Wednesday, September 17, 2014

staying on task

I finished the model this morning.

layers added for the mound in the center

carved into shape

Then I cleaned up my work space and went to pick the next set of frames for the botanicas but she hadn't finished putting on the mounting devices yet. I had thought the next thing I would do is grind off the excess glass on two of the first three botanicas. One we just re-fired but we haven't gotten around to doing that for these two.

Since I don't have a loose grit flat lap or (slurry grinder as some people call it), I was going to do it the old fashioned way with a piece of heavy glass as my plate and 60 mesh aluminum oxide (it would be better if I had silicon carbide) and just make a slurry on the glass plate and rotate my cast pieces in circles until I've taken off enough.

But it's raining today, an unexpected rainy day. In fact, the sun was shining when it started raining. Anyway, I didn't want to go out and open the shop in the rain although I should have as sometimes there is water in there after a rain and we want to see where it's coming from.

So now, I guess I'm going to get out my model making stuff again and start on the next one. No matter. Now I have a good clean work space to start with. I have two more images picked out and need to pick a new, last, one since I abandoned the one I had been working on. Abandoned and destroyed, used it's base block on this one just completed. I love the picture but I couldn't capture it.

finished model

Monday, September 15, 2014

little green snake

So, the other morning, Marc went out and hooked up the trailer and pulled it into the driveway and happened to notice this little green snake entwined in the tail gate/ramp.

I say little but it was easily 24” long.

We put the ramp down

and I herded it, as well as you can herd a snake, into the grass.

Friday, September 12, 2014

wax work and the weekly selfie

As I mentioned, I got my model making stuff out and have been happily sculpting away. When I finish this one, I will have my original series done...3 - 6” x 6” and 12 - 4” x 4”. I still plan to do the 5 extra but I may not wait to send these off to a gallery.

Today is the first full day I've had since I got my tools out that I have had to work on it. Had other chores and stuff up until today. Today it is raining so I am not distracted by the outdoors or by continuing my organizing of the new shop.

Still have a ways to go, adding layers for the center of the flower, finding holes, sealing contact points, shaping, and cleaning it up but It's looking pretty good I think.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


There is a big stack of dishes in the kitchen that I don't want to do. I'll have to do them sometime today though as all the plates are dirty.

I spent the day yesterday running errands in the city. My second errand took me to my old neighborhood and I wasn't going to drive by the old property but as I got to the corner to turn to get to the store that was my destination, I didn't turn. At the last minute I decided, what the hell, it's only four blocks and three blocks away. So I did drive by it and they haven't done a damn thing once they cleared the land. In fact, there's a mattress on it now that someone dumped.

My fourth errand was to where my son works to take him my hot pen for wax work that quit working over a year ago and hadn't worked well for several years before that. My son likes to tinker with electronic stuff so I hoped he could fix it. Before I got done with my fifth errand which was still in the general vicinity, he'd fixed it and cleaned it up.

My fifth errand was delivering the wren box to the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, my accepted entry for the biennial CraftTexas exhibition.

I made four more stops between there and home (not counting picking up my hot pen) but I still have to go back in the next few days as the reprographics shop didn't get to my job before I headed out of town.

I finally have my wax model making stuff spread out on my work table in the house. Actually, I spread it out late Monday but today will be my first opportunity to get to work, that is if I ignore all the others things I need to do, like the dishes.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

maybe the barest hint

It's rather pleasant out there this morning. It rained around us all day yesterday so while we didn't get any rain, we are reaping the coolness. Coolness as in mid-70s. It will get up to 90 later and the rest of the week a little hotter each day.

I'm seeing some signs of impending cooler weather. The cotton in the field is ready to harvest. The pampas grass is sending up it's blooms. The crepe myrtles are starting to shed their leaves. Baby anoles are hatching. 

And, of course, the days are getting shorter and shorter. It would be nice if the air temperature would reflect it as well.

Still have a few day lilies blooming and an early, different spring day lily is putting up another bloom scape. And the swamp lily is blooming.

I checked to see if the little preying mantis was still on the mexican bird of paradise. First I saw this.

I didn't realize that mantids shed their skin as they grew. Now she's half again as big as she was.

Some other creatures in the yard.

I've been watching this sphinx moth caterpillar chowing down on the morning glory bush all last week. This dude is easily 5” long. He's huge and stripping one stem of it's leaves.

Seems to be leaving the flower buds intact though so I'll still get to enjoy the blooms.

The dogs are gone home now so I think I might try to organize part of the shop space today. Or start on a new model. Or both. Maybe I'll work in the shop until it gets too hot.

Friday, September 5, 2014

accomplishing little things and the Friday selfie

My sister is out of town this week so I have her two little dogs. I also go to her house every day to feed and spend time with her two cats. They've been all happy to see me, come running when I call, up until Wednesday when they evidently decided that it was my fault they had been locked up in the house alone for the last 6 days and they were taking their ire out on me. Fine. I won't pet you then.

I also worked two of her days at the antique store this week.

Having the dogs here makes it harder to get anything done since I don't have a big fenced yard, just the Little Back Yard, which I put them out in several times a day for short periods and although the shop yard is fenced across the street, the gate is not secure, and I won't leave them in the house alone except for short periods. When we are out in the Big Back Yard, I have to keep my eye on them because they will wander as far as I let them into the 13 Acre Field and the Wild Space.

Marc has been working on getting the sandblasting system hooked up in the new sandblast shed. All the air pipes are in and the exhaust fan so even though he still has to put the plywood and shelf up on one wall and build a shelter over the air compressor, we are, for all intents and purposes, back in business.

It is still so hot here and humid. Too hot to get much done and nothing done unless it's in the shade, which Marc hasn't had over at the shop. It's not too bad in the shade as long as you are being. perfectly. still.

I've been trying to get small things accomplished. Like picking up the immature pecans that continue to fall. I bet I've thrown at least 12 gallons of varying sizes on the burn pile and every day, pick up another gallon or two. I pick them up for two, I go barefoot and when the ground is littered with small hard lumps it's not so pleasant. The other reason is that the larger ones that fall will eventually shed their husks and I won't be able to tell the difference between the good ones and the bad ones when the good ones start to fall. If we get any good ones. If there's any left to fall by the time they get mature.

I've repotted a couple of the transplants from the old city property. I'm clearing the old garden of weeds and the plants left over from spring. This was the absolute worst garden we have had since we've been out here. We got one or two small tomatoes and a couple of japanese eggplants and a handful of jalapenos and that is it. The weather was freaky what with the late hard freeze but mostly I think, no bees. I have seen so few bees this year. The new garden is going to be over at the shop across the street where it will get more sun and we have more room but it's too hot to build and prepare the beds so we may not do a winter garden this year.

I built two small crates to hold all the glass samples and I've finally gone through all the boxes left over from our initial move and the final move this summer. I donated a bunch of stuff to a shelter and filled a box with stuff to take to the store and sell. I have a couple of boxes of stuff for the grandkids to go through the next time they come out here.

I repaired the tea cup bird feeder again and I think we've fixed it so the squirrels can't knock it off the hook any more. It's been doing brisk business from the titmice, chickadees, and the cardinals with an occasional curious wren. The last brood of cardinals has been coming, the immature males and females. One of the young males is just now getting his grown up plumage and he's very spotty red and brown.

And I finally repaired the shadow box that I acquired years ago to hold my whistle collection. I wrote about my whistles here if you are interested and you can even listen to five of them (well, you used to be able to listen, the links have disappeared). I have a few new ones since I did that post...the boot, the long antler, and the bright blue ceramic one that you put water in and it warbles like a real bird.

Monday, September 1, 2014

summer reading list

The Leap Year Boy by Marc Simon – what an odd little story. Alex Miller is born on leap day, the third son of Abe and Irene Miller, and in the ensuing 6 years, his body grows so slowly that by the time he is six, he is the size of an 18 month old. Well except for his arms which grew 3” one night. He is unusual in more than his body size as his brain and his cognitive abilities grow at an increased rate. He is though, after all, just a six year old boy, however unusual, and everyone except his family, it seems, wants to take advantage of him to profit in some way.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Set in the late 1800s, a challenge is issued and accepted and two children, Celia and Marco, are trained and prepared for the competition. When they reach adulthood, a venue is created by a small group of people who do not know how they are being manipulated to provide the playing ground. Then, one day, “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and bill boards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.” As the circus travels around the world, the feats and illusions and attractions grow ever more complex and mysterious fueled by the magic of the two combatants who are irrevocably bound together by their masters. As the circus takes on a life of it's own and garners a great following, the two players come together and start to collaborate instead of compete, much to the displeasure of their masters, and fall in love not knowing that the contest is over only when one of them can no longer continue and there is only one survivor. When they finally learn the truth and a binding spell is undone, Celia attempts to give the circus a life of its own but things are slowly deteriorating and the circus and it's patrons and participants are all at risk when it all starts to come apart. I really liked this one, well worth the read.

The Life Of Pi by Yann Martel - I wanted to see the movie but I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie. Unfortunately, the movie came and went and I had not read the book even though I had looked for it once at the library. I wasn't looking for it particularly the last time I went but there it was as I was wandering through the aisles, presented to me. I picked it up. An extraordinary tale and told in a way as to be perfectly believable. A 15 year old boy is the only survivor of a sinking cargo ship. His family, zoo keepers in India, are traveling to Canada for a new start after selling their zoo and the animals. They are accompanying and caring for some of the animals that are being transported to foreign zoos on the cargo ship when it suddenly sinks. This is the story of his survival when he finds himself sharing the 35' lifeboat with a Bengal tiger for 225 days.

The Arrivals by Melissa Marr - A short easy to read story about an alternate world where some individuals are brought through a wormhole from our world. The first two, brother and sister Jack and Katherine, have been there 28 years and they are in charge of a small band of 'arrivals', trying to work against Ajani, a cruel man who is basically trying to become king of the world. Arrivals don't age and they don't die, mostly. They can be killed, but they wake up after 6 days until the time they don't and nobody knows why some really die and some never do. When an arrival dies, a new ones arrives. They are from different time eras but they all have one thing in common, they have all killed another person. Jack and Katherine are befriended and aided by one of the local species, the bloedzuigers, a clan of beings whose blood has restorative and other properties who have a special interest in Ajani's defeat. By truce and agreement, Jack and Ajani let the new arrivals decide who they want to be with but when Chloe, the newest arrival, is tricked into Ajani's camp, Jack and his band decide to retrieve her.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – a love story of sorts. Nick and Amy fall in love with the people they are each pretending to be and marry and for the first two years things are fine. Then they both lose their jobs and Nick's mother is diagnosed with cancer and his father with Alzheimer's and so Nick uproots them from NYC and moves them back to his small dying hometown in Missouri to help his twin sister take care of the folks and start a new life. With the last of Amy's trust fund that her parents set up for her and then requested back after their own fortunes declined, Nick and his sister Margo open a bar. On Nick and Amy's fifth anniversary a neighbor calls the bar to tell Nick that the door to his house is open and the indoor cat is out. Nick rushes home to find Amy missing and the living room looking like a scuffle took place. Clue after clue as well as incriminating evidence turns up pointing to Nick as the murderer of his wife except, no body. Nick finally understands that his wife is alive and well and is framing him as punishment for his lack of attention. The story is told in turns by Nick and Amy and we slowly learn just how fucked up these two people are and how their respective upbringings molded them into those fucked up people. I was expecting a different ending, a clear closure but that's not what I got. It's a good book, a good story, the second I have read by this author who doesn't give in to feel good endings.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth – I got tired of waiting for my grandgirl to finish the next book so I got it from the library. This is the next book in the 'Divergent' series. The story picks up where Divergent leaves off. We learn that at the heart of the war started by two of the 5 factions using mind control, is the attempt to keep certain information secret from the general population, information that would change everything, shatter the perceived reality and social structure, if it was known to all. As people either remain loyal to their faction or rebel and join up with the opposition, the Factionless attempt to use this opportunity to take control by allying themselves with the resistance to Erudite's and Dauntless' war to control the status quo. Our heroine Tris turns herself in to Erudite to be studied and then executed in an attempt to prevent her friends from committing suicide via mind control, a threat issued and acted upon in order to get her to do that very thing. The leader of Erudite understands that the divergent mind does not succumb to the mind control technique and she wants to learn why so as to be able to control them along with the rest of the population. With people's loyalties slipping, one never knows if an enemy is an enemy or a friend and so Tris is eventually rescued. But then she and a few others return to the lion's den after she learns that the information that her parents were murdered for, that the war was started for, to prevent it's dissemination is going to be destroyed by the resistance and it is Tris' goal to make sure that all the knowledge of Erudite, being the science faction, is not destroyed, but they fail, almost and the takeover by the Factionless succeeds, almost.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth – The third and final installment of the series except she wrote a sequel called Four which I haven't read. I don't think it's a sequel so much as just four stories about Four (Tobias). Allegiant finds our brave band headed for the fence that surrounds the city to find out what the truth is beyond that will change their lives forever and maybe not in a good way. Although the Amity faction has fields just outside the fence Tris, Tobias, and the rest go far beyond and into the wild lands. They are intercepted by a man and woman and taken to a research facility where they learn that the 'cities', like Chicago, are experiments in an effort to undo the genetic damage that humans caused by tinkering with the g-nome. The divergent are actually 'healed' and until Erudite started killing all the divergent, they were left in the city to help the repair the gene pool. Back in the distant past humans tried to improve themselves with less than stellar results and a devastating war broke out between the GPs (genetically pure) and the GD (genetically damaged). When the war was over the scientists convinced the government that through these experiments they could repair the gene pool. Because the GDs are treated as deficient, they are discriminated against so many opt to live in the wild lands out of the reach of government control. When the truth is discovered Tris and her group come up with a plan to end the discrimination.

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi - Boy runs away from her abusive father when she finally fears for her life. She buys a ticket for the last stop on the last bus outbound for the night. When she arrives, she finds a boarding house and rents a room and begins to look for work. When she double dates with a friend from the boarding house she meets Arturo, the local widower with a young daughter, Snow, who everyone dotes on. Boy marries Arturo and when she has a daughter of her own, Bird, she learns the family secret, that Arturo and his family and Snow's mother and her family are light skinned coloreds passing as white for Bird is born dark and all who look at her know her heritage. Boy learns that her husband has an older sister who was sent away to live with relatives because she also was too dark. When Boy realizes that Arturo's mother will never accept Bird, she sends Snow to live with her estranged aunt. The story is told by Boy and then by 13 year old Bird and then through letters that Bird and Snow write to each other and back again to Boy. The now grown Snow visits and Snow and Boy reconcile. Then the story goes off on a weird tangent concerning Boy's father and I found it a very unsatisfying end to the previous story, which didn't really end, it just went off on a tangent. Or maybe I just didn't get it.