Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I've been trying to work more mindfully, more hours, more often on the cast glass. I'm still a long ways from having any body of work done to the point that I can look for placement. And I've made at least one decision about who to approach with the boxes. None of the galleries that already carry my work.

I am going to approach a particular gallery in Los Angeles, one that I had an opportunity to send a few things to ten years or so ago and let it slip through my fingers, even though they are not a 'glass' gallery. In fact they specialize in turned wood, small intensely worked pieces. Beautiful pieces. They do handle a few artists that do not work in wood and I think the boxes, at least, would be a very good fit.

Anyway. The boxes are almost done (not done as in not making any more but done in that when I finish the ones in process, I'll have enough to make a good showing) although there is at least one more I want to make that I haven't even started on.

So am I working on getting the last few details of the boxes done? No. I'm working on the small 4” square botanica erotica series. The first three are cast and cleaned up but haven't done the finish work yet. And I have the next three wax models made. I still haven't decided how I'm going to display them. I have several ideas I'm working with. Keep in mind that these are 4” x 4” x 1 1/4” - 1 1/2” thick.

One is to stack them up (glued together) like children's blocks.

Another is to set them individually or groups in a frame or shadowbox and hang on the wall.

Another is to just keep them as individual pieces that can be laid flat like a paperweight.

Or, back to the wall, affix a small french cleat on the backs and hang them up frameless in groups.

Here are the first three cast pieces (cleaned but not finished). The one with the purple petals is the one I showed in this post on filling the molds.

And these are the waxes for the next three.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

things the rain brought

Last Saturday and Sunday it rained. And then on Monday we packed up and went to the city for the week.

I like home coming. The cat likes home coming. She bounds down out of the truck as soon as I open the door and then she makes herself scarce, coming in only to eat, maybe an hour or two in the evening and then she wants right back out.

Now that the weather is cooling off a little and it's amazing what a difference 10˚ makes when it still gets up to the low 90s˚ and you are thinking that it's nice out we've been opening the doors and turning off the AC til about 3 PM. I actually got out there and did a little weeding and grass pulling in part of one flower bed today. Still needs to done be earlier in the day though.

I guess you could say that's one thing the rain brought, some cooler temperatures.

I like coming home because all my stuff is here and although the bed there is comfortable, the real bed is here.

Knowing what bed I am in is important and as it happens, I have four 'beds'. Since I've been having a relationship with insomnia for at least part of about two or three nights a week for a couple of years now, I sleep on the couch a lot. Plus, I stay up later because I have found that, if I can stay up til midnight, I can usually sleep through til 7 or later. But staying up til midnight usually means sleeping on the couch til midnight. What can I say, it's a comfy couch.

So I need to know where I am when I wake up in the middle of the bed or couch, city bed or couch. Knowing what bed I am in tells me where the furniture is and in which direction lay the bathroom.

Seeing where I'm at in the city shouldn't be that big a deal considering the city's need to highly illuminate my block, especially right in front of my house but by then I'm usually trying to stay asleep so I open my eyes only as much as absolutely necessary.

You're probably wondering what this has to do with what the rain brought and I can tell you this...

absolutely nothing

But this does.

Once back home, we walk around the yard to see how things have fared in our absence.

These miniature amaryllis that pop up out of the ground unnoticed in the fall are always a delight.

The oxalis were not blooming when we left.

The pink and yellow rain lilies were blooming in Houston and I dug up some of them as we were leaving.

The little yellow ones I dug a small clump up out of an easement by a nearby street years ago and they have multiplied nicely. I have planted three little plugs around the country house and added more pink ones.

And we have a new resident in the turtle pond. Actually the rain didn't bring him, at least not last weekend's rain because I have heard him out there before, but today was the first time I have seen him, nestled in the pot of elephant ears. Eventually I annoyed him enough taking pictures that with one great leap, he jumped out of the pot, cleared the turtle pond altogether and landed in the space between it and the fence.

All righty then.

Haven't seen him since and have no idea how he found his way here in the first place.

A young bullfrog.

Friday, September 23, 2011

so long, farewell, auf weidersehen, goodbye

Here we are, back home after 4 days in the city. Well, 3½ since we didn't get into Houston til about 4 PM.

Monday night we had dinner with our son, Aaron, and daughter-in-law, Leesa, before their going away gathering on the back deck of a neighborhood bar.

My son and his wife have decided to move to Oregon. They are young yet, in their 30s, and they are going for a change. They are attracted by the community, however job unfriendly it is, and the weather, after this exceptionally hot and dry year, looks good to them. They have visited Portland before and really liked it. The whole urban thing, being able to walk to what you need, not needing a car because there other good alternatives; fresh food markets, a green mindset, recycling, politically like-minded to themselves. And she lived in Olympia for a time previously.

Actually Olympia was their first destination but for whatever reasons they changed their minds and decided on Portland. I like Portland. I know some other glass artists who live there and I 'know' other bloggers in the area as well and my niece and her husband live there. My brother and his wife live in the Seattle area. So that is Aaron's and Leesa's destination. They will stay with his cousin until they settle in.

They have no real plans besides getting out of Houston. There are no jobs waiting for them, no house or apartment. They have rid themselves of most of their possessions, keeping only what will fit in a 12' box truck and have thrown their fates to the wind.

Leesa is an artist and freelance illustrator and now that she is getting fairly steady work she wants to give Aaron the same chance he gave her. His G.I. Bill is going to run out and he wants to take advantage of the education funding, going to college or maybe taking a printmaking class or some other more creative endeavor besides managing a copy shop.

I've known about the move for two months but I haven't been able to write about it. When he called, he said he had some news. I was in a particularly good mood at the time so was expecting to hear something good. I was not expecting him to tell me he was moving 2,500 miles away.

After the stunned silence wore off, I cried.

I'll never see you again.

Yes you will, besides I hardly see you now, he says, since you moved.

I only moved 55 miles away. One hour away.

Well, I've gotten used to the idea now. I still don't like it, but I'm resigned to it.  Anyway, I understand and I hope they have fun on their big adventure. If we were young and childless, we might do something like it ourselves. Well, I guess we did do something like it. Old with children grown, we moved out here.

But still, big bear hugs from my boy are going to be few and far between now.

Monday, September 19, 2011

rain, glorious rain

It rained!

Over the course of the last two days and nights, we had five (at least) rain showers and it was overcast all weekend. It started with our usual (lately) 10 minute light shower but on Sunday it rained for almost an hour, not heavy, but not light either. Most important was the length of time. I can't remember when it last rained more than just a sporadic 10 minutes, few and very far between.

A drop in the bucket though as we are 20 inches behind in our annual rainfall.

This lack of rain has weighed heavily on my spirit.

But already the grass is greening up, the bindweed is suddenly covered with flowers, the pampas grass is putting up it's blooms, the air is heavy with humidity and everything looks so much happier including me.

It rained.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

R is for...

Before too much time has passed, I want to thank everyone who commented on 'an unpopular position'. Just...thank you.

R is for...rituals, reckless, reality, river, reincarnation, rubbers

I could do my R post on rivers but I've already written so much about being on the river.

I thought about writing on reincarnation, which I subscribe to, but I'm not feeling especially esoteric right now.

And I thought about writing about the most reckless thing I ever did, which was to take some pills that I didn't know what they were that my date gave me which knocked me out for about 18 hours which freaked out my roommate at college because she couldn't wake me up and made everyone think I had tried to commit suicide because I had just been kicked out of school. Whew! I hadn't, tried to commit suicide that is, but I was lucky to have woken up just the same. But that's just one part of a much longer story.

I could write about my concept of reality, which is that this is all just a figment of our collective imagination and thought is energy and energy manifests. But you all probably know all about that already.

Or I could write about my disconnect with rituals except that would bore even me.

Lastly I thought of doing a post on my friend's amazing condom collection but I was sort of grasping at straws using the slang term. So I decided I'd rather just do a post on it separate. So watch this space...

Then I racked my brain for some kind of 'R' connection, some word that would set me off on a memory or idea or something! Nope, nada, zip.

And it's holding me up cause I've got a great one for 'V'.

So this is my R post.

R is for all of the above.

If you're new around here and want to read the rest of the alphabet posts, there's a link on my sidebar.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a city tale

We're back in the city again working on the second of two shower enclosures, a job we got last spring but the contractor has been extremely slow. Finally the glass was delivered to us the Friday before the twin's Bat Mitzvah and last week we finished the simpler of the two designs. I didn't photograph it and won't. It's wrapped up and ready to go.

Driving in our luck finally ran out and we were caught in a traffic back-up on the freeway. In the four years since we've been driving back and forth this is the first time we've been caught. Fortunately the wreck was in the right lane and cleared quickly. We crept along for a while but didn't have to sit at a standstill. The cat was not pleased. Slowing down is her signal that we are nearing our destination.

Coming in past Memorial Park, I was heartbroken to see how many more trees had died. The dead trees now outnumber the living trees, at least the ones that are visible from the freeway as we skirt around the park on our way to the city house. The 1500 acre heavily wooded park in the inner city, bordered on one side by the only natural bayou left and the inner loop on two other sides, has large sections that remain undeveloped providing much needed habitat for all kinds of wildlife. Paddling down the bayou at the edge of the park, all noise from the city disappears and it's easy to imagine that you are far away.

Arriving at the house, I bring the cat in in her carrier. Used to be I would just open the door and let her jump down. She travels calmly. We keep her open carrier on the wide armrest between us in the truck. She doesn't mind laying in it when the door is open. It's her safe place in the truck. But she also will sit out on the armrest, usually coming out when we exit the freeway. She looks out and if we vary our route, you can tell she's anxious because she doesn't recognize her surroundings. Lately she's taken to stretching forward, putting her paws on the dash and sniffing at the air conditioner vent. We get a lot of surprised looks from people who happen to notice we have a cat sitting up on the armrest.

Anyway, I used to let her jump down when we arrived but the the kids got a dog. He's not two yet, and came as a small puppy, the runt of the litter. He's a sweet dog and has a cat of his own who will still get up in his face and he will sit on the cat and they chase each other about. But he's a big dog with a big head that is all mouth and when he sees Emma he wants to play. Emma sees a big dog that is all mouth running at her. She tore holes in three of my shirts before I quit carrying her in. Not to mention the holes and scratches on me. She's happily an indoor cat in the city.

There's no fence between the kid's house and our house. We used to own both properties and so the two places are enclosed with one fence. We're OK with that. The g'kids use our house sometimes when we aren't here. They'll watch something different on TV or seek a quiet place to do their homework. I'm sure they ferreted out any secrets we left behind long ago but they seem to love us anyway.

I see the city and the neighborhood differently now that I don't live here. If I was young and single or married and childless I would want to live here. The changes I have decried I now see as desirable, if I was young and unattached or newly attached. No yard to speak of, bike path through the adjacent neighborhoods that provides a kind of highway, a new sort of hippie hip center, some quirky street art. I'd have to have a good job to afford it though. Truth is I've always liked this neighborhood. Even when it was working poor. It's not now, of course, and I'm not young but it looks like fun.

Travel days, that's really all we do. Close up one house, load the truck, make the drive, open the other house, unload the truck. And then again in reverse when we are headed home.

It's kind of like camping here at the city house. We bring certain necessities back and forth with us. Our pillows, a few kitchen items, food. We don't keep any food here in the city besides basic staples or stuff we bought at some point and then never used.

After dinner, someone brings up donuts. In the country it would be said wistfully and that would be the end of it. But we're not in the country.

So there's a box full of donuts on the table.

Monday, September 12, 2011

an unpopular position

I did not read or listen to any 9/11 posts or broadcasts. Well, except for one. I did read this one, The Decade Of Magical Thinking, and it sums up some of my feelings, although more nicely than I would have.

9/11 was a tragic day, and I don't intend to demean anyone's sorrow who lost someone they loved, but it was not the defining moment of my life and it should not have been a defining moment in the life of this nation. Or if so, it should have been a far different eye opener, a far different lesson than what this nation took from it.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed by the acts of a few.

Our national response once the shock wore off was not to have a dialog, a soul search, to understand how and why this happened, how our country's foreign policies could have engendered this response from a radical element.

No, our national response was to invade two countries and be directly responsible for the deaths of more than a hundred thousand innocent people. Because if those 2,977 people killed in the attack on the twin towers and the pentagon were innocent victims, then innocent too were the hundred thousand that We killed in retaliation.

In response, We sent another nearly 4,500 soldiers to their deaths and seriously maimed another 32,000. We engaged in torture.

In response, We willingly gave up some of our rights and freedoms under the guise of safety when we are no more or less safe than before but we are certainly less free. In actuality our acts of revenge increased the incidences of terrorism worldwide for many years.

Those of us who disagreed were charged with being unpatriotic, un-American. We were accused of not supporting the troops when in fact we did not want them in harm's way to begin with. We wanted our nation to act in a better way and were reviled for it.

I keep hearing the word 'sacred' applied to the site of 9/11 and I find it profane to use that term. We cry and beat our chests over the unprovoked attack, We claim moral superiority when, in fact, our government policies, policies that the people of this country supported, had been using and abusing the middle east for decades. We have set up and supported dictators who abused their populations in exchange for the right to go in and pillage their natural resources all the while sneering at the uneducated and disenfranchised third world populations. And when some part of them finally started fighting back the only way they could We cried foul when We have no moral high ground to stand on.

To claim that the American people are innocent of the travesties of our national policies is to deny the democracy in which we are supposed to live. We, the people, vote for and put into office the congressmen that make our laws and determine our national policies. In that sense, we, each of us, is responsible for the actions of our government. We are not a population that is at the mercy of a dictator or dictatorial institution. We said yes. And now, 10 years later, We continue to deny our own complicity because We surely have not changed any of our policies.

How different could the present be if We, as a nation, had raised up those populations instead of raising up dictators, if We had shared the bounty of their oil instead of taking it all for ourselves? The national tragedy is not that the twin towers fell and that nearly 3,000 people died at the hands of terrorists. The individuals that died that day were not the first Americans to die at the hands of terrorists, nor the last and yet those others are never remembered.

The national tragedy is that We learned nothing from the experience. We did not learn that national behavior comes with consequences. We did not learn that We cannot bomb thousands of innocents, We cannot set up dictators for our financial gain, We cannot set out to assassinate the political leaders of other countries with impunity and We certainly cannot claim the high moral ground. What goes around,comes around.

So revile me if you must, but I think We failed the test.

And yes, I know that as individuals We have within us some powerfully aware and compassionate beings but this is about the collective soul of this nation and judging from the last 10 years there are not enough.

Obviously, not enough.

edit: I must amend some of what I wrote. Several commenters have pointed out that while we try to elect people who seem to represent us, once in office, they represent only those of wealth and power and forget their promises to the rest of us who voted for them. So in that way, we, the individuals, aren't responsible for what our government does. But on the other hand, there are no massive demonstrations against what they do either.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

up in smoke

I've written before about the drought Texas is undergoing. Add to that record heat, hottest AND driest on record and NO humidity (that happens just about, oh...never). The green life first got pale, then droopy, then brown, then crispy. Crispy is where we're at now. Well, except for the parts that are ash.

Texas is going up in smoke.

We've been plagued with some terrible wildfires the last week and new ones keep catching. 49% of all wildfires in the nation have been in Texas this year. Over a million and a half acres have burned since April. 63 new fires since last Sunday and a 500 - 700 acre wildfire popped up 25 miles from the country house yesterday.

Besides the big fire in the hill country, where thankfully both my friends houses have been spared albeit with a burned landscape all around them now, there is a three county fire just NE of Houston. The smoke from that fire is now hanging over the city.

And in the city, as we are this week, I am sad to see how many more trees have died, over 1,000 in Memorial Park alone. The city is turning from green to brown. Now it is not just trees but shrubs. The three large azaleas and the two ligustrum in the back yard here have died. They were here before me and I've been here for 35 years.

All grass that isn't watered...yards, easements, fields, swards, esplanades, brown, dry and crunchy. The dirt which was at first just dry and hard is now turned to dust.

I wish it would rain.

I know it will eventually rain again.

I hope.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

life goes on

I've been trying to catch up with everybody's blogs today as I've been a little preoccupied lately. I hate it when I get obsessed with the train wreck we call our political system. I've got one more bone to pick (not today though) and then I'll put my head back in the sand.

Railing against the machine isn't all I've been doing though. I've been trying to get my marketing efforts back on track, looking for data bases and adding new names to my newsletter email list every day.

I've also started to write my book about our pate de verre work and technique. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback about the idea, so outline completed, I'm trying to work on the text every day.

The weather is finally starting to cool off some to the point that it's downright pleasant in the mornings and evenings even though it is still getting into the 90s every day. But the 90s is not triple digits and so the molds I filled last week are now in the kiln (currently at 1025˚). And I've started on the models for the next group of three 4” square 'botanica erotica' pieces.

It's very windy today and hazy, almost overcast even; the only effect we're getting from tropical storm Lee. Would that some of that rain would fall on us. It's like there is some kind of huge invisible deflector out there that is pushing every hope of rain away from us.

It's been an exceptionally windy summer this year and while we always get nice breezes from the open fields around us, this summer it's been a near constant hot dry desert wind which sucks out every drop of moisture that the unrelenting sun may have left behind.

Can you guess where the drain field to our septic system is?

I have the door to the little back yard open today. It has one of those glass storm doors with a panel that can be raised so that it functions as a screen as well. It's the first day in about two months that I've been able to have it open (the door, not the screen panel) without having the heat radiating in through it. I have sorely missed the daily show that centers around the turtle pond and birdbath.

I looked out earlier today to see that the red shouldered hawk was perched on the gate to the little back yard and peering intently into the turtle pond. I got my camera and tried to get close enough to the door to take a picture but as soon as I got within 3 feet of it, he snapped his head around and looked straight at me. I froze until he looked back at the turtle pond and then tried to creep a little closer. Snap! That head came around and he looked right at me again. Then he gave a little leap, spread his wings and flew off to the tree line.

That's the second time I have seen him on the fence near the turtle pond. I'm thinking maybe he's interested in having some goldfish for dinner. Yesterday he was in the pine tree in my neighbor's back yard calling loudly.

And in case you were wondering, yes, I'm still doing this.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I decided to look up the word 'entitlement' since Republicans are throwing it around like it's a dirty word.

en·ti·tle·ment \-ˈtī-təl-mənt\

1 a : the state or condition of being entitled : right
b : a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract
2 : a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed by such a program
3 : belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

-"a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract"

When we buy car insurance or homeowner's insurance, we enter into a contract with the insurance company that they will pay the damages when and  if we get in an accident or something happens to our home.  And although we all know how much insurance agencies will balk at paying claims, we are entitled to expect they will hold up their end of the bargain.

When every worker pays unemployment and social security and Medicare taxes with every paycheck, they are entering into a contract (one they have no say in by the way) with the government that says if they find themselves in need, the assistance will be there.  This is no more or less than another insurance policy but one you would hope they wouldn't try to wriggle out of.  And so, yes, we are entitled to that help when and if we need it.  

-"a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed by such a program"

Like benefits to veterans.  Young men and women who return from serving their country, maimed and traumatized, are entitled to help, having paid the most valuable of coin.

Yes, we are entitled.  We have fulfilled the terms of the agreement.

-"belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges"

When Republicans decry the sense of 'entitlement' this is the sneer they use with the word.  As if we are not deserving of the aid for which we have been paying with every single paycheck or with a limb or an eye.

These lawmakers who want to cut these programs out of the budget have a blind eye toward their own entitlements.

While members of Congress do pay some for their unparalleled health care benefits, 75% of their premiums are subsidized by the government.  So while I cannot afford health insurance for myself, I'm helping pay for theirs.

The average pay for Congress is $174K a year (party and house leaders get more) with automatic cost of living increases every year.  And for this they are in session an average of 140 days a year while everyone else in this country works at least 290 days.  However, getting them to increase the minimum wage to a living wage is nearly impossible.  Not only that, but during this recession while everyone else was getting pay cuts or losing their jobs, their pay increased by 5%.  (Just for comparison, the per capita personal income for 2009 was a little over $39K.)

Members of Congress also get an allowance of over $1 million to run their offices.  It goes to pay for their staff, rent, supplies and travel.  I wish someone would pay all that for me.  I'd love to have employees I didn't have to pay.  I'd even settle for having the gas I use being subsidized.

It's hard to have respect for people who seem to have totally lost touch with what it means to be an average American.

And there is nothing wrong with these 'entitlement' programs the government provides that people pay into their whole working lives. The only thing wrong about them is that Congress is able to abscond with the funds of a solvent program and use them to pay for something else they don't have the money for, like undeclared illegal wars.

Friday, September 2, 2011

a hand up

image via:

Well, that was interesting.  As Butternut observed, I seemed to have struck a nerve.  While my post was intended as a statement on attitudes, assumptions and perceptions and in particular those held towards mexicans, it generated some strong emotion in defense of unemployment and those who rely on it.

I learned quite a bit about how unemployment works from Cynthia in the comments and it seems the system is a little oxymoronic, hindering people from working in some ways.  Having always been self employed, it's not been something I could fall back on.

Which doesn't mean I begrudge it to others.  On the contrary, I'm against the latest attempt to cut the safety nets from the budget.  I'd rather pay for that with my taxes than the wars this country is currently conducting or bailing out the banks and other financial institutions so their CEOs can continue to get their multi-million dollar salaries.

When I held that guy up as an example I did not mean to imply that I held that opinion of everyone who relied on unemployment.  And truth be told, I don't really know his whole story.  

Times are extremely tough for so many people right now, ourselves included, with no real end in sight.  People who did everything right have lost their jobs, lost their homes and lost all their retirement savings or have seen them greatly diminished.  And then there are those who have struggled all their lives and find they have even fewer options now.

It is my hope that things start improving soon for all of us but until that time I have no problem with the government programs that hold them above the water, if only just.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

working hard or hardly working

I might have mentioned that our refrigerator quit working a week or two ago. It's an old one that came with the country house but replacing it was not an option right now if it could be repaired. So we called the local appliance repairman and it could indeed be repaired. The part that controlled the self defrost function had shorted out and it was stuck on the defrost cycle.

Matt, the appliance repairman, and Marc were chatting it up and of course the state of the economy was a topic under discussion. Matt, like us and many other people now, is trying to find different ways to make money since it's hard to rely on just one income stream these days. He also owns the equipment to cut and bale hay in other people's fields and is looking into buying automated ice machines to set up in remote areas, like the water kiosks, but the machines are very expensive.

Matt, a nice white divorced country boy in his late 40s was moaning about his hay baling business not doing well. The 'illegal' Mexicans, he said, were getting all the business because they will cut and bale hay for cheaper than he will. Maybe he knows something I don't but short of asking those guys to see their birth certificates it sounds like an assumption to me.

Anyway, he went on to tell about a buddy of his that has been unemployed for almost two years and although his unemployment has been cut in half, he's still getting $200 a week. Well, his friend was finally offered a job as night watchman at the nuclear power plant and he turned it down. Why should he work for a living when he was getting basically the same amount of money for not working?

It made me think about the difference between the (supposedly) illegal Mexicans who would labor out in the hot sun for less in order to support themselves and their families and the white American who turned down a cush job cause it barely paid more than his unemployment.

To his credit, Matt didn't think much about his friend's choice.

edit: just for the record, I'm not against social services for those in need (and I've learned quite a lot about how unemployment benefits work thanks to Cynthia in the comments) and I think the current attempt to cut them out of the budget is wrong. that's not what this was about. this was about racial assumptions and perceptions, in other words, prejudice. see my comment below.