Wednesday, June 30, 2010

river vignette 4 – the Pecos

The g'girl is gone and we have a few days of quiet before we head back to the city to finish the fabrication on this job and pick up the next g'girl. Here's another little moment on the river while I work on some longer posts.

*the sketches that accompany these vignettes do not illustrate that particular moment or even reflect that particular river. I rarely had the time to finish a sketch before I had some chore to do so most of them are just quick studies and are unfinished.

I have already lost track of the day/date, even the number of days we’ve been here. This place has a timeless quality. It could just as well be 5,000 years ago. Sometimes, during the course of the trip you can almost feel the presence of the paleo-indians...the broken point he had been working on all day thrown down in frustration, the painter sitting atop her friend’s shoulders fussing at him to be still, the camaraderie of good friends during shared tasks, the reflections - internal as well as external - of a sunset on the river. Our little group has become a clan, a tribe. Camp goes up, camp comes down like a dance, ever changing and intertwining.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

summer stuff

Our beautiful summer puffy cloud sky is here. They tower on the horizon.

We've also been getting some really good sunsets lately after a span of slowly darkening nights. Rain is teasing us. We hear the thunder, see the rain coming down around us in the afternoons but not on us. The days are hot and still, no breeze to help. I have to fill the birdbath nearly every day. The cicadas drone up and down their scale during the day and the frogs and crickets sing at night. Dragonflies patrol the fields and yards. It's summer in south central Texas. The humidity, despite no rain, is high.

It is so hot the fire ants have gone deep underground but the crepe myrtles have been in full bloom and the roses and day lilies are not put off by the heat either.

The cotton in the fields across the road is waist high and blooming.

Work on the shop continues, slowly. A couple of hours out there and he comes in shirt soaked from collar to hem, the framing complete except for one long line of 1” x 6”s. Really, it's too hot to continue.

One of the grandgirls, Jade, is here for her week and we are busy doing grandgirl things. We cook, made a delicious key lime pie topped with fresh blueberries and have other delights on the agenda, we went to the movies, we play scrabble, do little crafty things. We stay up late and sleep in. Oh, and I'm trying to get the stencils cut for this job we are working on while she is here. When we take her back to the city we will stay for a week to finish the fabrication.

The Freedom Festival is today here in Wharton...classic car show and parade, helicopter rides, arts and crafts, barbeque cook-off, street dance and fireworks so that's on our agenda for this evening.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

do as I say...

not as I do. That was our family motto. My father made a mosaic table once which we used as our coffee table when I was growing up. He invented a family crest and my mother, who was into ceramics at the time, did a small banner with that saying on it in gold paint that was included in the crest. I always thought it to be hypocritical.

The summer before my senior year in high school, I smoked pot for the first time. It made me nauseous and I actually threw up a little. You'd think that that would have been enough to put me off it from then on but I am not so easily put off and it never made me sick again. And like everyone who smoked pot in the late 60s and early 70s, we knew from the first that we were being lied to. It wasn't addicting and it didn't make you go insane.

During my senior year (that would be 1967/1968) I became familiar with an underground that I barely knew existed before. I started wearing beads, seed beads that I had strung myself, and that alone attracted some unwanted attention. I say unwanted because I spent my entire high school years trying to keep a low profile. At first it was to avoid the girl bullies that I suffered from in middle school but later it was so as to not attract the attention of the teachers and administrators. I just wanted to graduate, just get the hell out, without any trouble so I never smoked before or during school and I refused to have sex with my boyfriend. That was trouble I had no intention of courting. (Meanwhile, the 'cool' kids, the ones my parents wanted me to hang with, were getting drunk, getting pregnant and getting caught.) I just didn't need that kind of grief in my life. I was getting plenty from my unhappy parents as it was.

Since my father was a doctor I heard every horror story connected to drugs that he ever encountered in his attempt to convince us (myself and my siblings) to stay on the straight and narrow. What he didn't know was that I had already slipped from that path. That was also the year that I learned just how hypocritical he and my mother were.

My mother's bedside table drawer had always had pill bottles in it but I didn't know what they were and never really gave it any thought. About midway through my senior year I was rummaging around in it for some reason, probably my mother had asked me to get something out of it for her, and all of a sudden I realized what was in those pill bottles. She had tuinal, seconal, nembutal and valium. I knew the first three as christmas trees, reds and yellow jackets, barbiturates all and though I never got into pills, didn't take them, my mother was a pill head and my father was her supplier. From then on anything they had to say about drug use fell on deaf ears.

I finally broke up with my boyfriend during my senior year because the pressure to have sex was becoming too great. Neither did I take any other drugs. I did eventually have sex after I graduated (a random choice) and I did acid for the first time at my senior prom but those are different stories.

Monday, June 21, 2010


student work – tiles about 4” square

cups – approx. 4” x 2”

That's how I always feel after a workshop (and it's what I did after the workshop, drained some glasses). We had a good group of students, all women, and they really seemed to have a very good time and their projects came out very well, so that makes me happy. It's fun and energizing during the six days but the day after the last day, I am a zombie. Of course, going out to the Flying Saucer with our downtown dweller friend Craig the evening of the last day of the class and having too much beer on a mostly empty stomach might have had something to do with it. I was just a tad hung over yesterday. I'm usually very good about not drinking too much, but this whole beer culture is interesting.

The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium is primarily a beer pub but they do have a complete bar and serve wine as well. We got there early enough that the three of us got seats at the bar (later after the place filled up, we started looking around. Very young crowd, we were easily the oldest people there. By decades). Every time I go there, I like to try different beers. I don't know how many beers they have on tap, hundreds, and just about as many bottled, not to mention the 'traveling' beers they offer.

For my first I just picked one at random from the blackboard of specials and special offers. The bartender looked at me askance and asked me if I was a beer drinker, that this beer had a high IPA (alcohol content). I am a novice at this though I have drunk plenty of regular beer in my lifetime so I just sort of shrugged. He recommended a beer, lite and mild (I don't remember what it was). It was actually pretty tasteless and I could have sent it back but I went ahead and drank it. I prefer a little bite in the taste. Craig recommended Stella Artois which I ordered but it was still pretty mild. And my third beer was Magic Hat #9, a bit stronger in taste but still fairly mild. I also sampled every beer my two companions ordered and tasted at least four others. Oy vey!

After moaning laying around all day yesterday, I'm starting to feel a little more energetic. I do have to finish one last full size drawing and then I am heading into town again tomorrow to pick up the glass for this job so we can get started on the fabrication and also to pick up one of the g'girls for her one-on-one week.

I see lots of cooking in my immediate future.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

mirror mirror on the wall...

We're back at the city house for a week while we teach this workshop. The only thing I like better about the city house than the country house is the bathroom. Well, not the bathroom exactly, since it is very small, about 6' square. You can sit on the toilet, reach over and turn on the faucet at the sink with your right hand and open the shower door with your left. No, what I like about the bathroom here is the mirror, the small framed antique with silver stains mirror. Also the dim light. When I look at my image in that mirror in the dim light, it's what I don't see that I like so much.

I've never really understood the desirability of big mirrors and bright lights in the bathroom and as an artist working in etched glass, I've been in plenty of bathrooms that have just that. Whenever I'm in one of those, I spend a lot of time not looking in the mirrors but at the window where our installation is going on. It's too glaring and the image looking back at me shows every line and pore in excruciating detail.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind aging. I don't try to hide the time on my face with make-up, I won't ever try to erase the lines with plastic surgery. I have no need to look perpetually young. After all, the hills and valleys on my face only mean that I haven't died yet. And I consider that to be a good thing. Each line and the cross hatched texture of my skin represent a life well lived but I don't need to see them highlighted with light and shadow every time I look in a mirror.

This disinterest in mirrors is not new. When I moved into this house 35 years ago, there was no mirror in the bathroom so I hung the only one I had available to me at the moment, the mirror from my antique chest of drawers. Somehow I never got around to replacing it. It doesn't really give me the illusion of youth. I still see that I have aged. I see the lines, I see the gray starting to creep into my hair. I see, more and more, my maternal aunt and sometimes my mother. But it is a soft sight, not stark like the big mirror and bright florescent light in the bathroom of the country house.

We want to do some work in the bathroom at the country house. The people we bought it from had it remodeled with a long counter that crowds the toilet between it and the wall. There is one sink which is plenty but it is not centered in the counter and is not under the mirror. It's at the end of the counter. On the wall above it is one of the cabinets. We find this to be very curious. We want to shorten the counter and center the sink, but the first thing is, that mirror, that large clear mirror, that mirror has got to go.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

river vignette 3 – the Pecos

I’m stretching out and laying back, leisurely paddling along during the lake portions of the river. The rapids are getting more frequent and every day more complex. The Pecos is a very bony river. Lots of rocks and boulders. It is also incredibly beautiful. Clear aqua blue water winding through a desert wilderness and cutting a deep path through the limestone. The canyon wrens laugh along with us...ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. We see deer drinking downstream, nutria swim across the river in front of us. Lots of fish, and sheep, and goats. Birds of prey...osprey, red-tailed hawks, an owl. Turkey vultures, ahningas, ducks. Blue and white herons, red-winged blackbirds in abundance. Kingfishers, kildee, cardinals and many, many more.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

back to work

I finally finished the compositional sketches for the second proposal and so during my little foray into the city last week when I took the g'boy back, I met with the designer and client. He made his selection on the spot and handed over the deposit. Always nice when that happens. These are three windows in the master bedroom measuring about 24” x 36”, a contemporary design with different tones, textures and applied glass including a bit of dicroic color.

This is the drawing for our other job for an orthodontist's office, three wall mounted panels, each panel is 20” x 38”. I submitted several sketches but this was one suggested by the clients so I was not the least surprised when they chose it even though it was my least favorite, and least developed, of the designs submitted. I don't like to do logos and I always try to discourage people from putting their initials on glass because it is so permanent. In this case, the logo for the orthodontist's office is his initials...a double whammy for me. Now that I have the sketch more fully developed, I'm starting to like it more, would like it better without the initials but not my call.

We're teaching another 6 day workshop June 14th – 19th. Fortunately we don't have to travel for this one beyond heading to Houston as it is being sponsored by a new fusing and cast glass facility there. Well, 'there' as in within Houston's gravitational pull as it's located at the far reaches of the city limits but unfortunately not in our direction so we'll be heading into town for a week on Sunday. In the meantime we're getting ready which means finding all the stuff we need that hasn't been looked at or for since February when our last workshop was, making the wax cups and in general preparing our minds to be sucked dry.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

to boob or not to boob

When I was 15 my mother got a boob job. While I was still waiting for the boob fairy (a long and ultimately disappointing wait), full of angst as only a 15 year old girl can be, my mother went out and bought herself a pair. Her need to be the center of all male attention caused her to indulge herself almost as soon as the silicon implants were invented by a pair of Houston plastic surgeons. Her and all the strippers.

It wasn't embarrassing enough for her to have done it at all, she had it done during the summer and we spent our summers at the beach where we had a vacation home. My mother could never be called demure and she paraded around in her bikini (or what passed for one in 1965 Houston TX) before she even got the bandages off. And back then there were a lot of bandages. They made a big 'X' across her chest so if I had had any hope of people just not noticing that she went from flat chested to having a couple of cantaloupes, they were dashed. The bandages might as well have been a neon sign saying 'look at me'.

Nowadays, of course, a boob job is no big deal. Nobody even bats an eyelash but in 1965 they were mostly unheard of and since my mother didn't have the good grace to be furtive about it I had to endure the snickers of the summer teenage boys and girls. To say I was mortified would have been putting it mildly.

So while my mother was busy flaunting her new boobs, I became a life long member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee. I gave up wearing a bra around 20 because at that time they didn't make one small enough to fit me and I refused to wear a training bra all my life. Even the padded bras tended to crumple under my shirts. Most guys have bigger boobs than me.

The only time I ever had boobs was for about four or five years when I was pregnant and nursing. They were enormous. There's a picture somewhere of me nursing my daughter and my boob was bigger than her head. By the time I weaned my son, I was ready for the boobs to go away. Later in my life when I started going to the gym regularly I developed what I referred to as 'faux' cleavage.

There are some advantages to having very small breasts. The above mentioned not having to wear a bra and not having to wear tight binding tops when I exercise or participate in athletic activities. I've never had a back ache from carrying around all that weight on my chest. I've never been embarrassed by having an errant boob slip out of a top that barely conceals them. They will never ever sag and guys look at my face when they talk to me.

Of course, there are disadvantages too. Dresses and women's blouses don't fit me very well and me in a bikini is a joke but I eventually got old enough where that part of my body in a bikini was the least of the problem with wearing one. Getting a mammogram is an exercise in futility, frustrating for me and the technician. When I was young and going to clubs guys never ever asked me to dance and because I didn't have big boobs I had to develop other ways of attracting guys' attention. Oh wait, that might be an advantage.

And my mother's boobs? They didn't sag either, being a bag of goo, but by the time she was an old lady, they had slid down to her belly button. That right there is reason enough for me to never get an implant.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

barn raising

For all my moroseness the other day, the shop is actually, finally, getting built. On Memorial Day we had a bit of a barn raising. Marc had been busy the previous 4 – 6 weeks building the walls in sections and on that day our son and a friend came out to help get it all erected. And, oh, was it hot on Memorial Day.

walls going up

getting it all connected

enough rafters and joists to hold up the ridge beam

the work crew at the end of the day

the last week Marc has been finishing the roof

nearly done

Soon it will be ready for the metal cladding and roofing and the barn doors at each end. 

It's not a big building...12' x 40' with a 10' apron in the front and in the back. This is where our kilns will go and probably the cold working equipment and the mold making for the cast glass which is very messy. I'd rather not have either of those processes in the other parts of the studio. This new studio/shop is going to be a series of separate rooms/buildings. The two rooms in the back part of the house are set up for the drawing studio (and other crafty endeavors) and the model making for the cast glass, the connected garage will be for the etched glass fabrication. We will still have to bring the small building here on a trailer that is the sandblasting room in Houston and find a place to put it.

When we first bought this place, put the bid in on it, we planned on building a bigger shop on the back third of the property. Turned out that's where the drain field is for the septic system and we couldn't build there. We could have built on the middle third which is the shady part of the yard with the pecan trees but we didn't want to do that (though we may build off the side of the garage later). That left just a narrow strip along one edge of the property which is why the building is the size and shape it is. We could have cut down the two maples and made it wider but we didn't want to do that either (and a bigger slab and building would have been more expensive and we wouldn't even be this far along).

The next big hurdle will be getting the electrical in.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

river vignette 2 – the Pecos

Just a general note...the sketches that accompany these vignettes do not illustrate that particular moment or even reflect that particular river. I rarely had time to sit and do a sketch even though I brought my sketchbook and colored pencils with me nearly every time and even when I did sit down to draw, I rarely had the time to finish a sketch before I had some chore to do so most of them are just quick studies and are unfinished.

Everett Canyon is a beautiful spot, one of my favorites. At the river it is bare limestone with a small ledge for setting up camp. Deeper in, there are springs and pools that form natural little bathtubs all connected. Trees and shrubs grow along the edges. There is also a spring that issues out high up on the canyon wall so that it makes a natural little shower. Maidenhairs and other ferns blanket the limestone. Though it had rained earlier, I opt not to sleep in the tent since the sky is clear. The moon is waxing towards full and rises above the canyon wall as I drift off.

Monday, June 7, 2010

slipping beneath the surface

Sometimes it just all seems like too much, you know? I'm feeling adrift, left behind, forgotten. Sometimes I feel like giving up, turning my back on it all but that's not really possible is it? I mean, I still have to eat, still have bills that come on a regular basis. At night when I should be sleeping my brain hits the panic button, impending doom hangs over me. Other than a spurt of calls in April the phone has been deathly silent. I'm going to have to send out some feelers soon, remind people I am still here.

The studio is still in the disarray it's been in for two years. This move is taking so long I have lost all momentum and I wonder if I will ever get it back. Many days I don't care, other days I am jealous of those who seem to be flourishing, noticed, in demand. The shop is finally being built but who knows how long it will be before it is functional, before I function. It just takes so much effort. I gaze back into the model making studio, I consider the things I could, should, do. I wonder where is that focused, driven, producing, noticed person I was two years ago?

I'm glad we are moving, have moved. I love it out here, do not miss the city, but now I'm thinking that perhaps we have moved ourselves out of the consciousness of the world. I know that's not true, that many artists live isolated and still thrive. My own forward motion is not all mine to control. I can do my part but then must wait til my partner feels inclined to do his part. And neither of us have our spaces intact to do our parts. I am impatient and summer is already here, the year nearly half done and I have done nothing.

I read somewhere that if you want to do a body of work then devote 2 hours a day to that endeavor. I decided to do that, did that for two days and then all sorts of demands on my time left me tired and uninspired. I am running out of time, out of mind, another year slipping through my fingers, another year of time and distance from the goal I sought after, desired.

I fear I am slipping beneath the surface of visibility.

photo by Carol Carson

Friday, June 4, 2010

spring reading list

I was sort of all over the place with this list.  When I couldn't get to the library I reached for whatever was at hand.  We still have quite a few of the books that were dumped on us by the SIL though I've given most of them to the library for their book sale/fund raiser by now.

These Foolish Things by Imogene Parker – three women due to give birth in a matter of weeks meet and become friends. Although the husband of one and one of the women were lovers in the past, they try to keep it secret but are still attracted to each other.

Gone by Jonathan Kellerman – since I didn't write anything down and I don't remember what it was about I guess it wasn't too great or too terrible either.

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin – a series of short stories whose characters are all connected by a landed family in India which I enjoyed a lot.

Breathless by Dean Koontz – dumb. I like Dean Koontz for the most part but he developed all these interesting characters who had nothing, or very little really, to do with the story and he tied it all up in the last few pages very unsatisfactorily.

True Evil by Greg Iles – a stressed out FBI agent goes out on her own to catch a serial killer who has figured out a way to give people virulent cancer as she tries to save the life of his next victim.

Black Hills by Nora Roberts – yeah, her again but I think this may be the last time I pick up one of her books. Her male and female characters have gotten so crystalized that they are all the same, identical in every book. They have the same personalities, they have the same dynamic, they have the same conversations, the same push me pull you, only the details of the settings are different. And you know what? Real people don't act that way, don't have those conversations.

Heart And Soul by Maeve Binchy – another excellent read from Maeve about a heart clinic, it's employees and patients. As usual it ties in with characters from her previous books.

Remains Silent by Dr. Michael Baden and Linda Kenney Baden – a fairly entertaining little murder mystery although the initial murders are 40 years old and the bones were discovered. New murders follow.

Starbound by Joe Haldeman – the sequel to another book which I haven't read but it gives a quick synopsis. The first book is about first contact with aliens on Mars and this follow-up is about a joint effort to reach a third life form outside the solar system that has been manipulating both earthlings and martians. It was pretty good with a sort of surprising ending.

Faerie Tale by Raymond E. Feist – a good read about a family who encounters the dark side of the Faie.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – a young adult novel (first of a series) about a modern day demi-god and his adventure.

Dark House by Teresa Monsour – an OK read, a detective/murder story involving a homicidal/suicidal young man and the crazy woman he hooks up with. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

touching base

I've been hit or miss with my reading and commenting the last 10 days or so, what with my daughter's emergency surgery (here and here) and having all four grandkids for a full week during her recovery and still trying to get the art work done for our one and only job. We still have the g'boy. He stayed on for his week after the g'girls were picked up. I have several posts I am working on if I can ever get to the other computer to process the pictures (don't have the program on mine yet).

Here's a few pictures to tide you over (or maybe to tide me over)...

My new 'do' which some readers requested a picture of. These pictures were taken about a week after the cut.

The garden is lush and full.

A few summer bloomers.