A few days ago I was talking to my sister about food - and the conversation turned to yogurt, a favorite of ours. It was something Aimée and I also enjoyed, and we’d recently discovered the taste of Greek yogurt. That got me thinking.
Years ago, Aimée and I found a recipe in Consumer Reports magazine for making your own yogurt. We tried it, then decided to make things easier by buying a cheap one quart yogurt maker. We used it off and on for a few years, then got so busy writing that the yogurt maker disappeared into the back of the pantry. I knew where it was now, having gone through the kitchen recently, needing to pare things down for a household of one human, two dogs. It was dusty but intact, so I set it out on the island and started looking for the old recipe.
I’d always been accused of never throwing anything out, and this time it paid off. I couldn’t find the old CR magazine, but I did locate the recipes that came with the yogurt maker. I checked out the machine - really just a container that fit inside a larger one that had a low temperature heating element, a cord, and a light that showed when it was plugged in. I got to work.
My experiment turned out great. The yogurt wasn’t tart at all, and had the texture of Dairy Queen ice cream.
Here’s what I did. I placed one quart of whole milk (organic) in a sauce pan, and dissolved in one half cup of powdered milk (to make it thicker). I heated and stirred the milk to just below boiling. Then I let it cool, about a half hour, until it was just below 110 degrees F. (I have a digital food thermometer). I stirred in a half cup of Dannon plain yogurt - then poured the batch into the quart container, which had been thoroughly washed in hot, soapy water. I put on the lid, and placed the container into the preheated yogurt maker.
Six hours later, it was done. (Longer curing makes the yogurt more tart, if you like that. ) After about two hours in the refrigerator, I added some berries and had the best yogurt since 1992 - the year I made my first batch (and bought the yogurt maker.)
You don’t need a yogurt maker, of course, and there are many strategies and recipes online, but this process is easy and consistent. I don’t know how many calories it has, and I don’t really care. It’s as pure as I can make it, and if I save a cup of this batch, I’ll have an even more pristine batch next time. And I will make it again.
Anyone else out there ever make their own yogurt?
Aimée Salcedo Thurlo
On the morning of February 28, 2014 Aimée passed away peacefully at home after a brief struggle with cancer and related complications. She was attended by her husband of 43 years, David. Aimée was 62 years old.
Aimée, the youngest of two daughters born to Armando and Silvia Salcedo, was born on June 1st, 1951 in Havana, Cuba. At the age of 7, Aimée and her older sister Silvia fled the Castro regime with their parents and settled in Miami, Florida. Her mother died soon thereafter.
After her father, an electrical engineer, remarried, Aimée became a boarder and student at Ursuline Academy in Arcadia, Missouri. Her quarters were just down the hall from a curtain that separated the young women from a cloistered area. This was an environment that would prove valuable to her future career as a published author.
Aimée graduated from high school in 1969 after transferring to Ursuline Academy in New Orleans. She entered LSU New Orleans as a freshman, but, hampered by life-threatening asthma, was forced to seek a less stressful environment. She transferred to the University of Albuquerque (now St. Pius X High School) in 1970. After a few months, she moved in with a roommate near the University of New Mexico campus and her friend introduced her to David Thurlo, their next door neighbor. It was love at first sight, and after only a month, Aimée and David were married.
Aimée left college and worked as a bookkeeper at a hardware store, then Clover Club Foods, while David completed his degree. Never one to back down on a challenge, Aimée got the Clover Club job on a bluff and taught herself to use an adding machine by practicing on a drawing of the key configuration. When David graduated Aimée obtained her American citizenship and decided she wanted a career of her own.
After unsuccessful attempts working as a receptionist at an employment agency then an optometrist's assistant, Aimee was inspired to write. She sat down with legal pad and pencil and began writing a romantic intrigue novel. She soon discovered David, now a teacher at APS, looking over her shoulder. With her permission he jumped in and began editing her work. After the book was completed, Aimée sent out a proposal, which was quickly rejected. Again it was Aimée's refusal to admit defeat that led to her success. 60 rejections later an offer came from a New York editor and the first book was sold. With David's editorial support, Aimée worked up two new books proposals, and with a track record now, they found a new publisher.
The next book that Aimée wrote and David edited made a national bestseller list. From that moment on, the two partners were never without a book contract. Led by Aimée, who usually wrote the first draft of each new project, the couple discovered that they could write with one voice, and their combined efforts resulted in books characterized by the unique stamp that defined their partnership in life and work.
Aimée was the lead author writing the first two drafts on all those novels where her name appears alone or first on the cover. These are the vast majority of the duo's works over the next thirty years. In addition to many romantic suspense novels, including 36 for Harlequin, the Thurlos have written three successful mystery series, each featuring a very different primary investigator. In the Sister Agatha series, the `cozy' mysteries are solved by an extern nun - which reflect back to Aimée's years as a student and boarder at Ursuline Academy. The Lee Nez series, which David wrote and Aimée edited, featured a partnership between a New Mexico state policeman who happens to be half-vampire, and a Hispanic woman FBI agent.
Their flagship series of 17 hardcover Ella Clah police procedurals, ending with a November, 2013 title, Ghost Medicine, was set on the Navajo Reservation where David grew up. Ella Clah is a Special Investigator for the Navajo Police Department. With these novels, the Thurlos were more equal partners, relying on their complimentary strengths. The Ella Clah series was optioned by CBS Productions, but, alas, Ella Clah did not make it to network television.
Aimée and her husband's books have been read by millions of readers, and their novels have been translated and sold worldwide in more than 18 countries. Their work has been widely praised by reviewers and critics and have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Among Aimée's many accolades are the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, a Willa Cather Award for Contemporary Fiction, and the New Mexico Book Award for Mystery and Suspense. She and her husband have also made Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders national bestseller lists. Their Lee Nez half-vampire series was optioned by a Hollywood production company as a feature film prospect.
Just a few months prior to her death, Aimée and her partner completed the final volume in their Harlequin Intrigue Copper Canyon series, Eagle's Last Stand. and began revising Looking into Darkness. This is the second hardcover romantic suspense novel in their new trading post series destined for publication in 2015.
Aimée's dedication and drive were so strong, even when confined to bed, that she and David worked on laptops side by side for over a month until she had to put it aside, rest, and allow her husband to take notes to finish the revisions. Mrs. Thurlo's works will live on, however. Four books already completed will be published in the next two years, including the above, plus Undercover Warrior and the second story in the Charlie Henry series, ironically named Grave Consequences, which David wrote and Aimée edited.
Aimée's life was not all work. She was an enthusiastic animal lover and, over the years she kept a bull snake, mice, many domestic rats (including two rescues) and two horses, one of them a BLM mustang. Aimée took dressage and hunter jumper training from a Corrales trainer and rode for many years along the ditch banks, bosque, and her own arena.
Though she suffered from asthma, she found and raised two American Staffordshire Terriers, Clouseau and Chloe, an injured puppy at the shelter about to be put down. Chloe watched over Aimée for thirteen years. Aimée also found a German shepherd-cross puppy living under a tumbleweed near the FAA radar facility, and despite her wheezing, kept the animal. Marcy lived ten more years and was the most loyal dog anyone could imagine.
At one time Aimée owned five dogs, mostly poodles adopted from the Roswell Humane Society, her favorite charity. Just a week prior to her death, her latest rescue, a large standard poodle named Gabriel from South Carolina, succumbed to stomach cancer. Aimée and her office companion were inseparatable. The dog was by her side until the day before he died. Her two remaining poodles, Marlowe and Ella, now keep David company.
Aimée was driven by her need to prove her worth and make her contribution to society, but she was very outgoing in public and made easy connections with those she met. She will be missed not only by those who knew her, but by the millions who fell in love with the characters in her books. Aimée Salcedo Thurlo was preceded in death by her mother Silvia Berndes Salcedo, father Armando Salcedo, and sister Silvia Salcedo Rodriguez.
Aimée is survived by her beloved husband, David. A private remembrance will be held for close friends and family. For her many friends and readers, condolences and personal comments may be made on Facebook or through the website at www.aimeeanddavidthurlo.com.
Last night I saw on the news that a giant pink diamond sold for 83 million dollars. I like diamonds and I like pink, but even if I had 83 million to blow on anything I wanted, I sure hope I’d retain the common sense to do something worthwhile with it. I admit it - I have very simple tastes.
Mind you, the things that make me happy aren’t always free. I love my three poodles. I may only be able to have that specific breed because of issues with asthma, but I couldn’t ask for better companions. They’re there for me no matter what. Gabriel, in particular, is my velcro dog. He came from Carolina Poodle Rescue and he and I are never more than inches apart. Recently, when I got hurt in an accident, he never left my side. That’s a great friend.
I also love losing myself in a book. I read mysteries, romance, romantic suspense, and non- fiction. I just bought Double Down and I can’t wait to dive into it. Whether it’s the truth as non-fiction should be, or just a great novel, I can’t tell, but I enjoyed Game Change and this seems to be in the same vein. I also read anything by Cesar Millan. If I could meet anyone, I’d love to meet him and/or Shorty Rossi. Both were underdogs who rose from bad circumstances and remade themselves. Rossi, a pitbull advocate, spent time in prison, and now has his own TV show, Pit Boss, and Cesar came to the US without even knowing English, and now is a world famous dog trainer. Both are the epitome of success stories. I admire them.
David and I put in long hours at the office, but we both enjoy the work we do. It never ceases to amaze me when people from all over the world say how much they enjoyed our books. As many of you know I hate traveling, but our books do that for us. They’ve been purchased and translated into languages I can’t read. It was a very special feeling seeing our work in Mandarin for the first time.
Like I said, I have simple tastes. What about you?
One last thing– this Sunday Nov. 17 at three p.m. we’ll be at Bookworks in Albuquerque. As a special thanks to our readers, anyone who buys or orders a copy of Ghost Medicine from this bookstore by November 17th will also get a free copy of Homespun Christmas, a story about the will to succeed. Bookworks can be reached online at http://bkwrks.com/ Or – CONTACT: 4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107 or 505-344-8139
Make sure you tell them that you’d like your free copy.
Independence, New Mexico, was buzzing with the news. The bad boy was back in town.
Joshua Nez had captured the hearts of half the girls in high school. She hadn’t been immune, even though they’d run in different circles. Myka Solis smiled, thinking of those carefree days. She’d been head cheerleader, the quarterback’s girlfriend, and a straight-A student. Joshua had been trouble with a capital T.
Although her parents hadn’t approved of Joshua, living next door to each other had made avoiding him almost impossible. She’d soon learned that just being around Joshua added a
high voltage charge to everything. He’d followed no one’s rules except his own.
Sophie Boyer, her neighbor from across the street, called out to her as she hurried up the
driveway. “I understand he’s coming in with a rental van,” she said, catching her breath.
No need to ask who she meant. Like Myka, Sophie was dark haired, petite and twenty-eight years old.
“Makes sense,” Myka said. “He’ll have to sort through his dad’s things and pack up everything he doesn’t want to keep. Considering Adam had a lot of stuff, that’s going to be a tough job. I thought I’d offer to help.”
“No, don’t go there, Sophie. It’s just the right thing to do. From what I’ve heard, Navajos don’t like being around the personal possessions of someone who has passed on. I figured I could help him box the stuff he doesn’t want and give it to the church.”
“Yeah, a number of people around here could use the donations,” Sophie said, nodding somberly. “You and I are the lucky ones, despite the fact that my only job is nursing Mom. At least you have your online business while you take care of your parents’ home.
Sophie’s mother, Millie Boyer, had just turned sixty-seven. She’d broken her hip after a fall last winter and Sophie came home from Albuquerque. As her mom’s primary caregiver, Sophie was paid a small sum by the state, and between that and her mother’s social security, they got by.
Myka suspected there was a lot more to Sophie’s story, but she hadn’t pried. For now, the details of Sophie’s life in the city remained a mystery.
“Did you get a chance to talk to Joshua at Adam’s—I was going to say graveside service, but it was a burial, right?”
Myka nodded. “When his grandfather died years ago, Joshua told me burials take place as quickly as possible. It’s like the belongings of the deceased, a lot of Navajos believe it’s dangerous to be around the body, too.”
“Something about the person’s ghost, I think,” Myka said, bunching the edge of her shirt and tugging nervously at it. Seeing Sophie glance down and taking note of it, she stopped instantly.
“I’m sorry, Myka. I shouldn’t have brought it up. I’m sure this brings back all kinds of memories for you. Losing your husband so young…”
“Tanner’s been gone two years.” Myka took a deep, shaky breath. “It doesn’t hurt as much as it used to, but I try to avoid things that remind me so directly…of what happened.”
“I understand,” her neighbor said softly.
Once again, there was that haunting undertone in Sophie’s voice. Myka suspected that life hadn’t been particularly kind to Sophie, either.
“Everything is so different these days,” Sophie added. “An entire generation is disappearing. Mom warned me that things were going downhill here, but I didn’t realize the magnitude of it until I saw the town for myself.”
Their town, Independence, was dying, and too many of their residents had left already. For the past half century, theirs had been a company town. Independence Vehicle Accessories, IVA, hadn’t been the only domestic supplier of steering wheels and other vehicle interior “hardware” in the nation—far from it—but the plant’s employees had taken special pride in their work. Then, eighteen months ago, the economy took a nose dive, and IVA shut down.
Eventually the auto industry had been bailed out, but unfortunately for the residents of
Independence, IVA’s jobs had been outsourced overseas. Now the ties that had made them such a strong, vibrant community were slowly and systematically breaking down.
“By the way, whatever happened to Adam’s dog, Bear?” Sophie asked, cutting into her thoughts.
“He took off the same day Adam died, though that couldn’t have been the reason he left—Adam was in the hospital at the time. I’ve put out food and water, but it hasn’t been touched, except by the birds and stray cats,” Myka said. “I promised Adam I’d take care of Bear. He was my responsibility.”
“He’ll come back. Same way he just showed up one day,” Sophie reassured her.
Myka hoped so. “The two sure hit it off instantly. Adam said that Bear chose his owners, not the other way around.”
“Do you think Josh will adopt the dog—if he comes back?”
Myka smiled. “I don’t think he even knows about Bear, but I hope so. He’s close to two hundred pounds, though, so it’s a commitment.” The mastiff and pit bull mix was really incredibly gentle.
“If Josh doesn’t want him, what’ll happen?”
“I was hoping he’d move in with me.”
“Josh or Bear?” Sophie gave her a wicked smile.
“The dog,” Myka said, laughing.
“I’ll keep an eye out for the big guy.” Sophie took a step toward her house. “I better go check on Mom. She’s having one of her bad days. Thank heavens for her knitting..”
“The sweaters she’s been making for my shop are just gorgeous. Once I post the photo online, I usually have a buyer within a day or two.”
“Her skill and your homespun yarns make an unbeatable combination,” Sophie said. “I’m doing my part by Tweeting about your site every chance I get, too.”
As Sophie left, Myka glanced down the street for maybe the tenth time that day. Bertie from the post office had said that Joshua would be back this morning, and she always knew the latest. Joshua had come home last week to bury his father, but he’d returned to San Francisco almost immediately afterward to finish moving out of his apartment. This time, supposedly, he was coming home to stay—at least for a while.
Joshua’s blue pickup was still parked over in his dad’s driveway.
She looked over at the simple, well-maintained wood framed house next door. It would be good to see Joshua again, at the home where he’d grown up. He’d be a reminder of the old days when her biggest worries had been her grade point average and keeping Tanner from getting past first base.
That all seemed like an eternity ago, long before her perfect life had shattered into a million pieces.
Sitting on her stool beside her low wheel, she picked up where she’d left off spinning the wool into yarn, working automatically, drawing out the fleece to the desired thickness and tension.
A strong gust swept across the porch, carrying a cloud of dust and sand. The wail of the wind through the trees, like that of a crying child, added to the sense of desolation. If the downward spiral continued, in another six months Independence would be nothing more than a ghost town.
The yellow van driving slowly up the street gave her a reason to smile. Maybe that was Joshua at last.
Seconds later, the van slowed at the end of the street, turned, then came to a stop in front of her house.
Joshua climbed out . He was a handsome man, around six foot one with a broad chest and a leggy stride. Today, he was wearing a black windbreaker, a dark blue T-shirt and jeans.
Myka stood up, stepped off the porch and went down the flagstone walk to meet him, reminding herself to remain casual and not walk too fast.
He strode toward her, a ghost of a smile on his lips. “Myka, I’m glad to see you again. I didn’t get the chance to talk to you when we laid Dad to rest. You were there, then you were gone.”
His dark eyes shimmered with mystery and the scar that cut across his left eyebrow made him look even more masculine. “You had others waiting for you and I didn’t want to intrude.”
“You wouldn’t have been intruding,” he said. “So what brings you back to the old neighborhood? Did you move back in with your parents?” He glanced at the mailbox.
“For now, kind of,” she said. “After Dad retired, my parents took to the road in their RV and asked me to look after the place. I jumped at the chance. Betty, Tanner’s sister, is living at our old house in town.”
“So you came back to heal in a place that held only good memories,” he said with a nod. “Makes sense.”
“It felt strange first, with Mom and Dad gone, but your dad was a terrific neighbor. I really
“He never mentioned he wasn’t well. If he had, I would have come home sooner.” Joshua rubbed the back of his neck with one hand.
“He didn’t think it was serious. He only went in for some tests. He expected to be back home after a few days.His death was a shock to all of us.”
Joshua glanced at his dad’s house, then at her. “I’d heard about Tanner’s accident at the plant. Getting taken by surprise with news like that…I know how it feels,” he said and gave her an impromptu hug.
The second she felt his strong arms around her, Myka’s pulse began to race. That flicker of life took her by surprise. Unsettled by her reaction, she stepped back.
She stared at the ground for a moment, breathed deeply and looked back up at him. “At least Tanner was spared having to see what has happened to the community. Independence is in trouble.”
He acknowledged the real estate signs lining the street. “I’ve seen things like this on the news, but it’s different when it hits home.”
“IVA held the town together. Luxury—American Style.” Myka took another deep breath. “Now that IVA’s gone, the only way we’re going to survive is by reinventing ourselves.”
He smiled. “So you’re still an optimist?”
She shrugged. “What else can you do?”
“You’ll be staying here, then?”
“I’ll try to stick it out,” she said, “but right now Independence feels like a home with all the children gone. I keep hoping a new industry will move in. The plant is just sitting there, the buildings empty.”
“I passed by on the way in,” he said with a nod.
Her sheep began to gather along the north end of the pasture, which stopped at the front corner of the house. Here, the semi-rural neighborhood was still zoned for certain livestock. Joshua smiled and went over to the fence. They readily let him pet them. His touch was gentle and calmed the sheep even as they clustered around.
This was a side of Joshua few ever got to see, particularly back in the day.
“I feel as if I’ve stepped back in time,” he said. “You still have your Churro sheep.
More head than ever, too, if I remember correctly.”
“You bet. They’ve allowed me to fend off the bill collectors. I spin and dye the wool and then
sell the yarn on the internet through my store, Myka’s Wooly Dreams.”
“Now that’s the Myka I remember. You always had a knack for turning a bad situation around.”
“Life doesn’t give us much of a choice sometimes,” Myka said softly. “So what are your plans?”
“I don’t know,” he answered. “Not yet anyway. I need time to figure out my next move. I had to close my architectural firm. My partners and I couldn’t make it work. The downturn in housing hit our company hard. We hung on as long as we could, but in the end, we all knew what had to be done.”
“Yes, I’m sorry, I had heard about that. Every time Bertie visits her daughter Andrea in San Francisco she brings back the latest news.” She felt helpless and didn’t know what else to
say about his career, so she changed the topic. “I gather you and Andrea remained good friends.”
He nodded. “She and I would get together for lunch when we could and catch up. It was good to see a familiar face from time to time.”
“And now, here we are,” Myka said.
“Looks like I’ll be fixing up Dad’s house and putting it on the market.” He stared straight out at the for sale signs and didn’t so much as blink. “If you hear of anyone who might be interested, let me know.”
“It’s really a buyer’s market right now,” she warned, even though she knew she didn’t have to.
“I’ll do what I can to spruce up the place and see how it goes.”
Life’s hard knocks appeared to have toughened him and that only added to the raw masculinity that was so much a part of Joshua.
She tore her gaze from his and walked back to her porch. She climbed the three steps.
“That’s one of my nicest memories of home—you spinning yarn out on the porch,” he said, walking to the porch rail.
“This is when I’m happiest. But my days here are numbered unless something more lucrative comes along. I’m a good bookkeeper—one of the last people IVA let go. Despite that, I
haven’t been able to find anything in the area, not even over in Painted Canyon, and they’ve got that big mining operation just north of the city.”
“If I was still in business, I would have offered you a job,” he said.
“Running your own company was your dream even before college. It must have been tough walking away.”
Joshua looked out across the valley. “It was, and starting over is going to be even tougher. After you’ve had your own company and called the shots, it’s harder to work for someone else.”
She stood beside him with the porch rail between them. “We each got what we wanted, but we just couldn’t hold on to it.”
“Myka, I’m sorry life’s been so rough on you,” he said, brushing his knuckles across her cheek.
His unexpected touch startled her. As she saw herself reflected in his gaze, she stepped back. She didn’t want pity.
“If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask,” she blurted. “Sometimes just talking to someone can make things easier.”
“Thanks,” he said. “It was good seeing you here today, Myka, but I better get busy.”
“Before you leave, I need to tell you about Bear,” she said, and explained about his father’s
He shook his head. “This is the first time I’ve heard about Dad having a pet. I hope he’s okay, but I can’t keep a dog. I don’t know how long I’ll be staying, or even where I’ll be living six months from now.”
“Then if it’s okay with you, I’d like to keep him. Will you let me know if he comes back or if you see him? You can’t miss a dog that big. He’s really a sweetheart, so don’t let his appearance, or his bark, put you off.”
“It was Dad’s house. If he comes back and thinks I’m an intruder…”
“He won’t bite,” she said quickly. Then she added, “He might sit on you, though. He did that to Daniel Medeiros once. Just knocked him to the ground and kept him there until Adam came home. He’s not dangerous, but I should warn you, he does drool a lot.”
Joshua stared at her.
She laughed. “Don’t worry about it. A dog his size doesn’t sneak up on anyone. When he’s running, he sounds more like a pony than a dog, and you can hear him breathing ten feet away. If you see him, just call me—your Dad kept my number beside the phone in the living room. Oh, and Bear can be bribed. Carry some dog treats with you. Your dad has a jar of them in the kitchen.”
“So now I’m a dog trainer?”
“Guess so,” she said. “Welcome home, Joshua.”
“If you need any help sorting, carrying or moving stuff, let me know,” she said, pointing to the van. “I figure you’ll want to haul a lot of your father’s things away.”
“The van’s full of stuff from my apartment in San Francisco. As far as Dad’s things, Dan’s coming over later and we’ll handle it.”
They walked back to the van together, and after he got inside and started the engine, he glanced at her through the open window. “Remember that blue sweater you made for me right before I left for college?”
She smiled. “Yeah. It was my first attempt at making something wearable.”
“I’ve still got it, and it’s as warm as ever.” Without waiting for her to answer, he drove forward, then backed into the next driveway down.
She watched him as he propped open the front door of the house, then began to carry in boxes from the van. Although she could tell by the way he lifted them they were heavy, he walked with unwavering purpose.
Life might have knocked Joshua down, but something told her he’d soon be on his feet, stronger than ever.
An hour later, Myka walked to the three-sided loafing shed in the backyard where she kept the grain. All ten sheep came to the fence, used to the routine.
After scooping grain into the feeders, she noticed a white butterfly perched on the edge of the welded pipe fence. It adapted to the breeze and, against all odds, remained where it was.
She wasn’t sure how long she’d stood there, watching, when a woman’s voice called her name. Myka turned her head and saw Liza Jenner standing at the corral gate. She waved and walked over to greet her friend.
In her early fifties, Liza was one of the town’s most experienced weavers. “Do you have any more of that spice-colored yarn left, Myka? The Spinning Wheels are meeting at my place tonight and we’re out of it for our Blankets for Warriors service project.”
“Come on. I’ve got some skeins in a box inside,” Myka said, unlocking the gate and letting Liza into the yard. “Has your daughter heard anything yet from that company in Las Cruces?”
“Yeah...She didn’t get the job. Unofficially, she was told they don’t like to hire anyone who’s been out of work that long. Have you ever heard of anything so crazy?”
Myka shook her head. “When Robyn worked in IVA’s public relations department, everyone loved her. That’s why she got such glowing recommendations. I can’t believe the trouble she’s having landing a job.”
“She took this last rejection really hard, but our get-together tonight will cheer her up,” Liza
said. “You coming?”
“I’ll be there.” She looked back at the butterfly. If such a fragile creature could adapt to summer heat and strong winds, why couldn’t they be just as adaptable? “You know what this town’s problem is? We’re stuck in a holding pattern, clinging to our memories of what used to be—but that’s not good enough anymore.”
“You have something in mind?” Liza said as they walked toward the house.
“Yes. Tonight, instead of just talking about the projects we’re working on, let’s do something
different. Ask everyone to bring a friend or their spouse and we’ll brainstorm on how to breathe life back into Independence. We dream up new colors, patterns and designs all the time. Why don’t we put some of that creativity to work and see what we can come up with for our town?”
“I’ll get busy making calls.”
She’d ask Joshua to come, too. It would be good for him to get away from all the memories the house still held.
Liza left five minutes later and Myka finished taking care of the sheep.
Her mind was racing. Spur-of-the-moment ideas didn’t always pan out, but they had to try something. Endless waiting for the economy to turn around just wasn’t working. For the
town’s sake, they had to find a new direction, and more important, a reason to hope.
WRITERS AND WRITING
Lately, I’ve come to realize that there are many misconceptions people have about authors. People think we have all this free time, interrupted by a few hours at the keyboard. We sit down and poof! - there’s the next chapter for our book. Very few things in life are achieved in a straight line, and writing is no different.
It can be difficult or easy, but however you look at it, writing is work. The one thing I have noticed is that when I love the book, things tend to go more smoothly. That’s what happened with Homespun Christmas. That story incorporated my own personal beliefs that if you want to succeed, there’s only way to do it - don’t give up.
Homespun Christmas is about a community that must set aside its rivalries and come together if they’re to survive. It was inspired by the nearly constant assault of dissenting voices in our government. I’m sick and tired of the never-ending `us against them’ arguments. The enemy we’re fighting is us. We’re all connected and bound together whether we like it or not. Since I couldn’t go up to a congressman, kick him in the shins, and tell him to grow up, I wrote a book instead.
I hope you’ll get a chance to read Homespun Christmas. It’s a departure from what we normally do, but I was compelled to write this book, and put my heart in it. The book is about the power of We.
These days we can’t seem to avoid pictures of atrocities, the worst of man against man, rage focused on the helpless, like animals and children. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by these pictures, throw your hands up in the air, and figure that the world’s going to hell in a handbasket, and we might as well give up. But take another look. Evil screams louder, but good is stronger.
For every act of evil there’s good in the background - people ready to help. Think of the bombings in Boston. We had people with the intent to harm as many as possible - and those who ran towards danger to help. Think of the abused animals, dogs, cats, horses, then counter that with the rescue organizations formed to protect them. The list is endless.
Evil isn’t taking over the world. It just makes a frightful noise and tries to make you believe that nothing can stand up to it, but that’s a lie. Good is always present. Good doesn’t scream ‘look at me’ - it just does what has to be done. It’s the steady influence of those who stand in the background, who help when they don’t have to, who step up when needed.
Most of us can’t affect the global situation, but the little things that present themselves in our daily lives - that, we can and should do.
As many of you know, David and I rescued a dog who needed someone to step up on her behalf. She was in horrible condition, half starved and scared. Her pads weren’t bad so we assume that she hadn’t been on her own for really that long - that she was a classic case of abuse/neglect. We took her to the vet, and it turned out she was fine, except for the fact she hadn’t been fed in heaven knows how long.
I wanted to keep this dog. Badly. I liked her spirit. She forgave. She loved everyone she met. The problem is that I have asthma and that’s not something I’ve ever been able to conquer - and heaven knows I’ve tried. Basically, with all the modern medicines, the old adage - avoid the triggers - works best of all. I can have poodles. I know, because I’ve had them for years, but when I decided to branch out and rescued a pit, then a doberman cross, things didn’t go well for me. The dogs stayed here for life, but fighting for every breath takes a toll on your spirit. After a while it can defeat you, or at the very least wear you down.
So having learned from the past, we knew we couldn’t take her, but we wanted her to have a chance. We worked with our vet, called everyone we could think of, posted on Facebook, and eventually we found a rescue group who could take her.
I’m posting her photo here so that you can see her for yourself. I gave the name Bear because the vet needed a name for his files and I was staring at a teddy bear at the time. She’s in good shape considering everything she’s been through but, now, this little girl needs a home, a place where she can experience love, someone who’ll play with her and take care of her. She’s fought hard to stay alive - and won, despite the odds. She’s already seen the worst of human nature. So help me find a place for her where she’ll see the best.
We can all do something. If you can, donate to Carma for her upkeep. I’ve taken care of all her vet bills to date, but she’ll need to be housed, fed, etc. Most of us aren’t rich, but if you can afford a few dollars, donate to Carma - Here’s a hyperlink to their site,
If you prefer to send money directly, their address is:
P.O. Box 1233
Corrales, New Mexico 87048.
If you can’t do either of the above, then pray. Praying isn’t doing nothing. Prayer can move mountains. So pray that she finds her rightful place, a home where she’ll bless and be blessed.
Lastly, to all of you who helped and stepped up by sharing her photo on FB, a heartfelt thanks. Like Mother Teresa said, "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
Homespun Christmas is a book I've wanted to write for a long time. It's about coming together as a community, and staying strong even when the odds are against you. When a small northern NM town loses the one industry that kept them going, the crafters get together to breathe new life into their dying town.
Independence, New Mexico, a fictional town, is filled with old rivalries and divisions. Everyone is sure they’re right, but there’s no compromise on the horizon until the need they all face - the survival of their town - gives them no other option except to work as one.
At the heart of this book is my belief that we all possess the power to make our dreams come true, but it takes dedication and perseverance. You need to love your dream enough to take the blows and get back up, time and time again. Ask any author.
Last but not least, it’s about pride in the labels that say MADE IN THE USA. This is the greatest nation on earth, and Homespun Christmas honors the courage and the dedication that continues to make it so. It's about working class America, the unsung heroes who make a real difference, though you won't find them headlining the news.
Most important of all, it's about ordinary people who refuse to see limitations as insurmountable obstacles. It’s about having the courage it takes to pursue the American dream.