. . . I've been told that I write novels for email messages. Perhaps this is the way to go. I'll try to make each entry, or Gemstone, a "precious" one. On mediocre days, all I might be able to produce is a "semi-precious" entry. In any case, an entry might be a "neat" Gemstone--something that is uniquely mine.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon

The month of December is an exciting one this year. There have been holidays and events to celebrate including the winter solstice, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. But something else that I've been waiting all month to see—The Blue Moon!

If they say the moon is blue,
We must believe that it is true.
(an old proverb, 1528)

We've all heard the saying that a rare something happens only "once in a blue moon," but what does that really mean? According to modern popular definition, a blue moon is the second full moon in a month (this month's first one was on December 2nd). It isn't actually blue, though and I'm not sure where the color blue comes from.(I Googled it and only came up with pollution as a possible cause, but that it has nothing to do with two full moons in one month.)

As I mentioned, December 2009 is a blue moon month and the next one on New Year's Eve in the western hemisphere won't occur over here until 2028. I don't know about you, but I don't want to have to wait 19 more years to see this event again at the turning of the New Year. The moon rises at 5:08 pm and I plan to be outside watching it!

What a great way to celebrate the coming of 2010!

Happy New Year!

Addition ~6 pm: We went out to look at the moon and it was beautiful coming up over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. My middle son was ticked off that the moon wasn't actually blue but otherwise it was a great event getting out of the house for 15 minutes on this cold night.

~~~~~~~~~
Neat

"Let all that you do be done in love"

1 Cor 16:14

Sunday, December 13, 2009

End of the Year Musings

It's almost the end of the year and the beginning of a new decade. There are less than three weeks left of 2009 that will be packed full of holiday gatherings and spirit until we can welcome in 2010.

To be truthful, I'm ready to start a new year. 2009 had a lot of drama for me that included a lot of soul-searching and redefinition of who I am and what I want and need out of life. The decision to quit my job this summer was a hard one, but something I had to do to point myself in a new direction. I discovered things that were missing in my life and found them again in unexpected ways and places. I also learned so much from every person in my life that helped me to be a better person now. I'm thankful that I have such a strong support group in my family and friends to help me through the rough patches and to celebrate the milestones and highlights.

The highlights of the year are the same as any other year. They included all the times that I got to spend with family or friends. I reconnected with high school friends this year, which enriched my life immensely (the internet and Facebook are amazing!). We went skiing with friends early in the year and the boys learned so much. Spring break was spent in San Diego, one of my favorite vacation spots. This summer I got to spend a special weekend with my sister and got to go camping with my parents again. We got to do a lot of camping, which has always been one of my favorite things to do. We spent the 4th of July with friends and celebrated Thanksgiving with my sister's family and Mom and Dad. And now I've got a group of friends that I get together with regularly for trail runs and workouts (and of course, coffee or dinner). Yesterday I went with the ladies for a "Jingle Bell Jaunt" through town to spread holiday cheer. We dressed in holiday garb and Santa hats and wore jingle bells all over. We were quite the sight.

I started a new part time job last week in a pediatrician's office and I think it will be good for me. It was a great first week and it felt good to be productive outside of the home again. It'll get me out of the house and will keep me busy and out of trouble. I'm having to adjust my workout/running schedule but that will all come together soon, and I'll miss my Wednesday mornings with my friends.

This weekend I'm doing my holiday baking and candy making. Why do we only make certain treats during this one time of year? How many cookie exchanges can a person go to in one season? And why can't fudge be for breakfast? My boys always seem to ask the tough questions.....

Happy Holidays to all of you!

~~~~~~~~~
Neat

"Let all that you do be done in love"

1 Cor 16:14

Monday, December 7, 2009

Observations on Growing Older

I don't know the origin of this list so forgive me if I can't give credit where it is due. All I know is that it has been sent around the email world for a few months now and I've received it three times by three different people. That whole "Six Degrees of Separation" thing is coming around to haunt me. I thought I'd post this here before it comes around the fourth, fifth, and sixth time, affirming the idea that I'm at the most six steps away from any person on earth. In any case, I'm not quite at the age where some of these are true for me (don't get me wrong, some of them are--see #1, #6, #9, #20, #26, #28, #37, #38 below), but I can see these things in some of my older friends and relatives and love them all the more for it.

Observations on Growing Older:
  1. It's harder to tell navy from black!
  2. Everything old is new again, but if you wore it before, you're too old to wear it the 2nd time around!
  3. Your kids are becoming you...and you don't like them!
  4. ..but your grandchildren are perfect!
  5. Yellow becomes the big color...walls...hair...teeth!
  6. Going out is good. Coming home is better!
  7. When people say you look "Great"...they add "for your age"!
  8. When you needed the discount you paid full price. Now you get discounts on everything...movies, hotels ...flights.
  9. You forget names...but it's OK because other people forgot they even knew you.
  10. The last 2 outfits you wore had spots on them.
  11. You ask your husband or friend how your outfit looks and they tell you the truth!
  12. The five pounds you wanted to lose is now 15 and you have a better chance of losing your keys than the 15 pounds.
  13. You realize you're never going to be really good at anything...especially golf.
  14. Your husband is counting on you to remember things you don't remember.
  15. The things you cared to do,you don't care to do, but you care that you don't care to do them anymore.
  16. Your husband sleeps better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring then he does in bed. It's called his "pre-sleep"
  17. Remember when your mother said "Wear clean underwear in case you GET in an accident"? Now you bring clean underwear in case you HAVE an accident!
  18. You used to say, "I hope my kids GET married.. Now, "I hope they STAY married!"
  19. The best place to have a conversation with your husband is in the bathroom...you have his full attention.
  20. Who wants to wear 3" heels anyway?
  21. You miss the days when everything worked with just an "ON" and "OFF" switch.
  22. When GOOGLE, iPod, email, modem... were unheard of and a mouse was something that made you climb on a table.
  23. You use more 4 letter words..."what?"..."when?" ???
  24. Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it's not safe to wear it anywhere.
  25. Your husband has a night out with the guys but he's home by 9:00 P.M...next week it will be 8:30 P.M.
  26. You read 100 pages into a book before you realize you've read it.
  27. Notice everything they sell in stores is "sleeveless"?
  28. Many of the people in People Magazine you've never heard of.
  29. Your concealer doesn't conceal.
  30. Your lipstick bleeds.
  31. Your mascara clumps and your eyebrows are disappearing.
  32. You don't have hair under your arms and very little on your legs but your chin needs to be plucked daily!
  33. What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
  34. Everybody whispers.
  35. Now that your husband has retired ...you'd give anything if he'd find a job!
  36. You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet....2 of which you will never wear.
  37. But old is good in some things:...old songs...old movies
  38. And best of all OLD FRIENDS
~~~~~~~~~
Neat

"Let all that you do be done in love"

1 Cor 16:14

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Garden of the Gods, CO

There is no better place to take a geologist than to someplace with really cool rock formations. Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO has just what a geologist desires--awesome rock formations, beauty, and trails to roam on. The Garden of the Gods is a Natural Landmark, established in 1972, that is free to the public.

The first time I was in Garden of the Gods I was only about 9 years old. I don't remember that visit at all but my parents have photos of me and my sister at the park. The next time I was there was shortly after my sister moved to the area in 2008. I was awestruck then as well as when visiting a couple of days ago. The vertically tilted sedimentary rocks at the base of Pikes Peak are amazing to see.

The Pikes Peak Granite is about 1 billion years old and lies underneath the whole Garden of the Gods sedimentary rock strata. At about 310 million years ago the granite wore down. Then, about 250 million years ago when the supercontinent Pangea formed, the area became beachfront property. The inland sea ebbed and flowed for many million years after that depositing sand, silt, and mud in layers. Around 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs and other animals suffered the consequences of a mass-extinction event (perhaps due to a meteorite impact), the mountains rose and tilted the rocks vertically. Natural weathering and erosion of softer sedimentary rocks such as shale occurred and left the harder sandstones and limestones to "stand up" above the ground. In the background, Pikes Peak rose to its present height of 14,110 feet about 2 million years ago.

Here are some photos of some awesome rock formations in the Garden of the Gods. I suggest if you are in the Colorado Springs area, you visit the park. After all, you can't beat the price or the scenery!































~~~~~~~~~
Neat

"Let all that you do be done in love"

1 Cor 16:14

Monday, November 23, 2009

What I'm Thankful For

There's a tradition in my family to watch the 1973 classic, "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" around this time of year. It is always amusing to watch Charlie Brown attempt to make a Thanksgiving dinner for all of his friends, who basically invited themselves over. Toast and popcorn were on the menu rather than turkey and mashed potatoes. Very funny. But within the humor are some serious discussions that make you remember why we celebrate this day here in America. Charlie Brown's friend Linus van Pelt said,
"In the year 1621, the Pilgrims held their first Thanksgiving feast. They invited the great Indian chief Massasoit, who brought ninety of his brave Indians and a great abundance of food. Governor William Bradford and Captain Miles Standish were honored guests. Elder William Brewster, who was a minister, said a prayer that went something like this: 'We thank God for our homes and our food and our safety in a new land. We thank God for the opportunity to create a new world for freedom and justice."
And Marcie said,
"But Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. You heard what Linus was saying out there. Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that's what they mean by 'Thanksgiving,' Charlie Brown."
There are many things I am thankful for. Here are just a few.
  • This Thanksgiving I'm thankful that my whole side of the family will be together again. Mom and Dad are flying to my sister's house in Colorado and we're driving up. I can't imagine a better Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for my loving family that keeps me grounded and secure. There is no love stronger than that which you have for family. I am so blessed.
  • I'm thankful for a wonderful, loving, supportive, and understanding husband who has been my partner in crime now for 17 years. I'm also thankful that we have three extraordinary sons that keep us on our toes constantly and make life worth living.
  • I'm thankful for wonderful friends who take the edge off of life. We laugh together, see movies together, go out to coffee or dinner together, work out together, and run together. Most of all we talk about everything.
  • I'm thankful for my health, both mental and physical (sometimes the two are intertwined and depend on the other).
  • I'm thankful for my home and for living in a town that nourishes me with it's history, mountains, trails, and beautiful rocks. The people here are wonderful, too.
  • And I'm thankful for the internet. Without it, I would have never gotten to stay in contact with my family and friends as easily. I've been back in contact with old friends from ~25 years ago and it has been wonderful, uplifting, and life-changing.
I wish you a fantastic Thanksgiving!

~~~~~~~~~
Neat

"Let all that you do be done in love"

1 Cor 16:14

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Unitarian Universalism, Mud, and Heaven

My husband and I are taking a Wednesday night study class at our church about the roots of Unitarian Universalism in America. So far we've learned about the beginnings of Unitarianism in America (the Unity of God rather than the Trinity, stressing the humanity of Jesus) and have discussed prominent figures such as Jonathan Mayhew, Joseph Priestly, and John Adams from the late 1700s to early 1800s. We've also discussed Universalism and how Universalists believe that all souls will eventually (after a period of atonement) be saved to go to heaven. People such as John Murray, Hosea Ballou, and Thomas Jefferson helped to spread the Universalist movement (also during the late 1700s to early 1800s).

There is always the question posed, "Why be good if there is no heaven or hell?" Hosea Ballou offered a moralistic view of Jesus' sacrifice rather than the idea that he died as a substitute for mankind's sins. Ballou stressed reason and rejected miracles, the Trinity (there was nothing in the scriptures to support the Trinity), and the deity of Jesus. He argued that humans are not capable of offending an infinite God and that God is a being of eternal love who wants only happiness for His children (not having us fear Him). Ballou felt that once people realized this, they would take pleasure in living a moral lifestyle and in doing good works. People didn't need to fear God or the idea of hell in order to be good.

It's all pretty interesting to think about, for sure. There are so many different beliefs out there and I enjoy learning about them all. When our minister shared a story about Hosea Ballou as a child, it was clear to me that I'm still not finished thinking about the issues of heaven and hell and life after death. This thinking and reasoning, put together with the idea of religious tolerance, is why I attend the Unitarian Universalist church.

Here's the story:
Hosea Ballou grew up in a small town in New Hampshire with 9 older brothers and sisters. His mother died before he was two, leaving his older sisters to care for him. Just like other children, he liked to learn and do new things, play, and ask questions. In the spring, it was very rainy and Hosea liked to jump in the puddles and play in the mud. He often got very dirty and his sisters were frustrated with having to wash out his muddy clothes all the time so they asked their father to tell Hosea to stop playing in the mud. But no matter how hard he tried not to, Hosea kept on playing in the mud. His father had to keep on telling him to stay out of the mud and to keep clean. Hosea was worried that his father wouldn't love him anymore if he got muddy again, but his father reassured him that he would always love him no matter how dirty Hosea would get, even though he felt disappointed and angry with him.

As Hosea grew up, he stopped playing in the mud but he kept asking questions. He'd ask his father, "how can it be that our church believes that God will let only one in a thousand people go to heaven, even if those thousand people lead good lives?" Hosea looked to the Bible to try to find the answers and went to different churches. He eventually decided that he believed in universal salvation, that all people good and bad would eventually be admitted into heaven.

His father asked him how he could believe such a thing. Hosea replied, "Because, Father, I remember what you told me when I was small. I believe that even if God is disappointed with people, or a little angry with them, God will always love them and want them to be happy, no matter what they do, and no matter how muddy they are."

~~~~~~~~~
Neat

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Am I Just a "Housewife" Now?

I had quit my job this summer and so have not been working lately. It was a part time job at the elementary school that I had held for 3 years and I found was not fulfilling my life anymore. It was a great job to have because it allowed me to work part time while earning a bit of extra income for the family, and also had the same school schedule as the kids. The problem with quitting my job, though, has been the fact that I am now a "housewife." Not a "stay-at-home mom" like I was when I chose to be home with my pre-school aged kids for 10 years. There is a difference and it is difficult to come to terms with how to define myself when I'm not working.

Anyway, as a result of not working, I've had to discover new little ways to be more frugal. One way has been to get a library card and to not buy books anymore, just borrow them. Those who know me know that I love to buy books--that feeling of owning my books is an addiction in itself. But for the good of the finances, I'm making regular trips to the library instead of the Amazon.com Book page.

One book that caught my eye the other day that I checked out was "To Hell with All That--Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife" by Caitlin Flanagan (2006). I'm halfway through it and have really enjoyed it so far. It is a sarcastic, yet well-researched book on how women's roles have changed in the last 3 decades (post WW-2) and how many women have gone from housewives to career women to stay-at-home mothers. The author discusses the high price that women pay for giving up their careers to devote themselves to home and family, the rewards that come from that choice, and the repercussions that comes from such a sacrifice.

In the town I live in, there are so many highly skilled and educated women who have chosen to be an at-home mother while their husbands have careers at the Lab. In the circle of friends that I have who are not working (or work part time at a job unrelated to their field) I know an Industrial Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Construction Engineer, Dietician, Geologist, Mathematician, Computer Scientist, Veterinarian.....the list goes on. The point is that we're all unemployed.

In the book "To Hell with That" the author writes,
"The at-home mother has a lot on her mind; to a significant extent, she has herself on her mind. She must not allow herself to shrivel up with boredom....She must go to lunch with like-minded friends, and to the movies. She needs to feed herself intellectually and emotionally; she needs to be on guard against exhaustion. She must find a way to combine the traditional women's work of child rearing with the kind of shared housework arrangements and domestic liberation that working mothers enjoy. Most important, she must somehow draw a line in the sand between the valuable, important work she is doing and the pathetic imprisonment of the housewife of old. It's a tall order."
During a run with friends yesterday, one said, "Los Alamos is turning out a bunch of marathon-running housewives" and she's right. So many of my friends have taken up running on trails together to keep active and fit as well as to fight boredom and depression. It is also the perfect opportunity to socialize with other women who share the same situation. It's what I call my "running therapy" where I run out all my demons, worries, and stress. In addition, I have non-running friends that I go to the gym with for a strength training workout. Afterwards once a week we go to have coffee together. More therapy! Also one or two times a month, a bunch of us ladies get together to play Bunco or to go to a "Ladies Night Out" dinner.

I am lucky to have a husband who is supportive of my need to get out of the house and socialize with my friends. :-)

~~~~~~~~~
Neat

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Story for Sunday

This morning's "Story for All Ages" at church was about treasure hunting. In Krakow, Poland, long ago, there was a large Jewish community. They had a Rabbi (minister and teacher), Isaac, son of Rabbi Yakel. The community of Krakow was very poor, so poor that they didn't have a place of prayer that they could go to on their sabbath day. They had to meet in homes as a community. One night as Rabbi Isaac slept, a messenger came to him in a dream telling him that if he goes to the city of Prague (in another country) and looks underneath the bridge leading to the king's castle, he will find a wonderful treasure that he can take home to his people.

Rabbi Isaac woke up from the dream, thinking how odd it was, but forgot about it as the day went on. Until the next night when he fell asleep and had the dream again. The messenger told him again that if he goes to the city of Prague and looks underneath the bridge leading to the king's castle, he'll find a marvelous treasure that he can take home back to his people. And again, Isaac woke and thought how odd the dream was and forgot about it as the day went on.

The third night, the dream came again, and again the messenger told Isaac that if he goes to the city of Prague and looks under the bridge that leads to the castle of the king, there will be a great treasure there that he could take back to his people. Now after three times, Isaac woke up and decided that he would go to Prague. It was a sign. He leaves immediately and wears out the soles of his shoes as he walked to Prague.

He comes to the bridge leading to where the castle of the king is in the city of Prague, but he doesn't look under the bridge immediately because the bridge is constantly guarded. But every morning Isaac wakes up from where he's camping and walks around the bridge. He looks at it again and again and the guards begin to notice this stranger walking around the bridge. Finally, the captain of the guard approaches Isaac and asks him why he's walking around the bridge. "What are you waiting for?" asked the captain. Rabbi Isaac replies, "I had a dream where a messenger came to me telling me to come to Prague where I'll find a treasure under the bridge leading to the castle of the king that I could take back to my people.

The captain asked him, "Why would you walk all the way to Prague for a treasure that might not even be here? Why would you listen to a dream? If I listened to a dream a few months ago, I would have left immediately and walked all the way to the city of Krakow, dug under the stove of a Rabbai named Isaac, son of a Rabbai named Yakel. There must be hundreds of Rabbis named Isaac with fathers named Yakel. Foolish!"

Isaac nodded, turned back around, and walked all the way back to Krakow. Then he dug under his stove and he found the great treasure and they built a house of prayer for the community.

Moral: Sometimes the treasures we're looking for are right here under our noses. Sometimes we need other people to tell us where they are.

Paraphrased from the story told by Rev. John Cullinan at the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos, November 1, 2009.

~~~~~~~~~
Neat

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

I've learned that there are many ways of answering the question, "Why do things happen?" Or specifically, "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

Some people believe in predestination--that everything happens because the whole plan of life was determined when the universe was created. There are also those who believe in God's (or whatever higher power you believe in) great plan for you--that He knows what your life is to be. Still others believe in the total randomness of events--that you can't control everything that happens, but do the best you can with what happens throughout life. And then there are people who believe that things happen "for a reason." That you go through your life's journey and make your own decisions, but that sometimes you can't answer that "Why do bad things happen?" question. You can only say, "Things happen for a reason" and you look for the silver lining in the cloud, pick yourself up by the bootstraps, and keep trudging forward.

Now I admit, I've been more in the "Random Thought" Camp throughout my years and have had wonderful debates over the different ways of looking at journeying through life with some very special people. I'm starting to open my mind to the "Things happen for a reason" explanation. Sure, I may think life is a series of random events, but if I think about it and truly reflect on it, over time I can see that silver lining when something bad happens. I can make something out of the randomness so that it becomes more meaningful to my life. I can apply these thoughts to the event and feel better in knowing that although something horrible has happened, I can go on with a positive outlook and apply my energy into what is most important to me. I become a stronger and wiser person.

In no way does this diminish the pain of loss or whatever the event was, but it gives me a focus--a way to apply positive energy into the healing process. To get past the grief and to look toward the future. To plan for a better "me" so that when something random comes my way, I can get through it with my head held high and with a happy heart. It just takes time. One day at a time.

P.S.: The definition of "silver lining" from Answers.com states that a silver lining is "a hopeful or comforting prospect in the midst of difficulty." It comes from the proverb [John Milton's drama, "Comus" in 1634] that can be paraphrased as every cloud has a silver lining. From the Idioms website at GoEnglish.com: "Be hopeful because difficult times always lead to better days."

P.P.S.: As a natural pessimist, I had to laugh when I found this about "silver linings" from The Phrase Finder: "Optimists see it that way. But we all know people who take the half-empty position, and they would remind us that every silver lining is surrounded by a big black cloud."

~~~~~~~~~
Neat

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Lost Them

I lost my kids. More specifically, I lost either one at a time, finding him, then losing another one, finding him, then losing two, finding one, and so on and so on. I also lost my parents and my husband for a time. This was my dream last night. We were all on an island somewhere and traveling back and forth from the island to another island (or the mainland, I don't know) on a boat. I lost them in shops, on the shore, and on the boat itself. We were always looking for the ones that were lost. It was a dream of constant loss, search, and despair, never finding my complete family.

I didn't think I needed the website DreamMoods.com to interpret the dream I had last night since I thought it was an obvious dream about the feeling of a loss in my life. But I decided to look it up anyway. This dream has three aspects in it: losing, searching, and finding. So I decided to look up these aspects at the website. Of course, a week or so ago I already had a "searching" dream that was interpreted. Here is what was said on "Searching."
To dream that you are searching for something, signifies the need to find something that is missing or needed in your life. You may be searching for love, spiritual enlightenment, peace or even a solution to a problem.
As for "Lost" or "Lose," here is what is written:
Losing things in your dream may signify lost opportunities, past relationships or forgotten aspects of yourself. Your personal associations to the thing you lose will clue you into the emotional meaning and interpretation of your dream.

To dream that someone else is lost, represents unresolved issues or feelings regarding the person that is lost. Consider also what aspect of that person you may have lost within your own self. Perhaps you need to recapture and re-acknowledge those aspects.
Under "Find" is written:
To dream that you find someone, indicates that you are identifying new facets of a relationship. You may be taking the relationship to a new level and/or direction.
So to summarize, I'm searching for something missing in my life, perhaps something unresolved related to my family or the solution to a problem. I've lost opportunities, relationships, and aspects of myself. And I'm finding new facets of relationships, taking them to a new level.

What do you think? I'm thinking it is a pretty good analysis.
~~~~~~~~~
Neat

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tony Furtado Concert in Los Alamos

Every summer season in Los Alamos a man named Russ Gordon puts together a Summer Concert Series, which are weekly concerts completely free to the public made possible through fundraisers and donations of sponsors in the area. We've been going to the concerts for as long as we have lived here (though not as often in later years since we bought our camper) and always enjoyed the Friday night musical events when we attended.

One of the first concerts we saw was in around 1999 and saw Tony Furtado and have been fans ever since. The second time he came to town for the Summer Concert was in 2001; my youngest son was only a few days old and my parents were visiting. I have great memories of that evening of wonderful music and of Mom holding the baby. Then a third time, Tony came to town in about 2004 and signed a t-shirt for me that I gave to my dad for his birthday (Dad plays banjo as well and loves Tony's music too). From there, Tony didn't come back to our little Summer Concert Series anymore, hitting the "big time" and moving to Portland, Oregon. He came to Albuquerque a couple of years ago, but we couldn't afford the concert tickets! So when I heard last week that Tony was coming to Los Alamos to play as a benefit to the Concert Series (and as a friend of Russ Gordon's), I wanted to go. Ticket prices were reasonable since it was a fundraiser and so it was meant to be. It was held at the Blue Window Bistro restaurant, which is a good place to eat (try the Southwest Chicken) so we decided to have dinner there before the concert.

Tony came alone, without the band, but brought a banjo (5-string), acoustic guitar, and electric guitar. He played and sang some old favorites of mine, some awesome banjo tunes, and the remaining 50% was music from his newest CD, "Deep Water," which is more folk-rock than his previous CDs. His slide guitar playing was mesmerizing and his banjo picking was fantastic. I found myself watching his hands as he played. His new songs were more modern and touched my heart. I've included some lyrics for you to read, but you really have to hear the songs to truly appreciate them.

I learned many things from Tony last night:
  1. A guitar string can be used to replace a broken 1st string of a banjo, but only in desperate situations such as at live concerts.
  2. "Let go the heavy; lighten up your load. If it aint what you need, let it go."
  3. Tony started to play guitar because it wasn't as heavy as the banjo and standing for 5 hours singing with a banjo was not easy.
  4. "Don't rest your soul on what you've been."
  5. Tony played his banjo along with songs on MTV as a kid when MTV still played music.
  6. "Shadows only know the color of cold."
  7. "The touch of skin can bring you back to life."
  8. "A soul weighs 21 grams."
Some song lyrics were especially poignant. Here are three songs that I particularly liked that were new to me.

Waste of the Moon (From his newest album "Deep Water," 2009)
Wither and shiver, rain on my skin
Covered my face in the shape that I'm in
Searching for solace in something that's true
Just here to witness the waste of the moon
Layers of lovers, stars in the night
Angels and devils slipping from sight
I could love you forever but I'd be a fool
Just here to witness the waste of the moon
Only the echos and embers remain
Still feel your fingertips tracing my name
It's time I finally let go of you
To be here to witness the waste of the moon
Wade through the ruins, sun at my back
Cold chill of winter beginning to crack
What's left to say when there's nothing to do
Just here to witness the waste of the moon
Only the echos and embers remain
Still feel your fingertips tracing my name
It's time I finally let go of you
To be here to witness the waste of the moon
Darkest Day (From his newest album "Deep Water" and written for his parents)
I've had open roads run through my life
And I've chosen few that served me right
But there's one thing through, a constant light
You will guide me through my darkest night
You will guide me through my darkest night
Well I've seen my dreams slip miles away
All the brilliant colors fade to gray
I don't mind what unkind fools might say
You will guide me through my darkest day
You will guide me through my darkest day
Through the dimming harm of an angry world
Your voice is full of light
Only you can tame my troubled mind
Rolling cold as life unfolds
Confused along the way
I can always look to you and say
You will guide me through my darkest day
You will guide me through my darkest day
Waste Away the Night With You (from the album "Graciously-A Gulf Benefit Compilation" recorded after Hurricane Katrina, 2006)
I like lazy days that come with rain
I like the way your mouth tastes like sugar cane
Let's take it real slow until we get it right
Then we'll find some time to waste away the night
Waste away the night with you
That's all I want to do
Let the whole world slip away
At least until we're through
Waste away the night with you
I've nothing left to prove
Do we have to face the day
Waste away the night with you
I like to hear your voice whispering my name
Real soft and low at the end of the day
Let's watch the clouds cross the dimming sky
Then I'll watch you watching me with those sleepy eyes
Waste away the night with you
That's all I want to do
Let the whole world slip away
At least until we're through
Waste away the night with you
I've nothing left to prove
Do we have to face the day
Waste away the night with you
Here's a clip of one of his banjo medleys that he played last night. Of course, the sound is not very good from my cell phone (which is all I had with me, not my trusty camera), but you can definitely hear the talent and the crowd's enjoyment (I hope it's not illegal to post this!).

video

Tony does have a MySpace site where he's got a couple of songs to listen to, such as the title track of his newest CD, "Deep Water" and the banjo tune "The Bawds of Euphony."

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Neat

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another Dream

As I said in my previous post, I dream a lot of strange dreams when I'm not feeling well, and especially when I am sleeping in like I did this morning. I only slept in until 10 instead of noon like the other day since I am feeling much better from my cold. But nonetheless, I did have a strange dream--this time with cats and kittens. In my dream, I was searching for a new kitten. I kept coming across different litters of kittens with their mamas. Some were a variety of white and brown colored, some were Siamese, and some were Tabbies. All of them were short-haired cats, probably because of my allergies and general dislike of long-haired cats (too much hair).

So was this a dream about cats? Or was this a searching dream? I went to the Dream Moods website again to see what I could discover.

Under the Dream Themes: Animals sections about cats and kittens, I discovered this that can apply to my kitty dream (but only if you count the Siamese cats as "white"):

To see a cat in your dream, symbolizes an independent spirit, feminine sexuality, creativity, and power. To see a white cat in your dream, denotes that you are going through difficult times. To see a white kitten in your dream, signifies deceit and trouble. To see non-white or soiled kittens, indicates trouble ahead for you.
I like the "independent spirit" and "feminine sexuality" ideas. :-)

And I'd like to note: all the kitties were clean, not soiled, which is good news, but they were all non-white, which would be bad news for me.

The section does go on to talk about cats representing misfortune or bad luck or that someone is being deceitful or treacherous toward you. It goes on to describe what it means to see vicious or aggressive cats (hence the term "catty") in your dreams, but considering my dream cats were maternal and baby kittens, I didn't see the parallels there.

So what about the "Searching" theme to my dream when I was going from litter to litter searching for the perfect kitten? Here's what Dream Moods says about this and I can really see this in my own life:

To dream that you are searching for something, signifies the need to find something that is missing or needed in your life. You may be searching for love, spiritual enlightenment, peace or even a solution to a problem.

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Neat

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dream Interpretation

When I am sick in bed, there are three things that I tend to do: sleep, read, and explore the internet. I slept until noon and did a little bit of reading from my current book, "Slumdog Millionaire" and now am taking on the third requirement of sickness. While sleeping, I had some weird dreams, as I often do when I'm feeling sick. There's always that stress dream of trying to find the classroom to take the final exam but can't and I end up running around all over searching, helpless. I didn't have that one this time, but it often enters in my dream state. But there's one dream that I had this morning in my sick, wheezing, and drooling state that I've had many times before (just in various different scenarios): my teeth crumble and fall out of my mouth into my hand.

(Painting on top, right is "La Rêve," or "The Dream," by Pablo Picasso, 1932).

So I found this really cool website while surfing and thought I'd share what they had to say about dreams as well as recurring dreams. According to Dream Moods, "a dream unifies the body, mind, and spirit. It provides you with insight into ourselves and a a means for self-exploration. In understanding your dreams, you will have a better understanding and discovery of your true self." Well, this all sounds good, but what does a recurring dream of your teeth crumbling and falling out of your mouth got to do with understanding my true self? Hummmm.

Intrestingly enough, the website states that dreams of teeth falling out are the most common dreams that people submit for interpretation. So much for having unique and one-of-a-kind dreams--I'm normal (well, that's debatable, anyway). Here's the interpretations that the website offers up:

1) One theory is that dreams about your teeth reflect your anxiety about your appearance and how others perceive you. Teeth are an important feature of our attractiveness and presentation to others. Everybody worries about how they appear to others. Caring about our appearance is natural and healthy.

2) Another rationalization for these falling teeth dream may be rooted in your fear of being embarrassed or making a fool of yourself in some specific situation. These dreams are an over-exaggeration of your worries and anxiety.

3) Teeth are used to bite, tear, chew and gnaw. In this regard, teeth represent power. And the loss of teeth in your dream may be from a sense of powerlessness. Are you lacking power in some current situation? Perhaps you are having difficulties expressing yourself or getting your point across. You feel frustrated when your voice is not being heard. You may be experiencing feelings of inferiority and a lack of self-confidence in some situation or relationship in your life. This dream is an indication that you need to be more assertive and believe in the value of your own opinion.

Other Perspectives

1) A scriptural interpretation for bad or falling teeth indicate that you are putting your faith, trust, and beliefs in what man thinks rather than in the word of God. The bible says that God speaks once, yea twice in a dream or a vision in order to hide pride from us, to keep us back from the pit, to open our ears (spiritually) and to instruct and correct us.

2) In the Greek culture, when you dream about loose, rotten, or missing teeth, it indicates that a family member or close friend is very sick or even near death.

3) According to the Chinese, there is a saying that your teeth will fall out if your are telling lies.

4) It has also been said that if you dream of your teeth falling out, then it symbolizes money. This is based on the old tooth fairy story. If you lose a tooth and leave it under the pillow, a tooth fairy would bring you money.
So without a complete psychoanalysis of myself, I can see some of these theories in my own life right now. The most significant theory is the #3 theory of feeling powerless. My favorite one is the "Other Perscpectives" #4 since I'd like nothing better than to come into money right about now! :-) But the reality of it all is that we're having windows replaced next week and will be forking out money instead of receiving it.

Anyway, take a look at the web site. It has a lot of great theories about the dreams that we have. There's a whole section on "naked dreams" which I found amusing.

And about that dream where I'm searching for the classroom to take the final exam...you can read the interpretation here: "exam dreams."

(Painting above, left is "The Dream," from Pierre Cécile Purvis de Chavannes, 1883).

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Neat

Monday, October 19, 2009

Go Broncos!

When I lived in northern California, my football team was was the San Francisco 49ers. They still are a team that I root for, but now that I live in New Mexico, my football team is the Denver Broncos. Denver is about 7 hours away from me and only an hour north of my sister's home. Plus, I really enjoyed Denver when my sister and I spent a weekend downtown there this last June.

The Broncos are currently 5-0-0 in the season so I'm hoping that they'll continue their winning streak tonight against the San Diego Chargers. Trouble is, the Chargers have always been one of my favorite teams also (I love visiting San Diego as those of you who've read my blog already know).

So there's the kickoff and the game is on! Go Broncos!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Deer Trap Mesa Hike

Yesterday evening, six of us went out on a hike before going out to our monthly "Ladies Night Out" dinner. We decided to go on Deer Trap Mesa (beginning of trail on left photo), which was a challenge at first because of so many rocks to climb straight up or down before getting to the actual flat mesa top trail, which is high above Barranca canyon on the right. I found the stair pathways up and down the rocks fascinating because of the foot marks ground into the soft tuff rock (photo, above right). I imagined the Ancestral Pueblo Indians carving those steps as they walked the route every day. Another fascinating structure was the "Deer Trap" that was roughly a 6 x 8 foot rectangle at around 5 foot deep (photo, left). I imagine that the Pueblo people would cover the trap with grasses or twigs and wait for an animal such as a deer to walk over it and drop into the trap, unable to get out and becoming the meal of the day. After walking on top of the rocks for a while, the mesa top does widen out and a really nice trail takes you to the end. At the end of the trail is a lovely view of the mesas around Los Alamos, the Rio Grande Valley, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains beyond (photo, above right). The round trip was just under 3 miles and took us a bit over an hour.

After our hike, we went out for a quick dinner at Bob's Bodacious BBQ here in town. Good BBQ for a reasonable price (try their pulled pork) and the perfect kind of food after a hike. I really like their macaroni salad...not too much mayo and was mostly the macaroni without all that extra crap some people put into it.

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Neat

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sandia Peak Tramway

Sandia Mountain (Photo Source)

One of my favorite things to do is to explore new places, especially if they include an outdoor adventure. My family was able to take the Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque yesterday and explored the top of the mountain. It was kind of a spontaneous event since we originally were in Albuquerque to attend the annual Balloon Fiesta but the balloons never made it off the ground for the mass ascension due to high winds. So we thought we'd do something else in Albuquerque that day. We've lived in New Mexico for 10 years now and hadn't attended Balloon Fiesta or gone on the Tramway.

The Sandia Peak Tramway website states, "A trip on the world’s longest aerial tramway transports you above deep canyons and breathtaking terrain a distance of 2.7 miles." They weren't kidding at all. It was so amazing being suspended at a height up to 1,000 feet
above the mountain. We were told at that 1,000 foot point by the tram operator that it would take us 7.8 seconds to fall to the canyon below if the cable were to break. What a comforting thought! The ride from the bottom to the top of the peak takes about 15 minutes and covers about a 4,000 foot elevation change. Yesterday, there was a 20° temperature difference from the base to the top with the top at around 35°. The summit is 10,378 feet (view, above left photo).

Of course, there's a lot of geology that I learned on this trip, which makes the adventure even better! The Sandia Mountains are a fault-block range on the eastern edge of the Rio Grande Rift Valley. The base of the tram is at about 6,500 feet elevation and is situated on a bedrock of Sandia Granite (photo, above right). The granite formed underground about 1.4 billion years ago, cooling slowly to give large crystals and phenocrysts throughout. It is rich in mica, potassium feldspar, and quartz. The feldspar is a pinkish color so the mountain actually "glows" pink at sunset. It's beautiful, for sure. I learned that "Sandia" means "watermelon" in Spanish, so the pink mountain is like the inside of the watermelon and the green conifer trees at the top of the mountain are like the green rind. And of course, watermelons are pinkish.

On the very top of the Sandia Granite is a cap of limestone that formed about 250 million years ago when the whole area was covered by an inland sea. So the granite basement rock had
limestone/shale bedding photo, above left) on top of it, then the area was uplifted about 8 million years ago along the Rio Grande Rift valley. The limestone layers are tilted at the top from roughly west to east and are filled with fossil crinoids (photo, right), bryozoans, brachiopods, and trilobites. But we only saw crinoids and bryozoans. Also abundant in the limestone were chert
nodules. Chert nodules (photo, left) form when silica (quartz) pockets within the limey mud are dissolved and then later reformed. The chert doesn't weather as easily as the limestone and so ends up in higher relief (sticking up as bumps). You may already know that "chert" is a generic term by petrologists that refer generally to all rocks composed primarily of microcrystalline quartz (without knowing it's exact rock name).


At the top of the peak was a trail (the Crest Trail) to the Kiwanis Cabin (photo, left) that was a round trip of 3 miles. The hike was gorgeous. The CCC cabin was built in 1936. The first two cabins were not built by the CCC and were built out of wood in the earlier 1930's, but lightning struck them both and burned them both to the ground. The CCC finally got smart and built this one out of the limestone in the area and it has stood to this day (with some restoration work in the 90's).

We ended our day with a treat from Cold Stone Creamery before driving back home. Sometimes plans change and good things happen because of it, like this outing.

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Neat

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Canada Bonita/Guaje Canyon Trails in Fall

A little over a month ago I went for a run along the Cañada Bonita/Guaje Canyon Trails up around Pajarito Mountain. (September 1, 2009 Blog) I went back yesterday and ran the trails again (6 miles at 9500 feet) among the beautiful trees that have now turned to their autumn colors. The aspens are shades of yellow-green, yellow, and orange, a striking contrast among the green pines. The new colors are my favorite part of fall. I definitely don't enjoy the cooler weather and shorter days so have to find pleasure in this season wherever I can find it. I recommend getting out on this trail or finding a trail yourself to enjoy the season.




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Neat