Monday, August 2, 2021

short stories part whatever

What Goes Around Comes Around

My daughter and son-in-law dropped by on their way home Tuesday evening to pick up the peaches I bought for her. Guess who's moving back in, they asked. Their son, my grandson Mikey, and pregnant girlfriend, Audra, can't afford their apartment and so are 'temporarily' moving back in with the parents out here. Yeah, I remember another young couple with a nine month old and pregnant with twins who asked to move back home, I told her. At least we had our own house, she says. (For those unaware, we had our house and the house next door that I used for studio space at the time. They eventually bought the house from us and with that money we bought the house out here.)

Those Are Not Clothes

I looked at Marc the other day and he was dressed in ragged shorts with the torn hem hanging down and a ragged t-shirt with holes in it and then I looked down and my own thin t-shirt had holes in it though my shorts were in good condition but only because I had to retire the shorts I would have been wearing that should have been thrown away but were put in a 'maybe I can mend them' pile instead. In our defense I can say that there was a possibility of work that day. Those are not clothes, our daughter said when she saw him. He pointed to me. Those are not clothes either, she says. Clearly it's time to retire the lowest tier.

The Long Walk

I finally let Minnie lead me down the next street parallel to ours. We have various long walks. The long walk includes the short walk which is to the other end of our long street and back and in the sun at this time of year which in high summer is usually plenty for her. Sometimes the long walk includes the next street over to the end and back also in the sun or to the second street over and back in the shade. Today though there was a big cloud in the sky when we walked so I relented when she turned to go down the next street over.

An Afternoon At The Beach – part 1

Sunday morning I got a text from my daughter Sarah...want to go to the beach with us for a couple of hours? Us being her, grandgirl Jade, and grandgirl-in-law Audra. Hottest part of the day in August, (not my favorite time) but it's probably been a couple of years since I've been to the beach, so yeah. We got there around 2 PM, set out the chairs, slathered on sunscreen. It wasn't as bad as I feared, there was a nice breeze but not too windy, lots of people out enjoying the day. On the way home we stopped at Buddy's Seafood Market and I got a pound of fresh caught shrimp which we had for dinner. I like to get my seafood from Buddy's as he's the catcher. I'd have got a flounder too but they weren't back with those yet, would be another hour but we'd be long gone by then.

Daughter Sarah, grandgirl Jade, grandgirl-in-law Audra, and soon to enter the world great grandgirl Paisley.

An Afternoon At The Beach – part 2

At one point a group of adults walked by carrying signs on stakes and we were curious what that was all about. Directly they came back with fewer signs on stakes and they pounded one in the sand in front of us and one of the men came over to explain. His daughter was going to get a proposal from her boyfriend and would we take pictures or video of her and him as they walked by and they would give us contact information to send it to. Sure, we said, what do they look like (she has long dark hair and he's wearing a ball cap which I thought described at least half the people on the beach). The signs were part of the set up and the sign in front of us said 'home is anywhere I am with you' I wondered if the last sign said Burma Shave. He walked back and then a woman walked over to give us the contact info and she was on the phone with her son (we gathered) giving him instructions...park the car, walk to the beach, turn left. She was throwing f bombs all over the place, oh, my kind of woman, I piped up, she did not like the girl's dad. First time I met the guy, have only been around him for an hour and he's a fucking asshole (there was more along these lines). So we kept an eye out and directly a couple that looked like it must be them walked by and it didn't look like she was even looking at the signs much less reading them. Never even paused. But, yes it was them, the father came and retrieved all the signs (have you seen the cost of lumber he says) and yes, she said 'yes'.

An Afternoon At The Beach – part 3

We were highly amused at the large group next to us trying to erect a volleyball net in the wet sand exposed by low tide (and the tide had turned and was coming back in). First they tried plunging the poles in the sand, then they brought out ropes for guy wires, then they tried pounding in the 4 inch in diameter flat on the bottom poles while standing on a bucket. Then they tried shortening the net by rolling up one end, then they moved it away from the water a little bit (I guess they noticed the tide was coming in) and tried pounding the poles into the drier sand. When that didn't work the big guy pushed the small guy out of the way and tried to the same effect. They finally gave up and rolled the net up. They might have been successful if the poles were pointed at the bottom. A short time later they started packing up and since it was 5 PM, we did too as Jade had to drive back to San Antonio that night. 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

an outing and a finished model

So, did I mention I finished the second trumpet flower model. Friday between breakfast and lunch I took care of the minor issues, scuffed up the background (because there's no way to get the background smooth and unblemished and it looks better overall if it has a slight and random texture to it) and then after lunch smoothed it all out. I do this with naptha (a solvent similar to lighter fluid. It slightly dissolves the wax and I use my finger or a small piece of chamois dipped into the naptha.

Saturday I got a piece of styrofoam and cut it on the bandsaw to the right size but the block was 2 inches thick so I had to slice it into three thicknesses, glued two of them down on glass and then glued the models onto the styrofoam. The styrofoam is the reservoir to hold all the glass that won't fit in the mold. So now they are set up to have their molds made.

Before I did that on Saturday though, Pam and I went to the Hungerford (a dinky little town down the road) for their art and craft fair. The goods on offer were pretty predictable for a small town art and craft venue...canned and baked goods, costume jewelry of various kinds, big flashy seasonal wreaths, quilts and other homemade stuffed toys, plants from the local nursery, wood art of various kinds (lots of crosses), wine glasses and jiggers etched with a small dremel, etc. There was a woman whose son makes ballpoint pens with turned wood barrels which were very nice but also pricey and I doubt she sold any to that crowd and another woman who makes natural personal products...soap, shampoo bars, deodorant, insect repellant, lotion bars, stuff like that. I came away with a jar of pickled okra and a shampoo bar which I have been wanting to try.

After that we checked out the two new women's boutiques, both located in bad places as far as I'm concerned. The first was in the back half of a building that has a salon and while the salon faces one of the main streets around the square, this little clothing shop has no street frontage. The clothes were nice enough, not a large inventory, nothing I would buy but mostly because everything was made out of synthetic slippery stuff that all had to be hand washed or dry cleaned. The other shop had a bigger inventory but is tucked into a corner of the other big retail area in town and once again you really have to know it's there or you won't see it. She had a few things that we liked but for the most part everything was synthetic or skin tight or stretchy or all three and not one thing that we could find that you could just throw in the washer and dryer (do they not make clothes out of cotton or cotton/linen anymore?). Well, I hope they do well.

Then we went to the Peach Creek Market on the highway for more peaches and I think these are the best ones so far but they are ready so I'll have to do something with them tomorrow.

Back to work stuff, I looked for the wax cutout of the luna moth that I know I have, have looked in every container in which I have wax objects and I cannot find it! I've looked in everything two or three times. And you know, as soon as I finally give up and cut out a new one, then it'll pop right up.

I had thought to post some pictures from the garden but, next time. Meanwhile, Buddha ponders

Thursday, July 29, 2021

almost and the hawk

A couple more hours Monday and I've got all the carving done. Now just have to fine tune, clean up, and polish.

I could have finished it on Tuesday but we met our glass artist friend Gene in Fulshear for lunch. You might recall Gene is the one who stored his studio in our shop for three years while he was getting his house put back together after moving it, as in the whole house, not just it's contents, and getting his new shop built. He lives an hour and a half away so Fulshear is about midway. We chose a barbecue place because they have an outdoor patio but there were so few people there we ate inside instead. It was a good visit as it had been over a year since we had seen him. We missed a turn on our way though so instead of the 40 minutes or so it should have taken us, it took us an hour to get there.

I don't really have anything to report unless I want to wade into politics, and there is plenty of that to wade into but I just don't have the focus right now, my mind being on my work even when I'm not actively working on it (Marc put the drowned feather piece in the kiln Wednesday) and it would take some valuable time to compose.

I did my three hours over at the studio Wednesday between breakfast and lunch, cleaned up the two small flowers and am almost through with the big one so I might be able to finish after lunch Thursday but I'll only have an hour and a half so probably not. I might have it ready to polish though.

This one is just giving me fits at this point. Everytime I take a picture I see a flaw. Almost ready to polish.

Right now, at the time of this writing (which was Wednesday afternoon), I'm just waiting for 4:40 to get here as that's when I leave for yoga class. This is my least favorite time of year for class where we meet. With school out and the metal building closed up all day it gets really hot in there even with the giant fan. We do roll up the sides about halfway but it still takes some time for the built up heat to dissipate. Abby does a noon class in the air conditioned bowling alley that she manages but going then takes a near two hour chunk out of my day right in the middle of my most productive time. I may complain about the heat but I still show up.

The hawk was back Wednesday evening, this time sitting on a tree branch, closer than the fence rail, with its attendant mockingbird screeching at it. It's hard to see the mockingbird sitting on the same branch far left. I had to be sneaky to get these pictures
, shot through the glass in the door,  without alarming the hawk.

Easier to see the mockingbird in this picture in the upper left corner.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

more progress and what's blooming

Another 4 hours or so on Saturday and I'm done with this model. I could probably fiddle with it another whole day but doubt any improvement would be worth the extra time.

And I forgot to put this picture in my last post, some of the tools I use for carving wax.

Minnie goes where I go but she is bored silly after a couple of weeks of spending 3 to 5 hours in the studio nearly every day with the air conditioner thunking away. Her internal clock tells her when it's lunch time and dinner time and she will get up from her bed over there and tell me. The past several days she'll get up after an hour or so and go to the door. I'll let her out and she'll go about 10 feet and when I don't follow she heaves a big sigh and comes back in, or she'll sit in the sun for awhile and then want back in.

Before I went over to the studio Sunday to start on the next model I got out there early, well, early for me, and cut back all the gone by purple cone flowers in the front flower bed scattering seed as I did. I didn't purposely scatter the seed but every time I cut a handful of bloom stalks I could hear the seed falling. I really don't need more cone flowers in that bed. And while the mosquitoes weren't bad (!) by the time I came in after about after 45 minutes I was dripping sweat.

And then I went out after I had cooled off to walk the big backyard, something I haven't done in several days, and was surprised by the swamp lily which has put up a bloom stalk

and the pink ginger is finally blooming. 

Some of my zinnias have finally started blooming but not very profusely

and the morning glory seeds I planted last early spring and were slow to start are growing madly now but I haven't gotten a single bloom and no buds apparent today either. The tall orange cosmos is out of control growing everywhere but few blooms. The mexican bird of paradise is blooming though.

And the black and blue salvia with a little green spider.

A couple of hours on Sunday in the studio and then Minnie let me know it was her lunch time. Instead of going right back, I got the ladder out and raked as many of the fallen leaves and branches off the section of roof on the driveway side of the house as I could reach without actually getting on the roof. Then I picked up the armloads of branches big and small on that side and tossed them in the truck and then I got the long handled nippers and pruned off all the new branches that had sprouted on the trunks of the two tallow trees by the driveway after the deep freeze and tossed those in the truck. There were a lot. These two trees put out a lot of new growth because a lot of the upper branches died back from the extreme cold. There's a lot of maintenance I haven't been able to do in the yard because it's either been raining or I've been working in the studio so getting these three chores done was good.

I put in another hour and a half and here's my progress for the day. Maybe this one will go a little faster. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

busy days

Yesterday at SHARE was busy! The busiest day so far since I have been volunteering there...25 clients for food. I was non-stop filling baskets for the first two hours. Fortunately it slowed down a little so that Gary and I could restock my shelves. I had thought I would go over to the studio after lunch and get an hour and a half in before yoga class last night but decided to read and nap instead.

The night blooming cereus flowers did open Wednesday night and I got a few pictures. I've taken better pictures but I was holding the camera in one hand, the flashlight in the other, and trying to fight off the mosquitoes all at the same time. I needed three hands. Anyway, if the past is an indication then this minor bloom will be followed with a big bloom in August and hopefully I'll be able to get better pictures.

And speaking of blooms, none of the ginger is blooming yet though one or two buds are finally starting to form. The pink and white and yellow should have started long before now. And with the exception of four varieties, none of the day lilies have bloomed and those that did did not bloom as much as in the past. I assume the deep freeze is the culprit though it wouldn't hurt to give them and the ginger some fertilizer. I also wonder if the growing tree canopy has cut down on the sun.

Here's today's progress on the model. About five hours worth. I'm done with the rough carving and am just about done with the detail. Still have the leaf to do more work on and then the cleaning up and smoothing. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

setting up for carving, a hawk, and a flower bud

Starting on the next two pieces, the yellow angel trumpets. Monday I moved the wax pot and the plaster bats into the air conditioned studio from the third bay where I have had it set up for the past five years or so but I'm becoming more intolerant to the heat and just the thought of doing the next step in there made me woozy. So I cleared off the mold making table and set up on it. I cut a piece of cardboard the necessary width and length, soaked the plaster bats until saturated (so the melted wax wouldn't stick to them), set up the forms around the cardboard,

removed the cardboard,

and ladled in the melted wax.

Tuesday I cleaned up the blanks and rounded the corners

and then started cutting the layers out of the wax sheets I had made previously and building them up on the blanks. The design consists of four layers.

wax sheets

cutting out the first layer

building up the layers and scoring the details.

Now I'm ready to start carving them down and rounding the shapes. Wednesday's progress on the rough shaping.

The red shouldered hawk that came and perched on the top rail of the fence the other day is back with an attendant mockingbird screeching at it. They were in the cedar tree by the shop driveway when I went over there earlier. For some reason I think this might be a young one that it's parents have quit feeding. It's been hanging out in the general area for several days. Now it's flown to my neighbor's yard on the ground pecking at something. It keeps raising its wings and jumping around as if the little toads that still scatter with every step are freaking it out. And now it's flown off into the wild space.

The night blooming cereus has four buds on it and I think they might open tonight. I've set an alarm so I don't miss it.

So we got more rain Monday of course we did, a shower around 5 PM and then sometime during the night thunder, lightning, and hard rain, 2” worth, ditch half full this morning. All this rain and wind has caused the big branch to finally disconnect from the tree, held up now by only a thin strip of bark.


Monday, July 19, 2021

in the kitchen

We've had more dry days. Notice I didn't say the 'R' word. No sense in invoking the gods since the last time I used it it rained the next day. Marc might actually get the yard mowed today. Or not. Mower won't start. He messed with it some more today and yay, the yard is mowed. Should help cut down some on those black flying monsters mentioned next.

Once again the mosquitoes are just fierce. Big black ones and they swarm you almost immediately. Even with mosquito repellent on, so says Marc. And I swear, they know where the doors are and hang out by them.

I spent all day Saturday in the kitchen dealing with butternut squash and peaches. I roasted the biggest one,

scooped out the flesh from the peel and mashed it and put it in the freezer for a future casserole, roasted the 'twins', because they flowered the same day and grew right next to each other on the same vine, and peeled and cubed them for the freezer. Then I picked out four of the larger ones for two neighbors, two each with recipes. Picked out and skinned the nine ripest peaches and made a peach cobbler and while that was cooking delivered the squash to my neighbors. Then I made a butternut skillet dish with bacon, onion, spinach, and pecans for dinner with the cubed squash I had put up last March.

Gotta use the oldest first. Still have nine small ones, all in the 6” – 7” range.

I used to make peach pies every season but there's just two of us and by the fourth day the last two slices were pretty soggy. Then I switched over to crostatas, courtesy of Joanne from Cup On The Bus, because they were smaller and quicker to make but since my last blood test showed high blood sugar I switched over to peach cobbler which is even easier and quicker to make because I thought it uses less sugar than the crostata but I think really, it's the same amount, the difference being with a cobbler the sugar is in the dough instead of in the fruit.

Sitting here at my desk, getting my working drawings ready for wax work model making I looked up to see a red shouldered hawk sitting on the top rail of the fence on Sunday. It sat there a while but flew off before I could creep around to the door to get a picture through the glass.

Here're the drawings for the next two pieces.

I got my work table over at the studio cleared off and the base slabs of wax poured today. And I think I've decided on a luna moth for the small stand. I did one many years ago on a vase form and I still have a backup shape in wax that I've been shuffling around all this time. I think maybe I rejected it because it was too small. Here's the vase, luna moth on one side, dogwood flowers on the other.

6”w x 6”d x 7”h

Typical summer sky these days

unless it looks like this.