Monday, October 12, 2015

wine fair on the square

The annual Wine Fair on the Square in Wharton was Saturday and also my day to work at the antique store. This year they had the Wine Fair start at noon instead of 4 PM like all the previous years and ordinarily I would have had to stay til the bitter end which is supposed to be 10 PM but because we are on the 'poor relations' side of the Square, we usually don't have anyone coming in the store past 9 PM. By then all the tasters have used up all their tickets and the band on the other side of the square is in full swing. As it was, I left at 5 PM because of the first of the wedding events.

Last year it was rainy and so none of the food vendors, some of the craft booths, or art cars showed up as scheduled. This year we had excellent weather if a little on the warm side and they all showed up. I did get out to look around a bit and the craft booths were typical and predictable for this little jewelry, religious stuff out of wood, painted wine glasses and all sorts of things made from wine bottles, maybe 10 little booths. We had 5 art cars and about that number of vintage cars show up. That's the sop they toss us and the other new little shop on our side of the square for the event. Most of the shops are clustered on the two sides of the square diagonally from us and then down the block off the square so the committee puts everything over there to their advantage leaving us high and dry...every year. We have asked for the ticket booth or the food vendors or the tables and chairs set out for people to sit at and eat and socialize or the stage. I don't really want the stage because the sound level would be too loud. But no, they just look at us and say 'but you get the art cars!' Whoopie doo! This is the first year they have actually shown up and parked on our side of the Square like they are supposed to. Usually they just don't show up.

The Wine Fair, the purpose of which is to draw people to the Square and into the shops, is organized by the merchants and someone either volunteers or gets volunteered to be the chairman, a time consuming and thankless job. They keep trying to get my sister to chair it and she keeps telling them they don't want that because they wouldn't like the result. I told her, IN JEST, that we ought to co-chair it next year and move all the good stuff over to our side of the Square and let them have the art cars since they think that's such a big draw. But then we'd be cutting our noses off to spite our faces because then we would have the unrewarding and thankless job of organizing it and putting it on.

I'll be interested in seeing the final totals since the committee spent a lot of money...on the band, on the warm-up band (I think they wanted $400 for 30 minutes), they paid some young woman $1000+ to do all the advertising and promotion on-line which basically amounted to a search code that led to the already established FB page for the event and the day of the event she brought around slips of paper for the fair goers to pick up encouraging them to tweet the fair and then they only charge the people who want to do the wine tasting so those that come just for the band in the evening, this year The Blues Brothers Tribute Band, get a free concert. Not to mention that they always predict 3 times as many attendees as they usually get and attendance seems to be diminishing.

Oh well. While it is aggravating to be blown off by the other merchants, it's not my store and not my worry.

edit to whom it may concern: we are NOT chairing the next wine fair.

next post: the wedding

Thursday, October 8, 2015

myth verses reality

This is long and I've written about our nation's gun problem before. I debated whether or not to post it in two installments but decided to just get it over with. Read it or don't.

I just don't know what to say. It is so crystal clear and yet so many refuse to see. Every study, all the research, comes to the same conclusion over and over. More guns equals more gun violence. States with more guns per capita have more gun violence. States with less guns per capita have less gun violence. And gun ownership has no effect on the crime rate. In fact, gun ownership increases the likelihood many times over that the gun owner or a member of the gun owner's family will suffer from death or injury by that gun. Women are 7 times more likely to be killed by a loved one if that person owns a gun. Children are dying by the hundreds because there is a gun in the home.

The NRA has convinced a large segment of the population that the only thing standing between themselves and chaos is a good guy with a gun, preferably themselves but that's why we have a police force. That's their job. The NRA's creed of an armed society is a polite society has filled this country with guns. As it stands now, there are enough guns in the population for every man, woman, and child. And still the gun nuts don't feel safe.

This is what it has come to. With the exception of the instability in the Middle East, the drug wars in Central America, and some rogue African nations, America is the most dangerous country in the world and the danger comes from our own citizens. You wouldn't expect the biggest 1st World nation to also be the most dangerous. But we are. Now instead of just worrying about being killed by the police with their tendency to shoot first and ask questions later, we have to worry about every stranger on the street as well.

Cases in point...

1. A man witnesses a carjacking and whips out his gun and starts shooting. He does not stop the carjacking and shoots the victim in the head instead. Then he gathered up all his shell casings and fled the scene.

2. A woman witnesses a man coming out of Home Depot being chased by a store employee. The man gets in his car and starts to flee the scene. She whips out her gun and starts shooting at the fleeing car. She does not, in fact, know whether this man has shoplifted anything and yet she takes it upon herself to shoot at him instead of just taking down his car license and a description of the vehicle to give to police.

In both these instances, which happened in one week, these citizens appointed themselves judge, jury, and executioner. In the Home Depot case, she didn't even know if a crime had been committed. And since when did we give start giving the death penalty for theft? They are lucky they didn't kill anyone (the head shot victim lived). The woman could have killed a child in that car or the driver whose moving car would have then careened into some other family or she could have just as easily shot one of the many people who were in the parking lot.

This is called vigilantism and it is against the law. Just because you have a license to carry does not mean you can whip out your gun and start firing away anytime you want to. The law is very clear about when you can use a gun to protect yourself or someone else and theft, not even of your own property, isn't one of the reasons. You can see a thief carrying your fancy TV or whatever out of your house and you still cannot legally shoot and kill that person.

Did you know that the only time a gun buyer is subjected to the briefest background check is when they buy a gun from a gun store? Once a person owns that gun, they can sell it to anybody they want as long as that person has the money to buy it. No background checks needed. You also don't need any kind of background check to buy a gun on-line or at a gun show. There is no limit on how many guns you can own or how much ammunition you can buy.

Here's a few myths that need dispelling...

Good guy with a gun: well, I think that one has already been addressed above but in the case of mass shootings about which the NRA loves to tell us the solution is more guns, anyone who is not highly trained is not going to be effective and will likely just get themselves shot or shoot other innocents. Any combat veteran can explain the fallacy of John Doe citizen bringing down a shooter while all hell is breaking loose. Target practice or plinking at cans does not equal 'highly trained'. Target practice or plinking at cans is not going to give you the training to ignore that adrenaline dump with your brain screaming at you to run away while scrambling for your weapon with trembling fingers. You are not Rambo and real life is not like the movies. And even in the few cases where a good guy with a gun was present and did manage to prevent or stop the shooter, the few lives saved does not in any way make up for the thousands who are killed by the over abundance of and easy access to guns in this country.

An armed society is a polite society: Right, that's why people with guns shoot at other cars in road rage. That's why people get in an argument and before you know it, someone has pulled out a gun and started shooting. That's why these open carry idiots strut around with their guns and get in your face and insult and threaten you because you don't agree with them. That's why back in the frontier days the sheriffs made you check your guns in at the office when you came to town.

If you ban guns, only criminals will have guns: You do know where criminals get their guns, right? They get them by buying a weapon that has already been legally purchased or they steal them from people who legally purchased them. Less guns in the population means less guns available to criminals. Did you know a gun company created a gun that would only fire if it was being held by it's owner? Yeah and the NRA put all it's might behind making sure that it didn't make it to market or failed to find buyers.

Guns are needed to prevent the government from becoming tyrannical, also known as we need guns to protect ourselves from the government: Almost 250 years and not one tyrant that needed to be or was brought down by citizens with guns. The system works folks, or it did until Citizen's United and the Lobby consortium took the power away from the people. It's not the government we need to fear or bring down, it's the corporations who think they can buy the government. And really, the largest and most advanced military in the world is not going to be brought to its knees by a bunch of untrained yahoos with guns, not even by those private self-styled 'militias'. I don't care how many guns they have. If the government wants to take your guns or take you down, it will succeed.

Guns don't kill people, people kill people: Yes, and they do it with freaking guns! If a person is determined to kill someone, they will find a way. Knife, poison, hit 'em with a car, use a baseball bat or iron skillet, yeah, people will kill. A gun takes no determination. All a gun takes is a little twitch of the finger and you don't even have to get close. If people had to get up close to kill there would probably be a whole lot less killing.

Freedom!: Sorry, your freedom will not be abridged because you can't have a fucking personal armory. No one is coming to get you unless you become a threat with your fucking armory. We live in a civilized society where, yes, bad things do happen but on the whole people go about their daily lives for their whole lives without ever needing a gun. And your right to freedom does not allow you to abridge the rights of others. We have the right not to be afraid every time we go out because of some yahoo carrying a gun.

The 2nd amendment was written because the Founding Fathers want people to be able to rise up against the government: Wrong. That's a myth. The second amendment was written to appease the slave holding states that had their private militias to hunt down escaped slaves look it up. This gave them the authority to continue to do that (you know, the 'well regulated militia part'). Also, they recognized that many people needed their arms, which consisted of muskets and cap and ball pistols, for food and safety on the frontier. It was the Supreme Court that twisted the 2nd Amendment into what it is today and we are reaping the results of that in thousands of deaths a year.

Liberals want to ban guns: Well, that would be nice but it's never going to happen. What liberals want is extensive background checks every time a gun is sold or re-sold, required extensive training, waiting periods, limits on the amount of ammunition that can be bought, limits on the type and quantity of guns an individual can own, insurance so that if and when you are irresponsible with your gun you will be responsible for the damage. We want you to have to show a need for that gun and we want you to keep it in your house and locked up with exceptions when you can show a need to take it out in public. And we want all that reviewed every year. Any of or all that would be great. Why should it be harder to own a car than a gun?

I'm not against guns per se. I know there are people out there who are justified in owning their gun...people who hunt, those who live out in the country and have to deal with things like venomous snakes and wild hogs, people who are isolated and any call for help would take a long response time, people in urban areas who have to be in high crime rate areas, people who transport large sums of money or other valuables, people who have a reasonable fear of assault, etc. I grew up in a time when people carried their hunting rifles on the gun rack and my father had guns that he kept locked up, I've gone skeet shooting. But this unfettered access to a ridiculous array of weaponry combined with a complete lack of mental health care and the glorification of violence (we are the most war mongering nation on the planet, have been in one war or another for nearly every year of our national existence look it up) and division and this particular national feeling of entitlement to whatever we want and want to do, because America!, has got to stop!

Right now, we don't need foreign enemies because we have lost more people to gun violence than to all the wars and terrorism. And we did it to ourselves. We've had more mass shootings than days of the year so far just this year alone and that doesn't count all the other forms of gun violence.

What the fuck is wrong with us as a nation that we do not have what it takes to do what it has to take.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

two ordeals

We went to see the Martian on Friday. First showing on opening day is how we like to do it. No crowds, great seats.

You might remember that I read the book and reviewed it in last spring's list. Back when I was still reading. Which hasn't improved that much since so far this quarter I've only read one book. Granted that book was 839 (numbered) pages. But it's also misleading as there were a fair number of pages with just a few words on them and large type faces and double spacing and, well, you'll read all about it later.

So, back to The Martian, a great book, which I recommend everyone reading, and a great movie. The movie was long, 2 hours and 21 minutes, and even so they left out so much and the result of that is that I didn't feel like they adequately portrayed how clever the main character was or really what an ordeal he went through. They basically cut out the whole trip from the Ares 3 site to the Ares 4 site among other things and changed the ending a bit. But all that aside, Matt Damon did a great job and the visuals of Mars and in space are fantastic.

Go see it.


We're invited to a black tie wedding next weekend. I finally got around to heading into (small town but much bigger than Wharton) Rosenberg to the nearest shopping mecca because I needed a dress to wear. Well, that was a fucking ordeal...trying to buy a fancy dress in small town USA. 'Oh, you have to go to the mall for that' says one unhelpful clerk. Yeah, right. I avoided malls even when I lived in the city.

I did find a dress I like well enough at the ONE store that had any kind of fancy dresses (which as it turned out was the first store out of 5 that I went to and I bought as a fall back in case I couldn't find anything else and involved an altercation with the cashier because she didn't know what the fuck she was doing and when I tried to apologize for the misunderstanding on her part!, she walked off while I was speaking to her), shorter than I would have liked (just below my knees), but the alternative was going into the city.

I don't know if you can see the low scoopy drapiness of the front.

Then I decided, while I was at a different store, that I probably needed a bra or else be very careful not to lean over. I haven't worn a bra for 46 years, that's how small my boobs are (and calling them boobs is a bit of a stretch). I tried on one of those push up bras. Nothing happened. Alrighty then, no cleavage for you. Plus, I could not find a single bra size 36A in the store, had to settle for 34A. I'm sure watching me try on about 8 different bras was highly entertaining. It's a good thing no one else was in the changing rooms because I was being pretty vocal. So now I'm looking for one of those extensions my sister tells me they sell. Either that or some grosgrain ribbon and some eyes for the hooks. Oh well. I'll only have to wear it once.

Now I have the impossible before me...trying to find a pair of women's dress shoes with no heel, cause this girl does not wear high heels.

Friday, October 2, 2015

frogs and toads and a pecker, oh my!

and a praying mantis for good measure

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

a bit of history and some yard work

Panel installed, circles with stars delivered. When I delivered the circles I got to see for the first time the railing that they are accents for in the little theater in the Texas history museum at the San Jacinto Monument, the battleground where the Mexican General Santa Anna was captured by General Sam Houston of the Texian army and as a result of which Mexico eventually forfeited about half it's territory, an area that encompassed all of Texas and parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and on up into Wyoming.

We have finished all the work we had in the shop so I should be starting on some new models but I keep casting my eye outdoors. So much work to be done out there.

Last Friday afternoon I got out there and hacked back the wild space that continually encroaches on the yard. I cut down about half a dozen small rain trees (3” in diameter or less) that were leaning into the big cedar providing a bridge for the wild grape vine that was all up in it. Got all that pulled out and lugged over to my not-in-residence neighbor's burn pile since, technically, all that stuff was on his property. The cedar is on the property line so I claim possession.

This is the cleaned up shot taken from my neighbor's side. As usual it didn't occur to me to take a 'before' pic. The shed is ours, about 5' from either property line.

my side

Sunday was overcast all day so I took advantage and expanded the flower bed around the water lily pond...

the one that has the natural filter that this:

is growing in, which is called white snowflake I recently found out, and it smells so sweet. I had no idea it was so I could get the cutting from the heritage rose at the old city house in the ground since it wasn't doing all that well in the pot I stuck it in a year ago. The rose bush at the old house was from a cutting my across-the-street-neighbor gave me many years ago and I'm not sure where she got it. You can barely see it for the mistflower that hitchhiked along and is now blooming.

The mistflower (a native wild ageratum) is invasive and spreads through root runners and seed and it will quickly fill in any available space. I do love it anyway (though I have learned to be ruthless when it starts getting too greedy) and am glad it is getting established here. I'll put a clump over at the shop when it gets big enough and it can run wild to it's heart's content over there.

Well, I've managed to waste another perfectly good day and got nothing accomplished either outside or in. Guess I'll go take the dog for a walk.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


The installed glass.

I don't usually post pictures of the installations in progress but these guys impressed me so much yesterday I thought I would share. They always do an excellent job which is why I use them, but yesterday they performed a miracle as far as I'm concerned.

This panel measures 58” x 58” and weighs 150 pounds. Notice the four notches, two up and two down. This is where the clamps will go that will hold it in place in the marble clad opening.

Initially, a different guy came out and did the measurements of the space (which is slightly out of square) for ordering the glass. While one guy checked the measurements and square and starting marking the opening for the holes to be drilled in the marble, the other guy carried in all the gear.

This has to be fairly precise so that the clamps will line up properly with the notches in the glass and so that there aren't unused holes in the marble.

After all the holes were drilled, half the clamps were seated, with screws into the wood beneath the marble cladding.

We put a plastic film on the back of the glass to protect it from getting scratched and from back-blast during the etching process and then on the etched side when we are finished to protect it and keep it clean. In the picture below, you can see the top clamps and the film on the etched side of the glass. The guys are removing the film on the clear side in the picture in preparation for hoisting it up and in place. The black circles towards the bottom corners are the suction cups they use for handles.

Normally, the cups would be on the outside face of the glass but because of the etching, the cups can't get a vacuum which is what holds them on the glass. In this case, the cups had to go on the inside surface making it way more awkward as they had to reach around the glass and grab hold to lift it and seat it in place.

I would have taken a picture of them lifting it and fitting it in the opening if I had thought about it but watching them, it was pretty scary and I was too busy thinking OMG OMG. At one point, the glass was leaning back about 45˚ as they struggled to get the bottom seated at least 3' off the ground (maybe more) in a space that had about 1/8” leeway on each side. One bonk of a corner on that marble wouldn't have meant just a chipped corner but, because it was tempered, the whole piece would have exploded.

Once they got it seated, one guy stayed on one side while the other went around to the other side as they shifted the glass an infinitesimal amount so that it was perfectly centered in the opening and then attached the second half of the clamps to hold the glass in place. Last was putting a bead of silicone in the air space around the edges on the shower side to seal the opening.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

install today, deliver tomorrow

So, I might have exaggerated just a teeny bit on my last post. I wasn't bed-ridden just every part of my body was sore and I had zero energy. I basically laid around on the couch all day and took a nap but I did manage to muster up enough energy to get to yoga class at 5:30. And oddly enough, or not so oddly enough, I felt better after yoga.

Now I'm killing time waiting for the installers to come pick up this very heavy piece of glass and head out to the installation. We called a friend to come help us get it off the rack in the truck and onto the table and then back on the rack to do the sandblasting but we determined that there was no way in hell we were going to be able to lift that monster up high enough to get it back on the rack in the truck (the glass shop guys got it up there when Marc went to pick it up and even they had a hard time of it).

I cut the stencil Tuesday, Marc got it blasted yesterday and luckily enough the grandboy and a friend came out just in time and they moved it onto the table so we could get it cleaned up, sealed, and covered. Ah, youth. They just picked that puppy up and carried it over to the table instead of using the dolly.

Tomorrow, I have to drive out to the San Jacinto Monument and deliver those 30 circles that I boxed up yesterday.