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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