Sunday, May 10, 2009

"Mommy, Where Are the Fleas?"




The kids and I had a lovely day out yesterday, did all sorts of things. One of the things we did was stop by the Ashby Flea Market at Ashby and Martin Luther King Jr. in Berkeley. I haven't been there in close to 20 years, I think. I went in search of the fossil guy I bought my Orthoceras from. I don't know what fit of optimism made me think he'd be there after all this time.

He wasn't. Not surprisingly.

So we wandered around and looked at stuff. It's the same stuff as before, with different vendors. A fruit stand. A couple sunglasses stands. A sock stand, two tie-dye stands, a bunch of African art/jewelry stands, junque-o-plenty. Notable absences: Professor Curtis from Cult Videos (he who first revealed the awesomeness of Dolomite to me and friends lo these many years ago), the nuns who made futons, the pine furniture guy. There was a drum circle, I think it should probably be considered the same one, with an ever-changing group of drummers. It sounded the same as it always has.

We even found parking on the first pass, convenient and close by. That alone would qualify as miraculous if I were the superstitious sort.

I found an Asian guy that was selling Tibetan or Nepalese gemstone and silver beads at fairly reasonable prices. They were definitely competitive with my online sources and I didn't have to pay for shipping. Nice strands of pearls. Dyed coral. "Turquoise" (dyed howlite - I spotted it and asked him and he admitted to it). Milky quartz (the kind that people also call moonstone, but isn't). Amethyst. Denim lapis.

So I picked up seven strands of beads for $28. And they were generous strands, too. Not the little 8 inch ones you get some places. I thought the alleged amethyst looked suspiciously like fluorite, but when I asked he looked insulted and said it wasn't. I asked on Jewelry Lessons.com and was gently reminded of the Moh Hardness Scale, which I'd learned about in 3rd grade and promptly filed away, never having had use for it until now. I tried scratching the new beads with a broken amethyst donut with sharp edges I have, and it did make some scratches with difficulty. So I thought it was fluorite until I Googled up the Moh Scale and learned that stones can scratch other stones of the same type. But, I also learned that amethyst has a hardness of 7, and fluorite is a 4, while a good steel knife is 5.5. So I tried to scratch the new beads with one of my good cooking knives and it didn't scratch. So it's amethyst, and I was informed this morning that it's probably Cape Amethyst. Which I think is a nice way of saying "amethyst with quartz in it." I don't mind either way. In some ways I like stones that have pattern and movement more than solid stones, because they're more interesting. I have some deep purple amethyst beads and a teardrop cabochon, and I'm thinking of ways to put all these purples together.

Something will come to me. It always does.

I bribed the kids with a new toy each at the cheap toy stand, and they were good as gold. Cody stopped at every place playing music and danced. Cheyenne helped me out so much, keeping an eye on Trouble on the Double (Cody) while I paid for the beads I bought.

When we were leaving in the car, I sighed happily and said, "I love the flea market."

Cheyenne asked me, "They sell fleas there?!?"

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