. . . 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.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sending My Oldest to College

So it has been almost 2 months since I dropped my oldest son off at college. I think it has taken this long to discover the "new norm" that is my life with 1/3 of my precious cargo missing from my day-to-day life. Leaving him at college, even though only 3 hours away, was incredibly difficult. I barely made it to the parking lot without being overcome with tears. But the good thing was that two weeks later, Labor Day, he came with us camping and it was just like he never left.

The other 2/3 now each have their own rooms, not having to share anymore, and both are now in double beds instead of their twins. These two are incredibly happy with their new, private spaces. My only concern is that now my oldest does not have a bedroom nor his own private space for when he comes back home for visits and breaks. He will now have to sleep on the sleeper sofa upstairs in the family room. He says he doesn't mind, but in my heart I think he does. I just don't want him to feel that he does not have a home base anymore.

Next home visit will be during a 3-day weekend after midterms in 9 days (but who's counting).

My sister posted an article on her Facebook page, thinking ahead to when her oldest goes to college next year. I'd like to share the link with you and feel so much of what the author feels as he sends his oldest off to college as well: Saying Goodbye to My Child, The Youngster.
The emotions of a parent, I can attest, are an odd mix: part pride, part resignation, part self-pity, even a bit of something that feels like grief.... 
Eighteen years is not enough. A crib is bought. Christmas trees get picked out. There is the park and lullabies and a little help with homework. The days pass uncounted, until they end. The adjustment is traumatic. My son is on the quiet side — observant, thoughtful, a practitioner of companionable silence. I’m learning how empty the quiet can be....
Well, 18 years is a window that closed too quickly. But, my son, those days have been the greatest wonder and privilege of my life. And there will always be a room for you.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Vacationing in Durango and Silverton

We spent a few days vacationing in the Durango, Colorado area this week with family. We stayed up at the Durango Mountain Resort in a vacation rental that fit our family of 12. 
View of a little creek outside our rental balcony
The area is absolutely beautiful, located in the San Juan Mountains with the Animas River running through the valley that was formed by a long mountain glacier. The Durango valley is surrounded by tilting layers of sedimentary rock formed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic periods (570-65 million years ago), representing episodes of deposition and retreat of ancient seas. Sandstone and shales have a reddish tint to them in places. All this is rested on the granite bedrock (1700 million years ago).
Sedimentary Rocks

We explored Downtown Durango on a couple of different days. Downtown has a lot of cute shops and good restaurants, including Steamworks Brew Pub (try the Lizard Head Red!), Cold Stone Creamery, Durango Coffee Company, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and notably Ken & Sue’s, where we were spoiled with great food and service when celebrating our parents’ 50th anniversary. We tasted wine at the Four Leaves Winery and enjoyed the Pinot Noir and apple-infused Riesling the most. Lastly, we hopped on the Animas River Walk and enjoyed strolling along the river. We walked about a mile of the seven mile walkway.
Steamworks' Lizard Head Red was delicious!
Strater Hotel, Downtown Durango
Me at the Animas River
We took a day trip to Silverton, an historic mining town full of nice little shops, located at the edge of a volcanic caldera that erupted 27 million years ago. We took a tour of the “Old Hundred Gold Mine” just outside of town in Galena mountain, 1/3 mile in and 3,000 feet underground at an elevation of 12,750 feet and a temperature of about 46 degrees inside. Gold was claimed there at the turn of the century in about 1898 and was mined by various companies until the early 1970’s. Our tour guide explained the hard rock mining process and equipment used throughout the years.
Ready to enter the Old Hundred Mine
I'm a hard rock miner! Where's a quartz vein?
We drove the winding road from Silverton to Ouray and enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the drive, especially the Red Mountains, before driving back to the resort. The Red Mountains are a complex system of volcanic flows that have been altered due to Late Tertiary (approximately 1 million years ago) hydrothermal activity. The iron oxides are shades of red, orange, and yellow against the white and gray clays, and are absolutely beautiful.
Red Mountain #3 
On the way out of town on the drive back home we stopped at Chimney Rock National Monument, a sacred place for the Ancestral Puebloans over 1,000 years ago at the southern edge of the San Juan Mountains. On the 1/3 mile Great Kiva trail we saw an evacuated pit house and great kiva. The ruins are one of the highest elevation Ancestral Puebloan sites and is the northeastern-most Chacoan outlier. (Note: price of admission not worth it unless you do both the self-guided and tour-guided trails).
Chimney Rock

Also on the way home, we stopped at Echo Amphitheater (back in New Mexico), a favorite place to take a break on the drive and see the beautiful, colorful rocks of the box canyon. (See blog post Ghost Ranch for a description of the rocks in this formation.)
Echo Amphiteater

It was a fabulous vacation and we had so much to celebrate. The house is too quiet today now that we're back and everyone has left. I look forward to next year’s vacation with my parents and my nephew's graduation, when we'll be together again.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Returning from Spring Break

So I'm thinking that the average person gains 5 pounds after a week's vacation. What do you think? My scale verified that for me this morning so now it is time to un-do what I did this last week. But was it worth it? Oh, yes!

We spent a week in Orlando, Florida, which meant a beach trip and a visit to the four Disney parks. Each one has something wonderful to offer and we had an amazing time. One thing I do suggest, if at all possible, take a 2 hour break in the afternoon back at the condo to rest and recharge before going back for evening activities. It made a major difference for us.

Coming back to northern New Mexico, I realize how much that I miss warmth. It is springtime here, which means cool days with high breezes. In Florida, it was in the 80's all week, and although overcast many days, was so heavenly. Now I'm back in jeans and jackets instead of the shorts and tank tops. But the good news is that there is no humidity here in my region of the world, so my hair isn't poofy like it was in Florida. But again, bad news is that the humidity kept my contacts moist and now I'm suffering from the dryness by 8 pm where in Florida, my eyes weren't irritated at all. And there's no beach in New Mexico. But the skies are blue with pure white puffy clouds and it is beautiful in its own way.

But it is good to be home from vacation. I did sleep in until noon today, really feeling the effects of the go-go-go week, something that we always seem to do when we're away. Seems when we vacation, we see and do so many things that we need a vacation from our vacation when we return. But it was worth the time and energy and we had a wonderful week.

Now for the 7 week crunch until the end of the school year, and yet another vacation. This time to celebrate my oldest graduating from high school and my parents' 50th anniversary a few months ago. We'll see if it all pulls together.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Already April

So a couple of things.....

1) My New Year's Resolutions have taken a back burner to life and I haven't been succeeding. Life has intervened..middle kid ended up with an appendectomy, older kid ended up stressed over final semester of senior year, hubby traveling so much. Anyway, at this moment it doesn't matter too much since spring break has begun and I'll be on the way to Disney World tomorrow. I'll get back on track after I get back from vacation.

2) Something humbling occurs to a person when they are making out a will and a trust for the kids for after you die. The whole power of attorney thing, both financial and medical, turns over your own self to the person you choose, in faith that they will do the right thing by you. Who needs to renew their marriage vows! The same commitment to a marriage can be made by signing over your power of attorney to each other. It's an act of total faith in your spouse that recommits you to your marriage. Faith and trust made stronger after 20 years.