Tuesday, September 29, 2015

a bit of history and some yard work

Panel installed, circles with stars delivered. When I delivered the circles I got to see for the first time the railing that they are accents for in the little theater in the Texas history museum at the San Jacinto Monument, the battleground where the Mexican General Santa Anna was captured by General Sam Houston of the Texian army and as a result of which Mexico eventually forfeited about half it's territory, an area that encompassed all of Texas and parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and on up into Wyoming.

We have finished all the work we had in the shop so I should be starting on some new models but I keep casting my eye outdoors. So much work to be done out there.

Last Friday afternoon I got out there and hacked back the wild space that continually encroaches on the yard. I cut down about half a dozen small rain trees (3” in diameter or less) that were leaning into the big cedar providing a bridge for the wild grape vine that was all up in it. Got all that pulled out and lugged over to my not-in-residence neighbor's burn pile since, technically, all that stuff was on his property. The cedar is on the property line so I claim possession.

This is the cleaned up shot taken from my neighbor's side. As usual it didn't occur to me to take a 'before' pic. The shed is ours, about 5' from either property line.

my side

Sunday was overcast all day so I took advantage and expanded the flower bed around the water lily pond...

the one that has the natural filter that this:

is growing in, which is called white snowflake I recently found out, and it smells so sweet. I had no idea it was so fragrant...so I could get the cutting from the heritage rose at the old city house in the ground since it wasn't doing all that well in the pot I stuck it in a year ago. The rose bush at the old house was from a cutting my across-the-street-neighbor gave me many years ago and I'm not sure where she got it. You can barely see it for the mistflower that hitchhiked along and is now blooming.

The mistflower (a native wild ageratum) is invasive and spreads through root runners and seed and it will quickly fill in any available space. I do love it anyway (though I have learned to be ruthless when it starts getting too greedy) and am glad it is getting established here. I'll put a clump over at the shop when it gets big enough and it can run wild to it's heart's content over there.

Well, I've managed to waste another perfectly good day and got nothing accomplished either outside or in. Guess I'll go take the dog for a walk.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


The installed glass.

I don't usually post pictures of the installations in progress but these guys impressed me so much yesterday I thought I would share. They always do an excellent job which is why I use them, but yesterday they performed a miracle as far as I'm concerned.

This panel measures 58” x 58” and weighs 150 pounds. Notice the four notches, two up and two down. This is where the clamps will go that will hold it in place in the marble clad opening.

Initially, a different guy came out and did the measurements of the space (which is slightly out of square) for ordering the glass. While one guy checked the measurements and square and starting marking the opening for the holes to be drilled in the marble, the other guy carried in all the gear.

This has to be fairly precise so that the clamps will line up properly with the notches in the glass and so that there aren't unused holes in the marble.

After all the holes were drilled, half the clamps were seated, with screws into the wood beneath the marble cladding.

We put a plastic film on the back of the glass to protect it from getting scratched and from back-blast during the etching process and then on the etched side when we are finished to protect it and keep it clean. In the picture below, you can see the top clamps and the film on the etched side of the glass. The guys are removing the film on the clear side in the picture in preparation for hoisting it up and in place. The black circles towards the bottom corners are the suction cups they use for handles.

Normally, the cups would be on the outside face of the glass but because of the etching, the cups can't get a vacuum which is what holds them on the glass. In this case, the cups had to go on the inside surface making it way more awkward as they had to reach around the glass and grab hold to lift it and seat it in place.

I would have taken a picture of them lifting it and fitting it in the opening if I had thought about it but watching them, it was pretty scary and I was too busy thinking OMG OMG. At one point, the glass was leaning back about 45˚ as they struggled to get the bottom seated at least 3' off the ground (maybe more) in a space that had about 1/8” leeway on each side. One bonk of a corner on that marble wouldn't have meant just a chipped corner but, because it was tempered, the whole piece would have exploded.

Once they got it seated, one guy stayed on one side while the other went around to the other side as they shifted the glass an infinitesimal amount so that it was perfectly centered in the opening and then attached the second half of the clamps to hold the glass in place. Last was putting a bead of silicone in the air space around the edges on the shower side to seal the opening.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

install today, deliver tomorrow

So, I might have exaggerated just a teeny bit on my last post. I wasn't bed-ridden just every part of my body was sore and I had zero energy. I basically laid around on the couch all day and took a nap but I did manage to muster up enough energy to get to yoga class at 5:30. And oddly enough, or not so oddly enough, I felt better after yoga.

Now I'm killing time waiting for the installers to come pick up this very heavy piece of glass and head out to the installation. We called a friend to come help us get it off the rack in the truck and onto the table and then back on the rack to do the sandblasting but we determined that there was no way in hell we were going to be able to lift that monster up high enough to get it back on the rack in the truck (the glass shop guys got it up there when Marc went to pick it up and even they had a hard time of it).

I cut the stencil Tuesday, Marc got it blasted yesterday and luckily enough the grandboy and a friend came out just in time and they moved it onto the table so we could get it cleaned up, sealed, and covered. Ah, youth. They just picked that puppy up and carried it over to the table instead of using the dolly.

Tomorrow, I have to drive out to the San Jacinto Monument and deliver those 30 circles that I boxed up yesterday.

Monday, September 21, 2015

apparently I almost killed myself yesterday

It's Monday and I can barely move, not to mention the many ant bites and wounds I sustained. (and considering the many typos that were in that first sentence, even my fingers are tired.)

I spent the day yesterday doing two major chores outside. The grass over at the shop, while getting mowed with regularity, had not been trimmed since early summer and it was high and thick and the sidewalk in front that leads to the old dog pen had been completely covered up. I spent a couple of hours over there, filling the cartridge 3 times before I quit and I still did not uncover all the sidewalk. I did get all the way around the building and around the bunker and around the sandblasting hut but first thing I killed a little toad and a little grass snake that must have been hanging out together. I felt terrible because I didn't think. Of course little creatures would be snugged down in all that high grass feeling safe. So, after that I started out high, working down to give them time to escape. I guess it worked because I didn't kill anything else and the only other thing I saw was a little green tree frog which I scooped up and moved to safety.

Since I quit maintaining the pool a couple of weeks ago after the grandboy's last long weekend, the other thing I did was to net out all the leaves and finish draining the pool and get it scrubbed, dismantled, and rinsed and then hosed off the tarp that was underneath. I still need to get everything folded and put away.

And I still need to trim around the flower beds here at the house. That may or may not get done today. (I'm guessing not.)

Last night just after 9 PM, Minnie was acting like she needed to go out so we went around to the door to the Little Backyard and we stepped out onto the tiny little patio outside the door and came face to face with a youngster possum at the edge of the patio. The possum, Minnie, and I all startled and before Minnie could react I snatched her up, stepped back in the house, and closed the screen door. When I looked back out the little possum was nowhere to be seen but that didn't stop Minnie from barking like mad for about the next 10 minutes. Needless to say any business she might have been contemplating was completely forgotten.

Well, Marc is headed into the city today to pick up the stencil material so we can do the job that's on the table in the shop. The glass needs to be installed on Friday since the people are moving in on Monday.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

just flowers

some of the things blooming around here the last three weeks or so...

I don't have much full sun over at the house but the shop yard is nothing but. I started planting things over there last summer and fall and again last spring. You can't see everything in this picture because I have stuff spread around but the three on the right...yellow angel trumpet, spider lilies, and pony tail palm went in last summer while the two on the left...porterweed and plumbago...went in last spring.


Over at the house the yellow bells have been blooming all summer and are now attracting the migrating hummingbirds (and the porterweed too).

The datura, the cinco de mayo rose, and this little water plant in the filter for the water lily pond have also bloomed all summer

while the morning glory bush and the swamp lily didn't start until August.

The ox blood lilies announce the end of summer

and a couple of nights ago I had two blooms on the night blooming cereus and the night air smelled so sweet.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

lone stars and small animals

I've been pretty busy since last Friday doing some remedial work on the 7 1/2” diameter circles with the lone star carved on them for the San Jacinto Monument Museum. They ordered 30 this last time and on all but four of them, the tape that was supposed to protect the polished edges from getting blasted while the face of the circle was being carved did not do its job. The force of the blasting medium blew the tape away so I had 26 of the 30 circles with varying amounts of over-blast on the edges and I would not be able to deliver them to my client like that.

I had three choices. I could remake 26 circles with all the time and expense that involved (and kiss any money from this job goodbye), I could take them to my glass guy and get his shop man to polish them out for me which would be less expense but still would probably eat up most my profit, or I could try and do it myself since I do have the equipment. So I tested out one or two of the least affected circles with the little bit of cerium oxide (polishing compound) that I had and determined that I could successfully bring the edges back up to a high polish.

So, since I used up all the cerium oxide I had (which amounted to less than a tablespoon's worth) testing out the two circles, I looked online for a supplier and they had like 40 different kinds. One phone call and a recommendation later I ordered the cerium oxide which came last week.

I have a small, 12” diameter, flat lap with diamond discs. The way that glass is beveled and/or polished is to grind the area with a coarse disc, then medium, then fine, then very fine, then what they call composite which replaces the old cork stage, and then finally the polishing compound on the felt disc. I didn't need to do any grinding since the over-blast was very fine, though very visible, but it was enough that just using the felt disc was not going to do the trick. So first I had to go over the affected areas with the composite disc and then the polishing disc. I finally got them all finished yesterday afternoon so now I'm getting them cleaned up to deliver.

Other work news, the glass for the master bath window is now in the shop so I will be getting that stencil cut this week and I submitted my last (hopefully) proposal for the three large panels for the small animal hospital. The job is going forward, though we haven't got our deposit yet, and what at first looked to be a fun job has turned into a chore. Instead of any of the really delightful sketches I did initially of groupings of different animals, they want some very specific imagery and very specific representations. Would have been nice if they had given me that info before I wasted nearly a week on the other sketches. Oh well. It won't be a fun job but it will be a good job.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

other signs the wheel is turning

(besides the shortening days that is)

The cotton is ready for harvest,

the deciduous trees are shedding leaves, sparsely but continuously,

the seed pods on the magnolias are pinking up,

the mississippi kites have migrated,

the pampas grass is sending up it's feathery plumes,

(I think my camera lens fogged up when I rolled down the window of the car to take this picture)

the confederate rose is putting on buds,

that day the wind unexpectedly comes from the northeast,

the ox blood lilies pop up seemingly overnight,

and then one morning, it's undeniably cool outside, 

even if only for a couple of hours.

Friday, September 11, 2015

OMG! this stuff piles up so fast!

The recycling had mounted up in the kitchen again so I sorted it into all the different plastic bags and added it to the growing pile in the garage. I try and send it home with my daughter who lives in the city or take it there when I'm in town but still it accumulates. This little town recycles plastic bottles, aluminum cans, newspaper, and corrugated cardboard. The other plastics, metal, office paper, cardboard packaging, and glass are thrown out. Unless I bag them up and take them to my daughter's house in the city which does recycle those items. But that's not really fair to her since there are six people in her family and she also recycles and that's a lot of stuff to store til recycling day. Not to mention a lot of stuff to set out. But what else can I do? Since I sold the house in the city last year, I have no place else to take it. And I can't accept just throwing it all away, adding to the already bulging landfills and lost resources.

I don't care for our throw-away culture, the lack of respect it shows towards the planet that we, ironically, need for survival. I have been taking my own bags to the grocery store since sometime after plastic bags became ubiquitous, long before it was the thing, back when the checkers and baggers rolled their eyes at you for doing it. When the newspaper piled up I would take it to the local paper plant that bought paper and they would look at my little truckload and say, lady, that's not enough for us to buy, but they would take it. When a local grocery store chain had locations that would accept aluminum and glass, I would lug it all down there. Plastic bags went to whatever place would take them. I've even taken big bags of styrofoam peanuts back to any box stores that will take them. I was thrilled when the city finally started the curbside recycling program. More and more items were accepted and less and less went in the trash. With a compost pile, we generate about one large size grocery store plastic bag of trash a week with the occasional run to the transfer station for big heavy things. The rest, which is considerable considering the way this country loves to package things, is what can be recycled...if you have access to it.

I'm lucky, I guess, that this little town, whose city government and economic council seem to put roadblocks in front of anything new in a (hopefully doomed to failure) attempt to keep this town from being prosperous and growing, has any recycling at all. But I still don't want to throw all this stuff away.

Maybe I'll just start making midnight forays into the edges of the city on different recycling days and add a little into everyone's bins.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

the aforementioned pretty pictures...

We've been having some really nice sunsets as the bands of storms have moved through the last two weeks.

And some really nice cloud formations too.

We've been getting enough showers that I haven't had to water every day which is a relief and it's cooled down just enough still been hot though that the heat isn't brutal. We actually had a few days that didn't even make it into the 90˚s.