August 8, 2003
Dear Subscriber:

If you're a man and have ever been married, you'll understand
what I'm about to say.

When in a group of people, be careful what you divulge in
the confabulatory give and take.

In the past 20 years Peggy and I have been married, I have been
pinched under the table innumerable times for saying what I
thought was a perfectly legitimate contribution to the
conversation, but in Peggy's mind it was not for publication.

Normally my conversational transgressions are not brought to my
attention until the next day.

"I can't BELEIVE what you said last night."

It's never anything serious (in my mind). I've never told a
close friend's wife she's good looking for an old lady or
something brain-dead like that. All my life I've been
battling oratory diarrhea but I do my best to control it.

Having said that, our daughter Amy brought her fiancé to
Cloudcroft for us to meet this weekend.

"Pleeze, Don. Try and be nice," Peg said. She was obviously
worried about a recurrent oral pottie call on my part.

OK, but here's my side.

Amy's not a baby. She's had many boyfriends, but has never
seriously considered any of them marriage material. She is
educated in the medical profession and pretty self sufficient.
She told me not long ago that she may never get married...that
she was too set in her ways. Men are nice, she said, but they
tend to track in dirt, re-arrange the pillows on the couch and
make disgusting bodily noises.

After Amy's 30th birthday I was comfortable with the fact that
she was perfectly happy as a single. She has friends out the
Kazoo. She is one of MY best friends. I was good with the idea
that Amy would be a member of my immediate family from now on
without the complication of a husband and (dare I say it?) kids.

Then came Jimmy.

Jimmy did not come lately. Jimmy and Amy have known each other
for almost ten years. See if I can get this right. Jimmy is
one of Amy's best friend's husband's brother.

Every man that has ever had a daughter knows the exact moment in
their life when they've been replaced (just like remembering
where they were when Kennedy was shot).

It was up to Peggy to break the news to me.

"Amy's getting married," Peggy said after she had had a long
phone conversation with Amy.

I was watching TV. My heart both sank and was uplifted (two
different hearts...same body).

Thoughts. Lots of thoughts. Amy as a little girl. Amy testing
my patience as a teenager. Amy's wonderful smile (exactly like
Peggy's). Amy's constant presence at my bedside when I was in
the hospital for a month.

Suddenly the TV report of Saddam's possible location didn't
seem particularly important.

"You've met Jimmy before, but you may not remember," Peg said
somewhere at the periphery of my conscience.

The image of a greasy-haired guy with teeth missing driving a
pickup with no hood and a dog in back that drools and a front
bumper hanging on by one bolt wearing half a Metallica tee
shirt and a protruding belly squashing an empty beer can on his
forehead entered my mind and I couldn't shake it.

"Hi...my name's Jimmy."

"Welcome, Jimmy," I said. "How ya doin?"

Jimmy stepped out of the car and said "I'm very, very nervous."

Honesty. I like that.

Over the weekend Peggy and I talked to this stranger about his
reasons for wanting to marry our daughter.

It took me back to when I first met Peggy's folks. Not a more
gracious two people could you ever meet. Their attitude was
Peggy was a grown-up and if she chose me, then so should it be.
I was determined to take a page from their book.

Jimmy is a plumber. At least he's not a politician. He's never
been married before. Looking for the right person, he said.

Jimmy was a deer in the headlights for the whole weekend.
Careful not to say the wrong things, while doing his best to
fill us in on who he was and what he was all about. What a
precarious spot he was in.

Amy seemed to be enjoying it...watching her future husband go
through the third degree. Not once did she try and defend his
transgressions. There was none of "but he hopes to do this"
or "he wants to be that". She was happy with the man she was

Are daughters so wrapped up in the moment in situations like
that to realize what her parents are going through? I suppose.

Jimmy knows what a corporation valve is. I'll bet President
Bush doesn't know what a corporation valve is.

Go with God, Jimmy and Amy. I realize love is the band-aide
that will cure lots of problems that crop up in a daily
life together. All I can do is hope life's path will be absent
of stones that can knock the heck out of the alignment.

Besides...these two people will eventually choose the nursing
home I live in.

Don Vanlandingham

Some rain but the area could use more. Forest restrictions have
been lifted.

Highs in the high-70s. Lows in the high-40s.
Shirley Sonnamaker was hired by the Cloudcroft School Board as
the Cloudcroft High School Principal. She comes to Cloudcroft
from the Hobbs School System. Her duties in Cloudcroft began
at the end of July.
A lovely cabin nestled near the top of a mountain 8 miles from
the village of Cloudcroft, near the golf course and stables.
The cabin sleeps 6 and is very nicely furnished. A 4-wheel
drive vehicle is necessary in the winter months. For more
information, call Jack or Sarah Keith at (505) 885-9092, email
skscarlett@yahoo.com, or see the link to our web site on the
Lodging page of Cloudcroft.com:


A good site for those serious about New Mexico history. Located
in Santa Fe.


Q - We are making plans for spending Christmas in Cloudcroft.
Can you recommend a nice rental cabin?

A - Believe it or not, you're almost too late.

Cloudcroft is a small village (something most of the visitors
love about the place). The downside is, there is a limited
number of accommodations and the lodging tends to fill for
holidays and long weekends months in advance.

Go to http://www.cloudcroft.com/ and click on the LODGING 
button. Do it NOW if you're hoping to celebrate Christmas in
August 7-10 -- Gathering of Circles. www.gatheringofcircles.com.

August 9 -- Otero County Fair parade. Alamogordo.

August 13 -- Al Stine, a internationally known watercolor artist
from South Carolina, will be giving a watercolor demonstration
in the Old Red Brick School House, at 6:30 pm. He is one of the
artists who is giving workshops for the Cloudcroft Art Workshops
this summer. The public is welcome to come to the demonstration
by this outstanding artist.

August 13-16 -- Otero County Fair.

August 15 -- Cloudcroft Methodist Preschool registration,
9am-12pm. Ages 4 months-8 years. For more information, contact
Linda Linn (505) 682-2266 or (505) 682-2264.

August 16 -- Model rocket launch. Veteran's Memorial Park.

August 23 -- Larry Fox Memorial Fun Run. Alamogordo.

August 23 -- Tailgate Concert. Bayou Seco. Space Museum
parking lot.

August 30 -- James Canyon Volunteer Fire Department's annual
Auction/Dinner/Dance. Community Barn at Cloud Country Estates.

August 30 -- Alamogordo Amateur Radio Club Hamfest.

August 30, Sept. 1 -- 13th annual Cottonwood Arts and Crafts
Festival. Alameda Park. Alamogordo.

August 30, 31, Sept. 1 -- Cloudcroft Labor Day Fiesta.

September 20 -- Lumber Jack Day. Zenith Park, Cloudcroft.

September 19-21 -- Healing Hearts.

September 21 -- Governor Johnson's Run/Walk. Cloudcroft.

September 27 -- Mountain Garden Club Style show.

October 4, 5 -- Oktoberfest Juried Art Show. Zenith Park.

October 18, 19 -- High Rolls Apple Festival.

November 29th -- Santa Land opens.

December 13 -- Pet Parade

Cloudcroft Art Society meets the second Sunday of each month,
2-4pm, in the Old Red Brick School House. Call (505) 682-3004
for more information and details on the Cloudcroft Summer Art

Would you like to help deliver meals to the homebound around
Cloudcroft? Monday through Friday deliveries. Call the
Cloudcroft Senior Center at (505)-682-3022. For information on
other Senior Center services, see their web site, listed on the
Cloudcroft.com Links page.


Mountain Garden Club meets every third Monday of each month.
Call (505) 682-2910 for more information.

Senior Van from Timberon to Alamogordo leaves the Timberon
Lodge promptly at 8:30 every Tuesday morning.

Free Vitals Clinic. Cloudcroft Senior Citizens Center, every
Wednesday. High Rolls Senior Citizens Center, first Thursday
of each month.

For an online calendar of area events, click the Events Calendar
link in the left column of our home page:


Dear Newsletter:

The flight of the Hummingbird was spectacular! I just wish it
was in color!

Thanks for including it in your newsletter.

Hollie Jacobs

[For those who missed Kit Richards' movie clip of a Ruffus
hummingbird chasing a Ruby Throat away from a feeder, here it
is again. This clip is 526,000 bytes in size.]


Dear Newsletter:

My family and I visited Cloudcroft between X'mas and New Years
last year for the first time.

WE ARE HOOKED! This will definitely be an annual event. I wanted
to tell you that I love this newsletter. It's like moving away
from home but keeping up on current events.

The seasonscape is wonderful. And, from a hummingbird lover in
Texas I love the hummingbird video clip.

Thanks for all the hard work you put into this column.

The Wright Family
Geronimo, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

I rarely write correspondence like this, but felt I MUST write
and let you know how very much I enjoy your sense of humor...
every single time I read this newsletter, you bring a smile to
my face!

I and my family visited Cloudcroft last Thanksgiving...it was
my first time. We all enjoyed it so much and can't wait to
return. We have decided to make this an annual event, and
thankfully, Thanksgiving is not too far off!

We currently live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, about an hour
east of New Orleans. Until I visited Cloudcroft, thought I
would spend the rest of my life here. Now I'm really in a
quandary, since I've fallen in love with your part of the
country! What am I to do? Have really considered relocating to
Cloudcroft, but did not see a body of water nearby... is there 
one and I just missed seeing it? Shoot, if there is, you might
just have a new neighbor soon!

As always, looking forward to your next newsletter!

Cathy Burger
Long Beach, Mississippi

[The closest lake of any size to Cloudcroft is near Truth or
Consequences, NM, about 3-1/2 hours away. We do have a few
streams in the immediate area. - Don]

Dear Newsletter:

Morning Don. I see that my daughter has written you again about
camping around Cloudcroft. I started to remember how old she
was when she camped out the first time. She was about four
years old at that time and having two older sisters. We camped
in Potato Canyon. I don't think you can camp there anymore.

Now, to shorten this story: We all (3 Daughters, 10 
grandchildren, 2 son-in-laws, my wife and I, and 3 dogs) love
the area between Weed & Cloudcroft. I reckon if Lubbock was a
little closer to the mountains, we wouldn't appreciate them as
much. Have a good day. It's hot here.

Just west of Lubbock

Dear Newsletter:

In response to your recent comments about Reader’s Digest: I
agree with you.

I started noticing the sinking of the ship even before they
moved the table of contents from the cover to the inside and
eliminated the art pictures from the back.

Someone told be that they did so because their readership and
subscriptions were way down so they needed to attract more of
the masses.

Unfortunately, we see the result. I have kept former issues
from the last 15 years and you can clearly see the difference
between then and now. What a shame because it once had
articles I could share with my students for a model for great
writing. It once had creative and thought provoking articles.
Now I am ashamed to take it in the classroom and have
canceled my subscription. Oh, well. Another one bites the dust.


Dear Newsletter:

As I hurriedly read the Letters to the Editor - last week's
edition - I came upon the following statement which I have
excerpted from Mr. Day's letter in which he queries:
Why has 9-11 become ancient history for almost everyone
Having just returned from Washington, DC, this past weekend, a
trip designed for the benefit of my youngest Grandson, I must
admonish that the events of 9-11 will never be forgotten by
most of us.

One sees the results of this at all airports; when touring the
area of the Capitol and White House, even the Smithsonian.
Imagine having to allow inspection of your personal items when
entering the Smithsonian, and not being allowed to enter if
carrying a nail clipper or pocket knife (absurd), nor to walk
near the White House or Capitol as one could do prior to 9-11.
I see the loss of freedom to be a daily reminder of 9-11, and
realize that the freedoms that have been enjoyed since the
Declaration of Independence will never be regained. Sadly, my
Grandchildren, nor their children, will never know the
liberties that my generation, and all previous ones, have
enjoyed, but will suffer deprivation of such once enjoyed
freedoms because others envy our way of life, and desire to
destroy it. 
All too often, I'm reminded that terrorism is a very real
threat, today, and upon such reminders, and contemplation of
terrorists, find myself showing a disgusting preference to
rattlesnakes. Notably, I didn't experience sadness upon
learning that Saddam's two sons had become history, and would
never again torment or mutilate human beings.
The events of 9-11, and loss of freedoms resulting there from,
will never be forgotten by this writer, and would suggest to
Mr. Day that he consider the mentality of those who make
obscene gestures, regarding any matter; and further consider
that one of the freedoms we have left - the freedom of
expression - allows such degenerates the privilege of
correspondingly vulgar expressions, without fear of being shot
on sight, or placed feet first in a tree/limb shredder.
Al Denard
Abilene, TX

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Copyright © 2003 Cloudcroft Online
The Travel and Visitor's Guide to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
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