Stories in Stone – Reviews

Now that Stories in Stone is out in the world, the nerve-wracking time begins. What will others write about the book? So far, I have been very pleased with the reviews. Today, there was a nice one in the Providence Journal. I particularly like the reviewer’s opening, “Naturalist David Williams was in heaven, living among the fantastic red sandstone formations of southern Utah. When he accompanied his graduate-student wife to live in Boston, he thought he had descended into hell.” Moving to Boston wasn’t that bad but it was a bit trying, till I found the stones of the city.

I also have to thank Tony Edger of the blog Fossils and Other Living Things for his wonderful review and description of Stories in Stone. Like him, I am clearly a fan of Robinson Jeffers. Also, it is quite pleasing to have a fellow geoblogger say such kind things.

And yesterday, I also did a reading/walk at one of Seattle’s great bookstores, Elliott Bay Books. I started with a 30-minute talk and then took a group of about 35 out to look at some local building stone, as well as some more exotic rock. Walks such as this one are very satisfying for me, as I get to introduce people to the wonders of geology and its connection to each of us. It really shows me that people are interested in rocks and stories they tell.

Earmarks and geology

There has been a big stink of late in Seattle about a proposal by our congressional representative, Jim McDermott, to obtain $250,000 for a tony social club in the city. Seems that The Rainier Club is having issues with some of its windows and wants to rehab them. Unfortunately, the club’s members have been willing to pony up only half the cash for repair work. This is where McDermott has stepped in. He included money for the club as part of a number of requests he made to the House Appropriations Committee.
Rainier Club from Wikipedia
Since the local paper reported the story, readers have expressed much indignation. How could such a club, long a haven restricted to men only, get money in such dire times?

I don’t want to comment exclusively on the request, but would like to point out something that no one has noted – the repair work would be for window sills made of Salem Limestone. The builders of the Club’s home used the 330-million- year old Indiana rock as a contrast to the main building material, brick, both inside and outside. Of particular note is the low exterior wall next to the sidewalk, a place I often stop on my building stone tours because of its excellent display of fossils. These include bryozoans, crinoids, and brachiopods. Ironically, quarry workers in Indiana consider this fossiliferous stone to be of inferior quality, mostly because it is less homogeneous than other layers of the Salem.

I think that providing money for the Rainier Club is rather absurd but I am loath to completely criticize McDermott. I can certainly think of worse ways to spend our federal money than on Salem Limestone.