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Archive for January, 2012

I am happy to announce that my novel, RETURN TO ABO, will soon be released in paperback and e-book by University of New Mexico Press. This story of three generations of women living and struggling together on a ranch in dry, dusty central New Mexico was a finalist for the WILLA Award for Contemporary Western Women’s Fiction from Women Writing the West.

Abo Ruins, outside Mountainair, New Mexico

Set in the geographic and emotional heart of New Mexico, RETURN TO ABO tells the tale of Maggie, who is drawn back to the tiny home town she fled twenty years earlier to confront her crusty homesteader mother, the boyfriend who broke her heart, the harsh land she loves, and her tangled relationship with her rebellious teenage daughter. In these pages, the personal histories of the characters are entwined with the authentic history of the people of New Mexico. As Maggie discovers the secrets of her past, she grows beyond the beliefs that have driven her away, to build a future for her family and for the land that is her home.

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Finding My Voice (A Work in Progress)

 

1. Did I leave it under the bed
With the sandal I kicked off last summer
Dull with the dust of unintended neglect
In need of a good polish
If I can just  find the right color?

2. “Why can’t you be like everyone else?”
I don’t know. It was 1966
Recently, I found my prom photo:
Blue gown, hair sprayed straight
My date, long dead of AIDS.

3. “Your big mouth will get you in trouble.”
Shame it out of me if you can
Shake me when I’m four
Beat me for a bad dream
Tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about.

4. You’re the artist, I’m the hack
Paper the house with rejection slips – not mine!
I encouraged you, supported you, paid the bills
A convenient arrangement
It worked until it didn’t.

5. In some Santa Rosa motel room
Restaurant closed, TV disconnected, mystery finished
Setting the sum of all I know and have read
To the tune of I-40 big rigs
I dare to pick up my pen.

Sharon Niederman, 2012

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From the introduction to SIGNS & SHRINES: SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS ACROSS NEW MEXICO

Due out from the Countryman Press March 5, 2012

. . .Why do certain natural settings of mountains, groves, streams, and rocks, and certain cultural properties and built landscapes, such as shrines, churches, temples, and monuments, evoke feelings of awe, wholeness, and belonging to a sphere much larger than our everyday reality?

At sites such as Bandelier National Monument, Chaco Canyon, and Taos Mountain, at the Earth Journey stupa in El Rito, the Temple Montefiore cemetery in Las Vegas, and the Marigold Day of the Dead Parade in Albuquerque, or walking the grounds of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, or watching the Mescalero Apaches’ ceremonial Dance of the Mountain Gods, peace, connection, a sense of being blessed, of purpose, of participating in a drama beyond our own, temporarily overwhelms our petty “monkey mind” without our conjuring it or trying for it.

It matters not what our individual religious beliefs are. Such places speak to us in their own subtle, strong, and silent language if we are the least bit open. All I can say is: Welcome to New Mexico!. . .

What struck me so forcefully, from the time I first traveled through New Mexico in 1972, is the peaceful coexistence of so many different, clearly articulated spiritual paths. An early drive through the Jemez amazed me with the sight, in close proximity, in this narrow canyon, of Buddhist, Catholic, and Native American communities.  . .

This book highlights special places in New Mexico where we may retreat to repair our souls, rest from the world, seek peace in a community where the dedicated, such as the Benedictine monks at Christ in the Desert Monastery, devote their lives to offering just such a possibility to guests. One may join in the practice of prayers or meditation, or simply sit by the flowing river in silence and watch the changing light on the rock walls of the canyon. . .

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Please visit my updated website to learn about upcoming events for SIGNS & SHRINES: SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS ACROSS NEW MEXICO.

http://www.sharonniederman.com/

 

 

 

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No Funeral, No Memorial Service

Today our dear friend Irma Bailey passed away. She would have been 95 in March. According to her wishes, there will be no funeral and no memorial service. That is a hard one. Her friends around the USA and among the Pueblo and Navajo communities will  miss the opportunity to gather one last time and celebrate. Her favorite song was “On the Road Again,” and now her spirit is traveling free.

Irma was born and raised on a homestead/ranch near Clovis, NM. She met her husband, Wayne, while they were both students at New Mexico Highlands in Las Vegas, NM, where Irma went on a music scholarship. They worked together as traders of Indian arts – pottery, weaving, silver, kachinas – and she knew more about these beautiful things, and the artists who made them, than anyone. Irma and Wayne would load up their motor home and bring their wares to museums and collectors around the country. I was fortunate to meet Irma when she was 77 years old and starting a new chapter in her life.  After Wayne passed on, she tried “retiring,” but sitting home and taking it easy was not her way. After two months of that, she got herself a new rig, a new driver, and went into business for herself, dealing only in “the best of the best.”

She became incredibly successful. The phone rang constantly at her house, and people came from Dayton, Boston, Atlanta, El Paso, Minneapolis, everywhere, really, to do business and to sit in her magic circle of warmth and generosity. If there was such a thing as a sexy 85 year-old, that was her – bright red hair, sparkling blue eyes, unstoppable sense of humor. And she still shopped at Victoria’s Secret. A yellow T-Bird with the license plate “IMATOY” sat in her driveway.

I shared dozens of cups of coffee with her at her kitchen table, where you never knew who would turn up;  and went on the road with her and saw how an “old time” trader worked. When we visited a Potowotome village across the Canadian border, she purchased all the baskets, with the result that the villagers would make more. I attended a couple of the shows she did at Harvard, and I assisted her with presentations at University of New Mexico.  We went to Chimayo to buy chile and eat at El Rancho de Chimayo. Christmas Eve at her Albuquerque home, with red chile, tamales from Santo Domingo, beans and posole was the highlight of the year, and people flew in from everywhere to experience it. On any day,  you could meet a medicine man and a museum curator in her living room.

Irma serves up a breakfast with her red-eye gravy.

Here is just a bit of Irma’s wisdom:

*”Wear it all”

*You can’t do it part-time”

“I can still get up earlier, stay up later, and work anyone under the table”

“You can’t keep a good woman down.”

Today we say goodbye

Irma Bailey and Kokopelli

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Life is Like a One Night Stand

I want to put my arms around Life

Hold it close, squeeze it tight

Climb on it

Wrap my legs around it

Twist with it

Explode with it

I want to dance with life

Though it pushes me around the floor

Too close to the edge

Keeps me in the dark

Does not say “Thank you”

Expects to take me home

Life is not a good person

And does not care what I think

About that

Life is a narcissist

With no intention of changing

Of course he has others

But we don’t talk about that

Life is a crude lover

He doesn’t “get” me

Or pay attention

Or take time

Life does not give me what I want most

Life only gives me what he feels like giving

When he is in the mood

But, hey, Life, I know you need me

To look you in the eye, to tell your stories

We meet up at the hot springs

In Truth or Consequences

Moonrise over Turtleback Mountain

Lights the Rio Grande silver

Life takes me to his beached Airstream

Has his way with me all night long.

@ Sharon Niederman, Jan. 2, 2012

My new year commitment: I will be blogging at least every Monday. . .appreciate your visits & comments.

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