Tag Archives: rocks

finding myself in odd places

Since we moved to the desert, I occasionally find myself thinking, “Where am I — and what am I doing?”

It happened on Sunday.

We drove 1 1/2 hours to Adelanto to watch The High Desert Mavericks play a minor league baseball game: hotdogs, soft pretzels with mustard, a bull mascot (whom C. calls “guy!”) and loud fans cheering for players they undoubtedly know. C. ran up and down a grassy hill and A. chatted with the bullpen.

On the way home, we off-roaded into the desert near Four Corners (where 395 meets 58) and followed rough directions to find rocks. That’s right, we took dirt roads in our little Mazda, about four miles to a little hill full of rocks: dendritic agate, agatized palm, petrified bog.

And there I was, in the 100-degree heat, in a white sun hoodie and flip-flops in rattlesnake territory, bent down, searching for rocks.

A. said, “I can’t believe you found this [area] by yourself.”

I had stopped through on Mother’s Day after driving down to  Victorville to shop for clothes for C., since there is no shopping in Ridgecrest.

And while at Four Corners, I found these rocks — which tumbled beautifully — and I wanted more.

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A. searched for some, too, and he found rocks the size of softballs that he plans to turn into bookends.

I still don’t know what I’ll do with the ones I found — I’m thinking of making a mosaic wall-hanging, but in order to do so, I need to tumble more. A lot more.

But I did — I had an out-of-body moment, where I looked at myself, standing in the dry, hot desert, searching for rocks, and I thought, “A year ago, I never could have imagined I’d be doing this.” And, “This is really, really crazy.”

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from rough to shine: my latest hobby

Before I moved to the desert, I had never heard of rock tumbling.

In March, I went on a hike in the Indian Wells Valley with A., C., and my in-laws, and my MIL and I starting noticing beautiful, colorful, sparkling rocks. They glinted in the sun. Our pace slowed as our necks folded down and we searched the desert dirt. I filled my cargo pants pockets with red and and green and blue and striped rocks.

Along the way, A. and my FIL suggested rock tumbling. A. said he’d look into making me a tumbler.

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Truly, this was a new concept for me. Why would anyone tumble rocks? (I have since discovered other friends either don’t get it or also haven’t heard of it — one derided it as a “first-grade science experiment,” another said, “You mean, like the website Tumblr?”)

A. explored making a rock tumbler, and decided it was easier to buy one. So he did.

I tumbled my first batch before we left for the east coast. The process takes an entire month — or more — of tumbling rocks in a rubber container with either grit or polish. Day and night.

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The results are amazing. I’m still deciding what to do with them (ideas are welcome!). A couple of them will probably be paper weights. A few turned into beautiful pendants for necklaces. The others may fill a glass with a candle in it. We’ve talked about making mosaics (wall art, or as part of a tabletop) and coasters and table runners and bracelets. One friend even suggested gluing them into a bird house.

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I’m on my second batch now, and I’m checking the rocks daily, during C.’s nap, washing off the grit with the hose and studying each one as they transform from rough to shine.

I’ve learned that lapidary is an art. I’ve learned that there is a whole community of rock hounds who live in the Mojave, including a woman a few blocks from my house who owns a store full of rocks from all over the world. I’ve learned that there are old mines in California, and near them lie opal and quartz and jasper and petrified wood.

I have also learned that geology fascinates me, and that I love that I can wrap my hand around an object that I found that is millions of years old and turn it into a gem. It makes me feel connected to the earth.

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