Sunday, October 21, 2018

a sunny day, floodwaters, and soggy cotton


As it turned out it rained like hell off and on Friday and we got over 3 1/2”. The ground was already saturated so it's quite mushy out there. It also provided proof that the new gutter across the front of the house is doing its job. The old one leaked above the bay window that juts out barely under the eave and water would sheet down the window screen. I've only gotten about half the screens back up because...rain (and working on molds).


I got the feather mold re-done and yesterday started on the sunflower. I used to work straight through when I filled a mold but I don't necessarily do that now so I'll finish it up today.


Today dawned sunny which seems a rare thing lately though clouds are already moving in. Still, supposed to be mostly sunny today but more heavy rain is predicted for Monday and Tuesday. This area just cannot handle any more rain. A storm from the Pacific moved across and dumped 1 – 3 months rain on the hill country last week and the rivers and lakes are already full to flooding and the Llano River washed away a bridge. Here's a link to the video of it happening. It's pretty awesome and I don't mean in a good way. The Lower Colorado River Authority has opened the floodgates on the dam at Lake Travis on the Colorado River (the one that runs through Wharton) sending all that water downstream to us. It's currently at a little over 26' (bankfull is 20', flood stage is 39') and they expect it to crest at about 31'. 


It crested at 50.5' during the aftermath of Harvey that flooded us. People here are understandably nervous. And now another Pacific hurricane is crossing Mexico and heading our way (the source of the rain predicted for next week).

Because of all this rain the cotton harvesters are backed up and the poor farmer at the end of our street may lose his crop again this year. It looks pretty pathetic already and with more rain it may all end up on the ground.






Friday, October 19, 2018

some disappointing results


The drowned feather has been out of the kiln and I'm happy enough with it


and now the first hummingbird and the moonflower are also though I haven't even cleaned off the last two. Working on filling the feather mold and the sunflower is next. Today (yesterday) is estate sale day though so not sure how much I'll get done.

Well, I just washed off the moonflower and the hummingbird. Disappointing results that bummed me out all day. It's been a long time since I've had a piece (or two) that I considered a failure or less than great. I may do the moonflower again as I do like the design and I do have a second try at the hummingbird (the breast needs to be a little browner and the emerald color on the head is too strong). The surface of the hummingbird will smooth out once I get the finish work done.


I didn't put enough white behind the moonflower (a little more complex than that and if I do it again, which means carving the model again, I'll approach it differently and work in a higher relief) and it came out sort of mottled and the black crept into the edges.



This is the first time I've worked with low relief like this and the whole thing came out thinner than I expected so I may increase the amount of glass for the feather piece (and more white behind the feather itself) which I am still working on. The moonflower was originally intended for one of the boxes but then I thought if it came out really well, I'd have a stand made for it. I'm back now to using it on the second box which saves me having to come up with something for it if I use it at all. It may just get put aside. I'll have to see how it looks after I do the finish work. (Later in the day) I probably won't use it.

After further consideration, I'm undoing all the work I did on the feather mold and starting again so basically most of a days work lost. I used some black opaque powder and in retrospect I think that was a mistake. Not prepared for another disappointing cast.

 

On a better note, the estate sale proved to be better than the pictures promised and I came away with ten 7” clay flower pots, a wind chime, a glass container with a lid for leftovers, a 5+ gallon bucket, 4 old cookie sheets for putting my potted plants on when I bring them in the house for the winter, and a window decoration of hanging (plastic) crystals all for just $17. And my sister had to almost drag me away as there was a small pecan tree in the yard and the ground underneath it was almost solid with big heavy pecans and I did have a big bucket to put them in. Just seemed such a waste to let them rot on the ground.

The temperatures have warmed up as promised but today (Friday) is overcast and drippy, can't even really call it rain but it's enough to prevent being outside, which is fine since I'm going to empty the feather mold and redo it and it will probably take me most of the day especially considering I probably won't get started til about noon.





Tuesday, October 16, 2018

winter is coming


In a matter of about 12 hours Sunday/Monday temperatures went from about 90˚ to the mid-50˚s. Welcome to Texas.

Woke up Monday morning to a strong wind from the northwest, a bit howlly. Minnie was in her sphinx position at the foot of the bed uffing softly at the window. And then it rained. And then it stopped though still overcast and the forecast calls for rain for the next 8 days straight (which has been amended now to rain just a couple of days but overcast and warming). So much for getting out there and attending to the flower beds and gardening now that the weather has cooled off. Oh well, I have two more fresh molds to fill, trimmed and done the volume measure and it's still quite chilly out there today.


My pecan bounty so far...


I know I keep posting pictures of the confederate rose but it's just so pretty


and maybe the other one's buds weren't deformed, just white though they do turn pink by the end of the day.


And from the Bizarro World department our liar-in-chief is claiming that his buds the Saudis didn't kill that reporter and cut him up with a bone saw so it must have been a group of rogue killers. Sure, the most repressive regime on the planet was totally unaware that a bunch of rogue killers were wandering the halls of their embassy. Trump won't, of course, condemn Saudi Arabia because that is exactly what he would like to do to reporters that tell the truth about him. And then there is the Idaho fish and game commissioner who went on an animal killing spree in Africa, bragging about killing a whole family of baboons, even the little baby, and had to step down after the uproar but defended himself saying he didn't do anything illegal, immoral, or unethical. May not have been illegal but, um, yeah, it was immoral and unethical. These people wouldn't know moral or ethical if it came up and kissed them on the lips. Welcome to the new America, you know the one that now threatens to withhold needed humanitarian aid to countries that don't kowtow to Trump and whose SS goon squad (and I don't mean Social Security) is brazenly attacking protesters.

Early voting is going on now in Texas and I intend to cast my vote today (or not since it doesn't start til Monday).





Sunday, October 14, 2018

filling molds


Well, I intended to take more photos as I filled the moonflower mold but as usual, I got focused on the work and completely forgot.


Today (Saturday) I start on the first hummingbird mold. I was going to work on it over at the shop where all my glass is, well, except for the jars that have already been brought over from when I was working on the feathers and sand and rock samples (but of course, those are not any of the colors I need) because of the nice dry cool weather we've been having except today and tomorrow our hot humid weather is back because...the curse. Monday is supposed to be nice though. So I've been over at the shop with two pictures trying to match color samples and select the appropriate jars of frit (crushed glass) so that hopefully I will only have to make one more trip over there she says as she laughs hysterically.


The flowers are done and it only took me um, maybe five trips, four or five, over to the shop in all. I could have persevered and got it all done tonight but it would have been another 3 or 4 hours (make that 5).



In between stints at the worktable I picked up pecans. It's been very windy today, gustful, and a lot are falling. I came in with a shirtful three times today from my three trees. And would you believe, I had to water today? All that rain and the ground is already cracking.

This morning (Sunday) was as still as it was windy yesterday but then the breeze picked up some and I've collected more pecans off and on during the day, usually when I take a break from bending over the mold.

I was better about taking pictures of filling this mold until the very end when I failed to take a picture after I filled the background in and before I covered it over with the layers of clear and white.





This is an Anna's hummingbird, one of the ruby throated. The two colors of frit I used for the flowers and the throat of the hummingbird are called strikers and won't become their true colors, ruby pink and ruby red, until they're fired. So this is what I have been doing all weekend in between picking up pecans...

They'll go in the kiln either tonight or tomorrow.





Thursday, October 11, 2018

a walk around the yard and filling a mold


While we had two mornings in the high 60˚s spaced apart by several days a week or so ago, today is the first cool front to come through that will be sustained with a dip down to just below 60˚ tonight and next week in the low to mid 50˚s. Standing out in the yard late afternoon yesterday a breeze came up with just a hint of coolness and coming out from yoga class last night it was definitely in the air. This morning the breeze was from the north and, most importantly, it isn't humid and I had the door standing open to get some fresh air in the house most of this beautiful day.

After all my moaning about the pecan trees dropping all their green nuts and fears of one more year of no crop I have been picking up pocketfuls of heavy pecans free of their husks every time I go out now that the yard has finally been mowed and I can see them. It was getting pretty wild out there, almost knee high at the back of the property. I may not get enough to have and sell both but I'll get enough for several pies at least.


The confederate rose was looking especially bloomful this morning 


and the one with the deformed buds is finally producing some flowers albeit about half the size they should be and not fully formed. They are opening white and turning to pink during the day.


I noticed some time ago that my two beautiful clumps of parsley had been devoured by these


and the other day I saw one of the transformations, wings hanging to dry.


And then there was this moth resting on the underside of this bromeliad leaf.


A bad picture of the mistflower, one of my fall favorites, which I brought over from the Houston house.


Starting on the moonflower mold, layering in the colors.






Tuesday, October 9, 2018

no garden, deformed buds, cast glass, and no politics


I decided a few days ago that I just wasn't going to put in a winter garden. I still haven't cleaned out the big bed and the two smaller ones already have nut grass and johnson grass coming back up because all around them is one big weedy mess and what with my back issues and all and the heat and the rain it just seemed like too much and the handle of my shovel is now broken instead of just cracked. Well, my back is good but I don't have the energy or interest to tackle all the surrounding area or the big bed. However, I'm going on an outing with the garden club Thursday and one of the destinations is a nursery so who knows what I'll come home with.

I have two confederate rose bushes, both volunteers, one of which I transplanted to where it is and it is blooming beautifully. 


The second one I tried to dig up and pot but waited too late so let it grow. It is just as covered in buds as the other but none are opening and they're all deformed.


This is what they are supposed to look like...


I have no idea or explanation for this but since it's not in a best place anyway, I'm going to cut it down and dig up the root. We're supposed to have four dry days in a row in the low 80s this week. Perfect for yard work and mold making.

Saturday, I finally filled the big drowned feather mold left over from last year and it's in the kiln cooling down. It took me all day and three or four trips over to the shop to fetch things I needed though it didn't take that long to actually fill the mold. Still have the other two wax models waiting for molds but I've sort of lost interest. I wasn't thrilled with the first one, didn't care for how the rocks came out and too much sand. I don't think I ever posted a picture of it. I may cut off part of it. 10" x 10" x 1/2"


And here's the finished wax model of the sunflower.


Now that Rocky has finished all the remodeling that needed to be done I'm casting my eye around these properties after a year of neglect. The flood brought so many unwelcome seeds. There are wild grape vines everywhere there wasn't and the dewberry brambles too and the horrid cowpea. It's just overwhelming. Not using poisons was so easy in the city on a small city lot. Out here I find myself contemplating it. Also now that Rocky has finished painting the house I'm slowly getting the screens back up on the windows, hosing down the screens and washing the outside face of the windows first. I've done five! Seventeen to go.

Sunday I didn't feel well, the cumulative effect of all the focus on the latest Republican debacle. I'm swearing off social media for a while. No more twitter, very limited FB scrolling quickly past anything that even remotely smacks of politics or the cruelty of Trump and his following. Like Steve Reed wrote “I've got to find beauty and peace in what's going on around me”. Wallowing in the outrage accomplishes nothing. The only power I have is my vote.





Sunday, October 7, 2018

small collections


A couple of years ago when I was still working Saturdays at the antique store I arrived one morning to see that one of the vendors had brought in an antique Chinese herb cabinet. I bought it on the spot (it was ridiculously cheap). I posted a picture of it back then.


This is what I did with it...

L to R: seeds from the native Texas mountain laurel tree, snail shells, quartz crystals from Boquillas Canyon in Big Bend, marbles, seashells and bits of coral

L to R: clay heads, seeds and seed pods, tiny carved animals and a silver elephant ornament, metal animals and a soldier and a lego man, rocks

L to R: pieces of wood and a whittled fork, petrified wood and a fossil trilobite, tin insect pins, butterfly and dragonfly wings, spines from the century plant

L to R: snakeskin and turtle scales, the lock and key for the bottom of the cabinet, crab claws, firecrackers and a lighter, butterfly and moth and dragonfly