Monday, September 30, 2013

starting up

I got home from the residency/retreat all excited about getting back into the cast glass work, ready to start on my next body of work, the river stories, which means I have to finish the botanica erotica pieces.

I have 10 of the proposed 12 and the 3 larger ones already cast so I seemed to be pretty close to finishing. Except that when I was going through my images to select the last couple, I had just too many really good ones so I expanded the proposed pieces to 15 small and 5 large.

Not to mention that I still haven't finished up the body of work before these pieces. The peach box being the case in point. Not to mention the one I haven't even started yet.

It took me over a week to re-enter fully after returning home. And then I had some commission work to do, still have one to do this week and a sketch for another, but...

I finally started on the next wax for the botanica erotica series yesterday.

Friday, September 27, 2013

in response to the rain and shop talk

This morning, walking the yard, I noticed the gifts that the rain last week brought, as if the rain itself was not enough of a gift.

yellow rain lilies

not exactly a fairy circle, more like a fairy conga line

miniature amaryllis

We got home early yesterday evening after spending 3 ½ days in the city getting the glass logo sign for the bank finished. I had ordered the glass, an oval, before I left for the residency and when we finally picked it up, it did not fit the art work from which I had made the pattern. Neither did they return the pattern so I had to make another one and try again. Only this time, I made two patterns, one to give the fabricator and one to keep to check the glass against. We picked it up Monday and it fit so while we had had months to do the job, we actually ended up with only a week since they wanted delivery by the end of the month. Installation is set for next week.

I'm almost done with the full size art work for the other little job we have, a window between the master bath and the closet. It used to be an exterior window before they added a huge closet onto the house.

Their closet is bigger than my bedroom. And it is crammed full of clothes. She has a floor to ceiling cabinet with just all her purses in it. She must have 50 purses and an equal number of shoes. Maybe more. Why do people acquire so many clothes? So they can wear a different outfit every day of the year? And it's not just her. He has an enormous amount of clothing as well.

Marc and I could fit all our clothing in 7' of closet space. Winter and summer combined. And we could probably get rid of some of those.

I do have a design sketch to do for a new job but the other proposals aren't moving. There was some movement on two of them earlier but neither has responded to my reply last week about what they needed to do to get things moving.

Ah well. Back to business as usual. But that's OK as I'm ready to get back to the casting work which I haven't had time to work on for nearly a year.

Monday, September 23, 2013

night blooming cereus

A week ago, Sunday last, I noticed that my night blooming cereus had put out a bud.

I acquired this plant a year ago last spring at the library plant swap and it was a little piece of leaf, about 3” x 4”, stuck in a pot. It has grown considerably in the year and a half I have had it but it's been sitting directly on the ground and the snails and pill bugs, of which we have plenty, pill bugs that is, have riddled it with holes and munched on edges.

I thought I would miss the bloom because we went into the city on Monday and didn't return til Tuesday. I was delighted to see Tuesday evening that the bud had not opened.

Wednesday and Thursday it continued to get fatter.

And then Thursday evening it started to open.

I brought it inside for a while for better pictures. The flash was too bright and totally washed out the petals.

It smelled so good, kind of a lemony fragrance.

Eventually I put it back outside for the night fearful that the artificial light would trick it into thinking it was day and it would close up. And also to let it attract whatever moths it could or would.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

ask and ye shall receive

I'd be all 'right on, man' except that I've been asking for rain for months to no effect.

This time instead of being hopeful at the weather prediction, I scoffed.

After I made my post last Thursday, we had a glorious sunset and then it really began to cloud over and the sky was actually dripping a little bit of water. I can't even dignify the amount by saying it was sprinkling.

It did rain during the night Thursday though and it rained off and on all day Friday, though never a sustained heavy rain. Mostly what we have been in the habit of getting plus intermittent heavier showers. Except about mid-day a heavy wind came up with a sudden downpour of heavy rain which lasted all of about 10 or 15 minutes and then it just...stopped. Just like that, no letting up, no sprinkling or drizzling, just a downpour one minute and nothing the next.

It knocked over 5 of the plumerias I have in pots.

And it rained more during the night last night too. I went over and checked my neighbor's rain gauge this afternoon...3.25”. Would have liked more but I am so happy with what we got. I stood out under the eave and watched it for a while last night.

Of course I'd been watching it all day while I worked on this full size drawing for a window, a water scene coincidentally, with flowering plants and a heron.

It has been a beautiful day with cooler temperatures and everything looks so much happier and the air is clean and smells so good.

As long as it was still raining I refrained from posting anything about it here or on FB. If I learned anything at all on the river, I learned not to invoke the gods.

Especially when you are getting something you want or like. Plenty of time to be grateful and thankful after the event.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

late summer

It is just so hot and dry here, still. That week in NY has ruined me. It has made me less tolerant of the late summer heat this year. I think if it was spring, coming out of winter, instead of late summer, I would be enjoying the same temperatures.

I've been waiting for it to cool down a little before I tend to late summer chores in the yard because in no time at all my few efforts send me back into the house, dripping sweat.

I know the wheel is turning. The sun no longer sets behind my neighbor's house. Some leaves are starting to fall and I need to rake or sweep the concrete apron in front of the garage. The pecan trees have been dropping green pecans for weeks. The pampas grass is blooming. The titmice and chickadees empty the teacup feeder nearly every day hoarding the sunflower seeds for winter, as if the teacup will disappear. Most of the summer bloomers have gone to seed and everything just looks so tired. The cotton in the fields has been harvested and the farmer just plowed under the stubble from the corn harvest.

We are still in a drought cycle. This summer worse than last but not as bad as two summers ago. Not tree killing drought when millions of trees died. But it is dry. The sky fills with clouds but only teases. Whatever the weather patterns are, they have changed and the rain passes over us. I can't even remember when we had a good hard rain or a day when it rained all day. Most of the showers we get, when we get anything at all, last about half an hour.

I water outside every day but lately, it's not enough. I just can't water enough. I soak the white ginger one evening, letting the hose run, letting the water soak in and 48 hours later, the leaves are curled and the ground is hard again.

My two confederate rose bushes that were so beautiful and amazing last fall, came up diseased this spring. One of the bushes was partially affected last year but this year it was both of them completely. Early summer, I cut them back to the ground thinking maybe they would come out healthy. The new growth came out gnarly and stunted and while a volunteer from last year has grown to 8' over the summer, these barely got 18” tall. I took a section to the garden club meeting, the first of the season, last week. No one could tell me the problem. The speaker, a master gardener, said aphids but I know it's not aphids because there aren't any. I didn't argue with her.

I came home and cut them to the ground again.

The only oasis is the turtle pond and the water lily pond. Big Mama patrols with her posse of goldfish and four little frogs have taken up residence with the water lilies. A steady stream of bees and wasps help themselves to a drink.

The little frogs are used to me now and no longer jump away when I come to pull the string algae and aging lily pads out of the pond.

And the morning glory bush is in full bloom. I love these gorgeous morning glory like flowers and like morning glories, they close up by mid-day.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

road rage

We went into the city yesterday to do two small quick little jobs. The two of them took about four hours and the people came and picked them up all on the same day and we packed up to skedaddle back home. Then I remembered that I needed to find some previous art work for the full size drawing I have to do this week before we head back next week to do that job so it took me about half an hour to rummage through years of drawings until I found the one I wanted.

Of course, that put us leaving at rush hour but it's really not so bad as we get on the HOV lane and generally whiz right by the main lanes. Until we get to the Brazos River that is.

The HOV lane peters out, dumping us into the far left lane and before we get to the bridge over the river, the 5 lane highway narrows down to two lanes. We merge into what then becomes the left lane, cross the river and continue on our way.

There are two entrances onto the highway after the river and before the exit for Rosenburg/Richmond, two towns that have merged and will soon be butted up to Sugar Land (so named because there used to be a big sugar factory there) which used to be a small town until it became a chichi suburb of Houston.

Once past Rosenburg, it's another 30 minutes to home in Wharton.

So we are in the left lane, going faster than the traffic in the right lane, which is pretty full because of the merging from the two entrance ramps and because a lot of commuters exit there at Rosenburg, maintaining our speed when this guy in a white pick-up truck comes up behind us, tailgating us, and gesturing for us to move over, move over into the slow lane where there was another truck next to us.

Since we are still moving faster than the traffic on the right and moving as fast as the traffic in front of us, we stay put. When a gap opens up, he whips in, sticks his head out his window yelling and cursing at us as he passes, and then whips back right in front of us in the left lane and hits his brake.

He's angrily waving his arm out the window and finally lifts it up in the international gesture of 'fuck you', hits the gas, passes a couple of cars on the right and then moves into the right hand lane and about a half mile later he slows to a crawl joining the long line of cars exiting for Rosenburg and it's his exit. Because of the light there, and the time of day, he is barely off the highway when we pass him honking and waving.

The guy had a freaking peace sign on his rear windshield.

OK. Maybe he had a hard day and just wanted to get home, I get that. But really, what was the point of all that anger and childishness when his exit was a half mile down the road and our getting out of his way, even if we could have, would have made zero difference.

Monday, September 16, 2013


As I mentioned in one of the posts about the residency/retreat, guided meditation was offered at the Center for those interested.  

I was first introduced to meditation in 1970 via TM, Transcendental Meditation.  At the time, TM charged a fee to initiate people into the practice and I guess they still do.  That struck me as fundamentally wrong and, since I was a student with no income, an insurmountable obstacle.  The recruiter at the university where we were enrolled who was trying to get me and my boyfriend (the future Rat Bastard) to sign up assured us that it was only a 'donation' and not required so we made our appointment and showed up with the requisite flower and handkerchief.  It became immediately apparent that the 'donation' was, in fact, required but rather than endure the bad press that would be sure to follow on campus and to spare us all the embarrassment (perhaps), they did in fact initiate us that evening.  

I eventually paid off my $75 fee a little at a time to the guy that recruited us but I have no idea if the money was ever credited to me.

A few years later, I was living and going to school in Chicago and after coming into contact with Ananda Marga (a different story), was introduced to yoga and once again to meditation, a gift freely given.

I returned to Houston and several years later I was going through a very rough patch in my life (jettisoning the Rat Bastard) and was hanging around some TM people who suggested that I get reinitiated to help me smooth out the transition.  They all seemed so serene and together so I made the appointment with the same guy who did the first initiation nearly five years earlier and showed up on time with my flower and handkerchief and waited and waited and waited.  He was over an hour late, had forgotten the appointment, and was unapologetic about it.

When he asked me if I remembered my mantra, I had to tell him no although I did remember the one I had received from Ananda Marga (this was the mid-70s and Ananda Marga had not made it to Houston).  Even though he had it written down in his notebook, he would not tell me what it was and instead told me that I would have to pay again to be reinitiated.

Needless to say, I walked out and never looked back and made my way through the troubled time on my own.

I never developed a daily practice of meditation although I would do so now and then when life got stressful or I needed to reenergize.  However, being at the beautiful Chapin Mill Center with their beautiful Zendo, I showed up that first morning for the guided meditation.

Most of us, I think, showed up that first morning, and Waymon gave a short talk about Buddhism and Eryl gave us a short instruction in the sitting, posture, breathing of the meditation they were going to lead us in.  It was very carefully presented without any sort of religious connotation as they were careful not to alienate persons with religious beliefs.

We did a short 10 minute meditation, focusing on and counting our breaths, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 and then backwards back to 1, eyes open but cast downward as Eryl explained that this was a waking meditation and the light on our retinas would help keep us awake.  We wanted to meditate, not sleep.

They described the goal meditation as returning to pure awareness which is our original state, to turn off the active mind and just be.  Of course, the active mind can be very insistent that you pay attention to it so when thoughts would intrude you just recognize it and then let it go, when you lose count you simply start over at 1.

After our first 10 minute seated meditation, we did a 5 minute walking meditation, and then another 10 minute meditation.  The next day, and every day after that, we engaged in a 20 minute seated, a 5 minute walking, and another 20 minute seated meditation.  The second day they both also gave short talks about meditation and Buddhism.  

The third day I did not participate.  I had not been sleeping well and thought, when the alarm went off, that I would sleep in that hour.  Which I didn't.  Sleep, that it.  Eventually I got up and went to breakfast.  I probably would have felt better rested if I had gone to meditation instead of just being wakeful in the bed.

One of our group is a Buddhist and she was asking them about Zen Buddhism practices and so on subsequent days, they employed a wood tool and a bell to start the meditation, we would bow to each other after each of the meditations, and they ended the last one with chanting the Four Vows.  By mid week, more than half our group was still participating.

One morning towards the end of our week there, towards the end of the last meditation of the morning, Eryl and Waymon uncovered the drum and bell that were on either side of the Buddha on the platform.

Eryl struck the bell three or four times and the sound waves were physical.  I could feel them wash over me.  Waymon joined in with the drum and they both started chanting.  Unlike the Four Vows, I could only pick out a word or two but I wasn't really trying to understand what they were chanting, and they were both doing different chants, but was rather just enjoying the bell, the drum, and the tonal qualities of their voices, the physical sensations of the sound.  It was an amazing experience.  I stopped counting my breaths and just listened.

I'd like to say I returned a changed person and have been meditating every morning since my return, but, I'm not and I haven't.

But, who knows.  I have one of those round thick cushions at the city house.  I'll have to fetch it home.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

oh ye of little faith

I did an image search for the word stupid and I can rightfully say my stupid doesn't even touch the stupid the search brought up so this post remains unillustrated.

If I hadn't already proved what a total idiot I seem to be turning into with my two brain farts the week I was gone, I'm totally convinced of it now.  

Reality has indeed intruded.

In the last 24 hours I knocked the side view mirror off my son's car, failed to bring my tape measure to make a pattern and measure a space, and I lost my iPad.

I can tell you where and to the minute that I lost it.  I just didn't realize it at the time and when I did it was too late.  I went back, was only gone 40 minutes tops and that includes two wrong turns, but there was no sign of it.

After my appointment yesterday morning to take a pattern and I discovered my tape measure had not made it into my bag before I left home, I went to the church we did several years ago to photograph it again because I had lost all the large format pictures when the computer they were stored on crashed.

When I was done, I walked out to the parking lot, put my iPad on the rail of the truck bed just behind the cab, reached into my bag for the keys, unlocked the door, got in and drove off.  When I got to my next destination I was early so I reached into my bag for the iPad except it wasn't there and was nowhere in the truck.  I thought for a minute and...

damn damn damn

Rushed back to the church and of course it was nowhere to be seen so I went inside.  Not at the welcome desk in the lounge, not turned into the school office, not turned into the main office.

fuck fuck fuck

Back I went to Hot Glass Houston to buy the opal powders I wanted and one of the guys there told me that if I went to the Apple store they could probably locate it for me.  As it happened there was an Apple store in the nearby mall, so I thought it was worth a shot.

But no.  Apparently I had the cloud function turned off because it didn't show up.

damn damn damn

So what to do?  I use my iPad every day as a portfolio, as a computer away from home, as a communication device with my grandkids and kids, and many other things.  Wait a couple of days and see if it turns up, which I didn't consider likely, that if whoever found it was going to turn it in they would have already or just go ahead and bite the bullet and buy a new one since I was right there?

The fact that they had a new upgraded version was a carrot.  A big carrot.  So after consulting with Marc, I bought a new one.

That was yesterday.

Got a phone call today from the church.  They have it.  Whoever found it didn't turn it in to any of the offices but instead just put it on a table in the lounge and it wasn't discovered until today.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

summer reading list

image via

Well, I wasn't going to post today after the 12 post marathon but my summer reading list is already a week late.

The Dark At The End by F. Paul Wilson – no no no. I did not like the way this ended AT ALL! This was the last of the Repairman Jack novels. Well, almost the last. He is writing three more that fill in the time between his growing up and moving to NY and his becoming Repairman Jack. Then as the author tells us, that is it! Then we will know everything he knows about Repairman Jack and his life. I suspect he is sick of the character and the story line and wants to move on. This novel is the end of Jack's story and his struggle with The Other and his attempt to save the world from the never ending night and the horrors that go with it.

Nightworld by F. Paul Wilson – Wilson actually wrote this novel years ago as the end of another story line, The Adversary Cycle. As the Repairman Jack novels developed, he rewrote it to expand on it and increase Jack's involvement. So this is really the last of the Repairman Jack novels as well as the last of the Adversary novels. The two lines intersect and end with this book. It has a better ending. Life goes on but only by the slimmest margin.

Blood Of Dragons by Robin Hobb - the fourth and final book of this story line though I think there are more tales to be told as auxiliary novels. I enjoyed this one a lot. I like the other three too, but I really enjoyed this one. In fact, I may go back and read the Rain Wild Chronicles for some of the back story.

A Week In Winter by Maeve Binchy – This is Maeve's last novel. She died within weeks of finishing it. I'm sorry for her passing as she has been one of my favorite authors. All her books, and I have read most of them, are interconnected in that the characters are all from a general area and interact with each other though each novel is totally stand alone introducing new characters and their stories with references to and interactions with characters from other books.

The Thief Of Words by Starling Lawrence – I read 22 pages of this 234 page book and I don't plan to pick it up again. On the back it says things like...'original and absorbing novel sustained by the complexities of human desire', 'deeply satisfying novel', 'a beautiful, mournful, puzzling, haunting story'. OK, whatever. The first 22 pages is two monologues, the first by the woman in question as she muses to herself, the second by the self absorbed protagonist (that was still on-going) that wandered all over the place and who is, presumably, speaking to someone else. How often have I abandoned a book after so few pages? Never. In fact, this may be the first book, or perhaps the second, that I have ever started and didn't finish.

Cold City by F. Paul Wilson – the first of the three final novels about Repairman Jack that fill in the time period between his childhood and his adulthood. He has dropped out of college, left his past and family behind, moved to NYC, and assumed a new identity, living completely off the grid in that he has no SS#, no DL, only works for cash, and gets involved with some unsavory characters while trying to protect the helpless and his friends. We learn how he met Abe and Julio and how he begins to become Repairman Jack, the man people call on to 'fix' their problems, which fixes he will only take on after they have exhausted all the legal options. Oh, one other thing. Wilson must definitely be bored with this character and story line. This novel includes soft porn a la Nora Roberts. In the 15 Repairman Jack novels, where he is hooked up with the love of his life, Wilson never went there and I have to wonder what he was thinking by including a sex scene in this one.

State Of Wonder by Anne Patchett - I'm not really sure what this book was about.  The title itself, now that I've read the book, doesn't seem to have anything to do with the book. The story line is about a pharmaceutical company for whom a doctor/researcher is developing a fertility drug in the rainforest of Brazil.  Dr. Swenson's arrogant tendencies manifest in refusing to make regular reports to the president of the company detailing her progress so he sends a researcher from the company to go find her and report on the progress.  Several months later, Dr. Swenson writes that he has died of a fever and that they have buried the body there as it was impractical to return it.  This results in Dr. Singh, the research partner of the man who died, being sent with the same mission and to find out more about his death and the majority of the book takes place there in the Brazilian jungle.  Dr. Singh is also a former student of Dr. Swenson and so in some respects this is a story about their relationship.  It's also a story about protecting the indigenous tribes, and in particular, the tribe of Lakashi whose women stay fertile their whole lives and around whom the research centers, from discovery and intrusion by the modern world which would result in their destruction, and is one of the reasons for all the secrecy.  It's also a story of personal development in the character of Dr. Singh.  The book takes a surprising turn at the end and is almost abrupt.  I don't want to write too much about it.  It is very well written with some riveting passages and even though it took me longer than usual to finish, I enjoyed this book a lot.

Daddy's Gone A Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark – I can always count on Mary Higgins Clark for a well written quick little read and so I grabbed this one from the library on my way out of town for a week. It required no concentration or heavy thinking, just an enjoyable story that I could pick up at odd moments without losing the thread of the story. This one is a murder mystery with a little twist at the end.

Friday, September 6, 2013

12. so long and thanks for all the fish

Our last night together we spruced ourselves up a 'wee bit' to quote Karl and went out to a nice dinner at a restaurant courtesy of Amanda and Lance and it was a very fun end to a thoroughly enjoyable week and the time had flown by.

I want to thank Catharine Newell who was our fearless leader and fellow seeker.  She is an amazing person and I count myself lucky to have been able to spend this week with her guidance and company.  

Also to Amanda and Lance Taylor who own and run Oatka School Of Glass and sponsored the residency and made it all possible by arranging for the venue and opening their studio to the residents and for providing not only the Food but anything else we might find ourselves in need of.

And Karl Herron, artist-in-residence at Oatka at the time, who generously answered any question asked of him.  

And to all the volunteers that actually cooked the food and cleaned up after us and helped us find the stuff we needed in the studio and drove us everywhere we needed to go. So thank you Julie, Diana, Betty, Carol, Kristin, Pam, and Steve who did the cooking, cleaning, stuff finding, and toting.

And many thanks to Wayman and Eryl at the Center who generously led us in meditation every morning, especially the last Sunday morning when they usually go to Rochester, and for all the small unnoticed tasks they took care of.

And thanks to all the women who participated for the friendship, support, laughter, kindness, generosity, experience, and knowledge shared, for the inclusive atmosphere extended to all. You made this a memorable experience for me and I hope I managed to give back even a tenth of what I received.

OK. A little pause to wipe away the tears, which, as it happened, welled up unbeknownst while I was speaking at the last morning's meeting.

Well, that was unexpected, I remarked.

To which Cindy replied, welcome to my world.

It was that kind of week.

We took our group shot, though two of us had already had to leave early, presented the bowl to Eryl, and headed back to the studio one last time to collect our makings and clean up our work spaces.

Then it was back to the Center to wait for Lance to ferry those of us going to the airport that day. I was in that group. But before we left, we discovered where Eryl had placed the bowl.

She had put it on the platform with the Buddha in the Zendo.

So off to the airport where Abhilasha, Suzanne, Marti, and I parted ways.

Re-entry occurred in Newark while I was changing planes.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

11. presentations of our studio work

Late afternoon on Saturday, we had our final presentations. Each of us spent a few minutes talking about our time in the studio, what we experimented with, what our feelings were about it, and what we may plan to do with these explorations in the future.

We all explored different things.  Lori continued her work with screen melts and slumped and tack fused compositions.  Natali worked with wood, shaping boat forms.  Ann worked in concrete, Leigh made sample color and pattern tiles with frit and powder, Suzanne and Laura worked in the powder painting technique.  Abhilasha worked in the cold room with plate glass and did a pâté de verre piece.  Marti did a box casting and powder painting, Cindy pulled stringer and shaped them into compositions and made sample tiles.  Louise fused morelli canes, worked on the lathe, and made cubes from a pattern bar.  Miriam explored painting glass powder paste with a palette knife.  Jerre also made color tiles and then cast them together.  Estelle continued her explorations in trying to recreate Japanese indigo dyed fabric and made bells.  Denise worked with powder wafers and enamels.  And I, of course, worked on powder wafers and powder painting.

In alphabetical order:
















Almost done. Only one more after this.