Thursday, July 27, 2017

what I am not doing today is being in the car


I wish I could post the fragrance as easily as I post this image, then you'd understand why it is I fuss with them, besides their plain beauty that is.


I have a rare day at home alone today. Marc's brother, wife, and child from Colorado and his sister and her family from Dallas have rented the beach house they rent every summer and Marc has driven there to visit for the day. Or part of the day as it's a two hour drive there and a two hour drive back and he will spend more time on the road probably than actually visiting and as such, I declined to go. I would like to see them and spend some time on the beach so hot but just not today. I have already spent a good part of every day in the car since last Friday when I picked up Robin from the city til I took her back yesterday. And we have plans for Saturday involving driving to Victoria with some friends to see the Texas Contemporary Glass show we are not in because the curator didn't think our work was big enough or conceptual enough and he was kinda snobby about it but he did think a lot of his own work and included himself in the show which I think is not against any rules but is a bit unethical.

The brother had called last night and Marc ended up the conversation with “text me the address and we'll come visit tomorrow”. Then he says to me, “That's all right isn't it?”

Well, no, not really.” I was pretty much looking forward to not doing anything for the next two days.

You'll have four hours doing nothing in the car,” he says.

Exactly!” What I should have said was I looking forward to not being in the car for the next two days.

Anyway, this morning he absolved me of all guilt and took off for Galveston.

So, so far I put the tea cup back up and put seed in the totem and put cracked pecans on the ground and so far no sign of those who shall not be named no sense in invoking the gods, I got back in there with the long handled nippers and a saw and cut down all the rain trees that proliferate at the back corner of the property where the Wild Space starts and I was drenched when I came in with the sweat just pouring off me more around the corner that you can't see that are only 5' tall instead of 12', 


I fiddled with and finally made a decision about an art light fixture that I bought over a year ago and never hung because blah blah blah reasons settling the questions I had and deciding on a small alteration (not on the fixture but lengthening the part it hangs from so that it hangs lower) and also where I am going to install it which is where I intended to all along, 


I had lunch, and I have started back to work on the model I put aside when I went to bring Robin back for her visit, 


and picked up another big handful of green discards because if I don't eventually it will be like walking on marbles out in the Big Back Yard.

Oh, and I spent way too much time on FB and Twitter watching the train wreck that is our imploding democracy.




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

green pecans and squirrels



The pecan trees usually start dropping green nuts around the first of July but that didn't happen this year so I was feeling a little optimistic about this year's possible pecan harvest. Up until now anyway. This past week, and in fact just in the last few days, the trees have started unloading immature nuts. I just gathered an overflowing handful in about five minutes under one tree alone. And then there are the ones that the squirrels are taking, the half eaten ones. Maybe I shouldn't have taken the teacup down or stopped putting seed in the totem or stopped cracking a hand full of nuts from last season every morning that I tried to distract them with. But, ya know, I ran out of seed and then we were getting ready for the trip and then we were on the trip and then we were recovering from the trip and...

Those pesky squirrels, and I like squirrels, I do, I just wish they would stay the fuck off my bird feeders, OK?, are not convinced that I have taken down the teacup. They come and check periodically through the day and there's one, I think it's the same one, that will come and sit on a small branch on the tree/shrub and look at the window. We have staring contests. It'll peer this way and then that way and then up and around and then it will jump onto the screen of the adjacent window as if, I don't know what, to get a better view? And then there is one who is not confounded by the slinky on the totem bird feeder and who sits in the tallow tree just waiting for me to turn my back. I try to sic Minnie on them but she only sort of gets the program. She knows 'squirrel' and she knows about the teacup and the tree/shrub but the one that gets on the totem, she doesn't seem to get that it runs from the totem to the tallow tree which is a straight shot through the back door...back door, totem, tree.  Instead, she runs out the back door and takes a hard right and runs over to the turtle pond and goes ape shit over Big Mama sunning herself, which Big Mama tolerates for a while and then slips into the water. This is what passes for fun around here. Or exercise or rather, exercise in futility, as I admit I try to scare the begeezus out of it now and then by busting out of the back door and screaming obscenities at it. It's not fazed.

Well, I have seed now so I suppose I should start putting it out and put the teacup back up and I have a new idea to prevent that squirrel access to the totem involving metal flashing which I hope is slippery and flexible enough to prevent purchase. We'll see. So far I feel like the coyote. 




Thursday, July 20, 2017

hermit days


Yesterday, Wednesday, I left the premises for the first time since last Thursday. I would have left on Monday but yoga was canceled at the last minute. The week or so before that I think I only left the property for yoga. I'm leaving the house today because it's estate sale day, which is why I left the house last Thursday. Also I have a list of errands I've needed to run in town but haven't been motivated to do. I've been pretty much a hermit since we got back from Hawaii. Doctor visits, yoga, and the occasional visiting with neighbors while I walk the dog has been about all the contact with humanity I want. I've finally stopped sleeping til 9 or later, waking up at my usual between 7 and 8. I take my thyroid pill, drink a small glass of water, and then head outside for an hour or so doing whatever yard chore, then come in for coffee, internet, and breakfast before starting on whatever model I'm working on, then lunch break while we watch General Hospital, then more work on whatever model til it's time to feed and walk the dog after which I fix my cocktail and relax til dinner and then after dinner, read til I fall asleep. Yay! Exciting stuff!


I'll be leaving again tomorrow to drive into Houston to pick up the grandgirl Robin and with another list of supply run stops between Houston and here. It will be a long day and money will be spent.

Robin is 16 this summer, the age I expected the grandkids to stop wanting to come spend a week out of their summer with their grandparents. They did continue to come but life is changing in their house. Mikey is 20 and works full time but he still pops in unexpectedly now and then. The twins, who still came for their weeks though they have worked full time during the summers since they were 16, are now 19 and preparing to leave for college mid-August. They may or may not manage a few days before then. They're only working weekends this summer and are spending time with their friends and going places before they all go off in different directions. Which brings me back to Robin who would just as happily spend her summer holed up in her room and hanging out with her friends as come visit. I'm not sure this four days was motivated by her desire to come spend a few days or her mother's prodding. Either way I'll be happy to have this time with her.

We finally got a decent rain yesterday. Still seeing baby anoles and baby toads.  This guy was a half inch from it's nose to it's pointy little butt.


The white orchid tree (more like a shrub) that froze to the ground that I almost discarded before I noticed that it was finally coming out is blooming.


So is the white plumeria


and the yellow flowering senna


and the morning glory bush


and the yellow bells


and the native hibiscus is putting on a second round of flowering.





Monday, July 17, 2017

more feathers but no more tomatoes


Last week, I pulled up all the tomato plants. They were still blooming! Still had a few green tomatoes on them and lots of ones that just rotted on the vines. I never in my life thought I would let tomatoes rot on the vine. How they were still blooming is beyond me since they are supposed to stop doing that when it gets as hot as it's been for the last 3 or 4 weeks. The 4 banana pepper plants are still going strong and 75% of their fruit goes straight in the compost pile. I mean, how many banana peppers can a person eat? The one jalapeno is covered with peppers as well. Amazing what full sun and good dirt can accomplish. The only other thing in the garden is the okra which I planted late and when the seeds sprouted they got about 3” high and quit growing. And then finally 3 or 4 of them took off. I planted velvet okra instead of the clemson spineless that everyone else grows and that I have grown in the past. Clemson spineless has small leaves and grows tall. Here's what my velvet okra looks like...


Okra is in the mallow family, same as cotton and altheas (rose of sharon).


The leaves are enormous.


I'm still making models since it's hot and humid outside. Any work done outside has to be done early, even before coffee, in the morning. I have 10 finished models...the moon and 4 drowned feathers, which you have seen, and 5 small drowned feathers paperweight size, the longest dimension is 5 1/2" to give you an idea of the size, which I did last week, 


that and make wax blanks and pouring sheets as well. 

Waiting for the wax to melt.

I finally got the blanks made for the last box that I have planned so I'll be starting on that soon. Plus I'm not through with the feathers.




Friday, July 14, 2017

once again, they have excluded themselves


image via:  https://dredf.org/2017/05/01/national-day-action-opposition-american-health-care-act/

With the exception of the less than a year between the time Marc and I married and when he quit his job at Hughes Tool Company to help build my little etched glass commission business, I have never had health insurance. And then he didn't either. Being working artists and living on a minimal and unpredictable income pretty much precluded a $600 or more per person monthly health insurance premium. Fortunately, we were and are blessed with good health and were always able to just pay as needed. Eventually, I reached the magic age of 65 and Medicare and supplemental insurance. I still have co-pays for office visits and tests, this round with the cardiologist cost me $219 including the original visit to my primary and the whole throat spasm/choking exploration with my primary and the ENT earlier this year was almost $400 though we have received two partial refunds from the hospital since for the tests they charged me for. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to check these two things out, I guess, even if the visits proved, ultimately, unnecessary but before I was eligible for Medicare, I wouldn't have even considered it. Had I had insurance before Medicare, I would have had a high premium that would have been more than my mortgage and a new car payment put together with a high yearly deductible for a policy that would not have covered any pre-existing conditions I might have had. So even with insurance I would have ended up paying the full amount for doctor visits and tests. It would have been, in essence, catastrophic coverage and had I had to use it, would have bankrupted me anyway.

Then Obama came along and helped change that scenario for millions of people and did things like make the insurance companies actually provide medical care with your monthly premium money and stopped them refusing to cover pre-existing conditions. I was just a few years away from Medicare so I never availed myself of the ACA especially since our Republican governor refused to accept the Medicaid expansion that would have helped underwrite policies for people like me because...Republican...so it was cheaper for us to just pay the penalty.

Now, with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress and a Republican president they are hell bent on taking that coverage away from big parts of the middle class, the working poor, and the elderly because, OMG, the uber rich are being taxed to help cover the costs, a pittance really compared to their worth. They want to take us straight back to for-profit health care (which used to be against the law in this country) where the insurance companies get rich and the people get screwed and health care costs skyrocket. They are trying to convince us all that 20+ million people won't lose coverage and that the elderly won't have to pay up to 8 times what they pay now, that life time caps on the amount insurance companies will have to pay out for your care isn't a bad thing, that when they cut back Medicaid to the bone all our nursing home residents won't be turned out into the street and all the children born with disabilities won't lose care, that nobody will miss having pre-existing conditions covered with just about every part of being female now, apparently, a pre-existing condition because, vagina. But fear not men, your viagra will still be covered just not birth control so better get used to wrapping that rascal. Even my coverage isn't even safe as they want to cut back Medicare as well.

So far, the Republicans have put forth such cruel and heinous plans that they can't even get enough Republican votes to repeal and replace the ACA but they are trying again next week to pass their version of a health care bill that they think is so wonderful that they have, once again, excluded themselves from, keeping all the goodies that Obama gave us for themselves while denying them to us.

Y'all know what to do...make those phone calls and vote against cruelty and hypocrisy.




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

all good news


And now I am done with all of the testing. They moved my 10 AM appointment today for the stress test up to 8 AM and I am not an early riser. I had less than a half hour between waking up and leaving the house. Did I mention it's a good hour's drive to see this cardiologist? It's on back roads though so no traffic and better scenery. So I drove to his office yesterday morning and got the heart monitor which I wore the rest of the day and the night and it is a pain to have to sleep with what with the five wires stuck to you and the little box in a pocket on a neck strap so I didn't get a great night's sleep between it and the cat who seems to consider it her life's mission to wake me up at least three times every night.

Today I returned the heart monitor and underwent the stress test. The first thing was to get my IV in so they could inject the radioactive tracer at the proper time. I was the tech's first stick of the day, I guess, and he had to stick me three times before he could get the IV in. The first one he just couldn't get. The second one he jabbed me a good one or two (still have a painful lump there and a deepening bruise) and then accused me of moving my arm and still didn't get it in. I told him basically that I'd had enough IVs and blood drawn in my life that I knew not to move my arm. The third time he switched to my other arm and did a perfect job but the whole thing didn't do my stress level any good considering the poor start to my day on an empty stomach and no coffee.

Next I was led to the room with the treadmill and they stuck 8 wires to my chest and buckled the box to my waist and from it went a cable or two to the monitor and I could see my heart beat rhythm jumping away on the graph. And, yeah, that's totally me in the picture unlike all those other old people in the waiting room.

image via: https://www.healthtap.com/topics/stress-test

They took my blood pressure which was a little on the high side (because the guy had just fucking stuck me three times and I didn't want radioactive anything injected into my blood) and again during the three different speeds on the treadmill and as the speed increased, so did my blood pressure. About halfway through the 8 minutes on the treadmill, they injected the nuclear tracer into my blood stream. Done with the treadmill, they unhooked all the wires, took out the IV, and sent me to the next room which was the x-ray machine where they attach three wires and you lay down on a bed of sorts and they push you into the working part and you lie still for about 10 minutes while this thing rotates around you and looks at the tracer flowing through your heart. 

image via: http://www.fredcardio.com/services-procedures/stress-testing/

Then they sent me into the waiting room where four other people were waiting to undergo the tests I had just had.

After a while they came and got me for my face to face with the doctor who said everything looked good, monitor had one little blip that he wasn't concerned about and the stress test was good, no sign of any blockage, good heartbeat, didn't even mention the AFib episodes and when I brought it up at the end he sort of waved it away as nothing to worry about. He was more concerned with my rising blood pressure during the test but not so much that he was going to suggest medication. Just monitor it at home and come back in a couple of months. I've never had a problem with my blood pressure until this year with first time visits to two doctors and lots of invasive tests with possible heinous results so if my blood pressure holds steady for the next two months, I'll probably put off the return visit.

One thing this whole experience has done has gotten me really in tune with my heartbeat. Sitting here, resting, I can close my eyes and sense my pulse, feel it throbbing along. I expect that will fade after a while when I return to a less vigilant position concerning my general well being.




Sunday, July 9, 2017

sculpting, watering, and herding baby birds


I'm still model making, sculpting in wax. I'm nearly finished with Drowned Feather 4 which isn't actually a feather but a fern frond. 


I had picked out four photos of the many that I took of feathers the summer I spent a week on the Oregon coast with some friends and then I saw a picture that Jennifer Tetlow, the stone sculptor who's piece I bought, Flutter, posted on her blog that she took of a drowned fern frond on an outing to the beach 


and I thought that would be a nice little twist. So that's how I came to use a fern frond instead of a feather for the fourth panel.

I'm still having to water the yard every day as it has been weeks since we got any rain. It's anole hatching season and I've been seeing the itty bitty just hatched babies scurry away from the water spray. So tiny, maybe 2” from nose to tail tip. 


It's also baby toad season. I've been seeing them too in the mornings when I water. The little things are about 1/2” long.

The other thing that happened last week was baby wrens. I had seen the wrens in the garage but didn't think much about it as they are often in the garage and will even come in the house when the door is open but one day they were screeching their alarm call and when I went out to investigate I heard a little peeping and discovered a baby wren in the garage. Turned around and there was another baby and they both looked too young to have fledged. There is a nest they built years ago on top of the motor housing of the broken garage door opener and sometimes they use it and sometimes not. So I climbed on the table and put the two little ones back in the nest with their nest-mate. 


The next morning all three of the babies had fallen out as the nest was completely open on one side. I scooped them up and put them in a towel lined box under the nest where they stayed for another day and a half while their parents attended to them. 


So I thought I would change out the poopy towel for a clean one and nudged the babies aside and changed the towel and when I tried to grab them and put them back on the towel two of them fluttered up and out and scurried off. Found one and put it back, found the other and went to put it back and then the other two jumped out and away. Tried one more time to locate them in the garage and put them back in the nest and just gave up. It was like herding cats. So I figured if they were that determined then they were old enough and I considered them fledged. The parents located all three and herded them out into the big world where I saw them along the side of the house later in the day. By evening they were around the front on the opposite corner.

Well, tomorrow, Monday, I go back to the cardiologist and get the heart monitor and then back again on Tuesday to turn it in and then get the stress test. I'll be glad when I'm done with all this testing.




Thursday, July 6, 2017

drowned feather 3 and flowers


So I finished the model for Drowned Feather 3. This one took me 6 days, averaging about 4 hours a day. Still have one more in this series to do but I have to make the 10” x 10” blank which I'll get around to doing sometime today. While I was working on DF 3 I got an idea to do another series of feathers, small ones, little pieces that can be held in the hand. I'm mulling over those, part of my shifting over to birds as I'm sort of tired of doing lizards and bees.


While I have been diligently working away on new models, I need to take a break now and then to let my eyes focus on things in the distance 


and also other colors besides the blackish brown of the wax. Fortunately the yard gives me lots to look at.

The ginger was beginning to bloom when we left, first the coral,


then the white,


then the yellow, always in that sequence, and then all three are in bloom for several weeks.


The plumerias were also starting to send up bloom stalks before we left. So far just the pale pink, which is most of what I have, survivors from the 10' tree I had in the ground back at the city house that froze to the ground dead during the winter of 2011 when our temps hovered in the 20s for a couple of weeks. I knew it wouldn't survive so took a lot of cuttings.


I was surprised to find this dark pink one when I returned home which a member of the garden club sent to me while I was gone. Not the red for white we were supposed to be trading and not even from her.



Last fall I approached her about trading a cutting of her red plumeria for a cutting of my unusual white 'bridal veil' plumeria (which are sending up bloom stalks) to which she agreed. I rooted her cutting and waited and waited and waited and every time I would remind her she was all 'oh I forgot'. Over and over, she forgot so I figured she wasn't really interested and stopped reminding her and bought one while I was in Hawaii (which is already sprouting new leaves). So I was surprised to see this new dark pink one on my driveway. Someone she knows wanted to get rid of all his plumerias and he gave them to Patty. He told her that he thought this one was red and so she sent it over to me via my sister. Nice, but no cigar. It's not red and it's not from her so she doesn't get the cutting I prepared. Now I want a yellow one.  I think I have a yellow one but it hasn't bloomed yet so I don't know for sure.

Some other things blooming...the zinnia is almost as tall as me, a few day lilies still blooming, and the cinco de mayo rose.








Monday, July 3, 2017

finally back to model making


Now that it's in the 90s and humid outside and I've finished writing up the posts about our trip, I'm back to model making, carving some new waxes. Right now I'm working on the Drowned Feather series. I had already, early last spring, finished the model for DF #1


and started on the model for #2. So now I have finished the wax carving for DF #2


and I've started on the third one. These are all 10” x 10” but only about a 1/2” thick finished. Here, I'm about halfway through the second layer. After I get all the rocks on and rounded I'll add the feather.


There will be four panels in all and I hope to sell them as a piece. The fourth panel will have a drowned fern leaf instead of a feather. They are very similar in shape and structure.

I also finished this piece last spring, the full moon with branches going across. This one is 8" x 8" and will be cast in black and a transparent golden color for the moon that I hope will transmit a bit of light in the finished piece. We'll see.





Saturday, July 1, 2017

because the whole throat thing wasn't enough


So, you might remember when we got back I mentioned an issue I'm dealing with. A week or so before we left, I started having episodes of (a few times pounding) rapid heartbeat that would last for hours. Started out just coming on at night around 10 PM. Two days, then skipped a day, then 3 or 4 days and then the day before we left, one around 6:30 PM. Admittedly I had been pretty stressed out about this trip...the scheduling, the travel, trying to cram in as much as we could and could afford in the time we had, plus getting the house clean and trimming the Little Backyard and packing that last day. I had already researched it on the internet...atrial fibrillation, not lethal or a real problem unless the episodes last more than 7 hours one site said or 24 hours another site said.

I figured, hoped, it would stop once we were there and the day we traveled I was fine until towards the end of dinner when a mild episode started up. And so that became the pattern for the trip. At least once a day, I would have a mild episode, more or less, that if I could go lay down when I felt it starting I could meditate it away in about 30 to 40 minutes and then I would be fine for the rest of the day. There was no pain associated with these episodes, just I could feel it in my throat and could see my shirt moving, which normally, your heart beating does not make your shirt move. Anyway, the day we left, the 13th, I woke up feeling good, relaxed, like something inside had let go and I haven't had an episode since the one on the 12th. Well, a little flutter here and there but so brief that if I hadn't just been through some sustained episodes I probably wouldn't have even been aware of it.

The day after we got back I called my primary care doc like a good little girl and she had me come in that day. Her opinion was it was probably just stress since there was no pain or any of the other indicators of heart trouble but she sent me to a cardiologist to get checked out anyway. So, that's what I did last Tuesday, went to the cardiologist. They did the interview and 99% of my answers were 'no', they took my blood pressure in both arms and got two different readings (higher in my right arm), they did an EKG and an echocardiogram and I got to see my heart beating strong and regular and listen to the whoosh whoosh. 

image via: http://www.pacemakerplus.com/ekg-ecg-vs-echocardiogram-what-is-the-difference/

The doctor said I had a good strong healthy heart if a bit leaky. One of my valves doesn't close tight promptly and a little bit of blood leaks back into the previous chamber but gets expelled with the next beat. Nothing to worry about he said, but something to keep an eye on.

So next he wants to put one of those 24 hour heart monitors on me and after that do a stress test, both of which are scheduled for week after next. I'm not in favor of the stress test because they inject a radioactive tracer into your bloodstream and I don't care for invasive procedures like that. I'm kind of a purest where my body is concerned. I have agreed to it because my sister had a heart attack (survived) and my paternal grandfather had one that killed him. I'm not really sure what it will accomplish besides a better picture of how the blood flows through my heart. I've had no other symptoms of heart disease or stroke and I'm pretty sure it was just stress even though I have never reacted to stress in that way before and since he didn't send me off with any cautions about my behavior, I'm going back to all my evil ways.

What with all the doctor visits trying to figure out my throat craziness earlier this year and now this, I've spent far too much time at the hands of the medical community and their tests. I almost liked it better when I didn't have any insurance.

And now I have to make an appointment with the dermatologist because I have a suspicious looking spot on my arm and a couple of actinic keratoses on my face.

Crap! It just never ends. This getting older shit is pissing me off.