Thursday, July 26, 2007

My Father's Repose

My sister, brother, and I, along with our families, today spread the ashes of my father in two of his favorite places. We planned on doing this immediately after his funeral back in February but due to an ice storm we put it off until today. First we went to Clarks, Nebraska, where we had a cabin on the Platte River. We all shared some of our memories and then sprinkled my father's cremated ashes into the river. Next we went to Cedar Rapids to our family's farm, and spread the remainder of the ashes there. I think he would have enjoyed hearing our stories about him. I know he would have loved reminiscing about all the time we spent at the cabin. I did a lot of growing up there. The wilderness gave me the space I needed to get through some awkward and difficult years. I still miss you dad, and I appreciate all you did for me. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Well on a Farm

Today, like yesterday, I drove to Albion Nebraska to complete government paperwork related to a well. When my father passed away last February, my brother, sister, and I became joint owners of a 160 acre farm near Cedar Rapids Nebraska. My family has been farming in that area for well over 100 years, and it was my father’s wish that we keep the farm for at least five years. He wanted me and my siblings to know what it was like to own farmland, and to be part of a long family tradition. Luckily, we lease the land out to a very capable farmer, and so I don’t need to suddenly learn about farm chemistry or buy a combine. But we moved the well on the farm so that it is located close to the central pivot, and with all the water regulations and legislation due to the drying up of the Ogallala Aquifer, this has become a bureaucratic hurdle. We thought we had better move it now, before tighter regulations go into effect in 2008. We also drilled it very deep. We hit water at 60 foot, but drilled it 160 feet deep. Our tenant says it is the best well in the region. That would have made my dad proud I’m sure.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Brief Homecoming

I was so glad to arrive back in New Orleans early Friday morning. But then late Saturday night we all piled in the car and drove to Nebraska. Here in the Cornhusker state I hope to take care of some legal issues pertaining to my father's estate and farm, carry out the repose of my father's remains, and to provide some quality time between my children and their grandparents. We should be finally back in New Orleans on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Homeward Bound

Kalypso and I are getting packed, and our taxi to the airport leaves shortly. I'm so glad we're heading home. Today is Kalypso's 12th birthday, and being stuck on two very long flights sure sucks, but I keep telling her she will be the only one in the world who has a 32 hour long 12th birthday. First we fly from Tel Aviv to Newark, and then after customs, we fly Newark to New Orleans. Plus we get the added bonus of spending some quality time with Israeli airport security and U.S. customs. I can't wait to put today behind me and to get home.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I Wish I Were Protesting

I just got this photograph from Schroeder:
It's Gilgamesh, early in the morning on a rainy day, sitting in front of the Cabildo. He and Therese are there as part of a protest against Eddie Jordan, the DA for New Orleans who has done by all accounts a pretty horrible job prosecuting murderers. My representative on the city council, Shelley Midura, has written an open letter for Jordan to resign. Today many concerned residents of New Orleans are gathering in the French Quarter at the Cabildo to protest against Jordan's incompetance. I'm so proud Therese and Gilgamesh are there, and I wish I was too. Let them know, Gilgamesh, that the current situation is totally unacceptable.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Leaning on Insurers

There's an article by Rebecca Mowbray in the Business Section of Today's Times-Picayune about our leaning house, the Road Home, Allstate Insurance and Haag Engineering. It's called Leaning on Insurers. I also just heard yesterday from our attorney, Greg DiLeo, who said Allstate's attorney wants to settle with us and he has put forward what our attorney said was a very reasonable offer. Basically it is what they should have paid us back in 2005. But as part of the deal, there is a confidentiality provision. I wonder how the newspaper article will effect negotiations. Though being a blogger/media whore, I have to love the coverage, especially thousands of miles away. Meanwhile, Therese has been trying hard to get a permit to rebuild our house. She took our plans from Waring Architects to City Hall, and thinks she should hear back from the permit office soon. Therese has also been picking out things like sinks, toilets, and cabinets without me. I can't wait to get back home to New Orleans. Yesterday I told everyone about how Gilgamesh says "That's gross, Abu" when I'm chanel surfing and there are two people kissing. I sure do miss the Gilgamonster, Therese, and my Mid-City neighborhood.

Wrapping Up Zeitah

Today most of the volunteers got in the vans and headed for the airport. I'm in my room typing up the final report for the square that I supervise, O-19. We put plastic tarps and sandbags to preserve many of the features early this morning. It was an unusual season in many respects. First and foremost, we were old. The average age in my square was 48, and that was with Kalypso at age 11 and another girl at age 20. One conversation involved the old timers discussing the use of Sears and Robuck catalog as toilet paper. They were hard workers though. This was the season after the great inscription discovery, so it was bound to be sort of a letdown. We also had many more visitors this season. Plus our camera broke, so that was disappointing. I'm ready for it to be over, and to get back to New Orleans. I have a mountain of work facing me, relating to bills and legal forms. We leave this Thursday, which incidentally will be Kalypso's 12th birthday. I try to sell her on the idea by saying that her 12th birthday won't be 24 hours, but more like 32 hours due to traveling with the sun. Plus who wouldn't have a fun birthday with Israeli security at the airport?
Professor Barkai learning things he didn't know about the Tanak.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Digging Sick

I rarely get sick, but I caught a nasty cold virus on July 4th. At first I thought it was allergies, but it kept getting worse. I went to the field every day, but when the excavating was over at 1 PM I walked to my room and slept straight through until the next morning at 4 AM. In any event, I am beginning to feel better, and it is the weekend so I'm sure I'll be fit by next Monday. The excavating has for the most part ended, and we'll spend the next few days getting ready for our final photographs, scheduled for Wednesday at sunrise.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Lessons From the Past

Thanks to Annette Sisco from the Times-Picayune, I had another stab at bridging the gap between the blogosphere and old-school newspaper opinion writing. My fourth editorial appeared in last Sunday's paper (July 1). It was a heavily revised piece for a New Orleans audience about the connections between hurricanes and archaeology that I made for my Society of Biblical Literature Forum article. The T-P piece is called "Lessons From the Past: An archaeologist finds clues to ancient destruction -- and kinship with a modern tragedy."
My previous opinion pieces are:
Nation Watching Our Education Lab (March 31, 2007).
Feeling Not So Welcome at the Welcome Home Center (January 25, 2007).
Building Our New Jerusalem (August 12, 2006).