Friday, December 26, 2008

A PAUSE IN THE DAY'S OCCUPATION







Due to some unforseen circumstances, the Valencia County blog will temporarily cease, but will resume on Sunday, January 4, 2009.






In the meanatime my lovely wife Jasmin and I wish all of you good health, joy, love and prosperity in the year about to begin.



___Richard

Thursday, December 25, 2008

BROTHER DAVE'S BAD JOKE


SCENE: Tall, lanky Brother Dave Gardner (a popular comedian in the late 1970's) and his girlfriend are about to take a motorcycle ride.

GIRLFRIEND: Oh, Brother Dave, you are so smart!

BROTHER DAVE: That's right, honey. I know what is in every book in every library in the world!

GIRLFRIEND: What's that?

BROTHER DAVE: WORDS!

And here in the public libraries of Valencia County (in Belen, Bosque Farms, Isleta Pueblo and Los Lunas) are some of those words. Many people think that computers have outdated libraries, but that hasn't happened yet. In fact the Los Lunas Public Library (pictured above), to keep up with public demand for its services, just underwent a major remodel and renovation earlier this year. Through out the nation, the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation continues to pour millions of dollars into libraries for the purchase of new computers. You'll find millions of things in libraries that you will never find on your computers. Check out the library near your home.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

WHERE EAGLES LEARN TO FLY


This, as the sign so grandly states, it the home of the Eagles, Belen High School. This is where they learn to fly, we hope. We hope they learn well because someday, God help us, the kids that are here today will be leading the nation tomorrow.

This very day, however, this day before Christmas, these kids have reverted to a more child-like state and are safely home with family and eyeing the presents stacked under the holiday tree and wondering just whats inside those pretty packages. Time enough after the holidays to go back to the eagle flying academy. Good luck to them all !! May they all shine!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

WARM CHRISTMAS LIGHTS


As I write this it is almost 9:30 PM (2130 hours), and the weather outside is bitterly cold and very windy. Less than 5 minutes ago I put on my warm winter parka, my felt stetson hat, and charged out with camera in hand to take a photo of my neighbor's light display. All over this county, this state and this country, people have set up various light displays in their yards and on their houses as a way of celebrating Christmas. This display is not the best, but it is a long way from being the worse. One thing that particularly amused me about this display was the way the wagon wheels appeared to be moving.

You may wonder why there is no snow; Its because in this part of Valencia County we generally only get snow about two or three times a year. It may snow in the late afternoon or evening, but by 10:00 AM the following morning the snow is gone and the streets are dry!

I moved here some years ago from Albuquerque (just 25 Miles north), where they have a lot of snow every year. I am glad the snow is there, not here. I hate snow, but I know that my many friends and family members living in tropical countries like it, so if we get a bunch of it I will photograph it for this blog. Do you like snow? Why?

Monday, December 22, 2008

BYE-BYE BIRDIE


I finally got a photograph of the Railrunner commuter train leaving the Los Lunas station. Since December 17th the train now runs from Belen in the south to Santa Fe in the north. A new station has also been built on the Isleta Pueblo. A shuttle bus from that station to the Pueblo's casino and resort hotel is planned.

The train is free on weekends (Saturday/Sunday) until 4 January, and will be shut down on Christmas and the day after (25-26 December) and New Years Day (1 January) . As I understand it, fares from Belen to Santa Fe will be $6.00 with a graduated scale for in-between stations, and only $1.00 for senior citizens 65 and up, and children under 6 years. Check with your nearest station (or the New Mexico Department of Transportation) for confirmation of the above fares, and for departure and arrival times.

The train gets its name from our state bird, the Roadrunner, and the graphics on its engine and cars is a Disney-esque rendeering of the same. The little over two hour ride from Belen to Santa Fe is an inexpensive way to see a part of central New Mexico, but remember, the train is primarily set up for working commuters who need to go back and forth every day, and departure and arrival times are set for a normal working day schedule.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

EDUCATIONS FOR ALL


A great Englishman (Lord Brougham) once said, "Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave." If you live in Valencia County and want to expand your mentgak posers and physical skills, the Valencia branch of the University of New Mexico is the pkace to go to increase or update your education.

Its a very nice, new campus. The above photo was taken on a late Sunday afternoon. It is centrally located, in the shadow of Tome hill, and is fully accredited. It offers a wide range of classes in all fields of education, even including some vocational courses. Some of the courses are free, but if you need a student loan the school advisors can help you with that. Also, UNM-Valencia offers night and weekend classes and flexible course schedules. Increased educational level almost always is reflected in an increase in salary.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

TOMORROW'S ANOTHER DAY


This is --or rather, was-- the Onate Theater in Belen. For years kids could go there on weekends and watch The Lone Ranger, Rex Allen, Bob Steele, Gene Autry and other cowboy stars on the silver screen. Mothers and fathers would gather the family and watch the latest Disney creation, and boys would take their girlfriends to a hot romantic movie, and if they were lucky, could steal a kiss or two in the dark. But times changed. Television came to town. At first, black-and-white TV had a limited audience. Then came color, then came more channels and better programming. The movie audience grew smaller. Finally, the inevitable happened. Outgo exceeded income and the theater was forced to shut down.

But, as Scarlett O'Hara said, tomorrow's another day. People, buildings, businesses and towns can stay alive by constantly re-inventing themselves. So it was with the Onate Theater. It died and was reborn as Harla Mays, a place that may not fill your mind with exciting fantasys, but can fill your stomach with good food. Here today, gone tomorrow? Perhaps, but I am sure that in one way or another this building will continue to be an important part of the Belen scene.

Friday, December 19, 2008

OLD CARS AND OLD MEMORIES


About 5 miles south of Belen, on the west side of NM Road 116, I ran across this old, sad and lonely vehicle sitting amidst the weeds in a small field abutting a small home. As near as I can determine it is a 1949 or 1950 International Harvester, Series L120. ( You can see one in the 1955 Austrian film 'Die Trapp Familie In Amerika).'

The front left wheel is gone and the axle is propped up off the ground. It looks like it will never run again. I had to stop and look at it because it reminded me of a fragment of my own youth. As a child in the 1940's my two older brothers and I spent a couple of summers on the farm , near Johnstown, Ohio, of a family friend, Gene Searfoss. The Searfosses had an old abandoned Duryea automobile straight out of 'The Grapes Of Wrath' set up on blocks out by the barn. It quickly became my favorite spot on the farm. Between chores, I would spend hours sitting behind the steering wheel, pretending to drive and soaking in the smells accumulated in years of service. The fragrance still lingers in my memory. I have a soft spot in my heart for old and abandoned cars that I don't think I will out grow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

PRETTY KITTENS; UGLY STORY


My lovely wife and I visited the Philippines in March and April past. At one point, in the city of Dipolog, capitol of Zamboanga del Norte Province, I saw these two baby kittens playing in the street and took a grab shot of them as or cab whizzed by. I later asked a man about them and was told not to worry; someone would keep them till they got older and then eat them. That thought reminded me of the dog markets in Seoul and Pusan, Korea, in the years I lived there People would select a puppy from a cage full, and the shop keeper would butcher it on the spot and dress out the meat for the customer's meal. This is not a 'passed down story," I witnessed it with my own eyes severeal times. Then today, on Yahoo news, I read an AP dispatch about some

Chinese protesting the eating of cats. You can click on this link to read the story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081219/ap_on_re_as_china_cat_protest I am not normally an animal rights crusader, but I think someone should bring this reprehensible activity to an end. HOW? Contact the Valencia County Animal Shelter (or your own local animal shelter) and adopt a dog or cat. You can get the address from my post a week or so ago. Make the effort, you'll be
glad you did. A few years ago the Jack-In-The -Box Restaurants imported a bunch of kangaroo meat to make their hamburgers with. Since that was stopped by the government, perhaps the next step will be to start rounding up stray cats and dogs (likse happened in Mazatlan, Mexico, five years ago) to sell to restaurants.
By the way, the dog I featured in my blog found a new owner the very next day after I published the pictures.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

GOT MILK ?




If you buy a quart or two of milk in Valencia County, it might just it might just start on its journey to you from the Shady Dale Dairy Farm. This large dairy farm operation is situated on an extension of Los Lentes Road,between Los Lunas and the Mid-Valley Air Park, (In the distance are the Manzano Mountains. Valencia County's eastern border runs along the ridgeline of the mountains.)


The cows have put their heads through the stanchions in order to eat the hay that is spread along the road. When it is milking time, the work crew merely push a lever, which locks the stanchions around the cows neck, holding them in position so the crew can hook up the milking machines. Just a modern day adaption of the old wooden stanchions farmers have used for years. And the modern milking machines sure beat the old manual ways. Sure wish I had one when I was growing up and working on a farm. To me, milking by hand was the worse chore on the farm, especially since it was done in the early cold hours before dawn.




Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A DYING DINING TRADITION


A while back I extolled the glories of the fine Mexican food at Montano's on Main Street in Belen. Well, as much as I hate to admit it, Belen boasts another good eatery, the Rio Grande Diner. It operates in a building styled as a traditional railroad dining car, and since Belen was a major railroad hub of the southwest, the Rio Grande Diner fits right in. There used to be tens of thousands of this style diner across America, but they are rapidly fading away. The last two 'railroad car' diners in nearby Albuquerque (the Tic Toc and the Downtown) have long since gone, leaving the Rio Grande Diner the last representative of the genre in central New Mexico.

The Rio Grande Diner is clean, shining bright and cheerful. No 'greasy spoon joint' here. Being set just off I-25 (turn right on Camino Del Llano when exiting the freeway), its a convenient spot for drivers who want just a quick cup of coffee to brighten their spirits, or a complete meal, at a price that won't break the bank. You'll enjoy the ambiance, the friendly service and the good food.

Monday, December 15, 2008

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK




Today started out cold with dry, fine snow falling steadily. At about three o'clock my wife and I decided to drive to Albuquerque to do a bit of shopping. Heading north on State Route 47, we left Los Lunas just as the snowfall intensified. Shortly after reaching Bosque Farms the road was blocked by an accident. I was too busy trying to drive around the accident to pay much attention to it. I did notice that there police cars from Los Lunas, Bosque Farms, Valencia


County Sheriff's office and the NM State police there and police officers standing around in the blowing snow.


I commented to my wife that I would have stopped to take some photos but it was too cold and damp, and I wanted to stay warm. About a half mile up the street we came across another


accident. This one attended by 3 marked Bosque Farms police cars, 1 unmarked BF unit, and paramedics from the BF Fire Department.


Withoout a word to me my lovely wife grabbed a backup camera from the glove compartment and took the above photos through the front windshield.


What I want to point out is that the police officers and the paramedic crew did not hesitate to get out of their nice warm vehicles and take care of the injured and direct traffic around the accident scenes in spite of the horrible weather. Two officers were not even wearing jackets.


Having been a police officer once, I know from experience that after the victims are treated, the wrecked vehicles towed from the road, these officers have, at a minimum, another 3o mimutes of taking statements from witnesses, measuring the accident scene and writing citations and reports. All this in cold, wet, miserable weather. When was the last time you voted against a tax increase for our police?
































Sunday, December 14, 2008

WANNA GET STONED ?




If you want to get stoned, this is the perfect place to do it. Its New Mexico Travertine, Inc., on the far western reaches of Camino Del Llano in Belen. Here is where you can meet all your granite and marble needs for construction or decorative uses. As you can see, it appears they have an unlimited supply of large pieces of material.




The photo doesn't show it, but from their yard and office building you can see a fascinating panorama of the city of Belen.It may not be as interesting as a view of Alaska, but it is there.




With Belen being a natural railroad hub, and having immediate access to Interstate Highway 25, New Mexico Travertine should be able to arrange immediate shipping to anywhere in the state or the United States.




DISCLAIMER: This is not a commercial nor advertisement of the company or its products. I have no relationship, personal or business with New Mexico Travertine, Inc. I just think it is an interesting business!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

SMOKEY BEAR SAYS


Since 1950 Smokey Bear, a mascot of the US Forest Service, has been warning people of the danger of forest fires.

As I write this the television news is reporting about a grass fire along Interstate Highway 40 in Torrance County, which is to the east of Valencia County. The fire is reportedly over a mile long, but it seems that it is about under control now, as Torrance and Santa Fe county fire units are on the scene.

Grass fires, on a dry windy day like today race wildly across the prairie and can consume thousands of acres in just a couple of hours, destroying all wild life, homes and buildings in their path.

Note the grass around the Smokey Bear sign; it is just waiting for some careless driver to throw a cigarette butt out the car window. The dry grass is extremely flammable and everything along this stretch of NM highway 314 will go up in smoke, So, be careful out there. And as Smokey Bear has said so often, "Only you can prevent forest fires."

Friday, December 12, 2008

A FRIEND FOR LIFE FOR YOU




Today I visited the Valencia County Animal Shelter, generally referred to as the Dog Pound. This is a shelter for all stray and abandoned animals, plus animals held there as a result of police or court action. It is modern, clean and friendly. You can find some wonderful pets here, witnesss the beautiful dog pictured above. He is very friendly and well-behaved, and about one year old.


All he needs is a decent human friend.....IS THAT YOU?? I hope so, because of the large number of cats and dogs kept here, they can only be kept for a short time. If you want a good loving pet the time to get one is NOW.


More information is available direct from the Valencia Conty Animal Shelter, or you can contact


Pick Of The Pound, a volunteer organization of county residents who give their time, energy and money to ensure the animals can find a good home. Contact them by clicking on


http://www.pickofthepound.org/ or pickofthepound@yahoo.com. They will also gladly accept donations,which will go directly to the upkeep of the shelter facility and care of the animals.




Thursday, December 11, 2008

READY TO GO


In a nicely wooded setting, just south of Belen, the New Mexico National Guard contingent for Valencia County has this building for their administration and training headquarters. The Governor of the state acts as commander of the Guard in times of peace, and can utilitze their manpower and equipment to fight fires in the mountains, perform flood control duties, intercede in riots or as he otherwise sees fit. In times of national emergencies and wars the Guard can be 'nationalized,' and becomes part of the regular national army. Men and women enlist voluntarily in the Guard and attend weekly or monthly training in addition to two weeks full time service yearly. They are paid the same as regular army troops for the training hours they attend.

READY TO GO

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WOULD THE KING HAVE LAUGHED?


This is one family's tribute to The King; a short gravel path off New Mexico
State Road 109 (Jarales Road) that is grandiosly named Elvis Presley Boulevard. It runs west off of SR 109 about 150-200 feet to the gate in front of the truck. Having worked with Presley for a short time back in 1958 in New York as He was on his way to Germany, my impression of him is that he was very polite and would not have laughed at something that was meant to honor him. Elvis Presley Boulevard is not at all grandiose, but the family that erected the sign is.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

FOR THE HOT TIMES


Valencia county is fortunate to have some of the best fire protection available. Not only do the two major cities, Los Lunas and Belen, have their own full time fire departments, but most of the smaller towns and neighborhoods have departments manned by highly trained and skilled fire fighters.

The Los Chavez department, pictured above, has 2 full time firemen and about 20 volunteers. The volunteers are on call 24-7 every day, and all too often do not get the recognition they deserve. Not only are the men talented fire fighters, but Los Chavez also has excellent .emergency medical technicians. All fire fighters help other departments in case of major fires.

Monday, December 8, 2008

VET BENEFITS IN VALENCIA COUNTY, NM


One of the reasons for living in Valencia County is that the state of New Mexico has endowed its veterans with so many benefits. The state has a department of veteran affairs which is responsible for creating so many of these benefits, and pushing them through the state legislature.

I have talked with vets from many other states, and none seem so appreciative of the service veterans have given to their country as New Mexico. Here in New Mexico, veterans are respected and not treated like drop-outs from Cox's Army.

The state shows its appreciation in valuable, material ways. For example, vets who are certified by the US Veterans Administration, as being 100% disabled by a service connected problem, are given free license plates for their vehicles, for life , like the one pictured above! (If they wish the can have a label attached to the plate showing their highest military decoration.) They also get free hunting and fishing licenses for life, elimination of a large part of their property taxes. Veterans with lesser or no disabilities qualify for numerous other benefits, such as job training, and preference in hiring for state jobs.



Sunday, December 7, 2008

REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR !


Today it really is December 7, Pearl Harbor Day. I made a mistake the other day because I was looking at the November calendar instead of December's Anyway, it doesn't hurt to remember Pearl Harbor Day twice a year, or even more often. The families who lost their sons there, and on the fields of battle in World War II and other wars will remember it every day. Even if you weren't there, pause and give thanks for the things you enjoy today as a result of these men's servicel


The photo shows one style of remembrance, small signs listing the children of one small community who served on the land and sea and in the air. So, thank God you are alive to read this blog, and Remember Pearl Harbor!


Have you ever stopped to think, what if they gave a war and nobody came?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

GETTING TANKED UP


A reader from England noted that water storage tanks in his neighborhood were just big, round grey drab concrete structures. Here in Valencia County -and more and more throughout America- communities are beginning to realize that these structures offer a perfect signboard to advertise their community's virtues, products or sports teams.


These two tanks sit alongside busy Interstate Highway 25 on a high rocky outcrop overlooking the Isleta Indian Pueblo, and can be seen for miles. One bears a traditional Navajo Indian design. The other one used to be decorated, but it looks like they are planning to repaint it. There are other decorated water tanks in the county and perhaps in a month or so I can photograph them.


What do the tanks in your area look like?

Friday, December 5, 2008

OOPS !!

Seems like my Pearl lHarbor Day post (below) was posted on the wrong day! Sorry, but my feelings about war remain the same, even if I was working off a November calendar.

REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR !!!


Today, December 7, is the aniversary of that sad Sunday morning 67 years ago (in 1941) when planes and submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy staged a coordinated air-sea sneak attack upon the United States military forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Other places, such as Hickam Field, Fort Shafter and Schofield Barracks were also hit. Over three thousand sailors, soldiers, marines, airmen and coastguards men lost their lives and uncounted hundreds were injured. Many naval and army nurses were aso killed or wounded while tending to the casualties.


This attack precipitated America's entry into World War II, which lasted over 4 years and caused millions of casualties on all sides'


The memorial pictured above is in the small rural section of Valencia County known as Jarales, and lists the men from there who died serving their country. On the other two sides of the tall triangular obelisk are the words Duty and Contry. The names shown on the base honors those men lost in the Bataan Death March, Wars I, II, Vietnam, Korea and elsewhere. and elsewhere.

A lot of good men from this small community died or suffered injuries serving their country during all those wars..

Why? When will the world ever learn? Remember Pearl Harbor!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

WANT A DELICIOUS, JUICY STEAK ?


This sign tells it all. Roland Sanchez's Red Doc Farm raises nice, juicy, fat Santa Gertrudis beef cattle, and if you are in the market for some top grade meat, give them a call. I wanted to put this picture in to show just how close the rural and urban elements co-exist in this county. The Red Doc farm is on the south side of Belen, just a hop, skip and jump from downtown.

Valencia County offers its residents rural beauty alongside urban convenience; a nice combination for a person like me who is torn between the two lifestyles.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A PRETTY CHAPEL


This is, according to the sign, the San Francisco Xavier Mission Chapel, a very pretty place on a neat and narrow winding blacktop (macadam) road, in Jarales. The date at the foot of the bell tower shows that it was built in 1976. Jarales is one of many communities in the county that were settled or established well over a hundred years ago, each with its own personality.

Some others are Tome, Bosque (not to be confused with Bosque Farms), Meadow Lake (the county slum area), Las Maravillas, Adelino, Los Chavez, Rio Communities, Casa Colorado, and others. Many of the peoples in these communities are living on lands their ancesters settled hundreds of years ago.

I don't know much about architecture, but the plain simple lines of the building appeal to me. I am not a religious man but it makes me wonder, why are the Catholic churches some of the most attractive buildings? Non-Catholics are equally just as fervant about their brand of religion but their buildings, generally, just don't seem as attractive

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED , and is looking for water


Continuing my comments (in a previous blog) on the importance of water to this county is the picture of this 500,000 gallon water tank on the northwest side of Los Lunas. This is just one of five similar tanks holding an estimated total of close to five million gallons of water.

This covers the estimated water usage requirements for a small size town like Los Lunas. These tanks are kept filled by pumps that draw the water up from the aquifer beneath the town. I think there is enough water in these tanks to fill up my daily pot of coffee.

(The painting on the tank is the logo for our high school sports team, the Eagles)

Monday, December 1, 2008

A DAILY RIDE


This is one of the many, many busses that take the kids to school each day. Eleetary, middle school, high school -- it make no difference, they all get to ride no matter how close to the school they may live. I remembeer growing up in central Ohio and Denver, Colorado: every day, fair weather or foul I had to walk my way through freezing snow, rain, or blazing sunshine to schools that were sometimes miles from my house. The only exception was when attending Central High in Columbus, Ohio (in the 1940's), when in really severe weather, I would take a street car part of the way, then walk the last half mile. No school busses there. No wonder our kids are getting fatter and fatter, earlier and earlier...no exercise! And our school budgets soaring out of sight!! How does the current high fuel prices affect the school budgets in your neighborhood?