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July 27, 2012

Serving southern New Mexico . . . and the rest of the world!

photography by Helene Kobelnyk

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.� - Ralph Waldo Emerson 2


Laughter Heals

by Helene Kobelnyk

It was getting darker and the snow was really coming down. We were ten years old, the two boys and I. We had gone to the neighborhood store with their mom to get last minute groceries in case the East Coast blizzard snowed us in. We waited in the car as we were told to do. When she emerged laden down with packages, the temperature had dropped to freezing, the sidewalk was a sheet of ice and the wind blew fiercely. We looked with dismay out the window— their mom’s attempts to make it back to the car had turned into a Charlie Chaplin slapstick comedy. Our brief concern for her safety quickly deteriorated into hysterical laughter as we watched her battle the wind to keep her balance while slipping and sliding on the ice. Why didn’t we get out to help? Because we had been told to stay in the car, and the wind shook the car so badly, we were afraid to open the door. By the time she was safely back in the car, we had toned it down to a muted snickering. Suddenly, the storm did not seem so ominous. We seem to live in such high drama today. Troubles, tragedies, worries, and a hectic pace all compete to sap the last bit of joy out of us. We don’t slow down enough to care for ourselves, relax and have a funny moment. When was the last time you laughed so hard it left you breathless? I’m not talking about that polite, controlled “he-he” that we utter in polite company. Remember how good you felt when something triggered that deep gut laughter? And it’s residual. Thinking back to the trigger often sparks another round of laughter. We take ourselves so seriously. Even little misadventures become a matter of life and death, even though they make for great entertainment if we can remove ourselves from the drama. My mother was a master at that. One night as we sat down for supper, it seemed unusually quiet. Something was amiss. My 12 year-old brother finally came to the table. I took one look at his face and burst out laughing. It was completely peppered with black specks, and I couldn’t tell if it was red with embarrassment or something else. My father, a machinist, had made a miniature cannon for him for a school project. My brother put gunpowder in it—the cannon backfired and the gunpowder became embedded in his face. My mother was aghast at my brother and father, reminding them this could have cost him an eye. Fortunately, all turned out well, and it wasn’t long before we were laughing about the whole mess especially when my brother described it—the laughter was a release for us because it balanced out the worry and concern. A sense of humor has to be nurtured and encouraged like every other character trait. As children, we were never chastised or punished for laughing. We laughed easily at our foibles, and at someone else’s misadventure, provided no one was seriously injured. There certainly is no humor in the Colorado shootings, in people running for their lives from a madman, a wildfire or a flood. It’s impossible to think about laughter when dealing with tragedies like these. Many of us who survive something horrific often feel guilty about ever feeling happy again. It takes time to heal wounds, yet we must give ourselves permission to find and appreciate the little moments that trigger that wonderful laughter that allows us to stay healthy, providing relief and balance. Laughter, joy and love are the ultimate healers for all the hurt in our lives— they walk beside us, together, on this journey, this life.

Helene Kobelnyk



table of contents Not To Be Missed AN INSPIRING VISTA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Publisher Helene Kobelnyk

Exclamation Point! LAUGHTER HEALS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Editor Lucina Sarber

Cover Story DELANA CLEMENTS’ LEGACY. . . . . . . 7

Creative Director Greg Sarber

Dennis Dunnum HOW DO YOU DO, ART? . . . . . . . . . . 10

Writers Connie Breding Peter Brickey Dennis Dunnum Helene Kobelnyk Lucina Sarber Katherine Umberger

Helene’s Scene Fancy Feathers at the Bosque . . . . . 11 Connie Breding SHIRLEY’S REIKI FOR DOGS . . . . . . 15 Katherine Umberger TOO CLOSE TO THE HEAT . . . . . . . . 19







Delana Clements - Legacy

It is rare to find someone who was actually born

and raised in Ruidoso, most folks in this resort town are imports, including yours truly. Delana Clements was actually born in Roswell but that’s only because she arrived just days before the opening of the Ruidoso hospital. Delana’s mom, Leona Mae, and her dad, Carmon Phillips, had moved here after the war and purchased the old Downlin Mill. Considered Ruidoso’s oldest building, it was built in 1868 by Captain Paul Dowlin, a veteran of the Civil War. The mill was one of the few that could grind grain and cut lumber—over the years it also housed a general store, blacksmith shop, the town’s post office and citizens reportedly purchased moonshine there until well into the 20th century. Perhaps its greatest claim to fame is that it was reputed to have been one of Billy the Kid’s hiding places. Even though Delana’s parents struggled to eke out a living, they somehow found the money to restore the mill, which by 1949 was completely dilapidated, the wheel so decayed it was buried in the ground—it had stopped working during the Great Depression. While Carmon refurbished the mill, he and his young bride lived next door in the building that now houses Enterprise car rentals. Long before the phrase entered the culture, Carmon Phillips was the very definition of “Renaissance man” — driven by a thirst for knowledge and self-

by Lucina Sarber

educated in many fields. “Before he met my mother, he traveled the country as a hobo, rode trains to California, performed in a travelling medicine show and ended up doing some top secret work which he never revealed to me at Love’s Field in Dallas. “He met my mom in Clovis where he’d gone to work on reviving old theaters. Now that I think of it, I don’t even know where he picked up photography—but he was definitely self-taught.” Ironically, that is what he came to be known for. Carmon’s love of photography led him to photograph everything in Lincoln County from portraits to landscapes to aerial shots. And at a time when it was unheard of, he pioneered the concept of overnight developing, courtesy of his darkroom. Delana has gifted hundreds of her father’s negatives and prints to the Hubbard Museum of the American West—the museum plans to restore them and have a showing of Carmon’s work. As an only child, Delana grew up rather lonely, “Mom and dad were always at the mill working, life was real tough—they had always been dirt poor, but I always felt loved.” Delana, went on to have a successful 20-year long career in Los Angeles as a working actress in film, TV and commercials and credits her parent’s unyielding support with her tenacity to pursue her dream. “I remember being five years old and having a terrible



Delana Clements - Legacy

head cold, but it didn’t stop me from reciting ‘Twas the Night before Christmas,’ from memory at First Christian Church—Mom and Dad were among the founders. And that was it, the applause and response from the audience did it for me and I was forever bitten with the acting bug. Acting for me is just bliss, almost like a natural high.” Delana studied dance and played the French horn during her school years and was accomplished enough that she received a music scholarship to ENMU-Portales. She majored in theater with minors in music and dance. It is through music that she met Michael Clements, her husband of 40 years and a doctor of geriatric medicine here in Ruidoso. “I met Michael during summer band rehearsal, he sat behind me and played the trumpet.” The two were married after college and moved to Albuquerque where Michael got a job drawing blood at a hospital, awaiting acceptance into med school. Michael arranged to do his residency in hospitals in L.A., allowing Delana to pursue her acting career there. Delana had roles in soaps like “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “The Young and the Restless,” and favorite TV hits like “Roseanne,” “Murder She Wrote,” “Highway to Heaven,” “Trauma Center,” and “Breaking Bad.” Her movie roles include, “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” “Hard Country,” “Mi Familia,” and “Becoming Eduardo,” an independent film that won critical acclaim at various film festivals. Michael initially bought a family practice in West Hollywood and a few years later became Medical Director for Family Practice at Century City Hospital until 1996 when Carmon’s ailing health caused them to return home to Ruidoso. “I loved my life there, but L.A. takes its toll on you—just going to the post office means sitting in traffic for an hour— so actually, Michael and I were ready for a change. Mom had passed away from a stroke years earlier and Dad was all alone, trying to run the mill.” Carmon was approaching 90 and welcomed the thought of having Delana by his side.

by Lucina Sarber

In truth, she had always kept a hand on things connected to the area. In the mid-‘80s, she began interviewing longtime residents and their families among them Bill Thorp, Freddie Peso, and the Coe, Wingfield and Lesnett families. Delana compiled 80 hours of interviews and footage. With the help of friends in the movie industry she had her film edited, though she had done all the lighting and camera work herself. The result was ”Storytellers of Lincoln County,” which premiered at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in 1994 complete with original music by Neil Argo, including “Delana’s Theme.” Her documentary would go on to Lisbon, Portugal where it was screened at the International Documentary Film Festival. Delana’s years back in Ruidoso, have been marked by her efforts to get support for the restoration of Dowlin Mill. “Over the years we’ve made it available for use by the community for concerts, art shows, and dances in the belief that Lincoln County can benefit from the facility. However, every time we’ve gotten close to getting the financial backing we need, something intervenes,”—most recently hard pressed monies were diverted to the building of the sewage treatment plant. But Delana, like Carmon Phillips, is unrelenting. On Saturday, Aug. 4, she will host a “Centennial Celebration” benefit at the Dowlin Mill to raise funds for its preservation, and ultimately have the mill listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The celebration will feature an exhibit of New Mexico artists’ rendering of the old mill, along with live entertainment. Delana has not forgotten that Carmon supported her every effort as an actress. “He was there for me, always— every play, every movie, every commercial—he was so proud of me, always telling the whole world about my latest opportunity. He was my biggest fan. I still want him to be proud of me and see that his efforts and all that he and my mother accomplished, has not been forgotten.”


How Do You Do, Art?

by Dennis Dunnam

Very well, thank

My goal, whether with words or tile (the two media I you. What a question. I sus- feel most comfortable with), is to make my audience feel or know or understand what I feel or know or understand pect this is on the order of “how many steps do you take (I’m talking empathy, here, not agreement). I’ll write words over and over, making sure I’m clear, in your bowling approach!” interesting, maybe slightly provocative yet not threatening Once you start thinking about it you falter because it’s in order to ensure you will read the piece and come away feeling “different.” not exactly a conscious act. In a room, I’ll visualize and design swirls and swoops Over the centuries “art” of tile that will make the room “feel” alive or quiet or exhas been defined, rejected, citing TO ME FIRST—and then trust that my artistic self exalted, politicized, spiritualized, condemned—excused, will produce it in such a way that others feel similar things bought, sold and stolen. And you expect a simple guy like when they come into the room. me to say what it is? Well, OK if you insist. Art initiates a change. When I walk into the presence of “art” the thing itself causes something inside me to shift or be different from it was before. The greater the change evoked in us, perhaps, the greater the art (hmmm, let me think about that for a while). We can talk about art’s pleasing arrangements, shapes and color or argue over the various styles, schools and movements but in the end, it really does come down to what moves us. I can remember my first epiphany with art. It was at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The Vatican had nervously loaned Michelangelo’s “Pieta” to exhibit. I rode that silly moving sidewalk as many times as I could, listening to the Gregorian chants, tears streaming down my face, not with any deep religious feeling but for the sheer beauty and sadness Michelangelo had wrought from rock. On the other end of the spectrum, I was moved in quite another direction, but still very powerfully, by Serrano’s infamous “Crucifix in a Jar of Piss,” his rather unsubtle statement on what he believes religion has done to Christianity.


Just as Monet helped me understand the changes evoked in feelings that something as seemingly simple as changes in light can make—so do Palla’s paintings of Carrizo Peak make me more aware of what a shifting and magnificent mountain I live under. I can never truly “know” a woman’s angst but Darcy Holmes’ quilts bring me close to an understanding; Ken Payne’s photos give me a chance to ponder images I can’t sit still long enough to look at in real time or in arrangements that existed only in his mind before he captured them through the lens. Perhaps as regards ART, the only judgment one can make is whether or not the artist has conveyed something to you that you didn’t have before and, likely couldn’t have experienced in any other way—something you can add to your store of experiences and memories. Maybe when you’re an old person you can then say you’ve seen and heard and felt and thought all those myriad things you couldn’t have possibly gotten all on your own and are the wiser for them. (Continued on page 14)


Helene’ s Scene - Fancy Feathers at the Bosque by Helene Kobelnyk

Each fall and winter when

the cottonwood trees turn brilliant gold and the marshes and grasses take on orange and russet hues, visitors and hoards of photographers armed with massive lenses descend on Bosque del Apache to witness and document the riotous arrival of the Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes that spend the winter in this precious wildlife refuge. The Festival of the Cranes is held annually in November and there is a steady stream of tourists who marvel at the activity in the Bosque during the winter months. When the cranes and geese depart in mid-February, there’s a brief period of odd silence in the marshes. The pace at the refuge is a little more serene and the ducks and coots, permanent residents of the refuge, seem to relish the extra space and calm. Eagles and hawks continue to cruise the airways, and the elusive Great Blue Herons promenade along the water canals. As the weather warms, the air begins to fill with the sounds of songbirds, doves, owls, and the croaking of bullfrogs in the marshes. A mystical charm permeates the Bosque in the springtime. Patterns of the water-


ways shift and create glistening ribbons that wind through the fresh green growth which contrasts starkly against blue New Mexico skies and sand colored mesas on the horizon. New groups of feathered travelers such as shorebirds and other water and wetland loving species find their way to this incredible oasis. According to the daily bird sightings posted on their website, visiting species include sandpipers, egrets, herons, pelicans, owls, gulls and a multitude of songbirds. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge consists of 57,331 acres

located along the Rio Grande and bordering the Chihuahan Desert. Approximately 12,900 acres of moist bottomland are the heart of the Bosque, which is an important link in a network of more than 500 wildlife refuges in North America established to provide habitat and protection for migratory birds and endangered species. Eective management of habitats is crucial to preserve the population of these migratory birds, and to this end, Bosque del Apache NWR cooperates with local farmers to grow crops for wintering waterfowl and cranes.


Helene’ s Scene - Fancy Feathers at the Bosque by Helene Kobelnyk

Photography by O. Helene Kobelnyk © 2012 All rights reserved. 13


Helene’ s Scene - Fancy Feathers at the Bosque by Helene Kobelnyk



Shirley & Reiki for Dogs

Many people use Reiki, a Japanese tech-

nique for relaxation, stress reduction, pain relief, and increased well-being, as a means to enhance their health. For Alamogordo, New Mexico, Reiki practitioner Shirley J. Fambrough, many of her Reiki clients have four legs and lots of fur. That’s because Shirley, who does Reiki on humans, also performs Reiki on dogs.

Born and raised in Alamogordo, Shirley did not grow up in a family where there were a lot of pets, although there were cats in the household. As an adult, however, she lived in Seattle, Washington, and along with her three children, became fascinated with huskies and wolves. “I always loved huskies and wolves, so our family studied the wolf sanctuaries in Seattle when the children had school projects. These wolves were precious to us, we thought they were beautiful and interesting.” Shirley acquired two red husky puppies from a breeder in La Luz, New Mexico, and she returned to Seattle with the dogs, whom she named Crystal and Blaze. The sudden death of her parents brought Shirley back to the Southwest, and soon people, knowing her love of the husky breed, would call her when they spied one needing care. Often times the dogs she took in would have special needs, such as a missing limb, a blind eye, or only one ear. In 2007, Shirley’s rescue activity led her to the Siberian Husky Rescue of New Mexico, an organization for which she currently does fostering.

by Connie Breding

As is often the case with rescue animals, many have endured past cruelty or negligence and may carry a variety of psychological or physical issues. Realizing this, Shirley started to integrate her knowledge of Reiki, using Reiki techniques on her own dogs and on her foster dogs. She’s been doing this for over a year, and has seen some amazing results. “My interest in helping the dogs with energy work has come through the foster care and the challenges that I’ve seen with the dogs. Since using Reiki on them, I have seen improvement, especially with Blair. When she first came to us, she was very boisterous—I did a lot of Reiki work on her and she has calmed down. I found it to be very beneficial for her. As she calmed down, the other dogs were less annoyed with her.” Shirley recounts how Yuki, who joined her pack about a month ago after being rescued from death row at an Albuquerque shelter, was so stressed that she had to put him in boarding. At the boarding facility, Yuki’s stress continued to escalate to the point where he could not remain there, so Shirley had to take him home. “I started doing Reiki on Yuki the moment I got him, and even while he was in boarding. After consistently doing Reiki on Yuki, he has settled down and now interacts successfully with the other dogs.”

In addition to Reiki, Shirley has also studied the work of Lynn McKenzie, a prominent animal intuitive, and is In addition to her own dogs—Crystal, now nine years very interested in balancing an animal’s chakras. “Chakra” is often defined as the points of energy on the body as well old, and Tink, a Chihuahua mix she rescued on the highas the center of spiritual power. When the chakras are out way four years ago—Shirley has five foster dogs, all huskies of alignment, it is frequently thought that the body becomes or husky mixes. There is nine year-old Yuki, six year-old Logan, two year-old Sampson, and two 18-month old pups, dysfunctional—this theory holds true for animals as well as for humans. Blair and Little Hawk.



Shirley & Reiki for Dogs

“Getting the chakras in balance, when combined with Reiki, is very powerful. I can almost see instant results.” Shirley finds that animals experience the world much the same way their human counterparts do. “Animals trap emotions the same as people do, and Reiki can help release their trapped emotions. Dogs come with baggage, and they need to let go of their hurt—if I can help release it, they can become more balanced and have more enjoyment in their life.” Shirley believes that Reiki can definitely increase an animal’s well being and improve behavior. “Animals are more intuitive than people, and they come to us as little gifts. But when they come from rescues, they may have seen things we can’t imagine and may have had traumatic experiences. These things stay with them.” Although she prefers to work in person with an animal, Shirley can perform Reiki remotely. This means she and the animals do not have to be in the same location for the Reiki to be effective, she can connect with the animal over distances. Shirley regards Reiki as a wonderful addition to veterinary care. “I don’t advocate using Reiki in place of veterinarian care, but rather as a modality that is complementary to vet care. Reiki can help an animal heal faster.” Shirley Fambrough is always interested in sharing her expertise with clients at affordable rates. She can be reached at 575-491-9577 or by an email at gateway-2@beyondbb. com. She also has a Facebook page under her name: Shirley J. Fambrough. Alamogordo resident Connie Breding, an ardent animal advocate, is an Associate Professor of Theatre at NMSU-A. She can be reached


by Connie Breding

Dunnum (Continued from page 10) Several years ago I rode my motorcycle around the country for a year and 11 days—one has a lot of time to think when spending long days and nights on a bike—and I found myself turning some of my musings into a personal philosophy of what defines a truly healthy human. What I concluded, I now share with you: “one who is not only able, but willing, to think the unthinkable, feel the unbearable and, in the end, do what needs to be done.” I believe that ART, in its very essence, can assist all of us with the first two and, perhaps, with the wisdom acquired from those, help us know, at least, what it is we need to DO. White Oaks resident Dennis Dunnum is a former restaurateur, teacher, builder, model, Carrizozo town councilman, and advocate for the homeless and those sufferingfrom AIDS. Look for his upcoming columns on life matters in “From the Edges with Love.”


Lincoln County Entertainment

FRIDAY JULY 27 Landlocked - Thomas Vigil - 6 pm to 9 pm Club 49 @ Inn of the Mountain Gods SK Band - Classic rock & Country & Blues - 8 pm Laughing Sheep Farm - Cantina Night Triple R’s - 5 pm - 9 pm Grace O’Malley’s - Live Music Cree Meadows Country Club - Live Music - 5 to 8 pm Casa Blanca Cantina - Live Music - 7 pm and 9 pm Wendell’s Restaurant - Mike Sunjka Classic Guitarist - 5 pm to 10 pm Wendell’s Lounge - Joe Dixon - Acoustic Guitarist 5 pm to 10 pm Swiss Chalet Grill and Bar - Mark Remington 6 to 9 pm Sacred Grounds - Open Mic, Artists Welcome - 6:30 pm The Quarters - DJ - 9 pm Win, Place & Show - Brendan Dawes - Country - 8:30 SATURDAY JULY 28 Wendell’s Restaurant - Mike Sunjka Classic Guitarist - 5 pm to 10 pm Wendell’s Lounge - Joe Dixon - Acoustic Guitarist 5 pm to 10 pm Club 49 - Inn of the Mountain Gods SK Band - Classic rock & Country & Blues - 8 pm Laughing Sheep Farm - Fine Dining Night w/ Sally & Esteban singing famous ranch music - 5 pm - 9 pm Swiss Chalet Grill and Bar Mark Remington - 6 pm - 9 pm Grace O’Malley’s - Live Music Landlocked - Thomas Vigil - Acoustic Guitarist 6 pm to 9 pm Casa Blanca Cantina - Live Music - 7 pm and 9 pm Cree Meadows Country Club - Open Mic - 6 pm Win, Place & Show - Brendan Dawes - Country - 8:30 Quarters - DJ - 9 pm SUNDAY JULY 29 Foot of the Cross - 2 Days Walk and Friends - 10:30 am Win, Place & Show - Brendan Dawes - 8:30 pm

Call for Submissions Please feel free to express yourself! Those interested in submitting articles, polemics, promotional materials, photography, artwork, etc. for publication in VIVAcini, please submit to: Helene Kobelnyk at Articles should be in the 500-600 word range and emailed as WordDoc attachments. Photos must be high resolution, 200-300 dpi and submitted as jpgs. VIVAcini is published each Friday so “get us your stuff ” no later than the previous Tuesday at 12 noon. WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF VIVAcini “where a sense of community takes flight, and knows no bounds!”

VIVAcini is published weekly by O. Helene Kobelnyk. Lucina Sarber, Editor An abbreviated version, information about advertising rates, and a link for PDF and ipad downloads is available at All content, photographs and artwork are the intel- lectual property of the contributing author, photographer and/or artist and are protected under copyright law. Reprduction of any part of this e-zine without the express permission of the author, photographer and/or artist and publisher is expressly prohibited. All rights reserved.



Too Close To the Heat

by Katherine Umberger

All winter long antsy

in town and still spot neighbors on horseback heading to the farmers market. It is quiet, friendly and tastes of good children and drowsy parents will the warm days of summer to come times past. When the cool mountain air turns into warm fast. It’s a time of soft breezes, green summer days, residents know it is also a time of worry grass, wild flowers and bright sun- and fear. Unfortunately, for many New Mexico inhabitants summer means fire. ny days. In the towns around the Lincoln National Forest So many people look forward to the hot summer sun for picnics, summer means a ban on all outside fires—no charcoal, no propane grills, no fire works—it means a $500 dollar backyard barbeques and family fine if you are caught smoking outdoors. Most summers outings to national parks. the national park is closed for a month or more because It is a time to indulge in all of the beauty of Mother of the extreme fire danger. Nature. This is what summer means to so many families. Independence Day in Lincoln County is usually celI, however, live in New Mexico and summer here has ebrated with the annual Smokey Bear Stampede Rodeo a very different meaning to my family, friends and and no fireworks. In the summer of 2012, it was scary that neighbors. only 20 miles away other towns shot off fireworks—this New Mexico is known as “The Land of Enchantment” in spite of smoke in the air and thousands of neighbors for its wide-open skies and breathtaking sunsets—a land having just been displaced where the untamed West is from their homes due to the still a whisper on the wind Little Bear Fire. and cowboys continue to Many nights of fierce hopwork long, hard days on ing were spent that others horseback. around the state and our visiBut summer in New Mextors were safe. ico also means something Here summer doesn’t mean more dramatic, especially for barbeques or outings, it means the residents of Capitan, New reviewing the town’s evacuMexico, in fabled Lincoln ation plans and making sure County. one’s family is prepared to Capitan is a small mounleave. tain village in the heart of My children were ready as the Lincoln National Forest, the fires came closer—they home to Smokey Bear and picked a few precious toys and Billy the Kid, he of the famed had a bag of clothes packed. Lincoln County Wars. Ash covered our car, filled You can walk anywhere


with water, blankets and food. We were prepared with important papers, pet supplies, and a full tank of gas. There is a bond that draws together strangers in small towns knowing that we are all burdened with the imminent danger of losing everything. Even after Little Bear was put to rest, red flags and large signs signal the extreme fire danger we remain in, constant reminders. Fires in New Mexico recently focused the attention of the nation on the fear we live with year in and year out. Last year 526,610 acres burned in the state. Our highways were closed, towns evacuated and the state’s renowned sunsets were blotted out with ash and smoke. The governor declared a state of emergency! Residents these days check the website “” more than they check their email or Facebook accounts. The Las Conchas Fire in the Santa Fe National Forest, beat the state record for the largest wildfire in history within five days while the Little Bear Fire took the state record for homes lost in a wildfire: 254. Fires threatened Los Alamos National Laboratory, Bandelier National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns, one of the world’s wonders. Firefighters and hotshots are a welcome sight, moving from town to town, working valiantly to squelch any fire roaring across the vast open landscape of New Mexico. Driving through the countryside surrounding Capitan,


you can see burn marks where the fire jumped the highway, came within ten feet of a home tucked in the hills, and threatened a field were cattle grazed. Reminders that with one careless person or strike of lightning your backyard could look the same. Even after a fire is contained the work is not done. Helicopters spread straw and mulch over burn sites to try and keep the topsoil from causing dust storms or floods. When summer rains finally sprinkle lightly, little hope is renewed. The sad truth is that the “rainy season” just isn’t enough— lightning might ignite more fires, and areas with little vegetation to hold the topsoil in place might flood. Many families returned home only to receive evacuation warnings for floods. Helicopters and mulch do very little to solve a problem brought on after years of drought. You may ask, “Then why live there?” Just like someone from New York City may live there in spite of the high crime, a New Mexican chooses to live here in spite of the danger. Maybe there is a small, wild part in each of us that burns with the secrets of the untamed West—and we just like being close to the heat. Capitan resident Katherine Umberger, is a dedicated mother of two, writer, artist and world traveler. Follow Katherine on VIVAcini in her upcoming “Kat Attacks” advice column. Email her at to get or give advice.

Chicago, Illinois glistens in the night sky. Photo by Susan Ortiz, a student of Lightmaster Photography School.

loves Chicago! If you enjoy photographing your community and/or the many beautiful places of our wonderful Land of Enchantment, and would like to share a special photo on this page, you’ll receive credit and a live link in the caption, and of course, our gratitude and admiration!

Vivacini! July 27, 2012  

An online magazine serving the lifestyle of intelligent, analytical and progressive readership in southern New Mexico and the rest of the wo...

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