Sunday, August 28, 2016

summer reading list



I used to read a book a week or more. Now it seems if I get one read a month I'm doing good.

In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – Nora receives an invitation to her ex-best friend Clare's 'hen' party whom she hasn't seen or communicated with in 10 years. Nora transferred to another school after she and her boyfriend broke up and she tried to put that past behind her. She reluctantly agrees to go with Nina, the only person she kept up with from school days, also invited. Nora, or Lee as she was known in school, and Nina arrive at a remote glass house for the weekend to be met by Flo, Clare's new bestie, who has arranged the weekend party. When Nora finally asks Clare why she was invited to the party but not to the wedding, Clare tells her it's because she wanted to tell Lee/Nora herself that the groom is Lee/Nora's long lost boyfriend whom Nora has never gotten over. Next thing, Nora is waking up in the hospital battered and bruised and with no memory of the past 24 hours which slowly comes back to her. James has been murdered and the police suspect Nora. The shooting was an accident Nora remembers, they were all clustered in a group with Flo holding the shotgun which was supposed to have not been loaded, fearful of the intruder coming up the stairs. Or was it? And why did James come out there unannounced in the middle of the night? And who was setting her up? Nora escapes from the hospital and returns to the glass house to try and recover the last bit of memory where she is followed and confronted by Clare, also bruised and battered and away from the hospital. We learn the secret Nora has been keeping about the break-up with James and who the murderer is and why. It was stupid, a stretch of a motive. I was enjoying the story well enough until the end.

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz – I like Dean Koontz or I used to. It seems to me though that lately he can spin a good yarn but has trouble finishing it, bringing it to a satisfactory conclusion and I feel like he could have done a little bit better on this one. The story was good enough, kept me engaged though towards the end it felt a bit repetitive. Bibi Blair, young author of one published book, suffers weakness in her left side and goes to the hospital to learn she has incurable brain cancer. The next day or so, a stranger comes into her room with a dog and Bibi is miraculously cured. When she returns home, her delighted parents send over a masseuse and dabbler in the occult who uses her powers to find out why Bibi was spared from the cancer. The answer was to save a life and the person whose life she is to save is Ashley Bell. This is no easy task as the Wrong People have her prisoner and intend to kill her. Bibi sets out to find and rescue Ashley only to be constantly sidetracked by her own deep secret that she has hidden from herself since she was 6 years old. Bibi finally comes face to face with Ashley's captor who is not exactly who he seems to be. Like I said, it's a good story that kept me engaged. I just wish it had ended better.

The Stopped Heart by Julie Myerson - This is two story lines that run intertwined with each other. They sort of intersect in that each storyline has a character that sort of senses the other storyline even though they are separated by possibly 150 years in time. Mary and Graham, bereaved of their two young daughters in a random act of fate trying to make sense of continued life without them and 14 year old Eliza and her siblings, the little kiddies, and their relationship with James, a laborer on her father's farm who turns out to be a con man and a serial killer. We know how Eliza's story ends as the book begins with the almost end of her story. So Mary and Graham move into a new house to try for a new start after the murders of their girls, the house that Eliza and her family lived in 150 years previous. Mary is uneasy there at first as she keeps seeing children and a red haired man in the garden while Graham is preoccupied with his troubled daughter from a previous marriage. They become friends with another couple in the village and Mary is pursued by Eddie, the husband. Eventually, a skeleton is discovered buried in the shed at the back of the garden, an event that starts Mary's emergence from the fog of grief. I kept expecting the storylines to merge in some sort of supernatural way but I got to the end of the book without it ever happening. I was more interested in Eliza's storyline than Mary's. Mary had an annoying habit of answering every statement, opinion, or question with a question.

The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer - I didn't realize when I checked this and the previous book out that they were so similar in some ways. Both are about the loss of a child and both are written using alternating storylines. Beth, single mom who's ex-husband has settled down with another woman, and her 8 year old daughter go to a storytelling festival and get separated in the fog that drifts in just as Carmel hides and then goes into one of her fugues where time changes and she can't move. (It occurred to me that these were probably petit mals though it was never alluded to in the story.) She has a talent unknown to her or anyone else, she can heal people. Her talent hasn't gone completely unnoticed though and she is abducted by a man who has been watching her. One storyline deals with the mother and her search for her daughter and her sorrow and self blame and her life and how she finally starts to pick up the pieces of a life again and the other storyline is of Carmel and what has happened to her and the life she eventually leads as an itinerant healer on the revival circuit in America and how all that comes to an end. Carmel and her mother are eventually reunited though it is nearly six years later and the last page of the book.




Friday, August 26, 2016

progress being made



Plugging away at the second diagram, almost finished. I'll be cutting the first stencil next week. I'm really dragging my feet, keep finding small distractions, counterproductive to my desire to get it done and over with. Some of the dawdling is because I really don't know how to do this job, how to translate these photographs into etched glass, and I have to make DECISIONS. The decisions I make now determine how it is going to look in the glass, whether it works or not.


I've also been working on the cast glass. I filled the mold for the leaf plaque Tuesday and it came out of the kiln yesterday. I used transparent green in the leaves and then backfilled it with black and yes the black will overpower the green and make it very subtle. Which is what I want. The moonflowers bloom at night.


It's been de-molded and I have washed it in vinegar and the green is very subtle. I was thinking I may have needed a thicker layer of the green but now I'm not so sure. A good light will pick up the green more and I think once I do the cold work and polish the leaves a bit it will look perfect. I've balanced the moonflower on it's little pedestal on the plaque and it looks really good. Though I just had a thought about my whole plan to float the flower above the plaque on the pedestal. The whole weight of the flower and the shear force and the small surface to surface area of the pedestal to the plaque...hmmmm. Should have put a hole in the wax model for the pedestal to sit in.  Well, I have decided to have a stand made for it instead of having it be a wall piece. That could change though.

I finished the diagram or nearly enough. I was going to start the stencil today but I think I'll wait til Monday and spend the day doing cold work on my castings.




Monday, August 22, 2016

just general stuff


A couple of notes:

re my post about choking...took Autumn home and my daughter says to me mom, you know we love you, your family really loves you but we laughed so hard when we read your last post. Autumn piped up, it was horrifying! My daughter said I'm sure it was and then she ragged on me to go to the doctor now that I have insurance. Coupled with all the other ragging I got in the comments and on FB, I guess I will see about making an appointment with someone.

re the layout of my blog...I have changed the comment section so that there is a reply button beneath each comment so now maybe I'll start replying to your comments. Some of them. Sometimes. Maybe. But do check back. I may just surprise you. And me.


It has rained every day for 8 days straight, not all day but off and on during the days and nights. By Wednesday we had already had 7”. I haven't checked the rain gauge since. It's not mine anyway, belongs to the new neighbors now. Frank Of The Bountiful Garden's house finally sold and the new owners have moved in. They are also artists/crafters. Robert does metal work and wood work and what all making stuff suited to the Renaissance fairs and fantasy/graphic novel conventions and such. Debra works in clay, not really sure exactly what, if it is functional or sculptural or maybe both and also makes costumes for these different venues and maybe paints too. They are still getting organized and getting the greenhouses converted to studios so I haven't seen any of their actual work and only chatted with them briefly a few times. They are a bit younger than us. She still works full time and commutes into town.

For those of you who don't know who Frank Of The Bountiful Garden is, he was our neighbor who with his wife Dorothy had a nursery there at their house and were mostly retired when we bought this place. They kept that place immaculate and Frank had a garden and fruit trees that produced prodigious amounts of food and he was very generous, always coming over with something to share, sending my daughter home with bags of stuff for the kids. Dorothy died about 4 years ago and Frank quickly declined and died almost two years ago. Both in their early 80s. Their son and daughter kept the place for about a year and finally put the house on the market. Frank built that house. Anyway, I would write in the blog about Frank and Dorothy periodically.

Did I mention I have a functioning kiln? No, not the one that skyrocketed and turned a small leaf casting into an alien geode of fused boiled glass and plaster. It's still broken as the expensive part we bought didn't fix it. No, we finally plugged in the old kiln, our first Paragon glass kiln that hasn't been turned on for at least 6 years and we haven't used for at least 10 years though my sister and her husband were and it was in their barn, and it came on and so we cleaned it up and did a test cast of one of the bark pieces and it worked fine.


So now we have our third firing going. The second firing was the new leaflet for the pink flower and the moonflower that goes with the leaf plaque. The molds were so dry that my volume measure wasn't very accurate and as a result I had way too much glass in both molds and had to grind off a considerable amount on each casting.


Still have to take off a little more and I started the cold work on the surfaces. All this going on while I am still trying to finish the second diagram so I can start on the first stencil for the A&M commission. August is drawing to a close and I've been telling them I'll have the first stencil cut by the end of the month.

Anyway, the pieces that are in there now are four more of the bark pieces. The last one I'm casting in white so it will get fired separately. The next firing will be the leaf plaque for the moonflower.




Saturday, August 20, 2016

turns out there were two this year


Last Sunday when I went in to pick up Autumn (a last minute surprise visit as the twins spent a month in Poland and Israel this summer and needed to work the rest of the summer at their jobs as helpers at the summer camp program at a local gymnastic gym which ended a week ago yesterday so Autumn called and wanted to spend the last week of summer with us), I stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up a few things, among them this box of peaches. As you can see, we've already eaten half of them.


We didn't do a whole lot, mostly because it rained every day and I had to work on these diagrams and she had summer homework to finish. Even so we did have some fun.


The twins turned 18 this summer so I asked Autumn if they had registered to vote yet and she said no so the first thing we did was download the forms and fill them out. Autumn mailed hers and is taking Jade's home so she can sign it and mail it off.


And because they are still practicing how to drive, Autumn chauffeured me around all week.


She did have one project she wanted to do which was to fancy up her blue jean jacket with colorful cloth and ribbons and trim.



We went to the movies and saw Bad Moms which was funny and sweet. Kind of a date movie for going to with your girlfriend moms.


We made an attempt to go to the beach. I had checked the weather report for Matagorda and it showed partly cloudy but no rain even though it was raining here. I didn't think that was unusual because often in the summer when it is raining inland, it is sunny at the beach. So we headed out and quickly drove out of the rain and then about halfway there we drove into the rain again which was coming down so hard I could not see 20 feet in front of me and I even pulled over for a few minutes. But then we drove out of it again to a sunny sky until we got to the beach where we parked at the little pavilion with the picnic tables and walked down the path through the dunes to the beach. This is what we saw...


...another storm raining like mad over the Gulf and moving inland. We hadn't been there 5 minutes when it started to sprinkle and then the wind picked up and the rain started pelting us. We were soaked to the skin before we could get back to the car and, not planning on going swimming, just walking along the beach, we had not brought any towels with us. note to self...ALWAYS take a towel when you go to the beach.


We had taken Minnie with us for her first visit to the beach which she seemed to be enjoying in the 5 minutes before it started raining though she wasn't too sure about the surf. Minnie doesn't like the rain much even when she is inside and dry so when the rain came in I scooped her up and carried her as we dashed back to the car and by the time we got there she was just a quivering lump of wet flesh. She rode home in my lap.



And of course, we did the little shops in town and Glen Flora where our favorite resale shop is where everything over a dollar is half price.

PS...I know it looks like Autumn wore the same clothes all week but what really happened is that I failed to take pictures as stuff happened so we staged all these.




Wednesday, August 17, 2016

of all the ways to die


I used to think I was going to die in a car wreck since I had been in so many but then that stopped happening though I am aware, every time I get in the car on the freeway, that that is a possibility. I used to be afraid of drowning, not because I couldn't swim, but because I always thought it would be a terrible way to die but I've since read that it isn't as painful and horrible as I imagined. I would like to die of old age in my bed, peacefully, without being ravaged by some disease but I'm thinking now I will probably just choke to death.

Anyone who has known me for a long time and has shared enough meals with me knows that sometimes my throat goes into a spasm while I am eating when something scratches or touches a sensitive spot which produces coughing, sneezing, frozen vocal chords but no choking. And then there are the times I actually aspirate liquid or food and choke a little because that little flap that covers your airway when you are eating or drinking doesn't always work properly. This is one of the reasons I'm a slow eater.

Once, I was dreaming I was eating candy and my mouth started watering and I aspirated saliva to the point where I could not breathe at all and Marc had to Heimlich me a couple of times. That was kind of scary since I wasn't even eating or drinking anything and was sound asleep. And another time eating, that was worse, when my eyesight started going gray around the edges before I could breathe again.

So last night we had just sat down to dinner, roast with potatoes and carrots and I'm chewing my first bite of roast and all of a sudden I can't breathe, my airway was completely blocked and my first attempts at trying to clear it were unsuccessful. Marc jumped up and Heimliched me a couple of times which dislodged the obstruction just enough that I could start forcing some air in and out.


This was the third time he's had to do that but this was the first time I pissed myself. And by that I don't mean I just wet my pants a little, I mean my bladder totally let go and by the time I could breathe a little easier but still struggling, I was standing in a puddle of urine and my pants were soaked. I knew it was happening in a distant way, just as I knew Autumn, who is visiting for her week, was watching with a look of horror on her face, but my whole focus was on dragging air into my lungs and expelling it as forcefully as I could to remove whatever was blocking my airway. At this point I knew I wasn't going to die and after a few more minutes I could breathe more or less regularly. 'Well', he says, 'that hasn't happened in a long time'. 'It's happened before?!', Autumn exclaimed.

'I'm sorry you had to witness that', I told Autumn as I went to change clothes. The only word I heard of her reply was 'traumatic'.

Yep. For me too.




Sunday, August 14, 2016

it was 40 years ago today...


Forty years. That's nearly twice as long as it took me to attain legal age, several years longer than any one place I have ever lived, almost twice the number of years I was in school, the number in the Torah that meant a really really long long time we can't even count that high.

Forty years ago today Marc and I stood up in front of family and friends and made promises to love and cherish through better or worse forsaking all others til death do us part. Seemed easy then. It wasn't always easy. In fact, many years it was downright hard and seemed impossible. More than once we were on the brink. But somehow, we always managed to persevere either through stubbornness, fear, devotion, uncertainty, acceptance, or maybe just love.





Tuesday, August 9, 2016

dog days and sweat



I've not been making much progress on the diagrams for the A&M job, the small animal hospital, even though I've been liberally applying the I-don't-care tool, taking out lines and rearranging things to make it easier. The glass is due to be delivered this week so I'll have plenty of time to get the one I've been working on finished. Friday and Saturday and Sunday morning we worked over at the shop clearing out the bay that we have been using to store some stuff like lumber and florescent light fixtures and bulbs from the old shop in the city, moved the kiln out, and got it swept of cobwebs from all the daddy long legs that seem to think our shop is a great place to live and shop-vacced of dirt and leaves and sawdust while Marc built two racks to hold the glass while we work on it. We need to move the big work table in there as well. Because these panels are so big and heavy, we're having to work in the small bay of the shop instead of the large bay. I could explain why but it's not important. Well, not important to you, no need to understand all the minute details of working with glass panels too big and heavy for us to easily lift and move. Long about noon every day, we were drenched, hot, and tired. There is no shade over there. Did I mention we're in the Dog Days?


Speaking of August and the Dog Days, I checked the 10 day forecast last week which had us in triple digits this week and today the 10 day forecast gives us high 90s for next week but by the week of the 22nd maybe low 90s and maybe even high 80s. And I swear, the past few mornings, while it is still getting up to high 90s during the day, felt almost as if...dare I say it? Dare I tempt the gods? Um, best not. Regardless, whatever the forecast says, and it depends on which weather service you check, the rest of this week is supposed to get up to 100˚ and already the heat index today is 111˚.

And speaking of the kiln I know, we weren't speaking of the kiln, the new controller board did not fix the kiln. It won't come on with the old board or the new one. Marc did, however, plug in the old kiln, the one we haven't used in probably 10 years or more and hasn't even been turned on for at least 5 (we had loaned it to my sister and her husband and after his death we got it back) and it came on and he ran a short firing program and it seemed to function well so we're doing a test firing today, one of the bark molds. Sort of annoying, all these months I could have been getting some pieces made if we had just turned to the old kiln right away.


And speaking of the kiln again and the shop in general, our friend and fellow glass artist has been given a certified letter from his landlord terminating his occupancy and he has to vacate his studio and the property by mid-October. He's been at that location for 40 years, bought and moved a small house onto the back of the property, and easily has three times the amount of crap and equipment that we do. He has no idea what he is going to do, where he is going to go, what he is going to do about his house, but he is selling off all the stained glass stuff and lots of other things he has accumulated. He wants to take a year off. He wants to move out of the city. He will be bringing his kilns and glass and tools and cold working equipment and storage units, what he decides to keep or what we want, out here where we will have full use of whatever we want while he gets his life settled again. So, of course, all this will be going on while we are working on this stupid job.