Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

  The Gauntlet

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letters, opinions, editorials

re: the Placitas Stoop, aka the Sanibel Stoop

It occurred in one of our most pristine environments. I can almost precisely date the time and place. During our annual spring trek with Bill Dunmire, sponsored by the Las Placitas Association, Bill was pointing out a patch of darkened earth near the open space trail head. We were looking for spring foliage along the trail when Bill suddenly stopped in his tracks. We were hoping that he had found a rare plant species that had recently erupted during an early monsoon shower. “This is a perfect example of what I call biological crust,” he exclaimed. As we gathered around the dark mass of matter, I realized that everyone in the group had taken up a hunching or stooping position. As Bill began to expound about the importance of this mass of algae, lichens, and other unnamed microorganisms and the effect it has on our riparian landscape, a flash of light went off in my gray matter.

I remembered a piece that Charles Kuralt did for his CBS series “On the Road with Charles Kuralt.“ Charles and his van were on the west coast of Florida’s Captiva Island as he crossed over to the shoreline of Sanibel Island. It was one of the best places along the Gulf shore to look for seashells—a collector’s paradise. There were hundreds of people “cruising” the shoreline during low tides. Every living human organism who could stoop was in the stooping position. It was obvious why Charles did the piece. It was then and there that he coined the phrase “the Sanibel stoop.”

Placitas is another place to develop and work on the stoop. There are so many animals and plants just in front of your every step… whoop! We recently asked a neighbor not to allow temporary parking on one of these rare landscapes. Our request was denied and we lost another patch of biological crust cake and gained another unwanted man-made arroyo that now channels runoff monsoon waters into a neighbor’s driveway. It was one more lost opportunity to develop the stoop.

Vicki used to comment on my hunching posture. I said, “I always thought it was an involuntary reaction to growing up on the frozen tundra of southern New York and, later, the long walks avoiding dog feces down New York’s Lexington Avenue.” “Wrong!” she said.

I now know the malady was developed during our south Florida years together and the time spent on Sanibel Island. Please, just be aware and a little concerned of the stoop and oops when you’re looking for shells and crust.

—Ron Sullivan, Placitas

re: our water rights

The Office of the State Engineer (OSE) has the enormous mandatory task of administering the waters of our state in such a way as to assure water for a growing population. Will there be water enough for all users in wet and dry times? We have seen in recent years that because of low annual precipitation, communities have been forced to regulate water usage in order to conserve. Conservation and water quality can best be achieved when there is direct oversight of the distribution systems.

It is necessary that we protect our water rights from the changes that the future will bring. It’s very complicated. The OSE operates as directed by our legislature and therefore is burdened with the agendas of all who have an influence over the individual politicians that make up that legislature. It’s a slow, tedious process and anyone who has followed water in New Mexico knows that we have a long, long way to go. When the change is slow in coming through the legislative or the administrative processes, we are sometimes forced to take it upon ourselves to bring about change through the judicial process. We need individuals who will act on their own and if necessary, to bring about change in the courts and to be willing to endure great expense in time and money. In that, I commend Mr. Montgomery and his supporters for their efforts in standing up for what they believe in. However, I have lived in Placitas since 1980 and to my way of thinking, a quality subdivision with covenants and a water system is far more preferable than any of the alternatives.

Consider that an individual can drill a well to supply his property. The OSE will grant that individual one acre foot of water. There is no metering requirement to insure that no more than one acre foot is used. The average household uses about one-third of an acre foot of water, so an acre foot per lot is encouraging waste. A subdivision with metered hookups and guidelines has control over the exact amount of water used and the quality of that water.

I also need to mention that the fewer the number of wells we have, the less potential there is for contamination of our aquifer. Take for example one hundred lots with one hundred septic tanks and one hundred wells. Throw in the possibility that someone changes their oil in the driveway or something of the kind. That oil seeps down through the nearest deep hole and eventually into our water table. In a time like this, money is scarce and green is the buzz word. Where is the economy, or the sanity in one hundred wells, when one or two would do nicely? Those two wells can be monitored. They can be metered, and the well houses kept clean and free of contaminants. Less water would be used and conservation achieved. It is simply a better system.

A victory has been won, but I believe it to be a Pyrrhic (costly) victory. There is no greater good in necessitating individual wells, when quality community systems are possible. The OSE will allocate more water rights to any given location with individual wells than would be required for a community system. There is far greater potential for contamination through the individual well system. There is no incentive for conservation or deterrent to abuse. I urge all those who contribute to a campaign that brings about such an eventuality to rethink the results of their premise and consider the reality of the consequence.

—Mike Neas, Placitas

Dances of Peace

Dances of Universal Peace

—Cathryne Richards

The Dances of Universal Peace are a global peace-making expression. For more than 25 years, the Dances have spread all around the earth, touching more than half a million people.  Sacred movement and song have brought people together to restore hope, overcome differences and celebrate our unity. The Dances are multi-cultural circle dances using chants, phrases, music and movements from many traditions that unite all the participants into one evening of celebration.

The Dances of Universal Peace are part of this timeless tradition. Weekly or monthly Dance meetings are held in hundreds of cities throughout the world. From an original body of around 50 dances, the Dances now incorporate more than 500 dances, which celebrate the sacred heart and celebrations of Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Sikh, Jewish, Islamic, Native American, Celtic, Native Middle Eastern, African and Goddess traditions.

My husband and I have been dancing the Dances of Universal Peace since 1987 and have danced all over the United States, including dance camps in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho and Salt Lake City, Utah and here in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque. We use the healing power of the Dances as both moving meditation and spiritual expression in a blending of many traditions.

We dance to experience and express the beauty of our hearts through song, music, chant and movement. We move to harmonize our bodies, voices and thoughts as a chorus of Universal Peace.

We open ourselves to feelings that flow as a result of being in a circle that expresses the rhythm of Sacred Unity. We join the circle to be mindful of our home in the melody of Breath, Heart Beat and Earth.

We gather to remember and honor all people and traditions of the world that have come before us, that are present now and who will come after us.

We hold hands as a circle to be the presence where heaven and earth meet and vibrate through us as the music of love and light.

We resonate as Peace, becoming peace makers, inspired to plant peace in the garden of our lives.  We sing in a circle as a symphony of cosmic vibrations that sooths and heals our individual and collective wounds.

We create a refuge of blessing. We bless each other and the world to restore our wholeness and our potential to sprout acts of compassion for all beings.  Come join us July 3rd at the Comunity Center at 7 PM and feel the difference Dancing for Peace makes in your life!

re: Angel Flight West

Each month, volunteer pilots from Angel Flight West fly patients needing specialized medical care, including chemotherapy and dialysis, to hospitals throughout New Mexico. Many of these patients are from rural areas and would otherwise be hard-pressed to receive the care they need.

These flights are part of General Aviation (GA), which includes all flying except the scheduled airlines and the military. Right now, GA is being imperiled by misguided plans in Washington, DC. If these proposals are enacted, the outlook could be grim for patients who use Angel Flight West, as well as for millions of other people throughout the country who depend on General Aviation for services and jobs.

Among the proposals are new costs and regulations. Since Angel Flight West pilots already donate their time and planes and pay for their own fuel, these increased costs could ground them. The impact on patients who live in rural New Mexico could be devastating, because they would have to drive long distances to receive care.

The new charges and regulations would involve not only medical volunteer organizations. With an estimated sixty-five percent of General Aviation flights conducted for public service and business, many industries and services would be affected, including agriculture, emergency medical evacuation, law enforcement, aerial fire-fighting, package delivery, and the Civil Air Patrol.

In addition, millions of jobs depend on GA, which pumps more than $150 billion into the U.S. economy. Two members of Congress deem GA so essential that they formed a caucus to educate their peers on its value to the American economy and transportation system.

Recently, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the world’s largest pilot organization with more than 415,000 members, launched General Aviation Serves America. The goal of this national grassroots campaign is to educate policymakers, opinion leaders, and the public about the vital role GA plays in our local communities and the nation’s economy. Actors Harrison Ford and Morgan Freeman, both avid pilots, are volunteering their services in support of the campaign. (To learn more about the General Aviation Serves America program, please take a few minutes to visit

The importance of GA and its impact on the citizens of New Mexico cannot be overstated. For more than eighty years, General Aviation has played a significant role in the lives of millions of Americans across the country. I hope you will join me in our efforts to ensure that it’s around for another eighty years and well beyond.

—Craig Fuller, President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

If you rest on it, you rust on it!

—Mike Aun, Behind the Mike

Like many Americans, I grew up in a small town. Lexington, SC was a lot like every other small town in America. We cherish things to which folks in big cities don’t pay much homage. For instance, we enjoy our celebrations. Every Fourth of July, the county of Lexington has its annual Peach Festival in the little town of Gilbert where we enjoy everything from peach ice cream to peach pie.  It’s an excuse to get together to listen to great patriotic music and party. What sometimes gets lost in the process is the reason why we’re celebrating. Lee Greenwood sums it up best in his popular song, “Proud to be an American.”

And I'm proud to be an American,

where at least I know I'm free.

And I won't forget the men who died,

who gave that right to me.

On July 4, 2009, America turns 233 years old. Intellectually, I suspect we are perhaps no better than a lot of civilizations on the face of the earth, but emotionally none can match us. In spite of all the things that are wrong with our country, it’s the things that are right about it that outweigh the negatives.

We live in a grand country. This is the only country in the world that I know of where a Roman Catholic Priest can drink Mogan David Wine from a Mason jar at a Knights of Columbus Hall just up the street from a Ku Klux Klan rally.

It’s a country that allows an estimated 31,250 new millionaires to be born each year… that’s 85 a day or almost four per hour. It’s a country where the gross national product of Illinois equals that of China… of Ohio equals that of India… of California equals that of all of Africa.

We live in the greatest civilization on the face of the earth and yet the average age of the world’s great civilization is but a mere 200 years. That is but a speck on the backdrop of time.

Most of these great civilizations, history tells us, progressed from bondage to spiritual faith… from spiritual faith to great courage… from great courage to liberty… from liberty to abundance… from abundance to selfishness… from selfishness to complacency… from complacency to apathy… from apathy to dependency… and from dependency back into bondage again… all within the short span of just 200 years. Freedom is up to you and it’s up to me… and it isn’t free.

No individual nation shall be so quickly humbled as the individual or nation that comes to rest on its laurels. For those that come to rest on them will surely come to rust on them.

Freedom comes with a price. Over our history, many have sacrificed so that we might have the right to disagree with each other.  Some have paid with their lives; others have paid by the lives of loved ones they have lost. 

In the fall of 1864, Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew wrote to President Lincoln asking him to express condolences to Mrs. Lydia Bixby, a widow who was believed to have lost five sons during the Civil War. Lincoln's letter to her was printed by the Boston Evening Transcript. Later it was revealed that only two of Mrs. Bixby's five sons died in battle (Charles and Oliver). One deserted the army, one was honorably discharged, and another deserted or died a prisoner of war. Lincoln’s letter attempted to console a heartbroken mother and is a nice way to remember those who paid an ultimate price with their lives.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

Abraham Lincoln






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