Saturday, January 31, 2009

WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD #2




Today we take a quick visit to the Cypress Gardens neighborhood. When it started out many years ago if initially consisted of a few attractive mobile and prefab homes. The developers quickly realized that mobile homes were not what was needed. Now they are mostly gone, having been replaced by conventionally built homes. Cypress Gardens, unlike the Meadow Lake area a few miles down the road, is now an attractive up-scale neighborhood. Homes here range from c. $100,000 upwards. Homes along Cypress Gardens Boulevard are protected from traffic noise by high concrete block and stone block walls, which is a nice touch. Notice also the street lights which are controlled by solar cells. Here again, as in Las Maravillas, all utility lines and gas lines are underground. The unique thing I like is because Cypress Gardens is built along a high bluff that parallels the Rio Grande, most homes have a full or partial western view of the river, the city of Los Lunas below and the large hill in the distance (El Cerro De Los Lunas Preserve), west of the city. Now, as the old movie travelogues used to say, "As the sun sinks slowly in the west, we leave beautiful Cypress Gardens. and the people who live in these homes along the river."

Friday, January 30, 2009

WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD - #1




Those who follow this blog may recall me saying that this county is made up of many communities, most of which are not formally incorporated. Today I am starting a series showing some of these communities. I am starting with Las Maravillas, which is about 3 miles east and south of Los Lunas. One photo shows the entryway to the area at Marigold Boulevard off Manzano Expressway. The Manzano Moountains are in the background. The second shot shows an overlook view of the area. It is really a pleasant place, nice homes on big lots; most home owners here take pride in their yards and expect the county to keep up the roads and maintain its other responsibilities to the infrastructure. The utilities (electricity, gas, cable TV, telephone) are all underground, helping the neighborhood look nice. Homes here range in price from about $130,000 to $30,000 (give or take a few thousand dollars. The nearest full service grocery is about 3 miles away, but there are a couple of convenience store abut a mile away. The name, Las Maravillas, can mean 'wonders', 'marvels,' or 'marigolds:' you pay your money and take your choice! There are schools close by and bus service is provided free.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

EASY FAST FOOD


This is the Sonic Drive-In Restaurant on west Main Street in Los Lunas, at about 8:30 PM on Thursday night.

There are still some drive-in restaurants, owned by private individuals, across America. As far as I have been able to find out, the Sonic Drive-In restaurants are the only national chain still in business.

Many fast food restaurants have drive up windows where you can place an order from your car and then take the food home, or some other place,, to eat. MacDonalds, KFC and Wendy's comes to mind.

But in a true Drive-In, you drive in, park your car by a menu board that is topped with a speaker and microphone, place your order and sit back and relax. In few minutes a waitress will bring your order out to your car. You can then sit back in the warm comfort of your own car, turn up your radio to listen to your favorite music, and eat your food. When finished you just signal the waitress and she will take away the service tray and you can drive off. I write all this, step by step, so friends in other lands can see how a true full-service drive-in operates, so American readers please be patient.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CULTURAL CENTER


This newly remodeled building , the old Jarales School, is on Jarales Road. Its proper title is The Don Jose Dolores Cordova Cultural Center, and according to the sign board in front of the building it serves the communities of Jarales, Bosque, Pueblitos and Los Trujillos. Immediately adjacent to the building is the monument to veterans of the various wars, plus the T-33 Jet trainer that I have pictured and talked about in previous blogs.

I really don't know much more than I have already stated about the Cultural Center. I have never been by the building when someone I could stop and chat with was there. Someday I hope to find someone there who can tell me more about it.When I do I will pass the information on to you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WELCOME TO BELEN, NEW MEXICO, USA




This is how Belen looked during the past Christmas season. This is the City's gateway, an arch facing Main Street, welcoming visitors. In one photo above the building on the right, with the orange tile roof, is the Belen City Hall. Behind the arch is a gazebo, with tables and benches, where you can sit, sip a drink, chat, stay out of the hot summer sun, and watch cars whizz by.


Belen: this city of about 10,000 residents started out just 269 years ago (1740) with less than 50 farming families in a quiet place alongside the Rio Grande. It has since grown in population and in importance to the economy of the state. It is nicknamed the "Hub City" because with the coming of the railroads to New Mexico in the 1880's all east-west and north-south rail lines crossed here, where the railroad established a huge railyard and repair facilities. The trains still go through the city each day, but the main railway repair facilities are no longer here.


Belen, with its eclectic mix of building styles and interesting streets, has proven a draw to Hollywoood producers and several movies have been filmed here. More are expected.

Monday, January 26, 2009

THE MIDWAY GROCERY


Shuttered down, gas and electric turned off, the old Midway grocery now only stands to mark the junction of Jarales Road and Mill Road. Now standing sad and dreary in fair weather and foul, this store once served hundreds of families in the Bosque, Jarales, Pueblitos, and other areas of the Rio Abajo. The shoppers would hitch up their teams or saddle horses, to the hitching rail on the right end of the store while they shopped. Later, perhaps they would sit a while on the bench to the left of the doorway and have a smoke, or a chew, and swap friendly lies and gossip. Those with an automobiles could pull up to the glass topped gas pump to fill up their tank. To the left of the store is an old corral where various events were staged on occasion.


Why did this old store finally die? One reason might be that like hundreds of other stores across the nation it fell victim to the ever spreading national chain stores that could afford to stock and sell a wider variety of merchandise (at a lower cost) than the small stores could. In any case, the Midway Grocery Store is gone now, leaving behind it a memory of a more relaxed time and a kinder, gentler life.







Sunday, January 25, 2009

THIS IS FOR THE BIRDS !


Yesterday afternoon (Saturday), during a leisurely drive down Jarales Road, I came upon a scene that could have come right out of the Alfred Hitchcock movie '

the Birds.' The skies were dark and cloudy and it seemed like it would rain any moment. The temperature was in the low 70's F (20-22C) so I had the car windows open, enjoying the springlike weather. Suddenly I heard a great screeching and cawing, and a huge flock of birds swirled up from a field on my left and took to the air, further darkening the already dark skies. Then another huge flock soared in from the field on my right. The sky was filled with literally thousands of these birds. They were feeding off the leftover grain in the fields abutting the road.

I am not an ornithologist so I can't tell you what kind of birds they are. All I can tell you is that they are about the size of seagulls and seemed very very hungry.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

COLD TONIGHT?


If you live where I do, you can simply turn up your thermostat like most of us do. But, if you don't have a gas furnace you are probably using a wood burning stove. In that case you simply buy a truckload of good firewood. Trucks like the one above are a common sight around Valencia County. Selling firewood is a good job that provides good exercise in the summer when they gather and cut the wood (primarily from fallen dead trees) and helps supplement the family income when it is sold in the winter.

Valencia County is not a wealthy county, but it is a county filled with imaginative, hard working people. Yesterday, driving down Jarales Road, I saw signs hanging on fences, nailed to posts, and on front porches. The signs were advertising the skills and talents of Valencia Countians. There were signs soliciting work as a farrier (horse shoer), plowing work, and many other things. One home even had a fully equipped machine shop. There may be a depression but the hard working families of this county don't let it get them down. The attitude here reminds me of a man I met in Pusan, Korea. His life work was walking up and down the streets picking up scrap paper. He soaked and formed the paper into thick sheets and sold it to a hat maker, who used the paper as filling for the bills of military hats. The old gentleman looked me in the eye and proudly told me he had sent his three sons through college on the proceeds of his labor. No work is beneath a man fulfilling a goal for his family. And that is what men in this county think!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A NOTE OF THANKS & MORE OLD FARM GEAR




I owe a big "thank you" to my oldest son Michael, pictured here. The other day some rotten snake infected my computer with a virus. After being knocked off-line for a day and a half, I called Michael in Los Angeles. Following his clear, concise intructions I was able to eliminate the virus in just a couple of hours. Michael is a whiz when it comes to computers; in fact, he is an extremely sharp person in many areas, and I am proud to be Michael Kaehele's father. He is why you are looking at this blog today.


Now, back to farm equipment. The other day I was driving down Jarales Road NM Route 109) when spotted a house with the whole front and side yards taken up with old farming machinery.


This resulted in yesterday's blog about cutting hay. Today is another part of his yard, showing an old green John Deere garden tractor, probably from the 1960's, and another old farm tractor, brand name unknown to me, and it looks to be from about 1940 or so. All the machines here look old, rusted and tired. They have served long and useful lives, and when they are fully restored to like-new condition they will be the basis of a long overdue museum dedicated to the lives they have led and the farmers who used them.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

THE BEST FARM JOB EVER


The item above, for those 'city slickers' who may not know it, is a mower. Some call it a sickle sidebar cutter, or just a plain sidebar cutter. I would guess this one is a late 130's model or early 1940's. Mowers were used (and still are) to cut weeds along the roadway or along fence lines, but their most prominent use was in cutting hay (alfalfa, timothy, etc.) for winter use as feed for livestock. After the hay was mowed it was raked into winrows and allowed to dry for a few days, then, before it rained it was picked up and compressed into bales by a baler and transported to a barn or shed where it could be protected from the weather then fed to the livestock as needed. When I was a young boy growing up in central Ohio, I thought --and I still do-- that mowing hay was the best job in the world, especially if the mower was harnessed to an intelligent pair of mules. Mules are smarter, if properly trained, than horses. Unlike horses, mules will not founder (collapse) from hard work, over heating, and sweating. I like horses for riding, but mules are better workers. They keep up a nice steady pace to keep the blades cutting, and after having been in a certain field once or twice, you don't even have to guide them; just tie up the reins and they'll know when and in what direction to turn.

Now most farmers just hook a mower up to tractor, which is a lot quicker. But in my backward way of thinking, the pleasure of a job is not just a matter of how fast you can do it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

T-33


(I was unable to post as blog yesterday due to a computer virus. I haven't completely beat the virus yet, but hope to beat it in a day or two. Meantime, I'll do my best.)


This T-33 jet was built in the early 1950's. For years the US Air Force used the T-33 as a trainer aircraft for jet pilots. We also sold them to other countries for the same purpose. There was even a few two-seater versions built It was a versatile plane in its day, but aircraft technology progressed rapidly and by the 1970's, as sleek and pretty as it was, the T-33 was hopelessly outmoded. This particular airplane is mounted on a steel pole outside the new Jarales Road (Valencia County) Community Center as a memorial to all those who served in the military forces of the United States.

Monday, January 19, 2009

AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH


This quiet, clean entrance to a campus-like atmosphere, is the entrance way to theh Los Lunas Plant Materials Center of New Mexico State University/US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. A long title (as are most governmental titles!) to say this is where agricultural research is conductd. As you lookk at the entryway, large farmlands belonging to the NM State Prison honor farm are to the right. Behind the buildings and to the left is a patch of arbored grape vines, all neatly tagged. It could be assumed that the research done here is at least partially related to vinyards. New Mexico is getting to be recognized for the quality of its wines, and in recent years more and more vinyard are being planted. Who knows? Someday we may all be drinking a tot or two, fresh from a New Mexico vintner.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

THE KUHN HOTEL


This is the facade of the Kuhn Hotel, situated almost under the west end of the Reinken Avenue railway overpass, close to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (AT&SF) passenger station. The current owner told me of its fascinating history and her hopes for it to have a great future.
The hotel was built by Ruth Kuhn in 1906. Some years earlier Mrs Kuhn and her husband came to Albuquerque by horse-drawn covered wagon. Her husband turned out to be unfaithful, a gambler and a drunkard. Mrs Kuhn divorced him, hitched up her wagon and came south to Belen, where she found work as a waitress. By 1906 Ruth Kuhn's hard work and thrift found her with enough money to build this hotel. Belen was a major railway hub for the AT&SF Railroad and the hotel was a going business, catering to the traveling public, and later as a hotel for railroad workers. After Mrs Kuhn died the hotel passed to her daughters and several other owners. It also underwent several remodelings, including modern plumbing.
Joanie is the current owner and has been slowly remodeling the hotel's anterior again. The building is sound in structure, but needs a new roof and some minor exterior trim and paint. Joanie sees the hotel's future as a studio for artists (potters, painters, photographers, etc) of all schools and as a gallery and sales outlet for their works. Interested persons should contact Joani at
(505) 864-6411 in Belen.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

GOLF ANYONE?



What is a community without a golf course? Not much! Well, Rio Communities, which is just south of Belen city limits, has a full size course that winds attractively throughout the community. Rio Communities has two operations, one being the Country Club and the other is the Public course, open to all comers. There is also a driving range for duffers to practice on. Winter days may turn the turf slightly brown, but the temperature in the daytime is often in the upper 50's, with very little wind. Today, for example, the temperature reached 57 degrees Fahrenheit, with winds from the west at 4 MPH.

Friday, January 16, 2009

LAS BARRANCAS


Sitting across the fence along NM State Route 304 (about 10 miles south of Belen), and overlooking a portion of desert now only populated by the occasional coyote, an emaciated jackrabbit or two and some rattlesnakes, this sign tells of an important event in the history of what is now Valencia County. It reads:
-LAS BARRANCAS-
THE AREA BELOW THESE HIGH BLUFFS, OR BARRANCAS, WAS SETTLED BY ANDRES GOMES ROBLEDO IN THE MID 17TH CENTURY. ROBLEDO'S HACIENDA DEVELOPED INTO AN IMPORTANT STOP ALONG THIS SECTION OF THE CAMINO REAL UNTIL IT WAS DESTROYED DURING THE PUEBLO REVOLT OF 1680. AFTER THE RE-CONQUEST OF 1692, APACHE RAIDS PREVENTED SPANISH RESETTLEMENT OF THIS AREA UNTIL SABINAL WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1741.


NOTES: Camino Real means Royal Road
Sabinal - A now small village just a mile or so south of this site.
Pueblo Revolt of 1680 - A revolt by native Americans against the Spanish who were moving into the area from Mexico and attempting to colonize the pueblos. It was the Indians most successful effort ever against European invaders, but ultimately failed.
The white 'X' marks the top edge of the bluffs; the bluff line extends left and right from the 'X'. The drop to the valley below is about 60 feet. In the distance the tree line is whee the Rio Grande flows.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

TURN YOUR RADIO ON - - - - - -



- - - - AND LISTEN TO THE MUSIC. Did you ever hear that old bluegrass gospel song? Its the kind of music generally played on small AM stations broadcasting to small local audiences. K-A-R-S, 860 on the radio dial is like that. It programs in both Spanish and English. Though not a religious station, it has regular morning devotionals. I've never heard rap music there, thank God, but they play a lot of the older country songs, plus a lot of rancheros. They have an interesting radio auction, where people can call in live with things they want to sell or buy. A small station can do those things. I got my start in radio in a station similar to K-A-R-S and did eveerything from rip-and-read newscasts, ad writing, continuity, traffic, ad sales, DJ and general announcing. If you want a career in broadcasting I suggest you start in a small radio station. TV pays more, but is more restrictive in what you can do, and is just not as much fun. Learn radio from the ground up. You can always jump up into TV after you get your basic radio education.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

OUR FAVORITE RIVER, THE RIO GRANDE


In the United States this broad, shallow river is called the Rio Grande (the Grand or Great river)and in Mexico it is known as Rio Bravo. Here you can see it flow in a late January afternoon (the 13th, to be exact), southward towards the Gulf of Mexico.
Formed in the mountains of Colorado, and fed by countless springs, creeks and small rivers along the way and by the rains and seasonal snowmelt along the way it flows leisurely through the state of New Mexico, dammed up once, mid-state, at Elephant Butte Dam, near the city of Truth or Consequences (TorC). From TorC it continues its journey to El Paso, Texas (USA), across the border from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua (Mexico). It then flows south and east forming the border between between Mexico and the United States.
Along its many twisting and turning miles it provides life-giving water for countless communities. It doesn't provide grist for romantic-song writers like the Mississippi, Wabash, Ohio, Swanee and other rivers do, but it is just as important to every household along its way. We who live near it, love it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A TOY? A TOOL? YOU DECIDE


Pictured is a little item I picked up at Christmas time. An Olympus VN-5000 Digital Voice Recorder. Thirty Seven dollars at Staple stores. You can operate it with one hand, easily. It comes with one of those large folding instruction pamphlets, which tells you everything except how to tie your shoes. But don't panic, the operation is pretty intuitive, unless you are a real dimwit. It records from 22 to 39 hours, depending on what type AAA battery (included) you use. I find it extremely useful when I am taking photographs for the blog. I can't always read my own writing so this recorder is good for taking notes, remembering addresses,etc., and with its folder system it is easy to recall anything recorded without having to listen to a bunch of unwanted notes.

It has a built-in mic and speaker, but can take an auxiliary microphone and earphone. It is small; the size: 4"h x 1.5"w x .75" d (also known in the metric system as 102mm x 36mm x 20.5mm) and weighs slightly less that 1/4 ounce (63g).

My wife thinks it is a toy because I recorded her snoring with it, but I think its a tool because I recorded a short interview with it. You decide, toy or tool?

Monday, January 12, 2009

SIGN OF OUR TIMES


It is a sign you see much too often on the roads in New Mexico, a memorial marking the spot where someone died as a result of a traffic accident. All too often these memorials bear the name of someone whose life was tragically cut short before it has really begun.. Notice the dates on this memorial; Heidi Mason was only 18 years old. Who knows what wonders she might have achieved had she lived? On the other side of this memorial someone has placed a fresh can of orange soda; perhaps it was her especially favorite drink in life. Drivers whizz by in their fancy motorcars paying little attention to Heidi Mason's memorial on this cold January afternoon. Why should they? Well, as John Donne said about the knelling of the church bell, It tolls for thee.

Perhaps if you don't drive a little more responsibly, with less alcohol in your system, the next roadside memorial will be the one erected for you.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

ANNA BECKER PARK MYSTERY


This is the Anna Becker Park, looking from south to north. It is right in the heart of Belen on the main east-west street, Reinken Avenue, just two blocks off Main Street. In warm weather the park is swarming with people. Around noon time many people bring their lunches here and eat in the warmth of the sun. There is a set of overhead bars, swings, slides and other items for children to play on. Altogether a pleasant place in which to linger.

Now for the mystery. There is a rumor that before this was a proper park it was just an open uncared for field in the middle of town. In the rainy season it was quite muddy and sunk low, something like a saucer. It is said that a local resident mired his Model T Ford where the gazebo (bandstand) now stands. The Ford sunk so low that it could not be pulled out, so the disgusted owner walked off and left it. The town fathers then had the park filled, drained and leveled , then laid down sod. The gazebo was then built over the spot where the old Ford is buried. Now, when a band is playing on the gazebo they say the echo of a lonesome Model T horn can be heard, wafting up through the tons of dirt.

DO YOU THINK THIS TALE IS TRUE?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

KEEPING IN TOUCH


The picture above is of something that is, unfortunately, becoming increasingly rare in the cities and towns of America. Two complete, working pay telephones. For just 50 cents you can make a call to some local party, and for one dollar you can talk for four minutes! Does anyone but me remember when it only cost five cents to use a pay telephone (long distance calls were more)?

The demise of the public phone was inevitable. Vandals started breaking into the phone coin boxes, then the phone company did away with the street corner phone booths and mounted the phones on the walls of businesses where they could be watched easier. The vandalism and thefts continued unabated, even the telephone directories were viciously destroyed. I remember a late night effort in Tucson, Arizona, searching in vain for an hour to find a phone I could use. Then along came the portable cellular phone. Now it is rare to even find a public phone, working or not.

The telephone company in Mexico solved the problem years ago: Phones there do not accept coins so there is no incentive to smash the phones to steal a few coins. Just buy a phone card at a nearby store.

The two phones above are sitting beside a Conoco gas station on Bosque Farms Boulevard (NM Route 47) readily available to all who need them.

Friday, January 9, 2009

PARK HERE


The Village of Los Lunas has 12 parks, as near as I can figure. A large number for a city this small, but American cities (at least those in the west) tend to spread horizontally instead of vertically like those in the east and in Europe. We have more land available. The reason I chose Heritage Park to represent the city is because it is one of the few parks I have seen with a Dump Station where recreational vehicles can empty their sewage tanks. Having lived and traveled full time in a 5th wheel trailer for several years I know how important this is, and since this city is on many tourist routes, its important for RV-ers to know. You can see the children's swings, slides and gym equipment. Beyond that is a large field, kept mowed and green in summer, suitable for games of softball or soccer, and in the far right distance is a concrete skateboard arena. There is a nice park in Los Lunas by the banks of the Rio Grande (complete with large shade trees and picnic tables); another park features a BMX course for bicyclists who like racing and jumping. In short, there is a park for about every taste. So come, park by a park, and stay awhile.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

TOY/TOOLS FOR BLOGGERS


I got the idea for this blog as I watched a man with a large 35mm camera and telephoto lens (and no tripod) trying to hold his camera steady in a strong wind. Taking pity on him, I lent him my Bogen Super Clamp which solved his problem. Like most people, me included, carrying a tripod around is a pain. This Super Clamp will carry a load up to 15kg (33.5 pounds). It is made by Manfrotto, in IItaly, and is sold under both the Manfrotto and Bogen names. I mount a Bogen 3025 tripod head (right, above) and use the other for strobes and/or umbrellas. My Bogen Super Clamps only cost about $20 each. The Super Clamp (without tripod head) is about 3.5" high, 2" deep, and 4.5"wide. It is compact enough to carry in my gadget bag or in my car's glove compartment, and it has saved my bacon several times when I really needed a way to stabilize my camera.

My wife calls it as one of my 'toys,' but I consider it an essential 'tool, 'especially for taking shots for the blog. I have a couple of other useful toys that I will show you one of these days.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

GRACEFULLY BOWING OUT


It was publicly announced last week that the 129 year old building is now up for sale. Earl Whittemore, who has owned the building for the past 32 years made the announcement. The graceful old building, located almost on the corner of NM Route 6 (Main Street) and NM

Route 314 was built in 1880 by the Santa Fe Railroad as a present for the mayor of Los Lunas, Don Antonio Jose Luna, for whom the village was named.

For many years now the Luna Mansion has been operated as one of the finest restaurants in the state. The restaurant operation has now been closed down. Who will buy the Luna Mansion and what will happen in the next phase of this fine old historical building's life remains unknown. What is known is that the next time you want to entertain your wife, your friend, or anyone, at an excellent meal, in a luxurious atmosphere and with the best of service, you'll have to look far and wide to equal what you could have gotten at the Luna Mansion.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

IS THERE A TIGER ON YOUR TANK ?


Here it is, another half-million gallon water tank. From time to time I will show other water tanks that I like. I do this in hopes to inspire people in other places to fancy up the tanks in their neighborhoods; otherwise the tanks are just an eyesore, a blight on the community

This tank is decorated with a tiger, the mascot of Los Lunas High School, which is across the street. The view from the other side of the tank is nicer ---you can't see all the weeds and clutter, and the cell phone relay towers and communication antennas are not so evident. The problem is that to take a photo from the other side I would have to stand out in the middle of US Interstate Highway 25, amidst cars and trucks zooming along at 75 + miles per hour. I have no desire to be squashed like a bug on I-25. If you want to see the other side of the tank, I suggest you drive there yourself.

Monday, January 5, 2009

GOT ILLS ? TAKE PILLS !


In Saturday's blog I talked about the VA hospital in Albuquerque. It is an excellent modern facility with a really professional staff. I am happy to report that Valencia County is also well served by the health care clinics operated by Presbyterian Hospital in both Los Lunas and

Belen. The picture above is the Los Lunas clinic. These clinics can take care of many health problems, and when they can't adequately care for a patient here, the patient can be treated at the main facility in Albuquerque (emergency medical transportation can be done by a local ambulance company which operates EMT-staffed ambulances. Medical care in Albuquerque can also be taken care of at Lovelace Hospital, Presbyterian Hospital, University of New Mexico Medical Center, and many specialized private clinics and physicians. Additionally, a medical air transport service is available at the Albuquerque Sunport for patients needing cross-country transportation.


{all photos and text on this blog are copyrighted 2009 by rick whitman}

Sunday, January 4, 2009

COUNTY ANIMAL CONTROL


Above is one of several similar trucks used by the code enforcement officers of Valencia County Animal Control . These officers have the unenviable, but very necessary job of not only patroling the county and capturing stray dogs, cat, and every other variety of wild life, but of also answering citizen complaints concerning cases of animal abuse. Its unfortunate but during the past year they have had to rescue starving and abused horses on several occasions. Some livestock owners unfairly castigate these officers, but I think they should be applauded, just like any other law enforcement officer. Pet owners who let their pets run loose have no grounds for complaint when their dog or cat is picked up. Many do not understand that stray dogs tend to run in packs, and pose a danger to livestock. Where I used to live in Arizona we had a major problem with dog packs running cattle and sometimes threatening people. It got so bad that many law enforcement officers would shoot stray dogs on sight. I really don't recommend that in Valencia County's semi-rural area, but I do think that some residents here should be more appreciative of the county code enforcement officers.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

VISIT A VET


Today I had made plans to go out and test my now repaired camera, but a near friend if mine called me from the Veterans' Administration Hospital in Albuquerque. It seems he had been in there for at least two weeks and was lonely. So my wife and I drove up to Albuquerque to see him. By a happy coincidence his two sons also visited him today, so he was one the few patients who had visitors today. Two things were obvious: The visitor parking lots were nearly empty, and bored patients in hospital garb were aimlessly roaming the hallways nodding and saying hello to anyone they thought might stop and talk to them awhile. After a couple of weeks in a hospital with no one to talk with except nurses and doctors, and nothing to watch but mindless TV, it is easy to go insane!

So here is what you can do for our nation's defenders -- visit your nearest VA hospital or treatment facility today. You don't have to have a friend already there; there are lots of lonely vets and it doesn't take much effort to make a new friend. Bring a small gift --fresh fruits are always welcome-- it will help break the ice. But most of all, bring yourself, a friendly smile and an open mind. Don't forget those who defended your freedom!

( I know the Albuquerque VA Hospital is not in Valencia County, its just north a few miles, but almost every military veteran in the county goes there sometime.)





Friday, January 2, 2009

GONE TO THE DOGS !




I'm back, and my camera is working now. Its time for another dog photo, folks. I hope you won't think I use too many dog photos, but I really hate to see the Valencia Animal Shelter so full of really nice dogs (and cats!), when they can make some family a wonderful companion. Today's dog is a case in point. Reina (means 'queen' in English) is a mixed breed female with beautiful markings. She is about 18 months old with a friendly, sweet disposition. She is also housebroken! She was so happy to be out of her cage for a few minutes that she couldn't hold still, so, two photos. One (with Nicole, a handler) so you can see Reina's face, and the other grab shot showing her unique markings. I sure hope someone takes the time to visit the shelter and adopts this wnderful dog.