Crafty for the booooat

Sila loves the idea of converting my "wasted" crafty time into something useful for the vessel. We had fun designing a couple of these for drill bits. First we made two of these rolled up envelope type things, one for round bits and one for flat (spade) bits. The white cotton duck is just to be boaty and give it some strength and the tan pleather is to line the inside so greasy bits can just be packed away and not dry out or hopefully get too damp.

Then I made this really nice drawstring bag with pleather lining. I made a knitted 3-stich i-chord with a "hole" made from slipped stitches to draw the other end through. this wasn't well thought out as it leaves one long leg with nothing to do. Heather gave me some sort of folded tape trim stuff which I used to cover the seam and round out the edges of the drawstring holes. It came out so nice and so big that neither one of us wants to use it for our two small hole saws as was the intention.

These three drill bit cases took about 6 months all together-busy few months I guess. Just getting around to posting them now. Sewing is pretty slow anyway. That big bag took forever! Almost long enough to make me think about getting a sewing machine.



Yay Lena & Lex! New little boy Zebben Fletcher, 10lbs 9 oz - I think that makes him only slightly bigger than his older brothers. Here's what all the short-torso babies will be wearing this holiday season:

Modeled by my thermos. Hope it's sort of baby shaped! Can't wait to meet you Zebben!


Long time no blog

Well, since I got back from Cape Town I've been chugging away on my thesis. Been reading a lot of knit blogs too, not doing any writing on my own. I have the temptation to start a knit blog but I feel that would be a downward spiral because since I could never keep up with Wendy or Anne and Kay or Amber this would require me to knit a lot more and there is just too much pressure in life to worry about knitting more in order to support a blog! So I think "christie at the cape" will just be a little bit more "christie wherever she is" from now on, which will return to being "at the cape" sometime around the end of january. Knitting is part of the bargain. speaking of which,

Did I ever show you my sweet French Press Coozie? I also made one for Carter but I don't have a picture of it.


Another reason to hate purses: purse snatching

I had a great Sunday re-LAXing after all the field trip activity. Sore with blisters and my knee hurts. Saturday night I got to talk to Mom on the phone (HI MOM) for which I will be recharging Eric's phone card asap.

I took the train down from Rondebosch to the City Center. The train station at City Center is kind of hectic but it was quieter on Sunday than last time I went there. I bought a first class ticket (RT R11) because people warn me never to get in the 3rd class car. There is no 2nd class. I couldn't tell which car was which so I just followed some people who looked kind of rich. Downtown, the marketplace around the train station itself was cleaning up (noonish). This is much more flea-market like with some used junk but mostly apparently stolen truckloads of cheap vinyl purses and knock off athletic shoes ("tackies"). Lots of fruit and produce too.

I cruised around the very quiet Sunday down town and finally sort of dead-ended between Lion's Head and Signal Hill, just near the cable car takeoff to go to the top of Table Mountain. The Backpackers' Hostel there told me to stroll back down to the Green Point Market. Which I did. I've lifted these pictures off other people's websites because I don't want to tip anyone off to any little gifties they might be getting. Also although I mustered the courage to carry my camera around all day, I took no pictures. Because there were other Americans there taking pictures, and I gotta say, they were total a**holes. Surprise surprise. Anyway after this trip, no more gifties! I am a very bad bargainer. I was told to shoot for 50% of the asking price for everything. But when the seller says, "R250!" and I say, in a shocked voice, "No one would pay more than R100 for that!" and he says "OK R100." then i know i am an idiot tourist and I've been HAD! even though everything is an incredible bargain relative to the human labor and artistry involved - I know and he knows that I paid a lot more than I had to so I feel like a putz. Strange confusing feeling to feel exploitive and ripped off at the same time. In order to prevent this confusing feeling from ever returning, I think I will avoid tourist craft marketplaces FOREVERMORE unless somebody wants a pretty beaded animal thing or a protea made of galvanized wire or a giraffe carved out of a piece of an endangered rain forest tree that used to host an endangered bird's nest before I arrived to create tourist demand for that giraffe.... oh never mind.

I cruised back to the downtown station in order to make the train with plenty of time before twilight. It runs every 50min on Sundays and Holidays and much more often the rest of the week. I was buying a pie in the station (ok it was peri peri chicken. that's a sweet chili type sauce, pretty hot.) and a bleary eyed kid asked me for change for food. Somebody warned me already about glue-sniffing kids so I offered her a pie instead. She took it. That made me happy. But then I looked around the train station and saw lots more bleary-eyed kids. Don't know if they were hungry or high or just dirt poor and sad but they were all watching me! More confusing feelings.

I watched out the window on the train as we climbed the hill back to Rondebosch. At the Woodstock station a man ran by clutching a large purse. He was young and fast. Some security guards ran up a moment later but were not in shape and the guy was clearly gone. Six of them jumped into my train car and rode to the Observatory stop - talking and laughing (with clicks) into their walky talkies. All in a typical day I guess.

To finish off -
I had dinner in Obz tonight with the grad students - went to this awesome African place for beers and roti with 3 vegetable curries. A pretty nice dinner. Expensive by CT standards I think - R50/person - $7. I finally looked at my grocery bills and realized that if breakfast and lunch are costing me on average $1 for breakfast and $1 or $2 for lunch, eating cheap food on campus, I can't beat that with grocery shopping if I'm going to eat healthy. I could beat it by living on mealies, which is what people do if they can't come up with $5/day for food. But when there's a kick-butt curry stand (all vegan & hilal!) right outside the geology building - massive tasty lunch for R12. Healthy too.

This woman has the Best Cape Town Travel Photos, particularly in the Kirstenbosch Gardens - on her flicker page (look at her pages 12-16). All the flowers everywhere remind me of Grammy and how much she likes all the flowers in California. So many of them are native to South Africa - the bottle brush trees, the iceplant, the birds of paradise, agapanthus.

ok now back to the lab.... I've only graded 3 of the 12 maps. I am soooooo slow.


Roughin' It

A view from the field area down over the Amanda Rabie vineyards - She's the farmer and vintner and quite a cool lady. There is an invasive plant removal project going on in the river (Australian Acacia - as far as I can see it's the same one that's all over Nor Cal with the yellow pollen). She has a zebra which has become alpha-male in her donkey herd. Seems all the donkeys think they're zebras now. And that's pronounced zeh-bra with a short E, not like Zeebra. Also the letter is called "zed" instead of "zee". I am having to switch over to all these words but I really don't want to be that jerk American who comes home from somewhere with a suddenly new pronounciation! baaaaasalt comes to mind.

You call this field work? We stayed in a converted wine cellar at Conradie Vineyards. It is a long room with little closets on each side which had bunks built into them - kind of like sleeping cabins on a train or something. They rented us the whole thing and the lawn and firepit outside - enabling nightly braais and quite a bit of wine drinking and beer drinking and for some reason the Afrikaaners are nuts over brandy and coke, it's like the manly drink or something. Why not when beers at the bar ar R7 (less than a dollar) and decent wine is R30/bottle (about $4.25). And they made hot breakfast everymorning - spiced scrambled eggs with sage or something, and you guessed it, boerewors, and mealies (kind of a crumbly polenta - but everything made of corn is called mealies or mealie meal).

Outside the window there were weaver birds nests with little yellow weaverbirds darting in and out of them.

There were a bunch of little dogs there. They were all named after characters on an Afrikaans soapie (soap opera) and this one is called Jan Patrick or something like that. But we all called him "crazydog" because he would go absolutely crazy over this rock. He would lick it all afternoon and get more and more excited until he was shaking all over and out of breath. He'd start whining and squeeking and pushing it around with his nose and then freak out and rip up a bunch of grass or something. It was quite a performance. He also had figured out a fake limp - when new people came or when people were eating, he would pick up his right paw as if he was injured. But he'd run around fine when he thought nobody had any food. Quite a little character.

Ah the old BRAAI. You can see the Karoo lamb chops on the back of the grill, the 2nd round of boerewors on the front of the grill, and underneath are the foil-wrapped potatoes, butternut and gem squash. Standard fare. The coals were made on old grape vine, very hard and hot.

And finally, Mom is complaining that I have no pictures of people. This is sort of sad because I am in the NEW SOUTH AFRICA, the RAINBOW NATION! Well here is a picture of some of the 3rd year class around the Braii. Karoo lamb chops, boerewors, foil-wrapped potatoes and squash. The guy on the left holding a knife to a student's throat is, predictably, the TA, Tim. Three of those white guys are "Afrikaans-speaking" but they came to UCT anyway. Only a few "English-speaking" whites go to Stellenbosch, where classes are taught in either language, but it's more common for Afrikaaners to come to UCT, which is all English. Anyway they are a pretty jolly bunch, I had a great time with them. Since everyone keeps asking - UCT is about 40% white South Africans now, the rest made up of black ZA (18%), colored ZA (14%) and the rest are from other countries - mostly black Sesotho and Botswanans and Namibians as far as I can see. A sprinkling of white Europeans. The geology students seem to reflect the general population except that we have more black Africans from mining countries probably.

Baboons in the Kloof

A Kloof is a canyon or gorge. There are kloofs everywhere in South Africa. "Kloofing" is the practice of hiking/ creekwalking/swimming/ jumping down a kloof. Suicide Kloof is a very popular place for kloofing. The largest waterfall you must jump is 20m tall. When I say "popular", I mean people who have done it talk about it a lot, not that everybody has done it.

Yesterday the 3rd-year students had the afternoon to finish their maps and cross-sections and reports and hand them in. So Chris and Tim and I decided to leave them to it instead of answering a lot of questions all afternoon! John drove us 150km around the back side of the mountain range. This involved a lot of beautiful wine country which I am dragging you all back through when you come visit! The wine is excellent and very inexpensive compared to California wines.

Anyway, we drove up into Simonskloof and took the Gecko Trail back over to the Nuy Valley where the students have been working. Simonskloof is a very remote little farmstead which has been restored to a B&B with adventure tourism in mind. The trail is awesome with incredible views! First we saw this cute tortoise. I love him. He reminds me of Grammy's old tortoise from Amalfi. I moved him out of the road. We climbed up from Simonskloof Farm into a forest of Proteas (wagon wheel trees) which were starting to bloom.

When we came through the proteas the floor of the canyon seemed to just drop straight down below us! Steep walls with massive reddish sandstones and funny dassies skittering around. It felt like Zion National Park in UT or like Mesa Verde. There seemed to be hundreds of sort of cave sites in the canyon walls. There are Bushman rock paintings in some of them. We dropped straight down the cliff to the bottom of the kloof, where we sipped clear stream water. The creeks are spring-fed and absolutely clean and delicious!

These rocks are just north of the folds and thrust faults and we saw some brittle-ductile deformation features like these big sigmoidal quartz veins!

When the kloof floods, the boulders must really tear down through it. For evidence, see these percussion marks - the quartzite boulders have concoidal fracture and these are impact scars from rocks flying down from above. You might think it's funny that they are all of similar (but not totally uniform) size - My guess is that this is controlled by the curvature of the rock, since the impacts must have all been of different sizes. Interesting question though.

My brother is such a hobbit that when I see clever little hideaways I always think of him. This place was bricked right into the cliff. A big deck was built off of it, looks like at high water, you might even be able to jump in. Of course, at high water you may be vulnerable to becoming a percussion mark (see above). Anyway a dam slightly downstream is backing up a small pool for summer swimming too. A huge water tank is sunk into the deck as a big hottub too. There's a wine cellar with an iron door built into the cliff. And around the deck there are actual beds hung to swing from chains, like hammocks. This place is awesome. It's a 7km hike from the road (at current road conditions anyway). I would like to come back here with friends and food and wine and rent this cabin. Remember you can click the pictures to see more. Also the left side is the covered outdoor cooking area - with a woodfired cook stove. so sweet.

The rest of the walk out was kind of a haul however, as the whole canyon was clogged by the recent storms and accompanying floods. Boulders everywhere and the trees seemed to be ripped up and strewn around. It got worse and worse downstream, when we came to the acacia removal area - where the trees had been cut down but not removed. The 4-wheeler road was obliterated when the river chose a new course. So we won't come back to hire the cabin until the trees are gone, and we'll do it as a creekwalk so we don't have to boulder hop with all our food and wine. Plenty of firewood available.

Finally, here's a link for the video of the baboons freaking out in the kloof as we came down. In typical fashion, I filmed this sideways and can't figure out how to change the orientation, format, or size. Don't try to download this if you don't have high speed. Carter can you help me with this file? thanks.
Sideways baboon movie (AVI, 31MB)

I leave you with this photo.

Rocks of Worcester! And a few questions.

Sorry non-geologists, you might want to skip this post.
Good stuff here folks. Chris Harris came out to Laingsberg on Thursday morning to pick me up and we drove through the Cape Fold Belt to the syntaxis area in the wine country around Worcester. Awesome! The strata are of the same groups as those in Cape Town - preCambrian Malmesbury Group (turbidites), sub-vertical, unconformably overlain by the Table Mountain Group - massive sandstones, with rare shale interlayers. All well and good. In the syntaxis, the unconformity itself is folded and thrusted, north-vergent, and as one would expect there is substantial deformation of both formations. The style, however, is very different. The rocks are low greenschist facies probably - chloritoid? maybe 300C. Brittle-ductile transition!!! OK let's look at a few.

This is low in the Table Mountain Group (near base of Peninsula Fm), offset veins suggesting top-to-north vergence. So far so good! This is a highly deformed layer of schist in between basically undeformed quartzites. That's Brian Turner from Durham pointing at it. He's here to teach South African Stratigraphy in the next modules.

But wait! Just a few meters away, there is a very similar structure, but it is retrodeformed to Delta-structure - normal-sense backsliding on the same layer. OK I guess that's fine. A little surprise but still fine. Then I took a look at all the veins crossing the shear zone at a high angle (not pictured). At first I thought they must be R-shears but I took another look and they really look like tensile fractures suggesting normal motion. OK still fine, the thing was thrust, and then had a tiny bit of normal motion, at the same metamorphic grade. Max grade probably. OK moving on.

And nearby that site, we found a big bolder of breccia. Clasts are clearly quartzite, the matrix looks like ground-up Malmesberry Shales, still good - but brittle now.

In a cave in the lower Penninsula Fm, we find a similar looking ... "breccia"... but it contains clasts which look more rounded. And some of those clasts are NOT quartzite. Like the boulder of yellowish chert. OK... Could be a conglomerate bed.

We climbed up another hillside to find the contact. By this point we were discussing whether the unconformity had maybe been activated as a major thrust of the system. Then we found this: Massive lineated quartz veins along the surface, some of which (in the footwall), are brecciated! and that breccia is ductiley deformed! Clast boundaries appear stylolitic. Neato! And at the base of the Penninsula Group - a quartz pebble conglomerate.

Naturally all this required that we climb up a bunch more rocks into a baboon cave to see if we could continue to find the contact - note folds above!

And what we found - a thin layer of strange angular conglomerate and/or breccia? What is that? Looks like a rounded clast above - in the overhanging base of the hanging wall. So which is it?

And at a very tight (isoclinal) fold in the contact, we find the Penninsula Fm. in the core, with a beautiful quartz pebble bed only a few 10s cm above the base. Check out the axial planar cleavage defracting through the pebble bed! Whoa yah!

In case it's not clear why I'm belaboring the conglomerate vs. breccia issue - some students have mapped a big huge thrust here. Others have mapped a late normal fault here. Still others have no structure here - it's just a bed. Hmm. Not my problem fortunately because I am not marking these. But it seems to me that it's a fault developed along an unconformity where there are discontinuous pebble and boulder conglomerate lenses at the base of the quartzites. That might be a little much for a 2nd mapping project! We'll see what happens.

Like I said, it's just like the Napa Valley. Sunshine, vineyards as far as the eye can see. And of course, the Baboon traps.

And it looks like I'm not the only Banana Slug out in Worcester today. What's this guy doing here?


Smaller- scale cool stuff in Laingsberg

This is a rusty windmill which pulls water up from a shallow well into a sheep trough. This one's no longer in use but there are plenty out there that are. The Karoo reminds me so much of the Rockies foothills, I think Dad will absolutely love it.

I was walking up a wash and came across this kitchen stool hung up in a tree. The last big flash floods through these washes came in 1981 - the Buffels River flooded Laingsberg and over 100 people were lost. This wash is one of many tributaries in the field area where debris was found - Taufeeq, Teboho and Thakane reported overturned cars in Area 7.

Finally a Dassie! Also known as Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis). Closest relatives: elephants and sirenians. It's funny, I noticed a distinctive trackway in some of the sandy areas that looked like a huge crab trail. In fact, it's this guy with his weird little feet, and belly that drags on the ground! They occupy a similar niche to desert rats of the American SW, occupying middens high in rocky cliffs. They squeak a lot and are very social.

This beautiful doe and her fawn (underneath doe in the shade of her body) literally chirped at me. That is, when I came over the ridge and surprised them, she held her ground and vocalized in an aggressive manner. I am totally unused to this behavior from an ungulate. Something new every day. While I'm thinking of it, there are fresh water crabs in the creeks around Worcester. Am I nuts, or have I never seen a crab in a creek before? They look just like the ordinary tide pool crabs I know from home.

Marine invertebrate trackways in the Kweekvlei Shale (Devonian age). The Permian Ecca Group (which is just one fold axis away!) is host to the recently discovered Giant Arthropod Trackways. They were made by a 2.5-meter long water scorpion in about 100-200m of water. Just try to picture it. Anyway, these trackways I found are probably just some little wormy things. These strata (or their equivalents) are spread across southern Gondwana and equivalents are described in South America, Antarctica, and the Falkland Islands. Just picture the huge Ecca Sea, at 50-70degrees south, a cold salty basin on a giant icey continent full of 8-ft water scorpions. Beat that Hollywood!

Last geologic feature of Laingsberg for the moment - This is the top of the Waaiport shale unit. These delicate olive-green shales were over-ridden by the Dwyka glaciation, which left the top meter or so "crumpled" - as Melody points out with her foot here - and dumped 750m of tills, rock-flour shales, and diamictites over the top of them.

Big Time Laingsberg Structural Geology!!!

Ah Laingsberg. Home of the famous Karoo Lamb - naturally spiced by its free range diet of wild herbaceous plants. I couldn't bring myself to eat a lamb chop (especially after a visit to the abattoir which is the butcher) but I do admit to having a few bites of the mixed-meat Boerewors (pronounced BOORVORS) which is a traditional farmers' sausage, super fatty, and very flavorful.

"Braai"-ing ("BRY") is just not done with briquettes here. Our coals came from an old apricot orchard on another part of the farm which the farmer took out during the winter. We built a large fire outdoors and let it burn down to a bed of coals. Once the coals are spread out, the "vegetables" go in - these are foil wrapped potatoes, jam squash and butternut (emptied of seeds and sprinkled with salt and pepper). Whole onions might be cooked this way too. The meat goes in this giant folding grill thing (2 grills, hinged with a long handle) and balanced it over the coals on a pile of rocks. The Braai is taken quite seriously by all involved. All the students in both classes seemed to know exactly how to cook perfect lamb and how to time everything to come out of the braai at the same time. One night we went to a braai with the Stellenbosch second-years, led by Dr. De Ville Wickens, who knows how to throw a party. Sadly the UCT kids all fell asleep in a corner together, wiped out by their first day of mapping. Sorry Maties.

OK to keep with the theme of this post, living LARGE South African style, let me show you some BIG TIME STRUCTURE.

Some gorgeous folds in Rooinek Pass. Rooinek of course means "Red Neck" which is a mildly durogatory term for Englishmen who came out to the Karoo and burnt to a crisp. In effect this is the opposite of what Americans mean when we say "redneck" as it is a slur on a city slicker for burning easily. This is what my associate John Rogers loves to refer to as an "afternoon shot".

The best anticline (and most interesting structure) in the field area! I've put my caption on the photograph itself so it won't be searchable by prying 2nd years.

To substantiate my claim that the repetitions mentioned above are due to axial plane-parallel thrusting in the hinge, and not by simple parasitic M-folds, here is a sheath fold in the shales in the hinge area. Note steeply plunging axes with opposite trends. Note tiny scale! Strike symbol shows approximate orientation of thrust, dip > 80S. There is lots of "catcher's mit"-like folding in the hinge as well - for those of you familiar with the Poleta Folds and "the Scissors".

Field was great - now it's time to come home

I had an AWESOME week out at two different field locations - which I'll get to - but in the meantime, just wanted to let you know that i'm back at UCT in the funny little geology flat, dead tired with a sore knee (I blame Dad), heavily laden with excellent rocks, and ready to come home. I'll bang out a few more posts with some photos in the next few days. I've already started planning adventures for all of you friends and family, custom tailored to your hiking ability and your taste for wine. So start watching for cheap tickets!


Perfect day on Table Bay

I'm running out to the field now but here are a few pictures from sailing on Pelagic Australis yesterday. I will be gone for a week and I won't have internet. See you soon!

Pelagic Australis in all her Aluminum glory.

Skip Novak also fixes things with duct tape immediately before casting off. Here is the proof.

John Moss & crew member who's name I didn't get, using the "coffee grinder" on the foredeck to raise the mainsail.

The 3-point running back stays. cool.

Upwind back to the harbor on a close reach - 10.9knots!

The Spirit of Victoria under sail with Table Mountain behind her.

a funny looking tree in John Moss's neighborhood.

Beautiful Cape Town.


Final Lecture Done!

Last lecture is finished! I just love my students. They clapped at the end. I'm 99% sure that they are required to do so at the end of the lecture series because I think I saw that in an English movie once. However, I think it's an excellent policy and recommend that it be instituted in the US right away.

Yesterday at lunch, I went with Bruce and two other staff members, Jon and Victor, to go see Nicci's work in the Botanical Art Show at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. I wish I had taken photographs because the work was incredible! The style was extraorinarily detailed plant portraits, some with parts labeled and dimensions as you would see in an old fashioned botany text book. Some included context but most were just on white background. All featured native Cape flora. Most were watercolor.

Nicci took a bronze this year, but I thought her work was among the best and would have given her a silver or a gold. But what do I know. She has already sold 2 of the 4 pieces. Her "risky" piece which may have lowered her medal was actually one of my favorite pieces in the whole show. Three pieces were of living plants like this one (which I borrowed from the show catalog) but the fourth was some dead and drying aloe leaves as they fell from the plant. They are quite beautiful and dry in bands like Liesgang banding. The colors were incredible and I thought the painting was a lot more interesting than most of the work in the show! But it seems the judges considered it "risky". The show catalog is here for download (2M pdf)

Of course there were lots of Birds of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) and Proteas, being the trademark flowers of South Africa. The national cricket team is even named for the Protea flower, which seems appropriate for a sporting event with rooibos breaks. OK to be fair I am also taking rooibos breaks these days. Twice a day in fact. Outside the gardens there are street merchants selling these two blooms - both live in water and also wire versions in glittering glass beads.

I just signed up for Skype and called my parents. neither could hear me yelling into my laptop. ok, guess I need a mic. the good news is that I could hear them just fine. My Skype name is christierowe so add me to your list if you use skype.

Also - be warned - if you buy coffee and it COMPLETELY SUCKS and the next day you buy it again at the same place AND AGAIN IT'S TOO CRAPPY TO EVEN DRINK you might be buying chicory. Here, it turns out, if you ask for coffee they can give you CHICORY with out even blinking an eye. Espresso is safe. but then they might think you're RICH because a shot of expresso costs as much as a small sandwich. I'm not rich, ok, but COFFEE IS SOMETIMES MORE IMPORTANT THAN A SANDWICH. ok sorry, had to get that off my chest. Speaking of sandwiches, James Wiltshire (foram picker, glauconite) introduced me to the SOOPER sandwich shop, where I can get a grilled hummus and chukka sandwich. Chukka is like a curried tomato-onion mixture.

Tomorrow is SAILING DAY.

Too much grading to do