Emerald Greens

In the final lines of our national anthem, Americans sing, “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave”.  Those labels are a little dicey today.  Are we really free?  Are we really brave?  It’s a debate best left to more intellectual bloggers. I’m simply looking for less controversial words to describe the United States.  Take Ireland, for example.  The little republic is nicknamed “The Emerald Isle”.  Of this, there can be no doubt.  Before your flight even touches down, the window seat view is nothing but endless rolling green hills.  And not just any green.

See what I did there?  Inside of a single paragraph I distanced myself from heavy topics like freedom and bravery, and now I’m focused on the color green.  Bravo, Dave! Now then, let’s continue.

“The Emerald Isle”

Emeralds have always been my favorite of the precious gems.  In the jewelry shop it’s hard to ignore diamonds (because they’re everywhere), yet somewhere in the glass cases you’ll find the more colorful stones. Blood-red rubies. Royal blue sapphires. Modest little garnets (my birthstone).  And green, green emeralds.  I’m drawn to emeralds because green is my favorite color.  On that note, do you realize your favorite color never changes?  Nobody says, “Well, I used to like purple but now my favorite color is orange”.  You can move to another country, switch up your career, or overhaul your wardrobe, but your favorite color is a constant.

I digress (sorry). I have emeralds on the brain for good reason.  My wife & I just celebrated thirty-five years of marriage (thank you very much), and she hinted emeralds might be a nice gift.  So I paid a visit to my jeweler.  I told her I was looking for something understated, maybe earrings and a necklace.  She showed me a pretty set, where I thought my only decision was the shape of the stones (Round? Square? Pear?).  But then she threw me a curve when she said, “Would you prefer natural or lab-created?” Huh? Why would I buy my wife anything other than the real thing?

“Natural”
“Lab-created”

Here’s the rub of the green.  Lab-created gems are the real thing.  They’re “chemically, physically, and optically identical to their natural counterparts.” So why choose one over the other?  Cost. Lab-created gems can be significantly less expensive, especially as the number of carats grows.  In other words, easy choice, right?  Wrong.  The lab-created gems – at least in my jewelry shop – were small enough to be the same price as the naturals.  Instead, my decision came down to color.

Was I tempted by the blue-green clarity of the lab-created?  Absolutely.  Did I choose them?  Absolutely not.  I kept coming back to the emeralds in my brain.  Call it natural green, kelly green, or Irish green, but I prefer the green on the left.  And I think my wife did too.

Liz is wearing $6.5M worth of emeralds and diamonds

I’d like to share some trivia on today’s topic but – warning – it’s a little pedestrian.  Emeralds are one of the twelve birthstones (conveniently, the month of May).  Emeralds come from the mineral Beryl (as do aquamarines).  Their rarity makes them “precious”, alongside diamonds, rubies, and sapphires.  They’re delicate, susceptible to chipping.  Finally, emeralds are considered, among other things, a symbol of rebirth.

A section of the Florida Panhandle is called the Emerald Coast for the area’s clear, green water.  The Wizard of Oz lived in the Emerald City for reasons only Oz fanatics can explain.  And little Ireland, deservedly, earns its nickname for those rolling green hills, as well as Irish jewelry, made primarily from green gems (if not all emeralds).

Florida’s Emerald Coast

I saved one more fact for last, mostly to make points with my wife.  After I bought her the earrings and necklace, I said to my jeweler, “By the way, it’s silver for the 25th anniversary and gold for the 50th, but what about the 35th?” She replied, “Emerald” (even though several Google searches suggest jade).  Whoa. I didn’t plan on that coincidence but I’ll certainly take the credit.  After all, my wife is one-quarter Irish. My daughter’s name is Kelly. And my favorite color is green. How could it be anything but emeralds?

Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

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Lego Grand Piano – Update #17

(Read about how this project got started in Let’s Make Music!)

Today’s build demanded more of an overhead view so you can see the difference between last week and this week. Bag #17 – of 21 bags of pieces – earned me the row of seventeen black caps you see in the second photo (on top of the piano wires), as well as the wide stand for sheet music, just behind the keyboard cover.

Last week

The piano is a remarkable instrument.  When you press down on a key, you’re actually pushing a “hammer” up against the underside of a piano wire, creating a musical sound (or “note”).  When you release the key, a black “damper” (one of the seventeen I just built) drops down on the top of the wire, silencing the sound.  Add in the functions of the three pedals at the base and you should consider the piano a musical mechanical marvel.

Running Build Time: 12.5 hours.  Musical accompaniment: Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. Leftover pieces: 2

This week

Conductor’s Note: The Bumblebee is a brief orchestral interlude of an opera, composed well over a hundred years ago. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s furious little piece, when played on the violin, really does sound like a buzzing bee.  It’s only 84 seconds in length, but you find yourself catching your breath after you’ve heard it.  It’s even more remarkable when played on the piano, the fingers almost a blur.  Have a listen to the audio file here. I’m sure you’ll recognize the tune from some of today’s movies and cartoons.

20 thoughts on “Emerald Greens

    1. A learning experience for me too, Ally. “Lab-created” may not sound as nice, but the process has its merits. Besides the lower cost, you could argue it’s “greener” (ha) because there’s no mining involved. And while I have you, thank you for the William Tell Overture video earlier this week. Captivating performance!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I could be happy with either type of gem. I’m not fussy about things like that– as the color pleases me. Glad you enjoyed the choir video. I smile just thinking about it.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Happy Anniversary, what a milestone! We are almost on our one year, we’ve got a long way to go haha. You are smart to buy the real thing. The only fake jewelry I think is worth it is the cubic zirconium diamonds earring because I lose them every once in a while and it hurts less to lose something not expensive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t mean to be overly critical with the lab-created because the technology is remarkable. They really are identical (though I didn’t see any in “kelly” green or I would’ve considered them). Like the CZs, they are typically more affordable.

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  2. Hockey playoffs – so we’ve heard two national anthems (Canada and the USA) every evening this week. (I’ve always preferred the American one). “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?” Americans did indeed seem more free and brave than Canadians during this past four months of Covid!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to see several Canadian teams in the NHL playoffs this year. Doesn’t seem right when your country isn’t representing your national pastime. For once (in a long time), Colorado has a decent playoff team – the Avalanche. Pretty sure they’ll make a deep run this year, if not win the Cup!

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      1. About 43% of the active NHL players are from Canada, so even if we didn’t have a team in the playoffs, our country is still in the game! (The country with the second highest percent of players is the United States – about 28%.)

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  3. Just take credit for the emerald being for your 35th. And, yes I’d take the natural one myself. 35 – wow! My wife and I had our 20th last year.

    Piano is looking good. I had piano lessons as a kid, turns out you really do use the back keys.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The whole “anniversary gift by year” thing is a little strange outside of the significant milestones (ex. 16th = wax. What, a candle?) Most of my sources say the 35th is coral or jade, but I did see a couple where the 35th AND the 55th are also emerald. Guess I’ll be making a similar purchase in 20 years.

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  4. First of all, happy anniversary Dave. I only recently learned of lab-created gems, not because I was going to own one, but a large jewelry store here in Michigan advertises hourly on my all-news radio station and the ads explain the difference. Who knew that the average person could not tell a lab-created diamond from a mined diamond? Maybe because diamonds are clear stones, so they have a little wiggle room there. Diamonds are MY birthstone – April. I visited Cartagena, Colombia as a port stop on a Panama Canal cruise back in 1982. It is known for having the purest emeralds in the world and most emeralds originate in Colombia. I didn’t know that before visiting there.

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  5. Your mention of Cartegena reminded me of another fond memory, Linda, one I could’ve included in my post. When my wife & I met in college the first movie we saw together was “Romancing the Stone”. Remember that one? Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner on an adventure in… Columbia, in… Cartegena,… pursuing a giant emerald 🙂

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  6. [Now I know enough to check here since only your “like” showed up in my notifications.]

    Unfortunately I never saw that movie Dave. Perhaps your wife had that movie’s emerald in mind when she hinted emeralds would be nice … she recalled your first movie together and what eventually led to 35 years of married bliss.

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  7. Happy anniversary and congratulations. I’m right behind you by 3 years, so I can put off the emerald for a bit.

    I agree with your stone choice, although when it comes to favorite color, I am more of a turquoise/teal/aqua guy.

    I do love Flight of the Bumblebee. I am reminded of some pop tunes based on this one too, starting with Freddy Martin’s Bumble Boogie from 1946. Then there’s the Spike Jones Laughing Record of the same year, where someone attempts it on a trombone. Spike was kind of the Weird AL Yankovic of the 40s.

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