Friday, December 8, 2017

tornado, hot dry fall, flood, and now this

Last night I drove to Houston to our friends' glass blowing studio where the open house is being held because some art group had arranged their meet-up for that night for a glass blowing demonstration and exposure to the other artists' work. It's a big group and Dick and Kathy would not be able to keep an eye on our stuff so I and another of the artists showed up to keep watch and interact with anyone curious about our work during the event. Or non-event as only 15 people turned out because of the weather. 

Monday this week was 80˚, hot and sunny. Tuesday a cold front started moving in dropping the lows to the 50s and then the 40s. Wednesday we woke up to cold, rainy, and windy and pretty much the same on Thursday. Even though it was only raining lightly, it never stopped. I pulled the big plants into the garage on Wednesday and threw a tarp over my brand new floor and brought in all the little plants Thursday before I left because we were expecting a drop to freezing that night and possibly sleet.

Where's Marc?” Kathy asked me.

On the couch under a blanket with the dog snugged up against him and a book.”

After the demo, I talked to a couple of people about our process then jumped in the car to get home before the sleet. Which I did.

This is what we woke up to this morning...

My poor gardens. Long hot dry summer, flood, and now snow.

The last time it snowed here was 8 years ago on Christmas Eve. Generally we get a little snow every decade or less. The first time I saw snow I was in elementary school and home sick for the day. We got 4” that day and my mother bundled me up as best she could even though I was sick and let me go out and play in it. Another memorable snow was when I was married to the rat bastard. We had been on a winter visit to his family's house and to see our friends from the year I lived in Chicago and convinced two of them to move down with us when we left and share the 3 bedroom house we were renting. The next day or so it snowed overnight. They couldn't believe we woke them up and dragged them out of bed to look at snow.

So as another friend said today, “so can go away now. We're good.”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

a baby rat is still a baby

I was working over at the shop Monday. Rocky and Gunnar had finally got over there a couple of weeks ago and done whatever they needed to do to stabilize the framing so I spent the day doing the final cleaning of the last of the torn out rooms in order to start moving all the boxes off the big work table since, apparently, we aren't completely retired after all. We have two jobs waiting for after the first of the year. I had put them off with my very appropriate excuse of still recovering from the flood and both were willing to wait til then.

I had been back in the storeroom part of the shop at least once or twice earlier but when I was getting ready to close it up I walked over there to turn off the light and saw this very small furry little creature in front of the opening to the storeroom that I am certain hadn't been there the other times I was back there. It was laying very still but on a closer look was alive.

An infant rat I surmise. This poor little thing, barely 2” excluding it's tail, was on the cold concrete, much too young, young enough to still be nursing though it's eyes were open. I looked around for a nest which I found no evidence of. It was hungry and cold and lost. I put on some gloves and picked it up, cleaned the dust and cobweb off it's little face and it started nosing for a nipple. Broke my heart which is crazy since if it had been a full grown rat I'd have wanted to kill it. What to do? I finally got a shallow box and put an old t-shirt rag in it and put it in there so at least it wouldn't be on the cold concrete and maybe the mother would come looking for it though I imagine the mother is the one that carried it out of the nest and left it to die for whatever reason wild things do that.

Went over to check on it yesterday morning and it was not in the box, had climbed out and was once again covered in dust and cobwebs. 

So I cleaned it off again and put it back in the box.  Went back about mid afternoon and it was nowhere to be found.

Monday, December 4, 2017

summer and fall reading list

I would have published my book list from the summer at the end of August but there was a hurricane and a flood and well, stuff happened. 

Turbo Twenty Three by Janet Evanovich – the continuing saga of Stephanie Plum with more bounty hunts, more Lulu, more Morelli, and more Ranger with ice cream.

The Twelve Lives Of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti – a coming of age story intermingled with a thriller, Hawley and Loo, his beloved daughter, were vagabonds, rarely staying in one place for more than a year and sometimes far less. Sometimes they just lived in their truck. Loo's mother Lily died when she was an infant, drowned in a lake, and Hawley raised their daughter. Every time Hawley moved them, trying to keep his past from catching up to them, they would leave everything that couldn't fit in one suitcase each behind and would disappear overnight. When Loo was 12, Hawley decided it was time to settle down and try to give Loo a normal life. They returned to Lily's hometown, Olympus, Massachusetts on the coast where Hawley found work as a fisherman. Their first stop was Loo's grandmother's house. Hawley went to the door while Loo stayed in the truck and watched while her grandmother slammed the door in Hawley's face. Life was not easy for Loo in Olympus. She had no social skills and was soon ostracized as was her father. Eventually they settled in to a sort of acceptance and one day she found herself at her grandmother's door where she learned some things that caused her to question the story her father had told her about her mother's death and she sets out to discover the truth. Sam Hawley has been shot 12 times. Interspersed in Loo's story are the bullet stories, slowly revealing Hawley's and Lily's past. When Loo is 17, that past catches up to them. An excellent story very well written.

Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – another in the FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast series. Pendergast is relaxing in his manse in NY when the rare occurrence of the doorbell ringing brings Constance Green, his ward, to the door to discover the body of one of Pendergast's twin sons, the evil Alban. During the autopsy, a rare piece of turquoise is discovered in Alban's stomach leading Pendergast into a trap that poisons him. During the investigation of Alban's murder and another seemingly unconnected murder at the museum, Pendergast is confronted with his family's past from which much of his wealth flowed, a past that was responsible for the deaths of many people and is responsible for the acts of revenge now being taken against him. It's a race to see if his attacker can be identified and dealt with and a cure found before Pendergast succumbs to the very poison that set these wheels in motion generations ago.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins – Nel Abbott's body is pulled from the river, from the Drowning Pool, a place that has claimed troublesome women all the way back to the witch hunts. A few months earlier 15 year old Katie Townsend committed suicide and was also pulled from the river, her pockets and her backpack filled with stones. Katie was Nel's daughter Lena's best friend. Nel's estranged sister, Jules, leaves London and returns to the Mill House, the vacation house on the river of their childhood where her sister and niece now live, a place of bad memories and secrets from her childhood she fled from and swore never to return to, in order to make sense of Nel's apparent suicide and to parent the niece she has never met. Nel had always been obsessed with the Drowning Pool and the women who entered it either voluntarily or otherwise and her digging through the stories of those women dredged up secrets other people in town thought best left alone. The book is two stories, the explanation revealed for the suicide of Katie, a popular beautiful teen with no apparent worries, as the investigation into Nel's drowning proceeds, and that of Nel and the secrets that lead to her death and of Jules who finally learns too late that her hatred of her older sister was born of a misunderstanding and not a truth.

Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – a seemingly simple case of a wine collection theft and a seemingly unrelated murder in this New England coastal town reveals a larger historical mystery that Pendergast, with Constance's help, solves while ignoring the clues of another mystery that Constance unearthed. With the town and Pendergast relaxing in the aftermath of the case, a mutant humanoid goes on a killing spree in town while Constance decides to continue the investigation on her own. Belatedly Pendergast realizes his mistake and rushes to save Constance from the mortal danger she has unknowingly put herself in. In the end, Pendergast goes missing, Constance returns to her subterranean domain, and an old enemy returns.

The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – and now I am caught up on the Pendergast novels. FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is wounded and feared drowned in the last final confrontation at the end of the previous book. Constance has retreated to her private sub-basement quarters to come to terms with his death and what if means for her future. Proctor, Pendergast's butler, chauffeur, body guard, right hand man, charged with Constance's safety, is caught off guard and knocked out. He regains consciousness just in time to see Constance being kidnapped by Diogenes, Pendergast's enemy and younger brother and all round evil serial killer whom everyone thought had died when Constance pushed him into a volcano. Proctor grabs his 'bug-out' bag and gives chase, a long wild goose chase that gets him out of the mansion. With Proctor gone, Diogenes, who has had a change of heart, sets out to woo Constance back and win her love and trust and raise their son. Meanwhile, Pendergast had been picked up out of the ocean and held captive by a smuggler boat who decide to ransom him back to the FBI, a plan that doesn't work out so well for them and Pendergast returns to the mansion to find Proctor missing and Constance packed up and gone as she had finally agreed to go with Diogenes to his private island to live. Pendergast sets out to discover where they are and to rescue Constance.

The Miracle At Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith – next in the series, the further adventures of Mma Ramotswe, Mma Makutsi, and Mr. Matekoni featuring a bed, a successful unsuccessful search for an unknown relative, and a failed miracle.

The Hard Way by Lee Child – a Jack Reacher novel, the first I've read. I wouldn't have ordinarily selected this but I had finished my book, it was the weekend and the library was closed, and Marc had finished it. So the commander of his private little mercenary army of dishonorably discharged ex-military men in NYC hires Reacher to find the man/men who kidnapped his wife and step-child after the first ransom demand of $1 million. Turns out 5 years previous the same thing happened only that wife didn't survive. Reacher teams up with the ex-FBI agent who was on that case and together they put 2 and 2 together and realize that this was an escape attempt by the wife and step-daughter but not before he tells Lane, the violently deranged commander, where they are. The showdown happens in the English countryside.

Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child - Jeremy Logan, enigmologist and investigator of things not easily explained, is engaging in a retreat to finish his scholarly monograph but is quickly drawn into the investigation of the recent murders in the Adirondack Mountains by his old college friend, now a Ranger there in the national forest. Three hikers, over a period of as many months, have been horribly murdered in the wild remote forest, their bodies literally torn apart while the rumors in this small isolated community swirl around strange things. It doesn't help that all the murders take place during the full moon.

Here ends the summer quarter of books. Into the fall quarter, it took me six weeks to read one book...

The Songcatcher by Sharon McCrumb – an interesting tale based on the life of the author's Scottish forbear, and his descendents, who was kidnapped in 1759 off a beach when he was 9 and pressed into service on a ship. During his 10 years on the ship he heard and learned a mournful song that was passed down through the generations of his family. The story jumps from the past to the present and back again, told through the perspectives of several people, to the current generation, folksinger Lark McCourry, estranged from her dying father, who barely remembers hearing the song as a child and is on a quest to find someone in her home community who knows it. A fairly good tale but a bit contrived I thought when Lark's plane crashes and when she calls the 911 operator, she tasks him with finding the song while the searchers try to find her.

Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar – very short book with large type and generous spacing, really a novella tricked out to look like a novel. Twelve year old Gwendy, determined to slim down and lose her unwanted nickname, climbs the 'suicide stairs' every day to the top of Castle Rock. One day there is a man sitting on a nearby bench who calls to her. He has something for her, a button box or rather, a box with buttons and the minute she lays eyes on it she knows it is hers. This lever gives out treats, this lever gives out silver dollars, the red button will give her whatever she wants, the various colored buttons have other purposes and then there's the black button. Gwendy pushes the lever that gives treats, a chocolate in the shape of an animal, and immediately her life and the life of her parents improves. The button box is not just a device to improve Gwendy's life. It proves to be a terrible responsibility.

The Girl In The Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz – this author, with the blessing of Stieg Larrson's family, has continued the Millennium series. Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, hacks the NSA and discovers a plot and cooperation with cybercriminals. A prominent Swedish scientist is murdered for his research while his savant autistic son watches shortly before Mikael Blomkvist arrives for an interview and both Lisbeth and Mikael are drawn into the tangled web of cyber-theft and murder.

Friday, December 1, 2017

how low can they go?

Pretty fucking low as it turns out. It's not bad enough that a contender to a US Senate seat has been accused of sexual aggression against minors by multiple women, that the population of the town was quite familiar with his predations, but the freaking evangelicals are making all kinds of excuses for him as if that makes it OK news flash: doesn't matter what the bible says, it's against the fucking law and the governor of Alabama says she believes the women but voting for a sexual predator is better than voting for a Democrat what the fuck! and they even sent a woman out to infiltrate the press with a fake story of rape against Moore in a bid to discredit his actual accusers. But, hey, our president, an admitted sexual predator himself, is totally unconcerned.

So men who don't comprehend that women deserve respect and are not there for their sexual pleasure whether we like it or not are losing their jobs left and right in a sudden frenzy to be distanced from behavior they knew was going on all along and didn't care. Entertainment moguls and actors and TV news and entertainment regulars, politicians on both sides of the aisle, prominent men are finally being called out. Paul Ryan makes a speech about how intolerable this behavior is as if it's come as a surprise to him. This has to stop, he says as the father of a daughter. Anyone taking odds on if he actually tries to do something or if this is just another version of 'thoughts and prayers'?

All the political high and mighties of the male gender are demanding those guilty of such to resign from their political positions while they ignore the guy in the Oval Office who fucking bragged about it while they do their sneaky best to deprive the common citizen of health care, do away with freedom of the internet, get rid of consumer protections, and revise the tax code in favor of the very rich (any tax break we peons get will be eaten up by the things we can't deduct anymore) while they slash the social programs that help put food on the table of the working poor and cut SS and Medicare to offset the loss of revenue. Our teachers won't be able to deduct the money they spend out of their own pockets on classroom supplies anymore and our college graduates won't be able to deduct the interest from their loans anymore but, hey, the rich will be able to deduct their private jets and get huge tax cuts so they can take even more money out of circulation and hoard it in offshore accounts.

Welcome to the new America.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

doors, floors, and butterflies

Work stopped on my studio room last week and it was kind of nice to have a little respite from all the carpentrying going on. The Monday before Thanksgiving, Rocky showed up to touch up the paint and start on the flooring but I thought it would be better to wait until the door to the Little Backyard came in and he agreed so off he went to work on the next house in the queue. The door came in Saturday and Rocky was back on Monday 

my man Rocky on the left

and the new back door is in and the paint has been touched up, mostly, and yesterday they started on the flooring with much cursing, crying, and gnashing of teeth. The concrete step up to the rest of the house was giving them fits and finally they had to take it all up and start over but today it's going in like wildfire, 

sitting here listening to Rocky's constant stream of commentary and instructions to his helpers. He'll have it in today and maybe the base trim too at the rate they're going. After that, it's the punch list.

I'm happy with my display 

so today I'll dismantle everything and start packing stuff up. Set up is tomorrow. I have requested dinner before the evening hours on Friday this year to the provider of such instead of trying to find something quick at 9:30 PM or later as usual. Still have to sit down and price the new stuff, make the little signs that give additional info, and pack up some model making stuff to work on during the slow times. I got the new sign and 'instructional' poster re-made. I've never been so prepared with so little new stuff, but, Harvey...

On another note, the butterflies are migrating through. For the past week the yard has been full of monarchs, queens, fritillaries, sulfurs, skippers, longwings, unless it's the same crowd hanging around for a rest stop. Also saw a swallowtail or two and a rare painted lady. Out there this morning I bet there were 20 or more butterflies on the cosmos and penta and butterfly weed.

swallowtail and sulfur

queen and monarch


Saturday, November 25, 2017

what I'm doing this week

Every year we have participated in this open house and it has been very many, I have arrived for set-up with no idea of how I wanted to set things up. I have my shelving units and I get to use one of the tables but other than that I am at a loss as to how to best set it up and what to put where and I am indecisive, probably leaning on the others too much, and it takes me far too long.

I'm not going to do that this year. This year I'm setting it all up in advance in the gutted part of the shop. Basically I'll set it up like it was last year, that worked really well I think, but this year I'm going to know before I get there how I want the stands set up...where exactly the shelves will be and what I am going to put on them and on the board for the hanging pieces and what goes on the table and where. 

I'm much further along than this picture suggests

Unfortunately, I don't have the little 'two drawer and a cubby' cabinet anymore it being a victim of the flooded house. Last year was the first time to use that and it was so convenient, so of course... Now I just have to dig around in all the boxes here at the house and over at the shop to find the stuff that was in those drawers and cubby.

We met our friends Dick and Kathy, at whose glass blowing studio the open house is at, when they came by to visit our studio one day. They had retired and decided they wanted to take up glass blowing and were visiting the different glass artists' studios.

I used to tell people that Dick and Kathy dragged us kicking and screaming out of our cave and into the light. It was their support and friendship to a certain degree, along with our local gallery, that started getting our pate de verre work noticed. They weren't just some glassblowers trying to get it out there, Dick, an ex-neurosurgeon and Kathy, his ex-surgical assistant, were big supporters of the art community, knew the gallery owners and artists and entertained and put up visiting artists at their home and have an amazing art collection and not just glass. I say dragged us out of our cave because we basically shunned the art community, busy running our etched glass studio and raising our kids, we didn't go to openings or galleries in general, didn't really know any other artists beyond a handful of other etched or stained glass artists. A few years after they started their studio, they invited a handful of local glass artists to set up with them for their annual open house. During our SOFA/delusions of grandeur years, we didn't participate because everything we had was at one gallery or another. But then the economy crashed in '08.

The first 5 or 6 years we got pretty good crowds. Dick and Kathy were still very active in the art scene and what we all were doing was pretty new and unique and we were basically the only event that weekend. As the years have passed more and more events have been scheduled for the same weekend and Dick and Kathy became less active in the art world as other parts of life needed tending to. The crowds have diminished over the years and we've added a second weekend with other craft mediums, not just glass, to try and draw in a more diverse crowd. Sometimes we, personally, sell stuff and sometimes we don't which is OK. It's about selling some stuff, but it's also about spending time with friends we don't see very often now that we moved out of the city and if it weren't for that, I might have passed on participating this year even though we committed ourselves before the house flooded.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving past and present

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and today I'll be preparing the one item I am responsible for this year...the dressing. It was the dressing and a pie but my sister is joining us this year and she has volunteered to bring the pie. I set the bread out to get stale day before yesterday and cubed it last night and made the cornbread last night and set it out which I had forgotten about until Marc asked me wasn't the cornbread supposed to be stale too? Oh shit. I swear this happens every year. Anyway, it will probably take me all day. It usually does but at least I have a head start on the bread already being cubed and all.

We'll be going to our daughter's house as we have for the last three years. Before that they would all come to our house but now our son and daughter-in-law refuse to come out here. There's always a reason they decline the invitations, and not just Thanksgiving. It's easier to just accept the reason on face value than to delve into the murky underbelly which will only make everyone unhappy and so we travel in.

Growing up, my family didn't do Thanksgiving. Mother's position was we're just going to do the whole turkey dinner thing over again in a month for Christmas and she wasn't of a mind to go through the trouble twice though it's not as if she did the cooking for Christmas. We had a maid/cook and another couple who would come in to serve the dinner and clean up after Leila left. Instead we would spend Thanksgiving weekend at the beach house that our parents had built when I was about 13. Sometimes I think, surely we did Thanksgiving at some point before that but I don't have a single memory of it but then I don't have a great memory. There's lots of things I don't remember about growing up that my sister does and lots of things in my adult life that Marc does.

Thanksgiving didn't become something until I had my own family. When the kids were small more often than not we went to my mother-in-law's house and as they got older we would host dinner now and then.  I remember one Thanksgiving we were having the family to our house and I was sweeping the front steps when a car drove up and a group of people from a local church got out with a big bag of food. I was a little dumbfounded since, one, we weren't/aren't christians and two, I'd never even been to that church, and three, we had a houseful of food and were expecting a houseful of people. As it turned out, our daughter had gone with her friend with whom she had spent the night to some sort of church function (there's that bad memory again) and she somehow gave them the impression that we were broke, poor, and hungry and they put us on their needy families list. Well, we were poor but we weren't broke or hungry and the kids never went without anything they needed just some things they wanted. I thanked them very kindly, refused the food, and suggested they divide my portion up between the remaining deliveries.

I guess I'd best get in there and get started.