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Archive for April, 2006

Well as I am sure you can all imagine, “yours truly”, “the human mole” has scarcely had any decent time to himself as of late. It is for this reason that my posts of yesterday might seem a little stilted. Maggie was hot on the mole’s tail first thing in the morning. I think I crawled from the bed around ten. Staggering down the stairs I flopped into my “Captain Kirk Chair”. It sits in front of my computer in the “blogging room” (formerly the study). You need to pass through here to reach the rest of the house.

I am usually a little stunned and bewildered when I first wake up. Naturally she took advantage of my vulnerable state. There I was sitting there all rumpled and glassy eyed when she casually asked me to help her find another memory card. Being a good husband I obligingly did this; even installed it in the camera for her. It was a bad thing as the lens was immediatly turned on me. I had initially thought that she was just an admiring wife but, the truth became shockingly apparent when I noticed her snapping shots of my clothes from the day before (collecting evidence). I had left them beside the cupboard intending to take them to the laundry later. I knew then that I was in for a “rough ride”.

The real joy of the situation is that she has not figured out how to use her flicker account. She usually submits remarkably well written entries (see http://www.greencanuck.net/snuffy) so dont be persuaded by her poisoned pen, remember there are two sides to every story.

Burned once I was wise to her request later in the day to help her get the “Flicker account” working.(It allows you to upload pictures to your blog). Information is power and I am on top right now so I intend to live it up.

At the end of the month I will be able to upload new pictures to my flicker account. It only allows you 100 per month and I have already archived the maximum. I hope to be mowing the lawn as soon as its sunny so You will likely see a picture of the good work that I do in the garden come the first of May. I will also include a picture of the peach blossoms, they are beautiful. Gardening is a great pleasure of mine. Look forward to some counter surveillance. She is no saint either.

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IMG_1899, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Another interesting piece of old mining machinery.

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IMG_2578, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

This is one of the icy tunnels I probed this past winter. I had come here to map the surface features but I couldnt resist the temptation of a quick crawl underground. Up ahead I hit a barricade of frozen icicles and could go no further.

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snakepit2 035, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Behind me is a pile of debris that has been hauled up to the surface with a bucket, a rope and human back power. A cave dig can be utterly exhausting if approached in the proper spirit. Despite the blistered hands and aching back the possibility of exposing virgin tunnel is totally addictive.

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IMG_0354
Originally uploaded by Mic2006.

For those who dont know about karst environments it is the surface clues that tip cavers off as to what lies beneath.

The area in which I live (Southern Ontario) is comprised of a sedimentary plain that is overlain by a blanket of glacial till. Mid way along the northern shore of Lake Ontario a lobe of metamorphic and igneous rock juts down toward the town of Kingston. This formation is known to geographers as the “Canadian Shield”. It stands as the only exception to the otherwise limestone and dolostone terrain in the southern reaches of the province.

Caves most generally form in limestone, dolostone or marble environments because of the chemical reactions that take place and the abrasive properties of running water with a “scouring bed load”.

This blanket of earth in the south thins as it approaches the Canadian shield. It is all along that axis between the two rock types that local cavers have made their most impressive finds. It would also appear that some caves have formed more rapidly than would otherwise be expected. Marcus Buck, a respected local cave authority explains this in saying that the water running off the shield onto the sedimentary rock is quite acidic and this has served to increase its erosive properties.

Though the province’s caves appear to be concentrated in a line along the join between the Shield and the sedimentary rock I suspect that their apparent concentration is a result of both their greater visibility where the soil thins and the suitability of the environment. The local water is relatively acidic and the surface rock strata (The Bobcaygeon Formation) seems exceptionally well suited to tunnel development.

Sinkholes are increasingly probed by the caving community. They generally signal a point at which surface water sinks into an underground drainage system. This is where adventurers know that explorable tunnels might be found. Collapsed cavities beneath the surface might also create surface depressions. As these dips are usually hard to cultivate farmers tend to leave them alone. Sinks will appear as clumps of bush in the middle of a plowed field or as places where a valley meanders up into a dead end. A farmer near Rockwood told me how they had lost livestock down a sink and how he as a child had pitched rocks down the shaft. It appeared to “just keep swallowing the field”.

A few years ago a dig near Shelburne revealled a massive shaft. As the cavers progressed downward they found numerous bones. One big black rib was identified as belonging to an ice age caribou.

The Shelburne sinkhole fill had seemed to be a mixture of surface clay and large glacially deposited boulders. There is the theory that as soon of the land was cleared the ensuing erosion had plugged an otherwise quite accessible tunnel system. At the bottom of the sink diggers worked thigh deep in a freezing pool. Powered by a generator on the surface the cavers had operated huge mud sucking nozzles that drew the sludge up fire hoses to a spill site in a nearby field. The largest boulders were hauled away by a van powered winch.

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IMG_2532, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Found these wierd little stumps growing up at the entrance to a cave this winter. It was quite difficult climbing in to the tunnel without damaging the subject but I managed.

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AIRING OF GREVIENCES

Greetings Bloggers! Though it departs from my regular routine of natural wonders and unusual travels I feel the need to “Hang the laundry out” so to speak, an airing of greviences, Mick versus the establishment. I have over the last little while struggled to maintain my self esteem in the wake of a rising tide of unfair criticism as to my unsuitability as a human being. Hard to believe isnt it? It has gone so far as to suggest that I am a serious “pig”, somewhat self absorbed and as was so unfairly implied last week, “LAZY”.

I deny most of that stuff. “THE MAN” (woman in this case) is a power hungry tyrant who delights in tormenting “yours truly”. Case in point, we live in Canada, it is April. At night the sun goes down and it gets cold. I had just finished my last post and was sitting down to dinner when the tootsies felt a little chill. Well I approached the thermostat, (The device with which we control the heater for those of you who live in California) and was about to adjust the temperature to something a little less suited to a penguin when what do I hear; NO, NO, NO! STAY AWAY FROM THAT. Thats what a cop tells a bank robber who is going for his gun. Thats not how you treat a husband. Where is the empathy? I go back to the sofa and eat my dinner in the cold. I can already feel the sniffles coming on. Maggie has a pair of fur lined slippers. Is that right?

Next issue, the only partially true accusation of my being “a pig”. This suggestion is not wholly justified. By the common understanding of “pig” it is a gross misrepresentation. In truth the pig is a highly intelligent, loveable animal who has a great sensitivity and only lives in squalid circumstance because people think no better of him. The pig is by nature a clean and orderly animal. Admittedly like cavers most pigs do indeed wallow in mud.

It is said that I;
1) leave a scum of toothpaste in the sink (An occasional smear of residue maybe)
2) Dont put my tooth brush away (wrong)
3) Dont rinse my razor (The blogger might notice by my profile that I have a beard so what kind of fabrication is that?)
4) Leave my work socks everywhere (Not true, I throw them down the stairs to the basement where I usually end up washing them once a week)
5) Leave stuff from making the lunchtime salad on the kitchen counter (Maybe so but the accuser is also the recipient of a free salad lunch, hand-delivered at their place of employment.)
6) Put wet towels on top of my wife’s pjymas (Guilty as charged! There has to be some little way of fighting back against the establishment.)

Self absorbed? Not the case, I call it sacrifice. Nothing comes easy. Books dont grow on trees. I devoted a good chunk of time to the writing of my last book “Rockwatching” adventures above and Below Ontario” and am busily working on my next book “Rockhounding”. You will notice by the time that I usually post that I generally work at night while everyone is in bed. Thats not self absorbed, thats dedication.

Where does this “lazy” accusation come from? I mow the lawn when needed. I do the laundry when needed. I drive the boss (Maggie) to work every day. I usually walk the dog (Shaka) twice a day. Sometimes I do the dishes. I drive people all over (Good example was today, chaufered Chelsea to Toronto for a sewing test – she is applying for a fashion design program at a local collegue.) I act as the project manager and main worker on most large projects (Good example was my painting of the front porch 2 weeks ago)

So whats the problem here? I am sure any reasonable blogger would agree that I am the victim of unjust harassment and bullying. You be the judge, the establishment conducts a campaign of abusive authority. You might gather some further insight as to her critical nature by her blog, http://www.greencanuck.net/snuffy

I would like to file a motion to dismiss the charges and file a counter suit for abuse of authority. Speak up in defense of me people, I need to keep my mind free for blogging.

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P0000263
Originally uploaded by Mic2006.

The river is wide and fast here and the guides spent some time navigating the craft through the maze of hidden sandbars. Palms and tall grasses hung well out from the river banks, the locals looked really poor.

Not far from where the Sarapique crosses over into Nicaragua our boat was moored at this quaint little dock. Down a short walkway we found ourselves in a lazy open air dinning room and kitchen. Tie-dyed backpackers dozed in gently swaying hammocks. Hemp, sandles and beads seemed popular. We wolfed down a meal of traditional Costa Rican fare, rice and beans, as well as fresh grown vegetables and chickens whose relatives I could hear shrieking from some hidden coop not far away.

I think the place had once been a farm though the soil was pretty sandy, more populated by lizards than crops. Maggie chased around after one such creature trying to photograph him. A lady from Texas told her that she had similar reptiles near where she lived; she called them “O-my-god lizards”. They move in intermittant spurts, dashing along on their back legs.

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Evil Dwarf


IMG_1954
Originally uploaded by Mic2006.

The Saxons believed that there was an evil little dwarf that skulked around in the dark recesses of their silver mines. They called him a Kobalt. Any form of mischief was blamed on the dwarf. When the silver yield began to decline the miners said that it was the Kobalt that had stolen their wealth. They assumed that the Kobalt had seeded their mine with this worthless mystery metal.

It was not until 1730 that this “mystery metal” was identified. It was a unique element all of it’s own. Today we use it as a catalyst in the petrochemical industry, a “super alloy” in gas turbines and a radioactive trace in cancer treatment.

The pink rock in the picture is what is commonly known as “cobalt bloom”, it is a hydrated cobalt arsenic that sometimes appears as an ornate pink rosette. These neon shards lie all over the countryside. They are a good indicator of the presence of silver in the rock. As mentioned both cobalt and silver are usually mixed together and so by association, “pink is silver”.

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IMG_1983
Originally uploaded by Mic2006.

This is the breached entrance to an abandoned silver mine near Cobalt. I had suspected some sort of entrace by the debris lying all around the base of the clifface but it was not until I climbed the precipice that I found this gaping portal in a hidden cleft. There is a shaft behind this but from what I could tell it had been blasted shut. It looked like there was also a lower entry but exploration would have been suicide. The roof was in danger of imminent collapse.

If ever you want to see an amazing place visit the town of Cobalt. It is about an hour’s drive north of Temagami. The town has remnants of all sorts of mining gear strewn about and there is this amazing atmosphere. It is as though you travel back in time when you visit there. I personally found many pieces of raw silver lying on the mine dumps. There is also cobalt and many other rare and exciting mineral specimens in the area.

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