Thursday, December 30, 2010

What I sent out with the very few cards I send out

Any year you walk away from is a good one, right? 2010 has been excellent.

I still have no job and am still getting by. I know unemployment is not uncommon and not something I should be desperately ashamed of, so picture me whistling nonchalantly. So very many people are NOT getting by that I am aware I am in really good shape. Enough about that.

Last year at this time,
A) Doug the housemate had moved back in after breaking up with a sweetie in Concord.

B) I had Marten, Willow, and Nigel in order of size and seniority, all cats.

C) I had the contractor’s extra possessions and his daughter in my house. (The kitchen is finished and works very well).

D) I had not touched beads in several years.

I visited New York with my parents (they gave me the only good mattress, the quiet room, and trips to the museums); I went to Boskone (a science fiction convention, good for me to be with My Kind); and my aunt graciously sent me to the dig in Texas, where there was snow. This year we are supposed to be going to Texas in May, which means probably no snow, but we get fire ants. Would prefer snow, but since May brings wildflowers to the Texas Hill country, it evens out.

I taught spinning and needlefelting at the Smith science fiction convention for possibly the fifth year in a row.

Doug reconnected with a friend from high school (in Pleistocene, Connecticut). Barb is a visiting nurse (in Trumbull, CT) and engaged to be married next March. They are not planning to live together until one of them retires. Since he is the World’s Best Housemate, I am hoping they both stay working for a long time.

We had a mild winter here, and I was able to work for MONEY!!! on a paleoindian dig in Keene. It was a lovely dig and we had baby woodchucks and a fair number of finds (mostly scrapers). They used the same suite of tool-stone as the people in Northern NH and in Quebec and it was pleasant to think of them as being related. There weren’t very many people here then, so they probably were. But Then lasted about a thousand years, we can’t know if any of sites was in use at the same time as the others.

Doug persuaded me to buy a truckload of topsoil, as the house is built on what a sensible science fiction fan would recognize as regolith: more or less ground-up bedrock. You cannot actually dig here, you pick at it. I bought a raised bed from Gardener’s Supply and spent the year being amazed and gratified. Not that I weeded anything again until Mid-July. We also had very hot, dry weather; but despite several kinds of neglect we harvested onions and tomatoes and parsley. Buying topsoil felt like a cop-out, but it made a HUGE difference. My compost heap was full of black gold, but I don’t produce enough organic refuse to jumpstart more than a meter or so.

Around the same time it was decided that the summer NH state archaeology field school would camp in my front yard and cook in my kitchen. People kept asking if I wasn’t afraid of the invasion, but I pointed out that the person in charge of people cooking (Heather) is obsessive about clutter and the place would be the tidier for it, and indeed, that was the case. Thanks to Sarah, Doug, and Heather, possibly the best friends EVER, we took all of Paul the contractor’s stuff to the swap shop.. And I got an empty uninsulated but glassed-in porch. There has been a pile of boxes in there since I moved into this house (hangs head in shame). There is now a smaller pile of boxes to one side of the front room (hangs head in shame), but sometimes I throw things away. My dream of getting like into the same room as like is closer to fruition and I can still walk around. Heather got all funny about the number of boxes of fleece, yarn, and beads she kept coming upon and in defense and gratitude I made her a necklace, and another for the digger who detail-cleaned my car. After the dig I reorganized my beads (perhaps I do have too many... nah) and was beading away nicely till the end of October, when Fear of Christmas came upon me and I had to knit and embroider. Almost done with that.

Having the dig in the front yard (and constantly cleaning the kitchen) was like having a party for a month. It was great. Doug put up two outdoor showers (I have an outdoor hot water spigot, or this would not have been a friendly gesture) and took empty bottles to the recycling center constantly. I taught about six people to spin and refined my teaching technique. Sarah came and did an indigo demonstration. The crew were lovely people, good diggers, hard workers. and I missed them when they left. They cooked, they cleaned and organized, they put pavers onto my sand-courtyard! If only the archaeology part of it had found anything at any of the various nice places we tried. All of them were places we thought someone would have wanted to live, but apparently not.

It was also the hottest season’s digging I can remember. No one passed out. We drank a lot of water. It is worth mentioning that those dryer sheets that don’t smell anything like Woodland Fresh DO keep horseflies away. People wearing them in their hats look silly, but much less so than when flaiing at horseflies.

The next week Dick took a few of us to a place in Jefferson NH, where someone wants to build a house. In two days we found more than we had the previous four weeks, and we know where the 2011 field school will be. Sadly, it is too far to have the base camp here again.

My house and my car are still definitely tidier than they were before field school.

The only sad note was that Nigel either took off or was eaten by something. I hope he found another human family, because he was a lovely cat, but Marten HATED him and spent a lot of time beating him up. Nigel had been coming home for shorter times with longer intervals away for a month or so, and stopped appearing at all during field school.

After the archaeological digging was over, I worked on the garden and began to double dig a long south-facing patch in front of a stone wall. I have high hopes for next year, at least until the deer find me. This patch has the great advantage of being visible from my bedroom, so I am more likely to maintain it than several other places I have tried to terraform. Gardening also put me in closer touch with the toads, leopardfrogs, and gray tree frogs I share the land with. We were also delighted to see spotted salamanders mating in the tiny frog pond, and the phoebes made nests on the back porch once again. I was also delighted by the presence of indigo buntings (at least two pairs), hairy and downy and pileated woodpeckers, both kinds of nuthatches, cardinals, bluejays, evening and rose-breasted grosbeaks, woodthrushes and veeries and I think Cooper’s Hawks. And bats. I love it here.

Katie the contractor’s daughter moved out in late August. We are working on getting her stuff out of that room.

The leaves began to turn in early August, probably because of the heat and the lack of rain, and the autumn was shorter than usual. No snow until just before Christmas, and nothing much until the last Sunday of the year, when we got a foot, with high winds.

In mid-October Sarah fixed us up with two charming kittens who had wandered into a friend’s garage just ahead of a fox. We named them Mal and Wash (after Firefly)They are now about 5 months old, now free of parasites except for the poltergeists. Marten is at least sort of friendly to them (they play together), although his catnip use has increased. Willow is becoming a little less horrified by them. They make Doug and me laugh a great deal. They have not climbed the Christmas tree.

I wish you all as much happiness and health as I and my friends and my family have been having.