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for people who care about the West

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Former intern Beth (Wohlberg) Casper (summer 2000) and her husband, Michael, welcomed a baby boy on Dec. 22. Eli, a healthy 9-pounder, "makes all sorts of amazing noises," reports Beth. After Beth's internship, she had a bout with breast cancer. When she recovered, she and Michael climbed Mount Shasta to benefit research on breast cancer and the environment. Now she's a reporter at the Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore.

Writer and HCN contributor Alan Kesselheim has co-authored a new book, This Common Secret, with Susan Wicklund (Public Affairs, $24.95). Alan describes it as "the very personal story of a doctor who has committed herself to a career helping women with reproductive health issues." The book explores the "dilemmas and difficulties routinely faced by women dealing with unwanted pregnancies." Personal anecdotes and patient accounts give a human face to the debate over abortion.

Composer Michael Mauldin, who lives in Albuquerque, writes music inspired by the beauty and spirit of New Mexico. He recently sent us a note with a copy of his latest CD, Enchantment: Three Meditations for Two Pianos: "I hope one or more of the pieces will give you some pleasure." Thanks for thinking of us, Michael.

Craig Childs, a Southwest explorer and author who sometimes writes for HCN (his latest story, "Phoenix Falling?", appeared last April), recently turned up in the pages of the New York Times. A Times reporter came to visit Craig and his family in their rustic home outside nearby Crawford; she was awed by the 900-foot monolith of Needle Rock, which looms over the house: "... raw, dramatic, beautiful and menacing." She didn't discern any raw menace in Craig, though, describing him as "Grizzly Adams after a shampoo and trim."

Ninety-six-year-old Leroy Lewis, a retired Army officer living in nearby Grand Junction, Colo., recently sent us a note: "Regretfully, I cannot subscribe as my age limits my reading schedule." Leroy, who grew up on Rogers Mesa near HCN's hometown, Paonia, describes wetlands and springs that once teemed with waterfowl, muskrats and fish. "But when one well-financed individual took over much of Rogers Mesa and started drilling wells, the flow of water stopped. The fish hatchery moved out, swamps (got) dry and dusty, and it was called progress!"

Back in early November, Montana photographer and filmmaker Bill Campbell came by with his wife, Maryanne Vollers, to talk about Wolves in Paradise, his latest documentary. The film explores the challenges faced by ranchers in Paradise Valley, Mont., as the wolf packs reintroduced into Yellowstone a decade ago expand and begin to make their way out of the park. The film will be released nationally this year; for more information, see www.homefire.com/ Wolves.html. You can watch an excerpt on HCN's Web site