. . . 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, 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."


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.

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!).

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."


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.