Sunday, January 15, 2017

fruit tree sale

40 pages of fruit tree varieties and information on planting, growing, and caring for them

First of all, I didn't take a single picture of the fruit tree sale! I meant to, but I just never thought of it. It started at 9AM and was about a half hour drive to the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds where the sale was being held. Usually, it's held outdoors but because rain was forecast for Saturday, they held it in one of the big barns. We got there 15 minutes early because, as my sister said, it's not exactly like the 70% off sale at Macy's with people tugging trees out of your hand, but it's a close second. So, 15 minutes early and the parking lot is already full of cars and trucks and there is a long ass line and I'm not talking single file either, plus a good many of them had brought wagons and garden carts.

We got in line and I perused the list I had made the night before from their web site narrowing down the possibilities because seeing all those people ahead of me, I knew by the time I got foot inside I needed to know exactly what I wanted and go straight for it. I had peach, fig, navel orange, satsuma, blueberries, and something called cherry of the rio grande on my list with several choices of each. They offered 24 different kinds of fruit trees including things like avocado, olive, persimmon, jujubes, pomegranate among others plus blackberries, blueberries, and goji berries with most things having several varieties and some having many varieties all good for growing in this area.

It's a well run event. They made sure everyone in line had a copy of the booklet that listed all the trees and all the varieties and had a map of the space included so you knew where to go for what you wanted. They had some wagons available for those of us in need, check out was organized and speedy with lots of people herding you into the proper line and getting all the info down so that when you got to the cashier you just forked over the proper amount.

photo credit:

Imagine this room filled elbow to elbow with people and wagons and garden carts from the first row of trees back.

photo credit:

Anyway, by the time we got to the door I had decided on a satsuma and blueberries and fortunately for me, they were both on the same aisle. I headed straight for the satsumas and my sister went for a wagon. I got about 30 or 40 feet in and came to a screeching halt as the crowd in front of me with all their carts and wagons made forward progress impossible. However, being skinny and limber has some advantages, plus I learned how to move through crowds when I was a teenager at Mardi Gras in New Orleans so I'm stepping over people's wagons and slipping between people keeping my eye on the trees to my right til I spotted the satsumas and picked up the first one I came to that was on my list (I had 3 varieties selected) and then headed back the way I came, stepping over wagons and slipping between carrying the tree in a 3 gallon pot, for the blueberries and my sister with the wagon and checkout. We were probably in and out in 30 minutes, back on the highway in 45.

I was going to work on the new raised bed over at the shop today for the blueberries and figure out where to plant the satsuma but as things usually go, it's rainy out there today. Not enough rain to do us any good, of course, but enough to make it impossible to work outside.

Friday, January 13, 2017

filling molds

I've spent the last three days over at the shop. Marc got the molds made so it took a day to clean them up and do the volume measures and pick colors and get it all out and to hand and set up and ready to fill them. Yesterday I filled the hibiscus flower mold and today the bird mold. They took about 5 hours each to fill. The fussy bits like the bee and the bird's markings take the longest. The rest is just weighing, mixing, and spooning while paying attention to keeping the edges sharp and the frit evenly distributed. It's not as easy as it sounds or quick. Nothing about this process is easy or quick. Unless I just cast in one solid color. Which is something I've been thinking about. More and more people who comment on my waxes suggest casting in black or even the wax color. I think that if I'm going to do that, I would have to make a rubber reproduction mold to hedge my bet, something I don't do now.

I'm particularly interested in seeing how the bird panel comes out as it is sort of new. The face has a lot of markings that are already covered up by the next layer of glass particles in the picture, plus I used more powder than I generally do albeit mixed with fine frit. I hope the markings are somewhat distinct but they could come out just mashed together.

I'm tired. It's a very focused activity plus I'm standing on a rubber mat on a concrete floor, my constant companion at my feet. I'll get the last one done tomorrow. Ordinarily, I would be working at the store but tomorrow is the Fort Bend County Master Gardener's tree sale and my sister and I are going to try and get a fruit tree. Apparently it's a mob scene. We've been advised to get there at opening and know what kind of fruit tree I want. If I browse, I'm likely to get nothing or certainly not my first or second choice.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

damage of one kind or another

Remember Sunday when it was below freezing when I got up? This morning, Tuesday, was 64˚, supposed to get up to 75˚ today. Wandering around yesterday and today, the damage is extensive. Everything I brought in and protected is fine but the yard is a loss. Even the grass turned mostly brown though it will recover quickly. I had some bromeliads in the ground that I meant to dig up and never did that weren't in the least affected but the little cactus that was growing so nicely and putting out pups is soggy as are the other succulents and aloes that it never occurred to me to bring in.

Even the century plant is looking soft and droopy.

The mexican petunias are toast but I was planning on cutting them back to the ground this spring anyway

and it didn't occur to me to protect the gardenias either

or the walking iris. I think everything will recover except maybe the gardenias. They look pretty dead.

One thing the cold weather did was keep me inside and working on models. I finished the bird panel and another little one, sort of a Green Wo/Man (4.5" x 4.5"), and they are all set up and ready for the casting molds to be made.

It's also kept me off FB mostly and unsucked mostly into the looming disaster that our political system has become. The hypocrisy being exhibited by the Republican Congress is just mind boggling. The rules they imposed on the Democrats when Obama was elected now seem unnecessary and Mitch McConnell, the man who spent 8 years doing nothing but obstructing Obama and the Democratic agenda is shocked, shocked I tell you, that the Democrats now plan to obstruct him and his agenda. Unfuckingbelievable. First they try to get rid of the congressional ethics oversight commission in a middle of the night vote and then they decide that vetting Trump's cabinet picks before confirmation hearings is totally unnecessary. Apparently, rules don't apply to them. The Republican Party has become a complete joke, like a clown, except that it's just not funny and clowns are scary.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

like a yoyo

It's cold outside. Cold cold cold. Not just cold, frozen! It was 20˚ when I got up Saturday morning. I was expecting around 27˚ not 20˚. Just about the only things untouched are the roses and the pansies, and the azaleas of course. Well, and the ferns but everything else...mush. Or will be when it thaws out. The birdbaths...frozen. 

The tubs of water plants...frozen, or at least a thick ice layer. 

The water lily pond was iced over around the edges even though the water is moving. Big Mama is hunkered down in her pond as close to the pump as she can get as it produces a little heat and the goldfish are all snuggled up together in one of the holes of the mortar brick on the bottom of the pond.

I did bring a few more things into the house and garage Friday, covered the ones in the garage as best I could with sheets and put a little space heater out there to help keep them warm. And I cut back the two yellow angel trumpets in the yard deep enough to fit under a big bucket, reasoning that they would freeze to the ground otherwise.

Here's something amazing. When you go outside when it is 20˚ and then again when it is 35˚ and the sun is shining and there is no wind, 35˚ feels warm. It finally warmed up to 42˚ yesterday, supposed to be 10˚ warmer today. I stayed inside for the most part, making the occasional short foray into the yard, working on another wax model since I had finished the hibiscus flower.

This morning it was 27˚ when I got up. Everything still frozen and looking even more miserable if that's possible. One night in the 20s was bad enough, two nights and even the pansies look like they have been sugared.

This is the last of it though for this go round. In two days it's supposed to be back up in the mid 70s like it was last Wednesday.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

no, really, I'm good

I'm amazed that so many people seem to be worried about me since the election and I admit that most of my FB posts since have been in-your-face political but really, my blood pressure is fine, I'm not on the verge of stroking out, and I still find joy in my daily life. I am still avoiding all political conversations with people I don't know well because support for Trump is still a deal killer and if any of the people I encounter on a daily basis and enjoy chatting with support him, I just don't want to know. And this is not about my candidate losing. This is about a basic moral foundation or rather the lack of one. Regardless of the lies he promised, if you support a racist bigot who has spent his entire career cheating and ruining anyone who opposes him, an admitted sexual predator who mocked a disabled person and who acts like a third grader, a man who stands by this country's main opponent against his own government, constitution, and citizens whom he called his enemies, then there is something seriously wrong with you. I will continue my in-your-face political posts and blog entries because this is something that should never become normalized and it's looking like it could even get disastrous but I am trying to temper them with more art and beauty.

So, I'm back to work, working on a few new models for the critter show at Kittrell/Riffkind Gallery in Dallas in February, the first of the three shows we have been invited to participate in there this year. I'm trying to get these done by the end of the week. The first is this hibiscus flower with bumblebee.

It's turning cold again after our week of spring-like weather and in fact is going to get really cold this weekend, down in the 20s so I'll be bringing the few plants in again that I trundle out when the weather is good, plus some others that can tolerate low 30s but not 20s. The roses and morning glory bush and confederate rose have really liked the warm weather and responded by sending out all kinds of new growth. I kept telling them it was far too early and now they are about to get a hard lesson.

And this poor sulfur.

The baby spiders are still hanging out in their protective web. Later that same day I saw they had come together in a single round mass. I've been keeping watch and sometimes they are spread out and sometimes clustered together in one or two balls. If you jostle the twigs trying to get a picture of them clustered together though, they will spread out.

That's my wander for today and I need to get started.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

new year

New Year's Eve day was heavily overcast and wet, sometimes sprinkling, sometimes raining heavily up until mid-afternoon though still overcast, still damp but warmer than I expected. We didn't buy any fireworks this year. The daughter and fam were going to come out for the usual fireworks extravaganza but the weather put them off and another person was killed on 59 at Rosenberg this morning and what with the construction, the weather, and the drunks it was just as well to stay home. So far this has been a very quiet New Year's Eve.

Nearly 10 and I haven't heard any racket or seen any aerial displays out the window. The Tee Pee Motel behind us usually has something going on and one or two other neighbors usually have aerials but so far nothing more than a firecracker or two and a few muffled booms from when I was outside earlier. Nothing loud enough to be heard inside. As if no one is particularly anxious to go forward.

Ten minutes to midnight and there goes one loud pop and the dog is an instant quivering panting mess. Looking out the window I see our neighbor on the next street over is making an effort. I'd stay and watch but the dog is torn between quivering at my feet or hiding in a dark corner. Finally I take her into the back bedroom where I think the noise won't be as loud but it is. I climb into bed but she hides in the closet and I listen to the loud booms and crackles imagining the colorful display in the sky. Still, this is the quietest New Year's Eve that I can remember since moving out here. At some point I fell asleep and later the dog climbed in bed with me.

the Little Backyard on New Year's Day

New Year's Day is heavily overcast and wet but not especially cold. I walked around the yard looking to see if there was anything particularly interesting to photograph but not much.

a disintegrating cardinal nest from last spring

I noticed this tight mass of spider silk and when I looked closer I saw dozens of baby spiders hanging out within. They are about the size of the head of a pin.

Usually I write a post on this day about the past year but scrolling through my archive for 2016 I see that last year was mostly dominated by the A&M job, the yard, my trip to Scotland, and the election. I think we've all already heard enough about those.

So, nothing planned for today besides mimosas, brunch, and watching a movie from Redbox though later I might work on a wax model I started last Friday.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

treading water

I woke up this morning and instead of getting up I turned over and went back to sleep and fell into a heavy REM and one of those long, weird, and complex dreams that two of my friends were in but the roles they played were based in my main insecurity. I'm pretty sure this is a result of the conversations I've been having with another friend who has been telling me some of the details of her life which she hides from people and for good reason. Suffice to say, not many people would be able to endure what she has endured.

So, after having a week of springlike weather with highs in the low 80s we are returning to fall with a cold front blowing in from the north and the temp almost already as high as it's going to get today when I got up. However, the warmth and the sun this past week has caused lots of little green sprouts to come up in the wild flower mini-meadow. Still too small to identify yet but I'm sure the lion's share is the salvia I pulled out of there. And sunflowers.

We are halfway through the Lost Week. I never try to get anything accomplished during this week as we're all just treading water until the calendar runs out. It's all about the holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day and then we have a week of just absorbing it all before the country shifts back into gear after one final drunken revelry. Well, some of us. New Year's Eve is the last night on earth I want to be out and about on the roads.

Monday I worked at the antique store, still filling in for my sister but Tuesday was Marcmas, our irreverent term for Marc's birthday, so we engaged in our annual celebration...a movie and a meal. He wanted to see Rogue One and I wanted to see Passengers but since it was his birthday, he got to pick. Being Star Wars fans, in fact we went to see the very first one when our daughter was 6 weeks old, taking her to the theater with us and sitting in the back row so I could easily slip out if she started crying, which she didn't, I was happy enough with the choice. It was good, telling a part of the story that came between episodes 3 and 4, about how they got the plans for the Death Star and handed them over to Princess Leia but still, half the movie was just one big battle in space and on different planets, all of which we have seen in every single Star Wars movie.

Then Wednesday, because I was pretty sure Passengers would be gone by the end of the week, we went to see it. Passengers is basically a love story set in space. Humanity has grown and expanded through space. 5,000 people and over 200 crew members are in suspended animation on a luxury cruise liner spaceship headed for the planet Homestead2, a journey that takes 120 years, to begin new lives when the ship is hit by a huge meteor which causes a glitch and wakes a single passenger. After a year alone and on the verge of suicide, he wakes another passenger. Eventually things on the ship start to malfunction, getting more and more severe. A crew member is awakened during one such episode and they finally get access to the restricted parts of the ship to determine what the malfunction is. It starts out slow paced, sort of Castaway in space, but it builds as the story progresses and is quite exciting at the end. I really enjoyed it.

Now it's Thursday and we are waiting to hear if our daughter and son are coming out for a visit today or tomorrow. I'll probably get over to the shop later today and repair that glass panel for the lamp shade since the north wind has pretty much scoured the sky of clouds.