Monday, February 25, 2013

a better ending

Some of you might remember that in 2011 I was asked to present a proposal to the garden club for their gift of a sculpture-turned-etched glass to the library, which I did in December of that year. The garden club had amassed a large sum of money and needed to spend it to avoid having to pay taxes on the bank account.

You can read the whole sordid tale here if you are interested.

I did find out last September, quite by accident, from the people that got the commission that the committee had, indeed, shown them my design.

It dredged up all the bad feelings for a while but I did succeed in putting it all behind me. I was just too damn busy by then to allow it to occupy my thoughts. And the people who did the work, which was installed last summer, were in dire straits and really needed the commission so it was hard for me to begrudge them it especially since we were starting on the two walls for Invesco.

Fast forward to yesterday when I finally dragged my sorry ass to the gym after more than a week since my previous visit. I was about halfway through my cardio when a lady started up on the treadmill next to me and asked what I was reading (I always take a book to read while I do my brisk walk). She was very friendly and chatty, as if she knew me. She looked familiar but I couldn't place her until she mention the Garden Club. I told her that I hadn't been to any of the meetings this year because we had so much work and I was always in the city on Thursdays (meeting day). She asked what kind of work we did and then put two and two together and asked if we had done the work for the library.

No”, I told her, “we had submitted a proposal but it wasn't picked. “

I liked your design the best.” she said.

Really?”, I replied, “cause I only got 5 votes.”

I know.” she said. “I liked your design the best but I didn't vote for it and I'll tell you why. It was more money. Just about everyone liked your design the best” she continued, “but they didn't vote for it for the same reason.”

I was a little dumbfounded. I knew, even if they didn't, that my proposal was within the budget allocated for the project.

So, even though they were asked to vote on the design they liked best, what they voted on was the amount of money they liked best.

Somehow, that actually makes me feel better about the whole thing.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

work, birds, and work

I'm not blogging. I'm not going to the gym. I barely even went outside yesterday. It was another cold overcast and windy winter day stuck in the middle of spring. I keep trying to tell myself that these lingering cold days in February are keeping the summer heat at bay. And truth be told, I need to be sequestered for a little while still til I catch up with work and the two remaining proposals I need to prepare.

Yesterday I finished the sketches for the Leadership Wall. There are four things they need to decide on...etching/carving style, placement of the images and text, size, and font. Now I need to isolate sections of two of the sketches and enlarge them full size for samples which I hope to get done next week.

In the meantime, here's a few observations of the birds around here.

The little teacup bird feeder, which I've posted about before, right out my window where I sit and work continues to be very entertaining. For weeks only one or two male cardinals visited it and they came quite frequently. There is a large chinese fringe flower shrub right next to it and they fly into it and then to the teacup where they perch on the rod it is hanging from or the rim of the cup. The male cardinals will sit on the feeder and eat seed after seed. He picks one, gives it a crunch, shifts it around in his beak with his tongue, gives it another crunch, maybe a third time, then spits out the shell.

Several weeks ago, I noticed a timid female cardinal eyeing the feeder from the shrub. While the males are either used to me or unconcerned with my presence, I have to remain completely motionless to entice the female to the cup. She takes one seed and flies off but I have only seen her a time or two. I watched as a male and a female flew into the shrub. She hung back while he went to the feeder and ate several seeds. I thought she would approach closer but she never did. After he had eaten several seeds, he picked one up and flew over to her and passed it to her. She sat there as she cracked it and ate and then they both flew off.

In the last couple of weeks, chickadees and titmice have discovered the feeder. The titmice, will fly to the shrub, flit to the feeder, grab a seed and take off. The chickadees though, they will flit to the feeder from the shrub, grab a seed and then flit back to the shrub. Then starts the pounding of the seed against the branch, then, holding the seed down with one foot, it will stab and peck at it repeatedly until it finally gets the prize. The little chickadees must work much harder for their dinner than the cardinals.

We got a more traditional bird feeder for the front by the bird bath. I now understand why people complain about the birds eating them out of house and home. They can empty that thing is three days. Most of the little birds, the chickadees, titmice, warblers, wrens, will come get a seed or two and then flit off. The sparrows though, will hang out until they get chased off by a bigger bird.

Last week a huge flock of cedar waxwings migrated through. We have several old and very tall red tip photinias that stand behind the bird bath in front and also one in the Little Back Yard that were covered with berries. They stripped those bushes of every single berry in a matter of days and then moved on.

Yesterday a huge flock of grackles swept through the neighborhood. While the cedar wax wings were mostly silent, grackles are loud and raucous. As if on cue they all take off and move en masse from naked tree to naked tree. There were so many and they were so loud that the cat decided she would rather be inside, thank you very much.

I tried to get some pictures to go with this post but the birds in question weren't being very cooperative.

Now the sun has come out and I must get me to the antique store for my day in the shop.

*I wrote this this morning but was running late and didn't have time to post it til now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

tempest in a teapot

It seems some sort of sanity has been restored pursuant to my last post. After three rude and somewhat insulting emails from the husband and my snarky calm, diplomatic, and educational responses, I fully expected to receive a reply saying that they would not be paying me the balance owed. It was all I was waiting for in order to start the legal proceedings. After all, in his last email, he told me to 'fix the lizard' (in a way that illustrated his complete ignorance of what was done or what could be done) or come get the window and give them their money back. What I got instead was a conciliatory note from the wife, who I had been dealing with throughout the commission. She loves the window, has accepted the fact that the lizard is not highly visible, and that we would most certainly get paid.

So it turned out to be a tempest in a teapot but it would have been nice if they hadn't added a huge negative layer to my weekend.

Other than that we have been so busy finishing up the three residential commissions we received during the Invesco project that have been waiting so patiently. The third one should get finished this week and then next week we should have two installations.

In the off days, when we aren't in the shop doing fabrication, I've been working on the images for the most recent commission, a 'leadership wall' in the conference room of a business. Four quotes and portraits of men that the head honcho finds inspiring etched on wall mounted panels. This is a very challenging job as I've never done anything quite like this before. I usually shy away from portraits but they say they don't want straight portraits but want them treated 'artistically', whatever the fuck that means. Anyway, another couple of long days and I should be ready for a presentation to them.

I'm so happy to have so much work, have two more residential projects to submit a proposal for, after that very long dry spell, but it would be nice to have a week or so between jumping from one commission to the next. Soon. We should be done with all fabrication and installations in the next couple of weeks, at least until I get the sketches approved and the full size drawings done for the leadership wall.

In the meantime, it's still spring here, beautiful days interspersed with cold, overcast, and rain...typical spring weather for us. I did spend the day in the yard on Sunday, my one day off these days but it has been so consistently windy the last week that I haven't been able to get any good pictures.

Hopefully the work load will let up some in the coming weeks and I will find the time and energy to post about other things a little more often.

Friday, February 15, 2013

when good clients go bad

I hate when a good working relationship with a client goes bad at the end. We recently installed a 4' x 6' window in the master bath of a residence. In the lower left hand corner there is a carved lizard about 6” long on the large leaf, a carved element on a carved element.

Now two weeks after it has been installed, they want me to bear the cost of having the etched glass panel removed and reinstalled so that I can 'do something' about the lizard because it is not visible enough. Even when they tell people there is a lizard on the panel, no one can find it so they have decided that this is an 'error'.

I admit the lizard does not jump right out at you when you first look at the panel but once you know it is there, it is visible. They are not complaining, however, about not being able to see the leaves clearly when they overlap, one carved element on top of another.

I have not responded to their email yet. I'm a little insulted that they think we made a mistake when it was done that way to insure their privacy in the bathroom. I'm a little stunned that they would expect me to incur such an expense for one small detail in an otherwise acceptable large panel.

They still owe me 50% of the contract.

Right now I'm waiting for the estimate to have the panel removed and then reinstalled but I have several recourses available to me. I could offer to split the cost of removing and re-installing the panel and use my off hand flex-shaft tool using polishing points to sort of 'gray out' the etched area surrounding the lizard but it will be a subtle effect, sort of like a shadow and I have no guarantee that it will be good enough for them.

Or I could offer them a monetary discount to just leave it as is. Or I could refuse to make any change since I don't think there is an 'error' and threaten to file a lien on the property if they don't pay me.

I know how to file liens.

I don't actually want to file a lien as it is a pain in the ass and the only way I'll get paid is if they want to sell the property or borrow any money with the property as collateral. Plus, I don't like to be a dick head. So I'm hoping that they will accept one of the other two possibilities.

They also have two 2' x 3' oval windows high up in the bathroom, one opposite the shower and the other opposite the toilet that the neighbor can see through perfectly if he looks out his 2nd story windows. I was going to submit a proposal to do the cream etch on those windows on location (something I really don't want to do anyway) which would make them match the background of the window but now they can just come up with another solution to that problem.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

impatient blooms

Well, there is no doubt that it's really spring. The birds are chirpy, the male cardinals singing their love songs and chasing uninterested females around the yard, the mockingbirds are singing on high perches.

The azaleas are blooming, unheard of the first week of February. Oh, there are always a few eager beavers, but whole bushes are blooming. The roses have put on buds and I haven't even pruned them back yet. The lantana and yellow bells and confederate rose have popped out and I haven't cut them back either.

Last week in the city I saw pear trees blooming right on schedule but they were looking very confused because they were leafing out at the same time. The Japanese magnolias are already almost bloomed out and I saw a red bud tree in full bloom though mine is just now showing buds. One of my neighbor's peach trees is in full bloom and his apple tree is full of nearly open buds. The fringe flower bushes are showing a few flowers, uncertain as to if they should really be blooming now.

None of this would be particularly remarkable if it wasn't barely barely mid-February.

Coming back from the city this week, the grass in everyone's yards seemed a little greener with the eager larkspur showing off while their smaller cousins garner the energy. Despite the emergence of the maple's blooms last week, it hasn't yet put on any true leaves and the other trees are holding firm. Pecans are always the last to be convinced anyway.

It's all very strange. We're having an unprecedented early spring and the Northeast is getting pounded with snow.

a few random photos:

The first of the small red lilies that will blanket the yard in blooms in a few weeks time.

The ground orchid (bletilla) fully open.

Buddha abides.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

the slippery slope

Well, it's finally happened. I am finally the clueless old woman. I've forgotten how to spell, I can't remember words, I leave the oven on, and now I can't even tell if my dental work is there.

Now that our personal financial fortunes have been lifted somewhat, I decided to get some dental work done...a crown glued back on that came off over two years ago and a repair of the filling I recently lost in my most back molar.

I lost the crown on an airplane en route to my niece's Bat Mitzvah while eating a muffin several years ago and just never got around to getting it glued back on. I didn't really have a dentist and I didn't want to pay an unrealistic amount for some guy to cover his ass.

My first encounter with this new dentist in this small town was to have my crown glued back on. He wanted to make a new one to the tune of $950 because the old one no longer fit perfectly due to shifting.

Just make the old one work I told him. So then I got the 'I'm not responsible if something bad happens' disclaimer (which is in itself a sad commentary of the lack of personal responsibility and the blame game in this country) and then he did make it work and did a good job of it too.

I went back two weeks later, yesterday, to get the filling repaired. Mouth numbed, he drilled away the last fragments of the old composite and replaced it with whatever it is that dentists currently use for fillings. It was quick and easy relatively speaking then he slapped me on my rump and sent me out to pasture.

Just kidding. Not about the quick and easy part, that part was true.

When I got home, I waited a bit, and then fixed a late breakfast of oatmeal with banana. By the time I finished eating, the numbness had mostly dissipated and I felt around in my mouth with my tongue, testing the new filling and, and, wait a minute, there's a deep hole in my molar, where's the damn filling!

So I called the dental office to explain that my brand new filling not even two hours old is gone.

Three hours later, I'm back in the dentist's chair and he's telling me that yes, it is still there. That the tooth is wallowed out but filled and shored up. Well, alrighty then, that makes me feel really foolish. I'm sure everyone in the office had a good laugh at the clueless old woman who is so demented she can't even tell if her dental work is there.

It still feels really deep, as deep as it felt after the old filling came out and I don't remember it feeling that deep with the old filling but perhaps my shifting bite is why it came loose and broke apart in the first place.

Anyway, in the immortal words of Rosanne Rosannadanna...

Never mind.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

movie date

Yesterday was my only Saturday off for the month. The other Saturdays every month, I work at the antique store.

The last time I had a Saturday off, was the first Saturday in September. The first Saturday in October the map wall was installed, the first Saturday in November I was working on some cast pieces for the upcoming Open House, the first Saturday in December was the Open House, and the first Saturday in January the mountain wall was installed.

Week before last, Robin, the youngest grandgirl, was hanging out with us one evening in our little 'apartment' in the city when I mentioned I wanted to see Hansel and Gretel and that Grampa didn't want to go.

'I want to go', Robin piped up.

So, yesterday, I hopped in the truck and drove to Houston to pick up Robin and we went and watched Hansel and Gretel kick some serious bad ass witches' butts.

In 3-D.

Lots of exploding heads and gore flying right in your face.

They were pretty bad ass themselves. Any one single blow, of which they were on the receiving end of many, would have laid me out for the duration. After Gretel head butted someone for about the fifth time, Robin says, 'she sure likes to use her head as a weapon'.


They sure had a lot of witches in Germany back then.

Friday, February 1, 2013

residential window

We finished the last piece of the residential commission we got right before Invesco funded us for the two walls for their offices.

I'll have to go back once the master bath is finished (no tub, no toilet, no shower door which is etched but not installed yet, they haven't even started grouting the tile or the marble floor) to get a better picture.

I usually prefer to wait until the bathroom is finished before we install our glass but apparently there is going to be a statue involved with the tub that would make the installation of the window much more difficult so we installed it yesterday.

I don't think there is one square inch of this house that isn't decorated. The tile in the kitchen, which I saw for the first time yesterday, is gorgeous! Once I go back to do a more professional picture of the window, shower door, and laundry and pantry doors, maybe I'll take some quick snaps of some of the details in this house.

Here is a series of in progress pics and an installation shot.

  cutting and marking up the stencil

starting the sandblasting

carving all done


It's an east facing window so I'll have to go back either earlier in the day or later to get an even lighting of the window.

the custom tile that marches around the master bath is even more elaborate in the shower