Monday, April 29, 2013

it's that time of year again

My birthday is tomorrow, April 30, and I'm going to be 63 years old.  

The 60s have freaked me out a little bit.  But this year, I think maybe I am OK with it. I mean, really, what choice do I have?  I can be OK with it or I can be miserable.

Or as I think of it, you can fight against the current or go with the flow but you are going downstream regardless.

So it is with living.  Every kind of life ends the same way.  

And as one of those organic beings that has undeniably passed the halfway mark, my ultimate demise and the condition of my being in my last years occurs to me more often than it did when I was still young and more energetic and raising my children and building my business and who the hell had time to think about old age.

I'm working hard on acceptance in advance since my chosen path did not result in monetary riches.  And none of us really knows the future that awaits, what thing or when it will strike that might put us 'at the mercy'.  

If we reap what we sow then I'm probably fucked anyway considering my mother, with whom I did not have a good relationship, was stuck with me. So I do what I can to stay healthy and cognizant.

I look in the mirror and I see my aunt, sometimes hints of my grandmother.  That's sobering. I look at my elder sister and see our grandmother and sometimes our mother. In my family, my sister is the matriarch. Everyone from our parents generation has already passed.

Actually, I think I like being older. I like that being older is so much less intense. I can just walk away, I don't have to engage. I speak my mind without fear. I don't have to tolerate bullshit.

I mean, we all have to put up with a certain amount bullshit in our lives, right? Stuff we need to endure through familial or work relationships. When you're young you are still trying to find your way, climb that ladder, competing and acquiring. You have responsibilities to the older and younger generations.

Well, I've fulfilled most of those obligations for good or ill. They are behind me. And I think I've achieved as much as I ever will and I'm OK with that.

What I want for the rest of my, hopefully long, life is to just be content. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

short stories 12

bucket of poison ivy

Yesterday was tree maintenance day. And by that I mean I pulled up the sprouted trees that could be pulled up, I dug up the ones that would not be pulled up, and I pruned below ground level the ones that would not even be dug up. Several hundred pecans, hackberrys, raintrees, yews, oaks, tallows. While I was at it I pulled up all the sprouted poison ivy as well though I had to wear a glove for that.


she was not cooperating for her photo shoot (or I hadn't had my coffee yet)

Big Mama with her posse

This morning I noticed that Big Mama was out of the pond and then later I saw she was back in it. I have yet to see her go up the ramp but I'm really glad that she has figured that out as we are still gone to the city three days of the week and I was worried about her getting out while we are gone. The ground is hard as a rock since it hasn't rained lately so I don't guess she's having much luck digging a hole for eggs. Not that I think they would hatch even if she did get a deep enough hole dug. Even though they will stay fertile for a number of years after mating, it's been over six years since we provided her with a male. She runs them all off after a while.


the finished Winston panel

We are on the second to last commission that came in last fall and again in January. That's typically how it goes. We get months of work in a relatively short period of time and then we work our way through them. Unfortunately, the ones who come in at the end have to wait the longest. If the timing works out to our best advantage, we get a couple of months respite before it begins all over again. If it begins all over again. That's the rub of being self employed in general but as an artist the uncertainty factor goes way up. You never know exactly what to expect. So either you get used to it and stick with it or you stick with it until you get used to it and eventually you become basically unemployable. Not because you are incapable of doing anything different but because the way people are hired now is so different. I'm sure I would find it very difficult to get hired for anything other than minimum wage somewhere even though I have a lot of excellent skills. Anyway, there are a lot of perks for self employment even with the built in uncertainty that justify our choices in life. Right now, I do have work and we are doing the fabrication for the Leadership Wall, 4 wall mounted portraits with quotes of men the client admires.


Today I work at the antique store. The economic climate for the businesses on the square has not improved. It doesn't help that Wharton residents don't really support the local shops. Unless it's the Walmart. In an effort to help the owner because the store is not currently supporting itself we have started to close an hour earlier since no one really comes in in the last hour anyway. She talks about closing it altogether sometimes.


By the way, my husband says that if I want to blog about how magnificent he is I have his permission. He asks me almost nightly if he's told me lately how lucky I am to have such a fine fellow like him.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

earth day

I try to make every day earth day. It is, after all, the only planet we've got and we rely on it for our sustenance...our water, our food, the very air we breathe. So why, are we as a nation, doing our best to destroy it?

I take that back. That's not fair. There are many many people like me doing their best to save it, to nurture it, to counteract the unrestrained greed that poisons our water, land, and air.

Not satisfied with poisoning the three basic elements, the greed of Big Business is now poisoning our food. I'm referring to genetically modified food crops. These GMOs have been genetically altered to contain pesticides and herbicides, to exude pesticides and herbicides. The idea was that if the plants could fight off the weeds and insects that feed on them, farmers would have to use less herbicides and pesticides. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is happening. Nature, as she will, has evolved weeds and bugs that are resistant to these GMOs. Farmers are having to use more, not less, poisons in their fields.

So now, not only is our food awash in poison, it contains poison.

Monsanto, the company that brought us Agent Orange, while not the only company involved in this, is the main mover behind GMOs. They will tell you that GMOs are perfectly safe but they are lying. They have infiltrated the FDA so that the government agency tasked with the responsibility to protect the food supply now turns a blind eye toward GMOs. But the fact is, GMOs are not safe. They are killing us slowly.

There are so many independent studies out there showing the long term effects of consuming GMO foods including but not limited to accelerated aging, massive tumors, infertility, obesity, and organ damage. A recent study showed that nutritionally, GMOs are severely lacking.

These GMOs have been in our food supply for 20 years and they did it without telling anyone, without conducting long term studies, and burying any evidence that showed they were not safe. Nearly all of this country's corn (88%), cotton (90%) and soybeans (94%) are genetically modified. You can pretty much guarantee that any packaged food that contains corn or soy products sold in this country, unless it is labeled organic or non-GMO, contains these foods.

I urge everyone to educate themselves. Many countries have banned GMOs or limit their use or require labeling at the very least. Unfortunately, the United States is not one of them.

If these foods and the pesticides and herbicides are so safe, why are they wearing bio-suits?

Do an internet search with these search terms: what are the long term effects of eating GMO foods.

At the very least, ask yourself, if GMO foods are so safe, why the companies that engineer them and those that use them in their products are spending millions of dollars to prevent labeling in this country. There are already over 40 countries that ban them, require labeling, or restrict them in some form or other but the United States is not one of them.

The best way to avoid GMOs is to avoid any processed or pre-packaged food. Eat and cook fresh but be aware that GMO fresh corn and zucchini squash is on the market. Grow as much of your own food as you can. Buy organic and non-GMO labeled foods as often as possible. I know how hard that can be because as a working artist, my income often does not allow for organic foods but anyone can cook from fresh and even growing the least amount of food for yourself helps.

And start reading the labels if you don't already do so. See how many of the listed ingredients are food and how many are chemicals, how many forms of sugar are in every product. If the chemicals out number the food, it's not food. Sugar is not food. Because, if this goes unrestrained, our children will not have any grandchildren. Already we are seeing more food allergies, more autism, more cancer, more infertility, more obesity, more diabetes.

If you want to become active or just keep abreast of the situation, visit these FB pages and visit their websites:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

spring blooms and a wasp

some pics from around the yard the last couple of weeks...

I noticed the aloe someone gave me a year or so ago is sending up a bloom stalk.

This is one of the azaleas we bought last year on sale for half price. Out of the ten we still have 9. Tthey were so root bound with a solid thatch on top that water absolutely could not penetrate. I had to basically bare root them. A couple I even had to dig up and pot because after they initially seemed to do OK, they started to fail. This is one of them that got moved into a pot. Then the ants moved in and it was not recovering, losing all it's leaves but the stems were still green. I finally had to take it out of the pot, hose it down, bare root it again, dust it with rooting hormone, repotted it, and pruned it back. It looks dead doesn't it.

Look again.

I've tried several times to get macros of the center of the red poppies because they have the most subtle colors...yellow, purple, and black but most have been unsuccessful because of the wind. Finally got a good one though it isn't completely crisp.

And another with bees but it doesn't really show the colors very well.

The pink is pretty too.

This is the area where the poppies were so profuse and tall last year. Not so much this year but the larkspur, which is just coming into bloom is pretty with the evening primrose and the yellow coneflowers are starting to come on. Yesterday evening a ruby throated hummingbird was busy on the larkspur. It would pause and hover looking at us now and then and then go back to it feeding.

Another area with larkspur. You can see the direction the prevailing winds have been coming from.

The evening primrose in the fields are at peak.

The mock dogwood has been very pretty.

I inadvertently cut a blooming branch while trying to prune out the dead wood. I brought it in the house and it stayed fresh for over a week.

The pecans trees finally came out. These 'blooms' are the next fall's nuts.

And finally, this wasp posed nicely for me while I waited for him to move off the gate so I could open it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

wherefore art me

I've been bored with or busy or just overwhelmed by the cyber world for several weeks now and while I have had the tabs open I've definitely been disengaged. I haven't even posted on my own blog for over a week, something that has never happened unless I was out of town.

I have been busy trying to get a couple of proposals done (which I haven't completely accomplished), full size art work for two jobs done (which I haven't completely accomplished), spring chores done (always more to accomplish) but being busy never stopped me before from interacting, posting, reading, commenting.

At this point in my life, I want to be more involved in politics but it is so crushing. The constant legislative attacks on women and the poor, the lack of compassion so evident in one of our political parties, the continued adulteration of our food supply which is slowly killing us all and supported by the government, the loss of any real independent mainstream news outlets, and on and on. I need to turn a blind eye for awhile. I probably have half a dozen blog posts in this one paragraph alone but I'm just so weary of it all.

And this past weekend was the garden club's annual Plant and Flower Show which was the biggest show so far with 31 members participating and over 80 entries. More on that in a separate post.

And then Saturday afternoon through Monday night (we didn't get home til about 9PM) I've been sitting in the hospital with my sister while they try to figure out the why of her increasing episodes of chest pains and irregular heartbeat. No definitive answer but a good lead for further exploration. More on that in a separate post...maybe.

We have to head into Houston tomorrow evening to receive glass for the two commissions for which I have not yet finished the full size art work and start fabrication. I hope these don't take us too long because I really am not ready to start the weekly stays in the city. I am really anxious to get at least a small set up out here in the country so that we can do the smaller commissions without having to go into the city.

I have lots of pictures to sort through and share though but I really need to get on top of my work. You'd think that in the last month I'd have had time to do that but I seem to have slipped further behind instead. Not to mention not working on my personal pate de verre work in more months than I can count. It may be a full year by the time I get back to the peach box.

I don't even have the energy to find a single picture to go along with all this and I may not post again for another week.

So that's why no one has seen me around.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

spring chores

What I did yesterday and not necessarily in chronological order:

Fertilized and mulched the rest of the azaleas which was 5 small bushes.

Turned and added dirt to one of the small squares, employing my fire ant remediation system several times and getting the cantaloupe seeds in. I planted about 15 or so and I'm hoping at least 6 of them will sprout as these are last years seeds.

Worked the dirt around the poppies that volunteered in the other small square that had the carrots this winter. The poppies, so lush and tall and blooming so profusely last year have failed to return this year except for a few isolated plants in this square and another in the compost pile. They came up by the hundreds where they were planted last year but then most withered and died. The few that are blooming, are very small. But the rocket larkspur are pretty full.

I took some pictures of Big Mama and fed her some watermelon and then I rinsed out the foam and charcoal felt layers from the filter of her pond which were thick with green slime. I also took some pictures of the new biological water filter/fountain in the small/water lily pond for Gail. It's not quite a biological filter yet as I don't have the gravel, sand, or parrot feather.

Finally got all the rest of the nasturtiums planted, some in the food garden and some in the little garden around the water lily pond. While I was at it I cut back the rosemary by at least a fourth. It is big and was getting greedy.

I planted zinnia seeds again for the third time! The first time I used old seeds and none came up. The second time I bought new seeds and 6 out of the whole packet came up. So now I have planted a new packet.

I transplanted some seedlings of a Texas star hibiscus, a native species, that I had sprouted, into a small pot and got a clump of fern planted.

I moved the naked little boy from his spot on the side of the house around to the back where I want to expand a flower bed. I haven't been able to get anything to grow in the pot on his head where he was so I moved him where he will get more sun. I put new dirt in the pot and planted it with silver pony foot.

I pruned all the dead canes and branches from the climbing rose bushes on the fence in the Little Back Yard and extracted the fallen branch from the pecan tree. As soon as they quit blooming I'm going to prune them back pretty hard as they have become completely unruly.

Then I took a shower. so sorry, you don't get a picture of that.

Friday, April 5, 2013

it was nice while it lasted

I have been trying to stay focused on my work this week and stop wasting spending so much time on-line or out in the yard. The weather has obliged as a cold front came in Tuesday bringing with it some much needed heavy rain accompanied by lightning, thunder, and hail.

Working non-stop basically since last August up until several weeks ago had left us in need of some time off, part of which was spent with the grandkids here during spring break. Not exactly what I would call time off but the following week found me dithering away and remembering how much I like not having to work.

tomatoes (we're heavy on the tomatoes this year) and garlic, lettuce (which is bolting and will be pulled up), okra, zucchini, bell and jalapeno peppers and a japanese eggplant, and cucumbers with onions on the side

I finished planting the garden except for one tomato and the cantaloupe and pole bean seeds but we just now got one of the little squares cleaned out. I got the azaleas fed and mulched and some other things moved from the temporary pots they've been living in for a year and into the ground.

I cleaned out the little pond and was surprised to find it full of tadpoles as well as the minnows that have been keeping the mosquito larva from growing into mosquitos.

This year I added a little pump and a natural water filter and another pot of water lillies.

But that's all over for now, since I do actually have to work and I'm fortunate to still have some work to do.


I am trying my best to ignore the beautiful warm day out there (since I don't have to work in the antique store this Saturday) and make more progress on the full size art work for the ranch house entry and the Leadership Wall and the one proposal I still need to finish.

Yesterday I did the full size 'artistic' drawing of Churchill. Today it's Vince Lombardi.

Edit: the image of Churchill is not my drawing. They gave me a photograph which I manipulated into 5 tones using a graphic program. The drawing part is where I convert the shown manipulated image into a line drawing.

Monday, April 1, 2013


Why is it when we look through a microscope at little things it's 'micro' but when we take a picture of little things with a camera it's called a 'macro'? I did actually look that up in the dictionary and it relates to the size of the lens used, macro, as in the long lens.

I've been taking lot of macros lately but I need a new camera. The viewing screen on mine is so scratched that I have trouble seeing where the focus is, especially in certain kinds of light. The result is I'm not having a lot of satisfactory results.

But I did get a few.

baby gum ball from the sweet gum tree

baby blue eye flower, a woodland wildflower that is established at the city house and trying to get it established at the country house

dewberry blossom, a wild blackberry

bougainvillea bract (?) they don't call it a flower

lyre leaf sage, a wildflower

lantana, a hardy native flowering shrub



shrimp plant flower

nun's orchid