I am Agate

The first rock I knew — or learned to recognize — is the Montana moss agate. My Aunt Martha usually wore a ring with a Montana moss agate on her right hand. She never married, for which she took a lot of crap from the family, but that was just life in the goodle days.

At one point in their lives my mom bought my aunt a diamond ring. It was white gold and had a row of small diamonds. My aunt put the agate ring away and wore the diamonds.

My Chinese name (which is just a couple of ideograms that sound more-or-less like “Martha”) is a kind of agate that you might find in the sand of a stream, I was told, but also with the explanation, “It’s not a real thing. It’s just the sound.”

I always thought it was kind of funny that my Chinese teacher was so serious that I write my characters in an exact specific way, but once I got to China I saw things written in all kinds of ways.

And…I had a little Siamese cat I named Agate, for some reason. She was very strange and smart, but she didn’t understand the editing process. At the time I had her, I was writing my thesis — some of it by hand. I had a typewriter but word processors barely existed then and those that DID exist were objects of reverence that existed in offices and were treated with the kind of respect normal reserved for deities. I would write something, read it, hate it, wad it up, toss it toward the kitchen and Agate would retrieve it. “No, Martha, no! These are your WORDS!” When I moved out of that apartment, Agate went to live in Gary, Indiana. Long story…

In bean news, it rained much of the night. La Veta Pass, 75 miles east of me, is closed because of snow. The forecast says rain and snow mixed. I just don’t know…

25 thoughts on “I am Agate

  1. I had a moss agate ring that my dad gave my mother and my mother gave me. I had forgotten about it until I saw this photo. It was stolen along with 70 other rings in a burglary in my house over forty years ago.

  2. Frustrating no to know what to prepare for when it’s a total mish mash. Love that, reverence…so true….That piece of Agate is probably the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Wow, just wow!

  3. I hope the beans don’t get too chilly tonight. We’ve just had three or four days of +30, by Thursday we will be getting rain and quite possibly snow….we really need the moisture, but I could do without the snow.

  4. JFYI, the seal carving is very good. I dare to say since I studied seal carving, carved myself, gave lectures….I have sold more than 1000, some in the higher 4 digit range. Sure you also stumbled upon agate snuff bottles.

    • I’m going to photograph a “picture” I was sent when I came back from China and post it. It has many of the seals Ma Yue carved and calligraphy by his partner that I can’t read. I want you to see it. It’s so beautiful and if you wouldn’t mind I would love to know what the inscription says.

      • Yes, please show me. Some seals can be very hard to decipher but I sure will try. If you ever have any to sell, please let me know.

        • I wrote the post and told the story. You can see more of Ma Yue’s seal-carving work and some of his beautiful calligraphy and the more classical calligraphy of of his partner. We corresponded for several years then stopped. Because I’m Ma Sa (and an artist) and Ma Yue was an artist, we decided we were long-lost brother and sister even though our “Ma”s are different. 🙂 Here is the post.


          • Very nice, several with auspicious meaning, some referring to history (copies of Han Dynasty seals). Top left: having fish. Top right: beautiful wine…..Left one on the bottom line: The Joy of fish, refers to the Zuangzi story where he and a friend start a heated debate about being able to know the joy of fish. Sure you know it, !lovely.

  5. My grandmother gave me a bracelet and a ring with what she called gray agate. It looks like a western skyline with mountains and a winding road lined with cactus and telephone poles… at least that is what my imagination told me. Seems that agate has turned up in various ways through your like – perhaps it is a “touchstone” that you should investigate…

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