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Happenstance life happens

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E-mail submissions to: happenstance@vandermeer books.com Happenstance is a digital magazine available free from the publisher. Please forward this on to anyone who you think might be interested in receiving it. If you would like to subscribe please e-mail your request to happenstance@vandermeer books.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 PO Box 187 • Las Vegas, NM 87701 www.vandermeerbooks.com Copyright 2010 Material may only be used by permission with appropriate attribution.

Happenstance life happens

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From the editor…

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owdy. What wonderful days we’ve been having. Of course I write this on Tuesday with predictions of yet another snow storm or two in the offing. Oh, well, as everyone says, we do need the moisture. Personally I can scarcely wait to see the burst of beauty that will come out when it really starts to warm up. Barring a late freeze the tulips and lilacs and irises and all the other early blooming flowers should be spectacular. Considering the icy winds we’ve had I’m more than happy to be inside working on Happenstance. In this week’s issue you will find an article about a program that is important to the community and critical to its clients. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is an agency that works entirely in the interest of children who are in crisis; youngsters whose lives have been turned upside down and inside out. Volunteers serve one purpose only and that is to determine what is best for the child and advocate for that outcome. CASA is a nationwide organization with local affiliates. The one in Las Vegas that serves the Fourth Judicial District is under the direction of Barbara Perea Casey. See the story on page 4. Marlene (Allen) McConlogue is a mother of twin boys and an entrepreneur with a great idea. She created her business, Bare Bunz Cakes, to serve a target market of parents of newborns to two-year-olds. Her product? ‘Cakes’ made out of diapers and other essential and fun baby items. Read about this unique idea beginning on page 6. Regular features include a review of best selling author John Hart’s novel, The Last Child, a restaurant review of Santa Fe Capitol Grill, Happenstance Kitchen featuring my favorite enchilada casserole recipe and The Best of the Web focusing on xeriscaping. Enjoy Happenstance, life happens. —Sharon Vander Meer Send comments, suggestions and criticisms to sharon@vandermeerbooks.com

Happenstance life happens

Vol 1, No. 4, March 26, 2010

Happenstance is a digital publication of vandermeerbooks.com Copyright, Sharon Vander Meer, Vander Meer Books Select content may be used with appropriate attribution: Sharon Vander Meer, happenstance@vandermeer books.com Cover image: Sharon Vander Meer Carson: googleimages.com; Gide: wikipedia.com Santa Fe Grill photo: www.santafegrill.com Photos not identified: Sharon Vander Meer Some images from: clipart.com Quotes on page 11: www.wisdomquotes.com, thinkexist.com

Happenstance • March 26, 2010 • Page 2


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HAPPENSTANCE OPINION

his came to me some years ago from Jeannie McKinley. It is based on a study conducted by Dr. Cornelia Flora, who was at Kansas State University when the study was done. The purpose of the study was to determine what makes for successful communities. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the Internet trying to see what other successful communities are doing and guess what, it’s about the same stuff Dr. Flora identified in her nearly 20year-old report. Her initial research showed that in successful communities—those growing and meeting the needs of development, public works maintenance and improvement, and growth— controversy is considered normal, even expected. Controversy isn’t treated as bad, wrong or abnormal, and neither are the people who present it. Rather, controversy is regarded as a necessity of participatory governance. The opposite was revealed in dying towns. People avoided controversy and refused to address issues. In addition, the public was antagonistic toward rules, regulations and the people who made them. Citizens in successful towns hold an objective view of politics. They don’t side with someone out of friendship, nor do they oppose an individual simply because that person may have different business interests or philosophical views. In dying communities politics is personalized. People can’t separate the person from the job. Loyalty is given to individuals rather than issues; and the good-old-boy clique prevails, right up to the “…last stagnating, non-growth breath.” Prosperous small towns have schools that emphasize academics rather than sports. Towns on the wane, however, have schools that hold people’s interest by promoting loyalty to sports. When academic programs deteriorate, those same loyal sports fans move their children to better schools. Flora’s research showed that in successful communities there is a willingness to risk for the good of the town. Prosperous towns have enough success to want to risk, and succeed because they do risk. Dying towns have neither the confidence nor the willingness to take risks, leaving no possibility for success. Taxes? Not an issue anyone wants to support. In this study, however, the successful towns took on the responsibility of taxing themselves. They moved beyond want and desire into action. Dying towns accurately identified needs, but stopped at that point believing someone else—outside, interests or government programs—should pay the bill for their gain. Successful towns had the ability and desire to expand, making a place for more people, welcoming those new to

their community. Such is not true in dying towns where townspeople will not share power and authority with newcomers. A small group holds all leadership positions. Successful towns also have the ability to network vertically as well as horizontally; they are willing to learn from others. In dying communities the citizens don’t want to learn from anyone who isn’t exactly like them. Successful towns are flexible, Flora’s study concluded. Leadership is distributed with many people involved in the work and mission of the community. In dying communities a small clique controls the decision making process. In a more recent study done in Victoria British Colombia the study group found that strong communities collectively tackle problems; are great places to live; are inclusive and celebrate diversity; are always active; provide ways for every member to participate and contribute; have a sense of belonging among all members of the community. Common characteristics include having connections, self-determination and social engagement. The study group identified these, among other, threats that interfered with a community reaching its potential: • withdrawal of services in community areas • the imposition of ‘top down’ decision-making and the lack of consultation in planning and change processes • a general lack of leadership within the community • the lack of ongoing, long-term funding to allow for planning and the development of long-term solutions • the loss of young people from the local community. The latter struck a chord with me. It is the very thing we hear in Las Vegas nearly every day, “Our young people leave because they see no opportunity here.” There are other parallels in the Victoria study, and the Flora study has enough juice in it to bear thinking about. Everyone in Las Vegas, and people not from Las Vegas, say our town has great potential. Yes it does, and many wonderful activities are going on intended to bring about positive change. The question is, has Las Vegas reached its potential? Is it a successful town? I keep hearing that between the two school districts we have lost about 300 students in the past two years. How many families is that? Why did they leave? Where did they go? Decision Data Resources estimates that as of 2009 the population of Las Vegas had dropped to 13,031, down from the 2000 census, which had the population at 14,565. The county population has dropped as well. There are a lot of exciting things happening in Las Vegas and I applaud every one of them, but if these numbers are any indication, the most important resources we have, our people, are bleeding away.

Happenstance • March 26, 2010 • Page 3


CASA finds best options: Kids come first

“Being an advocate gives you an opportunity to provide love to kids who really need it.”

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—Barbara Perea Casey CASA Executive Director

ow would you like to be a child sitting in a room, maybe clean, maybe not, waiting for a mom or dad to come home only to be faced with an alcohol or drugged up mess instead? How would you like to be afraid of the very people you should trust? How would you like to be alone with no one to speak on your behalf? How would you like to be caught up in a system you don’t understand and over which you have no control? The answer is clear. No one wants to be that person. Unfortunately there are children just like that in Las Vegas and all across the country. Here’s another question. How would you like to be the person who helps make a difference? You can be, all it takes is a phone call to CASA Fourth, 454-0223, the Court Appointed Special Advocate group located here in Las Vegas. Who are these people and what do they do? An advocate steps in and speaks entirely on behalf of the child. What will be best for that child who has been taken from his mom or dad and placed in foster care? Will the parents get their act together and turn their lives around so the child can return home, or will the child remain in foster care or be adopted? CASA Executive Director Barbara Perea Casey (right) and Volunteer CoThese life-changing decisions don’t come easy but ordinator Betsy Yost, are the two paid staff for an organization that walks the they are critical to the lives of children who truly are at system with children in crisis advocating for them every step of the way. the mercy of the courts and the system that puts them ministrator and legislator, heads up this agency, champithere. oning children and looking for volunteers ready and willing The Children, Youth and Families Department interto undertake the sometimes wrenching but always rewardvenes to protect children and places them in foster care seting role of advocate. She is aided in this by Volunteer Services ting the wheels in motion to assure an outcome that is in the Coordinator Betsy Yost, a retired educator and children’s adbest interest of the child. It is a complex system, one children vocate. in crisis are unprepared to The program was established in 2006, by Dr. Charles deal with or understand. Searcy, at the urging of District Judge Abigail Aragon, who Q u i ck F a c t s That’s where CASA comes had acquired funding to start the agency. When Searcy rein. tired in 2009, Casey assumed the directorship. The program What: CASA (Court ApCASA Fourth Executive pointed Special Advocates) continues to be partially funded by the Fourth Judicial DisLocation: 1308 Grant Street Director Barbara Perea trict Court. Additional support comes from the City of Las Phone: 454-0223 Casey, a former school adHappenstance • March 26, 2010 • Page 4


Volunteer to make a difference

to pass criminal and CYFD background Vegas, which provides offices at the Rochecks, and attend a thirty-hour traindriguez Park Softball Complex. Curing program. Additionally you must be rently the offices are open daily in the able to meet with your assigned mornings. CASA Fourth also receives child(ren) at least once a month, and support from a number of community each year undergo at least twelve hours organizations and businesses, and conof additional training. tinually seeks funding through grants. Casey said anyone can be a volunThe program is supported by an active teer. She named the vocations/occupaboard of directors and is a non-profit tions of current volunteers and it 501-C-3 organization. *;All contributions included everything from a chemist to a are tax deductible. Directors include Ted contractor to an educator to a beautiHerberger, David Escudero, Katie Mccian. Donough, Tren Hillis and Martha Mar“What it takes is wanting to make a tinez. difference and being willing to give love The agency has seventeen volunteer to a child who really needs it. The advoadvocates but Casey said that isn’t cate may be the only stable force in the enough. “We have twenty-four cases life of that child,” Casey said. pending that involve about thirty chilWhile the advocates become quite dren.” Children in crisis situations face an un- involved in a child’s life there are reIn February, CASA Fourth comcertain future. An advocate can make all the strictions on the degree to which a volpleted the training of six new volunteers, difference. unteer may engage with the child. the largest group in its history. “More than ninety children, ages birth to eighteen, are There is no gift giving or special privileges. You meet with served by the program,” Yost said. “Another volunteer train- the child at the foster home or other setting approved by CYFD. The role of advocate is a professional relationship, not ing will be held in June or July.” According to information provided by CASA, volunteers a personal one, and yet the fact of advocating for the child are highly trained individuals who advocate for children creates a bond. To get first hand insight into what it means to who have been removed from their homes to foster care be- be a CASA volunteer, go to the National CASA organization cause of abuse or neglect. The volunteer meets with the chil- website, www.casaforchildren.org. It explains from a volundren, their teachers, their foster parents, the case worker and teer’s point of view why being an advocate is so important. Training is a critical part of the program. What does any other persons who have knowledge of the children to whom they are assigned. Based on their findings, recommen- training entail? The thirty-hour course includes, but it not dations are made to the district judge outlining what is in the limited to, an orientation about the role of a CASA volunteer; expands understanding of what constitutes child abuse and best interest of the children. “CASA volunteers have access to all aspects of the child’s neglect; presents the principles and concepts that guide life,” Casey said. “Their role is to know everything there is to CASA volunteer work; a discussion of the law, the child proknow about the child. When the decisions are being made tection system and the courts; a discussion of child protective about what will happen to the child, their recommendations services and the courts and the advocate’s role in a juvenile carry a lot of weight because the judge knows the advocate’s case; helping the volunteer acquire cultural competence; unonly interest is seeing the child’s interests are served. Is the derstanding family dynamics and the impact of stress, menrecommendation to leave the child in foster care? Is it to re- tal illness, drug abuse and addition, poverty, and domestic turn the child to the family? Is it to terminate parental rights violence on children; understanding children; how to comand place the child for adoption? The judge listens to the ad- municate as a CASA volunteer, dealing with conflict, develvocate because of all the people involved in the child’s case oping communication skills relative to children in stressful circumstances; and what happens after a volunteer is apthe only one who sees the big picture is the advocate.” “Aside from funding,” Yost said, “volunteers are needed pointed to a case. If you are interested in helping with this important work, for they are the essential element of the program.” To be a volunteer, you must be at least twenty one, able contact the CASA office at 505-454-0223. Applications are Happenstance • March 26, 2010 • Page 5


Entrepreneurship: Bringing it home

“…we forget that our little ones are still in diapers during these milestones and considering children get so many toys, these cakes are a great way to give a useful gift with some pizzazz.”

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–Marlene McConlogue Bare Bunz Cakes

Marlene said. “I thought arlene (Allen) the cake was a wonderMcConlogue ful idea because everylives in Rio Ranthing could be used. I cho now, but is a familiar face in made a couple after the Las Vegas. She graduated from boys were born for Robertson High School and is friends’ baby showers. I the daughter of Fred and Kathy really enjoyed the creAllen. ative aspect and knowFollowing college at New ing that parents are Mexico State University in Las going to actually use the Cruces she worked for a couple gift. Having a baby, esof years in the hospitality inpecially twins, really dustry, settling in Albuquerque showed me how diapers where she met and married can be the best gift that Scott McConlogue, a pro damyou give to an expectant age evaluator for Allstate InsurCOURTESY PHOTO mother or father. The diance. By the time her twins, Bare Bunz Cakes owner and designer, Marlene McConlogue, puts to- aper cakes are also a Louden and Gunnar, were born gether a ‘cake’ made out of diapers. It will be accented with other baby she had already decided to be a items to make a unique shower or birthday gift for owners of tiny tushies. wonderful decoration for the shower or party.” stay-at-home mom. The idea of offering Marlene hadn’t planned to start a business. It started out a cute yet unique gift that is also practical and personal for as a “…cute idea for gift giving at baby showers,” and took baby showers, baby gifts, and first and second birthdays apon a life of its own. “When I was pregnant with the boys, I saw a diaper cake pealed to Marlene, both for practical reasons and because at the perinatology office that I had to go to for ultrasound,” when it comes to babies, diapers are always in demand. “Diapers are a wonderful gift and this is a way to give them ‘outside of the box’.” Marlene said her biggest challenge is marketing. “I am in the process of building a website and having information cards in various OB/GYN doctors offices and baby/children boutique shops in the Albuquerque/Rio Rancho areas. I rely on word of mouth and I recently participated in Baby Bonanza, New Mexico’s largest baby shower vendor show.” She said time management for a mom with a home business is crucial. “I am fortunate to have our boys on a definite schedule so when they are awake, I focus on them, but as soon as they take their afternoon nap or are in bed for the night, I work on the business. I also have support from my husband and parents. At this point, since the business is so new, I have been able to balance my time very well. I am hopCOURTESY PHOTO Louden and Gunnar McConlogue, 2 ½, are the reasons Marlene ing that it becomes more of a challenge due to an increase in wanted to have a home-based business. Being a mom comes first with orders!” her.

Happenstance • March 26, 2010 • Page 6


Cakes work for kids from newborn to second birthday

do and give it a try. For right now my Marlene developed Bare Bunz focus is on being a good wife and Cakes in response to an unfilled need. mother. This time goes by so fast and I “This is a company that thrives on those have the rest of my life to work.” perfect and precious lives we bring into Design ideas for the cakes are based this world. I have developed my own on a theme that can be as basic as boy, company based on my own experiences girl, or neutral, or can have a specific and knowledge of what a parent needs theme: bath time, playtime, multiples, during those first couple of years. sports, sandbox, safari, centerpieces, etc. “After giving so many baby gifts “I also offer specific themes that may and then receiving double the amount coordinate with shower/nursery or with the boys, I have realized how all party colors and themes,” Marlene said. gifts are wonderful, but diapers are the “The cakes can be customized. You can most useful. When you go through 140 also purchase a plain white cake and decdiapers a week, you soon figure out orate it yourself. All items are based on what an investment diapers can be. availability so if an item is no longer How nice it is to be given them as a gift. available then something similar replaces “I have incorporated first and secit. All customers are notified before any ond birthdays because we forget that This is the Bee Fun diaper cake for a change in design takes place. Each cake our little ones are still in diapers during first or second birthday. is delivered ready to give, wrapped in these milestones and considering children get so many toys, these cakes are a great way to give a tulle with coordinating bow and gift tag.” If a customer has something specific in mind to have on useful gift with some pizzazz.” Marlene said the biggest investment at this point is mar- the cake Marlene tries to accommodate them. “It usually keting. “Getting the Bare Bunz name out there for people to works best if they give me the theme and trust my creative know about doesn’t come cheap,” she said. “Also the cost of judgment. Some items are difficult to incorporate, however I making cakes to display for people to see has been a big in- do try my best.” As an entrepreneur Marlene recommends that anyone vestment.” Bare Bunz is a new business, begun about four months wanting to start a business be creative when making the deago. “I received so many compliments on my cakes and I re- cision to start up. “You need to find a niche that has not been alized there isn’t anyone in the Albuquerque area with a di- filled or offer a product that is unique and something people aper cake business. This was a niche that no one was filling, are willing to spend money on. As far a diaper cakes go, I recommend they buy them from me!” so I thought I would give it a go. I love to make the cakes!” Marlene said her favorite thing about being in business Marlene had other options for working outside the home. When asked why she chose to start her own business is meeting customers, and then going to buy the items. “Seethe answer was pretty ing how it all comes together is a treat. I also like being my simple and straightfor- own boss and being able to do the cakes when I have the time.” ward. Cake prices range from $20 to $120, and are based on the “TWINS! Need I say number of diapers and items used on the cake. All pricing is more! “As a stay-at-home subject to change depending on cost of materials. The avermom, I wanted to do age is about $65 for a three tier 40-diaper cake or $85 for a something that would four tier 70-diaper cake. Marlene’s customer base is primarily in Rio Rancho and give me an outlet and contribute to our fam- Albuquerque, but she hopes to have online ordering availily’s income. Since I plan able soon. “I ship via UPS, so it is not solely a local business. on staying home with I do account for a delivery fee of $10 in the Albuquerque Louden and Gunnar Metro area.” To order a Bare Bunz diaper cake email Marlene at bareuntil they start school, I The Itsy Bitsy Daisy cake is ideal bunzcakes@live.com, or call 505-856-6897. figured I would find for girls. something that I love to Happenstance • March 26, 2010 • Page 7


THE HAPPENSTANCE KITCHEN

Enchiladas perk up any party

This enchilada casserole recipe has many versions. My sister-in-law replaces the sour cream with cream of mushroom soup and it tastes really great!

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he first time I ate a casserole similar to this was at the home of my friend, Olivia Lyster. I had never considered enchiladas could be made in any other way than stacking or rolling. What I liked about the recipe was its flexibility. You could prepare a little or a lot. You could freeze the leftovers and they were just as good the next day or in two weeks. You could add lots of cheese or not too much; you could use burning hot sauce or stick with the mild. No matter what you do to this recipe, it tastes great! My sister-in-law replaces the sour cream with cream of mushroom soup and it tastes really great! This is a great meal for a crowd. I usually make one red with ground beef and one green with chicken, giving everyone a choice. I have to say I’m in the mild enchilada sauce camp. As I get older eating food that’s too spicy reminds me after the fact that I shouldn’t have done that. To complete the meal prepare a side of Spanish rice or pinto beans, and a mixed green salad.

Make it festive Spark up your dinner table with a center piece of brightly colored flowers and cloth napkins in snappy colors. Nothing sends a message to your family or guests that you think they are special like taking time to add flare to the table. Don’t want to buy fresh flowers? Try this. If you have a geranium in bloom, ship off a couple of bunches and place in a short container. Fill around the blossoms with other greenery you may have, fern, ivy, philodendron leaves, anything to give a frame to the flowers. Sometimes the greenery alone is sufficient if you have enough color on the table. If you have a recipe you would like to share with Happenstance readers, send it and a background story about how you got the recipe to fsharon@msn.com.

Happenstance Beef Enchilada Casserole Serves 6-8

Spray an 8” x 8” casserole dish with Pam or similar product and set aside.

12 - 18 corn tortillas 1 small chopped onion 1 small clove garlic chopped 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil 1 small can copped green chili 1 lb lean ground beef 1 can enchilada sauce 1 can beef broth 1 can Carnation milk 1 c sour cream 2 cups grated colby/jack cheese

Cook onion and garlic until transparent. Add green chili and beef and cook. While the beef is frying, place enchilada sauce and beef broth (use enchilada sauce can as a measure) in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add cooked meat, 1 cup of cheese, and Carnation milk and simmer for 10 minutes until flavors blend. Remove from heat and add sour cream, mixing thoroughly. Begin by dipping UNCOOKED tortillas in hot mixture and line bottom and sides of casserole dish. Spoon in mixture to cover bottom and sprinkle with cheese; dip tortillas in mixture and layer on top. Repeat layering until mixture is gone, ending with the sauce mixture on top; sprinkle with cheese. Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until sauce is no longer soupy. Remove from oven and let set for 15 minutes before serving. Happenstance Chicken Enchilada Casserole: Replace beef with 4 baked chicken breasts cut into cubes and substitute green enchilada sauce for the red.

Happenstance • March 26 • Page 8


THE BEST OF THE WEB

Xeriscape is water savvy and beautiful

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According to the Albuespite continued snowBernalillo site, the querque fall the time for planterm xeriscape is derived ning your yard for the from the Greek word xeros summer has arrived. Yes, there has meaning dry, combined with been a lot of moisture from all that landscaping, thus xeriscapsnow, but xeriscape as a long range ing. The term was coined by approach to landscaping makes a lot the Front Range Xeriscape of sense in an area that is typically Task Force of the Denver short of water. Water Department in 1981. Perhaps, because of the moisture The goal of a xeriscape is to we’ve had, this is the year to start a create a visually attractive xeriscape yard. As with any new This cornflower screensaver image is available free from landscape that uses plants seplantings water is essential to assure the official website of the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico, lected for their water effithe root system is established. By ad- www.xeriscapenm.com. ciency. Properly maintained, hering to prescribed watering days a xeriscape can easily use less than one-half the water of a new plantings can be nurtured through the summer so they will winter well and come back next spring hardy and ready traditional landscape. Once established, a xeriscape should require less maintenance than turf landscape. to thrive. Even as a novice you can use this site to walk yourself If you’ve never done xeriscaping, you might wonder where to start. Great resources include the Xeriscape Council through creating just the right garden for your home and of New Mexico website, www.xeriscapenm.com, where you lifestyle. Why Xeriscape? can find everything from recommended plants to additional • Xeriscaping Saves Water: Using native and other resources about landscape design, and the Albuquerque drought-tolerant plants can significantly reduce Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority website xeriscape water use. page. • Xeriscaping Saves Time: De-emphasizing the use of According to the Council website xeriscape is not a landbluegrass lawns and other thirsty plants is a common scape style or garden design. Xeriscape is a concept of water sense approach that can reduce the time you spend conservation that may be applied to landscapes of any style, watering, fertilizing and mowing. from traditional to English, Japanese, Southwestern, and oth• Xeriscaping Saves Money: Reducing water use can ers. They may be formal or natural looking. The principles lower your water bill. Xeriscaping can also reduce used to develop xeriscapes are good horticultural practices maintenance costs and increase the beauty and value applied to New Mexico’s unique desert environment. of your property. Xeriscape incorporates seven water-conserving princi–Source: The Xeriscape Council of NM and the Albuples: querque Bernalillo County Water Authority websites. • Planning and design • Efficient irrigation systems, properly designed and maintained • Use of mulch • Soil preparation • Appropriate turf •Water-efficient plant material • Appropriate maintenance A full description of these principles is available on the site. There are also links to other sites that will be helpful as you proceed with your xeriscape plan. Also listed are the places in New Mexico that exemplify good xeriscape practices. Happenstance • March 26, 2010 • Page 9


HAPPENSTANCE REVIEWS

The Book: The Last Child The Author: John Hart Minotaur Books St. Martin’s Publishing Group Price: $14.99

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The Restaurant: Santa Fe Capitol Grill Location: 2462 Zafarano Dr., Santa Fe, NM Hours: Mon - Sat: 11:30 am - 9 pm; Sun: Noon - 9 pm

ohn Hart, a New York Times best selling author, has written a book that is a strange combination of disturbing and uplifting. In The Last Child, Johnny Merrimon is left to cope with the desertion of his father and the deterioration of his mother after his twin sister, Alyssa, is kidnapped. He is thirteen, alone except for his friend, Jack, certain that nothing will ever be right again, and that nobody understands or cares what he is going through. Not the policeman who wants to help, whose motives are suspect even to those closest to him. Does Detective Hunt want to help Johnny or get closer to his mother? His obsession with the case has everyone uncomfortable, including the victims who have lost faith in the police and hope that Alyssa will ever come home. There are many suspects and lost trails on the road to learning the surprising truth about the young girl’s disappearance. The story is packed with arresting characters. Johnny feels deep conflict between caring for his fragile mother and the need to find out what happened to his sister. He is relentless in his pursuit, staking out the homes of known sex offenders, sure she has been taken by one of them, hoping against hope she is still alive. Hart is a masterful storyteller, taking you inside the head and heart of Johnny and Detective Hunt, and down the path that will lead to the truth. “He drove out the fear and put his fingers on the key. His eyes, in the mirror, showed red lines and blackened lids. He was untouchable, he told himself, a warrior. The engine turned, and he put the car in gear. He was an Indian Chief.” Johnny sets out to learn what happened to his sister and won’t let anything stand in his way. I highly recommend The Last Child. It is riveting, troubling, and uplifting, a book you won’t want to put down until you’ve reached the end. It is available locally at Tome on the Range. John Hart is the Steel Dagger and Edgar Award winning author of three New York Times best sellers. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons. Visit his site at www.johnhartfiction.com.

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ecently we went to a movie at the Regal Theaters in Santa Fe, but got there an hour before show time. We decided to eat lunch at one of the wealth of eateries located nearby. We ended up at Santa Fe Capitol Grill, a restaurant with simple charm, excellent service and great food, at least what Bob and I had was good. The decor is sophisticated chic with booths on one side and an open bar and dining area on the other. The menu has enough variety to satisfy almost any yearning you might have. I chose the Santa Fe Roasted Chicken Salad with avocados, roasted corn, pine nuts, dried cranberries, goat cheese, and cornbread croutons. It was dressed with a yummy chipolte ranch dressing. The chicken was seasoned just right and I really liked the way the cranberries and goat cheese complimented the other ingredients. I especially liked the cornbread croutons, crisp and lightly sweetened. Bob ordered the Capitol Grill Salad with grilled shrimp. This was a tasty combination of fresh seasonal greens, apples, candied port walnuts, and blue cheese crumbles. The dressing was an apple vinegarette. My lunch was $12 and Bob’s was $13, so the price was definitely right.They also had a variety of sandwiches and I’m looking forward to going back and trying a few. The Santa Fe Capitol Grill’s location makes it a great dining choice for theater goers. The restaurant’s website refers to the menu as New American Cuisine. The dishes are prepared from scratch daily and with the highest standard of produce, meat, fish and chicken. The menu has some intriguing items, like the Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash and Coffee Crusted New York Steak (after 5 pm). Santa Fe Capitol Grill has a full bar, six foot enclosed booths, outdoor seating and an area for large and private parties, the atmosphere is upbeat and open.

Happenstance • March 26, 2010 • Page 10


WORD FROM THE WISE

Wisdom

Without courage, wisdom bears no fruit. —Baltasar Gracian Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it. —Andre Gide

Wisdom is knowing what to do next; Skill is knowing how to do it, and Virtue is doing it. —David Starr Jordan

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. —Unknown source, attributed to Mark Twain Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. —Proverbs 17:28: The well bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves. —Oscar Wilde

Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it. —Albert Einstein

Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life. —Sandra Carey A prudent question is one half of wisdom. —Sir Francis Bacon

If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there. —Lewis Carroll Wisdom doesn't automatically come with old age. Nothing does - except wrinkles. It's true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place.” —Abigail Van Buren

If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. —Rachael Carson

I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be. —Thomas Jefferson:

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Books by F.S. Vander Meer

These books are available in Las Vegas at Tome on the Range Bookstore. Online purchases may be made at Amazon, Xlibris, and Barnes and Noble. 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 everchanging 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.

Happenstance • March 26, 2010 • Page 11


Who Cares? Philippians 4:8-9

A child is hungry, neglected and unwashed.Who cares? An old grandmother sits alone day after day. Who cares? A wife sits waiting for a husband to come home from war. Who cares? A father waits for his overdue teenage son to come home. Who cares? A teen wounded by life sits with a gun in his hand. Who cares? A boss sees the need to discharge a careless worker. Who cares? The world is filled with sad details in the lives of people around us. Who cares? God cares and he has given each of us the ability to help those who are hurting, neglected, afraid, or conflicted. Through his word he gives his people tools to reach out and make a difference. It is up to us to pick up the toolbox and go to work. Who cares? God cares and because he loves us, we care too. Lord, help us recognize need when we see it and prepare us to offer assistance in appropriate ways. We are meant to share the gifts you give to us. Amen

From Not Just Another Day, by F.S. Vander Meer • For ordering information go to www.vandermeerbooks.com


Happenstance