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Y1Meg. {what a time it is.}

Greetings from Frogtown.


Julie is in the Kitchen near the end of a day long cookie baking orgy. Niiko is laying on the floor with icing on her nose. She seems to get some satisfaction from helping with the cleanup.


I am in front of a much too large Christmas tree, trying to put together another Frog Tale.. Its been nearly a year since the last one.


Not like nothing interesting has happened.  Julie got sued by her dentist and got promoted to 4th degree black belt. I made some schmore sticks and went up in a helicopter.

We planted, weeded, and harvested some edible things.

And the Gilson has had more than a few fascinating malfunctions.



Not that I haven’t tried. I have six or seven Tales wandering around the computers & my brain. They just won’t congeal. The harder I try – the less keyboard goes. Frog Tales have become a seagull around my neck. Stories -stories everywhere – but not a word to write.


Like the pressure has become unreal. Wright something funny.  On purpose.  Being funny isn’t fun. It’s a lot like work. 


Frog Tales are another idea that got out of control. 


They started off as simple letters to Justin, trying to maintain some sort of relationship.  Word processing and email made the process easier for me, especially since my spelling is abominable and my handwriting defies analysis.


Ahhhh. Then I discovered that I could cheat. I could cut and paste letters to Justin and use them to fulfill my correspondence obligations to other family members. 


I got lazier and soon was just changing  “Dear Justin” to “TWIMC”


From there it was a short step into syndication.


Not that I feel completely guilt.  I think it would be delightful to be able to send everyone a completely unique analysis of  life at Frogtown. Certainly all our family and friends are unique and deserving of special individual attention.  But that is totally unrealistic.


But so is coming up with something that everyone will find amusing, informative, full of wisdom, and wit. It takes a lot of chutzpa to think that anyone would find them so.


Maybe I should be writing an analysis of the last hour, week, year, decade, century, millennium, megennium…. like the other journalist are doing.


The most significant events at Frogtown:

            We bought it.

We built a house that is the color of the sky.

Niiko came to live with us.

I fixed the Gilson.




Or profitcizing about the coming year, decade, century, millennium, megennium…



We will live happily here a very long time.

            I will write some more Frog Tales

            The Gilson will break  – again





We wish you all the very best in the coming megennium


Love and Peace,


Dave, Julie, Leo, Flannel Dog, Don Gatto Niiko

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Snow! What? And the Seven Dorks. {Gilsoned… again.}

The Beagles are Back!

The Beagles are Back!


Let’s rewind some.


New Years Day, Sheldon and Michele came over to show us pictures of their latest dive expedition. To Bon Air!  Julie & I drooled a lot over them (the pictures – not Sheldon & Michele).

Michele also brought some great food and we all got stuffed.


Michele & her daughter were going to drive to Florida next day.  Sheldon & I checked forecast – Major storms warning along her route.  So Michele moved up departure to 9 pm in effort to beat it.  She made it to Kentucky before seeking shelter in motel.


“This is the most January January I’ve seen in years.” – Suzen O.

About 8 inches of powder. Wind chills about –10.


I thought I was all ready for the storm.  The tractor was in garage, gassed up, chains on, and it’s battery on the charger. Pam sprayed on the blade.

When the snow eased up – I set out to clear a path.


1. Droopy

I took a quick pass up and down the drive then cleared off the area next to the garage.  I noticed the blade was sagging to starboard. One of the trunnion pins had disappeared. No point in looking for it in the snow. It would show up in the spring and I had a spare in garage for just such an occasion.

I discovered that the snow blade’s frame had bent, so the spare trunnion wouldn’t go in. The holes were about ¾ inch out of alignment.


Time to quit for the day.


Next morning, I got the frame off and tried hammering it back into shape and torquing it with various levers and things. The frame is quarter inch steel plate.


Six hours later, it was within half an inch.


I quit for the day.  It snowed several more inches over night.


The next day I made another quarter inch of progress, in only 3 hours.  I had the frame C clamped to an I beam and was using 4 feet of 2 inch pipe for about 20 to 1 leverage, resulting in approximately 23.1307440 kilo newtons of force.


Safu and Judy stopped by with some supplies.  Safu wanted to play – so I showed him the problem.  With his extra energy we made the last ¼ inch – and I was back in plowing business.


As soon as they left – I got right to it.  I made about 4 passes at the drive, and was nearly ready to stop for the day, when the Gilson beat me to it. The motor was still going but no movement in any gear.   The drive belt was broken. I shut it down and walked back to the house.


It snowed more. And the wind blew.  Wind chills of –20.


2. Dopey

Next morning we towed the tractor back with the pickup. I drove the pickup, and Julie steered the tractor.  I swear I never got above 50 mph.


The belt is pretty straight forward to replace – 34”x 3/8. In stock at auto supply in Stockbridge.  I was pretty sure they’d have one, cause I had replaced it late summer.


I was back at plowing in under two hours.


After 20 minutes or so – I started loosing speed, and then stopped.  The belt was still in tact, although it was smoking hot. It was slipping like mad on the drive pulley.  I nursed the Gilson back to the garage, by hooking my foot under the clutch pedal and pulling it up.  Just enough tension to move.


Back in the garage it became evident that the source of the problem was the variable speed pulley.  It is a split pulley. The drive ratio changes by moving the halves closer together or farther apart, changing the effective diameter.  But something was buggered up so that the one half that moved was sort of flopping around.


Getting the damn thing off was a major exercise.  Not at all clear from “manual”, which was more of an exploded view and parts list, than a helpful maintenance guide.  I could loosen the set screw holding it to the shaft, but there wasn’t enough clearance to get it off. Eventual, I removed the rear wheels, disconnected the drive shaft, all linkages and unfastened the rear end from the main frame. And then jack up the rear end – or was it the frame? – I forget.


This whole thing really pissed me off! Who ever designed this thing never picked up a wrench in their lives.  No excuse for making something this hard to get at. Especially something that breaks this much. Just lousy engineering.


Anyway, I got it off. The key way inside had broken and it didn’t seem like there was any hope of making it functional.


It was time to knock off for the day.

It didn’t snow. But the wind blew, causing drifting. And – 30 wind chills.


Not wanting to wait a week or two for Monkey Ward to send me a replacement (if they even had it) – and God only knows how much money, I decided to check out boy store in Gregory for a fixed pulley.  I figured that 4 speeds is good enough.  They had a 4.5” pulley that I guessed would be about equivalent to the max of the variable.  I could have gone large, but I remembered Tim Tailor on his hopped up garden tractor.


Re-assembly went pretty well.


One pass at the driveway.  Something wasn’t working right.  The drive belt was vibrating like mad.


Time to quit.


More wind, cold, maybe even some snow.


The problem was the lower pulley.  I got that off.   It had a torque spring hidden inside.  I suppose the reason is to take up some of the jolt when you pop the clutch.  The spring was busted.  The closest the Boy Store in Gregory could come is a 7” pulley instead of 7.5” .  I figured – what the heck – a 9.3% increase in speed won’t be all that bad.  Heck, I might even get the driveway done faster.


It took two more trips to Stockbridge,  to get a new drive belt that would fit.


Back to plowing!


3. Whoopsie

It is necessary to get up some speed to ram into the snow piles.  What had been light and fluffy a few days ago, was now set up like concrete.


With the new fixed pulleys – when I pop the clutch in 4th – its a neck snapper!


So I take a bead on a big drift and zip.  Only this time I nearly go off the stern. I’m hanging on to the steering wheel tight with both hands, and my foot won’t reach the clutch.  My butt is hanging off the poop deck. .  Like what happened to my seat?


After all the snow piles on the sides and a smooth glazed floor,  driveway is a lot like the bobsled runs you’ve seen in the Winter Olympics.   I have some small comfort that there is a stout mailbox (a 4×4 post in 4 feet of concrete – to deter vandals) to stop me at the end.


I took my right hand off the wheel to shut off the engine. The steering wheel turned left and so did the tractor.  The raised blade takes the top of a drift, before embedding in the embankment.  My crotch clears, barely, the gear shift knob (Yeah, though I slid through the Valley of Death – I fear no Evil!), and my belly absorbs most of the impact against the steering wheel (whoof!).  Carbs! Who needs air bags?


All this from a bolt that must have vibrated loose.   Something of a bitch to get it back in.  Not enough clearance to get a socket on it, and with a wrench you can only get 30 degrees of turn – then flip the wrench over for another 30.   More stupid design.



4. Sloppy

But as I backed out of the garage – the steering wheel spun around. And around. And around.  But I didn’t turn.


The bolt holding the steering wheel had snapped at the end of my last ride. An Easy Out and some WD40 to get the stub out. A ¼ 20 bolt and I again have control of my destiny, or at least my immediate destination.



5. Shaky

Back at the garage, I notice that there is an engine mount bolt missing, and two others are loose.  I’ve lost one before. Not sure if the loose engine is causing extra vibrations or the extra vibrations are causing the engine to come loose.   The tire chains on the 4” limestone make for rough ride, along with abrupt starting and stopping.  In any case, it’s time for Loc Tite.



6. Sticky

Somehow I managed to back over our manual snow shovel.    The scoop is poly-something and it cracked in couple places.  The smart thing would be to buy a new one.

I decided to mend it.   Epoxy and fiberglass.  And 5 nights work.  It might hold up through the winter – although even epoxy doesn’t adhere well to poly-whatever.


7. Slippery

After several years and some experimentation I’ve got putting the chains on down pretty good. The first time it took me hours – spreading the chains out on the ground and trying to back up – straight and then trying to tighten them enough to close the links.


Now only ten minutes or so. Jack up one side. Let all the air out of the tire. Then put the chain on and re-inflate. Do the other side.

Which is good, because some of the links bent and I had to bend them back with vice and Vicegrips.


But I wasn’t satisfied with traction.  The wheels would spin too easily, even with my weight. On them

I had some weights – for the tiller attachment.   I bolted them on where the trailer hitch is. It is only about forty more pounds, but since it is aft of wheels, it seems to improve traction.   Down side is that they hang down reducing clearance.  I keep a small snow shovel bungee’d to tractor – just to dig it out.


I finally got us pretty well dug out.



That night we get a call from Judy – have we seen Shrapnel & Little Dog?  Been missing for hours.


Not a good thing. It is going to be another cold one.  Forecast was a sub-sub zero night. To –40 wind chill. Not good at all. None of us get much sleep as the wind howls.


The critters were still missing in the morning.


I figure – what the heck – Niiko and I should go back and check the back towards the stream. I get all bundled up and strap on my cross country skis.


The snow is deep and untracked.  So deep that Niiko has to leap through it.


In the far woods we come across some tracks that could have been made by a beagle.  The paw prints are so far down in the snow that I can’t tell which way they are facing. They run perpendicular to the path.  By watching Niiko I figure out that her track have a similar feature. The leading edge is at much shallower angle than the trailing edge.  I conclude the tracks are headed  west – back towards Judy and Safu’s.  Unfortunately, they head off the path and into the unknown.


The snow is even deeper, with a crusty layer that gives way just after you put your weight on it.  Very slow going, and snow gets up under my gaiters and works it’s way down into my socks.  The trail takes us through briars,  low brush, high brush, up and down hills and around the swamp.


Niiko & I discuss the reward for bringing the animals home safely.  I guessed a home cooked meal, and a ticker tape parade through down town Gregory.  Niiko was hoping for a box of dogie treats.


We lose the tracks a few times, the last time at the end of Safu’s runway.  It’s a long slog down the runway into a stiff head wind.


Close to exhaustion I rang the door bell.  Lots of barking from inside.


“Oh yes. They’ve been home for a couple of hours. They spent the night at the Hanawald’s – under a trailer.  Come in. Come in. You look like hell. What are you doing out there?”


“Just taking Niiko for a walk…”


I called Julie to come and fetch us home.  A hot shower and right to bed.


And then weather turned balmy.  Sunny with highs in the 50’s.

And some rain. A thunderstorm or two. And all the snow melts.


This has been the most April January I can remember.


Actually, on average, the average has been pretty much average.

Now we’re into February.  Who knows?


Get out and enjoy the winter wonder land,


Dave, Julie, Leo, Flannel Dog, Don Gatto Niiko, & Audrey III




-The following is an unpaid advertisement-



>Luke Turner, a friend called Justin Wright, and maybe more folk. Some of >you know who I, Luke Turner, am, but some don’t. >>You who do not recognize me are fellow Starling Consulting employees >(and now you know who I am).



>I invite you all to a free, public showing of my visual art in downtown >Olympia, Washington on Saturday, Feb 13 1999. The show also includes the >art of my friend, Justin Wright, not all of which is visual. Get ready >for a multi-media kinda thing. Well, audio-visual, at least. Fear not; >we have no smell-emitting equipment (yet). Yes, yes, I want to have >music so that I at least can dance.


>Most of the pieces will remain for viewing through Feb 18, but Feb 13 is >the opening party when all the fun happens.


>Officially, nothing is for sale. (Officially…)



>At an “art-club” called “Arrowspace,” which is the upstairs of a thrift >store called “Dumpster Values”



>Nevermind the art. You might not even like any of the art. This is an excuse to get out of the house and pay nothing to be regarded as slightly fashionable and alternatively cultured. Eat the wine and drink >the cheese. Be pretentious and tell the artists how cool they are. And if you are not part of the sceene, bring a friend so you can murmur about how  pretentious everyone is being. I hope to be a little pretentious myself. This will be a show in more ways than one. Enjoy  it.





If  you have an announcement or something you’d like to share with other readers of FrogTails – drop us a line.




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Muckraking Journalism And puppy dog tales

I’d like to address the accusations that these communications are merely muckraking journalism.   Journalism has much higher standards of  accurate and unbiased reporting.  But in all candor, while some factoids originate from unimpeachable sources – like Google, Wikipedia, and Yahoo! – and some names and places may be virtual real; for the most part (for legal reasons too numerous to go into), Frog Tales and other similar works by this author, should be classified  Semi-Non Fiction.  We try to maintain the standards and integrity set by a famous radio call in show host and his loyal followers – the Ibid Heads.

And as long as we’re digging into the why and what for’s – Tales are highly irregular, and come out only when I’m moved.


Back to the tail.


Ever since Peabody came to stay with us, she has been fascinated with the toilets. Karma, like others of the dog persuasion, regards them as just convenient drinking bowls with a never ending supply of water.

Peabody, on the other hand, waits patiently till I’ve finished reading, then sticks her head over the rim to watch the effluents begin their journey to the septic field and places beyond. I think it is the swirling motion that so intrigues her; her head moves in a spiral motion as she visually tracks the objects of her attention.


January has been exceptionally cold here at Frogtown.  Seems like folks are always talking about how the weather is different than it use to be. Hotter, colder, wetter, drier, foggier, less foggy, more sleet, less sleet…  just the way our brains remember the past.  Precision isn’t as important as perception.

But NOAA, on the electric internet, reports a 14% increase in heating degree days for this January. We have had a lot of really, really cold days and nights in the sub zero range.  Not wind chill. Actual temperatures.  Uh-huh.   Snow fall has been greater, or at least more persistent.  Last week there was between one and two feet accumulation.


Karma and Peabody are exuberant, of course.  Chasing and wrestling in the snow is something they insist on doing at least 4 or 5 times a day. Great fun for them. Its weird though. They won’t do much, unless Julie or I are out there freezing and watching. They need an audience to perform.


My brother, Paul ( that may or may not be his real name) left his red (which may or may not be the actual color) Ford (which may or may not be actual make) pickup truck here at Frogtown while he’s off doing top secret stuff in Iran (which may or may not be the actual country), make a lot of money and trying to keep his head on.  I think he found the job in a classified add in Mechanic of Fortune magazine.


My job is to periodically start the truck and drive it around the field, to keep the battery charged, the tires round, and the juices flowing.  I go 6 times clockwise and 6 times counter clockwise to keep things balanced.

So with all this cold weather – the last time was a wee bit more involved.  We, the dogs and I, had to trudge through boot topping drifts to the pickup point.  They had fun.   I had the foresight to bring a snow shovel, so I could open the driver side door. After climbing in and buckling my seat belt – It’s the Law – I turned the key.  Got a 3 or 4 cranks – then nothing.  Next time 2.5 cranks – and nothing.  Then 0.75 cranks.

Not a good thing.


I trudged back – trying to stay in my previous boot tracks – to get the tractor, and some jumper cables. Peabody and Karma bounced along with me, making new tracks of their own.  I have the Tangerine Dream Machine (TDM) parked outside the garage with a oil pan heater plugged in .  This is the first year the heater has been needed. The tractor started without too much difficulty and only 3.42 pounds of diesel particulates belched.

Getting the two vehicles with in range turned out to be another exercise. The snow was just too deep, even though the TDM has all wheel drive and big nubbly tires.  The answer was get up to ramming speed and plow 2 or 3 meters, then back up and do it again.


Eventually we got over to the truck, Karma and Peabody running circles around each other.  And that’s when I discovered the pickup’s hood was frozen.  I don’t mean cold (even though it was). I mean it wouldn’t open.  Ice had accumulated in the seams, sticking bonnet (that’s British for hood) to the body.  The solution was to drizzle some windshield washer fluid in the cracks and bang on the hood with a tire iron till things came loose.

{Paul, (which may or may not be your real name) please refer to paragraph # 1 regarding my hyperbolic writing style}


After experimenting with red to red vs red to black and a few minor electrical discharges, I got back in the truck, buckled my seat belt – It’s the Law – and turned the key.  I was rewarded with 0.3 cranks.  Back out – jiggled the connections at both ends and watched a few sparks.  Then I figure I should give the Kubota a chance to transfer some of its electrical essence to the red Ford 150 (which may or may not be the actual color, make and model).  I trudged back to the house – trying to keep in my original boot prints – for a cup of hot cocoa.  Karma and Peabody took off into the woods for a hot pursuit of a squirrel.


By my third cup, I figured the vehicles had enough intercourse. I trudged back, trying to stay in my boot prints.  I climbed back in, bucked my seat belt – It’s the Law – and gave the key a clockwise twist. Zero point zero cranks. Notta.  Even the instrument panel was dark.  “Ah, Poop!” I exclaimed.  I climbed back out, after first unbuckling my seat belt – Its Mandatory – and returned to the disconnections.  I messed around some with the mega roach clips.  And Then I had an revelation.  One of the bolts holding the red 150’s (which may or may not be the color and make) battery cable (ground side) was loose.  Not just sort of loose.  Like hanging on by a thread. Not even finger tight.


I trudged back to the house – trying to keep in my much larger boot prints – for a wrench.

Back with my head under the hood – having been careful to follow in my own foot steps – I snugged up the bolt to factory spec. 5.35 foot pounds.

Returning to the cab, I bucked my seat belt – It’s the Law – and gave a mighty turn of the key.   THIS time the Ford’s (which may or may not be the make) engine spun smoothly, and the 150 (which may or may not be the model) returned to the living, as much as any machine is alive anyway.


That was then.  This is now.  ( a temporal tautology) We are currently in the middle of a February thaw. Thirties, forties and heading towards the fifties.  Which means all that accumulated precipitation is going through state changes.  Solid to liquid. And then wandering off to where ever water goes. Down hill somewhere.


I have a friend in Alaska. I won’t mention her name due to privacy concerns. She reports that up there, a thaw means cleaning up the yard. Since they have dogs – forgotten things surface. The past becomes the presents.   There are similar issues here at Frogtown. Deana  and I have commiserated about the joys, although we’ve never compared who’s was a bigger Herculean task.  That wouldn’t be in good taste.


This morning, Julie looked out the kitchen window. “Time to clean the poopy pen” she told me. This was meant to be interpreted as a direct order, not an observation or suggestion.


I got dressed in old grubbies and put on my boots.  “You’ll want to put on Yak-Trac’s. It’s going to be icy out there”  she said.


Yak – Trac are a goofy looking cats cradle of fluorescent rubber bands and springs, that one puts over one’s boots to improve the coefficient of friction.  “Naw” I said as I head out with pail and shovel, humming that ol 1955 Tennessee Ernie Ford tune (written by Merle Travis, if you care)  “You Load 16 tons and what do you get?”


Which brings us to why I never sing.  Grannie, my mom, and Beulah, her mom, were very musically inclined.  That genetic talent seems to be highly recessive in my case.  Non existent.  I suspect it was a great disappointment to my mother, although she never came right out and said anything about it.


I was first made aware I was tonally challenged at the age of 9.  I had been forced to attend St. Andrews church during my youth, by cruel and uncaring parents. It was boooring. I had better things to do with my Sunday mornings. There were lots of chemicals in my Gilbert Chemistry set that needed my attention.

About the only thing redeeming was the “goose blood” (GB) served after the service.  I learned much later that the secret formula for “goose blood” was 15% ginger ale and 62% Kool Aid and the rest undisclosed chemicals .  The flavor of the Kool Aid varied week to week.

It was while I was swilling my 3rd paper cup of GB (we were only allowed one) when I was accosted by George Hunschey, organist and choir master, and long time friend of my mom.

“David” he said. “Hymns are composed of three parts.  Words, tone, and rhythm.  You seem to be able to mangle all three simultaneously. Perhaps it would be best if you didn’t join in.”

I was only marginally disappointed.  I reasoned, incorrectly, that if I wasn’t allowed to sing, that would only support my argument that my attendance in church wasn’t required.

George must have read my mind – he had a suggestion, “Think Milli Vanilli”


All right – I’m busted. Mill- Vanilli  was ’80-’90 funk rock duo, while the conversation with George took place during Tennessee Ernie Ford’s era, and he did his own singing. Never the less (and always the more) I have remained silent about this epifany for half a century.  I think I should continue to do so, in the interest of reducing noise pollution.


Fast forward to the 00’s


I’m standing there in the pen, with my shovel – doing my American Gothic impersonation.  Heavy sigh. I begin filling the pails.  Peabody pokes her head out of the flap. She sees me disposing of the fruits of her labors. I don’t know if it was joy or disappointment that I was removing the fruits of her labors. She became flushed and excited. Barking and jumping up and down.  I backed away from her, not wanting to get paw prints on my work clothes and that’s when I realized the wisdom of Julie’s advice on coefficient of friction.


Well – that’s it for now.

As my old swim coach use to say “Time to hit the showers.”

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Another Christmas Eve Tail

Been a tough year for elves, trying to make gifts from lumps of coal.  If you’re lucky enough to have lumps of coal.

FrogTown is the same.  We’ve trying to stretch things beyond the plastic deformation point.

Snow has come to FrogTown .  Not a lot , but  enough to make driveway a challenge going up and lots of fun going down. If you like that sort of thing.  And the tires on the Highlander are almost as bald as I am. We’ve been trying to stretch the rubber as far as it will go. Starboard rear has been patched as many times as Windows™.   I feel pretty deflated about the issue, but I know we’re treading on thick ice.  After all: what goes around needs to be round.

Clearly some compromises in our lavish life styles are called for.  I’m trying to cut back on electricity by listening to the radio in mono.    Even the animals are making sacrifices.  Karma and Peabody are trying to live off the land.  They still want a full bowl of food at the end of the day. It’s hard work finding enough mice, sticks and deer poop for a proper meal.

Tangelo and Flannel have been asked to change from designer litter to all natural sand, of which we harvest ourselves.   I thought this up myself.

Ever since Peabody came to stay with us, Flannel has refused to come down stairs.  So Julie had to put a litter box in the upstairs bathroom. It was that or find the laundry basket full of stuff besides clothing.   One downside to the litter box upstairs is that Flannel and Tangelo track the litter around the bathroom and into our bedroom.  Bad enough that additional Hoovering is required. They also chase each other across our bed, leaving litter trails.  It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep lying in the gritty stuff.   I thought the change to sand would make it seem like snoozing on the beach.  Wrong.  More like rolling on sandpaper.  But it saves some money.

The other day I was trudging back from picking up our mail.  Julie had put a smallish package in the mailbox and put up the flag, on her way to school.  It was more of an envelope.  She had put quite a few stamps on it. But there it was, among the incoming mail.  At first I thought that Jane the Ignorant Slut had just overlooked it.  It was only filling up half the mailbox.   But I noticed it had an official note on it.

There is a new regulation that the mail carriers aren’t allowed to pick up any mail that weighs more than 13 oz.  You have to take it in person to the post office and declare that it doesn’t contain any “fragile, perishable or hazardous materials”.  Signed “Department of Homegrown Insecurity. “

Jane takes her job seriously.  Never mind, that Julie had weighed the package – to figure out how many stamps to lick- and it was just under 2 oz.

I could see how even an experienced postal person could have difficulty misjudging weigh by a factor of 6.5.  So it wasn’t surprising to me that Jane, the Ignorant Slut could make an error.  Or maybe she holds a grudge about the poison ivy that was stuffed in the mail box this summer.

Julie has less tolerance for idiots than I do.  I didn’t want to stick around when Julie learned of Jane’s weight issues.

Anyway. I had to go , and do some other errands.   Karma and Peabody came along to help.   They don’t actually help much, but they always like to go for rides. Doesn’t take much persuading.  Jingle the car keys and they start doing the puppy dance.

I went to WaWho’s Shop of Rare and Delectable Drinks in Ann Arbor first to pick up some Christmas Cheer.  It’s always an experience wandering up and down the narrow isles checking out the goodies.    Besides fluids, WaWho has exotic munchies. I grabbed a package of pomegranate pretzels, and a couple of cheddar cheesy candy canes to go with my selections of Christmas Cheer: All Natural Healthy Organic Taproot Beers, with no artificial ingredients or preservatives.

WaWho’s daughter, Mary Lou was working the checkout. “Excellent choices, Mr. Wright.  We just got some French fried frog wings and some fresh freeze dried frog flippers in. Would you like to try some?”

I thought not.

It started to sleet on the way back. Or maybe rain.  I couldn’t be sure.  I’d need to ask Ruddy.  Either way it wasn’t going to improve the driveway’s coefficient of friction.

I headed over to Ben’s feed store to pick up a few bags of coefficient of friction modifier.  Karma & Peabody got real excited and started doing the hooky puppy in the back of the car. Ben always has a dish of puppy treats on the counter.

I told them I would be a while, but left the keys in the ignition so they could listen to the radio. They were listening to Silent Night by Howling Wolf. I made them promise they wouldn’t drive off and leave me like they did last time.  They thought it was funny to see people chasing cars.  Real hoot.

Ben heard  me come in. He has one of those plastic pigs that makes rude noises when anyone walks in the door.  Feed store humor.

“What can we do to you today, young man?”  Ben calls everybody “young man” regardless of age.  Unless its somebody of the  XX chromosome persuasion.

Me: “How about couple bags of coefficient of friction modifier?”

“Well, we just ran out of the Turkey Grit®, Chicken Grit®, Duck Grit®, Geese Grit®, Pheasant Grit®, Ostrich Grit® .   Good news is we just got a truck load of specialty Grit:  Yellow Nosed Albatross  Grit®, Emu Grit®, Pink-headed Duck Grit®, Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo Grit®, Humming Bird Grit®, and Pterodactyls Grit®. We haven’t had any call for the Pterodactyl Grit® in a long time, so we’re running a special on it. Ten bags for a buck.“

“Sold ! Ten bags please” said I.

“Hey, Freddy!  Load up this young man’s  car with 10 bags Pterodactyls Grit®.” Ben hollered.  “You got Karma & Peabody with you?”

“Yep. Out there singing Christmas Carols.”

“Hey Freddy! Take out a box of  puppy treats for Karma and Peabody.”  He hollered. “My treat.”

“Wow they are going to be excited. They’ll be doing the puppy dance all the way home. “

Me: “ Say – where’s Ruddy? I wanted to ask him about the weather. You know – rain, snow, sleet and what the forecast is for Christmas.”

Ben: “Sorry to tell, Ruddy’s  in the hospital. Had a hunting accident.”

Me: “No kidding. Is he going to be all right?”

Ben: “Should be in a couple of months, after some physical therapy. He’s in that hospital in Ann Arbor getting another prosthesis right now. Actually should help balance him out. You may have noticed he listed a bit to starboard. ”

Me: “What happened? He sit on a bear trap? Some drunk taking pot shots at the half moon? “

Ben: “Nope. It was one of those freak accidents.  He was walking through the woods and came to a fence…”

Me: “You mean he leaned his gun up against the fence and it fell and went off?”

Ben: “ No. wasn’t like that at all. And don’t interrupt your elders.”

Me: “Sorry Ben”

Ben: “Ruddy’s a careful hunter.  When he’s walking, his shot gun is broken down, and the shells are in his pocket.  And with past experience he found the safest way over a fence is the Fosbury Flop”  []

Me: “So what went wrong?”

Ben:  There were three things.  First – the fence was just a bit higher than he judged. Two – it was an electric fence. And three –the shells were in his hip pocket.”

Me: “Ouch”

Ben: “I know I don’t really don’t have to tell you he’s real sensitive right now.”

Me: “I imagine how much getting all that buck shot would hurt.”

Ben:  “Yep that. But what I meant is he’s real sensitive about his disfigurement.  After his accident at the muffin factory, he was the butt of jokes for years. “

Me: “Never fear. It would be asinine to make any cheeky remarks.”

Ben: “Might be a good idea not say anything around Freddy either. You know she’s Ruddy’s identical twin?”

Me:  “No fooling. I didn’t know he had any siblings.”

Not to mention Freddy has blond hair, about 5.1’, and seems to be 18 years old.  Ruddy has red hair, 6.4’ tall and looks to be about 58.

Ben: “Yeah. Lots of folks miss that. They had different mothers.  And  different fathers.  And were born exactly 40 and a half years apart. “

Me: “Ah-ha. I’ll bend over backwards not to talk behind Ruddy’s behind.”

Ben: “Knew I could count on you, young man.

Say, are you going to need any kitty litter? We got single cat, multi-cat, male cat, female cat, neutered male, neutered female,  bisexual cats, clumping, non-clumping, odor control, instant odor control, organic odor control. We got single cat clumping with organic odor control. We got multi-cat non-clumping with instant odor control. We got your designer colors – earth tone grey or beige. Magenta or chartreuse. …”

I had to interrupt him to explain about our new cost saving strategies.

“What kind of sand do you have?” asked  Freddy. She had come back from loading the Pterodactyls Grit® in the car.   “Oh, did you know your dogs are out there singing Christmas Carols and doing the Fox Trot?”

Me: “They like to do that” meaning Karma & Peabody. “What do you mean? Its just sand.”

Freddy: “Like: what color is it? Coarse or fine?”

Me: “Well let me see…  yellow brown with some flecks of red, green and white.  Grains are between  0.123 and 0.375 millimeters, more or less. Kinda loamy with various mice, moles, worms and bugs.  You know just plain sand.”

Freddy:  “ No such thing as just plain sand.  Sounds like a quartz olivine mixture   with a pinch of magnetite, chlorite, and  glauconite.  You must live north of here.  Only place that has that combination is at  longitude  -84.10709,  latitude 42.42208”

Me: “Amazing!  How the heck did you know that? ”

Freddy: “That’s a long story…”

I cut her off. “Wait just a minute.  I got some Christmas Cheer and some munchies that are just right for a situation like this.”

I went out to car to get the Christmas Cheer and to check on Karma & Peabody. They were fine. Doing the Puppy Polka  to Hark! Harold the Angel Yodels on WWOOF – All Canine Classics.

Inside Ben turned the sign on the door so it said “Closed” on the outside, and “Open” on the inside.

Me: “WaWho’s Shop of Rare and Delectable Drinks has a new line of All Natural Healthy Organic Taproot Beers, with no artificial ingredients or preservatives.”

I passed out the first bottles & score sheets.  I started  Ben with the parsnip,  Freddy got the radish, and I took the rutabaga beer.

Then I broke out the pomegranate pretzels, and a couple of cheddar cheesy candy canes.

Me: “Ok now.  Freddy, how did you come to know so much about sand?”

Freddy:  “It must have started when I was just a kid playing in the sandbox. Right away I noticed that sand in the box was different than the dirt outside the box. Totally different color and texture. Even the neighborhood cats all seemed to know which was which. That Christmas I got a shovel and pail.  Even though it was sleeting out, I headed for the sandbox and dug in.

That’s when I found out I had only been scratching the surface.  Under the sand was a whole world.

“All through kindergarten to high school was a rocky time.  I didn’t have any friends to speak of .  I spent all my time collecting dirt, pebbles and minerals, and in the library looking up what I’d picked up.   I figured I didn’t need no education, I didn’t need no thought control, all in all it  was just another stone in the wall.  So I dropped out and went underground.

“I headed to the UP where I panned for gold,  drank tequila on the rocks, and became a stoner.  It didn’t last more than a couple of months before I pulled my head out of the sand and looked up at my feet.  I got my GED online and enrolled in Extreme Northern Michigan University.

“ENMU was the place for rock heads.  The president, dean and only professor was Igor Lithowosivich.    Professor Lithowosivich was the world’s foremost   expert on geology, mineralogy, gemology and sandology.  His lectures were pretty dry – he’d drone on for hours. We called him Mono Lith.  Some of the kids thought the material was really hard.  I found it substantive and was hard to beat.

“ENMU was located 36 miles north east of Chequamegon Bay. Sort of a manmade island in Lake Superior from taconite tailings and other mining wastes.  It may seem like an odd place to put a world class university, but the foundation of any institution is its foundation.  In this case, it was the wealth of information from the aggregated minerals that  kept ENMU above water.  We could pick up our homework walking to class.  The biggest advantage for us budding students was the geologically oldest stuff was on top, because the most recent dumplings were from the deepest mines.   Because each mine had its own dumping spot you knew exactly where it came from around the Great Lake.

“Manitoulin Island and east of Lake Superior, marks a general northwesterly transition to older rocks, dominated by late Archean rocks, 2,700-2,500 million years old, of the Superior province of the Canadian Shield. Ordovician platform sediments on Manitoulin are underlain first by Paleoproterozoic Huronian strata of the Southern province, and then by the Archean granite-greenstone sequences.

“Highlights of abundant red and orange garnets amongst the dull green material of the kimberlite matrix are  indicator minerals in alluvial sediments, Wawa-Kinniwabi Lake area.

“The White Pine copper mine worked a large sediment -hosted copper sulphide and native Cu deposit, in contrast to the many old mines of the Keweenaw peninsula to the east, which targeted native Cu deposits in basalt flows and interflow sediments.

“And everybody knows the Duluth Igneous Complex  instructive outcrops exhibit a range of structures and textures formed in large magma chambers. Associated mineralization includes copper and nickel sulphides with platinum group elements, plus iron- titanium- vanadium oxides.

“Not only was there iron and copper ore, but  Chlorastrolite,  Cuprite, Datolite,Kona Dolomite, Pumpellyite, Thomsonite, Unakite. If that wasn’t enough there was  Petoskey Stone, Lake Superior Agates,  and Isle Royal Greenstone.  It was like having the whole Michigan mitten in your hand. Totally awesome.

“One day as I was looking at my latest find:  a red orange crystal I’d never seen before.  Puzzled, I took it to Prof  L.   He looked at in surprise.  ‘That’s Tasmanian Crocinite! Where did you get that?’  I told him. He said ‘That’s almost impossible. It’s only been found in Tasmania… till now.’

“That got me looking in earnest for other unusual specimens. I found:

Acanthite, Acmite, Actinolite, Adamite , Aegirine, Aenigmatite , Aeschynite, Afwillite, Agardite , Agardite, Aguilarite, Aheylite, Aikinite, Akaganéite, Akatoreite, Akimotoite, Alabandite, Albite, Aldermanite, Aleksite, Algodonite, Allanite, Allanite, Allanite , Allargentum, Alloclasite, Allophane, Almandine, Alstonite , Altaite, Aluminite, Alumohydrocalcite, Alunite, Alunogen , Amarantite, Amblygonite , Amesite, Ammoniojarosite, Analcime, Anapaite, Anatase , Andalusite, Andesine, Andorite, Andradite , Anglesite , Anhydrite, Anilite , Ankerite , Annabergite, Annite, Anorthite, Anorthoclase, Anthoinite, Anthophyllite, Antigorite, Antimonpearceite, Antimony, Antlerite, Anyuiite, Apatite, Aphthitalite, Apjohnite, Apophyllite, Aragonite, Arcanite, Archerite, Ardealite, Ardennite, Arfvedsonite, Argentite, Argentojarosite, Argentopyrite, Argyrodite, Armalcolite, Armenite, Arsendescloizite, Arsenic, Arseniosiderite, Arsenobismite, Arsenoclasite, Arsenoflorencite, Arsenogorceixite , Arsenolite , Arsenopyrite , Arsenpolybasite, Arsentsumebite, Arthurite, Asbolane, Ashburtonite , Atacamite , Atheneite, Augelite, Augite, Aurichalcite , Auricupride, Aurostibite, Austinite , Autunite , Awaruite, Axinite, Azurite , Babingtonite, Baddeleyite, Bassanite, Baileychlore, Bakerite, Bamfordite, Bannisterite , Baotite, Barbertonite, Barbosalite , Bariosincosite, Barite , Barium-Pharmacosiderite, Barringtonite, Barroisite, Barytocalcite, Basaluminite, Bassanite, Bassetite, Bastnäsite, Bastnäsite, Baumhauerite, Bavenite , Bayldonite , Beaverite, Bechererite, Becquerelite, Beidellite, Bementite, Benitoite, Benjaminite, Beraunite , Berlinite, Bermanite, Bernalite, Berthierine, Berthierite, Bertrandite, Beryl , Berzelianite, Betafite, Beta-Roselite, Beta-Uranophane, Betekhtinite, Betpakdalite, Beudantite , Beyerite, Bianchite, Bieberite, Billietite, Bindheimite , Biotite, Biphosphammite, Birnessite, Bischofite, Bismite, Bismoclite, Bismuth , Bismuthinite , Bismutite, Bismutoferrite, Bismutostibiconite, Bityite, Bleasdaleite, Blixite, Blödite, Bobierrite, Bohdanowiczite, Böhmite, Boldyrevite, Boleite, Boltwoodite, Boothite, Boracite, Bornite , Botallackite, Botryogen, Boulangerite, Bournonite, Brabantite, Bracewellite, Braggite, Brannerite, Braunite, Bravoite, Breithauptite, Brianyoungite, Britholite, Brochantite, Brokenhillite, Bromargyrite, Bronzite, Brookite, Brucite, Brugnatellite, Brushite, Buchwaldite, Buddingtonite, Bulfonteinite, Bustamite, Buttgenbachite, Bytownite, Cacoxenite , Calaverite, Calcioancylite, Calcioferrite, Calciovolborthite, Calcite , Caledonite, Cancrinite, Canfieldite, Cannonite, Capgarronite, Carbonate-Cyanotrichite, Carbonate-Fluorapatite, Carbonate-Hydroxylapatite, Carbonate-Hydroxylfluorapatite, Carlsbergite , Carminite , Carnallite, Carnotite , Carrboydite , Carrollite, Cassidyite, Cassiterite , Cavansite , Caysichite, Cebollite, Celadonite, Celestite, Celsian, Cerianite, Cerianite, Cerite, Ceruleite, Cerussite , Cervantite, Cesstibtantite, Chabazite , Chabazite , Chabazite, Chalcanthite , Chalcoalumite , Chalcocite , Chalconatronite , Chalcophanite, Chalcophyllite, Chalcopyrite , Chalcosiderite, Chalcostibite, Chamosite , Chenevixite , Cheralite, Cherepanovite, Chevkinite, Childrenite, Chlorargyrite , Chlorite, Chloritoid, Chlorotile, Chondrodite, Chrisstanleyite, Chromite, Chrysoberyl, Chrysocolla, Chrysotile, Churchite, Cinnabar, Claringbullite , Clausthalite, Clinoatacamite, Clinobisvanite, Clinochlore, Clinochrysotile, Clinoclase , Clinoenstatite, Clinoferrosilite, Clinohumite, Clinoptilolite, Clinozoisite, Clintonite, Cobaltaustinite , Cobaltite, Coccinite, Coffinite, Cohenite, Collinsite , Coloradoite , Columbite , Colusite, Conichalcite , Connellite , Cookeite , Cooperite, Copiapite, Copper , Coquimbite, Cordierite, Corkite, Cornetite , Cornubite , Cornwallite , Coronadite, Corrensite, Corundum, Cosalite, Costibite, Cotunnite, Covellite, Cowlesite, Crandallite , Crednerite, Cristobalite , Crocoite , Cronstedtite, Crossite, Cryptomelane , Csiklovaite, Cubanite, Cumengite, Cummingtonite, Cuprite , Cuprocopiapite, Cuproscheelite, Cuprosklodowskite, Cuprotungstite , Curite, Cuspidine, Cyanotrichite , Cymrite, Cyrilovite , Damourite, Danalite, Danburite, Danielsite, Dannemorite, Daqingshanite, Datolite , Daubreelite, Davidite, Davidite, Dawsonite, Decrespignyite, Delafossite, Delessite, Delvauxite, Descloizite, Devilline, Dewindtite, Diaboleite, Diadochite, Diamond , Diaphorite, Diaspore, Dickinsonite, Dickite , Dietrichite, Digenite, Diopside, Dioptase, Dittmarite , Djurleite, Dolomite , Doloresite, Domeykite, Donnayite, Dravite , Dufrenite , Dufrenoysite, Duftite , Duhamelite, Dumontite, Dumortierite, Dundasite , Dussertite, Dypingite , Dyscrasite, Ecandrewsite, Eckermannite, Edenite, Elbaite, Elsmoreite, Emmonsite, Emplectite, Empressite, Enargite, Enstatite, Eosphorite, Epidote, Epistilbite, Epsomite, Eriochalcite, Erionite , Erlichmanite, Ernienickelite , Ernstite, Erythrite , Eucairite, Euchroite, Euclase, Eucryptite, Eudialyte, Eulytite, Euxenite, Evansite, Fairfieldite, Falcondoite, Famatinite, Faustite , Fayalite, Ferberite , Fergusonite, Ferri-Annite, Ferricopiapite, Ferrierite, Ferrihydrite, Ferrimolybdite, Ferrinatrite, Ferritungstite, Ferriwinchite, Ferro-Actinolite, Ferro-aluminoceladonite, Ferroaxinite , Ferrobustamite, Ferrocolumbite, Ferro-eckermannite, Ferro-Edenite, Ferro-ferri-winchite, Ferroglaucophane, Ferrohornblende, Ferro-Kaersutite, Ferronickelplatinum, Ferropargasite, Ferropyrosmalite, Ferrosilite, Ferrotantalite, Ferrotschermakite, Ferrowinchite, Fibroferrite, Finnemanite, Fletcherite, Florenceite, Fluellite , Fluoborite, Fluorapatite , Fluorapophyllite , Fluorite , Foggite, Foitite, Formanite, Fornacite , Forsterite, Foshagite, Fraipontite, Francevillite, Francisite, Franckeite, Francoanellite, Françoisite, Franklinite, Freibergite, Freieslebenite, Friedelite, Friedrichite, Frohbergite, Frondelite, Froodite, Gadolinite, Gahnite, Gainesite, Galena, Galenobismutite, Galileiite, Ganophyllite, Garronite, Gartrellite, Gaspeite, Gatehouseite, Gatumbaite, Gearksutite, Gedrite, Geerite, Geffroyite, Gehlenite, Geikielite, Geocronite, Georgeite, Gerhardtite , Gersdorffite, Gibbsite , Gismondine, Gladite, Glauberite, Glaucodot, Glauconite, Glaucophane, Glaukosphaerite, Gmelinite , Godlevskite, Goethite , Gold , Goldmanite, Gonnardite , Gonyerite, Gorceixite , Gordaite, Gordonite, Goslarite, Goyazite, Graftonite, Graphite, Grandidierite, Grayite, Greenalite, Greenockite , Greigite, Grimaldiite, Griphite, Grossular , Groutite, Grünerite, Guanajuatite, Guanine, Gudmundite, Gunningite, Gypsum , Gyrolite, Halite , Halloysite, Halotrichite, Hambergite, Hammarite, Hannayite, Harmotome , Hastingsite, Hauchecornite, Hauerite, Hausmannite, Hauyne, Hawleyite , Heazlewoodite, Hedenbergite, Hedleyite, Hedyphane , Hedleyite, Hellyerite , Helvite, Hematite , Hemimorphite , Hendricksite, Hentschelite , Hercynite, Hessite, Hetaerolite, Heterogenite , Heterosite, Heulandite , Hexahydrite, Hibschite, Hidalgoite , Hillite, Hinsdalite , Hisingerite, Hoganite, Högbomite, Hollandite, Hollingworthite, Holmquistite , Holtite, Hopeite, Hornblende, Hübnerite, Hulsite, Humite, Huntite, Hureaulite, Huttonite, Hyalophane, Hydrocerussite, Hydrogrossular, Hydrohetaerolite, Hydrohonessite, Hydromagnesite , Hydrophane, Hydrotalcite, Hydrotungstite, Hydroxylapatite, Hydroxyapophyllite , Hydrozincite, Hypersthene , Idaite, Ikaite, Ikunolite, Illite, Ilmenite, Ilmenorutile , Ilsemannite, Ilvaite, Inesite, Iodargyrite, Iowaite, Irarsite, Iridarsenite, Iridium, Iridosmine, Irigenite, Iron, Ishikawaite, Isoferroplatinum, Isokite, Ixiolite, Jacobsite , Jahnsite, Jalpaite, Jamesonite, Jarosite , Jeppeite , Johannite, Johannsenite, Johntomaite, Jordanite, Jordisite, Joseite, Junoite, Kaersutite, Kalinite, Kamacite, Kambaldaite, Kamphaugite, Kanoite, Kaolinite, Kashinite, Kasolite, Katophorite, Kegelite, Kermesite, Kidwellite, Kieserite, Kilchoanite, Kimrobinsonite, Kingite , Kintoreite , Kipushite, Kleemanite , Klockmannite, Kobeite, Kobellite, Koechlinite, Koktaite, Kolbeckite, Kornelite, Kornerupine, Kosnarite , Köttigite, Kozulite, Krennerite, Krinovite, Kröhnkite, Krupkaite, Ktenasite, Kutnohorite, Kyanite, Labradorite, Lanarkite, Langite, Larnite, Larsenite, Laueite, Laumontite, Laurionite, Laurite, Lavendulan , Lawrencite, Lawsonite, Lazulite, Lazurite, Lead, Leadhillite, Lechatelierite, Lehiite, Lepidocrocite, Lepidolite, Leucite, Leucophosphite , Levyne , Libethenite , Liebigite, Likasite, Lillianite, Linarite , Lindströmite, Linnaeite, Lipscombite, Liroconite, Litharge, Lithiophilite, Lithiophorite, Livingstonite, Lizardite, Löllingite, Loveringite, Luanheite, Luberoite, Lucasite, Ludwigite , Luetheite, Lusungite, Mackinawite, Maghemite, Magnesio-Arfvedsonite, Magnesio-Axinite, Magnesiochromite , Magnesio-Cummingtonite, Magnesiofoitite, Magnesiohastingsite, Magnesiohornblende, Magnesio-Riebeckite, Magnesite, Magnetite , Majakite, Majorite, Malachite, Malayaite, Maldonite, Mallardite, Manganaxinite, Manganite, Manganochromite, Manganocolumbite, Manganocummingtonite, Manganogrunerite, Manganotantalite, Manganpyrosmalite, Manjiroite, Mansfieldite , Marcasite, Margarite, Marialite, Marshite, Mascagnite, Massicot, Matildite, Matlockite, Mattagamite, Maucherite, Mawbyite , Mawsonite, McGuinessite, Mckinstryite, Meionite, Melanterite , Melilite, Mellite, Melonite, Mendipite, Mendozavilite, Mendozite, Meneghinite, Mercury, Merenskyite, Mertieite, Mesolite, Meta-Autunite, Metacinnabar, Meta-Halloysite, Metahohmannite, Metanatroautunite, Metastibnite, Metaschoepite, Metaswitzerite, Metatorbernite, Metatyuyamunite, Meta-uranocircite, Metavariscite, Metavivianite, Metavoltine, Metazeunerite, Meurigite , Miargyrite, Michenerite, Microcline, Microlite, Miersite, Millerite, Millisite , Mimetite , Minium , Minyulite , Mirabilite, Mitridatite, Mixite , Moganite, Mohrite, Molybdenite, Molybdite, Monazite, Moncheite, Monetite, Monohydrocalcite, Montanite, Montbrayite, Montebrasite, Montgomeryite , Monticellite, Montmorillonite, Moolooite, Moraesite, Mordenite , Morenosite, Morinite, Mosandrite, Moschellandsbergite, Mottramite, Motukoreaite, Mountkeithite, Mpororoite, Mrazekite, Mullite, Mundrabillaite, Murdochite, Muscovite, Musgravite, Nacrite, Nadorite, Nagyagite, Nahcolite, Namansilite, Namibite, Namuwite, Nantokite, Narsarsukite , Natroalunite, Natroapophyllite, Natroautunite , Natrodufrenite , Natrojarosite, Natrolite , Natromontebrasite, Naumannite, Neotocite, Nepheline, Nepouite, Nesquehonite, Newberyite, Nickel, Nickel Hexahydrite, Nickelblödite, Nickeline, Nigerite, Nissonite, Niter, Nitrocalcite, Noelbensonite, Nolanite, Nontronite , Norbergite, Nordstrandite, Norrishite, Norsethite, Nosean, Novacekite, Nsutite, Nullaginite, Offretite, Okenite, Olenite, Oligoclase, Olivenite , Olivine, Omphacite, Oosterboschite, Opal , Orpheite , Orpiment, Orthochrysotile, Orthoclase, Orthoserpierite, Osarizawaite, Osmiridium , Osmium, Osumilite, Otavite, Ottrelite, Otwayite, Overite, Owyheeite, Oxammite, Paceite, Palladium, Palygorskite, Paolovite, Paracostibite, Paradocrasite, Paragonite, Parahopeite , Paralaurionite, Paramelaconite, Paraotwayite, Parascholzite , Parasymplesite, Paratacamite, Paratooite, Paravauxite, Pargasite, Parisite, Parkerite, Parsettensite, Parsonsite, Partzite, Pearceite, Pecoraite, Pectolite, Peisleyite, Pekoite, Pennantite, Pentahydrite, Pentlandite, Percylite, Perhamite, Periclase, Perite, Perloffite , Perovskite, Perroudite, Petalite, Petterdite, Petzite, Pharmacolite , Pharmacosiderite , Phenakite, Philipsbornite , Phillipsite , Phlogopite, Phoenicochroite, Phosgenite, Phosphammite, Phosphoferrite, Phosphophyllite, Phosphosiderite, Phosphuranylite, Phurcalite , Pickeringite , Piemontite, Pigeonite, Pitticite, Planerite, Platiniridium, Platinum, Plattnerite, Plombierite, Plumbogummite, Plumbojarosite, Pollucite, Polybasite, Polycrase, Polydymite, Polylithionite, Portlandite, Posnjakite , Potarite, Potassium Alum, Powellite, Prehnite, Preisingerite, Priderite, Prosopite, Proudite, Proustite, Pseudoboleite, Pseudobrookite , Pseudomalachite , Pseudorutile, Psilomelane, Pucherite, Pumpellyite, Purpurite, Pyrargyrite, Pyrite , Pyroaurite, Pyrobelonite, Pyrochlore, Pyrolusite , Pyromorphite , Pyrope, Pyrophanite, Pyrophyllite, Pyrosmalite, Pyrostilpnite, Pyroxmangite, Pyrrhotite, Quartz , Ralstonite, Rammelsbergite, Ramsdellite, Ranciéite, Rankinite, Raspite , Realgar, Rectorite, Redingtonite, Reevesite , Reichenbachite , Renardite, Retgersite, Rhabdophane, Rhodium, Rhodochrosite, Rhodonite, Rhomboclase, Rhönite, Richterite, Rickardite, Riebeckite , Ringwoodite, Rinkite, Riversideite, Roaldite, Robinsonite, Rockbridgeite , Roepperite, Romanechite, Romeite, Romerite, Rooseveltite, Rosasite, Roscoelite, Rosenhahnite, Roxbyite, Rozenite, Rucklidgeite, Russellite , Rutheniridosmine, Ruthenium, Rutherfordine, Rutile , Sabugalite, Saddlebackite, Safflorite, Sal Ammoniac, Saléeite , Samarskite, Sampleite , Sanidine, Santabarbaraite, Saponite, Sapphirine, Sartorite, Sasaite, Sassolite, Sauconite, Scapolite, Scawtite, Schafarzikite, Schapbachite, Scheelite , Schertelite, Schoenfliesite, Schoepite, Scholzite , Schörl , Schorlomite, Schreibersite, Schulenbergite, Schumacherite, Scolecite, Scorodite , Seamanite, Segelerite, Segnitite, Sekaninaite, Selenium, Seligmannite, Sellaite , Selwynite, Senarmontite, Sepiolite , Serandite, Serpierite, Shandite, Shannonite, Shcherbakovite, Shigaite, Sicklerite, Siderite , Sideronatrite, Siderophyllite, Siderotil, Siegenite, Sieleckiite , Sillimanite, Silver, Silvialite, Simpsonite, Sjögrenite, Sklodowskite, Skutterudite, Smaltite, Smithsonite, Smolianinovite , Smythite, Sodalite, Soddyite, Sodium-Alum, Sodium-Autunite, Sodium-Pharmacosiderite, Spadaite, Spangolite, Sperrylite, Spessartine, Sphaerocobaltite, Sphalerite , Sphene, Spheniscidite, Spinel, Spodumene, Spriggite, Springcreekite, Spurrite, Stannite, Stannoidite, Staurolite, Stellerite, Stephanite, Stercorite, Sternbergite, Stetefeldtite, Stevensite, Stibarsen, Stibiconite, Stibiopalladinite, Stibiotantalite, Stibnite, Stichtite , Stilbite , Stillwellite, Stilpnomelane, Stolzite, Strengite , Stromeyerite, Strontianite, Struvite, Sturtite, Stützite, Sudoite, Suessite, Sugilite, Sulphohalite, Sulphotsumoite, Sulphur , Sulvanite, Sussexite, Svanbergite, Switzerite , Sylvanite, Sylvite, Symplesite, Synchysite, Syngenite, Szaibelyite, Szomolnokite, Taaffeite, Tacharanite , Taenite, Takanelite, Takovite, Talc, Tamarugite, Tantalite, Tanteuxenite, Tapiolite , Taranakite , Tarbuttite, Teallite, Tellurantimony, Tellurium, Tellurobismuthite, Tengerite, Tennantite, Tenorite, Tephroite, Teschemacherite, Testibiopalladite, Tetradymite, Tetra-Ferri-Annite, Tetraferroplatinum, Tetrahedrite , Tetranatrolite, Thaumasite, Thenardite, Theophrastite, Thermonatrite, Thomsonite , Thorianite, Thorite, Thorogummite, Tiemannite, Tilasite, Tilleyite, Tin, Tinticite, Tinzenite, Titan-Arfvedsonite, Tivanite, Tobermorite, Tochilinite, Tocornalite, Todorokite, Tomichite, Topaz , Torbernite , Törnebohmite, Trechmannite, Tremolite, Trevorite, Tridymite, Triphylite, Triplite, Triploidite, Tripuhyite, Tritomite, Troegerite, Troilite, Trolleite, Truscottite, Tschermakite, Tsumcorite, Tsumebite , Tsumoite, Tucekite, Tuhualite, Tungstenite, Tungstite, Turanite, Turkite, Turquoise , Tyuyamunite, Ullmannite, Ulrichite , Ulvospinel, Umangite, Umohoite, Ungarrettite, Uraninite, Uranophane, Uranospathite, Uranosphaerite, Uranospinite , Uranpyrochlore , Urea, Uricite, Ushkovite, Uvarovite, Uvite, Vaesite, Valentinite, Valleriite, Vanadinite, Vandendriesscheite, Variscite , Vashegyite, Vaterite, Vauquelinite , Verdelite, Vermiculite, Vernadite, Vesignieite, Vesuvianite, Violarite, Vivianite , Voglite, Volborthite, Voltaite, Volynskite, Vonsenite, Vuagnatite, Wadeite, Wagnerite, Wairakite, Wairauite, Walentaite, Wardite , Warwickite, Wavellite , Weberite, Weddellite, Weeksite, Weilerite, Weissite, Whewellite, Whitlockite, Whitmoreite, Wickmanite , Widgiemoolthalite, Wilkinsonite, Willemite, Willemseite, Willyamite, Winchite, Witherite, Wittichenite, Wittite, Wodginite, Wöhlerite, Wolfeite , Wolframite, Wollastonite , Woodallite, Woodhouseite, Woodwardite, Wulfenite , Wupatkiite, Wurtzite, Wüstite, Wycheproofite , Xanthoconite, Xanthoxenite, Xenotime, Xonotlite, Yttrocolumbite, Yttrocrasite, Yttropyrochlore, Yttrotantalite, Yugawaralite, Zaratite, Zavaritskite, Zdenekite, Zinc, Zincite, Zinc-Melanterite, Zincrosasite, Zincsilite, Zinkenite, Zinkosite, Zinnwaldite, Zircon, Zirconolite, Zoisite, and Zunyite.”

Freddy finally came up for air.

“Say that fast three times”, I thought.  “Or once even. Slowly. I don’t think so.”

Freddy took a swig of Turnip Beer and went on

“I got on line with rock hounds in Tasmania, and got specimens from way down under.  Astonishingly they were the identical. That was the beginning of my PhD thesis: a Geological Comparison of the Superior and Tasmania Mineralogy, and Causal Factors Thereof.

“After putting over 3,124 push pins in topological maps of the two regions and running string between corresponding mineral locations  the conclusion was obvious!   Tasmania was once situated smack dab in Lake Superior sometime between 473 million years ago and 1957 – give or take a couple of hours.  Carbon 13 dating isn’t very precise .

“Absolutely gaber flasting. This was going to turn geology upside down.

“I worked night and day for months documenting and referencing and documenting and doing all that scholarly stuff.  Late one Saturday night, I was just putting the finishing touches on the 7,487 page manuscript (not counting appendix and index and tables of contents and illustrations.). It was Christmas Eve 1967. The lake had frozen early that year and everybody else had taken snowmobiles to the 48 hour Ontongon Drive In Film Festival.  Some of the favorites films were Sand Pebbles, True Grit, In Like Flint and of course Rocky I to IVXX.

“I got an urgent email from my identical twin brother Ruddy.  You know Ruddy don’t you?”  She asked me.

I nodded and she continued.

“He said there was a sleet storm coming out of the Canadian Rockies the likes of which he hadn’t seen since 1957 off the coast of North Korea, and I better get my butt off that tiny island in 1 hour and 37 minutes, because the storm was aimed right at ENMU and the place was going to be blown away. He’s the world’s best and most accurate meteorologist, so I took his warning seriously. Very, very seriously.

“Only problem was all the snowmobiles were off at the Ontongon Drive In Film Festival.   No way help could get to me and back to safety in time.

“My only hope was the senior class capstone project: a prototype ice ore ship. It was about 75 feet long, with 50 foot outriggers on either side, with a 80 foot tall mast. The was made mostly of hand foraged and forged black iron girders.  The sail was made from copper nuggets pounded flat and silver soldered together.  The blade runners were 12 feet long and hand sharpened to a Lady Schick edge. It managed to be beautiful and ugly at the same time.  The seniors christened it the PIce- O-Ship. It was docked on the leeward side of the island and almost ready for its first trial on New Year’s Day.  I decided to move the launch date up a bit, ready or not.

“I couldn’t just leave my work behind. Fortunately, there was an old set of electric ore cars on rails that ran from the campus down to the docks.  It only took 4 trips to move my maps, pins, strings, 7,487 page manuscript (not counting appendix and index and tables of contents and illustrations.) and 6,895 pounds of minerals to the  hold of the POS.  It also took 1 hour and 33 minutes.

“The wind was already up to 50 knots when I hoisted the main sail.  I could see lightening through the clouds racing at me from the west. Freezing rain was already starting to ice up the rigging. Being a bit on the massive side, the POS took a while to pick up speed, but soon we were traveling at an incredible speed, just ahead of the brunt of the front.  Sleet sickles were slamming into the ice all around, as if Zeus were playing darts and the POS was the bull’s eye.

“The storm kept growing and we kept going faster.  There were trails of sparks coming off the runners.  Looking back I could see ice breaking up around  ENMU island. Fifty 50 foot waves washing over it.  It disappeared completely in less than a minute.

“Of course, my only course was due east, trying to out run the storm. Not that there was much chance of steering the POS.  One of the minor things left uncompleted was the steering.   Being a quick learner, I found I could get some directional control by shifting weight from port to starboard or versa visa.

“Which was good when I got to  Sault Ste. Marie.  The POS was going much too fast to stop so the best I could do is slalom down the St Mary’s River dodging Drummond, St. Joseph, Whitefish, Sugar, and Neebish Islands into Lake Huron. I was hoping to make it to Georgian Bay, but the starboard runner hit a snag near Manitoulinand Island, slewing the POS southward.  It was just as well, since I don’t speak Canadian.

“The Storm and the POS kept going faster.  The runners got hot. Red hot.  Visibility went to near zero as the steam poured off them.  I looked back.  The runners were slicing through the ice and the ice sickles were splitting it apart.  The only thing I could do is lighten the load, by heaving my precious boxes of rocks overboard.   The POS picked up more speed but the runners cooled off some.

“At long last the storm began easing up and I managed to bring the POS to a stop near Grind Stone City at the tip of the Thumb.  I was still several about a quarter mile off shore, so I grabbed my backpack with my 7,487 page manuscript (not counting appendix and index and tables of contents and illustrations.) and walked to shore on my snow shoes.  Just as I reached the rocky beach I heard the POS break through the ice and vanish traceless.

“I found shelter in an old cave, and kept myself from freezing to death by making a fire from my 7,487 page manuscript (not counting appendix and index and tables of contents and illustrations), burning one page at a time.

“When morning came the storm had passed and I made my way to Bad Ax where I’d a thumbed a ride from the Thumb to Chelsea and moved in to Ruddy’s spare bedroom. Now I help out Ben part time, and take my vacations in the Caribbean studying reef fish migrations. ”

“That was absolutely believable!” I declared. “I haven’t heard a yarn of that caliber in I don’t know how long!”  Now I knew for certain she was Ruddy’s  identical twin.

Freddy blushed and took a swig of the radish beer. Ben sampled the carrot beer, and I tried parsnip beer.   After finishing off all the bottles we looked at the scores we had given the various All Natural Healthy Organic Taproot Beers, with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. The conclusion was that they all had consistently earthy flavors. It turned out the turnip was liked by us all, the parsnip was insolent, the carrot was a gem, ironically the beet couldn’t be beat and the rutabaga came out the best.

I wished Ben and Freddy  a Merry Ho-ho-ho and left.

Karma and Peabody were all tuckered out from all that singing and puppy dancing. I turned off the radio and drove home with peace on our little piece of earth.

Julie was happy to see us.  It was way past my bed time, so after a light snack of milk and gingersnaps we went up to bed.

Just as we were falling asleep there was a scratching and clattering and general pandemonium from the bathroom.

Julie woke with a start and said  “What the heck is that?!”

Said I: “Here comes sandy paws.  Here comes sandy paws.”

Have a merry season and don’t drink too much root beer and drive, whatever the weather. Love and smooches from Frogtown.

Dave, Julie, Flannel Dog, Tangelo, Peabody, and Instant Karma Chocolate Pudding.

Feet note:  Most of the geology is sort of accurate and the result of a heck of a lot of Googling.  Some of it isn’t.

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The Road From Hell

The Road from Hell

Isn’t Paved

There has been a lot of rain in past month or two.  Some records were set.  Like Devil’s Elbow was flooded. Like bull frogs and cow frogs are seen wearing orange May West’s.

The excess precipitation causes a distinct downward trend in the density of our dirt roads.  And the coefficient of friction.  The normally dusty surface turns to a gooey sub-substance. Like ooblick.  Except its not green – but a fluorescent brown.

As a result motorized vehicles get bogged down. Unmotorized vehicles and pedestrians also.

When asked where Frogtown is, I reply: “Go to Hell. Then keep going another 5 miles”

Julie objects to me telling people this,  “Its rude. And not particularly accurate or helpful.”

I can’t argue with Her.  The directions only work if one is coming from due east.  And since there are a number of lakes and other obstacles,  one must take a few detours and anti-portages.

If approaching Frogtown from the west if you find yourself in Hell – you’ve gone too far.

And if traveling from all other points of the compass, the Hell is only a marginal point of interest.  Trust me, Hell is boring as… well, Hell. You wouldn’t want to visit. Don’t waste your time. Even the Tee shirts are no longer fashionable. And I know unfashionable.

If  one day you do find yourself going through Hell, give us a call. We’ll try to steer you to a far far better place.

I still persist in giving my directions. Rude is what I do.

What all this is leading up to is an advisory:

You can’t get here from there. And if you did, you couldn’t get back there.

This condition is not expected to last forever. You’ll know when the mosquitoes are no longer wearing Wellies.

I was sitting at my computer working on brilliant idea: # 78,573.6 rev. 7.4:  mail order Kitty Pops – a frozen treat for dogs.


Did I mention Julie’s baseball bat? She uses it to get my attention. And administer behavior modification stimulus.  I found it in Victoria’s Secret catalog, in the S&M section.  It was circled in red by Jane, the ignorant slut.  I bought it for Her (Julie’s, not Jane’s) birthday. It’s pink and made of foam. Doesn’t hurt (much) and makes a loud noise when applied vigorously to the cranium: Bop

“Did you remember today is _____’s birthday?”  or something like that.

Maybe somebody’s anniversary, or Great Uncle Day or somebody’s significant event.   I forget what She said.

I said to Her, “Errr…. why don’t you send them an e’card?”


“Ok, ok! I meant to call them, but I had to work on this great idea. Number 23, 421.  Recycling dryer lint into socks and underwear”


“You’d have more friends if you’d pay more attention to them.”

“I don’t need any more friends. The ones I already have are terrific. And they’re use to my neglect. They’d worry if I started acting strangely”


“You are sooo self involved.”

Me: “am not.”

Her: “Are too.”

Me: “am not.”

This exchange went on for a while.

Her: “You don’t even know what ‘self involved’ means.”

“ Do too.

It means somebody is more interested in themselves than they are in me.”


“You better reconsider your priorities”   and with a final Bop She walked away.

That sounded like a good idea.  I’m working on it now: a database program that automatically sorts good ideas by priority. Idea # 83,555,


Dave, Julie, Flannel Dog, Tangelo, Peabody & Instant Karma Chocolate Pudding Wright

Frogtown – 5 miles west of Hell

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happy after St Patricks day

We did the birthday thing for Jon, Suji, & Sam yesterday. We went to Mongolian Barbque. It’s fairly new on Main Street. I forgot what it was in former lives… Greek gyros, toy store, Woolworths…
They have sort of salad bar thing with meat and vegies, spices & sauces. fill up bowl then take to BIG circular grill where they dump it on and “stir fry” with 3 foot long sticks.
Mom took lots of pictures of Del & PJ

House has roof over part of living room.  trusses going up. Also expenses. many thousands over estimate.
looks like we may have to compromise (more) on interior stuff.

Julie starts new Job today at ReCelullar in Dexter.   They by used cel phones fix them up and re sell.

I think we finished Fieger job last week for 3rd time. Got another one – the lawyer had contacted us in
December,. but we hadn’t heard from him after we did quote – along with demand for 50% up front (he is known bad credit risk)  All of sudden he need it in 2 weeks.  he may get it in 4.

Dave  & Julie

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