Thursday, January 26, 2012

dawn, teaching, and a birthday



I'm up early this morning, woke at 5 AM when the cat wanted out. How does she do that? It's always around 5 AM when she wants out. Usually I can go back to sleep but not this morning. I laid in bed for nearly an hour and then just got up. That may not seem very early to many of you but I don't normally wake up til around 7 or 7:30 and sometimes sleep til 8 AM.

The nice thing about getting up when it's still dark is seeing the sunrise. Sitting here I am facing east looking out the windows and I have a nice view across the yard and the agricultural field. The not so nice thing is that I'm facing east and once the sun pops up this time of year, it shines right in my face over the top of my computer. The big tallow in the little back yard will block it out but I have to constantly shift my position as the sun rises past one big branch or another. Once the trees leaf out it's not so much of a problem.

Today is the last full day before we leave to drive to Austin for a 5 day workshop. We're teaching at Helios Kiln Glass Studio and will have 8 students. We like teaching there. It's a small place but Paul and Karen are such wonderful hosts and good friends and it's been a couple of years since we have seen them. Our students will be making a small decorated cup in the pate de verre lost wax casting technique. If you want to know more about that process you can read about it here.

Emma the cat is going to be left behind, housebound for the week, with my sister coming over every day to check on her. We always took her to our daughter's house before but in the two years since we went out of town to teach, they acquired a dog and two cats of their own.

I made two new cups (4" x 4" x 2") to go with the two I already had to show as examples for the students. I intended to document the process to show them in pictures what they would be doing before I just turned them loose but that was only partially successful. I tend to get absorbed in what I am doing so there are some gaps in the photos. Oh well. It will be better than nothing.

I also wanted to mention that it rained yesterday! A lot of rain for a long time. Lightning and thunder kind of rain. After it passed through there was water in the ditch and standing in low spots in the yard and on our way in to the city yesterday we passed the little creek that had gone dry over the summer and it has water in it again. I don't know how this affects the drought. We've been getting some fairly regular rain but they are still predicting drought conditions for this year. I guess we'll see how the summer goes.

Well, the male cardinals are singing their love songs and the females are chirping back at them and the wren is screeching at the cat and it's full blown day and the sun is shining in my eyes.

Oh, and today is my third blog birthday.




Monday, January 23, 2012

come out, come out, wherever you are


Who, me?

I have been lost in the land of Westeros, the fictional land of The Song Of Ice And Fire books by George R. R. Martin.

I have been in the city for two days doing two very small jobs after spending two days on art work.

I have been trying to get a picture of the loud mouth wren who screeches at the cat almost every evening.

I have been model making and filling molds in preparation for the workshop we are teaching at the end of the month.

I have been enjoying some lovely sunsets.

I have not been walking.










I have received a request for pricing for a large and complex project, 2 - 20' long walls, which involves no art work on my part, just fabrication and management. I vacillate back and forth this weekend on whether to pass or to go ahead and make the attempt. The panels are large, 4' x 8'6”, 34 sq ft, 163 - 221 lbs ea. depending on if it's 3/8” or 1/2” glass. If we pursue it, we will have to buy and install a sling for moving heavy glass. If we pursue it, it would solve our immediate financial problems.

We've been thinking about our future, the work we do, have done and if it's still going to be a viable course. We've made several bad judgement calls about the direction we wanted to go as far as income is concerned over the years. The last time we were at the point where we had to get a loan and a big place to continue with the very big jobs we had been getting is when the bottom fell out of our personal lives so we back pedaled. When we finally started again, we eschewed those very big jobs and also the very small, the logos and stripes and squares, and carved out a niche for ourselves...high end residential and smaller scale corporate art. High end residential was not the ultra-rich but the upper middle class, lower upper class. Unfortunately that niche does not currently exist and the other niches already have long standing relationships with other companies. Whether our niche returns as the economy improves remains to be seen. I've had two new (for me) designers contact me recently who are excited about our work so maybe my newsletter attempts at marketing are beginning to show some fruit, if not actual work.

In the meantime, we are trying to diversify...teaching more, my little part time job, crafting small items and perhaps getting an etsy store, still working on my gallery pieces with an eye to trying some new galleries, and most importantly, trying to remain positive and pro-active.



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

harbinger





According to Wikipedia: a crane fly is an insect in the family Tipulidae. Adults are very slender, long-legged flies that may vary in length from 2–60 millimetres (0.079–2.4 in) though tropical species may exceed to 100 millimetres or 3.9 inches.

In appearance crane flies seem long and gangly, with very long legs, and a long slender abdomen. The wings are often held out when at rest, making the large halteres easily visible. Unlike most flies, crane flies are weak and poor fliers with a tendency to "wobble" in unpredictable patterns during flight, and they can be caught without much effort.

Adult crane flies feed on nectar or they do not feed at all. Once they become adults, most crane fly species exist as adults only to mate and die.


I was very surprised to find this dead crane fly or, more commonly called, mosquito hawk, next to my keyboard this morning.

The mosquito hawk has always been my personal harbinger of spring but I believe this little guy has been misled as it is still January albeit a very temperate January. Currently it is mid-70s. It's supposed to be cooler tomorrow but the next several days also in the mid-70s.

Although we have had a few nights down to 30˚ and several weeks of highs in the 50s, we are having a very temperate winter so far and while I do have on blue jeans and a long sleeve shirt, I am also sitting here barefoot with the door open.

We had been having mild winters before the last bittercold two reminded us what winter was about with snow and ice and wind and temps hovering in the 20s for weeks and coming too soon and reluctant to leave. But we had been spoiled. Tropical plants got put in the ground and never died back.

Our winters usually consisted of 4 - 6 weeks of continuously cold weather, a couple of three freezes that never lasted more than a night or two preceded by and followed by several weeks of changeable temps and then spring.

It wasn't always this way. I remember having a winter coat as a kid, a heavy coat. And back before we could wear pants to school (not til I was out of school), I was cold all the time. I think I've still got a winter coat tucked back in the back of the closet somewhere but I can't remember when it was I last wore it. Silk long johns, a jacket, and a hat do me fine mostly. Or I just don't go out.

But back to the mosquito hawk and spring. I hope that this little guy was just confused. I haven't seen any others and I don't really want it to be spring yet even if it means several weeks of consistently cold weather ahead. Not in January, too soon in January. Or even February, unless it's late February. March is good though. It can be spring in March.

Early March.

In the meantime this has not been a bad pattern.

A few days of cold, a few days of warm.



Sunday, January 15, 2012

backyards


If you have chickens in your backyard you might live in the country.

If you have horses in your backyard you probably live in the country.

If you have cows

and emus in your backyard, 

you definitely live in the country.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

here today, gone tomorrow


I took the pictures of this old long abandoned and overgrown barn last Sunday.


Yesterday, Tuesday, as I left the house around quarter to six and turned onto the road across which is the plowed field, I caught sight of dying fire and smoke out of the corner of my eye and turned to see what was burning.

They burned the barn.

This is all that remains.



What used to be this...



is now this...





What really surprises me though is how much of the overgrown vines and stuff around the edges didn't burn.



Monday, January 9, 2012

the plowed field



I decided to strike off into the plowed dormant field again yesterday when I took my walk. 

This one house sits on about a half acre carved out of the field. Not the farmer's house though.

There are two long abandoned structures out there.

The small shed, perhaps used to house a tractor at one time.

The larger barn beside which the tractors rest.

One end of the fallen down and decaying structure.

The barn turned to brush pile.

Henbit sprouting all over the field.

It will be plowed under soon.

A weathered mat of cotton left over from last year's harvest lays at the end of some furrows.

Across the road from the field is this tree with it's seed pods.




Saturday, January 7, 2012

a Saturday


We are not early risers, usually rolling out of bed around 7:30, so I rarely ever see the sunrise, not since I quit the river guide gig. But I do see the early morning skies, at least this time of year.


This morning it was foggy on the ground but just above it was a blue sky. Now about 8:30 AM, it's become more overcast but it's 59˚ and the birds are very chirpy.


I could hear the geese long before they came into view. I've seen many more geese this year than ever before. This group was flying north.

The first week of the new year has passed and I've caught up with the little bit of business left over from last year and have spent the last three days updating my website, still have one more page to go though. And beyond that I want to re-do my gallery pages but I'm going to need a lot of help with that as I don't really know how to write code. I can manipulate code already written, at least the old stuff, but I can't really create code. Especially the new languages. I look at the source code of pages I like on other people's sites and I don't recognize anything.

Well, today turned out to be just too nice of a day with temps in the mid-70s and a clear sky to spend indoors. Besides, Marc ran me out because he volunteered to mop all the linoleum floors, the biggest one being the room where my computer and work stuff is, so I sat outside and finished my book.

And I went for a walk, which I've been trying to do every day since the first, a sort of unspoken resolution, and on my way back to the house I decided to strike off into the plowed field. There's a shallow gully that runs through it diagonally and that's what I followed. I walked out to the finger of tree line that juts into it and then turned around and came back. Someone riding a horse had done the same thing I saw as I followed the hoof prints in the soft dirt only they had come from the other direction.

It's still pretty dry here despite the week of rain we had after the solstice so I watered the front yard and then deep watered around the magnolia which has lost far too many leaves, pounding a piece of rebar about 16” into the ground a dozen or so times under the canopy and then sticking the hose end into the holes and turning the water full on and let it churn and gurgle for a minute or two.

Well, the sun has set now and there is a pink glow on the horizon.

I guess I'll go de-bone that chicken that's left over from last night.



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

promises


It occurs to me that I have been remiss in showing off. So backing up a bit, here's the three little leaf sculptures, small, no bigger than 4” in any direction, and one of the wind chimes that I made for the December open house and sale at our friends' glass blowing studio.






























Now moving forward...I'm spending this week trying to pick up all the dropped threads of what passes for my life, trying to convince myself that I still have a business, following up on proposals and requests for pricing from the last 6 weeks, trying to get my website updated and jump start my meagre marketing efforts. Actually, 2 of the 6 proposals are going forward, both small jobs but welcome all the same. We've also been spending some time cleaning and organizing the shop, getting ready for a 5 day workshop in Austin the end of this month, and working on scheduling some new workshops for the coming months and blah blah blah.


I'm a busy girl.



We seem to be having a more usual winter this year so far. No endless days of extreme cold like the last two...so far. I probably shouldn't have said that. It's never a good idea to invoke the gods.


The next few days promise to be sunny and warm. I was poking around out there today and saw some promises, the beginnings to next spring's flowers.

bluebonnets

daffodils

evening primrose

rocket larkspur

easter lilies




Sunday, January 1, 2012

at the beginning again


image via: http://theopendoorcommunity.com/Images/mgj-out-open-door.jpg


It's a beautiful day here for the first day of the new year, a day that is really like any other day, like the one before it and the one after it and yet we imbue this day with so much optimism and possibility, this arbitrary choice to end one cycle and begin another. It would make more sense for the winter solstice to be the new year, the end of the long night and the beginning of the long day.

We're having our traditional breakfast, a young tradition, yes, something that we have started doing since we took up permanent residence here at the country house...mimosas, bacon, eggs, sweet rolls. The food is not always the same but the mimosas, the big breakfast are.

Later today I will be accompanying my sister to a New Year's Day open house. It is at the house of a friend of hers from high school, a girl who came from a broken home and life with her mother was such that she spent a great deal of her time at our house and my own opinion of life at my house was not all that great. How much worse was her's that she thought our house was so much better. I was 15 then.

I remember when my sister got married, the bridesmaids had her 'spinster' party at this woman's apartment. I was 16 when my sister married, was at the party and got drunk and didn't want to go home. We all slept over though someone was supposed to bring me home. My parents were furious with me the next day and with everyone else for not bringing me home. Oh, I was so hung over. I think back and wonder, as I did then, what was the big deal? It's not like I had never slept over at a friend's house before. But I guess that even though 19 year old girls could have their own apartments, jobs, get married and get pregnant, they weren't considered adults. At least not by my parents.

But I digress.

I fear the coming year is going to be even more contentious than this last one. Our population has become so polarized that middle ground no longer exists. The full court press by the opposing party to make our president a one termer by obstructing everything that could be construed as good by even the most extreme portions of our population will continue until the general election this coming fall, something that I don't really understand considering he has caved on everything, including his most recent attack on our civil rights. I now find myself in the position of not having anyone to vote for.

I don't see conditions improving much this year but I could be wrong, really want to be wrong. It may be that people are so tired of the depressed state of things, so tired of the fear that our politicians continue to whip up because a fearful population is easier to control, that they will continue to gather and march in larger and larger groups.

I had just about decided that we were, in fact, a nation of sheep, overfed on fear as well as food. I wondered why the people didn't rise up and say 'enough'. And then they did. 

I don't know what the future, this year, holds for us, if we will see more work coming our way. Sometimes I think maybe this career is at an end, that when people finally have some disposable income, because it's never been the rich that were our client base but the middle class, that we and what we do will have faded from memory.

Regardless, we will continue to create, to make if only for our own enjoyment.

Well, the door is open, welcoming whatever comes, whatever this new year brings.