It’s Cedar Fever Season again here in Central Texas, which means one thing: ACHOO!

The internet loves to contradict itself. If you google “Does Cedar Fever actually cause a fever,” some websites will say yes, others no. Here’s proof that it can, in fact, give you a fever:

No, I don’t have COVID (negative test). I don’t have the flu or a cold. I have an overactive immune system that loses its flipping mind when I inhale cedar pollen. This is despite taking a daily Zyrtec because I’m basically allergic to the state and need antihistamines in my system 24/7 in order to function here. Lovely. Add in Benadryl to control my sneezing and runny nose and wheeeee. Sleepy zombie feverish Heather for several days.

Yet another reason why I want to GTFO out of this state. Enough whining about how much cedar trees suck and all of them need to die in a bonfire, let’s get on with the updates.

Massachusetts Nope!

 I didn’t get accepted to U Mass Amherst and that’s ok, because I didn’t want to go there anyway. I’m not sure how we would have survived in New England on one income on top of a more expensive cost of living and ridiculous health insurance (screw you yet again, American healthcare system). I applied there because I felt like I needed to at least apply for a school in the USA and they have a fully funded program that basically allows you to design your own PhD. That was what I needed because there’s not a lot of PhD programs in this country that focus on mortuary/funerary archaeology. It’s fine because I’ve taken that as confirmation that I’m meant to be elsewhere and the road leads to Orkney. One door closes and another one opens and all that jazz.

The Research Proposal

Hey, hey! I started writing my research proposal for UHI this month and, as of last night, have completed the brainstorming in this random notebook I found buried in the depths of my scary unorganized bookshelves:

I’ve already realized my first idea was way too ambitious and I’m sticking to just doing Mainland because there’s 13 medieval parishes there and 29 burial grounds. I think that’s plenty to work with for a dissertation and leaves plenty of room for further research and studies, enough to keep me busy for a few years. Hell yes.  

My dissertation advisor at UHI said she’d look at my research proposal early next month. My current plan is to get the draft typed up in the next two weeks and send it over to her. Once I’m happy with it I’ll send it to UHI, hopefully by the end of March. I’d like to have an answer by midsummer so I can start working on visas and all the immigration paperwork and fees.


I went to an Osteology and Zoological workshop in Houston last weekend. I splurged and used some old birthday money to get myself the jacuzzi suite at a Best Western, which was sooooo nice. My back and hips have been sore since I’ve started working out more. I literally curled up in the tub with one of the jets on my back for 20 minutes and the next day felt no pain. Wish I had one of those at home (yeah right!).

I had a really great time since two of my archaeology mentors were there, Leslie Bush and Marybeth Tomka. Also present were lots of my digging pals from the HAS. I met some new people and I learned A LOT about being able to tell the difference between human and animal remains. I picked up some valuable information for…

Teaching Forensic Anthropology Again

This past Thursday I presented about how archeology plays into Forensic Anthropology for the forensics classes at work. It’s a lot of fun and the kids were really engaged this year. I think it’s the fourth or fifth time I’ve done this? I was able to incorporate some of the information I picked up at the osteology workshop and update my slides.

Ladies of the Field by Amanda Adams

I’m in the middle of reading a fabulous book about seven female archaeologists from the Victorian Era into the early Edwardian. Most of these ladies I’d never heard about. Many of their findings were repressed or co-published under their male colleagues. I’m genuinely enjoying learning about these amazing women and breaking the glass ceiling when archaeology was in its infancy.

One lady whom I didn’t know was an archaeologist was Agatha Christie. Yes, the mystery writer! I remember hearing somewhere that she’d gone on an archaeology dig, but I didn’t know she was involved in the field for thirty years, in the later half of her life. She even wrote novels while living out of a tent in the Middle East!

I’m feeling a sort of affinity to Agatha. I also began my journey into archaeology later in my life and have fallen in love with it, just like she did. I already love her books and, if you know me, you know that my other big dream besides becoming an archaeologist is to be a published author. I’ve had some success with my short stories, but I’ve yet to make the leap to novelist. I’ve thought about picking that up in my spare time when working on my PhD. I read while riding my stationary bike and I thought, “Well, if Agatha Christie could do it, then why can’t I?!” I’ve got lots of ideas, but I’m not ready to start writing again yet. I’m still taking a break from writing after my dissertation. That sucker was almost 15,000 words, which is the length of a short novella. So, if anything, I can say that I’ve written the equivalent of a short novel. That was good practice and I’m taking baby steps to get to a full novel. 😊

Being Kind to Myself

I said in the last blog post that I was beginning to take weight loss and my health seriously. My goal is to work out four times a week, walk at least 5,000 steps, stick with intermittent 16:8 fasting, watch my carb intake, eat more fresh fruits and veggies, and drink more water. That sounds like a lot but I was already doing a lot of those things most of the time. The only big change is doing those things more consistently and exercising. I’m not tracking calories because it’s tedious and I hate it. By choosing healthier foods and making better choices, I’m naturally lowering my caloric intake and I don’t really need to watch it.

It’s already working because I’ve lost five pounds in the last five weeks since my last post. That’s about a pound a week. The Waybetter app has been a godsend for keeping me accountable. I’m taking this weekend off because I’m sick, but still watching what I’m eating and drinking lots of water. The My Peak Challenge community has been incredibly supportive and inspiring me to keep going even when I don’t want to.

Something else that’s changed is my mindset. I wasn’t kind to my body during graduate school and I’m feeling it now. This year is all about changing my relationship with my body and redefining how I think of exercise and food. I’ve realized that eating healthy and getting regular exercise IS being kind to myself. The other day I was quietly whining to myself how I didn’t WANT to ride the bike, but then a little voice in my head whispered, “That’s not being kind to yourself and you deserve better than that.” I got on the bike and within 2 or 3 minutes I was feeling better and the 30 minutes flew by.

I’ve also learned some stupid tricks to fool my whiny brain. I usually work out after dinner because I am NOT going to get my ass up early before work to work out. Oh hell no. I love sleeping. What I do is when I know dinner is almost ready, I change into my workout clothes. I eat dinner and then I’m already downstairs and the bike is by the stairs. Instead of going upstairs, I get on the bike, crack open a book, and cycle away for 30 minutes.

The virtual bike ride across the UK is going slow. I’m doing about 5-6 miles per session and have ridden around 60 miles. 814 miles to go! I’m slowly building up to longer and longer rides. Right now I’m still sore after 30 minutes with the stationary bike on a resistance of 5 out of 10. I will probably maintain this until spring break and start slowly adding a minute every day until I’m up to 60 minutes. It’s all about being kind and gentle to my body.


I’m on Instagram now. Actually, I always was on Instagram but I’ve started using it more recently. I’m @HezontheHill if you want to follow me there.

Field School

…Is an I don’t know. I’m chaperoning a trip to Germany and France at the beginning of June and field school is much earlier than I anticipated. I won’t get definite dates until April at the earliest and right now the requested dates overlap significantly with field school. I’m kind of hoping we wind up going earlier because this will be our last field school and I know Nora will be really unhappy if we’re not able to go.

I’ll be unhappy if I don’t get to eat the biscuits and gravy at Dollie’s Diner in Nacogdoches at least one more time.

Coming Up…

I don’t have any weekend digs planned right now, but March is when things start picking up again. I know HAS has been doing some work on Wednesdays at the Lone Oak Site (WHY?! I CAN’T DIG ON WEDNESDAYS!!!). Maybe they’ll start adding in Saturdays again as the weather improves. There’s also another site they’ve added, but I don’t know where it is and again, they’re always digging when I can’t due to work. I’m itching to get out into the field again soon, so I hope something comes up!