Saturday, September 24, 2022

still no dress but a new book


Yesterday I made one last attempt at finding a dress for the wedding next Friday at the shopping mecca in Rosenberg with no success so knowing this was the probable outcome, I brought my light green tunic top with me and went to the other Evil Empire (Hobby Lobby) to see if I could find some fabric to make a simple gathered skirt to wear with it and I did.

The other thing I was looking for was some plain black flats and I found some at Famous Footwear, Naturalizers, which I love, but they only had sizes 7 and 8 and I need a 7 1/2. I'll order them online but they won't come in time for the wedding but I remembered a pair of blue suede sandals I bought at a resale shop and haven't worn since I quit working at the antique store that will do just fine.



Also yesterday I received my copy of a new book on Pate de Verre, the glass casting technique that I employ and am represented in in the contemporary artist section. Only 20 artists were selected internationally, only 7 of which are from the US (with two of those listing other countries as well) and I am one of them. I'm thrilled and honored to be in such a gorgeous book when there are so many artists here in the US that they could have included. I know one of the authors personally, we got to know each other back when I was more productive and had more galleries that did Glass Collector's Weekend and SOFA, but had no idea that the other author who lives in the UK knew of me. As I've mentioned before, I'm not very prolific, making only a few pieces a year and some years none at all and I'm only represented by one medium tier gallery and not really looking for others.


Between the etched glass and the pate de verre, this is the 10th book we have work published in.

Now I have to vacuum the floor so I can lay out my fabric and start cutting the pieces for the skirt.


 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

what's going on, mostly nothing


I have been such a slug the last two weeks since I finished the box and got it packed up and sent off. Other than my usual chores, I've done nothing but be lazy and read. I did get a little weeding done but no further artwork, model making or watercolor. Started the watering cycle again as we're back to no rain.

My old keyboard refuses to type 'a's unless I am consciously pressing the key. I'm reaching for it with my pinky, I press it down but then after typing a sentence I have to go back and insert the 'a's. Also, I'm spelling a word in my head as I type but my fingers get confused and add letters or transpose letters or I misspell a word I've never had trouble with. What the fuck? It gets even worse if the dog is in my lap as she likes to rest her head on my arm. Makes it difficult to type with a dog head on your arm. Just now, I typed 'with' in the previous sentence as 'whith' and no dog head weighing down my arm.

I tried two new recipes last weekend. Friday night, a curry chicken sauteed with onions, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper (the curry powder went on the raw chicken before it went in the pan) and simmered in coconut milk til it thickened with cashews on top and basmati rice with lime juice, baby spinach, and cilantro. It was really good and really easy once I managed to clean all the fat off and cut up the boneless skinless chicken thighs into bite sized pieces. But, no picture. The other recipe was a frittata for Sunday brunch; eggs, milk, onion, red bell pepper, baby spinach, salt and pepper, feta cheese; vegetables sauteed, add in the beaten eggs and milk, stir to mix in the vegetables and then bake til done. I thought at the time that it called for a lot of salt and didn't use quite as much as it called for and even so it was so salty. Half the amount it called for would have been plenty.



Tuesday night I fixed one of my favorite salads with naan for dinner. I'd been pausing on it for a couple of weeks when I flip though my recipes so I've been wanting it for a while...mixed baby greens, celery, dried cranberries, granny smith apple slices, mandarin orange sections, pecans, and orrecchiette pasta. Also no picture.

Saw this little shield spider web out by the driveway with the sun hitting it just right.




Also these two surprise lilies, what Mary Moon calls hurricane lilies, popped up. There's a few of these bulbs scattered around the property but they don't all bloom every year. I think the most I've gotten at one time is four.



I broke a small piece of this althea (rose of Sharon) off a shrub at an estate sale and got my sister to root it for me (she's more successful at that then I am) and it's grown to about 3' tall in the pot it's in and has been blooming very prettily.



Abby texted Monday afternoon that she wouldn't be able to make it to yoga class that night so I led. We had a new attendee. I told her at the end that I hoped she enjoyed the class, that I was tougher than Abby, Mauri pipes up, yeah she is, and that she's lucky I didn't do the vinyasa that includes the splits (joking), Mauri pipes up, but she will, and that I hoped she comes back which she said she would (and she did yesterday). They don't usually, if they're unlucky enough to draw me for their first class. It's not that I'm a taskmaster, I start out slow with breathing and stretching, move into beginner then intermediate and then some advanced poses with fewer, if any, rest poses in between so everyone gets challenged and I go the whole 45 minutes. Abby tends to accommodate new people with an easier shorter class. But then, they don't always come back after Abby either. Or they'll come a few times and then we don't see them again.

Here it is the Autumnal Equinox and we are still having temperatures in the mid 90s. This has been such a long hot summer and we have all had enough!



Tuesday, September 20, 2022

summer reading list



Late with my summer reading list, only 5 books this quarter. I guess you can tell it was nose to the grindstone to finish the box and streaming shows in the hot afternoons. In fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't finish the last one until earlier this month so it really shouldn't be on this list at all.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman – Let me start out by saying I did not like this book but I plugged on til it was finished hoping that it would eventually redeem itself. It did not. I think it must be a young adult book as the main character was 17 at the beginning who keeps waiting for the 'magic' of life to happen when he will be happy and satisfied with who he is and his life. Also it heavily rips off the Narnia series and to a much lesser extent, Harry Potter in that there is a university of magic called Brakebills that has a secret passage to get to it. The Narnia rip off is a series of books the characters all read as children about a magical land that four children get to through a grandfather clock instead of a wardrobe, there's the Watcherwoman instead of the White Witch, two rams instead of the lion, the children become the queens and kings, and instead of Narnia, this Land is called Fillory (what a stupid name). The first part of the book is about their years at Brakebills and the second part is about their frivolous lives afterwards partying and partying and partying until they discover a way to actually get to Fillory where they go on a quest for the crown so they can be kings and queens, fight monsters, barely escape with their lives. Really, if you come across this book, don't bother.

The End Of The Day by Claire North – same author as The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August from last quarter and also on the kindle. I liked the first book I read by her so I read this one which took me freaking forever to finish. Not because it was a struggle to get through but for some reason I just didn't have sit down and read time. Charlie has a new job, he's the Harbinger of Death. The Home Office updates his calendar with appointments and whatever gift he is told to bring to the person. He travels all over the world bringing things like a jug of maple syrup or a pen or chocolates or honey or a shovel or or or. Charlie comes sometimes as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. He listens to their stories. Charlie likes his job, thinks it is important to bear witness to the lives of the people he is sent to. Death doesn't come just for people, sometimes he/she/it (as everyone sees Death differently) comes for an idea or a world that is ending. There's a lot of rumination and some passages sent me off on ruminations of my own. Because Charlie travels so much it is hard for him to have a personal life and sometimes doing his job he is met with violence, people who want to bargain with Death, kidnapped more than once, people think he has control when he has none, and it all starts to take a toll on him. There are also short passages where we see not only what Death is up to but War and Famine and Pestilence, all with Harbingers of their own. There are also short chapters that consist of unfinished sentences or thoughts, one after the other that have no connection to each other. I never did figure out what those were all about. Towards the end I just skimmed through those. I liked it well enough but it's pretty cerebral.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson – back to the library. They didn't have the book of hers I went for so I selected this one. In 1940, Juliet Armstrong, 18 and fresh out of school is recruited by MI5 to assist in an undercover operation to identify and keep tabs on the 'fifth column', those British who supported Hitler and were attempting to gather intel prior to his invasion of England. While they think they are reporting to a Gestapo agent, they are actually reporting to Godfrey, an MI5 agent, and it's Juliet's job to transcribe the recorded conversations. Her boss decides to use Juliet in a different undercover operation giving her an identity and background and introducing her to the fascist sympathizers. Ten years later, Juliet is working for the BBC producing films for the education department when she starts seeing people from her past work during the war and an anonymous note is delivered to her, “You'll pay for what you've done”, and Juliet sets out to investigate who it might be behind it. In the meantime, she is still being used occasionally by agents who call on her to provide a particular service. I won't reveal the end, the surprising little twist. It's a good story but the paragraphs of the transcribed conversations during the war got a little tedious.

Nightwork by Nora Roberts – A novel in three parts in one book, typical Nora Roberts, good story well told with beautiful people, Nora never disappoints when you want something lighthearted. Harry aka Booth is 9 when his mother gets cancer the first time and he learns to pick pockets to help with all the bills. He helps his eccentric aunt who came to live with them and care for his sister and his mom in the house cleaning business they have. He's 12 when he breaks into his first house for a memorable experience. He's 17 when his mother finally succumbs and he and his aunt go off in different directions to find their new lives and promise to stay close, a promise well kept. This is the story of the young cat burglar who had to leave his just found love and disappear for a decade to escape the wealthy powerful LaPorte, a man determined to own Booth and his extraordinary skills by hook or crook. When Booth settles down his path crosses with Miranda, the girl left behind and just as they settle in, LaPorte finds him to steal the Red Goddess, the largest purest reddest red rough diamond in the world. Here's the point where the inside cover would say “What will our hero do?”.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – I watched the mini-series on HBO Max and really liked it so decided to read the book it's based on. Now having read the book, I'd have to say the series is very loosely based on the book. Giant liberties are taken. Same scene, the aftermath of a deadly flu that kills 99% of the world's population in a matter of weeks. Both the series and the book start in the middle of winter with the actor Arthur Leander having a heart attack on stage in NYC and dying. Jeevan, training to be a paramedic, runs up from the audience and gives CPR until a doctor takes over. Jeevan has a short conversation with 7 year old Kirsten, child actor waiting in the wings, until her 'wrangler' comes and fetches her. As Jeevan is heading home he gets a call from his friend in the ER telling him to leave the city, everyone is dying, or at least stock up on food and barricade himself in. Jeevan heads to his brother's apartment with 7 carts of food and they lock themselves in. In a matter of days everyone is dead or dying, in a matter of weeks there is no electricity. The characters, Kirsten, Jeevan, Miriam whose life project was the graphic novel Station Eleven and who dies on a beach in Singapore, and Clark are all connected to Arthur in one way or another and we get their stories, before and after the apocalypse, as the novel moves back and forth through time, as the survivors try to survive. Twenty years later finds Kirsten with the Traveling Symphony, a group of musicians and actors that travel from one small settlement to another in this new world giving concerts and staging Shakespeare; Clark has helped build a community at an airport where they were all stranded, and Jeevan has made his way to another community where he settled down. As I said the series takes big liberties with the book, inventing a relationship between Kirsten and Jeevan, inventing more of Jeevan's story when they get separated, and leaving Clark out almost completely (as I recall). The book is excellent, the series is excellent, but even when the series follows the book, it invents things. If you watch the series you'll just have to look at it as the series fleshing out the book.


 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

more 'what the fuck, people!'


Burning Man  was a couple of weeks ago. This is an art and environmental celebration/festival out in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada with tremendous art installations and avant guard performance art and music and chaos and people just being their wildest wackiest selves.

Here's a video from this years event, the first one in two years because of covid. It looks fun and magical and other worldly (and hot as fucking hell).


Here's a picture of the aftermath...8,000 abandoned bikes.



Not shown is all the abandoned camping gear and trash. So what the fuck people? If you pack it in, pack it the fuck out. Don't leave the stuff that you just can't be bothered to deal with after you had your fun and trashed the place. So typical of Americans, no sense of responsibility and for all their hype I would think that the people who attend would be a little more environmentally conscious. At least the people who go in and clean up the mess sell or give away the abandoned bikes and gear.
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Re the 'active shooter' call at the grands' old high school...my daughter tells me the police went classroom to classroom with guns drawn in full swat gear scaring the already terrified kids. A much better response than those cowards in Uvalde but, damn, this is just so wrong.
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In the news is Florida's republican governor Ron DeSantis' despicable political stunt of paying to have 48 refugees from Venezuela seeking asylum and a safe place to live flown to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts from the Texas border in chartered planes paid for by taxpayer money that basically dumped them on the tarmac and abandoned them. No calls were made in advance to agencies that these people were on the way so they could be ready to receive them and be helped on arrival but he made sure there was videographer to film it. DeSantis' representative lied to these people telling them they were being sent to Boston or NYC where jobs and housing were waiting for them and the DHS falsified their papers giving them addresses from homeless shelters all across the nation that their hearing notices would be sent to insuring that none of these people would be able to show up setting them up for immediate deportation. DeSantis thought that the upscale island would be horrified at these immigrants dumped on their doorstep and show that Democrats couldn't or wouldn't deal with them but instead the residents came together with food, shelter, medical aid, working with authorities to move them to the mainland where there are support services and housing. The residents were horrified all right, not by the migrants themselves but by the cruelty inherent DeSantis' stunt. And for DeSantis and those who aided him and those republicans who support him, the cruelty was the point. They didn't give a shit about those people.

This is a man who everyone expects to run for president, a man who basically kidnapped these people and trafficked them across the nation with nothing to their names and stranded them on the tarmac of an airport thousands of miles from the border where they would have been processed. I think, I hope that this little stunt has backfired on him since it didn't exactly have the outcome he hoped for. And of course our own asshole governor Abbott is shipping busloads of migrants to DC dropping them off in front of Vice-President Harris' home and to New York's Port Authority not because the border is 'open' no matter how many times republicans lie about it, people and drugs are being apprehended in record amounts, but because playing with helpless people's lives is, to them, an acceptable political stunt to distract from their unpopular policies.

Vote Democrat top to bottom. Make sure everyone you know votes.



Friday, September 16, 2022

prank calls, food, flowers


Boxes are gone, taken to the post office. Now I have to come up with a price.

Tuesday in Houston would have been a good day to rob a bank or some other crime. Police got a call about an active shooter at Heights High School, incidentally the high school my grandchildren went to. The school went on lock down and 500 police showed up. Five hundred. Talking heads interrupted programming to tell us over and over that they had no information about what was happening. Parents were showing up and a spot was designated for them to wait for their children as they were released. Turns out there was no active shooter, no shooter at all, it was a prank call. I guess this massive show of force from the police was in response to Uvalde but hey, guess what, it doesn't matter how many cops show up if none of them go inside to apprehend the bad guy. I'm not saying none of them went in, don't really know how the whole thing was resolved, but 500 police? Really? And apparently there was another prank call at a different school the same day in a different city, apparently, this is something that's happening all over the country. What the fuck is wrong with the people in this country?

I've made prank calls, when I was a kid, you know, pick a number at random out of the phone book and ask them if their refrigerator is running and when they say yes tell them they better go catch it, hang up and then laugh hysterically with your best friend. Or ask if they have Prince Albert in a can (a brand of loose tobacco) and if they do tell them they better let him out. More hysterical laughter, harmless fun. Annoying maybe to the recipient but never instigated a police response.

Slow day at SHARE yesterday except it was a food delivery day from the food bank in Victoria. Besides what Jan ordered they sent another giant carton of watermelons, big ones this time, and two boxes of bagged peaches, two boxes of bagged sweet potatoes, and a box of lettuce. And lots of milk left over from the Dollar Stores and hamburger buns out the wazoo. I brought home stuff to share with neighbors and family because they filled all the freezer space. Any bread not given out needs to be frozen or parceled out to the volunteers as it will be too old next week. Same with the milk donated on it's 'sell by' date, has to be given out that day or parceled out to the volunteers to distribute. I brought home a 2 pound bag of pistachios in the shell for myself. They're shelf stable but we got several boxes.

I might try to work out in the yard a little today. Weeding needs to be done, stuff needs to be cleared out, and I have a clump of day lilies to plant. We had a small rain shower yesterday and it's predicted to rain today. Regardless, currently in the mid 70s at 8 AM we have 99% humidity which makes the 'real feel' in the high 80s.

This is one area that needs attention. It's full of stuff. L to R in the back: indigofera blooming, white phillipine lily not blooming yet, rose of sharon blooming, orange cosmos not blooming yet; L to R front: Texas sword leaf blooming, mistflower just starting to bloom, rose and zinnia intertwined blooming, very bottom R wild petunia blooming which really is interspersed all through there.


indigofera


sword leaf

The mosquitos are fierce though so we'll see what I get accomplished before the heat and sweat drives me in.



Tuesday, September 13, 2022

boxed and ready to go


Sunday I packed up the coral reef box into its inner box (I did not add an extra piece of coral after all), boxes since dividing it up was easier with the boxes I have on hand.

Then Monday began the search for the outer boxes, as close to an extra 4” in all three dimensions as I can find. I got one at the grocery store and one at the Evil Empire. One will have to be cut down in height, easy enough; both are too wide, instead of the extra 4” I prefer, one is 6”, the other 7”. That's a lot of extra width but it's the closest I can get to what I need and ends up costing more to ship since the post office charges by weight and size. When I lived in the city I could just run down to the Box Store and could almost always get exactly what I needed.


I know that sounds confusing but if you want to bomb proof something for shipping, the inner box should be 2” bigger all the way around than the object you are shipping, filling that space on all four sides, top, and bottom with cushioning material...foam, newspaper, old bubble wrap, peanuts (I only use peanuts when I have plastic newspaper bags to contain them). Then that box goes into another box with the same 2” of space all the way around, top, and bottom and fill that space with cushioning material.

Loose peanuts aren't really good for shipping fragile objects (though my cast pieces aren't particularly fragile) because they shift and your fragile object could end up next to the side of the box with nothing in between.

Anyway, I got the packing finished today and I'll ship them off tomorrow.

The night blooming cereus bloomed again last night, the fifth set of blooms it's given this summer. I think the most I ever got before was three sets. Last night 7 of the 9 buds opened and tonight the last two will open. I woke at about 4 AM and went out to see (they usually haven't opened by the time I go to bed). My flashlight was too bright so I couldn't get any really good pictures.


Two other white bloomers, the bridal bouquet plumeria and the butterfly ginger.


I'm still waiting for that cooler drier weather they keep promising. 



Sunday, September 11, 2022

short stories, part whatever


One of the yellow butterfly gingers is blooming.


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The county lifted the drought induced burn ban two weeks ago and so last Friday Marc emptied the piled high truck bed onto the already higher than me burn pile and torched it. Meanwhile, I was picking up all the branches still laying around because, face it, what was the point of picking them up before with no place to put them. I have a small pile ready to go in the truck now that it's empty again.

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Grandgirl Autumn left Thursday morning, heading back to Austin. We got all her mending done except for replacing the zipper which I'll try to get done or find someone to do it. I hate putting in zippers. She had taken a week off her part-time job as barback at a small Marriott Hotel and wondered if they missed her or if she was going to get fired. She called Friday afternoon to tell me that not only is she not getting fired, they called her into a meeting to tell her how much they appreciated her work, her friendliness, her helpfulness, her attitude towards the guests, that they thought she was being underutilized and so they were only giving her Wednesdays for the next two weeks in order to train her as a bartender (this is the job she wants for the interim while she waits to see if her application to the Peace Corps is accepted). They had already hired someone to train as the bar back to replace her and Autumn, knowing that the bartenders were too busy to do that, volunteered to train the new guy.

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We're still hitting low 90s though next week we're supposed to drop down to high 80s and low humidity. Until we get there, hot afternoons are spent in the house and so yesterday we watched Enola Holmes on Netflix. The actor who plays Enola is the same that played Eleven in Stranger Things and she's really good. Enola is a young child when her father dies and her two older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock, leave the estate for London. Raised and educated by her mother to be a strong independent free thinker who makes her own choices in life, she wakes up on her 17th birthday to find her mother has left during the night. When her brothers return to handle affairs and claim the estate and turn her into a proper young lady, Enola runs away and her adventures begin. It's a really good movie.



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I finished the box a week ago and it's been sitting in the living room for us to enjoy before I start packing it up for the gallery. I think I'm going to add one little piece of coral, not the one I removed, in the back to fill a hole that probably only I notice and only from a certain angle, but that's me. I'll head over to the shop later to get that done and clean up and pull out all my boxes and packing materials.

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We get some strange donations to SHARE sometimes. Two weeks ago we got an 18” long by 4” diameter log of gouda cheese. That's just too much even for the biggest families we get so one of the guys cut it up and handed it out to the volunteers since we wouldn't be able to give it out once the wrapping was compromised. Last week, we got four 18” x 4” logs of colby cheese. What the fuck! Anyway, Jan handed them out to us volunteers and I took one, took it home and cut it up into six 2” thick chunks and handed it out to family and neighbors.


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And finally, from the Department of the Absurd, I saw this at the grocery store.


Dog water. Flavored dog water. Because plain ole' tap water or puddle water isn't tasty enough?