Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Dedicated to Reya and Jake over at The Gold Puppy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

the continuing adventures of the brooding hens

So, I asked her...”Did you ever stop the other hens from laying their eggs in the nest?”

“Yes.” she told me.  “We finally picked her up and marked all the eggs.”

“How many were there?”, I asked.

“20”, she said.

“All three hens still sitting in the nest?”, I asked.

“Yep, all three.”

I never thought I would think chickens were interesting.  I never understood the fascination with chicken and rooster decor.  OK, I still don’t understand that.  So, maybe I don’t think they are interesting so much as entertaining.  Of course, I don’t have to take care of them.  Or the ducks.  I imagine the humor would wear off if you had to keep solving social problems.  Or not.  My sister still seems to have a sense of humor about them.  

“Have any of the eggs hatched yet?”  I asked several weeks later.

“No”, she said.

Some of them should have hatched by now, but the number of eggs being sat on keeps changing.  So my sister and b-i-l finally separated the three brooding hens on the eggs that were there at the time from the rest of the hens.  They thought maybe they were getting snakes in the coop eating some of the eggs (all Ethyl’s eggs have disappeared as well) and then the other hens would lay fresh ones in the nest, hence the changing number of eggs.  That and, she discovered, that the brooding hens that were not getting up to eat were helping themselves to egg dinners.   


So now, the three brooding hens are in the side of the duck yard with Fred and Ethyl, the two new ducks.  They finally had to divide the duck yard in two and Ping and the duck hen live in the other half.  All the eggs are marked and the calendar is marked as well.  When the appropriate day on the calendar is reached there better be baby chicks or all those eggs are going in the trash.

You can read (with pictures) the two previous posts in this thread...chickens are sneaky and a chicken by any other name...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

dead end

This is the last post about our trip.  Across the street from the building where the studio is is an old graveyard.  After the end of the last day, we all went over and meandered through.  It had been neglected and overgrown until a few years ago (I seem to remember one of our hosts saying) but now it is kept neat and tidy.  The graves go back to the 1700s.  I like walking around in old graveyards.  I like looking at the markers and wondering about the people.  Small tragedies and long lives reveal themselves.  Like the stone with (name) son of (name) son of (name), three generations.  Or the stone with the name of an infant that said ‘their only son’ surrounded by the stones of daughters who lived long lives.  Or the father, mother, and children that seemingly died together.  Or the little soul that didn’t even live long enough to get a name.

Modern graveyards hold no interest for me with their metal or marble plaques on the ground, a single monument with the family surname.

The old markers hold mystery, love, longing.

They lean and sink.

They break as time slowly dissolves all traces of stone and bone until all is returned to the womb of the Mother.

Friday, June 26, 2009

teaching the craft of art

clay tile models

The reason we went on this jaunt to the north with which I have been entertaining you all this past week, is to give an intensive 6 day workshop on the pate de verre method of casting glass.  Rather than repeat myself, all y’all that didn’t read about it before, can here.  The first three days are long and intense.  I started out taking pictures intending to document the class but soon failed to remember to use my camera, like after the first day.  Too busy trying to remember everything I was supposed to be passing on to the students.  I did get a few pictures though and the students (3) did take tons of pictures throughout the class but so far they have not sent any to me.

The first day they make clay models for a tile (3 3/4” x 3 3/4”), invest them and fill the mold so they can go into the kiln that evening.

set up for investing (mold making)

cleaning out the mold

filling the mold with crushed glass

The next two days are spent on wax models for a small cup (3 3/4” x 2”).  

Day 4 we have a slide show of our work and the students can make more clay tile models and invest them (over the next 3 days) to have finished molds to take home.  I also demo other wax working techniques and they get their tile out of the kiln and clean it up.  Day 5 is reproduction molds and lectures on mold making and firing schedules.  Day 6 they get their cups out of the kiln and clean them up.  I demo finishing techniques and talk about cold work and equipment.

finished tiles

finished cups

It’s a long six days and I am always wrung out at the end.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Clinton's big ditch

a broken place about midway up the wall in the lock

Backing up a bit...

The Saturday after we arrived, our friends had made reservations for a packet boat ride on the Erie Canal and we spent a pleasant two hours motoring up and down.  

The original Erie Canal was finished in 1825, hand dug it was the engineering marvel of its day. It included 18 aqueducts to carry the canal over ravines and rivers, and 83 locks, with a rise of 568 feet from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. It was 4 feet deep and 40 feet wide, and floated boats carrying 30 tons of freight. A ten foot wide towpath was built along the bank of the canal for horses, mules, and oxen which pulled the boats along.  It opened up the West and gave a great boost to the economy.  The price for a ton of cargo was reduced from $100 to $2.  It was enlarged twice, the last one completed in 1918.  You can read more about the Erie Canal here.

On our ride we went through one of the locks.  It took about 10 minutes for the water level to rise 25 feet and let us out the other end. The original lock doors were wood and operated by hand.

The original canal went right through Rochester but with the third and last enlargement, Rochester was by-passed.  One of the old locks still remains in town, all overgrown.  I found this to be really fascinating.  I loved seeing the old stonework of the walls and that section of the canal is still there.  I don’t know if it has water in it all the time but it did when we were there.  Of course, it had rained recently so...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

rat roulette


In between LeRoy and Batavia is another small town called Stafford.  Stafford was having their Fireman’s Carnival while we were there.  This is their annual big fund raising event for their volunteer fire department.  They have several raffles...a car, a snowkat, money..., a parade, a carnival and bands on the weekend under a big tent.  The parade was on Friday night and as we were passing through that morning on the way to the studio, people were already setting their chairs by the roadside for the event.  When we came back through that evening, there were many more and the authorities were getting ready to close off that section of the highway, setting up a detour.  We didn’t go to the parade, but Amanda started telling us about the rat roulette they have at the carnival.  

Saturday evening after the workshop was done for the day, we all went to the carnival for dinner (beer, sausage with onions and peppers, salt potatoes, fried dough all guaranteed to clog an artery or two) and rat roulette.

You pays your money and you takes your chances


Rat roulette is a colorful wheel with pie slices of different colors with a hole at the fat end of each slice.  On three sides are tables with colored squares corresponding to the colors on the wheel with the odds printed below it.  The odds range from 1-1 (yellow) to 1-10 (white).  Bets are limited to 25¢ to a dollar, in quarter increments.  The carnie spins the wheel and holds the rat over the center and it climbs down and then runs into one of the holes while the wheel is spinning.  Before we got started, I was joking that the rat was probably trained to go into the yellow holes and darned if the first four times that rat didn’t go into a yellow hole.

into the yellow hole

There were quite a few players and everyone was hollering at the rat to go into whatever color they had bet on.  We stopped after 50¢ each, Marc and I, but one of our students invested $3.  It took her about 20 minutes to lose it.  After a while I guess the rat was getting dizzy cause it would wait til the wheel had stopped spinning to go into one of the holes.  When the carnie figures the rat is getting tired, he'll change to a new rat.  He had about six of them in a little cage.  They were all named Oscar because, as the carnie said, ‘I can’t tell them apart.’

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

all to ourselves

Monday, our host for the workshop came and picked us up.  The workshop was at a studio and glass school in Batavia.  She took us there on the back roads, ‘farm to market’ roads we call them down here, through the countryside.  We paralleled waterways, passed old homesteads and farms.  I really loved all the old farmhouses.  Eventually we came to LeRoy where we would be staying during the workshop.

The front of the house.  We never once went through the front.

Lance and Amanda, the owners of Oatka Studio, bought a large victorian on about 3/4 of an acre and are converting it into a bed and breakfast.  They have finished one of the bedrooms upstairs and modernized one of the two bathrooms upstairs.  The house is filled with furniture they have bought, antiques and oriental rugs all pushed into the center of some of the rooms covered with plastic.  They have, so far, managed to remove all the wall paper (every room in the house) and sealed the walls which are waiting for paint.  The previous owners had already modernized the kitchen and added a family room onto the back of the house with a gas fireplace and a concrete deck out the sliding glass doors at the back.  It faces the large backyard which faces a golf course so the view is endless.

The side of the house, the door we used.

Every room upstairs is on a different level.  There are two staircases, the front staircase and the back staircase which comes down into the kitchen.  This is, of course, the one we used.  From the kitchen, you climb the narrow steep stairs, turn left, pass through two rooms to a short hall.  From the hall, the front bathroom is to the right and you step up about four inches.  If you continue down the hall, the front stairs open to the right as well.  Then it’s three steps up to the front sitting room.  Our bedroom was also to the right off the sitting room (another to the left) and it was two steps down.

Lance and Amanda live in the studio which is in an old industrial building in Batavia (about a 20 minute drive from LeRoy).  They have a beautiful little apartment up there separate from the studio.  The students stayed at a motel near the studio so for seven days, we had that huge house all to ourselves.

tomorrow’s installment:  rat roulette

a few more pics:

This little chipmunk scurried around the deck.  He was very shy and this was the only picture I could get of him.  He’s climbing up the pole that the bird-feeder hung on.

More peonies.  So beautiful.

Bunny in the backyard.

Monday, June 22, 2009

back from the north

Peonies were everywhere.  They don’t grow down here so I really enjoyed them.

We dragged in this morning, before noon.  Our flight out left at 6:40 EST, so we had to get up at 4 AM.  So I’ve been up since 4 AM and am feeling a little numb.  My plan was to take the day off today and start in on business tomorrow.  However, the art consultant I work with called while we were still in NY about mid-way through the workshop to say he had his presentation coming up and he needed my stuff by Wednesday afternoon...as in day after tomorrow.  Sheesh.  I’m not complaining though because we want the work, but gimme a break.  So I am making little sketches in between trying to catch up on my blog list, watering the yard which has suffered terribly while we were gone and taking a little nap.  My son and d-i-l are due over in a little while as well.  Not making much progress so far.

Dogwoods were in bloom.  These are a little different than the ones that grow in East Texas.

We had a great time, laughed a lot.  We flew into Rochester Friday the 12th about 5 PM to be greeted by our friend Charles.  He and Renee are friends from the river guide days.  We were on the same crew most trips.  They moved last year when Renee got an offer to teach she couldn’t refuse at a college up there.  They live in Pittsford Village, a small community of about 2,000 people, one of the suburbs of Rochester.  It is a beautiful historic place, right on the old Erie Canal. 

The oriental poppies were beautiful.

One of the things I really like about traveling to different parts of the country is seeing the different flora and fauna indigenous to the area.  Our friends have a really nice house on about a half an acre that backs up to the power line easement so they have a broad green space behind them.  And the flowers and trees are really different.  I always imagined that because New England was settled so long ago and so densely that it would be, well, not more urban, but definitely more settled, I guess.  I didn’t really expect it to be so country.  It was very beautiful.  We had nice sunny days for the weekend and the following Monday.  After that it began to rain and it rained most every day after that.  The temperatures were very cool at night and at times during the day as well.  I kept kidding everybody that this was winter where I came from.  A slight exaggeration but I certainly couldn’t wear any of my summer clothes.

A couple more pictures...

These mallards (?) showed up in our friends yard Saturday and stayed around for several hours.  Settled in and took a nap.

I love window boxes.

This deer was in the green space behind our friend’s house.

Friday, June 12, 2009

and I'm outta here

OK friends and neighbors.  I’m leaving on a jet plane...  Only I know when I’ll be back again.  Marc and I are off today to upper state NY to teach a 6 day intensive workshop in the pate de verre method of casting glass.  It is the most frustrating, difficult, time consuming, detail oriented (and did I say frustrating?) thing that I have ever done.  It has brought me to tears...literally.  

Pate de verre translated means ‘paste of glass’.  The method we use is a lost wax casting technique.  The glass that goes in the mold is crushed to the consistency of sand or powder.  You can read a quick tutorial (with pictures) of the process here.

The first three days of this workshop are very intense because both items that the students make have to be in the kiln by the end of the third day.  Actually, the first piece has to be in the kiln by the end of the first day.  Then they get two days to work on the second project.  The reason for this is that the pieces have to be in the kiln for three days.  After that we back up and go over the process again and also cover reproduction molds and finish work.

This will be a small class, only three students because, I assume, of the state of the economy.  The workshop is not cheap.  In fact, I am surprised that it wasn’t canceled since one of the students is one of the studio owners.  I don’t see her even making expenses.  But who am I to argue?

We are taking two extra days to visit friends who moved up there last year.  So it won’t be all work.  Two travel days, two play days, six work days.  Emma kitty is not going to be happy.  Fortunately my daughter, s-i-l and grandkids live next door to look after her and Big Mama (the turtle).

I don’t know if I will have time, energy or computer (no laptop in this family) to post while I am gone.  I will miss my blogger friends, miss keeping up on all your doings and thoughts but I shall return.  We’ll be back Monday the 22nd.

So until then, try to get along without me.  Hard, I know.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


My friend Gene who does the stained and fused glass has a sign in his studio.  It’s one word and says simply...PERSEVERE.  I keep thinking I’ll get one too but I never have.  It sticks in my mind though.  It’s so concise.  I can think of several wordy ways to express the same sentiment but this one word is much more powerful.  Persevere.

When my children were young, and now my grandchildren, they would say to me..."I can’t do it!”.  I would tell them that of course they can’t because they quit trying.  Or, ‘can’t never could’ as my father would tell me.  Most recently I heard the ‘I can’t’ from my youngest granddaughter when I was teaching her to ride a bike.  Nonsense.  Try it again.  And of course, she did succeed.  Some things take just a little practice and time to achieve, some things take a lot.  The important thing is to not give up, not if you really want to do whatever it is.  

And so I have persevered.  I have finally finished the job that would never end, the one I so completely underbid, the one I was so totally wrong about the amount of time it would take.  I’ve been glad to be done with many jobs in the past but none more so than this one.  At least for today.

about the picture...yes, this is inside my house growing up through a small hole next to the water heater where the pipe comes up from under the house.  I pulled it up the first time it appeared.  Now I’m letting it grow, curious to see if it will bloom from the small amount of light it gets through the open back door that faces east.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

jobs I have held...

In chronological order (I think):

file clerk (at my dad's medical lab and you would not believe some people’s names)

sales/cashier at a hippie novelty store in Chicago (bong anyone? lasted two weeks because I decided to move back to Texas)

lunch hostess at a restaurant (free lunch with the job which only lasted a few months because I needed a better job)

sales/cashier at a department store (surprising what goes on where the shoes are kept - fueled my erotic fantasies for years)

painting canvases for a local artist (copies of his originals that he would touch-up and sell)

sales at a costume store (not actual costumes but all the stuff you would need to make something/anything...favorite haunt of strippers, transsexuals, drag queens, and gay men)

1st grade teacher at a small daycare/school (that was a disaster especially since I wasn’t qualified but I needed a job and my friend who had the job wanted to quit and convinced me to take over the rest of the semester)

sales/stocker/shipper at a bookstore (worst boss ever, mean spirited guy, never satisfied with anything no matter how good a job you did)

cosmetic/facial and body care salesperson (self-employed type - also a disaster since I personally didn't wear make-up or use any products and I had to have 'parties' like the Avon ladies and I didn't have the personality for that)

driver for a medical lab picking up blood and other body goo (also for my father's lab and you didn't want to look in the cooler!)

nude model for life drawing classes (even posed a few times with my newborn daughter)

etched glass artist/studio owner (the one that stuck, this was my career for over 40 years until I retired from that work)

river guide (did this for 10 years during my late 40s and 50s, probably the most fun thing I ever did)

pate de verre cast glass instructor (can’t sell the stuff, guess I’ll teach how to do it)

oh, and full time mom but I didn't get paid for that  

The etched glass/cast glass artist and pate de verre instructor are the only two of those jobs I still do. edit: now retired though I still make the occasional pate de verre sculpture.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

so much to do, so little time

I feel brain dead and the week is just starting.  I thought I was busy last week. This week is going to be a near panic.  I am determined to get this job finished this week.  Two days, that’s all I need (I hope).  Already lost yesterday.  I don’t know why it took us so long to close up the house and get back but we left at least an hour and a half later than usual.  One thing we had to do was pick out our clothes and pack for the 10 days we will be gone starting next Friday.  We are leaving for upstate New York to teach a 6 day intensive workshop and we are taking two extra days to visit friends who moved up there last year.

Another reason I didn’t get much work done yesterday is that it was the birthday of my (now) 11 year old twin granddaughters.  I had yet to buy them gifts so I gathered them up and we went shopping.  That took up the rest of my afternoon.

I did manage to do the revision of a drawing from my meeting last Wednesday.  I meet with them again today.  Plus, I think it’s going over budget.  I know it is if we do it the really right way.  I’ll just have to see if they can bump it a little, even if it’s just covering the added material cost.  I’d be happy with that.  Still have to get a quote on that though.

So besides getting this never ending job finished, I have another guy coming by today for a design consult and yoga (I missed last week, will not miss this week) and I have to mail off a box of stuff we need for the workshop so it will be there when we get there.  The rest of the week will be just as busy making sure I have everything in order...job finished, another appointment on Thursday, workshop stuff managed, cat and turtle care provided for, house buttoned up and all travel documents readied.

Monday, June 8, 2009

farmers are us

Another pastel night this past weekend.

Friday evening’s harvest.

The full moon rising over the cornfield (a poor attempt with my little point and shoot).

It was a busy weekend helping out at the market, working in the yard doing maintenance and putting up green beans, okra and a mixed berry pie.

Friday, June 5, 2009

two with one blow!

Verily at Verily I Go has honored me with (not one but) two blog awards...the Lemonade and the Golden Heart.  I’m already in debt for the Lovely Blog awards I got (two in one week) from California Girl at Women of a Certain Age and Sydney from Adventures in Nature.

My thanks and appreciation to these fellow bloggers for passing these on...er...awarding them to me. These things are sort of like chain letters and I am notorious for being the broken link. So I apologize if I fall true to form. I will try to find a few unsuspecting...er...deserving bloggers to dump...er...bless with these lovely awards.

Really though, everyone on my blog list is deserving so consider yourselves served...er...awarded.

All humor aside, I am truly appreciative of these gifts.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

it’s not me, really!

My keyboard has developed some peculiar problems.  On my previous keyboard the right hand shift key stopped working.  Unless I was looking right at it when I used it.  very annoying as half my sentences didn’t start with capitol letters.  so then, I got a new computer and I’ll be darned if it didn’t have the same problem.  No wonder the economy is in the toilet.  they can’t even make a keyboard where the right hand shift key works.  Now, lately I’v noticed that the ‘e’ key is going out.  It dosn’t work at least half th time.  My spllchecker is working ovrtime.  what the hll is going on her?  It’s not lik I spilled somthing on my kyboard.  No sticky goo.  People ar going to think I’m illiterat.  and now, as if all that wasn’t enough, I’m gtting raNDOM ALL CAPS.  som gremlin keps engaGING THE Caps lock key.  do you know how aNNOYING that is?  You know, I think ther is a CONSPircy, the whole point of which i9s to mak me feel stupid.  Hey!  where did that 9 com from?  greaT,  ILLITRATE isn’t enough, now I haV FAT fingrs.  Prtty sooin my typingh is going to be so baD THAT I MIGHRT as wll just b hyitting rANDON KYS.  I guss that w3ill mak posrtingh eaSIR SINCE I womn’t haV TO THinjk of clevr thingas to saY.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

an exercise in irony

When I was a little girl, I used to bite my fingernails.  It was no big deal then because I was always in the woods anyway.  But then I became a teenager, with all the attendant neuroses.  I wanted nothing more than to be beautiful, popular, talented.  You know, all those things I wasn’t.  Junior High just about killed me so all through high school I tried to just keep a low profile.  But I still had my secret desires...beauty, popularity, talent.  And nails.  I wanted really long beautiful finger nails.  But try as I might, being the shy, tongue-tied, anti-social being that I was, I could not stop biting my nails.  One little tear, rough spot or abrasion and that baby was gone.  I did eventually manage to break myself of the habit in my early 20s.  I did it by carrying a nail file around with me at all times.  Anytime I would get the urge to bite, I whipped that sucker out and filed away.  

So now, here I am, filing away trying to get those pesky nails down to about 1/16th of an inch.  I hate long nails and they just keep growing!  They require way too much maintenance and they get in my way when I am working.  Especially if I am doing model making.  I keep putting little crescent marks in my wax or clay.  All that effort to quit biting my nails just morphed into more work.  That’s not exactly what I envisioned when I wanted desperately to quit biting my nails in my effort to become beautiful, popular and talented.  The beauty and popularity I never quite managed to achieve.  I did however manage to acquire a certain level of talent.  Probably why I hate long nails now.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

weekend with the grandkids

Bad Kitty

We’re back a day late. Well, we actually did get in yesterday but it was well after 6 PM. The cat decided to pull one of her disappearing acts. Usually she is in and out or somewhere close by when we are packing up to leave on Monday morning. But yesterday, she went out and was not to be seen again until she strolled in about 5:30. I know she was somewhere close to the house and I checked all her napping spots...no cat. I did a thorough housecleaning waiting for her to show up. I’m going to have to get one of those GPS thingies to track her down.

All set up. That’s my sister on the left, my g-daughter in front, my sister’s g-daughter in the hat and the pony tail behind her is mine. The boy in the truck is mine.

It was Girl Town at our house on Saturday. Three of my four grandkids went with me early to help my sister set up at the market and she had her two. We spent the entire time running the kids out of the tent as there was no room for customers when they were all in there. When my b-i-l showed up a little after 10 AM, I gathered up all the kids and took them to my house. I left the six of them, ages ranging from 7 - 12, in the care of Husband while I went to the gym. When I got back, my grandson had fled. He has made friends with the other boy children on the street and went off with one of them to his little league game.

We had bought a little 6’ x 15” pool and set that up and those girls played in there all afternoon in between bouts of riding bikes and racing around and then again after dinner til dark. My grandson had returned in time for dinner and then took off again with another of the neighborhood boys. Just as well. There was lots of shrieking. I was either making breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner and cleaning up afterwards. My in betweens were spent watering the gardens. It is so dry.

Friday night lights.

Much as I love those kids, I was happy to have a quiet afternoon on Sunday after their mom came and fetched them.