Blog, throwback thursday

Throwback Thursday #34 – Learning to Swim

Welcome back to Throwback Thursday. Lauren is hosting again this week and hopefully I will be back next Thursday. Head over to her blog to get the details, and then join in!

This week’s prompt is: Learning to Swim

My post follows.

My first attempt at learning to swim was a bit traumatic and it affects me to this day in the way I feel about bodies of water.

Growing up in the country we all spent a lot of time in and around the creeks and creek beds. The water was mostly gentle and easy to wade as there were few deep spots to worry about. Our biggest worries were likely snakes and the very slick moss covered rocks we knew not to step on else we would end up flat on our back in the middle of the creek.

There were deep pools of water at some places, though – the two largest being the baptizing hole and the mill pond. My grandfather would take me to the baptizing hole to splash around and get wet all while under his watchful eye. No one liked to swim much in the baptizing hole because it was shaded and the mountain streams stayed very cold. Not to mention the hogmollies that loved to linger in the currents.

When I got old enough to go to the mill pond with the bigger kids, it was a whole new experience. Getting there required a trip up the railroad track to the holler. Then there was a narrow winding  path barely accessible but very well traveled in the brush that lead to the creek. The path opened out to a rocky beach area and a deep pool of water we knew as the mill pond.

I am guessing the distance from the shore to the cliff that jutted out from the hillside was only 15 to 20 ft. Once you swam across the deep pool in the middle, the reward was sitting on the cliff under the water, basking in the warmth of the sun.

We were a small community where everyone knew each other, but that did not mean we didn’t have a few bad eggs. I was probably seven years old or so when I got brave enough to finally dog paddle my way to the cliff. As I got right around the deepest part of the creek, the community bully was seated on the cliff and he started splashing huge amounts of water in my face. I could not see, or breathe and I panicked. Thankfully I kept paddling until I could feel my hands brush against the cliff. The bully took off and I sat on that cliff shivering trying to decide how I would ever get up the nerve to try to swim back across. Obviously I made it, but don’t ask me how.

Years would pass with many opportunities to swim but I never felt comfortable in the water. My father loved to put us on his shoulders and ‘jump the waves’ in the ocean which also terrified me! I went to my friends’ houses with pools and splashed around, but relied on looking good in my bathing suit to keep me out of the water.

When hubby and I bought our first house, it had a really large pool. Hubby had been a lifeguard for years and he taught me to swim at the ripe old age of 42. I could dive and I even helped my niece learn to swim. We had years and years of fun in our pools in Florida. I was thankful I finally felt comfortable in the water.

I am still not comfortable with boundless pools of water like lakes and oceans. I like to know my boundaries and then I am usually okay.

A to Z 2022, Blog

L is for Lapis Lazuli – #atozchallenge

L is for Lapis Lazuli

Before I tell you all about lapis lazuli, I want to tell you a story about the importance of books on a young mind. Our grandson had a deep appreciation for minerals, rocks, and fossils. I credit Australian author Jennifer Rowe (writing children’s books under the pseudonym Emily Rodda) for this passion.

We have always encouraged our grandchildren to read. When we bought the first book in the Deltora series for our very young grandson, he fell in love with the adventure, the characters, gemstones, and minerals. Each letter in the word Deltora, stands for a gem, and the quest is about finding these gemstones – Diamond, Emerald, Lapis Lazuli, Topaz, Opal, Ruby, and Amethyst. We loved experiencing these books right along with him. Never underestimate the power and influence of a good book! Now back to lapis.

Lapis lazuli, or lapis, is a blue metamorphic rock rather than a mineral. It is an aggregate of lazurite, calcite, and pyrite. In order for a rock to be classified as lapis, it must exhibit the distinct blue color and contain at least 25% blue lazurite. Lapis is a fairly soft stone (hardness varies based on percentage of calcite present) but good quality lapis is 5-5.5 on the Mohs scale.

Throughout history, lapis has been used to create pigment – ultramarine blue to be specific. Lapis was first used as a pigment on 6th and 7th century AD cave drawings in Afghanistan. The artists of the Renaissance period considered this the most prized color – and it was the most expensive. Clients would often be required to pay a premium for paintings that required ultramarine. Most ultramarine blue used today does not contain lapis. Sometimes art restorers may use this original pigment when restoring famous works of art.. Vermeer used ultramarine blue in many of his paintings. One of the most remarkable works of art painted with this medium follows.

Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato artist QS:P170,Q1345289, Sassoferrato – Jungfrun i bön, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Lapis is rated as medium risk on the IGS ( International Gem Society) toxicity table so care must be given when cutting or faceting the stone.

The Smithsonian has an exhibition “Objects of Wonder” on the second floor of the Natural History museum which will run until 2025. Included in the exhibition is this amazing piece of lapis weighing over 250 pounds.

Kplans, Lapis lazuli, Smithsonian Objects of Wonder, CC BY-SA 4.0

Most lapis is mined in Afghanistan. There has been a push to get lapis classified as a conflict mineral. It is estimated militant groups generate $20 million dollars or more annually by groups overrunning government mines  and seizing control of the assets. This 2016 article from the Associated Press gives an excellent overview of the problem and stresses the importance of only purchasing ethically sourced materials.

This is another piece of jewelry I made many years ago when I made my initial foray into jewelry design.

Sterling silver cuff bracelet
Sterling Silver Cuff with Lapis Lazuli Cabochon