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LindaHilton

Linda Hilton

Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic

 

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Currently reading

Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding
Steven K. Green
Progress: 67/328 pages
Significant Others
Sandra Kitt
Progress: 34 %
The Summer Tree
Guy Gavriel Kay
Progress: 231/383 pages
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
Nancy MacLean
Progress: 134/574 pages
The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance
Northrop Frye
Progress: 43/200 pages
All the President's Men
Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward
Progress: 73/383 pages
Women's Gothic and Romantic Fiction: A Reference Guide (American Popular Culture)
Kay Mussell
Progress: 17/157 pages
The Looking-Glass Portrait
Linda Hilton
Really Neat Rocks: A casual introduction to the rocks & gems of Arizona and the lapidary arts
Linda Hilton
Progress: 61/61 pages
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Jon Krakauer

Reading progress update: I've read 231 out of 383 pages.

The Summer Tree - Guy Gavriel Kay

Another brief update from the Kindle.

 

Th pseudo- Christian symbolism is making me uncomfortable.

 

More and more characters introduced like paper dolls.

 

The Prince's name is part of an airplane wing and I can't get that out of my head.

 

I can't tell if the writing is lyrical and profound or pretentious and empty.

Fairy Dusters and Dew again

We didn't have the heavy dew this morning, but I still managed to get a few pictures of the fairy duster flowers.

 

 

These are buds and the lighter green new spring leaves still with some dew on them this morning.

 

 

 

 

This is one opened and still in the shade, where the sun hasn't quite dried it.

 

 

 

Buds and a blossom.

 

 

 

Cactus aren't doing much yet, but they're getting ready!

 

 

Even the aloes are sending up their first spikes.

 

 

We've had more than enough rain this winter to pretty much guarantee a glorious spring.  I'll keep you posted!

 

Reading progress update: I've read 175 out of 383 pages.

The Summer Tree - Guy Gavriel Kay

This is a quick update, posted from my Kindle Fire so without links to previous updates.

 

Another weakness identified: everyone speaks English with no explanation.

 

I'm realising more and more that Tolkien's genius was his world building. Not the physical world of Middle Earth, but the cultural world of its peoples. Everything from names and languages was designed to give the various races/species a distinctive and recognizable imprint.  Gimli, Gloin, Balin - Dwarves had blunt names. Elrond, Arwen, Galadriel, Legolas - elves had musical names. Frodo, Bilbo, Merry, Pippin, Sam Gamgee - Hobbits had homey, country names. 

 

Kay's Fionavareans don't have distinctive names. Loren Silvercloak is  a mage. So is Metran? Does he have a descriptive surname? 

 

What exactly are the lios alfar? What does alfar mean, since there are evil things called svart alfar? Are svarts some kind of beast, and are there alfar ones and other kinds of svarts?

 

I often can't tell the difference between place names and personal names.

Dew on Fairy Duster

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 131 out of 383 pages.

The Summer Tree - Guy Gavriel Kay

Update #1

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/2037070/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-82-out-of-383-pages

 

It's getting a little better, a little more interesting, but not a whole lot.  I'm still not dragged into the story and unable to get out.  None of my earlier problems with the book have been resolved.  If anything, they've gotten worse.

 

There are more and more and more characters being introduced, but I still don't know enough about the ones already on stage.  Even though I'm more than a third of the way through this volume, I don't know enough about any of the characters to care much about them.

 

And that's the heart of the problem:  I just don't care.  There's a hint that one of the earth humans has had a tragedy, maybe a recent one, but only a hint.  Not enough to make me really care about that character.

 

I don't even really know what these people look like. Nothing in particular distinguishes Paul from Kevin or Diarmuid from Dave.  I'm not sure who Gorlaes is or what his relationship is to anyone else.  What are Kimberley and Jennifer doing there?  Why are they there?  Are they friends on the normal earth plane?

 

There's no sense of wonder or fear or excitement in the people who have gone to this other world from earth.  There's no curiosity in them.  They don't ask questions; they rarely resist orders.

 

I can't say I'm forcing myself to read further, but let's just say I don't have any problem turning off the Kindle when it's time to do something else.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 82 out of 383 pages.

The Summer Tree - Guy Gavriel Kay

Full disclosure here, which may also be on the original 10-page update:

I purchased the Kindle edition of this book at full retail price.  I follow the author on Twitter, but he does not follow me. We have had a few brief exchanges, but not many. I was introduced to this writer via the now-defunct Rave Reviews magazine back in 1987 or so, when I was given the third volume of this trilogy, The Darkest Road, to review.  I fudged it, because I never did read the book.  I felt it was unfair to read the third and final volume without having read the first two.  And our schedule with Rave Reviews didn't provide enough time for me to find them.  So I fudged.  I have not revealed that information to the author on Twitter, nor do I have any intention of doing so.

 

And of course, I am an author of historical romances, contemporary gothic romances, and assorted non-fiction.

 

Now, to The Summer Tree.

 

I'm almost one quarter into it and I'm . . . disappointed.  I'm just not captivated the way I had hoped to be.  At least this time I know why.

 

The premise is familiar: Five young present day earth humans are transported to Another World for purposes as yet unknown.  No doubt they are about to face Challenges and Dangers and have Adventures.  So far nothing much has happened, but there's a lot of text remaining.

 

The problem is that there's no sense of wonder, no sense of magic and excitement and awe.  I mean, this guy comes up to them, proposes to transport them to his world and then bring them back, and they're all like, "Okay, fine, whatever."  One of them gets lost in the process of being transported and the other four are, like, "Okay, fine, whatever."  There's no concern expressed or anything, no wondering about what happened to that person or worry that they might be lost forever in some magical ether.  They don't even seem curious as to what process got them from the real world to the magic one.  Everything is "Okay, fine, whatever."

 

There are some weird creatures introduced, but not much reaction to them.  One of the four humans is so unconcerned about the whole business that on their first night in the magic world, he gets stinking drunk.  Hello?  No one is scared or curious or excited or . . . anything.

 

Another issue I have is that there are so many characters introduced at the beginning that none of them are sufficiently fleshed out enough to become real.  The easy thing to do is compare this to Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, in which the reader is introduced to Frodo and Bilbo and the other Hobbits through not only a lengthy "historical" Prologue, but also through the device of Bilbo's birthday party in which the first few characters are introduced and developed.  More are then added as the tale moves along.

 

Kay brings in all kinds of characters within these first few pages, and none seem three dimensional . . . yet.

 

Oddly, looking back through those ancient Rave Reviews files, I gave myself a little unexpected spoiler from Book Three.  Maybe it will be enough to keep me reading.

 

 

Really Neat Rocks - 19 January 2020 cuttings

A few of the small stones I cut Sunday.  They are from a bucket market "Red Jasper," but in fact are plume agates.

 

 

The red "plumes" are another mineral that forms these structures within the chalcedony (quartz) that makes the agate.

 

In this one, the plumes aren't as distinct, but the typical fortification agate pattern is clear, if tiny.

 

 

This is a third one, even smaller, but still with red plumes and miniature fortifications.

 

 

Most of these will end up having their edges ground smooth to some freeform shape, then tossed in the tumblers for seven to eight weeks to polish before they're ready to wrap in wire.

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

The Wild Child -- Not so wild after all

The Wild Child - Mary Jo Putney

Update #1 

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/2033261/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-136-out-of-365-pages

 

Update #2

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/2034467/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-179-out-of-365-pages

 

Update #3

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/2035248/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-241-out-of-365-pages

 

Update #4

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/2035872/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-320-out-of-365-pages

 

And to repeat the usual

Disclosure: I have both the paperback (purchased at full cover price years ago) and the Kindle (obtained when offered free) versions of this book.  I have met the author a couple of times (hot fudge sundaes at McDonald's in NYC) but cannot claim to know her personally very well.  I am an author of historical romances, contemporary gothic romances, and assorted non-fiction.

 

Lots of spoilers in this review, so read at your own peril.

 

I wanted to like this book.  I deliberately chose it from amongst the literally hundreds of historical romances in my Kindle library because I had truly enjoyed Putney's Dearly Beloved for its complex characters and intriguing plot.  The Wild Child didn't even come close. 

 

Maybe I need to reread Dearly Beloved.  Maybe it won't measure up to my memory of it.

 

One of my old writing buddies from the 1990s described the light-weight romances of that era as "middle school boyfriend and girlfriend stories."  Everything about these romances is idealized, with little of life's harsher realities allowed to penetrate.  Characters tend to be one-dimensional, especially the villains. Conflicts tend to be of the Big Misunderstanding sort, easily resolved by a civilized conversation.  All threads are neatly tied up at the end, often with the help of a deus ex machina savior.

 

That's The Wild Child in a nutshell. 

 

As I read it, I kept seeing possibilities to make the plot more complex and intriguing, the characters deeper and more interesting.  None of it happened.

 

Lady Meriel Grahame is the only child of the late earl.  His brother, her uncle, has inherited the title and the estates that go with it, but she inherited the vast Warfield estate through her mother (I think).  Her other uncle, Lord Amworth, shares guardianship of Meriel with Grahame.

 

Meriel was orphaned when her parents were killed in India.  Some of her history is a mystery, but it's known that she was rescued by someone, protected in an Indian zenana for some time, and eventually returned to England at about the age of five.  By then her mind was destroyed; she could not speak and appeared not to understand when spoken to.  She lives on the Warfield estate, tended by two widowed ladies and her Indian protector Kamal.

 

Apparently, Meriel was more or less promised in marriage to Kyle Renbourne, heir to the Earl of Wrexhm, when both of them were young children and prior to Meriel's parents departure for India.  This part isn't made too clear.  But eventually Wrexham puts the pressure on Kyle to fulfill the engagement and marry her, even though now at the age of 23, Meriel still doesn't talk, still lives in seclusion at Warfield, still doesn't behave normally.

 

I'm not sure why anyone would agree to this arrangement.  Not Kyle, not his father Wrexham, not Meriel's guardians Grahame and Amworth, and certainly not Meriel who isn't even capable of agreeing.  I got icky feelings about this right away.

 

Those feelings got ickier very quickly, and I almost set the book aside as a DNF.

 

Kyle meets with Meriel -- who doesn't acknowledge anything about him -- and accepts that she might be all right as a wife.  He'll marry her, have a few children with her, then abandon her if need be.  There's no real discussion as to what effect any of this might have on her, whether she's sane or not.

 

But Kyle has another relationship to deal with -- his long-time lover is dying and wishes to go back to Spain to die.  Kyle's lover is 56, twice his own age of 28, and he has been with her for ten years.  So he enlists his younger twin brother Dominic to take his place for a while.  Dominic will go to Warfield, pretend to be Kyle, and determine if the mad Meriel can be made into a reasonable facsimile of a wife for the future Earl of Wrexham.

 

The twins have been estranged for years, and Kyle as the heir to the vast Wrexham fortune offers to pay his brother in the form of one of the Wrexham estates, allowing Dominic to be financially secure. 

 

Of course, as happens in all middle school romances, Kyle falls in love with Meriel and doesn't want to give her up to his brother.  Complications ensue when it turns out Meriel isn't mad at all; she's just suffering from what we would now call severe post traumatic stress disorder. Dominic miraculously brings her out of it.  Then there are some more complications, Meriel is kidnapped and taken to the brutal insane asylum Dominic had rescued another woman from, so now he has to rescue Meriel as well.

 

Of course, he does, and then there is no option for them but to run away and get married because Dominic now has to have the legal right to protect her.

 

Of course, then Kyle returns.  His lover has finally died in Spain and he's distraught, and made more distraught by what he sees as Dominic's betrayal.  Wait, what?  Kyle didn't love Meriel, was really only interested in doing what his father wanted by marrying her.  Dominic knew he was giving up the estate Kyle had promised him.  But of course it's not a good story unless at least one of the brothers is too stubborn to listen to reason.

 

Of course.

 

And of course there's the younger sister, Lucia, who reconciles them. 

 

And of course the ultimate villain is revealed in the final scene, when brother saves brother and they both save Meriel.

 

Finis, as Putney writes, just before the little epilogue, which really serves to introduce the next book in the series.

 

I think what bothered me the most about the book and dropped my rating so far down was that there were so many issues involved that were never addressed through the course of the story and then were just kind of cleared up neatly at the end.  And others that were never addressed at all.

 

Meriel's time in India, for example, isn't explained until the very, very end, and then only briefly.  Even that explanation left a lot of questions unanswered.

 

But the fact that she was in India, that her parents were killed there, leaves even more questions when it comes to Jena Morton, daughter of neighbor General Ames.

 

Big spoiler here:

Jena Morton has been committed to the local insane asylum by her husband.  When Dominic goes there to check out the place and discovers it to be a hell-hole, Jena approaches him and begs him to let her father know she is there.  It turns out General Ames had been told Jena was dead (I think), but I'm not sure if he didn't investigate or what.  Anyway, Jena is rescued from the asylum, returned to her father's protection, and all is well.

 

It's not until much later that we learn Jena's mother was Indian.  I found it very odd that this wasn't more a part of the story.  Did her father have to leave the army because he married a native woman? How did the marriage affect his career, his choice to return to England, and so on?  How did the marriage affect his life in England?  How did it affect Jena's life?

 

As Meriel and Jena establish the beginning of a friendship, why is there no discussion of their shared experience in India?  How does Meriel feel about Jena's mixed heritage, given that Meriel's parents were murdered in India by Indians?  The whole thing becomes more complicated later, but even before the complications come into play, I felt all this wonderful complexity was being given short shrift.

 

Meriel recovers from her PTSD because she has wonderful sex with Dominic.  (The magic penis instead of the magic vagina for a change?)  She's been so isolated at Warfield that she has no understanding of traditional rules of behavior, and when the action is told from her point of view, the sex is referred to as mating, a somewhat icky attitude as far as I was concerned.  Yet once she's "cured," she seems to have full awareness of table manners and everything else.  How convenient!

 

Dominic has his own PTSD, and if you should decide to read the book, be aware that his description of the action at Waterloo is pretty graphic and includes animal deaths.  But Dominic just kind of gets over it.  And Meriel kind of just gets over it, too.

 

By the last 40 pages or so, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to finish the book without going into a diabetic coma.  The sweetness was overwhelming.  The revelation of the villain was no surprise, but neither had there been any build up to it.  Everything was . . . perfect.  And everyone lived happily ever after.

 

I don't mind the HEA aspect; I demand it as much as anyone else when I'm reading romance.  But I didn't feel that the characters had really done anything to earn their HEA.  Meriel had suffered, yes, but she didn't really do anything to effect her own recovery.  Dominic came along, she seduced him, and wow, she's not insane any more!  Dominic was offered a handsome payment for doing his brother a favor, and wow, he got even more than expected! 

 

No one really had anything at risk, and I guess that's where the great disappointment lay for me.  Everyone was handsome and wealthy at the start, and there was never really any doubt that they wouldn't be handsome and wealthy at the end.

 

Ho hum.

Reading progress update: I've read 320 out of 365 pages.

The Wild Child - Mary Jo Putney

Update #1 

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/2033261/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-136-out-of-365-pages

 

Update #2

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/2034467/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-179-out-of-365-pages

 

Update #3

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/2035248/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-241-out-of-365-pages

 

Within shouting distance of the end, the book became a bigger struggle with each passing page.  I finished it, however, and will have a full review in the final update.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 299 out of 365 pages.

The Wild Child - Mary Jo Putney

The action lasted all of about ten pages.  We're now back to the disturbingly sweet.

Reading progress update: I've read 241 out of 365 pages.

The Wild Child - Mary Jo Putney

Update #1 

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/2033261/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-136-out-of-365-pages

 

Update #2

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/2034467/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-179-out-of-365-pages

 

I'm now at the 2/3 point, 66%, and I'm struggling.  There are elements of the plot I really like, but the characterization seems very weak.  Meriel and Dominic are too perfect.

 

Some action has finally come into the story after 240 pages of unalloyed sweetness.  I'm just not sure the groundwork was properly laid for this action, and I'm wondering if it might not be too late to save this book, at least for this reader.

 

At least I'm reading.

Reading progress update: I've read 179 out of 365 pages.

The Wild Child - Mary Jo Putney

Previous update:

 

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/2033261/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-136-out-of-365-pages

 

I'm at the halfway point, and still not enthusiastic, but at least now I know why.

 

The whole romance plot is one gigantic Big Misunderstanding that could be resolved by the two characters talking to each other and explaining what's going on.  Oh, there are reasons why they don't, but if the relationship means that much to them -- to either of them -- the effort should be made.

 

 

This spoiler is more for my own use than anything else, but . . . .

 

Part of Meriel's secret is out, to both the reader and Dominic: She can read.  He now knows she understands what he says to her.  But then why does she not understand the rules of society that restrict her behavior? Answer:  She does, and author Putney missed this glitch in the plot.

(show spoiler)

 

Reading progress update: I've read 136 out of 365 pages.

The Wild Child - Mary Jo Putney

Disclosure: I have both the paperback (purchased at full cover price years ago) and the Kindle (obtained when offered free) versions of this book.  I have met the author a couple of times (hot fudge sundaes at McDonald's in NYC) but cannot claim to know her personally very well.  I am an author of historical romances, contemporary gothic romances, and assorted non-fiction.

 

First of all, let me say it's very pleasant to read something that's well written.  No glaring grammar errors, no bunches of typos, no immense plot holes.

 

Second of all, this is not the first Mary Jo Putney novel I've read; her controversial Dearly Beloved is among my all-time favorites.

 

Third of all, I'm having a difficult time remaining interested in this book.

 

Dominic, the younger identical twin to the earl of (something, I forget right now), is sent by his brother to investigate whether marriage to Meriel Grahame will be in the earl's interest.  Meriel is . . . not quite right.  Beautiful, but mentally unbalanced in some way.  I guess the idea is that Kyle -- the earl -- could marry her, father an heir or two or three, then abandon her.

 

Well, that's icky enough.  Kyle offers Dominic a sizeable payment for doing the investigatory work, and as a younger son with no prospect, Dominic agrees.

 

Of course, the rest of the plot (so far, anyway) is predictable.

 

Meriel is extraordinarily beautiful.  She's also an heiress, and Dominic has little if any income of his own.  He entered the army and fought at Waterloo, then sold his commission; he has no intention of joining the clergy.

 

There's a resemblance in the plot to another historical romance that I read years ago -- and didn't particularly care for.  If I get through The Wild Child, I may go back and reread the other to see if the elements are as similar as I think they are.

 

Just plain bragging

https://www.morrissussexhockey.com/home/composure-key-for-morris-knolls-hills-freshman-goalie-marken

 

 

Yes, this is the same kid who won his middle school's Vocabulary Bee three years in a row.

 

 

Edited to add pic.  Elliot is #29, front row.

 

 

New Year's Resolution - I started reading again

The Wild Child - Mary Jo Putney

I'll set this up as a regular currently reading status later this afternoon.

 

The first week of 2020 has been slightly chaotic at my house, for a variety of reasons that would bore everyone here to tears, so just suffice that last night I FINALLY was able to go to bed and read contentedly for almost an hour.

 

All the other shit, well, it's mostly shoved to the side, but I do still have to come up with some supplementary income.  After enjoying the rock show in Mesa on Saturday, I spent some time on the rock saw Sunday and Monday (until the back spasm returned), some time putting the studio in the beginnings of some order, and some time on my other arts and crafts.

 

But the bullshit is no longer getting the bulk of my attention, time, or energy.

Flagg Foundation Gem & Mineral Show, 4 January 2020 -- A Report

— feeling big smile

 

I left my driveway at exactly 9:30 Saturday morning and arrived at the Mesa Community College parking lot at exactly 10:00.  Over the past few years, the show has expanded so that vendors now fill not only the uncovered parking area but one full section of the covered area.  (I'm pretty sure the shade structures also support solar panels.)  If I were to be a vendor at the show, I'd want to be out in the open, because there's no better lighting for rocks and gems than natural sunshine.  And if it's rainy, no one is going to come to the show anyway!

 

However, to get on with the tale of my adventure.

 

The weather was absolutely splendid.  I started out at 10:00 with just a flannel shirt for a jacket, but that came off when I went back to my car for lunch at noon.  I spent the rest of the day in shorts, tee-shirt, and sandals.  Perfect!

 

I saw a lot of familiar faces amongst the vendors and was tempted to buy, but I had set myself a very frugal budget -- no more than $50! -- and I knew exactly what I was looking for.  Or rather, what I was looking to not buy.  I am a sucker for Brazilian agates and Mexican crazy lacy agates, and I already have plenty of both.  I was looking for light and bright colors.

 

And of course low prices!

 

The first piece I bought was a red flame agate from Southern California, a "new" deposit the vendor said had been found by an elderly neighbor of his.  I wish now I had bought more, because I wasn't aware the piece I bought was only $2!

 

 

With the sun behind it, the pattern and colors really stand out.

 

 

And with the sun striking it directly (at 8:00 this morning ), the bright red really pops.

 

 

The next purchase was almost an accident.  I was looking at some slices of Mexican crazy lace -- I know, I wasn't supposed to -- when the vendor showed me a couple of end slices. 

 

 

 

Regular slices, or slabs, are lovely, and from them I can cut and polish beautiful cabochons.  But that takes time.  A lot of time.  The rough blanks have to be cut from the slab, then ground by hand to the exact shape, then further ground by hand to dome the top into the cabochon style.  But to make it a true gem, the stone still has to be polished, either by hand or by spending a month or so in the tumbler, along with a few dozen other laboriously shaped cabs.

 

A quick glance at one end of the smaller piece showed how the pattern goes through the stone in a kind of three-dimensional effect.

 

 

These two end cuts can be sliced crosswise into a dozen or more small, roughly triangular bits and, without further labor tossed into the tumbler to turn out polished pieces ready to wire wrap, similar to this one -- a slice of red and pink jasper I collected at Brenda, AZ, several years ago -- from another batch.

 

 

I was a little reluctant to buy more crazy lace agate, and the $12 asking price for the two end cuts was a little high, but I knew what I could turn that investment into, so I bought them.

 

There are two "premier" rock hounding sites in Arizona, at least as far as the agates and jaspers are concerned.  Both are extremely remote, and both -- perhaps by coincidence or perhaps not -- produce lovely purple stuff.

 

One is the Sheep Crossing on the Verde River, famous for its sagenitic agate.  I've been there twice, and I would happily go again if I could find anyone to share the four-hour, 100-mile drive with me. 

 

 

The original sheep crossing bridge -- old support on the right -- was hand-built in the 1940s to allow sheep herders to bring their flocks down from the north without having to ford the river.  Eventually the old bridge disintegrated and was replaced in the 1980s (I think) by a newer, sturdier one.  I think horses can cross it, and maybe motorcycles but I'm not sure on that.  It's obviously strong enough for sheep and their dogs and shepherds.  I walked across it once and then had to walk back, but I will never do it again!

 

The rocks from the Sheep Crossing location, though, are really nice.

 

 

The other really remote location is Burro Creek, north of Wickenburg.  I've never been there, so I guess you could say it's on my bucket list, or at least my rock bag list.  But I've been fortunate enough to pick up some very very nice pieces at the Mesa show over the years.  This year was no exception: this slice set me back a whole $5.00!  I should be able to cut at least three or four nice large cabochons from it.  Yes, they'll take extra time, but they will definitely be worth it!

 

 

The next piece I bought was a rare and lucky find.  It's not the museum-quality material that shows up on the spectacular websites, but it was in fact the first piece of Condor agate from Argentina I've ever seen in person.  (If you want to fall down a beautiful rabbit hole, do a google image search of Condor agate. . . .)

 

 

The light wasn't as good as I had hoped for the full shot, but I think you get the idea of just how wonderful Condor agate is by this close-up.

 

 

Or this

 

 

I haven't even decided if I want to cut it! 

 

My final purchase was maybe the most exciting, even more exciting in its own way than the Condor agate.

 

The sad part about rock shows is that so many of the vendors are getting up in years.  There aren't a lot of younger people getting involved.  In a way, it's understandable.  Unless you're really, really lucky, the chances of hitting it big in this hobby are slim and none.  Even if you do hit it big, it's going to take a significant cash investment in equipment, and it's going to take more than a little physical labor.  There were some younger (under 60?) people at this show, but many of them were selling mass-produced, imported trinkets.

 

Many of the older vendors, too, are selling inventories they've picked up at estate sales, so they don't know where the stones came from or even what they are in many cases.  (Like me!) 

 

But I happened to stop at one booth where the young man (probably in his 30s or even early 40s, and yes, that's young!) had several trays of slabs in a price range I could afford.  I saw some petrified wood and other familiar Arizona materials.  Then I spotted something unusual yet still familiar: slabs with veins of pale amethyst running through them.  I pulled one out and looked it over, noting that it did have some noticeable cracks and fractures, which is not uncommon.

 

I asked him, "Do you know where this material came from?"

 

He looked like the type who might actually have driven out into some wilderness and found the rocks himself.

 

"Well, it's kind of north of Florence," he answered.

 

I looked closer at the stone and said, "So somewhere near the Woodpecker Mine?"

 

His face lit up in a big grin.

 

"You're the first person who has ever looked at this stuff and had any idea where it came from.  Yes, not too far from the Woodpecker.  Have you been up in that area?"

 

I told him I'd been there several times, though not quite to the mine environs exactly.

 

 

The amethyst isn't a bright, dark purple like from the Four Peaks gem-quality mine or even as bright as what I found in my little agate nodule from Fourth of July Butte a few weeks ago.  But the light purple crystals that follow the irregular line of white crystals in the slice are typical of what I've seen from around the Woodpecker Mine, an area known as Mineral Mountain.

 

What made this piece so intriguing, however, was the inclusion of the turquoise-blue and bright red materials.  Iron makes amethysts purple, but copper makes turquoise-like chrysocolla and bright red cuprite.  The whole Mineral Mountain region is copper mining country, but the iron isn't quite so common.  This stone came from a rare buffer zone between the two.

 

 

I could tell the slice had some dangerous fractures, which was probably why the price was only $5.  By the time I got home, one small corner had already broken off.

 

 

I'll see how stable the rest of it is when I start marking out cabs prior to cutting, and if it's too unstable, I might not cut it at all.  Sometimes stones like this are better used for display and conversation.

 

I bought a few other small pieces, more for fun than anything else, and a couple of clear Arkansas quartz fragments to play with on the faceter.  My total expenditure came to $31.50, out of my budgeted $50.

 

I came home very happy!