Friday, May 28, 2010

Professional Pianist and Keyboardist Offers Lessons

Cody Ritchey is a professional pianist and keyboardist. He is also a Newmanista living on Savannah Avenue. He is now offering lessons for the first time in awhile. When I asked him what ages he took, he replied: "Any age . . . generally 6 to 99 or so!" That's quite a range . . . just like Cody's resumé.

He has worked with Chuck Berry and fellow El Pasoan, Vicki Carr, performed at the Kennedy Center and Off-Broadway. He plays with Fungi Mungle which was voted the Best Band in 2009. Recently Cody was the Musical Director of the Loretto Academy production of The Wiz.

Faithful blog and e-letter readers will recall when the Ritchey family dog, Emma, went on a little adventure but was fortunately found by a neighbor.

Cody gave me this flyer announcing his piano and keyboard lessons for anyone - generally 6 to 99 or so in age:

Piano/Keyboard Lessons!!!

· Professional Pianist and Keyboardist! Credits include working with Chuck Berry, Juan Gabriel, Vicki Carr, and many others. Performed in NYC Off-Broadway, the Kennedy Center, and Montreux Jazz Festival. Currently Keyboardist/Arranger with several bands including “Fungi Mungle”!

· Nearly 30 years experience teaching children (and those young of heart!!).

· Extensive background teaching Rock/Pop/Jazz/Country as well as traditional Classical music.

· Easy to master music theory secrets for the future music major or garage band member!

Contact Cody Ritchey at 566-0277 or at!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

El Pasoans Discover the Art of Stanley Esparza

Stanley Esparza with a collection of his beautiful crosses

During this past weekend, El Pasoans visiting Art in the Park discovered the artistry and skilled craftsmanship of Newmanista, Stanley Esparza. Stan's beautiful crosses and sheet metal butterflies make perfect decorations for home and garden. Now retired, Mr. Esparza was a metal worker in El Paso. He is the father of Becky Friesenhahn, Vice President of the Newman Park Neighborhood Association.

Art in Park is sponsored by the City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Department and is held each year at Memorial Park.

The butterflies were selling quickly

A curious crowd begins to build in front of Mr. Esparza's tent

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Secure Your Homes

It is important to keep your homes secure. Recently the home of Mike and Becky Friesenhahn was broken into by an intruder who then returned just days after being arrested and let out on bail. Here's the story:

Mike and the children came home on Thursday, April 29, in the afternoon only to discover a naked man sitting in their den room drinking beer and playing with their Wii. The man had gotten into the home after a swim in the pool. He claimed that the house was his. The police were called and he was arrested. The following Monday May 22, Michael discovered him early in the morning outside the home trying to find an unlocked door. The police came and arrested him. This time the police found the man in possession of marijuana. He had driven to the house and parked his car (with no tags) in the driveway.

In spite of being on a program (VINE - Victim Information and Notification Everyday) that was supposed to have notified them of the man's release from jail, the Friesenhahns were surprised that he had not only been bailed out for a second time but that he lives down the street from them in the 2500 block of Altura.

Authorities have identified the man as Eduardo Omana. He drives a dark maroon Chevy Impala. He is 6' 1", 250 pounds, short dark brown hair and light complexion. He is 26 years-old.

This incident reminds us that it is always a good idea to keep homes and yards secure. Padlocks on all gates and garage doors are good. The police can conduct a home security survey and offer ideas about better securing your home. These surveys can also qualify you for a home insurance premium reduction.

In addition, if you become aware of suspicious activity around your home, you can request a Code Watch and the police will do extra perimeter checks of your home.

Be aware of your surroundings at all times! Be aware of your own home and the home of your neighbors. If you see something suspicious, call 911.

Little Dog Needs Home

Gadget, the Miniature Dachschund

One thing our Newman Park Neighborhood Association blog is: a place to help animals. We love them here.

Above is a picture of Gadget (isn't that the cutest face ever!) who needs a new home. Owner, Sharon Cornet (a friend from the local Unitarian Community) writes:

Help! Am moving to Seattle from El Paso and need to find a home for my 13-yr old pure bred (but no papers) miniature dachschund, Gadget, fairly quickly.

She's especially attached to women, and gets along with men, children, cats and dogs, although she might try to nip at BIG dogs (Napoleon complex?), and very small children (I think they abused her in the past so she's wary of 1-4 yr olds now - this was before we got her at age 7 from the coach at my son's school 6 years ago), otherwise she is very good with kids. We've had her since Kira was 7 yrs old. Gadget howls/sings when she is happy or excited!

Gadget is a really good dog and does not usually bark unless someone rings the doorbell, and is blind in one eye due to an injury last year. She eats soft food mixed with dry due to many of her teeth being out (extremely common in this breed of dog). She likes to sleep with you under the covers at the foot of the bed, but also sleeps perfectly well in her own little bed. I have doggy-steps for her also, if needed. She is with my parents right now, but they are leaving on May 23rd, so I have to find a home for her before then. I would take her with me to Seattle, but am to live with my nephew and his family in a small apartment on the second floor, with a 3 yr old... not going to happen!

A picture of my sweet little Gadget is attached. :) Please let me know if you are interested in taking her, or know of someone who might take her. I don't want her going to a complete stranger from off the street. She is pretty spunky in her old age (even though she naps a lot) and gets around well, so I think she has a few good years left in her. Putting her down is out of the question! Please help me find a home for her.

You can contact Sharon at 915-494-4628 or

Just yesterdayNewmanistas, Erika and Ari, found a cute little dog and then found his owners! Here is Newman Park, we love our animals! (Even Chihuahuas!)

Heroes, Erika and Ari, rescued this little one

Now let's just get the Cortez Springer Spaniels back home!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Missing Springer Spaniels

The Cortez family is missing their two Springer Spaniels, Brownie and Bella, since last Thursday night. It is believed that, while briefly out in the yard, Brownie was spooked or stolen and Bella followed. The dogs may be together or they may be separate.

Mia Cortez gave this scenario:

"Our neighbor's husband (across the street) said he saw the puppy run into his yard that evening, and then run back home. After that, we don't know what happened to them. We think something must have spooked Brownie and he jumped over our side fence, something he never has done, and then Bella must have pushed and pushed her way out of the bottom of the fence.

But we know someone had to have grabbed them soon after, because the few times they have gotten out, they've come back home or ended up at a friend's house down the street."

She confided by email to Lisa Degliantoni: "We miss them so. :( "

Both dogs are chipped and are on the national register. The Cortez's live in the 3100 block of Louisville near Myles Street.

Please be on the lookout for these dogs:



Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Been Outside?

Red Dome Blanket Flower, Gaillardia pinnatifida, in McKelligon Canyon

Ocotillos in bloom above Scenic Drive

A view looking out of McKelligon Canyon with slope of Sugar Loaf on the left

Newmanista, Donna Stephens, wanted to know if you get a ticket for shooting photographs as you drive. Probably not unless you are talking or texting on your cell phone at the same time.

She sent us the pics shown above. There is so much color in our little part of the Chihuahuan Desert right now. A walk along Scenic Drive on Scenic Sundays or a drive or walk into McKelligon Canyon reveals so many of our native plants in bloom.

All of this is accessible from our Newman Park Neighborhood. If you are interested in hiking in different places in the El Paso region, email me and I'll put you on a hiking info email list.

Scenic Drive is closed to motorists every Sunday morning so that walkers, runners, bikers, skateboarders and skaters can come out and enjoy the mountain and the spectacular view - which right now includes a forest of ocotillos in bloom. Now through September, the drive is closed from 6 a.m. until 11 a.m. From October through March, Scenic Sunday hours are 7 a.m. to Noon.

Pictures above courtesy of Donna Stephens who wasn't using her cell phone at the time

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

El Pasoans Join to Clean-up Scenic Drive

Representative Susie Byrd rakes up dead brush and debris

The Friesenhahn Family joins the clean-up

Members of the Police Explorers gathered trash off-road

Haku, the Pug, and his buddy "Stray" carry clean-up bags for owners, David and Mandy Chew as Master Naturalist, Jamie Ackerman, points the way

This past Sunday volunteers from different El Paso organizations joined together to clean-up Scenic Drive. Neighbors on both sides of the drive pitched in as well as members of the local chapter of Texas Master Naturalists, the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition, Unitarians and El Paso Police Explorers.

Bags and gloves were provided by Katherine Palafox, the Director of Keep El Paso Beautiful. Judy Gutierrez, Assistant to Rep. Susie Byrd, provided water. Judy organized the event with help from Palafox and Jim Tolbert.

The clean-up was sponsored by the office of Representative Susie Byrd, Keep El Paso Beautiful and the Newman Park Neighborhood Association.

Missing in action: the El Paso Times . . . but when have they paid any attention to Scenic Sundays?