Your Last Day

“Against the grain should be a way of life … Every second counts ’cause there’s no second try, So live like you’ll never live it twice, Don’t take the free ride in your own life” ~ Nickleback

What would you do if you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and you were given a certain amount of time to live? Would you make a bucket list and try to do everything on it? Would you hold up in your home until the day you die? Donate every dime you have?

Or would you…well, I think you know.

I’ve known a few people who have been diagnosed with and died from terminal illness. The first one was my grandfather who had liver cancer. I remember on summer vacation riding my bike 6 miles to his house so I could visit with him. I still, 30 years later, vividly remember the day he past away.

One person I had a bond with but not super close to moped around had metastasized cancer. This person moped around but before passing away, this person had been planning a trip but didn’t make it. A few of us carried out the trip they’d planned and sprinkled some ashes in a couple places there. I still remember the night that person took their life.

During my years in healthcare, I became close with a number of individuals who passed away from terminal illness. For most their terminal illness was old age. I’ll never forget what one patient told me one day, “Live your life now while you can.”

Thought for the day: Live each day to its fullest, laugh your heart out, love like there’s no tomorrow, and tell the ones you love how you feel. Life is to short to live otherwise.

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Laughter

“A smile starts on the lips, a grin spreads to the eyes, a chuckle comes from the belly; but a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, overflows, and bubbles all around.” ~ Carolyn Birmingham

Being serious all the time can have an effect on our health just like stress. If you suddenly stopped having fun and laughter you can have problems in your relationships, depression, or maybe problems with drug/alcohol addiction. It also can lower your immunity leaving you vulnerable to illness and perhaps cancer as well as heart problems including heart attacks or strokes.

On the other hand, just the short list of the benefits of laughter is that it decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, which improves your resistance to disease. It triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

There’s no one around to laugh with? No problem! We live in an age of electronics which means that we have the ability to order old reruns to watch on t.v. We can even find the old shows like the Honeymooners, the Three Stooges and even Lucille Ball. There are all kinds of comedy shows and movies out there like dry humor, stupidity comedy, and comedy with foul language. Just look for a funny show or movie on t.v., grab some snacks and Kleenex for those laughs that make you laugh so hard that you cry, pull up a chair and just laugh. Before you know it your stress and bad mood will melt away.

Thought for the day: Question. How do you catch a unique rabbit? You ‘neek up on it! Oh, I see I made you chuckle just a little bit. 😂😂

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Humor

“Cancer is probably the unfunniest thing in the world, but I’m a comedian, and even cancer couldn’t stop me from seeing the humor in what I went through.” ~ Gilda Radner

Too much seriousness can truly be a serious matter. Being serious all the time can have an effect on our health just like stress. If you stopped having fun and laughter you can have problems in your relationships, depression, maybe problems with drug/alcohol addiction. It also can lower your immunity leaving you vulnerable to illness and perhaps cancer as well as heart problems including heart attacks or strokes.

The benefits of laughter is that it decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, which improves your resistance to disease. It triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can temporarily relieve pain.

There’s no one around to laugh with? No problem! With today’s electronics we have the ability to order old reruns to watch on t.v. We can even find the old shows like the Honeymooners, the Three Stooges and even Lucille Ball(now I’m dating myself. Lol!). Plus there’s all kinds of comedy like dry humor, stupidity comedy, and comedy with all levels of foul language. Just look for a funny show or movie on t.v., grab some snacks and Kleenex for those laughs that make you laugh so hard that you cry, pull up a chair and just laugh.

Thought for the day: During one of life’s long, hard days you can look forward to going home and just laughing all that “stuff” off. You’ll be better off in the long run.

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Bucket List

Written April 30, 2017(edited September 20, 2017)

“The way you are living will have been your life” – Unknown

We’ve all heard someone say or we have said it ourselves. “I’m going to put that on my Bucket List.” So what the heck is a “Bucket List”? It’s a list of all the goals you want to achieve, dreams you want to fulfill and life experiences you want to experience before you die. It probably gained notoriety after the 2007 movie “The Bucket List”. It is a comedy-drama film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman that follows two terminally ill men on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket.”

I used to see emails and social media posts once in awhile that was a list of stuff the one may or may not have done in their life. What the receiver was supposed to do was to check off things you have or haven’t done in life. Some things were silly like the “Have you ever sang in the shower?” while others were “Have you ever traveled outside of your state or country?” It was a fun thing to do once in awhile. But what if you really were going to “kick the bucket” in a certain amount of time?

I have no idea how much time I have left in this world but yet at the same time, I know I’m not getting any younger. I remember thru my 20’s and much of my 30’s doing all kinds of fun things in the summer with my best friend. Things like hiking, swimming, fishing, camping, going to our county’s fair, other local festivals, or just go for a ride on a rainy day. We called it the loop around the lake and we’d stop at local fruit stands, garage sales and other local shops.

Unfortunately, over the last few years, we’ve done fewer and fewer things in the summer and each fall I kick myself because I didn’t do a fraction of the things I wanted to for one reason or another. It has really started to affect me the last few months.

I’ve had some health issues the last couple of years but none of my doctors can really definitively tell me what’s wrong. We may be getting closer to a diagnosis and, if it’s what one doctor thinks…well…I’m not going there today. They treat my symptoms with pills, those, side effects with another pill and send me on my way. No one cause is linked to another. One day on my way to an appointment out of town, a song I knew and loved came on and I listened to the words as I sang them. Each time I sang a verse I looked at my life and how I’d been living it, or not living it, the last few years.

Since that day, I’ve decided to make some changes. The first thing I’ve been working on changing is to learn to be more present in the moment. Quite often if I’m doing something fun, I am thinking of things that I need to do or stuff I should be doing other than having fun doing what I was doing. Rarely have I ever enjoyed the moment before it was over.

So this year I decided to do something slightly different. Instead of a bucket list of stuff before I die, I’m doing one for the summer. I want to do a bunch of things that I haven’t done or things I haven’t been doing the last few years. Even if we have little to no money there are things we can do in this lil corner of the world. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. I just want my best friend and I to be able to look back when it’s snowing and blowing outside and say, “Remember this past summer when we…?” “Yeah, I remember when you did…”. Even if our adventure had some major problem we can look back and giggle a little about it and decide to do things differently the next time.

No, I can’t make up for the time that was lost but I can do everything in my power to change it going forward. Yes, I will be busy with moving into my new home(which I will own) and I will need to get settled. I can however play hookie from housework and enjoy whatever comes my way that day. Besides, isn’t that what rainy days are for?

Thought for the day: This is the short version of My Summer Bucket List(I hope to do all these things at least once if not more. The check marks are things I have done so far):

Go to places like

  1. Panama Rocks
  2. The gorge
  3. The beach✔
  4. Flea markets
  5. Antique shops
  6. Kinzua country

Do things in nature like

  1. Hike of course
  2. Garage sales✔
  3. Swim(well maybe wade into) Lake Erie
  4. Paint my nails every or every other week✔
  5. Camp out
  6. Make a new garden at my new home✔

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Garnet Mining

Garnet, the January birthstone and official gem of New York State. During a recent trip to Herkimer, NY, I traveled about 2 hours north to one of the world’s largest garnet mines. Barton Garnet Mine on Gore Mountain in the heart of the Adirondack mountains. On this venture I was in awe once again of the sheer beauty of the area and the gems that are found here. Knowing what my birthstone looks in a piece of jewelry, I was a little shocked to see how it’s found in nature.

About Garnet

Garnet formation dates back to about the Precambrian Period. Formation of this versatile mineral began about 500 million years before that in the Archeozoic Era when the Grenville Sea, one of the great prehistoric seas, covered this area and extended northward into Canada.

Garnets are found throughout the world in metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rocks. Most garnet found near Earth’s surface forms when a sedimentary rock is subjected to intense heat and pressure(contact metamorphosis).

Barton Garnet Mine

In the late 1800s, Henry Hudson Barton began mining garnet on his land(on Gore Mountain) using just picks and chisels to etch out the deposits of the red-brown gems. In 1878, Mr Barton opened Barton Garnet Mine, which went on to become one of the world’s largest garnet deposits.

Barton Garnet Mine is located near North Creek, New York, which is 2,600 feet above sea level. It is on the north side of Gore Mountain in the heart of the Adirondacks, the oldest known range of mountains in North America. Here, garnet crystals over two feet in diameter are often seen and crystals over three feet have been reported. The garnets on Gore Mountain are found in diorite rock which is encased in a rim of hornblende with a thin layer of feldspar between the garnet and the hornblende.

Garnets are mined for more than just jewelry. Most people are often surprised to learn that garnet occurs in many other colors and has many other uses. In the United States, the major industrial uses of garnet in 2012 were waterjet cutting (35%), abrasive blasting media (30%), water filtration granules (20%), and abrasive powders (10%).

Other miscellaneous facts about the mines:

  1. Largest garnet crystals in the world
  2. Oldest family owned and operated mine in the United States
  3. ANYONE can find a gem quality garnet without using tools
  4. Fantastic panoramic views over the Adirondack Park
  5. Easy access… with a tour guide just drive right into the old mine site.
  6. Handicap Accessible – Mine site is flat, making it good for walking and for wheelchair accessibility
  7. Garnet mine tour business started in 1933
  8. Gore Mountain garnet deposit is recognized as a world famous geology site
  9. The hardest garnet in the world is only found on Gore Mountain, making the garnet extremely rare.
  10. The Barton garnet has an unusual and beautiful ruby red color that flashes in the sun.
  11. In 1969, the Governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, made the Barton garnet the New York State Gem Stone.

My Trip

As we traveled up Gore Mountain, I was in awe of the absolutely picturesque scenery.  Along the way we drove past several of the roughly 28 lakes that are in the region but we stopped at perhaps the most beautiful of the lakes, Indian Lake.

To go to the mine, we had to stop first at the gift shop to join the tour that had just left for the mine. After getting information about the tour, we made our way to the mine, well, where visitors are allowed to be. If I thought the drive up the mountain was beautiful, I ain’t see nothin’ yet.

After we left the Gore Mountain Mineral Shop, while on our way to catch up with the rest of the tour, I saw more of my Higher Power creations. We drove down the gravel road to what I can best describe as a lagoon of sorts. In front of me was a little pond with the stream gently flowing into then out of a pond that sat a the base of the mountain stood a few stories high behind it.

As I walked down to the water’s edge, there were a couple of medium sized, dark grey boulders with big ruby red splotches on them. Those were where the garnets were formed. On the ground in front of me, to my left, my right and behind me garnet pieces littered the ground. Sparkly little brownish, crimson pieces of different sized gems.

As I sat along the water’s edge, the tour guide’s voice faded. I soaked in the sounds of the water and the beauty that surrounded me while gathering up a few pieces of my birthstone. This was quite a contrast and a nice break from activities the day before at the diamond mine. I wasn’t climbing mounds of rock piles while risking a broken ankles find just one Herkimer diamond. The tools I needed were my bare hands and a container to pick up the garnet pieces. My hands had a break from chisels and hammers which was good as my blood blister healed for a day.

Thought for the day: Being in my Higher Power’s country I was able to feel more closer to Him which gave me clarity of thought and I was able to put things in my life into perspective. Doing this, being in nature, is something I encourage all people to do not matter where you live.

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My Trip to Herkimer, NY

Written July 31, 2017

“A muddied diamond is better than an unsullied pebble.” ~Matshona Dhliwayo

We’ve all heard the idiom about “a diamond in the rough”, right? How about a diamond in the mud. Actually the ones I was after are more of a crystal but they look like diamonds. More on my dirty story in a moment.

I recently took a vacation to a relatively little known place called Herkimer. It is a town at the base of the Adirondack mountains in New York State. The area is popular for one main reason. Diamond mining. These are not the diamonds that you find in a jewelry store. They are actually crystals that are similar to quartz crystals but they are very clear.

History

My lil corner of the world was once covered by the Laurentide Ice Sheet. This ice sheet occurred in the Pleistocene epoch(about 1.8 million – 8,000 years ago) aka “The Great Ice Age”. It created much of the landscape we see today in southern Canada and the northern United States.

When the glacier retreated, it left behind accumulations of dirt and rocks that range in size from powdery silt to large rocks and boulders, some the size of a car. It also created the most beautiful hills, valleys and lakes. It also caused many changes to the shape, size, and drainage of the Great Lakes. There are numerous, and I do mean numerous, small lakes in the Herkimer region each one with their own beauty. Almost all of this beauty I have been blessed to see.

In the Herkimer region, diamond looking crystals formed in cavities of prehistoric rock called dolostone in the Cambrian-age(about 500 million years ago) which is VERY hard. These cavities are frequently lined with drusy quartz crystals and are often coated with a tarry hydrocarbon.

Herkimer Diamonds look a lot like other forms of quartz. They are almost always transparent and range from colorless to smoky in color. While most crystals come to a faceted point on one end(terminated), Herkimer diamonds have points on both ends(double terminated).

These crystals can contain a wide range of inclusions(a birthmark of sorts). Particles of solid hydrocarbon materials are the most common inclusion while calcite, dolomite, pyrite, and sphalerite are common mineral inclusions. Inclusions range from small visible particles down to micron-size particles. When abundant, they can impart color in the crystals. Salt water and liquid petroleum can also be seen. Phantom inclusions are crystals that form over pre-existing crystals.

The Mohawk Indians and early settlers found these crystals in stream sediments and plowed fields. They were amazed with the beauty of the crystals and immediately held them in high esteem. They used the crystals as amulets, making tools, and traded them with other tribes. They began to lose interest in the crystals when European glass beads began to arrive in the early 1600s.

Besides being made into jewelry, Herkimer Diamonds are known for their metaphysical properties of energy and chakra healing along with balancing energy. The Herkimer Diamond, with its pure, crystal light, clears the chakras and the mind, opening channels for spiritual energy to flow. They are basically the overall healing crystal.

Ways of Prospecting

Note: All of the tools I mention can be rented at the mines or you can bring your own to most if not all the mining sites.

The key to finding Herkimer Diamonds is a knowledge of what they look like and where they can be found. The stone cavities that they can be found can be smaller than a pea or several feet across. Some of the mines have the dolostone exposed and a significant amount of broken rock is scattered across the quarry floor.

The best way to prospect is the “find and break” method which is breaking open the dolostone with a heavy hammer and a chisel. Many mines make piles of rocks of all sizes for everyone of all ages can find their own diamond. Many times you’ll find that the stones that you break open will be empty or you will accidentally shatter a crystal, but if you are lucky, you can break one open to reveal one or several precious diamonds.

A friendly warning tho, the dolostone is very tough rock, so expect to work hard and using safety glasses is strongly recommended. Wise collectors wear gloves to protect their hands from cuts or accidental finger smashing(personal experience). Another good idea is to wear jeans and a long-sleeve shirt but doing this in the middle of July or August can get pretty warm. Good sturdy ankle high boots is a must if you climb the rock piles. Also, I learned from personal experience to have bandaids handy for the occasional cuts and other mishaps

This way can lead to a few good finds. The keys to success are selection of good rocks to break and not being discouraged if you break fifty rocks without finding a crystal or if you accidentally shatter a good crystal.

There’s also “scavenger” prospecting. Many people have been successful by simply searching rock rubble, the quarry floor or even nearby streams for crystals. I found several really nice crystals this way and lots of tiny ones. This is the easiest and safest prospecting method, although I like to climb the rock piles to find them.

You can also “cavity” prospect. This is for finding large quantities of crystals and even crystals joined together. This method is done by breaking into large cavities in the quarry walls and floors using sledgehammers and wedges (power equipment is not permitted at the mines). This method requires patience, time, and a knowledge of how to break an extremely durable dolostone.

Recently, the mine that I go to put in a sluice which yielded some very nice finds for me. This is done by taking a scoop or two of gravel and putting it in a couple of screened trays, one with big hole and one with little holes. You then put those screens into the trough of water that’s stands about waist high. While the tray is in the water you agitate the screens kinda like a washing machine. Doing this washes the dirt off the stones and sorts the big ones from the little ones. If you’re really lucky a big one will appear with the big rocks.

My Experience

This was my 3rd trip to Herkimer and I must say, it doesn’t get boring for this writer. Each year I’ve gone I either find a more unique crystal than last year or I have some new experience. The last two trips my friends and I mined in the blazing hot sun and one day in a thunderstorm. Talk about unnerving! This year we were blessed with cooler temperatures and cloudy conditions with one day of steady rain. I say blessed because even tho the sun helps to point out the crystals on the quarry floor, it also makes it very warm. The rain helps to clean the dirt off the precious gems and kept the mob of people away but it made for a very dirty day but I didn’t mind. I donned a rain poncho and had a good time. Growing up a tomboy definitely came in handy that day. This was my diamond in the mud day.

This year was perhaps my best year for finding Herks, as they are affably called. I found Herks in each of the methods I described above, except cavity prospecting. Each method I found tiny perfect ones, ones with chips in them, broken ones and larger ones in very good condition.

Next to the beauty of these crystals is the amazing scenery in this area of New York. I’m not sure which was more healing for my soul, the crystals or the sunset in the mountains. One thing is certain tho, I’m going to keep going there every summer as long as my body will allow it. Heck, my best friend and I have talked about moving there and prospecting all year long. Definitely an option I’m going to keep open.

Coming up is my visit to a garnet mine 2 hours away from Herkimer.

Thought for the day: No matter what the weather or the day brings, there’s always some bright, shiny ray of light to find, regardless of it’s size.

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