Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Actual fiber. Goldfinches are in eclipse plumage.

I had a great time in California in September. Sometime I will blog it. It's warm and very different geography out there; they also have a lot more people around the Bay area than live in all of New Hampshire (and probably Maine and Vermont as well).

(Warning -- digestive oversharing)
I seen to have become gluten intolerant again. This is not surprising, but it's expensive and inconvenient. I am selling my soul to King Arthur Flour's Gluten-free mixes. They might as well have it as anyone.  My gut is also unhappy when I eat anything very fiber-y ( a _delicious_ lentil stew with potatoes and onions) more than twice in 24 hours. I would not care as much if the unhappiness did not also include a spectacular itch.

My son has also quit eating wheat, rye, barley, oats, beer. I hope my vegetarian daughter remains able to eat the stuff. Celiac vegetarians have a really hard time.

Comparing blood samples from the 1950s to the 1990s, Murray found that young people today are nearly five times as likely to have celiac disease, for reasons he and others researchers cannot explain. And it’s on the rise not only in the U.S. but also in other places where the disease was once considered rare, like Mexico and India. “We don’t know where it’s going to end,” Murray says. “Celiac disease has public health consequences.” And therefore, it has a market. New York Times

And since it has a market, there are a lot more options than there were (Such as KAF being interested in my soul, not that it didn't already have it).

Enough about that.

Since October I have been crafting for Christmas. You really can knit more if you don't do other things, like reading, or eating (or drinking alcohol. Tea is okay, though it tends to get cold.).  I cannot post pictures because there might be gifts involved.  I can say, however, that the tiny kitted things of Mochimochi Land melt the stalest heart.  I have no pictures because I keep giving elephants away. (Maybe I should make a white one?)

So for gift reasons I needed to look at Ravelry, and I finally fell through the rabbit hole. I had not understood how people wasted the hours there they described. Now I do.  I made this for myself, in the middle of something else (that involved FOUR skeins of Noro, AND I still finished it in eight days), only I haven't seen it since Thanksgiving and a trip to Boston. I think it's with a muffler. I hope it's somewhere safe. And there is this, which answers the perennial question, "What should I do with leftover sock yarn?" Actually, of course, you should put it in a bag in your sock drawer to darn with, but no. The hexipuffs will also use up any of your spare time that you've carelessly not filled making tiny mermaids, Christmas presents, or gluten-free food.

 Or beading.  You would be right if you said I have not had much time to bead if I am constantly knitting. But the social interaction at Bead-It! is so good, I just dropped by, and the quietest of the three goddesses, Sue, had made... another thing I am making as a Christmas present. But this is a really lovely book, despite having not the best directions (knitting patterns are easier to write, but they also say things like 'four stitches added,' or '94 stitches this row,' which would be a help in beading, too).

I am reading Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon. It's weird but not unreadable, particularly if you like entirely gratuitous Star Trek references.  I also read Carrie Vaughn's Discord's Apple, which would be better if it were not a one-off (I liked the conceit and the characters very much), and The Unbelievers which was a gripper but kinda grim. And Second Sight, which falls into the Guilty Pleasure category, but it was tasty and I would read more Amanda Quick. But maybe not her alter ego, Jayne Ann Krentz. I liked the Victoriana. Try not to buy any of these from Amazon. We need the other booksellers, indie and chain alike, and Amazon keeps having nasty stories told about their labor practices.

I have not reacquired my desire to garden. The bees are still foraging on warm days, which we keep having. The weather now is like October ought to be, despite the 20" of snow we got in October.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Megantic 2011

We had no trip to Canada last year because our friend Dr. Claude Chapdelaine was digging way on the west of the province, too far for a day's drive and  long weekend. This year he reopened the place near Lac Megantic and a few of us were invited up. It is always pleasant on BiEre 14 (Pronounced Beer Quatorze. I once took a picture, but I can't find it...). This year they put us up camping outside a very nice cabin


I want a fancy screen door.


supervised by a charming, very old cat. They also had mean and painful mosquitoes.

The site was, as always, shady, bird-loud, and relatively mosquito free.


It's near where the river debouches into the lake, and it's lovely, though curiously pocked with plastic-lined pits.


They dig in sous-quadrants there, every meter divided like ours are into four, and those into four again.
You can see it to the right here. This allows them to get a bunch of people into a rather small space.

Diana, Colin, Dick, Claude, possibly Pierre,George
Joy, Laura
Pierre Corbeil, Abbie

Abbie was allowed to find a nice Munsungun preform (a probable point in the making that someone messed up and gave up on). Dick had to leave early, but we were allowed the presence of Francine, Claude's wife, who is awfully nice and whom we had not seen for years.

Claude and Francine

They have apparently given up on making us do paperwork, which is all right, since they still fed us magnificently.  And the cottage was close to the actual Lake Megantic, so SCRAP got to go swimming there for the first time.



We sacked the Dollar Store and came home with flamingoes, throw rugs, small camping stools... foreign cheese, cookies.... it's a wonderland.

So, Field School


Last August we did a small dig in Jefferson, NH, a setting to which I am partial for its beauty, its lack of poison ivy, and its name. Dick the archaeologist is partial to it because we find stuff. We found stuff during the small dig, and so we had field school there: Jefferson 6.

It's next to a B&B where people digging some other earlier Jeffersons (1-5, et al), and sooner or later the landowner wants to build a house. Meadow with a spectacular view of Mt Washington.


The supervisors were Heather

Heather supervised Block A

and, because we received some additional funding from the Mountain View Grand Hotel, Abbie.  Abbie has only been around SCRAP since 2009 but we all think it must have been longer. She has taken to agreeing that she was there since 1987. She is 23 and at the beginning of the season she was unhappy to hear she needed to cultivate the Boss-quality of making people slightly uncomfortable when she was near them. By the end of the dig she was properly evil.

Abbie supervised Block B

The students were almost entirely women; in the middle two weeks, all of the students were women and we could number the guys (returnees) on one hand.  Other than, in Dick's opinion, a great deal more giggling and a great deal less drinking, it didn't make much difference.

We camped around the same cottage as we did in 2004, down a precipitous slope off Rte 2.


 Being in a river valley means bad cell phone reception. All summer we waited for the internet guy to come, but he was never able to deliver (his life got in the way, and we could not blame him).  The tents were set up along the powerline that runs from Quebec to somewhere south, Boston at least.

The cottage has an adequate kitchen, a great porch,

and almost no natural light inside. The water runs, but it has a rather high coliform bacteria count, so we were advised not to drink it.  We got water from our friends across the road from the site,

The pump at Pat's place. It was clean.

 and from local friends who also turned out to have a high coliform count in their well, which might explain... . Well, clean running water is indeed all it's said to be.
Supplemental sanitary facilities, nearer the road, had better cell phone reception. At least, that was George's excuse.

The food was delicious. One week, we had strawberries brought in from Quebec, George's pulled pork, and a chicken and cherries dish made by Rose, who really thinks main courses are just a prelude to desserts. She made a tasting menu of five desserts: little cheese cakes, fruit tarts, tiny brownies... I forget, but it was an amazing week.

So we were excavating a site that probably had to do with the view (still amazing after 12,000 years, though now with trees) one might have had of caribou migrating into the Israel River Valley.  We put multiple-square meter units around places where we had found things in test pits. All of these are carefully lined out on a grid, which maps onto the the state topo maps and the world.

Crammed for dear life under the shade at lunch...

...chatting and eating...

...or in some cases, napping.

We also continued to dig test pits, supervised by Mikey

Mikey on the right

Colin on the right.  A visiting botanist saved our lives with Popsicles. Thank you, Page!

until he was forced to go on vacation, when Dick allowed Colin to take over.  Someone bought Dick two more pop-up tents for the test-pit digging crew, by that time off in a world of their own. I mean more than usual.

You will notice (in the pics of Heather and Abbie, for instance) that the site was rocky. The rocks were large and frequent and the paleos tended to tuck flakes and things right under them.  They reflected the heat (what they didn't absorb) to make the units into nice reflective ovens.


It was hot the last four weeks in particular. Very Hot. REALLY HOT, like one week it started in the 90's and worked up to 105, and not much better in the shade. The air was not clear and one day (forest fires in Canada?) we could not see the next mountain over.  Our brains were melting out of our heads. Since we were in the mountains, it generally cooled down at night.
Clouds over the campsite

The natives rejoiced.

We were very glad when it rained, which cooled things off a little.

Dick and Abbie supervise B.

The six weeks each went faster and faster. The end of the first week, some of us went to Megantic for a long weekend (next post); Nathaniel went to Outer Mongolia. This is not a euphemism.  I took pictures, which is my excuse for not finding too much. I am not bad at digging test pits, and in the units, I was several times surprised to find I had dug down to the correct level.  This happens rarely, usually when the level is messed up. I redeemed my reputation when Jess and I dug, profile-drew, and backfilled a test pit, carefully supervised by Mikey, only to be told by Cindy (the youngest rookie,  a smart-mouth of 15) that we had dug it in the wrong place. Mirror-image problem.  I called Cindy a rotten kid for the next 48 hours, pleasing her a good deal. The rest of the time she was "My Young Apprentice," but she was not familiar enough with Stars Wars to get the overtones. Otherwise, she shows a great deal of promise. I shall follow her career with interest.

There were more science-fiction and fantasy fans (geeks) than SCRAP has ever had. Though I was way older and did not watch most of their TV shows, we had enough in common for me to feel at home. Not that I didn't already, since I have spent two to six weeks in Coos County in 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2011, not counting the long weekends of Octoberfest since about 2005. I like the north, and the people I dig with.



Yes well

Okay, I am going to get back into it.  Life has been busy, in some sense of the word. After Gault, there was field school. After Field School, there was a minor site called Mercier, mostly notable for my getting a new camera: I am pretty sure it is this one.

 Still don't have A Job. Health is good.  I think I am going to have a root canal soon, or certainly a crown. Not ready for winter.

Number of cats, stable at four: Marten, Willow, Mal, and Wash. Kittens are now about a year old and bigger; tall, but skinny. Marten nad Willow still hate each other, but WIllow is less unhappy and sometimes looks relaxed.

House: Messier than you want to know about.

Doug and Barb: still very happy.

I am on Instagram as @Rhyolight. Instagram , a free photo sharing app, is fun. It is an app but you can use it on your computer. I subscribe to a weird writer named Warren Ellie, Sublime Stitchery, a feral embroiderer named Katie Kutthroat, a Whedonverse actress and fan named Felicia Day, and my son, among others.

I love my iPod Touch.

And most of you, although I hope I don't exploit you as much as the iPod.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gault, Part 2

The actual excavation at Gault is only part of the whole experience.  It's a backbone, so it shapes  and structures the rest, but backbones aren't everything.  It was hot and sunny during the first few days, and windy day and night. They said it was never windy at night where we were, except that it had been for past six months. It kept some people awake. I was grateful for the breeze.

We arrived May 8, Saturday, and started to work the next day. On May 11, Wednesday, it was cloudy and slightly cooler, and rained half-heartedly during the day.  I went to bed around ten, later than usual, and was cold enough to put on my sleeping fleece for the first time.

 Shortly after I zipped into the tent, we had the most spectacular thunderstorm I have ever enjoyed. The lightening was almost continuous for what seemed like an hour -- more light than dark, with excellent thunder and some hail. I didn't want to risk my so-far secure tent by opening it, but peeking under the fly I saw hailstones as big as lima beans. The people watching from the house said they saw larger than that. It was amazing and occasionally I did wonder if I was going to become a statistic. Jessie had been in Louisiana during the bad tornadoes the previous month and told stories about teaching unprepared people to use weather radios. I don't know if they have sirens near Florence; you could not have heard them anyway.

 I know I shouldn't tempt fate but I would love tenting through another such storm again.

Wednesday was Snowflake's due date. We thought the storm might bring on the calf. Nope.

Unfortunately I had a plastic tarp under my tent (it may be be protection from fire ants, but that was hard to tell since they weren't around much until after the rain, by which time I had dispensed with the plastic) and it sent the water through the floorcloth. On the plus side, although I could tell the toe of my sleeping bag was soaking wet, it did not wick and I slept toasty through the rest of the night.

In the morning I carried my gear to the garage/bunkhouse, and my tent itself, (four or five trips) so everything could dry out. Shortly afterwards I could not find my iPod for the rest of the day, and went into a fine fit of self-hatred and misery. (Insert many scenes of looking where I had already looked, in case.) Heather and Nathaniel were going to the supermarket 45 minutes away in Georgetown, and took me and my wetter stuff to a really nice laundromat. It was clean, airy, all the machines worked, had lots of seats, and WiFi. Heaven.

Once we were home,  I repitched my tent (no tarp this time) and carried my now-dry sleeping bag back to it, leaving most of my gear sheltered in the bunkhouse. I didn't get to eat dinner until nearly 8:30 and was not really human until I went to bed. This involved finding my sleeping fleece in the living room, where my iPod had been hiding. I should not be so attached to a gadget, but it was a new one, my Mother's Day and birthday present for 2011, and I really like it. My old one did not take pictures. iPods (with the Audubon app) are wonderful for figuring out what bird that was -- you can check songs. I'd felt bereft and naked without it. And it was brand new. Foolish machine.

The next day we had rain in the morning, and went to the site just in time for Mike Collins to come and tell us we were on the edge of another severe thunderstorm. They had tried sitting out these things in the big tent over the site, but Buttermilk Creek had risen high enough they couldn't leave. So we went back to the house in time to watch it storm impressively again--though not so good as the night before.  We were able to dig again in the afternoon.

After the rain, it was considerably cooler and drier, but the wind stopped, and the windmill that pumped our water just sat there.  They had not been able to wash the dishes the night before; there would be no showers. Karen and I went to buy water at the gas station, which seems weird. The gas station had a wonderful convenience store with almost everything you might need and I was able to find some dulce-de leche fudge. (I cannot get the cowboy picture I took off my phone, but he was a fine sight in the fluorescent light and the snack-foods aisle.)

Since our arrival, I had suffered from Fat Lady's Thigh Chafing, aching all over (ankles, knees, midback elbows), and I Think My Right Arm May Detach at the Elbow (I still loved the hand pick). I asked myself if I should retire. I replied "And leave SHOW BUSINESS?!!?" At breakfast I had taken arnica. At lunch I took ibuprofen. At two, I just wanted to die (although my morale was still better than it had been the day before). I asked what I was saving the fudge for?  To give me a 3:30 lift? Could I need one worse then than I already did? I ate it.

By two thirty, nothing hurt.   It was amazing. It lasted well into the next day. The chafing announced it had turned the corner to Better.  Did the barometer change? Humidity? Did my body finally get used to working? Was it  the weather being the ten degrees cooler? No idea. Since I regard refined sugar as only slightly less toxic than Everclear, I would hate to think I'd been suffering from a shortage of fudge in my bloodstream,  but wow.

I went birding after work, causing Donna to believe I was probably lying dead in a canyon (the majority opinion was that I was asleep in my tent). I encountered the cows' owners while I was staring at her and we agreed that she was surely very, very pregnant. They were hoping for twins; but on the other hand, Lily (now no longer resident at Gault) had had twins and been barren after that, and they didn't want the same thing to happen to Snowflake. Freckles's calf (whose name was officially Pumpkin Peach, which is what happens if you let a four-year old girl name you orange and white cow; we called her Vealette)  had been trying to nurse off of her grandcow Mona (who looked very tolerant); I said maybe if  the calf would try to nurse off Snowflake it would provoke labor.  Howard said the calf had tried that the day before. I suggested Mexican food or maybe  a trampoline; we looked at Snowflake and sighed.


She had a heifer calf the day after we left.

The birding this year was good but unsatisfying, as it always is. Most of interesting birds I saw were active in the heat of the day, as I was on my way to the portapotty, exactly when I wasn't supposed to go hunting after them.   Although I only saw one painted bunting, there were several pairs of summer tanagers we saw fairly often, and there were cackles of hummingbirds fighting in the background of half-familiar bird songs. PhotobucketThat was mostly mockingbirds and song sparrows and Carolina wrens, but also other birds that sounded exotic and remained hard to spot. I had only glimpses of scissor-tailed-flycatchers this year, both times from car windows.

There were cricket frogs playing chicken with our feet in the mud near the washing screens, some lovely Wodehouse's toads, skinks on the way up the slope to the Portapotties near the site, and some baleful watersnakes in Buttermilk Creek and the pond we pumped out of/back into for water screening. Mikey claimed a cottonmouth went after him but we figured it had been provoked.

No one found anything in particular spectacular, but being there was good enough. The first day when I was washing, I was washing some buckets from the below-Clovis level and I thought about Bernie in Doonesbury at Loch Ness.  He wrote in his diary: "10 a.m. : I can't believe I'm at the Loch Ness monster recording site! So excited my temples hurt!" In the next frame; "10:25 a.m.: Nothing out there. Am considering taking a nap."

It was a bit like that.  I didn't actually dig any below-Clovis levels (maybe next year; there wasn't much room), but it didn't look like I was missing a great deal of fun. First, I worry about screwing up, going down too far. (Though I am getting better at going to the right depth, which suggests practice makes a difference). Second, though the plastic trowels would make screwing up more difficult, I could just see myself breaking them and also taking FOREVER to dig a level. But they did find flakes while I was there and everyone that has been worked, incontestably, by a human, is another nail in the Clovis-first controversy and really cool.

Here's Jill doing her human fly routine to unzip a window:


The sediments were a different color and _packed_ with calcium carbonate concretions. When you have water running over limestone, you get lime in the water (as the electric kettle in the cottage showed. It reminded me of Kent). When the water stands long enough, some of the minerals in it get together and precipitate -- we had secondary iron deposits last year, little bright red stains.  This far down in Gault, it had had a long time to get together under wet conditions, and some of the flakes in my Paleo level had CaCo concretions on them. Apparently some grad student had suggested that the concretions might contain an organic bit -- a seed or a piece of twig and these could be carbon-dated. A large percentage of the concretions they tested turned out, indeed, to have formerly live hearts, so we now save the concretions when we washed the buckets of mud.

I credit myself with a major step forward in the excavation process by suggesting that instead of dividing the CaCo from the chert in the one-eighth-inch screen, we just bag it and let them kibble it in the lab. This saved something over an hour for each one-eighth inch level (one of which occurs in every multi-bucket, mostly screened at 1/4 inch, 5 cm level). It really helped the system and kept people from sunburn and madness. And the science will be better. And the finds bags get sorted through several  times at the lab, already.

What SCRAP does at Gault, most importantly, is to give it a longer, more concentrated dose of excavation than it gets most of the time: there is a difference beween the work of fifteen or so people, most of whom know what they are doing, for eight hours a day, for a week or more, and people who volunteer a couple of hours on some Saturdays a month. We also are in a better position to tweak their systems because we're there long enough to know them and be able to think about it.

Here's the quarry across the road from the house, not being worked at all hours like it was last year. it looks like an abandoned ancient Greek settlement, somehow.Photobucket

And it is a bit like a party, or a good dorm experience.  We carp about one another sometimes, as people will in a small, isolated group, but we look after one another and bring things to the attention of people who might like to know. I was very touched when Jessie came to find me to show me the edge of the storm, one of her favorite moments in weather. She made being from Oklahoma something really cool (and probably saved lives explaining the use of weather-radios to a naive audience in Louisiana, the week tornadoes were all over the Gulf coast). While she was looking for me she found a few other people who wanted to admire the edge of the storm, too.

One of the quietest people there was Will. He's been digging with SCRAP since 2006, and coming to lab fairly often for kibble washing and artifact-cataloguing. You thought he was grumpy but he was mostly shy and very soft-spoken.  He took some really good photos, particularly his first trip to Gault in 2009 (I think). He had a good camera, which certainly helps, and a good eye, and persistence.This year he was a bit disappointed that we had missed the peak of the cactus blossom, but he managed to capture the summer tanagers and the elusive skink, and he had better luck than anyone else did in terms of finding projectile points (it was a slow year for them. Nathaniel found one, too, of course).  He also took this lovely shot of the survivors of the expedition in Austin, seeking food.


Here he is finding broken Archaic points:Photobucket

We spent a lot of time on the water-screens talking and enjoying the sun (it was during the months of rain every day in New Hampshire; we enjoyed getting some summer). He had some unhappinesses, but he was hopeful things would work out and looking forward to the summer.

He had a heart attack last Sunday, June 19th, and died very suddenly.  I'll miss him, as will his daughters and a lot of his friends in archaeology and other places.  I wish he had had more time to learn about his Indian heritage and the local history he loved.

And the work at Gault goes on. They are, like everyone, terribly short of money. You can buy tasteful merchandise here.   You can read their newsletter here.

Monday, May 30, 2011

So then I went to Gault.

Gault is a wonderful place, where the Plains Country meets lower, lusher environment and all of it overlies limestone. This means very sticky clay and the formation of chert or flint beds. The people who lived here never needed to take up agriculture until after the Europeans settled in. They had been rain-free since last September. Since we brought the snow last February, they were hoping we could change that.

Although they told us about the drought, it was still plenty humid. But the creek was barely trickling and in the field behind the site, the wildflowers were much taller than the grass: just a sea of Mexican Hat.
which does not show in the pictures, so you get a closeup with a butterfly.  They said it had been too dry for bluebonnets at all that year, and we were most of the way through the cactus flower season, so the flowers were not as amazing as some years. And the chiggers appear to be returning to Gault. But as long as the rain held off, we had no fire ants.  Little horrors were attracted to my water bottle, though, and I got several bites on my hand before I learned to bang it on the ground before using. Some kind of ants were also really alert in the site-tent, and you had to hang your lunch up or they would get into it amazingly quickly.

 The first couple of days, it was at least 100 degrees. I don't do well in heat anyway. I got  FatterLady's Thigh Chafing, which took six days to get better, possibly because it reacted badly to the hand cream I put on it. Eight-Hour Cream (the family nostrum for almost everything since about 1937) was better.  I tell this partly because, after I was home, I found an anti-chafe substance at the sporting goods store, called BodyGlide. Even though the name speaks to me of sex romps, I am glad it exists and I hope it will work. Although the pattern of above-normal cloudiness and drizzle and below-normal temperatures continues in New Hampshire, and I may not need it again for a long time.

So I wandered around being stunned by the heat and trying not to wince when I walked.  There was a small scorpion in the living room (we posed for pictures and then I put it out front). One of the campers the previous month had been attacked by an owl roosting in the back yard.  I immediately thought I could cope with a Harry Potter scar, but fortunately the owl had calmed down. One of the cows, Freckles, had produced a sweet little brown and white calf who spent most of her time hanging out with her grandma cow, Mona. Snowflake was due to give birth on Wednesday. The MOST pregnant cow we had ever seen.

 The site was in good shape, no flooding; they had taken the sand out of the deep and changed the corrugated pipe for a live sump-pump

Photobucket 2010

 and made a proper six-meter unit there.

Photobucket  2011

They found things too old to be Clovis there when they originally dug that deep pit in about 2003, and that was why the site we have been digging was laid out around there; there is a reasonable chance the there was occupation all the way down. Gault has been working on a NSF grant to explore the levels below the (incredibly rich, populous) Clovis layer there, and because working in a six-meter pit is dangerous, we have been helping them open a series of meter-wide steps or terraces around that original findspot.  The overlying sediments were extensively pot-hunted, but not so extensively as they had expected.  While we yearned  to excavate Clovis and below, we had had to do a proper digging job of the Archaic that kept turning up. Such as the oldest burnt-rock oven in Texas, which shouldn't have been there before the Middle Archaic at the earliest. The one in Gault, around which and on they have been working for at least two years, is early Archaic/Late Paleo. This distinction involves a couple of thousand years.

Photobucket 2011. Rocky mess at 6-4 o'clock in foreground is the oven.

There is a graduate student working on it. If he doesn't hurry, he'll find himself alone on a crumbling pedestal, since they want to go down at least another half a meter under it, and the squares around it are going faster.  People kept trying to tell Nancy (the local supervisor/siteboss) that another burned-rock oven was turning up in the southWest, but she didn't want to hear it.

  Since Mr. Collins hasn't had a chance to write up and properly publish his oldest finds, I give you a link from the Friedkin site, within sight of us just upstream. They had less overburden and less archaeology to do before they reached the exciting stuff.

Last year we worked on some of the late Paleo levels, and I notably hacked out a bunch of 2009 flood debris using a proper scary two-handed, over-the shoulder mattock. And we were there for two weeks, not one.

This year, over about eight days, I washed (using fire hoses and a tiny canal off Buttermilk Creek. A snake was living in our settling pond, and tiny frogs played around out feet) flakes out of buckets of mud from the pit;
 hacked out some more flood debris, but Dick wouldn't let me use a big pick;
 was Nathaniel's paperwork assistant (or 'bitch' as we call it) as he hacked out forty-six buckets of more flood debris in less one full day of work (he really needed the support; Bruce was his bucket-wallah).

Then I was able to go back to my meter and not hack, actually trowel, in actual Paleo levels.  I found about thirty decent flakes, nothing exciting. The important part (as well as the usual-- trying not to over cut, and to record things as I found them) was not getting dirt on Jill.

Jill was originally from Australia and has a day-job to do with lobbying for health care. But she had taken an apartment in Austin for three months and was singlehandedly dragging Gault into the  fifteenth century BC or thereabouts. She was very nice, even though Dick used her as the excuse why I could not use a proper two-handed, swung-over the shoulder mattock to remove 20 cm of unstratified grot.  I became fond of my handpick.

 Jill was sitting in the below-Clovis, digging with a plastic spoon (all right, a plastic trowel). It was taking her four days per 5 cm (mine, when trowelling, was taking only one day, which is on the slow side of normal). She was finding some very nice flakes (and occasionally more. but they wouldn't let us photograph the spaceship or the scale model of the Eiffel Tower). And even when I was getting dirt on her dirt, she was patient and polite.  "I don't mind the dirt, just no flakes," she said plaintively.

Friday, May 06, 2011

I am sitting in at least today's location of the Earthly Paradise: my aunt's backyard. It looks onto a small lake, where in the hour or so I have been here, I've seen a common egret, a snowy egret, a Little Blue Heron, wood ducks mallards bow-tailed grackles doves crows cardinals bluejays some huge MF of a dove, and heard red-winged  blackbirds and red-bellied woodpeckers.

We are in the process of finding out the password to my aunt's computer network. I am full of hope.

So after being pre-trip anxious for a week or so, I got ready to go. I mailed off most of my camping gear. I believed  my children had absconded with both of my larger suitcases, and since I was trying to travel lighter I ditched my long heavy cot. I got a lovely foam pad that folds to the size of a large loaf of bread. I also started playing with my mother's old Olympus.  It had a 64-kB chip in it, and despite being on not-very-HQ it takes much better pictures than my beloved point-and-shoot. But on SHQ only 8 pictures fit on the chip.

So I needed a suitcase and another chip. I had an errand in Salem and went to Rockingham Mall. I was wearing a t-shirt with a mammoth on it and ended up giving SCRAP's contact information to two people. I never think anyone reads my shirts. Also Sears was having a sale, so I found a suitcase for half-price. Then I found that Staples and Target do not carry xD camera cards, and Dick had gone home early. Nothing daunted, I got my nails done (if your cuticles were as bad as mine you would get a manicure before you went on a dig, too) and a 2gB xD card and collapsed into dinner with Sarah.

I was talking to Doug that night about suitcases and he remarked he had moved mine after the near-incursion of the raccoons.

Today, in Texas, I tried the old Olympus with the new chip and it appears it cannot cope with the perfectly good 2gB chip. So Dick will bring two of his old  less-than 2 gB chips, since he uses xDs as well.

An extra suitcase and two extra gig of camera memory are surely good things, right?

And it was a relatively easy flight down and it is beautiful here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No anvils so far, and "Queen of the Sun"

With regard to the moon being in crud: On Monday I went into Concord to hang out at the bead shop. There was only one of the goddesses there, and first thing (at noon) there were a lot of different cheery customers. I explained to Sue that the plagues of Egypt or somewhere more emotional were afflicting my acquaintance, and she was sympathetic. I worked on my freeform netting bracelet. Shortly after the initial crowd thinned out, a nice woman about my age came in and described spending a weekend with her daughters, who were, on the one hand, very anxious and demanding, and on the other, officious and demanding. It was obvious the woman needed to have told both of them to do anatomically unlikely things some time ago, particularly after she described both daughters telling her she should break up with the man she had met in the bereaved cancer spouses group.

Later in the afternoon, another woman came in. Her son was going to the army induction center, and they couldn't find his father, who has kidney disease and a habit of signing himself into hospital without checking the HIPA thing that would allow his wife to know he was there. Son wanted to say 'bye for now' to his father, who, when tracked down, said "I told him to have a good day at breakfast, why would he want to say goodbye again?"
 Her other son was marrying his sweetheart Friday and both he and the bride refused to say anything useful about the ceremony other than that they were meeting the JP at the lakeshore and their friends would assemble at the woman's house and walk to the lake together. Woman suggested a tent, perhaps, maybe some chairs? Her son said she was being controlling and hung up on her.  Prospective daughter-in-law (who was not speaking to her own mother) was marrying in shades of black, grey, and silver. She complained that rather nice necklace offered by woman@beadstore had too many clear stones in it; woman was at bead shop to make a darker gray necklace. Both Sue and I had difficulty not expressing where the woman should have told prospective DIL to put the necklace. Woman needed to tell so very many people that, she could have got a deal on the necklaces.

And she kept quietly sobbing.

Meanwhile, as the snow lingers in the shadows (and some of the sunny places), the temperature in Concord hit 78 and the bead shop, on the south side of the street, went from 'how nice it is to have the door open' to "Maybe you should consider the air conditioning." Rather like a crock pot.

I had another project to work on after I finished my bracelet but between the heat and the suffocating vibes I lit out for Borders, where is was nice and chilly and I could sit far away from everyone and read Lee Martinez.  Who is not as funny as Thorne Smith but made a fine mental palate cleanser.

A bit after six I returned to downtown and went to the bee event at the Red River Theatre. They were showing "Queen of the Sun," with a mead tasting beforehand and a Q&A with the president of my local bee association, the founder of Badger Balm, kid who had spent last summer with an organic apiary in France, and the founder of Moonlight Meadery. The mead was very tasty (it was technically melomel, being composed of fermented honey and fruit juices) and I may buy some. The red currant was _delicious._

You might think I would be putting this in my bee blog, but I think the movie is more designed for the non-apiarist. It presents a lot of beekeepers and some biologists discussing the collapse of honeybee stocks in Europe and the United States, with lots of gorgeous photography and enough background information about bees to make the issues clearer.   The issue seems to be agribusiness, where bees are used as pollinating machines for monocultures of crops.

The film used the almond orchards as an example.  The pictures of acres and acres of blooming almond trees going on to the horizon was staggering.  It should have been beautiful, but the fields in which the trees grow are sprayed with herbicides and pesticides, so you have essentially a desert with almond trees stuck in. The 'migratory beekeepers'  come from all over not just North America but, as American bees collapsed, as far as Australia to help pollinate the California almond crop. It's a perfect chance to mix in as many diverse diseases as possible ("a bordello for bees," according to Michael Pollan. Which is catchy but a bad metaphor, since only the diseases are having anything like sex. And the trees, I suppose).

To make this possible, the commercial beekeepers wrap the hives in saran wrap, forklift them onto truck, and drive to California. They mess around with the bees' life cycle (many are trucked in from the north and any adaptations they may make to the winter are shot), feed them high-fructose corn syrup * and then, after two weeks, wrap them up and truck them either to another orchard or back home. The commercial beekeepers explain this was what they needed to do to make money, and apparently the business involves millions of dollars and yet is still cheaper than keeping almond orchards in something approaching a diverse ecology.

If this only affected the bees on the trucks, it would be one thing--bad and cruel if you regard bee or bee colonies as persons--but of course these bees take their new diseases home with them.  And spread them among the stationary hives and the native pollinators -- the bumblebees and the other wild bees actually native to the New World (or the Old World -- their bumblebees are in trouble as much as ours are) and as essential to the lives all flowering plants whether people need the plants for food or not.

The thrust of the film was not to explain Colony Collapse Disorder, but to make it clear we had been riding toward something like that for a very long time for a number of reasons:
 failure to realize basic public health and the simplest understanding of regional diseases and immunities should be part of pollination policies;
 the use of chemicals with complex and not altogether predictable effects;
people, not for the only time, deciding they could 'improve' a complex system that had developed over centuries, millennia, or epochs **.
And habitat destruction. You want to keep a messier yard, at least around the edges. But you already did that, because you like fireflies.

 A harsher person than I am might object to the portrayal of beekeepers as nearly all funny men with cute accents (although they have a 3rd-gen NYC beekeeper with dreadlocks, a sari-wearing biologist, and an only slightly flaky entomologist (jeans, t-shirt) standing up for the women. And that dancer in the trailer, who of course is entirely typical).

I did enjoy the evening. Mr. White of Badger Balm had brought a stunningly beautiful top-bar hive with him for show and tell. As well as getting a chance to say hi to Troy of the Kearsarge Beekeepers Association, which sponsored the bee school, I talked to some strangers keeping bees in Candia, some friends of Sarah's I have met before, and someone once connected with the NH Dep't of Historical resources (whose husband was the real estate agent while I house-hunted here) and her friends. It really is a very small state.

I think I am going to switch to buying only organic almonds.  Maybe, like 'dolphin-safe' tuna, we could have 'bee-safe' crops.

*The groans from the nutty crunchy independent cinema-going  audience here were quite funny, even while I was groaning with them.

** Yes, I do mean deciding we could sort out the Mideast with a few good American soldiers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

a new week

Usually Mondays are, well, not as bad as if I had A Job, but, you know? Today, it's a new week and I am hoping the almost uninterrupted string of godawfulness being endured by several of my friends will let up: filial mental health, spousal mental health, their own mental health, aftermath of breakup, parental mental health, academic difficulties, and yesterday afternoon, the sudden, expensive (bladder-stone related) death of my daughter's saner, younger cat.
 I am afraid if I go outside an anvil will fall on my head, since that's what's happening to them, more or less.

We had a couple of nice days this past week, with sun and plausible warmth. The daffodils are coming up even as the crocus is blasting into bloom. Late, compressed spring. I have yet to hear a redwing, though they usually live across the road. The phoebe is building her nest in the usual place and I saw a butterfly. No other Native Pollinators yet.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Adulteration is such an ugly word

Today is about three and a half months from when I made an attempt at apple peel wine, so it was time to bottle it. Doug handled the capper and helped me manage the siphon. The apple=peel vintage managed to be herbal yet vinegary yet alcoholic (Note to self: do not try this again. Just compost the peels. You are not a Norman peasant). Actually, I think it would be ideal for certain kinds of upset stomachs. There were also three gallons of dandelion wine from 2009 and 2010, and some rose petal. The rose petal didn't taste like much when I racked it, and it still didn't.  So I mixed it with couple of pounds of honey, improving it beyond recognition, and it if it isn't too active I'll bottle it next week. To be properly traditional, I should use sugar of lead, or possibly wood alcohol, but we don't have the facilities for adulteration our foreparents did and we must just make the best of it.

The dandelion wine was much much better. I added a hint of ginger to one batch, which only made it taste 'hotter,' more alcoholic. Not really a good idea.  I have one more gallon of dandelion with cherries in it (what was I thinking?) that we racked (decanted to get some of the sludge out before letting it settle once more before bottling).  It didn't seem either awful or the warm, round, cheery mouthfeel of the basic recipe.  Dandelion wine is labor intensive -- you have to get all the little green bits off the flowers before you cover them with sugar, and prepping the blossoms takes forever. But the basic dandelion recipe is probably worth the trouble.

We can drink it in September. Wine is one of those things like daffodils; by the time you get to drink it, it's so long after the initial effort that it seems quite easy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Not quite April

Snow is expected tomorrow night. It is sunny, but filthy cold. I can hear the wind sharpening its whatever that takes your hair off. I still have redpolls, whom I love, who may have decided that this IS Northern Canada and perhaps they will stay.

In three months, God willing, I'll be complaining about the heat.

I had my 7-week post-op and I am just amazingly fine.  I am very happy with that. I am also trying to eat more vegetables and perhaps even exercise more. I am cautious about lifting things. Since the frost will never get out of the ground, I'll never know whether I can shovel decently.

Last weekend was Conbust. The weekend before that was Doug and Barb's wedding.

I have low expectations of weddings. I was worried the liturgy would be so bad my inner liturgist (who used to be Top Personality) would have a Level Seven Wobbly (or 'take a fit,' as they say here. Have a cow).  Since, in my liturgy rating system, it is almost impossible to come out with a positive score, only losing a few points is pretty good (bells at the elevation, communion under only the appearance of bread, use of a deacon instead of lay Eucharistic ministers). Unexpected not-losses of points: short sermon, consecration of the hosts for the mass AT the mass; really pretty, not-overwhelming music/no one singing 'How Great Thou Art;' no mentions at all of birth control, abortion, the vocation crisis, or people with statistically unusual sexual preferences. I didn't come even close to losing my temper, which is, sadly, amazing.

The reception was buffet, tasty food, reasonable bar, comfortable setting (the head table was another table like unto all the rest of us and not on a dais), and really nice people.  The music was just low enough that you could actually converse, as well.

Deb accused me unjustly of stealing the blankets the first night, at her house, so I got the bed at the hotel  all to myself while she and Sarah shared. On the trip home, the Boisverts suggested a stop at Rein's Deli, at which I have wanted to eat since I was in college. But I am not often on I-84,, and when I have been I have been in a hurry, so I have just looked mournfully at the sign when I drove past. It was up to expectation. I had the Nova Smoked Salmon Salad and Potato Pancake Platter. The place smelled like the delicious half-sour pickles they give you while you wait for your food. Deb Boisvert and discovered that we had both spent the same chunk of our lives -- old enough to yearn, too young to drive -- in New Jersey.

Doug was away for the next week, on his honeymoon in Mystic Seaport, CT, and York Beach, ME. I prepared for teaching three small fibery workshops at Conbust and had performance anxiety. On Thursday I took off and crossed a small but valid continental divide over the Connecticut River, off New Hampshire's granite chunk of Africa onto Vermont's edge-of-North America limestone former-seabed. It was sunny, though neither green nor warm, and a lovely drive. A gas station just over the border had home-made pea soup, which fortified me for getting lost in Bellows Falls. At last I reached Saxton's River and DyakCraft. I picked up ten Cheap Sheep spindles and drove on to Northampton. It was good to see Grace and Debbie, although Grace was in MCAS hell (a special version for Special Ed teachers). Friday I did things in Northampton and was in a foul mood, which was sad because it was only moderately cold, sunny, and everyone was nice to me.

Conbust had originally suggested I give the needlefelting workshop at 9 pm Friday night, when all good science-fiction fans should be drinking and or watching movies, and I should be in bed. At my protest, they moved it to 6 pm Friday, an hour after the con opened for registration and while there were still long lines of people waiting to sign in. I was not surprised only to have one student, but she was delightful, and we had a wonderful time making Luna Lovegood's radish earrings. An ideal first project.  Since the committee had also decided that an hour per workshop was enough (I usually get two), we had to move to the ConSuite and I demonstrated wet felting of small radishes in difficult circumstances (no hot water in the bathrooms, and the only cups they had were coldcups that did not fit under the spigot of the hot-water device (#ConSuiteFAIL)). And while we were there I taught someone else to needlefelt.

I went back to Grace and Debbie's in a much better frame of mind and watched the Bruins crush the Canadiens on the high-definition TV.

Saturday was lovely and cold again. I awoke early and took advantage of the excellent wifi by listening to New Hampshire Public Radio. I also read my e-mail and found out Diana Wynn Jones had died. She was a kind, funny, good writer of mostly YA fiction, not that any adult would fail to find it subtle and exciting, and I was sorry to hear of her passing. She would have approved of Conbust. And Gerry Ferraro, too, and the dust was rising in NH about the ghastly legislative budget proposal. It made me melancholy.

I had just about decided no one wanted to learn to embroider when the class filled up. Today's youth (one male person, the rest female) want to embroider baby monsters and kitties, not rocket ships or skulls. And they are fiercely determined to make things as hard for themselves as possible, as when several decided that they should fill a 1mm-wide line with 1mm-wide stitches, instead of following it in, say, 1/4" ( 3.5mm)- LONG stitches. I also discovered why DMC's Prism floss is so much cheaper than their good stuff: it is made of shorter-stapled cotton, so not only is it less shiny, it tends to snag more on itself and anything it can find. The students murmured in agreement when I suggested that all embroidery floss was out to get people, anyway.  I tried to teach them Stem Stitch. Some of them invented Running Stitch and Back Stitch instead, but on the whole I think it was a success.

I went back to Grace and Debbie's and was exhausted. Later we watched two episodes of Bones and then someone dispatched the Red Sox, but it was pre-season so that was all right. We also went to a tapas restaurant, where they prepared very tasty Spanish bar food in minute, edible portions, and my table argued about the existence of God.

On Sunday I only had two spinning students, both male persons. One was nice guy I met on Friday night, who had enjoyed watching the needlefelting (and whose head exploded painfully when he heard about the existence of Kirk/Spock fanporn. Someone should really have told him sooner), and the other was a lutenist at various renfaires who wanted to know how to spin. After our hour was over, he and I carried on, and then I taught a passerby to spin who ended up buying a spindle (as had the lutenist). Not the best weekend for numbers, but I had a good time and I think the people who took my workshops actually learned.

I bought one of my friends a Grateful Dead bandana for her collection, got some lunch, and drove home. My cats are well, and Doug survived his honeymoon. I think we can be sure Barb is neither a honeybee nor a praying mantis, which is always a relief.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Right then. On my river in Egypt I have this excellent raft

In other news, about ME -- I noted my six-weeks post op last Friday.  I feel fine.  I still get tired easily, but let's not forget I was not the Energizer Bunny before this surgery. I am hoping to be able to start using a shovel again soon ("6-week" checkup is a week from tomorrow), and I am reluctant to lift anything much.

The greater part of the snow has melted.  We still have 4-6" on the ground most places, but the driveway is ice-free (and mud-enhanced, with a couple of excellent sinkholes). I still have a few redpolls, but the goldfinches are back (still in winter plumage); the Pileated is rattling a lot and the titmice are calling.  Perhaps the peepers will start soon.

Marten and Willow are much more tolerant of the kittens. Wash takes complete advantage of Marten and fawns all over him. This afternoon Marten hissed while Wash was rubbing against him, and Wash ignored it. Then they played 'chase' up the driveway and back down to where I was.  As I write, the sun has come out for the first time since at least Friday and I can feel my mood lightening. Mal is almost as tall as Marten at the shoulder and still less than half Marten's size. I guess the limb bones grow first, and then the vertebrae?

Doug is getting married to Barb on Saturday. Sarah and Deb Duranceau and I are are driving down to Connecticut Saturday morning. The following weekend I am giving three craft workshops at the Smith Science Fiction Convention: needle felting, spinning with a drop spindle, and introduction to hippie-freestyle embroidery.  I have made a bunch of tiny skeins of different colors of floss and a bunch of iron-ed on transfers with simple designs (kitten, rocketship, baby monster, sugar skull, tattoo-style bluebird, and an anchor for non-fan types). Fortunately, hoops are cheap, at least the ones I got.  For the needle-felting, I had intended to make a bunch of colors in fleece, and I have, but I can't see any rhyme nor reason in them. But they are bright. I need to make some more.  And I have well-prepped roving to spin and Cheap Sheep on order for the spinners.  I will recharge my bright blue hair as soon as I get home from Doug's wedding. If I wear one of these, I don't think people will think I am a furry, but will they think I am a scaly? a kaijusexual?

I suppose Daylight Saving Time could be seen as an industrial-era form of the Pancake Race.

It's always something...

I was trying to count up the number of really serious things I could recall living through. I remember my mother cutting out the new president's newspaper photo in 1960 (that would be JFK) and saying she was going to send it to her mother (a Republican. My mother claims this is not true. How would I make it up?) and later I recall her telling me they were very very scared, which I am pretty sure had to do with the Bay of Pigs/Cuban Missile Crisis.  When I was seven, Kennedy was shot, which I remember very clearly; we went to washington to see the funeral. When I was thirteen, Martin Luther King was killed and about a month later, so was Bobby Kennedy, and these were terrible.  So were the first shuttle blowing up (I also remember the Apollo capsule and Grissom, White, and Chafee burning), the big attack on the World Trade Center , and the second shuttle explosion. I can remember vaguely hearing about the first attack, and about the massacre in Waco.  Flashbulb memories. Where were you?

I remember the first time I read a small article in the NY about some weird form of cancer that seemed to be affecting the city's homosexual community; I thought that was not going to be the last we heard of THAT, and I was right. I also figured it was too slow to be It, the End of the World as We Know It (although I gather if you were gay and young in New York or San Francisco, it was close enough).

 9-11 was the first time people seemed seriously to believe the end of the world as we knew it had come; we had been let down by Y2K. I remember Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, but I can't recall any emotional freight attached to them.

Katrina was different; those were MY people, Americans, and they were not well served. And if it isn't the same, it's coming back, one way or another, in the same place (which I understand why, but I also can't understand.)

It's not that there haven't been earthquakes before. It's not that there haven't been disasters among industrialized people before, and it is my own hard-heartedness that makes wipeouts in Pakistan and Turkey less shocking than seeing convenience stores and apartment buildings in Biloxi and Christchurch and Miyagi crushed, torn up, or drowned.

But this time there are nuclear reactors involved, and I really do feel like this could be it. Does everyone have an It they wonder if things could be, or is that a habit from reading science fiction? You can't read science fiction without having a thinkable idea of TEOTWAWKI; a lot of fans have more like a relationship with it, a bag packed, a skill set, a look for exits, a checkout for ambush. Some of it's simple paranoia, some of it's justified, some of it's escapism, some of it's cultivated ("Anywhere else has got to be better than it is here"). But we spend a fair amount of time thinking the unthinkable (like, what if you could fly? would you need wings or a jetpack or would it all be like telekinesis? And then everyone with blue eyes became werewolves?). By the way, there are these asteroids? They probably won't hit, or the supernova next door or...

Or you're a history buff: you have to think about the plagues, and read about Lassa fever and SARS, and wonder, particularly as it takes more and more different antibiotics to knock out a baby's earache. Or you read about bees, deforestation, climate change, population growth, the extinction of more species at one time that we have known of since the end of the Cretaceous... I mean, if you're a certain kind of green or lefty you have some difficulty being wholeheartedly optimistic. Denial lets me get around. I usually think the prevalence of depression these days has to do with the way we treat one another or are treated in order to make a living, and the forced obsolescence of perfectly good things, people, and ways of life. I wonder if some it isn't also the number of loud warnings that we are passing the point of any kind of stability.

Or if you study the decline of Rome. The end of industrial life, of this human civilization: we've been there, done that, come back.

But that time there weren't nuclear reactors involved.

I didn't use to dread logging onto Twitter.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Shrove Tuesday -- International Women's Day Fail

I forgot to have pancakes. Now it will be my fault if Christ does not rise and/or the sun does not get stronger (cross out where not applicable)(ten points off if you giggled at 'cross'.)

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.
Rebecca West

Every day is "I am A Feminist" Day.  But I suppose it's like gay pride and every so often we should mention it.

I am single, overeducated, and own property. In the bad old days those were a recipe for a witch burning (hanging, pressing, whatever).  However disappointed you may be in this country, it's better than it was and it's better than it IS an awful lot of places. Some of which our government props up. I suppose there are institutional systems worse than misogyny (or outright gynophobia) but it seems hard to believe that the worst of them would not be improved by treating slightly over half of the human race as well as if they were male (same legal rights. Same educational rights. Same rights to travel safely. Same vocational and employment rights. Same rights to dress comfortably, conveniently, safely).  Oppression begins at home. Depersonalization begins at home. Thought control begins at home. You can suggest they begin in fear, or in books, or in houses or worship, but they can't be systemic if they aren't carried home.  

These rights are, oddly, the same ones as ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities want.  Many of them are male. You wouldn't think it would be hard to understand.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Snowing AGAIN, finally!

It's been three weeks and two days. I know this because it's been three weeks since I had surgery. I spent time on the HysterSisters board again and LORD I am lucky.  I don't hurt when I sit up or lie down -- the static state, not the motion of doing so.  I don't have family that resent my idling.  I am healing well and nothing is oozing.

Right, enough about that. Let's do chronological:

I posted Dramatis Personae last Saturday. The day before (14 days after surgery), I had Jessica to visit, a library-type who worked at the end of the hall where I last worked. She is now working for a for-profit and has a two year-old daughter named Charlotte. She was wonderful (Jessica was more than okay herself and brought me food). I haven't laughed so much in years. The kittens were fascinated by a pint-sized human and followed her around for an hour. She has cats at home and played with them very well. She also took their featherstick and rode it like a stick-horse, tried to play with the axe (her mother is just unreasonable), spent a long time sorting a pile of rhyolite pebbles, drew and wrote on pieces of paper, left the airlock in the wine alone when I asked her to, and was delightful. She also asked me to hold her. Kid has me in her pocket.

At one point Charlotte was wandering diaperless. Her mom was worried I would be mad if C peed on the floor. I told her it was okay if Charlotte did, but not if Jessica did. Jessica said that was a relief; some people try to hold Charlotte to the same behavioral standards as they do Jessica. Most unkind. Jessica is a LOUSY 2-year-old, but she does very well for a 30-something.

Meanwhile Jessica and I dyed stuff, made more interesting in that it's been awhile and I couldn't remember how.  I knew we needed a roasting pan, but why? (I have remembered.) Jessica said "OH! What PRETTY colors!" and then apologized, I think for not being serious enough. Since that sort of comment is pretty much what makes up my internal dialogue, I told her that was the right kind of response.  We both made cold-poured yarns that look like bruises, but were very pleased with some of our fleece (Mason jars in the microwave). I have to work on learning to mix earth colors.

Charlotte carefully unpacked everything in the kindling bucket: she found something to do that was safe, quiet, absorbing, time-consuming, and required no supervision. True, there was stuff on the floor. Her mother suggested she could put it back into the bucket. Charlotte dismissed this as fast as I would and went back to play with the toolstone. I offered to teach her to make and use a scraper but we had no caribou. I have not managed to tidy up the dyeing paraphernalia (of which there is enough that it needs an even longer word than paraphernalia); my kitchen is trashed. I crashed, giggling.

My two-week post-op appointment was the following Monday and the first time I drove.  It was a t four, so I thought about it all and went to Joann's first. All I wanted was a piece of turquoise felt. They had that and a few other things....

So then I went and sat in the bead shop, where they welcomed me with open arms and were delighted how well I looked, and I began to bead a new strap for my iPod (Willow bit through my old oe; it is a very seductively tender silicon and I can't blame her). Then I packed myself up and went for my doctor's appointment. I appear to be doing just fine.  Dr. Morgan asked for my e-mail address and forwarded the email she had from the pathologist of my extracted, bisected uterus in all its butchershop glory.  I went home and crashed.

(If you are like me and find anatomy fascinating, you can see the pathologist's picture of my uterus and fibroids (which are amazing) here . The password is 'uterus' so I wouldn't squick out innocent passersby.)

I still get really tired. On Wednesday I went to archaeology lab and stood up in the wrong shoes for about an hour I sat and did some computer tidying.  I was completely wiped out, ached ALL over, and my right knee has been more painful than my incision has ever been. So I took half a Vicodin. Mostly, though, my drugs are only Ibuprofen, which is always my friend.

So largely, I am animate every third day, inanimate the day after, and potter around on the third. Tomorrow is the last issue of Bee School. I have a deposit on a nucleus from Vermont, but I can't pick it up until the first week of May. We have a lot to do before that (electric fenced-enclosure) and I cannot even pretend that I won't fob all the work off onto Doug. I am afraid I am going to be mostly useless this year as far as archaeology is concerned. I do not like it. But I bend in the middle better than I did and while I am still on the overweight end of the scale, I look better. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dramatis personae

I should do this by age or something. Probably end up with proximity.

Human persons:

Doug: the dauntless housemate. He's ten years older than I am. We met in 1999, when I took up with
SCRAP, and dated for a couple of years. After I moved to NH in 2004, I lived with Sarah for a year; she moved to Canterbury and after some negotiation, Doug moved into the Kitchenette and the two bedrooms at the back of the house. He moved out for the year or so of 2007, and back just as Paul moved out. We get along very well, particularly now that we are not boyfiend and girlfiend.  He plows the driveway, worries about the woodpile,  tries to get me to exercise and eat wholesome meals and, unlike me, does floors.  We share custody of Mal and Wash. Doug is going to marry Barb next month.

Barb is a visiting nurse who lives in Connecticut with her brother and her adult daughter Becky and four black cats. Barb is not rural. She and Doug are not planning to live together until one of them retires. 

Sarah is about 23 years younger than I am. She is frequently mistaken for either my daughter or my
partner (everyone has been very supportive about it and it would save a lot of trouble, but neither of us swings that way). We met when I first worked with SCRAP and she was a lab supervisor. Since then she has gone into a more remunerative field in the region of non-profits.   She is a teacher of environmental education in Laconia, and greener than most people I know. I helped ruin her life by getting her into the twilit world of spinning and dyeing. She lived here for about a year when I moved in in 2004 from Melrose, MA.She has two cats, one of whom is Special Needs. If you would like to adopt Twilly, please let me know.

Deb Duranceau, Deb D is another friend from SCRAP, about Doug's age, who lives to the south. Sarah and I are trying to remake her in our own images and she has taken up knitting more seriously recently. Deb also volunteered to become my Bee Partner, because Doug is often not around and I need encouragement.

Deb is the one on the right.

 Dick Boisvert is the NH state archaeologist. He runs SCRAP. Dick is married to Deb Boisvert, whom we don't see enough of, but whose presence unseen or not has a lot to do with SCRAP's activities. Sometimes she participates and sometimes she affects Dick's plans, for, he tells us, he has no desire to find out what a divorce lawyer's office looks like.

I have two living parents in Boston, my mother and my father;
Clockwise: my dad, my mom, Ellie, Jenny, me and Asterix, Sam a few years ago

a son Sam (working at the Apple Store two blocks from my parents' apartment, engaged to Kimberly. They have two kittens); a daughter Eleanor (in grad school for Classics in New Jersey), and also in Boston, an ex named Jenny. She used to be named David. Things change. Jenny is English. My father is Texan. My mother is urban, from Chicago.
Sam and Kimberly, Jenny, my mom and dad, Ellie, her boyfriend Matt, and me

I used to have a contractor named Paul, who rebuilt The Loom Room and the Kitchen and lived here in theory for part of a year (2009). He moved out but left behind his daughter Katie, a high-school graduate who lived in the other upstairs bedroom for a year, until last September (2010).

Non-Human Persons or Characters:

Marten is a large neutered male tabby cat who has lived here since I brought him from the shelter in
2005 or so. I think he's about six and a half. He goes for walks with us down the driveway, but he doesn't like going into the forest. Marten arrived while Asterix and Obelix were still with us. They were great cats who lived to be 19 and 17, respectively. I still miss them, and Mena who was only 9 (kidney failure). Doug had a tabby named Digger who died about the same time; he blames tainted catfood. Then we acquired
Willow. She is a small tabby cat who really distrusts other cats. Sarah found her living in Canterbury Shaker Village. She loathes Marten and the other kitty we had for a while, Toby. Toby took to living under the porch until I took him off to live with Ellie in NJ.  Marten was fond of Toby but being attacked by Willow made him sour, and he and Willow both hated Nigel, who was a lovely un-altered male who lived here for a few months in 2009-10. I hope Nigel found a new family rather than a coyote's belly. He disappeared during the 2010 SCRAP field school, who were camping in the front yard. After we had mourned his loss for a few months, Sarah told me about two kittens who needed a home,
Mal and Wash. They have forged a friendship with Marten and a detente with Willow.


An archaeological unit

SCRAP, the State Conservation and Rescue Archaeology Program that is responsible for running archaeology field schools every summer in NH. Which was the main reason I moved to NH.  One does not get paid working with SCRAP, generally, but a bunch of us have been doing so anyway for a long time. As well as the four- to six-week field school Dick runs, there are sometimes others run by historical archaeologists along the same lines. You can get college credit for taking them, or sometimes poison ivy, or just hungover. It is a way of life. I love it.  Sometimes we make road trips to dig with Dick's colleagues in Quebec or Texas. In the winter, on Wednesdays, we sort and catalogue artifacts, if were lucky enough to find any in the summer or the long weekend of Octoberfest.

The House: a large, 'contemporary' (a year older than Sarah) with eleven acres of glacial till, uphill in almost all directions, both ways, outside of Henniker, NH. One of my criteria for a house when I was looking for it was that I should be able to put a car  up on blocks if I wanted to. I don't, but I could. I never have to rake leaves again.
The ground floor is largely open-plan, with a living/dining area (dark, because the previous owner put a glassed-in front porch onto the front of the house).
Off to the right, or the north, there is The Loom Room originally built by the previous owner around a concrete slab.  Paul had to rebuild it onto the slab with dry foundations, and the loft in the room because the support beam had been sawn halfway through to make niches for the two-by-fours of the loft floor (It bowed more than somewhat). I sold Doug the floor loom, but I have two or three frame looms and really a lot of wool. It's a sewing, beading, whatever crafting area, and also the spare room with a double folding futon.
There are two bedrooms upstairs (one of them mine), and maybe three, or two and a study, downstairs. The small bathroom used to open directly onto the dining area; now it's a dogleg away through the kitchen
The one+study make up most of Doug's suite, along with  
The Kitchenette.  The previous owner made the Kitchenette out of a small, attached garage in order to offer his aging father a home. My mother claims the idea of living there is what killed him before he took residence. There's a three-quarter bathroom. One way and another, the Kitchenette is the sunniest, warmest room on the ground floor, and an incomparable view of the proximal portion of the driveway (the paved part).
My Bedroom is the sunniest, warmest room on the second floor.  This makes it hard to get out of bed. It has a deck with a couple of bird feeders.  I wish the bathroom were not ensuite, and opened onto the hall, because it's icky for anyone in the other bedroom to use it (to say nothing of what I think of people having to come into my bedroom in the middle of the night). The original owner (I believe still in the federal pen for drugs and suborning federal agents as well as local cops) was a lousy designer.

Several years before I bought the house from its second owner  the four-car garage burned down, so I have a big concrete pad which uses most of the flat place they made when they built the house. There is a compost heap and some garden beds around the edges of the pad. I bought in some decent soil last year, making a huge difference in garden yield.   
The Driveway actually runs downhill to the road, but the downhill is much less noticeable than the uphill on the way back. It's about a quarter-mile long and unpaved. The gravel washes out. The drive in places lies directly on the bedrock.

It's pretty in the autumn

So that's something to be getting on with.