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What You May Not Know about the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

March 20th, 2015 by valerieosborne

Gems

Tucson has many treasures, but the Tucson Gem and Mineral show may be the crowning jewel.  Since the 1970’s, gem and mineral professionals, enthusiasts, collectors, and major museums from all over the world come together in little ol’ Tucson in the beautiful month of February.  So how did it come to be that all these folks, including miners from Mali, Morocco, and Switzerland, ship themselves and their most precious rocks and fossils to the deserts of Arizona?

The roots of this legendary gathering reach back to 1954 in a Tucson elementary school parking lot.  On this blacktop a group of mineral collectors and rock hounds under the name of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society created a free exhibition open to the public.  The society’s intent for themselves and the show was to further the knowledge and appreciation for the hobby of mineral collection and lapidary that was just beginning to grow.

vintage parking lot

The exhibition was so successful the organizers decided to make it an annual event.  Over the years the show grew considerably.  Today this “main show” continues to be held by Tucson Gem and Mineral Society volunteers at the Tucson Convention Center.  As a result of the powerful popularity of the main show, many spin-off shows have sprouted up all over the greater Tucson area, bringing even more fun and variety to the scene.

Tucson Gem Mineral and Fossil Showcase from above

Some say the main show gained its global reputation due to the variety and quality of specimens on display including prominent gem, mineral, and fossil displays from museums such as the Smithsonian, the London Museum of Nautral Hisotry, and many more.  For example, one year the Hope Diamond attended the show!  Yet, this does not fully explain how the show became an international phenomenon…how it attracted such special exhibitions.

hope diamond

The main show is philanthropic in nature.  In alignment with the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society’s mission to encourage interest and study in geology, mineralogy, lapidary, and allied earth sciences, all of the proceeds are invested into mineral collections with local organizations such as the University of Arizona, and the Arizona Sonora Desert museum, which further mineral knowledge and appreciation.  Proceeds from the show also go to scholarships in the Geosciences Department at the University of Arizona, and to the Boys and Girls Club.  The Gem Show’s philanthropic orientation helps attract world-class museum quality specimens, but the attraction of this show goes even deeper than that.

If you visit the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society’s website you will find the true magnet.  It is the simple, no-nonsense, and singular passion of the members of this Tucson society that makes the Gem Show what it is.  They are so passionate about mineral collecting and lapidary that they do their best to share the best of it.  Their enthusiasm is contagious, and The Gem and Mineral Show is just one facet of the riches they offer to the public.

tucson gem and mineral society

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society offers meeting on the first Monday of each month (except September).  These meetings present gems and minerals from many perspectives with the intention to excite adventurers and collectors alike.  In the summer the Society holds potluck dinners.  The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society also offers classes and field trips to broaden the knowlege and skills of members.  Visit their website to find out more! www.tgms.org

The story of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show reminds me of the amazing feats a small group of dedicated people can achieve when we pool our passion together.  So, I invite you to come to the sunny Sonoran Desert, sit on a rock, and ponder a while.  What are your passions? We’d love to host you here at The Inns at El Rancho Merlita.  Maybe you’ll come take a class such as “Everything You Need to Know on Gemstones.”  Perhaps you will even make it to the fabulous 2016 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, “Shades of Bule – Minerals of the World,” February 11-14, 2016.  Until then, shine on you crazy diamond!

All the best,

The ERM Family

Desert view

Desert view with the Catalina Mountains

PAII Conference Thoughts

February 8th, 2014 by pattiebell

In January I was fortunate enough to attend the PAII (Professional Association of Innkeepers International) Conference in Charleston, SC.  It is the big annual meeting of innkeepers from all over the country.  http://www.innkeeping.org/

We go to these kinds of gatherings for a number of reasons – to educate ourselves, to spread the word about our properties, to be inspired, and to enjoy the fellowship of other innkeepers.

When doctors and lawyers and teachers go to their workplaces, they usually work side by side with other doctors, lawyers and teachers. While we innkeepers enjoy the company of our many interesting guests, we tend to be isolated from colleagues by the nature of our work. So to be in the presence of hundreds of other innkeepers and vendors who support our industry for four full days is a pretty exciting thing.

I learned more than I wish I needed to know about the constantly changing face of the internet, our all-important marketing tool these days. I was truly inspired by a fellow innkeeper’s program for pampering cancer patients http://www.lavenderinn.com/inncourage/one that I hope to recreate here at El Rancho Merlita. I met some seasoned veterans of the Bed & Breakfast world, some keepers of newly established inns, and some aspiring innkeepers, doing their homework before they take the dive!  And most fun of all, I got to hang out with some Arizona innkeepers I have known “virtually” for a while but had never met face to face.

A big component of the event is the vendor show. Purveyors of all the many resources one needs to run a Bed and Breakfast Inn – linens, insurance, soap, china, PR and marketing services – put in long days schmoozing and sharing their wares.  I picked out some new sheets, found the perfect robe for our setting, and got to meet several people I have great long-standing working relationships with, though we had only ever spoken to over the phone.

Charleston is a great city to explore, bursting with history, beautiful architecture, delicious food and true Southern Hospitality!   http://www.charleston-sc.gov/

Music of the Monsoon ~ the amazing Spadefoot Toad!

July 13th, 2013 by pattiebell

Couchs_spadefoot_toad_frog_detailed

Found primarily in the Sonoran Desert, the Couch’s spadefoot  is named for the elongated, sickle-shaped, horny tubercle on the underside of each rear foot, which it uses to dig itself into the ground. There it remains buried in the soil for 8-10 months only to emerge at the onset of the summer monsoons.


During the first night of or after the first significant summer storm, Couch’s spadefoots move to rain-filled temporary pools for a night or two of frantic breeding and foraging, and then may remain active for as long as moist, warm conditions persist, often traveling far from the breeding ponds. Although most breeding is timed to the first summer storm, occasional breeding congregations can be found throughout the summer. Eggs are usually laid the first night that ponds fill, and are deposited on submerged vegetation in small masses that hatch within 36 hours.  Tadpoles can metamorphose in as little as 7-8 days. Drying of a pond stimulates rapid metamorphosis and smaller toadlets. The call, given by males as they float in the breeding pond, is a plaintive “wah! wah!”, suggestive of a bleating sheep. The call carries well on humid summer evenings and is a sure sign that the often long-awaited summer monsoon has finally begun.  

Couch’s spadefoot will eat anything that moves and fits into its mouth. Winged termites, which are high in fat content, also emerge with the first monsoon storms, and often make up a high percentage of the spadefoot’s diet. A Couch’s spadefoot can eat enough termites during one or two nights to survive and breed for a year. Tadpoles are carnivorous; cannibalism has been documented.

This species has benefited from construction of berms, cattle tanks, and other ground disturbance that promotes collection of rainwater. It is relatively long-lived; some live as long as 13 years in the wild.

Spadefoot ToadYouTube

A fine reward at the end of a blustery day!

March 9th, 2013 by pattiebell

sunset 001

Our Joshua Tree in bloom ~ can you see the bird house?

March 7th, 2013 by pattiebell

Joshua Tree Bloom 003

That’s right, snow in Tucson!

February 20th, 2013 by pattiebell

SNOW 004

Visit from a Walking Stick ~

November 7th, 2012 by pattiebell

The bizarre-looking, slow-moving, plant-eating walking stick – among the most intriguing of the insects – has raised camouflage, mimicry and defense to a veritable art form. Through an adaptation called “crypsis,” it blends in so perfectly with its natural habitat that it often goes completely undetected by would-be predators.

Fruit from our Peruvian Cereus Cactus

September 4th, 2012 by pattiebell

 

 

While we leave most of them for the birds, we enjoy tasting the light, slightly sweet crunchiness of these amazing fruits!

Owl Visitor Playing in the Sprinkler

June 27th, 2012 by pattiebell

Thanks to Prescott guest Judy McCormick for catching this rare moment!

Zebra-tailed Lizards

June 1st, 2012 by pattiebell


This morning on my 2 mile walk along the Tanque Verde Wash I saw dozens of these distinct lizards. I have never seen so many of them in one outing – they were all over the place!  With their rapid movement and tails curled up high, they reminded me of big scorpions scurrying about. It is the beginning of the season and I guess their numbers are high until Mother Nature pares them down by attrition.

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