• Christmas is approaching faster than sleighs in the snow. And for those who haven’t planned that big holiday dinner, Los Alamos County offers a few options for dining out the night before the big day.

    These restaurants will be closed Christmas Day, but will be serving special Christmas Eve dinners for diners looking to spend holiday meals with friends and family.

    Some of the restaurants are taking reserved seatings with pre-planned menus, some are business as usual but shorter hours.

    Some restaurants are offering carry out, but with various windows and lead times for food prep. For this article, some of the restaurants have included New Year’s plans, while others have not planned that far ahead.

    Restaurants advise diners to check their websites for any new information or updates. All of the restaurants have gift certificates and cards for last-minute gifting.

    Pig + Fig Cafe

    The Pig + Fig Café at 11 Sherwood Blvd., in White Rock, will be open Christmas Eve from 6 a.m.-4 p.m. and closed on Christmas Day. On New Year’s Eve, the Pig + Fig will close at 4 p.m. On New Year’s Day the restaurant will open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for brunch.

    Special to the Monitor

    It’s a bit embarrassing to wake up and find yourself drooling like a baby, especially when there’s someone else to witness this cringe-worthy moment. I laughed self-consciously, hoping to deflect the situation humorously. Thankfully, my massage therapist kindly helped me save face by explaining that this was a clear sign I had reached total relaxation during my deep stone treatment. I told her she was a wizard with hot rocks.

    It was the prospect of a deep stone massage that drew me to Ten Thousand Waves. That and soaking in one of the tubs at this unique spa-centric sanctuary in Santa Fe. Nestled in a secluded mountainside forest, the place is a haven for those seeking relaxation and serenity. It’s a well-known getaway for locals and tourists alike, and the fact that it’s located on the road to the area’s ski basin and hiking hub gives it even greater appeal.

  • Free tickets are available for the Santa Fe Desert Chorale concert at 4 p.m. Saturday.

    According to organizers, 50 free tickets are available for the event.

    If interested, call BESC at 662-8920.

    The concert will be held at the United Church of Los Alamos, 2525 Canyon Road in Los Alamos. Tickets will be held at Will Call.

  • The Symphony will perform its first Christmas Eve Concert this year at 5 p.m. Dec. 24 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe.

    The thrilling and festive performance will be led by Maestro Figueroa as the audience welcomes the return of the piano duo rock stars Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Roe.

    The festive program will include George Frideric Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks,” Carl Maria von Weber’s “Overture to Oberon,” Francis Poulenc’s “Concerto in D Minor for Two Pianos.”

    Pianists Anderson and Roe are revolutionaries, widely known for their daring four-hand piano technique.

    Anderson and Roe are graduates of the Juilliard School of Music who have been characterized as “the intense synchronization of genius” by ThirdCoast Arts Digest. They have sought to redefine piano four-hand music with their stylish arrangements of popular music and classical repertoire, often with performances that “sweep the audience into a cheering mass of humanity, making a strong case that playing piano is the most fun thing that two people could ever do together.”

  • The Los Alamos Little Theatre is offering a thrilling way to ring in the New Year this year.

    LALT will offer a special New Year’s Eve performance of its January show, “Murder at the Lone Elm,” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 31 at the Performing Arts Center, 1670 Nectar Street in Los Alamos.

    “Murder at the Lone Elm,” written and directed by Miles Ledoux, is an interactive murder mystery – meaning the audience gets to interrogate the suspects to see if they can determine who the murderer is.

    The play is set in the Lone Elm Inn, an establishment that has seen better days. One of the guests dies in a stairwell and the hotel security chief has to determine whether it was an accidental fall or intentional action that caused the death.  

    Many of the guests come under suspicion, and the security chief turns to the audience for help in questioning them.

    Compounding the uncertainties are the recent death of a scientist who had made a deadly discovery, rumors of a mysterious assassin known as the Shapeshifter, and the lurking presence of a notorious arms dealer named Ares.  

    Will the hotel security chief be able to sort through all the pieces before the murderer strikes again? Will the audience figure it out before the next murder happens?

    AP Business Writer

    NEW YORK — You might have heard of the three blind mice or the itsy-bitsy spider who went up the water spout. But have you ever heard of the little cold and hungry chicks?

    If you grew up speaking Spanish, the answer is probably yes. But Susie Jaramillo wants everyone to know “Los Pollitos,” a bedtime song about a hen taking care of her hatchlings that’s as familiar in the Spanish-speaking world as

    “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is to English speakers.

    The song is the heart of Canticos, a series of bilingual books, companion apps and singalong videos that the Venezuelan-American mother of two dreamed up after she couldn’t find enough Spanish-language books to read to her children. The brand, which debuted in 2016, had its biggest breakthrough this year when Nickelodeon adapted it to develop a series for toddlers on its digital platforms.

    Canticos capitalized on a growing market for Spanish books in the United States, which the traditional publishing industry has addressed in fits and starts. Small companies are stepping in to fill the void, leveraging social media and strategic retail partnerships to target key customer bases, often ones they themselves belong to.

  • It’s that time of year again, when the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra  breaks out the Christmas spirit and the audience gets to sing along also.

    It’s the annual  Holiday Pops  and Singalong Concert.

    This time around, the symphony will be playing such classic tunes as “Winter Wonderland,” “White Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” “Waltz of the Flowers,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.”

    The concert is on Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. at the Crossroads Bible Church. The church is located at 97 East Road.

    “There’s a little bit of the traditional classics that everyone knows and loves,” interim conductor Tjett Gerdom said.
    Gerdom is very active in the symphony. He plays trumpet with the symphony and also sings, but for this concert, he will just be conducting.

    He has also conducted other concerts for the symphony and other music groups in the county, including the Los Alamos Choral Society and the Los Alamos Oratorio Society.

    The concert is free and suitable for all ages. Donations can be accepted at the door.

  • Join Bandelier National Monument in celebrating the Year of the Bird in December.

    Bandelier will partner with the National Audubon Society and Los Alamos County in the Christmas Bird Count Sunday. 

    The history of this count is quite interesting and demonstrates how one person can bring awareness to conservation issues.
    Before the 1900s, hunters celebrated what they called the “Christmas Side Hunt” where they split into sides and whoever brought back the most birds won. In 1900, Frank M. Chapman proposed a “Christmas Bird Census” to count birds rather than hunt them. 

    And thus, the Christmas Bird Count was born. All participants must make prior arrangements to participate since there are established areas organized by a count compiler. Visit this link peecnature.org/birding/cbc for more information. 

    Thank you to everyone who entered the Year of the Bird photo contest last month.

    First place was awarded to Corry Clinton for her photo of an Osprey in mid-flight. Second place, for his photo of a duck landing in the Bosque, was awarded to Carroll Thompson. 

    And third place was given to Tom Leith for his photo of a thrasher in its natural habitat. All photos can be seen on the Bandelier Facebook page. 

  • Participate in the world’s longest-running citizen science project by joining the Los Alamos Christmas Bird Count Sunday.

    Volunteers will spend the day counting and identifying every bird they can see. People of all birding skill levels can get involved in the project, which is free to participate in.

    Participants will break up into small teams that will bird in different locations around Los Alamos County.

    Each team will be assigned a local birding expert, so volunteers do not need to have any particular skill at identifying birds.

    Volunteers can also report birds seen at their feeders and count from the comfort of their homes.

    Most field teams will be doing some hiking and spending most of the day outdoors. Anyone who want to participate – be that in the field or at home – should email the bird count coordinator Mouser Williams at mouser@mouser.org as soon as possible to get signed up.

    Indicate your birding skill level, how long you would like to spend outside, your desire for physical exertion or if you plan to bird at home in your email. The specific meeting times and locations will be determined by the team leaders, so be sure to email Williams to register and get the details in advance.

    LARC Presents the eighth-annual Community Luminaria Walk from 6-8 p.m. at The LARC Community (Aspen Ridge Lodge Assisted Living and Sombrillo Nursing and Rehabilitation) 1010 Sombrillo Court.

    Los Alamos High School will have a Winter Dance Show at 7 p.m. at the Duane Smith Auditorium. Enjoy group and solo performances by the LAHS Dance Program students. A variety of ballroom, latin, swing, hip-hop, contemporary and color guard dance numbers will be performed by 85 dancers. Free.

    Forest Explorers Hike and Play at 1 p.m. at the Nature Center. Cost is $23 for non-members, $19 for PEEC members.

    FSN Chit-Chat Infant and Toddler Discussion Group from 9:30 - 10:15 a.m. at Family Strengths Network, 3540 Orange St. This group offers parents/caretakers of babies and expectant parents the opportunity to connect and explore timely topics. This group is meant to be a quieter space. Infants up through walking are welcome.

    Los Alamos Chapter No. 63, Order of the Eastern Star, holds business meetings the second Wednesday of the month, starting at 7 p.m., in the Masonic Lodge, North Sage Street, (on the corner of 15th and Canyon). There will be no social meeting in December. For more information, contact Worthy Matron Teri Roberts, 672-0270, or Past Matron Judy Goldie, 662-3797.

  • Six years ago, former Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt asked if I would be involved in writing the grant for the 2012, 100 Best Communities for Young People.

    America’s Promise Alliance no longer holds the 100 Best recognition, but drives their work on the five promises.

    These include; Caring Adults, Safe Places, A Healthy Start, Effective Education and Opportunities to Help Others. You can even find 51 related works from the Search Institute on their website.

    The work of the Assets and America’s Promise are simple things we can all do to help, money not always needed for the journey.

    The reason I mention this is because my spark was lit when I first started on the Assets path and attended a 2008 Assets conference in Minnesota, don’t you know. Then, Schmidt fanned that flame by being the leader that helped me see that we could carry this mantle of 100 BEST Communities. Someone not only told I couldn’t work on it, but that we would never win it a second time.

    Schmidt helped me pull together the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos and Los Alamos National Laboratory to get their portions and ideas. I research data and worked with the Los Alamos Police Department for the community crime numbers.

  • Art exhibits
    National Museum of Nuclear Science & History has opened a permanent exhibit by American sculptor Jim Sanborn called “Critical Assembly, the Secrets of Los Alamos 1944: An Installation by American Sculptor Jim Sanborn,” which recreates the Manhattan Project experiments that determined when plutonium goes “critical in an atomic bomb.” The museum is open seven days a week from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and is located at 601 Eubank Blvd. SE, in Albuquerque. Call 505-245-2137 for information, or visit nuclearmuseum.org.

    “From Our Mountain to Yours: Sharing Visions of the Land of Enchantment,” exhibit at the Fuller Lodge Art Center will be open until Jan. 5. Artists Sandi Ludescher and Betty Lehnus will collaborate on the exhibit. There will be an Artist’s Reception from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, during the Holiday Open House. Refreshments will be offered. Fuller Lodge Art Center is located at 2132 Central Ave. in Los Alamos. For information, call 662-1635 or visit Fullerlodgeartcenter.com.

  • One of the sure highlights of WinterFest is the upcoming  Los Alamos Community Winds’ Holiday Prism Concert on Dec. 8, where the Winds have invited several special guests with them to spread the holiday cheer.

    Accompanying the Winds at the Crossroads Bible Church at 7 p.m. will be the Los Alamos Flutes, Quemazon Brass and Coro de Cámara, a choral group from northern New Mexico that grew from a small group of madrigal singers from Los Alamos County. Also participating are numerous solo artists from the community.

    The concert will feature about 28 Christmas songs from about 15 groups and solo performers.

    A prism concert is a very unique experience. According to Community Winds Conductor Ted Vives, a prism concert is designed to individually showcase each of the participating groups and the soloists with mini concerts within the larger performance. At the end of the concert, every group and soloist participating the event comes together for a finale. In this case, that will be Leroy Anderson’s “A Christmas Festival.”

    The concept behind a prism concert is about 40 years old and started in New England at a famous school for music located in New England.

    Special to the Monitor

    I am both repelled and fascinated by crocodiles. Their fearsome reputation precedes them and the fact that they outlived the dinosaurs has given their species legendary respect. No one wants to mess with a croc, but many people will seize the opportunity to view one up close, particularly within its natural habitat.

    Prior to my trip to Botswana, I had only seen these primordial creatures in enclosed nature centers, where I felt removed from them. So, when the boat I was riding in started inching closer to the banks of the Chobe River, where a croc was sun bathing, the experience suddenly became, shall I say, too close for comfort. I could actually discern the individual scales on its shiny, mottled skin.

  • The Santa Fe Symphony will present “Christmas Treasures” to start the holiday cheer at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe.

    Guest Conductor David Felberg will lead The Santa Fe Symphony’s much revered tradition of Christmas favorites.
    This celebratory performance will feature family-friendly seasonal tunes for the entire family played side-by-side with the

    Santa Fe Youth Symphony led by Youth Symphony Principal Conductor William Waag.

    The audience will hear a bit of everything, with a program lineup including such holiday masterworks as “White Christmas,” selections from “The Nutcracker Suite,” and “Brazilian Sleigh Bells.”

    The Symphony invites the community for the heart-warming concert that has become a tradition for bringing the spirit of Christmas to Santa Fe. The Lensic Performing Arts Center is located at 211 W. San Francisco St., Santa Fe.

    Individual tickets and subscriptions are available from The Symphony office located at 301 Griffin Street, or online at santafesymphony.org; call the office at 983-3530 to request a packet by mail. Office Business hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A new proposal moving through Congress seeks to designate Route 66, the highway that connected Chicago to Los Angeles and was once an economic driver for small towns across a post-World War II United States, as a National Historic Trail.

    U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Jim Inhofe announced this week the introduction of a bipartisan bill that would amend the National Trails System Act and include Route 66 in an effort to help revitalize cities and small towns that sit along the historic corridor.

    The plan comes as cities and towns where the once busy Route 66 passed through have been working developing revitalization projects to rehabilitate aging buildings and landmarks to attract tourists.
    Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, said in a statement that Route 66 symbolizes freedom that allowed motorists to visit mom-and-pop diners, small businesses, and scenic byways through eight states.

    “Just as importantly, this bill would safeguard Route 66 as (a) cultural landmark, preserving its significance as the ‘Main Street of America’ for future generations of adventurers, migrants, hitchhikers, and tourists venturing westward,” Udall said.

    Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, said it was important for Congress to try to preserve the historic road with such a deep history.

    Today-Dec. 12: Forest Explorers Hike and Play from 1-3 p.m. at the Nature Center. Get outside by exploring with PEEC! Kids ages 5 to 8 can still sign up for the remaining two sessions, which meets every other Wednesday. Cost is $45 for non-members, $37.50 for PEEC members.

    Shop on the Corner Christmas Sale from 8:30 a.m.-noon at Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church Parish Hall. Affordable gifts, Christmas decorations, clothing, jewelry, toys, books, kitchen items and more at thrift store prices. All proceeds go to help those in need.

    Derby Dames fund raiser party at 5:30 p.m. at Bathtub Row Brewing Co-op, 163 Central Park Square.
    Gentle Walk at 9 a.m. at the Nature Center. A gentle walk for which the emphasis is on discovery, not mileage gained. Free.

    Inside the Sun at 7 p.m. at the Nature Center. Explore our local star with Dr. Joyce Ann Guzik. Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children.

    Dance Arts Los Alamos will present “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King at 7 p.m. in the Duane Smith Auditorium at Los Alamos High School. Tickets can be purchased at the door or at CB Fox and Bliss.

  • Many years ago, Ezra Maes, was a young boy in White Rock. He attended Chamisa Elementary, was a member of Cub Scout Pack 20 and played at the White Rock Youth Activity Center.

    Recently, Maes shared memories of Chamisa and his scouting days. When asked to share a memory, it was all about summer camp. “My favorite Cub Scouts was the summer camp we did that was space themed,” said Maes. “We made, ‘light sabers,’ and had an all-out brawl against the opposing team.”

    Maes eventually moved to Santa Fe with his family and graduated from Santa Fe High School, with the Class of 2016.

    He joined the United States Army and left for boot camp in August. He decided on the Army for the chance to serve his country and planned to continue his education using the GI bill.

    “What I like best about the Army is the camaraderie, said Maes. “You meet and befriend people from all walks of life.

    The bonds you make in the Army are quite unlike anything I had experienced to that point.”

    Those bonds with Army friends are more evident than ever before for Maes. Events during the last few months has taken friendship to a new level. While stationed in Poland and on a training mission in September, he was involved in a tank accident with two crew mates.

  • Now that the holidays have arrived, let’s talk memories instead of gifts.

    What is your greatest memory from your childhood regarding the holidays? Is there something your family did that you can re-create, even if it is only once? Is there a tradition you can start that doesn’t take an act of Congress?

    Now in a perfect world, I could re-create for my sons, the joy of being the kid of a Disney employee. My dad worked for Disney World and they would close the park down for an employee Christmas party. We were never rich, so it was dream to walk the uncrowded park, with no lines, small prices and Disney artists willing to sketch something for free. I still have a Winnie-the-Pooh hidden away safe until the day I am smart enough to frame it.

    I think there are so many little things that you can do that doesn’t cost much, if any money at all.

    Of course, one of my favorite ideas is baking cookies. Nothing makes me happier than to know what is your favorite cookie? I even have a special cookie I like to make, nothing spectacular, but memorable for sure.