Sunday, May 30, 2010


I think I've mentioned before that for many years I marked the passing of time from one river trip to the next, one holiday to the next.

I've posted several river stories, trip reports really that I wrote for friends and family, but I don't think they have actually conveyed the joy, serenity, intensity, the beauty of actually being on the water that makes all that work worth it. Paddling a canoe is like a dance with the river. Reading the river, finding the channel, maneuvering around obstacles, twisting and turning in a complex rapid, drifting with the current surrounded by wilderness untouched by man's hand, chasing the blue heron downstream until it turns and flies over you, the smells of the desert and of the river, camping on a stretch of sand on the river's edge under a night sky brilliant with stars unseen in's a language of sight and heart.

Guiding gave me the opportunity to have that experience on a regular basis and all I had to do was show up with my personal gear. The work of taking the responsibility for a group of mostly inexperienced campers and boaters on a three day wilderness canoe camping trip was a trade off for being able to go, being paid to go, on a trip that someone else planned, outfitted and paid for. We always got help from some of the guests, you know, there are always those who want to pitch in and be more of a part of it. I was, I did. I was entranced from the beginning.

My first time on a river trip on the Rio Grande through Boquillas Canyon in Big Bend National Park in far west Texas, 33 miles from put-in to take-out, I went as a paying guest. It was 1991 and I was running away from home and I talked a girlfriend of mine into going with me. It was so diametrically opposed to the misery my life had become at that point that I was drawn back again and again. That first year I did two river trips, Boquillas Canyon and the Pecos River, a five day trip through the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. The next year I could not go on any trips because we were so busy trying to finish our last big job before everything imploded, but in 1993 I started out the year as a helper and ended it as a guide. Through the years I did other rivers and other canyons but Boquillas Canyon on the Rio Grande in Big Bend and the Pecos in west Texas and Buffalo Bayou in Houston became my mainstays.

I quit guiding for a lot of reasons and around the same time all my river buddies moved or got jobs that didn't allow for the time off. The shared gear (no one had everything) for private trips scattered. It's been awhile, years, since I have been on a river. I have a 16' canoe in my backyard in Houston. I'm hoping that, with this move, with the Colorado River running through town, town as in Wharton, we will at least do some day trips.

I have a series of vignettes that I will post now and then that I hope will convey the joy (and not the work) of being on the river.

Just a general note...the sketches that accompany these vignettes do not illustrate that particular moment or even reflect that particular river. I rarely had time to sit and do a sketch even though I brought my sketchbook and colored pencils with me nearly every time and even when I did sit down to draw, I rarely had the time to finish a sketch before I had some chore to do so most of them are just quick studies and are unfinished.

river vignette 1 - on the Pecos

Downriver the sky is getting darker and looks very much like rain. It clouds over and becomes apparent that the storm is moving our way. It starts raining, like a heavy sprinkle. The wind is gusting. We start to hear thunder and see lightning. We’re in a shallow portion of the river now. We are having to drag our boats through a nearly dry spot and it is taking four of us on each boat to do it efficiently. Camp is about a mile distant. The edge of the storm is passing over us and now it is hailing on us. Small at first and then grape sized. Lightning is shooting down to the top of the canyon walls on both sides of us and the thunder comes faster than makes me comfortable. It is very powerful. I’m in the middle of a lightning storm standing knee deep in a super conducting medium holding an aluminum lighting rod, my paddle, with no cover available. This is stupid, this is dangerous, but what choice do we have except to continue on to our camp. There is no shelter to either side of us. I decided it was not my time to meet my maker and put it out of my mind. We finally get in water deep enough to paddle and make our way to camp. The hail has stopped but it is still raining lightly.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Well, my daughter, Sarah, is home. She was in surgery for a long time. It was very gnarly in there. The fetus was one day shy of nine weeks, had absorbed her fallopian tube and was attacking her colon (she was telling everyone the baby ate her fallopian tube). Blood had pooled all around her uterus. It was really a mess. The surgeon made three incisions to clean her out and to have a good look around to make sure he got everything out. Her colon had three black spots on it where the fetus was trying to feed ans her recovery is going to be prolonged. If the bad spots (necrotic tissue) don't heal up by themselves and continue to spread then he will have to go back in and do some serious work cutting out the bad part. The doctor and staff was surprised she was still alive, had not seen one this bad for many years if ever. Her prognosis is good but she's not completely out of the woods yet. They let her come home on Wednesday.

So Wednesday morning I got early to go get my BIL's truck which they were letting me borrow so Marc would not be stranded without a truck (still working on the shop building) and so I could bring back all four kids since it had a crew cab which ours does not. Also, our truck was going in that morning to have a part replaced on the air conditioner so we dropped it off on the way back. When I was ready to leave, I took Marc back to the dealership and took off, stopping for gas on the way out. Got out, gassed up the truck, got back in, put in the key and it wouldn't turn, wouldn't let me shift the gear. Great, this is all I need and I was anxious to get to the hospital. So I called my BIL and he came up to where I was and started messing around under the hood. Right about that time I realized I had probably just used the wrong key. My truck key fit all the way in the ignition but, of course, would not turn it. Stupido stupido. Tried the right key, the truck started right up and I was finally on my way.

She was pretty cheerful, ready to go home so when they brought in her discharge papers I brought her home. She said everyone was so solicitous at the hospital. She was in the maternity ward and they were all concerned that she would be depressed about 'losing' the baby.

Yesterday was the last day of school so when the kids got home I gathered them all up and brought them back home out here at the country house with me. We will have them through Sunday and maybe til next Wednesday. Her check-up is next Tuesday and then she will have a better idea about her recovery. The doctor is not giving her any time frame yet.

So with all four kids here and me behind on my job and the shop getting put up on Sunday, I may not have much time to visit around blogland. I'll never get caught up with all your doings (and doubt I will be commenting much when I do get some time to read) so I'll just meet you all downstream when I have the time to check in.

I won't have time to respond to each and everyone of you individually but thank you all for all your wonderful support, prayers, good energy and light.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

some scary stuff

My daughter is being prepped for emergency surgery.

A week ago last Friday she called to tell me that she had been having some serious episodes of sharp pain in her abdomen that left her nauseous and sweating. In between her stomach just plain hurt. Two on Thursday, one on Friday. Saturday no sharp episodes but continued dull ache in her intestinal region. We sort of went over all the things that could be happening but she did not have a fever and was not nauseous except when the pain was intense, was not constipated, did not have diarrhea, no vaginal bleeding.

The first thing I thought was appendicitis but no fever, no nausea. Ectopic pregnancy jumped in my mind and I mentioned it but she has an IUD so neither of us gave it much thought. She didn't mention being late for her period, thought she was due to start soon. No more sharp pains on Sunday just general continued abdominal pain. She went to see her doctor on Monday who said she had blood in her urine and decided she had a bladder infection and gave her a round of antibiotics which did no good what so ever. She still wasn't having the prolonged episodes of sharp pain during last week, just an occasional one. When I saw her on Sunday she didn't look very good and held her belly on the right side almost continually. She was going to call her doctor on Monday.

She called me this morning, said she had had another attack, that she couldn't get hold of her doctor the day before and she couldn't take this any longer and was going to the hospital. Said she would call me in a couple of hours to let me know what was going on.

Well, when I hadn't heard after several hours, I called her husband who had just gotten off the phone with her. He was at home with the kids. Her cell phone didn't work there in the hospital and she had called him using a land line. She does, after all, have an ectopic pregnancy.

I just talked to my SIL. He had received word from her best friend who is there at the hospital with her. He called to tell me that she is being prepped for surgery, that the doctors told her she is lucky to be alive, that she was about 8 weeks along and they usually burst the fallopian tube at six weeks. If things go well, she will be home tomorrow afternoon.

I will be heading to town tomorrow morning as soon as I can. There's no point in going in tonight since she will be in surgery and then in recovery and won't be allowed visitors and Kelly is there with her. There is nothing I can do except be nervous there instead of being nervous here. Tomorrow I will be able to see her and then help take care of her and the kids while my SIL goes to work.

I'm feeling a little guilty since I did not listen to my intuition. When will I learn not to question my inner voice that sends me clear and direct messages. I was afraid this is what it was from the beginning. I should have insisted she go to the hospital last week. I am so thankful it did not burst her fallopian tube and that my SIL urged her to go to the hospital this morning.

So I don't know when I will be back. I may stay for several days or I may bring the kids back with me. Won't know til I get there, til she gets home, til I have her in my arms again.

Monday, May 24, 2010

getting energised

I have dawdled and procrastinated and languished and frittered the time away. Now I have a job and can't seem to find the time to do it, still have not finished the sketches for the second proposal. And we have another week long workshop coming up in a couple of weeks at a new facility in Houston. Add to that, school is out this week and the g'kids are lining up for their weeks. Ack!

Sunday we went in town to party hearty with our friend Craig, the tunnel rat. I call him that because he lives in a loft in downtown Houston and his building is connected to the underground tunnel system that connects most of the main buildings downtown. I don't know how much he actually uses the tunnels though. There's a whole sub-culture down there and I expect mutants to emerge any day now.

Anyway, Craig, as you might remember, has joined the Flying Saucer beer pub club and has downed another 200 different beers and has won his second level plate. So we joined him for the unveiling. He's already nearly a quarter of the way to his third level plate.

We stayed over last night and today dismantled Marc's desk and my drawing table and the contents of both thereof, loaded up the truck and hauled it all down here. Took us nearly all friggin' day! I finally brought all the rest of my reference books and files and pictures and STUFF so now one major part of my studio is all here, however dismantled it may be. Because I have a job and need to get the art work done.

So tomorrow, I was planning to put my stuff, at least, back together again so that I could get started but no, I have been informed that my activity tomorrow is to take the truck down to the dealership and get it inspected and have them look at the AC which only seems to work full blast. Turn it down and it goes off. Still, though, I might be able to get my drawing table remantled.

Marc is going to be otherwise occupied you see. I mentioned before that the actual construction phase of our new shop had finally begun. He's gotten a lot of the walls done in sections but not erected yet. Next Sunday, we are planning on a barn-raising, getting our son and a friend here to help 'git it up' so to speak. Which means of course that all the walls have to be finished. So the heat is on in more ways than one.

Oh yes and Thursday, I am back in the city because my twin g'girls are graduating from elementary school. They passed all the necessary standardized tests 'with commendation' (that means they only got one or two questions wrong on each test) and have asked me if I was coming.

You're coming to my graduation, right Granny?”  You betcha honey. 

These are the girls that their whole first year at school did not speak to anyone except each other, barely spoke their second. Their mom split them up after the first year and they have been in separate classes ever since.

So did I mention the heat? It's summer. No denying it. It's hot and humid even though we have been having a nice south wind that helps take the edge off especially if you are in the shade. We've started turning the AC on in the afternoons and then shut if back off when we go to bed. So far the fan is doing us fine at night but I don't see that continuing for very much longer.

Well, I actually do have photos to illustrate this fascinating post and I was going to link to stuff but it's late and I don't feel like messing with it. So...later gators.

Friday, May 21, 2010

the source

The world is focused on oil these days and rightly so since we are quickly depleting the planet's resources. Conserving power, turning off lights and unplugging those little electricity thieves when they are not actually in use is admirable but how many of us are trying to conserve water? How many of us even think of clean water as being a finite resource?

Oil, gas, electricity...all very convenient to have but humans have lived long without them. Clean potable water though is another finite resource and it is one that we absolutely cannot live without...literally. 

Our lakes and rivers are polluted, we have dead zones in our oceans not to mention all the trash and garbage that floats around in them, so much water is being removed from our rivers by irrigation and damming that some of them don't even reach their end destination anymore, drying up before they reach the ocean. Our aquifers are shrinking and springs that have been eternal are disappearing. Wells are drying up. Even the rain is polluted at times.

And speaking of rain, it's illegal in some states to collect it for your own personal use because the ranchers and farmers think it all belongs to them, even if you have your own personal food garden.

In our current geo-political climate, the countries with the oil are the ones with the power. It won't be too long before the countries with fresh water will be the ones with the power. There has been many a battle waged over a water source throughout history and very likely many more will be fought in the future if we don't turn our attention to preserving our clean water sources and ending wastefulness.  People are already living without access to clean water and rationing is becoming more and more common.

Clean water is essential. We are so used to being able to turn on that faucet here in this country and having all the water we want that we give no thought to where it comes from. Hundreds of gallons a day are wasted on golf courses in the desert while drought stricken areas watch as their reservoirs shrink daily. Evaporative cooling systems spray water outside shops and outdoor seating areas of restaurants in arid parts of the country even when no one is there. Automatic sprinkler systems go on even in the rain.

The water we use is, of course, sent to sewage treatment facilities in cities and towns where it undergoes processes that remove the solids, the grit and dirt, the bacteria. It is finally chlorinated and then released into our rivers and oceans. If you live in the country or unincorporated areas likely you have a septic system which filters out the solids and sends the liquid through pipes to be dispersed underground. Some urban areas are starting to use the reclaimed water for irrigation and landscaping purposes which makes way more sense than releasing it unused into our waterways and oceans. Reusing the wastewater for non-potable applications saves our clean fresh water for more important uses...our consumption. However, most of our uses of water are not for actual consumption. We bathe ourselves, we wash our clothes, our dishes, we water our yards and gardens. A lot of it simply goes down the drain unused.

I've always tried to be conservative in my water use, turning it off while I brush my teeth, wash a sink full of dishes and then turn on the water to rinse them all at the same time using a low flow. Leaky faucets get fixed promptly and I hand water the garden and flower beds instead of using sprinklers. I never waste water on grass. Now that we have moved out of the city, I have been installing water collectors to catch the rainfall and I am laying soaker hoses in the gardens. Lately, I have been keeping a bucket in the kitchen to catch the water that runs while I am waiting for it to get hot to fill the sink, to catch the water I use when I wash my hands or rinse off the vegetables and then I use it to water the flower beds or pots.

Small things, simple things, easy things to do. But if everyone did those small things just think how much water we could save, conserve. It will make a crucial difference not too far in the future. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

broken home

Photo via https:/.../ 127385-stink-bugs-friend-foe-2.html

Well, I was working on a nice little post about the wrens. They had taken up residence in their nest in the rag bag in my garage. (We don't park the truck in the garage as it is part of our studio space.) Yesterday when we left to run some errands, one of them flew out as we exited from the house. It was still gone when we got back so I took the opportunity to peek inside and deep in the nest was a little egg. I could only see one but there were probably more. This morning when I got up I peered out the door at the rag bag to see if she was sitting in the nest. I thought I saw her but my eyes were still groggy from a deep sleep and weird dream so I looked a little more intently which was too much for her and she flew out and across the garage to rest on the shelves over there. OK. Sorry little wren, didn't mean to freak you out. I'd been keeping the door to the garage closed and going out by the back door instead. I know she was still sitting on her eggs by this afternoon because one of the times Marc came in he remarked about it being hard to sit on her eggs if she was going to fly off every time someone passed by.

I just came in through the garage and I saw on the floor one of her eggs and another that was smushed. I'm thinking Marc may have stepped on it without noticing. I picked up the one egg and it has a hole in it.

She's not in her nest so I took a close look and there is still one egg left. I have no idea if the little wren will come back and no idea what happened. The nest is still intact so something did not get in there because I would expect it to be all torn up. She wouldn't have carried her eggs out and dropped them because of all the coming and going would she? It's not like they didn't know there was a lot of activity around the door.

They are such funny little creatures.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

lax in the lumbar

I have been licking my wounds this week. Last Saturday I managed to aggravate the weak spot in the lumbar region of my spine. I was abusing it by vacuuming the house. I know, I know, heinous activity but must be done nonetheless.

Standing is painful unless I'm standing outside on the nice soft giving ground. Sitting in upright and in attentive positions like is necessary to get any kind of work done is not so good. Laying down is great but I don't get much done laying down. Ibuprofen has been my friend.

Oddly enough squatting and digging and weeding and doing surgery on my zucchini plants didn't bother me at all and I'm sure aids in my recovery. I've also been doing some yoga which helps. Two steps forward and one step back. Today has been a one step back day.

Life has been very laid back the last month or six weeks. We are finally starting to get some interest and work. I've submitted one proposal which they accepted less than two hours later, have another to submit and have had two other serious inquiries. And just when I decided that I would devote 2 hours a day to the pate de verre (finally getting interested in that again after a very long time), this happens. Talk about an exercise in frustration and patience.

I know why it happened though. After six years of going to the gym on a regular basis, I have let it slide since the end of last year. My muscle tone, especially my abs, is shot all that digging this spring notwithstanding.

Recovery should not be that far off and in the meantime, I should be glad of another few days of languishing, right? Right?

Sunday, May 16, 2010


May 16, 1996

The phone rang at 2 AM waking me up. It was my mother.

Something terrible bad has happened to your father,” she said. “The paramedics are here working on him.”

I’ll be right there,” I told her.

They’re taking him to the hospital so come there,” she replied.

I hung up the phone and turned to face my husband who was now sitting up in bed.

I think my dad just died.”

My parents lived on Galveston Island, about an hour’s drive away. My sister and brother both lived out of state so I was the only one close enough to get there quickly. We got dressed and headed down the highway in silence.

When we got to the hospital, I learned that my father, at 72, had, indeed, died. He had had a massive stoke which is exactly the way he had always said he wanted to go, quick and out like a light. My mother was in high form, not a tear shed, waiting for me in the waiting room. The nurse told me when I arrived that they had my father in a room if I wanted to go and be with him for awhile. I declined as had my mother which was why she was waiting in the waiting room. I’m sure the nurse thought I was a terrible person, not wanting to go spend time with the body of my father, but he would not have wanted me, us, to do that. You see, my father hated death and he did not want any of us remembering him dead, the way he remembered his own father.

My father was a pathologist and he spent his days looking at tissue to determine if it was diseased and doing autopsies. He had started out wanting to be a surgeon and until WWII, that was his goal. Unfortunately, he contracted tuberculosis in the army and he spent the rest of the war recovering. We had several strict house rules that stemmed from that time in the hospital. We never ate on paper plates because all his meals were served on paper plates and then they went in the incinerator. And we never had chicken because that was all he was served in the hospital. But I digress.

My father let himself be convinced by his colleagues and instructors that because of his tuberculosis, he would not have the physical stamina to be a surgeon. That’s how he became a pathologist, one of the great disappointments of his life. And that’s how he came to hate death. And by association, the color black.

Black was forbidden in our house. For my mother, myself, my siblings, black clothing was not allowed. Not outright forbidden, but it just wasn’t worth enduring the expression of disapproval that was sure to come. Black = death = work = bitterness.

He himself did not own any black clothing, well, except for his tuxedo which he always wore with a bright red cummerbund, tie and socks. I find it hard to believe, now, as an adult that he didn’t have at least some dark gray suits. He must have, but the ones I remember were the burnt orange, the canary yellow, the peacock blue (my favorite of his suits) and the emerald green. His leisure clothes would put any golfer to shame. He once bought me a pink and orange plaid pants suit (I kid you not) and I was expected to wear it, preferably in public.

My father, my parents, were very image driven and we kids had to measure up. And everything was measured by how it would make them look to the people in the social status they belonged to. And things that didn’t measure up were kept strictly secret. Our needs were second to their image.

Living with my father was not easy. He was very controlling.  He didn’t converse, he lectured, pontificated. There was a lot of emotional abuse.  We would all listen for the sound of the door, his foot steps when he came home from work to determine if it was safe to stay out or if we should scurry back to our rooms and shut our doors and look busy.  All of us left as soon as possible, my sister married young and our brother never returned after he left home for college.  My own escape took longer.

There were years when I was not in touch. Then he had a stroke and it changed his personality. He became completely withdrawn. It shattered his image of himself and it was 10 years or more before he began to emerge again and the man who emerged, now that he had lost everything...his profession, friends, financial security, eventually the house; all because it was more important to keep his stroke secret instead of getting medical help...was a kinder, gentler, humbled man.

Those years before he died, well, I didn’t see them a lot because they lived over an hour’s drive away on the west end of Galveston Island, but I mostly enjoyed being with my father when I was with him. He had changed a lot by then.

As it happened, about two weeks before my father stroked out, my parents had made one of their rare forays into town and they came by my house to visit a bit. When they got up to leave I gave my mother the cheek and told her goodbye. I hugged my father and without thought, said ‘I love you’. I can’t tell you how many years it had been since I expressed this sentiment to my father spontaneously. A lot. Most my life at that point probably. It was the last time I ever saw him, the last time I ever spoke to him, the last words I ever said to him.

*a note – As I seem to have given the impression to some of you that this just happened (and I appreciate all the condolences) my father actually died 14 years ago. Sunday was the anniversary of his death.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

art on wheels

Last weekend was the Art Car Parade in Houston. We didn't go, didn't go even when we were in the city. We don't go due to our general aversion to huge crowds and huge traffic jams. When it takes longer to find a place to park, trek to the event and then make it home through the massive exodus of traffic than the length of time spent at the event it sort of takes the thrill out of the day.

The Art Car Parade started in 1988 with only 40 cars. 'Cars' is a loosely held term as it includes roller skates, bicycles, motor scooters, golf carts, floats, really anything on wheels, as well as actual cars. We did go to the first few all those years ago but now it attracts 250+ entries from all over the US, Canada and Mexico and crowds of a quarter of a million people (that's 250,000 for those of us who are mathematically challenged). The first Art Car Parade in Houston was, I believe, the first of it's kind and although there are now similar events across the country, the one here is the largest of it's kind. You can read more about the history of the Art Car Parade here

Because so many of the entries are from Houston, it's not unusual to occasionally see one when you are driving around town throughout the year. You can however, see any number of them at one time at the Art Car Museum which happens to be in my Houston neighborhood. It's one of my favorite places to go with the grandkids. There's a nice slide show of 18 images of some of the art cars here.

Here's a sampling of cars that were in this year's parade. All images via the Orange Show's website photo album page. If these aren't enough for you, go here for over 300 images.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

short stories 4

bite me

That's not an invitation but a statement of fact. Something is biting me and it particularly likes the crevasses of my body. Not fleas, not bedbugs, not mosquitos but some invisible mite that feasts on my luscious bod during the night. I have three large red itchy whelps, one on a hip bone, one in my armpit and one, well, you probably don't really want to know where that one is. This happened all last summer too and now that the weather has warmed up, the biters are back. It only happens out here at the country house but it's not a housecleaning issue as I am a much better housekeeper here than in the city. Hmmmm. Maybe that's the problem. I'm getting rid of the biters' natural predators.

(Not every story has a picture. I didn't think you would really want to see my bug bites.)


I reported a while back that some little bird was building a nest in the rag bag that hangs in the (attached) garage. I cleaned out the accumulation of leaves and twigs and then forgot about it. The other day when I went out the screen door into the garage, a wren bolted out of the rag bag and into the wide open spaces. Startled me and it. So I looked and there was a nice cozy nest. No eggs though. They are still working on it. Yesterday evening, both wrens were in the garage (door open screen shut). One was collecting leaves and twigs off the garage floor while the other acted as lookout. Eventually all the activity attracted the cat's attention and she crept over to the screen door just quivering with excitement. I joined her and we silently watched. Wrens are such characters. Today they have been in and out of the garage clearly upset by all the activity of the inhabitants and expressing their displeasure.

at long last

No one will ever accuse us of acting in haste. Now, finally, after having the slab for 2½ years and the lumber (which Marc had previously cut to size) for the framing of our new shop filling up the garage for 9 months (yes, 9 months. I went back to see when the check was written and I even surprised myself as I was thinking 6 months), construction has actually begun. We even bought the metal panels for the siding and the roof when we were in the city yesterday.

le chat

Here's Emma helping me with my work. Actually this is her 'I'm not helping you very much' position. When she's really helping, she's sitting right on top of what I'm working on with her tail in my face, or she's walking on my keyboard. Other times when she wants to help she just pushes everything off onto the floor. Today though she has been banished from the desk top.

not my hair, mine's darker but the pile of hair is similar
picture via

Not quite like a sheep but nearly so. I got my hair cut yesterday, the shortest cut I have ever had. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, if I like it or not. It's a very boyish cut. She swept up a mountain of hair. It had grown to shoulder length or longer during the 9 months or more since my last haircut as nearly as we could remember. Mary Alice is going to bag it up and send it to the 'hair for oil abatement project'. Apparently hair is very oil absorbent and it is being stuffed in panty hose (being donated by manufacturers) and being used to soak up oil from the ongoing spill in the Gulf Of Mexico, my stomping grounds.

to the rescue
photo by Stephen Burch

Yesterday in the city I was standing near the turtle pond which is adjacent to the old bathtub that serves as the plant pond and I noticed some frantic movement in the texas swordleaf. Taking a closer look I found a juvenile white wing dove caught in the foliage mostly immersed in the water, only it's head up and dry. I gathered it up and wrapped it in a towel trying to absorb as much of the water as I could and warming it up. After a while, I set it down to see if it would fly away. It tried but couldn't even seem to stay on it's feet, lurching around so I gathered it up and wrapped it in the towel again til I could find a box to put it in in a quiet spot. A couple of hours later, it had dried out more though it's wing and tail feathers still looked wet and bedraggled. I took the box outside and opened it up and waited to see what would happen. After about 10 minutes, it fluttered up and perched on the edge, stretched out it's wings and flew away. Yay!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

I'm having to relearn this little axiom. Getting a refresher course as it were.

I've found myself not answering the calls or returning messages from someone who feels I owe them a great debt. And the thing is, I do. But I also feel I have done much to repay that debt.

Back when I was diagnosed with osteoporosis one of the things I did was join a gym. This gym had a section for cardio, fitness machines and free weights. I had been mostly just using the fitness machines and the cardio but was interested in learning to use the free weights so one day I approached one of the women trainers there at the gym. We talked about what I wanted, what I needed and she was interested in working with someone with osteoporosis as she felt weight training would be very beneficial but I could not in any way afford her at $50 an hour and she would want to work with me three times a week. Long story short, we agreed that I would pay her for one session a week (my personal allowance was $40 a week) and she would keep a tally for a future trade for the other two days a week. A killer deal.

At the time we made this bargain I don't think either of us imagined our association would go on for so long but in fact, she worked with me for six years. I only put an end to it a little over a year ago. I had become extremely uncomfortable with the weight of the debt she was keeping track of.

Over that period of time, on several occasions I asked her if she wanted to be released from this agreement since there was no way I could ever pay back the debt. “It's not always about the money,” she would tell me, “sometimes, it's about helping people.” And I felt that we had become friends over the years as well though we didn't associate outside the gym.

It's not like I took a blasé attitude about it. And it's not like she didn't get anything in return. We did a beautiful free standing piece of etched glass for her, she came many times to the shop and picked out a pate de verre piece for herself or as a gift for a friend. I did several small pate de verre pieces for her personally. I always gave her a lump sum of cash whenever we had a big job and I put myself at her beck and call if she ever needed help with anything. In fact I helped her move twice, helped her pick up a large piece of furniture on a separate occasion, I let her juggle my hour around to benefit herself and her paying clients, when I started bringing eggs in from the country to sell them for my sister, she always got two dozen and I never let her pay for them. So I was doing what I felt I could to help balance the scales. Still, six years of $250 - $400 a month going on the balance sheet quickly adds up.

When I finally quit that gym and ended our sessions together we talked about some work I would do for her. It took a long time for her and I to finally come up with something that she would like. We planned another freestanding piece of etched glass which we delivered in March and a set of 6 wall mounted pate de verre pieces which I have not started on yet.

In the last 6 months or so our relationship has deteriorated. She is impatient and I believe feels like she is going to get stiffed. I feel like she is pressuring me to drop everything and concentrate on her work. I'm unable to do that though as my income producing work has to take precedence (just as she juggled me around or canceled me to benefit her income producing work) and I do include her stuff in my work schedules but it does not have top priority. Actually, I did start on the large drawings for this new work but was unhappy with them so I need to start over.

So much for the friendship I thought we had. It has now become all about the money I owe her. Two days after we delivered this last piece to her, she was telling me she was going to tally it all up and give me the balance that I was still in for. I reminded her of the occasions when I had told her that I could not possibly repay the amount that was adding up and she could have ended our workouts with no hard feelings. She laughed it off. But now every communication I get from her is about 'the glass'.

I will do this last set of pieces for her and I will try and get them done sooner rather than later because when they are done, we will be done. And if she feels like I took advantage of her and stiffed her for what she is still owed, well, then I'll be sorry that she feels that way but I won't feel guilty.

I don't blame her really. It's my fault. I should have known better. There is no such thing as a free ride no matter how hard they try to convince you. I know that.

And I should have remembered.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

playing hookey

One might think that I've been playing hookey for some time now but one would be mistaken. Although we (still) don't have any work and though I (still) have not done the initial sketches in order to snatch up the two jobs floating out there, I have been (mostly) consistently busy. There is much to do in life that is totally unconnected with earning a living.

There is the watering and maintenance of the garden.

There is my campaign against the fire ants.

There is the continuing problem of why I can't get any decent waxes from the cheap chinese 100% silicone caulk I used for these molds.

There is the blog world.

There are the plumbing woes (now solved but did take up several days).

There are the mice in the attic.

There are the trips to the grocery store (provisions), trips to the library (donating books from our dwindling personal collection), trips to Freddie's (for lunch).

There were all the things done to prepare for the birthday party.

There is the daily inspection of the yard.

So you see, I have not been playing hookey...until yesterday. I had determined that it was Monday, the beginning of the week and I was going to put a good start to it by making a concerted effort to getting these sketches done when Marc came in and said, “Let's go see Ironman II. W'eve got 35 minutes to get there before it starts.” (which is just exactly enough time to hop in the truck and get to the theater in Richmond.)

I thought about it for some time a little while a few minutes a nanosecond ok, I didn't think about it at all and said OK!

So off we went and had a great time. It had been a long time since we went to the movies. Afterwards, we had a late lunch/early dinner out and on the way home stopped and bought a flat of peaches (about 11 pounds) from a neighbor on the next street over from ours who has a small orchard. I've been keeping my eyes out for his sign since I was determined to get some this year having missed them the previous two years.

But now, I really need to get those sketches done.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

baby food

banana pepper

bell pepper

butternut squash


green bean







Saturday, May 8, 2010


Two nights of sleeplessness have left me feeling thick headed and listless. I have laid around all morning in a semi-doze sometimes reading, sometimes just sitting with my eyes closed and occasionally wandering around outdoors. It's 2 in the afternoon and I haven't even gotten properly dressed yet, still wearing my lounge-around-the-house clothes.

I finally became animated enough to fix some fish tacos for a late lunch from the left over fried catfish from yesterday's lunch from Freddie's. Freddie's is our favorite lunch spot here in Wharton when we have failed to provide enough groceries here at the house, a common occurrence. Freddie's is a little quickie mart with a steam table. His cook is an older black lady who we have tried to recruit to our own kitchen many times. She just laughs.

It's been softly overcast today which I'm sure has contributed to my lethargy. We've had a steady breeze for the last several weeks and it continues today causing the wind chimes to give us a near constant gentle serenade. Even though earlier this week the temperatures have been reminding us that summer is near, today has been pleasant so the doors and windows remain open.

Needless to say, all things have gone undone today.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

time out for you little mister

I got up this morning all ready to start on the preliminary sketches for two possible jobs out there. Had my coffee while I followed the doings of the blog world and then settled down to be a productive human being after my month long hiatus. Not that I wasn't productive during that time, just not productive in an income producing way.

First thing on my agenda was to answer the email asking for a class description of the new workshop we are going to teach in August. Got my answer all typed out and hit send and all I got was an error message. WTF?! It all worked fine last night. Tried the other send server address with no better luck. Great. After a frustrating half hour, I finally rewrote the class description on Marc's computer and sent it off.

I'm fairly computer literate, can usually solve my problems but by 1 PM this afternoon, after delving deeply into settings and accounts and the connection doctor and the help and on and on and windows hidden in windows looking for that illusive one thing that had (according to the error message I finally found), for no apparent reason and with no direction from me, changed itself so that it allowed me to receive mail but prevented me from sending mail. After changing settings and changing them back ad infinitum, I found it. Unclicked the little box (and, btw, there are TWO of those little boxes and the first one you come across isn't checked) and voila!, I could now send mail.

Unfortunately, I could no longer receive mail.

Geez Louise and Holy Mother. Totally disgusted, I turned it off, unplugged it and went to run a couple of errands while Imac had a little time out in the corner to contemplate the error of it's bad behavior.

I did, eventually, find the new error message that directed me to the solution, changed the setting and I can now not only send mail, but receive it as well. It only took me All. Friggin'. Day.

So now all is right with the world and I'm having a margarita...or two...or three.

Monday, May 3, 2010

birthday loot

I only get my hair cut about twice a year. I get it cut real short and then I just let it grow until it gets to one of two points. It gets hot enough that I am pulling it back all the time or in my face so much I am pulling it back all the time. I'm ready for my semi-annual haircut especially since the two points have coincided.

I had entertained the notion that I would get my hair cut before my birthday party on the off chance that someone other than me just might use my camera and take a couple of shots. Of me, not the tequila. Just kidding, there wasn't any tequila

moving along...

Apparently, it was low on the priority list.

We had been having the most extraordinary weather last, dry, breezy days with rampant blue skies. So of course, Saturday, summer paid a visit. Saturday was my party. Because Marc had checked the weather forecast (he's clever like that), we knew it was supposed to be hot and humid so with that in mind, we had the AC man out early in the week to check the (very old) central air unit and make sure that everything was in order so we could cool down the house for when our guests arrived. Everything checked out.

About 4 PM Saturday we went to turn it on and...nothing happened. Nothing happened no matter what we did. So I took my now cool shower and twisted my hair up into a little bunlet in the back, put on shorts instead of the pants I had planned to wear and greeted my closest friends and immediate family.

The AC guy did show up after we called and got it going after replacing a part which had shorted out possibly because of a power surge or could have been mice that will chew through wires and insulation.

Anyway, all this is prelude to these all new pictures* of me, taken at 60 years and one day old. Do I look happy?

I was, very.

I got some very cool presents too.

My son and DIL gave me this plum tree.

A garden plaque from friends Carol and Rick.

My daughter and grandkids made these great stepping stones.

This beautiful vase made by our glass blower friends Dick and Kathy.

A fabulous wind chime tuned to 'C' from my sister.

A very pretty necklace, a book on yoga and a year's subscription to The Yoga Journal from friend Phyllis.

And, of course, the party from Marc who planned it and provisioned it.

I am a lucky girl.

* Special thanks to Hilary of The Smitten Image who photoshopped the cabinet handles out for me so my antennae aren't showing.