Beach Glass Hunting

“The only problem with looking for sea glass…is that you never look up. you never see the view. you never see the houses or the ocean, because you’re afraid you’ll miss something in the sand.” ~ Anita Shreve

It’s 6:45 in the morning. My best friend and I arrive at one of our favorite local spots – a popular beach on Lake Erie. Well, it’s relatively local. It’s 29 miles away or about a 45 minute drive that I can sometimes make in 30 minutes. We are 2 of a small handful of people who are up and about at this crazy hour on a Saturday morning.

As we walk down the ride away, I notice how calm the lake is. It looks like glass with the exception of a few small ripples coming ashore from the lone boat passing by with a couple fishermen. Since I’ve been coming to this beach years ago, I’ve always seen at least a few waves on this lake, but not today. I’ve never seen this lake so calm. Then again, I’ve never seen the lake at this time of the day.When we get to the water’s edge, we part ways. I head towards the pier and she heads towards the creek.

So why in the world are we at the beach at such an ungodly hour on a Saturday morning?

Imagine that you’re taking a stroll on the beach and something sparkly catches your eye. You bend over to pick it up and admire the simple yet pretty, frosty, little odd shaped gem. You look down and see another piece. A few steps away you find another … and another.

A little while later when you get in your car or get home, you look at all of the sparkly, frosty gems you’ve gathered. Maybe you have a rainbow of colors or maybe you have just a couple different colors.

You have just collected what’s known as beach glass or sea glass.

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How did the glass get in the lake?

There are a couple of ways that the glass ended up in the lake then on the beach.

  • Before the 1960’s, many products came in glass containers. Everything from food to beverages to medicine and everything in between. Also back then, it was a common practice to either bury your garbage in the sand or toss it in the ocean or lake. Since the invention of plastic and less garbage being tossed in the lake, these precious little gems are becoming harder to find.

  • The exact number is not known, but Lake Erie has had more than 2,000 shipwrecks, all of which probably had bottles, glasses and ceramic dishes on board.

  • Rumor has it that marbles have also washed ashore. They may have been on ships or thrown into the lake by children playing on the beach or at an amusement park by the lake. They may have also been dumped into the lake by marble manufacturer Akro Agate which was on the Cuyahoga River.

  • The average depth of Lake Erie is 62 feet. It ranges from about 30 feet deep in the shallowest point and 210 feet at the deepest point. In comparison, Lake Superior is 1,335 feet. This means that the waves on Lake Erie can be incredibly rough – especially during a storm. During a storm, strong winds kick up fairly powerful waves. This combined with the riptide churns the water and tosses the glass around while rubbing it against rocks and sand. This smoothes the rough, jagged edges of the glass and transforms them into a beautiful frosty jewel.

  • It takes anywhere from 7 – 20 years of being tossed around in this environment for something like a broken bottle to transform from a piece of glass with sharp, jagged edges to a smooth piece with rounded edges.

  • Beach glass colors span the entire rainbow with many shades of each color in between plus black, brown and white. Some colors, like white, green and brown, are more common than black and red which are very rare.

  • These recycled bobbles are collected all over the world. Depending where you live, they are called many different things like sea glass, beach glass, mermaids tears, ocean glass, and trash glass.

  • Glass found in the ocean is typically called sea glass, while glass on fresh water beaches is called Beach Glass.

  • There is no real value in these treasures, but they are beautiful and fun to collect.

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Back on the beach, I found my thoughts clearing as the sun was rising in the eastern sky. I asked myself why I liked collecting this garbage that Lake Erie polished and spit back out to the beach. Is it because finding these pieces of recycled past is like a scavenger hunt? Is it because I like being up at the crack of an ungodly hour watching the sun rising over the horizon? Could it be because I like playing tag with the waves? Or is it the peaceful calmness and serenity that I feel when I’m here?

My answer? It’s all of the above.

After I’m done looking for that one unique piece by the pier, I head back. I walk with my head down peering into the clear water to my right, then scanning the wet sand and rocks in front of me, then the dry sand and rocks to my left and back again. Every few steps I find a piece, then another, and another, and …

“Buddy! You went past the ride away again!”

I look up and sure enough I did. I was so busy with my eyes looking over every square inch of beach that I hadn’t even noticed the time, the tide going out, the scenery around me, or that I walked past the ride away… again. That’s ok though. I was enjoying the moment as it was happening.

When I catch up to my best friend back at the car, we show off our haul to each other. Today we found a lot. We both found a few big pieces and at least 1 of each color – white, blue, green and brown. I also found a few neat looking rocks and a couple of fossils. We hop in the car, put the windows down and the music up as we head for home. On the ride home, I am acutely aware that I hadn’t eaten breakfast. No matter. This was a great start to the day.

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Our lives are filled with so much stuff these days. Between work, children and information coming at us from every direction 24/7. We’re always rushing from here to there and a couple of places in between. I know. I’ve been there. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized what’s important in life. I know that there’s more to life than work and obligations. I missed out on a lot of things because of the obligations I’ve had over the years. I decided last year that I was going to do more of the things I enjoy doing.

In all my years of coming to this beach, I have yet to find a marble. Perhaps one day, when the tide is right, I’ll find a marble sitting on the beach waiting for me to pick it up.

My best friend told me years ago that when we got old that we would walk the beach collecting glass and seashells. I laughed and said, “Yeah right.” Little did I know back then that she was right, except now we’re not old. We’re just older.

Thought for the day: We will always have work and obligations in some form until the day we die. If we want to be happy, healthy people we need to look up from our work, obligations and our electronic devices. See the view. See the houses or the ocean/lake. Don’t be afraid of missing the occasional piece of glass in the sand. There will be more.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

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Your Last Day

“Against the grain should be a way of life … Every second counts ’cause there’s no second try, So live like you’ll never live it twice, Don’t take the free ride in your own life” ~ Nickleback

What would you do if you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and you were given a certain amount of time to live? Would you make a bucket list and try to do everything on it? Would you hold up in your home until the day you die? Donate every dime you have?

Or would you…well, I think you know.

I’ve known a few people who have been diagnosed with and died from terminal illness. The first one was my grandfather who had liver cancer. I remember on summer vacation riding my bike 6 miles to his house so I could visit with him. I still, 30 years later, vividly remember the day he past away.

One person I had a bond with but not super close to moped around had metastasized cancer. This person moped around but before passing away, this person had been planning a trip but didn’t make it. A few of us carried out the trip they’d planned and sprinkled some ashes in a couple places there. I still remember the night that person took their life.

During my years in healthcare, I became close with a number of individuals who passed away from terminal illness. For most their terminal illness was old age. I’ll never forget what one patient told me one day, “Live your life now while you can.”

Thought for the day: Live each day to its fullest, laugh your heart out, love like there’s no tomorrow, and tell the ones you love how you feel. Life is to short to live otherwise.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Humor

“Cancer is probably the unfunniest thing in the world, but I’m a comedian, and even cancer couldn’t stop me from seeing the humor in what I went through.” ~ Gilda Radner

Too much seriousness can truly be a serious matter. Being serious all the time can have an effect on our health just like stress. If you stopped having fun and laughter you can have problems in your relationships, depression, maybe problems with drug/alcohol addiction. It also can lower your immunity leaving you vulnerable to illness and perhaps cancer as well as heart problems including heart attacks or strokes.

The benefits of laughter is that it decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, which improves your resistance to disease. It triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can temporarily relieve pain.

There’s no one around to laugh with? No problem! With today’s electronics we have the ability to order old reruns to watch on t.v. We can even find the old shows like the Honeymooners, the Three Stooges and even Lucille Ball(now I’m dating myself. Lol!). Plus there’s all kinds of comedy like dry humor, stupidity comedy, and comedy with all levels of foul language. Just look for a funny show or movie on t.v., grab some snacks and Kleenex for those laughs that make you laugh so hard that you cry, pull up a chair and just laugh.

Thought for the day: During one of life’s long, hard days you can look forward to going home and just laughing all that “stuff” off. You’ll be better off in the long run.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

“Magic Power”

“Where words fail, music speaks.” ~ Hans Christian Andersen
Something you may not know about me is that I love music. I like a wide variety of genres but Classic Rock, some heavy metal and ‘80’s hair band music are my favorites. There’s just something about the toe tapping beat that just gets me energized plus it keeps my mind and body going when I want to stop.
There’s something else I bet you didn’t know about music or perhaps didn’t think about. In a world full of diversity, music is just one of the many things that unite us no matter what our race, creed, religion, sexual preference or socioeconomic status is. It unites us because 2 or more people may disagree on politics, religion, etc but they can always agree that a certain song makes them feel a certain way.
Maybe you can identify with one of these scenarios: 
You had a lousy day at work, school or home and you hop in the car to go wherever, you turn on the radio and your favorite or one of your favorite songs starts playing. Next thing you know you’re tapping toe or your finger to the beat. By the time the chorus begins to play you start singing. Admit it. You know you do. I sure do. Before you know it your bad day has melted away and you’re in a better mood.
You just broke up with your romantic partner and you feel pretty lousy. Maybe you said/did or didn’t say/do something that you wanted to or should have. Your heart feels like it’s breaking in 2 or else you’re the one saying good riddance. You turn on the radio, a good song comes on and one of a couple things can happen. The song either brings you down or make you feel empowered because the lyrics say the things you want to say. Next thing you know, as I said before, by the time the chorus begins to play you start singing. I know I do. 
Finally, you’re getting ready to start a project but don’t know where to start or you have a problem but you’re not sure how to fix it. Like the other scenarios, you turn on some music, your jam starts playing and your creative ideas and energy start flowing. The end result turns out better than you expected. 
These are all examples of the Magic Power of music. Of course there are different variables and situations but you get the gist of what I’m saying. With so many different genres, artists and songs it’s almost impossible to not find a song that resonates with any given situation. I guess that’s why I chose this song to write about. I hadn’t heard it in years and when I heard it again recently, I thought(as I was singing it. Lol!) about my wide variety of music in my collection. Then I thought about all the diversity and divisiveness in the world and how music is one thing that brings people together.
Something comes to mind as I think about my vast collection of music and how I came to acquire such a variety. When I was young , I was a semi picky eater because I didn’t like how food looked or smelled. My mom used to tell me to try it. If I didn’t like it I didn’t have to eat it. Over the years I’ve encountered many different people who have different tastes in music. As with food, I’d listen to what others listened to and decided whether or not I liked it.
On that note, why don’t we try something different today. In the comments, write your favorite song and/or artist. Now, let’s take it one step further. If you don’t know the song or artist, go to any free site that plays music and play it. You never know if you’ll like it too. If you like it, you just found something in common with that person. 
Thought for the day: For every one thing that divide us, there’s one things that unite us. The Magic Power of music.
***Please be sure to read more of my posts 
“Magic Power”

By Triumph 
Something’s at the edge of your mind

You don’t know what it is

Something you were hoping to find 

But you’re not sure what it is

Then you hear the music 

And it all comes crystal clear

The music does the talking

Says the things you want to hear
I’m young, I’m wild and I’m free

Got the magic power of the music in me

I’m young, I’m wild and I’m free

Got the magic power of the music in me
She climbs into bed

She pulls the covers overhead 

And she turns her little radio on

She’s had a rotten day 

So she hopes the DJ’s 

Gonna play her favorite song
Makes her feel much better

Brings her closer to her dreams

A little magic power

Makes it better that it seems
She’s young now, she’s wild now, she wants to be free

She gets the magic power of the music from me

She’s young now, she’s wild now, she wants to be free

She gets the magic power of the music from me
You’re thinking it over 

But you just can’t sort it out

Do you want someone to tell you 

What they think it’s all about

Are you the one and only 

Who’s sad and lonely

You’re reaching for the top

Well, the music keeps you going 

And it’s never gonna stop

It’s never gonna stop

It’s never gonna, never gonna, never gonna, never gonna stop
The world is full of compromise

And infinite red tape

But the music’s got the magic

It’s your one chance for escape

Turn me on, turn me up

It’s your turn to dream

A little magic power 

Makes it better than it seems
I’m young now, I’m wild now, I want to be free

Got the magic power of the music in me

I’m young now, I’m wild and I’m free

Got the magic power of the music

I got the music in me
I got the power

I got the magic

She’s got the power

She’s got the magic

She’s got the power

She’s got the magic

She’s got the power

She’s got the magic
***Please be sure to read more of my posts 

Garnet Mining

Garnet, the January birthstone and official gem of New York State. During a recent trip to Herkimer, NY, I traveled about 2 hours north to one of the world’s largest garnet mines. Barton Garnet Mine on Gore Mountain in the heart of the Adirondack mountains. On this venture I was in awe once again of the sheer beauty of the area and the gems that are found here. Knowing what my birthstone looks in a piece of jewelry, I was a little shocked to see how it’s found in nature.

About Garnet

Garnet formation dates back to about the Precambrian Period. Formation of this versatile mineral began about 500 million years before that in the Archeozoic Era when the Grenville Sea, one of the great prehistoric seas, covered this area and extended northward into Canada.

Garnets are found throughout the world in metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rocks. Most garnet found near Earth’s surface forms when a sedimentary rock is subjected to intense heat and pressure(contact metamorphosis).

Barton Garnet Mine

In the late 1800s, Henry Hudson Barton began mining garnet on his land(on Gore Mountain) using just picks and chisels to etch out the deposits of the red-brown gems. In 1878, Mr Barton opened Barton Garnet Mine, which went on to become one of the world’s largest garnet deposits.

Barton Garnet Mine is located near North Creek, New York, which is 2,600 feet above sea level. It is on the north side of Gore Mountain in the heart of the Adirondacks, the oldest known range of mountains in North America. Here, garnet crystals over two feet in diameter are often seen and crystals over three feet have been reported. The garnets on Gore Mountain are found in diorite rock which is encased in a rim of hornblende with a thin layer of feldspar between the garnet and the hornblende.

Garnets are mined for more than just jewelry. Most people are often surprised to learn that garnet occurs in many other colors and has many other uses. In the United States, the major industrial uses of garnet in 2012 were waterjet cutting (35%), abrasive blasting media (30%), water filtration granules (20%), and abrasive powders (10%).

Other miscellaneous facts about the mines:

  1. Largest garnet crystals in the world
  2. Oldest family owned and operated mine in the United States
  3. ANYONE can find a gem quality garnet without using tools
  4. Fantastic panoramic views over the Adirondack Park
  5. Easy access… with a tour guide just drive right into the old mine site.
  6. Handicap Accessible – Mine site is flat, making it good for walking and for wheelchair accessibility
  7. Garnet mine tour business started in 1933
  8. Gore Mountain garnet deposit is recognized as a world famous geology site
  9. The hardest garnet in the world is only found on Gore Mountain, making the garnet extremely rare.
  10. The Barton garnet has an unusual and beautiful ruby red color that flashes in the sun.
  11. In 1969, the Governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, made the Barton garnet the New York State Gem Stone.

My Trip

As we traveled up Gore Mountain, I was in awe of the absolutely picturesque scenery.  Along the way we drove past several of the roughly 28 lakes that are in the region but we stopped at perhaps the most beautiful of the lakes, Indian Lake.

To go to the mine, we had to stop first at the gift shop to join the tour that had just left for the mine. After getting information about the tour, we made our way to the mine, well, where visitors are allowed to be. If I thought the drive up the mountain was beautiful, I ain’t see nothin’ yet.

After we left the Gore Mountain Mineral Shop, while on our way to catch up with the rest of the tour, I saw more of my Higher Power creations. We drove down the gravel road to what I can best describe as a lagoon of sorts. In front of me was a little pond with the stream gently flowing into then out of a pond that sat a the base of the mountain stood a few stories high behind it.

As I walked down to the water’s edge, there were a couple of medium sized, dark grey boulders with big ruby red splotches on them. Those were where the garnets were formed. On the ground in front of me, to my left, my right and behind me garnet pieces littered the ground. Sparkly little brownish, crimson pieces of different sized gems.

As I sat along the water’s edge, the tour guide’s voice faded. I soaked in the sounds of the water and the beauty that surrounded me while gathering up a few pieces of my birthstone. This was quite a contrast and a nice break from activities the day before at the diamond mine. I wasn’t climbing mounds of rock piles while risking a broken ankles find just one Herkimer diamond. The tools I needed were my bare hands and a container to pick up the garnet pieces. My hands had a break from chisels and hammers which was good as my blood blister healed for a day.

Thought for the day: Being in my Higher Power’s country I was able to feel more closer to Him which gave me clarity of thought and I was able to put things in my life into perspective. Doing this, being in nature, is something I encourage all people to do not matter where you live.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

My Trip to Herkimer, NY

Written July 31, 2017

“A muddied diamond is better than an unsullied pebble.” ~Matshona Dhliwayo

We’ve all heard the idiom about “a diamond in the rough”, right? How about a diamond in the mud. Actually the ones I was after are more of a crystal but they look like diamonds. More on my dirty story in a moment.

I recently took a vacation to a relatively little known place called Herkimer. It is a town at the base of the Adirondack mountains in New York State. The area is popular for one main reason. Diamond mining. These are not the diamonds that you find in a jewelry store. They are actually crystals that are similar to quartz crystals but they are very clear.

History

My lil corner of the world was once covered by the Laurentide Ice Sheet. This ice sheet occurred in the Pleistocene epoch(about 1.8 million – 8,000 years ago) aka “The Great Ice Age”. It created much of the landscape we see today in southern Canada and the northern United States.

When the glacier retreated, it left behind accumulations of dirt and rocks that range in size from powdery silt to large rocks and boulders, some the size of a car. It also created the most beautiful hills, valleys and lakes. It also caused many changes to the shape, size, and drainage of the Great Lakes. There are numerous, and I do mean numerous, small lakes in the Herkimer region each one with their own beauty. Almost all of this beauty I have been blessed to see.

In the Herkimer region, diamond looking crystals formed in cavities of prehistoric rock called dolostone in the Cambrian-age(about 500 million years ago) which is VERY hard. These cavities are frequently lined with drusy quartz crystals and are often coated with a tarry hydrocarbon.

Herkimer Diamonds look a lot like other forms of quartz. They are almost always transparent and range from colorless to smoky in color. While most crystals come to a faceted point on one end(terminated), Herkimer diamonds have points on both ends(double terminated).

These crystals can contain a wide range of inclusions(a birthmark of sorts). Particles of solid hydrocarbon materials are the most common inclusion while calcite, dolomite, pyrite, and sphalerite are common mineral inclusions. Inclusions range from small visible particles down to micron-size particles. When abundant, they can impart color in the crystals. Salt water and liquid petroleum can also be seen. Phantom inclusions are crystals that form over pre-existing crystals.

The Mohawk Indians and early settlers found these crystals in stream sediments and plowed fields. They were amazed with the beauty of the crystals and immediately held them in high esteem. They used the crystals as amulets, making tools, and traded them with other tribes. They began to lose interest in the crystals when European glass beads began to arrive in the early 1600s.

Besides being made into jewelry, Herkimer Diamonds are known for their metaphysical properties of energy and chakra healing along with balancing energy. The Herkimer Diamond, with its pure, crystal light, clears the chakras and the mind, opening channels for spiritual energy to flow. They are basically the overall healing crystal.

Ways of Prospecting

Note: All of the tools I mention can be rented at the mines or you can bring your own to most if not all the mining sites.

The key to finding Herkimer Diamonds is a knowledge of what they look like and where they can be found. The stone cavities that they can be found can be smaller than a pea or several feet across. Some of the mines have the dolostone exposed and a significant amount of broken rock is scattered across the quarry floor.

The best way to prospect is the “find and break” method which is breaking open the dolostone with a heavy hammer and a chisel. Many mines make piles of rocks of all sizes for everyone of all ages can find their own diamond. Many times you’ll find that the stones that you break open will be empty or you will accidentally shatter a crystal, but if you are lucky, you can break one open to reveal one or several precious diamonds.

A friendly warning tho, the dolostone is very tough rock, so expect to work hard and using safety glasses is strongly recommended. Wise collectors wear gloves to protect their hands from cuts or accidental finger smashing(personal experience). Another good idea is to wear jeans and a long-sleeve shirt but doing this in the middle of July or August can get pretty warm. Good sturdy ankle high boots is a must if you climb the rock piles. Also, I learned from personal experience to have bandaids handy for the occasional cuts and other mishaps

This way can lead to a few good finds. The keys to success are selection of good rocks to break and not being discouraged if you break fifty rocks without finding a crystal or if you accidentally shatter a good crystal.

There’s also “scavenger” prospecting. Many people have been successful by simply searching rock rubble, the quarry floor or even nearby streams for crystals. I found several really nice crystals this way and lots of tiny ones. This is the easiest and safest prospecting method, although I like to climb the rock piles to find them.

You can also “cavity” prospect. This is for finding large quantities of crystals and even crystals joined together. This method is done by breaking into large cavities in the quarry walls and floors using sledgehammers and wedges (power equipment is not permitted at the mines). This method requires patience, time, and a knowledge of how to break an extremely durable dolostone.

Recently, the mine that I go to put in a sluice which yielded some very nice finds for me. This is done by taking a scoop or two of gravel and putting it in a couple of screened trays, one with big hole and one with little holes. You then put those screens into the trough of water that’s stands about waist high. While the tray is in the water you agitate the screens kinda like a washing machine. Doing this washes the dirt off the stones and sorts the big ones from the little ones. If you’re really lucky a big one will appear with the big rocks.

My Experience

This was my 3rd trip to Herkimer and I must say, it doesn’t get boring for this writer. Each year I’ve gone I either find a more unique crystal than last year or I have some new experience. The last two trips my friends and I mined in the blazing hot sun and one day in a thunderstorm. Talk about unnerving! This year we were blessed with cooler temperatures and cloudy conditions with one day of steady rain. I say blessed because even tho the sun helps to point out the crystals on the quarry floor, it also makes it very warm. The rain helps to clean the dirt off the precious gems and kept the mob of people away but it made for a very dirty day but I didn’t mind. I donned a rain poncho and had a good time. Growing up a tomboy definitely came in handy that day. This was my diamond in the mud day.

This year was perhaps my best year for finding Herks, as they are affably called. I found Herks in each of the methods I described above, except cavity prospecting. Each method I found tiny perfect ones, ones with chips in them, broken ones and larger ones in very good condition.

Next to the beauty of these crystals is the amazing scenery in this area of New York. I’m not sure which was more healing for my soul, the crystals or the sunset in the mountains. One thing is certain tho, I’m going to keep going there every summer as long as my body will allow it. Heck, my best friend and I have talked about moving there and prospecting all year long. Definitely an option I’m going to keep open.

Coming up is my visit to a garnet mine 2 hours away from Herkimer.

Thought for the day: No matter what the weather or the day brings, there’s always some bright, shiny ray of light to find, regardless of it’s size.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts