July 3, 2002

Hi Gang:

Things have been a little busy here. Frankly, I lost track of time. Lets retreat to Friday and begin there. Friday was an uneventful day at the mine, for the most part. I got a call for a powder run and delivered said. After that, is when it got interesting. Apparently there was a little bit of mucking to go. So Dave and Andrew loaded it all up and took it out. Byron was digging, as usual. Dave comes in and smiles and says "Byron, have you got a camera?" As Byron said later it was quite strange. When Andrew and Dave went to dump the ore cart, it proceeded to dump itself...right off the platform, and half way down the hill. Okay...so this happens. The funny part is that the bucket landed upside down, and the wheels (which are detachable) landed right on top of the ore cart. It looked as thought the ore cart was ready to go. Just upside down. They winched the parts up and finished cleaning up. Off with the blast. Oh wait, did I tell you that the new powder order had millisecond detonators? Not our usual half second. Since coming here, the powder company has changed the colors a few times. I didn't think anything of the new colors. Dave looked at the bottom of the dets, expecting a 'm' for millisecond. No 'm', so we thought they had changed again. When they let the load go, it all went at once. Hmmmm. Byron went to look and found a rock in the mucker bucket, a bit farther than it should have been. Right, home, we'll look tomorrow. Had dinner with Bob and Mary and another couple, Brian and Dorothy. Brian and Bob have been friends for years. They are retired geologist type people. We had a lively dinner and a few beers and went home. Went to Allenheads for dinner at the antique pub. Byron and Brian agreed to meet the following day for a foray to some of the area mines and the Rogerley.

Saturday, bright and early Dave shows up to talk. While he was here, Brian shows up. Brian, Dave, Byron and I had an in-depth discussion about the mines in the area, and their history. Was really great to hear two men who had personally been involved in much of the history, talking. A few hours later, Dave went home, and Brian and Byron went exploring. Brian had gotten permission to look at a few mines in the area. Then they went to the Rogerley. Meanwhile, I went and got my weekend help - Shanade. Young eyes and nimble fingers. She helped me wrap and then we washed and sorted a great many of the little crystals. Byron returned. Two of the timbers were out at the mine. One broke and the other, just knocked out. Better than we thought. Brian was to come back later and go over a map of the mines with Byron. I finished up with Shanade and took her home. This is her first job. She has good eyes for the little crystals. It works well with two of us going through them. Brian and Dorothy came by later. Dorothy's late husband was Cliffe. He died last year. Really nice man. She brought each of us a reminder of him. She also brought me five craft and sewing books. They are fantastic. Thank goodness for the container going home. By the way, I now know how to make a hammock! Not allowed too, but could do it. I've been having fun with the books. Mom, you will love them. Brian and Dorothy went home. Bob and Mary came home. We talked about the ducks and what to do with them. Muriel and Gordon take care of the house and animals for Bob and Mary when they are gone. Except for the baby ducks. They need a little more attention. Bob and Mary are going to teach a course for two weeks. Bill is going to miss them.

Sunday, Byron and I had a leisurely morning. Just the way things worked. We decided to go to Alston and ride the steam train. Then we thought we would look around. It was beginning to look a bit wet. By the time we got to Alston, it was raining fairly steady. The train was having a teddy bears picnic. All the kids had their bears and picnics. There were four people dressed as bears as well. One rode in each car. Each child was given a small bear as a gift. Was really cute. Byron and I went anyway. By the time the train got to the turning around place, it was raining buckets. The ride is great. Byron and I were sizing up the extra equipment and rail, but alas, none of it would fit in our pockets. We got out on the far end to watch the steam engine being transferred. Within fifteen minutes I was soaked, Byron was not much better. All of the children had their lunch on the train. I met a little girl named Abby and her older brother Gabriel. They wanted to share their bears. Mr. Polar Bear and Mr. Bear shared my seat while they ate. I guess I look trustworthy for bear sitting. Byron and I noticed something going on in the field below the train. Soon everyone was looking out in the field. A sheep had gotten stuck on its back. This is called Riggweltering. They get gassy and if their wool gets wet they have problems. If they lay down because of the gas and the wool, which gets heavy when wet, pulls them over. Here was this poor sheep with all four legs straight up in the air, just quietly laying there on its back. Was the strangest thing. We had heard of it, but never seen it. So that was strange event number two. Byron and I were just waiting for number three. Being that it is a given that its going to happen. We explored Alston and stopped for a pint. We found a really great book store. Byron found some real treasures there, but didn't buy any. We will go back again. He said if he were still running the book store, he would be tempted. Still damp and steamy, we went back to Allenhead and had a pint. Went home and packed in for the evening.

Monday, I sent Byron off with Dave and Andrew. They were going to start getting ready for the next round of blasting. Oh yeah...fix the broken timbers. Usual day. I started with Rob, and then went grocery shopping. Here is strange event number three. When I come from Stanhope to Consett to shop, there is a stop sign, the only stop sign, at the church and bus stop. Stop signs are few and far between. The road is quite skinny. There were cars on both sides of the street. So driving down the middle of the road, I get to the bus stop and church, just in time for a hearse and three limos to drive up and park. People were lined up and down the street waiting for the body. I just stopped and waited. They were trying to maneuver the casket out of the hearse, but hadn't left enough room behind the hearse and the limos. Meanwhile, the bus pulls up behind me. The only other traffic. After a few minutes of this, the bus driver leans out of the bus and tells the undertakers to move the body already. That he was going to be late, but the body wasn't. No one got up set, they all looked at the bus and just kept on maneuvering. I waited and bus waited. No more yelling. I had never seen anyone yell at a dead body. A few minutes later we went on our way. It was all really surreal. I went shopping and then started thinking. Then I started chuckling. If it had been at home everyone would have been up set, at least. I think the bus driver and the people must have known each other.

Tuesday, Waited for a phone call to go get powder. Instead got a call that the compressor was in trouble. Dave had drilled all of the holes. He was blowing them out, when the air stopped. He went to see if there was a hole in the line and realized that the compressor wasn't running. When he opened it, there was compressor oil everywhere. Either the diaphragm or the intake had gone. This compressor is literally two weeks old. I called Robinson Compressed Air. This voice answered that sounded familiar. I asked who it was, Barry said "'hello' and this must be Jonina". He had been in the hospital when we got here. Is back now and dealing with us again. So no powder run and time to meet another repair person. Dave had to come in early anyway, so at four they quit. When Byron came home, he didn't have any rock. Rob had managed to clean what we had. So Byron and I decided to go back to the mine and gather specimens. He was working in the New Cross Cut. Looks interesting, but crystals are not clear. Some really nice Galena specimens though. So we wrapped and dug, but this big hanger in the roof was making us both nervous. We decided not to temp fate. Finished what we had and went to the Gray Bull for some Black Sheep Ale. I hope that boulder came down last night, while we were gone. Otherwise, Byron is going to have to drop it. It is really nasty looking.

Wednesday, Wrapping, cleaning and writing. I had forgotten how time consuming the garage is when I was doing it alone. Having Sarah and Rob for two weeks, really spoiled me. Now Sarah is on vacation and its Rob and I. Still lots of work. Easy to lose track of time. So, unless I make an effort to get this done during the day, it slips by. Sorry. Hope everyone is happy and healthy. If you know anyone who wants to be added to the list, just send me their information.


Jonina and Byron

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