Monday, May 20, 2013

Failure, Cinema, Soldier Yoga Man

 Are you judging me? No?

Actually, I am fairly sure that some of my friends and family are judging me, or at least rolling their eyes just a wee bit. I've always been eccentric but this MD stuff, together with the current extreme length of my hair has got to be alarming. But I am of an age and mindset when so little of that matters to me any more. With the kids all mature and whatnot, I am free to do whatever I want, and so, within limits, I do. If I want to spend 16 hours of every weekend “diggin’ like a mole” (as The Aptly Named Doug once described me), then dig I shall. With long tresses. I don’t care anymore.

That said, I judge myself. Just a tad. Maybe “judge” is too strong a word. But I got pretty frustrated a month or so back, during a wretched spell where I couldn’t dig a worm.

It started at the Club Hunt. We’d received permission to return to the Blissful Meadows of Bounty (as I shall refer to them, so that you’ll have no way to track them and pillage them further) where we hunted last June when it was 100 degrees. Cheryl had skunked me good that day (heel plate) and I was determined to return the favor on this gorgeous, cool, sunny day. There were about 40 of us out there swinging away.

Oddly, in a copse of trees, I came across a “lost” sculpture by 20th Century French cubist Georges Braque, obviously wrought during his farm implement period. 

Love it!

But I didn’t find much in the ground except for horseshoes and assorted rusted iron crap.

Here’s my inner conversation when I realize that the signal I’ve been digging is only going to yield a square piece of rusted iron that possibly was once a hoe:

Me:  Oh. Piss and moan. SIGH.  Maybe I should just leave this here, rebury it…
Me:  Nope. Put it in your fanny pack and bring it home. Or throw it out.
Me: It won’t fit in the fanny pack.
Me: You can’t leave it here. How about an art project! This would make an excellent mobile!
Me: Are you kidding me? I have no skills. OK. I’ll take it home and put it on the volcano-sized pile of rusted iron by the back door. Perhaps I can learn some craft techniques.

I dug nothing good that day, but soothed my disappointment by finding some old glass insulators just sitting under some trees.

Yay. Insulators. 

Here are the clear winners of the day. Sadly, neither of the hands shown are mine.

Made a quick trip up to Ann Arbor for some gigs and to celebrate my kids’ birthdays and brought along a couple of machines. Sadly, my fallow spell continued. Some friends invited me out into the country for fun hunt at an old school site, Peter dug part of an old practice typewriter keyboard! 

Linda dug a gorgeous, old door handle. 

Score two for the Bounty Hunter. I, however, with the pricey machine, dug part of some old whisker clippers.

Spent a transcendent hour at County Farm Park. Expected tons of trash, but the land was strangely “virgin” – hardly a signal, and with the tall trees just starting to leaf out, it was like being in northern Michigan, so peaceful, even with cars and trucks so close by.

I’d had my eye on a small park where there had once been an old fraternity and sauntered over there one day to check it out.  Here are my finds.

Top: Cadillac dashboard thingie that caused
quite a stir on Facebook, gigantic coin, 1907
 Indian head penny, green light from mower (I
actually am just making that up.)
Please take note of that gigantic coin. Do you know how excited I was to find that? I’d been thirsting to find the fabled Large Cent but never had found one. Could this be one??? Alas, no. When I got it home and cleaned it off, it revealed itself to be a “Maui Trade Dollar” – some kind of token put out by the Maui Chamber of Commerce in 1995. THANKS, rich, entitled U-M student who went to Hawaii on Spring Break and flung your Maui Trade Dollar in the dirt in some brewski-fueled rage. I was so disappointed. 

There was an Indian head penny, though, so I tried to focus on that.

Back in Nashville, my luck began to change in fits and starts. When we moved down here, I joined Big Brothers Big Sisters and was paired with an adorable kid named Hayley. Now she’s practically a teenager and way cooler than me, but she still agrees to hang out with me, particularly if I take her horseback riding.

One day I picked her up and took her out to a beautiful, rugged, old farm. While Hayley rode with her teacher, I asked the farm owner if I could check out his property with my detector. He said sure.

This place is really something. The original house, built in the 1700s, burned down 100 years ago and the little Victorian farmhouse that was built in its place is being renovated. There’s a barn, an old smokehouse, a creek, pastures, and a fairly sizeable cemetery.

Within 30 minutes, I’d found all this and was seriously crushing on this property that we will now call The Farm.

Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham, I
love this site. From top left: brass heel plate
toy gun, toy sheriff badge, round saddle thing,
mushroom-shaped MYSTERY item that is
very old. Any ideas?

 I was particularly excited because my friend, filmmaker Terri Sarris, was coming down to TN to shoot a documentary about me and my metal detecting buddies, Cheryl and Doug. And we needed LOCATIONS!

When Terri and her partner, Frank Pahl, arrived a week or two later, I had it all figured out. We’d shoot Saturday at The Farm, and Sunday at another Nashville site where Cheryl and I had found four CW bullets fairly quickly. We’ll call that site The Agency. We were SET!

Lights! Camera! Action!

Pull Tabs! Can Slaw! Foil!

Cheryl, Doug, Brenda (Doug’s wife), Terri, Frank and I arrived at The Farm on a beautiful, cloudy Saturday morning. I mean, you could film The Hobbit at this place. It’s that magical. Cheryl immediately pulled out a gorgeous Winged Mercury hood ornament off an old Ford (?) but after that it was a little disappointing, find-wise. Terri and Frank were very encouraging. They watched us swing our machines, they came in close to see what we pulled from the ground, they asked us what it all meant to us. They interviewed Doug as he sat in the doorway of the old smokehouse. We had “lunch” (popcorn and Gatorade) at a gas station, then came back for another hour or two until we were exhausted. I tried not to be goal-oriented and to trust the process.

Sunday morning, we went over to Doug's to film him there.

Then off to The Agency and again, Mother Earth got all shy and blushy and reticent. Didn’t dig hardly anything fun! CRAP! So we all piled in our cars and followed Doug and Brenda to Franklin to a huge construction site that seemed promising. Again, no kind of mother lode…

It will be interesting to see the final cut. I trust Terri to make something wondrous.

Which brings us to this weekend. Last Friday morning, I received the sad news that my sister-in-law had died suddenly, in her home in Muskegon. Lauren Hill was married to Al’s brother, Tony, and though they’d been divorced for years, Lauren was still a member of the Hill family. Her kids, Andrea and Zephyr, are two of the coolest people ever. Lauren was kind, ebullient, strong, funny, and had a laugh that I’ll never forget. She was beside me on that day in 1997 when we all gathered around Al's dad, Donald Hill, as he took his last breath. Lauren gave great hugs, and fun socks for Christmas presents.

Anyway, it was sobering news and by the end of my work day, I knew I had to get away from the computer and out into nature. I drove to The Farm for a little digging and life-pondering. I don’t know if was the absence of a film crew or the silence of the late afternoon, or the recent rain or what, but the dirt was generous and I did a lot better. Dug my first official Large Cent…

This was NOT issued by the Maui
Chamber of Commerce.

Here's a summary of my recent finds at The Farm.

Clockwise from top: old carpenter's level,
three clumps of lead, 1962 rabies tag, four
wheat pennies, I have no idea, oil lamp parts,
flat button. Center from top: token, large
cent (same one as above), Mercury dime.

 Token sidebar: I found three cool tokens at The Farm. Here they are up close:
This is from Earthman's Mercantile, a long
gone store in White's Creek, TN

Red Goose Shoes: Half the Fun of Having Feet.

Cascaret's Laxative Candy (Best for the Bowels!)
See, in the '20s and '30s, people were obsessed
with pooping and would give their kids
laxative candy. Oh, the things you learn.
Drawer pull, pocket knife, barrel spigot (I
think this is very old), two beautiful buckles,
round thing.
We dug a lot of round things.

The rest of the weekend delivered too. Doug, Cheryl and I returned to The Agency for another go-round. Here's my current stash from that site.

Heel plate, two tent eyelets, rose tag, part of
watch, button face (?), floral thing that has
the word "Coro" on the back, 1887 Seated
Liberty dime, pretty bottle top, cool hook.

What? You want to see that 1887 Seated Liberty dime up close? Of course you do.

Pretty thang...

And this evening I hit a lawn near my house that I’ve had my eye on for some time. A lovely family lives there and they were so welcoming. They actually have a fascinating piece of property for reasons that I will get into at another time. Let’s just say that humans – and maybe even pre-humans – have been coming to that particular spot on the planet for at least 300 years.

It’s buzzing with energy and history.

I was just getting ready to go, when I got a good signal and dug this.

Pompeii, anyone?

Here it is cleaned up.

Soldier doing warrior pose, but not very well.

So. Yeah. Dry spell officially over.

Love, Whit