Posts Tagged ‘rocks’

I walked the labyrinth this morning.

I’ve been doing that a lot lately; taking new rocks in, mostly.   Several years ago I joined the Labyrinth Society’s 365 Club.   The goal was to walk a labyrinth every day for a year.   I started out strong, but after about a month and a half I stopped doing it.   It seemed that what should have been a meaningful spiritual exercise was becoming rote and routine, and I didn’t really like that result.   So I stopped trying to make the 365 day goal.

Maybe I will try again this year.   I don’t know.

I do know that I have been very inspired by Twylla Alexander’s labyrinth journey.   She made a commitment to walk one labyrinth created by a woman in each of the 50 states.   She recently completed this journey, or at least the first part of it.  The second part is to write a book about it.   Her break in the journey turns out to be a pause to create her own labyrinth.  Many of the women whose labyrinths she walked are going to send her a rock for her labyrinth.

My labyrinth was one of the ones she chose, and her visit was special.   One of the results was to rekindle my relationship with my own labyrinth.   I also decided to refurbish the inner circle.    Today I was taking a couple of new denizens in, and while I was at it I took the rock I had chosen to send her along.   While I was making this pilgrimage, a sort of prose poem came to me.


About Life’s Journey

Sometimes you walk alone; sometimes you have company.   Both ways are good.

Often there is a path for you to follow; but sometimes you have to create your own.   These both are valuable experiences.

Love is all around you; never forget that it is infinite.

When you are looking for answers, leave no stone unturned.


You never know what is hidden on the other side of an interesting but not THAT remarkable rock.


It is good to look at things from more than one angle.



Always try to finish what you start; but be willing to be interrupted for beauty, friends, and rest.   Procrastination is not always a bad thing.


Now, I have procrastinated long enough.   I must go dig my potatoes, and work on establishing order in the rain garden.


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It has been a long slog, but the remodel of the inner circle of the labyrinth is finally complete.

The whole thing started only a week ago even though it feels like it was a month of Sundays.   As you may recall, the weed/grass situation vis-a-vis the special rocks in the inner circle was becoming impossible.   After due consideration, we decided that “something” needed to be done.   Neglecting many other projects, not the least of which is getting the Dragon’s Teeth re-situated and the rain garden weeded, I proceeded to dive headlong into the revamping of the inner circle.

Let no one think that this remodelling project was the only thing accomplished in the interim.   No massages were cancelled, and I kept the laundry done, the dog walked, the cats fed, and the garden watered and tended while all the following was going on.   And in addition, Jim went off to work for his final few days at the Commissary.

So, to recap, I began be removing the rocks from the inner circle.


As soon as the land was cleared, I began digging a shallow ditch around the circle where all those rocks used to be.


This process didn’t take nearly as long as I was afraid it would.   I spent a couple of afternoons on this phase.   It was quite ironic that I was already generating dirt that needed a place to live within literally hours of having moved the pile of dirt that was formed from just such projects in the past onto the root cellar.   However, that particular project resulted in some low places that needed fill, and so my labyrinth dirt went towards accomplishing that.

After the ditch was dug and leveled, I put a nice layer of road base into it.  Last Saturday morning, the day after his “last day of work”, Jim went off to Lowe’s and acquired rebar and quickcrete.   The rebar was cut to appropriate sized pieces, wired together, and placed in the ditch.


It is propped up on nice little flat rocks so that the concrete will flow in and around under the rebar, thus making the resulting pour strong and stable.

Note the little cement mixer.   There is an amusing little story about that:   Lo these many years ago on a fine spring morning, my dear spouse looked at me and said, “I’m going to run some errands.”

This was no big surprise, errands are run on a regular basis around The Havens, but on this occasion he was gone a very long time.   Eventually, he returned home in a state of elevated mood and informed me he needed to take the truck off to pick up something he had purchased.  It seems that as he was driving past the Civic Center he saw a sign for a “Tool Sale” and decided to look in on this seductive event.

What had caught his roving eye was a small cement mixer, for which he promptly forked over a little more than $100.   I need not tell you that I had no concept of why it might be a good idea to have a cement mixer.   In all my childhood experience, whenever cement needed to be mixed, it was done with a shovel in a wheelbarrow, and whatever was good enough for my Daddy was good enough for me.

“No really,”  my spouse informed me with great pleasure and excitement.   “It’ll come in handy, you’ll see!”

It wasn’t that much money, didn’t make it impossible to pay our bills that month and he was so happy about it.   I didn’t give him a hard time.

I have to say that that cement mixer has never seen a year since when it was not used for some project or other.   He sure as heck was right about it coming in handy, and last Saturday was no exception!

We started off the project with 15 bags of quick-crete.   This is basically concrete mix in an 80 pound bag.  We knew we would need more than that, but that was as much weight as Jim cared to put on our little pickup, and we figured after we got that poured we would have a pretty good idea of how much more mix we would need.  Laboriously, Jim moved each bag to the wheelbarrow and moved it to the mixer, then lifted it up and poured it in.   Adding water, the little mixer turned and turned and the concrete mixed up nicely.

Then Jim tilted the mixture and poured it into the trench, while I pushed it around with the hoe so it didn’t over flow.   While he went through that process again, I spent quality time with the trowel smoothing out the pour and agitating it to bring the fines to the top so we would have a nice surface.

Eventually, we got to the part of the circle where the bench and the pile of rocks was.   At that point, it was not possible to tilt the concrete directly into the trench.  We brought our mortar board out and poured it onto that.   From there, it was my job to shovel it into the trench and smooth it while Jim was mixing the next batch.   We came to the end of the 15 bags, and decided it was time to take a break.

We estimated that we had made it about 2/3 of the way around, and so we thought we would need 8 more bags.   Just for insurance, Jim decided to buy 9, figuring that if there was left over we would be putting it into the garden retaining walls in the next few days.  Jim took his break on the drive over to Lowe’s.   I forget what I did while he was gone, but it didn’t involve a lot of sitting around.

He got back with the second load, and we proceeded to pour some more.   It only took another couple of bags to get to the point where we could pour directly into the trench, much to my poor arm’s relief.   (For the record, my forearms are still sore from that little section of shoveling wet concrete.)

Ironically, our estimate was off.  It turned out we needed ONE more bag to complete the pour, and so off Jim went to procure that bag.   As he made the trip, I placed the direction rocks into the wet concrete and generally admired the job.   It seemed obvious in retrospect that we would need 25 bags to complete the job, because clearly it was going to take EXACTLY one ton of concrete to form the inner circle.   In short order, the buyer returned and we finished the job.

After we cleaned up our tools, I documented the finished circle, still wet and curing.



One of the things I decided about this project was that I was going to document my rocks.   So, the following morning we set up a portrait studio over by the sauna, and I proceeded to transport all the special rocks to that location and shoot them individually, along with a tag that indicated where they were from.  Each photo was also assigned a number.

Here is an example of the result.


It was during this process that I discovered that my ability to write numbers in order was impaired.   I have one rock whose number is 43.5 because I forgot to list it until I was far down the list.   I also found myself re-numbering rocks when I turned a page and read 117 as 111 and so labeled several rocks with the same identification number.   But I got it straightened out, and it was actually important because when I placed the special rocks back onto the circle I made a map of where they got put.

I am having the pictures printed out, and I will make a notebook with a page for each rock.   The page will list its number along with information on who procured it for me if it was a gift, and any little story that revolves around it.   That way, in the future, other people will be able to understand what is special about each rock without having to extract the information from me personally.   This also guards against any memory losses I might have.

As I was taking rocks off the labyrinth, I was gratified to be able to remember the details on most of them.   Despite that, there were several “Mystery Rocks” that turned up during the process.   I did not toss them out because of that.   My decision was to replace them back in the circle close to the location where they were unearthed.   Maybe in the future the clouds will clear and I will remember where they came from.

Anyway, it took me two days to get them all back into place, what with the mapping project and having to actually do massages for clients in between working on the project.

But this afternoon, I finished the job.   It really looks good.



Here’s a close up of the North West end of the inner circle.


Eventually, the concrete will weather a bit and not be so blindingly white.

I have to say that the whole project has made me realize just how incredibly blessed I am with family, friends, and strangers contributing rocks to the inner circle.   Without them, I wouldn’t have Antarctica, the bottom of Sydney Harbor, the Great Sandy Desert, or the floor of the Arctic Ocean.   I feel very honored indeed.

The only thing left to do is to create the notebook and redraw the map.

But first, I have to go walk Ruby.


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Labyrinth remodel

We built the labyrinth in 2001.   I have written several posts about that, but I think the description in this post is probably one of the better ones.

Don’t get me wrong, now, but when I conceived the idea of having a labyrinth on the place I really had no idea what I was getting into!   It really is a lot of work, especially when you realize the maintenance requirements.  If I had it to do over again, I might decide on a different plan of attack.   The outline in rocks was fairly easy to accomplish.   Keeping it so that people can walk the path is not so easy.

We mow the paths on a regular basis using a 21″ manual mower.   This is a size that is not all that popular here in the Midwest, where people tend to have acres of lawn to mow and do it on big John Deere riding lawnmowers.   I imagine if I lived in a city the little mower might be more readily available.   At any rate, we quickly learned that trying to weed eat the rock edges was tedious and ate up weed eater twine in a most impressive way.   So the labyrinth usually looks like this in the summer.


Okay.   The bride and groom were a one-time phenomenon.

Believe it or not, there is a path in there, and if you start at the beginning you do indeed make it to the center without getting lost.  The labyrinth has many moods.




So, take a moment to imagine the inner circle with that amount of plant material.  We tried weed eating it exactly once.   The special rocks flew around in a most impressive way and we decided that this was a losing proposition.  So, without some sort of grooming method my much vaunted special rocks would be invisible unless you excavated.  I admit to spending a certain amount of time each summer trimming back the weeds in the inner circle by hand so I can enjoy my trip around the world when I sit in the center of the labyrinth.  For a long time, with a lot of effort, it looked somewhat like this.

14 Nov 2007 046

As those of you who frequent the blog know, I have been really busy for the last couple of summers, going on cruises to Alaska, taking classes, meeting my new grandbaby, etc etc ad nauseum.   The inner circle languished un-groomed.

Another “problem” that arose was my aging brain started suffering memory lapses.  When I only had 10 or 15 special rocks, it was easy to remember where they were from.   When the numbers grew, identification began to get more haphazard.   One way I dealt with this was to take a portrait of each special rock as it came on the place, along with an identifying label.

Please don’t even ask me about the keyword project for the photos on the computer.   Finding the portraits of the special rocks is an exercise in determined scanning through the thousands of images I have.   I’m going to get to work on that keyword thing right away, just as soon as I finish scanning the 29,000+ slides my father took that I am supposed to be cataloguing.   All of a sudden, I am so tired I can’t even contemplate doing anything.   I think I will go sit on the couch and mutter for a while.

Okay, back to the subject at hand.  For several years I have been contemplating a change, hoping to figure out a way to keep the weeds from growing up amidst the rocks.   Consultation with the spouse resulted in a decision to completely revamp the inner circle.   I have removed all the rocks, assiduously identifying and labelling every single one of them, except for the complete mysteries which I have NO IDEA where they came from or who gave them to me.   Actually, there are quite a few of those, but not as many as you might think.  Next, I am digging a trench around the circle, which the spouse and our young laborer are going to fill with concrete.   Then I will replace the special rocks on the new concrete pad and then they will remain visible.

So, here is the project in mid-turmoil.   Notice all the little paper labels.



The trench is 1/6 dug, and I really ought to be out working on that rather than sitting here at the computer.

However, I have a couple of little stories about the cataloguing that I have to tell.   I found the group of rocks that my SIL collected during her choir tour.   Luckily I had actually made portraits of them so I was able to tell Finland from Sweden from Russia.   There was a big mystery about what happened to Estonia, but it turned up over on the East rock later on.   I think it was one that got flung by the dog or a rabbit and when it was discovered out of place on the path while someone was mowing it got placed willy nilly on the circle.   I was glad to see it.

Another rock that disappeared was the cool pebble from Cape Town, which arrived with a fossilized kelp hold fast attached to it.   This weathered loose, so I blithely laid it back on the rock and put the rock on the circle.   During the course of this project, when I found the Cape Town rock’s companion, which came from Victoria Falls, I immediately wondered where the Cape Town rock was, as it was perched where I expected to find it.   I excavated through the weeds and grass, and did not find it.   Very disappointed, I finally gave up on it.  But when I was engaged in removing the base rocks, Cape Town turned up and … SO DID THE HOLD FAST FOSSIL.   Amazing.   Before I replace it on the circle I intend to use some sort of industrial glue to reattach the hold fast.

The third small rock missing in action was the River God’s ear stone.

06October2007 Face of the Niangua River

Ha!   It also turned up, in the middle of the path a few feet away from it’s proper location, upside down.   I found it when I was raking away the pile of hay that resulted from the scalping the grass got after all the rocks had been moved.

And so, all rocks are present and accounted for.   Now all I have to do is finish the trench.   And before I put the rocks back I am taking a portrait of each and every one of them, with their labels, and I will be printing this out for a notebook, which will include the information about who brought me the rock and where it is located on the inner circle.   Just in case something happens to me and the next proprietor of the labyrinth wants to know.

Man.   I need to get to work.


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Last time I talked about the quilt here on the blog, it wasn’t quite done.   Well, it is totally pieced now, and at the quilter.   This stage has been promised to be done in the first half of December, which would still give me time to put the binding on it.   Right now, while I am waiting for the quilting to be finished, I am working on matching pillow cases.

At any rate, this is the portrait of the finished quilt.


Here is a small detail picture that gives you a better idea of the fabrics.   The star fabric is quite magical, and doesn’t photograph worth beans.  The stars are printed on the fabric in a holographic ink, so they are iridescent when the angle of view changes.   Really cool.


I mentioned being visited by Twylla Alexander, the woman who walked my labyrinth.    She has posted about that on her own blog, the link to her post is highlighted.   There is a picture of me in the labyrinth and a couple of shots of it in her post.   She was so kind.  She brought me a quite beautiful rock collected near the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, plus a few shells from Auke Bay.


The yesterday, one of my clients brought me a rock she picked up at the Crazy Horse memorial.   They have a pile of rubble from the blasting near the museum exit for people to help themselves.    This is truly an outstanding piece of granite.   I have included a close up so you can see how beautiful it really is.



I truly have to be one of the most unique massage therapists in existence.   I absolutely love rocks, and all my clients know this.   This is not the first gift of a rock I have received from a client, nor will it be the last, I suspect.   They all know that I am happy to receive a rock as a Christmas present.   As a matter of fact, the following wonderful fossil is in a head sized rock that one of my dear clients gave me as a Christmas present last year, much to the amazement of her son.


We are no stranger to granite around here.   On our recent trip to Washington and Alaska,  Jim and it had a road trip day to Whidbey Island (north of Seattle).  There we walked on the beach near Fort Casey and collected several pieces of beach polished rock there.   Lots of different kinds of granite around Puget Sound.


This is not a new rock, I’ve had it several years.  But I always enjoy this little smiling caricature that lives in with my plants near the front door.


I have to report that the three animals have consolidated themselves into a family.   Impy and Mallory have been discovered sleeping together on my leather arm chair.


This is about the third shot, which is why neither of them is actually sleeping.  Incidentally, I believe that this arm chair is the epitome of “distressed” leather.   Its condition distresses me.   The patch behind Impy’s head is a spot where there was a small hole which was exceedingly exciting for a small kitten because it had white stuffing protruding from it.   Not only did she enlarge the hole, but she strewed stuffing all over the living room.   The patch is glued on, and almost matches…   Someday I will achieve new furniture.  Maybe.

Sometimes Mallory decides to “own” Ruby’s toys, much to Ruby’s dismay.    She almost seems to be saying, “Why did we have to get this cat, tell me again?”  in this photo.


I’d say that fall is pretty much over here in the Ozarks, as we have had several below freezing mornings here.   Most of the leaves are on the ground, and most of the ones here at The Havens have been gathered up and put into the mulching container.   I spent a productive day a few days ago running the compost grinder, grinding up the years accumulation of bark and twigs and garden clippings.   I have a pile of ground plant material that is more than a cubic yard that I need to move into the mulch container along with the leaves.   But that will not happen before my back gets over the grinding operation….

Meanwhile, I had a couple of really nice seasonal shots that I haven’t posted yet.   This was how the maple by the pond looked a couple of weeks ago.


When I walked down to the Big Piney River, I got a wonderful shot of the bluff with the trees turning.   I didn’t feel it was appropriate to include in the Trash Report, for some reason.


I guess this is as good a place as any to close this post.

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Rocks, etc.

As I sit here writing this post I can feel Ruby’s eyes boring into the back of my neck from her vantage point in the hall.   “What are you doing, sitting at the shining box AGAIN?  When are you going to put your shoes on so we can go for our walk?”  is what her fixed glare is communicating.

Okay, okay.   I’ll be doing that just as soon as I am finished with this post, I promise.   She has been extremely patient with me today as I worked my way through about 6 loads of laundry, all of which is put away now.   There was a certain amount of oppressive vacuuming done as well, which was not mitigated by the fact that one of her dear friends came to visit her for an hour this morning (I gave a long term client a massage).

Meanwhile, that darned cat insists on washing her ears for her, which is a tickly business, apparently.

Anyway, I recently invested some money in equipment needed for my next project, which is making a quilt for my bed.  The old one, as lovely as it is, is old.   And the fabric is starting to disintegrate.   I figure if I get started now, I’ll actually have the replacement done before the entire quilt melts into a pile of disassociated fibers.

I have done some quilting in my day, and I have always been in love with fabric (let me tell you the story of my sari sometime).   So, as I observe arthritis beginning to set in on my pinkie on my right hand, I begin to think that the day is coming when I will have to retire as a massage therapist.   And when that time comes, I want to have something interesting to do.   Making quilts comes to mind.   It would satisfy several aspects of my personality, one of which involved collecting colorful bits of stuff – paper is one, fabric is another.

So, here is my desk as it looks right this minute.   It was not prepped or primped in any manner for this photo shoot, so I would appreciate it if comments about the extraneous clutter were kept to a minimum.

You and I might see this as a collection of strips of fabric which are destined to be fashioned into placemats in the bargello style.  Mallory, on the other hand, sees a playground full of fascinating toys.   We had to have a talk about whether or not she should be on my desk at all, as well as whether what I was doing was strictly a game.

I discovered that my desk is not the right height for cutting fabric for any length of time.   Fortunately, Jim had some nice pain killers left over from his tooth episode; he administered half of one of them to me last night  at bedtime and my back pain subsided enough that I could sleep and the muscle spasms went away during the night.   Thank heavens.   I won’t be doing that again.  I believe my kitchen counter will be a better spot to do the next stint of cutting!

I realize that my title mentioned rocks, and I am well aware that mostly I have been stuck on the etcetera part of this post.   There have been some lovely rock acquisitions at The Havens recently.

This one is a small one I found a couple of days ago.

It isn’t that big, only 5 or 6 cm long.   But I love the striations and the “eye hole”.

This next one is quite a bit larger.   It weighs 8 pounds (around 4 kilos), which I know because I put it on the scale when I got it home.   It is about the size of a standard piece of office paper, and about 3 inches thick.   It spoke to me from the bed of a dry creek I was walking along, and after a certain amount of hemming and hawing I decided to haul it home.   This decision was complicated by the fact that I was about 5 kilometers and two steep ridges from my car at the time.  But, now that it is at home I don’t regret deciding on the haulage.

I believe that this is some sort of stromatolite, although I am not an expert in geology or fossils.  It is definitely a limestone rock, which makes it entirely possible that it is a stromatolite.  Whatever it is, I like it, and it has found a place on the hearth for now.   It may eventually migrate outside, but right now I am enjoying looking at it.

Now, I really must go walk the dog before she expires of boredom.

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