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NMSU's Rebecca Palacios works to improve border communities

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Rick Beno snaps candid portraits of the universe

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Silver City musician Greg Renfro just keeps rollin' along

Desert Home Companion:

Check Engine Light
It's two hours to Las Cruces, but a world away

Let Them Eat Cake
Be careful what you bake, especially for a birthday

One Dark and Stormy Night
Sometimes blazing a trail requires getting your feet -- and more -- wet

Outdoor Miracles
Lessons learned between heaven and the junipers

Gift of the Magma
The Organ Mountains are home to a diverse ecosystem.

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About the cover

Desert Home Companion

Let Them Eat Cake

Be careful what you bake, especially for a birthday.

by Alexis Rivera



I live in a house. Not just any house, though. One person, whose name I will never tell, calls it the "crack house," because his mother used to buy dope there when he was little. To the little kids down the street it's the house they want to live in because they live in a trailer, and the roof leaks on their beds when it rains. To my brother's friend it's his safe place to run to when his dad is drunk and starts yelling. To my brothers this house is the first they called home.

My house isn't much, with forest-green trim and a white body. The porch is a death trap. Red tile when wet can break any bone in your body. Trust me, I know. Once, my mother was chasing my dog, who'd taken a shoe; she ran onto the porch, the death slate. She flew down our 12 steps and broke her toe. On our way to the hospital, I told her, "You should have just let him have the shoe." My mother, with her broken toe and scraped-up knees, laughed and said, "I never liked those shoes, anyways."

My house has windows that face the east, to welcome the sun. In the summer kids run through the house, screaming and laughing. In the winter things quiet down; snowflakes pelt the windows. I breathe on one of the windows, and manage to draw a smiley face in the condensation. I read by the fire, while my brothers watch Sponge Bob. I don't know why, but a book and a fire sound more exciting than a sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea.

My house has different names; it is a different place to each person who walks through our wooden door. To me, my house is my home. It is where I rest my head. I know if these walls could talk, I would never be able to live down the humiliation.

I have chosen to share one very embarrassing story with you. I like to call this the I-almost-got-away-with-it cake.


My mother's birthday was tomorrow. I know because I checked the calendar. I made her a cake, with chocolate chips in it. I slaved over this cake all day, bear that in mind. The next morning, I brought our, um, cake and we sang to her. She had the "privilege" of tasting the first bite. I could say I was surprised when she spat it out on the floor; however, my cooking isn't known to be the best. Noting her face, which was twisted like a gnarled piece of wood, I pondered what her problem was.

"Lula," she said, using my old nickname from when I was a wee baby, "what did you put in this?"

Well, I thought about what I put in — a little of this, a bit of that. "Chocolate chips," I said, confident that she was just being rude. I went to the fridge and pulled out the plastic Ziploc baggie, and then I tossed it to my mother, who was still making that face, like she couldn't be more dramatic.

"Lula," she said, "these are the crickets for your brother's science-fair project."

Now, I know what you're thinking, "Ewww." However, crickets are amazing protein. We ended up giving the cake to my uncle whom no one likes, and he ate it all. I know, not very noble, but so funny.

I live in a house, on the corner of Kirk and Matters, and no matter what anyone thinks of my house, it's my home and I'm happy. In the end, that's all that matters.



Alexis Rivera is a freshman at Aldo Leopold High School in Silver City.



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