Monday, February 20, 2017

The Secrets of Gemstones

Some of you know that I am a GIA certified Graduate Gemologist.  I work part time as an appraiser for a local shop, Richard Gretz, in Corvallis.  I'm also over the top passionate about gemstones in general.

Working for a shop who's owner shares that passion, and travels all over the world to buy stones, was probably not the best idea.

A few weeks ago, I got a camera mount for my microscope.  Now, I can finally share the secret world of gemstones with you

 This series of pictures, starting with the one above and the next two, is of a colour changing gemstone known in the trade as Zultanite.  It's a form of the mineral diaspore.  It is found all over the world, but the very finest, gem grade (like this one) stones comes from a single deposit in Turkey.  The picture above is in natural light
 This is the same stone, under the microscope, with overhead fluorescent light
 And, lit from below, with incandescent light
 This is my 11.82ct Russian demantoid (andradite) garnet.  The photo above is lit from below, with incandescent light, to show the fabulous 'horsetail' inclusion that make this not only completely identifiable as both demantoid and of Russian origin, its one of the few stones who's value is greatly increased by having such a magnificent inclusion.  The picture below is of the same stone with the overhead fluorescent light on my scope

 This stone is a gem quality. .80ct Russian demantoid garnet.  In this, the 'horsetail' (byssolite or chrysotile asbestos fibres) is not in the classic, round fan type as my big one above, but still there, and still diagnostic of Russian origin.

 The next pictures, including the one above and the two below, are of my Brazilian alexandrite (chrysoberyl) .  Named for Czar Alexander II as it was supposedly discovered on the czarevitch's 16th birthday, it is rarer than most diamonds, and far more costly, especially in specimens with exceptional colour change over a carat in size.  Russian alexandrite is the most sought after, but excellent and large specimens are found all over the world, in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and Tanzania.  The above picture is daylight
 Lit from below, incandescent
 Lit from above, fluorescent
And this is a large diamond, 2.96 cts.  Click on the picture to enlarge, so you can see a whole pile of natural inclusions particular to diamonds.  This specimen is mounted

Chow Time!

Kids and food.  Always fun to watch

 Ethan decides the table is a better place to eat from - discourages others from eating where he's standing
 Ruffie takes note of the kids eating at the adult's table
The Little Princess, startled out of the feed trough

Water Garden

Over the last week, we've gotten a fair bit of rain.  Enough that I ended up with my own personal water garden at one point.

Now, I just need a fountain.....

 Good thing we were only getting some showers instead of the eventual 1.4"
Love the reflection of the evening sky in the seasonal pond

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Amazing Legless Ewe

Pogo, the ancient Navajo-Churro, hangin' with her crew

Revving Up The Garden

It's the anticipation that kills.  Along with all the catalogues.  Makes one need to go get dirty somehow, some way.  I started with the Hugelkulture Lite bed.  Then, rows of six packs in the trays on the heat mats.  Lots of stuff already sprouting, pak choi, cabbage, various coloured cauliflowers, et al.  Keeping up with the watering in the greenhouse, and battling the white flies, as usual.  Got the snow and snap peas in, and went with a simple method of protection from whatever ate them all last season.  The yellow crocus bloomed.  And the rain just keeps coming down, making it nearly impossible to spray for weeds at the moment.  But, I mixed up some Touchdown XL in a spray bottle and got the lettuce/greens bed sprayed out before I installed the cold frame yesterday, so progress there.  I hope those two year old seeds will sprout, because I'm ready to not pay $3 for a tub of greens anymore.

 The pea bed, sowed (below) and covered (above).  There are sprouts today!

My fave petunia, in the greenhouse, showing a myriad of colours on one plant, including a half and half (going to try to get seeds of that one)


So, our best pals Carla and Trent took us up to Albany, to First Burger, for dinner the other night.  Dale had a bowl of Buffalo wing soup that he couldn't stop raving about.

So, I went to my good ol' standby, and found the recipe.  Turned out it was sinfully easy to make, and a big pot of it lasted exactly 12 hours.  Perfect for cold, rainy, winter's nights.

 Cubed chicken breasts (2), chopped celery hearts and sweet onions, along with Cabela's Chipotle Mesquite spice mix
 Breakfast bacon in the skillet.  There's a reason for this picture
 The chicken mixture sauted in the bacon drippings
 There were several wing sauces to choose from.  I'm a fan of SBR's, so I got that one
The finished product.  I substituted 1/2 cup of vodka for a 1/2 cup of the water, used half the called for amount of sharp cheddar shreds, then topped the finished product with crumbled bleu cheese and sour cream

Wet and Wild

Unlike the past few winters, we are not complaining about the lack of rain right about now.

And, it's downpouring as I type.

 The new site of the Waterskiing Nationals, Bellfountain, Oregon

 It appears the patient has flatlined
 The early morning moon and sunrise the day after the deluge

Enzo's Story

You can read it all here:

Monday, February 6, 2017

Not Much Pressure

The lowest barometric pressure I think I've ever seen, last night

A Wee Drop o' Rain

Even for us, almost 2" of rain in one day is a bit over the top

 And, there's one of Sharon's fenceposts floating there
 Bellfountain at Bruce just became a 1 lane road

Looking east at Nusbaum's grass seed fields, now the site of the 2017 Waterskiing Nationals

Sheep Swimming

On the way home from OSU and visiting Enzo, we were stopped on Bellfountain Road, not because of the floodwaters - we'd had almost 2" of rain - but by a sheep flood

Ethan at 2 1/2 Weeks


Big brother Ethan meets the princess.  Enzo is still hospitalized, but hopefully he'll be coming home on Wednesday