Status Reports & Other Ramblings

Weekly Roundup: rainy Thursday edition with hematite

Recovering from surgery is a THING, y'all. Some days I feel totally fine and other days I feel like I've been run over by the Fatigue Bus and I'm exhausted by the time I get out of the shower in the morning. (Yesterday was the later, and okay, yes, dealing with this much hair IS probably more exercise than I'm supposed to be doing, but c'mon, body, really?) So yes, shipping times are still running slower than I'd like, and on a good day I seem to have about an hour or two of workbench time in me, but it's progress and I'll take it.

The first half of the beads for the March Pretty Rocks Club (aquamarine and friends) arrived a few days ago, and they're lovely and I already know what I want to do with them. I'm still waiting on additional beads for the deluxe subscribers, but tracking says they were in Germany yesterday, so that's good.

Some dyed moonstone beads may possibly have snuck into my cart to keep the first batch of aquamarine company on its travels, and yes, I know I just went OFF about dyed beads, but there's a big difference between "these were dyed on purpose to make something that doesn't exist in nature" and "we hope you won't know the difference between natural AA grade and dyed C grade" and these moonstone beads are REALLY pretty, albeit completely unnatural:

(I have several pieces in progress on the workbench that will HOPEFULLY make it up on the website today and I love them so much and am having to sternly tell myself that I can't keep all of it for myself.)

Oh, and speaking of unnatural, I opted to go with rainbow-coated hematite for this round of "Mercury is retrograde again, here's some hematite" because WHY NOT IT'S PRETTY. Also I couldn't decide what to make so I'm letting y'all decide, and you can put some stars on it for an extra dollar if you want: 

(No, I'm not actually shedding my skin like a snake, that's just a clear bandaid on my thumb. I got into an argument with a fruit cup a few days before that photo was taken and the fruit cup won and I don't want to talk about it.)

Speaking of "I can't decide what to make" I want to do some sort of $29 special on February 29th (BECAUSE MARKETING) and I'm thinking maybe something sort of like the New Year's intention pieces, only this time you tell me about a leap of faith you want to take and I make you a piece that reflects that? IDK, it might be too ambitious given how unpredictable everything is for me right now, I'll keep thinking about it and see where I am when we get home from meeting a sloth on Saturday. 

( I'm not hallucinating and neither are you, we really are going to meet a sloth this weekend.)

Okay. Pants! Then workbench. 

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...more or less, anyway. Surgery went great once it finally went, and as I'd hoped my pain levels are way down from what they were before, although it's a little hard to tell for sure because I was in a compression binder for 48 of the most uncomfortable hours of my life and multiple ribs decided that was their cue to wander around like the Israelites in the desert or something and OW WHY EVEN ARE BODIES. But my chiropractor will fix that this afternoon! 

(actual photo of me being bored this past weekend)

As you may have seen on Twitter, I am SO BORED.  SO SO SO SO VERY BORED. I'm in that awful in-between part of recovery where I feel mostly fine but then I try to do things and my body is all NOPE DON'T LIKE THAT and my attention span is all LOL YOU'RE OFF YOUR RITALIN, but I will shortly be brandishing pliers from bed so if you've ordered (or want to order) the stand-alone February Pretty Rocks Club I'll be working on those today plus the handful of Earring Club and Six Months of Shinies (pssssst both of those are open to new subscribers right now) orders that came in while I was being VERY VERY BORED. 

(Although I did finally watch Star Trek: Picard and have started catching up on Madam Secretary, and that plus knitting kept me from completely losing my mind over the weekend. Mostly. Sorta.)

I plan to resume shipping tomorrow, and from here on out I'm anticipating a fairly normal shipping schedule but with a slightly longer-than-usual turnaround time. If you need something by a certain date, let me know and I'll tell you if it's possible; it probably is but Priority Mail might need to be involved. Subject to change at any moment, because again, WHY EVEN ARE BODIES?

There's honestly not much else to report at the moment (because my life is REALLY BORING) unless you want to see the shawl I'm knitting? The pattern is called Tilting Tardis and I've made more progress on it in the past couple of days than I have in, uh, years:

Okay! Onward! Pliers! Wire! Less boredom! 

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Pretty Rocks Club: adventures in charoite-buying

The featured stone in this month's Pretty Rocks Club is charoite, and as I mentioned in the weekly round-up last week, I had to return the first batch I ordered because it was dyed. The replacements that I ordered from a different supplier arrived in a timely manner, thankfully, and much to my relief they actually WERE natural charoite in a reasonable semblance of AA grade, and I very happily sorted them out for all the subscribers and bagged up the leftovers to go on the website in late February. And then it occurred to me that probably I should talk about WHY the first stones were unacceptable.

This is more or less the sort of stuff I talk about in the notes that go into each shipment of the Pretty Rocks Club, but since I can't easily send photos in a padded mailer (I mean, I suppose I COULD, but I suspect most people would  look at them once and go "huh, interesting" and then throw them away, which seems like a waste of resources when we have a perfectly good internet at our disposal) and since my back is killing me today and sitting upright just isn't happening, I decided to do a quick blog post on dyed stones vs natural stones.

<Grover voice> THIS IS NEAR! Mmmmhm! Okay? And this is FAR! You got that? Okay!</Grover>

(...Sorry. I'm a little punchy and apparently talking about opposites turns me into Grover today.)

ANYWAY! If you're a subscriber or you're already planning to snag one when they go up on the website in late February, consider this a prologue to the note about charoite that you'll get in your package. And if you aren't, well, here's an example of the sort of stuff I talk about in the Pretty Rock Club notes! You too could get this sort of geeky rambling in your mailbox on a regular basis!

So, when the dyed charoite arrived I said some bad words about bead sellers with questionable ethics, and then I informed said seller that I wanted my money back, and then the beads sat on my desk for a couple of days, where multiple people saw them and exclaimed about how pretty they were and seemed quite taken aback when I grumpily said YES BUT I'M SENDING THEM BACK. And they were indeed a very pretty shade of purple, as you can see here:

...but if you know what you're looking at, there are two really big problems with these beads: charoite is not supposed to be that particular shade of grape-koolade-purple (they were actually slightly darker and more blue-tinged than they look in the photo) nor is it ever that uniformly saturated and opaque.

There are some stones where you can reasonably expect every bead on a strand to be very nearly identical in shade and saturation. It's very easy to find very closely matched pairs of, say, kyanite, or carnelian, or sapphire, or garnet, or... we could be here all day, but you get the idea. Charoite, however, is NOT one of those stones, for reasons I'll talk about in more detail in the note you'll get with your shinies. 

And here's what I got on my second attempt:

See all the variation and glorious swirls of color? Finding matched pairs in THAT lot was a pain in the butt. A very FUN pain in the butt (at least if you're like me and enjoy closely examining stones for extended periods of time) but there isn't a perfectly matched pair in the lot, nor should there be. Some of it leans towards a reddish-plummy purple, other parts are more of a true purple, some of the purple is opaque and some of it is transparent, and it's swirled with white and clear and amber and black, as it should be, because THAT is how charoite actually looks.

Now, I have absolutely nothing against dyed or color-treated stones: they can be spectacularly gorgeous, and I buy them all the time because my main criteria for deciding whether or not to buy something is usually "is it pretty?" and if the answer is yes and the price is reasonable, well, COME TO MAMA. And if I'd just been in the market for moderately interesting dark purple beads, then the first stuff would have been just fine... IF the seller had been honest about the fact that they were dyed, and IF the photos on the website had been of what I was sent, and IF it had been priced accordingly. 

Which was not the case, hence my grumpiness... and doubly so because I bought them specifically for the Pretty Rocks Club, where the whole point of the experiment is to introduce people to interesting stones with a side of rambling education. Although that does give me an idea - since I will be occasionally be including small samples of the featured stone in a different color or form, it could be interesting to send along a dyed version to compare and contrast with the natural one. Maybe for tourmaline, since I've been seeing a lot of dyed "tourmaline quartz" *coughGLASScough* sneaking onto the market lately...

So there you have it: a not-so-brief treatise on Why I Got Mad At Some Beads Last Week. Hi. I have strong opinions sometimes!

The February Pretty Rocks Club subscription packages will be shipping Monday and/or Tuesday, depending on my energy levels  - a bit ahead of schedule, but since my surgery was postponed to the 12th and I want to personally make sure they get into the mail stream rather than adding "take packages to the post office" to the long list of favors I'm asking of friends next week, I figured probably no one will object to slightly early shinies! I'll make the individual month available to purchase on the website as soon as I have a sense of when I'll have the use of my arms back - hopefully no later than the 20th or thereabouts but we'll see. 

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Weekly Round-up: well, THAT didn't go as planned (don't worry I'm fine)

Hello world! I am currently writing this from the comfort of my bed, with just about everything I could possibly need on my awesome new over-the-bed-slidey-table-desk-thing, having just knocked back a handful of pills...

...only instead of the painkillers I was expecting to be taking today it was an entire alphabet of vitamins and other immune-boosting stuff, because the short person spiked a 104 fever a few days ago and it turned out to be both strep AND influenza B and it's all been VERY exciting and long story short we're going to try this surgery thing again on the 12th and hopefully everyone will NOT BE SICK EVEN A LITTLE BIT BY THEN, which should be a little easier seeing as how I emailed the school yesterday to inform them that Claire was very sick and would not be in on Monday OR EVER AGAIN FOR THAT MATTER...

...because in the spirit of WHY DO JUST ONE BIG LIFE-CHANGING THING AT A TIME WHEN YOU COULD DO TWO AT ONCE? we are apparently now a homeschooling family? All I know is I was already REALLY tired of being That Mom aand it was only a matter of time before Claire stood up on a table at lunch yelling WHAT WHITE NONSENSE IS THIS in the middle of social studies so... probably it's good that I got extremely mad about people knowingly sending sick kids to school and yanked her out before she could get around to doing that, I guess?     

(In December she got in trouble for circulating a petition to the entire student body at lunchtime and I couldn't be prouder of her. And then she got in trouble some more for not singing the final verse of the totally secular holiday song about going to Bethlehem on a donkey to meet Jesus, because although I would happily invite Jesus to dinner any time, singing songs in praise of him just isn't a thing Jews DO, and also while we're on the subject I would also REALLY like to know why there was a verse about Ramadan in their version of We Wish You A Merry Diversity And A Happy Token Inclusiveness, seeing as how Ramadan hasn't overlapped with Christmas since 2000 and won't again until 2031 and... uh, yeah it was definitely time for us to move on.)

(I got both an email AND a phone call very shortly after she and her BFF politely presented this to her teachers with the signatures of all but one kid on it, because apparently I shouldn't have allowed her to be disruptive by circulating a petition? Personally I think maybe they shouldn't have made her mad enough to google "how to write a petition" the minute she got home from school, but y'know, she comes by her attitude problem honestly, soooooo...)

So yeah. That's been my weekend. But her fever finally broke today, and my surgeon was able to reschedule for next week so I only have another eight days of being cranky about being off most of my meds, and Pretty Rocks Club is ready to ship as soon as I'm reasonably sure I won't be sending strep or inluenza B along with it! (Uh, also some shipments from last week haven't gone out yet because while probably germs wouldn't survive in the mail that long I really think it would best best if we didn't find out, and also I've been busy alternately playing Florence Nightingale and calling doctors and hospitals.) And y'all... the charoite I got on the second try is GORGEOUS. I've got another ranty blog post mostly written about why I sent back the first batch, and I'll put that up soon, but for right now I am going to bed because it has been a DAY. But I figured I should let you know I'm still alive first.

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Weekly Roundup: HOLO stickers and a tiny flash sale

Okay, so first let's talk about the REALLY important news: I HAVE HOLO STICKERS. They are very very shiny and I quite literally shrieked when I opened the package yesterday and basically if you took an opal and made it into a sticker with my logo on it this would be the result. Also photos do not really capture the glorious rainbow effect so here's a video: 

AHEM. I did not just watch that video seven times in a row while also admiring the stickers in real life. Nope. That wasn't me. I don't know what you're talking about and you can't prove anything.

The next 49 packages I ship will get one of these!

(One per person, so ordering 49 times will not get you 49 stickers, sorry; if you love them that much, I'll just send you the image file and you can get them from StickerMule, which would be much more cost-effective for both of us. Also I'm slightly concerned as to why you would want that many stickers of my logo but I won't judge you because they are really really shiny.)

Also I decided to do a quick flash sale: coupon code HOLO takes $5 off any order of $30+ until 8 am eastern time on Friday morning. Which is not coincidentally the shipping deadline for getting your shinies in a predictable timeframe, because any orders that don't go out by Saturday February 3rd will be delayed until I'm back at work, and nobody has any idea when that will be because some people say they're just fine in a matter of days and others say it takes months of bedrest to recover from this surgery! So very exciting not knowing what to expect!

Speaking of not knowing what to expect, I was PLANNING to make all of the Pretty Rock Club subscriptions this weekend so somebody else can ship them for me if I'm not back on my feet by the 15th, but one of the two suppliers I ordered the charoite from sent me absolutely horrible dyed beads and we have had WORDS  because when I order "AA natural charoite" I expect to get exactly that, not something that looks like it might have been mined near a charoite deposit and then soaked in grape koolade. I have since ordered replacements from a different supplier, and it shipped yesterday and the tracking says it SHOULD get here on Friday but it's the post office so WHO KNOWS? 

Other news: I'm running at about half my usual speed because I've been off ibuprofen for a week and a half and EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE, but I'm still managing to get in a little workbench time, and a bunch of it was spent making these really neat vintage paper bead earrings, which are all about unusual-for-me color combinations and the interplay of balance and symmetry. Also I let the Tiny Evil Genius go bead shopping and the results were pretty much exactly what you'd expect, and she's planning to make some earrings tonight so keep an eye out for that if you like eye-wateringly bright colors:

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