Thursday, December 31, 2015

Another year ends. This seems to have been the year of drama. Mother getting sick at my house twice. Couples breaking up. Stress. Marriage Equality. A lovely couple of road trips.

My wish for 2016. Less debt. Less belly. Less drama. Time spent with old and new friends. More games and crafts. A Democratic win in November. Lots of interesting work. Maybe a book completed. But you never know what happens. I wish whoever reads this well and hope you have a lovely New Year's Eve and Day.

Obligatory end-of-year self portrait.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Native Americans domesticated a plant in central Mexico, teosinte, and eventually this became maize (corn). People carried seeds of maize north into the Tucson Basin about 4100 years ago. The Santa Cruz River flowed year-round and the floodplain was a lush, marshy area. By 3500 years ago, they were digging small irrigation ditches to bring water to their fields, and were probably also utilizing flood waters.

Since 1994, archaeological excavations along the Santa Cruz River, many projects associated with improvements of Interstate 10, have uncovered the settlements and fields of these farmers. Back in 2009, my company uncovered massive field systems at the sewage plant. Each small plot was surrounded by raised berms. Small irrigation ditches diverted water to plots. Nearby were a few houses and many storage pits. Nothing like it had been found before.

Another company is doing a project along I-10. Even better preserved fields have been uncovered. The farmers had prepared the area by raising berms around the perimeter of each field and digging small planting pits. The area was muddy, and adults, children, and dogs walked across the fields, the berms, and the small ditches between the berms. The mud dried, and then a sudden flash flood apparently dumped fine sand onto the area. The fields ended up being buried deeply enough that everything was preserved, almost a miniature Pompeii.

Jump ahead a couple thousand years. Dan was scraping the area and started finding berms.From there the field surface was uncovered and they started finding footprints.

Square field area, with raised berms bordering it.

I've been on two other digs where footprints were found, one along the border (horse hoof prints) and one at Fort Union Trading Post in North Dakota (oxen foot prints). 

Raised berms, which would have had water running in the area between them.

I've never seen prehistoric foot prints. On one of my digs a few years back we did find fingerprints in the mud used to coat a prehistoric house.

\Some of the foot prints were small, child-sized.

 Child foot print.

Another child's print.

Most were adult-sized. You could occasionally see the heel or the toes.

Adult foot print. The trowel is probably 8 or 9 inches long.

The footprints provide information that we have never had before. The people appear to have been mostly barefoot. Kids and dogs were in the fields with adults. You can measure individual prints and get a rough estimate of height. And so on.

I have to say, I've been an archaeologist for 29.5 years and it is still exciting to see new things and learn new things about our human past.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Well, I have been watching episodes of the 1966-1971 Dark Shadows soap opera on Hulu. I remember as a child coming home from kindergarten in 1969-1970 and catching the last 15 minutes of the show, often hiding behind my mother's chair when it got scary.

The show holds up fairly well. The characters are interesting, I love the 1960s clothing and the Gothic sets. This one granny square afghan shows up in various sets, even in the 1795 story line.

My favorite characters are Mrs. Johnson and Dr. Julia Hoffman. Dr. Hoffman has the best scream.

So anyways, this is what I have been doing in my spare time.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Someone sent me a couple of books from my Amazon Wish List. One on Pompeii and one on melamine dishes from the 1950s to 1970s. I don't know who did this, it was a wonderful surprise. Feel free to send me an email so I can thank you!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Saturday night Dan called me from California to tell me that his wife Sylvia had died in late May. He had come across my phone number in her papers.

Sylvia had come across my blog years ago and back when I had good commenting, would often remark on entries. She was a Tucson native and loved seeing pictures and stories about her hometown.

I met her and Dan at Beyond Bread once, and we had such a nice time. In 2013, she and Dan came to my All Souls Procession Party. She gave me her Blue Willow child's teaset, which I treasure. She also made me some paper flowers that are carefully tucked away in my china cabinet.

Sylvia on the left.

Life is fleeting, in the grand time scale on the universe. Make the most of it, and have fun, because it is over so quick. I'll miss Sylvia. XO

Sunday, December 13, 2015

What's Holiday without some cookies? I made Martha Stewart's sugar cookie recipe (the lemon version) and the Better Homes and Garden gingerbread cookie recipe. The sugar cookies had a slight Meyer lemon taste.

I used a variety of cookie cutters.

I probably baked five dozen cookies.


Jeffrey and Patrick came over to help decorate. I made royal icing and lemon icing.

Patrick and me.

We were very successful, very creative.

Platters of cookies on the 1950s Visibake stove.

It was a fun couple of hours. Making things with friends is relaxing and you get to catch up on what has happened recently.

The finished cookies.

Patrick always makes the best ones.

Patrick with a tree, moose (wearing a sweater), and a psychodelic snowman.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

I'm sort of going through the Holiday motions here. I have made cards. I put up some decorations. Tonight I made rum balls for the company's cookie exchange. But really I'm not in the mood this year.

Partly this is because Mother isn't here. She's back in Michigan, living in her own house. She is very happy to be there. Has a nice woman that comes four hours a day, five days a week, to help her out and keep her company. Mother is too frail to come here, and I wouldn't be able to take care of her.

Partly, it is because finances are pretty difficult from working part time for the last year. I certainly hope things pick up.

Thinking about Christmas when I was a kid. The excitement of getting a few toys and some candy. My parents did not have much money, we knew not to expect fancy gifts. I poured over the Sears Christmas Wish Book, and would point out an inexpensive toy. One year I got a cave man play set. Another year a GI Joe doll (the black one with fuzzy hair, which I still have). The horrible year I got the snow pants instead of the book on Pompeii that I really wanted.

Sometimes being an adult just sucks.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Yesterday Mario helped me get a tree for the presidio park. We went to Home Depot and found a nice one for $46.

I'm in charge of the annual Luminaria Night at the park next Saturday, so I am busy doing what I can to get things set up for the event. Mario helped me put the lights on, I'm using the big bulbs that I usually put on my front porch. This year I am being cheap with electricity.

Mario and the tree.

For decorations I went to Ebay and searched for vintage Christmas postcards. It is easy to save the scanned images and put them in a Word document and then send them to the color printer. I cut each out, punched a hole, and tied on a loop of ribbon. I am so Martha Stewart.


Another card!

I've been doing Holiday cards this afternoon. That is about all I will be doing this year. Short on funds and not really feeling any seasonal spirit.

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