Shades of Green


Pictures from a walk through Scott’s Landing Preserve.


Ferns are lush.  Some of the trees mark an old road from the landing.

P1000819Thank goodness volunteers from the Island Heritage Trust maintain the trails.  They would soon be lost in the dense growth that now covers an old homestead.


A closeup of one of a small stand of iris almost crowded out by the brambles.  It was a splendid day for a short hike.

Recommendation: Damnificados

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Damnificados is a novel published this year by JJ Amaworo Wilson.

I would never have read this book if I hadn’t met the author, a well-traveled and gentle person who now is part of the writing world of southern New Mexico.  I don’t find time to read a lot of novels, and when I come across terms like magical realism I wonder what that means.

If that’s what this book is, I’m a fan. The writing is rich, the story is lively, the characters are fascinating, the action ranges from mundane to mythic.  Though based on an actual event in Venezuela, the story soon expands the location into a city that is nowhere and everywhere – the names of the slums around the city come from many different languages, as do the names of the people.

“Damnificados” are people of the slums.  It’s an ugly world; I don’t think I’d like to see a movie of this story – too much trash – but the characters are people worth knowing, and so are the animals, who take several interesting roles in the action.  But the main character is the high abandoned tower in which a whole community is created by the desperate people who move in.  And the ground on which it is built.

The book is a delightful carnival ride of the imagination.  I’ll be looking for more by this author.

Sin Fronteras Journal Issue #20

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SF 20 cover0001 The twentieth issue of Sin Fronteras Journal has arrived from the printer.  This is my fifth year as one of the editors.  I’m pleased to have helped the Journal move into the digital age with a website, http://www.sinfronterasjournal.com, and this year, for the first time, email submissions.

The work of 43 contributors from the U.S. and abroad is featured in this issue of the Journal.  Many different kinds of borders and border crossings are represented, as well as a variety of New Mexico and southwest contexts.  And some other pieces that are just good poems.

The submission period for Issue #21 begins now. Please check the submissions page on the journal website for updated guidelines.  This editor would like to see more submissions including Spanish – either as poem with translation or the languages mingled in one piece.  We get very few of these each year and would like more to choose from.

Still Spring

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I spent the equinox thinking about clocks.  One week after we went to daylight saving time here in New Mexico, we went to Tucson for the weekend, where they don’t do daylight saving time; wisely, since they are at the western edge of the time zone.  It was nice to have light when we woke up in the morning.  Coming back and getting up on Monday was like starting the shift all over again.  Meanwhile, some volunteer plants have shown up in my yard.


This autumn sage chose a sheltered place.  Whether it can root deep enough to survive remains to be seen.  Its parent plant, on the other side of the wall, is doing well.

The volunteer autumn sage gets shade from the neighbor’s tree as well as from the wall and it may get some water from the neighbors watering their tree.  The tree is putting out many new cones, which will eventually drop in our yard.


This past week, the iris bloomed.


The iris plants are a symbol of irony for me.  They came with the house, but they’re certainly not native.   All the native plants I’ve acquired since are younger than they are.  They were down to a few straggly leaves when we moved in.  I haven’t grown iris before, but I’ve been learning, and they are now abundant, though the blooms are sporadic. This year they’ve provided wonderful Easter color.

Helping Children Read


Once or twice a week I spend an hour reading with second graders.  I got into this through the example of Bob Kaufman, who was a volunteer with third graders for a dozen years. (I’m only in my fourth year at this.) P1000707

After Bob died last summer, his wife and I gathered funds from his friends and relatives to give books in his memory to Conlee School where he volunteered.  We were able to purchase 37 books for the school library.  booksThe last class “Mr. Bob” worked with will be moving on to Middle School this summer.  Children who read the books in the future won’t know who Bob Kaufman is.  But perhaps some of them will notice the labels and realize that someone cared that their library has these books for them to read. P1000713



The first poppies have appeared in our yard.  Therefore, it is spring.poppy715

It’s plenty warm today.  The temperature may go down again tomorrow or the next day, but the poppies have spoken.poppies716

Happy Feast of Brigid


Or Groundhog Day, or Candlemas, as you prefer.  The sun has made a good strong start on its trip north (yes, I know it is really the earth’s axis that makes the difference, but we all know what it feels like.)  At this cross quarter day we complete the darkest quarter of the year in the northern hemisphere.  The sun doesn’t know it is still winter. P1000705

Pansies in their pot have been holding on through some quite cold mornings.  I hope they survive what is still to come and begin to fill out soon.


Getting to work in the front courtyard, my would-be herb garden, I had a nice surprise.  For the first time ever I have a field of little parsley plants.  This is the result of not being prompt at cutting down the seed heads, but it also required a certain mix of moisture over which I had no control.  I hope these too survive any cold spells still to come.  Surely there won’t be many more, but the worst freeze we’ve had in our years here came at the beginning of February one year.

On cold days it’s nice to light a candle in honor of Brigid, patroness of fire, among other things.


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