Posts in Category: Column


By Laura Smith
Happy spring. Village in the Village (ViV) has survived this past year with the wonderful leadership and creativity of our members and volunteers. We have visited and thrived through virtual meetings, workshops, coffee meet-ups, and social hours. There is cautious optimism that 2021 will be better than 2020, and that we can return to at least some in-person gatherings. We also plan to continue providing members with expanded services.

All of our lives have been greatly altered this past year. Rather than writing about losses, frustrations, boredom and fear, I’d like to examine some of the new things all of us learned because of the pandemic. It is amazing that not only did COVID alter the way we live our lives, but the way we communicate. Here is a sampling of words, phrases and skills that almost everyone has become familiar with:
• Social distancing
• Flattening the curve
• Contact tracing
• Personal protective equipment (PPE)
• Super-spreader event
• Shelter-in-place
• Remote learning
• Zoom meetings
• On-line shopping
• Contactless delivery
• Essential workers
• Frontline workers
• Herd immunity
• Community spread
• N95 mask
• Virus variant or mutant
• Long hauler (covid symptoms lasting months)
• Vaccine hesitators
• Anti-vaxxers
• Drive-through testing and vaccines
• Vaccine passports
• Life PC (life pre-covid)

Other words that permeate conversations and news coverage include new normal, unprecedented, pod, mitigate, aerosol droplets, and covid bubble. Blursday describes the strange sense of the passage of time during the worst of the quarantine. Doomscrolling, also known as doomsurfing, refers to the endless consumption of news and information despite it being redundant and harmful to mental health.

Here are a few more amusing terms you might encounter:
• Fattening the curve, referring to the 10 pounds of weight gained by many people during quarantine
• Flattening the curve, trying to pull up your jeans over your stomach after months of wearing sweatpants
• Quarantini or furlough merlot, cocktails during the pandemic
• Antisocial distancing, using the pandemic to avoid people you don’t like
• The elephant in the Zoom, bad hair days, not hiding sweatpants, or having something out of place during a video chat
• Body mullet, wearing a nice top and not much below the waist during a video call
• Corona coaster, up and down moods
• Maskne, acne caused by mask wearing
• Maskhole, people who refuse to wear masks or wear masks in an unsafe manner
• Covidiot, people who don’t social distance or follow safe practices
• Moronavirus, the term used when maskholes or covidiots get COVID

Finally, from the New Yorker (July 13, 2020) “Germophobe: Formerly crazy people (e.g., Howard Hughes); now everyone except crazy people.” Rest assured, Village in the Village (ViV) will always strive to keep you updated with important changes to our culture and way of life. We hope that you have survived the past year with the strength and support of friends, neighbors, and family. And we all look forward to the coming months of the new normal —whatever that turns out to be.

Laura Smith is a board member of ViV. For information about the organization visit:


Lima, Peru, November 2020
Clouds of teargas wafted in the toney pedestrian shopping corridors between the presidential palace and the historic Plaza San Martin in the heart of Lima in mid-November. That has been commonplace during most of the past six decades since my first visit to Peru.

Not common was the rapidity with which Peru’s presidents have fallen. The first coup d’etat I experienced there, in 1962, ushered in a military dictatorship guided by a commitment to push through desperately-needed reforms to the feudal system in place since Conquistador Francisco Pizarro destroyed the Incan empire.
Since then, of course, many Peruvian presidents have come and gone. But the intervals shortened dramatically in 2020.

President Manuel Merino assumed the presidency November 10. and was out by November 15. The following day, the national legislature elevated one of its newest members to the presidency. The engineer and professor Francisco Sagasti was the third person to hold the presidency within a week’s time.

Peru has had four presidents in the last four years. The most recent turmoil followed ouster of a fairly popular president, Martín Vizcarra, using a parliamentary measure to find him morally incapable of fulfilling his duties. He had made a name for himself fighting corruption.

More than half of the members of the national legislature were under investigation for corruption. In recent years, Peru’s presidents have been caught up in wide-ranging, multi-national scandals involving “pay-to-play” contracts for big dollar construction projects, including a transcontinental highway. Much of the alleged corruption revolves around dealings with the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.
In 2016, company officials gave sworn statements as part of a plea bargain that they had paid about $800 million in bribes in various Latin American countries. Approximately $29 million went to Peruvian officials.

During the past 20 years, nearly every Peruvian president has been jailed or prosecuted for corruption. The only one who wasn’t charged with corruption, Alan Garcia, shot and killed himself in 2019 when police showed up at his door to arrest him.

Those jailed or investigated include ex-President Alberto Fujimori, the Japanese immigrant agronomist largely credited with destroying domestic terrorism and discredited for political repression and corruption. He remains in prison; he was granted a presidential pardon in 2018, but that was rescinded.

Ex-president Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), who got his start as a shoeshine boy befriended by an American Peace Corps couple, continues to fight extradition from the United States to stand trial for corruption. Charged with taking $35 million in bribes, he has been jailed in California but was released to home confinement in March 2020.

Peru’s first Native American president, former military officer Ollanta Humala, was arrested in July 2017 for corruption. Pedro Pablo Kuczinski, who held dual U.S.-Peruvian citizenship until he ran for the presidency in November 2015, resigned in March 2018. He had been held in pre-trial detention since April 2019 while under investigation for corruption, bribery and money-laundering. Kuczinski is a former general manager of Peru’s central bank and a former official with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Martín Vizcarra, recently ousted by the legislature, was sworn in March 23, 2018, after Kuczinski resigned in disgrace. Disintegration of Peru’s political system has apparently brought a revival of one of the most brutal revolutionary movements in modern history, that of the Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path.

In March of this year, I was within days of buying airline tickets for yet another trip to Peru in June. The pandemic put a quick halt to those plans, but now, eight months later, I am again eagerly contemplating a resumption, assuming a vaccine is ready in 2021. Topping the itinerary is Cuzco and Machu Picchu for those in the entourage who have not seen it.

But a travel advisory issued by the U.S. State Department in November urges extreme caution. “Remnants of the Shining Path terrorist group are active” in areas including Cuzco and vicinity.
—Jeff Radford


By Steve Komadina
Horse Politics
I am saddened when I see the horse community of our little village pulled apart by egos and backbiting and cliques. Many years ago, we created the Corrales Horse and Mule People, CHAMP, to prevent disharmony among our community. Through the years there were many champions of unity. Susan Bell, Steve Henry, Chris Allen, Harry Tolumous, Pat Dubois and Terry Brown come to mind quickly, but there were others that kept us in line and made everyone welcome to the greater horse community.

Today Patty Flanagan and her board are carrying on the same tradition.There has been a factor the last few years however, that has caused more than a few ripples with gossiping, backbiting and refusal to give the reins over to a new generation of horse people. I make a plea today to not listen to others talking about others in a negative way.

None of us are perfect, but I believe everyone tries to do their best.We must allow the younger generation to lead and not undermine them for personal and ego reasons. Many who read this will have no idea what I am talking about, but others will know exactly what I am talking about. Please remember the counsel of Thumper’s mom in Bambi…. “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

Short article today, but I hope it will stop the dissension immediately.

Don’t give an ear to naysayers!


Local scriveners/communicators won multiple awards March 13 in the New Mexico Press Women’s annual Communications Contest, and many were from Corrales. The association’s website describes its project this way: “The annual contest recognizes excellence in print, broadcast, electronic or Internet media, photography, marketing, public relations, graphic arts and journalism in New Mexico. Contest winners are announced in the spring, and awards are presented at New Mexico Press Women’s annual conference. First place winners advance to the national contest this summer, under the auspices of the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW.)

“The purpose of the contest is to improve professional skills by recognizing excellence in communication. The message is what is important. The message —how well it communicates, how it is directed to its target audience, how well it achieves its objectives— is the judging standard.”

The Corrales Writing Group, heralded under the category Organization Sweepstakes winner, tied for second place with SouthWest Writers. Others in the group took home awards, including Pat Wallow and Chris Allen for editing the book Kale Is a Four-Letter Word, which was a CWG short story joint effort.
Kale also earned honorable mention for an anthology of short stories. Allen won honorable mention for two short stories, Keep Kale Cool, and Dear Arthur. Walkow also took second place for editing her anthology New Mexico Remembers 9/11.

Others from CWG include Joe Brown who won second place for his short story, Hey Coach, and third place for the short story, At Least I Could Do Something About It. Sandi Hoover and Jim Tritten won first place for their novella, Panama's Gold. Hoover also won third place for her short story, Give It an Inch. Tritten also won first place for his three-minute video, No Barriers, and for his personal memoir short story, Touched by Rapture. And he grabbed an honorable mention for his piece called Service Reflections of a Navy Veteran August 2020. Jasmine Tritten, although not a formal member of CWG, received three awards. A first place for design and a third place win for the writing of her book, On the Nile with a Dancing Dane, along with a first place win for her photograph of four bobcat kittens lounging on the Tritten's patio wall.

You likely saw that lucky shot in Corrales Comment in August 2020. Kathleen McCleery, a longtime freelance reporter and producer for the PBSNewsHour, now based in Corrales, won two firsts for two web videos as interviewer/producer. No information regarding total number of entries was available on the NMPW website, but at least the Corraleños mentioned herein may each claim the phrase, “award-winning.”

Column: Reflections From a Country Store

Spring Without Burpee Seeds

Every spring I take stock.
I look around my village to see what we might have lost since this time last year.  The feed store still sells baby chicks.  Someone plowed the fields at the north end, and buds are swelling on the apple trees.
At the Frontier Mart we still sell asparagus gathered from along the irrigation ditch, and children still buy jacks, marbles, jump ropes and kites, but near the door between the Popsicle freezer and the 50-pound dog food, the garden seeds are gone.
Last year I received a letter from Mr. Burpee saying we hadn’t sold enough seeds to warrant sending more.  I miss getting the big parcel where tab A slid into slot B and all that cardboard folded magically into a panoply of snapdragons and four-o-clocks, zucchini, carrots and lima beans.
No sooner would I assemble the display and arrange the seeds than men in coveralls would come to read the seed packets, to contemplate the sunlight, soil and water requirements, and to count the days until maturity.  They fingered the envelopes like kids in the candy aisle, then carried their selections away like little packets of promise.
Three of my seed customers were Ramón and Julio Tenorio and Walter Atkerson.  Maybe a storekeeper shouldn’t play favorites, but in 18 years of business, Ramón, Julio and Walter are at the top of my list.
The three of them grew corn and cabbage and they raised pigs.  Ramón and Julio were brothers from one of Corrales’s old  families.  On spring mornings Julio and his horse, Smokey, plowed the field at the corner of Tenorio and Corrales Roads.
Walter was a true cowboy who had come down from Colorado (pronounced Colo-ray-do) in the 1940s. He’s the only 82 year-old I’ve known who rode his horse every day.
Ramón and Walter were best friends who traveled together.  When Walter’s car wouldn’t start, they rode to my store on a tractor with Ramón in the driver’s seat and Walter standing alongside.  They bought Jimmy Dean sausage, single-edge razor blades, and shaving cream in a cup with a bristle brush.  Heading home, the old tractor crept along the two-lane road at fifteen miles per hour, and cars moved into the left lane to pass.  Traffic was light then, tractors commonplace.
On Friday nights when I saw Ramón and Walter’s tractor parked at the Territorial House, I’d stop and find them in the bar.  Ramón talked about family and farming.  Walter told about his days as a cowboy on the Black Ranch.  After a while I’d say, “I have to go.  You guys behave.”
Ramón would look offended.  “I always behave,” he’d say.  “I work hard and go to church every day.”
Walter rolled his eyes and mumbled something about blowing smoke.
Julio, Ramón, and Walter haven’t been in the store for a long time now.  We didn’t mark their last visit or say goodbye.  One day we just realized they hadn’t come in.
I’m told Julio and Ramón died more than a year ago, and Walter’s gone now, too.  I think of them whenever I think of spring and farming and Burpee seeds.  It makes me look around to see what’s missing.  Then I memorize what we have left in case it comes up missing next year.  What I’m trying to say is, if I’d known it was my last Burpee seed display, I would have paid more attention.
Editor’s note: This column was first published in Corrales Comment 26 years ago, but readers said it was one of their favorites. Jean Waszak agreed to have it published again in this special Garden and Landscape issue. Other columns of hers may re-appear from time to time.


Even though movie theaters are closed during this pandemic there are other ways to see films, such as via Netflix and many streaming options. For those who would like to see first-run films which would be in theaters now, Albuquerque’s own independent Guild Cinema is offering home viewing options. You can find a wide list of films at, and a portion of the screening fee goes to support the Guild. Unless otherwise noted, all films reviewed here are available at that link. This is a time to support each other and local businesses (including newspapers), if you can!

2021 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action HHHHH Plugs:
None. Available at for a limited time. One of my favorite things to watch at the Guild theater and film festivals is the short film program. Many people never get to see short films because mainstream theater chains typically want to sell seats for 100-minute Hollywood blockbusters, not shorter programs of eclectic —and admittedly at times necessarily uneven— short films from around the world.

Here I review the Live Action 2021 Oscar Nominated Short Films. Note that two other categories of Oscar nominated short films, Documentary and Animation, are also available, and all three programs can be purchased individually or as a bundle for $30 (which, frankly, is worth every penny.)

2021 Oscar Nominated Short Films is now available, featuring all five nominated films:
The Present, directed by Farah Nabulsi (Palestine) A film about everyday struggles of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, The Present follows a man named Yusef who along with his daughter Yasmine crosses the border to enter Bethelehem and buy a present for his wife. It’s nothing fancy —just a new refrigerator— but just getting it back to her becomes an ordeal when the pair has to navigate a world of military checkpoints and everyday problems. Yusef’s task, something most Westerners would have little trouble negotiating and find only a minor inconvenience, becomes a palpably frustrating trial when politics enters the equation. This winning —and likely Oscar winning— film has strong performances and a moving ending in which plucky young Yasmine saves the day.

Feeling Through, directed by Doug Roland and Susan Ruzenski (USA)
A homeless Black teenager named Tereek running out of friends with whom he can crash for the night ends up meeting a blind and deaf man named Artie in New York City. Artie is holding a sign that says “I am deaf and blind. Tap me if you can help me to cross the street,”  and Tereek strikes up an odd and brief relationship as he helps Artie navigate the bus system. Oscar winner Marlee Matlin serves as a producer on Feeling Through, which is the first film to cast a deaf and blind actor (Robert Tarango). Inspiring without being maudlin, the film offers a moving glimpse of the shared humanity of two unlikely strangers.

Two Distant Strangers, directed by Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe (USA).
A dark and stark satire about life as an African American, the film follows a young man named Carter as he wakes up in the bed of a beautiful woman and tries to head home to feed his dog. He’s thwarted by a white, bullying police officer who shoots him on the street without cause. Over and over again. Each time Carter wakes up from a dream he tries to change his actions but it the outcome seems inevitable. As Carter tries to figure out what’s going on he comes to a reluctant truce with the equally befuddled cop. To be honest I was never a huge fan of Groundhog Day, a conceit upon which this short is clearly based. I found the premise gimmicky and tedious after a while; I don’t mind screenwriters playing with linear narrative and repeating scenes from different points of view (Rashomon, Memento, and Pulp Fiction are a few examples) but this hobbles the film somewhat. Many short films have difficulty with their endings —due in part to limitations of the genre it’s hard to tell a satisfactory narrative arc conclusion— and Two Distant Strangers is no exception. The heavy, tragically topical themes stand in slightly jarring contrast to the (otherwise somewhat upbeat) tone, but overall it’s an interesting take on the issue.

White Eye, directed by Tomer Shushan and Shira Hochman (Israel)
Like many of the other short films in this program, White Eye focuses on socioeconomic and racial contrasts. When an Israeli named Omer finds his recently-stolen bicycle locked up on a street corner, he calls police and seeks someone to remove the lock. This draws the attention of people inside a nearby factory including an immigrant from Eritrea who claims the bike is his, that he recently bought it from someone off the street. Though plausible, Omer is skeptical and demands the bike be returned to him while he finds out more about the alleged thief and his subsistence life. As police arrive and check the immigration status of the Eritrean man, Omer has second thoughts about reporting the bike stolen, seeing the unintended consequences of his call.

The Letter Room, directed by Elvira Lind and Sofia Sondervan (USA)
Oscar Isaac stars as Richard, a prison corrections officer who is promoted (or at least reassigned) from guard to a job screening prisoner mail. That’s where he intervenes, in some respect, in the lives of two death row inmates. The film evokes smaller-scale themes from The Lives of Others (2006) in that Richard becomes vicariously involved in the lives of the prisoners whose letters he screens. In one case it’s an older Black man whose daughter hasn’t written in years, leaving him feeling abandoned, and in another it’s a young cop-killer punk who refuses to reply to his girlfriend, who shows increasing signs of troubling despondency in her unreciprocated letters. Richard does his best to help all involved, with mixed results.

Overall it’s a very strong program, and the 2021 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action is well worth a watch. If you like shorts, check out, where you can get information on many online film festivals.
Benjamin Radford


By Meredith Hughes
May is the lusty month, right? Also dusty, given New Mexico spring winds. But still we persist, planting tomatoes and eggplant, knowing the harvest will finally, finally come. Email event suggestions to corralescomment@gmail. com. Published the first issue of the month, What’s On? invites suggestions one week before the publication date.

• Opera InSight from the Santa Fe Opera kicks off five free 30-minute explorations of opera themes this month. May 10, The Marriage of Figaro; May 17, The Lord of Cries; May 24,  Eugene Onegin; May 31,  A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “Opera InSight embraces universal themes that speak to each of us personally. The program emphasizes our experience as audience members, from the opera curious to seasoned opera enthusiasts and focuses on the authentic joy that this art form brings to all of us.” Mondays at 2 p.m. on the Santa Fe Opera You Tube Channel.
• “Aimless Wandering,” Gallery Exhibit, throughout the month of May, and up to June 12. Abstract works inspired by natural forms, both paintings and photography, presented by Alice Webb and Margo Geist at the Open Space Visitor Center. 6500 Coors. 768-4950.
• Colcha Community Stitch-Along, May 14, 1 p.m. presented by the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Colcha may be one of the few textiles developed and made in New Mexico during the Spanish colonial period. “The wool was from their particular black sheep, the colors emerged from dyes made by indigenous plants (with the exception of indigo), and the patterns were primitive drawings of what the women observed in their daily lives in this rough and wild place to which they had been moved,” according to Beverly Johnson-Davis. The stitch-along is open to all levels of experience in an informal setting, and is taught by Annette Gutierrez-Turk, an award winning artist, recognized in 2019 at Santa Fe Spanish Market. Register to join every second Friday of the month, free, via Zoom. Register via this link: Questions? Email to Elena at or call 505-220-7928.
• Chatter ABQ, “Music Worth Talking About,” the presenters of chamber music/cum poetry, etc, at casual events, states on its website that beginning this month live concert attendance will be possible. And likely the group is scrambling to get some live events organized. Keep yourself informed via Chatter continues to release archival recordings here:
• The Turquoise Museum is now doing timed, booked ahead, entries. Get your slot by visiting Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about that handsome ring you bought pre-pandemic. 400 2nd St SW. 433-3684.
• The New Mexico Natural History Museum’s temporary exhibit, Tiny Titans. Dinosaur Eggs and Babies, is now viewable remotely through the summer. If you don’t want to visit the museum in person, that is. Open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Timed ticketing:

Did You Know?
The so-called official creator of Mother’s Day, this year in the United States celebrated on May 9, Anna Jarvis, insisted the day be mother’s, as in your own mother’s day, not the more inclusive mothers’, as in all mothers. Jarvis, from Grafton, West Virginia, was intent on honoring her own mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, who, according to NBC Today, in 1858, “organized Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to improve sanitary conditions and stem her community’s appalling infant mortality rates. In her lifetime, Jarvis had 13 children and only saw four of them live to adulthood.”

Julia Ward Howe wanted to establish a Mothers’ Peace Day in 1870 but that did not get far. Anna Jarvis did honor her now deceased mother in 1918, and thus was born Mother’s Day. It took off, became a wild, highly commercial success, and then Jarvis spent the rest of her life hating it, fighting it and ultimately dying alone, in an asylum in 1948, never married, never a mother.

Happy Mothers’ Day!
In Corrales
• Village Council meetings, May 11 and 25, 6:30 p.m., still likely via Zoom.
• Casa San Ysidro, May 15, 1 to 3 p.m. Each year in May, Casa San Ysidro joins the Corrales Historical Society to celebrate local heritage with a free event in “the heart of Corrales.” This year’s event will be a virtual collaboration that exhibits the living traditions of New Mexico. “Join us on Facebook @casasanysidro to celebrate a variety of online activities that highlight local art and history.”• Planning and Zoning meeting, May 19, 6:30 p.m., still likely via Zoom.
• Music in Corrales’ final on-line concert of the pandemic season, runs May 22 - May 30. This on-demand event features the Telegraph Quartet, with Eric Chin and Joseph Maile, violins, Pei-Ling Lin, viola, and Jeremiah Shaw, cello. Tickets to access the performance are $15, available at Registrants will be sent a private YouTube link to watch the performance. A separate one-hour Q&A session via Zoom with members of the quartet is available for ticket holders on May 22 at 7:30 p.m. The San Francisco Bay Area-based group was formed in 2013 and its program for Corrales includes Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 1 in F Major, Op. 18, No. 1 and Brahms’ String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 51 No. 2.
• Corrales Library Book Club, May 24, 2:30 p.m., The House at Otawi Bridge, by Peggy Pond Church. It’s the story of the quiet influence of Edith Warner, who lived for more than 20 years as a neighbor to the Indians of San Ildefonso Pueblo, near Los Alamos. Author series, May 25, 7 p.m. The Ecology of Herbal Medicine, by Dara Saville, founder of Albuquerque Herbalism. Contact Sandra Baldonado for Zoom event details. sandra@corraleslibrary. org.
• Sandoval Cty Master Gardeners webinars. May 12, 2 p.m., “Companion Plants for your Vegetable Garden” with Sara Moran, Bernalillo County Extension Agent. Explore the fascinating world of plant relationships and ways you can improve your vegetable garden with companion plants. May 26, 2 p.m.,  “Bosque Tree Health” with Matthew Peterson, ABQ Botanic Garden and Heritage Farm Manager.  Learn about the effects drought is having on bosque tree health and thus what land management agencies are doing in regards to invasive species control and the subsequent habitat restoration efforts to support the silvery minnow and SW Willow flycatcher in the Middle Rio Grande. Pre-registration is required for each class. Registration links may be found on the calendar of the Sandoval County Master Gardeners at After registering you will receive a confirmation email. On-line webinars will be recorded and posted on the Sandoval Extension Master Gardeners website.
• Corrales Growers’ Market. Weekly Sunday sessions in May, 9 to noon. May 9, 16, 23, 30. Still no dogs allowed…
• Village in the Village. Coffee hour, Fridays, 10 to 11a.m. via Zoom. Book Club, May 17, The Searcher, by Tana French, 3 p.m. A retired Chicago police officer moves to a remote Irish village….

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