Stories from the
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ANNELISE Iâ€™m 28 years old. I'm married to Johnny Collazo Jr. who is 3 years older than me. We just celebrated our 2 year anniversary November 27th. I can't believe it's already been 2 years! Marriage has taught me so much about myself and what unconditional love is. My husband is my everything. He has such a big, giving, loving heart; he loves and serves God and his family with all his heart. I couldnâ€™t ask for more. My stepson Dylan is 10 and in 4th grade. This year he is playing basketball. He lives with his mom but we get him every Wednesday and every other weekend. Being a stepmom is challenging but also very rewarding. We have a golden retriever named Baylee who just turned one. She is such a smart good dog. We live in Port Neches, TX; it's a very small town, which I never thought I would live in! Lol. But I love it. We have a lot of family, wonderful friends and church community that we are involved in. I became catholic last year at Easter Vigil. I absolutely love the catholic faith and our church! Another one of those things I never thought I'd do or say :) I recently served on an A.C.T.S. team retreat and I teach 2nd grade CCD. My CCD class is crazy! But it's neat to see the kids learn about God and our religion. They definitely keep me on my toes. Johnny and I recently moved into a little rent house because we are hoping to start building a house in about 4 months here in Port Neches. We need room to eventually grow our family :) I'm currently the office manager of a waste company. I am very blessed to have a wonderful boss who also attends church with me. I am hoping to get certified to teach yoga or Zumba soon. My true passion is fashion. I would love to own a boutique or work at our church one day. I did have a cupcake business, however after a year and a half I retired. :) It just wasn't for me. I'm so glad I tried it out. I did do very well; at times I would have 4-5 orders a week, but it just wasn't for me. I was very honored to be a judge in the Mexican heritage pageant this year. It was very neat seeing young ladies embrace their heritage. Our lives are pretty typical, we try to travel as much as we can, stay as involved in church as we can, and enjoy hanging out with our friends and family. Favorite Childhood Memory: I can't think of one specific memory, but I remember loving Christmas! I have always loved to wrap gifts, so my mom would let me wrap every present but my own. Our tree would be bursting with gifts. I loved our Christmas' in San Angelo that were filled with our family and Aunt Jean's amazing cooking! I also loved Hector's family Christmas'. They were also filled with TONS of family, kids that I would play with and love. At midnight we would go home and Santa would have come :) We would open gifts and you couldn't even see the floor because of all the gift wrapping. Also, I loved decorating our tree, and to this day I still do! My Mom and Hector would let me put the star on the tree which was my favorite part. Keri and I would each pick out our ornaments and hang them along with our stockings and every year she would forget whose stocking was whose. We would laugh because we had the same conversation every year.
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ANNELISE What about Louisiana changed your world view? I hadn't seen a lot outside of Texas, so seeing Mississippi and Louisiana at their worst was definitely eye opening. Going there I had no sense of a real tragedy or how it could affect so many people. I was blown away and saddened at what I saw. Not only was the destruction of the hurricane terrible, the destruction of the people that lived in New Orleans was indescribable. I don't think I really thought into the tragedies going on around the world until I had seen this one for myself. People hungry, lost, without family members, without shelter, and without any means to fix it. New Orleans was a ghost town. In most parts of the city you wouldn't see a single human being for miles. That had to be one of the most eerie feelings I have ever experienced. Water lines had stained the top of 4 story buildings; there was graffiti everywhere. One night we tried to go to Bourbon Street only to be scared off because there were Humvee's filled with the army pointing guns and walking the streets to ensure peace. I also met my husband in LA, which definitely changed my view on life! Anything can happen at anytime and anywhere if it is in God's plan.
Who was the biggest inspiration in your life? This might be the obvious answer but my Mom. Her ability to dream dreams that others laughed at, and to actually make them happen instilled in me that whatever I want I can have with hard work and by putting God first. She showed me that people make mistakes, and we are not defined by our mistakes but by our possibilities. She taught me to have an open mind and heart, and she showed me what it truly meant to have a relationship with God which is a priceless gift. She continues to inspire me to stand strong in my faith, and believe in the person I am, not the person that people perceive me to be. She also inspires me to be an individual in my thoughts, my fashion, and in my beliefs. Speaking of fashion, she absolutely inspired my sense of fashion. Her ability to always exude class and style never ceases to amaze me. That might seem shallow to others, but for someone like me who dreams of a career in the fashion world, itâ€™s everything :) She showed me how to pick myself up when I fall and how to love someone more than you love yourself. Above all she showed me "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13.
Where did you get your courage? Uhh well funny thing is I don't really see myself as being courageous. Any situation I find myself in I try as much as possible to evaluate the situation and if I feel that I am physically and mentally able to do something then I try it! Also it has to be fun! I don't put myself in situations if I’m not having fun. There are plenty of times where I have turned away from a situation because I had a bad gut feeling and did not find that it was worth the risk. As far as climbing goes this challenges me physically but more so mentally. One phrase that always finds its way into my thoughts during desperate times is - If God is for me who can be against me? This thought alone has carried me so far Favorite Childhood MemoryIt would have to be when Courtney mom and I were heading home after a long day of school and work. Courtney and I were determined to get mom to back the red Oldsmobile into the driveway that way we could easily pull out onto the road in the morning. Maybe this was the end all solution for our consistent tardiness. It was now dark and mom explained that her vision was poor at night and didn't want to get in a wreck trying to back up the car with so much traffic. After gathering up the courage to back the car up, Courtney and I continued giving words of reassurance that mom was going to do great. The road was clear and no headlights were in sight. Mom firmly adjusted the rear view mirror and shifted from drive to reverse. The car slowly began to move backwards taking a dip then abruptly rising up the driveway. The stars had aligned and finally we did it! Success at last after multiple failed attempts, moms poor night vision and heavy traffic, we had worked together to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. As mom cut the engine and we proudly opened the car doors we then came to the realization that we were in the neighbor’s driveway....I have never heard Courtney or mom laugh so hard. Who was the biggest inspiration in my life? That’s a super easy question my mom!! She has always been so loving, kind, generous and supportive. She has always given me so much trust, love and wisdom. I have never met someone so loving and forgiving makes me strive to be that as well. I know how blessed I am to have such a wonderful parent and hope that I can be half as amazing as my mom was towards me.
The courage to move to Alaska: I just wanted a change really, I knew of places through the discovery channel and national geographic but at some point needed to turn off the T.V. put down the magazine and try see the world through my own perspective. It was a scary idea but I knew I would always wonder and regret not doing it. I really strive to not have any regrets I know this is an impossible task but rather than wonder, I try and do in hopes of learning from the experiences. This is why I love traveling so much you begin to realize that you are part of something so much larger than your Starbucks coffee and homework. We live on such beautiful planet full beautiful people why not see it? Sure you may get a little food poisoning, jet lag, and get lost but the hope is that you will see something you have never have before. The unknown is very exciting for me.
FREDDIE Ecuadorian Film Project Ecuador: December 28th- Jan 18 The objective is to climb: Chimborazo- 20, 561 ft. Cayambe- 18,996ft. Cotapoxi- 19,347 ft. Over the past several years I have attended multiple adventure film festivals including ones such as the Banff Mountain Film Festival and Reel Rock Film Tour. I enjoy watching these films because I try and partake in these activities portrayed on the screen. Although I enjoy watching these movies, one recurring issue is the absence of the local indigenous culture and their views on mountaineering. Through the adventure films I have watched I have expanded my knowledge of how a westerner views mountaineering, but I do not know how Peruvians, Tibetans, or in my case Ecuadorians perceive mountaineering. The purpose of my film project is to try and capture 3 main points: 1. To address the privileged ability to travel to participate in mountaineering that is not a common aspiration or economic possibility for many Ecuadorians 2. To critique high altitude mountaineering tourism 3. To further understand how the local Ecuadorians perceive the mountaineering culture. These are three important themes that are absent in adventure films today. As a result my film will include the thoughts and words of the locals who live and work in these exotic locations that westerners travel to for recreation. Through the URECA grant I will be able to capture this unique perspective; one that unfortunately seems to go unnoticed. The University of Alaska Southeast Geography and Environmental Studies Program asserts that “The Geography B.A. in Environmental Studies at UAS seeks to understand complex relationships between people and environments, and to help students to develop the skills, concepts, and values needed to uncover and improve these relationships. We live, study, and act in places spatially.” My Ecuadorian film project will showcase these qualities of my Bachelor Degree in Geography and Environmental Studies that is stated above. The Ecuadorian film project will show evidence of effort and academic achievement.
Through these relevant courses taken at UAS I have obtained the necessary skills to cover the topics of film, anthropology, sociology and mountaineering all necessary for the Ecuador film Project: English 420: Environmental Film, Hum 270: Sport, Leisure and Culture, ODS 222: Mountaineering, Anth 493: Ethnographic Films Methods Class and ODS 393: Representations of the Extreme: Reformation of Nature and Culture I have also created an ethnographic film entitled “Windswell” in the Spring semester of 2012. Overall the film was received with a positive reaction and received “Audience Choice Award” at the screening for the Ethnographic Film Methods Class public showing. I believe that my Ecuadorian Film Project will help push the boundaries of the contemporary adventure film. It will also be an incredible opportunity for me to combine all of the hard and soft skills that I have learned the past four years at UAS including, philosophy, mountaineering, sociology, anthropology and film making.
GLORIA How did you choose to be a firefighter? I did not realize I was going into become a firefighter. I loved the outdoors and I worked at McDonalds from the time I was 15 years old. I was 17 and a senior in high school. My neighbor came in who has the fire supervisor for the Silver City Hotshots. The Silver City Hot Shot Crew or any Hot Shot Crew is an elite highly trained group set to fly or hike into fires and do the initial suppression on a fire. This would include building trail by clearing vegetation and cutting trees or felling a tree in order to thin out any potential fuel for the fire to increase by. What I didn’t know is that the Federal Government was looking to fill a quota of women forced by law to fight fires along with men starting in 1978. The standard law was one female to eleven men. I was one of those women. I started in 1979 and I was 17 years old. My boss talked me into it he said you love the outdoors you will love this job. He never told me what it was doing exactly. He had one thing on his mind and that was to fill his quota then get rid of us. The Forest Supervisor called me at high school and I remember calling him back from the pay phone in the hallway of our high school. He said this will be the hardest job you will ever do. I hung up told my friends and they said the majority of them being high school jocks. Gloria you can’t do that job. You can’t do it. All the while I know if they were offered that job they would jump at it. I called them back and said what do I have to do and I want the job. They said you have to run 3 miles in 15 minutes. You have to pass a step test that will measure your heart rate and your physical capacity. This will give you a “Red Card” which will allow you to fight fires legally. You will run every morning 3 miles and do pushups, pull ups, sit ups and exercises to get you and keep in shape to do this job. I started my training at 3:00am each morning running every day. By the time the test came along I passed. I also endured the physical hardship that was required by this job. It was not easy by any means. I had a lot of determination that I could do it. The men hated us. They made life miserable. They had no woman’s restrooms, no woman’s sleeping quarters and no women’s rights what so ever. I physically fought my way through fires and fought some stubborn and mean men each week of the season. It made me angry and hurt that we were so looked down upon. My first fire was at Mt. Lemon on 4 July 1979. When I was up on that fire I saw some of the most beautiful majestic areas. I saw the huge cacti turn blue with fire and pink sunsets that were so bright in the background. We had food dropped into us we worked long hard hours. We would work up to 32 hours straight at times. I love sunset and the sunrise and the nature of outdoors. This part is true. This is what kept me fighting fires. The excitement, the adrenalin, and doing something no one had done before. I was excited and I kept thinking if they could see me now. I was proud of myself and I was glad that I refused to let these men control my life. It was a very hard endeavor. I hurt my body I think sometimes and I drove my body very hard to prove many things. I will never forget the challenges, the laughs and the modes of transportations to get to these very difficult areas. We flew in B-52 old army planes; we flew 3 at a time from the middle of the desert in Arizona on helicopter to the very tops of high mountains. WE rode in those huge Army trucks and we slept in the outdoors and some crazy places every summer. I will never forget the friends I made fighting fires. It was worth it. I am glad I was not killed. I could have been but God watched over me and I prayed often. That adrenalin kept me going back five more seasons in my adult life. I paid for school and I helped raise Jessica fighting fires from 1986 to 1991. I returned to fighting fires when I was 26 years old and fought fires and went to school until I decided to remarry and have Marvin and Marcos.
GLORIA Who was the biggest inspiration in your life? This is a difficult question to answer. I have more than one person as big inspirations in my life. My parents are big inspirations because they came from a difficult background yet they always had so much pride. They never let that get in the way. My parents both have a lot of class and they never had excuses for anything. Their pride carried them through rough times and they didn’t complain a whole lot. My mom always said, “There is no such thing as I can’t.” She also told us never put off for tomorrow what you can get done today. My mom had an 8th grade education and grew up with 7 brothers and 3 sisters. Her mother only spoke Spanish and her father died shortly before my dad fell 200 feet in a mining shaft in Vanadium, NM. My dad then became 100% disabled. Even after this my mom worked a few part time jobs. She had a lot of pride in her home and what it looked like. My mom also was very beautiful and yet she spent the money she had on us and her home. She did not really drive too much but the little drives we took to the Mimbres River and the grocery store with my grandma were fun. My mother then had her mother to take care of and 2 of her half-brothers. She also had her husband and four daughters. In my life, this has given me strength. We did not talk much about many things but there was a silent strength that persisted in my family through illness and difficult times. My father with a 6th grade education and six brothers and sisters born in a small mining town in New Mexico. He went on to WWII. He talked about how he came home through Seattle, Washington riding the train. He also spent time on a small island outside of Japan. He had close friends that he talked about. They were different outside of his culture. My father built his own gold and ore processing equipment. He built a log room that Shelley, grandpa and I took the time to go to the Burro Mountains and gather the logs for. We stripped the logs and grandpa made a nice big room. He then hooked up an antique radio he had and would play classical music at 5:00 am or earlier in order to work on his mining operation. He had a telescope that he would have us all look through at his gold particles. The pride in my father’s eyes and attitude was even scary at times. One day when I was training for fires my dad went running with me in his black oxford shoes but he did it. That made me proud. He also went to the university when I first started college and helped me move out of the dorm at NMSU. They survived large families. They survived poverty and they never let us know how rough it could be at times. They moved forward raising their family to the best of their ability. I knew how much my parents loved us.
What took you to Alaska? Driving to Alaska in 1981 brought me back to Alaska in 2007. I never stopped thinking or dreaming about the beauty I had experienced in Alaska. The time I drove the Al-Can highway in 1981 I was 4 months pregnant with Jessica! When I met Lee and after we bought a home in NM. I knew Lee wanted to be a district ranger. I encouraged him to apply in Alaska. He did apply as a biologist and district ranger. We flew to Hoonah, AK. Then he got the beauty and depth of Alaska. He saw what I meant. I shared all my pictures with the family knowing they would get the excitement I had coming to Alaska. Lee loved Alaska and was happy to move our family to his new permanent federal job as a district ranger for the U.S Forest Service. We worked hard to move to Alaska bringing 4 dogs, 2 cars and 3 cats!! We drove through all the states and took the ferry from Bellingham, WA to Yakutat, AK. It was scary when we first saw Yakutat. It was raining…rainforest. I took the chance that the boys would trust me enough to love Alaska also and they did. I then worked on getting Jessica here after she left the Air Force. I was happy to have my family together again. Now I work for the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe going on year 5. I love it and I feel God had a reason to bring us to Alaska and to the beautiful area where fishing and fresh air and the Gulf of Alaska are right outside our door. Life is not easy in Alaska for the price of its beauty. I miss New Mexico but I love Alaska too.
Well I graduated from UHCL in May this year and I got hired on to Alvin ISD as an elementary literacy interventionist. I work with sweet at risk kids from first grade to fifth grade. I also maintain the intervention data at our school. I love my job!!! My family is all well. My brother Wes is serving in the marines as corporal in artillery and soon recon. My mom and dad have been married for thirty years and still have that spark! I'm truly truly blessed.
JEAN I don't have just one person who influenced my life. When I was a child, it was my dad because he enjoyed fishing and camping which I dearly love to do. My first experience that I can recall was when we lived in Grants, N.M. Dad bought a canvass tent, some inflatable air mattresses, a Coleman stove, lantern and had a Dutch oven. He took us to Blue Water Lake and set the tent up close to the playground so we could play while he fished. hahaha! I remember playing on the slide, swing set and seesaw with Norma. Mom was at the tent with Yolanda. I remember mom fixing a roast in the Dutch oven skillet and reading 'True Story' magazines. I joined the Girl Scouts when I was pretty young and have always tried to follow their motto to "always be prepared". The biggest change for me was moving to Texas when I married the boysâ€™ dad, Troy. I thought the oilfield was fascinating. I learned about a new culture. My maternal grandfather, Sam Lara was born in San Angelo and 'cowboyed' in Fort Stockton. After the death of his wife he took his young son and moved to New Mexico. He worked as a milkman delivering milk to homes that is how he met my grandmother who was a widow with 4 small children at home. My grandmother worked as a housecleaner and left her 9yr old daughter at home to care for her little brothers. My grandparents met, married and had 7 children of their own. They had a hard life. We used to go visit my grandfather in Fierro. I loved going there. Grandpa Sam had a 3 room adobe house. The first room was a large room that had a wood burning stove, a propane refrigerator, a small cupboard in one corner of the kitchen a sink and a large table with 2 benches. There was a well close to one of the kitchen windows. Grandpa had a bucket with a dipper in it. That was the drinking water. There was a large wooden ironing board and two irons on the stove. The next room was a large bedroom with a double bed and several metal cots. Each one of kids had a bed. There was a woodstove in one of the corners. The next room was an unfinished catch-all that was going to be the boys bedroom. My grandmother and all the kids moved out before it was completed. I loved my grandpa. He wore starched khaki shirts, blue jeans, boots and a cowboy hat. He didn't own a car and just walked to the grocery store or the liquor store. When we would go visit him, he would get my dad to take him to the store and buys us girls, orange slice candy, peanut shaped candy, fig newton cookies and fruit. He loved us and was always so kind. Both of my grandmas were wonderful. We always had so much fun visiting and playing with our cousins. They were both great cooks and never cooked fancy foods just basic Mexican food. My Grammita (my mother's mother) was a character. Her name was Cleotiltide Pinon Lara. She was about 5 ft tall, had long hair that she twisted into a bun. She always wore dresses, and an apron. She carried her tobacco, tobacco paper and Kleenex in her apron pockets. She enjoyed a little beer in the evenings. How she loved Mexican music. Her favorite was 'peanuts' (in Spanish). She cooked in cast iron cookware and always had some green chili and tortillas. Her house was sparsely furnished and she always had one or two sons living with her. She raised 7 sons and 4 daughters. Grandma had a hard life. My other grandma was special also. She loved to cook, visit and, like my grammita, moved a lot. They always had nice Mexican style homes. I loved too visit! My grandma Micilah was a tall, big boned woman with pretty green eyes and a light complexion. She also wore dresses.
JEAN My Aunt Barbara was and still is a magnificent lady! She worked hard to raise her family, kept an immaculate house and cooked a lot. My uncle worked at the copper mine and drove one of the huge trucks. He would go home have dinner and go to his carpenter job. These good folks provided a refuge for us several times when dad's mining company was on strike or dad was sick. I will forever be indebted to my Aunt Barbara. I learned how to cook after I married. My mother-in-law Big Mama was a gem. She was 5ft tall and kinda wide with a big smile and beautiful grey hair. She cooked from scratch and she taught me how to cook simple things. She would sit in her chair with her hands resting on her tummy. When she would get tickled her foot would kick up. She wore dresses her daughter Emma Joy made for her. She was a very sweet woman who loved my boys. My sister-in-law Joy could do anything. She was an excellent cook, seamstress, housekeeper and trapper. She loved to visit with people. My marriage to Milton introduced me to boating, hunting, trapping, ranch fencing, water well drilling, goats, sheep, machine shop work and gardening. It was during this period in my life that I went to school and became a nurse. One of the best decisions I ever made. I don't know where I would be if I hadn't had my two sons. They kept me focused. I had fun watching those boys grow. Taking them to their ballgames and school functions, sharing holidays and birthdays with them. My children I love. Taking the boys to vacation bible was a life changing experience for me and them because we learned what Jesus Christ is really about and it affected decisions I have made and how I live. I've had a good life. I do give the Glory to Jesus Christ because he has seen me through my life and will continue to do so until I draw my last breath.
JEAN The first Christmas I recollect was when I was 5. We lived in Bayard, New Mexico. I woke up before everyone else and when into the living room. Dad had been telling us for several hours that Santa wouldn't come until after we were asleep. I walked into the living room and under the beautiful Christmas tree was a sewing machine for my mother and a miniature one for me. Norma and I also received beautiful dolls. Mine was blonde and Norma's was a brunette. We had so much fun. Santa was always so good to us! My grandfather did not have indoor plumbing. He had an outhouse. A two seater. I hated to go in there. It was clean, with no odor but I just knew a spider was going to bite me. Never happened. He also had a large storeroom with locked double doors. It was all made out of barn wood. It was filled with things that I always wondered about but never got to go in the old barn. There was also a small open shed that had bales of hay. Don't know what the hay was for because I never saw any animals. We always had a nice, modest home with plenty of food and everything we needed. Dad lived with 5 females and one bathroom. He didn't complain. He only request was that we not use his razor. hahaha! That fell on deaf ears. I have the scars on my legs to prove it. Now I know why Dad would come in from work, fix a big sandwich, get his quart of beer and watch the evening news then retreat to his room and lock the door!
MARCOS Please share your bear story. My bear story haha. Well here it goes. Me, my friend Jake, our teacher Nate, his two young sons who are 5 and 7, and our other friend Jesse went up to Knight Island for the weekend to go bear hunting. The first day there we saw about 30 brown bears, but nothing really worth shooting. The next day however we went up towards Hubbard Glacier in search of some black bears. We saw a huge black bear on this slide and Jake and I went after it. I had a perfect shot at it, but i didn't take it hoping that Jake would because he was only hunting for black bear and not brown like me. I did end up taking two shots, but unfortunately missed both of them. After that we got back in the boat and continued up the bay. After 30 minutes in the boat, we came across a sickly looking moose walking the beach. We just kind of followed it down the beach. After like 5 minutes, it ran into a bear walking up the beach. They kind of clashed a little and the bear took off running but then came back and scared the moose off. Seeing that it was a huge Brown bear with a beautiful hide, we got out of the boat and I took my first shot. I hit it in the right lung but it took off running. I took another shot and hit it in the spine and dropped it. We got back to camp and skinned the bear out. It measured to be 10 feet tall with a 28 inch skull! What is your favorite pastime in Alaska? My favorite past time in Alaska is honestly anything outdoors. Alaska is by far one of the most beautiful and exciting places to live! If I had to narrow it down, I would say commercial fishing though. It's extremely hard work and at times more than stressful, but I love it with a passion. There's nothing more than pulling in thousands of pounds of fish at a time. It's also a very rewarding feeling knowing that at such a young age I'm out on the Gulf of Alaska commercial fishing, and actually know what Iâ€™m doing. I wouldn't trade it for any other job. Who was the biggest inspiration in your life? My biggest inspiration is actually a number of people starting most importantly with God; he will without a doubt always be my biggest inspiration. Both my parents are also a huge inspiration to me. Theyâ€™ve set a great example for me. One of my best friends Rex Newlun is a huge inspiration to me. One year and five months ago he died in a commercial fishing accident. He was one in my eyes not only one of the greatest friends I could have asked for, but the greatest role model to everyone around him. Every day I try to live my life a little more like him, making him one of my biggest inspirations.
The best thing about Alaska is just the beauty of it, with all the mountains, oceans, and northern lights. The best thing about Hawaii was the beaches and warm weather. My favorite childhood memory was going to visit Jessica and driving down to Disneyland. My favorite past time here in Alaska is going sledding in the winter but in the summer time itâ€™s definitely going to the beach with the friends.
What makes you unique? That's a hard one because I really don't know. I feel pretty average. In a world of art and amongst other artists I do try not to be flaky. I do have a tendency to be a little OCD. I don't toss paint around too much and stay pretty neat when I work. I even dust my work area and vacuum. I work for a potter and his studio is constantly messy, dusty and chaotic. Sometimes it looks like one of those houses on "Hoarders". Drives me crazy! What’s your favorite childhood memory? My favorite childhood memory would have to be the moments I spent with grandpa in Arena's Valley. I loved the way his house smelled and the dirt floors. He used to make bologna and corn tortilla burritos and would give me sips of his strong black coffee. There was a lizard that lived under his trailer that we named "Charlie". Every summer we would visit and grandpa would have a huge pile of rocks waiting for me. Beautiful rocks, petrified wood and many other types of quartz rocks. Grandpa worked a lot with his hands, so they were always rough and I remember him helping me put my socks on and the material would always snag on his fingers. The funny thing about this is that since I work with clay my hands have become rough especially my fingers, so when I am helping Ana-Sophia or Cooper with their socks and I feel them snag, I think of grandpa. Who was the biggest inspiration in your life? There are a few. I guess at the beginning it was Frida Kahlo. I am not sure if I was inspired by her or more fascinated. She was strange looking and her paintings were bizarre. I know I was pretty young when I first read about her. And then there was my Aunt Socorro in New Mexico. I would stay with her sometimes. Her house was wild. It was located at the top of a hill in Silver City. She had purple shag carpeting in her bathroom. In fact that bathroom was so cool and big I would just hang out in there and play. She would also sew these itty bitty doll clothes for me. Just whip them out with her sewing machine in minutes. I knew then I want to be like this woman. Her bedroom was pretty cool too. It was big and red and always messy and she would let me jump on her bed. She was just the sweetest person. And of course there was my Tia Maggie. She recently just passed, but she was like an oasis in the dessert of childhood. I always felt odd growing up with the Munoz’s, never really fitting in, always on edge, pit in my stomach at every family get together. Hated it!! Times spent at Tia’s were amazing. She was beautiful with a constant smile and so full of laughter. Her home was constantly evolving. She was also the most creative person I had ever met. Her whole family was. It was at her house that I saw MTV for the first time. This was back when they actually played music videos and her backyard was magical. My cousin Cat and I would play and play, from front to back it was an adventure. The best thing about Tia Maggie was that she never made me feel any different. To her I was the same as anyone else in that family. She had to be the most loving person I had ever met. And now it is my children who are my biggest inspiration.
I know itâ€™s a little early to tell but do any of your children seem artistically inclined? Already at just 23 months I can see something in Cooper. When he looks at my paintings he seems to really take them in. There is one that he really likes of his cousin playing peek-a-boo. He tries to imitate it. Ana- Sophia does like to paint and draw and she's pretty good at it. When she sit's and focuses on something, her likeness of whatever she is drawing is really good. She is good at observing details. In pre-k she drew a picture of her teacher with great detail right down to her red fingernails and lips. I would not be surprised though if Cooper does end up being an artist of some type. The force is strong in that one. And what inspires your art? At the moment the people of Mexico. We took a trip about four years ago when Ana was 2. We drove 24 hours into Mexico where Venancio is from and everything from the beautiful people to the landscape inspired me. I came back with a ton of images. I have done many paintings and drawings from all the photos I took and some have won awards. The culture is incredible, colorful, amazing. In fact I was asked recently at a show if I do paintings of "white" people I thought that was pretty funny. At the moment I am working on a portrait of a friend who is white for a competition. I am calling it "Guero". The art center is located in the hood so every day on my way to work I would pass by countless individuals who are potential subjects for a painting. One day I will get the courage to introduce myself and ask if I could do a painting of them. I love people who know one gives a second thought to. They are the ones with the stories and they have the most beautiful faces.
NORMA Why do you enjoy beauty products? I became interested in beauty products as a teenager, I loved to read magazines and learn how to apply makeup. We didn't have a lot of outside activities so a magazine with fashionable ideas was a real treat. Whatâ€™s your favorite childhood memory? My favorite childhood memory would have to be fishing with my dad. I loved the peacefulness; the lapping of waves on soft rocks; dad's tackle box swaying back and forth as he walked towards the lake; and the sweet smell of summertime. Simple, fun days with my dad. Who was the biggest inspiration in your life? In all honesty, I didn't have anyone my life who encouraged me or who said "dream big" or even "dream" at all. I was determined to inspire and support my children to not limit themselves, to believe in themselves, and to know Gods love for them. I used to tell my kids when they were little, that we were the richest, because we had Godâ€™s love! The 16 years I spent as a single parent were the most rewarding, even though money was scarce, God always provided. I learned so much from my precious kids; they were and still are my diamonds. They were my saving grace. How old was Shelly when she started to show her artistic abilities? Shelly loved to draw as little girl. She had such talent. My favorite was a shoe that she drew, with shoe laces, I still have the drawing, my favorite...I am so amazed at the degree of talent she has as an artist....she can capture and create so beautifully...surely a gift from God! My life is blessed and I am grateful. Thank you Jesus for the blessings you have given me and the blessings yet to come!! Amen and Amen! We lost our precious Monica Munoz on November 15th. Our hearts will forever be broken by her loss, our only consolation is in knowing that we will one day be reunited in heaven. During her mass at St. Joseph's, Father David stated our Virgin Mary greeted Monica with open arms....we see Monie daily, in the many butterflies we see, the soft breezes...Monie had a great sense of humor, I find myself talking to her daily, asking her questions about heaven...Monie was like one of my kids, she lived with us for a while when she & courts were in high school...she will always b one of my kids....we miss her more than words can describe...it is so hard to understand why she left us so early...God needed her. Please keep her family in your prayers, most especially her mom Josie. "Do not be afraid, for I am with you; do not be alarmed, for I am your God. I give you strength, truly I help you, truly I hold you firm with my saving right hand." Isaiah 41:10
ANDY I moved to Oregon in 2003 for grad school. After finishing an MBA at Willamette, I completed an MA in Counseling Psychology at Lewis & Clark. I had a small counseling practice for a while, and it was extremely rewarding (except monetarily). I closed it after a year and a half. I couldn’t bring myself to ask people to pay me after I had listened to them talk about money problems (among other things) for fortyfive minutes. I hope to re-open my practice one day and hire someone else to take care of the billing. Now I work in retirement plans. The life lesson for me there is to never miss an opportunity to learn a subject, because you never know where you will wind up. While at Willamette I met my partner Russ. We’ve been together for almost nine years, and in 2013, we’ll have been married (in Canada) for three years. I know God listens to prayers because Russ is a combination of every good thing I’ve ever asked for in another person. I still consider education to be my favorite hobby. I’ve been taking exams for credentials for my job, and I just earned my Qualified Pension Administrator designation. Russ and I bought our first home this year. It’s in the suburbs, and our dogs Rudy and Abby love it. They have a lot of room to run around. We’ve been providing treats for our new neighbors, and we seem to be fitting in well.