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letters, opinions, editorials
re: Fourth of July parade
The Fourth of July in Placitas this year was truly a day to remember, not only for celebrating the Independence Day of our nation but also because people holstered their water guns and balloons during the Parade. It was a delight for us to play our Kazoos and put our water fights to rest, but it was even more a moment of admiration to see the parade viewers cheering and waving without water balloons aimed at us. It is an example of our combined respect for our country, our village, and our scarce resources. Thank you so much for your part in respecting the environment and finding better ways to celebrate. Thank you Jim Maduña, as parade master, in helping to make this event more pleasurable.
—Dianna Shomaker, president, Placitas Artists Series
re: What are arroyos for?
About five years ago, I sent a letter to the Signpost regarding a neighbor who lived on Cabezon Road in Ranchos who had dumped many years worth of horse manure into the arroyo below his property just off Juniper Road. The neighbor eventually dealt with the situation—he covered the manure with dirt.
The neighbors have since moved a mile or so away, but they left behind a pile of debris in the same arroyo including a miniature dump truck, iron I-beams, plastic chemical tanks, and assorted other detritus, all of which they promised to remove but have not.
Because the property is grandfathered into the community and is not covered by the local covenants, there is little the home owners association or Sandoval County can do about it. The cold fact is we will probably have to gaze down upon this junk heap until such a time as it rusts and eventually goes back to the earth. But I still have high hopes that our former neighbors will want to be remembered as good neighbors and not as those inconsiderate people who left that unsightly monument of junk in our arroyo.
—Gary W. Priester, Ranchos de Placitas
re: I have crossed Route 40
Dear Friends Back East,
As you know, history is full of great and glorious crossings—Washington and the Delaware; Caesar and the Rubicon; Hannibal and the Alps; chickens and the road; poodles and golden retrievers; black cats and your path, Scotch and Irish, et. al. Well, I’ve just managed my own notable crossing right here in the Land of Enchantment.
For the first time since arriving in New Mexico for a calm, cucumber, custard-like retirement, I have successfully executed a crossing of U.S. Highway 40 and, with spunk, pluck, grit, and guts, headed into New Mexico’s southern regions. In doing so, I left behind the quiet Brigadoon-like sanctuary of Placitas; the ever-present sustenance of Placitas Café French toast; Flying Star oatmeal; Range Café cinnamon rolls; the soft, reassuring purr of Patrick Cat; my Victor Hugo volumes; my cold Tecate.
I boldly drove into a region of exotic locales bearing names such as Socorro, Carrizozo and the Valley of Fires, Hondo, Tinnie, and the Jornada del Muerto. Also: Weed, Yeso, Roswell, and Vaughn.
I’m not going to make my letter into a detailed travelogue as you fellows did in describing your 1998 maiden voyage over to Staten Island. Suffice it to say that my Christopher Columbus-like fears dissipated when, by noon the first day, I found two establishments, each serving superb green chile cheeseburgers across the road from one another. I ate a burger from each, making further food stops unnecessary for 36 hours.
I covered many miles. And admittedly there were stretches in this part of New Mexico reminiscent of family vacation trips in the1950s when my dad would take us on long, but inexpensive summer drives across the planet Pluto.
But I did find that the region also offers spectacular vistas, forests, picturesque cities and towns, proud, friendly people, engrossing museums of all stripes, including several must-see New Mexico State Monuments. The latter are located at key cultural and historical sites and illustrate the same essential human phenomena as do most history museums—from the noble, heroic, intrepid, and kind to the cruel, bigoted, selfish, and small.
As I roamed the once-deadly main street of Lincoln, New Mexico, thinking of its former mindless reliance on “second amendment solutions” as public policy, and as I toured the sorrowful terrain of the Bosque Redondo at Fort Sumner and re-read its ignoble story, I thought of the statement once made by President Harry S. Truman, i.e.: “There is nothing new in the world except the history you don’t know.”
Patrick seemed pleased with my return, and promptly dropped over at my feet to facilitate a sustained period of full-body pets. Now in his ninth life, he wasn’t interested in my trip report. He’s been there. He’s done that.
—Your Friend, Herb
Paging through the past
Signpost article reprints from twenty years ago
—P.J. and the Marz
FLASH: UF0 Botanists Land near Placitas, Friday June 19, Happy Valley
Two UFOs descended out of the hot summer sky into this peaceful, peaceful, creekside settlement just north of the village today, in what may have been a field trip of alien botanists from outer space. It was just like we’ve seen movies such as “Close Encounters,” “The Rustwell Incident,” and “My Mother Was Married to the Alien Mob.” And as the New Age prophets have been saying for years, these intelligent super-beings from another world are not here to harm us. No, friends, they came…they came…they came only to collect plant specimens from our Mother Earth.
“Far out, man,” exclaimed a long-time Happy Valley resident, “We thought it was a giant dragonfly from a Japanese horror film. But then we saw strange, humanoid creatures inside the spacecraft with giant heads and goggle-like eyes, so we knew it was UFOs.”
The giant dark shape landed in the chile patch, followed by its smaller cohort, a craft bearing the mystic number 7; Channel 7, that is. The Aliens deployed at once, humanoids …yes, but dressed in strange, black, other-worldly garments with bright yellow intergalactic symbols like DEA and FBI and SPCA. They carried scientific collection and recording devices, hundreds of black sample collection bags, and a few M-16s, purely for ceremonial purposes.
“We figured it was a bust,” observed another resident of the cottonwood shaded vale, “but the aliens kept telling us we were not under arrest. They just wanted a few DNA samples and stuff like that.”
Local law enforcement authorities responded with unbelievable swiftness to the invasion: dozens of deputies, two, count them, two, ambulances ready to speed injured earthlings to medical aid; a Natural Guard truckload of elite “Adobe Beret” infantry mobilized to protect residents from the alien peril; even a few unmarked cars we’ve not seen before.
But apparently our forces were rendered helpless by invisible power rays from the aliens ‘cause they mostly stood around by their vehicles and watched.
Soon, groups of sleepy Happy Valley residents were seen strolling down the dirt road chatting amiably with the Spacepersons. Most of the locals had their wrists behind their backs in yoga meditative postures. “Them aliens was real polite,” commented another resident. “They wanted to see how we mediate, so we all went down to the creek and sat in Zen positions with our wrists behind our backs and they watched us real close.”
A woman witness added, “And they were just fascinated by our clothes. Why, they went into a few of our homes and just pulled our garments out of drawers and threw them all over the place. Just like little kids at a pinata party. I guess they don’t have clothes on their home planet.
Mr. Rip Van Snorkle, a long-time Happy Valley-ian gave this analysis:
“I think they were a Junior High School botany class from beyond the galaxy and they came here on a field trip. They were really interested in plants,” he continued, “they took pictures, made videos and found enough specimens to fill half a plastic garbage bag. Of course, that included two cherry tomato bushes from my garden,” he concluded.
Their mission accomplished, the alien space botanists blasted off for their home beyond the stars, leaving the local folks unharmed. But Mr. Van Snorkle’s explanation could well be correct. It would account for the mysterious discovery of several organic tomatoes, lying on the mulch, every drop of moisture drained from their husks, and their seeds surgically removed with a precise mutilation beyond the wildest dreams of our own inferior technology.
Reprinted from the August, 1992, Signpost.