A collector of fine tourmaline gemstones, Bruce A. Fry has also discovered a new variety of copper-bearing reverse color-change tourmaline from Mozambique, which he has named Laurellite.
Since the first thing you get to see is me holding an oil painting of myself, I guess I should explain how this most extraordinary event came to be. I was alone and trying to recover from a major operation when some neighbors helped with getting my yard together. Well it turned out that one of them was a professional artist that liked to do portraits. It sounded like he could use a hand and I was ready to celebrate life again. We talked about doing an egg tempura painting which would have been something brand new for him, but ended up going for his bread and butter, which is oil painting. He wanted to work with hands and I wanted a friendly sharing picture, so I came up with the pose. (If you read this site you might guess that I have tourmalines in my hands) and he came up with breaking up the background as if it was seen threw an emerald cut. I did recommend, the emerald cut because of its simplicity and I like it. As of Christmas 2013 this is all very recent news since none of my kids or friends have seen it yet. I think they will be surprised in the new year.
I you would to see more of the artist’s work, his name is Paul Kuhrman and he has a website at www.paulkuhrman.com. Have fun.
Cutting gemstones is only one of a number of creative hobbies I have done over the years. I have never been one to just passively pass the time. My most active hobby outside of faceting is needlepoint. I have come to specialize in throw rug sized wool rugs done on 10 or 12 to the inch mesh. I have done mostly oriental rugs or middle eastern rugs. I will try and post some of them. I am presently working with a fellow out of Azerbaijan on a project to make a reproduction of an ancient Azerbaijan rug that has dragons as the central motif. It will take time to develop the reproduction because I don’t have a chart, but it will be great to work with the colorful wools again. I only work in basket weave now and depend on interest in the work by picking strong graphic patterns and great colors.
I worked with my ex wife for about 10 years in the craft business. We made stuffed animals, dolls and English smocked outfits for everything from Barbie dolls to little girls to big girls on special orders. It was great fun dressing up my two girls, Laura and Audrey along with Eric my son, in smocked outfits. They got to the point that they were real show offs. I smocked a lot of bonnets and stuffed a lot of dolls and animals. The most work on the dolls was the hair while we used a machine to pleat the cloth strips to be smocked.
I have also worked in wood, ceramic and even tried a bit of jewelry making, but I rather cut gemstones. I play the piano or organ everyday now that I am retired and find that I enjoy it much more than just listening to music. Though I am not much more than an advanced beginner. When the weather is agreeable I love to garden and find real peace and comfort watching it grow. And finally when I could eat sweet things I used to be a fair baker. I still make up one kind of family cookie and give them away as Christmas gifts.
Well there is one more thing that I spend a lot of time on. That is reading about science, economics, energy and of course tourmaline. I have an engineering background and I am sincerely trying to separate out the endless regurgitation of the inter net, from facts that hold together. I have also sought out people that would research tourmaline, which lead to the validation of Laurellite, that I have post about many times and will leave you to read about it on this site.
In honor of this holiday season (2013) and a gift I received, I am going to take you back with me to another time in my life. After graduating from the Colorado School of Mines and a year of graduate school, my time was ending in Golden Colorado. I had decided to pick peaches over the summer rather than work for my adviser. So I was off to a small town called Palisades, which is outside of Grand Junction and along the Colorado River. The summer after graduate school (I officially still in school, but I had decided to quite) was my first experience with picking peaches and working as shed boss. The following description of the work etc. is a composite of both that summer and a summer I returned to pick peaches after returning from Brazil.
Theo the owner and manager of a good number of acres of peaches on his peach ranch, put me in charge of the shed. This was after I picked peaches for a couple of days and before he opened his shed for the two to three week harvest season.
Before talking about the shed and my work there I think I should pause and tell a little history of my actual peach picking days. Theo pick the peach trees three times to maximize the number of good sized shipping peaches and minimize the number of ripes. Since I was available, Theo took me along to a few shattered groves of trees before the real harvest began. I was given an aluminum ladder with a kick post to set up at the tree and a picking bag. Now I was as green as they come, but very determined. As I charged up the ladder without closing the bag so it could hold the peaches, I think Theo had his concerns. As I put a few green peaches in the bag and heard them drop to the ground, I realized that the bag is just a tube and it needs to be folded by putting two knotted ends of a rope, that is around the bottom of the bag in metal holders, in order to make a bag. When you get a full bag, you open the bottom and let the peaches roll gently in the container without dropping. Throwing the post quickly and accurately so you could climb up and reach the peaches, also had it challenging moments. After I had rolled a couple of times, I think Theo was very pleased to get me grounded and working in the shed. By the time I worked in apples and pears, I had learned my lesson and I could keep up.
The shed consisted of a unloading dock where I would unload the incoming boxes of peaches onto a conveyor belt. The belt would carry the peaches past two women that looked for imperfections and ripes (ripe peaches that had to be sold locally because they could not be shipped.) After the women came the defuzzing brushes. All peaches have a natural layer of fuzz with some varieties being very fuzzy. This is not trivial because many people are irritated by peach fuss and I developed a reddish belly as I handled up to 40 tons of peaches a day. After being defuzzed, the peaches were sorted by sized and packed into crates by two men in the back of the shed. Water is used in the defuzzing stage and you could always tell the shed was working when you saw fuzz drifting down the irrigation ditch. During the slow times at the shed, when the crews were changing fields etc. we would put together the shipping crates that carried the peaches to distant markets. The irrigated valley on the western slope of the Rockey Mountains had some climate problems, but an established harvest slot between the California peach crop and the Eastern US production.
With four people working for me and with practically everything Theo would make in a year, flowing threw the shed, I was entrusted with greater responsibility, than I had ever had before. I felt great and the peaches flowed in abundance. It had been a fine year and the shed operated late into the night with peaches that had been picked that day and needed to be packed before the crews’ work began early the next day. Now I was a young man in the prime of life and I was determined to see the harvest threw. Still I began to sleep with dreams that had delusions about the shed and a grinding weariness. I would not stand down, but Theo, who had worked a hard life for many years, knew the signs and gave me a day off. I will never forget walking threw the orchard and down to the mighty Colorado river (It is just coming out of the mountains and is not very big there), which was about a quarter of a mile from the shed and laying down on the grass. It was so soft and smelled so good, as I looked over the rapidly flowing river toward the book cliffs (a large rim of multiple layers of rock on the northern edge of the valley) that I felt like I would never get up. But I did and with renewed vigor to see the harvest threw to the last peach.
As I have said the harvest probably only lasted for three weeks at the most. The bus load of legal Mexican field hands would be paid and go off to another to another field somewhere. The summer after graduate school, I had to return to Golden to complete my business. The summer after my return from Brazil, I had more time and the rest of this story is about that summer.) So Theo found me some work. (He had also had me working to prepare for the harvest, before the peaches were ready and we had a good working relationship.) Well I got to pick pears and apples. Now pears are fun to pick once you get to know how to do it. You pick by size only and you must twist the fruit off rather than pull them off the tree like peaches. But the best part of pears is that they don’t have any fuzz. Every third three in Theo’s orchard was a pollination tree and the orchard was young and most of the picking was done from the grown. It was a most delightful step down from the pressure of picking peaches. No shed, no migrant works and little pressure. Pears are always picked green and ripened off the tree. Theo put a box or so of pears away in the basement for most of two weeks and when I bit into one, it was the best pear I had ever eaten.
Now the apple part of the final effort during the harvest was with a many that was trying rejuvenate an old apple orchard. The trees had been permitted to grow wild and we picked on much higher ladders than with peaches. You still had to throw out your support and set the ladder, but you better be careful because it was long way down. The owner had begun to massively prune the old trees and there was not much low hanging fruit. You also picked into bins that I think held 40 bushes apiece. These bins were kept a couple of days in storage before sorting and if there was an excessive amount of damage done to the fruit during harvest your pay was docked. Frankly the only real real plus to picking apples was the fruit was bigger and of course it didn’t have any fuzz.
Even with my time was growing short in Colorado, I was at peace. The valley is full of the greenest of life, in such stark contrast to the semi arid land around it, that it was a bit hard for an eastern kid like me to get use to. Still I felt safe buried in the mounds of apple trees. And then there was my money tree. It did not really look different than the trees around it, but it had not grown as talk or been pruned as hard. It was probably a natural semi dwarf and it was mine to pick. So when I climbed up my tall ladder and peered out threw the top branches of the tree, I could not believe what I saw. It was a yellow delicious and before me lay a field of branches laden with the most beautiful apples I had ever seen. They were big and flawless and form uniform plumes of pristine delight. Nothing had been thinned or forced and I paused to see a truly beautiful moment. And a moment was all I had, as I picked an picked and picked. Up and down the ladder until the bin at the base of the tree was filled to over flowing. Of course I couldn’t let the apples really over flow and ended up partially filling another bin, but it was how my heart was feeling, as I finished my fruit picking adventure.
I have never returned to this valley by the Colorado River, but a part of my heart will always dwell there among the peaches and the proud men that call themselves peach ranchers. Thanks Theo.
In honor of the “Arctic Vortex” (1/8/2014) I would like to tell you of a trip to Edinboro Pa from my home in Mars Pa. That is where my ex wife took my three kids after leaving me. It is about 100 miles each way and Edinboro lies within the snow belt off Lake Erie. I pick up at least one of my children every other week for over 10 years and the following trip was one of the most memorable.
Audrey my middle child was the only one that came down with me that trip. The weather was threatening and there was snow coming down as I returned her to Edinboro. As we had something to eat at a family restaurant, waves of snow began to pulse over the restaurant. Now Edinboro claims to get the most snow off the lake, but that is always refuted by Erie, but it really depends on the winds that can certainly change quickly during the winter and how much of the lake is open.
After dropping off Audrey I returned to I 79 and the long trip home. The right lane had only a partial covering of snow while the passing lane was completely cover. It also had only a few signs that anyone was using it. I am a pretty cautious driver and in no hurry, so I stayed in the right lane while following a couple of cars. The cars began to slow and I could see that we had found a line of traffic that was long enough that I could not see the front of it. This went on for awhile and I became impatient. I have travel I 79 under much worst conditions and the left lane was empty. In fact no on had passed me as many cars built up behind me.
Finally I had enough and eased out into the left lane. It was fine even though it was snow cover. As I passed car after car, I could see that people began to pull into the left lane behind me and a long line of cars began to follow me. After what seemed forever, I finally approached the head of the backup. And there it was, a semi with George plates straddling the middle line. I would have to get on the berm to pass him and that did not look promising. Well as I was trying to make a decision the semi pulled over into the right lane. Wow, and I was past him in a flash, which in fact was pretty slow. I pulled back in front of him and let the world pass. I am still amazed at how many cars had been backed up. The rest of the trip was difficult, but you came to expect that during the winter, I never saw such a situation again.
Another trip to Edinboro that will always stay with me, though I am not sure that both developments, the one around Meadville and the other taking the back road up to the ridge to where my kids lived in a mobile home were the same trip, but I am pretty sure that they were.
It was Thanksgiving, which was the biggest holiday that I had with the kids. I always cooked a traditional meal and it was as close to being a family holiday as I was fortunate to have after the divorce. The day in this story, was one of the worst snow days that I ever had traveling to Edinboro. I heard on the radio that I 79 was closed north of Meadville, which meant that I would have to take route 19, the old road up to Edinboro. I had done this many times for a verity of reasons, but as I got close to the first big hill on 19 just north of Meadville, there was a line of cars that was practically stopped. People began to turn around with difficulty and head back into Meadville. I had plenty of time to pick up the kids and no real choice in routes, so I hung in there and crept forward. As time passed and I saw very few cars coming south from Edinboro, I began to wonder, but then it was my turn with the hill. It is a long hill that takes you over a meader in French creek, but it is really not that steep. I had no problems with my Omni and saw almost no traffic as I got toward Edinboro. I didn’t want to go threw down town and circle around, so I decided to take the back road up to Cline road that runs on the ridge where my kids lived in a trailer park.
I found the back road easily since I went that way many times and tried to make up as much time as I could, to be sure I was not too late to get the kids. The first mile or so is flat and runs threw a housing development. I was concentrating on the coming hills that were much steeper than the one that had backed up traffic north of Meadville, when I realized that when I left the housing development, they had stopped plowing the road! I could not make out the sides of the two lane road because this was the first real storm of the season and there were no walls of snow from past plowing. I could make out the path of the road only because there were no old cut off corn stalks coming threw the snow where it went. I could not slow down because it was so deep that I would not have been able to get going again. The biggest challenge was deciding on where a y in the road was and I would not have made it without daylight and knowing the road. Now I was faced with a rather straight shot up two short steep hills and a final ascent to the ridge. There were no tracks and the snow was what we call lake effect snow. It comes in waves off the still open lakes and is light and not too slippery if it is not packed down too much. I had no choice, but to keep my speed up and hope the car’s front wheel drive pulled me threw. It was almost like an amusement park ride as I glided up the two narrow steep hills without hesitation and carefully stop at the Cline road intersection. Cline had been plowed and I was out of the woods litterly and figuratively. My ex-wife had just begun thinking about making dinner for the kids and even offered me a meal since it was getting late, but I had seen the angry clouds over the lake and I had no intention of staying in the Edinboro area any longer than I had to. My three kids piles in to the car and I took Cline to the main road and down 19 to freedom. A freedom that really only comes south of I 80 when cold wind blows the “wrong” direction of the lakes. Then we stopped to eat.
Now for a tale about one of the snowiest trips of my life. I was returning from Edinboro Pa on I 79 threw north western Pennsylvania. Tthere really is not much along the interstate except for a brief flash at Meadville until you reach I 80 and even then it is a pretty up and down curve of an interstate. On the day I am describing, I was going back to Mars (A small town north of Pittsburgh Pa as dusk settled and the level of snow increased to blizzard proportions. I was making decent progress in a slow sort of way when I pulled up on a long line of cars. I slowed down and the night closed into nearly white out conditions. The line of cars of unknown length was getting slower and slower and I was getting very insecure about being at the end. Who knows what might plow into me. So I made a move and pulled out into the left lane. It wasn’t too bad with the lights of the passed cars illuminating the road, but I soon pulled back into line because the snow was really coming down. Well at least I wasn’t on the vulnerable end. After a little bit more down the road things got worst and the line of cars began to “inch worm”. It would go slower until it really stopped and then sped up again until it slowed down again. This concerned me because I did not have a lot of faith in everybody stopping at the right time. So I pulled out into the left land and felt like I was on a run way illuminated by the past cars with swirling snow and complete darkness beyond the head lights limited power. When I overtook the head car it was like exiting a tunnel and I could barely make out the road. My one reassurance was that I knew that there were rumble strips on both sides of the road, where we were and I would need them. I pulled away from the “inch worms” and soon came upon a lone car that was making good enough progress for me. So I followed him threw the night. Well the conditions were not getting any better and I was considering trying to pull off the road, but I did not feel safe not keep moving. As I was debating my next move the car that I had followed for sometime made a move to pull off the road. I sensed his move more than clearly saw it, but after passing him I was on my own. I really felt safer with no one around me and as I move south the lake effect snow began to diminish. The snow followed me all the way home to Mars, about a 100 miles, but by the time I reach I 80 the worst was over. My little Omni had pulled me threw.
Now I have one more blizzard day that had really more drama than any of the trips to Edinboro I have described, because the trip happen going over a 12,000 plus foot pass in the Colorado Mountains. I was going to the Colorado School of Mines at the time (It was May 1st 1967) and I went home with a friend to visit his grandmother in one of the beautiful irrigated valleys on the western slop of Colorado. It was only for the weekend and I didn’t bring much with me because the weather was wonderful until we started back to Golden. His car was a semi antique Studebaker that turned out not to have a functioning heater. (More important later).
It was great to get out of Golden and see a new part of Colorado to me. As I walked threw the irrigated orchards I could feel a different kind of Colorado seeping in, rather than the hectic pace of Colorado around Denver. The weather was full of blue sky and bright sunlight, but as we approached the passes leading to Denver, the clouds grew ominous. Today there is a tunnel under the pass we wanted to take (Loveland) which makes the trip much more predictable and easier. But in 1967 there was only a narrow road with many turns and one of the most exposed paths of any pass in Colorado. The most infamous part of the pass was a section that was assaulted by the seven sisters. This was a series of snow shoots on the eastern side of the pass that produced avalanches which sweep more than one vehicle over the edge.
As we approached the Loveland snow began to pour down and between the wind and much lower temperatures the Studebaker was cold. We were stopped by the Colorado State police and told that we had to chain up in order to go over the pass. Thank goodness my friend had done this many times, because I had never put chains on a car in my life and without a coat I was shaking uncontrollable whenever I left the car. With relatively little trouble we were chained up and given permission to assend the mountain. The snow was coming down heavily now, but it was the very light powder snow that Colorado is famous for. The guy behind us got impatient with our progress and tried to pass us. We both watched him closely as he drew up beside us. Then we both saw fear in his face and my friend slowed to let him get back into the only ascending lane. Just after he got back in, a snow plow came down the side of the road he was trying to use to pass us. There was no way that that plow could have stopped in time coming down the steep grade to not push both of us off the road into what I will never know. Well the steady stream of cars diminished as we follow this car that had tried to pass us up and over the pass. By the time he pulled off the road in a plowed out area just over the top, we were alone on the road. We had not seen anyone coming up the pass for sometime and no lights in the review mirror. In fact I was glued to the windshield trying to see as much as I could under practically snow out conditions. So there we were alone on the mountain and we had to get back to Golden that night because I had a major test the next day. Finally we stopped going down and passed a road block with many cars back up. The pass was closed and I wonder what the people thought when a semi antique Studebaker made it over. We stopped to relieve ourselves and I was never so cold in my life, I had just not noticed it before.
Now I had one more winter adventure on the might Loveland pass that is worth relating. I had gone to Gallup New Mexico to visit relatives. Now in the western mountains, it is at least as important how high you are as how far north you are when it comes to the weather. It was the middle of winter in Gallup, but everything was dry and open. I had an old boxy Plymouth that had its problems and I had worked on in Gallup. I wanted to return thew the San Juan mountain range, but it was enveloped in a winter storm so I kept to the desert. I got a wonderful view of the San Juan mountains and a great pile of storm clouds from the safety of the cold clear desert. Everything was going well.
Again I had to face Loveland pass, but as the day passed, millions of stars came out and it was fantastic. The storm in the San Juan mountains was no where to be seen. As I ascended, I sensed that the car was loosing power. Now this is typical of corroborated vehicles, but my car was failing to make the grade for unknown reasons. The sides of the road were piled with snow as high or high than my car and there was no place to pull off. And the car was going slower and slower until I could hear/feel every stroke of the pistons. Finally I was sitting in the middle of the right lane under a brilliantly clear night fill with stares and the car would not move forward. I stopped the engine and waited for someone to have a problem with me blocking the main pass leading into Denver. But no one came. I was completely alone in a car that would not go forward. I didn’t dare leave the car and so I sat. Finally, I said what the hell and turn the ignition on. The car turn over nicely and I started chugging up the hill. I got to the sky resorts parking lot and the car was going pretty well, so I started up the mountain again. I was young, so what can I say, but it began to do the same thing and I pulled off the road. I actually haled down a ride, for the first time in my life and as we passed my car heading up the pass, you could see black soot all over the back of the car.
I had the car towed over the pass and left on the Denver side and a friend and I bought spark plugs and went back to get the car. We managed to change out five of the six spark plugs and got down the mountain, but the first place with stopped for gas it stalled out and would not start again. The car had an old style automatic transmission and I didn’t think that we could started it by pushing. but the gas station owner (we were in the sticks) pushed me so fast with his pickup truck that on the second try the car got going and back to Denver.
I had the car completely check out by a local mechanic after my room mate tried to adjust the car’s timing because I really need the car to work. My parents were on their way to Hawaii and it was the only time they stopped in Golden to see me while I was in school. So the next weekend I was showing my parents the mountains behind Denver when the car began to act up. I barely made it over Berthoud pass, which is the other main pass west of Denver and I had to stop and have it looked at by a local mechanic. In just a few minutes this old timer came out smiling and told me that someone had knocked off the heating tube that opens the chock after the engine warms up. He had just slid the tube back on and the car work fine all the rest of the time I needed it in Colorado. WOW. It probably happen when I had work done on the car in Gallup, but I didn’t notice it because I was down on the desert route.
I will continue to augment this post with some of my life’s moments and I hope this site brings beauty into your life.