All about scale

I went down a deep rabbit hole for most of the afternoon in locating Pottery Neolithic archaeological sites on the southern Sinai peninsula. Archaeological sites can be notoriously difficult to locate (or not), so that’s not surprising…in general. Fieldwork on several of the sites was decades ago, then repeatedly mentioned in later articles and comparative reports, so you’d think the locations would be…not so mysterious. Not.

In the process of this “digging” (forgive me), I came across Saint Catherine’s Monastery. Before the monastery and Saint Catherine, this is where, some say, Moses saw the/a burning bush. Of course, digging deeper, there are several proposed locations for the Moses/burning bush event.

Now, the Catherine is Catherine of Alexandria, who had the misfortune to be born before Romans accepted Christianity but in their territory, and, not surprisingly, she was tortured for her faith. She died about AD 30, or so the story goes. Although she seems to have remained in the Alexandria area (western Nile delta), somehow the Sinai location perhaps 600 km to the SE had Saint Catherine relics, as, they say, her body was found in a nearby cave. Wow; lots to swallow there.

Look how much I learned without ever finding the exact location of Ujrat el-Mehed (the PN site), although I did figure out the general area. Heh. And in the process found (on GooEarth) the ruins of Gebel Abbas Basha, dating to, as I recall, the late 1700s.

See: rabbit hole. Or, perhaps more truthfully, a whole darned burrow complex.

Ah, well

I did this and that today, and in between read a few pages of “The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books,” by Edward Wilson-Lee (2018). It’s about the library that the second son of Christopher Columbus amassed, larded with detailed stories about the father, of course. I kept having to check on Wikipedia pages to get more context than Wilson-Lee offered. I was especially curious about the geography of central-northern Spain, which wasn’t Spain then. And map pages do load slowly here in the hinterlands.


When I was first learning archaeological lab techniques for handling artifacts, I was told, and rightly so, that cleaning, even if done carefully, was likely to remove more than “dirt,” and whatever else got removed might be significant.

If you can follow that run-on sentence.

I have to laugh at some of the reactions to the “Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color” exhibit at the MET in NYC. It includes Greek and Roman sculptures that we almost always see in naked marble or other material, as if they were not painted when originally displayed…even though the fine art professionals that put them on display and analyze them know darned well that paint flecks are still embedded on their surfaces.

Without a doubt, they were painted. And painted brightly. Take a look…wait, here’s an example. This is “Reconstruction of a marble finial in the form of a sphinx” by Vinzenz Brinkmann (link).

I’m telling

I spent some time this afternoon finding tell settlements. It’s very rewarding. Many mounds like this: standing above the landscape, and possibly with archaeological trenching. Hard to miss.

Others were plenty tricky to find. Hah!

This peony: hard to miss. And a target for bees.

Cloud day

Early menacing clouds.

Mr Ohio’s childhood Big Rock. It’s about seven feet high, I’d guess (hard to tell scale in this image).

Vine scars.

Crossing the Ohio.

Thus, today’s visual theme is clouds. Wait, perhaps you are thinking, what about The Rock photo? That has, um, a puffy duvet of clouds.


Just saw footage from Tintern Abbey on a British show about moving to the country, and I remembered our visit there in April 2016. Waaaaaay pre-COVID.

BTW, the name is Welsh is Abaty Tyndryn.

Variable focus

My focus today was all over the place.

There was Pannonia and the Amber Road, which are related (Roman east). I also drooled over Jamie’s 15-minute meals; he does a great job creating big flavor fast—think blenders of yoghurt and cilantro and avocado and lime zest-n-juice and tomato puree (not for the same dish).

Lakeside adventure

Another foggy, dewy morning, with wisps generated by the arrival of Mr. Sun. This is a few minutes later, when the fog tendrils had disappeared, and the sun highlighted the dew-outlined spider webs across the field. Lovely effect.

We left the compound, and headed up to the mouth of Hurricane Creek. At present, it’s flowing straight into Lake Superior, with its tannic taint clearly evident in the crystal clear lacustrine waters.

We walked the 1.5 miles along the Norse Country Trail* to the Au Sable lighthouse.

On the way back, I detoured to look at this shipwreck. Those are large iron rods that held the wooden beams together protruding above the water.

I also spotted a few of these gorgeous endangered pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule). They’re orchids and

In order to survive and reproduce, pink lady’s slipper interacts with a fungus in the soil from the Rhizoctonia genus. Generally, orchid seeds do not have food supplies inside them like most other kinds of seeds. Pink lady’s slipper seeds require threads of the fungus to break open the seed and attach them to it. The fungus will pass on food and nutrients to the pink lady’s slipper seed. When the lady’s slipper plant is older and producing most of its own nutrients, the fungus will extract nutrients from the orchid roots. This mutually beneficial relationship between the orchid and the fungus is known as “symbiosis” and is typical of almost all orchid species. [USFS link]

This one had me stumped. I don’t remember seeing it or looking it up before. It’s Polygaloides paucifolia, commonly called gaywings. Given that its range is eastern North America from Georgia north to the Hudson Bay and inland as far as Minnesota in the USA, I should be familiar with it. So, have I forgotten? 😎

* Why is this stuck in my head? Of course, it’s really NORTH Country Trail. No Viking hikers sighted.

Layers of history

Today I walked around the old economic heart of A Real City.

The Beating Heart was these falls, the Upper Saint Anthony Falls, now marred? by a lock and dam.

The power the river generated, and this is the Mississippi so it is a mighty generator, ran the Gold Medal Flour mill on the south/west side…

And the Pillsbury mill on the north/east side. This is the underbelly of the mill complex. [Note fisher-person.] Now the mills are no longer milling, and this sacred place of the people who were here before the EuroAmericans arrived is irretrievably altered.

I quite enjoyed walking across the curving Stone Arch Bridge that seems to connect the two mills. It’s a pedestrian bridge now, although it was built for rail cars. The water on the left is the lower end of the Pillsbury millrace (it seemed to me), and the bridge crosses the main channel of the Mississippi.

And all this? Yup. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Crossing the plains

Steady eastbound motoring brought us from pastured beef with oil drilling, to pasture plus some row-crops (seemed almost exclusively wheat), to less and less pasture and more and more crop-fields.

Somewhere in there, the oil machinery disappeared, and then we got a few wind turbines. A few of these old-style windmills were scattered throughout.

Now, no photo, we’re in almost entirely row-crops, and no cattle/pasture whatsoever. Rain expected overnight, which is good as it is a bit dry; however, accompanying tornadoes are not desirable.

A more precise title might be along the lines of “Central continental longitudinal topographic and land use drift,” but, duh, too unwieldly.