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text 2018-08-30 15:28
Much happy mail for Moonlight Madness over the last few days!


Thank you to both Murder by Death and Tigus!


The bingo card is gorgeous and you have totally outdone yourself with the spreadsheet on the back to fill in, MBD! I love it!


And, Tigus, the books are in PERFECT condition! I was stunned when I opened the package. I am excited to read both of them as part of my Halloween bingo extravaganza!

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text 2018-04-16 16:52
Rocks -- Befores and Afters (pic heavy!)

Murder by Death asked about some before and after pictures of the rocks I collect, cut, and turn into jewelry.  As it happened, I had some examples handy because I had them out for the studio tour last week.  And I love love love talking about rocks!


First is an example of what they look like in the wild.



Looks like a plain rock-colored rock.  But at the right-hand edge, you can sort of see . . . something.



Though it's rough and broken, it's kind of quartzy-looking, but with a somewhat waxy consistency.  So you turn it over some more . . .





And what you have is a banded agate.  Or at least part of one.  The banding isn't clear in this particular piece because the edge is all broken and dirty and rough.  This was part of one of my estate lots, so I have no idea where it came from, but agates like this are very common around here and pretty much anywhere there's been volcanic activity.  They aren't directly volcanic in origin, but form from water that seeps through volcanic material to dissolve the silica minerals and then deposit them in empty pockets.  I know, I know, TMI.  ;-)


This is another rock, one I did find, that I cut to make sure a new saw blade was installed properly.  I knew the rock was mostly the volcanic ash matrix the agates form in, but with a crust of chalcedony on one side.



You can kind of see the chalcedony -- that waxy-looking quartzy stuff -- on the end, though the other side shows it more clearly.



As with the first example, the inside is what matters, and I was pretty stunned when I cut this one.  I wasn't expecting anything very exciting.





In the picture directly above, you can see the matrix on the right hand side of the slice.  I usually have to trim this off with either the saw or an old pair of side-cutter pliers.  It's fairly porous and somewhat easy to remove most of the time, but it can be very difficult on occasion.  And it will not polish.


To give a better idea of the size, since this is larger than the little purple pieces I cut the other day, here it is with my favorite (and only!) Arizona quarter.



I did a little enhancement of these photos to try to bring out the patterns in the agate/chalcedony parts, but the truth is that when they're dry, they don't show up very well.



Upper left above is a slice of lavender sagenitic agate from the Sheep Crossing north of Phoenix. Lower center is from Brenda.  The other three are from the Chickenman place.  ;-)  They've been cut on the saw, tossed in kitty litter to get the oil off, then washed in water and dish detergent.


These next two show how dirty the little cavities can be.  Some of this is ordinary mud that gets into them over the years/centuries that they're out in the desert, if they have an opening that mud and water can get through.  Some of it is hardened ash that got in when the agates were forming.  That stuff has to be dug out with a dental pick, and sometimes it just plain won't come out.




After they go in the tumbler for six or seven weeks, the rough edges get ground off and rounded, and the exterior surface polishes to a nice glassy shine.  Much of the time, those little cavities turn out to be filled with tiny, tiny sparkly crystals, and they tend not to be affected by the tumbling process.  But I'm not good at capturing them with the camera!



In the shot above, the stone on the far right has a little depression filled with those tiny crystals, but they wouldn't sparkle for the camera.


Because the stones are unique, it's actually not hard to match up a before and an after picture of the same stone. Later today or tomorrow, I'll get some more shots of a few individuals so we can have a reference for particular befores and afters.  But the middle stone above came from a piece of rough that is actually still sitting by the saw.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it.





I hope this helps, MbD!  More to come anyway. . . .


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review 2017-01-01 14:47
Death by Potato Salad
Death by Potato Salad: A Murder-by-the Minute Short Story Featuring Mrs. Berns - Jess Lourey

Mrs. Berns is up to her old tricks, scouting out the eligible men at a church retreat. In the Miracle of Mayo class, a man keels over dead. Mrs. Berns, who knows about such things, declares it a murder and vows to solve it before the police arrive.

This was a very quick (and a little dirty, but you know how Mrs. Berns is!) little mystery, just a couple of pages long. It really whetted my appetite for the next Murder by Month (March of Crimes) which isn't due out until some time next year. This was laugh out loud funny, the names of the seminars had me rolling.and Mrs. Berns is as salty as always. A really great little read, more amusing than mystery but definitely a delight.

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review 2016-06-07 10:30
Murder by Death - the book
Murder by Death - Neil Simon,H.R.F. Keating

The namesake for my BookLikes life, Murder by Death is, in my opinion, one of the best movies ever made.  What Blazing Saddles did for westerns, Murder by Death did for the traditional murder mysteries.  With an almost dream-team cast that included Truman Capote, Dame Maggie Smith, Peter Faulk, Peter Sellers and Alec Guiness as well as Neil Simon as the scriptwriter, the movie could hardly go wrong as it revealed in plot holes, implausible explanations and fantastic theories.


But it was a script written to be a movie; a rarity nowadays.  So imagine my SQUEE! when I stumbled across this adaptation of the original screenplay in an overflow stack at a used book store.


Ah the memories this book brought back; it's an almost word-for-word rendition of the movie, but with a narrator.  This could have killed the book, but Keating did a brilliant job and turned this into a bonus: his commentary in the guise of normal narration added a cheeky layer of humour to the already hilarious dialogue.  I doubt anyone else could have done as well with the kitchen scene (those other fans out there know which scene I refer to).


BUT... just as I was about to 5 star this baby - and I still can't quite believe he did this - he changed the ending!!  The last 6 paragraphs... what the??  Gah!  Keating went all Dickens at the end, and he just shouldn't have messed with perfection.


Even so, you know I'm going to treasure this book until the end of time.

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text 2016-06-07 00:05
Reading progress update: I've read 129 out of 196 pages.
Murder by Death - Neil Simon,H.R.F. Keating

'Oh, thank you,' Dora answered, radiating charm.  'Thank you –– er?'


'Benson, m'um,' the butler supplied.


'Thank you, Benson.'


'Bensonmum,' the butler corrected her, ... 'My name is Bensonmum. Jamessir Bensonmum.'


'Jamessir?' queried Dick.


'Yes, sir.'


'Jamessir Bensonmum?' Dick asked, hardly able to believe his sophisticated ears.


'Yes, sir,' said Bensonmum,


'How odd, ' Dick said.


'My father's name, sir,' (...)


'What was your father's name?'


'How-ard, sir.  How-ard Bensonmum.'


'Your father was How Odd Bensonmum?' Dick asked, struggling. 


'Well, sir, ' Bensonmum came in quickly, 'I suppose by most standards my father was very odd.'



The dialogue is exact to the movie itself, but reading it, I find I'm getting a joke here and there that I missed watching the film (repeatedly).

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