Thursday, June 30, 2011

moving day

You might remember that I've been helping my sister pack and move the last month. Yesterday was moving day.

All the packing was done, she closed on the new house, we moved the 8 truckloads of potted plants and yard art that we could handle on Tuesday and yesterday her movers came. A trailer, 1 young man and 6 boys.

My sister and I looked at each other wide eyed. She knew that the owner of the company was going to be on vacation with his wife and he had told my sister that if she wanted him on the job, he couldn't move her til the following week. She asked him if he trusted his crew, he said yes and that was good enough for her. What she didn't know was that his 'crew' was a gang of boys.

When they all got inside the foyer and my sister was explaining how a section of wall* came down and we would be taking that with us to the young man, I guess early 20s, standing there with these kids behind him ranging in age from 11 or 12 to about 15 (also a guess), I'm running through my head a house full of heavy antique furniture.

Excuse me, I don't mean to be rude but we were expecting men and not boys,” I said.

This young man, so polite, said he understood how we felt, other customers had felt the same way but that he would rather work with these boys than men because these boys worked harder and faster and didn't complain whereas the men were slower and complained more. And if we wanted men we couldn't move today.

I have a lot of heavy antiques”, she said.

They'll be real careful, ma'am.”

So the move began.

The first trailer load was stuff from the barn, lawn furniture and the heavy yard art, benches and trellises. All that was unloaded into the backyard of the new house while I waited for the new appliances to be delivered. They were joined by another younger young man and a medium box truck at the new house and later a young woman showed up at the new house to help as well.

It took them three trips in all. During the final unloading, one of the youngest of the crew told my sister, “You have a lot of stuff, ma'am”. She agreed with him. “Yes, I do.”

I have never seen a group of men, much less a group of boys, work that hard all day long without complaining, taking only a 10 minute break for pizza for lunch. They started about 8:30 in the morning and I don't think the last piece was unloaded before 5 PM. And it was hot and humid yesterday. Both houses hot since all the doors were open. Those boys worked hard.

The back story is that this is a family operation, which my sister knew, but we didn't realize it was a family operation in the truest sense of the word, the parents and their 7 children. When we were at the old house getting the last truck loads I asked one of the younger boys how many of them here were related. He looked at me and said, “there's 7 of us and 6 are here”, so it was them and a couple of local boys that don't mind working hard to make some money.

And did I say how hard they worked? I was amazed. I didn't take my camera with me cause I didn't think there was going to be any reason to and I was going to be busy. Now I wish I had. I wish I could show you pictures of these boys. I wish I could show you pictures of these 12 and 14 year olds moving buffets, dressers, tables, chairs, bookcases. And they didn't slow down til the end of the day but even then there was no dawdling. They used these very cool things called arm straps that slipped under the heavy item (one on each end) and had cuffs that slipped onto their forearms that enabled these kids to safely pick up and carry these heavy items.

And so polite. Everything ended with ma'am.

Does this go, ma'am?”

Excuse me, ma'am” when I would inadvertently step in their way.

Could I get some ice, ma'am?”

Where do you want this ma'am.”

May I use that screwdriver ma'am?”

Thank you ma'am.”

I told the oldest young man at the end that I was very impressed with his crew, that now I hesitated to call them boys.

All the city boys I know would have flaked out after an hour.

* The section of wall is a mural about 6' x 8' that my parents had an artist friend paint on their wall. The family home was sold to be torn down so our parents had that section of sheetrock removed and it went with them every subsequent move until they passed away. My sister has possession of it now.

Monday, June 27, 2011

work of a different sort

I'm gone for a little less than 24 hours (don't take my computer with me for just one night in the city) and I swear, every blog I follow made a post. I'll try to get to all of them but I'm going to be very busy the rest of this week.

I headed out to the city yesterday late afternoon to supervise the installation of the job we have been working on this past month that was scheduled for today. It went well yay and we got paid bigger yay. No on site pictures yet as we kept the protective film on since they will be painting in there this week. The picture here is one I took as it lay on the table in the shop.

I came back with grandson in tow. He'll be here for his week in the country. He split just about as soon as his feet hit the driveway to go pal around with his two friends in the neighborhood here.

The rest of this week I will be helping my sister move. She closes on her new house tomorrow and closes on her old house on Thursday. We'll be going over to her new house after closing and start cleaning before all her furniture arrives on Wednesday. This little house has been vacant for at least a year and it will be so much easier to clean without all the furniture in the way.

We're also going to start moving all her plants over to her new house tomorrow morning. She must have 200 pots with stuff in them, a lot of which she has dug up in the last month in anticipation of her move. I guess I should have added plants to the list of things she collects on the 'barn sale' post.

Well, you'd never know we got rain several days the end of last week. The ground is already dry again. And it is HOT. I almost envy our turtle Big Mama, paddling around in her pond all the time. If I had a river running through my yard, I'd be sitting in it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

death by plastic

As some of you may know, I have a thing against plastic. I've posted about it several times, mostly on Earth Day. For those of you who don't know, I think that of all the ways we can and are destroying this planet and the life on it, the thing that will get us in the end is plastic.

The American people and the people of the world have been sold a bill of goods. We have been told, and we have accepted it wholeheartedly and without question, that plastic is the most wonderful invention, that it is harmless, that it is responsible for all that is good in our lives. What they didn't tell us is that it never, ever, ever goes away. Never. Oh yes, it will eventually break down into smaller and smaller pieces, but it does not change and does not go away.

And, as it turns out, it is not harmless. The toxic chemicals leach out of the plastic and into our food.

Not harmless. Not to us or to other species.

Out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the largest body of water on the planet, is Midway Atoll, more than 2,000 miles in any direction to any continent. One would think that that far distant, at least, one would find an unspoiled area on the planet. One would be wrong. There is a mass of detritus twice as large as the state of Texas (only one of several that have been discovered), a floating conglomeration of plastic from intact items to plastic bits the size of plankton. And baby albatrosses are dying by the thousands.

I recently came across this film and website by photographic artist Chris Jordan. These images from his website have not been altered in any way.

Take a little time and watch the film, explore his website. Look at the artworks in the other categories. And then consider your own relationship with plastic. Start accumulating glass containers to hold your food. Start refusing all those plastic bags (do you really need a plastic bag to carry one or two items out of the store?). Bring your own bags when you shop. Buy the product in the glass container when you have a choice. Recycle the plastic you do accumulate. Stop buying disposable products.

And above all, start thinking about where that stuff goes and what it affects when you blithely throw it away.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

rain...not just a myth

As irony would have it, after making my post about the drought, I woke the next day to rain. And it rained for hours. Not a hard beating rain but mostly steady and a relief nonetheless. I don't think we've had this much rain, or rather I haven't had this much rain in months. Maybe since January because I know the city where I'm not usually but was then has gotten more rain than we have in the country. But by all accounts (and by that I mean according to my sister) we got a good hard rain in the country where I wasn't.


It was wonderful.

Not enough to break the drought but oh so welcome.

Because as Rick at Life 101 opined, it drought impacts your spirit somewhat.

This morning, now at home, the evidence of more rain last night greets us.

actual rain drops

Thanks to all who have sent rain giving energy our way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

hot enough for ya?

It is still devastatingly dry here. 92% of the state is in severe drought conditions, 52% suffering from exceptional drought conditions (that would be us). It's been about 150 days since we had more than ½” of rain. Previous to now the longest span of no rain was 90 something days. I think we've had less rain at the country house than in the city (from whence these statistics come). By now we should have had a little over 20” of our annual rain. What we've gotten is a little more than 7”.

The ground is so dry that when I water it just balls up and rolls off barely impacting the surface. Let the water run long enough and it will soak in. And keep going deeper and deeper so that the surface is dry again in no time. Especially with the hot dry wind. Things I planted in April didn't have enough time to set a good root system. I fear all the azaleas I transplanted but one are dying if they aren't already dead. And I have watered them thoroughly every day. Every day.

The corn which seemed to be growing well last month despite no rain finally gave in. Only half the height of last year it is already turning brown and drying up.

Fires are sprouting everywhere. The latest one they think was started by a hot bearing (or some such hot piece of metal) thrown off a truck. Some counties have forbidden even the sale of fireworks for the holiday.

I find myself almost hoping for a hurricane. Well, maybe not a hurricane but I would welcome a good solid tropical storm right about now. (Well, as long as it's waited this long it can wait til after my sister moves next week.)

It's just plain hot. We've had more triple digit days so far in June than we ever have in August. The glue from the stencil material on the glass that I cut last week had melted off the stencil and onto the glass which made the peeling and sandblasting a pain in the patootie.

And it's just now summer.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

workshop notes

We finished our first three day beginning pate de verre workshop yesterday. We've been having trouble filling our 6 day intensive so at the suggestion of Bob at Hot Glass Houston, one of the venues we teach at, we broke it up into a 3 day beginning and a 5 day advanced. We've also decided to throw in a 3 day intermediate as well.

We had 7 students who made several models each and cast two, making the last molds on the last day to take home and do.

model making in clay

Marc demonstrates how to set up the cottle

pouring the mold

cleaning the clay out of the mold

me demonstrating how to fill the mold

filling the mold

molds after being fired

breaking away the mold

the finished tiles 4" x 4"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

P is for...

this picture will make sense at the end

P is for...persevere, prom, pecos, pictographs, petroglyphs

I was gonna write about my prom and then I decided not to.

You know, corny.

Except that my prom was not at all typical. I mean the prom was typical just not me. I guess what I mean is, my experience wasn't typical. For one thing, I made my own prom dress, an orange, purple and blue swirling pattern in voile while the other girls were wearing pastel satin and lace. This was 1968 Houston Tx after all.

I had turned 18 a month previous and a friend had given me a tab of purple owsley as a birthday present. I had never taken acid before and wasn't sure I wanted to.

So my date for the prom, a long haired musician type, said give it to him.

In the end, we ended up splitting it. Right before we walked in.

It took a little while to come on but before too long, I started hallucinating on the dance floor. Everyone was encased in a soap-like bubble and they were bouncing off one another. Weird, right?

I hallucinated through the prom, on the drive to the after-prom party, which was reminiscent of Toadie's Wild Ride, and pretty much through the after-prom party.

We eventually ended up on the beach where we parked and slept in the car (no hanky panky) and I remember very vividly to this day how the dawn looked, the sun coming up over the water, the deserted beach and driftwood. There had been plenty of time for the drug to ooze completely out of my pores and yet it felt as if I had not come completely down. The world seemed to glow with an inner light, as if I was seeing the divine consciousness in the physical manifestation.

If this was my new 'normal', I thought, then that would be all right.

image via:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

play date

These pictures of the crows on the bird bath were taken through a dirty window and screen.

The crows have basically taken over the big bird bath in front, chasing off the smaller birds. It's so hot and dry, the ground more and more dusty. They come flying in, landing on the edge or on an over-hanging branch, beaks open. They cluster in groups or come in singly, drink, maybe splash around and then fly away. Soon they are back.

They're acting a little crazy. The other day I was gazing out the window and a crow flew to a flimsy branch in the yew tree near the bird bath. It sat there doing bird things for a while and then it sort of keeled over and was hanging upside down from the branch. It hung there for a moment or two and then let go, falling to the ground. It righted itself before it landed but I didn't see that part as the wall blocked my vision.

I was telling Marc about it but I'm not sure he believed me and so I was watching the crows earlier today when one of them did it again. I called Marc's attention to it and while we were watching, another (the same?) crow flew to that same branch and after a bit of pecking at the branch, rolled over and hung upside down eyeing the ground until it let go and dropped head first.

Marc thought it had been eating a berry and dropped it and that's why it did that but they have continued to do it and always from the same branch. It's starting to look like they are doing it for fun. Which is sort of what I thought when I saw them do it the second time.

I can see it now...

'Hey Pete,' yells the crow, 'let's go play Hanging Crow.'

The object of which is to see who can hang upside down the longest.

Or maybe it's their version of Chicken.

Another crow flys/hops to the very tip of the branch. It bows immediately under it's weight and the crow rolls over, hanging upside down by one foot, wings spread, beak open.

Hey guys! Look at me! One foot!”

And then it drops to the ground.

Crows play.

Who knew?

I tried to get a picture of one of the crows hanging upside down but every time I would get ready with the camera they wouldn't oblige me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

boring workshop stuff with no pictures

The past week has been very busy and this one starting will be too though we are taking a day off today. We are working on an etched glass commission (which I mentioned in my last post) and this weekend we taught the first two days of a three day workshop at Hot Glass Houston. We like to teach's relatively close, it's a great facility and Bob's a really nice guy.

Since we have had trouble filling our 6 day intensive we decided to split it into a three day beginning pate de verre and a five day advanced pate de verre. This weekend was the first time to do the 3 day beginning. The students worked in clay making models for open face tile or block castings. By the end of the day Sunday everyone had two molds filled and ready to be put in the kiln. Next Saturday we meet again to de-mold the pieces.

This was a much better experience than the intense 'make-your-clay-model-make-your-mold-get-it-filled-and-in-the-kiln-by-the-end-of-the-first-day' routine of the 6 day workshop. The students had all day to make as many models as they wanted/could and to make a mold of one of them. The second day we started out making the second mold and then spent the rest of the day getting the two molds packed and in the kiln.

The only drawback is that the only place we can do this 3 day class is locally since there has to be a minimum of 2 days between the 2nd and 3rd days. I'm kind of working on an idea of running two 3 day workshops consecutively which would give us only one day out of 7 with nothing going on but we could travel to teach at other venues that way. If we were so inclined. We haven't much felt like traveling lately.

Another idea that came up over the weekend was doing a three day intermediate workshop using wax instead of clay, sort of an introduction to working with wax before they jump into the 5 day advanced and the two piece press mold to make the small cups. I actually think that is a good idea as working in wax is very different than working in clay and doing a three dimensional form as a first project is tough if you've never worked with wax before. Perhaps if we do the two consecutive 3-day workshops, we could do the first in clay and the next in wax.

I intended to take pictures throughout the class and I usually manage to snap off a few before I forget but this time, my camera never even made it out of my bag. Bob, the proprietor of HGH took some so I'm waiting for him to put them up on his site so I can 'borrow' them. (Hi Bob!)

Oh, and the other thing I've been doing is changing the look somewhat of the singles gallery page on my website. It still has the logo across the top and the scroll down menu on the left but I've organized the work by category instead of by gallery and I'm adding a little paragraph that tells about each piece.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

back at work

The city-turned-country mice have reverted to their city ways. We are here, heading home tomorrow and then returning Saturday to teach a weekend workshop. And we have to be here next week too. Happily, we have some work and the phone has been more active lately.

Our current project is two windows 5' x 5' and two door panels 13” x 67”.

We did the doors last week, one of those rare jobs where we worked on the glass in the door. In our shop. So part of the work was covering and protecting the wood doors. Fortunately they hadn't been finished yet.

This week, I.G. (insulated glass) units for the windows were delivered. Sans frames. It was supposed to be the same kind of deal, working on the glass in the frame but someone higher up the food chain made an error and the windows they ordered were not up to code. They decided to go ahead and install them and change out the glass I.G. units with new ones.

Today I cut the stencil for one of the windows. I'm doing the background first which is backwards of how I usually work, but I have a good reason for doing it this way and it involves the spider web. I could have done it the usual way but it would have involved a third stencil and moving that piece of glass another two times. That piece of glass, the I.G. unit, weighs about 150 pounds. That's 75 pounds a piece between Marc and I.

And as long as I'm talking about work, maybe you'd like to see the finished moon box. It's about light pollution. Actually, the box has been finished for a long time but I finally got the 'stars' made that go inside. The moon faces, as they go around the box, go from full to new and back to full.

Reliquary For A Night Sky
6.25"w x 4.75"h x 6.25"d

the 'stars' inside

Monday, June 6, 2011

O is for...

O is for...ocean, oysters

A little bit of both since this was by the sea.

O is for Oysters.

I don't care for raw oysters and I have actually tried to be adult about it and have eaten them on several occasions. But I just don't care for them. Of course, having one forced down your throat the very first time you ever eat one probably doesn't form the best foundation for liking a food.

When I was 12, my parents bought a lot in one of the vacation home sub-divisions on the far west end of Galveston Island and built the beach house. It wasn't actually on the beach side of the island but on the bay side and our house was on one of the canals but we called it 'the beach house'. This was where I spent most my weekends and summers for many many years.

My parents' best friends had children in about our age range and so both families spent a lot of time there. The summer I was 15, they got on a rib for raw oysters. They would go to the docks and buy a burlap bag full of oysters and bring it back and we would all sit around and shuck oysters and they would eat.

I had no intention of or desire to eat one. They were


Unfortunately for me, the son of my parent's best friends, the very one from D is for..., who was a year older than me, decided that I would.

Ha ha, very funny.

Probably I smarted off to him, telling him there was no way he could force me to eat an oyster.

Almost immediately, he has wrestled me to the floor, sitting on my stomach, somehow he's got my arms pinned or at least one of them and he pinches my nose shut until I have to open my mouth and eat the oyster to breathe.


I really didn't like having to eat the oyster, but I didn't mind too much the playful wrestle with the cute teenage boy.


Did I say that out loud?


Like I said, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt but bottom line is, I really don't like raw oysters.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

and they were

Despite the drought, our magnolia tree has been blooming it's little heart out. It is so dry that I finally watered it this morning and will again later. I don't usually water the trees and I never water grass (if it turns brown then sobeit) but the magnolia is starting to look a little parched and I would hate to lose it. I've been seeing some magnolias around town that are dropping all their leaves in an attempt to conserve/survive.

And so that's why I happened to be out there to see this.

This one little magnolia flower had a dozen or more bees working in it.

They were very busily dismantling the pistil, working at each individual stamen, tugging at it until they pulled it off and it fell to the ground, usually with a bee hanging onto it, or into the cup of one of the petals.

I don't know if they were collecting the stamens and flying off with them to be replaced by a new bee or just dropping them.

Maybe they were just after the pollen as there were always several bees rummaging around in the fallen stamens in the petal.

I have never see bees act like this before.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

N is for...

N is for...noodling, nature, naughty, naked

If M was a bit too personal for you, you might want to skip N.

image from

N is for naked...

wherein I reveal all my naughty nakedness. And apparently, there's a lot of it cause this is kinda long.

When I was 15 or 16, the AC broke down during the summer and we had a few hot sweaty nights before it was fixed again. One of those nights, I got out of bed, stripped off my pajamas and climbed back between the sheets naked and I felt very naughty indeed. It was such a luxurious feeling, I've never worn pajamas since.

I've never been excessively modest. Well, not since I grew up. I was just as body conscious as the next adolescent growing up but somewhere between 18 and 21 I went through a total body acceptance. I became 18 in 1968 and embraced the counterculture. There was a lot of sex, drugs, rock and roll and enlightenment. Life goes on of course and things change but being comfortable in my body didn't.

When I took Drawing in college, our final exam was a self portrait. It didn't have to be an actual portrait. It could be a drawing of anything or any composition of things but it had to be about how you saw yourself. Mine was a black and white drawing in ink of myself nude from the waist up, reduced to hard shadows with other images woven in. I got an A. One of the few he gave out. Of course it could have been because of the obvious breast (however small) in the drawing.

Several years ago, I encountered someone from my early 20s whom I did not immediately remember. But she remembered me. It seems we, my then husband and I and her and her then husband/boy friend went to the beach and indulged in some naked rolling down sand dunes and then running into the ocean to wash off. Like I said, I didn't immediately remember her or this event but I had to admit that it certainly sounded like something I would have done. The memory did eventually drift up.

And then there was the last job I had before I settled into the etched glass modeling for life drawing classes. Nude modeling. As in naked. You wouldn't think but standing motionless, holding a pose for 10 or 15 or 20 minutes is strenuous. I finally gave that up when my daughter was born but not before I posed once or twice with her.

I've been known to skinny dip a time or two. In the ocean, in pools, in rivers. Sometimes planned, sometimes spontaneous. Got run off one pond out in the country with a shotgun, me and a friend. My most recent skinny dip was 12 years ago on the Pecos River in the trans-Pecos region of West, dry, semi-arid, not quite desert. We had hiked back into one of the canyons for over an hour to a shelter that has some amazing pictographs that are 3,000 – 4,000 thousand years old. Our group split with half going back to our camp on the river and the rest of us hiking and climbing another hour or so to another shelter that was much more difficult to get to. And then, of course, we had to hike back to camp. We were all tired and hot and there was supposed to be an iron ladder from the top of the canyon wall down to the river and so we decided to try for that instead of climbing back down into the canyon to our camp. We lucked out, the ladder was indeed there, maybe 60 or more feet of it and as rickety as it looked it held as we went down it one by one. That was one of the scariest things I have done btw since I had no idea how long it had been there or how secure it was in the face of the canyon wall. We had, of course, taken plenty of water with us but by the time I climbed down and got back to camp I was hot, over-heated and in danger of suffering heat stroke and the only thing I could think of was to cool down as fast as I could. I made a beeline to the edge of the little cove where we had camped, stripped my clothes off as fast as I could and jumped in the wonderfully cold water. When I surfaced I saw 8 dumbstruck faces staring at me like I had just sprouted another head. Eventually two of the other women stripped down and joined me and two of the guys, though one of them kept his boxers on. The reason I stripped down was because I had on camp clothes and I didn't want to get them wet. If I'd had on river clothes I would have just jumped in dressed.

Being on the river, wilderness camping, over-blown modesty is a hindrance. The river is where you bathe, where you pee (pee in the river, poop in the can), where you live. We only set up tents when it was too cold or the weather was inclement, preferring instead to sleep out under the night sky. I learned how to change clothes in the middle of the group removing one shirt under cover of another and quickly changing pants with back turned. But there are times when you can't avoid a little nudity in the group, like when the camp is a small sandy spot with scrub and rocks on either side and you are as far downriver as you can get hanging your naked bee-hind over the river's edge to pee cause it's night and you have on camp clothes.

And then there was the trip on the Colorado River through Colorado and Utah with a group of strangers. They were all friends and we were invited along by our friends for a 5 day float. We would camp early and go for hikes and one day they announced a night hike. Marc and our friends opted to stay in camp and I was late getting off as the group had already started out. I dashed off to catch up with them and as soon as I was out of sight of the camp I came upon two of the members of the group shedding their clothes. They liked to do naked night hikes and why didn't I join them. No one would care. I stood there for a minute and shrugged and said OK. So I stripped as well. I don't know what the hell I was thinking except that I figured I would never see any of these people again (with the exception of our friends who were safely back at camp) and why the hell not? We caught up with the rest of the hikers and settled on some nice warm boulders and did some star gazing. Eventually I started to get a little chilled and put my clothes back on and we hiked back to camp. That was in 2000.

I haven't had any spontaneous outbursts of nudity since then so I guess it must be the proximity of water that encourages it.

Or it could be that after 61 years of living I've become a little more decorous.