Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A brief history of time ... changes

It’s that time of year again.
Did you remember to set your clocks for Daylight Saving Time before you went to bed last night?
I suspect many of us put it off because it’s Saturday night, and we figure we’ll have the whole weekend to adjust to what is, after all, just an hour’s difference.
But what a difference an hour can make.
I’ve been through a lot of time changes by now, but I still find myself getting a little bleary about which season is which and am still prone to second guessing after all these decades.
Is it really spring forward in March and fall back in October, or is that just too easy?
Maybe we’re supposed to be counter-intuitive and spring back in the fall, when it seems logical that we need more light, and fall back in the spring, when mother nature is brightening things up anyway. Isn’t more light just gilding the lily?
But no, we’re supposed to move the clock ahead one hour in the fall and back an hour in the spring. Right? Right!
In recent years, I’ve come to rely on most of most electronic gear to be self-springers and fallers. I already ran afoul of that confident attitude when I set out to write this column and found our new news processing system was reluctant to let me express myself. No matter how I muttered and refreshed, I was consistently informed that March 9 is “not a publication date.”  No amount of attempted retries and arguments with my PC about the fact that we are a daily newspaper garnered any helpful results. In fact, the system calendar listed March 7. March 8 twice and March 10.
March 9 and I were caught in a time-space warp. After many call to IT, I decided the best course was to go to lunch. When I returned, so had March 9.
I gave at the office and now on to our homes. Cable and TV and DVR seem to take care of the time switch on their own. I’ll have to wait and see if my new iPhone and its family of aps can mange to transcend space and time changes without human help. That leaves the clocks in the car and microwave, my alarm clock and a slew of analog watches, some of which I rarely wear and never bothered to fall back with, so they’re set to go and ready to spring in to action if I’m not in the mood to risk nail breaks resetting my favorites for awhile.
Now for the humans. For confirmed creatures of habit, or their caretakers, time changes can be a transitional ordeal. Wrangling bedtimes when you aren’t sleepy yet, or waking up when you’re still exhausted. Negotiating mealtimes when you’re not hungry ... or feel like you’re starving.
For those on special diets or with chronic medical conditions, there are issues that can be irritating. Should you take your prescribed medications, or even your vitamins and supplements, at the same “real” time all year around? I split the difference by 30 minutes for a week or so and then forget about it. No problem.
In fact, having no recalcitrant children or grandchildren to get to school these days, I actually like this end of the time change.
After half a lifetime as an owl, I’ve been surprised to find I’ve transformed into a lark, a creature of the morning. If you wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. anyway, getting ready for work when the clock says 5 or 6 seems like sleeping in. And for the first week or so, getting home at 5 or 6  when we know it’s “really” 4 or 5 seems a little like playing hooky.
Maybe it’s that little end-of-the day bonus that makes many of us feel better this time of year. When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I remember studies that showed a small amount of sleep deprivation for a short period of time could help alleviate mild depression. Or maybe it was the hope for an extra sliver of light after the long, gray, drizzly winter in the land of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Whatever the clock says, it’s spring, my favorite season.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @Derrickson Moore on Twitter and Tout, or 575-541-5450.

Confessions of a Michigan cowgirl

 By S. Derrickson Moore
Kids playing all over the world, but especially kids born in America, grow up as cowboys and cowgirls.
It probably comes a little more naturally if you’re born on a ranch in, say, New Mexico.
But you’ll find a way to cowboy up, even if you’re born in suburban Michigan, where the sand is not a desert, but the shores of a Great Lake.
You’ll ride the range, sing the songs and aspire to wear the hat and boots with spurs that jingle, jangle jingle.
I know. I was a Baby Boomer Midwesterner, and a dedicated cowgirl as far back as I can remember.
I can’t recall visiting a farm until I was in high school, and I confess I didn’t make it to a state fair until I moved to Las Cruces when I was in my 40s.
But it’s not as if I was a cowgirl who never saw a cow. Through some fluke of zoning, one of our neighbors was allowed to raise a calf on a large plot of land that adjoined our backyard. Poor Nicky had a brief, but I like to hope exciting life, figuring heavily in some inept roping, branding and rustling dramas staged by imaginative kids in our neighborhood, before disappearing mysteriously one day. We later discovered, to our horror, that Nicky’s fate was to become the young and tender burgers at a lunch play date. To this day, I can’t bring myself to eat veal, perhaps proving that I never had the stomach to be a real rancher.
But that didn’t mean I couldn’t be a cowgirl. I remember picking up lots of tips from the original Mickey Mouse Club, which offered the exciting “Spin and Marty” series at a dude ranch, along with all kinds of cowboy and Indian lore. They sang to us about the legend of the White Buffalo and how we’d see it, if our hearts were brave and true and we treated all men as brothers.
Our parents were not immune to all this cowpoke excitement. They were easy touches for cap six-shooters, BB guns, bows and arrows and cute little cowgirl outfits. My father, an aircraft engineer, took to wearing what looked suspiciously like a 10-gallon hat with his three-piece suits. I still remember how pleased he was, during a business trip to New York, when someone asked if he was a Texas cowboy.
The older I get, the more I understand those don’t-fence-me in cowboy urges for land, lots of land, and the starry skies above.
As Las Cruces becomes more urban, I find myself gravitating gratefully toward any bucolic encounters.
Every now and then, I take a little lunch-time detour to greet a horse discovered in a pasture in Mesilla or Picacho Hills or linger after an official assignment to commune with the cows at the farm and ranch museum.
And I understand why “Star Trek” creator, El Paso native and wannabe space cowboy Gene Roddenberry dreamed of the final frontier, where we could boldly go where no man (or cowgirl) had gone before.
The cowboy way transcends traditional genres and time and space. It’s about freedom, adventure, rugged individualism, courage, integrity, creative coping strategy and yes, style.
There’s an art and science to it all.
It’s bigger than the Wild West, America, or even planet Earth.
That’s why we founded Cosmic Cowgirls and Cowboys, a wild and wide-ranging outfit that might spontaneously add you to the herd at any time.
Late Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh and his wife Patsy were charter members. Artist Sallie Ritter was instantly recruited for her visions of Western skies and an extraordinary painting in shades of cosmic cowgirl blue.
You could be roped and wrangled in the next cosmic roundup. Yippie yi yo kayah.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @Derrickson Moore on Twitter and Tout, or 575-541-5450.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cam helped us feel at home

When I think about my favorite stretch of Picacho Avenue, I see Cam Hester’s face.
Many purveyors of intriguing antiques, collectables and interesting stuff have come and gone, but the Gaines family (at Sweet Old Bob’s Antiques) and the Hesters, owners of Coyote Traders, have been constants on the street, through good times and bad, through economic ups and downs and what seemed like interminable street construction projects that drove other businesses away.
From my first weeks in Las Cruces, Coyote Traders has been a touchstone. When I first glimpsed them, Cam and his dad Mel Hester were in front of their store, positioning painted benches, a big silver donkey on wheels and what looked like a suit of armor. (Could it be? Yes, it was.)
I suspected I had discovered some kindred souls. When I turned around, parked and ventured inside, there was no doubt. Back then, Coyote Traders took up a large part of a block, and it was a wonderland of everything I loved about New Mexico in general and the Borderlands in particular. There was lots of Talavera, antiques from all over, a big shelf of not-for-sale collectable stuffed bears (which belonged to Sandy Hester, Mel’s wife and Cam’s mom), and lots and lots of surprises.
Cam was still in his teens then and Mel was in charge. I got to know them both during the past two decades.
Cam was very inventive in figuring out how to fit purchases into my car. A lot of things were delivered by Cam himself, over the years. A weathered old upright piano I’d planned to paint electric blue, but didn’t. A sort-of-Queen Anne set of vintage tables. Beautiful old white wicker chairs and a settee. An intricately carved rocking chair which once belonged to “THE WESTS.” Lots of stylish bookshelves the Hesters had custom made.
During those deliveries, Cam and I had more chances to talk, but it was always one of those relationships that seemed to start in the middle and grow from there. He taught me a lot about Las Cruces style.
Cam, like his folks, was well-informed about what was going on in the world and Las Cruces. He had a great eye for interesting people, places and things and an appreciation for arts and crafts and the creativity of the people who produce the things that enhance our lives.
Cam and his folks were the first to tip me off about several talented souls in the territory, many of whom were featured as artists of the week.
The Hesters became the Medicis of Picacho, in fact, buying paintings and sometimes coming up with some wonderful ideas for furnishings and decorative accessories and commissioning artists to built, sculpt, carve and paint their designs. Some of those artists were down on their luck, and shared with me tales of the Hesters’ compassion, generosity, and second and third chances for new starts, offered quietly, with love and amazing grace.
That was all in the Hester DNA, which Cam had in spades, along with a wry wit and style that was all his own. It manifested in his conversations, which gently, but never obtrusively, could be summoned to guide us to treasures he sensed we’d love. And it showed up in some of the things he acquired, from eclectic regional sources, road trips and estate sales, and the way he displayed them. Herds of antique toads, flotillas of rusty stars, kimonos and sombreros, a colorful, brand new Talavera iguana and a very old child’s chair in the shape of a bunny.
The form of Coyote Traders changed over the years, first shrinking, then vanishing all together for a time, as Cam joined an enterprize in a newer part of town that showed some of Cam’s great eye for choosing new Borderland items, but had many of us yearning for more of that distinctive old coyote spirit. His parents’ role diminished, but before long Coyote Traders returned to Picacho, spilling into a warehouse with lots of large items and then back on its old corner, with Cam at the helm.
All was reportedly going well after a medical procedure at Mountain View Hospital, Sandy and Mel said, then suddenly, on Jan. 22, their “quiet and gentle soul with a wonderful wit and sweet smile” was gone.
They were amazed, they said, at the magnitude of the response, the outpouring of love from those whose lives he had touched.
It didn’t surprise me, I told them, as one of those thousands.
Cam spent a lifetime sharing the wonders of creation and helping us feel at home, in his home and ours. In every room in my house, there are things he discovered and sometimes put in place himself.
I look around and see Cam’s face.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @Derrickson Moore on Twitter and Tout, or 575-541-5450.

Get Ready for Plutopalooza

 By S. Derrickson Moore
It’s time to get cracking on plans for a cosmic event. If all goes according to plan, in July 2015, the New Horizons probe, which was launched on Jan. 19, 2006 with Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes on board, will arrive at Pluto.
There was a lot of excitement about that during Tombaugh Day on Feb. 1, our annual tribute to the man who discovered our favorite planet.
And the mood of the populace is that we don’t want to quibble about whether our cool little planetary amigo should have been reclassified with a “dwarf” in front of its name. By any standards, Clyde’s discovery was extraordinary, and so is the event that will be a unique homecoming of sorts. Name any other time when the ashes of a fabulous space pioneer, a beloved man many of us were privileged to meet, has actually soared by a planet he discovered on the outer reaches of our solar system? Never, that’s when. And if ever there was cause for a fiesta, this is it.
There has been some interesting feedback since I first proposed Plutopalooza in 2010.
A city council member from Steator, Ill., Clyde’s birthplace, contacted me about a nationwide celebration.
“I do hope it off!,” commented nationally-known artist Flo Hosa Dougherty, who revealed that she has painted an oil entitled “Pluto Do You Read Us — Over” to mark the occasion.
There have been inquiries from NASA about Plutopalooza, said Kimberly Hanson, education curator for the  Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science, which has hosted impressive Tombaugh Day celebrations. This month’s event involved the Branigan Cultural Center, the Astronomy Society of Las Cruces, Alamogordo’s New Mexico Space History Museum and the NMSU Astronomy Department (which Clyde helped found). People I talked to in all those groups seemed interested in joining the Plutopalooza planning team.
There are lots of other regional groups and organizations that seem like naturals for the effort: our two other area space museums, one at WSMR and the Space Murals Museum in Organ. Then there are all the city museums, and of course, all the regional institutions named for Clyde: including the New Mexico Space Museum’s Tombaugh Planetarium, a local elementary school, an observatory and an art gallery.
Some of us pondered how we could mark the big moment when New Horizons makes its closest approach to Pluto. That’s supposed to happen on July 14, 2015, on a Tuesday, not the most conducive day for a big New Year’s-like countdown moment.
“When the Horizons Probe reaches Pluto, we won’t be able to see it in real time. There will be a four-to-seven hour delay because of the distance involved,” according to Chambo Chambers, a winter Las Cruces resident who said he serves as a docent for the Pluto tour at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., where Tombaugh discovered Pluto on Feb. 18, 1930.
“Starting in January 2015, we’ll begin to get images that are better than the Hubble (Space Telescope) could show us. Starting in June 2015, for a period of six weeks or so, approaching and then seeing the other side of Pluto as the probe is leaving, we’ll know more about Pluto than we know today,” said Chas Miller, a NASA Earth and Space Fellow and a faculty member with New Mexico State University’s astronomy department.
Sounds to me like we’ll need some  big screen Jumbotrons dedicated to Pluto watching for at least a week. Where should they be? How about Las Cruces City Hall, Pan Am Center, maybe even at the Sun-News? I’m going to talk to our pros about some supporting Plutopalooza social media: Facebook and blogs, as well as the best ways to Tweet and Tout about Pluto and Clyde and share news and views.
Maybe we can have a real-time countdown, followed by some sort of benefit ball or fiesta to benefit NMSU’s Tombaugh scholarship fund.
Plutopalooza could offer some great teachable moments for students in area schools in the months leading up to Plutopalooza.
Math and science skills could be used to calculate and confirm New Horizon’s progress, using NASA website information.
And visual, performing and literary artists of all ages could contribute their creativity. Following Flo Hosa Dougherty’s lead, we could invite area painters, sculptors, multimedia artists and filmmakers to join for an exhibition. The Tombaugh Gallery would be a logical place for a show.
Maybe we should get the Spaceport involved and see how many luminaries we can enlist and how many T-shirt designs we can devise and discover.
And let’s not stop there. How about a fine Pluto wine? And Pluto beer or ale. Fiery Pluto Salsa. Pluto cocktails, sundaes, varietal chiles. Pluto sandwiches and symphonies, rock bands and dances, poems and film festivals.
Share your Plutopalooza dreams and visions with me, and I’ll pass them on to the planning committee.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @Derrickson Moore on Twitter and Tout, or 575-541-5450.