My dad’s experience with a UFO. At first, I couldn’t believe it. This story first appeared in the Farmington Daily Times (Fall 2005 or Spring 2006) for the Aztec UFO Festival. Reprinted with permission.
The old man, whose name I was struggling to recall, leaned forward on the counter while tucking a booted foot beneath the vinyl padded chrome stool. White smoke curled from a cigarette held loosely between gnarled, smoke-stained fingers of a trembling blue-veined hand. I took my time sipping coffee while I racked my brain. Continue reading
A few years ago (more like seven or eight to be exact), my nephew Patrick Candelaria sent me a letter that kept me standing still in the parking lot while I read it on my email reader. Truly, I was riveted, and his words stayed with me for days. Hello Family is a classic that is part of my treasure box and it will surely go down in a memoir as one of the best pieces of writing I have ever read.
I figured I would take a break from my studies and reply to my Aunt Pat’s last newsletter. I can’t begin to tell her how much her words bring me home. The story’s about Grandpa and Grandma always seem to bring me from this what at times is the rat race of life back to a place of comfort. Like a “warm abrazo” as she often so lovingly puts it. Continue reading
I can’t remember when my mother began filling a desk drawer with my ancestors’ handwritten receipts and letters, her own scribbled notes and old pictures, and other odds and ends to jog her memory, but I do remember that she considered the contents of that drawer our national treasure.
Roots 1818-1982. Struggles of our Ancestors & Trujillo’s First Settlers from Conejos to Archuleta County in Colorado, she titled the book when she finally assembled the contents onto the adhesive pages of a photo album. All this happened back in the day before anyone knew that this particular type of photo album is the worst thing ever invented when it comes to storing pictures. Thankfully, my sister Annette had the sense to scan the book to preserve the contents in their original form.
My mother wrote a very interesting story and we continue to refer to it whenever anyone needs to know when, why or how my family ended up fifteen miles south of Pagosa Springs, Colorado in a little hamlet called Trujillo, or how we’re related to the Martinez and Gomez families of Gobernador, New Mexico. And even if we don’t want to know anything and are simply reading it for pleasure, wherever we are, we can still hear her voice and see the twinkle in her eye when she makes us laugh. We treasure the memory.
The day will come when your children will want to read about their national treasure, too, in a way that only you can tell the story. Start collecting your artifacts and start writing today.
For many years, I jumped out of bed at four in the morning in order to have time to write. I could never write after work or at night. By the time I made dinner, cleaned the kitchen and washed a couple of loads of laundry, I was too tired to even contemplate doing one more thing.
But the early morning time was different. Refreshed, I filled many pages in my journals and in my documents folder on my desktop computer. Some pages were filled with bittersweet memories of my youth and others were filled with sections of a book that never really made it past the 15th chapter. Some pages were filled with human-interest stories for newspaper columns and others were filled with the trials and tribulations of daily life. And some pages were simply filled with doodles, thoughts and ideas. But I smiled and laughed and cried through it all and watched others do the same thing, too. I wrote, and shared, a lot. People liked my writing because they could relate.
But then my writing got sidelined by never-ending work, family matters, new grandchildren, and–Oh Lord, of all things–that damned-addicting, online bulletin board Pinterest. So, before I knew it, the flow of words that once coursed through my brain uninhibited by praise or criticism slowed down to a trickle. And, since I’m not a journalist or author by trade, and there wasn’t a deadline to make my fingers reach for a pen or keyboard to open the spigot again, almost a decade passed by unrecorded.
It’s funny in a not ha-ha type of way that now it takes a deadline to motivate me, but that’s what it took to get me up at four in the morning for the last five days. I simply asked a friend to read my first draft and said I would have it finished by the end of day. It also helped that I read a quote last week that made me pause in thought, “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts,” says Anne Lamott, “You need to start somewhere.” Start somewhere, indeed.
This is my first attempt to add a picture to a post. I suppose I could watch a You Tube video to learn how to do this correctly, but I enjoy fiddling with buttons to see what they do. This is the nature of scientific discovery. Hypothesize, experiment, and notate progress. I read on the Los Alamos website that Enrico Fermi noted, “Regarding the nature of scientific discovery, there are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery.”
The other day, I started organizing my arts and crafts room and I came across a box that held my mother’s notes. She was a columnist for The Pagosa Sun, but she stopped writing many, many years before she died. After her funeral, I came home with a box full of her handwritten notes and a promise to my brothers and sisters that I’d organize the notes and make copies.
So, here we are, almost a year later, and I hadn’t opened the box, not even once. Just seeing her handwriting brought me to tears
This is the way life goes, and it passes so fast. Before you know it, all you really, truly, and authentically leave behind is a handwritten note.