Friday, March 29, 2013

I'll just do this one little thing first

I've been telling myself all day today, and anyone else who would listen, that I was not going to work out in the yard today. I was going to do those two proposals I need to do. Somewhere around 4 PM, I capitulated. OK, I was not going to get those proposals done. I wasn't even going to start on them.

After my 8 AM yoga class this morning and while I was having my coffee, which I didn't have before I went to the yoga class because I don't get up that freakin' early, the grandboy, who is here for the weekend, wanted to know what was for breakfast.

After fixing breakfast and cleaning up I thought I would take a wander around the yard before I got started on my work and then I thought I would get the new okra plants in first. Then I decided not to plant them in the garden but to put them in small pots since I had to bare root them to divide them so I did that.

Then I thought I would just quickly take some macro pictures for a future post and then I would get to work. Before I finished that the grandboy was asking what was for lunch so I came in and got lunch together.

After lunch, he wasn't convinced that there was enough food in the house to suit him so we went to the grocery store but before that I detoured to the feed store to see if they had any bell pepper plants and to get more dirt.

When we got back, I thought I would just plant the peppers real quick and then get to work. But then I thought I should get those nasturtiums that I had started several weeks ago in around the squash plants so I did that.

Then I needed to water in the newly put in plants so as long as I was watering, I might as well do everything.

While I was watering, I went ahead and pulled out all the rest of the carrots from the winter garden.

And before I knew it, it was time to go in and start dinner.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

work, birds, and spring chores

I'm still working away on these images for the Leadership Wall. My presentation last week went well, choices were made. The sample they chose for the etching style surprised me as it was one of the first ones I rejected, although it had started to grow on me. I should finish the image manipulation today and then I'll be ready to start the enlargements for the full size art work.

I also have a couple of proposals to do and full size art work on another job. So I'm still plenty busy here but it has been really nice not having any fabrication to do. We are enjoying not having to spend 3 nights and 3 days every week in the city. The downside though is that it's way too easy to get distracted.

I have managed to get the garden mostly planted. I may have planted the okra seedlings too soon as the high dry wind really beat them up yesterday and the day before. It was beating up and desiccating the little tomato plants too so I got the cans out and enclosed them, watered them and they perked right up. So far this year we have put in tomatoes, zucchini, okra, cucumbers, bell peppers, jalapenos, and japanese eggplant. The onions are left over from the winter garden, waiting for them to bulb up better. I still need to get the pole bean seeds in and the cantaloupe. We are NOT putting in any white patty pan squash this year. I'm still not over all the squash we ate last year.

Some of my other spring chores included cleaning out the gutters that were full of leaves and trees. You think I jest. I pulled out half a dozen that were at least 16” and numerous smaller ones. I also uncovered a fire ant nest. They were in my hair, on my arms, on and in my shirt before I knew it. I wasn't completely naked by the time I got down from the ladder and in the house but it was a near thing.

There's been a big flock of cedar waxwings mobbing the birdbaths the last couple of days. They came through early in the month and stripped the photinias of every berry on every bush. They are very communal being the only bird I have observed so far that group bathes and drinks.

There's been a big group of grackles hanging around too. They run all the smaller birds off and then proceed to monopolize the bird baths and empty the bird feeder. They are very ill-mannered. Marc bangs on the window in front to chase them off but all that does is send them to the Little Backyard.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

crazy spring

Remember early February when I wrote about how it was already feeling like spring and how confused everything seemed? Well, that was followed by about three weeks of cold weather which nipped all those buds that were foolish enough to emerge, followed by a week of warm, then a week of cold. Sheesh. This has been the most confusing spring I can remember. We're about to have another several days of nights in the upper 30s.

Regardless, it is full blown spring now. Although the azaleas bloomed out early, the red bud trees here at the country house were a little behind their city brethren.

The trees, well except for the pecans who are always the last to be convinced, are all wearing their spring green.

The bluebonnets in the front yard are the best they've been in years even though they have made a poor showing elsewhere.

The dew berries in the fields and along the road sides are in full bloom.

Though I've had a hard time getting the baby blue eyes established in the yard, they are flourishing in several pots.

The little red lilies that blanket the city house yard and are starting to get a foothold here at the country house are coming into peak.

The poppies that were so numerous and beautiful last year, came up by the hundreds and then all but a few withered away.

No cotton this year in the big field, only corn.

I've gotten part of the garden planted about two weeks late and I'll get the rest in today if the wind will just give it a rest. It has just been relentless for months. If I didn't know better, I'd think I was living on the Great Plains.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

two amazing women

There are many art glass centers across the nation, studios that bring in visiting professional artists to teach, but until a few years ago there was no such place in Houston. Now, thanks to Bob Paterson, we have Hot Glass Houston.

We've taught a few classes there but better than that, he brings in some really great talent, friends who I rarely see, just so I can visit with them!

Not really.

He brings in really great talent to teach and share amazing techniques. I'm lucky enough to be able to barge drop in on their classes to see what they are doing (and how they do what they do) and visit with my friends who live out of state.

In the last month he has brought in two amazing glass artists, Catharine Newell and Linda Ethier.

Catharine paints these wonderful dimensional portraits of people and birds and landscapes by noodling colored glass powders around multiple layers of glass and fuses them together. Her images are so evocative, ethereal and filled with emotion. She just blows me away. And she is so serene herself. I'm lucky enough to have two of her earlier small 'notes'.

© Catharine Newell

© Catharine Newell

© Catharine Newell

© Catharine Newell

Linda is a caster like me. When we first met and got to know each other she was doing these wonderful thick castings with embedded figures and flowers and things. Then she did a lot of commission work. And then she didn't do anything at all for a while while she thought through and developed a completely new body of work that is so different from her previous work you would not know it was the same artist. While I really liked her work before, I adore her new direction. Maybe it's because we use a lot of the same things in our work...bones, sticks, leaves, egg shells, feathers.

© Linda Ethier

© Linda Ethier

© Linda Ethier

© Linda Ethier

I told her that every time I see her work I ask myself, why didn't I think of that. I ask myself the same question when I see your work, she replied.

No better compliment than having your work admired by artists whose work you admire.

Thank you Catharine and Linda.

The images of Catharine's work are from the website of Bullseye Gallery.

The images of Linda's work are from her website.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

teens in residence

First I'd like to thank everyone for their comments on my last two posts. I know we are supposed to be sad when a father dies but it's hard to care about someone who didn't care about us. Several of you hoped we could forgive and move on, that forgiveness would release us. I don't know if forgiveness is the right word, but we came to terms with the situation long ago and let it go. I may not hold a grudge against him but it would have been dishonest of me to pretend that I cared.

Last week was going to be busy before we had to factor in the funeral. I had to clean and seal a door panel and get it reinstalled and get new samples made for the Leadership Wall for my presentation next Tuesday and be home Wednesday evening to welcome the grandkids who were coming to stay through today. The installation got pushed back to afternoon which allowed us to get the samples done but did not give me the time to clean and seal the sidelites on site as planned so I have to go back and do that.

We did this job about 12 years ago and replaced the panel on the right after it got broken. We also took the intact panel out so it could be cleaned and sealed. This has always been one of my favorite jobs. It still is.

So for the last four days it's been the usual whirlwind of meal after meal and lots of dish washing though this time I instituted a new rule...everyone had to wash their own dishes. Still, lots of pots and pans and stray glasses which fell to me, but it was much better.

the three grandgirls

I took the girls over to my sister's house one afternoon to visit with their cousins, my great nieces who were visiting from Albuquerque. 

We flew kites. We went to the feed store and got vegetables for the garden. We cooked. The girls came up to the store on Saturday, explored the square, and hung out while I worked at the antique store. 

We went to their favorite re-sale shop and the emporium in Glen Flora and everybody found something they wanted (I found a very nice small ceramic pot with a dragonfly on it for $1). We watched a movie. 

They chalked up the driveway. The boy hung out with his posse, the neighborhood boys, sometimes at our place and sometimes at theirs.

The parental unit showed up about 1:30 to fetch the little darlings.

And I'm not getting a single other thing accomplished for the rest of the day.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

the ritual

The three brothers and their uncle met at the funeral home on Monday afternoon and arranged everything.  Their dad was buried in the family plot in the orthodox synagogue cemetery Tuesday late afternoon.  Marc's paternal great grandparents and grandparents and his sister are buried there and now his father.  A great uncle and a great aunt are buried there as well.

There are burial practices enforced in the orthodox cemetery. No in ground concrete vault allowed (something that is required in all other cemeteries down here so close to the water table), only a simple pine box that looked like a crate more than anything else, no embalming but buried within 24 hours or as soon thereafter as possible, and naked wrapped in a shroud.  At the funeral home, a special person comes in and prepares the body, washing it with warm water and wrapping it in the shroud., sons, daughter, nieces, nephews, cousins, kids, grandkids, great grandkids, and assorted spouses...gathered at a nearby restaurant for a late lunch a couple of hours before the funeral and when the time neared, we walked to the cemetery which was just two blocks away.  It was short.  The rabbi spoke about him giving the outlines of his life.  

Marc's older sister, who actually had a different father but was raised by Marc's father until their mom abandoned them when Marc was 9 and was sent to live with her birth father when she was about 13, got up and spoke about how she always considered him her real father and her brothers and deceased younger sister as her family.  

Marc's younger brother got up and read what he had written and listening to them, their experience of that man was so different from ours. Though they all well knew Danny's dark side, he also showed them love and concern and stayed interested and involved in their lives, something we never received, not even before he officially stopped knowing us.

The youngest son who had taken care of him was the most affected by his father's death. But then, Danny doted on both those boys.  There are 7 years between Marc and his younger brother, 9 between Marc and his youngest brother.  I always thought he considered Marc tainted by his mother and that was why, or at least one reason why, he turned his back on his oldest son. The other two were only a baby and two when their mother left and they had no memories of her.

Danny lived with his youngest son for a year and a half before he died and it was only the last 6 months when his ability to communicate had deteriorated that he indicated that he 'wanted to write Marc a letter', something he was incapable of doing by then. Marc went to see him. I know I wrote in my previous post that Danny regretted his actions but, really, I don't think he ever did. I have no idea what motivated him to ask to see Marc but it wasn't regret.

After the siblings remembered their father, the rabbi led the prayer for the dead which is always spoken in Hebrew as the coffin was being lowered with heavy canvas straps and then we surviving family members shoveled dirt on the coffin.

I've always liked this part of Jewish burial rituals. The last mitzvah we do for someone.

My shovel was extra full to lay it all to rest.

Monday, March 11, 2013

the wicked witch is dead

A month or so ago, Marc took one of our granddaughters to see his father, her great grandfather. It was the first time Marc's father has met any of his great grandchildren. Jade is the only one who has ever really asked about her grandfather's father and then only recently. They know their great grandmother so she had asked to meet him.

It's really too late for any kind of acknowledgement since he is very old, very sick, and has dementia. He can't communicate even if he does understand what is happening. She saw only a pale shadow of the awful man he was. Which is just as well as far as I'm concerned. It's only in the last 6 months, now that his wife went home to Brasil to die among her family and he has come back here to die, moving in with his youngest son, that he has expressed a desire to see Marc.

The old bastard waited until the very end to regret disowning his first born 15 years ago. Ironic that the one who wants to know him was one of the reasons he turned his back on our family all those years ago and she wasn't even born yet.

Not that he had anything much to do with us before then, saving all his attention and hopes and pride for his two younger sons, barely knew his only grandchildren when he moved to Florida with his wife to retire, had basically emotionally abandoned his oldest son when he was about 12, would not give him an ounce of credit for all that we accomplished together attributing it all to me.

So you might wonder what caused Danny to officially disown us as opposed to just ignoring us as he had been. 

When our daughter was 19, she became the mother of a less than one day old newborn and moved in with her boyfriend. Six months later she was pregnant herself. The evening she came over to tell us, she also called all her grandparents to give them the happy news.

The next morning, the phone rang and it was Danny. This is terrible, he said. She's ruining her life, he said. She's happy about this, I said. I want you to tell that boy to convince her to have an abortion and get out of her life and I'll give him $5,000, he said. I'm not going to do that, it's not my decision to make and she's happy about this, I said.

When he couldn't get any satisfaction from me, he asked to speak to Marc. Marc laughed at him and told him no.

And that was the last time his father spoke to him. Or to any of us. 

Well, now the old bastard is dead. Died in his sleep Sunday morning, a week after Marc's last visit.

He deprived himself of so much.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

speaking in tongues

The other night I was passing through the living room and caught a glimpse of a commercial. I don't know what the commercial was for but the image I saw was a typical Madison Avenue blond sexy woman holding a plate in front of her while she sensually licked something off of it.

It made me wonder who that ad was aimed at. Men probably. Men are the only ones I know who think tongues and tongue action is sexy. I mean, really, what woman is turned on by a guy leering at her and sticking his tongue out as far as it can go and waggling it around? Mostly, we think guys that do that are gross and creepy.

Maybe it's all in the delivery. The woman in the ad wasn't sticking her tongue out so much as she was licking something...slowly...with a look of pleasure on her face. OK, OK. I get the implication. Still.

Have you ever looked at a tongue?

It can twist and turn, curl itself up, fold itself over.

Babies stick out their tongue as a part of the sucking reflex.

When we were kids we would stick our tongue out at people we didn't like 

or to express our displeasure.

Einstein did it to show his opinion of politics.

The Maori do it to show how fierce they are.

The Rolling Stones use it as a logo though I couldn't find a picture of Mick actually sticking out his tongue.

Gene Simmons of KISS does it though I'm not quite sure why.

Some people like to decorate theirs.

And some people like to split theirs (judging by the amount of pictures I found, this is more common than one would think) which totally creeps me out.

Tongues are useful things, no doubt. We use them for eating, tasting, talking, even determining certain states of health, but I think I'll keep mine in my mouth undecorated and whole.

The last image search I did was for 'sexy tongue licking'. I'll leave you with these:

Woman being sexy with her tongue.

Man being sexy with his tongue.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

catching up

We are headed back into the city today but for two days only this week as we will finish up the panel we are working on and it will be installed Thursday morning. Next week we will go in as well, again for only two days, to clean and seal the companion panel to the one we are finishing this week and to get it re-installed.

This is a job we did some 12 years ago and one of the panels has been broken so it involves making a new panel to replace the broken one and removing the intact panel and getting it thoroughly cleaned and sealed and then reinstalled.

And that will be all the backlogged work. We still have two commissions on the books but neither of them are ready for fabrication and I am glad of that.


I'm tired and ready for a break. 

We've been going full bore for 6 months now and though I am not complaining, am so grateful for the work after nearly a year and a half of little to none, I am tired of having to go into the city every week to do fabrication. Now that we are caught up for the moment, or will be soon, we will be able to hang tight at home while I get art work prepared for the next two.

So here's some miscellaneous pictures.

heritage carrots from the garden


redbud tree blooms

a sunset from last fall

and a little broccoli flower