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Happenstance NOVEMBER 1, 2010

l ife h a p p e ns

Inside:

Tr ib ut e Voices Thanksgiving A L a s Ve g a s L e g e n d Someone’s in the Kitchen Ar tist Gail Malley W h o ’ s Yo u r H e r o S i l e n c e Fro m t h e Pa s t Focus on Fitness

M o r e f r o m T i g e r L i l l y , b y F. S . Va n d e r M e e r


Tome on the Range Happenstance How You Can Help Spread the Word

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Books by F.S. Vander Meer

Available at Happenstance • 614 8th Street Tome on the Range Bookstore 158 Bridge Street Not Just Another Day is a series of daily reflections that celebrate the gift of life. Based on the author’s Christian faith tradition the book uses Bible passages, prayers and readings to capture the common experience of living a life of faith in an ever-changing world. In Future Imperfect conflicting forces control two individuals seeking stability and sanity amid escalating political and environmental chaos. Their lives are fraught with lies, treachery, and an altered environment. In The Ballad of Bawdy McClure short hauler Jake Casey is confronted with the age old question: Who can you trust? From the opening scene in which he finds the body of his murdered friend to the end he is constantly questioning the motives of those closest to him.

Tome on the Range believes that the independent bookstore is the heart of a community and that a literate community is a vibrant community. In addition to an outstanding inventory of books, games, and toys for children and adults, we offer a variety of events to engage and expand their creative and intellectual muscle! For up-to-date info on what‘s happening at Tome, please visit us online! 158 Bridge Street • Old Town Las Vegas • 505.454.9944 M-F 10 to 6 • Sat 10 to 5 • Sun noon to 4

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Happenstance

Dec. 6 Issue • Call for Content

• Poetry and Essays • Short Fiction or Memoirs about holiday experiences • Artist Feature (Suggest a person you would like to see featured or submit an article) • Book and Entertainment Reviews Happenstance, Life Happens

614 8th Street • PO Box 187 • Las Vegas, NM 87701 505 617-0839 • fsharon@msn.com


Happenstance life happens

Contributions welcome Poetry Photos Unique Stories Short Fiction Essays Suggestions Opinions Advertising (For rates call 505 617-0839)

E-mail submissions to: fsharon@msn.com Happenstance is a digital magazine available free from the publisher. Please forward this on to anyone you think might be interested in receiving it. If you would like to subscribe please e-mail your request to fsharon@msn.com If you have received this and do not wish to receive it in the future, please send your request to unsubscribe to fsharon@msn.com All comments will be appreciated and considered. Happenstance is intended to appeal to a wide range of readers. Material will be selected based on general appeal to a wide readership, with a focus on Las Vegas, NM, and the area. Thank you for reading Happenstance.

Happenstance is a publication of Vander Meer Books 614 8th Street • PO Box 187 Las Vegas, NM 87701 www.vandermeerbooks.com Copyright 2010 Select material may only be used by permission with appropriate attribution.

It’s Lasagna Time!

Thursday, Nov. 11 Hillcrest Dining Room Serving from 11:30 to 1 & 4:30 to 7

Tickets available at 614 8th Street or from any Rotary Member $10 per person Enter for a chance to win an Apple I-Pad

Proceeds benefit Rotary’s Coats for Kids program, Special Olympics, NMHU and LCC Scholarships, Youth Recognition

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From the editor…

ou’re going to love this issue! I received wonderful submissions from several people and I know you will enjoy reading them. As we enter a holiday season full of activities, I wanted to pause and reflect on the lives of two people who meant so much to me, my dad, Tommy Conkle, and my sister-in-law, Lisa Wright Conkle. You can read my thoughts in Tribute on page 4. I’m a great admirer of people who are outspoken and focused. Voices on page 5 features, what I hope will be, a monthly column from Tome on the Range owner, Nancy Colalillo. Her column looks at the changing face of publishing and independent business as a whole. Pages 6 and 7 are dedicated to Thanksgiving, featuring children from New Horizons School at the Presbyterian Church, a poem and a trip down memory lane. Mama Lucy was an iconic figure in Las Vegas and a great cook. See some of her reciepes on page 8. Kathy Allen is back with a new recipe and neighborly news on page 9. Pastels and photographs make for a terrific combination in a new show at Traveler’s Cafe featuring the work of Gail Malley, an artist whose interests are as varied as the landscapes and images she captures in her work. See the article on page 10. I’ve been a fan of Cindy Charlton for years. Her character is defined by courage, persistence and optimism in the face of adversity. She is bright, witty, and has a beautiful singing voice. When slammed with a new reality in her life several years ago she didn’t give up or give in; she forged ahead. See her story, Whose Your Hero, on page 12. Silence From the Past (page 13), reflects on the changing face of Kim Delgado’s community of Chaperito. There isn’t much left but the cemetery, yet the voices of yesterday speak to her—and us. Karen Topping is one of my favorite people. She is funny, sensitive and has a handle on what it means to be fit in a society caught up in being perfect rather than healthy. Her article, Exercise: Fitness, Fashion and Fun, is a look at exercise from Jack Lalanne to what’s happening today. See page 14. And Tiger Lilly is back. Two more chapters are included for your reading pleasure, beginning on page 16. Thanks for reading! Please forward Happenstance to people who you think might enjoy it. —Sharon

Happenstance life happens

Vol 2, No. 2, November 1, 2010

Happenstance is a digital publication of vandermeerbooks.com Cover Photo: Splashes of Aspen (Sharon Vander Meer) Copyright, Sharon Vander Meer, Vander Meer Books Select content may be used with appropriate attribution: Sharon Vander Meer, fsharon@msn.com Other photos not identified are by: Sharon Vander Meer Some images from: clipart.com


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TRIBUTE

hanksgiving will be here before I’m ready. This year there will be two empty places at the table. My father, Tommy Conkle, and my sister-in-law, Lisa Wright Conkle, passed away this summer. While it would be a stretch to say our family got together every year for Thanksgiving it is their absence from our lives that makes us stop… and then start up again, like a pause in the heartbeat when you’ve been surprised by something. It continues to surprise all of us that these two people, who influenced our family in different ways, are not in the next room or at least a phone call away. Dad and Lisa were not alike, but they had a fundamental bond that lasted from the moment Lisa was introduced into our lives right up until Dad took his last breath. My father spent a lot of time thinking about family, and every member of the family was like every other member as far as Dad was concerned. When Mom passed away nearly twenty-five years ago Dad struggled with loneliness and did the very thing Mom predicted he would do, he found a lovely women he felt good being with, and married her. To say we (his children) were surprised would be an understatement, despite Mother having told us it would happen. Dad not only embraced his new partner, he embraced her entire family, three daughters and a son, and their various adult children, nieces, nephews, siblings, in-laws, and out-laws; he took them into his heart without reserve. He found room there for them and us. When we were growing up we never thought much about our father’s capacity for loving others. In many ways he was the strong/silent type. We knew he was there for us through thick and thin, and that’s all that mattered. He was not a big man in stature but he was enormous in his dedication to family and faith. I’m thankful Dad was my dad. He wasn’t perfect and there were times when we didn’t agree on much of anything, but he taught me lessons that will remain with me throughout my lifetime. One lesson came out of an event that made me so angry I didn’t think I would ever speak to Dad again. I was sixteen and had just broken up with some guy. I was pretty upset by the whole thing (as only an angst-ridden teenage girl can be) and told my mom about it. She told my dad. They didn’t keep anything from each other. For some reason Dad thought it was up to him to say something to the now ex-

boyfriend. Picture that scene, will you? Can you imagine my humiliation upon learning my dad had gone to this guy and let him have it? It took a while for me to forgive him, but the lesson from that experience was that my dad would do anything to keep me (or any of us kids) from being hurt. When we hurt, he hurt. The incident taught me quite a lot about what it means to be a parent. Lisa could always make you laugh. Her sense of fun permeated every aspect of her life. She didn’t take herself too seriously but she did take seriously her role as a mother and wife. She was absolutely the toughest person I’ve ever known. Lisa endured a lot of physical pain because of a bone deficiency, and later because of cancer, but she kept that pain to herself. Maybe my brother, Marc, and their kids knew of her pain, but people who came into contact with her outside that immediate family circle did not. She never complained and carried an air of serenity about her that was humbling. Generally Lisa could find something good in everyone. That isn’t to say she didn’t have strong opinions about certain actions and behaviors. She was quite clear about her conservative values. She worked in my husband’s office for a number of years, mostly processing insurance claims, but often helping patients, assisting them in selecting frames and fitting eyewear. She was dedicated to doing a good job and found ways to make each day enjoyable by bringing her sense of fun into the workplace. The patients loved her. As a wife and mom, her legacy cannot be measured. She was tough when she needed to be, and gentle when gentleness was called for. In her last days on this earth, after two years of struggling with cancer, she wanted nothing more than for her family to be okay, for them to find joy in life, remain faithful, and be there for each other. The pain of loss remains and will continue for a while, but, Lisa, they’re going to be okay, because in all the ways that make a difference, they are there for each other because you were always there for them. I guess this is a love letter to Dad and Lisa, my sister of the heart. I miss them both and am thankful to have had them in my life. As a believer, it is not “goodbye,” it’s “see you later.” —by Sharon Vander Meer, Happenstance editor and publisher



It is not “goodbye,” it’s “see you later.” 

Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 4


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VOICES

An Enterprising Solution

swered in the affirmative when I asked who would be ecently I was asked to content if their only shopping choice were a big box store. speak to a Luna class Interestingly, none were from LV.) about e-books. Some Which brings me back to bookselling. The Luna stuof you may think that request was dents were watching a PBS News Hour discussion when equivalent to waving a red flag in I arrived. One participant, an author agent, was well-infront of a bull, which is partly true formed and articulate while the still-wet-behind-the-ears as I am a Taurus! publisher was not. The agent’s point: e-books are just anThe discussion about e-books other medium, another delivery system, like plumbing. and their impact on publishing The bookselling world as we know it did not end when and bookselling is everywhere, Colalillo audio books came on the scene nor when mass-market including the general press. Ironpaperbacks appeared. In fact, recent numbers from a Harically, the discussion is mostly in e-format, except at industry conferences and trade shows where Pollyanna ris Poll suggest that those who own e-readers are reading booksellers refuse to join in the ululations lamenting the more printed books than before they owned that device. Dare I say, e-readers make sense for some books and gendeath of the printed book. Independent booksellers do have a few issues with res, and certainly for avid readers who travel. (There is, of e-books, mostly because the reigning champion of e-read- course, the issue of curating the non-printed word. Can ers, the Kindle, requires that one purchase e-books from anyone retrieve, let alone read, what they wrote on their the single-breasted, giantess online retailer. E-books to be 286 processor…?) Which brings me back to red; red herring, that is. Foread on the more democratic and less greedy ipad and cusing on e-books as the problem facing the industry is a Sony e-reader can be purchased, in theory, anywhere. In red herring. Many of the issues are systemic and most refact, by Christmas, that should include the website of Tome on the Range. The American Booksellers Associa- quire an innovative look at problem-definition, let alone tion, of which Tome is a member, has partnered with problem-solving. In my opinion, issues include too many Google to make e-books easily available through its books being published, predatory pricing, and a booksas-commodity mindset. These are just some of the factors members’ websites. Hooray! One for the indies. contributing to more red…at the bottom line. It’s a comIn any event, the discussion at Luna soon gave way plex situation, the fallout from which is hitting home to the broader topics of beleaguered booksellers, belearight here at Tome. guered independent businesses, and beleaguered old Ten years ago you’d be reading this in a printed issue folks because this conversation does have a generational of the much-missed Hermit’s Peak Gazette. “The times they component to it. are a-changin’”. Who knows; maybe in ten more years Some long-time indie booksellers are choosing to sell or close, realizing that they don’t have the skills, stamina, nothing will be “printed”. Instead, we will have perfected or bank account to deal with another technological shift. the Vulcan mind meld and won’t need to “read” any(Chain bookstores are closing bricks-and-mortar stores thing. —Nancy Colalillo is owner of Tome on the Range Bookas well.) Independent businesses have an uphill fight, partic- store in Las Vegas, NM., and an advocate for independent busiularly in challenging economic times, as shoppers under- ness. standably, though myopically, focus on the short-term impact of their economic choices rather than the Check out these links for more information longer-term consequences of what www.indiebound.org these choices mean for their state, amiba.net town, and local economy. Boo! One http://www.newyorker.com/reporing/2010/04/26/100426fa_fact_auletta for Wally-World and e-tailers. (Three very vocal students anHappenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 5


It Isn’t Thanksgiving Without Turkey

Several children from the New Horizons School answered questions about Thanksgiving. See their responses below.

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hree to five year old children are more focused on the next holiday (Halloween) rather than the one after that (Thanksgiving). However a few of them agreed to answer three basic questions about the upcoming turkey day with their responses to these questions: • What does Thanksgiving mean to you? • How do you cook a turkey? • What is your favorite pie and why do you like it? Keeping that in mind enjoy these perspectives. — Irie Kongaika, 3 Thank you. We eat a turkey. Cherry because I like cherries.

— Serenity Chavez, 3 It’s like having another birthday. I eat it. Blueberry is my favorite. — Jordon Padilla, 4 My mom ate turkey. In the stove. Pumpkin because I like it.

—Katyanna Tech, 4 1/2 I just don’t know. Put it in the oven. Cherry because I like it.

— Nico Ulibarri, 4 Thank you. In a stove. The red one because I like red.

— D’Mario Gallegos, 4 Excuse me, please and thank you. With a pan. Blueberry because I like it.

— Kimberly Fox, 4 It means we are sharing. Put it in an oven. Pecan because I like nuts.

Here are a few of the children who attend New Horizon s.

From left back row: Katyanna Tech, Jordan Padilla, Raye Brito, D’Mario Gallegos, Fernando Garcia; front row, Alessandro Ro-

driguez, Jeremy Hooger Huies, Phillip Cordova, Serenity Chavez,

Christian Larran aga, Candace Tafoya, Ir ie Kongaika, Naveah Evans, Sandy Cordova, and Isabella Komoro.

—Mateo Contreras, 4 Turkey. My Nunnie puts it in a big bowl. Put it in a pan and in the stove. Blueberry because it is my favorite color. — Danilliah Bach, 4 1/2 My mom buys the food. In the stove. Ice cream because I like it.

— Julianna Dominsque, 4 Thanksgiving. With fire. Cherry because I like it.

— Sandy Cordova, 3 My daddy. In the snow. My birthday because I like it. —Presbyterian New Horizons School, serving children two to twelve years old, is located at 1000 Douglas Ave., and is open Monday - Friday. The curriculum includes math, literacy, and development of basic learning skills. For more information contact 505 425-3258

Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 6


Happy Thanksgiving In praise Psalm 119:169-176

I lift my voice unto the Lord, giving praise and thanksgiving, knowing each moment is a gift to be treasured and expanded upon based on the talents with which I have been blessed.

I kneel in prayer asking for understanding and the ability to live as defined by my Faith commitment, depending on the love of God to support me in times of trouble.

I open my heart to love that passes all understanding and find ways to reflect that love in my travel through life, knowing all I do and accomplish comes from ability given to me by God. I strive to live with joy, emulating Christ in my interactions with others and in the decisions I make, understanding that without God and his love for me, I am nothing.

When I stray I seek God’s face to find my way back into the fold where I know I will be accepted and protected, for my trust is in my Creator. —Sharon Vander Meer From “Not Just Another Day”

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Turkey and All the Trimmings

y first memory of Thanksgiving was the year I ate turkey three times, once at my aunt’s (which was okay, she wasn’t much of a cook), once at my grandmother’s (which was unfortunate because she was a fantastic cook and I ate too much), and finally at home where I looked at my mother’s perfect meal and almost threw up. I was five and had, as my dad said, “A hole in my toe,” meaning I ate like a horse despite being thin as a minute and small for my age. It all came about because Mom was trying to make everybody happy. She didn’t want to hurt my aunt’s feelings by not going to her house for Thanksgiving, and what woman in her right mind wants to tick off her mother-in-law? Dad, bless him, figured it would be all right, because after all, can you get too much turkey on Thanksgiving? My aunt (Mom’s sister) liked to have Thanksgiving early so we ate at her house about one o’clock. Grandma had midafternoon Thanksgiving meals so at about three o’clock we were tucking into a feast of turkey and all the trimmings: dressing, cranberry sauce, three kinds of vegetables including yummy sweet potatoes with mounds of marshmallows on top, two kinds of jello salad, pies and cakes up the wazoo and fruit salad with real whipped cream. It was heaven. And then we got home and had to do it all over again. I mean, really, I didn’t want to hurt Mom’s feelings by not eating her meal, prepared with loving hands. So despite messages my brain was sending to my stomach that I’d had enough, I dug in with gusto. It turns out you can have too much turkey on Thanksgiving.

Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 7


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Lucy Lopez, A Las Vegas Legend

any people knew her as Mama Lucy, a name she got from Highlands students who gravitated to her nurturing spirit. “She treated them like family,” said her daughter-in-law, Caroline Lopez. In the Fifties she was voted Mother of the Year by members of a sorority. The familiar and comforting label, Mama, became a part of who she was. An iconic figure in Las Vegas because of her cooking skills, Lucy Lopez became a legend in her own time when her restaurant on the Plaza began to attract politicians, some of whom were former Highlands students. The ‘Mama Lucy Gang’ wasn’t so much a political force as it was a bunch of good old boys getting together to talk about politics and life. Along the way a few deals were struck that made their way to the Roundhouse. Her true claim to fame was her delicious food. Lucy passed away some years ago, but her recipes continue to nurture her family, prepared with love by Caroline and Lucy’s daughter, Loretta Lopez. Caroline, a middle school social studies teacher for thirty-four years (thirty-one of them in the West Las Vegas district) is the daughter of Ramon and Euphelia Garduno. “When I was growing up, being told to help with supper was a chore. Lucy made it fun. My cooking skills are a result of watching and learning from her over the years. “She had a knack for taking a recipe she saw in a magazine or one that was given to her, and making it her own,” Caroline said. “And she could make a meal out of anything! She would look in the refrigerator and say, ‘Darling, I don’t know what to make.’ And then she would say, ‘I know,’ and start asking for different things, ‘Traeme esas papas,’ (bring me those potatoes, or whatever ingredient she wanted) and on and on. Before you knew it we had a wonderful meal, and plenty, enough for everyone and some to share. She was creative and brought that creativity to every thing she cooked.” Caroline laughs. “I liked to watch her make pies. She asked me one day if I wanted to learn, and of course, I said yes! She said it’s all in the crust. She would watch me and tell me what adjustments to make until the dough had the right ‘feel.’ She would make dough and tell me to feel it to see if I could tell the difference. It took time but I learned the art of piecrust.” The same types of careful lessons applied to making biscochitos. “And you never used a cookie cutter!” Lucy’s daughter, Loretta, said her mother believed cooking was more than following a recipe.

BISCOCHITOS

In a bowl, combine the following dry ingredients: 4 cups flour ¾ tsp. baking powder ¼ tsp. salt

In a separate bowl: Mix until fluffy 1 cup Morell Lard 2 cups sugar

Add 3 eggs to the sugar mixture. Mix well. Add 1 tsp anise seeds Add a dash of Brandy (optional) Add dry ingredients Mix together to make a dough mixture. Roll dough about ¼ inches thick. Cut biscochitos in traditional shape. Dip top side in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place in ungreased baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes or until the bottoms are brown but not burned. Amount will vary according to size of biscochitos. PECAN PIE (2 pies)

6 eggs 2 cups brown sugar 1 cup dark Karo Syrup 1 cube melted butter ¼ tsp. salt 1 cup pecans (crushed into pieces) 8 tlbs. light Rum (optional)

Beat eggs. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Fill to the top. Bake at 375 for 1hr. 15 minutes. Cover the top with aluminum foil for the last 20 minutes.

— SEE MAMA LUCY ON PAGE 19—

Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 8


SOMEONE’S IN THE KITCHEN

Down Home Cooking For a Neighborly Event

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Brown vermicelli in shortArticle and photo by Kathy Allen t’s that time of year again ening, breaking the pasta into when the cattle trucks small pieces. Stir in ground loaded with fat calves, beef and brown, draining exyearling heifers, or yearling cess fat. Add remaining ingresteers are going up and down the dients and blend. (Do not highways. Surely you have seen season meat before draining.) them. Getting the animals to this Cook on stovetop over low point has been both interesting heat for 25 minutes. Prior to and sometimes frustrating, but serving, place cheese slices on the camaraderie among the cowtop and allow them to melt. boys (and cowgirls), who make it happen, is hard to top. Okay, here is what I Stories of “wrecks” abound Cowboys round up cattle in preparation for shipping. A do differently: and laughter is heard over the I use two cans of Rotel noisy bunched cattle. Neighbor- highlight of the day is the food shared in the host ran cher’s tomatoes and green chilies ink i t c h e n o r a r o u n d a c a m p f i r e . ing (you help me, I’ll help you) is stead of the tomatoes. I drain the name of the game. The meal the corn and use that liquid as part of the 1 cup water. After following the work is a big deal. The cowboys have been the mixture has cooked for 25 minutes I put a layer of the known to help—or NOT—based on the meal they know will mixture in a 9 X 13 inch cake pan and also a smaller casserole follow the work. dish (this makes lots!). Then I sprinkle the layer with a mixThis year I only fixed one meal as the cattle owner proture of shredded Colby jack and cheddar cheese and shredvided the others—except for my homemade bread and peach ded mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of the jam. The following recipe is one I found in Western Horseman magazine. They noted, “This pasta dish originated in a New meat/vermicelli mixture and top with more of the cheeses. Place in 300 degree oven until cheese is melted and mixMexico ranch cookhouse in the 1960s.” Western Horseman has ture is hot. OR you can refrigerate for later baking/warming started putting a recipe in each issue. I haven’t tried any of up. If you do refrigerate, I would wait to put the top layer the others, yet, but this one is a keeper. I changed the original of cheese on until the mixture has been reheated. I have recipe a little, so I’ll give you the original and then tell what found that a half recipe serves 4-5 people. I did differently. Hope you like it. The men did! Serve with seasoned green beans, tossed salad, and garlic bread. Yummy! Mexican Vermicelli 2 Tablespoons shortening 2 cups onions, diced ½ pound (8 oz.) Vermicelli 2 cups celery, chopped 1 to 1 ½ pounds ground beef ½ cup green pepper, chopped 1 teaspoon salt 1 16 oz. can stewed or diced tomatoes 1 teaspoon pepper 1 ½ cups whole kernel corn 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 cup water Dash of garlic powder 8 slices of any type of cheese

Someone’s in the Kitchen

Someone’s in the Kitchen

is a compilation of recipes from

Kathy Allen.The book is avail-

able from Happenstance as a

digital file on CD or as a PDF

K ATH Y A L L E N

e-mailed directly to you. The

beauty of electronic cook-

books is that you can print out

recipes as you need them and you don’t have to find shelf space for book storage. For more infor-

mation call 617-0839 or e-mail fsharon@msn.com.

Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 9


The Colors of New Mexico Inspire Artist Gail Malley

“I spent my career telling others, ‘You can do it.’ I decided to take my own advice.”

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Article by Sharon Vander Meer Photos by Gail Malley

n the room Gail Malley uses as a studio, light pours through the window and onto a work in progress. The drawing is pinned to a surface surrounded by photos she has taken, from which she will create finished pastels. Around the room pieces waiting to be framed are mixed in with items already prepared for display. Some have been shown in other galleries, but most are new. The space is defined by a sense of orderliness and serenity. The strength of her cultured, slightly European voice, and her upright carriage convey a youthful quality that belies the fact that she will soon turn eighty. Add to that a commitment to hang her art show by Nov. 1, and you have a woman with a creative soul combined with focus and dedication whose energy outstrips that of many people half her age. Pastels and Photography by Gail Malley is now on display at Traveler’s Café, 1814 Plaza, and will be up This garden with its vibrant colors and variety of terrain kept through the month of November. An opening recepcalling to the ar tist as she walked past each day. She took countless tion is set for Saturday, Nov. 6, from 3-5 p.m. Gail said her arrival in Las Vegas nearly twenty photos at different times of day and from that has created pastels years ago was like coming that burst with life. home. “I love it here. It is Las Vegas appealed to her and made her feel instantly at one of the most beautiful home. places I’ve been. The pace is That shows in her art, strikingly colorful whether more relaxed; there is a sense rendered through the eye of a camera, or with soft glowof peace, and a blend of culing pastels. Currently she is fascinated by a garden on tures. It felt comfortable right 6th Street that has eye-grabbing bursts of color. She has away.” This from a woman taken dozens of photographic studies of the garden and who was born in South Ameris now transforming those images into various works of ica, grew up in New York City, art. One is a full view including the house; another is a and lived for 25 years in section of the garden. To look at this ‘cropped’ image you Egypt. She has traveled the would think you were outside town in a special place creworld but something about Gail Malley ated just for you. Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 10


The urge to do pastels springs from her love of Northern New Mexico landscapes. “The play of color and light is wonderful; I see something magical that keeps me looking. The process is so wonderful and exciting when it works; you are in your own space, and time doesn’t exist.” She smiles, perhaps slightly surprised by this personal revelation. Gail has no formal art training. She sees an image she likes and she goes to work, first with a camera and then through interpretive rendering in pastel or embroidery. She says the detail in her work is representational. “I’m not going for realism; there’s a lot of creative license there.” That’s fortunate, because as a viewer, you get a sense of optimism and find you have a renewed appreciation for an environment you may have begun to take for granted. Seeing the trees, mountains, flowers and community through this artist’s eyes This work is an interpretation in pastel that has elements of architecture and nature. Gail helps you open your own. Photographs and Pastels by Gail said she uses a lot of ar tistic license to achieve the end result she wants. Malley will be on exhibit through November at Traveler’s Café. The The show will exhibit a variety of works, including phopublic is invited to the opening reception, Saturday, Nov. 6, tographs, her pastels, and a wonderful embroidery piece. It is instantly obvious that color plays a big part in her from 3-5 p.m.

choices of subject matter. The embroidery—probably no larger than six inches by nine inches—is of trees against a cloud-filled blue sky. There are shades of autumn color and a sense of chill in the air. It’s beautifully done and is a testament to creativity and whimsy. Gail said embroidery can sometimes be a means of managing her desire to control everything all of the time, a part of her character that likely made her good at her job of encouraging others to see their potential. In Egypt, Grail, the agency for which she worked for, helped women by promoting literacy and economic programs. “We created a co-op for them which they ran.” The co-op’s products were embroideries that depicted community life as well as other images. A career spent encouraging others may have contributed to Gail becoming an artist after she moved to Las Vegas. “I spent my career telling others, ‘You can do it.’ I decided to take my own advice.” The impetus for photography was her search for cards to send to people that reflected the beauty of the area. “I couldn’t find anything I liked, so I created my own.”

 This small embroidery is a Malley design, hand-stitched by the ar tist.



Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 11


Who’s Your Hero?

From shopping to being a single mom, this advocate’s busy life is an inspiration

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was in the grocery store engaged in the fine art of ex- glasses, and then reach for my piration date examination, when I noticed a presence legs. Almost always I’m runcoming up behind me. I quickly moved my overflow- ning the “beat the bladder to ing basket so it didn’t block the aisle—an infraction I have the bathroom” race, while been known to grumble about. I mumbled a vague apology limping along, trying to get setinto the air around me. To my surprise a man, whom I had tled down into each prosthesis. Cindy Charlton never met, grabbed my hand and began pumping my arm No matter what the day holds for me, no matter how sore or with gusto. “Thank you,” he said, pumping away. “Thank you for tired my residual limbs are from the day before, the prostheses go on. They are my friends as well as my nemeses, but being an inspiration.” they are necessary to my independent way of At first I thought he must be overliving. whelmed with gratitude because I moved my It takes a certain amount of courage to basket and allowed him access to the dairy strap those legs on, when at the start of the shelves. Then he said, “It’s so awesome that “It takes a certain day soreness and fatigue are already issues. It you are here and with no assistance!” His amount of courage to takes a certain ability and capability to not voice was filled with incredulity; disbelief allow hardship to overrule the decision to go strap those that I would be grocery shopping by myself. grocery shopping. As I think about that Frankly grocery shopping by myself has its legs on, when at the stranger in the grocery store I wonder if he perks. It’s always cheaper and almost always was really so far off of the mark. I certainly start of the day healthier—as in food choices—when my kids don’t think of myself as courageous for going aren’t with me. soreness and to the grocery store alone, or doing anything I thought, “I am over fifty and have had fatigue are by myself, for that matter. a driver’s license since I was fifteen years I don’t think of myself as an inspiration already issues.” old.” Given the fact that I graduated from my while squeezing cantaloupes or checking the mother, Fran Charlton’s school of etiquette shelf life on a gallon of milk. I don’t think with flying colors, I merely smiled and about what I look like when I’m out in the thanked him for his generous words. public eye, doing my errands and chores—doing the same As I was heading toward the produce section, I began to things everyone else does, but I live in this body every day, snicker a little. I have a friend, who like me, is a bi-lateral below-the-knee amputee. He and I often play the game of, every moment of my life. I‘m used to putting one fake foot in “Who inspires whom the most.” Generally I win, because I’m front of the other to accomplish my goals for the day, whether missing one more body part than he is, but as I got to think- placing that foot feels good or not. I’m out there with everying about this compliment delivered next to the low-fat milk, one else, doing the best I can. It was a good day for me that day in the grocery store. I I began to scold myself for being insensitive. was concentrating more on the purchase of food than I was “Good for him for having the courage to approach me in on the comfort level of my prostheses. I’m sure that ease and the first place!” I thought. As I was pushing my basket, one-handed and on pros- comfort translated as courage and strength to my benevolent thetic legs, I began to take stock of what I must look like to stranger. That’s not such a bad way to be viewed. I rarely sit the average person. “Not only that,” again in my thoughts, and contemplate about how courageous or inspirational I “You alone know what it has taken to get you to this point.” am, but I recognize those attributes and use them when I Being in this exclusive club of limb loss, I know inti- need them most. I recognize that others think of me as couramately what the day to day feels like, what all it entails. The geous and inspirational and some even see me a veritable first thing I do every morning when I get up, is put on my hero. — SEE HERO ON PAGE 19—

Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 12


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Silence From the Past

force of the water would take he first thing I did out the bridge. No one dared when we arrived at to cross until the waters had the Chaperito subsided and even then my cemetery this summer was mother would hold my hand lean against our vehicle and tightly as we walked across listen. I listened to the welthe bridge. come silence in contrast to the My mother had so many man made city noise such as daily chores and responsibilmotorcycles, fireworks and ities and today I look at them car horns. This area always as struggles. My father being seems to have a bit of wind gone most of the time to herd and if you listen carefully you sheep in Colorado, left her no can hear the flapping of an choice but to carry on. My old, rusty tin roof clinging to COURTESY PHOTO KIM DELGADO brother too, was gone having an old house that refuses to This tombstone in the Chaperito cemetery marks the grave of been drafted during world go down with the history of the author’s uncle. It is a reminder of the life of a community that at War II. In addition to taking this community. one time contained more than four hundred people. Little remains care of our home she also Getting to Chaperito was of the village but its memories linger. cared for my grandmother quite an experience and was who was bedridden and living in her own home. made possible by being in a four-wheel drive vehicle. Since Chaperito was and still is, rattlesnake country. On one the road is no longer maintained by the county only those determined individuals trying to visit the family cemetery occasion I saw my mother take a shovel and kill a rattler that had crawled into the wood box behind the stove in my actually make the trip. Chaperito is about thirty-five miles southeast of Las grandmother’ s kitchen. Needless to say, I am terrified of any Vegas. There are only a few houses still standing, but those kind of snake. Not everything was a struggle or unpleasant, there were too are slowly collapsing back into the earth from which they many joyful events in the village that brought everyone towere built. There is one house where swallows have made gether. Weddings come to mind and remind me of all the their mud nests on the ceiling. It is good to see there is still goodies to eat and people enjoying themselves. The highlight some form of life in my godmother’s front room. of any wedding ended with a dance in the evening. Some Our family home is now just a pile of rocks. I’m not one parents took the kids along and I was fortunate to be one of to sit still long enough to meditate, but in this spot I can easily sit quietly and feel very peaceful. I was born and raised in them. I remember running around with the rest of the chilChaperito, this is where I spent my early childhood. My visits dren until we exhausted ourselves eventually falling asleep here do not necessarily spark a melancholy mood, but rather on top of the coat-covered benches. I don’ t expect it will get any easier to travel to Chaperito have a calming affect on my spirit. in the future. The roads have eroded more and more with While I didn’ t fully understand the meaning of death at each rainstorm, plus cattle guard gates have pad locks to age six, I do remember my grandmother passing and all the keep cattle in and visitors out. Yet, those of us who have famactivities that went on at her home. It was exciting to be in the middle of so many people coming and going, but the crying ily members buried at the cemetery are entitled to visit. The Chaperito Town Grant was issued in 1845, and the did scare me. 1860 Census shows a population of 444. The U.S. Post Office I remember vividly the summer thunderstorms which were so frightening, especially at night when lightening lit was active there from 1875 to 1957. Most people moved to up the room followed by the roar of thunder. To this day I search for work. As the saying goes, “People were land rich feel uncomfortable during a thunderstorm. On the plus side, and money poor.” My family and I may have moved away from Chaperito the absence of electricity made the night sky the most beauin 1946, but my heart and soul have never left. tiful that I have ever seen. After a heavy thunderstorm, I recall the roaring rage of —Kim Delgado is a retired state and school employee, who the Gallinas River, with its red muddy water carrying logs, often writes for the Optic and also wrote for La Herencia. She may trees and other debris. Everyone watching wondered if the be reached at clancydelgado@q.com or 425-9677. Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 13


HEALTH & FITNESS

Exercise: Fitness, Fashion and Fun

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What do you want out of going to the gym? It’s probably a mixed bag, including social interaction.

he only daytime television show my mother watched was The Jack Lalanne Show, attempting to live the dream of staying trim and fit. She would banish my brother and me from the room, clear the floor and pull out her high-tech piece of exercise equipment: a kitchen chair. In tank top and pedal pushers, hands on the back of the chair, she’d acknowledge to the black and white picture that she was ready, only to be told he’d be back after a word from his sponsors. In the meantime, his instructions were to stretch a bit and warm up. Instead there was always some chore she could take care of during that time. Here was a housewife and mother Karen Topping with two small children participating in the early stirrings of a lifestyle promotion that would, over the next several years, take off and become a part of people’s lives in ways she could never imagine or understand. As the “Father of Fitness” Jack Lalanne worked on changing the shape of America. Today popular television has pretty much left Jack behind. Syndicated cable programs have taken the place of The Jack Lalanne Show, entertaining us from exotic locations. Instead of Jack simply teaching us how to exercise, we now have a group of men and women showing us how it’s done. Something significant has occurred here—a shift, from “being” to “appearing.” For example, the owner of a health club, realizing his clients would pay $100 for a nylon jacket with the club logo on it, included apparel licensing as a facet of fitness. A club’s directory used to include programs and services. Today’s culture dictates that it also present a list of available activewear. If you consider exercise a matter of privacy, everything is available from free weights to door gyms, and stowable machines to stair climbers, replete with built in televisions, DVD players, and video games. If your cable goes out there are exercise videos available with good looking men and women from just about every walk of life targeting just about any body part, and if you need more visual support, beefcake or beautiful model posters are available to remind you that you too can look “kind of like” him or her.

The dual identity theme found in many genres of popular culture, such as Superman and his nerdy alter ego Clark Kent, or Batman and the philanthropic Bruce Wayne, is also present in the culture of fitness. For instance, a friend decides that he would like to “buff up” his arms, chest and back. He lifts weights religiously to achieve this transformation from an average build to a muscle man. As the “hero” of this genre, he’ll take on a new identity with new clothes, a different outlook, and image of himself. Soon, others will view him differently as well. Muscle-bound has become the highest form of fashion and we are bombarded with images of what’s in style. Gyms also target other aspects of people’s lives, including the emotional and social. According to writer Vanessa Friedman, gyms have joined the workplace, bars, and other gathering spots, as the place to meet and possibly mate. In a Forbes article Lisa Gubernick said the creators of co-ed facilities realized the “mating” aspect of health clubs provides a good promotional gimmick. Gyms weren’t always the norm. Years ago, living in a huge city, the only people I knew were the people with whom I worked. Looking for a safe place to spend my evenings and meet new people, I joined Vic Tanny’s. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays were women’s days. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays were reserved for men. I felt comfortable there and for me, a trend had begun, not only from an exercise standpoint but a social one as well. Later, I was living in a city where, again, I didn’t know many people, and drawing on previous experience, I looked for a gym to join. Another Vic Tanny’s became my refuge. It was co-ed, if you preferred that, and open seven days a week. I worked out there every evening and before I knew it, I was considered a “regular,” just as though the gym was a bar I dropped into every evening, and was being approached with lines like “come here often?” Years later, I joined an all-women’s gym called “Body Beautiful.” Now, pretty much a veteran on the fitness scene, I noticed for the first time how marketing fitness as a form of entertainment had become a booming business. At this particular gym, women and their body images were the target. This was evidenced through their advertising. Join our club and take the first step to attaining the body ‘beautiful.’ Start your

Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 14


Fitness has come a long way since Jack Lalanne

new year right and by bikini season you’ll have that ‘body beauti- Rollerblading class, and a drag queen brandishes a whip ful.’ Buy a new leotard from our shop...show off that ‘body beauti- while teaching underground funk! All these come together ful.’ This can be viewed as a way of capitalizing on the fact to provide an unusual combination of entertainment, exercise that women’s images of themselves never seems to measure and, for the owner, a handsome return on an investment. Like all pop culture genres, fitness centers—and espeup. On the other hand, the health club became a place for so- cially the larger chains—are constructed according to a rigid cial empowerment. Women experienced a sense of cama- formula. The layouts are similar and the front desk has a list raderie and the average woman could indeed become the of classes available to members. People who move from one location to another often seek out heroine of this genre. Females of all these chains because of the comfort shapes and sizes lifting weights, zone provided by this formula. chatting, laughing, and supporting In addition to healthy exercise each other. (“Come on you can do and social interaction, some particit.” “One more rep.” “Good job, you ipants receive the additional pleasdid it!”) The locker room is filled ures of exhibitionism or voyeurism: with women piling themselves into there are those who revel in exerciseverything from bright, fluorescent ing in front of others and there are leotards to dull, gray sweatsuits. those who like to watch certain parSome check their hair and makeup ticipants and dream. A woman I in the mirrors. Whatever makes you knew was dubbed “Gym Diva” befeel good goes. There’s as much inYou can make new friends and reconnect with old cause of the clothing she wore and teraction here as at a party between the way she exercised. There were friends, and we’re ready to do this friends at the fitness center. men who used to come to the gym just to salivate while they together. The mirrors in the gym are, as with many things in pop- watched her exercise! Jack Lalanne delivered information on how to become ular culture, more complex than one might assume. First, they make the area look larger; second, you can make certain more fit. Ads like Soloflex persuade us through image rather that you’re performing the moves correctly; third, you can than information. We see the Soloflex man’s body aligned eyeball yourself either approvingly or critically and decide with the Soloflex machine as he turns himself into a “piece of where to go from there. Stuart Ewen, in Hard Bodies, con- work,” as much of a machine as the Soloflex itself. As a specstructs an analogy between health clubs and factories. Just as imen of technological perfection, he’s there to be looked at the assembly line in a car plant produces a vehicle, the health and nothing more. His inner well-being is not at issue. Fitness is available to anyone anywhere. This is good, but club, with its “imposing assembly line of large, specialized machines” produces the types of physical specimens that the marketing of this form of popular culture, whether in America values. Mirrors allow the workout devotee to be- magazines or newspapers, television or radio, through the come a sort of industrial inspector, “surveying the results of Internet or Infomercials, has progressed from focusing on each task,” according to the principles of “scientific manage- “being fit” to what Guy Debord called “the society of spectacle.” We have become concerned less with being fit and more ment.” Some fitness clubs use a formula identified by Peter Gib- with images and appearance. As a wellness consultant and exercise technician conian in The Art of Being Off-Center: Shopping Center Spaces and Spectacles. Like shopping malls, the design strategy for these cerned for people’s health and not much more, I wish Jack clubs involves sophisticated cultural engineering. Valet park- were back. ing and marble lobbies lure those who can afford it into a to—Karen Topping has a BA in Health Promotion and Wellness tally enclosed protective womb—the Disneyland of health from NMHU and is a certified health and fitness instructor. She clubs. Along with the usual equipment, they boast golf ball was a trainer with Northeastern Regional Hospital and with the driving facilities, ski simulators and a forty-five foot high slab City of Las Vegas Recreational Center for several years, and served of phony granite for practicing rock climbing. as Senior Circle Advisor at Alta Vista Regional Hospital until It has been said that people give up on health clubs be- 2009. She continues as the weight training instructor for Senior cause exercise is boring. A club owner in New York mixes Circle and is a former marathon runner, cross country runner and showbiz and sweat to make it fun. A live gospel choir in- says she is a “jogger and general gym rat.” Look for more from spires a gospel moves class; there is a hip-hop indoor Karen in future issues of Happenstance. Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 15


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THE READING ROOM

Chapter 2 Life’s Little Surprises

hey’re all in bed. I cannot believe I got myself into this dadblamed, cottonpickin’ situation! What in Heaven’s name was I thinking? And if that blighted hound doesn’t quit his barking I’m going to go out there and shoot him! Lilly fingered her pen, tapping the end on her journal. It had been a most uncomfortable time before she got them settled. She could not for the life of her figure out what to do next. The boys were in Michael’s old room, Annie and Marie in Elizabeth’s. She’d never done much to either bedroom except dust and vacuum. Not because she expected Harve’s children to come back some day, but because she had no other use for the space. She should probably get rid of the house and use the money to have a riproaring good old time. Something, to be honest about it, she wasn’t too good at. After the disaster with the dog she’d forced herself, and yes, she’d had to force herself, to go into the living room and make nice, something else she’d never been too good at, not exactly a desirable trait in a preacher’s wife. She recalled the stilted exchange with exasperation. “So, can I get anything for you? Something to eat or drink?” she asked. “Oh, no, no, we’ve been too much trouble already,” Annie said. That’s when the dog had started barking and he hadn’t stopped since. “We stopped at a McDonald’s before we got here.” Annie had looked like somebody waking from a mid-afternoon nap, confused and shaky. Not at all like the determined child Lilly remembered. What happened to that defiant little girl? Is the woman always so hesitant? It’s a wonder she’s been able to raise her children. Maybe I was too harsh with Elizabeth and Michael., Harve thought so, but if you don’t stand your ground with little ones, they flatout take over. Just look at that wisenheimer Caleb! Smartmouth, rude kid if ever there was one. That little girl’s cute enough and bright as a brass button, maybe a little too smart for her own good. The other one, Allen? No, not that, Archer? No. Something military. She wasn’t going into the kitchen at this time of night to look at her cheat sheet. For one thing it sounded like the dog was losing energy. She didn’t want to do anything to get him riled up again. Allison? No, that’s more a girl’s name. Alexander. That’s it, Alexander, but they call him Alex. Although so far nobody had called him anything, and other than saying “Cool,” when the dog peed on the rug, he hadn’t said much at all. I can live with that.

Two wisenheimers are quite enough. Caleb was a good-looking boy, or would be if he trimmed his hair and got that glower off his face. He, like the other two, was dressed rather shabbily but that could be fashion. Lilly hadn’t a clue why young people dressed like they’d been shopping in a garbage dump but that’s the way of it nowadays. That Marie, now her you’d have to watch out for; she was quick as a minute and smart with it. She looked exactly like Milly as a child. At four (and three months she was informed by Marie) Alex was a quiet boy much given to hiding his face in his mother’s body: behind her leg, in her coat, curled at her feet. Lilly didn’t know much but she knew this family came with a lot of baggage. Annie seemed beaten down by life, or maybe she was just tired and who wouldn’t be after driving three youngsters from… well, wherever they were from. It was obvious she genuinely loved her children, and was loved in return. The little ones stayed right with her, and Caleb seemed always to have his eyes on her, ready to step in at any second to hold her up. It was Caleb who had taken control of bringing the evening to a halt. “Mrs. Irish, if it’s okay, we’d like to go to bed.” She was glad enough to see the back of them. What am I to do tomorrow? They’ll be up and probably hungry. I’ve plenty of food but have no desire to whip up breakfast and find out no one wants to eat it! Lilly huffed and twitched her nose thinking of her spoiled dinner. “McDonald’s!” she muttered. Okay, I’m being foolish, but I worked hard on that dinner. Of course, it’s not really spoiled. The meatloaf can be heated and so can the potatoes and veggies. The salad won’t survive too well, but it’ll do. It’s not like everything will go to waste. Maybe I’d better do something different for breakfast, not just eggs and cereal. When Elizabeth and Michael were little they liked French toast with homemade syrup. I’ll try that out on them. If they don’t like it, what the heck, I do! A knock on her door startled her. Despite the fact she’d been working out how to solve the problem of breakfast for her guests she’d somehow forgotten she wasn’t alone in the house. “Yes, just a minute!” Lilly put the journal in her nightstand and closed the drawer firmly. She slipped a robe over her flannel gown. “Who is it?” “Marie, Mrs., can I come in? — CONTINUED ON PAGE 17 —

Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 16


Lilly hurried to the door and swung it open a couple of inches looking down into the angelic face that was both foreign and achingly familiar. “What on this earth are you doing up?” “I’m scared.” Lilly pushed her glasses up with her index finger and twitched her nose. “Nonsense, there’s not a thing to be scared about. You get yourself to bed.” “Mama’s crying.” Lilly’s stomach turned over. She opened the door wider and the girl slipped through. “Marie?” Annie’s tremulous voice preceded her down the hall. When the light from Lilly’s bedroom caught her face Annie blinked her red swollen eyes and cringed. “I’m sorry Mrs. Irish. She told me she was going to the bathroom, I didn’t mean for her to disturb you.” “That’s all right.” Mrs. Irish. They all called her that, only when they’d first arrived had Annie called her Aunt Lilly. “No, it isn’t. We’re imposing on you and…” Silent tears streamed down Annie’s cheeks Lilly hadn’t been a preacher’s wife for nothing, albeit a pretty lousy one. “Come in and sit down. Let me get you some water.” “No, I…” “Sit. Marie and I will get you a glass of water while you compose yourself.” Sometimes straight talk was the best thing. Coddling people with sweet words just made them feel worse, or at least it did her. “Come, child, let’s allow your mother a moment.” Marie looked searchingly at her mother then took Lilly’s hand. “Yes’m.” As she feared, the moment she walked into the kitchen and turned the lights on the dog began to howl and bark. “Be QUIET Krank!” Marie commanded in a surprisingly powerful voice for such a little thing. The noise ceased immediately. Lilly stared at the child. “Why didn’t you do that earlier, when he was carrying on so?” Marie shrugged. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t.” A testament to life, Lilly thought. “Would you like water, too?” “Sometimes I pee the bed.” “Oh, well then.” Lilly cleared her throat at a loss for what to say to this forward and bright replica of her sister. “My Daddy’s dead.” “Oh, Marie, I’m sorry. I had no idea.” “I think he got runned over by a truck.” Lilly choked on a combination of surprise and dismay. “Marie.” The boy was in the same clothes he’d had on earlier. If he’d slept it wasn’t evident. By the set of his mouth

she could tell he was angry.“Get to bed. Mom is in there waiting for you.” Marie dropped her head and toed the hardwood. “I didn’t mean nothing.” “I didn’t say you did, but it’s time you were in bed.” “G’nite, Mrs.” Marie scurried away, her slapping bare feet going silent when she went from the hardwood floor onto the carpet in the hallway. “He isn’t dead, we just don’t know where he is,” Caleb said and took the water from Lilly’s nerveless fingers. “And we don’t care.” He turned and followed Marie. “What in this world have I gotten myself into,” Lilly thought. “What in this world.”

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Chapter 3 A New Day

illy was frantic. She had overslept and was fretting about breakfast for her guests the whole time she was in the shower and getting dressed. She needn’t have worried. Annie was at the stove scrambling eggs when she entered the kitchen. Marie was chattering, Alex was barely awake and Caleb was looking disgruntled. It was as if the tears and nocturnal wanderings of the night before had never happened. “I hope you don’t mind,” Annie said. “I don’t want you to think we expect you to wait on us. We can do for ourselves. Right kids?” The “kids” were gathered around the kitchen table and had gone silent the second Lilly walked in. Caleb was the first to speak. “I was rude to you last night. I am sorry.” Lilly noted that he’d cleaned up a little but he still wore the garbage dump garb from the previous day. “You were tired; we all were.” It was the best she could do in the way of forgiveness. She was sure his mother had forced him to make the apology. “Would you like eggs?” Annie asked. “Thank you, but, no, I’m late for work.” “She looks too old to work.” It was the first fully formed sentence Alex had voiced and after a startled moment Lilly smiled tightly. “I feel too old, by golly, but off to work it is.” She turned to Annie trying hard not to show how nervous it made her to leave these strangers alone in her house. It would only be for five hours, the length of her shift, but a lot of bad things could happen in five hours. “You don’t mind, do you? I tried to change my schedule so I could help you get settled in (and establish a few house rules), but…” “We’ll be fine,” Annie said. “Won’t we?” She cast a glance at her three children. — CONTINUED ON PAGE 18 —

Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 17


Lilly didn’t expect a response from the silent audience and wasn’t surprised when none was forthcoming. “Well, I’ll be on my way. I can’t take calls at the store unless it’s an emergency, but I’ll write the number down in case you need to reach me.” When she went to get a piece of paper from the pad by the phone, she saw the note she’d written to herself about the names of the children and their ages. For no reason she could think of, heat rose up her neck. Why, I can leave notes to myself all over the place and it wouldn’t be anybody’s business! Still she felt uncomfortable that other people could look at the orderliness of her life and find something about it to criticize. She stuffed the page in the pocket of her ShopMart smock, and then wrote down the store number hoping Annie wasn’t the type to think everything was an emergency. “Don’t you got a cell phone?” Marie asked. “We hadda cell phone but we couldn’t pay the bill.” Annie closed her eyes and shook her head, not in denial, Lilly thought, but in resignation. Lilly pushed her glasses up on her nose. “Well, child, it is a consideration, but I don’t have a cell phone because I don’t want one. Never could see the use of the doggone things.” Marie looked ready to say something else but Caleb leaned over and whispered something in her ear. “Momma, Caleb called me a baby!” “I did not! I said quit acting like a baby.” Alex started to whine. “Okay, kids, enough.” Annie’s words were spoken softly but the children immediately lapsed into silence. She smiled at Lilly, a sweet curve of her lips that helped to relieve the look of wariness imprinted there. “Thanks for leaving me the number. I’m sure we’ll be fine and we will be careful of your home.” Lilly felt as though the young woman had sensed her concerns. It did not relieve her one whit. She nodded and opened the door to the garage to be greeted by a bounding behemoth. He whipped past her and into the house propelling everyone else into motion. “Krank!” Caleb shouted running after him. “Get him!” Annie cried, her attention torn between the pan of scrambled eggs on the electric burner and the chaos popping up all around her. Marie was on Caleb’s heels yelling, “Come here, boy,” at the top of her lungs. Alex started to cry. In a dither about what to do Lilly wavered in the doorway wanting to protect her home from the crazy animal galloping through it and the need to get to work on time. ShopMart wasn’t a forgiving employer and in a small town there were lots of people waiting for the next job opening.

“I have to go,” she said, sounding apologetic even to her own ears. What she should have said is, “This place better be clean and in one piece when I get home!” Lilly stepped into the garage pawing through her purse for her car keys, her nose twitching madly. She sneezed. What in this world? She flipped on the light and yelped. The sound of running feet came from the kitchen and in seconds Annie was behind her in the doorway. “Oh, my,” Annie said. “Oh, my, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” The garage was a shambles. The dog had overturned the rollout garbage can and scattered its contents, eating anything edible and sicking up what couldn’t be digested. He had then turned his attention to storage boxes, worrying them open and taking out whatever was inside. Elizabeth’s Barbie doll collection that nobody had looked at in years was scattered from hell and gone. Several of Michael’s Transformers lay in pieces and Match Box cars were strewn across the floor along with strips of track. Clothing she had been intending to take to the Salvation Army was everywhere. How the danged dog had done it without waking the entire household was a mystery. Maybe that barking was an almighty distraction to cover his crimes! Lilly closed her eyes tightly and opened them slowly. Still there. This nightmare was just beginning. Without a word she walked to her car, stepping over a pile of dog youknow-what on the way. She opened the door, closed it with deliberate care, put her key in the ignition, pressed the remote garage opener, backed out and danged near hit a sporty and altogether unexpected older model Mustang blocking the driveway. In the rearview mirror she saw Annie run behind her, hop in the car and back the Mustang out of her way. Annie gave a feeble wave as Lilly roared past in reverse, jerked to a tire-screeching stop, put the car in drive and took off peeling rubber all the way to the stop sign where her squealing brakes drew the attention of Luke Southern, who was getting in his car. She ignored his wave as heat flooded her cheeks. Next month: Chapter 4, On the Job Chapter 5, Where am I? Tiger Lilly, by F.S. Vander Meer, is available on CD as a digital file. To read the first chapter go to www.vandermeerbooks.com/happenstance Click on the PDF of the October issue.

Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 18


Mama Lucy

Continued from Page 8—

“People would say to my mom, ‘I made it by your recipe, but it didn’t come out the same.’ She would ask them if they liked to cook and they would say, ‘I hate to cook!’ Her response to that was, ‘If you don’t love to cook you can’t make a recipe work.’” Lucy’s love for cooking and her generosity are attributes that drew people to her. “She loved to prepare food for her family and friends,” Caroline said. “She would make enough so there was plenty to serve her family with enough left over to give away. She’s the one who taught me it’s as easy to make two pies as one, four pies as two. That

Hero

Continued from Page 12—

I understand that being my own inspiration—my own hero—is what gets me up each and every morning regardless of what hurts. It’s always easier to pull the covers over your head, and hope for a better pain free day. When you are your own hero, pulling the covers over your head simply isn’t an option.

way you have enough to share.” Caroline said she would like Lucy to be remembered for her resilience. “People remember her as being generous and charismatic, and she was, but she also had amazing strength. She had a hard time growing up. She was orphaned very young and her childhood and youth were challenging. You wouldn’t know any of that to be around her. She was not bitter, she overcame obstacles, and she never complained.” Caroline is married to Lucy’s son, attorney Jesus Lopez. They have one son and two grandchildren, Jesus David and Nevee. She returned to the workforce full time as the children’s librarian at Carnegie Library in Las

Vegas after about five years of retirement, and is a member of the West Las Vegas Schools Board of Education. Loretta continues to work at PNM in Las Vegas, and is developing a cookbook that includes Lopez family recipes with a focus on Mama Lucy’s specialties. Included with this article are two recipes Mama Lucy is known for. Biscochitos are a Christmas must in Northern New Mexico and Pecan Pie is a Thanksgiving tradition in many households.

The next time someone commends me on how inspirational I am, or thanks me for exhibiting what they perceive as courageous behavior, I will simply say “You’re welcome,” and truly mean it.

Coalition of Working Amputees, (CCWA). She helped pass Colorado’s ‘Prosthetic Parity Bill (HB1478),’ in 2000, and is working with the CCWA to pass the bill on a national level. Cindy is a certified Peer Counselor, helping people adjust to living with limb loss. She is a published columnist for inMotion magazine, has just finished writing her first children’s book, and is working on her memoirs.

—Cindy Charlton is a single mom with two active teenage sons. She serves on the Board of Advisors for the Southwest YMCA and is a member of the Colorado

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Editor’s note: The Lopez family is related to the Happenstance editor and author of this article.

The ‘I Hate to Sell Adver tising’ Ad If you would like to advertise in Happenstance, Bless You!

I am unlikely to call on you to dish out a sales pitch. My strongest selling point is that your ad will be seen by discerning readers. Send ad copy to fsharon@msn.com

Happenstance • November 1, 2010 • Page 19


No, no, I’m SURE it’s Halloween.


Happenstance, life happens  

General interest magazine with local, small town flavor that includes arts, opinion, fiction, foods, culture and more.

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