December 4 (1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1987, 1989, 1997) Resonating the Froth ~ Thermosiphon Frustrations
“Imp-Ling” ~ Petrified Wood Preserve?

12/4/76 […] i dreamt of my cabin last night, but it was larger and more spacious; i looked at it as i stood inside, admiring the beams and the angles, and commented that it really wasn't so very small… now the moon is nearing the full, and as often happens i am feeling better about myself and people than in the late days of the fourth quarter. nowadays about the only concession i make to astrology (which i once studied vigorously) is that i have noticed a connection between what goes on and the phases of the moon. not an iron-clad connection, just a slight statistically improbable resonance of some sort. and i go so far to speculate that it may be meaningful to say ‘i am an early spring’ or ‘i am a high summer’ or ‘i am an onset of fall’ ~ not aries, leo, libra. as far as the planets’ baleful gaze, i can't see where it enters in, except that when there is a bright evening star i figure the collective soul of mankind may be enlightened a little more than usual ~ but that is only my fantasy-play.


synchronicity wins again. there are stars out there in space, many galaxies of billions of stars apiece, and it goes on and on and even farther on—enormous forces at work, spinning, spinning, our earth a tiny spinning jewel within jewel within jewel, and there are jewels within the earth as well. geologists speak of the plastic deformation of solid rock under enormous pressure and/or heat. i wonder how it happens that in a universe of immutable forces at work (why not say, at play?), that something happens to reality, something akin to plastic deformation. maybe there is a frothy surface layer of reality beneath which operates the infinite, the eternal, the irresistible progression of matter and energy, of universe-at-large. and maybe in this foamy frothing surface, plastic deformation is commonplace: we humans are real lightweights on the universal scale of horsepower, but we have energy & we use it & the froth responds. ants drag beetles about. how the energy of our infinitesimal personal dramas resonates the froth i don't know. But it does seem to do so.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/4/77 ~ mid-morning. trying to get the sink figured out. clouds moving in fast out of the northwest ~ a solid deck of cumulus grading into altocumulus in places, intersecting the mountains at about six thousand feet elev. a large fire on the other side of the canyon somewhere seemed to somehow generate its own cumulus cloud. an intricate affair with many colors, reds, oranges, browns and golds at the base, and a range, from deep blue to white so bright ~ a few lens-like wisps trailing off about convinced me that the alignment of smoke and cumulus cloud was coincidental rather than causal, but i'm still not completely sold—the clouds still look disturbed in that area, but are much thicker now.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/4/79   i saw jon yesterday and the clutch is finally working. i should get it today. ah. so many things to do. should make a list. i'll work on the meadow this morning. plant some seed. rake and wheelbarrow.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/4/80    A monstrous storm rolled through and may not be past yet. 3" in rain gauge. I ventured over to Grass Valley in pounding rain to see if there might not be more information about the Holly at the store where I bought it, as indeed there was. and I wish I'd got a hold of it before I'd started this project. Oh dear.

It is, as I myself had found, hooked up all wrong. And among other things, for thermosiphon to be effective, one needs a foot of rise in every two feet of run between the Holly and the tank. In my case, that would be about five feet I'd need, from the hot lead out of Holly to the bottom of the tank. Also, going down & back up to the the Holly is out. Also, 3/4" pipe should be used between the Holly and the tank.

As it turns out, to achieve proper thermosiphne I must either move the stove to the tank or the tank to the stove. Or, possibly, use an additional tank for the stove and run the hot in it to the present tank. I have access to two more steel tanks at the McClung's, a 100-gallon tank & a 40-gallon. The 100-gallon tank would be excellent for solar heat storage as well. I could mount it on the outside wall, opposite the stove, and well above to enhance thermosiphon. Put a wood cover around it, insulate it, & run the hot water from it to the drain of the other tank.

The other tank would work as is if I moved the stove to where the bass end of the piano is now and plumb directly through the wall between.

Or, I was astounded to realize last night, I could use my existing system as is if I found a valve that would open and shut automatically. I could have a fountain out in the yard & simply open a valve every time I need to circulate the water, i.e. whenever a fire burns in the stove, as I already have a system that works—but only by my independently discovered semi-ram open-shut cold water faucet trick.

So why not use it as it is? Surely a valve exists that would flap open and shut ~ that's how a ram pump works. An air chamber may be required. Last night I was consumed with glee at the thought of a hot water system circulated by the sputtering fountain in the yard. These Rainbird sprinklers seem to operate in pulses of water; perhaps one of them could be turned on at a low rate ~ couldn't exceed the flow of the spring ~ and that would be that. Might, in fact, be the cheapest way to resolve my present quandary, which I was led into by my own impatience and lack of knowledge of proper thermosiphon hook-up. If only the store had given me the owner's manual when I bought it a year ago, I'd be in great shape. As it is, to achieve thermosiphon now I have to undo much of what I've done, spend a lot of money ~ ouch. Ouch!’”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/4/87   Morning; a storm makes its way into the Sierra, and winds roar beneath grey skies. No rain yet, but it can't be long.


Saw Otis Wollan yesterday, who was elected to the Placer County Water Board; he expressed interest in learning to telemark this winter. So great; and I owe a letter to Eric Peach. […]

[Russell Towle's journal]

December 4, 1989

My “journal” has been less than irregular this year, and what few pages exist are scattered in my notebooks. Here is another.

It is a Monday, in the afternoon, and the sun breaks waves warmly across the couch. I am taking a break today: the new cabin is roofed, walled, windowed, and doored, even somewhat trimmed, with a homemade woodstove and a large slightly curved couch, courtesy of Alex and Teri. In other words, it is closed in, and the great effort may now slacken. Two months, of which more than a week was lost to rain, have passed since I poured the footing on October 1.

Gay is in town picking up the boys from school so I am utterly alone. Today is so perfect, like fine champagne, except warm. Very warm. A few shreds of bright cirrus clouds float by from time to time, but have no effect upon the sun, and just make the sky seem even bluer.

Janet Julia, affectionately known as Impling, or sometimes, Imp-Ling, is three weeks old. She is doing fine.

Yesterday Gay and I and JJ drove down to Palo Alto & up Page Mill to Struggle Mtn., where Greg and Iris were married.”

[Russell Towle's journal]


Thursday evening, Janet’s friend Sadie is over, the kids and I just watched “George of the Jungle,” a rather silly movie which delighted them.

I have been working on maps for the petrified forest project a lot, and a new proposal which I will send out to the BLM, Jim Gould, Rex Bloomfield, Wing Lee, Dave Lawler, et. al. Also, I have been walking around out there and finding some of the property corners. Today I finally found the third one on the west side of Wing Lee’s 56-acre parcel, starting from the northwest corner going south. These first three are railroad rails driven into the ground. I have found that quite a bit of petrified wood remains on the more easterly of the two BLM parcels. However, there is far and away more petrified wood, and in larger chunks, on the 56-acre Lee parcel. It may prove impossible to ever convince Lee to sell this parcel. I have been racking my brain trying to figure how to inspire him that a sale would be a good thing. It seems all this racking will simply be to no avail, Lee will stoically persist in the simple and blameless sentiment, that he does not wish to sell.

It has been a pleasure to walk around the BLM ground out there, it is very nice. Part of it was never mined, and although logged off 130 years ago, a fine forest has grown up since then, with large ponderosa and sugar pines, and douglas fir, black oak, dogwoods, even a solitary Pacific Yew. I have spent some time with the clippers opening up old trails and mining ditches.

Some huge pieces of petrified wood are on the Lee parcel. If only. My new proposal is simply for a preserve, no “interpretive center,” and only limited public access: school field trips, paleobotanists, geologists, historians, etc. It may be that only the Gould parcel and the BLM parcel will make up the preserve. In which case, access to the BLM becomes a problem, and perhaps some sort of trail easement can be acquired from Ed Stadum.

I am desperately broke, need to make a car insurance payment, have no money, wish the State Library would pay me for the Coffin diaries I sent them over a month ago. No money for Christmas gifts. Same old same old. How to get money? How?”

[Russell Towle's journal]

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