Tuesday Morning

I meant to create a post but ended up talking with Joe for about 30min. In some respects (well many), that was more fulfilling.

This kind of thing is quite common. In fact, since October, I’ve found that no matter the number of people living here – regulars, visitors or whomever – a lot of time becomes conversations and a lot of tasks become talk. Most of these conversations have made my mind marinate on things long after and a lot of the talk is thought-provoking…though some it is just talking…In any case, Joe and I processed a little about life at New Buffalo, talked about his portfolio and shared hopes for the future.

In some ways, this place is all about the future. Almost as if the future looms or dances tantalizingly ahead of each person here, depending upon who it is, and their perspective. But as much as this place is an icon of a specific past, it feels quite like it is about the possibility of any future. Like there is something quiet about the place – quiet in that patience of not having fully fulfilled a dream yet, but knowing that fulfillment is to be had. Its not a slumbering, or a distraction, or even an anxious wait and not even a lamenting sigh – its a patience that pauses and breathes and well, endures. This place endures. It endures people and their pressures, history and its insights, narratives and their delightfully distinctive perspectives – but most people and their pressures.

I think its when I talk with Joe that I mull over the patience of this place and its orientation towards the future. Maybe its because of how Joe and I talk, or what we talk about…but something in me feels it’s more that he reminds me that this place has its own agency – a subtle and regular kind of agency – and a patience that may make it persist and finally realize whatever calls this place into being.

But it already is just this place. In another time, New Buffalo will be something else all together, I imagine. I wonder what people will say about it then…



thursday we realized we discovered the floor surface in the pit house. we first encountered it at around 830-9am and it was an exciting moment, to have already accomplished this objective of the day so early on. but then we lost it. the sage brush disturbance made sense and was not confusing. but as we worked through unit 2, next to unit 1 (where the first signs of “floor” were triumphantly brushed off…) the floor became less and less coherent until it simply wasn’t there anymore. so we set about finding it again. well, some of us did. the others of us slogged through irritating units, like unit 4, which was producing more work than artifacts and significantly less stimulating a unit than any we had opened so far. this is how it goes. (unit 4 did get better and has become quite exciting. the amount of fill we’ve lifted is incredible, and explains the early frustrations in some of the interior units.)

the morning felt slower somehow. and then it was largely white. white ash everywhere. had we hit another floor? dianne skeptically claimed this surface as a potential “fake floor”…where was the damned floor? could we really have blown through it without seeing it? was it really that roughly made that we wouldn’t be able to distinguish it? why did it feel like we were so deep in with more questions…?

we worked and worked and started finding similar surfaces to our first notion of the floor. so we began exposing those. finally it was 530pm. as we were closing and cleaning the site for the day, sev arrived to look over progress. and the news was good. we had indeed found floor and even had explored subfloor. all that ash, was volcanic from a jemez explosion…we had exposed a geologic layer – which began to make the pit house make more sense. for example, this is likely the reason that the wall above all the ash was so poorly formed and so poorly preserved. also probably why some of the structural integrity of the pit house was in question. the floor was indeed rough, inconsistent and difficult to recognize but there it was. we had found it. at 830am we had indeed found it!


prior to finding the pit house floor – we had exposed an excellent portion of the former walls. it was well preserved under the shadow of a viga (large beam supporting the roof) and looked to be an adobe wall with tierra blanca lightly plastered over it. excavating it felt as if excavating a roman frieze, i imagine. the soil over the surface of the wall face just popped off with a gentle but firm slight twist of the wrist, with the trowel dug just barely in. simple pressure revealed a gorgeous section of wall. i’ll get a photo of it later to put up here. we’ve found some more of it in unit 4, however, it was not nearly as well preserved and crumbled as soon as the trowel even grazed the edge…we’ve also found more of it in unit 6, holding up slightly better. again, i think this is because there is a viga still intact above it.

we looked at all the photos of the work so far – we’ve done 7.5 days of excavation and i must say the site looks GREAT. it really does. i’m impressed with the work we’ve done so far and am waaaaaay excited about the work we are continuing to do and am SO looking forward to the work ahead of us.

thanks team. you all are doing excellent work. truly!

************** 2 or 3? ******************


i noticed again tonight the way colors out here have been catching my eyes. as the sun is setting, the sky becomes awash in some of the most amazing arrays i’ve ever seen. colors that have no names and as soon as you think you’ve got a name that fits them perfectly, they’ve already become another color. the mountains really do turn pink, as historically they are known to do. though i’ve not seen it happen recently. i hope it does. it’s quite amazing. the sky however is a landscape unto itself. i wonder sometimes how a camera can even begin to imagine capturing any image in it – what kind of frame would do justice these scenes up there? which palettes would find just the tones and hues to represent the bold and subtle yellows, blues, greens, oranges and purples?

i noticed tonight something i’ve begun noticing since late winter/early spring – the way human lights mimic these colors in the sky. particularly as the sun is setting. even the unforgiving street lights with those awful bright white lights, mimic a certain blue and green light in the sky as it shifts into yellows, or from yellows – it’s there, the street lights like copies of this specific sunset moment. and the softer yellow lights, like in homes, glowing against adobe walls, mimic the softer yellows, and oranges of the sun as it slips further and further closer to the horizon and below. these were the ones i noticed tonight. mason’s room was in sync with an exact moment in the sunset that it seemed as if humans had designed artificial light to harmonize in a timely way with the natural light of the sun and its effects. perhaps. i do not know, but i do know that this is striking out here.

unseasonably hot in taos

but today, we opted for cds instead of the radio station we can get pretty clearly – one of the few with a mix that suits most – so no one was there to tell us it was unseasonably hot today in taos. well, arroyo hondo…no breeze finds its way into the pit house. only we find our way in there. well, and the sounds of the radio/cds/musics. the very fact of music while we are working is a wonderful off-set to the heat and grind of mid-day excavating.

we’ve moved an impressive amount of dirt. and we are making really good progress. the walls are looking good in units 3 and 2 – even some plaster very visible now in unit 3! unit one is the hot unit these days…hotter than Taos  or Arroyo Hondo i think 😉 some neat finds keep coming out of that unit. and strangely, some intense ash concentrations/pockets that are curious indeed. unit four, i opened with lindsey today – it proved to be a difficult and trying unit. the entire 2×2 was dominated by wall fall and its non-contents. well, we recovered a goodly amount of stuff, but compared to the amount of dirt we moved it felt as few. it’s shaping out really well though and i’m mad impressed at lindsey for giving it such a good go on crutches.

the heat has begun to make me somewhat slap-happy as the day progresses. its all i can do to keep my giggles together sometimes in the afternoons after lunch. screening sometimes helps. something about that gigantic serenity out there – the view that seems like it would never fit inside a photograph – harnesses those giggles into some more productive energy. though sometimes not much helps at all. which is relieving in those moments.

we almost baked the radio/cd player today though. galen brought it back to life and we had some good tunes throughout the afternoon – pondering about the temperature as we sweated out dirts and fine dusts from our pores. at least that’s how this dry heat feels to me. sometimes i’m amazed at how thorough the dust film over my skin and clothes is.

even my feet burn. still. that right big toe really could have used to learn how to bend again. apparently i put a lot of my body weight right there as i excavate. an ice cold foot massage sounds good right about now. walking around barefoot feels better than shoes at the moment. maybe because my feet can stretch and work and breathe.

now back to artifacts…

for the first time

so we got this blog up last week and this is my first post.

i’ve been trying to get out of a list style of writing

but so far, i’m finding it quite difficult. most of my thoughts translate into organizational lists – about the work, about the site, about what needs to get done, what needs are needed to be attended too and what needs are needing…

typically, i’m thinking about our next steps in the unit. constantly repeating our excavation goals to myself as we go along: locate the walls; a floor surface; define and get a sense of hippie architecture; what is this material culture? what is the occupation sequence? what is the arcaheological project?

so far, i’ve been asking more questions: why did people stop living or occupying the pit house? when? how did they maintain the structure? where were the walls? what was inside the structure? what did they bring into the structure? what did they take with them? why was the structure initially built? was it a good escape spot from the commune? did it feel like a breath of fresh air? how would one have ended up/chosen to live out there? how did they deal with bugs? was there ever an infestation? in the wood? did this lead to departures? where departures timely or premature? was the trash area in use at the same time as the pit house?

but this question quickly gets me into a whole other set of questions for the other two research areas: the trash deposit and the kitchen site.

and the lists go on. most making it into my field notes. some remain in my head, as long as i can keep them there – an incentive to accomplish them and build a new list.

last friday, i didn’t even know it was friday until paco said it was. it was a refreshing feeling actually.

time certainly moves different out here. slower but not dragging. full but not overwhelming (generally) and well, with a patience that seems to lack in other places, like new york city (though i’ve grown to love and miss that city much).

we try to start work by 7am and we go until 4 or 5pm. lunch break happens at 1pm. midmoring snack happens at 10am. work happens in between.

we’ve opened up 3 units now in the pit house and have begun to better define the walls – even a wall face with plaster residue – tierra blanca. we’ve also be defining the hearth.

we’ve named the 2010 crew “team”.

things team has recovered so far:


nails (for construction)

beer cans, 1 soda can

a crocodile playing a banjo toy

a “love” sherd


a vial with unknown liquid

loose change from the 60s and 70s

eye glass lenses

metal bin

metal tub




and recently from the surface of the trash deposit – trojan brand condoms, more beer cans, some ceramics, a nickel, a variety of fabrics and tobacco tins

more to come.

it’s been massively exciting so far.

and here, back to lists. i think it’s easier on my mind when it’s tired.




i just needed to make a post. now i can get rolling on this.

more to come…