Saturday, March 31, 2012

April fool’s dreams for Las Cruces

By S. Derrickson Moore
dmoore@lcsun-news.com
LAS CRUCES — I’m pleased to announce that all those exciting projects we’ve been anticipating for years have finally been finished, way ahead of schedule and dramatically under budget.
In fact, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (and Brad’s exes Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow) are all coming this weekend for a gala to christen the new NMSU Center for the Arts. Because of the budget surplus, we’ve been able to complete the whole thing, instead of just the first phase, and add some hanging gardens and a veranda filled with sculpture.
The visiting stars are also eager to spend some time in downtown Las Cruces, also miraculously finished ahead of schedule and with lots of surplus cash, plus some extra revenues from enthusiastic investors eager to get in on the fun.
Turns out the downtown planners had some surprises in store for us, too. That beautiful old Chinese Pistache tree didn’t really vanish in the twinkling of an eye. It was moved to anchor the south meridian of what was once the Downtown Mall. At the north end, is the realization of Bob Diven’s dream: a giant statue of Billy the Kid, with a kiva fireplace in his derriere and a revolving restaurant in his hat. Billy is straddling the no-longer-confusing turnabout (just weave in and out between the bluejean arches).
I’m reporting this from the state-of-the-art media center at the new Las Cruces Sun-News building, where we’re Skyping with the celebrities who are clamoring for reservations for the trendiest destination on the planet: you guessed it — right here.
I’m about to take a break and do a few laps on our rooftop pool and spa (yep, you guessed it — we came in way under budget, too, so we added some amenities, including a fun day care center to accommodate the newsroom baby boom).
After the post-fire clearing was finished, we discovered the property was much bigger than we thought, so we’re sharing the block with the new adobe Trader Joe’s, which blends beautifully with the old town ambiance.
I’m heading over for a gourmet snack now and will Tweet some star sightings. There’s George Clooney. Hi, George. Jennifer “Hunger Games” Lawrence is back with a scout planning another blockbuster movie. She told me she’s amazed at the changes since she filmed “The Burning Plain” with Kim Basinger back in 2008.
There are rumors that one or more of the visiting stars will be on this weekend’s maiden flight from Spaceport America, where Richard Branson recently unveiled new spaceships that will let citizen astronauts fly to the moon for lunch and be back for dinner at the elegant new Spaceport resort and golf complex. Check out Stephen Hansen’s whimsical lunar landscape show and works by other Las Cruces artists in the new Spaceport Art Center, before the exhibit goes on tour to similar centers on the moon and around the planet.
Or if you’re not in the mood for a moon dance, it’s just one hour up and down to the new Spaceport New Zealand. Leave after breakfast on Saturday, get in some deep sea fishing, visit a Maori cultural center and hop on back to meet us for margaritas in Billy’s hat and watch a New Mexico sunset. )
• • •
Sigh. It’s really another day in our interim newsroom on Idaho Avenue, and if you haven’t guessed it, this has been an April Fool’s Day daydream, inspired in part by a little dialog after an e-mail offering from planeclear.com. Newsroom staffers are debating whether we should go with a private jet charter to the PGA Master’s Tournament or the Kentucky Derby at the bargain basement price of just $13,500 for a round trip to each site.
The proffered fare is from Dallas. I think we should raid petty cash and make ’em pick us up at Las Cruces International Airport, as long as we’re daydreaming.
And, frankly, with Las Cruces looking so promising, even in real-time reality, I’d just as soon stay home and plan to spend a little quality time with Brangelina and rest of the stars.
It’s just a matter of time. We’re on our way. Life is good and getting better here and our main challenge these days may be to keep the word from getting out too fast. No foolin’.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to www.lcsun-news.com and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Do we need more state symbols?

By S. Derrickson Moore
dmoore@lcsun-news.com
LAS CRUCES — It’s three months into New Mexico’s statehood centennial. Do you know where your state bird is — or even WHAT bird is our official state symbol?
It’s the roadrunner of course, a wonderful critter that would also be my nominee for a proposed new category of official state pet, after the happy years I spent with Errol, a dashing and companionable bird who hung out in the rafters outside my bedroom when I lived on the slopes of Picacho Peak.
You, too, could find yourself pondering the best things about the Land of Enchantment after a visit to “It’s all Symbolic: The State Symbols of New Mexico,” currently on exhibit at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum.
I was familiar with most of our official symbols and was intrigued with the interactive portion of the exhibit, which welcomes suggestions to add, change or eliminate symbols.
Some say we may many have too many state songs (in addition to Elizabeth Garrett’s “O, Fair New Mexico” we also have an official state ballad, plus cowboy, bilingual and Spanish songs).
Are we limiting ourselves with “hot air balloon” as our official aircraft? What about rockets, Roswell’s UFOs and Richard Branson’s new spaceships launching from our very own Spaceport America?
We are apparently lacking such crucial categories as an official state breakfast (huevos rancheros was suggested, but my pick would be green chile chicken blue corn enchiladas, good for any meal or snack).
Here are some of the ideas that museum visitors have suggested for additional categories.
State food: Chile. !Si, bueno! This would also eliminate the controversy over whether it should be our state vegetable or fruit. It’s our everything.
State mountains? The category was blank the day I visited, but it’s obvious: The Organs, of course.
State nut? Top nominees were pecan and peanut, but piñon is a contender, though it already holds state tree status.
State pet? Dogs were winning, but I’m open to suggestions. Dogs seem very happy here, but cats probably think they rule the state, along with the rest of the universe.
Cattle breeds? Corriente was one suggestion at the museum. It’s not my area of expertise, but I’d like to see some nod to the buffalo, especially since we’re doing so much to bring them back on Ted Turner’s nearby spread.
Some things are so obvious that it might be fine to let them go without officially saying: Our architectural style is clearly adobe, for instance. Door decoration (and seasoning and snack resource) could only be the chile ristra.
State occupation? Opinions seem divided between “artist” or “rocket scientist.” Let’s call it a tie — a tie that could only happen in New Mexico — and that’s yet another reason I officially love living here.
What do you think? Are we missing some crucial, official state categories? Is it time to retire a few symbols or make some additions and substitutions? Look over the list and let me know. E-mail me at dmoore@lcsun-news.com, drop me a line: S. Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News, 715 E. Idaho Ave., Bldg. 4, Las Cruces, NM 88001, or go to www.lcsun-news.com and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style and add your comment to New Mexico Symbols column.

New Mexico Symbols, Emblems, & Icons

Aircraft: hot air balloon
Amphibian: New Mexico Spadefoot Toad
Animal: black bear
State Ballad: “Land of Enchantment — New Mexico”
State Bilingual Song: “Mi Lindo Nuevo Mexico”
State Cowboy Song: “Under the New Mexico Skies”
State Song: “O, Fair New Mexico,” by Elizabeth Garrett
Spanish Language Song: “Asi Es Nuevo Mejico”
Bird: roadrunner (chaparral bird)
Butterfly: Sandia hairstreak butterfly
Colors: red and yellow
Cookie: biscochito
Fish: New Mexico cutthroat trout (Rio Grande cutthroat trout)
Flower: yucca flower
Fossil: Coelophysis (small late Triassic dinosaur)
Gem: turquoise
Grass: blue grama grass
State Historic Railroad: Cumbres and Toltec scenic railroad
Insect: tarantula hawk wasp
Motto: “It grows as it goes” (Crescit eundo)
Slogan: “Everybody is somebody in New Mexico”
Nickname: “The Land of Enchantment”
Poem: “A Nuevo Mexico” by Luis Tafoya
Reptile: New Mexico whiptail lizard
Tie: bolo tie
Tree: piñon tree
Vegetables: chile and frijole
Source: www.statesymbolsusa.org.,awesome america.com., NMFRHM

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Give thought some thought....

By S. Derrickson Moore
dmoore@lcsun-news.com
LAS CRUCES — I was thinking about all the changes (mostly for the better) I’ve seen in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall, which got me thinking about thinking.
I don’t think we do enough of it.
Most of us have routines that help us get through life.
In the lifetime of most Baby Boomers, through the Me Generation, and Gens X, Y, Z and iEverything, we’ve added to the trinity of food, clothing and shelter as the basics of survival.
A lot of us would add routines like prayer, mediation and exercise to the list of essentials for optimum spiritual, emotional and physical health and well-being.
In recent decades, for many, 30 minutes to an hour or more of daily exercise and regular periods of quiet attention to one’s soul and spiritual life have become as routine as brushing our teeth. We all recognize, even if we fall short, the importance of spending quality time with family, friends, pets and colleagues. Social media and online time are musts for most now (and we give at home AND at the office).
You’d think, given the state of the world and our relationships, that we’d have earmarked some special time each day giving thought ... to thought.
My 2012 resolution was to allocate some time to thinking and planning. I was actually looking forward to it. I’ve always enjoyed pondering and thought it would be fun and virtually effortless, something that would come more naturally than meditation, for instance. (If you don’t believe me, try banishing all thoughts for 10 to 20 minutes in a lotus pose.)
But a dedicated daily thinking period is not as easy as I thought it would be. The logical time seemed to be first thing in the morning at the office, where I’m an early bird and there are fewer distractions.
But there are e-mails to deal with, phone calls to answer, interviews and photos to schedule and now, daily Tweets to compose. (I’m crediting that to my thought time account, since it takes a certain amount of thought to learn new skills, research and decide on Tweet-worthy subjects, and boil it all down to a concise 140 characters.)
I hope I’ll never resort to Tweeting personal breakfast reports. There’s too much small talk in the world, I think, and I don’t want to add small Tweets to the minutia overload. I’ve given this a certain amount of thought, which led me to establish a back-up file of profound thoughts and quotes for slow-inspiration days. That’s an example of how a little thought can make life better for everyone.
And while I value thought for thought’s sake, purely and in solitude, I think there’s a place for thought in society. Some of the most rewarding ideas can come while brainstorming with bright and loving friends and creative colleagues. True, it doesn’t seem to be working for bodies like Congress these days, where the emphasis seems to be on the storm instead of the brains and think tanks have tanked, run aground or sunk after a tsunami of ill will, political expediency, obsessive-compulsive spin doctoring and, yes, thoughtlessness.
Recent studies have shown the quality of all tasks can suffer when multitasking, but there are some times when you can combine deep thinking with aptly name mindless tasks, like folding laundry. I catch up with reading and research on the treadmill and often write my columns while I’m swimming laps.
But don’t count on coming up with a plan for world peace, a cancer cure or a better mousetrap while driving, attending a crucial staff meeting or any other place where cell phones are banned. And no matter how advanced she gets, SIRI can’t do all your thinking for you. You have to think up the questions, which many philosophers think is the most crucial function in life.
Thinking is a do-it-yourself project.
We —and the world — would all be a lot better off it we devoted more time to serious thought. Think about it.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com; (575) 541-5450. To share comments — and profound thoughts — go to www.lcsun-news.com and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

Son fun

By S. Derrickson Moore
dmoore@lcsun-news.com
LAS CRUCES — Our family has always been close, but scattered.
My dad once noted that he and mom were getting to see a lot of the country on visits to see the grandkids. My sister and her husband and daughter were in south Florida and my husband, our son and I settled in the Pacific Northwest.
“You couldn’t have gotten much farther from each other if you’d planned it,” Dad said.
We hadn’t. My sister and I and our husbands had once all been housemates when our kids were babies and we’ve pretty happily shared households a couple of times since, during transitions and vacations.
With encroaching age and migrations, many of us live alone or in smaller groups these days. And we wonder if our abilities to coexist and play nicely with others decrease as we get older and set in our ways.
That’s why I was surprised at how well things worked out when job schedules and vacation time aligned to allow my son Ryan and I to share a nice chunk of time recently.
In fact, that month is the longest period we’ve spent together since a time in Santa Fe between high school and college.
I’d heard cautionary tales for decades from Baby Boomer parents with boomerang kids, a phenomenon that has not occurred in our tribe.
The only compulsion greater than editing someone else’s copy, an erstwhile journalist friend cautioned me, is the need for one’s adult children to reorganize their parents’ kitchen.
I had a moment’s pause when I came home shortly after his arrival to find my favorite paring knife missing and every pot, pan, baking sheet and exotic appliance out of their carefully configured cabinets and drawers and, as Ryan put it, “finally getting their walk in the park.”
But mostly, I found, it can be truly wonderful to witness the competence and creativity of one’s adult offspring.
He made me delicious, imaginative meals. Homemade salsas! Herb roasted chicken! Spicy, casseroles! Savory soups! Artichoke nachos! Frittatas!! He came up with gourmet goodies even when I’d missed supermarket rounds and the pantry seemed bare to me.
He’d honed his creative culinary abilities during all those years on the road, he explained, when the band bus would pull in late at night and friends along the way would invite him to forage and whip up anything he wanted.
He has some practical skills that clearly skipped my generation, perhaps inherited from his resourceful engineer and wilderness-loving physician grandparents.
He cleaned my gutters, dismantled, hosed down and fixed my defective drainage system, trimmed trees, gathered boulders in the desert and re-landscaped my little back yard so artfully that it looks beautiful though most of my plants had been killed off by freezes.
He also cleaned and reorganized my garage, led daily hikes (we both lost a few pounds over the holidays, despite the gourmet goodies), raided his favorite categories at CoAs Book Store and read dozens of books, entertained my motley amigos and calmly drove me to doctor’s appointments in El Paso at rush hour (one of my least fave chores on the planet). He cheerfully endured a chick flick I really wanted to see, the latest in the “Twilight” series, and shared show biz insider’s info about cast members and other music groups, TV series and happenings in the Pacific Northwest.
As one of the toughest years in my challenging life drew to a close, he made me laugh. A lot.
Yes, there was the lint-loss incident. In the garage cleaning, he threw out the giant bag of lint I’d been collecting for a year for an art project. When I showed him online examples of epic lint art, he made up for it by sharing a smorgasbord of some of the funniest YouTube videos and websites I’ve ever seen.
I still can’t find the paring knife, but all in all, lint and a kitchen utensil are nothing, compared to the joy of discovering, yet again, that my son, that happy baby who giggled in his sleep and sang in perfect pitch before he could speak, has matured into a bright, resourceful and kind man, a boon companion and a compassionate and entertaining friend.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to www.lcsun-news.com and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.