letters to the editor; commentary
By Meredith Hughes
For many Americans, September 11 is not just an ordinary day in the month, alas. In 2001, nineteen men hijacked planes and flew them into the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in Manhattan, plus the Pentagon, and were foiled by heroic passengers from blasting into the White House or the Capitol. That plane landed in a field. Fifteen of the hijackers were Saudi Arabians, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt and one from Lebanon. None from Iraq or Afghanistan. Much to explore from the 9/11 Museum in New York. See http://www.911memorial. org/learn/resources/digital-exhibitions
FYI. Corrales author Patricia Walkow produced a book titled New Mexico Remembers 9/11, which came out October 13, 2020 via Artemesia Publishing.
Consider getting out to the State Fair this month to eat pie and forget about floods/fires/wars/Covid et al…..
Visit the websites of your favorite museums, galleries or organizations to check opening times and new regulations. Published the first issue of the month, What’s On? invites suggestions one week before the publication date. email@example.com
Did You Know?
El Palacio, the magazine of the Museum of New Mexico, is the oldest museum magazine in the U.S. Its current issue, Fall 2021, features the building of the Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, and all issues from 2014 to today are available online here: https://www.elpalacio.org/
I have not traveled internationally since 2019 and it has been hard on me. I have loved to travel since I began in 1962, heading on my own to Ecuador and Peru as a 20-year-old. I have returned multiple times to both countries since. I’ve traveled around the world 360 degrees east-west and nearly half-way around the world north-south. Mostly I’ve visited so-called Third World countries, primarily in Latin America, Africa and Asia. I return again and again to countries that fascinate me… or more precisely, to countries that I struggle to understand.
I find it exhilarating, energizing to plop myself down in a culture, environment or setting in which I have no idea what’s happening around me. Sometimes I think I understand my own culture too well —even when society seems to go off the rails— and therefore I crave the incomprehension that people in foreign lands offer.
Sometimes it’s the words that are incomprehensible. Fondly now, I recall landing in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on my first foreign trip. Frugal by necessity, I had asked the cab driver at the airport to take me to a cheap hotel —”algo muy barato, un pensión, tal vez”— so he delivered the turista americano to a boarding house a block away from the bustling but dingy port docks.
The pensión owners or managers gracously accommodated the unexpected boarder. They sat me down with my corralled luggage at the kitchen table and said something from which I could extract absolutely no meaning. The sound coming repeatedly from the owners and other boarders was “yacomiste.” I thought I detected an inflection at the end of the word that implied a question, but without knowing the question, how could I answer except to say again and again “No comprendo.” This went on for what seemed a long time. I searched my brain but could find nothing like “yacomiste.” Finally my hosts and fellow boarders gave up in frustration and led me to a room where I went to bed hungry.
The next day I decyphered what had been spoken. It was probably the most common question asked of a just-arriving passenger after a long flight: “Have you eaten?” “Ya comiste?” The verb “comer,” which I certainly knew, had been used in the familiar form (“comiste”) which we high school Spanish students rarely, if ever, used in class, and definitely was not used when speaking to a total stranger.
So there I was ignorant and hungry on my first night in a foreign country. But the people were so friendly! The next morning, one of the boarders who had taken an interest in me approached over breakfast to ask another question I found perplexing even though I understood each word. The young man a little older than I asked in Spanish what I easily translated as “Do you like great emotions?”
I hesitantly replied “I guess so, but what do you mean?” He wouldn’t explain, saying it would be a pleasant surprise. He said he would pick me up in his truck around mid-afternoon. At the appointed time, more or less, off we went in his well-maintained pick-up truck. I grew a little uneasy when we passed the outskirts of the city and kept heading farther and farther into the boonies. What “great emotions” could I possibly expect in that desolate site? No homes, vehicles or other people could be seen. We were miles from the paved road from which we had turned onto a gravel road. He stopped in the middle of the extremely wash-boarded road, and turned to me with a big grin. “Estas listo? Are you ready?” he asked.
I gave some indication I was ready… but for what?
He floored the gas pedal, and we shot off top-speed down the terribly rutted, bumpy road. I went flying all over the truck cabin. About 50 yards later, we stopped. He turned to me again and grinned. And I understood. “Great emotions” meant “thrills.” Admittedly, the afternoon joy ride was more “emocionante” than touring a Guayaquil museum which another tourist might have experienced. From those days to these, I’m always ready for a new adventure in a foreign land. But I have little interest in European destinations; I travel there to research subjects of interest, such as the background of the man for whom both continents of the Western Hemisphere were named, Amerigo Vespucci.
Planning a trip is deeply enjoyable, but the plan nearly always must include big unknowns. I enjoy arriving in a city where I have no hotel reservation (unless my arrival is late at night) and no defined itinerary. On that first trip to Ecuador and Peru in 1962, I traveled by train to Puno, on the shore of Lake Titicaca. It was near midnight when we rolled in. I had no hotel reservation, nor any idea what hotels, if any, were in Puno. At the end of that long ride, I wanted to find a place to lie down and recover. Among the passengers was a group of soldiers headed to their base in Puno.
I asked them to recommend a hotel, but they had no suggestion. Realizing my dilemma and discussing the option among themselves, one of them told me it would be okay to follow them to the cuartel where I could spend the night. Gratefully, I accepted the offer and was led to a bed —in the jail. I was given a sheet, but no blanket. It was winter and Puno is very high, 12,550 feet. One of the soldiers had ordered a small boy, an orphan whose job it was to look after incarcerated drunks, to see to my needs as well. To keep me from freezing in the cold, dark cell, the boy piled several criss-crossed layers of mattresses on top of me.
I survived, and was grateful. I was 20.
I think my liberal Democrat card is about to be revoked. I’ve watched with concern the rescue and recovery effort in Louisiana. And I've been in awe of the volunteers who've shown up to make a horrible situation even slightly better. I give you The Cajun Navy as an example.
Video after video and still shot after still shot shows them carrying young folks, old folks, disabled folks and pets to their boats and ferrying them off to safer places. All this with zero expectation of remuneration. All this because someone needs help, they’ve got the gear to help and it’s the right thing to do. Most, if not all, of the folks needing help were black and most, if not all, of the Cajun Navy were white.-
Now I guaran-damn-tee you most, if not all, of the Navy have a MAGA hat at home. And when they told their MAGA hat-wearing boss where they were going, they said, “See you when you get back. You need any gas money?” The point to all this is. These MAGA hat-wearing, Trump-loving, mouth-breathing crackers have put Black Lives Matter into action. Action well beyond carrying a sign in a demonstration (as long it's a pretty day and there is a Starbucks en route).
Imagine that. A MAGA hatter wading through snake and alligator infested water to help an old Black couple get to a shelter where they can get the help they desperately need!
So I proffer the following.
Stop with this relentless stigmatization that sophomorically jumps to “If you’re X that automatically means you’re Y.” I know I’m plenty guilty of that, and I resolve to stop it. It’s time to tell the “leaders” of both persuasions to STFU. It’s time to turn off the judgement switch. It’s time to embrace our common humanity.
In short, we are not our parts. We are the sum of our parts. That sum equals millions upon millions who joyfully give of themselves when called on. Yes, there is a minority of scum-bags (Kevin McCarthy, Orange Don, Jim Jordan, Al Sharpton… the list goes on) who profit from the “parts,” but don’t be discouraged. The Cajun Navy stands ready to sail again.
I have been pro-choice since I first knew about abortion, and when I lived in Detroit from 1951-53, my husband and I spent much time with a physician who very often told us about his women patients who had tried unsuccessfully to abort themselves. Those gruesome stories made me even more convinced that I was pro-choice. And so, I was very happy when Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. Yet, I know something was wrong about that decision —it was based on privacy and I knew that privacy’s not in the U.S. Constitution.
Griswold v. Connecticut, an earlier Supreme Court ruling that struck down state bans on contraception, was also based on privacy. In that case, Justice Douglas said in his majority opinion, “We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights.” However, the right of privacy is not in the Bill of Rights either. Nor is it even in The Declaration of Independence (which I realize is not law).
That the privacy right established in the Griswold decision seemed a terribly weak foundation is what Sarah Weddington (the attorney for so-called “Jane Roe,” a Texas woman who had sought an abortion and who was asking the court to legalize it in Roe v. Wade) said when asked where in the Constitution she placed her argument. However, she accepted the Supreme Court’s January 22, 1973 decision to uphold Roe v. Wade based on the basis that “the right of privacy... is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy” —even though the right of privacy was, and still is, not in the U.S. Constitution.
The marvelous writer Jill Lepore tells us in her great book, These Truths, that the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and other groups made arguments for abortion rights based on equality that the Supreme Court ignored in Roe v.Wade, and that Ruth Ginsburg “found the court’s opinion in Roe wanting for a number of reasons, but among them was its failure to pay any attention at all to discrimination against women, or to a woman’s “ability to stand in relation to man, society, and the state as an independent, self-sustaining, equal citizen.’”
Being equal is at least in the Declaration of Independence and equity is in the U.S. Constitution. And equity probably should therefore be the basis on which the Supreme Court decides in favor of abortion.
But what bothers and disgusts me most of all is that the Supreme Court says that unborn fetuses with a heart beat cannot be aborted, while it remains silent about guns being available to kill so many children.
Reverend Judy Deutsch
By Fred Hashimoto
Corrales, a Cannabis Capital?
Four years ago, Verdes Foundation, a regional cannabis business, proposed growing medical cannabis on four acres in a Corrales A-1 zone. The neighborhood was upset, citing issues of decreased quality of life and decreased property values. Over 300 signatures were obtained on a petition opposing the proposal and the neighbors hired an attorney to help with their efforts. Verdes decided to back out, in part because of stiff neighborhood opposition and also, they did not have Village Council support. In 2018, the council passed Ordinance 18-002 explicitly banning cannabis growing (along with manufacture and distribution) in A-1 and A-2 zones.
Since then, commercial cannabis growing has generally become more intensive and, in some ways, more invasive. Thousands of plants can be grown in an intensive greenhouse, converted warehouse or other totally enclosed structure with 24-hour high-intensity grow lights in tightly controlled environments and accelerated harvesting. These commercial cannabis structures are water and electricity ultra-consumers.
Growing cannabis emits a pungent, skunky odor, which neighbors do not like. Ask the residents in the Corrales del Norte subdivision which abuts medical cannabis greenhouses in the north end of the village. Some neighbors smell the odor from 1,000 feet away. Googling “cannabis growing odor” yields over 10 million results. Because of the monetary value of cannabis products, many intensive growing structures get burglarized. Security walls and fences and barbed wire, barred windows and security lights are common. Also, the growing structures themselves are usually not aesthetically pleasing.
Although one might like cannabis products (and/or beer), one would not like to live next to an intensive cannabis growing structure (or a brewery). Choosing to buy a house next to such a structure is one thing, but living in a home for 25 years and suddenly having one show up next door is quite another. For several years, all was well enough with Corrales and its stance on cannabis until early this year when the State Legislature passed its cannabis act (House Bill 2). Yes, it legalized recreational cannabis consumption and allowed the personal and household growing of six and 12 plants respectively.
However, perhaps inadvertently, it might have superseded Corrales’s ordinance banning commercial cannabis growing on A-1 and A-2 because it considered cannabis as a usual crop and usual crops can be grown in agriculture zones (A-1, A-2 and Neighborhood Commercial) in the village. Needless to say, usual crops are not grown intensively in enclosed facilities with 24-7 grow lights and greenhouses with massive wet-walls (wall-sized swamp coolers) or have pages of State and local regulations and specific licensing.
Not only might cannabis be grown commercially in an agriculture zone in Corrales, but a grower won’t need several acres to do it. Your neighbor can grow it commercially in the backyard of his one-acre lot. For sure, your current friendly neighbors wouldn’t think of doing that, but when they move, the new neighbors very well might feel differently. They might think, “Hey, I spent a lot of money getting some extra land in Corrales so I might as well build a few extra structures in the back and grow cannabis to help defray the cost.”
If they do, you currently have little or no recourse. In Colorado, commercial cannabis growing structures are generally isolated to industrial zones or to land with plenty of acreage, but alas, this does not seem to be the case in Corrales.
At this time, very few residents have any inkling or idea of what has quickly befallen us. Do you think potential commercial growers are interested? In the first few hours after the State began accepting growing applications, almost 400 companies lined up. A legislator and a State official from the State Cannabis Control Division have said that the State will not do neighborhood regulating, which will be up to the local governments.
Last month, the Village Council passed an ordinance which seems to bend over backwards being permissive for the cannabis industry, allowing intensive commercial growing in A-1, A-2, and Neighborhood-Commercial zones, miniscule setbacks of 25 feet and only 200 feet between retail stores in the commercial district. Nuisance laws have been softened by using the hedge modifier “reasonably” so if a grower is “reasonably” conducting business and causing a noxious odor (or noise or lighting), that can’t be considered a nuisance.
Those council proceedings were orchestrated by attorneys. It was a hard sell, doom and gloom if you don’t pass it tonight, back against the wall and deadline. The pressure was palpable. Considerations were deflected by “this should be researched later.” Attorneys said that there had been three revisions already, but each of these revisions were only for non-substantive, attorney tweaking. Suggestions by the councilors —such as increased setbacks in the residential neighborhoods— were not incorporated. Usually, three council meetings are used to pass an ordinance; this ordinance was fast-tracked in only two meetings.
Yes, the ordinance was passed (not unanimously) by Village Council. But don’t blame them. They were pressured big time and given little time to get facts and input. I (a former councillor) perhaps would have voted for it too. When you sit at the table, and attorneys say that you have to pass it now, that is significant pressure.
Some councillors probably would like to amend this hurriedly-passed ordinance; they have ideas on how to give residential neighborhoods some protections from intensive growing structures next door. At the council meeting, the attorneys said that the ordinance was a dynamic document and it can be amended when appropriate; we’ll see. Hopefully, the governing body will keep it moving and not necessarily delay critical amendments. Other farming states of Colorado, Oregon and Washington have measures protecting residential neighborhoods from intensive and invasive cannabis structures. Why can’t we?
Yes, the cannabis industry can bring some revenue into the Village coffers, but at what price? Residential neighborhoods should not be paying a price with a decrease in quality of life and decrease in property values.
Perhaps, the Village is at a tipping point. How Corrales deals with cannabis and, specifically, this ordinance might define it for the future. It can put a different slant on our Harvest Festival. Harvesting intensively grown cannabis occurs several times a year, not necessarily only in the fall as it does for usual crops. Hopefully, Corrales will make the right decisions, and not become known as a Cannabis Capital.
By Mary Davis
Another longtime resident is gone and will be greatly missed. Gilbert Lopez, whose death was reported in the August 21 Corrales Comment, was a font of information about Corrales, an electrical engineer, and a farmer almost to the end. Luckily for us he was also an artist who painted two large pictures of Corrales before World War II when the freeway, the bridges that span the Rio Grande today, and the paving of Corrales Road were far in the future. The painting was titled: “Threshing Wheat with a Threshing Machine, Summer 1935.” His other picture was of a water wheel that moved water from the old Corrales acequia to the family property. Both are safe at his home.
Happily he also left notes about where the threshing took place and who was doing the work. The location was his grandfather’s property located east of Corrales Road between Mariquita and Sanchez Roads; it’s now the Corrales Compound. He added that the property extended through the bosque to the river. The wheat sacker was Don Angelo Salce. The persons on the stack were Angelo Salce’s daughters Dulcelina, Ida and Lena. The person on the thresher cutting the wheat bundles loose was Gilbert’s uncle, Maxmillianlo (Max) Lopez. The person on the hay rake driving the team of mules —the bay was named Jenny and the black was Jack— was Gilbert himself.
He noted that “Three other stacks had already been threshed belonging to Don Juan Cristobal Lopez (my grandpa), Don José Griego and Don Victor Sandoval.” The man sitting on the tractor was the owner of the thresher. Gilbert didn’t know his name, only that “he was just following the wheat harvest.” His notes concluded with the information that “the wheat was mostly taken to the 4 Star Flour Mill, on South Second Street, next to the Santa Fe Railroad tracks, just south of Trumbull Avenue, about where now the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District service yard is located in Albuquerque.”
What a treasure! He proudly shared his genealogy: his parents were Perfecto Lopez and Anita Gonzales. Perfecto’s parents were Juan Cristobal Lopez and Anastacia Montoya, and Anita’s parents were Daniel Gonzales, brother of Herman Gonzales (Hector Gonzales’s father) and Rafaelita Sandoval from Cebolleta, north of Laguna Pueblo. Gilbert told us that his father, Perfecto, ran cattle and sheep near Cuba, and that his dad would often take him when he traveled to trade with the Navajos. He also remembered when the Navajos came to Corrales to trade; they would camp in their wagons for a week under the big cottonwood that stood by Gilbert’s old house (now demolished) near the Corrales Acequia not far north of the Old Church.
These memories of Gilbert Lopez were provided by Corrales Historical Society (CHS) Archives Committee. All of the “I didn’t know that!” articles previously published in this newspaper may be accessed at http://www.CorralesHistory.org/archives. Want to learn more? Explore the CHS website! New CHS members are always welcome.
By Steve Komadina
The Times They Are A Changing!
It is amazing how every week brings new surprises as to the style of pandemic life! Intellectual honesty seems to have been thrown to the winds. Rules are selectively applied, and the word “science” has a whole new definition. My horses have been off the farm for some time on an extended working vacation. Their letters home are heart-warming as they work the wilderness, taking riders of variety of skill, on Old West experiences. They are so happy to be working. They would not even consider being on unemployment.
I laugh as I hear complaints about proof of vaccination. I have said for years that it was discriminatory for horse events to require equine proof of vaccination but not those of owners and riders. I feared the humans far more than the horses! I have loved the social distancing of pandemic since I have a very large personal bubble and it has been great keeping people away. Now, as a physician actively seeing patients daily, what about this pandemic? It is real. It is a bad virus worse that the common flu. From that point on there is nothing but disagreement.
We had a two-day staff retreat last month at the Tamaya. It was inside and we had social distancing in the conference room. Masks were mandatory except while eating and drinking. The pandemic had not cranked up yet and there were no complaints, and we did not become a hot spot for COVID-19. Then this month we have mandatory vaccination proof for the State Fair and concert venues, and threats of another lockdown is whispered in hushed voices. Daily positive test results lead the nightly news reports, and the surge is on!
Then just a week ago, one of the highest profile elected official’s wedding-of-the-year is held at the Tamaya indoors with no masks and no social distancing. Is it that difficult to follow the governor’s and CDC’s guidelines? Can’t we just all follow the rules? How do I explain this to my horses, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren? To quote Dr. Scrase: “We are looking into it.”
Well, for me and mine, we will follow the rules. It is a lot easier to sleep at night. My horses continue to sleep well since they all took their ivermectin, and I am happy to report no positive test results in the herd. Please social distance when you see me on the trail. By the way, I do not buy your your honest attempt to social distance from your canine friend by having your dog off a leash in the bosque.
By Barry Abel
Why ViV? Many of us have chosen Corrales as the community in which we wish to live now that we have retired and can settle wherever we choose. That means we come here without family or the benefits of our long-time support groups. Corrales is exactly where we want to be. We build a network here of friends; we find so much to do. But later in life, we will need something more.
To many of us, Village in the Village, Corrales (ViV) helps in both areas: we form many friendships with other Corraleños in and through ViV and, in times of need, we find the assistance we require through ViV which provides volunteer friend- and neighbor-like services to members who need them. Recent events involving friends and extended family have underscored this for me, especially the need for support and help when the time arises.
Two couples were involved: in one, the husband was stricken by a profoundly serious affliction and hospitalized, very ill, sedated. His recovery will be long and will require significant speech and physical rehabilitation. In the other couple, the husband’s cancer, which he had had for three years hardly showing any evidence thereof, finally reached his brain. He died about a week later. In both cases, the wife isn’t able to continue to live independently without a partner to help carry the burden.
In one situation, there really wasn't any backup or helping community group where they lived. The full burden fell onto family members – a grown child who lived a four or five hour drive away in the neighboring state and a sister, now 80, at the far end of the country. In the other situation, the couple belonged to ViV. Despite the unanticipated death of the husband, ViV stepped in to help. We visited our friend in her own home, took her to lunch, helped her process what had happened and focus on her future. Those services from ViV gave precious time for the couple’s grown children to put affairs in order, proceed with cleaning out the house, make arrangements for their mother’s future, and so on.
It just underscored the point about why we choose to be members of ViV. Another ViV member and long-time Corrales resident who, at 95, has lots of friends in the community and especially in ViV, comments there is simply no way she would still be alive and functioning without the support she gets and has received from ViV and its volunteers, much less still be living in her own house at this age. For some, active church groups can fill that role. For some, family members who live in the same area can do it. For many of us, ViV fills that role. And the fact is, making sure one has that network of support becomes more and more important the older we get.
We believe it is essential, especially if you are single and “not so young anymore,” to make some sort of arrangement for yourself. Do it for what ViV offers in the present, or simply for just in case. For many of us, Village in the Village provides the answers. ViV offers social opportunities —weekly gatherings in person and via Zoom like Friday morning coffee or breakfast and a monthly Happy Hour, learning opportunities, active activities like bocce ball. And ViV significantly expands the number of our friends in our chosen community - Corrales.
Barry Abel is an active member and volunteer for Village in the Village. For more information about the organization go to http://www.villageinthevillage.org
Written and directed by Sam Hobkinson. Plugs: None. Newly available streaming on Netflix. The new documentary film Misha and the Wolves examines the story of a Holliston, Massachusetts, woman named Misha Defonseca who stunned her congregation on Holocaust Remembrance Day by breaking her silence about her past:
She was not only a Holocaust survivor, but as a young girl had fled her home in Belgium and walked through forests to Germany in search of her parents, last seen in concentration camps. That was remarkable and brave enough, but she hadn’t done it alone; she was joined (and adopted) by a pack of wild wolves who helped her in her journey.
Misha’s incredible life story caught the attention of a friend who ran a small publishing house, and was soon turned into a best-selling 1997 book titled Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years. It caught the influential (if not particularly discerning) eye of Oprah Winfrey, and would soon be published in several languages and optioned for films. Misha became a celebrity, touring the world telling her inspiring story of courage and overcoming adversity.
Eventually, however, some suspected that her story was in fact literally incredible —not credible. Misha and the Wolves expertly tracks the rise and fall of Misha’s story. Even though I’d read basic outlines of the events, the film contains some surprising plot twists that I won’t reveal, as there are enough spoilers already. It’s not just the story of a strange story of a (suspected) hoax, but perhaps more importantly, it’s the story of determined people who joined forces to reveal the truth.
The public is of course widely —and rightly— counseled to “believe the victim” in many circumstances. That is the appropriate default position, and the vast majority of the time the victim is as exactly as claimed. But in some cases it’s not clear who the victim is, and the film explores the continual trepidation of those who questioned Misha’s claims: what if they were wrong? No one wanted to be in a position of casting doubt on the account of a true victim, and especially not of the Holocaust.
This deception would likely have never been revealed but for the tenacity of not only the book’s original publisher, who was sued (and, as it turns out, wrongfully awarded millions) by Misha, but also a genealogist, a journalist and others.
The fact that Misha was invited to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show to promote the book but declined was, ironically, one of the early red flags that something wasn’t right. (Oprah, it should be noted, has a long history of promoting heart-tugging memoirs that were later revealed to be largely or wholly hoaxed, along with untold numbers of other dubious and discredited topics.) The film builds suspense as each new piece of information is revealed.
Misha and the Wolves is a story of detective work, deception, and gullibility. It unfolds like a series of Russian dolls, spinning into several smaller mysteries: Is Misha’s story mostly true, like anyone’s subjective recollections and allowing for mistakes, memory lapses, and biases?
Within about 20 minutes (or sooner, if you’ve seen any coverage of the case) it’s clear that Misha’s story isn’t true —or at least isn’t entirely true. But is that significant? Authors James Frey and Joe Mortensen, among many others, eventually admitted to fabricating key parts of their bestselling memoirs, A Million Little Pieces and Three Cups of Tea, respectively. So did Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu in her book I, Rigoberta Menchu, but all insisted that their books were essentially true.
Or is Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years entirely fabricated, and if so, to what end? Was it akin to the influential 1971 young adult memoir Go Ask Alice, which was completely made up by an evangelical middle-aged Mormon woman trying to teach moral lessons? Or is Misha delusional, perhaps (understandably) traumatized? In any event there should be independent corroborating evidence one way or the other. If Misha didn’t spend some of her childhood living with wolves and walking through forests to find her parents, then where was she? Surely there would have to be some record, somewhere…
It is perhaps fitting that the real heroine of the film —the person who does indeed find the smoking gun (though where and of what I won’t reveal) —is herself a Belgian Holocaust survivor named Evelyne Haendel. Holocaust memorial organizations are in fact among the most skeptical of such claims, precisely because a handful of people have falsified their Holocaust experiences, and accepting claims without due diligence dishonors real victims.
Writer/director Sam Hobkinson does a masterful job of letting the participants speak for themselves, with one notable exception (revealed in a twist reminiscent of the 2019 documentary Wrinkles the Clown), illustrating conflicting agendas at virtually every turn. Publishers and journalists want a good story; historians and genealogist want the truth; and documentary filmmakers want a blend of both.
For more on Misha’s case see Telling Tales: A History of Literary Hoaxes, by Melissa Katsoulis, and Popular Trauma Culture: Selling the Pain of Others in Mass Media, by Anne Rothe (full disclosure: I’m referenced in the latter book). Misha and the Wolves is curiously reminiscent of another documentary series, also on Netflix, titled The Devil Next Door, out in 2019. That five-part series tells the true story of another elderly, otherwise unremarkable American citizen with murky (and contested) ties to the Holocaust: Ivan Demjanjuk. The retired autoworker settled in Cleveland and was later accused of being a prison guard at a Nazi concentration camp nicknamed “Ivan the Terrible” by his victims. But was he? As the series reveals, the answer is yes and no.
Misha and the Wolves is an excellent piece of documentary filmmaking, and about much more than one woman’s audacious hoax or delusion; it’s about history, identity, authenticity, and why we choose to believe.
By Lisa Brown
As the Village finalizes documents for purchasing conservation easements on two additional properties with the remaining farmland preservation bond funds, some ask, where does our program go now?
Three things immediately come to mind. We are central to connecting farmers with landowners. (In fact, we did introduce One Gen, currently farming there, to the Trosello fields.) We can help facilitate development plans that include land conservation. We educate landowners about the benefits —tax and environmental— of donating their development rights and placing conservation easements on their land.
While this important work remains to be done, our commission is short one member in spite of at least one qualified application to the administration. This makes doing our job harder. Ostensibly, the reasoning goes that our funds are spent, there is no appetite for passing another farmland bond, and we need to save our bonding capacity to build infrastructure.
In Corrales, farmland is infrastructure. It provides the foundation for continuing agriculture here, which is fundamental to who we are and where we must be headed if we want to preserve the character and economic base of our home. What is a harvest festival without farms? What is our community without a source of local food? What is our environment without open space?
There will always be roads to improve. There will always be equipment to buy. But there will not always be farmland unless we choose to protect it. Instead, there will be fields of single-family houses with garages, demanding our resources.
Two of our most visible and iconic farms remain unprotected. We should act while we can. In fact, our farmland bonds have been more popular with our voters than any of our mayors elected at the same time. We just used our last bond in record time and protected another 26 acres of prime soil as open space forever, adding to the 50 acres conserved by the first bond. We can pass another farmland preservation bond while there is still land and farmers to protect. Why not try?
I’d like to recommend that the Village use whatever means possible, including bond funds or last year’s windfall money, to buy the property on the corner of Huff Road and the Interior Drain. It creates a beautiful link between the Sandoval Lateral and the Interior Drain. It has a couple of buildings on it that could be made into a visitors’ center in the future, or converted to affordable housing for Village employees, or half a dozen other uses. If it is sold for development, it will mean two or three more mega-mansions that we don’t need. If we act and buy it, it could become an integral part of the commons for our village. If you agree with me, please write your Village councillor or the mayor and let them know.
The Unitarian Universalist Westside Congregation is composed of open-minded, thoughtful and friendly people from many religious and philosophical backgrounds. We are a community of people who work to adhere to these seven principles:
• The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
• Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
• Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
• A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
• The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
• The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all; and
• Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
We are part of the Unitarian Universalist Association which adopted these -run general assemblies after grassroots input from members in its congregations across the nation. Our members include people of all religious traditions as well as those with none. We welcome people of all races, ethnic backgrounds and sexual preferences. We ask only that they believe in, and try to adhere to, our principles. To help people develop their own spirits, we offer classes, sociability, opportunities to work for justice, counseling and weekly services, Sundays 11 a.m. at 1650 Abrazo Road NE Rio Rancho. Our minister is the Reverend D. Nancy Hitt, an American Baptist minister. I think she is wonderful.
-Reverend Judy Deutsch,
UU minister emerita
By Sandi Hoover
As one of many birders in the United States, I can attest to what a weird bunch we are. Behavior can be extreme in pursuit of our avocation. Some are occasional, casual birders, content to see birds in their backyard or nearby. Others are fanatics to the point of obsession. Here are some things to know if you take up birding. Today, birders add an unbelievable $85 billion to the U.S. economy every year! These dollars are spent on equipment and clothing, travel, food, lodging, plus professional guides to help locate birds. According to estimates, nearly one in four Americans considers him or herself a bird watcher.
In appearance, you can expect to be dressed in specialized attire never shown on designers’ runways. It’s amazing how many dollars can be spent to look dorky. Starting at ground level, shoes range from tennis shoes to expensive hiking boots built to repel water and muck collected from trekking through marshes and swamps. Footwear is like a field vehicle —choose carefully because it will get dirty or ruined. The truism about the perfect car for a field trip —take someone else’s— works when thinking about shoes as well. Wear those you would toss.
Moving upward, another essential item is a pair of pants with pockets to carry the necessities of life to ward off the wilderness —even if venturing into the backwoods only 50 feet. The pants should be made of lightweight, quick-drying material with pockets upon pockets to hold sunscreen, bug repellent, lip balm, car keys, a birding guide, identification, tissues, water bottle (hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!), lens cleaner for binoculars, and possibly an iPad. Those pants usually have a zipper to convert them into unflattering shorts. However, in parts of the world where chiggers and ticks exist, one never removes the bottom, no matter how hot it might be. People have a valid concern about ticks, but they are far more visible than chiggers, and it’s relatively easy to eliminate them with a thorough check at home after a day pursuing birds. The real fear is the pain of chiggers.
So the pant legs stay on, tucked into white cotton socks (a look not imitated on fashion pages) to minimize the opportunity to provide a meal for those microscopic mites. Known as red bugs or %@!!*# chiggers, these tiny arachnids worm their way into garments, and onto skin, where they travel until they find a constricted spot —underwear edges preferred. There they bury their proboscis in tasty flesh and inject their digestive mix. If this sounds awful, it is! After dissolving part of a person, they suck up the juices —another lovely image.
The aftermath is worse, leaving you itching for several days with a reaction to mite saliva. If you have never met a chigger, you cannot understand the lengths one will go to avoid being lunch for those almost invisible creatures. Bug sprays on socks, sulfur powder, clothes soaked in DEET (rather death by poisons than the misery of itching and scratching for days on end), all are fair game for chigger avoidance. The wilderness demands toughness —or chemicals. Moving upward. You will want a long-sleeved shirt. Best if sun-and-bug-repellent coated, as well as water-resistant, and anti-microbial, so fellow birders are not offended by odors. Color? Beige or green, and the least flattering shades. Birds won’t smell you coming soaked in bug repellent. Most —excepting vultures have no sense of smell.
Next, a vest replete with pockets, homes for whatever didn’t fit in the pants. Pencil and notebook and at least one zippered pocket for money or keys. Who knows what you can tuck in one of the innumerable inner pockets —a several-course meal at the very least. A hat, again beige, or dull green; camo is mostly taboo, since it has been taken over by gun-toting non-birders. Large picture brim hats are verboten. Now you are properly attired and can proceed to hunt the feathered creatures. No longer do you hunt them as John James Audubon did, with shotgun or rifle. You go afield with ‘bins’ (binoculars) and spotting scopes.
Behavior is the way to identify fanatics. They are beyond the “committed” birders, defined as those who can identify forty different birds. They are unstoppable in pursuit of birds, perhaps obsessive-compulsive. They are the tickers. The movie, The Big Year, poignantly funny, was based on real people who were well-known in the birding community. Tickers need to count the different birds they see and tally them on their score card. The yearlong record was broken in 2016 when one person saw 783 species, dramatically surpassing the previous record of 749.
Scoring these rarities on the owner’s life list counts more than other sightings. Is it the thrill of the chase…perhaps the difficulty involved in spotting? Many people collect coins, stamps, porcelain, antiques, or tractors, if they live in Corrales. These are things occupying space, requiring dusting or maintaining in some way. Birders also collect —experiences and an assemblage that, while it grows, takes no dusting and no space other than bytes on a computer or words on paper. The goal is not just a number; this collection reminds us of our connection to the natural world, and the fragility of its ecosystems.
Birding is a way to observe creatures as they go about their lives. It is voyeurism of a sort, as we peer through binoculars to have a magnified look at their activities. We grab a snapshot of their world; a brief time when we glimpse their abilities. There is irony in that the number of birders is increasing while the number of birds is declining rapidly. The populations of many bird species have dropped by seventy percent or more based on data gathered for a century. This decrease is felt in ways people are not aware of. Birds play important roles in pest control, in pollination, and some are intimately entwined with the creation or propagation of forests. All will be missed if they disappear.
Do we only value things as they become rarer?
By Meredith Hughes
Green chiles are roasting! And—-was it only last month that masks were tossed overboard? Remember? They are back, strongly suggested for indoor use in both Sandoval and Bernalillo counties. That Delta variant —remember “Delta is ready when you are”, from 1968 and 1984? ( Also back, ban on tossable plastic bags in stores.) But this pesky pandemic is no joke. Masks are required inside all APS schools, and Corrales municipal buildings. Positive local news? The redoing of Corrales Road is complete. Bye bye July’s go-to road, Loma Larga.
Do visit the websites of your favorite museums/galleries/organizations to check opening and closing times under the once again revised guidelines. Email event suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Published the first issue of the month, What’s On? invites suggestions one week before the publication date.
• Entry to the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) in Santa Fe is free the entire month of August thanks to a generous donation from Jeff Bezos’ ex, MacKenzie Scott, and her husband Dan Jewett. Experience this remarkable gallery at 108 Cathedral Place.
• The Santa Fe Indian Market is on, August 21 and 22, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. But, visitors must buy tickets online. This is a COVID-19 precaution, as numbers must be controlled, alas. Masking up is not confirmed, as the market will be outdoors. Check here for FAQ: https://swaia.org/market-faq/
Go here for tickets: https://tickets. holdmyticket.com/tickets/374222
• Art Exhibit NM Landscapes, is the current exhibit at Open Space. Artist Gwen Entz Peterson works predominantly with serigraphy (also known as silkscreen). Since 1973, Peterson has worked on images great and small. The body of her work is predominantly contemporary landscape, but sometimes also is totally abstract. The exhibit runs through September 18. Open Space Visitor Center, 6500 Coors.
• Shakespeare in the Garden returns to the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, after a 2020 hiatus, with As You Like It. (The garden is open Thursday-Monday, 9 to 5 p.m.) Seats are available Thursday-Sunday through August 22. 715 Camino Lejo. Seating is limited so get your tickets at https://www.santafeclassictheater.org. The performances begin at 6:45 p.m.
• Albuquerque Concert Band Summer Concert, August 11, 7 p.m. Free and easy! New Mexico Veterans Memorial Park, 1100 Louisiana.
• The 27th annual Santa Fe Wine Festival at Las Golondrinas, August 14 and 15, starting at noon each day. 334 Los Pinos Road, Santa Fe. Tickets: https://tickets.holdmyticket. com/tickets/376047
• Steven Michael Quezada’s Comedy Showcase, September 2, 7:30 p.m. at Tableau in the Hotel Albuquerque. Best known for his work in "Breaking Bad,” Quezada introduces stand-up comics from all over, once a month, as well as himself. Tickets are $25: https://tickets.holdmyticket.com/tickets/378069?tc=hmt
• Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group, on exhibit through September 26 at the Albuquerque Museum. Take a meditative stroll through this exhibition—the “group” came together in Taos in 1938, “to discuss and perpetuate an alternative to the social realism and homespun Americana that had been promoted by Regionalism and the Ash Can school.” While the artists involved kept working, Agnes Pelton having moved to California, the group itself disbanded after the Second World War. 2000 Mountain.
• Albuquerque Little Theatre has resumed live performances, through August 29. Its third production, Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park, runs August 19-29, Thursday- Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 224 San Pasquale SW. Tickets: https://click4 tix.com/alt/events.php
• Ready, Set, Grow, via NMSU. August 18, 3 to 4 p.m. Planning for Fall Vegetables, with John Garlish. Register at https://desertblooms.nmsu.edu/ready-set-grow.html
Did You Know?
It’s back, the longest running, biggest such event here, Albuquerque Home & Garden Show at Expo New Mexico—plants and garden plans, home improvement/decor, demos, artisans (?), food, and multiple promotions…hot tub sales! Masks likely will be encouraged. August 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. August 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $5 admission, unless you are a child 12 and under. 265-3976.
Plus: Be sure to explore the colorful, clear, and completely new and revised website for Corrales Main Street. Brava and bravo to those involved. https://visitcorrales.com/
• Corrales Arts Center is bursting with offerings this month. Into wine? Visit each of the four Corrales wineries, experience interviews of the owners by Jim Hammond, enjoy tastings. $75. https://www.corralesartscenter.org/event-4411778 And/or try “The World of Japanese Sumi-E Painting with George Leone,” Japanese ink painting, August 7,14 and 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.at the Community Center, 4324 Corrales Road. Fee is $50. Register at https://www.corralesartscenter.org/event-4412177
• Village Council meeting, August 17, 6:30 p.m., still posted as via Zoom.
• Heidi’s Raspberry Farm has opened for U-Pick, but, it’s possible few spots will be available by this issue’s publication date… Still, people drop out, so there’s always hope. Saturdays, 9 a.m. Check https://tinyurl.com/ 62xfhws3
• Planning and Zoning meeting, August 18, 6:30 p.m., still posted as via Zoom.
• Corrales Library Book Club, August 30, 2:30 p.m., “The Sparrow,” by Mary Doria Russell, a 1996 provocative sci fi and philosophy tale centered on a Jesuit priest exploring a new planet. Author series, August 31, 7 p.m., Paul and Carlos Meyer on their book “Under the Cottonwood Tree.” A full color Latinx children’s adventure graphic novel set in Algodones, New Mexico, illustrated by Margaret Hardy. Please contact Sandra Baldonado for Zoom event details. email@example.com.
• Music in Corrales is ready to sell you tickets to its 35th season, kicking off with the Bobby Shew Jazz Sextet, September 18, at 7 p.m. “Our current plan is to hold the first two concerts – September and October – in La Entrada Park, near the Corrales Community Library, then move into the Old San Ysidro Church in December.” To buy season tickets see http://www.musicincorrales.org/concerts/. To view the season’s offerings, see http://www.musicincor rales.org/current-season/
• Corrales Growers’ Market. Weekly Sunday sessions in August, 9 to noon. August 8, 15, 22, 29. Wednesdays, also 9 to noon. August 11, 18, 25. Still no dogs allowed… no music, either.
• Village in the Village. Coffee hour, Fridays, 9 to 11 a.m. in person at Corrales Bistro. Reservations are required. Call 274-6206 or email corrales.viv @gmail.com. Book Club, August 16, via Zoom, 3-4 p.m.“City of Thieves,” by David Benioff, set in Leningrad during WW2.
Just read the 24 July issue of Corrales Comment, and found it to be an especially good read, with articles that were not only interesting, but informative on issues of the day.
The climate change article was especially interesting to me, and let’s hope that the increasing prominence in the press will finally convince the public to get serious about it.
Thanks for the good work!
Because of preexisting medical conditions in my family, I have been, and continue to be, very cautious to avoid exposure to COVID and its variants. I was recently referred to physical therapy due to some spinal problems. During my evaluation, I answered the many questions of the therapist, then I asked her a question: are all the therapists here fully vaccinated? I was quite surprised when the answer was “we don’t ask our employees if they are vaccinated.” I was shocked.
I followed up with Presbyterian Healthcare to find out if that was indeed their policy and the answer was yes and it’s not clear if patients are discouraged from asking. I have had Pres Healthcare for many years, and never had a complaint with them before now.
I find their policy to be outrageous. I appreciate that we each have rights. But physical therapy is not a procedure that can be done safely distanced and the sessions are not quick. Pres has put me in an untenable situation, and I find it to be unacceptable. Pres is not taking account of their patients’ right to be treated in safety.
I suggest that you ask questions of your healthcare providers. Take nothing for granted.
Pig *** Co-written and directed by Michael Sarnoski. Starring Nicolas Cage and Steve Tisch. Plugs: None. Nearest: Cottonwood Mall.
The story in Pig cleverly unfolds piece by piece as the setting gets increasingly larger. The film begins with one man in front of a fire by a stream deep in the Oregon wilderness. His name is Rob, and the story expands to his hermit cabin, and to his pet pig, who he uses to find —or, rather, with whom he finds— expensive truffles in the forest undergrowth. The story expands further with the appearance at the cabin of a young hotshot aspiring restaurateur named Amir (Alex Wolff) who arrives to buy Rob’s truffles and bring supplies.
All goes well until Rob’s pig is stolen. This happens early in the film, and the bulk of the story is basically about a man trying to get his pig back. The story opens up even wider when Amir joins Rob (providing transportation to the city, and companionship) as they search high (tony restaurants) and low (scrubby back alleys) in search of information on who took the pig with the specialized truffle-scouting snout. For those wondering how this is going to sustain a feature-length film, writer/director Michael Sarnoski breaks his story down into parts and uses these characters to symbolize larger themes of loss and authenticity, with mixed success. Pig is reminiscent of films such as Captain Fantastic (2016) and Leave No Trace (2018) —both also set in the Pacific Northwest forests— as well as Susan Orlean’s book The Orchid Thief, the basis for the film Adaptation (2002), starring none other than Nicolas Cage.
This is the sort of story where a character sets out to see someone and it magically happens. The person seems to somehow be in just the right place at the right time to catch the other person alone, unoccupied, and in a receptive mood. It’s tricky to criticize the film for this, however, because the story is essentially a fable, and characters in fables are typically shallow and stereotyped: the villain, the handsome prince, and so on. Here we have a rugged, truth-living mountain man and his fake city slicker friend, and others who are various shades in between this yin and yang. While Pig may at its heart be a fable, it’s a filmed fable and thus audiences (and critics) have a reasonable expectation that the characters will be more fleshed out, for narrative purposes if no other.
There are two pivotal scenes which are played achingly earnest yet unfortunately ring false. I won’t detail them, but they involve Rob confronting people from his past and making them face their inner Truths over the course of a few minutes. Encounters with Rob tend to leave people reflecting on their lost dreams, a theme which may have read great on the page but on the screen comes off as pat, forced and unconvincing. Overall the performances are good, and Cage manages to avoid chewing the scenery; I just wish the script gave the actors more to work with.
You can see why Cage —who, let’s be honest, has not been the most discerning of actors— was drawn to the film. He gets to play a mysterious recluse, a man of few words but a reservoir of wisdom. He gets to play off of a series of foils including Amir, who offers a study in (often ham-handed) contrasts. Amir’s ostentatious, consumerist-driven, highfalutin’ life in Portland is seen as vacuous compared to Rob’s simple, rustic, idealized life of dubious hygiene and porcine-assisted truffle rustling. Truth is in the freedom and wilderness, while the city life is full of evil and deceit. We get it —and so does Rob, because as we come to learn he was once in that world. Pig is an odd, mediocre film; it’s better than its premise suggests, but often a bit too precious and ponderous, taking itself much too seriously.
Ourzazate and Erg Chebbi, Morocco
A few days after arriving in Marrakesh, on a lark I joined a handful of fellow travelers staying with me at the Hotel Afriquia —including a young female yoga instructor and her manager/boyfriend; a pleasant Irishman named Conor who spoke impenetrable brogue; and four Aussie girls on a three-day tour of the Central Atlas Valley, east of the city. We’d be seeing gorgeous gorges and classic casbahs as we wound through the mountains toward the Sahara, finally ending up among the most picturesque parts of the desert, the famed Erg Chebbi dunes. It’s been the backdrop to many films, perhaps most memorably The Mummy, which starred Brendan Fraser and had come out several years earlier, in 1999. It’s the beautiful, if stereotypical, image that most people have of the Sahara.
We headed out in a van, which was decent but with a total of 18 of us, a bit tight. Marrakesh has its exotic charm, but we were all eager to get out of the city and see the countryside. That enthusiasm was soon sapped by heat and tedium; for about half the trip we were all pretty tired. The van’s air conditioning did its best given the head count and the fact that we were headed toward one of the world’s greatest deserts, but between that and the engine droning all of us were asleep at some time or another —including, I suspect, the driver. We weren’t bored, but there were long stretches between points of interest, and usually a helpful neighbor would nudge me when something interesting approached, for a photograph if not a nodding, bleary acknowledgement.
It cooled a bit as we headed into the High Atlas’s sheer rocky cliffs. Further along the land flattened out into desert, and strongly resembled New Mexico in many ways. The lack of water thwarted any farming, and the strong winds would likely blow any seedlings away. The main industry was tending sheep, and we saw at least a dozen shepherds tending flocks of a few dozen sheep listlessly scrounging scarce scrub. The occasional buildings were usually in earthtones, and were in fact earth —not cement and certainly not wood. Along the road huge cactus plants grew in long rows, marking off property boundaries, as did piles of rocks which reminded me of the stone figure inukshuks I’d seen on the Canadian tundra along Hudson Bay.
Unfinished construction was common; about one out of every five buildings I saw lacked some important structural feature —usually a roof, or one of the walls. At times a would-be property was introduced with a large metal or wooden painted sign optimistically advertising (and often depicting) a lush hotel or resort which didn’t seem to have gotten much past pouring a foundation or planting a few (long since dead) trees. It was a sad and poignant scene that might have inspired Shelley’s lines about Ozymandias, king of kings. Despite the heat everyone got excited as the giant sloped dunes of Erg Chebbi came into focus through the wavering desert haze and heat, like a giant light pink slug on the horizon, lying in wait as we approached. About 40 minutes later we arrived at a small parking area that seemed to be surrounded by nothing but high sand dunes. We disembarked —reminded to bring our all-important 10-dirham quarts of bottled water— and were led around an otherwise invisible space between dunes where we found a waiting camel train.
We were each handed a wool blanket saddle and told to stand near the camels. All this was handled by a pair of Berbers, who were dressed in brilliant, deep blue cloth and, improbably, barefoot. I first noticed it when Conor, who was nearby, shouted some Irish gibberish to me. I smiled and pretended I understood him, but I think he was onto me and pointed at his, and then their, shoes (or lack thereof). The Berbers, both likely in their thirties, were deeply tanned, with pitch black hair and fierce mustaches that stood in contrast to their friendly grins and rudimentary English. One by one each tourist was placed on a correspondingly-sized camel. There were two camel trains, each characteristically surly (yet grudgingly dependable) animal tied with rope around their mouths, stomachs, and tails.
Off we went, leaving any torpor to the wind and sand. We were on a Grand Adventure, and each lurching plod of my camel shook off lingering drowsiness as we headed into the desert. Since I was a young boy I’d always fantasized about crossing the Sahara. We weren’t technically crossing it, of course… we were, at best, getting a tiny, touristy take on it. But it was still as close as I’d get, and I savored every second of it. I tried to get some photos of the desert and camel train behind me, but the disruptive dromedary made it impossible to steady the camera. The dunes were a delightful creamy pinkish tan, dotted only with the occasional small shrub and walnut-sized lumps of camel shit.
After about an hour covering perhaps two miles we came upon a Berber camp consisting of three low tents (the edges were about three feet off the ground and only accessible by crawling) surrounded by a large carpeted area. Our bags were stowed under the tents, and we were told we’d sleep outside on the carpet, unless a sandstorm came up, in which case we’d head to the tents.
Our camp was surrounded by dunes and at the base of the largest, probably 50 feet high. I was eager to explore the area in the waning hours of the day. I was told that was fine, but not to wander too far from camp. So —minding a compass and heading toward the setting sun for orientation— I immediately tried to test both my endurance and our guides’ patience. Unlike the Berbers I was wearing hiking boots, which protected my feet but whose weight made walking more arduous. Nevertheless I climbed about two or three big dunes before deciding I should turn 180 degrees and head back, following my tracks (as the only sign of where I’d come, there being nothing but blue skies and identical dunes all around me). A sudden sandstorm could be dangerous, if for no other reason than by erasing all traces of my return path, hence the compass.
As I walked back I noticed another camp, one I hadn’t seen when hiking the other direction, partially hidden by dunes. At first I thought it was another tourist camp, since many different tours often take customers to more or less the same places. But as I drew closer I realized it was a real Berber camp, and there was indeed a real Berber family living in it, with a small herd of goats nearby. This pleased me immensely, as it closely resembled our own camp. Tourists, of course, would never truly experience a desert nomad’s life after a single night on the edge of the Sahara, but it seemed reasonably authentic.
Upon returning I wandered a bit more, though staying within sight of the camp. I soon heard a bell ring and joined everyone for a dinner of bread with a bowl of peas, potatoes and goat meat. After desert dessert consisting of an orange, people broke into groups. Some swapped travel stories, and pretended they knew what the hell Conor was saying. Others discussed politics, while still others shared lame jokes. All was fine until a guitar somehow materialized and some idiot decided that everyone should sing songs. That was my cue to call it a night. I didn’t mind the butchered “Yellow Submarine,” but I didn’t come all the way to the Moroccan Sahara to hear “American Pie” sung by people who stumbled through everything but the chorus.
I took a sleeping pill and tried to fall asleep, picking a place on the edge of the carpet just outside the campfire light, but the goings-on were too distracting. I decided to sleep on top of the big dune, by myself, under the star-sprinkled night sky. I slowly edged out of sight, hoping the Berber twins didn’t take a head count. I brought only a bottle of water and my glasses, and made my way up the sliding sand to the crest of the dune. I settled in and had a front-row seat to the heavens. I could see for miles, nothing but dunes, stars, and the occasional faint glow of what might be other camps in the far distance —maybe a few hundred meters away, maybe many miles. No cities, no light pollution, no nothing. I soon stripped down to my underwear, carving out a small sand hollow for my shoulders and hips. A welcoming Saharan breeze cooled me off, sometimes sprinkling sand into my eyes, nose and ears. I didn’t care; I savored that as well. I made a pillow of my rolled-up pants and shirt and drifted to sleep with a smile, another childhood dream realized.
By Barry Abel
Welcome back! The last year was difficult for so many we all know —relatives, friends— all over the country. Activities curtailed, restaurants closed, isolation the reality of each day. Now we celebrate another beginning. Corrales and the rest of the country are open for business. Restaurants are busy and social and recreational activities resume. How will our reawakening look and feel? For those of us in Village in the Village, we are slowly getting back to in-person social activities. We had our first happy hour outside at Casa Vieja. The setting was lovely. Coffee hours on Friday mornings at the Bistro are ongoing, and by now we’ve held our first monthly lunch for members. Our board had its first in-person meeting in over a year.
ViV is planning a “Discovery” lecture series in the early fall —we don’t have the venue yet but hope to find a place in the village. We already have terrific speakers lined up to discuss resiliency, the new law in New Mexico that allows Medical Aid in Dying, caregiving and caretaking, and more. Stay tuned. As I’ve noted in my last two columns, we joined ViV to give back, to make our neighbors’ lives easier, to enable seniors to continue living independently in their own homes as long as they wish and are still physically able to do so. We get the rewards of participating in that mission all the time. But the best and most unexpected reward is finding a whole new group of good friends and companions through ViV. All the social functions (some noted above) enable us to find the community that makes life easier and so much more rewarding. Those who grew up in the area still have that network of family and friends from childhood to call on in good times and bad. But many of us found Corrales, and even New Mexico, later in life. We have family and childhood friends scattered all over —they’re just not here. For us, ViV has been key to building our own support and friendship network right here where we choose to live.
I’m convinced that the peacefulness and lack of stress to living in Corrales are significant factors in enabling so many we know to extend their lives significantly beyond the lifespans enjoyed by the last generation, back where we grew up. Having a group of good friends and a support network is an important part of that reality. We hope you will join us as members of ViV. You don’t have to provide services to be a member —just being a member, you help support our mission. Plus, you should know that all members have the opportunity to request services when needed.
Need help hanging that new large screen on-the-wall TV? Need a ride to the airport or to the eye doctor for that appointment where they dilate your eyes? ViV members can call or email and our friendly call manager will find a fellow ViV member to provide the service that you need. And all the friendships and group support, the learnings from the “Discovery” series, exploring new places for lunch or coffee, all that is just a wonderful bonus. We’re looking forward to getting to know you.
Barry Abel is an active member and volunteer in Village in the Village. For more information, visit our website at VillageintheVillage.org
In the last few months, I have noticed a surge in new people using the Bosque Preserve trails. I have heard about several unpleasant incidents and have experienced a few myself. I realize that not all of these incidents are due to boorish behavior although some of them clearly are. Most of them heed bosque rules which spell out who has the right of way. After the levee was rebuilt, the Bosque Advisory Commission had signs made that showed who had the right-of-way. They were placed at the major entrances to the bosque and at all the places where people commonly went into the preserve from the levee. A lot of these signs are missing, having been taken down when work was being performed on the levee or just plain stolen. Even when they are still there, they are inconspicuous and confusing.
Here are a few simple rules to follow when you encounter horses on the trails or the ditch banks.
1. When cyclists, runners or hikers meet horses coming towards them on the trail or ditch bank, the cyclists should stop and move their bicycles well off the trail to let the rider or riders pass safely. Runners and hikers should also stop and move off the trail. If there are multiple riders, runners or hikers, I recommend that they get off on the same side of the trail for their own safety. Families often split up and move to both sides of the trail. Some people in their zeal to get out of the way, hide behind trees or bushes. This is not a good idea because it can cause horses to spook if they can’t see you clearly.
2. If approaching horses from the rear, call out to let the riders know you are there and would like to pass. The riders will get off the trail as soon as they come to a safe place. In really dense places, this may take a little time and require patience on the part of the cyclists or runners.
3. Keep your dogs on the leash and do not let them run ahead of you out of sight. If dogs appear suddenly or try to nip at the horses’ heels, this can cause an accident. If you see horses approaching, please keep your dogs on the leash. Almost all of the people who use the bosque are considerate and friendly but occasionally, you run into rude or thoughtless people. If you have a bad experience while in the bosque, please report it to the police. We all enjoy the bosque and want to keep it safe for everyone.
Much talk about global warming, fossil fuels —and a savior, Avangrid, from Spain. Despite the full-page newspaper ads in the Journal, I cannot see why a foreign company would wish to help us do what we should do for ourselves. Passive solar, our earth’s tilt on its axis and its orbit about the sun, provide great opportunities of heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. Electric heat pumps are unnecessary and expensive despite the excitement of those who wish to sell us power to run ovens. Five hundred years ago, the indigenous citizens of New Mexico understood passive solar and constructed the cliff dwellings along the Gila River and the San Juan. There their dwellings were warm in winter with much sun and cool in summer. Even 50 years ago, despite commercial competition, people took advantage of the seasons using our familiar adobe bricks to carry winter day heat into the night or in summer to carry night cool into the hot days.
Inexpensive, reliable and natural, such methods attracted even our national laboratories who then studied what the sun could do as well as their atomic power. For some reason, passive solar, despite its long history here in New Mexico, is forgotten. Our architects, scientists, builders and adobe fans know all about this; the engineering departments and the architects are strangely silent. We must upset this silence. Here in New Mexico, we can help ourselves as the Anasazi did 500 years ago, as Los Alamos did 50 years ago. Despite the wonders of our modern, still-improving photovoltaic panels and towering wind generators, passive solar and adobe brick offer us year-around low-cost comfort and affirm the long traditions practiced forever here in our land of enchantment.
By John Thompson
Member, Corrales Tree Committee and N.M. Tree Steward
Keep your trees alive during the drought! All of New Mexico is in a drought and Sandoval County is in an extreme to exceptional drought condition. Keeping the trees alive in your landscape should be your first priority for watering during the drought. Trees are the most valuable plants in your landscape and add up to 10 percent of the value of your property, plus they provide cooling, wind reduction, shade and many other environmental benefits. Trees take the longest to replace if killed during a drought. With little rain, your trees are not getting enough moisture to their roots even if you are continuing to water lawns and landscape plants near those trees. The higher temperatures, wind and low humidity during a drought cause trees and shrubs to lose water faster through transpiration. An extended period of drought such as we are currently experiencing causes stress on trees that can kill or weaken them. Trees stressed by drought are more susceptible to pathogens such as fungi and insects. Remember the devastation to piñon trees caused by the pine bark beetle in our last drought.
What do I need to know about watering during a drought?
• What is my soil? How you water depends on what kind of soil you have. In Corrales, there are two predominant kinds of soil. In the foothills the soil is likely to be sandy which means watering needs to be shorter but more frequent. In the greenbelt, soil will have a large amount of clay that holds water requiring longer watering at longer intervals. Loamy soil will hold water better sand and less than clay.
• What trees do I have? Different trees have different water requirements. You can find out if your trees have low, medium, or high water usage by checking with the NMSU plant database at https://aces.nmsu.edu/pes/lowwaterplants/index.html or the New Mexico Plant Database at http://wuc.ose.state. nm.us/Plants/home.jsp
• Where do I water my trees? Too many people mistakenly water only at the trunk of a tree. Water is best applied to the feeder roots of the tree that are predominantly under the canopy of the tree but can reach out well beyond the canopy. The best place to water is at the drip line at the outer edge of the canopy.
• How much do I water my trees? The amount of water needed every month varies by the season, and size and type of tree. The amount of water needed at one watering is what is needed to provide moisture to root depth (1-3 feet). The best way to tell is to check for moisture at about 12 inches deep the day after watering. This can be done with a probe or digging a small hole. Mature producing fruit trees require the most water —up to 800 gallons per month. Low water usage trees can exist on 200 gallons per month. Mature landscape trees can require 400-600 gallons per month during the summer.
• How often do I water my trees? Frequency of watering varies by season and type of soil.
Sandy soil requires less water but more frequent watering. Clay soil retains more water for longer so requires less frequent watering. Newly planted trees and shrubs need the most frequent watering to encourage root growth. Frequency of watering for mature trees may vary from once a week to once a month depending on season and type of tree.
• What’s the best way to water my trees? Bubblers or emitters on drip systems are the recommended way to water landscape trees and shrubs. When you water lawns and flower gardens with sprinkler systems, you are only providing moisture to 4-12 inches deep; whereas, trees and shrubs need moisture to 24-36 inches deep. Emitters or bubblers should be placed in the active root zone just outside the outside edge of the canopy. Emitters are rated in gallons per hour so that you can calculate how long to water for a given volume of water. Hand watering is also good. A tree well placed at the drip line (outside edge of canopy) will keep the water above the root zone until it is absorbed into the soil. As a rule of thumb, one inch of water in a tree well that is 10 feet in radius will provide about 200 gallons of water. Wood mulch 2-4 inches deep in the tree well will help retain moisture.
• What if I have conifers? Some conifers (e.g. Afghan Pines) have low water requirements but still need watering at least once a month to sustain their health. Conifers can be more adaptable to drought conditions once their root systems are established (2-3 years).
• What if I have fruit trees? Mature fruit trees require minimum amounts of water to produce fruit. In drought conditions, irrigation water may be restricted to once every three weeks. In cases of inadequate irrigation frequency, you may want to consider supplementing irrigation with hand watering or a water truck for larger fields. To retain moisture, trees should be mulched with wood mulch to a depth of 2-4 inches under the canopy.
• What if it rains? If you receive more than .5 inch of rain you can skip one watering day.
• What are the signs of drought stress? Conifers will show drought stress in thinning, browning, yellowing, or graying of needles. In the second year of a drought, conifers will produce excess cones. Deciduous trees will show stress through scorched leaves, yellowing of leaves, leaves dropping early, thinning of canopy, and twigs or branches turning brittle or dying.
• What is the minimum amount of water required for survival in a drought? Trees may not recover if deprived of water for too long a period. Once a month is a rule of thumb for minimum watering frequency for survival during a drought.
• What if I need more information? These are resources that provided information for this article and can be accessed online.
• Sandoval Extension Master Gardeners: http://sandovalmastergardeners.org/
• Gardening with the Masters Online classes http://sandovalmastergardeners.org/gardeningclasses/gardening-with-the-masters-online/
• NMSU Desert Blooms website: https://desertblooms.nmsu.edu
• Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority: http://www.505outside.com
• New Mexico Office of the State Engineer U.S. Drought Monitor. www. drought.gov/states/new-mexico#current-conditions
• New Mexico’s Enchanted Xeriscape Guide.