Smoky amethyst at Gypsum Moon Mine

We’re busy getting ready for our first dig, tentatively planned for this fall, and we’ve been working a new vein recently.

This is three of our team – Kay (sifting through recently excavated red clay for smaller points), and me (in the hole), and Marcy (doing the fishbelly flop in the recently excavated red clay, apparently a vitally important part of mining, just in case you haven’t read the Piggy Rockhound Handbook) – shortly before finding our first pieces of smoky amethyst yesterday.

We’ve been pulling out gorgeous clear and milky and smoky quartz points, but the purple had eluded us till then.

Pics of some of the smoky amethyst coming shortly, along with more details about this fall’s dig – leave us a comment if you want more info about that. We currently have an active list of participants, and plan to limit the number to 50 for the first dig.

Visit from a Green Tree Frog

How cute is this little guy? Kay found him this morning on our porch, hiding in a box of stuff waiting to be donated until she helped him find his way out. Pretty sure he was happy to get out of the crapola giveaway box and up on to the wall.

peeper 1
I love his racing stripes!

He’s an American green treefrog, also known as a Carolina tree frog or a green treefrog, and his scientific name is hyla cinerea. I know he’s a he because of that wrinkly pouch you can just barely see on his throat. That’s his vocal sac, and it swells up with air when he sings.

We have lots of these little treefrogs in our woods, and love hearing them sing – it’s a much more musical sound than, say, cicadas. These little green peepers come up on the porch like this every so often.

peeper 2

This guy was about the size of a quarter, but they can get up to 2-1/2 inches long. Most of our visitors are this guy’s size, some a bit smaller.

We get visited by quite a few grey tree frogs, too, like the one shown below – I wrote about him here, at our first wordpress blog.

gray tree frog Collage

As always, we welcome your thoughts, questions, and ideas, so feel free to leave them in the comments, below.

Bright blessings,
CJ & Kay

Blanche the Luna Moth, Part 2

If there’s a Part One, there has to be a Part Two, ergo this somewhat reluctant blog post, because it’s also The End, for Blanche’s babies, anyway – Blanche herself took off like a thief in the night right after she laid her eggs, the hussy.

So, sad news, I fear: none of Blanche’s offspring survived. Not one. I had the best of intentions, which for some irrational reason included being there at the moment of hatching, and transferring the little critters immediately after they ate their way through their egg casings to my big white pyrex bowl filled with sweetgum leaves.

That’s not at all how it happened, of course. I said goodnight to happy little eggs three nights ago, and the next morning, I found only empty egg casings, with a whole bunch of little itty bitty cute green caterpillars underneath who were not only merely dead but really most sincerely dead. Every. Single. One.

So I really suck as a caterpillar mom, and to think not long ago I accused Blanche of the very same thing.

I did identify this gorgeous moth, though, which is a frequent visitor to our porch – it’s a tulip-tree beauty moth. The close-up of the picture isn’t very good, but it was before the sun came up and I was holding my arms up over my head to get a shot. tulip tree beauty moth

mothra both

Unidentified buddy, a bit more up-close and personal.

itty mothra

Here’s a better picture, taken when a tulip-tree beauty moth posed on a necklace we had out on the porch not too long ago, inspiring a blog post you can view by clicking here.

Tulip-tree beauty moth posing with a vintage butterfly necklace
Tulip-tree beauty moth posing with a vintage butterfly necklace

Tulip-tree beauty moths are named because of their expertise at camoflauge, on tulip trees and other trees as well – they appear flat and blend in with the bark almost perfectly.

We’ll keep on enjoying the moths that visit, and if another Blanche should happen along and leave eggs and then flee into the night, we’ll come up with a better plan.

Bright blessings,
CJ & Kay

Blanche the Luna Moth, Part 1

So this has happened…luna moth 7

Yesterday, this gorgeous luna moth chose a little section of our side porch, on a pair of doors, to open her own maternity ward. We’re honored, but it does seem like she might’ve chosen one of our sweetgum trees, or one of the many hickory trees or white oaks, over doors made of wood and glass with lots of near-constant activity and noise around them.

luna moth 5

This, to me, begs the question: Is Blanche a first-time mother? Because this was really not the best decision for her offspring.

luna moth

The doors are old, but they’re really clean, because Daughter of the House just high-pressure-washed them a day before all this went down. So maybe Blanche had some kind of My Maternity Ward Must Be Clean thing going on in her head, and I can empathize with that more than I’d like to admit – you can go completely batshit a little bit crazy right before you give birth, and I most assuredly speak with the voice of experience – but she really should’ve gone for one of the trees. When the caterpillars hatch, they’ll eat their own egg casings first, but then they’ll be immediately ready to start seriously chowing down on some sweetgum or white oak or hickory leaves. Not laying the eggs on a host food was a serious mistake in terms of making sure her caterpillars survive.

luna moth with eggs

And this, my friends, is why we named her Blanche. She is absolutely and irrevocably relying on the kindness of strangers, and that would be us.

Our luna moth’s namesake, Blanche Dubois, from Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, as channeled by Vivien Leigh

Blanche laid multiple eggs in four different areas of the doors. The caterpillars will hatch in 10 days, if they make it, and we’re going to be ready for them. We’ll be building a cage for them and tracking their progress, so stay tuned 😉 It’s really exciting to think that we might get to have a small part in helping!

Bright blessings,
CJ & Kay

Marceline’s Tips for Rockhounds, #1

Marceline says: Nothing like a nap in the sun after a long day of rooting and digging in the sweet North Carolina red clay …

Rockhound schnozzle: the redder the better, baby!
Rockhound schnozzle: the redder the better, baby!

More tips later – a girl’s gotta sleep when she can.

Peace out, hogs & kisses xoxo