Ah, my poor neglected blog. I am sorry for leaving you these four months. In typical Sarah style, I will assuage my guilt by posting a pre-written article rather than creating a proper blog post for the occasion.

This is a short write-up I put together for Biblical Archaeology Review for possible inclusion in their January issue (probably not, though - my dig, and hence my write-up, came much later in the season than others'). I received a scholarship through their periodical to travel to Israel and dig in Tiberias this past October. It was an outstanding opportunity, and I am completely blessed by God to have been given experience. Now back to life as usual!

I could feel every muscle group in my body complain as I continued brushing away the loose, fine dirt to reveal more ash and charcoal in my locus. My legs were thanking me for kneeling in one place, but for the last week I had been hauling buckets and wheeling loads of topsoil non-stop. I had finally been moved to the locus I was meant to stay in for the remainder of the dig, which, after moving about 6 inches of topsoil, we discovered was the site of a collapsed wall. We spent two days hauling rocks that seemed as big as I was to reveal whatever crushed history might be beneath. Meanwhile, my body was rebelling against everything: the dust in my lungs, the smell of the neighboring waste-processing plant, the oppressive, arid heat, and the arduous physical labor. But now, now I was doing more restful, detailed work. I climbed out of my square to finish downing my third liter of water for the morning.

Gretchen, a several-season volunteer at the Tiberias dig, stopped documenting finds momentarily to quip, "If anyone thinks that archaeologists sit around in holes all day with toothbrushes and delicate tools, they have been reading too much National Geographic." Upon hearing this, I promptly set my water bottle on the dry ground, raised my hand and announced, "I have been reading too much National Geographic!" Gretchen and the volunteers looked up at me, surprised, but then began to laugh loudly and nod their heads in empathy. It was evident that I hadn't been alone in my dreamworld.

Needless to say, archaeology did not quite meet my expectations. I don't consider this a strike against my digging experience at all, but against my preconceived ideas of what it would be like. It was hard work, but the ache in my muscles as I crashed into my bed every night was a testimony to my investment in the dig. There is something infinitely satisfying about going to bed both body- and mind-tired, knowing that your entire self has been poured into a work that you care about. Hauling gigantic rocks out of my square was some of the most difficult work I've done, but surveying the pile of rocks triumphantly has been one of my proudest moments.

The hard work was well worth it, not only in an esoteric or community-driven sense, but for my own personal experience. I learned about the process of archaeology and the tools required, and a great deal about the history of the area as well the Late Islamic Period. Still, the media- (or perhaps National Geograhic-)saturated Sarah was hoping for some magnificent find reminiscent of a Lara Croft or Indiana Jones adventure.

I finally got my glorious moment upon uncovering an 12th-13th century oil lamp in an area that was supposed to be uninhabited by the 11th century. Shouting "YOPHI!" ("beautiful!") upon finding an artifact had become something of a joke among the volunteers. I finally had my own turn to whisper, "yophi," as I brushed around this lamp and began recognizing its intact shape, despite its location beneath a collapsed wall. I am willing to accept that perhaps it wasn't quite as epic as finding the ark of the covenant. Still, the excited look on my dig director's face as she tried to reformulate her ideas about the history of the mosque complex made me feel it was just as significant...however illogical that may be.

Was it fun? Sometimes, but most certainly not always. But was it fulfilling, significant, enriching, stretching? Oh, yes. Yes, it was.

The thing to remember about fathers is...

I was reading this bit by Phyllis McGinley earlier today, and thought I would share it. It is a little bittersweet for a Father's Day poem, but I thought that it spoke to the relationship between my Dad and I pretty well, especially at this time of my life. Happy Father's Day to a man who leads by showing a life well-lived - to a dad that is excited for my adventures, but always waits to welcome me back home.

First Lesson
Phyllis McGinley

The thing to remember about fathers is, they're men.

A girl has to keep it in mind.

They are dragon-seekers, bent on improbable rescues.

Scratch any father, you find

Someone chock-full of qualms and romantic terrors,

Believing change is a threat -

Like your first shoes with heels on, like your first bicycle

It took such months to get.

Walk in strange woods, they warn you about the snakes there.

Climb, and they fear you'll fall.

Books, angular looks, or swimming in deep water -

Fathers mistrust them all.

Men are the worriers. It is difficult for them

To learn what they must learn:

How you have a journey to take and very likely,

For a while, will not return.

Thursday Thank Yous

What I'm doing today...

Recycled paper beads...
I remember making something like this in middle school, but I am trying again! I got the how-to from A Storybook Life. Elliot is helping me to rip up little pieces of newspaper today, and we'll see if I can finish them up on Sunday.

Step #1: Gather a small pile of newspapers from the recycling basket.
Step #2: Rip the paper into small pieces. (This takes a surprisingly long time, but it's a good movie-watching task)
Step #3: Put the newspaper into a large stockpot.
Step #4: Pour over enough boiling water to cover the paper.
Step #5: Allow to sit for an hour or so.
Step #6: Stir to help the paper break down.
Step #7: Drain as much water out of the paper as possible.
Step #8: Add enough glue (clear) to help the paper hold together when balled up.
Step #9: Roll the paper into round balls of any size, squeezing out moisture while rolling.
Step #10: Let them dry for a few days, rolling them three or four times a day.
Step #11: Sand each bead smooth.
Step #12: Drill a hole of your desired size in each bead.
Step #13: Paint!
Step #14: Varnish! I think I'll use Modge Podge for this step.

Thursday Thank Yous

love is nails

Originally uploaded by Varun_Chopra
Love, by C.S. Lewis

Love's as warm as tears,
Love is tears:
Pressure within the brain,
Tension at the throat,
Deluge, weeks of rain,
Haystacks afloat,
Featureless seas between
Hedges, where once was green

Love's as fierce as fire,
Love is fire:
All sorts--Infernal heat
Clinkered with greed and pride,
Lyric desire, sharp-sweet,
Laughing, even when denied,
And that empyreal flame
Whence all loves came.

Love's as fresh as spring,
Love is spring:
Bird-song in the air,
Cool smells in a wood,
Whispering "Dare! Dare!"
To sap, to blood,
Telling "Ease, safety, rest,
Are good; not best."

Love's as hard as nails,
Love is nails:
Blunt, thick, hammered through
The medial nerves of One
Who, having made us, knew
The thing He had done,
Seeing (what all that is)
Our cross, and His.

This is my town...

From a History of Elwood, according to The Women's Council Elwood:


The town of Quincy now numbered about 300 people. Francis M. Hunter, who had a store was also postmaster. He was notified by the post-office department that Indiana already had a town in Owens County named Quincy, and the department suggested that the name here be changed. As a group of men were discussing the matter they noticed the small son of Jesse B. Fraiser playing about. His name was Elwood and someone suggested that they give the town his name, so, officially on June 15 1869 Quincy became Elwood

Well, I think that about sums up the spirit of our town as long as I've known it.