Scenes from Snowpocalypse 2012 Vol. 2: Wherein I Am Thwarted, Plus Rocks


You know, I don’t normally like to go anywhere. I like being at home. Snuggling with the cat, reading and writing, maybe watching a movie or some teevee, that’s just my speed. But having been snowed in for days, my usual amusements no longer amuse. It’s the knowledge that I can’t get out. It makes me think of things I’d do if I could get out, and since I can’t do them, I actually want to do them.

I’m convinced this is a universal conspiracy to prevent me from ever obtaining another Agatha Christie novel on something more comfortable than my laptop, which is a desktop replacement and not suitable for curling up in bed with. It’s no use suggesting that things can be downloaded to my smartphone, because I haven’t got one. And I’ve read blogs on smartphones, and shudder at the idea of attempting to read a novel on one. And I’d read on a tablet, but I still haven’t got one of those, either. You see? Evidence of a conspiracy.

Staples was open just long enough for me to drop in and play with the paltry few tablets they had on display. I have no idea how any of their employees made it in. On top of the snow, we had an ice storm. Then more snow. And I really thought, after making my various phone calls to my mother’s mental health care professionals, and leaving messages for others, that I’d not get a chance to play with tablets. But Staples was open for part of the day, so I bundled up and hoofed it down. I made friends with their display copy of the Kindle Fire. It does what I need a tablet to do, and it’s cheap. I told them I’d take one. They said they hadn’t got any in stock.

You see? Evidence of a conspiracy.

I’ve ordered one from Amazon, to be delivered next day air, because I’m getting desperate. I guarantee you that despite the fact that the delivery trucks have chains on their tires and the weather’s supposed to stop being absolutely evil that something will happen. Seatac will close due to flooding as the incoming rainstorm melts all this snow and ice, or the Kindle Fire will self-destruct inside the box, or a tree will fall on our powerlines just as I’m getting ready to charge the damned thing, or the delivery company will call everything off due to drivers having nervous breakdowns en masse after dealing with trees falling all over the roadways, on top of the ice, snow, and insane drivers. I cannot be optimistic at this point, because I still want an Agatha Christie novel on a device that fits comfortably in my hand, and the universe seems determined to ensure I shall not have it.

The weather also froze my rocks to their shelves, nixing my plans to take the hand lens to them today whilst waiting for various and sundry social services people to return my calls. That was the last straw. I took a nap, and then watched Have You Heard About the Morgans? If you haven’t seen it, take my advice and don’t bother, unless you need practice rolling your eyes. It’s one of the most poorly-written movies I’ve ever watched. The writers seem to have sat around a table with pages of the script and asked each other, “What can we do to make this scene more trite and full of cliches? What can we insert here to ensure it’s overdone?” And then they threw in everything they could think of. I don’t deny it has it’s moments, but only those. Afterward, since I was annoyed and still suffering cabin fever, I watched Jose Chung’s From Outer Space.” As far as I’m concerned, Darin Morgan can do no wrong. Any X-Files episode written by him is well worth your time. This is why I love my Amazon Prime membership: I can watch Darin Morgan episodes of The X-Files whenever I wish, for free, and feel better about life.

This doesn’t help me with identifying rocks, but they’re still pretty, and perhaps the geologists in the audience will weigh in. All of the following rocks were picked up around Richmond Beach, on the Sound, and had a considerable way to travel in most cases.

This is a hefty chunk of sandstone I found near the railroad tracks. I like its shape and color. I have no idea where it came from – there were chunks of all kinds of non-local stone in that embankment.

I have no idea what the bit of yum in front is. Gneiss? Pegmatite? It’s been rounded off by some time in the water, but hasn’t been completely smoothed by the waves.

Here’s a nice, close focus of the standing stone in the background of the previous photo. I’d be pleased with some guesses as to what it is, because I haven’t the foggiest. A metamorphic something-or-other, I’d imagine, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go.

This one looks completely Zen, doesn’t it? This is the kind of rock you put in Zen gardens, and then watch it reveal different aspects as the seasons change. I like it’s shape. It seems to be a bit of basalt. There are times when basalt can be downright artistic, and this is one.

I love the colors in this one, very sunset. It’s the only sun-like thing we’ve gotten for days. That makes me appreciate it more.

A chunk of red sandstone, origins unclear. There was a lot of it out there by the railway, apparently hauled in from elsewhere, and some of it displaying lovely ripple marks and mudcracks. Random pieces had weathered off, and the Sound’s got at this one, smoothing it a bit.

Again, no idea what this is. I’ll have to have a good look with the hand lens when it’s no longer attached to the shelf by freezing rain. It looks a bit like some of the rocks I’ve seen round Rainier, but that’s not to say it’s actually a relic of one of our Cascade volcanoes.

This is gneiss. I like gneiss. I always know where I am with gneiss. It’s easy to identify, even without a hand lens and after the waves have worked it. And if you enlarge it, the few snow crystals on it are just enchanting.

This could very well be quartzite, I expect. It has that somewhat sugary texture. You should see it when the light hits it. It gets all glowy and slightly translucent and very, very pretty.

And, finally, a quartet of colors. All right, so one of them’s white, and hard to see against the snow, but the others make up for it and it alliterates. I wish I knew what these were. I wish I knew what all of them were. I have a shelf full of stories, only they’re in a language I’m still learning. It’s like Dame Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, quoting things in French or German or Latin and expecting you to know what they say.

Whenever I look at these, marvel at their beauty and their individual quirks, I’m struck again by the fact that there are people in the world who can read their stories, because other people came along and figured out their language, and then taught folks the lingo. It amazes me that we’ve been able to get cold, silent stones to tell us stories.

I’m glad I’m getting a Kindle Fire, weather permitting its delivery. I can now load scientific papers onto it, and read them comfortably, and email their authors to say, “Thank you for teaching me some of that language.” I can download books that will help me become more fluent. And all of these little stones I hauled off a Seattle beach will be able to share their stories, one by one.

For now, I can only marvel at their beauty, and hope some of my readers can do a bit of translation.

Comments

  1. says

    Here’s something your rocks may be thinking: “It probably won’t make any difference in your paltry lifespan, but I’d weather more slowly if you kept me dry. The cold doesn’t bother me much (unless I get moisture in my joints, of course). Just sayin’.”

    Good to see you blogging again, Dana.

  2. says

    You started out with snow and rocks and ended up in awesomeness Dana! Something you do a lot. So good to see you online :-)

    I talked to my mother in Seattle last night and she has electricity. So here’s the irrational part: I called to check on her, and what exactly would I have done if she said “I’m sitting in the dark and it’s 30 degrees in my apartment”? Sure, she’s hardy for 83 but still…

  3. Trebuchet says

    I actually have ALL of Agatha’s mysteries on devices that fit comfortably in my hand. I really prefer to read that way, good ol’ ink on paper.

    Nice rocks!

  4. says

    Ah, I see. Laptops aren’t really good for curling up with, no. Plus they overheat on soft surfaces. :( Good luck finding getting your tablet!

  5. lockwooddewitt says

    Very good to see you back. I’d been wondering how you were faring in the snow. We had snow Sun. & Mon. and slush on Tues. It hadn’t really dawned on me that there was quite a bit of accumulation at not too much higher elevations, so when a torrential rain hit Wed, it all melted and proceeded to flood the valley. Personally, I haven’t been impacted at all, but I wouldn’t have to go far to see some real messes.

    That 3rd rock, the kind of rounded one, looks like what I’d call an “altered volcanic,” meaning that hydrothermal activity has changed the original mineralogy, and often, deposited micro-crystalline quartz into it. It also looks somewhat brecciated, which is common.

  6. rod field says

    Richmond beach been there done that, oh wait most by train occasionally by car. I know the rocks of which you speak, and may pass that info off to younglings. I have much knowledge of plants but I try to include rocks as well. This is the kind of info I look for.

  7. A Bear says

    Dana; Have you checked out mindat.org? Plenty of great mineral photography and a forum where gemologists will help with specimen ID of minerals (they’re most interested in shiny rocks over there).
    My extremely amateur guesses;
    #3 looks like bornite ore, as does top left of the last pic
    #4 looks like basalt, if a magnet sticks to it, magnetite
    #8 looks like quartzite aka chert, if drops of vinegar cause it to bubble, then calcite
    Normally a freshly broken surface helps make ID easier,as does a scratch test and testing with magnets and acid.
    Are you interested in readers submissions ie mineral photos?

  8. Catherine says

    Yay, you’re back! :)

    In photo four the two front rocks and the front rock in photo 2 look like quartz. If so then it’s really fine grained and probably crystallised in fractures/fissures/veins. As surrounding rock was compacted, metamorphism would have caused the pore spaces between grains and minerals like kaolinite to dewater. This water would have leached silica from surrounding rocks as it made its way to the surface. Then as temperature & pressure conditions changed the SiO2 would have precipitated out to form your rocks. That’s if they are vein quartz :)

    Photo 7 looks like it might be fine-grained sandstone? And your quartzite looks like quartzite to me too.

    Snow! It seems like such a foreign concept. It’s been 30C (86F) here for the last couple of days and for the first part of last week I was in Mount Isa, QLD, where it was ~37C! Snow would have been nice then.