Monday, December 31, 2012

out with the old...

I've made several attempts to write an end of year post while I worked yesterday on cleaning the detritus of the last six months off my drawing table, computer area, and work table.  I don't want to start the new year with the clutter of last year.  

I'm not feeling very philosophical this year like years past.  Maybe it's because I'm busy.  I have already made a list of work related items I need to accomplish the first half week of the new year.


Because we have a lot of work waiting for us!

This is a far cry from how 2012 started out.  Life has shifted back into the certainty lane, at least for the next six months or so and I have things to focus on.

It's been a challenging year.  By mid-summer, things were looking pretty dismal.  With no work, dwindling personal resources and reducing our expenditures to as little as possible, with the IRS breathing down our necks, we were beginning to wonder if we still had a business, wondering how much longer we could tread water.

Proposals that looked promising languished.  I filed for SS, we taught a workshop, then a windfall from a previous inheritance came, and I had my little part-time job at the antique store.  Income came from varied and unexpected places while the garden kept us fed.

And then in July, everything changed.  I sold a cast piece to an art consultant and we won 1st place at a gallery exhibition with a money prize.  After that, a very large commission was finally funded and other commissions have come in.  We have been very busy since August and the year is ending in abundance.

The Universe took care of us for another year and I am thankful.  

Well, I see I managed a post after all.  

Happy New Year everyone, may it be well and prosperous for us all.

Friday, December 28, 2012

catching up

I seem incapable of finishing a blog post these days off. I have a couple I started but then got distracted and then it was the next day. Plus, I've been working more days in the antique store, covering for my sister.

Today we drive into the city to dole out the gifts to the grandkids and daughter and SonIL. They all left on the Saturday before Christmas to go spend the holiday with Mike's brother and cousins and also Sarah's cousins on Marc's side in Dallas.

My SisterIL had called us the week before christmas asking us if we were planning on coming since the kids were, they would love to have us visit, but we declined. We had just finished the mountain wall and the last thing we wanted to do was take a four hour drive to Dallas and a four hour drive back. Besides, we were dog sitting and I had to work at the store.

So here are my two incomplete posts:

Sunday, December 23rd...

I have been puttering with the best of them today. Or maybe more like a butterfly and flitting from thing to thing. I picked up a couple of handfuls of pecans and got most of the fallen leaves out of the garden intending to go back and tend to it after I ate a late breakfast.

The garden is in sad shape since we haven't been here to take care of it and the few days of the week we were in residence about all I had time for was making sure it got watered. It's not weedy but all the fallen leaves had blown in and there was a heavy mulch around all the plants. That's a good thing for flowers but not so good for food plants because it harbors food plant eating bugs. Everything except for the broccoli, I think, has aphids and pill bugs and some kind of little bitty back beetle. It's a mess.

But by the time I was ready to go back out a strong wind had come up and although the temperature is in the mid-70s, it's no fun being out in it. So I am entertaining myself indoors today. I've made one stab at washing the dishes from yesterday. That being my chore I'm constantly confounded by how fast they pile up and there is just two of us!

I have other tasks I am entertaining like juicing three bags of meyer lemons that my friend Kathy foisted off on generously gave me when we went to pick up our stuff from the open house.

I also want to photograph the individual little pediment pieces I cast for the open house. That involves cleaning off and setting up a suitable area and unpacking them all from the box they are in which sounds like a lot of effort. Maybe I'll just aim for getting them unpacked.

And I need to go over to my sister's house and check on the cats and while I'm at it I'll go by the store and get my book which I inadvertently left yesterday when I closed up. It's handy having keys to the store.

Thursday, December 27th...

Today is Marcmas around here. That's how we refer to Marc's birthday. It's cold and overcast, drizzly and rainy out there and will warm up some but it will still be colder than the 65˚ we keep the house. We slept late, snuggled in bed, and are still in our lounging clothes.

I'm not working in the store today and the dogs go home this afternoon. Probably we will take them home so they will be waiting there for my sister when she gets in. Usually she just picks them up on her way home from the airport but I think we will go to a movie later. That's always our fall back birthday gig.

I can't believe it's been over a week since we finished the 'big job' and I have not lifted a single finger towards cleaning up my drawing desk, computer area, and work table. Actually I made a bigger mess when I brought the drill press in to make a little teacup bird feeder for my sister. And one for me. It's still sitting here on the end of my work table. The drill press, I mean.


Well, we did not get to see the Hobbit after all. We arrived for the 3:45 show to a full parking lot and adults streaming in. Why aren't all these people at work?! Anyway, the ticket seller was kind enough to tell us that it was pretty crowded in there and it would probably be difficult to find two seats together, so not wanting to watch a nearly 3 hour movie on the first couple of rows or separated, we put it off for another day. Instead, we rented Rise Of The Dark Knight from Redbox and watched that. It was terrible BTW.

So, off to the city we go.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

blessings on us all

(I wrote this last night but didn't publish it until today)

It's Christmas eve and not being an adherent of either the religious aspect or the cultural extravaganza it's become on the secular side, I am having a normal relaxed evening and my day tomorrow will be one of those rare days in which nothing will be asked or expected of me.

I worked at the store today for my sister who is visiting her family and for who this holiday still means something.  I'll cover for her on Wednesday too.  I'm happy to do it and happy I successfully tracked down several items for people over the last few days.

I missed a couple too.  Like the antique ironing board someone's friend had told her she'd seen.  I assumed she meant the child's metal toy ironing board I had sold the previous week but when the man showed up Saturday and picked up the china cabinet he had bought, there in plain sight was an old wood antique ironing board.

Another day a woman came in looking for antique irons, the kind you heat on the stove.  I knew we had some but could not find them so I sent her to another shop, same vendor.  Later Joe, the vendor, came in and I related the referral.  Then he showed me in his section the two antique irons.

I've been in a pretty good mood since last week after we finished that big job, relief and elation at being finished and feeling pretty good about the product coupled with some pretty nice weather and the general good mood of the population.

Christmas, or at least the last few days before, does seem to put people in good moods and that kind of energy is contagious whether you believe the religious myths or not, good moods are contagious just like laughter, you can't help but be buoyed by the energy field.  

At least that's how I think of it this year.  I don't generally like the Christmas season but I'll save my scroogey attitude for a different post.  While I like Christmas carols, ironically enough, and would sing them with feeling given the opportunity, I do not believe in the divinity they proclaim.

My family is scattered and varied on this night.  I was raised as an Episcopalian, I raised my children as Jews.  I left Judaism behind as I had Christianity before it as my understanding of the divine deepened and matured.  I hold to no religion that defines the undefinable, that tries to hold themselves above all others as more beloved, right, or true.

We are all children of the divine no matter how we express it, no matter what story we attach to it to help us divine the Divine.  Even the atheist is as beloved as the most devout religious follower because each story, each myth is as only one petal of a glorious flower.

So I say Happy Holidays to friends and family as there are many holidays, some ancient, some old, some new, celebrated in the weeks before the end of the secular year.  May you all be blessed in the year to come.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Nature is awesome. I just saw a picture of a parasitic nematode, the kind that can be transmitted by mosquito, that can, given no resistance, suck the life right out of you.

It's quite beautiful, don't you think? I do.

Makes you wonder about how something that can kill you can be so beautiful to look upon.

But if you think about it, the roundworm is also an expression of the godhead, whatever you conceive that to be. To me it is simply the source from which all this reality that we perceive emanates. It seems obvious that there was as much love expressed through this nematode as through us.

I have no way to describe what that source is besides life, energy, magnetism, love. A totally unknown source, of which you are but one expression but all of creation an expression of the same thing, floats in an unknown realm and...dreams.

I imagine the tendril of dream becoming thought and the thought becoming crystallized and the crystallization becoming manifest with the atomic breath and the link that cannot be broken because it is us. All of us. All of it.

Whatever ritual you pursue or recognition of a greater whole, whatever play you hold dear created to counter the long nights or if you have no pageant at all, the root of all is the end of the long night and the welcoming of the light. It is a story that has been told and retold over and over and written down for as long as humans have been able to write.

The long night is over and even though we know winter is still to come, we also know it will end.

It is a holiday for those with a religion and those without. It is a human holiday.

We celebrate the coming of the light!

well and truly done

We are well and truly done with the mountain wall. The four panels are cleaned, covered with protective film, and stacked waiting for pick up. With the holidays and businesses having days off and the end of year madness, Henry, from the glass company, and I decided to put off pick up and installation til the first week of January. Whew! I can't be available for the installation til then anyway.

After my last post I kept the composite picture of the mountain on my computer screen all weekend, pausing to look at it with a less critical eye every time I passed it. By the time it was time for us to head back in to the city to do the last touch-up, I was happy with the overall piece. I think it's going to look really good. I still don't like installations, but at least I don't have to deal with that til next year.

We actually finished everything up last Tuesday. Wednesday I was in the best mood. It didn't hurt that it was a beautiful temperate day. I took advantage of it and did what little holiday shopping I intended to do. Well, except for the three grandgirls. The twins are getting new mattresses and the youngest is getting cash. We'll do that when we go in on the 28th for our gift giving.

Whenever we work on big projects like these two walls that have kept us busy for the last 4½ months, I tend to lose my grip on all other activities. It doesn't happen all at once, gradually letting things slip. My posting has gone way down, my reading of blogs and commenting as well. I am single minded, focused on the work. I expected to do a new post when we returned home Wednesday evening but now, here it is Friday and I'm just now composing.

Well, that's not entirely true. I was working on a post about the latest shootings and the whole gun proliferation thing in this country, about how we worship violence but to tell you the truth, I'm sick of it. I've read so many really excellent essays on the subject, the knee-jerk 'more guns is the answer' responses that display so much ignorance of what it is really like to be in the middle of a situation like that. Perhaps I will still publish it down the road though it needs a lot of work.

So now, the end of the world has come and gone, once again. And I still feel fine. Another blog post that didn't get written. Or the one on christmas trees.

The good thing is that now the time of the long nights is over. Even though the winter solstice marks the beginning of winter and we will have our coldest days in the coming months, those days will be growing longer and the nights shorter.

We are dog-sitting for the next week while my sister visits her daughter and grandchildren in Albuquerque. It will be a quiet week with no demands on me. A week in which I get to putter around, doing or not doing whatever I want. Resting. After the new year it will be back to work on the three jobs we have waiting with another confirmed and another possible. So it looks like next year will be business as usual at least for the first 6 months.

That's about all.

I'm still here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

all but done

Well, the mountain wall is finished for the most part. We still need to touch up ever so lightly one or two spots on the last panel (far left in the image), mostly so it will match the adjoining sections on the panel next to it.

I expected to feel elated or at least relieved but what I'm fighting off, trying to hold in abeyance, is disappointment.

This whole process, after the carving is done, is so subjective. For one thing, these panels are so big and heavy that there is no way to put them all together to see how well the tones are matching. We look at the one in the sandblast booth, then go look at the adjoining panel on the rack, trying to hold the density in mind. More? Does it need more? Does it match, too much?

Everything is so dusty. After he blasts, I dust off the surface with a bench brush but there's no getting to the back of the panel where dust also collects. We try to mitigate that by putting clean black paper on the blast booth wall and replacing the protective film on the back of the panel so it's clean also before he does the softer tones. But of course, after he blasts the first time, dust starts to collect again.

So we have been taking the protective film off the backs again and photographing each panel as we finish and then compare the photos to see how well they match and then making adjustments the next trip in. But even doing that it's hard to decide because the photos are taken on different days with different light conditions that we cannot control. The smooth side we are photographing wants to reflect the wall of the shop and while the first two panels were photographed with a bare white wall, the last two were photographed with the two finished panels against the wall which subtly changes the intensity of the tones. Not to mention the reflection of the extruded metal stored high up on that wall and of course, my own reflection.

This I do know. The lightest tone on the third panel (second from left in the image) is too heavy. There is nothing we can do about this and we are both and neither at fault as we constantly consult until we either agree or just quit in a fog of indecision. There is no erasing with sandblasting so now, in order for the fourth panel to match it must also be too heavy, at least where they join up. This is what glares at me, that the other main area of the lightest tone is too heavy.

This I suspect. That the lightest tone on the first panel (far right in the image) may be too light. It looks that way in the picture (I didn't adjust the brightness or contrast at all fearing that I will diddle with them til they match when they don't) but when we went back the next week and looked at the actual panels again we each agreed that they looked similar enough. I'm resisting the urge to unwrap that one and look again.

Next week, we will go back, make our final evaluation/adjustment and call them done, clean them, seal them, wrap them and arrange for pick-up.

I'll withhold judgement til installation during which I will be a nervous wreck until I can see if we did well or not.

the mountain wall, 16' x 9'

the photograph of the mountain we worked from

Sunday, December 9, 2012

love and marriage

I see that the Supreme Court is going to take on Prop 8 and the Defense Of Marriage Act. I would be glad that this debate is finally going to be put to rest but with such a conservative court, I'm not sure that they will be able to keep their religious views out of it and come to the only right decision.

Prop 8, in case you aren't aware, is California's amendment to their state constitution that banned gay marriage. It has been challenged in the courts and found to be unconstitutional but it's proponents keep pushing it to a higher court and it finally made it's way to the top. The challenge to DOMA is only against the section that prevents the federal government from recognizing and giving the rightful benefits to same sex marriages even if it is legal in the couple's home state.

It seems to me the outcome should be pretty clear. In this country we are supposed to have separation of church and state.

Although many states have banned same sex marriages, their main reason for doing so is based on their religious beliefs, a 5,000 year old book of stories. Their god finds it abhorrent so they find it abhorrent and since so many LGBT are not staying in the closet and insist on being who they are in their public lives as well as their private lives and they fall in love and want to get married, that somehow threatens these religious people so they scrambled to make it against the law. To 'define' marriage. And, by god, their tax dollars will not go towards benefits to people that god abhors.

Only, that's just their religious opinion.

The reality of it is that human gender and sexuality is extremely complex. It comes in many forms and there is no one 'right' way to be.

Isn't it enough that two people, regardless of their sex, have bonded in love and want to have a committed relationship? And if special civil rights are given to married people should not same sex couples be granted those rights as well? Because it's not just about being able to get health insurance through your spouse's job. It's about having the right to sit by your loved one and make decisions for them while they are gravely ill. It's about having the right to inherit, without all the taxes, the estate of your partner. It's about having the right to be recognized as a unit by all the powers that be. It's about not being marginalized in your community. And yes, it's about getting the same perks from the government as opposite sex couples and why not?

Regardless of what they claim, this group of religious people did not invent marriage and should not be allowed to define marriage, an institution that has existed in many forms throughout human civilization. I'm not saying that these religious groups should be forced to marry LGBT people if they are against it. I am saying they should not be allowed to force their particular religious beliefs about the right or wrong of human sexuality on the rest of the population and deny marriage to anyone who so desires it. Marriage does not require a religious ceremony.

It is my great hope that the Supreme Court will be able to take religion out of the equation altogether when they deliberate these two cases because when you take religion out of the equation, there is not one single good reason to deny the gay community the right to marry.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


It's been raining in earnest the last two weeks or so but we still need rain because it hasn't been raining water but leaves.

We weren't home even 24 hours last week and while we were gone the trees shed their leaves in earnest.

They had been dropping for weeks but not really serious about it.

Now, the yard lays under a blanket.

oak, pecan, maple, and tallow


Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I wish I could think of something smart or witty or topical to write about but we are closing in on finishing the mountain wall and that's pretty much all on my mind. At least the open house is over now so my days home will be freed up to read or relax or, more probably knowing me, finish up the peach box. I have two posts planned on some of the work we've been doing (the wall and the little castings) but not until it's all finished lest you tire of 'in progress' pics. Well, the little castings are done but I didn't get them photographed yet besides the group shot at the show in my last post.

On to my regular fallback...the yard.

Walking around the yard yesterday I noticed that the yellow jackets were swarming on the morning glory bush, harvesting the nectar I guess. I took several pictures but only these two came out. There were also a few of some other types of wasps and lots of lady bugs too.

Can you see all the yellow jackets? There were at least 8 on this cluster but I guess the other two flew away or are hidden.

This guy was trying to decide if I was a threat or not. Glad he made the right decision.

Monday, December 3, 2012

an arty glassy week/end

I'm tired and I don't want to go back into the city today. We just got home last night about 9:30. Now we are supposed to go back this afternoon for our work week on the mountain wall. This going into the city every week for the last 3 ½ months is beginning to tell on me. But we are so close to being finished. Two more weeks we think. We hope. The carving is done on panel 3 so we just have the shading to do and then the last panel.

We worked our week last week, came home Thursday evening and then turned around and went back on Friday for the open house at our friends' glass blowing studio. It was fun to see the regular participants, our friend Gene who does fused and stained glass, our friend Jennifer who flame works beads and makes some awesome earrings, and of course Dick and Kathy who host the open house in their studio and blow glass.

It was a different crowd this year seemed like. Some regulars showed up but many seemed to be missing. We did all right though. Sold a vase and a small bowl and one of the little pieces I made just for the show. Might have sold more but I just wasn't up for explaining over and over about why these small castings cost so much. Since we have so much commission work these days I wasn't motivated as much as I have been at past shows. For me, it was all about the socializing this year.

Saturday night after we closed down Marc and I headed over to our local gallery for their very last opening. Oliver and Nancy are retiring at the end of the year, closing the gallery. We'll have to find a new local gallery but it's going to be hard I think, finding the right one. Goldesberry Gallery was very unique, the only fine craft gallery in the city and they did very well for us over the years. We're going to miss them.

And Sunday after closing we all went to Star Pizza for dinner and relaxing and laughing with our friends which is why we didn't get home til 9:30 last night.

Now, today, I am ready for a day in which nothing is required of me.