Today we were all very excited as we had laid out our transects yesterday and today we were going to get to dig! I'm thinking I brought the Colorado weather with me because today was beautiful, warm (about 70 degrees F I'd guess at least) and hardly any clouds crossed the sky! For the Irish this is an atypical summer day.... for the Australians this is a cool day "perfect for a picnic" Elle said... for the Americans it's somewhere in between a normal summer day. Lots of sunscreen was essential today and I feel like I'm still coated in it after my shower!
Anyway... our day started with Finn picking us up and per Mary's instructions, we brought her some of our brown bread and scones that we had made. We told her they were an offering but to beware of the scones because they turned out a little more like stones! (Really... it wasn't our fault!) Well, at least they tasted good last night :) I think that's the real reason Mary wanted us to take them, so that they wouldn't be in the house. :) Finn informed us that today we would be taking instruction from Jean Marco I don't know if that's how he spells his name but he's Italian.
Upon arrival to the site, Finn instructed us to start girding out our units. So the two teams split with each gaining a member or two from the family group. Susan went with the other group and Alex and Madison (that's the neice's name :) came with our group. They had been assisting Ian yesterday afternoon.
So... Griding... anyone who's ever worked on an archaeological dig knows... this takes a bit of time and several repetitions before you'll actually get the perfect measurement. "Why?" you might ask... because it involves math. Getting into archaeology I never thought that it would involve much math. I was not alone in this assumption as I often hear the same wishful thinking from other archaeology students. But alas, tis not true. In fact, the grid is all about the math and to grid in a unit, you definitely need math (the hypotenuse of a triangle!). Ok, it may not be the hardest math for some people (ahem... Elijah... Dad), but for the math skill deficient (that is me) any math is hard... without a calculator at least. :)
So in order to grid out our unit we have to measure in from the nearest grid points that we helped plot yesterday with the geophys guy Ian using the GPS. The GPS he uses takes readings from 8 satellites to pinpoint the exact locations for our grid points which are each 20 meters apart north to south and east to west. From the nearest grid point, the northeast corner of our unit will be 4 meters west and 3 meters south and our unit will be a 4 meter east-west by 5 meter north-south unit. A large portion of which there is a bit of what appears to be the remains of one of the walls of the friary but at the moment looks like a big lump of rock. Well, our lump of rock is covered in grass and weeds and of course nettles so most of the day was spent clearing away all of this stuff to get to the actual stones. And low and behold, we found our unit also has another bit of stones that belong to a wall. Well, my trowel got to see it's first bit of Irish dirt! It was actually mostly being used for cutting away the knots of weeds that we were removing from the surface of our stones. By the way, there are tons of different bugs that live in that knot of weeds, some that Megan and I think look like mini trilobites, as well as some pissed off red ants. They bite too... but I think the nettle stings are worse.
When we stopped for lunch, some of us headed to the SuperValu, since we now know it is around the corner of the site and we were going to walk down to the cafe when we saw some of our other companions disappear into a house just down the street. We discovered this is going to be our site house that Finn has been cleaning up for the past two days. It was recently vacated by a squatter and was in less than ideal condition when the town council decided we could use it. Finn has put a lot into cleaning it. One interesting thing we noted was the leopard print border running along the top of the wall near the ceiling. Makes you wonder who was actually living there before. I also finally got to meet the mysterious Steve, who was my only contact before attending the school but who has never been on site. We all laugh because he's kind of like the "Oz" of IAFS. We were sitting around in our new headquarters when this tall guy with dark hair just walked in the house and said "Hello". We all politely, and somewhat awkwardly said hello back thinking... "who is that?" and it was almost as if he heard our thoughts because he said "I'm Steve" and all of us sitting there said "OH!" with such realization it was funny.
Upon returning from lunch, we continued working on the weeds and grass covering our stones. We got a fair amount of the stones uncovered before Jean Marco asked us to all start picking up the rubbish that is surrounding our site so that Ian could start using the magnetometer to run over the site and see what he finds (this area had been used as a dump by the surrounding neighbors so it'll be a wonder if he doesn't have a lot of interference). It's amazing what people will dump! I'll try to post a picture of our rubbish pile later. So after we cleaned up, Finn returned with some ice pops from the shop while we got a quick run down of our safety from the health and safety inspector before calling it a day.
Today Finn asked if Jean Marco could drop as at our lodging with Mary and after a wrong turn he found his way to Mary's place. (It's hard to give directions to an Italian driving in Ireland...)
Upon returning to Mary's and cleaning off the grime of the day, Maeve, our little baking instructor wanted to teach us how to make brownies. We had all been thinking of the brownies all day so we were ready! Flour, cocoa, brown sugar, butter and eggs and viola! Brownies! The first batch didn't turn out to Maeve's liking but she told us we had to make the second batch "on your own". But by that time, Mary said dinner was ready and we all sat down to a nice little barbecue in the backyard. Mary's daughter Mora joined us for a bit. She's a primary school teacher who's going to be taking a whole year off to travel the world starting with three months in South America and continuing to New Zealand, Australia and Egypt! Wow... if only! After dinner, we enjoyed our cup'o tea with our brownies, ice cream and strawberries as served beautifully by Maeve. It still being light out like usual we had plenty of time to continue with our next batch of brownies. Maeve had disappeared with Michal to pick up Emma and Megan so we all made the second batch of brownies. This batch turned out to Maeve's liking. After we had each enjoyed a brownie from the second batch the doorbell rang and Elle had walked all the way from their cottage (4.5 miles) to join us!
This is where it got interesting :) Maeve decided we needed to play a card game called spoons. I don't know if any of you have ever played it, but I haven't. It's really quite fun. However many players there are you have one less spoon (yes an actual spoon). You set them in the middle of the players and you each get five cards. The dealer takes a card and passes it on with each person keeping a card if they need it or passing it on to the next person. The first person to gather four of the same cards (like four 5s or kings, etc) grabs a spoon and everyone grabs a spoon after that but whoever doesn't grab a spoon is the loser. (It's kind of like musical chairs but with cards and spoons and no music... ok, maybe it's not like musical chairs but same concept). Then you keep playing removing a spoon each time. Elle, being from Australia mentioned that it is sometimes played without the spoons but by sticking out your tongue. This was an even more fun version because we are left looking down at the card just passed to us and then looking up around at everyone else as we pass that card or another on, while still attempting to keep straight which card we need. In the end everyone is just left looking paranoid around at everyone else while just moving cards around. This version is slightly more difficult because you don't really know who the last person to stick out there tongue was because if you are the first person, you just continue to pass cards like normal until someone notices :) My problem was I would get the four cards and my brain would slow down to say "stick out your tongue" and wouldn't grab the cards and someone would notice me. But I didn't loose, I just had a slow tongue reaction time! So in one evening I played an Irish and Australian version of a card game. Although I'm sure there is an American version that is fairly similar, I just never came across it.
Anyway... it's 11 p.m. here, the sun has finally gone down, and it is time for me to as well!