Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It didn't rain today, but we have only seen a scrap of blue sky in the time we've been here. We're afraid someone stole the mountain across the road from the cottage because we haven't seen it. And the grocery store had a big fight with its landlord, who wanted too much rent, so now it's closed and we get all our food from a SuperWalMart. And the only tortillas they have are wheat. This was particularly poignant since I was making Cheap-Ass Chicken Enchiladas, containing only the finest not-homemade foods (Rotisserie chicken, boughten tortillas, canned enchilada sauce, and pre-shredded cheese. We had salsa, sauteed onions,chopped lettuce and tomatoes, cilantro to garnish and coleslaw (homemade, I suppose, in that I only had a dreg of salad dressing and stirred up the rest. My team (Andrea and Casey) were GREAT and all of us are exhausted.

Other than that things are pretty good. The place we're testing is testing out sterile (two flakes in about 25 shovel test pits) and tomorrow we're supposed to open up some larger (Multiples of square meters) areas. It will be a different kind of hard work. Today I was teamed with a really nice 17-yr old girl (Erin) who worked quite hard. So did I. The first STP had about 20 cm of nasty hard stuff with rocks and the second one is much softer but has a pile of (40 years ago) bulldozed upon topsoil on top. We've gone down 90 cm and keep getting perfectly obvious signs of not being very far below the real surface. We hope we'll finish it early.

Monday, June 22, 2009

North of the Notches (Dig Day 1)

It's still damp. My tent never condensed a puddle on the floor before. There are about thirty people in camp, and the second session promises to be larger. We believe (oh dear, it's 5am. and I don't know what I was going to say. Tea alone is not enough....)
Anyway, it is the field school and we are once again in the Mt. Washington Valley.

Well, I survived the first day. And so did the 20 or so newbies, who learned how to do paperwork (while the other 8 or so of us tried to lay out more grid in the area we cut the trees off of about three weeks ago. When the bugs were worse, and I am glad they are not quite as bad). Then Dick gave teams of two newbies an experienced person and we tried gently to teach them how to dig a 50 X 50 cm. shovel test pit. We were in an area we were fairly sure was free of artifacts, and I had hoped we would confound him, but no one found anything. Tomorrow we'll start real digging in the area where Dick laid out 25 STP's on new grid, with extra roots.

Tonight we had delicious pulled pork. Tomorrow I and Andrea and Casey make chicken enchiladas, assuming I can move tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gathering rosebuds while I may

Actually, petals, to make some kind of rose petal wine. And mead, ideally. Like dandelions, it's a labor-intensive ingredient, not least because what I have in ABUNDANCE is the US Soil Conservation Services's little Bad Seed, rosa multiflora. It's pretty and heavily-scented, but invasive as all hell and the roots break steel plows. And the flowers, though many, many, many, are small, about an inch across. Five little white petals.

I have a considerable amount of floribunda roses (though nothing compared to my holdings in Oriental Bittersweet) and so I went halfway down my driveway today, with a plastic bag and three protective cats.

I took the precaution of putting White Mountain Blackfly Repellent on my neck with a paper towel. It worked fairly well, and my hands didn't stink of citronella/peppermint/whatever. I figured this was important, since I don't want to brew White Mountain Insect Repellent Wine (would it work if taken internally? Could I get it to come out of my armpits?).

I had some pruners, too, but it became obvious that the easiest thing to do was not to pick or snip the flowers, but just to pull the petals. Even though it's a pernicious weed, I felt bad pulling off two or three buds as well as a potential rosehip with every flower. Various things eat the rosehips (thus spreading the pernicious weed, but they're hungry) and I don't like unnecessary cruelty. It also occurred to me that removing the non-petal bits of the flowers was going to take just as long as it does with the dandelions, and pulling the petals off while leaving the stamens and pistil and sepals on the bush was not all that difficult.

In the meantime, two catbirds hurled invective upon Marten and Willow. I saw the upper half of a hummingbird territorial display and heard lots of bird-cursing from two or three of them, too. Crows chased a pair of red-tailed hawks overhead. The bird with the very long melodious song (a whole bunch of phrases. Probably a warbler, it's been here invisible for three summers now and I still don't know what it is) sang, and the ovenbird and the yellow warbler, and it could hardly have been more pastoral. I picked for over an hour until I was tired of picking and hungry. The cats and I went back UP the hill.

I picked out the last calyxes (calices?) and I measured them and came out with a scant quart of petals. I need two quarts for each gallon of wine or mead, so less than a quarter of the quantity I would like. I shall have to be diligent tomorrow. They didn't seem to smell like much, despite the WHOMP of rose-fug around the bushes. Since I had less than a recipe's worth of rose petals, I couldn't make the brew up. I stirred a cup of sugar that I'll need for the recipe anyway into them. An hour later I had the best perfumed sugar ever. I am psyched. More petals tomorrow.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

See, if I post regularly you will know that my interests in life are very basic.

Will the Indigo Bunting come to the feeder before I get out of bed? (It depends on whether leaving the bed to refill the feeder, then returning to it, counts. The raccoon empties it every night. So I don't put much in. I think the indigo bunting must have nested around here. This is the first year he's stayed more than a week.)

How about the hummingbird, the rose-breasted Grosbeak, and the Red-Breasted Nuthatch? (Yes. And blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, goldfinches, chickadees and titmice. The Evening Grosbeaks are scarce lately.)

Do I feel this way because I drank too much or do I have allergies to all the tree sex going on? Or am I in hell, except with good birds? (Allergies. Haven't drunk that much. Not on a dig.) (Hell has polyester sheets, not 300 ct cotton.)

Will tea help? (Well, YES. Duh. Have more.)

Is there catfood? Do I need to make more bread? Does the laundry need dealing with? Is Paul the contractor likely to come today? ('usually' to all.)

Do I need to go to Concord? Do I need to go to New Jersey? (Sometimes.) If New Jersey, do I need to plant anything first so it doesn't broil on the deck? Are guest-type people likely to arrive? If yes, are there clear paths on the floor, more than one place to sit, and some kind of food to offer them?

How many cats do I have? (Three. Holding steady.)

Is it still raining? (Usually.)

Paul passed his energy auditor class with flying colors. He will have a steadier income, which is good. His daughter, Katie, (last child at home) graduates from high school this week.

We're all clear that Paul, though a fine figure of a man and reasonably literate, is not boyfriend material? It's not that I need to defend gay marriage or the Endangered Species Act ,or in fact the whole liberal agenda, at dinner or anywhere less formal, it's just that there's no point in dating someone to whom it would be necessary. Because neither Paul nor I would have enough sense to shut up and enjoy the moment. He thinks it doesn't matter who's president as they are all venal and useless.

They are going to be my new tenants, so I have been facing facts and trying to integrate myself into the new kitchen (AKA the real kitchen. Sooner or later, just 'the kitchen.')

The kitchenette is small and white with a breath-taking view of my driveway (and trees). It has one of the small fake-log gas warming stoves (it's a fake woodstove, for heat, not cooking) so it is actually warm in the winter and may be insulated from the rest of the house with a simple door. It was great spending the winter there, even if the kitchen-aspect was on the primitive side (tiny fridge, almost no counters, not much storage). It and my bedroom are the only rooms in the house with generous natural light. If a paying tenant with carpentry skills were not a fine thing, I would resent leaving my little decently-lit womb.

Today Doug and Sarah both came by and I moved the crucial furniture out of the kitchenette. Not that the kitchen is done. I moved the toaster and the electric kettle to the real kitchen even though there's no real place for them, and moved the couch and the chair into the living room, which is still full of the dining table and some surprised-looking bookshelves. Home Depot says it really, really will get the countertop here. Paul says he really, really will finish off the wall behind the counter I do have. The kitchenette, still full of a carboy of wine and another of beer, plus vinegar bottles, looks like someone moved piles of books and unopened mail off of surfaces and onto the floor. Strange. I am trying to remove one thing every time I go in there. The bathroom isn't finished either, so I am going into the kitchenette-area bathroom fairly regularly.

I'd like to say when I come home from my first week at the dig, everything will be done, but I no longer have formal hope, just a dull doggedness. I am tired of having my house messed up. Only been a year....

The cats aren't sure what to make of it all. Being in the living room does allow us to keep a closer eye on any raccoons who try to sashay in (and one does, sometimes more than one). The small one who raids the birdfeeder was there in broad daylight again today, and she seems to have full umm, raccoon breasts. Therefore she is a nursing mother (raccoons don't get man-boobs, do they?) and I resent her eating birdseed slightly less. Only you know she will teach her young about birdfeeders.

It only rained a few hours today.

Though I bought two splendid oven gloves to avoid getting any more scars on my knuckles, I just burned my elbow taking bread out of the oven. Bonked it on the oven door. Maybe a hazmat suit?

This time next week I will be in Randolph and thinking about going to sleep in my tent.