June 2, 2000
Greetings from the Great Wet North. Another foggy day on the moors. How strange to not hear the subtle white noise of civilization in the background. After a few days of the quiet, that constant contraction of the shoulder muscles that normally accompanies one while rushing about in our "normal" lives tends to subside. It would nice if I could somehow export some of this peacefulness back to CA, but I guess everyone will have to be satisfied with fluorite - which continues to come.
Yesterday was errand day for Jonina and her current chauffeur. After much blundering around, we finally made our way back to Elvet Chemicals, which is tucked away at the end of a series of long windy roads just outside of Durham. A bit of sad news there, as the owner's wife and partner in the business had just recently dies quite suddenly of an aneurysm. The poor fellow (I recall his name as Fred, but my memory for names at first meeting is not always accurate) was still quite disconsolate, and we spent a while chatting with him as he recounted his various vacations in the US to us. A very nice fellow, and quite a shame that something like this should happen to him. We finally got our order placed, and should be ready for pick-up next Tuesday. Jonina said that last year they would actually deliver all the way out to St. John's Chapel - a level of service that seems unheard of in the US. With his wife now gone, business has been cut back a bit, so we have to go get it ourselves this year. At least the repetition will insure that we know the way in the future.
Picked up a couple more lantern batteries from Lindsay, which needed filling with distilled water, so we stumbled off in search of a DIY next. We also had to purchase a new phone for the cottage. The pre-existing one was one of these "Princess" types with the dial in the handset. The phone resides in a window alcove along the hall to the bedrooms - not the most convenient place. Anyway, it wasn't nailed down, and while attempting to call someone, Jim made a rapid about-face to check our contacts list which is tacked onto a cork board on the opposite wall. The phone, following the tried and true laws of physics faithfully pursued him, and ended up in several pieces on the floor. The replacement has a built-in answering machine, which sounded like a good idea until we got home and realized that the answering unit requires external power, which is nowhere in proximity of the alcove. Oh well, life in the food chain...
Returned to the mine by mid-afternoon, just in time for the daily downpour to begin. Fortunately, we are well supplied with rain gear, which works equally well inside the mine or out. The crane from Teesdale had arrived first thing in the morning, and Byron and Jim had the hydraulic power unit in place and running. They are using an in-line flow restrictor to keep a constant flow to the saw, which, unfortunately had no indicators to tell the unsuspecting novice user which direction the flow was suppose to go. Well, the laws of chance dictate that the odds of hooking something like this up the wrong way on the first try are at least 90%, and far be it for us to become law breakers over something like this. Minor frustration ensued when the saw wouldn't work, but they got it figured out. Byron's mine light crapped out during the day, so Jim got to collect more of the "Hole" while Byron worked outside. Yet more purples have been recovered with no end in sight. The water and compressed air are all plumbed to the mine, the water pump works, so the back of the tunnel has been drained, and today Byron plans on removing the handiwork of his masonry skills, so carefully applied last fall. We will also test out the rock drills to make sure everything is in good order there, and plot tunneling strategy.
Last night was a quiet dinner at the cottage as everyone seemed a bit tired. Jim has already gotten in the habit of looking at me and saying "what's for dinner?" Thoughts of the old "Moose Turd Pie" story come to mind as I contemplate my culinary power over these poor miners. I'll be gone soon enough, and someone else will have to assume the responsibility. In the mean time, they get to experience all manner of "haute cuisine". The first go at it a couple of days ago was a relatively simple tomato/mince/herb sauce on penne. I think the spices in the cabinet here date from the paleozoic, as, despite repeated additions of oregano and black pepper, nothing seemed to happen to the taste of the sauce. I finally added a bit of cayenne, which seems to be of a more recent vintage, and Byron (much to his dismay) ended up with "hot cuisine". Last night I tried some gourmet-type sausages I found at the Safeway - full of stuff like apples and leeks, and a big load of basmati rice with onions and mushrooms. While broiling the sausages I realized that, while these sorts of things in the states are made with low fat critters like chicken and turkey these days, the British still go for the 30WT pork. For a couple of minutes the broiler looked like a blast furnace, and everyone was running around opening windows and muttering about how we were lucky the place doesn't have a smoke alarm. Everyone cleaned their plates, however. Unless someone else volunteers for the task, I think we are going up to visit Steve in Rookhope for dinner tonight. Somehow, I'm not really expecting anyone to raise a hand.
Well, time to pour a cup of coffee and try to rouse Jonina. Lisa will be glad to know that she is scheduled to stay here today and, along with set up the prep area, do the accounting.
Jesse, Jim, Byron, and the pre-caffinated Jonina