GNL number 119


a report of doings at meeting #119
Sunday, June 11, 2017


If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.
—–Carl Perkins

There will always be rocks in the road ahead of us. They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones; it all depends on how you use them.
—–Friedrich Nietsche


Marge opened this meeting about ROCKS, identifying herself as a longtime rock-collector. And she showed us a bunch of polished beauties that she had put through her tumbling process some time ago. Then she described that process, which takes several days of turns of several hours each! She said she’d had a much larger collection that had been given to son or grandson, and that she hopes to claim it back (or at least visit?).

Nancy is another lifelong rock-lover, who also brought some show and tell. First, small ones, many water-rounded, stripey, speckled, pretty or odd, from local waters or Atlantic shores. Then, bigger ones, fossils of trilobites, ammonites et al, 100s of millions of years old (from Nowadaga Creek, Herkimer County). And last, in a class by itself, an artifact from the Stone Age, a stone with chipped edge used as a scraper, at least 10,000years ago (or up to +million), she found in the Cobleskill Creek! See AFTERWORDS for N and Q.

Ann gave us her word research and some fine 6-wordies, then showed us a fine cobble and cited the good work done by mason John Buck on their chimney; she also referred to a good handbook on masonry (with terms like joggle, etal). And then cited a book on upstate NY geology, noting the fossil-rich outcroppings outside Sharon Springs. And then, the New Yorker magazine’s 5/30 essay on “The End of Sand”, prompting a hearty discussion. Last, she showed her vial of little stones from Newfoundland, and two large crystalline formations. See AW for her N and Q.

Gail also cited an expert she knew—Joe Titus, excellent speaker on geology—from the old local fly-ash resistance days, then River Center days in this county, for which he’s been a fine resource. Having lived in Florida for years and traveled a lot as well, Gail was not only familiar with sandy coasts new and old, but rocks, sometimes in unexpected places, like the natural stone phenomenon known as a “tor” up in arctic Alaska. And happily, today she brought her sister!

We were delighted to have Gail’s sister Winnie with us again, and hope to be seeing her more often, as she now has a second home near Gail, where she’ll live half the year. Remembering her as a lover of nature and birding, we heard today Winnie knew a lot about today’s subject too. Especially the relevance of water in geological activity, not only as scientific observer, but as a longtime resident of the Galveston Bay area of Texas. (And which of you sisters found the mammoth tooth?)

Sue again gave us word origin info, and many good quotes, and recalled her long history as gardener, especially of rock gardens, and of recently learning to re-locate captured rocks outdoors. She also recalled the “stoned” theme of her 30’s, not a good time to make big decisions, but it all worked out. And recalled more recently being wowed by the sense of long geology at work she got seeing New Mexico. (And very recently of course struck in an unhappy way by Jay’s tangle with kidney stones.) See AW for N and Q.

We agreed to direct our offering today to the National Park Conservation Association.


I do not know how the 3rd World war will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the 4th –—–ROCKS !
—–Albert Einstein

We have forgotten what rocks and plants still know—we have forgotten how to be—to be still—to be ourselves—to be where life is here and now.
—–Eckhart Tolle


Sunday, July 16, 2017 (1030), at Marge’s, on Prospect St., Cobleskill. And the topic is CELEBRATIONS.


from Ann

Re: Rock

As a noun: (Middle English: from Old French rocque, from medieval Latin rocca, of unknown ultimate origin)
1. the solid mineral material forming part of the surface of the earth and other similar planets, exposed on the surface or underlying the soil or oceans.
2. any natural material, hard or soft (e.g., clay), having a distinctive mineral composition.
3. a stone of any size, especially one small enough to be picked up and used as a projectile.

As a verb: (late Old English roccian, probably from a Germanic base meaning ‘remove, move’; related to Dutch rukken ‘jerk, tug’ and German rücken ‘move.’ The noun dates from the early 19th century)
1. move gently to and fro or from side to side.
2. cause great shock or distress to (someone or something), especially so as to weaken or destabilize them or it.

1. the hard substance, formed of mineral matter, of which rocks consist.
2. a rock or particular piece or kind of rock, as a boulder or piece of agate

Six Wordies:
Stone soups were the first rocks
Stones are just gussied up rocks
Rocks support us all, politics be-damned
My mother’s rock garden, childhood memories
“Let’s rock around the clock tonight”
Cobblestones all along the Mohawk River
Rocking chair, drying tears and comfort.

“Do not feel sad for your tears as rocks never regret the waterfalls”
― Munia Khan

Interesting article in The New Yorker (May 29, 2017) about the “End of Sand”, how we humans are consuming the second most plentiful resource on earth, water being the  most abundant.

As a 9/10/11 year old kid playing amongst the rocks at Compo Beach in Westport, CT.  Watching the waves wash the seaweed back and forth in irregularly shaped pools, little fiddler crabs scurrying along the sand as we chased them out of hiding, some stranded jellyfish undulating in a soon-to-be drained backwater (we would always try to save them, sometimes successfully), the huge (to a 9 year old), angular, rusty/black boulders thrown in every direction so serve as a breakwater for the beach, and the more rounded, time worn colorful granite base rocks that had been there forever, catching a quick grip on a rock edge as we slipped awkwardly on a patch of seaweed and splashing into the cold seawater anyway.  Those times among the rocks on the beach were formative for me in developing curiosity, agility, and love of natural things.

John Buck, a very talented and spiritual stone mason, repaired our cobblestone chimney and waxed rhapsodic about the size range of cobblestones – fit in your palm, spread your fingers, full hand stretch and marginally able to hold.  He collected cobblestones along the Mohawk River.

From Stonework manual (a 41 page booklet) –
Some definitions:
Ashlar –  Stone masonry using dressed block of given dimensions having faces perpendicular to each other and laid in courses
Joggle  –  A key between the stones by providing a groove in one stone to take a corresponding concealed projection in the edges on the other stone
Corbel –  Stone bonded well into the wall with part of it projecting out of the face of wall to form a bearing surface
Quoin  – The external angle of wall or building
Spandrel –  Space between the haunches below the decking level.  ?????

Size of stones – Normally stones used should be small enough to be lifted and placed by hand. Unless otherwise indicated, the length of stones for stone masonry shall not exceed three times the height and the breadth or base~ shall not be greater than three fourth~ thickness of wall, or not less than 15cm. The height of stone may be up to 30 cm.

From Nancy:

Geologists have a saying: Rocks remember.–—Neil Armstrong

The blues had a baby and they called it Rock and Roll.—–Muddy Waters

Rockbottom became the foundation on which I rebuilt my life.—–J. K. Rowling

The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.—–Tennesee Williams

Advice from a Rock:
Try your hardest,
Stay grounded,
Start each day with a clean slate,
Keep still,
Be well-rounded,
Live in balance,
Never take life for granite!

From Sue:

Rocks/stones/hard places-notes & quotes from Sue June 11, 2017
rock (v.1)     “to sway,” late Old English roccian “move a child gently to and fro,” related to Old Norse rykkja “to pull, tear, move,” Swedish rycka “to pull, pluck,” Middle Dutch rucken, Old High German rucchan, German rücken “to move jerkily.”

rock (n.1)     “stone, mass of mineral matter,” c. 1300, from Old English rocc (as in stanrocc “stone rock or obelisk”) and directly from Old North French roque, which is cognate with Medieval Latin rocca (8c.), from Vulgar Latin *rocca, of uncertain origin, according to Klein sometimes said to be from Celtic (compare Breton roch).

stone (n.)  Old English stan, used of common rocks, precious gems, concretions in the body, memorial stones, from Proto-Germanic *stainaz  PIE *stoi-no-, suffixed form of root *stai- “stone,” also “to thicken, stiffen” (source also of Sanskrit styayate “curdles, becomes hard;” Avestan stay- “heap;”


“We may be floating on Tao, but there is nothing wrong with steering. If Tao is like a river, it is certainly good to know where the rocks are.” ~ Ming-Dao Deng, Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony
“Rocks and minerals: the oldest storytellers.” ~ A.D. Posey

“Rocks are more co-operative than people.”  ~ Barry Webster, The Lava in My Bones

“A rolling stone gathers no moss.” Latin

“Don’t waste too many stones on one bird.” Chinese

“When you see a rock coming, it hurts less.” Greek

“ Gifts break rocks.” Spanish

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one.” Chinese

“ River stones remain, while water flows away.” Romanian

“ People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” English

“He who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones first” Chinese

“The good mill grinds stones.” Greek

“He who hunts for an elephant should not stop to throw stones at birds.” African

“It is drops of water that make a hole in the rock.” Greek

“A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“For a tree to become tall it must grow tough roots among the rocks.”  ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” ~John 8:7

“Leave no stone unturned.” ~Euripedes

Temporary Poem Of My Time, by Yehuda Amichai

Hebrew writing and Arabic writing go from east to west,
 Latin writing, from west to east.  Languages are like cats:
  You must not stroke their hair the wrong way.
  The clouds come from the sea, the hot wind from the desert,
  The trees bend in the wind,
  And stones fly from all four winds,
  Into all four winds. They throw stones,
  Throw this land, one at the other,
  But the land always falls back to the land.
  They throw the land, want to get rid of it.
  Its stones, its soil, but you can’t get rid of it.
They throw stones, throw stones at me  
In 1936, 1938, 1948, 1988,
  Semites throw at Semites and anti-Semites at anti-Semites,
  Evil men throw and just men throw,  
Sinners throw and tempters throw,
  Geologists throw and theologists throw,  
Archaelogists throw and archhooligans throw,
  Kidneys throw stones and gall bladders throw,
  Head stones and forehead stones and the heart of a stone,
  Stones shaped like a screaming mouth
  And stones fitting your eyes
Like a pair of glasses,
  The past throws stones at the future,
  And all of them fall on the present.  
Weeping stones and laughing gravel stones,
  Even God in the Bible threw stones,  
Even the Urim and Tumim were thrown  
And got stuck in the beastplate of justice,
  And Herod threw stones and what came out was a Temple.  

Oh, the poem of stone sadness  
Oh, the poem thrown on the stones
  Oh, the poem of thrown stones.
  Is there in this land  
A stone that was never thrown
  And never built and never overturned  
And never uncovered and never discovered  
And never screamed from a wall and never discarded by the builders  
And never closed on top of a grave and never lay under lovers
  And never turned into a cornerstone?

  Please do not throw any more stones,
  You are moving the land,
  The holy, whole, open land,  
You are moving it to the sea
  And the sea doesn’t want it
  The sea says, not in me.  

Please throw little stones,
  Throw snail fossils, throw gravel,  
Justice or injustice from the quarries of Migdal Tsedek,  
Throw soft stones, throw sweet clods,
  Throw limestone, throw clay,
  Throw sand of the seashore,
  Throw dust of the desert, throw rust,  
Throw soil, throw wind,
  Throw air, throw nothing
  Until your hands are weary
  And the war is weary  
And even peace will be weary and will be.
     Translated from the Hebrew by Barbara and Benjamin Harshav:


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