Saturday, October 21, 2017

have I mentioned how busy I am?

I should be writing a reply email to a man I have known for 50 years. I'm not, obviously, but I will. I'm sort of amazed that he has kept up with me all this time since he moved to Iowa and married only a few years after we met. We have had periods of time where we communicated fairly regularly to times when we communicated not at all. He was an object of romantic desire early on but that didn't pan out and yet he has not let me slip away into the past. I'm not really sure I understand why so I just accept this gift of connection and friendship. He's an interesting guy and a great story teller, a romantic whose greatest desire is to become a published writer. He visited us out here a year or so ago when he was closing up his deceased parents estate in the city and gave us an open invitation to join him and his other in Wisconsin where he now lives if we ever need a safe place. There's some real past life stuff going on here. That's the only explanation I can come up with.

Onward into the now, the second set of three drowned feathers came out much better. Well, not better in how they cast but in how they look. I used brown and gray powders in the feathers before the white and it muted the white nicely. Need to use more powder though. Learning process and all. I think these three are my favorite and I think the rock will be the best, partly because it's so dimensional.

Next up is one of the 10” x 10”s. I've never done a piece quite this big. My mind is telling me to work out the colors for the big drowned feathers and order my glass or to start on the basic cold work for the six small ones today when my desire is to just continue for the next two days and get the rest of that part of the shop cleaned and hosed.


after (you can't really see how clean it is but trust me, compared to before, it's sparkling):


Thursday, October 19, 2017

work of one kind or another for the foreseeable future

The last three small drowned feathers are in the kiln. The first three came out well though I think the white sand on one of them was a mistake as well as that pale gray for two of the rocks and for some reason I was way off on the volume measure for another one and it's not thick enough to suit me (will probably re-fire that one) and the quills are way too prominent, may have to grind those down some. 

And at first glance, I'm not wowed. The white feathers are so 'white' and dense and 'flat' that it's hard to see the detail I think. May have to reconsider my approach though I'll withhold judgement til I get the finish work done. We'll see how the next three come out. If nothing else, they're good studies for the four large panels and Marc got one of those molds done today. I have six weeks left before the first weekend open house so I think I'm going to try and get the flower/bee piece model finished and cast that I had just started on before Harvey and the ensuing upheaval hahahahahahaha, I'm such a kidder.

Since I finished those molds on Tuesday I worked outside Wednesday moving and consolidating the pile of leftover lumber from fixing the structure of the house. Some of it will be used over at the shop whenever Rocky wends his way back here but I wanted it off the grass which has not fared well under all those building materials. Then I trimmed around the raised garden beds which was in desperate need and started around the bunker when the last of the trimmer string shot out, about 18”. This trimmer has issues and I don't have enough electric cords to reach everywhere anyway so I went to look at gas powered trimmers. The lightest one was just under 10 pounds. I didn't buy it then but I think I'm going to go back before the week is out and get it.

So then I spent some time in the shop moving more stuff around and setting up my cold work station and went and got some big plastic containers to hold the pool whose boxes got turned to mush when the shop flooded. So the pool and it's cover have been sitting there for 6 weeks untouched. Oh ick. Smelly and slimy, I had to unfold both items and spread them out and hose them down. Still need to wipe them down both sides and let them dry before I can fold them back up.

Today I worked over at the shop again. During the demolition stage I had Rocky tear out the four built in rooms in the shop. I had them tear it out down to the framing because one, it was old and nasty and two, we needed to see how much rotten wood there was before we could rebuild. 

The guys did a pretty good job cleaning up after themselves considering the amount of debris they were dealing with. I filled two large bags with as much debris of small sheetrock bits, insulation, rust, and just plain dirt as I could lift and then I used the shop vac. Next was nail pulling and hosing down and vac-ing up the water off the concrete floor. Tomorrow I'll start on the next room...getting up the last bits of sheetrock and insulation, nail pulling, vac-ing, and hosing down the concrete floor. That's about all the time I can spare for that right now since I need to get back to working on the cast glass and I need to order some frit in order to do that.

These days it's just whatever is demanding the most attention every morning is what gets done cause it all needs to get done.  

Monday, October 16, 2017

another day pretty much like the previous days

I've been filling molds. Three down and in the kiln, one done and two to go. I walked the perimeter of the house fluffing up the poor crushed ferns and picking up all the trash and debris left behind after Rocky and Manuel finished the exterior of the house on Thursday. It wasn't that much really, just bits and pieces of tar paper and old siding and some metal and the occasional nail, because they did a good job cleaning up after themselves. Next project is to knock out the brick planters, sheetrock the ceiling, and put up the birch bead board paneling in my studio room. He may not start on that til next week which is fine as it gives me time to finish these molds and put away my stuff. I'll have to move back out of the room while they're working on it.

Friday I went back to the Civic Center with my list of questions to meet with Katie the FEMA agent again. The rejection letter was issued on the 7th, she says, and new supporting documents were shuttled to my file on the 11th thus opening an appeal to my application and now I have to wait til the case agent reviews my file again. In the meantime maybe more of the supporting documents will make it into my file. Apparently, the agents in the field fax all the documents at the end of the day to central command but it may take a week or longer for them to migrate into the pertinent file. Be patient, she says, it will be resolved in your favor. OK, but I'm losing faith I told her. So I guess I'll not bother them again til at least next Monday.

Another puppy hanging around Sunday. 

Waited too late in the day to take a picture and contact SPOT. By the time they got back to me willing to take the pup, it was nowhere to be found.

Beautiful weather today though. Another cool front blew in and this one is supposed to last more than two days. Perfect for working outside but my priority is to get these last three now two molds filled.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

my refusal to conform has come back to bite me in the ass

FEMA inspection was a week ago and no money in the bank. Went back to the Civic Center again, signed in, and sat across from another FEMA agent who told me that my claim had been rejected because they could not authenticate my identity.

I'm sorry, what?

They just mailed the letter today, shall I print it out for you?

Yes, fume fume fume.

The letter says that to authenticate my identity I must do one of the following:

Except that I've already given them that first dot and more. Well, the SS card was just the receipt in my name for ordering a new card. This agent didn't seem inclined to do anything besides give me the letter and send me on my way even though she saw all the documents I had already provided. So I fumed out and went back to the house to get my actual SS card, which fortunately had arrived in the mail a few days previous, and my birth certificate and last year's property tax statement and last years tax return and my marriage certificate though I was loathe to use my marriage certificate because, wouldn't you know, it has another completely different name on it. This isn't my first marriage and back when I divorced the guy after 3 1/2 years I didn't think to change my name back in the divorce decree. So my current marriage certificate says Ellen Abbott (name of the rat bastard). Because it's not already complicated enough.

Back at the Civic Center in front of another agent. He's pulled up my file, he sees all the documents and statements already submitted, he doesn't understand why they are being so stubborn. He takes my Official ID card (DL) and my SS card and my birth certificate, my property tax statement, a house document that shows us as the buyers and makes copies and adds them to the stack of documents to be faxed to FEMA central. He will make sure the documents get faxed, he will confer with the wonderful Katie tomorrow, who is the most knowledgeable and connected and has the day off today, and send an email to ? someone to see about resolving this situation and he says he will call me tomorrow with an update. In the meantime, he suggested getting my DL name changed over to match my SS card (don't want to do that) and he sent me over to the legal aid table. So I'm going to be appointed a pro bono lawyer to see what advice and/or help they can provide towards getting this straightened out.  But I'm wondering if maybe they are never going to accept it, so many disasters happening at one time, stretched, who can we kick off this runaway train kind of thing and time is running out for people to be able to apply.  Perhaps it might be better, easier to just withdraw my application and have Marc apply.

So, of course because the day wasn't going badly enough already...I stormed out of there after my first visit this morning. Got in the car and zoomed off about two blocks to the stop sign and zoomed off from the stop sign about 2 or 3 blocks when I got behind someone going soooo slow, fuming in the car when I finally looked in my rear view mirror to see those red and blue lights. Well, fuck. Apparently I zoomed right past that cop car.

I'm fishing out my insurance card and DL and tap tap tap on the window and the conversation that followed went something like this...

yes yes as I roll down the window

How are you today, ma'am, he asks me.

Not that great, it's been rather frustrating.

Why is that?

FEMA is refusing to accept that I am who I say I am even though I have submitted several documents and now I have to get more.

What seems to be the problem?

It involves this name and that name and this other name and how I use them and that's the short version of a very long story.

He wanted to know if that's where I was going and where I had met with FEMA and...

Do you know why I stopped you today? he asked.

Yes, hanging my head in shame, I was speeding. I'm sorry.

You passed me going 45 in a 35.

Yes, sorry, I know.

Well, he says, standing there holding my ID and insurance certificate looking down the road, you go on but don't speed. We want you to get there and not cause any accidents. Hands me my stuff and says again, don't speed.

No sir, I won't, I know, I'm sorry.

And he lets me go.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

finally fall, for a few days anyway

Tuesday (with edits)...There's a cool front blowing in and it's raining leaves. I had just swept the concrete apron of the driveway clear of leaves a week ago and already yesterday it was nearly covered again. Even though the days are still humid and climbing into the low 90s, the trees know when to shed their tired dingy leaves. The oaks and the maple and the crepe myrtles and the tallows have been dropping their brown and dried up finery for weeks. Now this cool dry air blowing in will encourage them to release more. The oaks are starting to drop acorns as well and the pecans, well, the pecans have been dropping in their husks for months. Though I have been picking up nuts free of their husks for about a week they are as dried up inside as the leaves falling on the ground. I doubt we'll get many good ones this year.

While the new color samples will come out of the kiln later today and I will be filling the ready molds this week, today I am going to take advantage of this cool weather blowing in to dig out all the nut grass from one of the raised beds (done!) and repair the weed cloth between the beds where the flood lifted it up and moved it around (not done), something I've been putting off because it has been so hot and humid. Not that that has kept me from working outside during this weather but I do try to work in the shade. No shade over there where the gardens are.

Rocky is still getting the hardy board up around the outside of the house. He could finish today but probably won't. He's got his crew split up working on at least one other house and maybe another (as it was, he didn't show up, had been sick all weekend and was feeling pretty terrible when he worked on Monday). My poor ginger and ferns and mock dogwood and hummingbird bush are taking a beating growing right next to the house as they are. I had to move one small azalea before he trampled it to death. It seems to be recovering in it's new location.

Today...It's so nice and cool outside, a relief from the oppressive heat and humidity of this long summer. We even pulled up the quilt and slept under it last night. I turned off the AC and opened some windows and doors yesterday and didn't even break a sweat clearing out the nut grass in the garden in which I have several volunteer tomatoes that are blooming!

Well the samples came out and I numbered them and cleaned them up and I'm pretty pleased with them. Have one more combination I want to try when the first three drowned feather molds go in the kiln later this week.

So yesterday I had just enough time to get to the library and was ready to head out the door when I couldn't find my phone. Well, poop. I put it down somewhere. “Call me” I told Marc. Silence. Hmm, it's not in the house. Walked over to the shop where I had been working earlier. Not there either. It doesn't sit very deep in the rear pocket of the shorts I had been wearing so I looked around outside trying to remember where all I had been in the yard or on the street or around the shop. Still no phone. Finally I remembered that I had been playing chase with Minnie, who was loving the cool and not humid air and was feeling very energetic all day, at the back edge of the property beyond the mini wildflower meadow (which is now just a big weedy spot) and the compost pile and there it was, laying on the ground.

Monday, October 9, 2017

more of the same

I have sort of reclaimed my studio in the house. After taking down all the old paneling and associated pieces around the doors and windows, removed all the exposed insulation, pulled all the nails, and cleaned up after myself, I have reclaimed my studio even if temporarily. I've set up my desk in a different configuration mainly because this whole situation is different and I have an auxiliary work table, also temporary since it belongs to my sister and because I need to be able to break it all down quickly when work begins in here, and moved my computer off the dining room table and back here. I'm sort of enjoying this stripped down version of my space, all the furniture that I had to make work gone, all the other stuff that I had refused to deal with for years taking up space, gone with no guilt (although plenty of that stuff is in boxes somewhere). Now I get to think how I want to make this space work best and then add in whatever furniture is needed to make that happen.

I set up 8 more color samples yesterday, all for sand. 

They're all combined colors ranging from 4 - 8 different colors and transparencies each. I've always worked with transparent colors, my objection being that opaque colors are so flat, they have no depth, and they don't really portray the reality of, well, reality hence my combining similar but different colors and different transparencies just to get something that looks like sand. We'll see. In the meantime I'm cleaning up the four molds I have ready and measuring them so I'll know how much weight of glass it takes to fill each one.

I worked out in the yard some, more cleaning up and digging up trees...pecans and hackberries mostly...pulling up tens of little yew trees and grassy weeds and the black and blue salvia which is proving to be greedy. Still finding things that didn't make it like the purple verbena. Some things are coming back like the gerber daisies and the four o'clocks, a few of the rock rose survived but you know what liked the flood? The day lilies. They haven't looked this full and lush in years. Guess I'm not watering them enough.

Friday, October 6, 2017

finally FEMA and work of one kind and another

The samples are out of the kiln, two molds are made, and Tuesday I visited FEMA to make sure that they were satisfied that I am who I say I am, and started back on demolition.

The paneling in my studio room will have to be replaced because it is so old they don't sell it anymore besides the fact that it's really ugly. 

During the initial demolition, only about 4' up was removed, enough to expose the wood so it could dry but I learned Tuesday that the county in my precinct will stop picking up flood damage and construction debris after October 26th. Hence the continued demolition. I've just about got all the paneling down. Most of it was easy enough except for two sections that I almost had to chew off and the way they encased the windows has me scratching my head. But the good news is that after consulting Rocky about the rest of the sheetrock in the back bedroom, I don't need to tear it all out up to the ceiling after all. I wanted to replace the old blown-in insulation but he said that he wouldn't, it wasn't wet, was still good so just leave it be. The repair work on the structure is done and Rocky is replacing the old siding shingles, which were brittle with age and nearly impossible to get off without breaking, with hardy board. Then we start on the inside.

The FEMA inspector finally came out yesterday morning. She took pictures, took pictures of some of my pictures, measured all the rooms and the water mark, wrote stuff down while I recited what all had been in those rooms and was lost. Now we wait and see how much money turns up in our bank account.

Later, I went to the Social Security web site to check on something and I noticed that instead of my account being listed as Ellen A Leva, it now reflects the new Social Security card with all four names and has me listed as Edith E Leva. Thanks FEMA.

After the FEMA inspector came out yesterday I engraved a number on each of the 44 color samples and added their formulas to my list of samples made which now numbers 143. That may seem like a lot but it's not really. Then I set up my little flat lap in the shop and ground the points off the edges. The first two rows are a transparent color over an opaque color. The bottom two rows are a transparent color mixed with an opaque color. These are for the rocks and sand for the drowned feathers. Not too many for the sand. May have to do more.