The Wild River Speaks
The stories of New Mexico's last free-flowing river

Natural Disasters
Is it the end of the natural world as we know it?

Hillsboro's Other 9/11s
Sept. 11 was a memorable date back in 1879 and 1885

The Great Pretenders
The Sonoran gopher snake evolved to mimic a rattler

2012 Writing Contest Winners

Adventure at the Silver Bell Mine
There's nothing worse than a ticked-off ghost

Notes on Being a Newcomer
Where life sometimes moves into the subjunctive mode

Adobe Tears
This year's best poem

Columns and Departments

Editor's Note
Desert Diary
Southwest Gardener
Henry Lightcap's Journal
The Starry Dome
Talking Horses
Ramblin' Outdoors
Guides to Go
Continental Divide

Special Sections

40 Days & 40 Nights
The To-Do List

Red or Green

Sunrise Kitchen
Dining Guide
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Arts Exposure

Arts Scene
Gallery Guide

Body, Mind
& Spirit

Control Issues
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About the cover


The Fabric of Life

Prayer-flag project puts hopes and memories in the wind.


Downtown artists and store owners are planning a new tradition in Silver City as a part of the annual Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) festivities this fall — the hanging of "prayer flags." Based on a history that goes back thousands of years, traditional prayer flags are made from small pieces of cloth, in many colors, bearing written messages and prayers on them. The flags are then strung together and placed outside in high places where the wind and elements slowly fade and disintegrate them. It is believed that as the flags are blown by the wind, their messages and prayers will spread good will, healing and compassion.

Example of “prayer flags.”

"This is a hands-on opportunity for community members to grieve and heal," says Ginny Wolf, one of the project's organizers, "and for all of us to grow in compassion and create a more peaceful world."

Gila Regional Medical Center, through its hospice program, and the Silver City MainStreet Project will partner with downtown businesses to launch the prayer-flag project. Flags will hang from storefronts from late October through Thanksgiving.

"Participating in the making of prayer flags can be a healing and powerful process," Wolf adds. "The flags can express general messages and hopes for the entire world or for one's local community. They can also be prayers for an individual or for a very personal, specific situation or need. They can honor a deceased loved one or request healing for a family member."

Flag-making workshops will be held on Saturday, Sept. 15, and Oct. 6 at A Bead or Two, 703 N. Bullard, anytime from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Example flags and free materials, while supplies last, are at The Raven's Nest on Yankie Street. Completed flags are due by Oct. 12 and may be dropped off at A Bead or Two, Raven's Nest, Seedboat Gallery or the GRMC Hospice Office on Hwy. 180 East (formerly Ridgewood Motors).

"There are no hard and fast rules about creating a prayer flag," Wolf explains. "You really can't do it ‘wrong.' What is required is love in your heart and the desire to support, honor and strengthen a loved one or create a better world."

The fabric you choose, she says, should be thin, lightweight and cotton or a cotton/poly blend. It can be any color, although dark colors won't show any writing or pictures you create. Patterned fabric is also okay as long as the pattern doesn't interfere with the message. You can use fabric paint, sewn or glued appliqué, magic markers or just about any medium. Keep in mind that your flag will be strung with many others and hung out in the elements; make sure your flag doesn't get too heavy with added materials. You can sign or initial your flag if you choose. Don't put anything of great value to you on the flag, as individual flags will not be returned to their makers.

The size of the cut fabric should be 11.5 inches by 9.5 inches. One of the 9.5-inch edges will be hemmed a quarter-inch and this will be the top of your flag, attached for hanging. All other edges should remain "raw" or unsewn.

For more information, email GCPrayerFlags@yahoo.com or call the hospice office at (575) 574-4934.

Trail Blazing

A chance to contribute to local trail planning.


The Grant County Trails Group (GCTG), which supports interconnected trails throughout Grant County and within Silver City, wants to hear from you. The group is distributing a trail use survey for the San Vicente Trail located near the downtown area in Silver City. GCTG needs your input as a trail user or interested participant, to collect information that will contribute towards improving the trail. You can complete the survey online at www.research.net/s/sanvicentetrail, or pick up a hard copy at the Gila Resources Information Project office at 304 N. Cooper St. in Silver City. Responses to the survey will be collected through November.

GCTG works closely with the town of Silver City's Community Development Department and Silver City MainStreet, among others. Interested in joining? The next meeting is Thursday, Sept. 6, from 12-1 p.m. at the Grant County Community Health Council.

The group has recently been focused on developing a "Master Plan" for a complete trail system that will join Pinos Altos, Silva and San Vicente Creeks. Community members will be invited to participate in the Master Plan's community workshop at the September meeting.

For more information, contact Claire Catlett at Gila Resources Information Project by phone at (575) 538-8078, or by email at claire@gilaresources.info.



Great Scot

Pat Burtan-Edie is the "dog lady" of the border

by Jim Gillespie



My last four dogs came from the pound so I have a tender spot for folks who care for unwanted, injured and abused pets. About six months ago, I was chatting up a border buddy when Gorda, a pit bull, begged in. She had a recently sewn-up 10-inch gash on her side. My buddy said the "dog lady" had taken her to the vet and returned her to the owner. I fed her my burritos and began looking for a big-hearted gringa.

Eventually, Pat Burtan-Edie — the "dog lady" — shared her story over margaritas. Pat is a Scottish-American who migrated to New York at age 21. She took care of AIDS patients and homeless folks for 22 years. She then moved to Columbus 13 years ago, becoming a first responder on the Volunteer Fire Department ambulance. Now she works more on pet rescue.

That really got going when Pat heard stories about a tick-infested a catahoula leopard/pitt mix on the border between Palomas and Columbus. She made three trips searching for that dog. Finding the dog at last, Pat sat down close and called sweetly with an Edinburgh accent. The dog, which she later named Pinta, wagged into her arms. After being petted, Pinta hopped into the car. Pat took her to Sunshine Grooming. There, the groomer removed over 300 ticks and bathed the dog with kindness for free. Pinta ended in a good home thanks to Pat, who is now the pet rescue lady of the border.

"Pinta wasn't the first but she is one of the most memorable," Pat recalls. "She would not have lived much longer in the condition I found her. She is special and it was hard for me to give her up. She is a gentle dog and she was adopted by a man who loves her as much as she loves him. They go everywhere together."

Deming Animal Rescue often gives Pat coupons to pay the vet for spaying and neutering. Pat pays for other operations and medical care out of her own pocket. She is not rich except in spirit: "Do to the least of these my brethren…."

Pat takes in dogs, cats, pups and kittens, housing them in her three-quarter-acre lot with three makeshift pens and in her own home. Some of these pets have been abused like the young pit bull that was in early-stage fighting dog training. So Pat rehabilitates their behavior from aggression to fear. She nurses them back to health physically and emotionally. Sometimes this takes months.

These free pets need families. Pat needs money for dog food and medical care. If you can build some holding pens, she adds, that would be a great help. (See the ad in this issue for two recent protégés now looking for homes.) You can also call and put your name on the list for future adoptions. Contact Pat at (575) 649-7644 to learn more about how you can help — the "dog lady" of the border can't do it alone.

Fiction Foray

Author Jesse Wolf Hardin's novel idea.


Frequent Desert Exposure contributor Jesse Wolf Hardin has published his first work of fiction. The Medicine Bear is "a historically accurate novel set in southeastern Arizona and southwest New Mexico in the closing days of the Old West." It follows "the mixed-blooded woman herbalist Omen, the impassioned writer and adventurer Eland and archetypal Medicine Bear through a time of great cultural as well as personal transition, down plant-filled paths of discovery and healing and to the juncture of our own return to wholeness and health, rooted home and true love, meaningful mission and ultimately satisfaction and contentment." The story spans from Eland's birth in 1892 to the closing scene in 1964, with its central event being Pancho Villa's 1916 raid on Columbus.

To order ($18 plus shipping), visit www.TheMedicineBear.com.

Trail Dust

New Mexico notes from all over.


Could former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson elbow his way into this fall's presidential debates? Running as a Libertarian, Johnson meets the presidential eligibility and ballot-status criteria of the Commission on Presidential Debates, but most polls show him shy of the third benchmark — at least 15% in national polls. Johnson boosters are citing a poll commissioned by the Libertarian Action Super PAC that put him at 24%. That poll, however, pitted Johnson only against President Obama — Mitt Romney was not among the choices offered.

Libertarians also point to an electoral map generated by data from ISideWith.com, an online app that links voters with candidates based on their platform stances. Based solely on the issues, Johnson came out on top of both Obama and Romney.

Most national polls, however, still put Johnson well below the 15% cutoff, typically no higher than 6%. Frustrating Libertarians is the fact that CNN refuses to include Johnson in its national poll, leading to a campaign to boycott the cable network.

The trade journal American Banker compared Rep. Steve Pearce's late-July grilling of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to Cirroc, the "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer" from an old "Saturday Night Live" skit. In a story headlined "Banking Panel Member Has Unfrozen Caveman Moment," the publication reported how Pearce downplayed his own intelligence and understanding of the issues.

"I don't know fancy policy," Pearce said at the House Financial Services Committee hearing. "I'm just a congressman from New Mexico. We don't have big banking institutions. I'm not going to sit here and dazzle you with some question that's going to reorient your thinking about the country. But I have an obligation to those people who elected me to represent them."

American Banker commented: "The moment was strangely reminiscent of an old ‘Saturday Night Live' sketch, in which the late Phil Hartman played Cirroc, the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. In the series of sketches centered around a Neanderthal frozen in ice who was later thawed out and sent to law school, Cirroc would often sway juries by pretending not to understand modern society before declaring that the one thing he ‘did know' was that his client was innocent or entitled to money. He later ran for the Senate."

"I don't really understand your Congress, or your system of checks and balances…. I'm just a caveman," Cirroc said in one sketch. "But there is one thing I do know — we must do everything in our power to lower the capital gains tax."

Salvatore Babones, a commentator for the Truthout website, apparently is no great fan of our Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic's planned $200,000 space rides. "Call me old-fashioned, but I personally find it morally offensive that some people can afford to spend $200,000 on a three-minute experience when others can't afford food," he recently wrote.

Babones went on to criticize the launches' environmental effects: "It's true that the solid fuel rockets used by Virgin Galactic produce relatively little carbon dioxide. Instead of carbon dioxide, they produce black soot. In the lower atmosphere, soot is washed to the ground when it rains. In the stratosphere, it accumulates." The stratospheric soot associated with space tourism would have a global warming effect 140,000 times that of the associated carbon dioxide emissions, he noted, citing a simulation study published in Geophysical Review Letters.

A space tourism industry of 1,000 flights per year "could increase polar surface temperatures by one degree Celsius and reduce polar sea ice by 5%-15%," according to a summary of the study published in Nature.

The Valley Meat Co. near Roswell has abandoned its plans to begin slaughtering horses, covered in our last issue ("Led to Slaughter"), after four months of trying to get approval from the US Department of Agriculture. A USDA spokesman said the agency needed more time to prepare for such inspections, which it hasn't done in six years. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez recently said she would send a letter to the USDA asking it to deny the application. The family-owned meat company, which had retrofitted its 7,000-square-foot plant for horse slaughtering, will go back to butchering cattle instead.



Who and what's been making news from New Mexico this past month, as measured by mentions in Google News (news.google.com). Trends noted are vs. last month's total hits; * indicates new to the list. Number in parenthesis indicates last month's Top 10 rank. The Susana Martinez for vice president watch is over (596 hits) — let the Martinez for president in 2016 watch begin (95 hits)!

  1. (2) New Mexico wildfires — 12,300 hits (▲)
  2. (3) New Mexico drought — 9,310 hits (▲)
  3. (6) Ex-Gov. Gary Johnson + president — 7,550 hits (▲)
  4. (1) New Mexico Senate race — 7,090 hits (▼)
  5. (5) New Mexico spaceport — 5,700 hits (▲)
  6. (7) New Mexico wolves — 4,380 hits (▲)
  7. (9) Gov. Susana Martinez — 2,910 hits (▲)
  8. (8) Ex-Gov. Bill Richardson — 2,080 hits (▼)
  9. (4) Virgin Galactic — 1,330 hits (▲)
  10. (-) Martin Heinrich — 1,050 hits (▲



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