The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


El Rinconcito Español

• Amor de lejos es para los pendejos.
Love at a distance is for fools.

• La zorra nunca se mira la cola pero sí la cola ajena.
The fox never sees her own her tail but does see the tails of others.

• No hay mejor salsa que un buen apetito.
There’s no better sauce than a good appetite.

Submitted by, Placitas—Spanish instruction that focuses on oral communication skills.

The Friends of Coronado State Monument present June programs

The Friends of Coronado State Monument are sponsoring a presentation by New Mexico State Archeologist Glenna Dean on the topic of “Fermentation in New Mexico Prehistory” on Sunday, June 22 at 2:00 p.m. “Fermentation” is a specialized research issue for Ms. Dean and her extensive studies have revealed dietary practices among ancestral people that have practical implications in improving the health of people today.

Ms. Dean’s fascination with archaeology was sparked by 1950s National Geographic magazines and her mother’s few recollections of her own grandmother’s Cherokee childhood. Glenna acted on this fascination by beginning her college archaeological field school the week after graduating from high school, never doubting that her future lay in the past. Holding graduate degrees in archaeology and botany, Ms. Dean specializes in the study of people’s interactions with plants as revealed in charred seeds, broken plant parts, pollen grains, basketry, sandals, and other textiles made of plant fibers. Working with soil samples from prehistoric agricultural fields, she made the first identification of pollen grains from cotton plants in northern New Mexico, certain evidence that cotton was grown at high elevations eight hundred years ago without visible means of irrigation. She thinks it’s ironic that her contributions to New Mexico archaeology are based on invisible evidence, but hopes to make other contributions that are more readily apparent to other members of the bifocal set in the future.

The lecture program will be held at the Sandoval County Historical Society’s DeLavy House located on Edmond Road in Bernalillo. To reach the house, take Highway 550, slightly west of Coronado State Monument, turn north on the west edge of the Phillips 66 gas station and onto a dirt road (Edmond Road). Follow the road to its end; signs will be posted. Admission is $5 per person.

The Friends are also hosting a Memory Stepping Stone Workshop at the Monument on Saturday, June 14 at 9:00 a.m. Memory Stepping Stones are hand-made stepping stones using quickset cement in a form on which you press imprints of leaves or flowers for a naturalistic motif, or you may use arrowheads or turquoise for a southwestern flavor. Other options also exist—for example, you can add a personal touch to your stepping stone with broken dishware or any sentimental trinkets that can be embedded into the stone. Wear old clothes and bring your imagination and any personal relics or materials you may want in your stone. The cost of the workshop is $20, which includes all supplies.

The workshop will be held at Coronado State Monument, located off I-25 (Exit 242), west of the town of Bernalillo on Highway 550. As participation is limited, reservations are required. For more information or to reserve your space, call Susan Cherry at (505) 771-8637.

Annual San Antonio Feast Day Procession in Placitas Village

“…Francisco Gonzales took up his muzzle-loading gun from its place of security within the church and walked outside with it…Francisco lifted his weapon and fired. There was a loud explosion, and a volley of lead pellets sent the evil spirits that were hovering about the place back to the dark regions whence they came. The way was now clear for San Antonio. Out of the church came the procession…the capilla in which stood San Antonio in his blue robe. Next the priest leading the chant…the altar boys…Then the worshippers followed…as the procession marched solemnly (through the Village)…” –from “Fiesta Days,” Las Placitas Historical Facts and Legends, by Lou Sage Batchen

The annual Feast Day honoring Placitas Village patron San Antonio de Padua will be held on Sunday, June 15 at the San Antonio Mission on Paseo de San Antonio in the Village of Placitas. The celebration will be doubly-significant since that Sunday is also Father’s Day.

The yearly event has its roots in the Village’s long history. Traditionally, this farming community honored San Antonio and asked for his intercession to ensure a good harvest.

Following the celebration of Mass at 9:30 a.m., the Santo of San Antonio, carried in its capilla by the Mission mayordomos, will be accompanied by the Santo of the Sanctuario de San Lorenzo and Santos of other neighboring mission churches as the procession winds through the Village.

Mayordomos Valentina and Arsenio Duran, who have served their patron for well over thirty years, will lead the procession in song. The Knights of Columbus will provide an Honor Guard. Father John McKenna will officiate at the celebration of the Mass.

The procession will conclude at the Mission Social Center, where a brunch will be served. All residents of Placitas, Bernalillo, and surrounding areas are invited to join in the Mass, watch the outdoor procession, and participate in the all-day festivities that follow.

Historical Society presents Authors’ Day

The Sandoval County Historical Society will meet on June 1 at 2:00 p.m. at the DeLavy House Museum located off Highway 550, west of Bernalillo, between Coronado State Monument and The Star Casino. The program is “Authors’ Day,” presented by Don Bullis. He will introduce local authors who will discuss their recent works; their books will be available for sale at the event.

The featured painter will be artist Katie Chávez Bessom. The meeting is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

iron eagle sculpture

The ashes of Hummingbird Music Camp’s founder Lloyd Higgins rest beneath an iron eagle sculpture on the camp’s grounds.

Hummingbird Music Camp founding family descendants

Hummingbird Music Camp founding family descendants: (l. to r.) Leslie Higgins, Teena King Higgins, Elliott Higgins, Sally Chapman Higgins

Wanda Higgins

Wanda Higgins

Lloyd’s legacy: Hummingbird Music Camp


After thirty-eight years of teaching music in the Albuquerque Public School system, Kenneth Lloyd Higgins packed up his family and moved to a fifty-three-acre site in the Jemez Mountains, where he envisioned building a place where children’s minds and creativity could flow as freely as the majestic river that ran nearby. The property was covered with hollyhocks and, of course, the ever-present hummingbirds. Lloyd, as he was called, looked around, smiled, and knew. This place had to be called Hummingbird Music Camp.

Lloyd and his wife Wanda opened Hummingbird Music Camp in 1959. Although it was located in what was then considered wilderness, parents drove the long distance from Albuquerque just so their children could get away from the city, breath some fresh air, and improve their musical skills. Living in small wooden cabins, the campers played trombones, clarinets, violins, pianos, and drums. They learned about pitch, fingering, rhythm, tempo, meter, texture, and dynamics. They were taught to respect themselves, their health and safety, the process of learning, nature, property, privacy, and other people’s rights and feelings. When not in music class, they hiked the surrounding hills, went fishing, played basketball, and searched the rocks for fossils. Lloyd was in charge of the music and buildings; Wanda was the cook, housekeeper, nurse, and surrogate mom.

As time went by and the number of campers increased, new housing facilities were built, classrooms were added, and several counselors were hired. Lloyd and Wanda continued to direct all activities, but when their children (Elliott, Teena, Leslie, Sally, and Suzie) grew up and were able to help, they were able to divide some of their responsibilities.

Fifty years after it opened its doors, Hummingbird Music Camp is still going strong. Each summer, the Higgins family offers eight week-long sessions that include community chorus, private instrument and voice classes, an overnight hike and cookout, a Saturday night dance, and a Sunday afternoon concert. Sessions are limited to 125 campers or less so that each student will receive personal attention. Two weeks are set aside in July for campers who wish to expand their abilities in art or chess. During these weeks, private instrument and voice classes are replaced with outdoor art instruction and chess lectures and tournaments. All the leisure time activities remain the same. Teena said, “Most campers are really motivated. They want to do a little bit of everything. Some of them want to add the experience to their resumes; others just want to focus on their music, art, or chess.”

When the eight-week sessions are over, other groups use the year-round facilities for retreats and conferences. The New Mexico Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the New Mexico Folk Music and Dance Society, and New Mexico Men’s Wellness have met here, as have the American Boys’ Choir, the Albuquerque Youth Orchestra, and the Albuquerque Youth Symphony. It isn’t unusual to see a yellow school bus pull up with a group of middle school or junior high kids eager to spend the day and play their music amid the majestic pines, white aspens, and blue spruce.

Running Hummingbird has always been a family affair. All of Lloyd and Wanda’s children had their own professional careers but returned to help manage the camp under the principles set down by their father. Leslie runs the office; Sally is in charge of the counselors; Elliott is the chess and music director; Teena is the art director; and Suzie is on the Board of Directors. Their children (Lloyd and Wanda’s grandchildren) act as head counselors, counselors, counselors-in-training, and staffers, and there is every indication that they will go on to become third-generation directors.

Although Wanda claims she can’t do as much as she used to, she still acts as the camp’s General Director. When asked how she keeps up the pace, she said, “Nothing can be more empowering for a child than a camping experience at Hummingbird Music Camp. Watching children’s musical talents and personalities blossom was one of my husband’s greatest joys, and in fulfillment of his dream, the hills surrounding Hummingbird are alive with music. I guess that’s what keeps me going.”

Although Kenneth Lloyd Higgins has passed to his reward, his legacy remains strong. Hummingbird Music Camp celebrated its fiftieth anniversary over the Memorial Day Weekend. There were rehearsals, recitals, concerts, a dance, campfires, hikes, and lots of delicious food, including Wanda’s famous oatmeal cookies. The grounds were packed with students and their parents, former campers, counselors, and teachers who had gathered to relive old memories, make new ones, and celebrate the memory of the camp’s founder. The license plates told the story. One of the returning campers looked around nostalgically and said, “You know, it feels like there are angels in this valley.” Certainly, Kenneth Lloyd Higgins was among them.

Hummingbird Music Camp is located about four miles north of Jemez Springs on NM Highway 4, between mile markers 21 and 22. For more information, call (575) 829-3060 or log on to

Indian Paintbrush

Giant Red Paintbrush

Mountain wildflowers of the Southern Rockies and Central New Mexico

Giant Red Paintbrush

Castilleja miniata Dougl. ex Hook.


Snapdragon Family—Scrophulariaceae

Flame-colored spikes atop leafy stems appear to be dipped in red paint. Hummingbirds are drawn to the radiant color, but when they close in they find the actual nectar-bearing flowers are hidden among the red bracts. and only the upper tip of the narrow green flower is visible. Leaves are slender and green. Foot-tall clumps of giant red paintbrush regularly brighten meadows and forest openings in the Douglas-fir and spruce-fir zones.

Several species of red paintbrush as well as some yellow and pink species are native to our mountains. All have brightly colored leaf bracts enclosing inconspicuous green flowers. In bestowing the genus name, Linneaus honored Domingo Castillejo, an eighteenth-century Spanish botanist. Miniata most appropriately means “dipped in red ink.”

Although most plants attract pollinators with colorful flowers, Indian paintbrush (the popular name for all members of the genus Castilleja) accomplishes it with colorful bracts and leaves. The red leaves near the top of the plant, devoid of chlorophyll, forgo photosynthesis. And the green leaves lower on the stem are too few to capture sufficient energy from the sun. Therefore, to augment its needs, Indian paintbrush must resort to taking nutrients from the roots of neighboring host plants. Because it is not completely dependent on hosts, botanists ter it hemiparastici or partially parasitic.

Indian paintbrush won’t survive when removed from its native habitat, because diggin it up spearates the paintbrush from its host connection. Horticulturists have learned to cultivate Indian paintbrush by starting it in a pot containing a grass host and then transplanting the mix to a garden, thus allowing gardeners who aren’t put off by tufts of grass among their flowers to enjoy these dazzling natives.

The “ex” of the authors of Castilleja miniata indicates that the name was first proposed but not validly published by David Douglas. William Hooker later published it following botanical standards.

Excerpted from Mountain Wildflowers of the Southern Rockies, by Carolyn Dodson and William W. Dunmire. Published by University of New Mexico Press.

Rail Runner offers special summer Saturday service

Beginning Memorial Day weekend and running through Labor Day weekend, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express is offering special Saturday service for the summer. The charge to ride the train on summer Saturdays is $2.

“We ran special Rail Runner service on weekends last summer, and people loved it!” says Lawrence Rael, Executive Director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments. “This is a great service for young and old alike. With gas prices as high as they are, riding all day for $2 on the Rail Runner will be a nice break. Summer Rail Runner service will allow people to take the train any number of places in the corridor and enjoy everything from the BioPark to unique shopping to downtown events and more.”

The summer Saturday schedule will make the Rail Runner available from 8:18 a.m. to well after dark, with the last train leaving downtown Albuquerque at nearly 10:00 p.m.

“This is the perfect time of year for the Rail Runner to extend service,” says Rhonda Faught, NM Secretary of Transportation. “People can literally ride up and down a fifty-mile corridor for just $2! Best of all, they don’t have to pay high gas prices to enjoy themselves, and don’t have to worry about parking.”

For more information, visit

Placitas Library expands summer services

The Placitas Community Library (PCL) is now open Tuesday evenings until 7:00 p.m. and offers Wi-Fi. Bring your own laptop and connect to the Internet anytime.

Beginning on Saturday, June 7, a voter registrar will be on hand at the Library each Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to noon through the end of registration in October. Bring in your I.D. for quick and easy voter registration.

The Library recently celebrated its fourth birthday with the Rio Grande Zoo. About fifty children and adults were delighted and educated by a visit from the “Zoo to You” van on April 26 that brought several parrots, a hedgehog, and an Australian porcupine. A great deal of fun and cake was had by all and thanks go to the Children’s Programming Team for another wonderful event. Their next event will be Día de los Libros on May 31.

Cowboy artist Darryl Willison has generously donated an original painting to the PCL Building Fund. Join the Friends of the PCL at a preview party on June 14 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Art Gallery 66 in Bernalillo. The piece, entitled “Out of Range,” will be unveiled and the first of a limited edition of 16- x 20-inch giclée prints will be available. Art Gallery 66 is located at 373 N. Camino del Pueblo in Bernalillo. The original 32- x 40-inch framed art on acid-free archival paper will be auctioned at the Books on the Bosque event at the Hyatt Tamaya on September 28, 2008.

Funds have been raised for Phase I construction of an approximately 3,500 square foot permanent library in Placitas just west of the Placitas Volunteer Fire Station on Highway 165. Willison’s art is part a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $1 million-plus for Phase II construction of an additional 3,500 square feet of space.


May 31: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.—El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros

June 5: 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.—Summer Reading Program begins for children ages two to ten. Drop in any Thursday through the summer.

Library Book Group meets at 4:00 p.m. the first Monday of the month. All books are available for check out. June: Sixteen Pleasures, by Robert Hellenga; July: The Lost Painting: Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, by Jonathan Haar; August: Garlic and Sapphires, by Ruth Richel. Call 867-3355 to verify date and location.

The Library is open Tuesdays 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Wednesdays 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Thursdays 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Library is located at 1 Tierra Madre. For more information, call 867-3355 or visit

Summer reading program begins

The Placitas Community Library will again be offering a summer reading program for children ages two to ten, though all ages are welcome. Two age groups will be available: preschool through early primary, and later primary through intermediate. The program will be held every Thursday morning from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. beginning June 5 and running through August 7. Most sessions will include shared books as well as craft or art activities.

This summer’s theme will be “Catch the Reading Bug.” It is not necessary to register beforehand. Simply come join them each Thursday and learn about the incredible world of insects through books and activities.

The library will again be sponsoring the Summer Reading Challenge Program. Children of all ages are welcome to register at the library. We will celebrate everyone’s reading at our Summer Reading Celebration with a party, prizes, and more.

Come to the library on Saturday, May 31 for Día de Los Libros/Día De Los Niños (Book Day/Children’s Day). Entertainment, crafts, and free children’s books will be given away (as long as supplies last). Refreshments will be served. Call the Placitas Community Library at 867-3355 for further information. The Library is located at 1 Tierra Madre in Placitas.







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