Healing minerals? Maybe, maybe not

If rocks could heal, I’m guessing I would never have been sick a day in my life.

As I life-long rock collector, I have periodically run into folks who get all atwitter when they see my collection. Yes, my specimens are beautiful, but that’s not what they care about. They instantly begin talking about all the healing properties said rocks have. At which point, I’m not sure what to say. (A rare occurrence for me, but there you have it.)

Now, to me, my rocks are glorious bits of natural art, one-of-a-kind pieces in every color and shape you can imagine. However, in the interest of fairness, I popped on my reporter’s cap and did a bit of sleuthing, a dive that took me to one site espousing the following: “Crystals were the source of power in the ancient civilizations of Lamuria and Atlantis. The Altanteans developed patterns that created numerous forcefields of energy to serve a wide spectrum of needs. These people misused among others the crystal energy and it caused the disappearance of Atlantis.”

Um…I was a history teacher for a brief spell, so you can see why I might question such a goofy statement. Still, there’s no doubt that humans have been attracted to bright, shiny rocks probably since we lived in caves. The dazzling colors certainly excited early man, but the seemingly unnatural crystal forms probably gave people the idea that certain specimens were otherworldly. Today, all of those geometric shapes—tetragonal, orthorhombic, hexagonal pyramids, to name a few—sometimes look manmade, but they’re not.

The Greeks believed that amethyst could prevent drunkenness. In the interest of science, I tested that hypothesis. Nope!

According to the websites I visited, humans have, for millennia, believed that certain minerals have specific qualities that can improve both one’s physical and mental health. Jasper, for example, is said to eliminate stress. Bloodstone will improve circulation. Citrine will help your concentration and enhance creativity. Turquoise will soothe you when you’re feeling down. Tiger’s eye will provide motivation and lesson fear. And, the big gun, quartz crystal, is said to be a master healer.

Another popular mineral is amethyst. With its striking purple crystals, it’s considered the most powerful and protective of all stones. The name comes from the Greek “amethystos,” which means sober. Grecians believed the mineral could prevent drunkenness, among other things. However, I know from, um…personal research…this is not the case.

But before we start snickering at those crystal-healing believers, consider that WebMD—my go-to site when I have the sniffles—has a page devoted to crystals as medicine. And the folks there admit that, yes, it seems there is some truth to the idea that minerals can make people feel better. While there’s no scientific evidence proving that a hunk of crystal might heal your aching bones, neuroscientists and psychologists believe cuddling a rock just might lift your spirits.

Nothing makes me happier than finding a beautiful rock in the earth.

“The placebo effect is almost certainly at play,” said psychologist Stuart Vyse, author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition. “And the mere act of doing something to take control of your destiny can often boost hope, brighten mood, and improve your ability to cope with a chronic condition. There is no scientific evidence to support the medical effectiveness of any of these remedies. But there is the possibility that they might have an indirect psychological benefit.”

And here is where I must admit that the alternative medicine folks might be right, because I can’t think of anything more uplifting than digging a beautiful rock from the earth. The feeling of joy is palpable.

So, perhaps, I shouldn’t throw stones. (Couldn’t help myself there.)

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The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

Who knew my dopey dog was so smart?

Beware if you come through the front door. You might end up with wet shoes.

We have always considered our dog Bella to be one of the dopier creatures in our pet parade. A blue-eyed cattle-dog mix, Bella came from a rescue organization when she was about one-and-a-half. The only background story was that she had been bathed and then dumped soaking wet on someone’s porch.

When the shelter folks chose us to take her in, a process that felt like we were adopting a child, we were thrilled. Even after we discovered that she had what is referred to in veterinary terms as a happy-water problem. (Okay. That’s not true. That’s what we call it.) The problem occurs when someone comes in the front door and Bella gets so excited that she pees on their shoes in delight.

Like the cats clawing the furniture—as I’ve said before, you can either love your cats or your belongings, not both—we decided we could live with Bella’s predilection.

What conspiracies might Bella be hatching with her dolly Mr. Avocado?

Lately, though, our old girl started having what’s referred to as OLDB: Old Lady Dog Bladder. (Again, this is our term, so don’t blame the vet.) We had her checked out and the doc said nothing was amiss. We were offered the chance to medicate her or try doggy diapers, but decided we’d rather work with Bella. So, we started treating her like a puppy. Paying attention to her more, praising her for telling us that she wanted to go outside, and giving her a cookie when she peed in the yard. “You are such a good girl!” we’d say. And she’d look up at us adoringly.

Bella and her buddy Sadie, who has already crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.

But then we noticed something odd. This dog—who we often joked at Christmastime should be gifted with a few more brain cells—started scamming us. She’d excitedly dance around as if she needed to go out. Then she’d pretend to pee and come running for a cookie.

Hummm? I didn’t know whether to be angry or sign her up for doggy MENSA. It made me wonder what else might be knocking around in her canine brain. Does she know more words than walk and cookie? Is she secretly plotting with the cats to take over the house? Or maybe she’s working undercover and the dopiness is all an act.

I do look at her a bit differently now. What’s really behind that big doggy smile?

I doubt we’ll ever know.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books

Things I don’t understand

Sometimes, life can be rather confusing.

The older I get, the less I understand things. I’m not talking here about things I never understood, like chemistry and algebra. I’m wondering, for example, about the sign I passed the other day, one advertising a “dry bar.” Confusing, yes? How can a bar be dry? By definition a bar serves alcohol, which makes it decidedly wet. As a girl who went to college in a dry county, I do know the difference.

It seems a dry bar in today’s parlance is a place where one goes to get one’s hair “blown out.” Clients can choose a bouncy blowout, a wavy blow dry, a natural blowout and even a 90’s blowout, the ad for which proclaims, “Nineties hair is back in a big way — we’re talkin’ a gravity-defying fluffy blowout. Voluminous, low maintenance and low-key sexy…”

As one who lived through the 90s, I’m not sure a return to those colossal coiffures is a good idea. I’m also unsure about the advertised Brazilian blowout, which brings to mind a Brazilian wax, something I’ve worked hard to forget.

It appears that 90’s hairstyles are once again hot. Does anyone think that’s a good idea?

Then there’s the Nail Supply store I saw the other day. The place seemed large and I wondered just how much space might be needed for some nail clippers, emery boards, and an assortment of nail polish. Then I thought I might have it wrong. Maybe they were selling nails: framing nails, box nails, sinker nails, masonry nails. Those types of things. But again, the size of the store seemed massive if the only thing in the inventory was nails. Very curious.

How is it even remotely possible that a paper bag would prevent a wine bottle from breaking if you dropped it?

A little later, I walked into my favorite store: Total Wine. For those who live in parts of the country without this fabulous retailer, it’s a giant warehouse full of pretty much nothing but booze. Wine, liquor, and beer from every corner of the world. There’s also a smattering of eatables like cheeses and chocolate and upscale munchies, which makes the place the perfect go-to spot in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I plan to be inside when they lock those doors on such an occasion. And yet, I noticed something the other day that made me wonder. The clerk at the counter reached for a narrow, brown-paper sack in which she intended to place my wine bottle.

“It’s in case you drop the plastic bag,” she explained.

“The bottle will still smash anyway,” I said, pointing out the obvious.

I looked into the practice later and discovered that originally the bag was to give the buyer some privacy, the idea being that maybe they didn’t want anyone to know they were buying alcohol. Of course, I’m guessing most everyone knew what was in the sack, so the practice seems a bit silly. And, of course, the protective effects against broken glass are non-existent.

QR codes look a bit like Rorschach tests. I don’t know about you, but if I look at them too long, I get a headache.

Then there are QR codes. Now don’t jump on your soapbox and call me old technophobe. I know that one takes a picture of those weird, black and white, Rorschach-test looking things, in order to be linked with something online. I get the concept. I just can’t figure out how anyone came up with the idea. As I generally do when confused, I researched the issue. Turns out a Japanese engineer named Masahiro Hara invented the QR code back in 1994, in an effort to come up with a better way to track automotive parts. His idea was an extension of the barcode, only with a QR code information can be stored both vertically and horizontally, which is pretty damned brilliant. Methinks Mr. Hara probably never had a problem with chemistry or algebra.

I guess new things will always keep popping up. And maybe that’s for the best. It keeps us on our toes, don’t you think?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg


The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books

The road to a happy retirement can be slippery

I used to have a lot of things to do, which is why retirement has been a bit difficult for me

Like most people, I’ve spent my life running from one responsibility to another. I was a teacher for 20 years, this following about 15 as a reporter in both television and print. All along the way, I was an amateur sports official, an avocation I practiced for four decades. And I’m a foster mom and an author. On top of all that, I worked out most of my life, so the gym and pool were a second home.

Today, I’m retired from my everyday job in the classroom. I no longer traverse football fields blowing whistles, and my workout regimen is a fraction of it once was. Adding to the strangeness is the fact that recently I became an empty-nester as the kids have all spread their wings and flown.

One fabulous aspect to all of this is that the alarm clock that used to brutalize me every morning is no longer an instrument of torture. I looked forward to this time in my life when I could sleep in and do anything I wanted, whenever I wanted. But it turns out retirement can be tricky.

In order to have a happy retirement, we need to consider that the process takes time and effort.

According to the American Psychological Association article “Retiring minds want to know” by Jamie Chamberlin, “Too few people consider the psychological adjustments that accompany this life stage, which can include coping with the loss of your career identity, replacing support networks you had through work, spending more time than ever before with your spouse and finding new and engaging ways to stay active.”

That part about losing your career identity is one I didn’t consider. Like many people, I believed my job was not just what I did, it defined who I was. Leaving the classroom and officiating fields behind left a big hole in my world. Which, considering my personality, is apparently not that strange.

“(P)eople with certain personality characteristics—such as being competitive and assertive—had more difficulty adjusting to retirement…compared with more mild-mannered people coming from low-pressure jobs,” said Chamberlin. “The very attributes that make people successful in their work life often work against them in retirement.”

“I worry that you won’t have enough to do,” my sweetie pie often says to me. “You can’t just do nothing. You always have to have a project. Why can’t you just relax?”

Perhaps because to me a successful day is one in which I accomplish lots of things: took care of the animals, prepared healthy meals, taught school, read the newspaper, answered e-mails, wrote a book chapter, officiated a ballgame, read a few pages of a novel before nodding off. Something like that. And I’d give myself extra credit if some unexpected responsibility crashed into my schedule and I got that done too.

But today the activities in which I used to participate have been pared back dramatically. I’m still writing books and doing all the promotional activities that come with that kind of work. (This blog, for example.) But I often find myself standing in a room wondering what I might do next.

Retirement looks different for everyone. Perhaps someday I’ll just learn to relax.

So, how can we be happy in retirement? First, understand that the process takes time. We’ve been working our entire lives. Stopping cold-turkey can give us whiplash. One way to cope might be part-time work, especially in a job that gives us pleasure. Another is to maintain a solid social circle, because in-person face time with others is good for our mental health. Volunteering is also an excellent way to fill all that free time we now have, because it provides both social interaction and psychological well-being. Studies show helping others can offset feelings of anxiety, stress, and anger, which in turn improves cardiovascular health.

Just remember that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all road to a happy retirement. The trick is to find what works for us individually.

I don’t have the answer yet, but I’m working on it.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books