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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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text 2018-04-15 20:07
More cactus flowers, more rocks

It's been a hectic morning as I've tried to get ten hours of work accomplished in four, but I'm making progress.


Cinnamon dot cactus flowers are going crazy:




This is a tray full of the stones I cut yesterday and Friday, minus the ones I already put in the tumbler to start their 7-week journey to becoming polished goodies.



And some close-ups:




Weather forecast looks like we might have some cool days later this week, and if so, I will try to get on the saw again.  I've already sorted out some material to be cut, and I'm hoping to do the same tomorrow morning.


This afternoon, however, I have to do my taxes.  Ugh.

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text 2018-04-13 18:58
Everyone feeling better . . . . and rocks

It turned out to be too cold this morning to start up the rock saw, but the forecast for the afternoon looks perfect.  And BF will be gone, so I won't have to worry about him coming out and telling me how to do what I already know how to do . . . and he doesn't.  ;-)


Biscuit ate a little bit of supper last night -- I gave her about a quarter of her usual serving -- and seemed fine.  She ate a little more this morning and seems back to normal.


The ibuprofen I took at 6:00 a.m. or whenever it was didn't kick in for several hours, but it took the edge off the elbow pain long enough for me to clean up the last of a batch of rocks in the tumbler.  I put them in for 24-48 hours just to knock off the dirt and other debris, not to polish or anything.  These are the last of the small pieces from the bucketful I rediscovered a couple weeks ago.


Some of them have turned out to be nice little specimens to wrap in wire just as they are:




While I was cleaning up some of the junk in the workshop, I discovered a small plastic container of some more of these small pink pieces, already cleaned and ready for wrapping.  Yeah, some more of the stuff I've half-forgotten about!

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text 2018-04-12 23:36
Bad dreams, bad news, and flowers - skip to the flowers

I had a bad night last night.  Disturbing dreams woke me several times, left me awake but distraught and very stressed.  Of the worst two, one was about a volcano, and when I woke I couldn't stop thinking about how and what I would pack if I had to evacuate the property the way I did in the dream.  The second really upsetting one was about a 19th century ranch, and though I was disoriented at first, later it was kind of funny because one of the main characters was Newt Gingrich.


I spent almost eleven hours in bed but got no more than six or so hours of sleep.  I dragged myself out of bed still feeling tired.


But it was cool outside, so I hoped to take care of some small housekeeping chores in the workshop before spending some time on the rock saw.  I haven't had the opportunity to cut any rocks at all this cool season due to back spasms, tendonitis, bad weather, and so on.  The forecast is for a few days of temperate weather and I was eager to get cutting.


It didn't happen.  Though my foot finally feels good enough to stand on for an extended period of time needed to play on the saw, my elbow doesn't.  I had some stones to clean, and I was barely able to finish that task.  The elbow just screamed at me.


Iced rice didn't help.  I couldn't hold a book or even my Kindle to read.  The slightest work on the computer caused agony.  Even watching television was painful in a physical sense; any movement at all provoked horrific jolts of pain.


Then came the change in the weather.  It wasn't unexpected: Strong winds were forecasted to bring the cooler temperatures, but nothing was expected quite as strong as what we got.  I'm paranoid about wind damage and insurance claims, so that's just another stressor.


I don't need any more, but  . . .


While I was in the bathroom, Biscuit threw up on the carpet.  The messy kind.  Before I could do anything, she threw up again, but on the tile.


I got started on the clean up. 


Biscuit wanted outside.  I was pretty sure she was going to throw up again, so I rushed to get her out.  My arm was so bad by this time that I was almost crying from the pain.


On top of all this, BF is going to be here for supper for the first time in a week.  Cooking wouldn't be a problem . . . if I weren't in so much pain. 


Mentally, I needed a break.  Pain or no pain, I grabbed the camera and headed outside to get cactus flower pictures.  It was so windy I had trouble getting still shots, but I managed a few.  I no sooner got back in the house than Biscuit started acting like she needed out again.  She immediately threw up twice more.  This is scaring me.


I uploaded the pictures from the camera and went back to work on the carpet stain.  It will take several cleanings. 


The news on tv isn't cheering.  The wind is still battering my patio awnings.  The elbow is not getting any better.  Biscuit has been in and out, still acting sick.


All I have to show for it are some pictures.


Buds on Tuesday:



And blooming today






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text 2018-01-08 00:05
Life and such

Buddy the beagle just noticed a diamond shape on the linoleum and is trying to ¨dig it up¨.  The diamonds are all over but he only cares about that one for some reason.  I wish the floor had more texture so he could file down his nails some doing that.  


We are getting ready to go on our vacation to California tomorrow night and my husband caught the crud I had.  My son and I both had the stomach flu for a good week.  Yesterday was the first week I´ve been totally better.  My husband is just starting now and going to be stuck on a plane and traveling with that.  I´ll make sure he packs extra underwear and maybe some depends. My husband is going to hang out with us at his mom´s house and then he is going to fly to another city in California where a friend lives and then they are going to drive to Vegas.  I´ll stay with my MIL where I can be more comfortable.  We will have our own fun.  She will probably want to go play some slots there in Cali though and I find that really boring.  You don´t even pull levers anymore, just push the button, spin, bloopidee-bloop, nothing....push the button, spin...etc  I would rather go shopping since they actually have places to shop there.  


I´m excited to go though.  I can´t wait to see GREEN TREES and FLOWERS.  My MIL said there are some things blooming in her yard.  


My book is not making me happy.  It is in rough shape so if it doesn´t get better I´m tossing it.  

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