Friday, April 30, 2010

a new decade

Today is my birthday and I am 60 years old. I have spent 6 decades on this planet.

My first decade was spent growing up.

My second decade was spent breaking away.

My third decade was spent establishing my identity.

My fourth decade was spent raising my children.

My fifth decade was spent learning who I was.

My sixth decade was spent being comfortable in my skin.

Now I am stepping into my seventh.

I remember back when when I thought 50 was ancient. And then I turned 50 and I found out that 50 was not ancient, it was liberating.

Now I have stepped over into a new decade. Now I see clearly how little time is left. Twenty, maybe thirty years? That is no time at all. Considering how fast the last twenty years have gone by that time will go by in a heartbeat.

When I turned 50, my self image, the one I carry in my head of what I look like, underwent a change. It was no longer of that 30 something woman, it now reflected those added years but still not bad, still young...ish, still healthy, still capable of doing whatever I wanted to do.

Ten years later, I am still capable of doing everything I want to do but I am no longer unscathed by the effects of time. The frailties of the body are beginning to show. I now take thyroid meds, my cholesterol shot up, I developed arthritis in my thumb joints and I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. And my hands, my hands have aged considerably in the last ten years. Much more than my face I think. I peer at my face in the mirror and wonder whoever thought bright lights and big mirrors were a good idea. My hair is still dark though the threads of gray that weave through it are showing more. It gives me the illusion of youth as long as you don't look too close at the years etched on the face it frames.

While we still work at our art, the etched glass is a physical occupation...moving heavy pieces of glass, cutting stencils for hours bending over the table, the sandblasting, all the different aspects of this work are physical. I'm beginning to wonder how much longer we will be able to do it...a scary thought. As working artists, we have little put aside.

Still it could be worse. It could be a lot worse. I have a lot to be thankful for.

So I think my seventh decade will be spent enjoying every one of those fleeting days left to me, doing as much as I can while I still can and counting my blessings.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

night lights

Last night... 

The full moon rose over the cotton field,

fireflies flickered in the back*

and the space station passed right over the house.^

* photo by P. D. Pratt
^ photo via

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ice creamed

The other bit of fun we had was going to the Ice Cream Festival and art and craft fair in Brenham TX last Saturday with my sister and BIL. Brenham, about an hour and a half NE of here, is half again as big as Wharton but it is also the home of the Blue Bell Creamery. Blue Bell ice cream is easily one of the best commercially available ice creams and I'm picky about ice cream. $6 for all you could eat ice cream with 48 flavors to choose from.

pralines and cream, blackberry cobbler and pistachio

cotton candy and blackberry cobbler

Just some of the ice cream we sampled.

The arts and crafts part of the fair was a mix of crafts, food tasting booths, and resellers. There was a lady there selling tupperware (tupperware?), and hats and starter plants ($3 for a 4” pot!), kids toys and I forget what all. Those are the booths that I just kept on walking past though I did buy me a nice hat for $12. 

And then there were the ladies selling hand made goat's milk soap. They even milk the goat's themselves. I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of them. I bought two small bars...rosemary oil with herb and cucumber melon.

And the older lady selling aprons and carry all bags for $5. I got one of those too. And no, I didn't take a picture of her either, too busy shopping I guess.

Actually, most the pictures I took were afterthoughts as we were leaving.

Like these bird feeders

and these bird houses

and the slumped bottles. These people had it down...flat cheese trays, shallow dishes, spoon rests from beer bottles, clocks.

And the bottle cap jewelry. They had a very clever magnetic holder system so you could change out your bottle cap ornament which they sold for $6 each!

They also had a classic car show mostly 50s, 60s and 70s...Mustangs, GTOs, Camaros. Whoa, wait a minute. Mustangs, GTOs, Camaros? Those can't be classic cars. I spent many an hour in those cars. 

And then there was this little contraption. A bar stool on a four wheel platform with a 6 horsepower motor tucked in. Or you could get the model that comes with the beer cooler trailer.

And, this being Texas, no fair is complete without the fried stuff food booth. The sign on the building that you can't see said fried okra and something else fried that I can't remember now. I know you will find this hard to believe, but it had the longest line, I kid you not.

But my favorite thing I saw all day was not at the fair. We passed this yard on our way out of town. The whole back edge of property was lined with some very cool folk art making sort of a fence. I actually had more pictures of the fair and ice cream but I deleted them to take these pictures.

My personal favorite.

Monday, April 26, 2010

up in song

So besides piddling around in the yard, house and studio, I've been taking in some of the local entertainment.

My sister works part time for the junior college here in Wharton doing the layouts for the programs for the events. The band concert was two weeks ago but that was the Thursday we spent the night in the city. Last Thursday was the Concert Choir and Chamber Singers concert so she talked me into going with her. I was totally and completely surprised by how good it was. They were excellent really, and even performed at Carnegie Hall Easter Sunday as part of the program. This was their last performance as some of the members, being in their second year, will not be returning.

The entire group, the concert choir, opened with selections from West Side Story accompanied by piano and then a smaller group, the chamber singers, did three pieces followed by the women's chorus which did one, the men's chorus which did two and finally the entire concert choir finished up the program. This being the small town in Texas that it is, the final pieces were the Battle Hymn of the Republic, When The Saints Go Marching In (which included some audience participation and I joyfully belted out the refrain when it was our turn to join in), and last from Handel's Messiah...the Hallelujah chorus and Worthy Is The Lamb. The program was a little over an hour long and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

These kids were all between 18 and 20 years old and these were not simple arrangements. Harmonies, melodies, different vocal strains were interwoven. And they were having fun.

So, how could I not?

Tomorrow...the ice cream festival

Sunday, April 25, 2010

at leisure

The evening sky one day last week.

These have been really lovely days these past several weeks, making me lazy and industrious at the same time. I have continued to work on several tasks simultaneously, a little bit of outdoor work, a little bit of indoor work, a little bit of model making work. I flit about accomplishing little. Or so it seems.

I did manage to get my website updated although there wasn't much to update. Another entry on the news page, another page for the client list, one item sold. The entries in the exhibitions and shows list are old. I have stopped entering exhibitions where I have to pay for the work to be shipped both ways plus a jury fee and the gallery that was taking our work to the national shows for the last three years didn't last year and I have heard nothing about this year's shows. Well, I have no new work yet anyway. I did submit three pieces for the Craft Texas show, an exhibition put on every other year by the Houston Center For Contemporary Craft, a show that I have been accepted into every time I have submitted. I didn't apply the last time because I was busy getting ready for our one person show at our local gallery at the time. I was rejected this year, or 'not accepted' as the email notification put it. I suppose they think that is less harsh. Oh well, just a continuation of the general dissing I have been getting from the art world for the last year and a half. I started too late in life for this gallery thing, an endeavor best started young.

But life is good anyway. The first rush of spring has gone by and other things are starting to unfold, and while the bluebonnets are fading, the evening primrose and indian paintbrush are at their peak to be followed by black eyed susans and sunflowers. Some of my roses only bloom twice a year and they are done for now, others will bloom repeatedly in cycles throughout the summer. It's been fairly breezy all last week and I have had the devil of a time trying to get pictures that are IN FOCUS!

The roses along the fence, the ones that bloom in bouquets, are blooming now and once done will not bloom again til late summer.

The day lilies that my friend sent me from the pacific NW are just jumping out while the ones I already had will bloom later.

The easter lilies are being slow to emerge but have finally put out some buds.

The rocket larkspur is in full bloom

and the gerber daisies are beginning to come out.

The cotton in the fields has sprouted

and so have my second planting of beans.

A small tree in my yard. This is the first time I have seen it bloom in the 2 ½ years we have owned this place. It has bloomed every year because I always see the small berry fruit in the fall. Finally I saw it blooming. I have no idea what this tree is and the blooms only lasted about a week.

The flowers are pea-like.

Did I mention that life is good? I'll have to do a couple of days of work next week to nail down a couple of jobs but til then I have been delighting in the bounteousness and good weather of spring.

Tra la.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

earth day

future trash

I am continually appalled at the ignorance, the selfishness of the human population. Well, not ignorance maybe but certainly our refusal to look at, to recognize, to react against our disposable culture, our refusal to care. Our landfills are overflowing, our air is polluted, our rivers and lakes are filled with trash, our wildlife is being strangled and poisoned, there is a continent sized pile of garbage floating in the pacific ocean, our forests are shrinking, 20,000 trees are flushed down the toilet world wide every single day and still more and more disposable products are being brought to market.

more future trash

When I was a kid, plastic had yet to make it on the scene. Stuff came in paper cartons, glass jars and bottles or cans. Glass milk and soda bottles were returnable. You paid a 1¢ or 2¢ deposit and got it back when you returned the bottle. Now, it's disposable everything. Use it once, throw it away...plastic bottles have replaced glass, paper towels have replaced kitchen towels, disposable diapers have replaced cloth ones. We have throw away plates, cups and forks; throw away mops, throw away wipes. Something breaks, don't fix it, just throw it away.

guess what this is?

Do we really need all this disposable stuff? Does it really make our lives easier? I mean how hard is it to grab a towel and mop up a spill? How hard is it to rinse out your mop and put it away? How hard is it to return bottles to the store? How hard is it to wash your own dishes in this day of dishwashers? And don't get me started on disposable diapers. Really, think how much money can be saved by just doing a load of laundry. We have curbside recycling now and the majority of people in my neighborhood don't do it. How hard is it to rinse out that container and throw it in the bin instead of the trash? How hard is it to get a water filter and stop buying individual bottles of water?

Yep, you guessed it, trash.

And the packaging. Snack size bites individually wrapped put in a box and wrapped with plastic. I came across a web site recently devoted to eliminating plastic from our lives. Beth Terry gives tips for replacing it with other reusable things. She also challenges everyone to collect all the plastic they are responsible for for a week whether you recycle or not. Even people who recycle still throw away an extraordinary amount of plastic every week. Her website, Fake Plastic Fish, is worth a visit. It's an eye opening experience. Certainly it's impossible not to use some plastic and she's not about making you feel guilty, just aware. And with awareness, hopefully comes reduction.

And people, if you don't recycle when it's so easy these days then why the hell not? I have always tried to live consciously because early in my life I developed a love for this planet. I have been recycling for 20 years and let me tell you, I had to go out of my way to do it. I had a compost pile. I started shopping at a grocery store because they had containers where you could bring aluminum cans and glass. They paid you for the aluminum but not the glass. I took it anyway. I would take accumulated paper to the paper company. I think they even paid for it, pennies. When schools started having paper drives, I would take it there. I have taken a motley assortment of canvas bags to the grocery store since before plastic bags were introduced, enduring the rolling eyeballs and smirks. I have refused bags for one or two items I can just as easily carry in my hands to my car. I'm not telling you this because I think I'm a saint, I'm not. But if I can do it, could do it all these years, then everyone else could too. It's not that hard.

All it takes is caring about more than your own self and moment.

Love your Mother.

Live consciously.

Refuse, reuse, recycle.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

here and gone

I have been here and yet I have been away.

My birthday is coming up and we're having a little party out here at the country house the end of the month. I have been the proverbial busy bee. There is no way I can put everything to rights, all the left undone little tasks but I'm determined to make a dent in them. I have painted the hall, still to paint the trim, and the paper that has been taped to the floor for 6 months is up. I have been unpacking boxes that have languished, putting cup hooks above the stove to hold my skillets. I have cleaned the bathroom top to bottom and wall to wall. Floors have been mopped. I have got in the next planting of beans and kept the garden weeded and watered. I repaired my water barrel that was leaking. I have rearranged some things. I've even made molds of the bark of the trees here and have made a few stabs at getting the waxes done but I need some stuff that is in Houston.

I have been enjoying being here, taken lots of pictures but have spent little time on them and tonight is already late and I have to be off early in the morning.

I'm having another day of business in the city tomorrow. A quick foray into town and then back again. Two meetings early and some other running around, then yoga with the girls. And I get to see the grand kids, albeit briefly.

Tomorrow, I will still be away, but this time I won't be here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

becoming ambidextrous

Drawing Hands by M. C. Escher

When I would go on my river trips, Marc would always send me off with the admonition not to injure my hands, specifically my right hand. I am right handed but I can, to some degree, use my left hand competently especially when working on the pate de verre or when I crochet or even the few times I play around with flame working like making beads. Even so, the left hand is still more of a helper hand so I've been trying to become more ambidextrous lately.

I wanted to expand on the small skill set of my left hand, at first spurred on by getting arthritis in my right thumb joint but then I developed it in my left thumb joint as well. Still it seemed like an admirable thing to do, to become more balanced, so I moved my computer mouse to my left hand and I was surprised at how quickly I adapted. Next I tried pouring from a jar or pitcher and that went well and drinking my coffee with my left hand. Really the hardest part was remembering to use my left hand for what ever task. When I dig or rake, I will shift dominant sides every so often. I haven't graduated to trying to write with my left hand though or draw. Some things are best left be. It took me 20 years to learn to draw with my right hand.

So my next skill to cultivate is using a pair of scissors left handed. This is much harder than it seems. I'm using a pair of either/or kitchen scissors and not being very successful. Of course, I'm trying to cut a thin plastic drop cloth, not the easiest thing even with my right hand. I never really thought about what goes into using a pair of scissors so who knew there are many things to consider...angle side to side, angle up and down. Also how you place yourself and how you use your other hand to hold the thing. I had to watch my right hand cutting before I could even get close with my left. I was better with stiff brown paper on a roll but far from smooth.

Dominance is much more than which hand you use or which eye or ear you prefer. It's also about how you orient yourself to things. Which side you stand on, which way you face, how you hold things. The cutting with scissors entails more spatial awareness than simply moving a mouse around or pouring out of a pitcher.

I think I'll practice the small stuff a little more, however, before tackling a hammer.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


We have always given to a few charities on a regular basis. Marc donates to the Jewish Federation and the Shrine Circus every year, sometimes to the 100 Club (aid to slain police families) and I picked the Special Olympics and Children's Wish Foundation. I never really kept track of what time of year my two charities would call, thinking that they only requested funds once a year. It finally dawned on me that they were calling me twice a year for donations so I asked that they only call once a year which they agreed to do. Only they didn't so every other call I would remind them that I was only able to donate once a year.

Some number of years ago, the recent past as opposed to the far past, I saw a program about charities and how a large percentage of any donation did not go to the actual charity but to the 'collection' agencies for those charities and it was recommended that potential donators should ask what percentage of the contribution actually goes to the charity. They are required by law to tell you if you ask. Well, needless to say, I started asking and I was appalled at the answer.

The unacceptable percentage coupled with the fact that they would not honor my request to only call me once a year finally led me to stop donating to these two charities. I asked to be taken off their call list. Special Olympics was sorry to lose me but they stopped calling. Children's Wish still calls. The last time they called and I told them, again, to take me off their call list the lady told me she didn't have the authority to do that, that I would have to talk to a manager. For some reason that just really pissed me off. They had called when I was very busy in the middle of some fabrication work. I yelled at her to 'stop calling me' and hung up.

So it was a couple of years that I didn't donate to any charity and then Haiti got wiped off the face of the earth. Money started pouring in, there were a million ways to donate and we were interested in helping but we wanted our money to actually go to help people, something concrete and not general administration. As it turned out, we never did send any money to Haiti.

Margarita Albarico
Sagay City, Negros Occidental, Philippines
Loan to buy a fishing net and materials to repair her fishing boat

Enter Kiva. Kiva is an organization that connects people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty. They organize, collect and oversee microloans to individuals and small groups of people who are trying to better their lives. 100% of your loan goes to the person whom you select. When you make your loan, Kiva will ask for a $15 donation to help with the administration but it is not required. When your loan is repaid, they will refund your money or you can reuse it to loan to another person. In this way your money goes to help many people over and over instead of just going down into the bottomless pit of general charity. Our initial investment of $100 went to four different people across the globe. Minimum donation is $25.

Kasanja 1 Mariam Nasiwo Group
Mbale, Uganda
Loan to add working capital and stock more bags of charcoal and more bananas

Two of our loans are already being repaid a little at a time and when the full amount is repaid by any one person, we will loan it out again and again and again. Wow. I feel so good about this, being able to help actual individual people and I know who and where they are.

I encourage everyone to visit Kiva's website and join in. $25 can help change a life for the better.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

getting too comfortable, I guess

You know how your mood can turn on a dime? Life has been very pleasant the last couple of weeks being unemployed notwithstanding. Business has started warming up. I guess now that it's tax time people are breathing a little easier. Easier enough to make phone calls at any rate.

We are in the city to take care of some business. I was supposed to meet a designer today that I have done business with in the past and we are finishing trimming up the excess adhesive at the methodist church tomorrow. Plus setting up a workshop at a new facility here. And it was my yoga day.

We are trying out the new paradigm for our business. If we are to move out to Wharton lock, stock and barrel then we will have to be more thoughtful about arranging meetings. No more 'yeah, come on over, we're here'. That is going to cost us a small percentage of our business but it's a part that has saved us more than once. I am trying to arrange things around Wednesdays since I want to be here for yoga with my girlfriends.

So my meeting with the designer got postponed til next Wednesday. Her client's schedule changed so her schedule changed and it was easier on both of us to put it off til next week. I also need to schedule a meeting with a new inquiry so I will do that on the same day. This is going to entail a lot more driving and time on our part, a different mind set, but then we knew that going in to this whole moving thing.

The meeting getting postponed didn't bother me, forgetting my yoga clothes and having to buy some new pants didn't really bother me. Being chided for not learning the sanskrit words for the seven chakras bothered me a little bit. I don't care what they are called in sanskrit, I think of them in english. I mean, geez, I'm frickin' forgetting how to spell so learning the sanskrit words for the seven chakras is a little low on my priority list. But I got over it.

The jackass drivers who expect you to let them in 'cause they waited til the last minute to try to get in the right lane only rankled for a moment. And having the timing on our visit to the glass resource center tomorrow switched from last thing to first thing only took a minute or so to adjust to.

But what really did it is having the printer that I NEED decide to stop printing from the computer. Works fine to make, enlarge or shrink copies. Scans into the computer just dandy but will not print from the computer. I'm fairly OK with dealing with computers and figuring out small problems. Marc is better, but neither of us can figure why the damn thing won't print. Worked before. Says it's printing while the printer stays silent and motionless until an error message comes on screen. Really? Ya think? We're going to try a new cable but there is some communication since it scans in. If we have to have professional help it might just be cheaper to buy a new printer seeing as how we are unemployed and all. Which ever.

So why did this have to happen now?


The curse.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

a gentle pace

last night's evening sky

I have managed to fill the days these last few. My malaise really only lasted a day or so. I haven't been inspired to post much though. It's like I'm on vacation but I haven't gone anywhere, haven't done anything, haven't seen anybody.

I've spent my days digging in the yard, cleaning house (oh joy) and starting some new cast glass stuff. Over the weekend I made a dozen or so molds of the bark of the trees on my property...magnolia, maple, oak, chinese tallow, ginkgo, crepe myrtle, red bud, pecan, rain tree. I've only poured one wax so far but it came out really well. I don't know exactly where I'm going with these. I have several ideas about how to mount/display them once they are cast.

The yard is still fantastically abloom. A cardinal is building a nest in the yew tree right outside the bay window in the living room. I see her going back and forth with twigs and stuff. The evening primrose in front of the house is in full bloom. Some of the daylilies that a friend sent me last fall have started blooming.

We were planning on heading back to Houston tomorrow for a bit of business. We need to finish cleaning up the excess adhesive from the jewels on the altar window for JWUMC that we put off doing so we could get the catholic church job done. Also am meeting a designer at a client's house. I'll be heading in today though. Got a call yesterday and then again this morning for some work in Saudi Arabia. I'm meeting the lady at her hotel this afternoon to talk about the work she wants done. Has to be today since she is leaving this afternoon to head back home.

Now I have to go get my shit stuff together and turn myself back into that professional artist type person.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

war and other inhuman activities

I hate war movies and so I don't watch them. There are a whole lot of award winning war movies I have never seen and I like it that way. Especially the modern war movies that pride themselves on being so correct, so anatomically correct, so Painfully. Inhumanly. Correct.

Saving Private Ryan is on TV. I'm trying my best not to watch it even though it has Tom Hanks in it and I think Tom Hanks is one of the the finest actors ever. But as the curse would have it, every time I look up or walk through the room, something gruesome is being portrayed.

Marc, on the other hand, loves war stuff. I can't tell you how many times he has sat through Ken Burns' Civil War. And he watches everything on WWII that is aired. Over and over. I don't get the fascination myself. All that inhumanity to man just makes me feel sick.

The history channel on cable also seems to love the worst of humanity. Most recently, there has been a series of programs about torture, real torture, not the namby pamby stuff we call torture today. Also executions, ancient punishments, cutting the living organs out (and I'm not talking about the Aztecs) which segued into the development of the penal systems. The order of the day was the longer it takes and the more blood spurting pain the better. They were popularly attended. People came early to insure a good seat.

We humans are capable of some incredible acts of compassion, risking all to save others, sharing, giving, loving. But we are also capable of some of the most horrific acts toward each other and apparently extract as much satisfaction from the horror as from the goodness. And yet, we call this behavior 'inhuman' as if it is not of our nature.

Friday, April 9, 2010


painting by Anne Packard

Being currently unemployed means that I have oodles of time to do whatever I want. The problem is, I have a hard time deciding what I want to do. I function much better with deadlines looming over me. No deadline and I dawdle. I can dawdle a whole day away and accomplish nothing. I can't even seem to focus long enough to file all my nails down at one time.

I am adrift, at sea without a rudder.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

misc blog poop

Thanks to Hilary of The Smitten Image. She has, once again, included me in her Posts Of The Week for NDE possum style. I'm honored to be included in this group of excellent blog posts.  Go visit Hilary's blog.  She takes some awesome photos.


I go back and forth about replying to comments on my blog. Not about replying at all but rather, which way to reply. Sometimes I will reply on my blog if I think I am adding something to the original post but lately I have been replying via email. This is because I don't always go back myself to a blog I have commented on to see if there was a reply. But I wonder if people are getting my replies via email, especially if they have a spam filter like I do which is set on high. I do get a notice, though, once a day of 'suspect' emails so that I can catch the ones that aren't spam.


Like most of us here in blog land, I get the occasional spam comment from 'anonymous'. It doesn't happen so often that I feel the need to moderate comments or use the word verification function. I get notice via email of new comments and when one of these pops up I just go right back and delete it. Although on one particular post, the spammer posted it three times! Delete, delete, delete. Anyway... Occasionally I will get a real comment by anonymous and at least three times now I have gotten weird comments. Not exactly spam but seems irrelevant to my post like these two (copied verbatim):

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Good brief and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you for your information.



I've noticed a lot of blog make-overs lately. Some blogs change their header regularly, but lately there seems to be a lot of total renovations. Many have gone over to the 3 column format. And personal blog buttons are multiplying like, well, like rabbits. I've kept mine clean and simple but now with all the re-dos I'm thinking about spiffing it up a little. I still like this clean look so no background wallpaper for me but I might add a lot more pictures of my work on the sidebar. I like having the wide format too because it allows for larger pictures.


I'm having a love/hate relationship with the 'updated' post editor. It has some features that I really like, the 'strike through' which is fun to use now and then and the picture poster which makes it so easy to size, place and move pictures. But for some reason it is also so aggravating. It won't always hold my formatting, frequently changing it when I publish. It will through no direction of mine suddenly change the font on certain paragraphs. And don't get me started on the spacing. Even when I am posting and placing my pictures, it will act differently to the exact same commands. Arrrrrgh! And the font size I tell it to publish in that seems to show on other computers does not show itself on mine and when I want to center my text I have to give it the command twice. I have gone back to the old post editor out of frustration but that didn't last very long.