Other Pioneers
Early African-Americans in New Mexico

A Peloncillos Encounter
One more story from "Hiking Apacheria"

Touching the Past
Back in the late Forties, a trip to Palomas meant "restocking"

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Hints from Henry

Make life in southwest New Mexico easier with these tips!
(Please don't sue us when you do.)


Way back when in the Triassic era, when people still read daily newspapers, there used to be column called "Hints from Heloise." Every week, Heloise would bequeath some secret knowledge translated from etchings found on Aztec temples or something that would make life oh-so-better, like putting a dab of eucalyptus oil on a cool light bulb to fill a room with the pleasing scent of scorched eucalyptus as it warms up.

Today, we call these "life hacks" and I have seen them circulating on the Internet. (Did you know that you can start a fire using Doritos as kindling? True.) Rarely effective but always amusing, I thought it high time somebody generated a list of life hacks oriented to our unique New Mexico geography. Call them "Lightcap Legerdemains."

Living the life of a bona-fide desert rat doesn't come with a set of instructions, and even if it did most of your neighbors would use the pages to roll things up and smoke them, so we've had to figure out most of these helpful hints on our own. For example, if you want to save a pile of money on car insurance, the secret is not to pay for it. Despite legislative suggestions otherwise, auto insurance is still an optional item for many New Mexicans, so join their ranks and roll in the savings. Another hint: Save time behind the wheel by resisting the urge to fiddle with the turn-signal lever. It wastes your time and only confuses the locals. Keep a rag in your glove compartment for a handy gas cap, replacement turn-signal lens, or windshield de-fogger.

The friendly desert sun likes to impart a charming baked patina to your car, turning your headlights a nice shade of milky-yellow. Skip the online wisdom of cleaning them with toothpaste — that's for flatlanders. Instead, grab some 1,000-grit wet sanding paper, lubricate with water and swirl away. Soon, the plastic will be thinner and less yellow. Best of all, you have to do only the one headlight that's still working.


Lightcap Legerdemains make life easier in the kitchen, too. Everybody likes a warm tortilla, but if you're putting them in the reactor to warm them, you're settling for gummy, steamed Mexican pancakes. Instead, toss the tortilla right on the burner of the stove and flip it a few times. Warm, dry and delicious, like a proper tortilla should be! (Bonus: singe the hair off your knuckles and save time at the barbershop!)

To remove red-chile stains from your favorite T-shirt, carefully remove the garment, loosely roll it into a ball and throw it the hell away. You'll save money on detergent! And if your green chile is too hot, simply add more cheese. And then, add even more cheese. This has no downside whatsoever.

No matter what your nose may tell you, dogs need to be bathed every six months. But dogs hate bathing in direct proportion to how much they like hanging out with you, so all you need to do is call Fido into the shower with you. He likes the company, and you can learn to sing together. Speaking of showering, you can keep soap out of your beer by snapping a baby-bottle nipple onto the neck of the bottle. And as wasteful as it might seem to have your own bar of soap, don't use your wife's bar; you'll smell like a lilac bush threw up on you, and she won't appreciate any hairs you leave on the soap.


After a day of kicking field muffins and clomping all over hell, my boots can smell like the south end of a north-bound heifer with an intestinal infection. Make sure your wife isn't watching and pop your smelly footwear into the freezer overnight. It'll kill the bacteria and get rid of the funk. Plus, you can tell everybody how cool your boots are. Speaking of the freezer, when the inside of yours starts to look like a wampa's cave on Hoth, defrosting is a lot more fun with a weed burner.

Housework is a drag, and until my freshly showered dog can pick up a mop, that's not going to change. But do yourself a favor — skip dusting from late February to early May, because it won't make a difference during our windy season. Also, instead of spending hundreds of dollars on specific cleaners for your toilet, windows, oven, floors, etc., just buy the 10-gallon bucket of Fabuloso at the local market. Fifty thousand abuelitas can't be wrong on this one.

Some cynics confuse finding ways to make life more efficient with laziness, which isn't the case. Our part of the world is sorta famous for a somewhat less stressful, hectic culture, and with Lightcap Legerdemains, you will find more time and have more money for the important things. After all, Heloise never reaped the benefit of her hints by quaffing a cold Tecate over a plate of enchiladas with her free time. How can you trust anything she says?  


Henry Lightcap avoids housework in Las Cruces.



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