Category Archives: Nature

Quartz: the Series

The α- Alpha  and the β- Beta

The Science & Art of Quartz.

SiO2

Our most beloved gemstone, in its myriad forms…Eleven crystalline and 2 non-crystalline minerals comprise silica (SiO2), though Quartz is the most common form. In our landscapes, in our lives…
Twelve percent of Earth’s surface is quartz, and a full 20% of the whole crust is quartz.

 

Geologists have plotted the various forms of SiO2  over the years, culminating in the diagram to the left.

MySiOinterests these days, and most of my life actually, lie in the blue and pink  areas on the diagram:  α-quartz and β-quartz, respectively.

α-Alpha and β-beta quartz occur in all igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock types. Within the alpha and beta fields lie a seemingly vast array of different rock types, all of which comprise quartz.

Pectoral Necklace of Senworset II, Middle Kingdom, 1880 B.C.

 

Beautiful enough for gemstones. Revered since antiquity. The ancient Egyptians were gifted artisans whose use of blood-red Carnelian—one of the Quartz gemstones—is iconic and legendary.

It’s ALL Quartz…

Trace elements (e.g. iron) produce the colors we see in all forms of Quartz, though it is not color but size and  translucency that are the keys to the Classification of Quartz.

From Large to Small…Macro to Micro to Crypto. Size matters not only in how quartz gemstones are classified, but how they come to display the endless and gorgeous variation in color and patterns of spheres,  bands and layers–whether smooth or crenulated. And why we love these humble stones more than diamonds.

Today, it’s all about Macro. Following are a few examples of the flavors of Quartz whose crystals are large enough to see without magnification. Tomorrow, the small stuff.

Macrocrystalline: Crystals are easily identified without magnification.

These Amethyst crystals are an example of Macrocrystalline Quartz.

The crystals do not have to be whole, perfect and complete like these. Some Quartz is quite coarsely crystalline yet do not display the crystal habit of the mineral.

 

 

Rose Quartz is a type of Macrocrystalline Quartz that does not form crystal faces, but is composed of many intergrown crystal ‘sub-individuals’

Citrine

Second most popular Quartz gemstone…Amethyst is first.

 

 

 

Ametrine

A naturally occurring variety of Macrocrystalline Quartz comprising zones of Amethyst intergrown with zones of Citrine.

 

 

 

Ametrine cut perpendicular to the c-axis of the crystal. Is that freaking cool or what???

 

Quartz crystal axes: 

Macro…Micro…Crytpo…it’s ALL Quartz.
Versatile, beautiful, ornamental

Carnelian Pendant wrapped in Copper wire.
(and yes, Carnelian is one of the many lovely flavors of quartz, of the Microcrystalline Quartz variety)

Find this and more or my work with the Gifts of the Earth here:
https://etsy.me/2Mobjji

And my Facebook page MCS Artworks

Thank you…

Coming Soon: Microcrystalline Quartz

 

 

References:
Ametrine    https://www.mindat.org/min-7606.html
Ametrine    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ametrine
The Mineral Citrine    https://www.minerals.net/mineral/citrine.aspx
The Mineral Quartz   https://www.minerals.net/mineral/quartz.aspx
The Quartz Page     http://www.quartzpage.de/crs_intro.html

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The Ants Go Marching…and marching…and marching

…until death do they part.

Ants-300x240Us and Them

Ever since I wrote Corvus Rising, I’ve considered in great depth and detail how the other living beings on Earth are more like us than not. We humans are fond of viewing our species at the top of the evolutionary ladder that we invented to explain the differences in anatomy and intelligence between Us and Them.

Our species is evidently highly favored: the very Deity we invented created Us to have dominion over Them.

More and more, however, it is apparent that our world view of creation is all wrong.

In the case of the corvidae (crows, ravens, magpies, jays…) we now know that their brains are very nearly the same size as ours (proportional to their bodies) and that they are not only intelligent, but sentient as well. (The Gifts of the Crow, Mazluff, 2012)

And then there’s that little pufferfish, whose connection to the Universe I share. Blows me away. We are all hooked into the same life-giving forces, by whatever deity you or I wish to call it. I like to call it Art.

Them Ants…

Ants are pretty cool; among my favorite books as a child was The City Under the Back Steps—a marvelous story of a couple of kids who magically get shrunk down to ant size.

Ant_Receives_Honeydew_from_AphidThe children are shown all around the colony by the ants, and were instructed (as I was) in many of the ways of all ants. For instance: the ants kept herds of aphids and milked them for the sugars the little buggers sucked out of the rosebush. They really do that.  (Read more about how ants milk aphids here…)

Natural science from a fictional children’s book: a marvelous way to learn.

I am a fan of ants, more or less. As long as they don’t invade my house or sting me.

I watched nervously one summer as a gigantic ant colony constructed a subterranean civilization around the size of Denver (relatively speaking, of course) in my backyard.

Ant-Farm
Click image for more info about ants & ant colonies

The problem with the humongous ant colony in my back yard: their sheer numbers so close to where I live.  They kept opening up exits and entrances all over the place, including right next to the porch and back steps. Made me nervous.

These are the kind of ants with the big jaws on their heads connected a sack of poison on the other end that is at least a third the size of their whole bodies.

garden_ant_180_tcm9-60508
Black Garden Ant.

Ant bites are bad news. Painful bad news. Every time one injects me with its personal stash of formic acid, it’s worse than the time before. So I am looking a little askance at the city under my back steps. I don’t want them there, but there they are.

And I am outnumbered. Pathetically outnumbered.

My father used to pour gasoline down ant holes and light it. Horrifying. So are pesticides. I do believe the ants have a right to be alive and pursue their ant-like goals. Just not so close to my soft, living flesh.

I didn’t want to kill them. I just wanted them to move. I flooded them out with the garden hose, a slow trickle of water that filled up the vast network of caverns and passageways. Jillions of ants floated up and out; most found things to cling to and rode the current to edge of dry land where they disemarked.

As soon as I turned off the water, the ants went to work re-building what I had ruined. The next day, I filled the ant hole up again, and ants bubbled up again. When the flood stopped, the ants started building again. I marveled that none of them went belly up on the sidelines, waving their six little legs in the air, otherwise whining and bellyaching about unfair the universe is, or how hard their lives are.

We do that. The animals don’t. They get over it and get on with living.sad-bug-with-napsack-smaller

Why can’t we?

The end of the ant story: I kept watering the ant hole and they kept rebuilding. I admired the hell of them. No complaining, no retaliation. Just one foot in front of the other five, and with a pebble in each jaw, they rebuilt.

And I kept destroying. We went on like this for days, me alternately admiring them and destroying them; the ants just kept rebuilding.

Persistence is Everything

They finally moved. They got sick of it, evidently, of spending all their time rebuilding their colony after the continued disaster I brought them. So they moved, lock stock and nursery to the alley behind the house.

Beyond the reach of my hose…

615645dcfad8ce6a1f0e885b6d4ed1fb
Banksy

 

 

 

Ecofantasy?

What’s that?

It’s a state of mind…a vision of an alternative future, where all of Earth’s inhabitants have the right to be alive, each to its own individual perception of the world, and each with a unique voice that sings its own song of creation. All the animals, plants, rocks, air, and water–everyone.

Edward_Hicks_-_Peaceable_KingdomWhere the Wild Law rules…

“…wild law is a law made by people to regulate human behaviour that privileges maintaining the integrity and functioning of the whole Earth community in the long-term, over the interests of any species (including humans) at a particular time.”
—Cormac Cullinan, author, Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice

Even Rivers have the “…right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.” (http://therightsofnature.org/ecuador-rights/)

Even unto personhood—
In 2012, New Zealand gave the Whanganui River ‘personhood rights’ (http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/river-new-zealand-granted-legal-rights-person.html)

Ecofantasy

The idea of rights of nature is still an ecological fantasy in the overall human consciousness. I offer my vision of a not-too distant Earth, a planet, alive with organisms, including the entities of rock, air, water that we deem ‘non-living’ but are alive in ways we cannot fathom.

Toward this vision, I wrote my first novel, Corvus Rising, an ecofantasy of crows, humans, sentience, and the idea that we have the ability to communicate verbally across species boundaries.

 

2Crows