Sunday, October 31, 2010

the halloween years

I always made the kid's halloween costumes except for one (you'll be able to tell which one when you see it) and also Sarah wore her dance recital costume once. They had to get creative (or rather, I had to get creative, especially with my son who it seemed tried purposely to challenge me. No store bought costumes allowed. (That's just the way it was at my house. No store bought valentines allowed either, they always had to make them if they wanted to give them.)

1980 – the first year of costumes and trick or treat, my daughter is 3 ½ and my son is 1 ½. - Big Bird and a clown

1981 – bunnies

1982 – vampire and Super Aaron (he very specifically did not want an 'S', but an 'A')

1983 – I couldn't find a picture of Sarah and finally came across this one of Aaron and I (yes, the kitty is me). You probably can't tell very well what he is but he is a tree and I'm sorry that that's the only picture I have of it. I have no idea what Sarah was.

1984 – land shark and lion

1985 – skeleton and fairy

1986 – witch and green ghost

1987 - ballerina and green ghost (I think I was supposed to be a magician)

1988 – robot and geisha

1989 – could find no pictures and I haven't the foggiest, might have been one of those years when they just dressed as hobos or something. Oh, wait, that might be the year that Aaron went as Death because I had to make him a scythe (which I still have).

1990 – the last year of real costumes. After this they just threw on whatever and went out with their friends. - witch doctor and a barrel of toxic waste

So happy Halloween and party on dudes!

Friday, October 29, 2010

sunrise, sunset

It was cold this morning here in the country, the coldest morning yet I think. I'm wearing long sleeves for the first time. Still barefoot though. And it's warming up fast. Beautiful weather really and so dry I can feel my lips chapping and watch my skin flake up and fly away as I type.

It has felt like Saturday to me though I know it's not. Every time I am in the city and we return on Thursday evening, Friday always seems like Saturday. But Saturday, we are going back in for the day to load up more of the landscaping stones we used for the old turtle compound.

morning glory bush

I have not been very attendant lately. Haven't found myself to be all that inspired word-wise. I see that October is my sparsest yet. I suppose I've been busy. I've had to go in to the city a lot this month and have spent a lot of time in the studio, a lot of time doing things outside that have been waiting for summer to end.

We've only had a trickle of work since April but all that aside, things are looking fairly positive. I presented the proposal and samples to the church for the fused glass panels. It is actually the second proposal, the first being for some transoms and side lites in a different area. The good news is that the arts department recently received a substantial endowment and both projects will be funded. It may take several months to get the monies sorted out but we will have both these projects early next year.


The last several days have been quite windy and have shaken loose the pecans. Being gone for three days, the ground became littered. I picked up a nearly a 1 gallon bucket full last night and another full bucket plus as many as I could fit in my baggy pockets this morning resulting in 2 grocery paper bags full over all. And there are still very many on the ground. Still falling. I took the first haul to the cracker today...26 pounds. Fortunately, I regained my sanity and ditched the scientific experiment. I did, however, sort them out between small and large with the mediums sort of split 50/50 hoping to prevent the big nuts from being pulverized. Now, if I remember, I'm going to weigh the shelled nuts. Just to get a comparison.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ponder us

Once again I am preparing for a foray into the city, this time for 3 days while I try to drum up some business, get these molds in the kiln and help my g'girls with their Halloween costumes. So I leave you with these...

modern zen koans

Why does my head feel so big when I'm looking out of it but so small when I put my hands up to it?

Why is it that every time I wake in the middle of the night and listen for the clock to chime to know what time it is, it always chimes just once for the half hour?

Why do teen sizes come in odd numbers and women's sizes come in even numbers when I'm a woman who wears an odd number?

Why do the chiggers bite me and not him?

Why is it that every time I forget and leave the soaker hose on all night, it rains the next day?

Why does the cat always want out at 5 o'clock in the morning?

Why don't guys wear tank tops? On second thought, after seeing my neighbor in one, I'm glad they don't.

Why do all the big ticket items always crap out at the same time?

Why do meteor storms always peak between 3 AM and 5 AM?

Why is it still summer in late October?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

another post about pecans

oh, geez, not another post about pecans

I know, I know, but it's the season doncha know.

This is an off year for pecans and not just my trees. Apparently it's across the board as prices for the new crop are high. Last year I collected 7 grocery paper bags full of nuts, at least. This year, a little over half a bag. I even stopped carrying a bucket as I was only picking up a handful or pocketful a day. Gazing up, I could see the trees were tenaciously hanging onto the nuts they hadn't dropped prematurely and I figured that they would become the ones that turn into all the little trees I will be digging up next spring. At least until a couple of days ago.

We finally got enough of a wind, instead of the slight breeze we had been enjoying, to loosen the trees' grip on the nuts. I've collected almost as many in the last couple of days as I had in the couple of weeks preceding. Now I have a full bag of pecans. Still, only a fraction of what I collected last year.

I have tried to find out from people smarter and wiser than I in all ways country how you can tell if they are good or bad before you crack them open. Well, weight is a factor but mostly, in answer to my question people just look at me and shake their heads. Whether they were shaking their heads in answer or at my foolishness in asking, I can't say.

So, in my quest to get more reward for my effort I have come up with a new plan. Actually, this is the second new plan. The first being that I have been picking up all the immature pecans as they have fallen this late summer, and not just because they make me hobble around when I am outside barefoot but because it takes a lot of nuts out of the equation. You know, the good nut/bad nut equation. Hey! I heard that! So my second new plan is I'm going to weigh the nuts and divide them into groups.

This is referred to as the 'scientific method'. I bet you thought I didn't know that.

The heaviest group will go straight to the cracker. The less heavy groups will be tested by hand to see what the ratio of good nuts is to bad nuts. Half and half or better goes straight to the cracker. Less than that, we'll just have to see.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

wax works

6” x 6”

I finished the third model of the triptych and am moving on to the next set of pieces. One of these is a series of pieces with moonflowers, my current obsession, and will be done in a western shirt-yoke format which I think ties in nicely with my earlier explorations in textiles and my natal culture. ooo, artspeak! I'll have to remember that. The other piece I'm preparing for is another bird box, this one with a blue heron but really only his head and a bit of neck. It will also be an in-lay piece (that's how confident I am in my first, uncompleted, attempt). Only this time, I am upping the ante and doing the bird head in color. The wren is going to be black and Marc made the mold today.

This is the little wren wax. The stick is about 6” long. It will be an in-lay on the face of a box. It's destroyed now. The waxes only exist for a little while. After the mold is poured, the wax is melted out. 

Here's the mold.

We've started casting some of the small components. I have the feet for two of the boxes cast and ready for the cold work. Some of them are for the moonflower box which I have finally decided how to do. The colors I mean. But I'll probably change my mind a dozen times before I actually commit while filling the mold. I've been known to change my mind at the last moment. 

I did get the little eggshells finished though.

And I think I found the subject for my next block. I might make it a bit smaller though and do a grouping of nine.

Monday, October 18, 2010

going viral

image by Allie Brosh from Hyperbole And A Half

A new bit of slang has made it into the vocabulary, an example of language in motion, this one based on the fact that viruses reproduce quickly. Of course, when people say something 'went viral', they don't mean it got infected and overcome with disease. What they mean is that something spread throughout the population quickly.

I saw a good example of this phenomenon recently. My daughter sent me a link to this very funny post on a generally funny blog. I clicked on it and it had me laughing out loud. It's cartoon-like and the drawings are very child-like except they are so clever and expressive. So of course then I glanced at the list of comments...over 600 at the time (today 905). WTF?! So I looked at the follower list...28,600 (over 29,000 today) and some odd. Holy cow!

Now I am astounded and look to see how long this blog has been up for it to have nearly 29,000 followers. 16 months. It's been up for only 16 months.

My blog has been up for 22 months and I have 137 followers.

Her - 16 months, 29,000 followers

Me - 22 months, 137 followers

Her – 29,000

Me – 137


Story of my life.

Oh well, it's a good life nonetheless.

I poked around in her archives some and this one also had me laughing.

No, I'm not really jealous. I yam who I yam and she are who she are and I wish her all the success she can squeeze out of this phenomenon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

wherein the turtle comes home

These long days in the shop are getting harder for me to do. Oh, I can put 10 hours in with only a break for lunch and I can do it again the next day. It's that third day that starts to tell on me and the fourth day, I'm totally today. Fortunately this last time the third day was only about 5 hours long. But I'm still worthless today, putzing around and reading. It's a beautiful day today so I'm spending a lot of time wandering around outside.

We left for the city last Tuesday but now we are back home at the country house. We still have three items to move and all three of them are a major production. Or we had three things to move (besides the rest of the shop of course); the turtle, our Lee Littlefield outdoor sculpture and the dining room chandelier. I say had, because we brought Big Mama, our red ear slider turtle, back with us this time.

I spent last weekend setting up the new turtle pond, a stock tank 8' in diameter and almost 2' high that holds almost 600 gallons of water. Her old pond was one of those small kidney shaped water lily ponds that we had sunk into the ground and then used landscaping stones to build a short wall around a section of the yard that included the pond. That way, she could get out and dig around some. Turned out that the only time she ever did that was in the spring when the 'egg laying' was upon her, the actual reason we gave her the yard. For baby turtles. And although she has laid many eggs and we have had various males over the years, we never got a baby turtle.

The other reason she would get out and wander around her little yard was for trying to figure out how to escape. These two states of being usually went together, but not always. There were times when she was just hell bent on escaping. She would walk along the boundary, some places stone wall, other places chicken wire and bricks, prodding and pushing, looking for an opening and climbing.

I didn't sink the new pond, at least not yet. We are uncertain where we want it to be so I put it in a spot I knew would get a lot of sun during the winter but it crowds the gate and is next to a tree so for now it's sitting on the ground. I dug up the grass, leveled the ground as best I could and set up the tank, stacked up the sunning island and filled it with water.

Friday afternoon we put her in a galvanized tub, put her in the back of the truck and headed on home. We also brought her 10 fishy companions, what's left of a dollar's worth of feeder fish. I expect that they will really start to grow now and become food for some of the herons around here.

Today we set up the pond filter and the pond pump. We still have to bring the water plants and the tubs for them and the rest of the landscaping stones. The pond will stay here for at least a year, through all the seasons, so I want to dress it up some. Already I like it where it is because I can see her sitting on her island when I am at my drawing table.

It's dark now and I went out a little while ago and she was still on the island, pulled into her shell. She stuck her head out at my approach. We stared at each other for a while because that's about all you can do with a turtle. I talked to her, came in. I looked again just now and she has disappeared into the water.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

my continuing fascination with the erotic nature of nature

I have finally begun work on the third of my triptych (each block is 6” x 6”). I got all the layers stacked and then didn't have time to work on it. Preparing the proposal and samples and working on our job, all the time spent in the city the last two weeks kept me plenty busy.

You may remember the first two.

Friday, October 8, 2010

more misc blog poop

or 'housekeeping' as Mr. London Street calls it.

Two of the blogs I have followed have closed up shop in the last couple of weeks.
Several others have not been posted on for a month or more. And it seems like there is less participation lately. It's interesting to see the traffic patterns, the tides of the blog world. It certainly can be a huge time suck and I find myself posting a little less frequently especially now that I am back working in the studio. Still, my mornings with coffee are spent here.

The last time I considered this I decided that I would reply to comments via email instead of in the comments section. Unfortunately, I haven't been very good about that either. I'll just fall back here on the 'busy in the studio' excuse except my failure to respond predated my return to model making and casting. I do appreciate all comments though. They make me feel all warm and fuzzy. I'll try to do better. Maybe I'll go back to responding in the comments section.

Am I the only one who is vexed by the post editor? It will not hold my formatting. It will look fine in the edit mode but once published, it doubles or triples some of my spacing and the more I try to correct it the more the errors compound. So aggravating. Make one mistake and I'm doomed. And sometimes it will change the font of a sentence or paragraph for no reason that I can ascertain. Lately I just re-do it and delete the previous attempt.

Magaly over at Pagan Culture bestowed upon me the 'A Blog With Substance' award some weeks ago. Thank you Magaly, I'm honored. But as we all know, this blog is the black hole of awards. I'm supposed to sum up my blogging philosophy or motivation in 10 words. Well, my header says it all and, conveniently in 10 life, my art and whatever else catches my attention. Rather than single out 10 blogs to pass this on to, I pass it on to everyone.

And lastly, I would like to welcome all my new followers. The counter has been creeping up. And much as I would like to reciprocate with each and every one of you, it's just not possible (see the whole time suck thing in the first paragraph). I will pop in now and then though so please don't think I don't care. You are all important to me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I'm crossing the yard with slow measured steps; back and forth, back and forth, my eyes cast down. The mornings have been chilly and the grass is cool on my bare feet here in the shade of the pecan trees. My feet are bare because sometimes they see better than my eyes do. The steps that take me into the sun are most welcome because my wardrobe has not caught up with the change of the season and I am dressed for summer. Hard to believe that as recent as week before last I was hugging the shade, doing my best to stay out of the sun.

I've been doing this walk for weeks now, a month, more. Today though, I am carrying two buckets. During the past few days I've been picking up some ripe pecans. These have fallen out of their husks instead of having fallen green and dried out. They are noticeably heavier and land in the bucket with a satisfying thunk. I carry one in the palm of my free hand using it to test ones that I am uncertain of. The bad ones crush at the least pressure. They go in the other bucket, nearly full after two days. I had been picking up two buckets full every day. Still, there seems to be quite a few pecans up in the trees so I'm more hopeful of getting some good ones this year.

Pecans are a lot of work and have a high cost in time and effort. All these days of picking up the bad ones aside, the good nuts still have to be gathered over a period of weeks. They have to be cracked and shelled for storing. Last year I took 40 pounds of nuts to the cracker and then every night for about 4 weeks, I shelled nuts. How much easier it would be to just buy them.

But here on the ground is food. I think about all this as I walk. There is something compelling about gathering. A sort of connection with the past, participating in an activity that humans have engaged in from the beginning though I know I won't perish if I don't gather enough to see me through the winter. A comforting thought.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

short stories 5


before the defoliant

We drove by the desiccated cotton field today and noticed a wide swath had been cut through the length of the field. I've been wondering when he was going to harvest but there was no sign of the harvesters. Made us wonder if this was a test to see what the crop looked like. It looks like the bottom half of his crop is on the ground and the bolls at the top are only half the size of the first ones. There are many that haven't popped yet. The farmer that works these fields planted late this year, at least it seemed so to us. It also seems that he is harvesting late since I have seen cotton fields that have already been cleared.

after the defoliant

Cotton is harvested now by huge house sized machines. They suck it up and then spit it out into a freight sized container and then it is compressed. At one time, of course, cotton was picked by hand. I took my grandkids out to the field year before last, when it was a cotton year. We had been talking about slavery because they had been learning about it at school. It was a hot cloudless day and we stood on the edge of a field that seemed to go forever. I told them that as slaves they would be expected to pick every bit by hand working from sun up to sun down, that they would be hungry and not clothed very well and that if they worked too slow or misbehaved they would be whipped. When we had been talking about it, they could say that slavery was bad, but standing there at the edge of that field, I think they understood it from a totally different perspective.

immature cotton bolls


I was delightedly surprised to see, at the city house, that the surprise lilies were blooming. My friend Phyllis calls them spider lilies but I know spider lilies as something very different.

They are called surprise lilies because they shoot up an 18” or longer bloom stalk in two days with no foliage. Can you imagine, that much growth in two days? One day you see nothing, the next is this beautiful flower hovering above the ground. With no foliage, it's easy to forget where they are planted or even that they are there. They do actually have foliage and it emerges after they bloom but then it also dies down long before they bloom again. 

When we first moved into the city house those many years ago, they were one of the delights that came with the house and they bloomed every year. Eventually though, the bulbs got old and they stopped blooming. About eight years or so ago, I dug a lot of them up, spread them out hoping that it would rejuvenate them a bit and get them blooming again but it didn't work. Once every several years we might get one but this year there are three small clumps. I'm wondering if that very cold weather last winter is responsible.

Strange growth

Last Saturday was finally cool enough for some working in the yard. Late afternoon I worked in an area where I have some things planted, an informal area not yet an actual flower bed, pulling up grass and other things, disturbing the soil. The next day when I went out to water before we left for the city I saw these very weird mushroom type fungi there where I had worked.

They grew up overnight and I don't believe I have ever seen their like before. They were very wet and gooey looking. Strangely exotically beautiful.

Egg shells

I am happy to say that the second time firing the egg shells was a success. We broke them out one at a time and they all cast well. Now I have to use the ring saw and cut the remainder of the glass off and then reshape the end. I'm very pleased that they cast the second time and I do not have to remake the waxes.