Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dig, Day 8. Almost finished in the middle room. We found the bottom of the mystery pit- it is almost five feet deep and round. We don't know what it was used for- perhaps some sort of cistern? There are several other pits nearby.

Contrast this photo with the one for Day 1.

Jenny documents the mystery pit.

Tomorrow we will be documenting the pithouse and I'll see about taking a photo. There are about five grinding stones sitting on its floor. One was the type used to make shell jewelry. The Hohokam walked out west to the Sea of Cortez and collected sea shells that they made into bracelets, earrings, and other jewelry.

We pulled up the floor in the north room and are starting to dig there. That room should yield a lot of Spanish era artifacts. The nearby northeast room is dug down to that level and we are finding a lot of majolica sherds and cattle and sheep bones.

At home I've started cleaning my guest house, since the last residents have moved away. When I turned on the shower a gecko ran out of the drain and I caught it.

The little gecko.

I carefully held it in my palm and grabbed my camera. Moments after I took the picture he jumped onto the ground and then the unexpected happen. Geckos have a curious self defense mechanism. They can make their tails come off and the tails wiggle around obscenely. And that is what happened. It is truly freaky.

Otherwise spent the weekend attending a pool party (hung out with Patrick, Michael, and Michael B.). Had a couple of meals with Mark and Sandy and helped a little packing things- they are off to Australia (I'll miss them a lot, but plan on visiting next year). Barbeque yesterday at Roger P.'s place. He mixes fierce drinks and it was interesting to people watch at his apartment complex. I'm glad I live in a house, that's all I'll say.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

In the past I thought I was a good judge of character. Recently, I've discovered that isn't the case. One person insisted over and over again that honestly was important to him, but then I discovered he had told me a big lie. Another person [section deleted] is now too embarrassed to face me, now that I know his secret.

This raises the question as to whether these are merely anomalies or whether I have been too trusting in people. Honestly I don't know, I guess I will be more careful in the future.

A good thing that has come out of blogging is the friendships I have made. Unlike the aforementioned losers, I think I'll be chatting with Archerr, Panchesco, and Jimbo for a long time to come.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Dig, Day 7. Jenny and I worked in the middle room today, trying to finish the area so we could move the crew to the north room. We removed another soil layer and found and excavated a pit filled with trash thrown out sometime between the 1820s and 1850s. Beneath this was a soil layer containing only early Hohokam trash- pottery, flakes of stone, hammerstones used to make tools, and a few broken bits of grinding stones. I thought we would be down to sterile caliche soon, but instead we have a circular pit that goes straight down. I don't know what it is, but we are pulling beautiful fragments of painted pottery from it.

Pottery from the mysterious pit.

Perhaps it is a well or a storage pit. We'll know for sure on Tuesday.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Dig, Day 6. Work continues, with paperwork slowing things down. We fill out a lot of forms to record everything we dig, assigning numbers to artifact bags, soil layers, features, units, and so on. We also draw maps, profiles, and cross sections as well as photograph in black and white, color, and digital. We document everything carefully, because once you dig something up it can never be dug up again the same way.

The house we are working inside is known as the Triplex because it has three rooms along the street.

The front of the Triplex.

The north room was built in the late 1860s and two more rooms were added in the 1870s. The building was the home of Juan and Soledad and their three daughters. Soledad worked as a seamstress after her husband died. One of her daughters was well-known for making Mexican wedding dresses.

The 1860s room has a saguaro rib ceiling.

Saguaro rib ceiling.

One of the 1870s rooms has packing crates re-used in the ceiling, wood was scarce and valuable in Tucson and every scrap was carefully used.

Looking straight up at some of the packing crates.

The house is going to be a museum for a new park. After we complete our excavations it will be ready for the final restoration work.

Not many exciting finds today. An unexpected discovery was a pile of bottles in the backyard, barely buried in the dirt. They probably date to the 1940s or 1950s.


The dry climate has preserved some of the bottle labels.

A. B. C. Beer.

In other news, I got a bit dehydrated today and have an annoying headache. I work hard at getting enough water, but sometimes I just forget as I rush around trying to get things done and encourage people to work faster.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Dig, Day 5. Another freakishly hot day. Inside the house we finished digging another pit filled with Presidio-era trash. The people living in the Spanish fort would dig holes in the ground to mine out dirt to make adobe bricks and caliche (a lime layer that develops in the arid Southwest) to make plaster or adobe. Afterwards they tossed their trash in the pits. We find them as we scrape dirt away because the fill dirt inside the pit is a different color than the surrounding dirt, as well as having a different degree of compaction and many artifacts.

Middle room, with pits visible.

The pit we completed today had many pieces of Mexican majolica, a type of glazed ceramic made in Oaxaca or Puebla, Mexico. The blue varieties were made to look like Chinese porcelains. We find mostly fragments from plates and bowls, with a smaller number of cups.

Blue varieties of majolica.

We started a new area along the east side of the house. Geez, it was horribly dusty- I'm still blowing dirt out of my nose and I wore one of those dust masks. We found a mixture of stuff, including these colorful artifacts:


Tonight is the season finale of Lost and then I'm done with the telly for the summer. Maybe I'll be productive and work on my books, maybe I'll just be lazy. Well, not too lazy since I have to work on my guesthouse before someone else can live there- drywall, a new door, a new lighting fixture, maybe a fan for the bathroom. What a money pit.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Dig, Day 4. We continued in the two rooms today. There is a 1000-year-old pithouse in the south room, extending slightly into the north room. The Hohokam and their ancestors built houses by digging a shallow (sometimes deep) pit, and then erecting a framework of poles to form walls and the roof. Over this they packed mud to keep the rain out and to make the pithouse cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Pithouses usually have an entrance way along one side, with a small hearth just inside. Sometimes the floors are covered with lime plaster. Often archaeologists find artifacts on the floors- pots, manos and metates, bone awls, and other tools. Many pithouses were destroyed by fire.

An arrow point and a decorated piece of pottery, found this morning.

The house we uncovered appears to have burned, with charcoal still lying on the floor in some areas. Several manos, used to grind corn and other seeds into flour, rest on the floor, as do several large pieces of pottery. Next week we will carefully clear the floor to look for the hearth and postholes.

In the meantime, we will be starting a new area underneath the former porch of the house. In the middle room we have another large Presidio-era pit, filled with animal bone, pottery, and other artifacts.

What else? Even at 6:30 in the morning it seems incredibly hot here. I don't feel very hungry, maybe I'll lose that couple of pounds I've been wanting to get rid of. I've got to figure out what to do this weekend. Brian says come to Phoenix. Jonny is in town, so maybe I will.

Another letter to the editor: this time on the proposed anti-gay marriage amendment here in Arizona (second letter down).

Monday, May 23, 2005

Dig, Day 3. We have stripped away two layers of soil inside the middle and south room of the house and are starting to find features. Features are man-made things ranging from walls, floors, pits, and pit structures. The southern room has a Hohokam pit structure. We've been able to trace the edges of it, with a portion extending into the middle room. A grinding stone and a large pottery sherd are visible in the fill, which we will start removing tomorrow.

We've found three pits in the middle room. Two were prehistoric and contained a few pieces of broken pottery and flaked stone pieces- the waste material left behind when stone tools were made. The third pit dates to Tucson's Presidio period- 1775-1850, and contains a large amount of animal bone- cattle, sheep, chicken, and even some sort of fish.

A cattle mandible.

The same pit has yielded bits of majolica pottery and a gun flint.

Someone asked what happens to the artifacts. First we find them by dumping dirt through screens. We use 1/4 inch mesh mostly, although today we used 1/8 mesh when we realized we had fish bones (they are very small). We sort everything by material and then bag them and number the bags. The artifacts are taken to the laboratory and cleaned. Analysts later look at them to identify them- what kind of animal bone, what sort of pottery, The analysts write reports, the nicest artifacts are illustrated, and everything is boxed up and sent off to a local museum. The museum stores the collections, with a few items selected for exhibits. The rest are kept so that future scientists and members of the public can look at them. Modern archaeologists don't keep souvenirs or sell artifacts, doing so would be unethical.

In other news- the trench is dug (I saved $700 by doing so, it took about 8 hours). Saturday was mostly spent lying in bed trying to cool off. It was 109 degrees yesterday, I hung out with Roger for a while and we had a good time. I've been going to bed very early, tired out from all the hard labor. Maybe I should dig ditches for a living?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

I remember now what summer is like in Tucson. Horribly hot. Inside my house, with the swamp cooler running, it is hot. It is even hotter digging a trench in my backyard. I'm about 2/3 done with that, thankfully.

The trench.

One way to deal with the heat is to buzz off the hair. Maybe I should trim the beard, we'll see, the guys seem to like it. I'm starting to get a farmer's tan too.

Pale Homer.

I'll be answering some of the archaeology questions people have as the dig progresses. Wonder what we'll find Monday?

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Dig, Day 2. We continued inside the house, removing more dirt and going deeper. We are finding more prehistoric artifacts in some areas, while in another area we appear to have a large pit filled with trash (animal bone, majolica pottery, a musket ball, and O'odham pottery) thrown away sometime between 1775 and 1850.

Today the workers found a lot of prehistoric pottery, some of it decorated with spirals, lines, zig zags, and even a pair of birds.

Hohokam pottery.

No one knows what these people called themselves, we call them the Hohokam. They made painted pottery in Tucson for about a thousand years. The designs changed through time, kinda like clothing styles change. We can date many of the designs to small time spans- 25 to 50 years, because we have carbon dated plant remains found in burned houses with decorated pots lying on their floors.

As if I couldn't get enough digging during work hours, now I have to dig a new gasline trench from my house to the guest house- 75 ft long, one ft wide, and 1.5 ft deep. I started this afternoon and was very thankful to find the dirt is easy to dig. Guess how I'll be spending my weekend? And $2,300 dollars too. Blech.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Dig, Day 1. I'm running an excavation the next three weeks. It is a rather unusual project because most of the work is being done inside a house built in the 1860s and 1870s. We need to remove the dirt beneath the floors so they can install air conditioning pipes, utilities, and put a new floor in. Two years ago I worked with the contractors repairing the house and found that the house sets on top of a prehistoric Native American village and is also within the old Spanish fortress.

Today we started on two rooms inside the house. I had the floors pulled up yesterday and we spent some time getting things ready. The dirt is really soft and easy to dig, and we started finding artifacts right away- prehistoric pottery sherds, an arrowhead, bits of Mexican ceramics, buttons, a pile of coins from the 1950s, and lots of animal bones. I'm expecting we will find the remains of several prehistoric houses in the area we are working in. But you never know what you'll find when you do an archaeology dig.

Inside the house, Day 1.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I like peanut butter. I like chocolate. I HATE, HATE, HATE fricken Reese's Cups. Does that make any sense to you? It doesn't to me either.

Oh tonight's episode of Lost was soooo good.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Just to clarify things, I don't "hate" personal ads. I'm not a big fan of them. But I'll reserve "hate" for people who club baby seals to death and that sort of thing. Unlike a certain nasty New York blogger, I rarely hate people, it's just a fucking waste of time to do so and I'd rather focus my energy on better things.

An example- tonight I had a goodbye meal with Jeffrey T., who is moving to Boston to go to Boston College. We met two years ago at my birthday party and the time we have spent together since then has been very special. He's a funny, handsome, charming man. I'm a bit sad to see him leave Tucson, but more glad that he is off pursuing his dreams. I'm planning a visit to Boston next year, so I'll get to see him then.

Homer and Jeffrey T.

I haven't done much field archaeology over the last couple of years (I've been trapped in the office writing reports) but finally I have a project coming up that will give me the opportunity to write about an archaeological dig for the next three weeks. Hopefully, we'll find some interesting things and I'll share them with you guys. Wish me luck.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Why I hate personal ads:

- "straight acting"
- guys who only want guys younger than themselves
- "no fats- no fems"
- guys who boast about how much they bench press
- "no blacks, no Asians, but I'm not racist"
- guys who lie about how old they are. If you can't honestly say you are 47, what other lies will you be telling?
- poor. picture. quality.
- diaper fetishes

What are your personal ad complaints?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Excitement abounds. Friday night I had dinner with Larry and Lauren at Feast. Potato tacos- so good.

David M., Larry, and Lauren.

Saturday morning I helped Avi and Kristin work on their new house- taping things for painting and stripping hooks and gadgets off the walls. Here's a useful fact- the inside of the toilet lid usually has the date of manufacture on it. In older houses you can generally date when it was built if the original toilets are there.

Kristin and Avi.

Saturday night Patrick and I attended a sedate party.

Patrick and Homer.

Afterward visited the lovely Denture Inn, where I spent some time chatting with Reuben. Earlier that night, and on the previous night, a number of revelations were revealed to me and I decided to just say no to bullshit and lies. As step one I had a discussion with someone that cleared the air a little. We both felt much better afterwards.

Some other stuff happened that I can't write about, not really involving me. Drunk, really drunk people suck.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

At David's party a certain person said to me, "I never knew what true happiness was until I took [prescription drug]." My first thought was "what about all the time we spent together, didn't I ever make you happy?" Truefully, the answer is no and that is a little hard to understand. It wasn't because I didn't try.

I promised Shane I'd teach him how to make cheesecake. That's a useful skill one needs to acquire a boyfriend.

Shane and Homer.

Another skill is being able to be patient and finding ways to pass time. Taking a picture that can make a dreadfully ugly building look pretty is one such skill.

Transamerica Building.

It is easy to wish I was back in New York City, where the boys are pretty and surprisingly friendly and plenty of nice bloggers to hang out with. How many days before I can come back?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Just to let everyone know the bees are taken care of and I didn't get stung or pay a lot of money, which is a relief.

Joe sent me a link to someone's webpage filled with pictures of someone's mother's house, filled with unopened boxes of stuff from ebay. The poor mother was obviously mentally ill. It brought back memories of my father, who could never throw anything away and wanted to save things. So when we moved 200 miles he loaded up a 20-ft-long truck with scrap lumber, "you never know when we might need it." Even as a kid I knew that was stupid. Our attic filled up with all sorts of stuff, I remember with embarassment the electric fireplace with simulated bricks and simulated flames. He thought that was somehow classy, I thought it looked like oversized dollhouse furniture.

In 1996 my parents had to sell the farm and I went home to help sort the mess out. My father was apopletic because we were throwing out old magazines and Reader's Digest Condensed Books. "You never know..." he'd start up, but since he had a stroke and was partially paralyzed, there wasn't much he could do but sit there and sob. It was rather heart-breaking, but also made me angry that he was still manipulating us.

In his dresser I found many carefully folded shirts- Christmas presents that he refused to wear because he wanted to save them for the future. There were unpleasant aspects of this hording behavior- he didn't like his clothes to be washed because he'd seen the lint that came off- that was evidence that the clothes were being damaged while being washed. It didn't occur to me later that my father needed to see a shrink.

I've mostly escaped this behavior. I have some boxes of old letters and postcards and a china cabinet filled with family heirlooms. More important to me is the storehouse of memories in my head, those are the things I like to pull out and examine from time to time, even if some of the memories aren't pleasant or just a little odd.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Oh cripes, I have a swarm of killer bees in my backyard. I should never have paid off that credit card! Whenever I do lots of expensive and unpleasant things happen!

The swarm.

The blob of bees is about a foot in diameter, writhing and squirming. They are native bees that have become Africanized, interbreeding with those nasty African killer bees. In the last ten years or so a number of people and numerous animals have been killed by them in southern Arizona.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I survived the trip to NYC- although I almost didn't survive the trip from the airport home. I didn't know the parking brake was set and after 10 miles of that the brakes decided to vanish. A quick U-turn prevented Allison and I from being hurt (really, if I hadn't turned I probably would be the hospital, it was that close).

Anyhoo... I love New York City. It is an amazing place. I love the subways and the diversity of people and the smells. I didn't see a single rat.

I did spend quality time with Hazel and Norman at Les and Chris' B & B.

I spent time wandering in Central Park because the library I wanted to go to wasn't open until the afternoon.

The cherry blossoms were beautiful.
I completed my research and hung out some with Les and Chris. Les cooked a really great Moroccan dish whose name I can't remember.

I kept getting north and south screwed up so walked wayyyyy out of the way on the way to the Blogger meeting at Barrage. While there I caused a shirt fire, was groped twice, kissed once, stumbled over gray ottomans, felt two men's chests, and met many cool guys and a couple of nifty women. Pictures below.

BJ and Boy Wonder.

Alan and Homer.

Glenn, who is cute in every photo I see of him.

Jimbo and Eric.

Mark and Brian, who also never take a bad photo.

Jeff, Brian, and Chris.

The next day I headed over to Joe's house while hungover. In the afternoon Joe, Ed, and I wandered a bit.

Joe battles Godzilla.

I admired the flowers.

That night Ed and I watched a silly movie about an earthquake destroying NYC. Ed is from Philadephia and is quite adorable.

The next day after waffles.

Last night I hung out with Glenn's boyfriend Derek, who is such a sweety. He entertained me royally while Glenn did work-related stuff, they make a cuddly couple.

Back in Tucson, five hours at the Saturn dealership, a house filled with cat hairballs. I'll update this entry with links and additional photos tomorrow, when I am more awake.

A fountain at Joe's building.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I'm at JoeMyGod's hanging out with Ed. I didn't make the barbeque because I was a little hungover from the blogger gathering. We spent some time wandering the city today. I'll have pictures once I'm back in Tucson.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

On the subway a man was passed out in a puddle of his own urine. I left a stop early to escape from the horrible smell and promptly stepped in a mess of puke. I love New York City. I'm hoping to see a rat tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

So I'm in Brooklyn and the cherry and apple trees are blooming like crazy and it is a little chilly (Chas and Mark, bring a sweater!). The two jets I rode on were half empty. I spent an hour on the subway, always interesting to people watch. I sat on Les's front stoop and chatted with Archerr until Les came. We chatted, he's on the phone talking to his box about some work crisis.

I read my email and discovered that someone is planning to come to the blogger gathering on Friday to ask me, I guess, on why I banned him from commenting on my weblog. I had a few comments that I perceived as negative from him and the last one, which arrived when I was feeling depressed earlier this year, was enough. I banned his comments, and then was accused of being a "pathetic hypocrite." Honestly, I didn't need the added stress at the time. It is my blog, I guess I have every right to do so.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I've managed to get everything done before my trip and Joey knows something is up because all she wants to do it sit on my lap or sniff my face.She has her new res=d collar on and looks awful cute. The little bell jangles when she runs up to me. I'll miss her and Puff and Mama Cat while I'm gone. I bet they'll miss me too. See you in New York City.

Monday, May 02, 2005

I cancelled my newspaper subscription today. About a month ago the paper decided to revise its editorial page by adding more conservative columnists. i could have lived with that, except they included Ann Coulter.

Ann, oh Ann. How many ways to despise? She is truly a vile person. Last October she came to campus to speak and a couple of students threw a pie at her. In a recent column she brought this up as an example of how awful liberals were, claiming that good Republicans had beat the two guys up and broken their bones. This, as in most factual claims Madame Coulter makes, was a lie.

I don't want a miniscule sliver of a penny that I pay for the newspaper subscription to go to her, to enrich her in any way. I made sure the person who took down my cancellation noted that the sole reason was Ann Coulter. Maybe the newspaper will get the hint if enough people do the same.

In brighter news, I bought Puff and Joey new collars and they are running around making the bells ring. At the pet store there was a tank full of beautiful bright goldfishes. I admired them until I realized that they were probably waiting to be eaten by some nasty pirahna instead of gracing an aquarium.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Okay, so I'm a little drunk. I went to Jello wrestling with Jim (he drove) and I had a few beers (well, a lot of beers). Patrick and Chris joined us, and we had a good time.

Jim and Chris.

Homer and Patrick.

I avoided the jello shots...

Jello shots...

Patrick and Jim didn't...

Patrick shows us the money.

People wrestled...

Thelma and Daphne.

The furry cop...

Oh he was furrylicious.

[pictures deleted at someone's request!]

A good time was had by all, and this year I didn't bid on a cottonwood tree.

Patrick did buy an expensive rug.

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