Tuesday, August 30, 2011

summer reads

Not a very thoughtful selection this quarter, being busy with the g'kid visits as I was. All but the first two and the last two I got from my daughter, who like her father is a voracious reader, while trading one kid for another.

Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear – science fiction tale about a dying earth that sends ships out to colonize new planets. This is the story of one ship. The ships are mechanical and organic both at the same time and the people are in some sort of state of suspended animation except that there are no bodies stored. When they get to their destination, or close, the bodies will be born and will have to grow up. In the meantime, the 'ids' live in Dreamtime. The story starts when a Teacher falls out of a cocoon fully formed, is pulled to safety by a girl and told to run, to chase the heat. His memory comes slowly and we eventually learn that the Ship is sick. The rest of the story is about the other 'people' he encounters and what they learn about their past, what happened to the Ship and what they try to do about it. It was pretty good. A different take on a much used theme of colonization.

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum - This one gave me weird and disturbing dreams. The central character, Anna, is 19 in Nazi Germany. She falls in love with a jew and hides him until he is discovered and sent to Buchenwald, the labor camp outside the town. She turns up pregnant and leaves home to avoid being married off to a high ranking Nazi. Anna is taken in by a local baker who is part of the underground and who is eventually caught and killed. Anna continues the bakery and the underground work they were doing (feeding the inmates secretly) until she is found out by the camp commander who makes her his mistress, a trade which saves her and her toddler daughter's lives. The allies liberate Germany, she marries an American soldier and leaves her old life behind, refusing to talk about her past with her now grown daughter who is haunted by a picture she found, a family portrait of sorts of her mother, herself as a small child and a Nazi soldier whom she has dim memories of. The daughter, Trudy (I think) inadvertently learns the truth, or part of it anyway, through her own academic pursuits. The central character remains Anna though and you see the events of her life unfolding through her eyes. A complicated tale.

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus – This is supposed to be a funny book but mostly I found it to be sad, a sad statement about how rich people treat their kids when they can be bothered to deal with them at all.

Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky - stupid. It is, of course, about teen pregnancy but I really think she could have come up with a better title. This book was published last year and takes place in modern times and although the setting is a small company town in Maine, I find the reactions of the town to be completely unlikely. The backstory of the main character: a single, never married mom who accidentally got pregnant at 17, disowned by her mid-western family, moved east and started life anew becoming the principal of the high school. Four high achiever 17 yr old best friends make a pact to get pregnant. Three of them succeed, one of which is the daughter of the high school principal. The characters work their way through shock, anger and reconciliation while the school board conducts a witch hunt.

A Woman Betrayed by Barbara Delinsky - OK, I think I get it now. She writes romance novels that are light on the steamy sex part. This one was about a woman who thinks she has the perfect marriage, the perfect life with a successful husband and her own successful restaurant and catering business. One day her husband fails to come home from work. Turns out he was embezzling money from the IRS and he had a mistress. The black sheep of the family, her brother-in-law and the man she loved first, comes to help her pick up the pieces.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory – got this one from my daughter (as well as the three previous). Historical fiction about the life of the Boleyns at King Henry VIII's court as seen through the eyes of Mary Boleyn, lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine and sister to Anne Boleyn who becomes Henry's second queen. A very good and well told tale. I enjoyed this one a lot.

The Footprints Of God by Greg Iles – not really sci-fi but it's about artificial intelligence. Or rather about machine consciousness. A team of nobel laureates is put together to develop the next generation of computers, the self-aware conscious one, the AI, all on the hush hush for the NSA. They finally succeed (a lot of quantum physics and super MRI stuff) and it becomes, of course, a total dictator that punishes swiftly and mightily. One of the scientists starts having visions about consciousness after his brain scan which eventually lead to how to deal with the all powerful all knowing entity that brings all the worst parts of being human to bear. Some interesting concepts.

The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory – This one was about Queen Mary who inherited the throne after her younger brother Edward died at 15. She became known as 'Bloody Mary' for bringing catholicism back to England and the Inquisition along with it. But that's not really what the book is about. It's about a young hidden-jewish girl whose mother was burned at the stake in Spain, her arrival in England with her father to begin a new life, her betrothal to a young (also hidden) Jewish man. And she has visions which brings her to the attention of the English Court. The book is about her life in the court of Edward and Mary and Princess Elizabeth, her eventual marriage and subsequent life.

The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory – Queen Elizabeth finally takes the throne of England. This story is centered around her first year or so and her love affair with the (married) Sir Robert Dudley.

Good In Bed by Jennifer Weiner – This is about the pursuit of love and happiness by a 'larger' woman. Cannie breaks up with her boyfriend of three years and regrets it after discovering too late how much he really loved her, even though her best friend reminds her that she broke up with him for very good reasons. In a failed attempt to win him back she inadvertently ends up pregnant. A very good read, not fluffy.

Still Life With Crows by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – another Special Agent Pendergast novel. Pendergast arrives in a blink of a town in Kansas after a particularly gruesome and creepy murder. He hires the local 'bad girl' to assist him in his investigation. More murder and mayhem follow before the final confrontation. Another good read by this duo.

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls – this is a 'true-life novel' about the life of the author's grandmother. I enjoyed The Glass Castle, Wall's own story of growing up the daughter of her drifter parents so when I saw this one in the library, I picked it up. It's a well told tale of a pretty remarkable woman who grew up and lived from west Texas to Arizona homesteading and ranching and teaching in remote communities. By age six she was helping her father break horses and at fifteen she left home to teach in a frontier town traveling the 500 miles alone on her pony. And that was just the start of her life.

Monday, August 29, 2011

ritual festivities

Intro: There are three major divisions in Judaism...Reform, Conservative and Orthodox and there are some divisions within each category, for instance within the Orthodox there is also the Chasidim which are, in a sense, ultra-orthodox. Reform is the most liberal and Orthodox, the most literal. Perhaps the main difference between the two is that Reform does not consider the Torah to be written by god however divinely inspired, are gender inclusive and do not necessarily observe all the 'rules' or commandments, for example, keeping kosher. We belonged to a Reform congregation, the one our daughter also belongs to. If you are interested in learning more about the differences, historical and modern, this is a good site to visit. You can read the whole page or scroll down to the section 'Movements in the United States Today'.

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah takes place during Friday night and Saturday morning services. Friday night, Marc and I, Marc's brother Starr and Marc's Uncle Larry as well as the girls and their parents (our daughter and her husband) sat on the bimah representing four generations and the continuity of life and tradition. The bimah is the raised platform at the front of the sanctuary on which is the Ark (cabinet) that holds the handwritten parchment Torah scrolls that are read from during the services, like the picture in my previous post. The Torah is read start to finish every year. Well, one third of it, but still every year starting with the first book of Genesis and ending with the last book of Deuteronomy. It takes three years for every passage to be read and every congregation wherever they are in the world is reading the same passage on the same day.

It was fun sitting up on the bimah. You could see everyone who came and Marc and I were picking out family members who were there Friday night. Marc comes from a very large family with contingents in Dallas and Denver as well as Houston and a lot of them came. (One contingent from Dallas we knew was in town but they didn't show up. We found out why later.) Saturday we all, even the girls, sat with the rest of the congregation, albeit on the first row and went up to the podium or bimah when called.

We (me) paid very little attention to the service. Most of it is in Hebrew and all the responsive reading is in English but the prayer books have it all printed three ways. First in Hebrew, second in a transliteration of the Hebrew and then also in English. So if you can read Hebrew it's there, if you can't read Hebrew but want to pray in that language you can read the transliteration or you can follow along in English. Oftentimes the prayers and readings are recited in Hebrew and English both. The prayer book also has historical and language notes on each page which I think is the most interesting part of all.

Both girls did a great job. On Friday the temple had inadvertently scheduled a famous Jewish musician, Rick Recht, to 'perform' the songs and prayers throughout the service instead of the Cantor. The Cantor is the person who traditionally sings and chants the songs and prayers. When the temple realized the conflict they left it up to the girls as to whether they should reschedule the musician but they were OK with it (they didn't really know who he was) and as it turned out, it was very cool. He's a young and upbeat guy and the children's choir also participated some. It was very fun and added a lot to the girl's experience I think. It was certainly a unique experience as all of the other B'nai Mitzvot coming up will have only the Cantor.

After the service on Saturday morning, the girls' great aunt and great uncles (Marc's sister and brothers) gave a catered lunch there at the temple...hot dogs from James Coney Island. We found out then why none of the Binders had shown up. One of Marc's 51 first cousins has been gravely ill (which we had known) and had slipped into a coma and was expected to die at any time so the family was gathered and waiting.

Then it was off to the hall (the very reasonably priced local carpenter's union) to finish getting it set up and decorated in preparation for the big party that night. We filled helium balloons until our fingers gave out tying the knots while Jade made balloon animals and the tables were covered in colorful cloths with pictures of the girls scattered on them. Our daughter, Sarah, did a great job on a shoestring budget, having a friend cater the dinner while her husband made 150 cupcakes and gallons of tea and lemonade with music provided by the play list on their laptop. A keg of beer rounded it out.

The party was a big success, the girls had a great time, all their friends came and by the end there were very few helium balloons left having all been inhaled (the helium, not the balloons) or otherwise played with til they popped. Marc's family loves to celebrate the life cycle events and it's always fun when we get together and catch up on each other's lives and kids.

As it turned out we hit just about every life cycle event this past weekend. We got to meet two of the three new babies in the family and there was a baby shower for another branch of the family on Saturday, the twins coming of age, one of the cousin's daughters had gotten engaged just a few days earlier and the ill cousin passed away early Sunday morning. So we marked the events of birth, coming of age, marriage and death.


Friday, August 26, 2011

today they are women

We're heading to the city in a little while. My twin grandgirls are having their Bat Mitzvah this weekend. The Bat Mitzvah is a coming of age ceremony in Judaism that up until modern times was exclusively for boys. Only boys and men are commanded in the Torah to study the Torah (the religious writings also known as the 'old testament') and the other religious books, the Haftorah, the Mishna and the Talmud.

I would go to Torah study while my kids were in religious school to avoid all the driving back and forth and also because I was very interested in the origins of religions back then. One day I asked the Rabbi why only the men were commanded by god to study the commands of god. He told me because women were closer to god and would do what was right by nature. Only the men had to be taught what was right. Maybe that's why they felt the need to subjugate us. I also asked him how Lot could be considered a righteous man when he offered his virgin daughters to strangers for sex, but he just sort of brushed off that one saying times were different then. But we're still supposed to follow all those ancient rules.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand.

The Bat Mitzvah (Bar Mitzvah for boys) is as I said, a coming of age ceremony. The celebrant leads the Shabbat service, reads from the torah, gives a little sermon and is considered an adult in the eyes of god and the community. Bad behavior is no longer excused because you are too young to know better and you are responsible for your actions and the consequences of those actions.

One of the things I liked about Judaism is that any adult can conduct services. There is no requirement to have an ordained religious leader. They, do, of course, have those, but Rabbis are considered teachers, the most learned among them and not the spokesman of god.

But Judaism is, in the end, still a religion and I just don't do religion. I chose to raise my kids in the Jewish tradition, their father is Jewish, because even though I don't care for religion, I thought they should have some kind of foundation, mostly to protect them from the allure of cults. Cults were big when I was a young adult and I saw lots of rootless kids get sucked up by them. I fully expected them, as adults, to question and even forego religion altogether as I did.

So now I am about to see my grandgirls Bat Mitzvah. They will start the day as children and end it as adults. This is not an easy thing to do. They have been going to extra classes twice a week for three years to prepare for this day.

We are very proud of them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

speaking of endless summer...

The movie was on TV the other night and boy did it bring back some memories.

Endless Summer came out in 1966. I was 16 and a surfer girl and I probably went to see it with my high school heart throb. Two years earlier, given the choice of seeing the Beach Boys or the Beatles in concert, I chose the Beach Boys. I never did see the Beatles in concert.

If you are unfamiliar with Endless Summer it was the quintessential surfer movie. It followed two young surfers, Mike and Robert on their quest for the perfect wave following summer around the globe during the inhospitable California coast winter. They traveled down the western coast of Africa to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and Hawaii looking for and surfing beaches that had, in some cases, never seen a surf board. They found their perfect wave which, after all, turned out to be a little boring and predictable after the thrill of it wore off. They were often told by the natives when they were disappointed by the lack of surf...'You shoulda been here yesterday'. A little quip that still has a place in my vocabulary and I wonder, when it slips out, if the hearer understands the context. Probably not at this point in my life.

Anyway, here's a little trailer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

pecan thoughts

I've already lost count of how many gallons of immature pecans I've picked up. The ones falling now are big fat green ones. Falling or plucked I can't tell as they are still half eaten, but at least I can walk around out there barefoot without hobbling with every step. And I do like to walk around out there barefoot.

I find contact with the earth to be soothing and healing, I'm an earth sign after all. I love to dig, get my fingers in the dirt, crumble the clods, add compost and turn it in. I like to plant too, and see the beings grow and reward me with their flowers or feed me with their fruits. But it's the dirt that really attracts me, that gives such satisfaction after I've spent a day preparing a bed.

So there's only two ways of picking up pecans, walking bent over or sitting on the ground. Well, yes there are those nifty little devices that look a little bit like a giant wisk on a long pole but I don't have one so I walk and bend over or walk bent over. It's a mindless task so my mind tends to wander.

I had a commercial ditty stuck in my head for several days that was driving me nuts (hee hee, get it? Nuts?) and walking around out there yesterday evening I realized that I had finally gotten it out of my head, had even forgotten what it was. What was that that was driving me crazy? Searching around in my head for it, the minute it came to me I realized my mistake.

No no! Back up, I don't want to remember it. What a dolt. So now I was frantically trying to think of another song before it got stuck in my head again.

I could not think of a single refrain, much less a whole song and there are plenty of songs I sing along to when I think no one can hear me. Finally, one came to me, so now I was out there singing House Of The Rising Sun over and over and surprisingly I remembered almost the whole thing and which also happens to be the one and only song I've ever karaoked.

Finally, my one gallon bucket was full and I walked back to the burn pile and tossed them on. If we ever get to burn again the whole county is going to have one big bonfire after another. I keep eyeing my neighbor's pile trying to decide whose is bigger. I think ours is taller but his is wider.

Before going back in for the evening, I hooked up the hose to one of the soakers. It was nearing sunset and I thought that although the days were still getting into triple digits, the mornings and evenings seemed to be cooler more enjoyable less hot than they had been so perhaps there will be an end to this endless summer after all.

Monday, August 22, 2011

remember these?

I call this series Botanica Erotica. These are the small 4” x 4” squares.

Well, the molds have been made for some time now but what with all the g'kid visits and the couple of jobs this summer I haven't had time to finish them. Over the past three days I have filled all three molds. Not completely though. The glass in them is less than half the glass needed but we still have to make the reservoirs to hold the extra frit. The larger flower squares I modeled last fall still have yet to have their molds made. Although I made those models first, I decided to cast the three small ones first to work out my ideas, see if my plan for filling the molds, layering the colors would work out.

I don't know when they will get cast. Although the power has not cut off since that one week when it went off three times, we need to get more plaster and silica to make the reservoir part of the molds and we're waiting til later this week to head into the city.

I've started taking lots of pictures of the process of model making and filling the mold. One of the things I'm thinking about doing to relieve our income problems is write a book about our work and process. I've had several people suggest that I ought to do it. I doubt that any of the pictures I've been taking would be usable but at least it makes me think about all the steps and how I would write about what I do. I don't even know where to start so I'm going to look over books other glass artists have written about their work and process and see if I can at least work up an outline. It's a long term solution to right now income woes but I think it would bear fruit eventually.

So anyway, here's how one of the flower squares went:

The mold with the first color in place. This was actually three colors. First I put in a very pale yellow, backed it up with a light amber, and eventually added a little bit of medium amber (but not in this pic). You can see the picture above the mold that inspired this piece.

The next layer of color was a mix of translucent white and clear with black powder and a tiny bit of white stringer in the tips (which you can't see, covered with the white as it is).

Next I layered in the colors in the petals. I used three different mixes of lt. pink, dk. pink and lt. lavender with a sprinkling of fushia.

All the petals have been filled in.

Next I filled in the background with a lt. gray.

Finally I put in a layer of clear and then filled it with a courser size of clear. If this looks like a different mold, that's cause it is. I forgot to take a picture of this stage with the first one.

Once the reservoir is made and stacked on top, I will add a layer of white, more clear and then finish with white or maybe I'll do all white. The finished block should be 1” - 1 1/2” thick at it's thickest point. All the colors except for the white are transparent. Once fired, some of the colors will intensify and with all the little air bubbles that are trapped inside, the transparent colors will appear more translucent.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

still more misc blog poop

Consulting my little notebook I see I have several awards and mentions to acknowledge.

Hilary over at The Smitten Image has twice graced me lately with a Post Of The Week mention, May 18 for L is for... and June 15 for Play Date (the titles are links in case you missed them). Obviously, she must not have been reading any of my excellent posts for July and August. hee hee, just kidding Hilary. Hilary is an awesome photographer so you should all go over and see the world through her eyes, or eye as the case may be.

And Linda from Blue Skies Sunny Days has recently awarded me the Liebster Blog, for blogs with fewer than 200 followers (or members as blogger calls them now). And yes, I still qualify for that. She's a fairly new reader of mine and obviously doesn't know what the rest of you have already figured out, that this is the Hotel California for blog awards (they can check in but they can never check out). She has recently left San Francisco and moved back to the part of isolated Oklahoma near where she and generations of her family grew up searching, like the rest of us at this point in our lives, for peace and tranquility and wondering why the hell she thinks she will find it in this “godforsaken state” (her words in case you couldn't figure out what the quote marks were for).

I'm supposed to recommend 5 other blogs with less than 200 'members' but when blogger introduced the new dashboard they did away with the 'manage your blogs' function that let you see at a glance which blogs you follow and how many members they have so I would have to visit every friggin' blog I read to find the appropriate ones and, well, I'm just not gonna do that. The real reason, though, is that I'm not very good at following rules. But do go visit Linda at least.

The last thing on my little agenda here is I noticed yesterday that my last post before this one marked 500 for me. And still I ramble on. That's gotta be some kind of milestone, right?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


The wheel is turning towards fall though you'd never know it based on the temperature. As usual, we down here rely on other indicators that fall is nigh...the shortening days and crop harvest.

Being the born and bred city folk that we are, living out here in an agricultural community has been very interesting and educational. I'm sure the kid that hays the 13 acre field behind us thought we were crazy the first time we saw him do it, standing out there gawking while he mowed, raked and baled. Great entertainment for us and our lesson for the day.

This past weekend it was the cotton in the fields.

I think the farmer that works these fields at the end of our street must have a day job. I only ever see him out there evenings and weekends. Mostly weekends. He started harvesting the cotton Saturday evening working late into the night long after full dark.

field full of cotton (the plants are sprayed with a defoliant a week or two before harvest)

these small harvesters scoop up the cotton leaving what's left of the plant behind

when the harvester is full it disgorges it's contents into a container where it is compressed

and then ejected somehow leaving a giant bale of cotton ready to be loaded up on a truck and carted off

After all the cotton is scooped up, another device goes over the fields cutting the stalks of the plants a couple of inches above ground level. I don't know what they do with those but they weren't left on the ground.

At some point what's left will be plowed under.

And that's your lesson for the day.

One of the first years after we bought the country house but before we were living out here full time, the grandkids were with us for the weekend. It was August, the cotton had popped and driving by on our way over to my sister's house to see her and the chickens somehow we were having a conversation about slavery. Oh oh! They had learned about that in school (they were still in elementary school then).

Later in the day, I took them over to the edge of the cotton field in the middle of the hot hot sun day. Standing there on the edge of the field that went on as far as they could see, full of cotton I told them this:

That had they been a slave in this country they would never have enough to eat and would always be hungry.
That the food they did get would be the cheapest and least quality available.
That they would be barefoot and dressed in rags, clothing no one else wanted.
That they would live in a hut with a dirt floor.
That they would own nothing, not even their children.
That they would have to get up at dawn and work in the fields til dark every day of their lives.
That they would have to carry a gunney sack and pick every bit of this cotton by hand in the hot sun hour after hour and day after day and if they did not work fast enough or long enough they would get a beating.
That they might get the beating anyway.

Standing there on the edge of that field in the hot hot sun in the middle of August looking at all that cotton, I could see in their faces that right then, they got it. You could see the enormity in their eyes.

And that was their lesson for the day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

where to from here

The pecan trees started dropped their immature fruit several weeks ago, starting with the little ones 1/2” to an inch. You can tell how they are growing on the trees because the dropped pecans have been getting bigger and bigger. Now, in the last week, they are starting to be fairly good sized and the squirrels are sampling them. I'd guess that at least 70% of the green pecans on the ground now have been half eaten.

In the few years we have been out here this is the first year that I have seen so many of the pecans damaged by the squirrels. I'm not sure why that is but I tend to think it's the drought. Either they are desperate for moisture and food or all the squirrels have migrated to our yard because we provide a constant water source via the bird baths and the turtle pond. I don't begrudge them the pecans.

So now that the new cycle has begun so I have begun my morning and evening traverses of the yard. Now I pick up the immature fruit because they are hard on my bare feet and bare is my favorite footwear but later I will be picking up the ripe nuts. I hope.

I use this time to meditate, to think about stuff. Lately, I've been thinking maybe this was a mistake, moving out here. Not because we don't like it because we do.

We had discussed whether or not our business would survive with us being out here and I, ever the optimist, could see no reason why it wouldn't. We would keep our same phone number and I assured all the designers we had worked with that we were not going far and still intended to do our work. We've done plenty of jobs that were not in Houston when we lived there.

But the truth is, our business has suffered. The last year and a half jobs have been few and far between. We pare down when work is slim, we've had lean years before.

Was it our move out here, my poor to none marketing efforts (which I am trying to remedy, sort of like closing the barn door after the horse got out), the crashed economy, all of the above?

I've been wondering what I could do if I didn't do this. It's possible that, with my background, I could get a design or art related job if I was still in the city. Out here in this small economically depressed town, that's not an option. And then there's my age which would be a problem even if I was still in the city. Out here the biggest employers are Walmart, HEB and the plastics factory.

I'm used to uncertainty, have lived with it from the beginning and we always managed, even prospered at times, but then we also had our youth. We wonder, even if we had jobs lining up, how much longer we might expect to be physically able to do this work, pick up and manipulate these heavy pieces of glass, entering our 60s as we are. 10 more years? Is there 10 more years of work out there? The middle to upper middle class was my clientele, never having garnered the attention of the super rich, and they are hard hit too. And there are so many relatively inexpensive options out there now for decorative glass.

I've been thinking about changing my medium for the small art pieces I do. Glass is so expensive and time consuming and difficult to work with making the finished pieces quite costly. I've been thinking about maybe working in ceramics and incorporating pate de verre elements. We'll see. I don't know shit about ceramics so there would be a new learning curve but I've been wanting to include multi-media for a while.

Well, I have no idea what the future holds but I am trying to face each day with optimism and being open to possibilities.

Monday, August 15, 2011

close but no cigar

Can you see the rain in this picture?

I know, hard to see.

It was raining lightly while the sun was shining the whole time. We caught just the barest edge of the little rain cloud. Only lasted about 10 minutes or so. Enough rain to get the exposed areas wet but not enough to make it through even the barest canopy. Enough to kind of rinse things off a bit. I was out there calling to it, trying to persuade it to come my way but it had other plans.

Later, on my way to check on my sister's cats while she is gone (the dogs are here), I saw that they got a decent little shower in town.

Actual puddles of water still standing.

I'm trying hard not to be envious.

They need water too.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

other accomplishments

In between grandchild visits we did actually do a couple of jobs.

The first one was the two 5' x 5' windows and the two door lites. This was a remodel of a garden room off the back of a two story brick Georgian that was built on a sloping lot so that the garden room was a couple of steps down from the level of the rest of the house. Back then they leveled the slab instead of raising up the lot and forcing all the drainage onto the adjacent lots like they do now. So the remodel raised up the floor of the garden room to be level with that of the house and they got all new doors and windows, repainted and freshened up the upholstery. And had us do the two windows and doors on the west side to block the view of the driveway and to soften the summer sun.

We worked on the low E insulated glass (double pane) units that the window company ordered or, rather reordered since the guy failed to order them in tempered which the building code required. Nice for us because then we weren't working on them in the frames and holding up the construction. The door lites we did work on in the doors.

These panels are done in an airbrush style instead of the usual carving we do because the tempered glass lites weren't thick enough to carve on.

The second job was a pair of door lites into the master bath from the master bedroom in a high rise. The client wanted a decorative element that provided for light and privacy.

This is the bath side and it wasn't nearly that pink.

I haven't done any casting all summer what with the kids and the jobs. I've got several molds ready but since we've had the power go off three times in the neighborhood in the last week I'm kind of hesitant to start a firing as long as these triple digit days continue.

Friday, August 12, 2011


The last grand girl is gone, returned home today.  By the last visit, which always falls in August, I am getting worn and the outdoors is so hot and dry and worn.  And we have had an unusual amount of wind this summer.  Hot, dry wind.

So Robin and I spent most our time inside and mostly what we did was sew.  She had picked out a pattern that was a top and a 'skort' only she wanted the shorts and skirt separate.  Robin channels my mother sometimes.  She picked out an orange with white dots for the top and shorts and a lime green with white dots for the skirt.  Those were my mother's favorite colors and Robin picked out the exact shades.

She wanted a shoulder bag like the one her sister Jade made so Robin started with that.  Although she is 3 years younger, she is better on the sewing machine than the twins.  She can do long straight even seams.  So I do the curvy seams and the more difficult stitching and she does the straight ones.  After she made her bag and while we were working on the clothes, she entertained herself by cutting fabric into pieces and sewing them together.   

Later, together we made a stuffed toy and after that she took different colors of fabric and made little stuffed fruits and vegetables that she pinned together.

Counterclockwise from left – orange, blueberry, carrot, plum, avocado, lime

We did other things besides sew.  

We checked out all the little antique stores around the square.

We went to see the Smurf movie in 3D.  

We went down to the dried up stream bed (wasn't as much fun as we thought it would be, nothing interesting to find and it was hot).

We made ice cream (chocolate).

We helped my sister unpack a few boxes.

We made a pie (key lime again).

We played games.

She made bows and clipped them in my hair.

But she wasn't interested in swimming in the little pool.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I walked into the living room from the kitchen about 3 PM yesterday when I looked up and out the bay window at the birdbath to see this amazing beautiful creature looking back at me.

I've glimpsed it four or five times in the yard as it took flight out of one of the trees from my sudden appearance and banked low over the 13 acre field and disappeared into the tops of the trees on the far side.

This is the second time I have seen it in the birdbath. The first time, a couple of weeks ago, Marc called me quietly to come look but my slow movement into the room alerted it. It looked directly at me and then flew off.

The minute I saw it this time I froze and called quietly to Robin to quietly bring me my camera. I was standing about as far away from the window as I could be in that small room and shooting through the (dirty) window and screen. I had to use the largest magnification but at least I finally got some pictures of it.

It stayed for several more minutes, dipping it's head now and then to drink but as I tried to creep a little closer it spread it wings and flew off, chased now bravely by a crow that had been sitting in one of the overhead branches not being so brave as to try and chase it off from the birdbath like they do the smaller birds.

Can anyone identify this hawk for me? Red-tailed hawk? It's tail feathers are not really very reddish.