to beautify our cities and neighborhoods, and I’m all for picking up as much organic and manmade litter as possible.
But if you’re a newcomer, take it from me: don’t agonize about the household dust, especially this time of year.
I fought the good fight for many years. At the first sign of spring, I was out there cleaning the windows, sweeping the patio and doing my best to keep up with new insulation and sealing technologies and techniques that would keep the fine, gritty and sometimes sticky dusty stuff at bay.
Just last month, I found myself boring friends and colleagues with the news that I just found an inexpensive little vacuum cleaner that finally got my carpets really clean and relatively dust-free for the first time since I’d moved in over a decade ago.
I happily harvested and disposed of canister after canister of dust in my bagless vac until a quick run through the house came up nearly empty.
I was euphoric. Until the next weekend, after a big duststorm (the Las Cruces version of a brownout), when I harvested several canisters of new dust.
Or maybe ancient space dust. A few years ago, I read about scientists who drilled an ice core in Antarctica and documented a record of cosmic dust fall that goes back 30,000 years.
In addition to our own dust (and we all know how bad that can be, here in the primo dust ground zero), it seems we are coping with about 40,000 tons of extraterrestrial dust hitting the Earth every year, and some scientific websites I’ve checked have concluded that’s a very conservative estimate.
I’ve been working on my own unified theory of space dust relativity. And I suspect that, in addition to being a UFO and extraterrestrial magnet, New Mexico gets a lot more than its fair share of ET dust.
Like attracts like, and maybe dust wants to hang out with kindred particles, or is even enticed to blow through beautiful and exotic places like our White Sands, perhaps the hottest spot in the solar system, or even the universe, for vacationing space dust particles.
You have to admit that dust here is capable of some pretty extraordinary feats. Plug in a brand new shiny fan or climb up and clean your ceiling fans and before long they will be coated with a film of tenacious dust, clinging even through 24-7 use of furiously twirling fan blades.
Wash your car and dry it meticulously, or pass though a barely discernible 10-second rain drizzle, and still, your car will be instantly polka-dotted with sticky adobe-gray dust particles.
The dust is everywhere, in everything, including us, coating our lives, weighing us down. And it’s getting worse.
If I exercised this much and ate so sensibly when I was a teenager, I could lose 20 pounds in a month. Now, I’m lucky if I knock off a couple of pounds, or just break even.
Sluggish metabolism? No way. Like so much of what is wrong with the world these days (maybe even the murky brains and cloudy judgment of our political leaders), I blame it on space dust.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tell it like it is

By S. Derrickson Moore

I’m not sure just which euphemism sent me over the edge, or which hyperbolic institution is most to blame.
Maybe it was the latest crop of militaryspeak, or a media release that referred to an “event facilitating community building through play.” (Translation: fiesta.)
Oxymoronic terms abound, from the classic example: “military intelligence” to the nonsensical movie rating: MV, for “mild violence.”
And we’re moving into pure Madison Avenue flights of fantasy on the front lines. Literally.
Operation Odyssey Dawn? C’mon. It sounds more like a romance novel or a cleaning product for posh travelers than whatever it is that we’re doing in Libya. I actually prefer “squirmish,” the weirdly apt, squirrely-skirmish hybrid term offered by Sarah Palin, who seems to be taking up George W.’s mantle as maven of malapropisms.
The usual offenders are getting worse, but just about everybody seems to be joining in the obfuscation Olympics these days, from the military industrial complex to corporations, government, medical and economic spheres.
And speaking of the economy, it’s not enough to correct stupid euphemisms like “course correction.”
To tell it like it really is, we may need new mascots for Wall Street, and find animals that more accurately reflect contemporary reality.
Instead of bears, sensible animals who know when it’s time to hibernate and when to wake up, I’d suggest groundhogs, who seem to make official appearances only to participate in seasonal superstitious rites with no basis in fact. And to replace bulls (again, sensible animals that aren’t inclined to charge without provocation, and otherwise lead productive lives), I think the logical substitute to represent the dominant behavior in today’s market is obvious: sharks. (Though it may be an insult to the intelligence, skill and practicality of the average shark. Let me know if you can nominate a more apt predator.)
And if you were being tortured, would you feel less pain if you were experiencing “enhanced coercive interrogation techniques”?
I was moved by a quote attributed to retired U.S. Army Col. Harry Summers: “The use of these euphemisms … really hides the reality of what war is and we ought not to do that. We ought to make sure that everyone understands what a terrible, bloody thing war is.”
These troubled times call for calling a spade a spade, instead of a self-automated, off-line terrestrial excavation device. Here are a few full-disclosure, honest suggestions for starters. I’ll bet you could make a list of your own.
• We’re downsizing: You’re fired.
• Stocks are correcting: You’re broke.
• Must-see TV or guilty pleasures: time wasters
• In harm’s way: danger
• Surgical strikes: bombing and shelling
• Soft targets: bombing of civilian targets
• Neutralize: kill
• Collateral damage: dead civilians
• Friendly fire: shooting ourselves
• Transparency: honesty
• Spin: creative lying
• Spin doctors: experts at creative lying
• Nuclear deterrent: more and faster bombs than the other side has
• Permanent pre-hostility: peace
• Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Odyssey Dawn, etc.: World War III

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

Friday, April 1, 2011

In search of a kinder month ,,,,

What can you say about March, a month in which the brightest spot seemed to be the death of perhaps the last of the great movie star?
Yes, we’ll miss Elizabeth, but there was something wonderful about being treated to a few days of images of her beauty, her adventures with (mostly) handsome and intriguing husbands, her over-the-top jewelry and some truly entertaining movies that trigger all kinds of life memories for Boomers, members of the Greatest Generation and younger pop culture and film buffs. She lived a high-profile, dramatic, difficult, often painful and sometimes exuberantly glamorous and highly original life with resilience, charm and an earthy wit.
Ms. Taylor was regularly reinventing herself with passionate and imaginative style long before Madonna was born. She was one of the first public figures to be honest and open about her problems, operations and diseases. And she ended up being a poster child for rehab and a courageous champion and fundraiser for HIV/AIDS causes.
There’s something that’s somehow uplifting about pondering Elizabeth having a happy reunion with her amigo Michael Jackson in that exclusive portion of afterlife paradise reserved for terribly exploited child stars who have struggled to emerge and help others (with possible side trips to visit her two fave hubbies, Mike Todd and Richard Burton).
So far, the new year seems to have provided an endless stream of new wars, revolts and crises. We can only pray that we are not seeing a triple whammy model for the future in Japan’s ongoing struggle with the aftermath of earthquake-tsunami-nuclear calamity.
Stephen Colbert termed it “the turducken” of disasters: catastrophes stuffed into more catastrophes. (For those not familiar with the concept, a turducken is made by stuffing a de-boned chicken into a de-boned duck, which is then stuffed inside a de-boned turkey. My friends who have attempted to make turducken suggest that you should not try this at home, if you wish to avoid adding culinary catastrophes to our miseries.)
And we can only hope that T.S. Eliot is wrong about April being the cruelest month. How can we follow, how can we bear, a month more brutal than March 2011?
We could all use a break in this strange surreal spring, and maybe some good laughs, but it seems too early even for wryly sympathetic metaphors, let alone jokes.
Instead, how about some inspirational quotes from, rather than jokes about, someone we’ll miss, a superstar who was voluptuously entertained and entertaining during her 79 years on the planet.
Here are thought-provoking comments from the late, great Ms. Taylor:
• “It’s not the having, it’s the getting.”
• “I feel very adventurous. There are so many doors to be opened, and I’m not afraid to look behind them.”
• “So much to do, so little done, such things to be.”
• “It is strange that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.”
• “When people say, ‘She’s got everything,’ I’ve got one answer — I haven’t had tomorrow.”
Tomorrow is something most of us will have … hopefully with growing patience, to see us through tough times — and rewarding adventures — ahead.
Here’s to a healing, rejuvenating and kind April. We and our embattled world really need it.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.