Monday, July 25, 2016

This morning I arrived at the dig site at 5:26. I carry my screens and then push my wheelbarrow over to the pit structure I am digging.

5:30 AM

By 5:57 AM, the first bead of sweat runs down my face. By 6:13 AM, the sweat has drenched my shirt.
6:13 AM

My shirt stays like this all day long. Clumps of dirt develop on my forearms, I have to use the trowel to scrape them off. I drink lots of water. Last Friday it was worse (108 degrees) and I drank a lot of red Gatorade and good lord it came out the same color.

Archaeology is glamorous.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Tyler and I drove to New Mexico for work. 

New Mexico.

We stopped at the Pepper Pot restaurant in Hatch and I had a grilled cheese with green chile pepper and onion rings for lunch. So good.

Tyler should have been a farmer.

We stayed in the Super 8 in Santa Fe. Would not recommend the place. Mystery stains on the floor and mystery gravy for breakfast. I did enjoy the air conditioning and cable tv.

Here I am at the office, well the dig site. I am enjoying the cool weather. The weathermen screeched about the horrible heat but I thought it was very nice.


We were digging around an 1890s cabin in Pecos National Historical Park. The cabin is going to be restored next year and the Park Service needs to know what sort of archaeology is present. The cabin is on the Glorieta Battlefield and we were also hoping to find evidence of the Civil War battle that took place there in March 1862.

The cabin.

There were wildflowers blooming. This gourd plant was next to where we parked the Suburban.


There are a lot of artifacts scattered around the surface of the site. We laid out units and counted them. On the first day I found a fragment of a cannon ball. We would find another fragment and two Minie bullets, so there was scant evidence for the battle.

One 2m by 2m unit's artifacts.

On Saturday, Tyler, his wife Mariel, and her delightful grandmother Heather and I went to Chaco Canyon. I had not been there since 1990.

Pueblo Bonito.

The visitor center needs some displays. The ruins didn't seem as big as I remembered it.

T-shaped doorway.

Tyler and Mariel enjoyed seeing the pueblo.

Mariel and Tyler peering through doorways.

Grandma Heather was fun to talk to. At 87, her mind is really sharp. 

Mariel and Heather.

Santa Fe is known for its green chile. We went to La Choza twice for meals. I was more impressed by the food at El Comal.

Green chile cheese enchiladas at El Comal.

On Thursday, Tyler and I backfilled and because we finished early, we drove over to Bandelier National Monument. This park has both pueblos and caveates.


The caveates are small rooms cut into the soft stone of the nearby cliffs.

Red mural within a caveate.

Tyler climbed up ladders to see the cave at the top with a kiva, one which you aren't allowed to go into (unlike back in 1990).

Tyler on the ladder.

A friendly deer stood along the trail on the way out.


It was a nice break to escape to Santa Fe. Now I am back in Tucson and it is hot and humid.

Friday, July 01, 2016

The monsoon season has arrived. It is raining in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night. Monsoon storms are not good for archaeological excavations. Jenny and I started to dig a pit structure on Monday. We had exposed the floor by Tuesday afternoon, and tried to cover the house to prevent water from getting in. The heavy rains that night flooded everything and the next morning there was several inches of water standing inside the house.

I am not happy.

I bailed out as much water as I could and in the afternoon I scraped up most of the mud and we covered it again with fence panels, plastic and a tarp.

It rained most of the day on Thursday, but when I got to the site, bailed off the standing water on the plastic, I was pleased to see that the floor had not gotten wetter. 

With help from Deb and Greg, we were able to complete excavation of the house. It dates to the Tortolita Phase of the Hohokam Pioneer period, sometime between AD 500 to 700. It has an offset entrance (one that is not placed in the center of the house). Two large posts with adobe cones mark the transition from the entrance to the house floor. A 25-cm-diameter plastered fire hearth lies inside the entrance. There are four post holes for roof supports on the floor, and a floor groove around the perimeter of the house floor, which was covered with an adobe (mud) plaster.

Looking to the south. The southwest corner of the house was under dirt and was still dry.

There was a scatter of pottery sherds on the floor, as well as some pieces of chipped stone. When I wet-screened the dirt I scraped off the floor, I found part of a sea shell bracelet. Three of the postholes had artifacts in them, in one case a couple of rocks that might have been used as chinking to help hold the post in place. A Y-shaped charred beam was present in the southeast corner of the house. The "Y" would have been used to hold a roof beam in place.

Looking to the north.

The entrance was interesting. It had an adobe step (the top of which might have been plastered but was probably sliced off by the backhoe by accident). Then an adobe passage way running to the adobe cones that were built around a pair of big posts. Smaller posts (about 5 cm in diameter) were found in the floor groove, along with some pieces of reed used as thatching for the walls.

Entrance looking south.

Perhaps totally by accident, the entrance way looked remarkably like a human penis. I do not think this will be discussed in the final report.

Entrance, looking to the east.

You never know what you will find when you do archaeology.

Friday, June 24, 2016

It's been hellishly hot lately. We start work at 5 AM and the sweat starts dripping from me at 6:30. We have been quitting at 10:30 AM and often I go into the office to do work and enjoy the AC. I spent two days excavating the entrance way to a Tortolita phase (AD 500 to 700) pit structure. Other people excavated the west half of the structure, uncovering a broken pot in the roof fall material, and some grinding stones (pestle and a mano), a few sherds of pottery, a bone awl, and a rectangular piece of stone (not sure what it was used for) on the floor of the heavily burned house.

Looking south-ish.

The structure is a house-in-pit, meaning the people dug a large pit, probably using digging sticks and maybe stone hoes. They then constructed a house inside the pit. It differs from a true pit house, where the wall of the pit is actually the wall of the house and is sometimes covered with plaster. In this particular house, there is a floor groove with postholes set outside the groove. After the posts were put in place to form the walls and support ceiling beams, other materials, such as woven mats or bundles of reeds, were used to form the interior walls, the bottom of these materials sticking into the floor groove. A few other post holes are present on the floor, perhaps used for posts to help support the roof. A poorly preserved plastered hearth is inside the entranceway. A small pit and a probable pot rest (a depression used for supporting a round-bottomed pot) are present on the adobe floor. We have been mostly excavating 1m by 2m units and half houses because it is too expensive to dig whole houses. In this case, the upper soil was very hard and difficult to dig. Archaeology costs money!

Looking to the north, the dashed line is the unexcavated portion of the house.

The entrance way was very elaborate, the most elaborate yet found at the site. A burned wooden lintel lay at the entry opening. The first step inside had grooves around it and a posthole at each corner. The second step was a sloping passageway with a groove on each side and three or four postholes. Burned reeds were present in the groove. The passage ended in a step down onto the pit structure floor, with curved adobe cones on each side, built around large posts. The passageway was quite worn from foot traffic.

Entrance way.

I have worked on two other houses from the same time period. Each is very different, although it seems that houses with floor grooves are most likely to be from this period while the true pit houses we find date to a later period. Architecture, like modern clothing, homes, and cars, change styles through time, as people experimented with new techniques and construction materials. The artifacts found on house floors help us understand the types of activities that took place inside the houses, and may point to activity areas, where certain craft activities took place.

I've been doing archaeology for 30 years this summer and still get excited by finding new things.

Friday, June 17, 2016

One morning on the dig I arrived and found a sleepy lizard in the pit structure I was digging.

Wonder if lizards dream?

I caught it and put it outside the fence in a safe place.

Hello there.

All of the buckets have my name on them.

Homer's All Purpose Bucket.

I dug an area of what was thought to be a pit structure. One of the first things I found was an Empire Point, maybe 3,000 years ago. The Hohokam often picked up points and re-used them.

Empire Point.

The feature, which may or may not be a pit structure, had many pretty decorated sherds.

I attended a conference in Phoenix and got to spend the night at Craig and Jesse's house. We had Indian food. It was delicious. Afterward, I was asleep by 9 PM (I'm currently getting up at 4:15 AM.


Jesse and I.

So I wake up Sunday to the news of the massacre in Orlando. So tired of gun violence, internalized homophobia, religion, praying politicians, hypocritical politicians, etc. I called all of my elected people and asked them to do something. 

Richard and Hiram had asked me to go to the train show that day and we went to escape the news for a while, The train show turned out to be a bust, it was mostly dealers. We admired the Korean fabric sculptures. I took them to the Presidio Park and then we went to India Oven for Indian food.

Hiram and Richard.

Today, in the sweltering heat, Jenny and I worked on a 1920s outhouse pit at the dig site. A surprise find, filled with domestic trash. Lots of nasty tin cans, poorly preserved, rusted together. About 15 whole bottle though.

Some of the bottles.

I was surprised at how deep the outhouse pit was getting. And then I found a plaster nose, shortly afterward by pieces of a plaster statue. My co-workers described it as "creepy." And then I found a second identical statue, this time only broken in three pieces. It is a 1920s flapper girl.

The figurine.

The figurine is the type that you would get as a prize at a fair. It has hand-painted eyes with lavender eye shadow, she wears a turban, has an evening gown on. 

Close up.

I was worried that the outhouse pit was going to be too deep.

At the four foot level.

We can only dig down five feet before we have to strip back further to meet OSHA rules. The outhouse pit cuts through a Hohokam pit structure, which complicates things.

Jenny screening dirt.

Luckily, I found the bottom just past four feet. On Monday I get to finish the paperwork, map, and do a cross section.

That's if I survive the hellish weekend heat. Supposed to be 114.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I have fired a firearm once, when I was perhaps 12-years-old. That was enough.

When I was in my second year of graduate school at Arizona State University, one of the new students was Philip Zeigler. I instantly knew he was a fellow gay. He wore nice clothes and always too much cologne. His hair was always perfect. He was studying physical anthropology. We knew each other, but didn't become friends. Right at the end of the school year we went to a gay bar together and actually talked and had a good time.

Philip decided to take a year off and moved to Dallas and got a job working at a hotel. Right after midnight on January 1, 1990, he was walking home with a friend when they were confronted by three men who demanded their wallets at gunpoint. They handed them over and then Philip grabbed his back. One of the men shot him in the head. As he lay dying they called him a faggot and other names.

The police never made much of an effort to find the man who killed him, even though they had physical descriptions and fingerprints on the wallet. The Dallas police department wasn't particularly interested in finding out who killed gay men back then.

Before Philip's murder I didn't think much about firearms. Afterward, I have grown to hate them.

30,000+ people are murdered ever year in the United States from firearms. That is about 750,000 people since 1990. The politicians do nothing. Oh sure, they "pray" every time there is a mass shooting. But Republicans love the money the NRA funnels to them, so they will never do anything to stop the epidemic of killing.

You just wonder if it will happen to you, or to someone you know. I suppose it will, someday.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Well it is a bazillion degrees outside. Summer has arrived. I put the little window-mounted AC unit in and it is cranked up. Still, a couple of rooms away I am busy sweating.

 I went over and collected Patrick and we drove up to Richard's house to play pool volleyball. It was a lot of fun, although I am fairly sore at the moment.

David, Todd, Gordon, Mark, Roger, Richard, and Patrick.

I made an angel food cake (so easy!) and lemon curd to go on it. It was pretty tasty.

Today I went to work, stopping beforehand at Trader Joe's. Finishing up a report. Then home. Then to the hospital to visit Doug. Tomorrow out to dig until it gets too hot. 

Life continues. Still increasingly stressful. I may have to make some pretty drastic decisions soon.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Wednesdays were hot dog day. I know this because my mother made the same thing for supper each night of the week and we learned my grandpa F. died (19 April 1972) while I was eating a hot dog. I remember I didn't want to finish it and my sister Susan telling me I should. Other nights my mother made hamburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti (one box each of Kraft American and Italian), macaroni and cheese, Spanish rice, sometimes those hard shell tacos with the mix, and once in a while canned chop suey with the little crispy noodles. When my father came home from truck driving she made him bologna sandwiches and the grossest goulash imaginable (macaroni noodles, hamburger meat, and stewed tomatoes. He hated spices so the food had to be bland.

Almost every night dessert was Jello with canned fruit. Often fruit cocktail, but also cherries and peaches. Breakfast was cereal and Tang orange drink. We had nasty dried milk. My mother was trying to make ends meet with five children on a long-haul truck driver's salary. She loved the innovative food industry products that were so popular in the 1960s and 1970s.

The only thing I make that my mother made is Spanish rice. But I had lots of hot sauce to it.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Lately I just feel haggard. For various reasons I have been so stressed out. Last week I had a melt down and it wasn't pretty. You can only take so much drama and uncertainty before it becomes too much.

I look in the mirror and I see someone so tired. Sometimes I wonder if this is what a mid-life crisis looks and sounds like. But I don't have the cash to buy a new car or a fancy outfit.

One positive thing is that I finally paid off the trusty Ford Focus. Last night I came close to totaling it due to another driving who was probably driving drunk.

I try to stay positive and at moments that works. Tomorrow I am going to bake a cake and go to a party and maybe something will click.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Seven days of Jimbo. Jim arrived Wednesday afternoon while I was out digging. Doug was nice enough to go pick him up. It was four years since he was last here. That night of course we went to Rosa's. Jim enjoyed three enchiladas and two margaritas.


I went to work on Thursday. In the afternoon I took Jim over to the Old Adobe Guesthouse, where he had a very nice room to enjoy, without Puff walking over him in the middle of the night. That evening, we went to the bridge over the Rillito, at Campbell Avenue, to watch the bats fly out at dusk.

We arrived an hour early.

A few minutes before sunset the bats suddenly started flying out from small cracks beneath the bridge. Thousands and thousands of bats. It was very impressive.


I had been wanting to see this for a long time, but waited until Jim came to visit.

More bats.

Friday afternoon was Gay Mens Happy Hour, and I rode the streetcar and met up with Ray (Robert was stuck in traffic coming down from Phoenix). Patrick and Mark showed up. We had many fruity drinks and afterward ate at Delectables.

Homer, Ray, and Jim.

I dragged Jim up to the stage and he participated in a hula dancing competition. He lost to a woman who obviously knew what she was doing.


Saturday, Jim, Mark, and I went down to Ray and Robert's house to play in the pool. I got a little sunburnt and fell asleep at 8 PM.

Ray, Jordan, Robert, Mark, and Homer.

The next morning we went for a walk and took an embarrassing photograph.


Sunday evening was spent having drinks and chatting with Kamron and Patrick. It was a nice time. The next day I drove Jim up to the top of Mount Lemmon.

Jim looking at scenery.

It was 92 on the valley floor and 62 on top. Jim got to see several new species of birds.

He also got up close to some saguaro blossoms.

Tuesday he borrowed the trusty Ford Focus and drove down to Madera Canyon while I was digging. He got to see the very rare trogon, which was very exciting. That afternoon we stopped at the Presidio Park. The sun was very bright.

Jim posing in the park.

He flew back Wednesday. Doug, who was going to take him to the airport, ended up having appendicitis instead and I spent Thursday at the VA Hospital. Very dramatic. 


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