New Kid on the Block

The Hand of Ganesh is out! Even though much of the plot takes place in India, the book reintroduces a few home-grown characters. Let’s just say, the novels are connected. There’s a thread running though them. Before I explain, a word of thanks to Pocol Press, an excellent independent publisher located in Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania.

All my life, I’d dreamed of writing fiction. After years of working as a technical writer and freelancing for magazines (Runners World, Family Circle, New Mexico Magazine).I wrote several nonfiction books: The Santa Fe Trail by Bicycle, Santa Fe On Foot, The Goodbye Baby, From Calcutta with Love. The fiction dream simmered.

Then, in 2005, I wrote a novel based on my father’s experience in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater of World War II. Beast of Bengal takes place in a military hospital in Calcutta. It involves opium smuggling and the Indian “goondas.” Richard Benet, my hero, has to take command when the dysfunctional hospital commander, Mac McDermott becomes an “empty uniform.” What sustains him in a harrowing fight for not only the hospital but his life, is his love for his wife Rita. The two had been planning to adopt a child but the war interrupted. They write to one another every day and plan to start their family when the war ends.

Clara Jordan runs from trouble and goes forward to meeting a best friend, Arundati Benet. Together the two adoptees will travel to India.

In 2017, I wrote All the Wrong Places, a novel inspired by my years of teaching at Santa Fe Indian School. Protagonist Clara Jordan, an adoptee, moves to New Mexico in search of her Native American birthmother. She takes a job as English teacher at the American Indian Academy, located near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her birthmother, she learns, has died. When Henry DiMarco, the school’s IT director, sweeps her off her feet, she overlooks his strange behavior. He’s secretly a pottery smuggler and when he realizes that Clara knows, her life is in danger. She literally has to run to save her life.

Clara survives and lives on to join Arundhati Benet, the adopted daughter of Richard and Rita Benet. All these characters play important roles in The Hand of Ganesh (Pocol Press, 2022). To learn more about that novel, click on a recent radio interview by Carly Newfeld, “The Last Word,” KSFR 101.f.m. >

Elaine Pinkerton Coleman is a New Mexico author. In monthly blog posts, she opines about adoption, hiking, nature, and the writing life. To follow her blog, click the FOLLOW button her webpage. She’d love to hear from you. Feedback and suggestions welcome.

One Spring Day…


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led to starry, starry nights.

Along with friends. I recently visited the amazing, immersive Vincent Van Gogh exhibit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’d admired VanGogh’s painting ever since an art history course taken in college. “Beyond VanGogh” did not disappoint. It was one of the most inspiring and beautiful art events any of us had ever seen.

The painter Van Gogh, who lived from 1853 till 1890, was considered the greatest post-impressionist after Rembrandt van Rijn. (Van Gogh, we learned from Carly, is properly pronounced not to rhyme with “go” but rather closer to rhyme with “cough”). In just over a decade VanGogh created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life. They include landscapes, still lifes, portraits and self-portraits. Their bold colors and dramatic brushwork were illuminated in the big room.

Entering the dark, cavernous space, we were transported into a sound and light show of the artist’s life and paintings. The exhibit began with interlocking corridors of quotes taken from VanGogh’s correspondence with his brother Theo. 


Following the corridor narrative, the path led to a huge room with ever-changing VanGogh images projected above and below, on all four sides. It was truly magical. We three friends, after 45 minutes of Van Gogh immersion, stepped into the early afternoon sunshine. Our souls had been satisfied; now it was time for lunch.




The Words of Mother and Dad


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Layout 1Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.
~Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal

Note to readers: Before Richard and Reva Beard adopted me, the bond between them intensified. With each year of courtship, marriage and — most of all — through their World War II separation, they imagined the family they would build. The war made that dream even stronger. Though separated by 6,000 miles and 18 months, they corresponded every day. The letters were relegated to a file case in my parents retirement home. After Dad passed away, I asked my brother to send me the entire collection. Daddy had meant to write a book about his India experiences, but life got in the way. I inherited the thousands of handwritten epistles, quit my day job to read every one, and turned the best of them them into a book: From Calcutta with Love- The World War II Letters of Richard and Reva Beard. (Texas Tech University Press, 2002) The original missives were archived at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. In 2002, the Texas publisher gave me back the rights. Last year Pajarito Press in Los Alamos, New Mexico acquired them. I’m happy to announce that, eighty years after they were first written by mom and dad, the letters are again being presented to the world.

Richard and Reva, I’d like to believe, would be proud to share their words with the world.

If I could speak to Richard today,  I’d remind him of a certain conversation. When going through some of my old diaries, I found this entry:

 My father and I were walking around the gentle hills of Charlottesville, Virginia. I’d left Virginia for New Mexico, embarking on my own life, but I visited at least once or twice a year. He and my mother had moved to a senior community named “Stonehenge.” I found the title amusing, thinking it conjured up the wisdom of the ages. On this particular evening, I was out walking with the wisest man I knew.
    The sun was setting and mist arose from the earth. Instead of a blazing sunset like those I experienced in New Mexico, this “sky-scape” was layered in subtle pastels…pink, peach and gray.
    Though I don’t recall my exact words, I told my father that when I was 70, his age at the time, I wouldn’t mind dying. I would, I told him, be ready to leave the earth.
    “You’ll feel differently when you’re there,” he retorted. “You’ll want more years ahead of you. Many more years.” I wanted to disagree, but I knew that argument was futile. Daddy was strong minded.
    Life happened. Marriage, children, divorce, grandchildren. Suddenly I was the agemy father was when he made his pronouncement.
    He’d left years earlier, but I felt that at some mysterious psychic level, he could hear and understand me. “You were right,” I longed to tell him.

Join Elaine Pinkerton on alternate Mondays for reflections on the life through adoption colored glasses, hiking, reading books, and writing. The Hand of Ganesh, slated for mid-April publication, can be pre-ordered from Pocol Press. (Pull down the Books tab at the top of this page). Stay tuned for a publication date for From Calcutta with Love. Thanks so much for reading; Your comments and questions are  invited.


Memories of my Ukraine Visit…


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St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its 13 glimmering domes are visible from all over the city.

This post was originally published in May 1918, under the title “Adoptee Feels at Home in Ukraine.” It brings to mind the hospitality and beauty of the country now under seige. I re-publish it with nostalgia, compassion and hope for an end to the war.

I’ve just returned from an unforgettable journey: 11 days sailing up the Dneiper River in the mid-section of Ukraine. The largest European country, Ukraine is a beautiful, fertile land known as “the breadbasket of Europe.” This was a memorable trip filled with beauty and history, much of that history quite sobering. “Ukraine” means “border,” and the unique position of the eastern country of Europe has shaped its destiny. The Russian empress Catherine II annexed Ukraine in the 18th century, but, under Nikita Kruschev, in 1954, it became its own country in 1954. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the far eastern edge of Ukraine became increasingly unstable. A large part of this “edge territory” is Russian-speaking. However, it is part of Ukraine. The “Revolution of Dignity” in 2014, a statement of Ukranian pride, resulted in violent deaths in the center of Kiev, the country’s capital.

My travel buddy and I decided on Ukraine while it was still a possible destination. But this is a post about the bright side of Ukraine, not its struggles. There is much to learn, much to admire. In Viking River Cruise style, we sailed mostly at night and explored cities and countryside by day. Our first port was Odessa, built on the site of an ancient Greek colony. Many cultures settled here – Crimean Tartars, Turks, Russians and Germans. Our ship docked, and we spent several days tooling about the city, admiring its elegant Baroque buildings, elaborate facades and balconies, tree lined boulevards. The variety of huge old trees (chestnut, poplar, acacia, linden) rivaled the architecture. Roses of brilliant hues rule the city’s parks and gardens. We spent time going up and down the Potemkin steps, mostly by funicular.

One night I went to the magnificent rococo opera house for a production of “Swan Lake.” Other highlights were the Odessa catacombs and the vast Akkerman Fortress, a 13th century citadel.

We made our way north, visiting Kherson and Zaporozhye. The Island of Khortitsa, former stronghold of the Cossacks, was another highlight, including modern-day Cossacks performing acrobatic feats on horseback. Their athleticism and commanding style was thrilling to observe.
After more village and city visits, we ended up in Kiev, capital of Ukraine. St. Sophia Cathedral was a highlight of this magnificent city. Hard to say whether it is more impressive on the outside, with its thirteen gold domes, or the inside with towering gilded and mosaic rotunda ceilings. The final tour was through Jewish Kiev and included “Babi Yar,” the site of WWII massacres. We also went to Podyl, one of the oldest synogogues in the city. The journey ended on an upbeat note, as Podyl included a school. Children preparing for summer camp were playing outdoors, a fitting symbol of hope for the future.


Join adoptee/author Elaine Pinkerton every other Monday for reflections on adoption and life. Your comments are invited. If you’d like to contribute a guest post related to the adoption theme, please contact her through this website.

My roads led to India…


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My latest novel, published by Pocol Press, debuts next month. The Hand of Ganesh will be available through the publisher, ordering from your favorite bookstore, and on Amazon. It seems that elephant god Ganesh helped me overcome obstacles as I sought to tell this story, one of adoption, travel, and women’s friendship. Turn back the clock: As I was growing up, my father filled my imagination with visions of India. Richard Beard was a veteran of WWII who’d been stationed in Calcutta as a clinical psychologist for the Army Airforce. After he passed away, I compiled his wartime letters into a book titled From Calcutta with Love – The WWII Letters of Richard and Reva Beard. (Texas Tech University Press, 2002). All my life, I’d wanted to write fiction, and with the publication of Beast of Bengal (Pocol Press, 2005), that dream became a reality. Beast of Bengal is a suspenseful tale set in the China-Burma-India theater of WWII. After visiting Southern India in 2013, I had another story to tell. I recruited Clara Jordan, the somewhat autobiographical heroine of All the Wrong Places (Pocol Press, 2017) to join a new character, Arundati Benet, and took both women to Tamil Nadu and Mahabalipuram, an ancient temple complex. My newest novel spans generations and tells of friendship and bonding. It also presents a rich tapestry of India, as seen through American eyes.

Ganesh is the said to swallow the sorrows of the Universe and protect the world.

Here’s a summary of The Hand of Ganesh:

A young girl, barely alive, washes up on a beach near the Indian ruins of Mahabalipuram. Thus begins a journey of discovery for Richard and Rita Benet accompanied by an artifact of the elephant God Ganesh. Equal parts self-actualization, travelogue, and mystery/adventure story, The Hand of Ganesh dives deep into several American protagonists’ curiosities about India. As the multi-generational story progresses, two young women remain obsessed with finding their birthmothers; one from Santa Fe, New Mexico and the other born in India itself. The pair are compelled to travel to the Subcontinent. Amidst the backdrop of the world’s largest gathering of humanity, the Kumbha Mela, Clara and Arundati embrace their moment and decide together how to process their respective beginnings.

As publication draws nearer, stay tuned for updates. The Hand of Ganesh can be pre-ordered by going to

Poetry Monday in the Snow


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Winter at Last! Here in the parched Southwest, we welcome any moisture that falls. After a dry January, Nature rewarded us with a snowstorm: two feet in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Last Saturday, three friends and I went snowshoeing in the Santa Fe National Forest. In puffy billows, fresh-fallen powder surrounded us. Tall pines, festooned in white, towered overhead. The morning sky was a deep, dazzling blue. The sun shone brilliantly, the light and shadows dappling the terrain. We made our way up and down hills from the Winsor to the Rio En Medio trails, talking intermittently but also listening to the silence. No one else around. Suddenly I remembered the following poem and recalled meeting the poet. I recited Robert Frost’ masterpiece from memory, inspiring others to quote from poems from their pasts. It was a magical morning.

The Winsor Trail is one of the most popular in the Santa Fe area, but on this day we had it to ourselves!

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening


Whose woods these are I think I know.   

His house is in the village though;   

He will not see me stopping here   

To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   

To stop without a farmhouse near   

Between the woods and frozen lake   

The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   

To ask if there is some mistake.   

The only other sound’s the sweep   

Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   

But I have promises to keep,   

And miles to go before I sleep,   

And miles to go before I sleep.

Join Elaine for weekly blogs about the writing life, hiking and seeing the world through adoption-colored glasses. Her newest novel, The Hand of Ganesh, a tale of two women traveling through India, focuses on adoption and adventure. It will be available in March — through Amazon, Pocol Press or your local bookstore. Questions and comments welcome!

A Creative Life

Today’s guest blog by my friend Fiona Simon – author, entrepreneur, mother, Spanish teacher, and world traveler.

Fiona Simon loves to create recipes, learn something new every day, and spend as much time in nature as possible.

I was ten years old when my paternal grandmother told me I’d be a writer.  She saw something that I was yet to discover.  By the time I got to high school, not even remembering what she had told me, my dream was to be a writer for National Geographic.  I also dreamed of becoming an anthropologist.  While the latter two didn’t happen, I did become a writer and an editor.  For the first ten years after graduating with my Bachelor’s degree, I was a travel writer, newspaper editor and writer, marketing writer, and website copywriter.  I also wrote and edited Spanish language publications, as I had gotten my Master’s in Spanish along the way.  After a brief stint teaching Spanish, I returned to writing. 

One day, the entrepreneurial bug set in.  I had been working as Communications Director for the Boulder (Colorado) Chamber of Commerce, interviewing entrepreneurs and writing their business profiles.  Long story short, I quit my job to start a granola company, not knowing what might be before me.  I was fortunate; the granola company met with great success and I was able to grow my company for the next decade and then sell it.  During those years, the writing continued: website, newsletters, marketing pieces.  After taking some time off, I decided to heed many customers’ suggestions that I write a book to tell of my granola adventures.  I was a single mom when I started the company and for most of the years I owned it.  That was a story in itself.  I think the main reason I heeded those suggestions was the lack of creativity in my life after selling my company.  Writing is a creative process.  Creating recipes and starting a company is a creative process.  Growing a business is a creative process.  Raising a child is a creative process.  Facing challenges of any sort is a creative process.  My daughter was in high school when I sold my company and didn’t need much supervision or parenting at that point.  The creative modes that had sustained me since college were no longer part of my life.  And I was feeling the void.

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way was my salvation.  My morning pages reignited the creative process.  I faithfully wrote my three pages each day, took myself on artist dates, and completed the projects.  Once again, I was in flow with creativity, and that’s when the book writing started.  For me, and so many others, creativity is a vital force in experiencing wellbeing and purpose.  Life can easily go on remote control without some sort of creative process to break up the daily routine.  Using our minds for a regenerative and meaningful purpose is a key to finding happiness.  Creativity means mystery: what will unfold?  What paths will we discover?  How might we develop as a result of our creative endeavors?  Who might we meet?  What will we create next?  How will the creative process transform other aspects of our lives?  These questions and others are worth considering. 

Fiona’s Memoir

Lately, my creative process is focused on decluttering.  As I organize and clear the spaces around me, I feel lighter and enjoy an expanded sense of wellbeing.  I’ve gotten rid of so much stuff, and it feels great!  Quite unexpectedly, the decluttering has turned out to be very creative.  Seeing empty space makes me feel more relaxed and my brain less cluttered.  This project shall continue.  I’m sure that with free spaces around me and inside me, new creative projects will unfold.  May it be so.

Check out Fiona’s recent book talk:

Hiking the Holidays


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My son and his family wouldn’t be coming to visit until the 29th of December, so Christmas morning found me alone. Bummer, right?  Wrong! It turned out to be one of the most memorable Christmases ever. A Meetup hike had been scheduled for 9 a.m. but the starting point was a half hour from my home and outdoors the dense fog seemed like a warning to start early. Thick fog made visibility nearly impossible. I could barely discern a center stripe on the road I arrived a little before 9 at Fina Cafe on the Las Vegas Highway, a backroad heading north out of Santa Fe. Nobody else in the parking lot. After waiting five minutes, I called the hike leader to make sure I had the right meeting spot. “Oh,” she said. “It would have been muddy, so I cancelled in an email. In my concern about driving conditions, I had not checked email before leaving.

This neighborhood trail, nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, has become one of my favorite go-to destinations.

Instead of going home, I drove to the nearby Dorothy Stewart trailhead and did a solo hike. For the first time in my many years of walking that three-mile loop, I’d never been the only person in the parking lot. On the trail itself,I had the terrain to myself. Deciding to do a mental self-talk on gratitude, I began the undulating path at a brisk pace. Because Dorothy Stewart had come to Santa Fe in the 1920s, fallen in love with the city, especially outdoors, she’d donated land for public use. As I walked, I silently thanked her. Due to her generosity and foresight, a precious place had been saved from developers. Sweeping vistas all along the way, first of the Sandia Mountains, then the Jemez Mountains,and finally of Picacho Peak, Atalaya, and Sun and Moon Mountains. In my half-century of living here, I’d hiked them all and memories of those times came flooding back.

The day after Christmas, I walked the neighborhood through fresh-fallen snow, and on New Year’s Day, strolled the sandy arroyo. A special guest appearance in the back yard made history. Jake (pretty sure it’s the same fellow who’s been coming to my property for years) came in the morning and stayed till night. I’ve been taking a hint from my equine friend and when not out hiking have been relaxing with some wonderful books: The Magic Library and How to Stop Time by Matt Haig; This Tender Land by William Kent Kruger and The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer. In the year ahead, I’ll remember the Quiet Time of this Christmas.

Blue Monday or Serenity in San Diego


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The road going nowhere in particular

The road going nowhere in particular


“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you” goes the saying. After arriving for a short vacation in one of my favorite cities, San Diego, I was therefore not surprised that “Edgar” had brought himself along for the ride. He, or “it” if you prefer, had packed himself in the depths of my ginormous suitcase, amongst the slacks, tops, electronics, books, walking shoes and books. Egad, can’t I go anywhere to escape from that demon?
To understand Edgar, you need to know that I am a “recovering” adoptee. My original mother relinquished me when I was five. Even though I grew up with wonderful adoptive parents, I’ve struggled for years to come to terms with being adopted. I wish I could announce in a loud voice that I’ve succeeded in getting over my adoption issues. The best I can offer, however, is to say confidently that I am making progress.
This change of scene, however, has been more beneficial than weeks of therapy. San Diego’s magic begins to take effect the moment I arrive. The adjectives that come to mind: salubrious, sensational, scenic. Add to that another ingredient: simplicity. There is something quite wonderful about running away from home. Life can be pared down to an easier pace.
My host family (son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren) leaves for work and school every weekday at 7 a.m., so on this overcast late Autumn morning, I embark on a two-hour walk to a nearby coffee shop. I’ve been visiting this San Diego neighborhood for the better part of the last decade and traveling the same route, to the java cafe. First it was “It’s a Grind,” which went out of business. Then it became “Sweetest Buzz.” But this time, there is no coffee shop. Where the “Buzz” should have been loomed a completely empty retail space. A “For Lease” sign was taped on the window. A sad, empty storefront occupied the place I’d spent memorable hours composing on my laptop and sipping lattes.
Had the expedition fallen flat, or was there something else awaiting me? Instead of going home right away, I decide to check out the park near my host family’s house. Walking a couple miles back to the neighborhood, I sit and enjoy a serenade of songbirds, the ambiance of healthy young trees, a verdant carpet of green grass.
The park itself is a marvel. When I first saw it years ago, it looked unpromising, even hopeless. Today, the community outdoor space is filled with children swinging, sliding, digging in the sandbox. Parents visit with one another. Laughter from a toss ball game sounds across the field. An elderly man is marching along the sidewalk, stopping at each circuit workout to do pushups or pullups or a balance beam.
The day isn’t complete, however, until I take a hike on the nearby former dairy road. It’s a road I’ve walked before. One of the city’s many walking paths, it branches off from a busy thoroughfare and loops back into a small canyon. Thistle, purple flowers, and feathery plumed bushes brighten a brown and sage terrain. Ahead of me, a large bird, strutting in a quail-like fashion, walks across my path. Other than it, I am alone. The sun intensifies, but just in time a gentle breeze picks up.
Of course, being a grandmother/writer and retired from a regular career means that life should be simpler anyway. That’s not how it works, however. When I’m at home, a million projects shout out: “clean me,” “organize me,” “declutter me.” Right here, in sunny, wonderful San Diego, the only thing I have to declutter is my mind. Accepting victory, I acknowledge that I’ve once again I dueled the evil Edgar. On this gloriously sunny Monday, mine is the victory.

The author is reminded that "all who wander are not lost"

The author is reminded that “Not all who wander are lost”



Love Across the Ocean


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Lt. Richard L. Beard in his WWII army uniform, before he became my Dad

Lt. Richard L. Beard in his WWII army uniform, before he became my Dad

D-Day is a time for remembering, and today’s post is a tribute to my adoptive Dad. Note: When I was five, my foster child status changed. I’ve been incredibly fortunate for someone who began life as an orphan. I was adopted by a college professor and his wife, literally going from rags to riches. One of the best legacies my Dad left me was a treasure trove of letters. Below, one of my favorites.

During the later years of WWII, my adoptive dad served in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater of operations as clinical psychologist at the 142nd General Hospital in Calcutta, India. Just when I think that the “Forgotten Front” has faded from public awareness, I meet someone who not only knows about WWII’s CBI arena but who is still honoring the memory of those who served in what General Vinegar Joe Stillwell called “a theater of uncommon misery.”
Yesterday I was making my way up a snowy slope to buy my lift ticket and enjoy a day of skiing. Leaving the ski area was an attractive couple in their 50s or so. They were not dressed to ski but seemed to be sightseeing. This was not so unusual, as many visitors to my hometown of Santa Fe like to come up to the ski basin just for a look around.
What was unusual was the CBI insignia on the man’s leather bomber jacket and the emblem on his armband. How often does one see honoring of the CBI, and of all places at the ski hill? I admired his jacket and

The CBI was known for the Ledo Road through Burma and the "Flying Tigers"

The CBI was known for the Ledo Road through Burma and the “Flying Tigers”

we talked briefly about “the forgotten front” and those who’d served there. He also had a relative, now deceased, who’d been stationed in that remote corner of the world. Thus the inspiration for today’s post, which is all about love across time and miles. Once again, I’m posting a letter from Lt. Richard Beard to his wife Reva written early in what would turn out to be an 18-month separation.

1944                                        At Sea
    Dearest Wife,
             This is written in commemoration of our 7th wedding anniversary, Reva, and will inadequately express my sincere happiness and good fortune in being married to you. I should prefer to look into your eyes for a moment and then kiss you to express those feelings; since that is impossible, will you accept this letter?
I was too moved to write on July 3rd, instead I sat for hours watching the waves slip past the stern of our ship. I ran over our wonderful experiences: I thought of our hard times and the troubles we have encountered; and then I reflected upon the almost perfect peace and comfort which is ours when we are together. How our eyes light, and how solicitous we are of one another’s welfare.
It is necessary, darling Reva, to refer to last summer and our second honeymoon. Perhaps six years of living with you had to fade into history before my love matured sufficiently to leave no vestige of doubt. You are my fate, dear, and I am content.
This war is but a passing shadow, Reva, in our lives. If it should prove more, and I am not to see you again, then if there is any eternity, forever you are engraved on my soul’s substance. But optimistically, I plan for the future, and I want you to do likewise. I hope that you will have a baby boy or girl waiting for me when I come home. If not then, together we shall secure the blessing of children in a family.
I love you, my girl wife, and each passing day confirms how engulfing my love is. Even now I look into your lovely face, and with blurred eyes, pledge to you again my everlasting devotion.

Your husband, Dick

My father inspired me to travel to and write about India, one of the many gifts he gave me.

Mom and Dad have been gone many Decembers below, but lately I’ve been thinking about them a lot.  I’m convinced that they adopted my brother and me mainly because of their deep love and devotion to one another. A powerful reminder. Whether they are formed in the traditional manner or forged from adoption, families make us who we are.
It’s really all about love.