Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's not the destination, it's the journey...

I took some amazingly boring pictures of the double-decker bus that I took from Århus to the airport. I took a picture of the ferry boat wake as we sped across the sea (part of the journey from Århus to Copenhagen by bus is on a ferry boat... it's made all the more exciting in that I get seasick, so I took a seasickness pill and felt very weird for a few hours). I didn't take a picture of the airplane... because, well, it's an airplane.

But I'm not going to post those pictures because it was such a BORING trip.

The exciting part was the Nesher taxi. Which I brilliantly called a sheroot, when I meant sherut, in my last post.

I did not take this photo. I staggered out of the airport at 4:30 AM and fell into the cab. As you can see, it's a van thing. They fill it up with people going to roughly the same place. Our destination being: Jerusalem.

Something you should know about J-town. It's HUGE. Small towns next to it have been sucked in. So a Nesher full of people, 10 persons and a driver, may take you ALL over the freaking place. Except East Jerusalem. The archaeological institutes and a few rich hotels in East Jerusalem, yes, they can take you there. But they don't like it. And they'll only pick you up again from one or two really fancy hotels in EJ. Otherwise, they'll drop you on the outskirts and let you take your chances on the uneven sidewalks.

The crazy part is, the driver has no GPS. But he knows all the streets of the entire region. He remembers where all of you need to go, then drives like... well, there's no really good simile for it. He takes up both lanes (sometimes those lanes are all going in the same direction and sometimes not), he thinks speed bumps are for the weak and lights for the timid. There is no way to sleep on the Nesher taxi ride. This is where I believe most people actually find God. Not in the churches or mosques or synagogues, but right there in the cab.

This time I felt like I was on a tour of places I have previously lived while in Jerusalem. We went through Rahavia, the German Colony and the Albright (the American archaeology institute) before coming to an abrupt halt outside the Kenyon. And then had to drag my 22 kg (48.5 pounds that is!) suitcase up these stairs.

I don't know why my suitcase is so heavy. I had far less in it than last year. However, I used a smaller suitcase then and I think this suitcase is considerably heavier even when empty. There are also two flights of stairs inside the Kenyon. But that would be a really dull picture. They are stairs, okay. Grey carpet if you are curious. And there are more of then than are good for your back, your hand (remove rings before dragging suitcase: check!), and your suitcase itself.

When I opened my suitcase I could see that everything I packed so carefully was now bunched up on the left half of the suitcase (well the bottom half when standing... but you get the picture). I could have used a much smaller suitcase. Oh well. Maybe I can bring back a load of antiquities. KIDDING!!! (They search your bags on the way out of Israel, what kind of idiot sticks an antiquity in their check-in luggage?)

Slept a few hours. Basked in the heat. Almost passed out from how freakin' pale I am. Had problems walking down to get food because I haven't worn sandals since August and my toes were going, "Dude, what is this heat? Is that the sun? Is this heat the sunshine? We've heard about sunshine. Is that why you put sunscreen on us? 'Cause that tickled. How come we aren't enveloped in cotton? What is with these strap things? Can we take that rock with us? How about that rock? Oh, we like that big rock! Let's take that one home!! Please?" I managed not to walk out of my sandals, SUCCESS!! And had my first falafel in god knows how long. Oh the flavor! The spices! The hummus!!

But now I need to nap. My roommate flew in from Montana on a LONG series of flights that began on Thursday and ended in the early hours of Saturday. She's out like a light.

Tomorrow will be packing up the gear and getting it north to the site. A frantic day of packing, unpacking, moving, rearranging, organizing and collapsing awaits!

Friday, May 29, 2009


I'm packed. Well, apart from a few odds and ends... like my computer, for example.

I found my dig boots, and I will not be taking my husband's on accident. Found my sandals. Found my trowels. Did not find my hat, but then, I was planning on using my kaffiya anyway. Also couldn't find my dental picks and at least two official dig team t-shirts. Odd. Also missing some wife-beaters, my dig shirt of choice. And one sports bra.

I have oodles of space left in my suitcase. Not really sure why. Probably because there's a total of 4 missing shirts, one missing hat, and a small bag of dental picks gone poof. Really, I've looked everywhere. I really would have liked to have found the dental picks.

I'm preparing myself mentally for the trip. I've been trying for days, but I really need to stop thinking Danish and start thinking Insanity. Israel is like that. It's freakin' nuts. The exact polar opposite of Denmark. It's fairly dirty (this is a sore point with my husband, who points out that it gets very dirty in Århus on Sunday morning and then I point out that Denmark has people who go out and pick up the trees that fall over in the forrest) and dusty. People live like there is not going to be a tomorrow (whereas in Denmark everyone is living for the long term, putting of life until some point in the future) and drive like complete and utter lunatics. You do not have to worry about bombings in Denmark. Or shootings. Or bulldozers driving up congested streets (over the cars). The hours of business suck in Denmark, but at least they are open when they say they will be. Good luck with that in Israel. Jewish holidays make less sense than Danish holidays, in that they creep up on you and it means that things are closed from sundown to sundown, often opening up after sundown (and thus after the holiday) and this includes bookstores and bars and restaurants. Busses from West Jerusalem do not cross into East Jerusalem, so you have to get off and walk to catch the sheroots (Arab busses) that are rather run down and it's often faster to just walk than wait for the fat woman with the daily shopping to get aboard and stow her gear. Not that the driver waits, so sometimes you get to help her find her oranges under the seats.

Logic does not exist in Israel. We often refer to it as "the land that logic forgot" although it is possible that logic never arrived in Israel, having gotten lost in the desert with Moses and eaten by desperate Israelites who mistook it as bread from heaven. It is, however, a riot of fun and color. You can be about as nuts as you can be and people will just shrug and go about their lives. Very much living in the now and living out loud. Party hard, pray hard. You can get into an intense argument with someone, only to have it end in hugs and assertions of eternal devotion and friendship. You can also get spit on by religious fanatics, whom no one really likes, but they allow you to pray less hard without feeling guilty. You can get amazing shwarma from the guy around the corner. You can get great coffee at a rooftop cafe where you can see the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the bustling souk without turning around. You get bumped by nuns who will apologize and bless you in 5 different languages. It is utterly foreign and exotic and weird things happening are completely normal.

You can get pork (it's against Jewish and Islamic law) by going into the Russian Orthodox (Christian) quarter and asking for "white beef" and you can get a ham and cheese sandwich in the Armenian quarter if you know where to go. There's a GREAT Palestinian beer that certain bars have on tap.

Coming from Denmark is a shock. Life is faster, but everyone walks slower. Hot days, cool nights. The sound of the Imams calling Muslims to prayer wakes you up at 4 am for the first two days, but then you adapt and barely notice it until you get home and miss it.

I'm so excited. I wish I was taking my hebrew speaking husband. He makes life SO much easier. I'll just muddle through as I do. I know a handful of words, the most important being the word for hebrew and no. "Lo afrit, english?" Many people speak English or some form of it, or French, so I can get by. I know a few letters as well, and can match up patterns enough to know which bus to take if I have to get from Jerusalem to Bet Shean or Tiberias or Tel Aviv.

But I'm the driver again this year, so no busses for me. Just the joys of mad driving. I actually enjoy it. Although I scream a lot and I may be responsible for running over the dove of peace last year. I thought it was a plastic bag and it didn't move until the last minute, flying up into my grill. How was I supposed to know??

I'll probably be unable to keep up with all the blogs I read. And even if I read them I might not be able to comment so much, but I'm not ignoring you my bloggers! I am going to devote time to blogging which cuts into my reading, but I still love you all!

Think of me at 8 pm Copenhagen time, because I HATE flying and I'll be wondering how fast we get off the ground and how soon they'll start serving alcohol so I can have ONE drink before I try to pretend I am not 35,000 feet in the air with nothing under my feet but AIR and SPACE and most importantly DEPTH!! AHHHHHHH!!!

Hugs y'all!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

*achoo* *snort* Gah!


Dear Denmark,

ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?? Look, I'm sorry I'm leaving you. I'll be back. You needn't start blowing gale force winds. You needn't release a years worth of pollen into the air! You REALLY needn't have used that gale force wind to blow the pollen up my nose, into my lungs and giving me one of the worst sinus headaches I've had in a long time.

You win, I'm miserable. But I'm not staying. Nope. I'm still going to get on that plane tomorrow. I have a steady supply of Kleenex and I will use it all and then my sleeve, my pants and even my socks if I must. Because I have places to be and people to see and dirt to dig.

I think a short break will be good for us. Really.

Don't take it all so personally, Denmark. It's not you. It's me.

Now please, take it like a man and stop this incessant tantrum. It's beneath you. You are better than that.

A little less wind. A little less pollen. And I promise I will come back in a month.

Your friend,

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Roof weasels

We have roof weasels.

"There's no such thing!" you cry.

You callin' me a liar?  You callin' ME a LIAR?

Whose blog is this?  Mine!  And I tell you we have ROOF WEASELS!

I was out on the balcony well after my bedtime, it was easily quarter past midnight, when I spied a dark shape running through the courtyard. It ran up the outside stairs, climbed the drain onto the roof, ran along the gutters to the corner where the building turns, ran up the V where the roofs meet, and then paused dramatically on the ridge of the roof before running down the other side, out of sight.

I stood there dumbfounded.

This time I knew what it was, a European polecat, because I've seen them before on back-country roads in Denmark (i.e. anything that isn't a major roadway). But STILL, in Århus? Downtown? On my roof!?!

I'm fairly sure I have seen this particular animal before in the courtyard, but long long ago, before I knew about wild polecats.

I do not know where it lives, but I suspect it lives in the attic of our building. Around the corner from our apartment, in another section, so I can't climb up and find out. I'd really like to know what it was doing while I was removing rats from the basement, because DUDE, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO EAT RATS YOU SKINNY WALL CLIMBING BASTARD!!

You know how you sometimes have to set mouse traps even though you have cats? You look at your cats and think, you lazy overfed footwarmers, why do I bother keeping you around? You KNOW they'll be out later killing the birds you try to feed and digging the corpses of the mice you've killed out of the trash, but god forbid they kill the mouse in your house eating your cookies! Why does nature NEVER work in my favor?

I'm also a bit bitter because I'm suffering from allergies. Screw you Mother Nature. Just screw you.

I had a ferret as a pet. I LOVED my ferret. I miss his fuzzy butt. If I hadn't been 3 floors up, I would have run across the roof and scooped that little hairy body up and my husband would currently be wondering how to dispose of my new "pet" while I was abroad. And I'd probably be in the hospital getting rabies shots.

No, I don't think my roof weasel has rabies. It was a perfectly sane, cute little pointy faced weasel with a slightly puffed tail from some imagined fright (or possibly a rather exciting encounter with another weasel... it is spring), dancing across the lawn under the star-lit sky....

Technically, this is a STOAT. And while I do love this song... don't you feel like "Being for the Benifit of Mr. Kite" would have been more appropriate?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Welcome to Århus!

So I went to the "Welcome to Århus" thing that the kommune (something like a county, but not really) put together. Lots of information that would have been helpful a while ago or isn't relevant to me yet (like all the stuff for children). There was a big push for us to involve our children in as many things as possible so they can learn to be Dandroids... I mean, become real Danes... I mean, learn about Danish culture. Yeah yeah, at least the girls choir was cute. Much more fun was the tour of the city hall and a trip up to the top of the tower.

And, yes, I TOTALLY forgot to bring a camera. Must we discuss it? BUT GOD BLESS THE INTERNETS! I will have things for you to look at!

The building, designed by Arne Jacobsen, was started in 1938 and finished in 1941. It is made entirely out of Nordic materials (apparently they thought this was a great "screw you" to the Nazis, a rather extreme form of passive resistance if you ask me, but no one did), except for the panelling in two rooms, the council room has wood panelling from Cuba and the Marriage Room has the same type of wood commonly used in cigar boxes. (They couldn't remember what that wood was called, but good ol' Google tells me it is either Spanish cedar or Honduran mahogany.) It is now a protected building and nothing about it can be changed. Which means, according to the translator, they freeze in the winter and boil in the summer because God forbid they get windows that open and a nicer air-con unit.

We met in the main hall, which is really more of a wing that they put partitions in front of to make a fake hall. What, that picture is a little less than sensational? I didn't take it, don't blame me!!

We went to see the council room where the kommune leaders er lead. I was surprised at the number of non-Danish names. Way to go immigrants! The carpet was hand woven in Århus and depicts the city as it was in 1941. So it's a lot smaller and there is WAY more green. Funnily enough, the trees point south, so maybe these were Australian weavers?

Then we went to the wedding chapel room. Here you are married if neither one of you are members of the Danish church and/or decide church weddings are not for you. The whole ceremony takes 2-3 MINUTES. Back in the 80's a guy was doing them in under one minute until people complained. Now they speak slower. They do about 1,100 weddings a year. You can be married on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Bring a camera, because it's over fast. (My apologies to the lovely couple who so foolishly posted their wedding photos.) This was a very nice photo, you can see the special walls with the special paintings. All of the flowers are Danish wild flowers, except one small bunch that the painter did on May 4, 1945 after hearing that Denmark would be liberated the next day by the British. He painted red, white, and blue flowers and the stems make the numbers 4 and 5, for 4/5/45 (or 5/4/45 if you are an American).

We then went down the hallway of DOOM!

Kidding, but it did feel like we were walking down a time warp... or that suddenly a door to the left would open and we'd step through to a magical world where it was not so freaking humid. What is WITH THIS WEATHER? It's hot and raining and the wind blows these massive drops of watery death straight into your face. Open your mouth and you may drown.

Anyway, we then went up the tower.

We didn't take the stairs, thank God, we took the lift. I, uh, couldn't find a picture of it. What, are elevators suddenly not attractive? These ones were quite nice. A lot of glass. I backed into a corner and didn't think about it.

At the top are the bells (and this very nice lady, hello lady, I don't know who you are but your friend posted you on his flicker page). Which ring. At the quarter hour and again at the half. They are very loud. I still hear them in my left ear.

And there is a lot of town to see. Although we were on a hill, it's a short hill in the midst of a valley, giving one the most odd vertigo. Oh, that's just me and my fear of hitting the ground at a tremendous speed having fallen from a great height? Never-mind then.

My home is in that photo on the right, I think. Well, it's off in that general direction.

I came home to oodles of mail from the kommune and the JobCenter, who I guess finally fixed their printer. The good news is that they recognize that I am a "high-skilled student" and they want to try to help me find work. They point out they are not trying to take over the work that I may already be doing to find a job (really, cause you can TOTALLY take over for me, this job searching sucks, come on, hire me, I have mad office skills, really, don't make me clean any more, I'm a "high-skilled" person!) and there is no guarantee that they can find me a job. This new initiative comes from the language school... I think they've heard our kvetching in the hallways. The bad news (wait, wasn't that the part about no guarenteed job?) is that they want to meet while I'm gone. So I must call them and reschedule.

Oh and I have to sign this contract that I can't understand. Waiting for the husband to come home. He'll read it with me and then swear a lot about how dumb Denmark is and then threaten to move us to Israel and then I'll complain about moving etc etc.  You know, our normal Tuesday night dinner conversation.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I love to laugh.

I imagine most other people do. If you are one of those sad sorts who don't like to laugh, fearing that it will cause wrinkes or the universe to become unglued, then you should skip this post.

No, I have not written the funniest blog post in the history of the world. Sad. I know, you had such high hopes.

But I am going to post some fantastic videos.

I love Eddie Izzard and I love Legos and so what could be better than Eddie Izzard stand-up in Legos?

(By the way, if you've never seen it, take yourself to The Brick Testament because that is HILARIOUS... though possibly not intentionally... I'm never sure when it comes to religion.)


Cake or Death!!

Beware of Brits bearing flags (or possibly why Denmark is so hung up on it's Dannebro - watch out Denmark, the British are coming and they have a flag! No worries, we've already got one!! Have you seen it? It's all red and white and we wave it around all over the freakin' place, no we aren't nationalistic wackos like you Americans, we're completely sane, which is why we wave the flag on your birthday and put small flags on your cake and decorate your card with little sticker flags, oh and we also put out flags when we have a party or someone takes a particularly large dump in the loo.)

At this point I would like to note that I have watched WAY too many of these. Eddie Izzard is catching, you know.

And finally a bit about remembering to always wear your jam trousers... (in case you stupidly left your towel at home - Happy Towel Day Everyone!)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My grandfather, "the old dude"

My maternal grandfather passed away last week. Do I know how old he was? Er, not really, I know he served in WWII and he made a big deal about being raised in the depression, so I'm thinking 87? He called himself "the old dude," "dude" being one of his favorite terms for other men that he respected. You were a big dude, a mean dude, or some other kind of dude.

My grandfather was sort of a crazy dude. He suffered from dementia the last couple of years (I'd say since the mid-1960s but no one is asking me) which led him to belive that his house was located on top of a cave filled with crystals. He even got a drill to come out and drill into his back yard and sent the soil samples to a lab. No crystals, but he never gave up hope. My grandmother was convinced she'd go out for a walk and come home to find he'd hired a mining company to come in and dig up the driveway.

He could have done it, too. He was a self-made man who had done quite well for himself.

He was born in New York City, at some undetermined point to a delightful Irish woman who had been in the country for an undisclosed amount of time. She left my grandfather's father, leading some to wonder if she was or was not married to this Irish man and how did she get around that snafu when she married again years later? Anyway, being a "ballsy dame" (that would have been my paternal grandmother talking, only she passed away last year, but left me with some choice vocabulary when it came to the family of her son's wife), she took her son (my grandpa) and worked her way across the country, picking produce. Which is how he came to be in California and how they came to survive the depression. My grandfather always seemed to avoid fresh produce in his later years, was inordinately proud of technology like canned food, and ate ridiculous amounts of meat, giving him sky high cholesterol.

WWII was a blessing for my grandfather. He drove tanks. I'm not sure where he drove tanks, seeing how all the pictures show him in tanks at the base. This seems to be where he met my grandmother. Presumably this is also the period when he was a boxer. Although I could be wrong about that. He also served some time as a prison guard or maybe was an MP on some small island in the pacific, because he once, he proudly told us, arrested a "Jap" at gun point. Lord I hope that was during the war.

Notice all the "seems" and "presumablys" in this story? My grandfather wasn't big on his past, except when it was to shame us into working harder or when he started to lose it and we could never be sure if he was telling us the story of one event or five rolled into one.

After the war, my grandfather, now married to my grandmother, got to go to college on the GI bill. He got a degree in entomology, which directly contributed to my fear of spiders. Note to parents: do not let your slightly odd parents show their nasty spider collection to your children. It WILL scar them for life.

Anyway, he also bought an apartment building, which my grandmother ran (not that my grandfather would ever give her credit, but how else did he manage to run it and work for the state and get a masters and write a paper on the life span of a particularly icky bug ALL AT THE SAME TIME?). He'd then sell it and buy another one and possibly had two at one time for a while, got lucky with some real-estate purchases and was able to retire with a good wad of cash.

Which he liked to tell us about. A lot.

My grandfather became a Republican at some point. Although he always kept a bust of John F. Kennedy in his living room, which confused me for years until my dad pointed out that Kennedy was Irish. Grandpa also left the catholic church at some point; my mother was baptized Catholic, Baptist, and possibly something else before finally marrying my dad and becoming an Episcopalian. My grandfather and my grandmother joined an odd non-denominational church which fit my grandfather's view of the universe. Wonder what my grandfather's world view was? Watch The 700 Club.

My dad once accidently knocked my grandfather flat. He was trying to bond with this odd Irishman, who's daughter he wished to marry, and so took him out golfing. My grandfather stood too close to my dad and got whacked on the follow-through. Knocked him right out. My dad was sure that was it, but my mom married him anyway. She also clandestinely became a Democrat and politics and religion were things we were advised not to mention to Grandpa. He once worked himself into a state after Clinton was elected because, as you know, Clinton and "Hanoi" Jane Fonda were in a conspiracy to turn this country into a communist nation. My grandmother cries at the thought of all those poor homosexuals who will not get into heaven because of their sins. We bite our tongues and make mild comments about how we are sure that the country was not going to become Soviet Russia nor would Jesus let all the gay people burn in hell. And then QUICKLY CHANGE THE SUBJECT.

As you can imagine, family get-togethers could be fraught with tension. Especially since my dad's parents were big in the labor movement and had done a lot to unionize Los Angeles. The dirty pinkos.

After retirement my grandfather helped design the HUGE 70's style house they built in northern California and that my grandmother had to clean. The living room is the size of a soccer field and is never used and there is a jacuzzi in the upstairs bathroom directly over the living room because my grandfather could afford the fancy engineering needed for it. Cleaning such a huge house certainly kept my grandmother busy. But not busy enough; a few years ago my grandfather noticed she was getting a little fat "from too much sitting around." Not because she was in her late 70s and no amount of elastic in the world can keep everything in and up like it used to be. He bought her some fancy exercise equipment. Seeing as how she suffers from hyper tension and has had a quadruple bypass, these machines will either kill her or keep her fit. Meanwhile, he jogged every day and after he had a couple of nasty falls, finally slowed to a walk (at least when within sight of the house). He played on the Elks softball team as shortstop. He continued to slide, even after breaking ribs, wrists, and tearing ligaments and giving my grandmother a series of small heart attacks.

A few years ago he suffered from a series of small strokes, which contributed to the dementia and made it difficult for him to remember directions or sign his name. My grandmother had to learn how to write checks and had to always accompany him when they went out in the car. There were a few times he got lost and had to ask someone to call his wife to come and fetch him. Stubborn and independent, but not so stupid as to miss meals while wandering around looking for his home.

The week before he died, my grandfather played the last game of the season with the Elks. The day before he died, he did his usual walk. He came home and collapsed in the entry way. The end came fast.

While part of me is glad it was sudden, the long slow illness of my paternal grandmother was painful for everyone, I know my maternal grandmother was not ready to be alone. We were all pretty sure grandpa was going to out live us all, he was just that stubborn and I'd have though he'd be around forever to tell us who was in the will and who wasn't for YEARS to come. We were all sure that he'd have given my grandmother one final heart attack, seeing how he kept climbing up on the roof to clean out the gutters (he got stuck twice, having forgotten where he'd put the ladder against the house and once just not being able to clamber back down, and once he fell off the roof, catching himself at the last minute, tearing a rotator cuff and hanging there for some time yelling at my grandmother until she could fetch the neighbor... and that was just last year).

It's hard to think that this small mad force of nature will no longer be calling the house and demanding to know what brand of ceiling fan we use, because he saw on TV that some were falling from the ceiling and killing people and we have to check RIGHT NOW or we could ALL DIE! He won't get to see me graduate, which is a shame, he was really pleased to know that I was going to be educated (because educated women marry better than uneducated women) and excited because he knew I was doing biblical archaeology (I'm not, but having finally gotten him to understand I was not digging up dinosaurs, I went with it, and it made him profoundly proud to know that I was going to find Jesus). It's almost impossible to not imagine calling home and hearing the latest story from my dad and what grandpa did.

In spite of all the headaches and frustration he's caused, the bitten tongues and the choked off retorts, I'll miss him. He was quite a character, that old dude.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

7 reasons why you want to be my friend...

This challenge came to me from The Writer. The task is to list 7 things that make me awesome and then tag 7 bloggers that I think are awesome to do the same. I tried to tag 7 bloggers that she didn't tag, so as to spread the "joy" far and wide. (I would have tagged more, but I'd like some people to still like me tomorrow!)

7 things that make me awesome

This was HARD. I can tell you what I suck at: I suck at telling you how I’m awesome. Can’t we all just accept that I’m awesome and leave it at that?


Gah, I’m going to be so embarrassed by the end of this post I’ll have to go hide my head under the blankets. I once wrote a recommendation for myself that was so blah that the professor gave me a stern talking to and refused to sign it until I’d jazzed it up.

So I spent the day thinking and then the night dreaming about this, and these are the seven things about myself that either I know I kick ass at, or I have been told REPEATEDLY that I’m good at. If you disagree, please don’t tell me, I’ll be crushed. ☺

1) Organization goddess

How many people do you know who have organized their cupboards and then made a diagram to aid others in understanding the system? My greatest goal is to get a lamination machine and one of those label makers and go to town on my apartment. Nothing would ever be out of place ever again!

This is highly amusing to people who have known me for a long time. My jacket pockets were black holes of doom. I once found a full sized stapler in there. But you never know when you need to staple something!! My travel purse can still be that way; I’ve lost knives in it (bad move if they’re found by security at the airport, damn X-ray machine) and yet I always had a pocket for gum and candy as well as a bag of emergency medical supplies.

You know, I dream of owning a filing cabinet.

When it comes to planning a trip, I am ALL over it.

Need to schedule 60 high school interns to 150 tasks spread out over three months so that no student works with a teacher who they can’t stand, everyone gets equal hours and at least one of their top choice tasks? Ooooh, it makes my toes tingle with excitement!

2) Cooking diva

From being unable to boil an egg to whipping up a three-dish meal, OMG who is this strange woman and what happened to the microwave burritos? I love to cook and I am damn good at it.

I think this was always a latent gift, because my sister would only eat salad if I’d made a specific salad dressing. She says that I’m the only one who can do it right. Woe to me if I decide to make another dressing or play with the recipe. She waits all year for that salad dressing and she will have it!

3) If you discount my arachnophobia...I'm one brave lady

Dude, I packed up my life in the US and came to a country where people speak a strange throat disease and eat herring on bread. If that’s not bravery I don’t know what is. I also work in parts of the world that the US constantly issues travel warnings about.

(That may be stupidity... but isn't that a form of bravery too?)

I’ll try just about anything once. Maybe not sky diving or bungee jumping... I fall all over the place enough as it is.

There are a lot of things that scare me, but I do them anyway. Again, the line between stupidity and bravery is very fine.

4) Non-judgementalist... which is too a word, stop judging my spelling!!

There is very little you can say or do that will shock and appall me. You’d have to be a racist, cat-killing asshole with a taste for small children for me to refuse to be in your company. I can be surprised by what you tell me, but I’ll get over it. I guarantee I'll accept you for who you are and if you are a good person inside I will always love you and forgive you.

5) I’m funny, or at least I amuse you people...

I’m not going to start doing stand-up comedy, but I can usually make a person laugh. I can be serious, really, I swear to you, but I can’t stand the thought of taking everything so seriously that you miss out of the humor and joy of life. Life is funny! Just look at the duck-billed platypus!

6) Last week we lived in Bermuda, this week we’re in Canada, we aren’t sure where we’re going to be next… no worries!

No, we’ve actually been in Denmark for the last 6 months. I’ve never been to Bermuda and only just across the border into Canada twice, but we have no idea where we’ll be next year. And that’s okay. I don’t need to have a set plan. I can adapt. I’m very adaptable. Besides, I love to organize (see #1) so changing everything just gives me something new and fun to do.

7) I am the Archaeogoddess

I am an archaeologist, how freakin’ awesome is that? I go to crazy places and dig up old stuff! And I’m damn good at it. I’ve excavated 4000 year old burials, handled numerous 2000 year old coins, and worn 1500 year old earrings. I’ve also been in possession of a body buried only 30 years ago and I have carefully excavated a beer can. Hey, it’s not always really old stuff! We archaeologists often downplay our awesomeness because we basically spend 10 years in school to learn how to dig square holes with crappy equipment and none of us are going to save the world or even a single life… but we know you all wanted to be archaeologists at some point.

Now for my seven unlucky bastards friends... (In no particular order...)
The Craig
Laura, Queen of the Universe

Friday, May 15, 2009

And then I'm going to be famous!!

I was interviewed yesterday by a Danish journalism student about being part of the "invisible immigrant" group. That would be those of us foreigners who look Danish enough to "pass" and are therefore not the focus of the Department of Integration and yet are completely effected by the DI mad policies. We are never studied because it is just assumed by Denmark that we'll melt into Danish society completely and joyously. But a group of journalist students were suspicious of this. They had a feeling that we aren't all about homogenization. So they started to look at the ex-pat blogs and were crazy enough to ask me if I would be interviewed.

I see myself becoming the face and voice of the lurking non-Danish minority of western european non-integrating foreigners! I'll call it the LNDMWENIF-party! I'll be famous! I'll be elected to Parliament! And then I'll become Queen of Denmark!!

*pant pant pant*


I *was* interviewed. It was interesting. I learned that there were something like over 100,000 "white" immigrants running around out there. I also learned that we are apparently the go-to segment of society for quotes about how wonderful Denmark is. I also learned that Danes have voted themselves amazingly good at English. My interviewer asked what I thought about that and was very nice when I laughed hysterically. I talked about pronunciation and the push for us to speak perfect Danish, but with all the accents in Denmark, Danes don't even understand each other, so why are we mocked? I really hope I managed to not to accidently steal someone's clever saying, because I tried to keep it all to my own words. I'm pretty sure I didn't give out any names, mentioning "a fellow expat" or "one of my classmates". So your privacy is respected, although your experiences were shared.

But you know what was really nerve wracking? Being asked to recall specific examples from 5 years ago. I think the lunch incident, where I ate the wrong food in the wrong order in the wrong combinations thus bringing lunch to a complete and utter standstill as people looked on horrified, appalled and in some cases, nauseous, happened on the first trip to Sjælland... we'd gone for a birthday and a christening and the lunch was a family affaire, but relating to which, the birthday or the christening??

I worry too much about this stuff.

Because of this, I had several dreams last night where I remembered things from my distant youth and tried to remember exactly when and where these events took place:
1) Being trampled on a trampoline
2) Swimming in someone's pool with all my clothes ON because I was too modest to swim in my underwear with all the other little kids from my class
3) Eating honeysuckle while standing next to a pile of cow manure, thus ruining any taste they may have had

Anyway, I did mention that I don't think I could make it here in Denmark without the other fabulous foreigners I have met. You lot are the net that catches me when I'm down and cheering crowd that celebrates my successes. You remind me that it's okay to not be happy all the time, that life is hard and sometimes it totally sucks and that that is OKAY. You are there to tell me that I am lovely and wonderful and funny. Yeah, my husband tells me that often, but he's biased and knows I'll over-salt his food. YOU are the reason I can say, with all honesty and with great enthusiasm, "I CAN DO THIS!" I also appreciate my sane Danish friends who have taught me to spit when someone mentions Pia whatshername and to throw shoes at the TV when she's on. You are living examples of what this country theoretically ought to be, but isn't. My sane Danes, you give me hope!

Hugs! Hugs to all! Big over the top American style hugs, with patting and rocking and squeezing and hollering!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I woke this morning to discover I wasn't dead. Pity.

No, I'm not suffering from depression or suicidal tendencies.  I even like my Danish class because it's fun and we've gotten far enough along we can chat with each other in Danish, so I don't dread going at all.  I just didn't really want to get up.  

So first I took stock of my health.  I mean, if I was sick, I could stay in bed.

Hm, no headache.  Back is okay.  Legs feel fine.  Let me stretch.... nope, no muscle pains.

*cough* Nope, that's not a real cough and *la la la* my voice sounds fine.  Blow nose.  Well, try to blow nose.  Stupid allergy pill is working just FINE.

Ugh, I have a pimple IN my nose.  IN!  That's painful!  Can I call in sick to class?

Probably not.  I can imagine the secretary taking my call: "What is wrong with you?"  Me: "I have a terribly large unpleasant pimple IN my nose."  Her: "On your nose?"  Me: "No IN! I looked up my nose and you can see it if I tilt my head back and squint.  And so it hurts to blow my nose!"  Her: "Do you have a runny nose?"  Me: "Not since I took the allergy pill."  Her: "I think you have to come in to class."

I cut myself on the trash can the other day and even though I washed and dressed it properly, it hurts.  But not the kind of hurt that suggests you should see a doctor about it.  *Glares at finger* Spoilsport.

So I got up and staggered about.  The coffee pot was acting weird.  I wondered if I could use that as justification for going back to bed... but it turned out that my husband was making 10 cups of coffee instead of the usual 7, so it took longer for the water to trickle through the grounds.

My internet was slow this morning (kinda like me), but I had no new emails and there is no good reason to miss school because your dissertation committee has NOT returned your dissertation with corrections.

Sad to say, I got ready and went to class.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Has anyone seen my time? I seem to have lost it....

I have NO idea what happened to Sunday.  Tuesday is also a mystery.  I know those days happened, but here it is Wednesday and I keep talking about the lovely ladies I met again for the first time ever (what do expat bloggers who've never met face to face talk about when they get together - everything), but keep referring to the meeting as happening "yesterday."  It wasn't yesterday.  It was Saturday.

It was Saturday, right?

Bloody hell, what day is it?  What country am I in?  Who are you people?  Is that soap?

At some point in the recent past (as I shall now refer to all times that came before RIGHT NOW, "recent" being optional) I carefully copied the instructions for cleaning our apartment onto my computer.  The instructions were in Danish, mind you, but apart from some minor automatic corrections ("i" kept becoming "I" which is the difference between "in" and "y'all" leading to some hilarity) I did a damn fine job.  My husband at first tried to explain to me what errors in grammar I had made until I showed him the original and pointed out that I can't construct Danish sentences in the passive voice, I just copied what I saw.  Present, past, future, and short imperative, I can do that.  I only know passive voice from my grammar check, which thinks I should stop writing about how things were in the past and start writing about how things are in the past.  Or something.  Dude, I don't really know, I just string a bunch of words together and hope it flies so they'll let me go play in the dirt.

Anyway, the printer doesn't connect to my computer so I transfered the file to my husband's computer where he struggled mightily to work with it under my user profile, getting frustrated that Word was in English.   "How do you change it?" sprøg han.  "I dunno," svar jeg.  "Well, how did you type it in the first place without Danish?" "I know where the shortcuts are for special symbols." "Okay, so how do I make an 'æ'?" "Dunno."  "But you typed it!!??!!"  "Yeah, on my Mac, your PC sucks!"

These sort of exchanges seem to drive him crazy.  He makes this cute noise like a boiling kettle about to burst.  I think he also vibrates at a sub-atomic level.

Finally I calmed him down enough to explain to him that he can stick the document into "Shared Docs" and then open his user person thingy and retrieve it and THEN the Danish dictionary would be present and so would the "proper" keys.  Because he REALLY didn't like the idea of memorizing a bunch of shortcuts. (Although, it's really only ø, å, and æ.  Not "a bunch."  I think that may be an opinion I will keep to myself.)

Later he boggled (you know, "mind boggling"?  Past-tense verb form is boggled.  Would I make this sh*t up?) about my ability to type Danish on an English keyboard.  I smugly pointed out I know how to type French, German, Spanish, AND Danish on my keyboard.  With just a quick snap of the "option" key.  

I have to point out my goddessness from time to time, you know.  

Friday, May 08, 2009

Before and After

I stole this questionar from The Writer, who didn't *tag* me, but in her own way challenged me to give it a go.


Q: Before you knew you'd be coming to Denmark, for whatever reason you originally came to Denmark, truthfully how much did you know about the country?

A: I had read Number the Stars as a little girl, watched WAY to much Victor Borge and heard quite a lot about my father's parent's trip to Denmark. My grandfather was mostly Danish, my grandmother was Swedish, Norwegian (probably), and Danish.

Q: Did you learn about Denmark in school when you were growing up?

A: Only a little bit about the Vikings. My family used to go to Solvang in California fairly regularly.

Q: Do you have family who is Danish or Danish heritage?

A: Yup. See the first answer.

Q: Were you aware the language the Danes spoke was Danish and not German or any other language?

A: Yes.

Q: Had you ever lived outside of your home country for longer than one month prior to living in Denmark?

A: I spent 6 weeks digging in Israel... does that count? And I moved from the West Coast to the East Coast.  That was quite a culture shock in of itself.

Q: Had you learned to speak any other language than your own, even if only partially so, before coming to Denmark?

A: I took French, Spanish, Latin and German for reading before coming to Denmark. I sucked at all of them.

Q: When you learned you'd be coming to Denmark, did you feel it was important to learn Danish?

A: Yes, I really didn't want to be surrounded by people who could talk about me in front of my back! I also harbor dreams of raising brilliant multi-lingual children.

Q:Did anyone prepare you with information of any type before you came to live in Denmark, did you attempt to find information on your own, or did you come to Denmark without preparing?

A: I arrived the first time in Denmark without knowing much more than I already knew. But I did read my guide book cover to cover on the plane! Over the years, before I finally got a residency visa, I'd learned a lot more.

Q:How did your friends and family react when they learned you'd be moving to Denmark?

A: Everyone was pretty bummed. It's really far away from California and my best friend doesn't have the money or the health to come and visit. My family did make it out for the wedding. I think my mother would have been happier if I'd married a Brit. She's such an Anglophile! My dad was tickled pink to get to come to Denmark. But I'm a daddy's girl, so he misses me dreadfully.

Q: What did you think would be your biggest challenge living in a foreign country? Or did you feel you would face any big challenges?

A: I thought language would be the hardest because I suck at languages. I thought the rest of it would be fairly easy, since it was a western European country and I was prepared for some culture shock. HA!


Q: Upon arriving, can you remember the overall impression you had in the first 48 hours?

A: It was all just slightly different from America. Like walking across a slightly tilted floor. Everything is just off-balance but you can't really point to something and say, oh, this is completely different. My then-boyfriend-now-husband picked me up at the airport and we took the train across Denmark. I remember being excited to 1) be there with him and 2) take a train. I couldn't get enough of the train travel.  Still can't, it's my favorite means of transportation.

Q: Tell me about your bicycle, if you have one. Is it borrowed/rented or do you own it? And how often do you use it weekly? Have you ever had your bike stolen? Feel free to mention and elaborate about anything special concerning experiences you have/had with your bicycle.

A: I have a bike. It's in the basement. I *thought* I knew how to bicycle when I came to Denmark. But I keep looking at the rear reflectors and expecting them to light up when people brake. I had one bad accident when I ran into the bike in front of me and toppled into traffic. The car swerved and I jumped up with only some bruises, but I won't bike in the city any more.

Q: Name three of your favorite things about the Danish culture which first come to mind:

A: I like the history. The old buildings, the old graves, the old stuff in the museums that actually comes from here!

I like a lot the food. I would go crazy if I had to eat it all the time, but if we ever move away I will force my husband to make frikeddella (how do you spell that) and I'd miss the herring. I'd also really miss drinking beer and schnapps with lunch, especially now that I've learned how to do it without getting completely trashed.

I like how, when it's cold, all the bars and many of the restaurants provide heaters and blankets for outside drinking and dinning. I just think that's cool.

Q: Of the things you never knew before coming here, what have you learned about Denmark

A: OMG! Where do I start? It's a lot more conservative than I ever imagined. And by conservative I mean, disliking change and upsetting the status quo. It may have a more progressive social policy for welfare and health care, but it's very stagnent and even if it is broke, no one wants to change it... because change is bad.

Q: Culture shock. Does this ring a bell?

A: Oh yes. For a while there was the "honeymoon" period. And then it sort of came crashing down when I finally got residency and I realized, this is it, I could be living here for the rest of my life!! Things that I used to shrug off began to really bother me. But at least I no longer feel guilty about not always loving it here.

Q: How far have you come with learning Danish?

A: Passed my Danish 1 test. Continuing with Danish 2. I can read a lot of Danish and I understand quite a lot, but my speaking is still pretty random. I can chat with my husband now about simple things like what I did in class and what I did yesterday and what I'd like to do tomorrow. He's learned to not correct me and just let me chatter.

Q: Has your view on politics or world issues changed from how you previously viewed things before living in Denmark?

A: I joke that I've become much more conservative since I moved here. I see the problems with socialism and a welfare state and I find myself getting frustrated with the complacency of the Danish voters and the ineptitude of the Danish political system. The US may only have two parties, but we get shit done! Here it doesn't matter who's in charge, nothing ever changes!! And people here really lack a work ethic. I am all for working less and having more time for social things, but Danes take it to extremes.

Q: Since living here, have you learned anything new about yourself? Or perhaps have you learned anything else new? A new hobby or a new way of life?

A: I learned to cook! I learned to love cooking! I learned that I am not as career driven as I thought and that I'd rather be happy than successful (thank god I live here where that's okay, even if it sometimes pisses me off). I thought I was flexible and adaptable before... now I know I am.

Whew, that took a while! I'm now faint with hunger. Oh, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I hear your siren call! PB&J with sour cream and onion potato chips and an apple.... mmmmm. Tonight I make spicy mac and cheese.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


This is not a well thought-out post. Just thought I ought to warn you, since you might be thinkin' that those last two posts were really with it, what with the photos and the related writing and stuff. 'Cause you'd be thinkin' wrong, my friend.

I have "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" stuck in my head. Some of you might know it as "that 'Glory, Glory Hallelujah song". Catch yourself humming that under your breath in the supermarket and you might wonder if you are as nutty as the woman standing in front of me at the check-out.

I don't think she was nuts. Probably a high-functioning autistic. (Proper nuts are the people who believe they are Jesus and go around baptizing people with bottled water, whether you want them to or not.) I did think she was going to have an episode when she couldn't get her plastic bag to open, but she managed and the people behind me gave her her space and didn't get frustrated that she was taking a very long time to pack her stuff into her bags. I imagine as she biked home, she was thinking, "who was that humming lunatic in SuperBrusen! I have *got* to stop shopping there!" I kept trying to not hum. But then I'd realize I was. I've even learned to hum as I breathe in... how annoying.

Danish class continues to amuse. We lose more students to divorce and break-ups as time goes on, but we did lose one girl because her job felt she knew the Danish they wanted her to and so they wanted to stop paying her to go to Danish and put those hours into work. (I'm not so sure that sentence makes sense.) We're down to about 10 and we get along quite well. There is usually much laughter.

One of the girls from Morocco has been missing a lot of class recently. As a result, her Danish is really slipping and she's also been very distracted in class. Today a man with a large folder of paperwork came in at break when the teacher was out and talked to her at length. We were all trying to not listen, while translating what he was saying in our heads. Ugh, it's become impossible to ignore people these days. I'm always curious to know if I can understand what they are saying!!

Anyway, he finished talking to her by asking if she'd understood, and she said "yes" so he left. We didn't quite understand, so we asked her what that was all about. She had no idea. In almost perfect unison we cried, "Men du sagde du forstod!" (But you said you understood!) We tried our best to help her out (with the bits we'd been trying so hard not to overhear while we were listening intently), but she seemed completely uninterested in what had happened or in how to fix the problem. The other woman from Morocco was rather frustrated with her. This foolish girl got quite the lecture in Arabic. There are times and places to pretend you understand what someone is saying, but any official looking person with paperwork, who calls you by name... that's the person you should tell if you don't get what they are saying.

Good God! That's how you end up with extra auto insurance for a car you don't even have!!

Something is going on there with that woman, but it's not like she's going to tell me and it's not like there's anything I can really do about any problem she may have. But sometimes I'd really like to slap her and yell, "it's YOUR life, take some responsibility for it! Do something, don't just wait for someone to do it for you!"

Speaking of which, the left-overs will not reheat themselves. Lazy bastards!

*hmmm hm hm hum hum hum la da la dadda da ta da*

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

That other dig I do...

Usually, in August, I also dig in Jordan with the University of Copenhagen. Well, I don't actually dig, I use my prodigious skills as registrar, who is the person who sits in the non-air-conditioned metal walled office recording all of the things that have been excavated. The students usually think I have a cushy job until they come into my office to get something. "Phu, it's hot in here," they say. Ah, ja, so it is.

The Roman city of Jerash is the second most famous site in Jordan, right after Petra, of course.

Most of what remains are Roman and early Christian ruins. This is because most archaeologists from the last 100 years were western archaeologists who helpfully cleared away those pesky muslim ruins in order to get to the good stuff. You can't hear the sarcasm in my voice, but it's there.

The director of the dig, however, is one of those more interesting fellows who wants to know about the whole history of the site, specifically the Umayyad period (that would be the first rulers after Mohammed), when we know the region was full of life and progressive architectural programs. The most important building in an Islamic city was the mosque. A small mosque-like building was found on the edge of town, but that makes no sense when you consider that Jerash was one of the largest cities in the area with something like 14 *known* churches (more will turn it, Jerash is paved in churches). So Herr Director looked at an overhead photo of the site and said, there, that's where the mosque will be.

And BAM! He found it in the first season. They've been digging there for a while now. Under the mosque was a Byzantine bathhouse and next to the mosque are shops and a rather odd collection of buildings that we don't quite understand yet. This is common in archaeology. You have a bunch of walls and rooms and then, one day, there will be the "ah ha!" when it all fits together.

People often ask, "how do you know where to dig?" We tell them, "we have a map." Intelligent people will get the joke, but some of the workers on our site truly believe that the dig director has a map in his room with X's telling him where to dig. They wonder why he doesn't just dig up the gold and stop all this dirt moving foolishness. Then maybe they'd get paid early. Sorry, the answer is much more disheartening. We don't know what we're going to find. We make educated guesses based on what we know about city planning and ceramic surface finds. We aren't always right either. Take my dig in Israel, we had NO ceramic from the Hellenistic period and only some from the Roman, but as soon as we began to dig, we hit a good sized Roman farm (possibly farm, we only have a few rooms and a floor at the moment) and a large Hellenistic god-knows-what under that. Ceramic surface finds are often like that. You only get what happens to have been dug up by rodents. Perhaps the rodents at our Israel site like Roman and Hellenistic vessels. For putting on their little rodent side tables, doncha know.

Life at Jerash is very different from what I get on the other side of the Jordan River.

I usually go without the mosquito net, since I get up in the night and find it very difficult to escape. I just slather myself in bug spray. Including the hair. The damn mozzies are determined. We also keep the fan on during the night, even though it gets cold, because it keeps us from hearing all the buzzing. The toilets don't flush, you take the water you save from your shower and dump it in the toilet ONLY when you must. Toilet paper goes in the trash. We empty it regularly. And it could be worse, down in Egypt they often don't even have toilets, let alone showers. Some of the stone age sites in the Jordan desert are in the middle of NOWHERE and you are on SERIOUS water rationing. I'm glad I don't have to check my bed for scorpions. (Though they have been known to get into the rooms sometimes.)

Because it is a muslim country, we go about in pants and longer sleeved t-shirts. Women don't have to be veiled, but we do take a man with us into town. There won't be trouble, but it makes the locals more comfortable to know that the women are properly looked after.

We work a 6 day week. We head into Amman on Friday night and come back Saturday night. The first Friday night we're all exhausted but are also desperate for beer. It's a dry dig, no drinking on site. Ever. What's hilarious is watching all the Danish students not realize that a week of sobriety and hard labor means you get smashed after two beers. No one feels very well when they have to go out on a tour of ancient Amman Saturday morning.

No, that's not ancient Amman. That's one of the more humorous things I've seen in Amman. Between the New Yourk Nigt Club and the Kempinski, you really need to know your way around to find somewhere affordable that is NOT a dive. These locations are still a hazard, I was watching my step (it was dark and there were uneven stairs) and walked into a metal beam, giving myself a mild concussion.

The "long" weekend (two nights free!) the students head for Petra.

Yeah, yeah, everyone takes that picture. No, there are no Nazis.

Is that a more unusual Petra shot? Unadorned rock cut tombs are everywhere, and if you have a tall person in your group, they can boost an archaeogoddess into a window for a funny picture.

This year I am not going to Jordan. August is Ramadan, and it would be completely unfair to ask the workmen to neither eat, nor drink, nor smoke during the day while making them do hard manual labor in 50 degree CELSIUS heat (that 122 F, for the rest of y'all). So the dig got moved to June. Which is when I'm in Israel. And since I'm an area supervisor working on the final publication of the site, I should really be THERE instead of sweating in my little metal office in Jordan.

But I'll be thinking of my dear friends as I sit in my air-conditioned cabin, cutting lemons for the gin and tonics.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

200th post?!? How about I tell you a little more about myself?

Good grief! 200 posts? The posts will slow down a bit, now that the sun is out, I have fun and friendly roommates and I have to read my entire dissertation for "conversational english" and remove it (poo on that). But I am dedicated to trying to keep people informed about my life, since one blog post is SO much easier than writing 10 emails and there seem to be some other people out there who are interested/entertained by what I'm doing, so although the posts may slow up a bit, I'll keep blogging. I'll even try to blog while I'm out digging this summer.

But for today's special 200th post, I figured I'd give you a treat. A little taste of what I do and why I am the Archaeogoddess. (These pictures were not taken by me. When I'm out in the field I can check with the director and get permission to use better photos that I will try to take for blogging purposes.)

We live on a kibbutz in some swanky air-conditioned cabins with hot and cold water, cable-tv, and did I mention the air-conditioning? The dig director has lived in tents and other crappy accommodations when she was a volunteer archaeologist and decided she would never do that to her volunteers or staff. Bless her!

Alas, because it's a kibbutz, we aren't getting fine cuisine. In fact, many jokes were made about our starchy dinners. Lunch was hot with meat... dinner.... well, we were glad we had gin to wash it down.

We get up at about 4 am, Monday through Friday (we work the American week, rather than the Israeli), tumbling out to the site before 5. This photo  of our site was probably taken around our "fruit" break, 10:45ish. We go in at about 12:30, because it gets to be too hot.

Believe it or not, we spend a lot of time "cleaning" the dirt. We sweep the sides of the square and we sweep the ground. Then we pick axe the dirt and scrape it flat with our back-breaking hoes and sweep it again!  Look at the dust.  Imagine for a minute what happens to the poor archaeologists who work in areas without daily showers.

After lunch, we wash the ceramic finds that have been soaking overnight. We have to soak them or the soil would never come off.

Then, after all of this work, four weeks of excavation, a bulldozer comes and fills in the squares you have "finished." This is very depressing and usually none of us wants to go to watch. We sit on the porches of our cabins and drink instead. When you work in a muslim country, where drinking alcohol is prohibited, the atmosphere can get particularly morose. Of course, filling in the excavated squares means that you no longer have to walk around four open pits to get to the soil dump, but it's hard to not remember the hours of work put into digging those holes in the first place!

And just in case you weren't jealous enough of my life, a final picture:*  

* The Archaeogoddess appears in this photograph - can you find her?