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Saturday, September 24, 2011

October's Birthstone(s)

What is With All the Birthstone Confusion?

Your associated birthstone depends on where you look, (and what you like!)
Many believe that the Breastplate of Aaron is the basis for the origin of birthstones (also known as natal stones). The instructions for fabricating the Breastplate are in Exodus 28, 15-30: and call for the twelve stones of the Twelve Tribes of Israel to be set in four rows. These gemstones corresponded to the zodiac signs of the time.

 Our present calendar month system was not known at the time of Exodus and today birthstones have come to be more commonly associated with the calendar month of birth than with the zodiac sign.  Most people refer to these "Modern Birthstone Charts". However,  many choose between charts including the Traditional, Ayurvedic and Mystical Birthstone charts; Zodiac sign birthstones and Bible Stones.

As an October baby,  I had three choices of birthstones and for years, I chose to adopt the traditional Opal over Rose Zircon. That was before I learned more about my third choice, Tourmaline! So now, in case you are shopping, (Frank) ...

Yummy Tourmaline

The gemstone Tourmaline is one of two official birthstones for October as adopted by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912. The other being Opal. Thankfully, they did not recognize Rose Zircon.

Not Too Shabby of a Choice:  Opal
Did you know?

There are 14 officially recognized varieties of tourmaline. And, the name "tourmaline" comes from the Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) word tura mali which translates as the stone of mixed colors.

Tourmaline can have different colors from black, green, pink, yellow, light blue, dark blue, and colorless.  Bi-colored and multicolored tourmaline may be green at one end and pink at the other.  

Ancient legend says that tourmaline is found in all colors because it traveled along a rainbow.  In doing so, it assumed all the colors of the rainbow. And that is why it is still referred to as the 'gemstone of the rainbow' today. Tourmaline has a hardness of 7-7.5 on the Moh’s hardness scale,  (about the same hardness as sand and dust), thus tourmaline is not recommended for use in rings and bracelets for everyday wear.

Tourmaline Crystal
 The most famous type of multiple coloration is the watermelon tourmaline; watermelon tourmaline is green on the outside and pink on the inside.

 A tourmaline of an intense red is known as a 'rubellite', but only if it continues to display the same fine ruby red in artificial light as it did in daylight. If the color changes when the light source does, the stone is called a pink or shocking pink tourmaline. 

Shocking Pink Oro Tourmaline or Pink Rubelite
 In the language of gemologists, blue tourmaline is known as 'indicolite', yellowish-brown to dark brown, as 'dravite' and black ones as 'schorl'. A particularly popular variety is the green tourmaline, known as a 'verdelite' in the trade. However, if its fine emerald-like green is caused by tiny traces of chrome, it is referred to as a 'chrome tourmaline'. The most expensive tourmalines are the blue indicolite, green verdelite and pink rubellite.


Some stones are dichroic meaning they appear to change color when viewed from different angles. Some change their color when the light changes from daylight to artificial light, and some show the light effect of a cat's eye.

The absolute highlight among the tourmalines is the 'Paraiba tourmaline', a gemstone of an intense blue to blue-green which was not discovered until 1987 in a mine in the Brazilian state of Paraiba.

Even the black opaque tourmalines  “schorl” can shine nicely and produce sharp crystal forms. Although too opaque to be used as a gemstone, schorl is used as an ornamental stone. When found as inclusions in quartz, a stone is called "tourmalinated quartz". 

A colorless variety of Tourmaline, achroite, is very rare.

Meta Physical Properties

This gemstone has an endless number of faces, and for that reason it suits all moods. No wonder that magical powers have been attributed to it since ancient times. Tourmaline has not only been popular  in jewelery but also as therapeutic stones. Due to their good energetic conductivity and their wealth of minerals, they are said to have an invigorating and fortifying effect.

  • In particular, it is the gemstone of love and of friendship, and is said to render them firm and long-lasting.
  • Tourmaline is believed to strengthen the body and spirit, especially the nervous system, blood, and lymph. 
  • It is also believed to inspire creativity and was used a lot as a talisman by artists and writers, as “the stone of muse”.
  • The stone is known as the “peace stone,” meant to dispel fear and make its wearer calm.

 I hope you enjoyed learning a little about tourmaline with me! Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September is Hunger Action Month

September is

Hunger is here, right in your neighborhood. Whether one is at risk of starvation, being underfed, or dealing with food insecurity, there are 50 million Americans affected by hunger.

Hunger impacts child development, health and wellness, education, workforce development  and our general welfare as a nation

In contrast to what many believe, hunger does not only affect the homeless. It is a tough economic time and you would be surprised at who is hungry. Many families are just one paycheck away from needing to rely on a food bank, food pantry or soup kitchen.

Feeding America is the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity. In its recent study it found one in six Americans suffer from hunger. 

Feeding America has deemed September  “Hunger Action Month” – This is a national movement to raise awareness and take action to help the 50 million Americans who experience hunger. 

Throughout the month, Feeding America’s nationwide network of more than 200 food banks, including your local one, is working to engage citizens to take action and help spread awareness about how pervasive hunger is in our country.

Here are some links where you can find out what you can do locally, and where you can donate, even a dollar, to make a difference in domestic hunger issues.
http://feedingamerica.org  (donate even a dollar)
http://hungeractionmonth.org/  (find out  about hunger in your county and how to help your local food banks)

You can also help with the International Hunger Epidemic with just your clicks. You can set your homepage to:

http://www.thehungersite.com  and help with hunger around the world. You simply click, and many large organizations count your click and they donate to the cause. There are several other causes on the website and you can “click to give” daily!

 Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9-11: Ten Years Later

 I was there that day. Living in "The City", many blocks uptown. Sometimes memories morph into something that you are not sure really happened. A memory can get confused with facts and fantasies swirling in your brain. Not this one. I could see the smoke from my apartment. I could smell the death for a month. For several days, my friends  and family searched for each other, making sure each other was OK; making sure each other was alive. Many were not. Cell phones eerily connected to voice mails. Ghosts of voices never to be heard again. Names trickled in the first few days. The names of friends who went to work that day on the doomed high floors.  The names of the many firefighter friends who ran into the flames. Then came the funerals and memorials. None with more than a photo. No bodies, no belongings. So many on some days that I had to pick and choose which to attend.

The new reality began to set in. Months of bomb scares. My own apartment building being evacuated with a bomb scare. Each subway ride interrupted for bomb scares and searches.  The smoke lingered. An ever present reminder. The rumors were heart wrenching. Stories of children dancing in an Arab neighborhood in Brooklyn, as the planes struck. Stories of taxi drivers fleeing the country with their families the day before the disaster. Rumors of Muslim World Trade Workers staying home that dreadful day.  Rumors drawing the dividing line that gets darker everyday, still.

Months went by, we tried to settled in to life in a new world.  The  City was stunned with PTSD and survivor guilt. The City yearned for the unity we felt those weeks following the event. Many left. I was one. To this day, I feel like a deserter, weak.  I have been gone nine years and I cannot go back. Back to my home. I often tell people "We must never forget". Sometimes I wish I could. As I write this, I feel as if I am still stunned from the new reality which has never really set in for me.