Monday, September 7, 2009

urban archaeology

We're back in the city, home from Guemes Island. I love it out there for one thing because "people are weird like me". I'm not sure how to describe it except that the people I meet prefer to live on an island where there are no businesses except for one general store and there is no government or police department and there is practically no crime. I don't think that lifestyle would work unless one was on a small island with no way to get off except on a small ferry where you would stand out if someone called ahead and said, "My laptop was stolen so keep an eye out on people coming to catch the ferry." Seeing as there are times when there are only six people crossing on the tiny little floating platform they call a ferry. When we got on the ferry EJ asked, "When are we getting on the ferry?"

I actually think governments and police departments are very important, but it's also nice to be so remote that they aren't actually needed. But that is not what appeals to me the most, it is the quiet, so much wild nature (not parks department tended nature) and so many people into environmental conservation without having to defend themselves against all the assertions that global warming is a liberal hoax.

Back in the city this weekend we have been working hard to finish the chicken coop and run which also means getting the area where the coop will go cleaned out and a couple retaining walls built. The chickens have been in the FEMA housing now for about a month and they are getting very tired of it. Plus, it's been pretty stormy at night and they don't have adequate shelter for right now for when it starts to get cold.

Yesterday morning I went out and started chipping away at the mound of dirt where it slopes down from the neighbors yard so that I could get it flat straight up and down to put the stone wall up against it. It started raining after about an hour and I actually enjoyed getting soaking wet and covered in mud, especially after just a month ago when it was freakishly hot here in the land of no air conditioning. But the most interesting aspect of our yard work was finding yet another buried garbage pile from the original owners of the house that is almost 100 years old.

This particular garbage pile had a cute little fully intact blue bromo seltzer bottle from around the 1920's or 1930's, a half of a pretty porcelain plate from 1902-1930ish, and many large mechanical pieces that I think must have come from a tractor. Also, more animal bones. There were some pretty large animal bones on another side of our yard when we put a retaining wall over there but these were a different age. They were brown and kind of squishy and fell apart easily. One almost completely intact vertebrae that I dug up was 5 inches long. I'm guessing it is from a cow. There were some smaller bones in there too, I'm not sure what part of the cow those were but I came out in the late afternoon and JP had one tied to the piece of string he was using to help him level the wall and I pointed out, "You know that's a bone, don't you?" and he said, "It kind of looked like one but was hollow ..." and I said, "Yep. It's a bone." The bones are so old that Willow the pitbull has no interest in them.

I like finding this kind of stuff when we're digging out areas of our yard. It makes me feel like I know a little more about the original owners of our house and it's fascinating to think of what life was like when they lived in this house. It was so different from how it is now: we've remodeled and re-wired and re-plumbed and updated the whole kitchen and brought it into the 21st Century. I'm curious sometimes what the ghosts of Conrad and Maude would think of the changes we made to the home they lived in for 70 years.

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