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31  Lapidary Shop / Moderator, Catmandewe ( Tony ) / Miscellaneous Shop Talk / Re: Does anyone here have a Canon Rebel? Getting fuzzy pics would like to compare. on: February 24, 2015, 08:44:08 am
ToTheSummit said:

I have owned point-n-shoots that do amazing things on just an automatic setting.

I say:

AMEN to that!  I have a Canon PowerShot A720 IS.  It's my 2nd of the exact same model, and while my lack of technical knowledge about photography and lighting is pretty obvious to a keen eye, non-photographers tend to go full-on bonkers over the quality and detailing in automatic-setting macro shots of stones.  Botswana agate and oco geodes so far are the most popular.

One of the reasons I've never gotten serious about polarizing, macro, or other lenses for this camera is because I have yet to find one that fits.  I even tried using the camera model info listed above as part of the search string, and the ONLY set of lenses to turn up anywhere as a result are a minimum 1/4 inch wider than the lens assembly on the camera, with nothing even resembling attaching hardware.

bobby1 said:

You move to the edge of the object, hold the trigger button down slightly until the camera obtains a clear focus then move to the center of the object and fully depress the trigger button.

I say:

That's exactly how I get ANY shots of African blue lace agate!  The banding doesn't provide high enough contrast, and with my Canon the choices are Bobby's method or manual focus.  I suck at manual focus.  I don't know precisely how either of these techniques affect crispness, sharpness, et cetera, but monkeying around with them should be reasonably easy.

If anyone would like to see some of the mineral macros I do have, I'll gladly post a few in an appropriate thread elsewhere on the site.  Meanwhile, I must scram as I'm about to be late for an appointment.
32  Lapidary Shop / Moderator, Catmandewe ( Tony ) / Miscellaneous Shop Talk / Re: Finishing sprays to protect patina and prevent rub off from silver aluminum ring on: February 24, 2015, 08:34:44 am
Here is what was suggested to me for sealing stones and giving them a "faux polish" since I don't own any lapidary equipment and probably won't be changing that any time soon...(the joys of living in a 650-sq-foot upstairs apartment...)

The fella who recommended this is a lapidary and jeweler in my local area, but not someone I know really really well since I rarely get out.  He suggested "car engine enamel", which was actually very easy to find at the local parts store.  The front label on the can I still have to wait to use due to temperature guidelines says:

VHT
High Temperature Engine Enamel
Gloss Clear
Protective Finish
Chip Resistant
For Engine Block & Engine Parts
Up To 550F (288C)

He said it can be gotten rated up to 1500F and is, as the label suggests, used to keep the engine blocks and custom parts of expensive hot rods clean when they are driven and/or shown.  The instructions specify use between temperatures of 60F to 95F for initial application and drying; NOAA says my town's current temperature is 16F so it'll be a while before I can try it out because I'll have to do it outside.  When I do I will post my results, but in the meantime the stuff is not hideously expensive and so if there aren't reasons you've already discovered to avoid using it, a quick and cheap experiment will be easy for anyone with a ventilated but still heated workplace available.  I don't know how it would do with the wear and tear of a ring, but it should at the very least be able to bond to the metal, since that's what it's formulated to do.
33  Lapidary Shop / Moderator, Catmandewe ( Tony ) / Miscellaneous Shop Talk / So I got all freakin' excited... on: February 24, 2015, 08:25:32 am
Friends were over yesterday, and one of the topics of conversation was this cool little gadget they just found--a pocket-sized "UV" flashlight that takes AAA batteries instead of watch batteries.  I was all "Ohboy ohboy ohboy I might be able to narrow down some tricky IDs a little!"  I went out online looking for images of common fluorescent minerals--not a tough search!

Not one thing lit up, including the Patagonian "oco/ocho" geodes I have.  I chose them because I found more than one image of oco geodes fluorescing vivid green, of which there is not a hint in the beam from the flashlight.  I even tried it in the darkest room in the apartment other than closets (which have no floor space any more) and got zero actual fluorescence.  I strongly suspect the LED lights just have a purple filter in them somewhere.

My relevant question is now: does such a thing as a real, battery-operated UV flashlight or portable cordless light exist, and if so, what search string(s) will help me find one I can afford?  Until such time as I can make my rockhounding habit serious enough to warrant buying a Mohs pick set (nearly 20% of my monthly income, for the record) an inexpensive UV flashlight would be SO HANDY.  Even if it runs on watch batteries.  I have "notify me of replies" active, so if anyone even has a theory I would love to know about it!  help
34  Lapidary the Internet and You / Moderator, Michael Hoover / Shop and Swap / Re: Christmas rocked, but not entirely in a puntastic way... on: February 03, 2015, 06:20:24 am
I will have to get some natural-light photos.  These are definitely not pink anywhere but under my desk lamp because I'm not a good technical-details photographer and don't know how to make the camera see less yellow.  I've never seen the "turtleback" effect in rose quartz or amethyst, unless they were cut from a larger piece of some kind of chalcedony--it's like the turtlebacks only happen in cryptocrystalline forms, not massive or druzy.  I haven't handled much stone by hand, but I do spend a LOT of time wandering around websites for mines, lapidaries, retailers, shows, collections, and museums to learn about things I don't have the resources to acquire for myself at this point, and I'd be thrilled with any links showing rare or unusual internal features in non-cryptocrystalline quartzes.  :)

As to the relics of grinding, I'm not the one who did the lapidary work and the fella who did has never ever asked me for money because I always tell him to keep what he wants for his jewelry-making business.  I think out of this lot he kept maybe half a dozen stones; when he did opals for me from some Australian white scrap I had been given many years ago he kept just three very small cabs.  Seems more than fair to me!  Is that the kind of thing another lapidary could fix, or is it the kind of thing I need to learn to spot so I can be honest and accurate when attempting to market stone?
35  Lapidary the Internet and You / Moderator, Michael Hoover / Shop and Swap / Christmas rocked, but not entirely in a puntastic way... on: January 14, 2015, 09:06:13 am
Not much of my Christmas had to do with shiny rocks this year, but a few did show up!  As with many things in my life, they have a back story...

I remember the chunk of stone, I think.  It was definitely a pale lilac color and translucent with faintly visible banding, and I'm pretty sure it had some druzy quartz on it.  It had been cut and polished only on the cut side, and at some point after I acquired the original it broke up into several major and a few minor pieces.  I have no previous background on it, other than knowing it was "old stock" material when I got it probably 20 years ago.  I took a hunk to the awesome old dude who has a Farmers' Market booth where he sells his lapidary & jewelry work alongside his wife's fiber arts.  I had totally forgotten about it until my best lady friend here in the valley brought these by; she'd had them since the end of summer because our local lapidary (Ed, I think?) knows I hang out with her.  She did say he mentioned it was an agate-hard stone and very valuable but he could not remember a name.

The cabs are mostly lavender or lilac, with several whiter individuals.  The biggest oval has distinct banding, and the third-largest oval shows markings I've seen called 'turtlebacking' in a lot of online agate cabochon descriptions.  Both should be pictured if I did this right :).  My best guess is it's one of the played-out Mexican treasures, maybe poorly-banded Royal Aztec?  Could be something like non-dendritic Amethyst Sage.  This stone is decidedly not pale blue in any light, though under a 60 watt household white light with white paper underneath them several have a pinkish cast.

I would MUCH rather swap than sell.  I've pulled 5 cabs out from the group shown, all of them oval cabs and none of them the largest 3.  Individual pics can easily be arranged if anyone would like.  I don't need most of these and would love to know they'd found an appreciative home.  I'll swap the whole lot or individual bits, no problem.  I'm not new to swapping via mail and still have a document file (available by email) of my 81 confirmed trading references from a non-lapidary/gem site, all of them at a 5 out of 5 trader rating.  I will expect to send first for a good long while, which is also no problem for me, and I'll pay shipping on my end--and possibly yours if I want the trade badly enough :D.

As for what I want to trade for, that would be a very long list!  I make tiny twisted-wire trees, and drilled chips are a major want-list item, especially oddball stones not often seen in beadcraft stores.  I also use huge amounts of tiny broken scrap stone, chips with drill-failure problems, and pebbles all the way up to maybe 2 inches on the longest axis.  If anyone is or knows a lapidary fond of carving, teeny tiny leaves made of absolutely anything, green or not, would probably cause me to swoon.  And I do collect shiny rocks, mostly in the "thumbnail" and "small cabinet" sizes.  Specimen gems I'm particularly fond of include tourmaline (especially indicolite), microcline feldspar, sunstone (Oregon or India), fire agate, azurite, any type or color of opal, variscite, and more other agate varieties than I can list off the top of my head.  I'm interested in roughs, tumbles, and cabs.
36  Stone Talk / Moderator, Hummingbirdstones ( Robin ) / Mineral Specimens / Do all rockhounds get this weird around Christmas? :) on: November 21, 2014, 10:05:01 am
My latest rockhounding-related project is still a work in progress, though time is running short!  At the end of September I got to do a short hunt around an area where there are teeny tiny bright-to-dark garnets peppered through some of the coarse-grain granite.  I found one rock (and regrettably forgot to photograph it before starting) that turned out to be granite decomposed enough for me to take it apart using only a flathead screwdriver and a pair of needle-nose pliers.  My devious plan now is to fish out all the teeny garnets I can and stuff them in tiny glass bottles, which can then go out as suncatchers or pendants at Christmas.  If anyone here is interested in micro specimens, I should have garnets both in and out of the granite matrix that I can spare!  I'm also really, really hoping for another trip to that nearby site come spring, since it's now very cold and because the site his uphill from home it's also snowed in.  There's a creek not more than 30 feet from where I hunted, but I didn't have time to check it out that day and now I really want to.  The loose garnets are around a millimeter each, which is why I say "micro specimens".
37  Lapidary the Internet and You / Moderator, Michael Hoover / Shop and Swap / Snakeadelic's Swap-O-Rama (I hope!) on: September 16, 2014, 04:07:24 pm
I'll knock the boring stuff out first:

I do  not want money.  I'm not running a business.  I'm on SSI disability, so cash would actually do me more harm than good.

As I am unfamiliar to the board as a collector and trader, I fully expect that in the first several (dozen) trades I hope to make, I will be sending first.  This is in no way a problem for me.  Online trading of items with small value is not unfamiliar to me, and if anyone cares I do still have a document file available by email listing 81 trader references at a rating of 5 out of 5 from my days shipping Magic: the Gathering cards as far away as Iceland.

I will always do my absolute best to know exactly what stone I'm offering and any history or interesting trivia that goes with it.  This also means that anything I offer up with photos (and I plan for them ALL to have photos) will be the actual rock, not "representative of the type".

What I want instead of money is stones that I can use in the making of miniature twisted-wire trees.  What I want the most is itty bitty raw or tumbled chips of colorful exotics.  I will also trade considerably more material for tiny shaped stones (5 mm and smaller), with a special interest in anything carved into floral or leaf designs.

I will trade finished trees, which are set in plaster in small glass or ceramic containers that I mostly buy at thrift stores, for any stone I find interesting.  I will also be happy to discuss building custom trees in trade for stone I can use.  Shipping internationally is difficult but by no means impossible for any trade to which I agree.

I will also take requests for stones known to occur in the few places I can rock-pick.  The river nearest to me is loaded with members of the muscovite family, quartz, cobbles just packed with feldspar xenocrysts, granites, and a lovely soft dusty-pinkish quartzite.

Pictured below is what I mean by "xenocrysts", though this stone is not up for trade as it was found in an architectural rock bed and so I have no idea where it came from.  It looks like landscape jasper with pinkish crystals all through it, many showing visible 90-degree corners.

Right now I must go get ready for a special occasion, so I'll post my first up-for-trade stones tomorrow if I can.  First up will be what appear to be largely quartz-based river cobbles in landscape jasper colors, because I've got a fair-sized box of them I'd like off my balcony before we have to find out the hard way how strong the wood beams are! :)
38  The Gathering / Our Place / Re: Green Amethyst? NOT! on: September 08, 2014, 12:36:42 pm
I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thought "green amethyst" was a load of fertilizer from the git-go!  My several years of internet lurking on forums and business sites alike has taught me that a LOT of junk gets passed off by slapping a fancy name on it and waiting for beauty-blind urban tourists to pick it up because it's so SHINY and what a perfect shade of NEON PINK that calcite is to blend with someone's bedroom.  Personally, I hate dyed agate the most.  Some of the black & white or umber-brown & white isn't so bad, but grass green or vivid magenta agate just gives me a headache.  The tendency of overseas distributors to slap a fancy new name on junk rock based on what's selling (CHINA, I'm looking at YOU--not EVERY polished pebble is jasper!) certainly does not help the public develop an idea what the stones are like or what they go through from mine to store.  It can work in a rockhound's favor; there is a store I've been to here in MT where they have strands of Chinese "Red Creek" jasper for about 1/3 the price of "Cherry Creek" and with all my time spent staring at rocks as well as time spent learning pattern recognition, I cannot see a physical difference between the two.  The owner swears they're not the same thing, so whenever I can I pick up a strand of Red Creek, which I'm hoarding up and color/pattern matching for future wire-tree projects. 

The one thing that truly, genuinely both astonishes and disappoints me is that National Geographic Magazine is still selling "Mt. St. Helens glass/obsidian" well after a number of respected institutions and private gemologists could find zero chemical evidence of Cascade Range volcanic ejecta in any of the materials tested.  I used to love and respect that magazine as a primary source of information on parts of the world I find fascinating, but their willingness to advertise what they must know by now is a total scam has changed that forever.  Now those heaters they advertise that have the fancy $300 oak case (whether or not it's Amish-made) are a real deal.  My downstairs neighbor has two, one of which keeps his motorcycle warm in the garage when it gets cold enough around here to freeze crucial fluids and the other one of which has been doing its job excellently in the living room for well over four years that I know of.  It's needed the light bulb that makes the fake-fire effect replaced a few times, but runs without a hitch otherwise and so proves that not ALL advertising is false or exaggerated.
39  The Gathering / Our Place / Re: Erratic attendance :/ on: September 08, 2014, 12:16:25 pm
Thankee for the good wishes, Carol :)

After being unable to miss that the big trees are still up this morning, I called the tree service whose name I remembered on one of the trucks.  Turns out the bad news is yes, every single cottonwood tree (total of 4) visible from the physical therapy pool will have to come down.  The good news is that the man doing the work is gentle-spoken and very understanding--not once did he patronize me, condescend to me, or act like I was interrupting the flow of his working day.  Our cottonwoods here in the Bitterroot are dying en masse due to ongoing mild-to-moderate drought, part of it climate related and part due to human development siphoning off what once filled our aquifers to the point where the cottonwood roots no longer reach deep enough into the land.  He did assure me that replanting plans were firmly in place on both adjacent properties, with a focus on finding something else (hopefully native, even!) to put in that area that has better drought resistance.  My sweetie, who's been quietly looking for ways to reassure me so that I can stop crying for my own sake, is thrilled to find out that someone with a business in this town had the decency to actually tell me what's up.  I'm a BIG fan of my sweetie being happy, so another point in favor of the tree-cutter. :)  He does seem to share my opinion that when they call us the Big Sky State, it's not meant as a synonym for the Empty Sky State!

As for the bird life, it already sucks--loss of food supplies and habitat have rendered our local invasives, the common starling and European house sparrow, explosively populous by comparison to our sharply declining natives.  It amazes me that I live in a neighborhood with dozens and dozens of kids and no one seems to note that birds known to carry E Coli as well as other human-dangerous diseases, not to mention the intestinal parasite Giardia, are the ones dropping little biowarfare bird bombs on porches and playground equipment!  The sparrows are especially aggressive, and are the reason bluebirds no longer nest anywhere near human habitat in the Bitterroot--the sparrows kill them for nesting sites, but only after the nests are built.  And the starlings will kill other songbirds to defend food sources the other birds don't use.  Even our red-winged blackbirds, considered a massive grain-crop pest in the Midwest, rarely nest where we can hear their territorial calls, which only three years ago were dawn-to-dusk from April to August or September.  I haven't heard their distinctive calls anywhere nearby since July, and with them getting mobbed by sparrows and starlings every time it even looks like there might be food, the blackbirds have apparently had enough.  For all their bravado, I'm afraid the chickadees might be next, since last time I saw a chickadee I also saw it immediately chased off a potential feeding tree by about thirty house sparrows :(.

The tooth will be expensive but not difficult for me.  I've been going to the same dentist for about eight years now, and he knows how things work best for me: let me tranquilize myself, give me a chance to get my headphones settled out of his way, and then he gives me several shots to spread out the pain relief, puts a bite block in the back of my mouth, and courtesy of a wonderful little bitty nasal-only mask, he leaves the nitrous on the entire time he works on me.  This is why I routinely fend off suggestions that I go find a dentist who takes Medicaid for adults, which is a heckuva laugh in a county with under 40,000 occupants--it took me six of those eight years to earn my dentist's trust on a few things and I am NOT swapping him out for someone who doesn't use nitrous at all, or won't let me deal with the anxiety meds myself, or thinks that my long history of very little TMJ trouble means I imagined it all.  The one and only time my dentist managed to accidentally partially dislocate one side of my jawbone, it took a month of physical therapy to settle back down, an experience I am not in a hurry to repeat.  My TMJ diagnosis came about when my jaw locked SHUT on me for several straight weeks waaaaaaaaaaaay back in high school, so I've got the how to deal part pretty well handled and now my dentist does too.
40  The Gathering / Our Place / Erratic attendance :/ on: September 07, 2014, 05:56:20 pm
Nobody in my family does ANYTHING halfway.  The "annoying toothache" I've been wrestling with until my dental bill got paid off (his policy, no new appointments for patients with outstanding balance, not bad from the ONLY dentist in the Bitterroot who will let patients pay out of their own pocket for dental work) turns out to be an abscess ON the remains of an exposed nerve.  Because so many of my challenges get set to expert, it's gonna be an EXPENSIVE root canal next week.  Normally, with the tooth that's affected, they go in from the back of the tooth.  In my case, however, the back of the problem tooth is 90% blocked by the tilted tooth next to it and is unreachable even to some dental tools that look like they'd scare carnivorous alien life forms right off the planet. 

As an added bonus, I will be skipping my physical therapy tomorrow because that is when the city has decided it's time to cut down the still-live trees that I've been birdwatching in for 4 years and that were teaching my sweetie to really enjoy birdwatching during our shared swim time.  After whenever they finish what feels like killing my friends, there won't be a single tree visible from the pool.  I wish the Big Sky state would stop trying to turn into the Empty Sky state--they are NOT the same thing!  The tree to the far right in the full-length shot might get left there, but then again they ran smaller ones than that through the chipper right in front of me.  The other picture is one of our kestrels in the tree next to where I watched them raise 2 broods, and my heart still hurts remembering them circling and crying for two days after the last big trees got cut on this block.
41  Stone Talk / Moderator, Hummingbirdstones ( Robin ) / Mineral Specimens / I learned a vocabulary addition! :) on: August 30, 2014, 08:05:33 am
It's been ages since I've had the attention span necessary to crack an actual book, and I don't have or want an electronic reader, so I've been forgetting words that weren't part of my working vocabulary.  "Xenoliths", however, is going to be reappearing a LOT.  http://epod.usra.edu/blog/2014/08/xenoliths-at-breakneck-ridge.html is from one of the sites I read every day instead of celebrity gossip blogs ;).

A friend brought me the rock below, which was found in the rock beds around our apartments somewhere.  There are several different areas with rock beds, origin of stones unknown, that are mostly small cobbles with a lot of granites.  When I've gone riverbank rock-picking, I've found some spectacular light brown cobbles with small peach-colored xenoliths, and I have lots of similar stuff in other colors including many with feldspar that shimmers, but nothing quite like this little thing, which looks and feels like landscape jasper but appears to have peach-colored xenocrysts in it.  Both sides show square patches that are clearly not like the rock around them, an effect I just love.  This one's too small for serious cutting, I would think, at just about 1.25 inches on its longest side, but it will go in the "fun to try different lighting" photo subject pile! 

And if anyone has a particular interest in either cutting material or specimen material, I'll be happy to separate out some good xenolith-bearing specimens.  I do have one at hand that I find particularly intriguing--it looks and feels (weight and texture both) like basalt, and it's bubbled like a lava bomb, but some of the bubbles have a yellowish-orange druze of something and most of the others are filled in solid with white translucent material that I have no clue how to ID.  It's probably quartz, I should think, but I didn't find many like it in Biggs.  Next year I'll add it to the list of what I'm looking for there!  I do have quite a few bubbled basalt lava bombs that have druzy bubbles, and at least one of them I got clear enough photos to see little tiny scalenohedral-ish crystals all flattened along the walls, reminding me of how Tunguska and Mt. St. Helens flattened forests in a radiating pattern.

For the record, the guy who brought me the pictured rock is AWESOME.  He never used to pay attention to much but his dog on dog-duty walks, but now he brings me magpie tail feathers and flicker wing feathers and some genuinely cool rock-bed finds.  He's the perfect example of why I don't do anything special for Veterans' Day--I celebrate those who serve, regardless of what I think of military policies and politics, every chance I get.  I do things like store an elderly veteran's things in my garage because when he moved out he and his wife got a much smaller place.  He's passed on now, but I still hear from his widow now and then and I always smile when I get to tell her that there is no rush from me to pick things up and that they do not owe me money.  And the one who brings me rocks and feathers I feed whenever I have leftovers or just really feel like cooking but none of us are all that hungry, because he's a great big bachelor who doesn't cook on his own very well.
42  The Gathering / Our Place / Re: Purging of members accounts on: August 26, 2014, 10:11:02 am
Could be worse...I used to get an invaluable email every morning from my bank with the previous day's closing balance, which is a great lifeline for people on fixed incomes who suck at phone conversations.  Then they updated, and it turned out the new system wanted me to actually log in and wade through the "Let us do your taxes!  Pay your bills online!" blather to do things I simply did not need to do.  I don't have a credit card and since SSI strongly discourages saving money in any way or form the only bank account I have is basic checking.  I don't pay taxes (and I am extremely grateful to those of you who do; without you I wouldn't have medical insurance!) and the only bill I pay online is an auto-draw that's under $10.  So they purged my Internet services account, told me I had to use other services to earn email because the bank has to pay for their security services, and now I can't re-register because I can't afford Windows 8 and they won't allow anyone running an older OS to have internet banking access.  I'm stuck calling and annoying the tellers whenever I need a balance now, which is gonna be a huge holiday pain in my gluteus maximus! 

I get that the Internet is overwhelming all kinds of physical and cyberspace infrastructure, but I do agree with the idea that on a board like this maybe 120 or more days inactive would be a better purge point based on the seasonal aspect inherent in rockhounding.  That would give the folks who are crazy busy in the summer collecting or in the winter cutting and setting a little extra padding without hanging onto outdated accounts for ages and ages.
43  The Gathering / Our Place / Some people have one of THOSE days... on: August 26, 2014, 09:48:28 am
I have one of THOSE lives!  I may be a reclusive homebody now, but my 20s and early 30s were what I like to call "spectacularly geographically unstable".  Lots of failed relationships, only two involving marriage thankfully, lots of moving from place to place.

For anyone not familiar with the movie The Ring, there is a fairly, um, memorable scene involving a horse in a trailer on a Washington State ferry.  The first time I saw the movie was in the early days of dating my life partner of 11 years so far, and we lived on opposite sides of the Puget Sound.  Since he lived like a quarter of a mile from the Edmonds ferry dock, I would hop the Port Orchard-to-Edmonds run and he'd pick me up on his way home from work, I'd stay the weekend, he'd drop me off at the Edmonds dock on his way to work or for the last evening run, depending on traffic and moods.  He'd been wanting to see The Ring, so when it was available to rent he picked up a copy for us to watch.

As he was driving away from dropping me off to catch the boat home, I couldn't help noticing that the ferry pulling in was the one used in the movie.  I forget its name, which I keep meaning to paint on the pictured ornament, but in the meantime there I was going "No.  No freakin way.  That's my ride home?"  Stuffing down my silly nervous twitching, I got in line for boarding on foot, which had to wait until boarding by vehicles was complete.

Which means I had a GREAT line of sight when someone drove on with a horse in a stock trailer.

I refused to be dislodged from the top-deck snack bar until I had seen that trailer leave the boat entirely.  When I got in my roommates' car, the married pair among the household of 5 both gave me a loooooooooong look and the missus asked why I looked like that.  I asked if they'd seen the trailer leave, and they had.  When I said "We watched The Ring yesterday", the mister--who had seen it before and found it plenty scary--instantly came back with "Oh my god we have to get you home and make you a drink!" because he'd also recognized the ferry by name.

I think the real punchline is that I bought this little wooden ornament IN MONTANA.  I'm like, what, 700 miles inland?  It's almost exactly 750 miles from our front door to my neighbor's parents' home in Gresham, OR, but that involves quite a bit of southward drift.  One of my earliest years here in the Bitterroot (10 years at the beginning of this month!) we had a temporary dollar store spring up that, for reasons I'm glad I don't have to try to understand, had a huge pile of painted wooden Washington State ferry Christmas ornaments.  My sweetie just about laughed until he cried, and the boat goes on our tree every holiday season.  As the "part 2" in the photo title implies, this isn't as weird as it gets, but I'll save other tales for other posts :).
44  The Gathering / Our Place / Hopefully this is the right place for this one :) on: August 26, 2014, 09:24:58 am
I'm not putting these in with members' internet endeavors because I don't have a website for them and currently do not plan to try retailing them again.  Why?  Easy: the photo titled Stevi tree display.  I was flat out given that huge table at the front of one of just two bead & jewelry supply stores I know of in the county.  It so happened to be at the more affordable, less snooty one and was lined up to coincide with a local custom called First Friday, when merchants put out special displays, restaurants have FF specials, and all kinds of neat stuff goes on once a month.  I put out 76 trees, ranging in price from $5 to $50.  And I didn't have to be there for any of it, eliminating my total lack of what an old friend used to cal "the sales weasel gene" as a suspect because over the course of the entire month...

One sold.

ONE.

I'm so glad I didn't have to shell out like $50 for the table space!  And I think with the arts and crafts market so badly damaged because art and trinkets are the first to get cut from most budgets around here when the economy sucks that this seems like a good time to not push it.  If I could make a survivable arrangement with someone who HAS the sales weasel gene and some serious unoccupied time, I might try the farmer's market in summer and craft fairs in winter, but only time will tell.  I will keep making them because they are the absolute best physical therapy for the osteoarthritis in my hands.  And when the time comes, I still have lots of 'em if anyone wants to trade for them.  When I set up that table, it turned out I had forgotten a tomato-box lid (from the grocery store cardboard boxes) with about 40 more!

The other pic has a horrendously pun-tastic title (if any SCA members are reading, no smackin me with a rubber chicken; I got my TWIT in the 90s but have never been consistent enough for a WOAW).  It's the gift I made for my parents for Christmas in 2012, when they had just gotten back together after possibly the world's longest trial separation--time enough for 2 other marriages for both; Carter was still just barely in office when it started I kid y'all not.  The wires are brass and copper.  The stones are my best match to their birthstones on my budget: Australian opal from a low-grade strand, tourmaline, and low-grade sapphire.  The rock it's all wrapped around is one of my Crystal Park finds because my mom loves quartz in many of its multitude of forms and I wanted a base that wasn't bought.

Any non-SCAdians wondering wtf TWIT and WOAW are about are free to let me know ;)  It's safe for work, even!
45  Stone Talk / Moderator, Hummingbirdstones ( Robin ) / Mineral Specimens / This is why I'm freaking out about potential site closures near me... on: August 26, 2014, 08:50:48 am
Thought I'd share a quick glimpse of why I'm so freaked out about the potential closure of thousands of acres of riverbanks and dry land here in the Bitterroot.  All 3 stones were collected in the same trip, back around June or so.

I have no idea what the biggest one is.  It's mostly layers of different shades of gray, but there are hints of olive green all over it.  There's also quite a few more peach spots, many round like the big one but all of the others are much smaller regardless of shape.  It's very, very smooth in the gray/green areas and is also quite dense, but not waxy like most jasper.

I also don't know what the littlest one is.  The matrix is probably milky quartz, but it's heavily included with something that flashes back an abundant mirror-like pale silvery shine.  The silvery stuff is hard to see clearly as far as structural detail goes, but is definitely different in color from the classic bronze-ish tone of the mica found abundantly in the same area.

And speaking of the mica around here, the glare-bright patch on the third rock is absolutely, definitely, for sure mica in its "book" habit.  Its matrix appears to be part milky quartz and part heavily internally-fractured clear quartz.  Before our flood season hit, I found a hunk of the same mix that also had something incredibly weird layered in (photos when I get a decent one) that was easily a foot on its longest axis and six inches on its widest.  I had to chunk it up with the rock hammer I found, kid ya not, buried in a pile of screen-sifted leavings in Crystal Park!  I was muttering nasty things about people leaving litter when I noticed the plastic of the handle butt sticking out of a pile of sand--imagine my surprise that someone had left a perfectly decent $40-ish rock hammer behind because either they were annoyed about the burr on the pick end (hopefully I can get that fixed after joining the local mineral society, because if I have the right machinery I actually do remember how) or just plain forgot it.

Detail photos of any of the stones would be super-easy if anybody wants a closer look :)
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