Professor Margaret Houston, known on this blog as Margaret-who-loves-pots, died of cancer yesterday morning.
I don't know most of the people who read TheChaliceblog, but I'm pretty sure that just about all of you would have loved Margaret.
She was warm and tough and vivacious and funny and I loved her very much.
She and our friend Joe the Math guy and I spent an entire summer driving up to the city once a week to see "Star Wars:Episode One" in the theater with good sound. I don't even like Star Wars that much, I just really liked them. Joe and I were talking the other day about how it was one of the best summers either of us ever had.
One time, I wanted to set Joe up with my friend Gwen here in DC. Margaret, Joe and I met her at a museum. The theory was that Margaret and I would slip off and leave Joe and Gwen to walk around together, but Margaret had such amazing things to say about the museum exhibits that Gwen forgot about Joe entirely and spent the entire day following Margaret around.
Margaret certainly didn't intend to bogart the attention of Joe's potential date, she was just full of information and delighted to be sharing it, the way she always was.
The summer of Star Wars, I also went on digs with her to a local archeological site. My troweling was apparently sub-par, so my job was to sit there and amuse Margaret. I told her funny stories and she lectured me on what she was looking for. I talked and she talked and she heard weird stories about my screwed up childhood and she said useful things and I heard stories about her wild times in Mexico digging pots in graduate school and I said admiring things. Good times.
Margaret's sister told me the other day that Margaret lived for her students. I had to think about that one for a minute. She probably did, but she never let us know it. Margaret just seemed to always be having such a fabulous time that it never occurred to me to wonder what sacrifices she might be making. Teaching, digging pots and running the little roadside museum of local Indian Culture made Margaret happy, so that's what she did.
She was a really cool person.