Friday, October 31, 2014

a new chapter, a big spot, and...can you guess?

do I have to mention/write about Halloween just because it's Halloween?

While I did make some wax sheets over at the new shop when I was doing all that model making, I guess you could say we are now officially back in business.

This week, we have been working on an actual job. Over there. In the shop.

I need to get the horseshoe nailed up.

I found the horseshoe on one of my many river trips on the Rio Grande in Big Bend. I had pulled over in my canoe to attend to some business and I found it laying in the scrub and sand, some poor mexican horse's lost shoe. The Rio Grande is no boundary to them and they cross over at will wherever it is shallow enough. I came across horses in the river and on the banks quite often, have even had them come through camp.

So, I figured, his bad fortune, my good fortune and I picked it up. I've considered it a gift of sorts.

Anyway, we finally started on the left-over commission from last spring. I worked in the new shop Wednesday and Thursday getting my part done cutting the stencil and doing the cream etch part (that usually comes after the sandblasting but this one is a little different). It is a different place but I liked working in there, at least with the bay doors open because it is so open to the outdoors. I'm sure it will be a different story this winter since the bay doors will be closed and there are only two small windows in the back wall.

It ain't pretty (yet) but it's functioning.

It seemed so big when we first got it. But now, after moving so much stuff over there, it doesn't look so big any more. Of course, we are really only inhabiting the double bay area and the big store room and the single bay somewhat right now. And after the first day or two of demolition and finding what I found in the inside part, I abandoned that for the time being.

Today, Marc is starting the sandblasting.

So, I got my stitches out last Wednesday and am glad of it. They were very annoying as I could see them in my peripheral vision and the sun glinted off them. Right now, it is a big ugly lumpy red spot. It got a little infected I guess. It was healing fine so after the first two days I forgot about the ointment I was supposed to be using. Monday night I noticed it was sore and red so I started using it again. Today, it is not quite as red perhaps but still big. Worse (visually) by quadruple than the carcinoma, which is clear now according to the second lab report.

The little bit of vanity I have has photoshopped it out.

One happy camper with a shop to work in.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

short stories 15


Perhaps I was a bit hasty in my assessment of the end of the pecan harvest. They aren't raining down but they are falling fairly steadily. I picked up a good gallon's worth between yesterday evening and today mid-morning. We have a slight breeze this morning and the trees' leaves were steadily drifting down as I was out there. So far I have shelled 4.3 pounds of nuts. That's the post shelling weight. This is my evening activity and also on Saturdays while I work at the antique store.


One morning last week, Marc called me out to see a spider web that was being lit up by the morning sun. Usually, spiders weave their webs in the evening and take them down during the morning. Apparently not the shield spiders as this little lady was busy spinning her web. She was putting it up right in one of my paths and so during the day as I went back and forth, I made a conscious effort to avoid crashing through it. I had some idea about taking another picture later in the day. Early afternoon, distracted by something, I crashed right through it.



I finally started cleaning the Dresden porcelain chandelier, a massive chore so I try to do a little every day. (and by that I mean I worked on it last Thursday and not a day since.) It will take an entire giant box of cotton swabs...or two. I don't know if you can tell how really dusty/dirty this thing is.



These two beauties are on my main artery between my house and the Square downtown. These are the two biggest specimens of these I have ever seen. The raintree is gorgeous and mine is puny in comparison but I'm glad this one is not in my yard because I swear every seed in every pod sprouts if it hits the ground. I'm already pulling up raintrees everywhere in the yard all year long. And this confederate rose is enormous! That's a carport underneath it on the left. It must never freeze back, being in a protected spot and they must never cut it back.


I have so many things on my to-do list that I can't seem to pick any one thing. I need to work on the flower beds and plant stuff and start on the raised beds for next spring's garden. I want to work outside but it is still just so hot out there in the sun that I quickly abandon any attempt. I need to organize waxes and start making molds and casting stuff for the annual open house the first weekend in December (and it's probably already too late for that) and the show at the gallery in Florida next spring. And, I have two small proposals to write for commission work besides actually getting in the shop and finishing the commission we have.  


Last night's sunset after a beautiful cloudless day.

Friday, October 24, 2014

biopsy and the selfie

Early September, I had an appointment with the dermatologist to look at a spot on my nose that had a tendency to bleed. Not often, maybe a couple times a year.

I had already been to her previously about it about 4 years ago. She looked at it and determined it to be a vein that had migrated to the surface. Sounded plausible to me. She gave it a shot of that freezey stuff and it went away. For over two years. But then it came back so I made another appointment.

She sliced it off and sent it in to be biopsied. The results were basal cell carcinoma and she wanted me back in for further treatment. I've had one of those before and have a small circular scar beside my nose under my right eye because the dermatologist I went to back then wanted to send me to a plastic surgeon to have it cut out and stitched up so it wouldn't leave a scar. I declined. This current one healed into a nice little divot on the end of my nose.

My follow-up appointment was Wednesday. Before the doctor came in, the nurse?, attendant?, said the doctor would either scrape and burn or use a medication and I needed to sign this consent form first. Personally, I thought going to the doctor to get treated was consent but, whatever.

Anyway, the doctor, who is a really nice young thing, came in and said there was still some bad tissue, that the biopsy had not got it all and I actually had three options...scrape and burn which would leave a bigger deeper divot on the tip of my nose, I could use a medication that costs $800 (yeah, that was my reaction too), or she could use a little tool to take a deeper plug out of my nose and then stitch it up which would leave a little line of a scar. The cost of that was barely more than my first visit with the biopsy.

So that is what she did. She injected the spot with a deadener, much like the dentist does, waited for it to numb up, used that little tool to extract a plug of tissue, and then stitched it up. Then she put a spot bandaid on it which wasn't doing a very good job since it was still weeping blood and the ends of the sutures were sticking out (I was holding a mirror).

She took the little bandaid off and I got a good look at her handiwork. I have a little spider with wonky legs. Seems appropriate for the season. I'll just tell everyone I got my nose pierced and this is my stud.

I told her I didn't need a bandaid, that I was fine but she insisted.

It will make me look bad if you walk through the waiting room bleeding.

Because a 3" long bandaid starting on my cheek and over my nose, tucked into my nostril, looks so much better.

But I can take this off, right?

Which I did as soon as I got in the car.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

onward through the fog

Well, I see I had already covered that voter ID ground before...twice and just last July. No wonder so few of my vast barely interested audience read it. Oh there she goes again on that subject. Especially since I said essentially the same thing as before. Oh well. I'll try to remember that in the future.

I seem to be doing that a lot lately. What with the models and the pecans.

The brain, she forgets.

So. What else?

I finished cleaning out the garage today that I started yesterday and swept out all the daddy long legs cobwebs and many daddy long legs went to meet their maker but not by intent. It was the broom. Really, all I did was put some stuff away, throw some stuff away, moved some stuff around, and sweep. Swept out the aforementioned cobwebs and a mountain of leaves. OK, maybe not a mountain but definitely a small hill.

Then I finished the finish work of the finished small botanicas and discovered I didn't have as much to do as I thought. So now the frames are ready and 5 pieces are ready so tomorrow I'm going to set them in their frames with silicone.

And yes, I finally finished the last of the models for the Botanica Eroticas. Now I have seven new models to cast. I expected to feel something...elation, relief, a let down, something. Nope, nada, nothing. I was just done.

And while there still seem to be plenty of pecans up in the trees, the main harvest is done. The huge wind and rain storm the Monday and Tuesday of last week sent pecans raining down almost faster than we could pick them up. Now we are getting a couple of handfuls a day. Shelling has commenced.

And, the home repair turned out to be pretty simple. A new washer in the water valve and new innards for the toilet.

So, I spent the day yesterday and Sunday putzing around in the yard until I finally surrendered to the mosquitos and fire ants and came in. Repotted some things, tidied up the Little Back Yard, trimmed the branches off the shrub outside my window that were rubbing against the eave of the roof, cleaned the filter for the turtle pond, got about a hundred fire ant bites, two splinters, one thorn, and a small cut.

Tomorrow I go see the dermatologist.

the voter ID card or hell no, you can't vote

I've been spending too much time the last several days trying to explain to people on FB why voter ID cards are a hindrance to voting. The common start is some person who already has an adequate ID card so that their ability to vote is not compromised espousing the opinion that they don't see what the big deal is. Just go get a card.

As a resident of the state with the most stringent requirements for a voter ID card, so say the memes, that just chaps my ass.

It never occurs to them that someone might not drive because they can't afford the insurance, much less a car. That this person might work a minimum wage job and has to take an unpaid day off from work which would represent 20% of their pay for that week which they can ill afford, take the bus to the nearest DMV office which could take hours, walk to the office from the bus stop and then wait several more hours to get their card. If they have the proper documents to prove who they are. And if they don't have a copy of their birth certificate (and how many of us do), then first they have to take another unpaid day off to appear in person with the acceptable proof of identity. And yeah, there are fees associated with that. This is not an 'easy' task. Now, throw in a couple of young children and bad weather and poor education and trouble with the language and infirmity and all of a sudden, it can be insurmountable.

A cousin informed me that he read that TX DMV was not charging for the voter ID card. Small comfort.

In Texas, to get the card that the Republicans have decided will prevent non-existent voter fraud...

Studies have shown that voter fraud accounts for only 2/100 - 1/10 of ONE % of votes cast. Two hundredths to one tenth of ONE fucking percent. And most those infinitesimal fraudulent votes are not cast by in person voting.

...a person must show one form of identification from the primary list or two forms of identification from the secondary list or one form of identification from the secondary list and two from the supporting list. That's one to three forms of identification needed to get a voter ID card.

The primary list is a driver's license, passport, military ID, or certificate of citizenship.

The secondary list is a birth certificate, or an original or certified copy of a court order showing your name and date of birth.

The supporting list of acceptable documents is very long and includes SS card, income tax documents, voter registration card, concealed carry permit, vehicle registration, and so on.

So, if you don't drive, don't have a passport, haven't served in the military, don't have a copy of your birth certificate, don't have a certificate of citizenship because you were born here, and can't afford to take a day or two off work or have small children you have to take with you on the bus to the DMV and the records office, and maybe you are in a freakin' wheel chair then getting this ID is not easy and while perhaps the card is free as the cousin says, there are fees associated with getting other proof of person documents.

The result and the purpose of this new required voter ID card is to prevent people from voting, to make voting some kind of privilege instead of the constitutional right that it is. One commenter claimed she felt the right to vote came with responsibility and I agree, when we vote we are being responsible citizens but that's not what she meant. She meant that people should be responsible enough to acquire the proper ID card.

I always thought the proper card for voting was your voter's registration card and your signature at the polls. At least it has been for every year of my life since I've been old enough to vote til now. We should be making it easier to vote, not harder.

While I am angry that the Republican politicians in charge here have passed this new law, whose only true purpose is to discourage voters who traditionally vote for Democrats, that has been challenged and will probably get overturned in time though the Supreme Court has upheld it for this election, what really upsets me is the complete and total lack of understanding and compassion so many people, overwhelmingly white, have for those that don't already have an acceptable form of voter ID.

They have the ease of their white privilege and relative wealth and sneer at the poor, the elderly, the infirm, the people of color, the young, the disenfranchised who all have the same constitutional right to vote for the leaders of their country and community as those that need make no special, and in some cases herculean, effort in order to exercise that right.

And that is just wrong and makes me sad that so many people in this country have become so heartless.

Here's a link to just one woman's attempt.  

Here's a link to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's dissent on the recent ruling allowing Texas' discriminatory voter ID law to stand.

Friday, October 17, 2014

oh the joy of home ownership and...yup, the selfie

I woke up yesterday morning to find that the rug in the little bathroom was wet. As was the floor around the toilet.


Turned off the water to the toilet, took the rug outside, got a towel and wiped up all the water which kept seeping up from beneath the linoleum tiles and from the bottom of the wall. Eventually got it all dry and stuffed another towel around the baseboard and went about my business waiting to see if more water appeared since I wasn't sure if it was really the toilet leaking or we had a leaky pipe in the wall.

and then I promptly forgot about it

Fast forward to evening when I checked on the towel which was wetter. Not a good sign.

I worried about that all night envisioning having to tear out the wall to get to the leaky pipe. Just what we need. I finally got up a little after six and checked on the little bathroom. The towel was soaking wet and there was water standing on the floor and I could hear a drip drip drip. Checked the toilet and both the bowl and the tank were full.

shit crap damn fuck

Went and got towel number three and while I was wiping up the water I noticed that the base of the toilet had water on it which struck me as an anomaly if the leak was in the wall. Then I noticed that there was a trail of water from the handle on the tank downwards and that was the dripping I heard. Looked at the water level in the tank again and it was up to the handle so I removed enough water from the tank for it to be at it's proper height. No more dripping water noise.

well, that's encouraging

I've been checking on it about every hour or so, wiping up the water that is still seeping up from under the tiles. I went in a minute ago and the towel was wet and water was starting to accumulate on the floor.

shit crap damn fuck

Looked at the handle and once again, water was dripping out. Remember, I turned the water to the toilet off yesterday morning and now the water level has increased back up to the handle.

OK, maybe not so bad

So now I have emptied the toilet bowl and tank, I'm on my fourth towel, and I'm waiting to see if the tank fills up because either I didn't crank the valve off hard enough or the valve is faulty and for sure the innards are faulty since the water level is not supposed to get so high it leaks out the handle.

Of course, it still could be a leaky pipe in the wall.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

one day has been pretty much like the next

This has been the content of my days for the last few weeks...sculpting wax and foraging for pecans. Doesn't make for great blog posts.

Oh, another one of those.

I have one more to go and then we will have 7 new pieces to cast. I've narrowed the selection down to two images, neither of which is remotely like the one it is replacing. I can't really remember the criteria I used when I made my original selections except that I really liked the image. I still like it but I couldn't make it work in the wax to my satisfaction and I'd rather try something new than try that one again.

We have amassed quite a lot of pecans. A big storm blew through last Monday and did an excellent job of knocking them out of the trees. It seems as if the tree that lost three large branches last year is trying to outdo itself and the other two this year. I started shelling them this week and now that I learned how to actually use the fancy pecan nut cracker I bought last year (thanks to a youtube video that I stumbled across earlier searching for nut crackers), it's going much easier. When I asked the guy at the place where I sell my extra pecans how to use it he showed me a technique that I could never get the hang of. Turns out it was completely wrong. OK, not completely wrong, just half wrong.

Last week, we had a couple of days of cooler weather and I dug up more grass along the concrete bunker over at the shop and planted some of the things I moved from the city property. Well, two things. The spider lilies and one of the rooted cuttings from the yellow angel trumpet. The little angel trumpet went into immediate wilt since it basically went from shade to full sun so right now it's being protected by shade cloth while it recovers.

We don't usually have commission work in the summer because it's too hot for one thing (and we have the grandkid visits) and our clientele is on vacation or has kids out of school. That's fine with us as long as it picks back up in the fall. Which it usually does except when it doesn't. So far this fall, there has been little activity and no results. I'm not too worried because of the sale of the city property this summer and I did want some time to work on my other work. I don't want no work, just not 6 months worth dumped on me at one time. Or maybe even that. Now that we are out here and not wasting two days out of the week traveling, it would be easier to handle.

This sweet little rain lily popped up around the yard of the new shop after one of our rains.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

another encounter

This is the front door of our house. ya, needs repair and paint

I was sitting in the back part of the house in the big room earlier today where I work and spend most my time when I heard a loud crash sound.

What was that? I hollered to Marc in the living room.

The screen door, he hollers back.

I went into the living room and we both peered out the screen.

I wonder what that was, I said.

He looked down and said, The hawk! It's there on the step.

I looked down to see the red shouldered hawk which was looking up at us and he spread his wings and flew off.

As you can see, it's not easy for a bird to fly into that door, tucked into the corner and camouflaged by the yew tree.

This picture is from this summer when it came and tried to figure out how to take a bath in the turtle pond.

Friday, October 10, 2014

models (yeah, again) and the selfie

So, here's the finished model from the last post. I'm totally into the stippling for texture on these last ones.

I'm working on the last 6” x 6” model now. Each one of these is so different I need to come up with a strategy every time it seems. This one is from a picture I saved off the internet and I have no idea what kind of flower it is. Here's the pic. Anyone know what this is?

Here's my progress so far.

I try to get a few chores done in the morning or very early afternoon because once I start working on the models, I'm there till 7 PM or so, getting up now and then to rest my eyes and collect pecans.

one cubic foot of pecans so far this year

Tomorrow is the annual Wine and Art Fair on Monterrey Square. Attendees will be able to sample and buy wine and craft beer and view art in different locations and of course there will be food vendors and a band. It will be a very long day for me as I have to open the antique store at 10 AM and the fair starts at 4 PM and runs til 10 PM. I'll have help as the other two employees will be there as well as some of the vendors so I needn't stay the whole 12 hours.

Since I agreed to set up a display of our art again this year at the store and I have done everything nothing to prepare for that, that's what I'm doing today, rummaging around in the shop trying to come up with something.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

the last 10 days in pictures

Besides the visit from the heron.

Not necessarily in sequential order but in alphabetical order mostly...

I love the baby anoles. This one hasn't been hatched for very long.

The confederate rose has started blooming. Just one or two a day right now.

The crepe myrtles shed their bark in the fall. Thin layers curl up revealing red fresh bark underneath.

She's back! Or else she was so well hidden that neither Marc nor I could find her for two days. And looking quite svelte I might add. Much slimmer so I guess she has laid her eggs.

The mist flower is putting on a nice show this year. The little sprigs I brought over from the city house years ago have grown to a decent size. It will continue to spread.

These inverted mushrooms appeared in the yard one day after a rain.

The mature pecans are falling decently now.

The sparrows have been mobbing the birdbath.

I was trying to get a picture of the spiderweb but the stupid camera kept focusing on the ground.

The surprise lilies are up. I always forget where they are and they always surprise me. There is a small clump on the side of the house and a new little clump out by the turtle pond and the mistflower that I planted. I found some bulbs I had brought over and never planted and couldn't remember what they were so I just stuck them there in the ground and forgot about them. The bloom stalk shoots up out of the ground very quickly in the fall before the foliage appears and you don't notice them til they open, hence the name surprise lily, though some people refer to them as hurricane lilies because they bloom after late in the season hurricanes.

The swamp lily in front bloomed this year. It is getting crowded out by the century plant whose big gray green frond(?) that is.

The morning glory bush is one of my favorites. It roots easily from cuttings.

I've also been working on a model, one of the 6” square ones. I'm working on this one a little differently. Instead of stacking all the layers at once and then carving and finishing them, I am carving and finishing each layer as I go. This design has some small recessed parts in tight areas and I was concerned about being able to get to them and this seems to be working out very well. I still have the forward section of the petals to do (3 layers) and the background of the petals.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

a visit from a small heron

Monday in the late afternoon, I rounded the garage headed for the general vicinity of the ponds, turtle and water lily, that are adjacent but separated by the fence around the Little Back Yard, and startled a rather big bird. It flew into the tallow in the Little Back Yard where it stayed long enough to go fetch my camera and come back and take a few pics. Later, I looked up and noticed it was perched on the gate next to the turtle pond looking intently into the water.

It was a small heron and so after consulting the All Knowing Oracle I learned that it was a first year yellow crowned night heron. Cool.

It moved slowly towards the turtle pond and eventually got up the nerve to move to the edge of it from which position it continued to peer intently into the water.

It moved back and forth between the turtle pond and the water lily pond on the other side of the fence.

It found something to eat over there but I couldn't tell what though I don't think it got it from the small pond. They eat snails and things like that, small fish too and frogs. It drank from the water lily pond.

It returned to the gate and preened.

The next morning it was still here hanging out at the two ponds and eventually flew up into the tallow.

Later I noticed it had gone but it showed up again that evening. It was sitting on the clothesline pole just on the other side of the fence where I hung one of the oyster shell wind chimes that Jade and I made this summer. The wind chime was hanging askew so that the piece of driftwood was angled vertically. The heron would bend down and grab that driftwood with its beak and give it a good shake. Then it would intently watch the oyster shells clang around. It did that four or five times in a row and later Marc saw it doing the same thing.

After a while, it was gone and I haven't seen it since though I do sort of watch for it now around late afternoon.