Friday, February 27, 2009


Today is Go Texan Day.  For the uninitiated, this is the day all the trail rides end and come into town for the start of the rodeo.  They all end up at Memorial Park and party hearty all night.  For those of you who don’t know what a trail ride is, it is a week or two of following one of the old trails for getting your cattle to market.  Participants truck their horses and wagons to whichever starting point and then spend the next however many weeks riding those same horses and wagons back to town.  I had a friend in high school who would get a leave of absence from school every year so she could participate.  I think the one she went on was only a week long.  Back then, schools would let you do that.

The rodeo and livestock show start tomorrow.  There’s also a carnival that sets up and a huge vendor show as well.  Houston has one of the largest rodeos with associated  events in the country.  Maybe the largest.  The livestock show (we called it the fat stock show back when) is the competition, exhibition and auction of the animals that kids from elementary school through high school raise and groom through the Future Farmers of America programs at the schools.  Mostly the rural and suburban schools now.  I don’t know if the schools in the city still sponsor these programs.

I haven’t been to the rodeo in many years.  I guess the last time was when the kids were small.  Marc and I tried to go a couple of years ago.  A friend gave us a pair of tickets.  We got there in the afternoon, took our time looking at all the animals, browsed through the vendor show and then headed over to the stadium since the rodeo was getting ready to start.  Well, it wasn’t getting ready to start, it was ending.  We had never looked at the tickets and turned out they were for the afternoon show.  So we went over to the carnival and Marc tried one of those fried twinkies.  Gross.

Go Texan Day is also the day when everyone is supposed to dress up in their cowboy duds...hats, boots, belts, fancy shirts, and lets not forget the turquiose jewelry.  The thing I remember most about Go Texan Day is that it was, when I was growing up, the only day of the year that girls could wear pants to school.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

the hard part

One of my granddaughters came over last night.  She told me, and not for the first time, that she doesn’t want us to move.

Our daughter and her family live next door so the kids come over all the time.  Except for the first year and a half for the eldest of the four grandkids, they have lived next door to us their entire lives.  When they were babies and toddlers, while Sarah was being a stay at home mom, she would bring them over during the day.  We called it the Happy Baby Parade.  My grandson, always an early riser, would sneak out and come over early in the morning to visit while everyone else in his house was still asleep.  I would take them all for walks around the neighborhood or to the local plant place to buy flowers to put in the gardens.  They have always had this place to come to whenever they wanted some time and space away from their parents and siblings or want personal attention or are just bored and looking for something to do.

They are older now...the youngest 8, the twins 10 and the boy 12.  They have friends and social lives now and are often gone during the weekends or have friends over.  Even so, they are over here all during the week.  They still holler in the door for me to come out and play.

So this is the hard part.  I am so ready to leave this big city where I have lived all my life.  I am ready to leave the traffic, the pollution, the noise, the rudeness, the increasing density.  The diverse inner city working class neighborhood that I have lived in and loved for the past 34 years is already gone due to gentrification.  And I know that I will see them plenty, they will be coming out to the country house to stay for days at a time, in truth, they already do this.  But it will not be the same.  They won’t be popping over during the week to chat while we eat dinner and they pick the carrots and bell peppers out of my salad before I can eat it.  I won’t be here when their school project is due the next day and mom is too busy to help.  I won’t be here to hug and console when they are mad or unhappy and their parents are too busy or beleaguered to care.  

I am ready to leave Houston, but I am not ready to leave my family.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

3. stepping out

I date my studio from 1974.  During that first year I acquired a business license and a DBA, a gravity feed sand pot and an air compressor.  It was my intention from the start to do architectural commission work.  Upon seeing that funky little rose on a piece of scrap glass, my mind had immediately leapt to the possibilities.  I had stood there seeing front door lites and windows in homes.

I started simply.  I explored different materials for stencils because masking tape is the absolute worst thing you can use.  I developed a few designs and made framed hanging panels and started doing art shows and fairs.  I was a little dismayed to find out that most people did not make the same leap from small etching to front door but it was at one of these shows in Galveston that I got my very first commission, a window with a victorian medallion design.

The following year, 1975, I met the man who would become my partner in life and before too long, my partner in the studio.

Monday, February 23, 2009

the outdoors beckons...

I’ll get back to my journey as a glass artist in the coming days.  Today, I’m back to sitting in the sun.  After two cold nights, my old house with it’s solid walls and deep eaves, is like an ice box.  I refuse to turn on the heat because it is nice and warm outside.  Spring is here, no doubt.  Mosquito hawks are everywhere.  The red bud trees are in bloom.  Even better, the peach trees are blooming.  The early irises are putting up bloom stalks.  The mock orange is showing green on the stem tips.  The bluebonnets in the front are starting to bloom.  The maple trees are blooming.  All the trees, except for the pecans of course, have big fat buds on their stems or showing the first bit of green.  The birds are busy looking for mates and checking out possible nesting sites.  There was a male cardinal in the top of a pine tree all weekend singing his little heart out and the mockingbirds are starting their territorial disputes.  Here in Houston, my yard is filled with the little african lillies and baby-blue-eyes.  

I don’t think I’m going to get much work done today.

Friday, February 20, 2009

2. down the rabbit hole

The day I wandered into David’s studio I had no idea that my life was about to take on a direction, a direction that has lasted 34 years and counting.  I was recently divorced, no job and back living with my parents while searching for meaning in bars and beds.  

That particular day, I dropped in to visit and found David sandblasting a crudely stenciled rose masked off with masking tape onto a piece of glass.  I was instantly intrigued.  Show me how to do that, I told him.  And he did.  Thus began my life as a glass artist.  People often ask me how I chose glass as an artistic medium.  Having spent many years trying to paint, working with textiles, drawing, exploring ceramics and sculpture, that one instant in David’s studio sparked in me the way no other medium had.  Glass had chosen me.  

I remember thinking that day that I could make a living at this.  A true enough statement, however simplistic and naive it was.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

1. the path

I am adding this little preface in readiness for tomorrow, for Steven’s transformative moment meme.  I didn’t write anything new because I had written this already.  This moment, in my young life, was the one that set me in my life’s direction.  I had others...meeting my husband/partner which settled me down, giving birth (Husband will tell you it completely changed me), even taking acid which changed the way I see the world...but the one that empowered me to take charge of my life, to MAKE my life, is here:

Being a self employed artist has its ups and downs.  The ups are being your own boss doing what you would do even if you didn’t get paid for it.  My vocation is my avocation.  Being self employed also means that when I want, I can take the day off, make time for my kids and now my grandkids, set my own schedule.  I can go sit in the sun for 15 or 20 minutes whenever I want or take a long lunch with a friend.  It also means working long hours to get a job out on time, trolling for work when nothing has come in, living hand to mouth, being totally responsible for having money at all.  These are trade-offs.  

When I first started at this adult life in my early 20s, it never occurred to me that I could make a living on my own without a ‘real’ job.  And then I met David, a self-employed artisan, who told me, when I expressed some bit of envy of his life, that ‘anyone can do it’.  It was a door opening and a light going off in my head, a sudden revelation.  I think back on that day now and I wonder, if my path had never crossed David’s, would I still be here?  Doubtful.  It was at his shop where I first saw someone sandblasting a design on glass, however crude the technique.  It was from his mouth that the magic words came.  He was a person in my life for a very short time, probably not even a year, and yet his effect on my life was profound.  With this crossing, a new path appeared before me and I chose it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gorgeous George

My sister and brother-in-law live outside Wharton which is one of the reasons we picked that little town ourselves.  They keep chickens so I bring fresh yard eggs back to Houston every Monday for a few friends.  They started out with a dozen hens and then decided to get a rooster.  About a year later they decided to get more hens and expected that Deke, the rooster, would herd them all together into one flock.  Only that didn’t happen.  Deke would run interference for his hens and run the new girls out of the coop so his could lay eggs or he would run the new girls away from the food so his could eat first.  My sister and brother-in-law finally made the chicken yard bigger and set up another coop at the other end but that did not solve the problem.  Deke was a bully.  There were several immature roosters that came with the new hens and he kept attacking them.  The younger roosters would get out of the yard to escape Deke and one by one, met their demise by the neighbor’s daschunds who thought chicken hunting was great fun.  So now, Deke is gone, sent back from whence he came and a new rooster was brought in, the thought being that a new rooster would not know that there are two flocks of hens and will keep them all together and protect them all.

Mike brought him home in a pet carrier, they clipped one of his wings so he couldn’t fly off and then let him loose in the chicken yard.  While he was still getting his bearings, the dominant hen ran up and gave him a hard peck on the breast, getting her licks in while she had the chance I guess.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

wherefore art thou, cat?

We’re back from the country.  We left a day early and came back a day later so I guess by now I’ve lost all my regular readers, assuming, of course, that I had some regular readers.  Anyway, we don’t have internet access at the country house yet so while I am there I am totally cut off.

It was a good weekend.  The garden plot got hoed into rows.  I planted some african lillies and some baby-blue-eyes around the bottom of a tree.  I pruned back the roses.  I cleaned out the gutters in a step toward setting up a water collection system.  We are on city water even though we’re in the county.  The house originally had a well but then several things coincided.  The previous owners had to put in a new septic system, the new system was too close to the well so they were going to have to drill a new well further away and the city was putting in water lines and fire hydrants on the street so the previous owners opted for city water.  All fine and good except that the city charges county customers double.  Hence our desire to set up a water collection system.  That, and it is a good ecological thing to do.  If anyone knows where I can get big plastic barrels, let me know.

Monday morning came and we were getting the house tidied up and the truck loaded for the trip back to Houston.  Emma, the cat, who had been in the house at 9 AM was nowhere to be found by 10:30.  We looked in all her usual places where she snuggles up for a nap.  No cat.  Called her and called her and called her.  No cat.  This is the cat that will go outside in the little fenced part of the yard and hang out all day or up in the tree, the cat who won’t go out in the larger yard and the world beyond unless one of us is out there as well, the cat who is in and out, the one who comes (mostly) when I call her.  Two hours later and still no cat.  Call and search again.  No cat.  My searches start taking me futher afield.  No damn cat.  By 2 PM, we close the garage door and get in the truck and drive off for lunch thinking that she will come running when she hears those sounds.  No cat.  She doesn’t come in for dinner around 5 PM as is her habit.  By 7:30 PM I have decided that something bad has happened and she is not coming back.  She has never been gone this long before.  At 9:15, she strolls in the back door (which we have ajar and the outdoor light on), meows once and then starts to clean herself.  Bad cat.  So that is why we came back a day later.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

brain block

I’ve been working on the 1/3 scale drawing for the entry doors and side panels for a new chapel for the past week and for the past three days, I have made no progress whatsoever.  If I add something one day, I erase it the next.  I don’t know why I’m having so much trouble.  Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t like to do landscapes and that’s what this is.  Or it could be that I’m having trouble reconciling the scale of each element to the others.  I’m working larger than life size and I’m worried that in the main element, a dogwood tree, I have made the flowers too big which affects everything else.  I put some wild violets at the bottom and then realized, in relation to the dogwood flowers that they would be giants.  Erased them.  I want to put a rabbit nestled in the grass next to the tree trunk, but it makes the rabbit look enormous or else it’s a sapling of a tree.  I’ll probably make the dogwood flowers smaller when I do the full size drawing, but in the meantime, I’m having a hell of a time.

Yesterday I finally just gave up altogether and cleaned up the room where my drawing table is figuring that maybe my brain block was due to the clutter on my drawing table.  I barely had room for the drawing and could not find anything for all the piles of stuff.  Then I started on the living room.  I may not have made any progress on my drawing but at least I got something productive done yesterday. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

sitting in the hero's pose

Sitting in the Hero’s Pose makes my feet cramp.  And sometimes my calves too.  I have no trouble flexing my feet the other way.  I can do a flat footed Downward Dog no problem.  So I’ve been spending some time every other night or so (or so) sitting in the Hero’s Pose trying to get my feet to be comfortable.  I’m doing this because I go to a yoga class with a small group of friends every Tuesday evening.  And every Tuesday evening, my feet cramp.  

I like yoga, have been doing more or less yoga off and on since I was in my early 20s, but I seem to have a hard time committing to yoga.  I just haven’t been able to set up a daily practice but I will attend a weekly session faithfully.  It’s good to stretch, to twist, to bend, to balance, sometimes to contort.  It keeps me flexible, an opposite to the weight training.  I always leave yoga feeling taller.

Monday, February 9, 2009

cat TV

I put together a funky little birdbath out at the country house a couple of weeks ago.  It’s been very dry.  The whole state is pretty much in one degree of drought or another.  So I put this together out of some bricks and a blue glass dish that was left behind by the previous owners and I put it on top of the access to the septic tank pump, which is in the little fenced area just outside the back door.  It probably goes dry in two days.  It’s always dry when we get back.  But, when I’m there, I keep it full of water.  

It’s become quite the popular place.  The little birds are more daring than the big birds.  The chickadees especially are fearless.  They’ll come to it when I’m sitting about 15’ away, or if my back is turned, even closer.  There’s a little type of sparrow, I think, that comes a lot too.  And a female cardinal that likes to bathe in the morning.  A mockingbird comes, but not if you’re outside.  Bluejays too.

The cat, Emma, also likes it.  She’ll sit near me when I’m out there but when I’m not, I’ve seen her out there about 3’ away.  I’m not worried about the birds.  No self-respecting bird is going to go to a birdbath with a cat sitting right next to it.    Emma hasn’t figured this out yet.  

Friday, February 6, 2009


I’ve been sitting in the sun getting my vitamin D for the day.  I also call it doing my lizard act.  But what it really is, is spring fever.  We are having glorious weather this week...sunny with a cool breeze and dry.  It keeps enticing me outside when I should be working.  That it’s Friday only makes it worse.  

The cycle of blooms has started with the earliest pear trees and the tulip trees.  In a couple of weeks, the redbuds should start emerging.  Already the baby-blue-eyes are blooming in the easement and the wild ranuculus are starting up.  There’s a sunflower out there too, a holdover from last year.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


My house in Houston is a mess.  Well, my house is usually a mess because housekeeping is low on my priority list.  It’s a mess now because I am sorting through 34 years of stuff.  You can accumulate a lot of stuff in 34 years especially if you only add stuff and never get rid stuff.  So I have packed boxes of stuff I’m keeping sitting around on the floor.  Open boxes of stuff I’m not keeping sitting around on the floor.  Books we’re not taking sitting around on the floor, like a set of 26 year old Encyclopediae Brittanica and a 56 year old set of World Book of Knowledge encyclopedia.  Books, knick-knacks, kitchen stuff, clothing, old luggage, furniture; all are getting winnowed.  Like the loveseat with the broken springs, thanks to my 150 lb son (referred to around here as ‘the boy’) who would throw himself into it while he was still living at home.  And the funky old unpainted furniture chest of drawers that my mother painted lime green which came from the beach house when we sold it.  And the Ikea wardrobes since the new house has closets, unlike this one.

I am, in fact, enjoying this process.  The grandkids come over and go through the boxes and cart stuff off.  What doesn’t get taken by the family or sold in a garage sale that I am still fantasizing about will get donated to some agency or other.  But more than that, I am looking forward to a less cluttered existence.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I saw the first mosquito hawk last night.  Mosquito hawks are my personal harbinger of spring.  I know when they emerge, bountiful flowers and new green will follow soon after.  There are other portents, like the tulip tree down the block that has been in full bloom for the past week and the pear trees on Shepherd St. that are always eager and first to bloom, but flowers can be fooled.  Give them a couple of warm days and they run out like giggly school girls.  Not so the mosquito hawk.  Already the birds sound more cheerful and my mood has improved.  Now I will enjoy the final cool days instead of wishing them away knowing that summer always follows spring.

Monday, February 2, 2009

eating local

Back from the country.

One of the reasons we are moving is to be able to grow some of our own food.  That and be someplace where we can buy locally grown food.  It’s an agricultural community out there.  That and cattle.  At the end of our little street are fields just about as far as you can see.  Last year they grew cotton, the year before that, corn.  Our nearest neighbor has an incredible garden and he often times gives us food from it.  He brought us a cauliflower a couple of weeks ago that was twice the size of one you can buy in the store.  We’re looking forward to our own gardening bounty and to that end, we started getting the ground ready this weekend.  We had really beautiful weather for it.  Cool, but sunny.

According to the local paper, Wharton is famous for it’s sunsets.  I don’t know how true that is but we do get a lot of beautiful sunsets out there and we have a great view.  Last year we dragged the bench seat from our old pick-up truck out underneath one of the pecan trees.  That’s where we sit to watch the skyworks.