Look at All of the Perty Rocks! Yep...Another Fun Hobby! (+15 insets!)

(+15 insets!) (Please view large to see the pretty rocks closer! :D) (sorry for the book...go get some coffee!) :D I want to start this post with a huge thank you and endless virtual hugs to all of you for your support, care and understanding in regards to my low mood. I am very happy to report that things have been improving on a daily basis and this upward spiral has meant that I've been able to crawl out of the hole I've been in for the past few weeks. The community here at ipernity is wonderful and I am so thankful to call so many of you my friends and internet family. *MORE HUGS* I Got a Rock Tumbler for My Metal Detecting Hobby... and Now I Have ANOTHER Hobby! If you've been following my photography and writing, you'll know that a few months ago I got a metal detector, something that's been great fun to play with and a really interesting hobby too. It's opened my eyes to local history in addition to being an exciting treasure hunt! One of the things metal detectorists love to find are coins. Though I haven't found very many myself—since I haven't been to many parks yet--it's apparently very easy to find quite a trove when detecting at playgrounds and such. Since the majority of found coins are current, the best thing to do is save them up and then dump them into a "Coin Star"-type machine in exchange for paper money or store credit. These coins need to be cleaned up to remove the grime and oxidation so the machines can recognize them and the best way to do this is with...you guessed it...a rock tumbler! A couple of 20-minute runs with soap and water and grubby coins are shiny and easily returned. Here's a picture showing dirty and cleaned pennies so you can see the difference! Anyway, with the fact that I'll eventually be treasure hunting in parks and playgrounds, I decided to get a rock tumbler. Part of my reasoning was that I also have an interest in rocks, though it's never been anything more than appreciating the odd cool stone that catches my eye. So, a couple of months back I did some research and decided on a "two-barrel" rock tumbler which would allow me to do two sets of coins or rocks or one and one. Since I don't have enough coins to bother cleaning right now, the tumbler just sat there. I didn't have a pile of rocks to tumble and the rain at the time kept me from looking for any. Did I mention that our driveway is covered with a layer of gravel from a local quarry? Apparently the rocks they graveled our driveway came from an area which includes a percentage of mixed river and other mineral rock. This translates to mostly dark grey gravel with a blend of many interesting rocks. I've always noticed these rocks and, in fact, gathered the white ones and the ones that are flecked with black and white. Some of those I used as "counting" rocks, which I use to keep track of my laps as I walk up and down the driveway for my exercise. The rest I had in a pile next to my "counting stones". Naturally I began to think about using the rock tumbler for...oh, I don't know...TUMBLING ROCKS! After all, I figured that there were probably enough interesting rocks on our driveway to fill one of the 3-pound capacity drums. I decided that I would begin collecting any interesting rocks I found on the driveway as I marched up and down each day. Do you know how long it took me to gather a batch of rocks to fill the tumbler? About one lap. LOL, I couldn't believe it! Once I started looking at the driveway as a source of interesting rocks to try polishing, suddenly I realized what a treasure trove we had! Stones of all colors...white, mottled and marbled grey, some with stripes and striations, brown speckled ones, red ones with layer lines and interesting patterns, and lots of quartz that had patches of clear parts or tinges of pink, red, yellow or green. I found rocks with teal green tones and some that looked a bit blue. The more I looked, the more I found, and every time I'd do another lap I found more! The Interesting, Long Process of Tumbling Rocks I brought my treasure inside and washed the dirt off, dumped them into the tumbler and followed the directions included. My tumbler came with a beginner's tumbling kit, part of which were the various grits that are added to the rocks you're tumbling. Turns out there are 4 stages of tumbling, each of which takes 7 to 10 days. Yes, do the math. That's 28 to 40 DAYS before your rocks are polished! This is why I was never all that interested in tumbling rocks. It's true...I have the patience of a gnat. Heck, I can't even deal with setting up a tripod for my photography, so the idea of being forced to wait for a whole MONTH to arrive at finished stones was a big ol' NOPE in my book. But hey, if the tumbler is just SITTING there, not doing a thing, what's the harm in loading it up and turning it on, right? And that's just what I did. I measured the Step One grit and poured it on top of the rocks in the tumbler, added water to just above the stones, closed the chamber up tight and put it on the roller. All the rock tumbling machine does is turn the chamber of rocks round and round, day in and day out. Heck, if you could figure out how to get some hamsters or other rodents to take shifts running in their little wheels 24/7, you'd have the same deal! Cuter, of course, but the identical motion! I will say, I was very curious about the results of one week in the tumbler, and so was Steve. He's the one who got me to get off my duff and use the tumbler in the first place, so hats-off to him! We had the tumbler set up in the garage and every time we went out there for something we'd hear the tumbler going and wonder what the rocks looked like. By the way, these things are LOUD! The one I have is praised for being much more quiet than other rock tumblers but every time I went into the garage I thought to myself, "If this tumbler is less noisy than others, what do THEY sound like?!" WOW, what a racket! But it sits in the garage and it can make all the noise it wants out there! :) What Did the Rocks Look Like After Week 1?! Eventually the first week came to an end and it was time to see what happened to those rocks! Opening the top, I saw a thick film of mouse-gray mud covering everything. How interesting! I'd read that the grinding of the rocks produces a thick sludge of grey mud and that was totally accurate! Using a salad strainer over a large bowl, I dumped the rocks in and rinsed them off. There are stern warnings to never ever wash this mud down the drain because it will clog your pipes. Thinking about it, the logic is obvious so the water went into a bowl which I dumped in the back yard. It was like thick, very dense silt which packed into a clay-like consistency and took time to get completely washed out of the bowl, wow! Clogged pipes indeed! Finally the rocks were cleaned off and Steve and I eagerly picked up handfuls of the stones and looked at them with wonder. "LOOK AT HOW COOL THEY ARE!!" Both of us exclaimed our amazement at the worn-down edges and much rounder, smoother appearance of these once very rough stones. It was totally cool and with that realization, we were sold! "NEATO!!" I squeaked in delight. "AWESOME!" added Steve in pleasure. The two of us showed each other the wonderful rocks that caught our eye and soon we realized that every rock was wonderful and we laughed. What fun. We were also fascinated at the reduction in size of the rocks. They were all smaller than when they were first put into the tumbler, something that made sense but usually takes eons in nature. How interesting that we could reproduce this natural erosion over the course of a week instead of thousands of years. Groovy. Eventually we'd seen enough of our rocks that it was time to send them on to Step Two. Back into the barrel they went, only now the cylinder was barely half-full instead of two-thirds. The directions say that the rocks do best when the barrel is at the proper fullness. So what now? Why, add media to make up the difference, of course!* Because I'd forgotten to order the proper media to fill up the barrel, Steve went out and brought back some river stones from a hobby store which were smooth and hopefully wouldn't mess up our project. (In hindsight, river stones wasn't the best choice because they are very hard to tell apart from the rocks I found, but some of them I can see are more matt in tone which points them out.) With the rocks filled to the proper amount, I added Step Two grit, poured water up to just above the stones and off they went for another week! *Usual media used to increase lost volume in a tumbler is either plastic beads or ceramic media. (link to picture) The Next Steps Week Two results were even smoother and a bit smaller too. We appreciated the beautiful rocks and then sent them on their way to Step Three, after removing some broken rock chips and a few rocks that were broken and would ruin the finish of the other rocks. I let this batch of rocks go for 10 days because I hoped to counter the effects of the river rocks I'd introduced, which I thought might impact on their smoothing. Week Three results definitely showed a soft shine, how exciting! They were a bit smaller but not by much. The grit used was finer and much less abrasive, called a "Pre-Polish", and it all made sense judging by the matte glow of the rocks. I was really excited as I put them into the barrel for Step 4, the Polishing Stage. I wanted to give these guys the best chance for a nice shine, so I let them go for 10 days. I knew that my results wouldn't be perfect—glossy shine on blemish-free rocks—but I was hoping for some nice shine to enjoy for our first batch. Our First Batch of Tumbled Rocks The day finally came to unveil our finished stones! I opened up the barrel and carefully washed them off. I refused to look at them until they were clean, but when they'd been thoroughly rinsed I poured them slowly onto a towel, grabbed some paper towels and dried one off. The lovely mottled stone gleamed back at me with its round edges and shiny surface. IT WORKED!!! IT WORKED!!! I was so excited that it was all I could do to keep myself from blasting upstairs with my rock to alert Steve! But I kept myself in place. I wanted to dry the rocks off first so he could see the whole show and we could enjoy our first batch together. After a few minutes they were ready and I fairly boinged upstairs to gather Steve. I got his attention and waved a rock in front of him. "LOOK!!! Our first batch is FINISHED!! And they are AMAZING!!!" Steve nearly exploded out of his chair and basically left a vapor trail behind him as he raced down to the kitchen. Following him with a joyful chuckle, I entered the kitchen to find him bent over the rocks, rolling one over in front of his eyes and oohing and ahhhing over it. "WOWWWWWW!!!! They're so SHINY!!!!" Steve found his favorite rock, the one he picked out weeks before. It was a near-black, oblong stone that had a lovely band of white running through it at the half-way mark. "LOOK AT MY ROCK! IT'S PERFECT!!" Beaming happily, I gently took the offered stone and turned it over and over in my fingers, appreciating its beauty and shine. It really was a gorgeous rock. But then again...they all were! We would burst out with joy over an especially pretty rock, put it down, pick up the next one and...burst out with joy over the especially pretty rock! LOL, just about every single rock was a stunner. Some weren't quite as shiny, the river rocks we suspect, and a few were chipped. Most had "imperfections" of cracks but to us, they were all perfect! I eventually put them into a clear glass bowl and there they sit on our kitchen counter to admire. We pour them all out onto a dish towel every couple of days to look at and enjoy. Both of us are absolutely delighted and blown away that these were found on our gravel-covered driveway. AMAZING!! Our Property is Bulging with Awesome Rocks! One thing I didn't mention was that our property lies at the edge of the "agate desert" of this area, and this means that we have our very own treasure trove of stones that are at least as beautiful as the rocks on the driveway, but to be honest, I've been finding LOADS of rocks which are even NICER. In fact, I've collected piles of stones from around our pond that are so pretty, I can hardly wait to see what they look like when they are polished! Today's Pictures Today's main picture is our bowl of polished rocks, which I thought looked really neat in a top-down view. I have a mass of insets too, 15 in total, GAH! There are pictures of the finished rocks laid out on a towel for you to stare at...it will be a chore for you to come up with a favorite if you're like we are! I also picked out a bunch of stones that I showed individually so you can appreciate them on a one-by-one basis. Finally, I also included a couple of pictures that show unfinished "roughs" as they're called by "rock-hounds", and they're sitting in water to show why I was attracted to them. It's amazing how dull and boring these rocks appear when dry or unpolished! Anyway, I hope you enjoy the show! I've got two sets of rocks tumbling right now and the next finished batch will be ready next week, oh boy!!! Pam, are you a fan of rocks too? I've always been interested in them but never put them on my radar for a hobby because there was always something else I was doing. I never realized how rewarding it could be to find rocks and put them through this very long process, and at the end, to hold that same rock which is now gleaming and so lustrous and gem-like. Turning a rock into a jewel is an awesome experience and something you might like to try yourself? Anyway, thank you so much for your support, love, and attention...I'm thinking of you all the time and hope you are doing well! Explored on 1/11/20; highest placement #11.

Agate Collage & Taking a Short Break (+5 insets!)

(+5 insets!) For the first time in my 55 years, I am experiencing what it's like to deal with two world-wide catastrophes: a real pandemic and the worst world-market crash in history. On top of that, it's an election year. That's a lot--it translates to be a very disturbing brew of anxiety, stress and fear. We joke, "the world is going crazy" but right now it's actually the reality in many places. Stores are devoid of cleaning, disinfecting and many medical supplies. People are hoarding. The populace is warned not to gather--the entire country of Italy is on lockdown…it's almost unbelievable! It stands to reason that everything going on right now is very disturbing--and from what I can tell it's not going to get better for a long time. It feels very overwhelming because there is horrible news on so many levels, in so many directions. Even by limiting my exposure of news, it's still hard to see even the headlines as the world seems to figuratively crash and burn around us. Although this coronavirus is really more like a bad cold to the overwhelming majority of the population, I know a lot of older folk who I love dearly, and this virus has a field day with anyone who has respiratory problems and/or those who are over 60. It's very hard for me to deal with this fear for the people I know who are susceptible. My natural inclination in this circumstance is to run and hide, something I've always done. Maybe it's not the best way to deal with situations but it's how I tend to be. The way I choose to "check out" is to disappear into a game for a while until I feel like the coast is clear. So that's what I'm doing right now and it's helping a lot. I'm not worrying as much anymore about everything, all day long, and the waters are calming down. That being said, I'm not going to be around ipernity for a little while…could be a few days, could be a few weeks. I don't know. I did want everyone to know that Steve and I are fine and very happy to be on our rural oasis on 26 acres! Today's Pictures When I took pictures of my second batch of tumbled stones last week, there was one rock that I loved but which didn't fit into my 9x9 grid, so I'm sharing a triptych of it today! It's an agate which I found on our property and though it's not a really fabulous example of agate, it's totally spectacular in its own right, and so I've presented it to all of you to enjoy too! :) You'll find an enlarged inset for each of the views and I hope you love this pretty rock as much as I do! :) I am also sharing two insets which show the incredible bed and drawers that Steve built for me!! Our RV has two bedrooms--the master and another bedroom which is quite tiny but perfect! This little room came with a couch and fold-out bed but we never intended to keep it. Instead, we pulled out the couch, Steve built me a bed frame and we ordered a custom mattress to fit the space (the mattress was surprisingly affordable at $130 and is the most comfortable bed I've ever had!). Then Steve built me three deep drawers with soft-close slides and spent quite a while to get a blended stain which went with the trailer. He finished last week and I am absolutely over the moon with joy. The whole unit is so professional that it looks like it came that way to begin with! I'm so happy!! YAY STEVE!! :) (By the way, the reason Steve and I sleep apart is because he snores and this way we both get a good night's rest.) :) ***** Pam, I loved your comments about my rocks, thank you so much! And I have to admit…*blush*…I too, have licked rocks to see what they look like when wet! LOL…I'm actually going to bring a spray bottle with me when I go hunting so I can get an indication whether a rock is worth picking up or not. I'm glad you enjoyed my show, it has been very gratifying to know that so many people really liked seeing all of my rocks. :) Anyway, I hope you are doing ok! You've certainly been in my thoughts lately. Stay safe my dear! *BIG HUGS from my oasis in southern Oregon* Explored on 3/11/20; highest placement #14.