Thursday, May 24, 2012

S. Derrickson Moore — Las Cruces Style We'll miss you, Judy Luna LAS CRUCES — Judy Luna’s was one of the first faces I saw at the Las Cruces Sun-News. In the hot summer of 1994, after a conversation about life, journalism and the state of newspapers with then-managing editor, the late, great Harold Cousland, I was sent off to see Judy. Between the two of them, I was reassured that I’d made the right move in relocating from South Florida, and I was well on my way to realizing that I’d found my querencia, that special place where one’s soul can make a home. For 25 years, Judy has put the “human” in human resources, here at the Sun-News and throughout southern New Mexico. Judy manages to make everyone feel warmly welcomed, organized, ready to cope with life’s trials and excited about tackling new projects and adventures. Shortly after my arrival, I found myself in her office with a dedicated group that created the Las Cruces International Mariachi Festival, which grew to become one of the world’s most celebrated events of its kind. Over the next couple of decades, I discovered Judy has had a quiet but crucial role in all kinds of activities that make our community tick. She was a founder of Coats for Kids, and helped a long list of good causes and charities connect with reporters and sponsors who could bring their stories to the world and help them grow and prosper. From the symphony to centennial celebrations, from health-oriented charities to family help centers and compassionate one-on-one programs like Dress-The-Child that helped thousands of needy kids get their first brand new clothes and shoes … Judy was there. We are a community richer in spirit than dollars, but Judy somehow always seemed to know how to help everyone — from befuddled employees trying to figure out tax codes, insurance plans and 401k plans to volunteers with small nonprofits and big community fundraising drives — get the most from their available resources. And creatively scrounge for more, if needed. God is in the details, they say, and so is Judy. She even found ways to put on pretty and festive holiday staff parties in the ugly old Sun-News building. She has been the constant in our itinerant world of journalism. I’ve lost count of the entries in what one wag referred to as the Las Cruces Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, but whenever somebody new has turned up, Judy has been there to show them the ropes and introduce them to the wild and wonderful ways of southern New Mexico. One of our all-time favorite publishers, Michael C. Bush, now CEO/President of Heartland Publications, based in Connecticut, is a devoted Judy fan. “Judy was truly an ambassador of hope and caring both on and off the job. She helped bridge the cultural divides, not only translating language to those not skilled enough to speak the other, but translating ideas and needs, not only bringing people together but also helping them celebrate what makes us different,” Michael e-mailed recently. “As an HR professional, she knew the law but she also knew the hearts, helping me to be a better employer and human being. She also helped to bring out the best in employees. She truly is one of the best friends Las Cruces has ever had. But never interested in the limelight, she often goes unnoticed but never unappreciated,” Michael said. Times are changing. Human resources functions, like printing and many of our editing duties, are now based at our sister paper, the El Paso Times, in Texas. There have been some big changes in Judy’s life this year, too. She recently married her soul mate Robert Marquez, in the Gila Wilderness, in a ceremony as creative and inclusive as she is. She’s two semesters away from a new degree in psychology from NMSU and has some intriguing goals focusing on specialties that could take her on international travels before long, exploring ways to help those in crises cope with the mental and emotional tolls of global disasters and catastrophic change. Her world-class compassion deserves an international venue, and we hope she has a deserving forum for her creativity. But selfishly, I’ll miss her. A lot. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The joys of getting older

By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — Some people think that life stories get less interesting and plot possibilities decrease as you get older. Those people are wrong. Some of the most entertaining children of a lifetime may come into an enlightened woman’s world after her childbearing years have passed, along with5/26/2012 passionate love, amazing adventures, unexpected, even startling success, and maybe even some extraordinary and revolutionary creative concepts. And as we get older and wiser (alas, the two traits don’t always go together), the more likely we are to see potentials, make connections and skillfully navigate the critical passageways of life. There is a delicate balance between striking when the iron is hot, and waiting for the right ship to come in. If you have a few miles on your sports car and notches on your belt, you can be more likely to make sound decisions and choices (and you aren’t so likely to fear the wrath of the mixed metaphor police). If you’re smart, you embrace new ways of relating to peers and new generations, from texting to tweets. You also know that communication sometimes trumps style, and sometimes, getting the point across is more important than proper form. On the other hand, you may be willing to fight for proper form every now and again. I try to send at least a few snail mail real letters and cards to my loved ones to preserve a cherished form and relay sentiments more permanently in an increasingly ephemeral cyberspace world. I still stand up for correct grammar, even when I know I’m being perceived as an irritating nag (and I appreciate the astute curmudgeons who chastise me and our editors when we goof up, in print or online). Anger is something else you don’t fear as much as you grow older. You learn when to turn the other cheek, but you also learn when it doesn’t serve anyone to let a bully have her or his way … including, long-term, the bully. And you also learn, if you pay attention, that there is also a great power in righteous indignation. Unlike the anger fueled by emotions like hate and prejudice, which ultimately destroy, anger on behalf of a just cause can be energizing, cleansing and even healthy. Since human beings are good at fooling themselves, however, it’s always safest to be sure your anger really is righteous, always easier when you are fighting for someone else, for a cause from which you do not benefit directly and intimately. Free-ranging, fearless friendship can be another dividend that comes with maturity. If you’re lucky, your life path has exposed you to diverse cultures and interesting souls of all ages. And you’re wise enough to treasure kindred spirits, but also be open minded enough to recognize that it’s more interesting to live by ponds where birds of a feather don’t always flock together. Free flights with odd birds could turn out to be the best adventures of your life. I’ve been pondering all this during a period when a fall has reminded me of my mortality and my slower healing abilities — the darker side of aging for a generation that has been slow to face up to realities on the near horizon. It’s taken Baby Boomers a very long time to admit we’re middle-aged. Many of us now have kids who are on the verge of middle age themselves and it’s time to acknowledge our new reality. How are we going to face up to the next age category? It’s clear that the protest generation is not going to go gently into that good night. Even if we’re tired and slowing down, we’ll speak up on many sides of crucial issues and fight for rights and causes that some of us risked our lives for in our younger years. I hope that aging will add polish and patina to our stainless steel souls, that compassion, understanding, well-timed humor and the wisdom of experience will help us age with grace and pass on what we’ve learned with patience and creativity. And a few more adventures would be fun, too. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.
S. Derrickson Moore — Las Cruces Style In-line vs. online social networks LAS CRUCES — Not being a herd animal by nature, one of the things I love about living in Las Cruces is that there are fewer and shorter lines than most other places I’ve lived. And if you do have to wait in line, Las Cruces is the place to be. “Have you noticed how friendly people are here?” asked one of my first artists of the week back in the mid-1990s, when I’d just moved here. He was then a recent New York transplant and a member of a minority group who said he was not accustomed to friendly overtures from total strangers. I’ve noticed, I told him, and explained that some of my best story leads and favorite friendships began while waiting in line in Las Cruces. I thought about that during the last couple of weeks, when an injury resulted in more line-time than usual, and a cane and limp had me delaying line speed more than I’d like. Lines offer built-in conversation openers, depending on the theme of the line. Pharmacy lines prompt intense, if short-term, dialogs about the costs and quality of various prescription remedies, the length of waits, the best docs and clinics in town and sometimes, totally unrelated topics. At WallyWorld, I ran into a long-distance trucker based in New Orleans, who was replacing a lost prescription. We talked about everything from the Gulf oil spill to the joys and trials of long-distance hauls and the importance of God in our lives. Grocery store lines can be the source of interesting new menu, recipe and even dieting ideas. I’ve learned about everything from how to prepare bok choy to offbeat quesadilla fillings in Las Cruces supermarket lines, along with personal endorsements of yummy new items. During in-line waits, necessity can be the mother of invention and some fun chats and, as noted, breaking news. While waiting in a line of arts aficionados to chat with Clyde “Mac” McCoy about my best options for canes and walking sticks at the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market (read about “Mac’s Stix” in today’s Artist of the Week feature in this section), I also ran into Las Cruces-based artist and filmmaker Ed Breeding, who had just returned from a screening of his latest film at a festival in South Dakota. In fact, lines and waiting rooms turned out to be a surprisingly good resource for breaking news on our ever-growing film hotshots. While waiting to see Dr. Stefan Schaefer in Mesilla, I heard rumors (shortly confirmed by proud dad Stefan) that New York-based Aimee Shaefer’s short film has been accepted for a screening in this month’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival. We’ll get a chance to see the Las Cruces contribution to France’s grand-mére of international film fiestas at a special screening here soon. I’ll keep you posted on details. I’ve learned what grows best in the desert in lines at gardening centers and found do-it-yourself ideas and numbers for reliable handymen and women in hardware and home improvement store lines. Eavesdropping on other conversations, I’ve picked up on common roots and met people from all walks of life and areas of the world. During encounters in lines around town, I’ve caught up with old friends, rediscovered long-lost buddies, seen promising acquaintances develop into burgeoning friendships and even discovered a few rare “strangers” who turned out to be soulmates and life-long friends. I’ve also experienced some amusing, entertaining, enlightening and surprisingly warm and profound exchanges with congenial strangers I’ll probably never see again. I’m way behind in my tweeting, e-mailing, and Facebook postings, but the last couple of weeks have reminded me that places like friendly Las Cruces can offer rich rewards for those who reach out off-line in real time. In fact, connecting with live human beings waiting in line could plug you into the most rewarding social networks of all. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore ... or tap her on the shoulder, if you find yourself standing in the same line.