Sandoval Signpost

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Wendy Crockett

Wendy Crockett of the Sweetwater Herbs and Teaching Center

Sweetwater Community Kitchen

The Sweetwater community kitchen.

A place called Sweetwater

—Margaret M. Nava, Signpost

Long before the arrival of Spanish colonists, Pueblo healers used a holistic approach to cure illness. Analyzing the dreams and thoughts of their patients, they called for help from their powerful spirit guides, performed cleansing ceremonies and uttered melodious chants. Sacred herbs such as sage, lobelia, sweet grass, and tobacco were burned, ingested, or offered as prayer bundles. The green fruit of the wild cucumber was split open and used to relieve rheumatism. The dried root of Yerba Manso, or Lizard Tail, remedied inflamed throats, sinus infections, and ulcerated gums.

The colonists brought seed for many of their own herbs but the soil and climate of the southwest proved unfavorable for some plants. Studying the traditions of local Pueblo Indians, they learned that the juice of aloe vera healed burns and abrasions, yucca root could be used for cleansing and purification, and spring greens helped clear the blood and revitalize the system after a long, cold winter.

Although the use of herbs is controversial in today’s contemporary western medicine, there seems to be a growing interest in alternative methods based on the use of natural plants and plant extracts to promote health and wellbeing. Some of these methods include herbal teas, aromatherapies, and holistic medicine.

After many years of traveling, Kansas City, Missouri residents Wendy Crockett and her husband Russ decided that, if they ever made a move, it would be to New Mexico. Using a small inheritance, they purchased eighteen acres in the brilliant red rock country of the southern tip of the Jemez Mountains in 1992 and began construction of what would eventually become the Sweetwater Herbs and Teaching Center. With the help of their five grown children, they erected six buildings, four of which are passive solar straw bale construction. Aside from the main building that houses the herb shop where they make the products they sell, there is an adobe walled bunkhouse that can sleep up to eighteen people, a community kitchen with everything needed to prepare a snack or full meal, a dining hall that doubles as a classroom and meeting center, a veranda for watching the sun set over the piñon-covered mesas, and a camping area for up to ten tents.

Part Native American, Wendy is versed in the spiritual traditions of Mother Earth and Father Sky and the techniques of meditation and holistic health. Her herbal training started at age eight and she became a community herbalist at age twenty-four. She credits her education to her grandmother, a Sihasapa Blackfoot herbalist, who raised her. “I apprenticed with my grandmother at an early age and never saw my heritage as being something different until my teenage years when it became apparent that everybody didn’t go out and pick red clover so they could make spring tonics.”

Her aunties and uncles (traditional teachers) taught her about tradition, sweat lodge, ceremony and the Red Road—the path that each individual travels during his or her lifetime on Mother Earth. “I had seven medicine uncles and four medicine aunties. For many, many years, every summer, I would go and do traditional sun dance that required days of fasting and preparation. Sometimes I’d be gone for sixteen days. That kind of bound me to the teachings of my grandmother which were medicinal but also connected with the fact that each living plant has a life of its own … a spirit…an essence…a medicine. These things are all gifts from Mother Earth and Father Sky.”

Marrying at eighteen, Wendy continued collecting herbs and making teas and aromatherapies based on her grandmother’s formulas. She also served as a lay midwife and taught women’s workshops based on understanding the full scope of the natural law. So many people asked for her products that she decided to sell them commercially. But what to call the new business presented a problem. She wanted something that would represent who and what she and her family were. Her grandfather’s name, Mineowasteoyanta (People of the Good Water), immediately came to mind. Realizing most people would be unable to pronounce that name, she considered Turtle Cove, one of her father’s favorite fishing spots. Unfortunately, that name was already taken. Falling back to her grandfather, she chose Sweetwater, an affectionate variation of his name.

Today, Sweetwater Herbs and Teaching Center is more than a place—it is a state of mind.

Located seven miles from the Jemez bathhouse and eleven miles from the internationally renowned Spence hot springs, it is a good place to learn to live in harmony and let your heart return to the earth.

In her book, Sweetwater Wisdom: A Native American Spiritual Way, Wendy Crockett writes:

Life is a spiral, slowly moving through the seasons and cycles of our lives. If we are balanced in our actions, creating beauty and harmony within our spiral, we are following the path of Right Action, which is the path we strive to follow…To balance the spiral, we must participate in our becoming well. We must learn not to be judgmental, not to be dragged down by grief, anger, and negativity, forgetting the joy, passion, generosity, and kindness of life. Beauty is no threat to the wary. You can walk in beauty and still sack groceries or change diapers...”

For details about classes and workshops or information about purchasing any of the Sweetwater herbal products, call (575) 834-7908 or visit

Placitas Library

Placitas Library nearing completion

—Anne Frost, Co-Director

Each day, the new library facility moves closer and closer to completion. Library volunteers were given a sneak peak tour last month and we were most delighted by what we saw. We were most excited by the meeting room: space for library programs and community group meetings, and the ‘book drop’—somehow this makes the library official.

By early January, the electricity, phone, and water should be connected. We have just been told that the final paperwork for access to the state funds for furnishing the library has arrived at Sandoval County, and the furniture orders are finally being placed. This is both an exciting and frustrating time as we can see that we are almost there, but know that it will take until at least the end of February for the new library to open its doors.

Have you always wanted to volunteer at the library but didn’t like the cramped quarters? Cat allergies kept you away? Well… now is your chance to get involved. The library has volunteer opportunities in many areas: staffing the Help Desk, helping sort donated materials, programming for middle school children and the Village Academy Charter School reading program, general programming, helping with online book sales, or services for folks who are homebound, to name a few. Please drop by the library, call 867-3355, or visit the website ( for an application. New volunteers may begin training in January in order to have everyone ready for the new facility.

Speaking of the move, this will be a community move, as we cannot afford to have pros do it for us, and we think it will be much more fun to do this as a community. We are making clear plans for how the move will be accomplished, while remaining flexible about exactly when. Currently, we are aiming for mid-February if all goes as projected, but there are many pieces which must fall into place, so the timing may change.

The plan calls for teams: packers for the general collection, drivers and loaders; unpackers for the general collection; packers, unpackers, drivers, and loaders for the children’s collection. We are still collecting names of those interested in helping, so if you have a pickup and/or a strong back, please leave your name, phone, and email with the library if you haven’t already. If everything goes as planned, the library will be closed from January 30 until February 23, 2010 when the new Placitas Community Library will open for patrons at 10:00 a.m. Our Grand Opening celebration will occur later in the spring. Stay tuned for more articles and visit our website ( for further developments and information.

We know many of you have been waiting until the new building is open to bring us donations. Actually, we are happy to receive your donations right up until we close on January 30, 2010. Once we reopen, we request that you bring us only one to two boxes at a time until we have had a chance to really settle in.

Did time get away from you? Haven’t gotten your entry in yet? You are in luck; due to the delays in opening the new building, the PICTURE PLACITAS deadline has been pushed back to January 30, 2010. We are delighted with the many marvelous entries we have received and look forward to more.

Upcoming Library Happenings:

  • Tuesday, January 5 at 3:00 p.m.: Bilingual story hour
  • January 14 and 28 at 10:00 a.m.: Pre-school story time

Library Hours:

  • Tuesday—10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.;
  • Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday—10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • and when the flag is flying.

Casa Rosa—a year-end review

—Charlotte Lough, Chair, Casa Rosa Food Bank

Casa Rosa has been so blessed in the past year. In January 2009, the food bank served an average of twenty-five families each Saturday. At the end of the year, Casa Rosa served an average of fifty-five families each week. This has been a one hundred and twenty percent increase in households served during the year. As community members became aware of the need in Placitas, they rose to the challenge and gave generously. Donations came from Las Placitas Presbyterian Church (LPCC) members and friends, community members, and local businesses alike. There were monetary gifts, specific goods donations, and hours of time volunteered.

In April 2009, Casa Rosa established a working board and began to get organized in earnest, writing policies and procedures, a volunteer handbook, a day-to-day operation procedures guide, and job descriptions for each volunteer position. The client numbers continued to grow.

In August 2009, Casa Rosa held its first anniversary celebration with special music and a cookout at Casa Rosa. We celebrated a coming together of Casa Rosa consumers, LPPC members and friends, and community members and businesses. Many clients contributed food or beverages or a vase of flowers from their yard to the celebration and Casa Rosa provided hamburgers, hotdogs, and other fixings for the picnic.

As fall approached, we began our gently-used coat drive and La Puerta Realty held a “Coats for Casa Rosa” and non-perishable food drive, offering the chance for people to win a pair of tickets to one of the PAS concerts. Many dropped off coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, and scarves at La Puerta, in addition to canned goods. La Bonne Vie Beauty Shop and Day Spa collected warm clothing and non-perishable food. Jardineros collected and donated coats for some of our junior-high aged kids at Casa Rosa. Congregation members and friends cleaned out their closets and brought items to the church. It has truly been a combined and concerted effort throughout the community to meet the needs of Placitans. The Coats for Casa Rosa collection is ongoing through the winter months. If you have donations, they may be dropped at La Puerta Realty, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or at Las Placitas Church, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

As the holidays approached, Casa Rosa was blessed many times over with donated turkeys, complete Thanksgiving baskets, more warm clothing, household goods, and furniture from some people who were moving or were buying new furniture. Because we don’t have room for larger pieces of furniture at Casa Rosa, a flyer is posted with the pieces listed. If clients are interested in an item, they can list their name and contact information and the owner will contact them to make arrangements. The client must have access to a vehicle to pick up and transport the items. If you have household items or pieces of furniture that need a home and you are willing to donate them, you may contact Charlotte Lough at or call the church office at 867-5718. Forms for tax purposes are available.

At the Placitas annual holiday sale, Casa Rosa had “adobe house pins“ and a limited number of “women pins“ for sale. The sales were so good that there are only ten pins remaining of the almost two hundred that were originally ordered. The profit from each pin sold allows the food bank to provide approximately thirteen meals for Casa Rosa consumers. The board will determine if more pins will be ordered from Designs by Lucinda as a continuation of its fundraising efforts.

During 2009, Casa Rosa sponsored five mobile food pantries, approximately every other month for all eligible Sandoval County residents. For this event, Roadrunner brings a truck with 2500 pounds of food for $100. A number of people have come forward and offered to fund one of the trucks. The last one was held December 9, 2009 and forty-five families were served, including sixty-nine adults and forty-four children. Watch the Community Calendar in the Signpost for future mobile food pantries. Plans for the New Year may include more frequent mobile food pantries through the winter and early spring months. If you are interested in sponsoring one of these pantries, please contact Charlotte Lough at or call the church office at 867-5718.

The Saturday prior to Christmas, Casa Rosa staff handed out small bags of Christmas candy and fruit to all the children of Casa Rosa families. The Saturday after Christmas, small bags of spiced nuts were handed out and hot apple cider was served to welcome in the New Year.

As Casa Rosa moves into a New Year, we continue to grow slowly in numbers as the economy recovers even more slowly and the need deepens. It is anticipated that the requirement for the food bank will be ongoing for a good while as jobs continue to be non-existent for many. The board continues to take input, revise procedures, make adjustments, develop new guidelines for volunteers and consumers, and move forward in expanding services at Casa Rosa. We give thanks to all who have so generously given monetarily, as well as contributed specific goods and volunteer time at the food bank. The volunteer staff of Casa Rosa, as well as the consumers, wish you all a blessed and prosperous New Year with peace for our world.

New Mexico State Monuments announce 2010 events

The following events are scheduled at New Mexico State Monuments during 2010:

El Camino Real International Heritage Center, Socorro, NM—

Historic Forts Day, Saturday, February 20, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Discover forts along the ancient Camino Real. The event will include living history re-enactments of soldier camp activities including bullet-making, black powder demonstration, treadle sewing, open fire cooking and more, including a special lecture series about forts in New Mexico courtesy of the New Mexico Historical Society. For information, call (575) 854-3600 or visit

Bosque Redondo Memorial, Fort Sumner, NM—

Exhibition: “Free at Last: A History of the Abolition of Slavery in America,” April 17 through May 11, 2010

This exhibition will investigate the question of how slavery in America developed into an institution, and how it came to be condemned as it divided the nation during the Civil War. Visitors can explore an early fragment of Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech, letters by abolitionists and slaves, and personal letters from soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Views of these rare documents, previously unavailable to the public nationally, are accompanied by photographs, broadsides, and other images, and give a rare opportunity for adults and youth alike to experience the abolition of slavery and contemplate the challenging legacy of slavery in America. Curated by David Brion Davis, Sterling Professor of History at Yale University and James Oliver Horton, Benjamin Banneker Professor of American Studies at George Washington University, this national touring exhibition is made possible by funding from the Gilder Lehrman Institute, with additional support from the Jacob G. Schmidlapp Trusts. For information, call (575) 355-2573.

Coronado State Monument

Coronado State Monument, Bernalillo, NM—

Nature’s First Green: Earth Day Celebration, Saturday, April 17, 2010 from sunrise (6:30 am) to 12:00 p.m.

“Nature’s first green is gold,“ wrote the poet. Activities related to this celebration of spring begin at sunrise with an hour of birding along the Rio Grande. Bring a pair of binoculars, sturdy shoes, and a warm jacket. The Friends of Coronado State Monument will provide a continental breakfast from 7:30 to 8:00 a.m. Other activities will include flying kites in the parking lot (byok); an atlatl throwing contest in the South Plaza; preparing the monument gardens for planting; and naturalist-led tours of the bosque. All Earth Day activities are free. For information, call (505) 867-5351.

Jemez State MonumentJemez State Monument, Jemez Springs, NM—

Put a Spring in Your Step: Earth Day Celebration, Sunday, April 18, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Rangers will lead a hike up Oak Canyon (aka Church Canyon). This is a strenuous hike over rough terrain (approximately 1.5 miles). Hikers should bring water, sturdy shoes, sunscreen, and a sack lunch. Rangers will do their best to identify the species of flora and fauna encountered. For information, call (575) 829-3530.


Ft. Seldon State Monument

Fort Selden State Monument, Radium Springs, NM—

Mothers’ Day, Sunday, May 9, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Free admission for all mothers. Enjoy tea and complimentary corsage. For information, call (575) 526-8911.

Bosque Redondo Memorial, Fort Sumner, NM—

Billy the Kid Trail Ride, Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Billy the Kid Trail Ride begins in Fort Sumner and travels 125 miles to Lincoln over the same route that Billy the Kid used to move between Lincoln and Fort Sumner after his infamous escape from the Lincoln County Jail in April 1881. With historically accurate reenactments, storytelling, chuck wagon dinners, and safe horsemanship, the Billy the Kid Trail Ride, through its host ranches, offers a true western experience while preserving lands and landmarks. For information, call (575) 355-2573.

Bosque Redondo Memorial, Fort Sumner, NM—

Old Fort Days, Friday and Saturday, June 11 and 12, 2010

This event will feature Navajo and Mescalero Apache arts and crafts table, a Chautauqua presentation, and Navajo Dinetah Dancers. For information, call (575) 355-2573.

Bosque Redondo Memorial, Fort Sumner, NM—

The Long Run VII Motorcycle Ride, Friday through Sunday, June 18 through 20, 2010 (6:00 p.m. Friday through 12:00 p.m. Sunday)

Motorcycle enthusiasts throughout the Navajo Nation gather in Kirkland, New Mexico to ride together to the Bosque Redondo Memorial to commemorate the “Long Walk.” The event revisits the miles walked by the Navajo people who were rounded up by the U.S. Army, under the command of Colonel Christopher “Kit” Carson, and forced to walk hundreds of miles to the Bosque Redondo Reservation at Fort Sumner, New Mexico in 1863. The commemorative ride began six years ago with a small group of Navajo people who wanted to pay homage to their ancestors. Event programs include cookouts, traditional singing, an important keynote speaker from the Navajo Nation, participants’ testimonials about their feelings and thoughts about the historic event, and spiritual observances. For information, call (575) 355-2573.

Fort Selden State Monument, Radium Springs, NM—

Fathers’ Day, Sunday, June 20, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Free admission for all fathers. Enjoy a campfire breakfast with biscuits and eggs. For information, call (575) 526-8911.

Lincoln State Monument, Lincoln, NM—

Old Lincoln Days, Friday through Sunday, August 6 to 8, 2010

Enjoy a weekend of living history, special performances, and more. For information, call (575) 653-4372.

Jemez State Monument, Jemez Springs, NM—

Pueblo Independence Day, Sunday, August 8, 2010 from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Come join us for our seventh annual commemoration of Pueblo Independence Day. On August 10, 1680, the Pueblo people of New Mexico—aided by Apache and Navajo allies—launched a successful rebellion against Spanish colonization. Commemorative activities will begin with a pilgrimage run from Walatowa plaza in Jémez Pueblo to Gisewa Pueblo kiva at Jémez State Monument (approximately a half marathon or thirteen miles). Participating in this run or supporting a runner is a way to pay tribute to the Ancestors and show appreciation for the sacrifices they made. Their brave resistance helped preserve the Pueblo way of life: our culture, our languages, and our right to one day reclaim our aboriginal lands. The run begins at 7:00 a.m. and the general public is welcome to participate. Volunteers will provide water stations at one mile intervals, and a shuttle service for slow runners will be available. At 10:00 a.m., guest speakers will welcome all the runners and their sponsors to the monument. The following festivities, between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., will feature Jemez traditional dances and Native American flute music. There will also be authentic Native arts and crafts and Native food. For information, call (575) 829-3530.

Lincoln State Monument, Lincoln, NM—

Arts in the Orchard, September 11 and 12, 2010. For information, call (575) 653-4372.

El Camino Real International Heritage Center

El Camino Real International Heritage Center, Socorro, NM—

Hispanic Heritage Celebration, Saturday, September 11, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

This celebration of Hispanic culture will feature special performances, video presentations, and more. For information, call (575) 854-3600 or visit

Fort Selden State Monument, Radium Springs, NM—

Frontier Days, Saturday and Sunday, September 11 and 12, 2010 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Enjoy living history demonstrations and period military re-enactors. For information, call (575) 526-8911.

Coronado State Monument, Bernalillo, NM—

Fiesta of Cultures, Saturday, October 23, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

¡Viva la Fiesta! Enjoy panoramic views of the Rio Grande, the Bosque, and the Sandia Mountains during Fiesta of Cultures, a celebration of local traditions including Pueblo, Hispanic and Anglo. The emphasis is on craft demonstrations, folk art, and pre-industrial lifeways. Before overcrowded freeways and information highways imposed the relentless sameness that is modern living, life here in the Rio Grande Valley followed the more natural rhythms of spring flood and fall harvest. There was a season for everything, “and a time for every purpose under heaven.” The importance of these natural rhythms is reflected in the care and skill that our ancestors lavished on such seemingly simple tasks as carving a drum from a cottonwood stump, dying skeins of wool for a blanket, or forging a horseshoe with a hammer and anvil. This event is geared toward families with children. There will be llamas. There is no admission charge for any of the Fiesta of Culture activities. Food vendors will be available. For information, call (505) 867-5351.

El Camino Real International Heritage Center, Socorro, NM—

Celebración de Otoño, Sunday, November 20, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Celebrate the Center’s fifth anniversary with living history demonstrations of period-life on El Camino Real, special performances, and more. For information, call (575) 854-3600 or visit

Coronado State Monument, Bernalillo, NM—

Christmas at Kuaua, Saturday, December 11, 2010 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Free admission. Get into the holiday spirit with an evening of family fun! The grounds of Coronado State Monument will be decorated with hundreds of flickering luminarias and thousands of Christmas lights. Activities start at 5:30 p.m. with Santa’s Workshop: children, assisted by a few kindly elves, will have an opportunity to make their own Christmas tree ornament. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., the Friends of Coronado State Monument will sponsor a program of music, traditional Pueblo dancing, and Native American storytelling. There will be a large bonfire, weather permitting. Enjoy biscochitos and hot apple cider, courtesy of the Friends of Coronado. For information, call (505) 867-5351.

El Camino Real International Heritage Center, Socorro, NM—

Holiday Celebration, Saturday, December 11, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Celebrate the winter holidays with annual Pastorela performance, a visit from Santa Claus, and ornament making. For information, call (575) 854-3600 or visit

Fort Selden State Monument, Radium Springs, NM—

Luminaria Tour, Saturday, December 11, 2010 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Free admission to all visitors. Enjoy living history military re-enactors, one thousand luminarias, and free cookies and beverages. For information, call (575) 526-8911.

Jemez State Monument, Jemez Springs, NM—

Luminarias Among the Ruins at Jemez State Monument, Saturday, December 11, 2010 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Free admission. The ruins of Giusewa Pueblo and San José de los Jémez Mission Church will be decorated with hundreds of traditional luminarias. The evening’s program will include traditional Native American flute music and Jémez Pueblo dancers’ performances between two illuminating bonfires. Enjoy free horse-drawn wagon rides from Jémez Springs Park to the Monument and holiday refreshments. For information, call (575) 829-3530.

Program notes for the previous events:

Admission fee for adults is required for most events. Children sixteen and younger are admitted for free. Sundays are free for New Mexico residents with a valid ID. Wednesdays are free for New Mexico resident senior citizens (60+) with a valid ID. Admission is free for Museum of New Mexico Foundation members. There is free admission for all school groups.

New Mexico State Monuments are operated by the Department of Cultural Affairs. Educational programs and activities are made possible through generous contributions by the Museums of New Mexico Foundation and Friends Groups.

For event listings and media photos, please visit or For more information on New Mexico State Monuments, please visit,, or

Sheriff’s Posse road upgrades

—Town of Bernalillo

The Town of Bernalillo has completed another safety enhancement project. Approximately 22,369 sq. ft. of temporary roadway improvements, including sub-grade preparation and asphalt to connect Sheriff’s Posse Road to Venada Plaza Drive was completed this week in a Town investment of $49,000.00. The alternative ingress/egress connection provides safer, signalized connectivity access for residents; and, fire and police. The speed limit remains 25 MPH.     Prior to this improvement, the only access to homes and businesses was through Hwy 550. The 550 intersection is not currently signalized and the high traffic volume during peak traffic times limits vehicle access in either direction from Sheriff’s Posse Rd. The Town continues to work with New Mexico Department of Transportation to explore signalization at this location in the future. The permanent improvements to the Sheriff’s Posse/Venada connection will be completed when the development of Corazon del Bosque occurs in the future. In the meantime, the Town is assuring that public safety access in this area is no longer compromised.

Legos for adults

The Lego Man, Lorence Winchell, will conduct a Lego building workshop for ages sixteen and up on Saturday, January 30 at 10:00 a.m. The workshop will be held in the program room at the Esther Bone Memorial Library at 950 Pinetree Road SE in Rio Rancho.

Mr. Winchell is a lifetime Lego builder and has taught several classes at the library geared toward children. This will be his first instructional Lego program geared toward adults. Participants who would like to attend should bring their own supply of Legos.

Lorence does not use kits or plans to instruct, just creative Lego building methods. Upon completion of the program, your structures will soar to new heights and you will be on your way to becoming a Lego building master!

Registration is not required for this event. Please call 891-5012, ext. 3128 for more information or directions to the library.






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