Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Scary Detour, Followed by Frenzied Excavations

Back in January, a few days after I published the last post, my daughter, Maya, called me up from Ann Arbor. She thought she had a stomach virus plus a fever, on and off. She felt bad but not dreadful. I asked her if she had pain in her lower right side, but she said it was more all over pain – the way you feel after a day of throwing up. She didn’t seem too concerned.

After a couple of days with no real improvement and baffling on-and-off symptoms, she went to our longtime family doctor who sent her immediately to the ER where she was admitted to the hospital with a perforated appendix.

I flew up the next day.

Insert frightening, exhausting, all-consuming, TWO-MONTH-LONG (so far) medical adventure here.

Here's Maya stretching and breathing on one
of many "loops" around the 8th floor. Walking
and breathing were critical due to fluid in the lungs.
I started to write up a more detailed description of Maya’s ordeal (and my perspective) thus far but I find I need to get a little more distance. (Also, Dirt Girl Unleashed is my safe place and I need to feel only happy here, not remember my little girl being stuck with many needles and other, more graphic horrors.)

So, the short version: my firstborn, my sweet, smart, beautiful and kind daughter, was in the hospital for a total of 17 days, over one month, then home on IV antibiotics and home nursing care for two weeks. She was a real trooper.  Her boyfriend, Michael, was amazing throughout: upbeat, calm, loving. The support of friends and family was humbling. St. Joe’s was terrific. She is weak, but much better and working part time. She’ll have her appendix out sometime in the next month or two, now that the infection is under control.

Needless to say, it all put a serious dent in my metal detecting and since returning from my THIRD trip to Michigan in two months, I have been MDing like a crazed weasel every weekend and I have the vintage pull tabs and can slaw to prove it.

I do have a few choice morsels to show you.

First: marbles.

At the February MTMDC meeting, Bill Siesser gave an impressive talk on marbles. Here are some pics of his collection. 

These are made of clay.
In the next few days, I found two of my own, just sitting there on the top of the ground. You just have to keep your eyes open. Thanks, Bill!

Cheryl and I have a new digging buddy we’ll call Dr. Karen. We met her at the Club meeting and have been planning an all-girl hunt. A few weekends ago, she invited us over to her side of town to (plunder) her very historic home. We didn’t find much but had a great time. Then we went over to a construction site and chatted up a worker who said we could poke around, so we did.  I found a couple of bullets and the usual junk. Went down into an old stream bed. It was really pretty in there, but Oh, Lord the trash.

Cans, bottles, plastic bags... and crayons.
Then Karen took us to a friend’s huge yard for a late afternoon dig. By the end of the day, I was covered in mud. As in, my hair too. I sort of remembered that I was supposed to go to a very fancy gala party that night, but when you are MDing, your concept of time is altered and so by the time I left the last site, it was almost dark and I had about 20 minutes to drive home, remove my mud via shower, dress in appropriately glittery clothing and drive to the fancy gala. I was very late, but no one seemed to mind. As I often do, I brought one of my finds to the party.

69 bullet thinking, "Ah. Wine, music, pretty
girls, local celebrities."

Here’s my take from two weekends’ worth of digging around there. 

From top: two- and three-ringers, latch plate
hood of toy car, hinge, lipstick, thing, handle
oil lamp wick winder, 1913 penny,  marble.

From top: thimble that almost says "Whit"
but really says "White," awesome, very old
mystery brass thing (any ideas?), watch part,
beautifully folded hose end, lens from tele-
scope (?), same hinge from other pic, thing,
item, same oil lamp thing from above (sorry),
small thingie, pennies, part of something.

I particularly love the old pocket watch part. Here it is up close.

Right outta the ground.

After warm bath.

Also: the mystery item. I mean, it looks like something from a Celtic tomb! Or 1960s sculpture...

Seriously... any ideas?

I was positive that Cheryl had found part of a cannonball, but Doug said no. Here is Doug telling us no.

We admire Doug and seek his approval in all things.
 Cheryl did find this, tho.

It calls to me with its siren song.

In the midst of all this MD frenzy, I did play the Bluebird CafĂ© in early March with my buddies, Kathy Hussey, Dan Schaefer and W.T. Davidson. We call ourselves the Variety Pack. Because of the variety.  Here is visual proof that Dirt Girl does things besides dig in dirt.

We are the days going byyyyy....

OK, enough of that.

Last Sunday, I met a new friend over on the other side of town to check out her lawn. She was immediately hooked and we found this wonderful old dog tag. 

Oh, Skipper. Where are you now?

Here she is, helpless in the thrall of MD.

K.L.! We must do it again soon!

 After a couple of hours there, on the way to meet Cheryl, I drove past a very busy corner (right smack dab in the center of prime Battle of Nashville real estate) where a bulldozer had just torn down an old house. It was a pretty sweet looking lot so I grabbed Cheryl and we headed back there, praying for access.

(Sometimes, I read back over what I’ve just written – like the previous paragraph –  and think, “Hmm. What has happened to me? What has happened to the Whitley I used to be?”)

Dirt Girl, vaguely concerned.

Anyway, we pulled into the driveway. We needed permission. (See Po-Po post from last year).

There was a man with a pickup truck, choosing huge pieces of fieldstone that he was going to make into a wall. Yes, he worked for the builder and it was totally fine for us to look around. SCORE.

We got busy. This was a huge double lot, pretty decimated by the bulldozer that now sat idle near the road. In the middle of the rubble-filled yard, was what was left of the basement: a big, stony hole. The owner of the torn down house had been a woman who died recently, at the age of 102. Two huge houses were going to be built on the site. I need to find out her name.

We dug there all day and it couldn’t have been more fun. 

Here are some high points:

1903 Barber quarter. Signal jumped all over
and I almost gave up on it. 

At left is a regular three-ringer. At right is
a three-ringer someone (bored soldier?) has
hammered flat. There is also some speculation
that soldiers actually chewed the bullets for fun.
Anyway, this is one of my favorite finds of
all time. 

Here’s more of my take. I was very happy about it.

'50s ish kitchen cabinet handles on ends.
Top row: yankee minie balls.
Middle row: musket ball, Enfield (Confederate)
bullet (my first!) and wheat penny. (Smashed
Enfield under penny).
Bottom row: Barber quarter, pistol bullet and
awesome fossil I just happened to find, there to
remind us that life is a huge sea of time we
are all swimming around in.

Taylor Swift with old items.

Which brings us to today, which was beautiful and toasty warm. Cheryl and I met over on the other side of town at a particular middle school, and started driving around looking for a place to go, but struck out. So we went back to last week’s (102-year-old lady) site and were just getting started when a guy pulled into the driveway.

Now, I, personally, never really like it when someone pulls in, even when you sort of have permission, which we sort of did. But this guy was not gesticulating angrily; in fact, he was smiling.

“Do you really… do this?” he asked?

“Metal detecting? Yes!” I said.

We exchanged pleasantries.

His name was Jay. He lived a couple of miles away in a hilly neighborhood that was in the thick of a whole bunch CW action. He’d always wanted to have his yard checked out. Would we like to come by? Why yes. Yes, we would. 

Ten minutes later, we pulled into his property, which was undergoing a huge renovation. Stayed about an hour and covered it pretty well but surprisingly didn’t find anything of interest which was really unexpected. Then, just as we were thinking about packing it in for the day…

In situ...

Leonardo da Vinci

Apparently, this exhibition took place at the
Museum of Science and Industry in NYC's
Rockefeller Center in 1940. My dentist's
office was in Rockefeller Center, as are the
studios of Saturday Night Live today. So:
cool find, on several levels.

I like to bring these posts full circle somehow but I can't figure a way to tie Leonardo da Vinci to my daughter’s illness, (though da Vinci was one of the first to accurately sketch the appendix, and other organs).

Sigh. It doesn't matter.

I’m just so grateful she’s OK. 

Oh... one other thing: when I got home last night, I ran across the street and took a swing on an empty lot I've explored dozens of times. (Some bushes had been removed and I had to see what was under there.)

And there we go: fork you, appendix.


  1. I always enjoy these posts Whit. And I'm thinkin a warm bath might do almost as much for me as that pocket watch fragment. Here's to Skipper.

    1. I love, LOVE your posts! Just got my MD for X-mas. I live in Ann Arbor, (Barton Rd and Pontiac Trail). Thanks so much! No, really, thanks! Did you play at the Songbird Cafe in A2? If you did, I am so bummed I missed you :( !

  2. Glad to have found your site! I'm a 48 year old female and just bought a Tesoro Silver uMax MD. Been out with it maybe 4-5 times, now. The most significant findings so far are a 1967 quarter, an aluminum Florida Pool Company coin and a matchbox car! LOL! But, your site gives me hope, so I will continue! Thanks for sharing your stories.

  3. Hi TessG and welcome to metal detecting! Good work. I love me a good Matchbox car...
    What state are you in? Remember: research is your best friend! Old maps will show you were old homes/schools/churches were. Your friendly librarian will help. Or just go swing it anywhere. You just never know what you'll find. How did you find my blog? Just curious. Whit