Thursday, July 30, 2009

the bone

Vision Quest

click on the image for a larger version

Several years ago I did a piece in my Dreamer series.  This one was about altered states of consciousness and our attempts to ‘pierce the veil’ and receive guidance.  One of the parts of this piece was to be a bone.  

Casting a small bone is not easy especially using the soda lime glass that we do.  It would have been a bit easier if we used lead crystal because lead crystal melts at a lower temperature and is heavier and so flows better, especially into small areas.  But the beautiful lead crystal glass that Gaffer makes that I would like to use does not come fritted to a consistent mesh size unless, of course, you want 40 lbs of a single color and then they will frit it however you like.

I had decided on a chicken for the source of my bone, and since I knew it would be problematic, I wanted the biggest one I could find.  My first plan was to go to a fast food chicken place for lunch but the resulting leg bone was too small.  Off to the grocery store I went and I sorted through every chicken they had looking for the largest.  

Obviously, baked chicken was on the menu that night and after eating, I took the leg bone and cleaned and scrubbed it to perfection and placed it on the butcher block table to dry overnight.  Happy with myself, later in the evening I retired with plans to make the reproduction mold of the bone on the morrow.

Sometime during the night I was awakened by a loud thump.  This is an old house (as in 100+ years) and it is not uncommon for a loud pop to occur (like the time a big chunk of sheet-rock fell off the ceiling in the kitchen in the middle of the night).  I lay there waiting to drift off to sleep again and just when I was on the verge, there was another bonk, closer this time.

I confess that I am real good at starting projects and not finishing them.  One such project is stripping the painted baseboards and moulding in the house.  I have three rooms, no less, with the wood partially done.  You’d think I would finish one room before starting on another but that would make too much sense.  In the room adjacent to the bedroom, which was currently serving as the office, I had removed the baseboards for just such stripping and it was from this direction that the noise was coming.

If you’ve ever removed the baseboards in an old house you know that the walls, and by walls I mean ship-lap, don’t go all the way down.  There is a space 3” - 5” that accesses the hollow space between the walls...up into the attic...for small creatures.  

I once had a juvenile squirrel come in the house, and you guessed it, it got in the walls in that room.  Fortunately, I left the back door open and glimpsed it’s exit.  Of course it got in because we leave the back door open all the time, weather permitting, and the screen has a big hole in it at the bottom.  For some reason juvenile creatures like to come in my house.  I’ve also had to the house and release a young possum.  And a pair of wrens once.

After this second bonking noise, there came a series of clunks and bonks, the source of origin steadily getting higher.  Eventually it dragged whatever across the ceiling to it’s nest. Right. Above. My bed.

I knew we had a resident.  I had already lost a loaf of bread, a bag of chips. and an avocado.  An avocado fer cryin’ out loud!  The whole thing disappeared without a trace!  I kid you not.  I actually had been setting out a live trap but the little bastard kept springing it and never getting caught. 

Eventually the noise quieted down and I fell back asleep.  When I got up the next morning, my bone was gone.  Oh man, I was so pissed.  That little bastard stole my bone.  That was the last straw and I went out that day and bought a conventional trap.  I hated to do it but, you know, a line had been crossed.

I did eventually catch the culprit and I hope he didn’t suffer, that it was quick.  It was of course a small rat.  When I finally acquired another bone I put it in the refrigerator to dry out overnight.  I wasn’t taking any chances.

*Thanks to Mr. London Street and his recent post on KFC for sparking this memory.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


There was a program on PBS last night, NOVA, about language and the learning of it.  These scientists determined that babies learn human speech in much the same way that baby birds learn bird song by looking at the active parts of the brains and connections between them while this activity was going on.  We are all bird brains it seems.  We learn language the same way birds learn their songs, through listening and modulating sound to mimmick the sounds our adults are making.  Two parts of the brain are involved in this and it is the connections between the two that allow for speech or bird song.  Primates apparently don’t have the connections between the two parts.  They can make sound and they understand our words and can communicate with sign language (and teach it to their young) across specie lines (and how amazing is that!) but they do not have the ability to modulate sound into words.

What surprises me most about this is that there had to be a scientific study to prove it.  Not that we learn by mimmicking but that birds learned the same way.  The conventional wisdom has always been that only humans were capable of learning, of self-awareness, of awareness of other individuals and their environment.  For all other life it was instinct.  The simple fact that we are animals ourselves seemed to escape the attention of the scientists.  Anyone who ever paid attention to the other life around them already knew this.  It would be nice if this new scientific knowledge leads the human population to treat all other life with a little more respect but I don’t know.  We’re a pretty arrogant and destructive species.

Which brings me to another thought.  Where did this arrogance come from?  I don’t think it is so much from our ability to manipulate our environment.  We build some pretty elaborate houses but birds build some pretty elaborate nests, selecting their materials, weaving them tightly.  I’ve seen a cardinal in a tree looking at twigs, selecting one and then breaking it off.  That seems pretty sophisticated to me.  No, somewhere along the line we made a major shift.  We no longer thought of ourselves as a part of nature but rather apart from nature, that we did not need to respect and nuture the world but to use it.  Well, we’ve used it all right, used it to the point that it is becoming less and less able to support life.  In terms of longevity, we may turn out to be the least successful species this planet ever produced.

Monday, July 27, 2009

summer in the country

The two rain showers we got last weekend aside, it is still very dry out here.  The garden has suffered from the three or four days a week we are in the city.  We water when we are here but the tomatos are brown and the remaining friuts are shriveled with cracked thick skins.  The altheas and azaleas are in a constant state of droop.  The pecan trees will start shedding their immature fruit if this keeps up.  Oddly enough though, the green beans have started to flower and put on fruit again.

future green bean

A pair of cardinals appear to be building a nest in the chinese tallow tree outside the back door.  This will be fun as it is visible from three different windows.  It seems a little late in the season for this kind of activity though.  I saw the female availing herself of the birdbath this morning, giving herself a good washing.  It is a small shallow dish so it always goes dry while we are in the city unless it rains.  The first thing I do when we get back is put water in it again.  Later in the day I saw a pair of inca doves perched on it’s rim.

It’s hot, lazy and somnambulent.  I keep thinking I should start on the drawings for the last of the proposals I need to do but I can’t get motivated, not even to just draw out the perimeters of the windows and doors.  The cicadas drone on up and down the scale.  All else is tucked away somewhere against the heat, the birds, the hawks that patrol the fields around us, even Jimmy’s dogs (that wasn’t mama dog that died btw, Jimmy says she’s under the house with a new litter).

The field corn has turned totally brown and dry.  The earliest fields planted have been harvested but not the one across the road yet as he planted late this spring.  Before they harvest it, the corn needs to be tested for nitrites (bad for cows and horses) so they know how high to set the cutter bar on the harvester.  The fields around here are being cut at about 12” - 16” as the concentrations are highest in the lower part of the stalk.  Later, they go back and cut what’s left to the ground but I don’t know what they do with that.  I’m getting a little more knowledgeable about the farming part of this country life but we still gawk when we see one of those big harvesting machines.  Some of them are the size of a small house. 

A lovely end to the day.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

my 100th (and then some)

Well, I see that my 100th post came and went unnoticed by me.  So much for writing something special.  So far I’m still having fun doing this.  I have a tendency to let it take up way too much of my time.   I never read blogs til the day I decided to start one.  I guess I thought they were all political or or, I don’t know what.  Too busy.  My email took up enough time.  How happy I am to be wrong about that.  I have ‘met’ many wonderful people who make me laugh, make me think, bring beauty into my life (and advice).  Look what I have been missing all these years.  

I don’t even know why I started, really.  Pretty much I got up one day and decided to do it.  I am in the habit of writing stuff in my head, giving speeches, dropping pearls of wisdom from my lips, captivating audiences.  I’ll see something or read something and before I know it, I’ve got this monologue spinning.

I thought silly me that it would be a good way for family and friends to keep up with what we me are doing.  I have sent out notices, dropped hints, asked blatantly but as far as I know only my kids and my sister read this out of all my extended family and it’s a big one and NONE of my friends.  A few cyber friends read it, I think, but since they aren’t on my Followers list and never comment, I have no way to tell.  Sigh.  

As of this writing I have 38 official followers and one of those is following twice.  She really loves me.  Or else she’s in the first stages of Alzheimers.  And I follow 42 blogs.  And let me just say that I am glad they don’t all post every day or I would get nothing done.

I acrue followers slowly.  In fact I have been stuck in the 30s for awhile now.  I wonder if I have maxed out my audience.  Is this it?  38?  That’s all I get?  I see blogs that started after me and they have three times the followers.  Or more!  OK, so they are consistantly funny or witty or tell a good story or are thoughtful or post the most amazing photos....consistantly.  I’m thinking maybe that’s the key because I am all over the place baby.  No consistancy here.

Sit down dear, we need to have a talk.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my followers.  I think I have the best ones because they are smart, entertaining, supportive. they like me  But it’s seductive, you know?  All those people who started after me and have so many, I console myself by telling me they have big families who DO follow.  Hundreds of family members.

I finally caved and installed a site meter.  It’s been up about 12 days.  As of this writing, I have had 572 ‘unique’ visitors.  That’s a daily average of my 38 followers and the 10 times a day I check for comments.  the word junkie comes to mind

OK, I’m exagerating.  Maybe  

Not to be daunted, I continue.  I’m of the stubborn sort.  

So, here’s to my 38...Thank you.  Thank you for accompanying me on my journey and making this so much fun.

Friday, July 24, 2009

time with the girls

the little darlin’s


Lately, my granddaughters have been pointing out all the places I grow hair where girls don’t want it to grow.  They’re sweet like that.  I keep telling them that one day they’ll have hair there too.  Uh uh, they say to me.


My phone rang Thursday night.  It was my granddaughter Jade, eldest of the twins.  We had made plans, me and the three girls, to go to the re-sale shop and get them some more shorts that day but they went to day camp at the park instead so we, Best Beloved and I, left for the country house.  The conversation went like this:

“Granny,” Jade says “you were going to take us to get shorts today.”

“Yes, I was sweetie but y’all went to camp today.” I told her.  “I’ll be back in town on Saturday so we’ll do it then.”

“But why did you leave?” she asked.

“Well, honey,” I said “we live down here and we don’t have any work in the shop right now and no reason to be in the city.”

There’s a slight pause.  “Yes you do,” she says “your grandchildren.”

Ow.  Shot to the heart.


The reason I am going into the city on Saturday is to attend a baby shower for one of the cousins.  She is my daughter’s second cousin and they were born within weeks of each other.  My daughter is thrilled because now she will not be the only one of the many second cousins that has kids.  She called me this evening to tell me that she had just bought Lauren’s gift.  

“Oh, Mom,” she says to me “walking through the baby department made my stomach hurt.”

“Hurt like sick or hurt like ‘I want a baby’?” I asked.

“Hurt like I want a baby.  My hormones are kicking in.  All that stuff is so cute and soft and cuddly and babies smell so good.” she says.

I remember that feeling.  When my kids got to junior high, I remember missing my babies.  Her oldest is in junior high.

“Don’t worry” I told her, “it’ll pass.”

Thursday, July 23, 2009

up close

bromeliad flower

My son came over a couple of weeks ago and showed me how to set my camera on the macro function.  So here is my first macro gallery.

My grandson spotted this cicada which had just emerged and was drying it’s wings.

If my kitty was a bird, this is what her fur would look like.


mexican bird of paradise

passion flower

The fingernail sized leaves of silver pony foot.

The heart of a succulent flower that attracts flies.

This wasp was busy digging a hole.  It allowed me to take a couple of pictures and then got annoyed and started flying at me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


When my son was a boy growing up he had a fascination with weapons. He had a BB pistol, BB rifle, bow and arrow, knife, blow gun, nunchucks, stars, and I don’t remember what all. They cluttered his closet and hung on his walls. He built a model of a catapult for a school project. When he was 16 and took his trip to Israel one of the ‘activities’ was a choice of different lives in Isreal...kibbutz, arts, army, I forget, half a dozen or so choices...for a week, he chose the army. He got to fire a real gun. In high school, he and his friends would go camping, dress up in padded clothing and play war in the woods, with BB guns. This would be after they tried it in the park at the end of the street and got brought home by the cops. He’s got a BB in his leg to this day. This boy of mine is also unaggressive, doesn’t like real violence it hurts!, is sweet and sensitive.


What can I say, he’s a Gemini.

So why was I surprised when he came home one day and told us he had joined the Army Reserve?

Are you nuts?!

“Are you nuts?!” I asked him. “What happens if we go to war? Are you going to be OK with shooting, perhaps, killing someone?”

“Oh Mom”, he says to me, “We’re not going to go to war.”

When Bush invaded Iraq, my son was sitting in the desert in Kuwait waiting for his unit to be ordered across the border to lay pipe and build pump stations.

Turns out, he scored so high on the tests that they encouraged him to go to officer school and he also turned out to be a natural crack shot. Instead he selected engineering as his specialty, which loosely translated meant carpenter. He was over there about six months, never seeing anyone but his unit and in the distance Bedouins crossing the desert.

The day after Bush was re-elected, he was called back up for a year’s tour and given 5 days to get his affairs in order and report. This was at the height of the body count and he would be on bases in the middle of it. He came over that morning to tell me, had already told his father on the phone. He made me sit down.

I cried.

I cried. I had not cried the first time. I had been stoic. I couldn’t do it again.

“It’s OK Mom. Look, see,” he said to me and showed me his shoulder, “I had Truth written on. I’ll be OK.” He had had the Hebrew word for ‘truth’ tattooed on. In the Jewish tale of the Golem, the Golem was brought to life by writing this word on it's forehead. It could not be destroyed as long as that word remained.

Oh, yes, please, to all the spirits that be, life for my son.

The tat did it’s job, my son came home to us and thus ended the worst year of my life. He had it embellished later with a compass rose.

*this story is not about my son's service though I appreciate all the supportive remarks, but rather how he came to have his tattoo.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

a rare occurrence

Last night my Best Beloved went to the ball game with our friend Craig.  Since he and Craig tend to over-imbibe on their outings, Best Beloved decided to stay the night with the tunnel rat.

Last night I had the house to myself.  This almost NEVER happens.  I warned the grandkids off, closed and locked the door.  I opened a bottle of wine, had left-overs for dinner.  Settled down with my book, no TV.  Mostly I enjoyed the quiet, the solitude.  Being alone is an unusual experience for me because, although we are seldom in the same room after all these years together, there is always another warm body occupying the house.

It feels different.

When bedtime came, I had the whole bed to myself.  I sprawled across the big middle of our double bed, arms and legs akimbo.  No tugging for my fair share of the sheet this night.  No snoring to drill into my brain if I didn’t fall asleep before it started.  

Oh what a night!

Best Beloved returned mid-morning.  I’m glad he’s back.

Monday, July 20, 2009


We are between jobs again.  The most recent, four small windows, is set to be installed on Tuesday and the deposit for the big window behind the altar of the chapel (JWUMC) has not arrived.  I like being between jobs because it allows me some days off and a chance to do more than just clean house, catch up on paper work, run all those errands I’ve put off.

Wait a minute, that’s starting to sound just like more work.

What I mean is, being between jobs doesn’t really bother me as long as it doesn’t last too long.  ‘Too long’ depends on how big the previous job was.  I’m used to this state of affairs although accepting it is always a work in progress.  We are equal parts confident, hopeful and fatalistic.  At this time of our lives going out and ‘getting a real job’ is sort of out of the cards.  Not only because of our age but also because of our unwillingness to submit to that kind of an environment.  

As if corporate America would even give aging hippie artists a glance.  

Our more likely avenue of employment is more on the lines of fast food and big box.  Somehow that doesn’t sound very appealing.  So we trust in the Universe and our reputations.  We just try to get through every day and leave tomorrow for tomorrow.

Not a very mature attitude one might think.  

We are also between houses.  We bought the country house two years ago this coming September.  The first year we were so busy getting ready for our one person show and then getting out all the commission work that came in.  We spent the weekends there working on the house.  This second year, we are stuck by our funding woes for getting the new shop built, stuck between paying off the debt that has accumulated the past several years and the need to build the new workspace.  Until we can work, do all parts of the work, out there, we can’t move completely.  We have to go in the city to work.  Two years of this has gotten tiresome.

Faith?  Remember?  Faith in the Universe?

Yeah, yeah, I remember.  It just gets out of focus sometimes.

And I am between artistic mediums.  About 6 years ago, I changed my focus to the pate de verre work.  At the time I was so tired of the commission work and I really wanted to try and ‘make it’ as a gallery artist.  We were having some success, minimal success.  Last year was so promising...the new house, the one man show, a gallery showing our work at SOFA Chicago for the 3rd year in a row.  We’d been a steady shower at two important international gallery shows for the last 5 years.  And then the bottom dropped out of America.  

Right when we were poised to take off.

Right when we thought we would finally get the financial payback.  Not only for ourselves but for the gallery who has been promoting our work.  Although he has sold a few pieces for us, our sales don’t fall in the ‘take these people’s work to the big shows because they are good sellers’ category.  So far, he has not shown our work in two of the three shows that happen this year.  I don’t blame him at all.  There are galleries that are closing because they have lost their collector base.

So I am discouraged.  I am suffering artist’s envy.  Not only has it been nearly a year that I have done any pate de verre work, I’m not feeling any burning desire to do some.  I mean, I still want to do it but racking up more debt traveling to these shows and then suffering the show with no sales is not high on my 'to do' list.  In one sense, I am relieved that I’m not traveling this year.  But on the other I feel like I’m getting kicked out of the major leagues.  Busted down to the minors.  

I know, I know.  Faith.

Maybe I’m just tired.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

water from the sky

the storm moving in from the northeast

We finally got some rain out here in the country the last two evenings.  All the right weather conditions finally came together to produce a string of storm clouds that, they say, will give us the opportunity for rain for about a week.  This is the first real rain we have had for about 6 weeks.  During the day, the sky is intensely blue and filled with mountains of clouds all around the horizon.  

Friday evening, when the first storm blew in I went outside and reveled in it.  It was so beautiful.  The wind picked up and it was cool.  I don’t know how many degrees cooler but, god, it felt good.  So refreshing after these long, dry, stifling hot days.  The clouds were moving so fast they were just churning up there.  Finally it started raining.

The rain let up enough as the sun was setting to give us an incredibly beautiful sunset that spread about 240ยบ.

view of the north

view of the northwest

view of the southwest

note:  the pictures are more impressive if you click to enlarge

Friday, July 17, 2009

the first

It’s the end of day two with my grandson.  He is here with us at the country house for his four day weekend (the reason why, if you have noticed, that I’m not making any comments on your posts the past few days...cause it’s certainly not because I don’t have an opinion).

Mikey is 12, the only boy of four siblings.  He is so smart, too smart, as in smartass, sometimes.  He is nearly as tall as I am and still has much growing to do.  He’s going to be tall like his dad.  Maybe even taller.  He is a sweet sensitive kid, when he’s not being a smartass that is.  And he gets into his fair share of trouble.  He’ll take a poke or shove or two but then he will shove back.  He will also step up to defend his friends.  

He is and always has been an early riser and would get in constant trouble for leaving his house (next door to us) in younger years and coming over on Saturday and Sunday mornings to visit while his parents and sisters still slept.  And he talks...constantly.  This kid NEVER runs out of things to say.  And I mean that literally.  When he runs out of words for the moment, he will resort to making sounds.  Geez...Mikey, SHUT UP!

He loves to be active and like all kids, thinks he knows everything.  Trying to correct one of his many assumptions or bare inklings about any subject leads you into a fruitless argument.  Oh well, he’ll learn.

He is also camera shy.  For some reason, he thinks it is the height of cool to not get his picture taken.  I keep trying to tell him that when he is grown he will want to see pictures of himself as a kid but he doesn’t believe me.  So any pictures I get are taken on the sly or when he is off guard. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

things you probably didn't want to know...

OK. I guess I’m going to do this now.  A couple of weeks ago, Andrea of Not Rocket Science tagged me with the ‘Honest Scrap’ award (no, I am not posting the picture).  I‘m supposed to tell 10 things about me that you don’t know.  Then I’m supposed to send it on to some other unsuspecting folk.  Here’s a confession.  I don’t send stuff on.  I don’t forward forwards, I don’t do chain letters and I don't pass on awards.  Please, believe me when I say that I am very grateful and appreciative when other bloggers think of me and send this stuff my way.  I’m happy that they, my loyal readers, swim around in my universe, but the hard truth is that stuff like that ends here.  Besides, everyone I read is deserving, otherwise I wouldn’t read you right?  So this is an open invitation for anyone who wants to play to just jump right in.

When I first read that I had to come up with a list of 10 things you don’t know about me, I thought I had already blown that with my ‘jobs’ list.  It’s taken a few weeks but here is way more than you probably ever wanted to know, as if you hadn’t got to that point already.

My Top 10 list:

10.  I was the only one in my family that did not wear glasses.  However now, like everyone else my age, I need reading glasses.  

9.  In 1970 I hitchhiked with two friends to Washington DC from Chicago for one of the anti-war marches on the Capital.  Had my parents known they would have had apoplexy and I would have gotten the ‘What Will Our Friends and Colleagues Think’ speech.

8.  The only TV show I have ever seen every single episode of is ‘Lost’.  Don’t ask me what’s going on though, I quit trying to make sense of it long ago.  

7.  I am right handed and right eye dominant but I use the phone with my left ear.

6.  I prefer being barefoot and only put on shoes when I am leaving the house or my feet are cold.  I will not wear heels.

5.  I have a voice that carries.  When the kids were in Little League, the other parents would get me to call their kids who were across the field.  People frequently shush me, but I’m not yelling...really.

4.  I am a 12th generation American.  So far.

3.  I cannot leave jigsaw puzzles alone.  I love jigsaw puzzles.  They satisfy me on so many levels.

2.  When I eat watermelon, I always save the heart for last.  I take a lot of ribbing for this but when we visited our friends in NY recently, Charles did the same thing.

1.  I pee in the shower.  (C’mon, you do it too.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

a star is born

Not, perhaps, what you were thinking, but this little chickie is a star in our eyes.  It, out of the 50 or so eggs that eventually appeared and disappeared under the hens over a period of about 5 weeks, actually got born.  

Last Thursday, my sister, as she had been doing every day, checked the brooding hens and found this little baby.  She scooped it up and took it into the house and settled it in a box with a lamp for warmth since they had been alerted by the neighbor that he had seen a chicken hawk hanging out on the fence of the yard.

It was four days old in the picture (taken Sunday) and very upset by my attempts to photograph it.  We all feel like proud parents.

You might remember (if you’ve been following my chicken stories) that about two weeks ago the brooding hens (three in one nest all piled on top of each other) were moved out of the chicken yard and into the duck yard (to prevent the deposit of more eggs in the egg bank by those sneaky hens), the eggs (count ‘em, 20) were marked and the calendar as well.  Sunday, there were only two eggs left and no sign of shells or chickies.  The other two hens had been put back in the chicken yard several days before and the lone brooder has, seemingly, lost interest in hatching the remaining two eggs since, apparently, the jig is up and their attempt to keep the eggs from being collected discovered.  

The next step is to slip the little darling, along with some egg shells, under the sleeping brooder at night so that the hen will bond with the baby.  All this time, trouble and eggs for one little baby.  

“Watch”, my sister says, “it’ll probably turn out to be a rooster.”

Monday, July 13, 2009


My neighbor is dying.  He's in hospice care and he’s on a ventilator, conscious off and on.  He’s also bleeding somewhere, perhaps in his lungs.  He has signed a DNR.  If they take him off the ventilator, the doctors say, it will take 2 to 24 hours for him to die.  

To slowly strangle.

To possibly drown in his own blood.

There will be no easing him through to what comes next.  There will be no sparing him the slow torture of his death.  Because that is called inhumane. 

That is called Murder.