Wednesday, December 31, 2014

year end

Here it is, the last day of the year. I have found myself with a near total lack of interest in writing for my blog this past week and haven't even been online much.

The three grandgirls (the grandboy has to work) arrived last night and are here til Sunday. We have secured fireworks and food and started on a new jigsaw puzzle. Their parents and the grandboy will be here later for our fireworks fun.

Autumn came and spent last weekend with us as well and Saturday was Marc's birthday so instead of working at the antique store or in the shop, we went to the movies and out for lunch. We saw The Battle Of The Five Armies and were a little confused at first until we realized we had not seen the second installment of the Hobbit trilogy. Oh well. We have both read the book so we knew they story.

Sunday we took Autumn home where Jade had made a cake for her Grandpa.

Monday, I worked in the shop all day filling the second bowl mold. I'm already behind. The oleander bowl didn't come out that great, well, it cast just fine but the colors didn't work which I'm at a loss to explain since I followed my notes on a previous one that came out great. So now, if I have time, I'm going to try it again but it will really be the VERY LAST ONE! As it is, I still have to get another wax bowl prepped and I'm supposed to send images of what I have to the gallery next week. Ha. Like that's going to happen.

It's really cold this week, unseasonably so, and overcast. Not helping my mood.

Well, writing this has been like pulling teeth so I will just give in.

Happy New Year y'all.

Friday, December 26, 2014

a day of rest and the last selfie

I trust everyone who celebrates Christmas had a wonderful day.

I never did feel like I really woke up yesterday. That's usually what happens when my body is telling me to knock it off. Plus I had a pain in my back. So while my brain had a work day scheduled yesterday to fill the 2nd bowl mold, I could never find the energy or motivation to get up off the couch. Oh, what the hell, I figured, most people in this country and other predominately christian countries are taking a day off so even though this is not a day I celebrate, I did too. Take the day off. Wouldn't have mattered what day it was though, when my body says rest, I rest. So I lounged around all day and finished my book. The only time I got up was to go take care of the cats.


So, the selfies...

My face retained a relatively youthful appearance right up until I turned 60 and then it was like some sort of switch was flipped and the skin got crepey and deep wrinkles appeared. And spots. Either that or the clear mirror and bright florescent lights in the bathroom of the country house illuminated what the small silver stained antique mirror and the dim light in the bathroom of the old city house had disguised.

I was shocked, I tell you, shocked. Dismayed by the image looking back at me. Disturbed that it did not reflect how I feel. Unsettled that I could see the beauty in the aged faces of others but not in my own.

And so the Selfie Project was born. I figured that if I took enough pictures of myself and posted them for all to see I would, if not see the beauty in my own aged face, at least get used to it, accept it.

Well the year is done and the selfies are complete and the only thing I achieved is to realize that I do, indeed, look like the old woman I apparently am.

Sobeit. Not that I mind being 64 years old. I find it kind of amazing actually... to have survived and still have my health intact (so far anyway), to still have the drive, energy, and desire to work...and consider myself lucky.

The smiling selfie as requested, also the best one I could come up with that didn't look like a grimace.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

work, dogs, and cats

Another rainy day and another small bowl mold to fill. This one is the sea fan/coral design.

While I am waiting for Marc to get the molds ready and I am not working in the antique store (which I am doing more this week taking some of my sister's days while she is out of town), I have been grinding excess glass off the bottom of several castings. Ideally, I would use a motorized loose grit flat lap, also called a slurry grinder, but I don't have one. In the past I have used the one at my friends the glassblowers' shop in Houston but now, that is harder to arrange. I want to buy one, and with the sale of the city property last summer I have the money, but the 30” diameter one I want is $8,000. So far I haven't been able to bring myself to spend that much money on one tool.

Here's my gerry-rigged slurry grinder.

A piece of 1/2” glass, 60 mesh aluminum oxide, and water.

I have to remove and replace the grit when the sludge of the ground off glass builds up too much.

It actually works well even if it does take longer.

As mentioned above, I worked in the shop yesterday and will again tomorrow. The pups are being good little dogs.

Merlin and Morgan le Fay

This ain't their first rodeo here as they have been coming to stay with us three or four times a year, whenever my sister goes to visit her out of town family, for the last three years which is why we were so surprised when Merlin peed on the box. Her cats stay at home and I go by every day to care for them and pet on them. Well, except for yesterday. I cared for them but did not pet them long as usually after my sister has been gone for a few days they get a little pissy. Pissed off that she has gone off and left them again and they take it out on me. Sunday Piewacket climbed in my lap and purred while I petted him. Yesterday he bit me. Nova usually greets me at the door purring. Yesterday he sullenly avoided me and looked like he was going to bite me when I tried to pet him.

OK. Fine. I won't pet you.

Well, I was going to get pics of the cats before I posted but I forgot my camera. They were much nicer today, purring and sitting in my lap again. And I didn't get the mold filled after all, too many other work related things that needed taking care of, but I did get all the preliminary work done, trimming the mold, doing the volume measure, and the frit measured out so I can jump on it Thursday. The oleander bowl comes out of the kiln tomorrow.

Friday, December 19, 2014

rain, work, and the selfie

Raining, raining, raining and I have to fill the oleander bowl mold today. So far I haven't made it over to the shop but I need to get my butt over there soon as it will take me the best part of the day to get it done.

My sister dropped her two little dogs off early this morning as she is headed out to spend this next week with her oldest daughter and her family and the first thing the little male did was to pee on a cardboard box in the big room (in his defense, it's the first time he has ever done that).

The cat is not happy. Not only is it raining but those two interlopers are here again.

As you can see, I did get over to the shop and get started on this mold. It's been years since I did one of these and I've forgotten the sequence, what part to do in what order. Well, this is going to take me all day and maybe then some. Except I have to get it finished today since I work at the antique store tomorrow.

So, yes I did finish today about 7 PM, another 30 minutes to clean up the work space because we are short at least one table in the shop.

I'm tired. I had barely gotten started when it was time for lunch but then, four solid hours of focused attention and fine motor skills.

And because it seems I don't smile enough and have had a request for a selfie with a smile before it's done, today you get two. The thing about the smiling though is that I find it hard to produce a genuine smile when I am taking a selfie and so it looks forced to me so I usually try for some other expression that reflects how I am feeling or what I am doing. But I do smile a lot. At least I think I do. And I'm having a very hard time picking a picture. I'm not going to tell you how many I took of me trying to produce a genuine smile. Mostly they were scary looking.

You know what? Never mind. I'm too tired to pick. I'll try again next Friday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

chasing wax

I'm working on small bowl waxes this week for the three that I promised a gallery for their show in March. These are the small (6” diameter x 3” high) limited edition (25) reproduction bowls that we started out doing. They were so cheap, $250, at first. Now they go for $650, but even at that (we only get half), they are more work than they are worth. Not to mention that I got tired of doing them. I didn't even complete some of the editions. In fact, we don't even do vessel forms anymore. At least not currently.

The last design I did in the small bowls was the oleander. That's the wax I'm working on now. The other two I'm going to do are the lizard and ivy design and the sea fan and coral design. Even though these waxes are pulled from reproduction molds, they do not come out perfect and the older the reproduction mold, the more deterioration. So I have to 'chase' the wax. Meaning I have to fix all the flaws. Working on this very complicated wax yesterday, all I could think of was how much I did not want to be doing this. These will be the VERY LAST ones I am going to do, series finished or not.

I would much rather be working on new stuff. 


Sunday, December 14, 2014

a promise made

We've been having some nice weather this past week. Daytime temps in the mid 60s to low 70s. This is more normal for us than the cold we were having a couple of weeks ago. It has not been unusual to be in the low 70s on christmas. Winter follows soon after though. That whole wheel in the sky thing. Winter usually follows on the heels of the solstice even though the days will start to get longer.

Besides some of the roses

which put on their late fall burst, and a yellow butterfly ginger bud which has been growing glacially to the point I was convinced we were going to have a freeze before it ever decided to bloom,

I didn't see the little moth dining on the nectar until I downloaded the images

not much else is happening in the yard beyond the lingering fall bloomers whose remaining flowers are getting smaller and fewer. It's the resting time of year after all but while many things are bedding down for the winter, some things are waking up.

Like the little red lilies that blanketed the yard of the old city house and bloom in late winter/early spring that are springing up out here in the places where I have been trying to get them established...

and the baby blue eyes, which also bloom early spring, are also sprouting in a couple of areas so I'm happy about that.

And the poppies...

and larkspur that is coming up again along the driveway having migrated out of the bed they started in...

and judging by the number of bluebonnets sprouting up in the front and back, it's going to be a good year for them next year.

These will see me through, watching their progress, waiting for the first blooms of spring.

Friday, December 12, 2014

holiday stuff and a totally unrelated selfie

I should be in the kitchen trying to whip something up for the garden club christmas party pot luck lunch buffet today. I should be jumping in the car and running down to the square to find a little gift for the chinese gift exchange they will have. But I'm not. This thing always sneaks up on me because I just don't do christmas. Don't think about it, don't plan for it. I didn't even go last year or the year before. The only reason I'm going today is because my sister is going. Besides, I've been busy this week working on a master bath window, nothing complex, just reproducing the tile pattern in a border.

That was yesterday morning and I did decide, after all, to run down to the square and check out a couple of the shops. First shop, strike one. Second idea was a nice bar of handmade soap with garden fragrances but the only ones they had at the second shop I went to were intended mostly for men and really smelled terrible so strike 2. Third shop though is a great antique/junk shop and she has chandelier crystals so I got one that had three small octagonal crystals and a large pendant shaped one all hooked together. I thought it would be nice hanging in a window or out on a patio.

So the buffet had some interesting things as these things usually do. My favorite was a casserole of sausage, potatoes, and sauerkraut and some kind of sauce. Doesn't sound that good but it was. And there was a chicken and dumpling casserole that was good. Lots of other predictable stuff...stuffed mushrooms, meatballs, salads, some corn thing I didn't try. I didn't get in line soon enough and so missed the deviled eggs though I did get some of a lot of different things. My sister and I were sitting next to each other to eat and I picked up something and took a bite and put it back down and said, 'well, that was terrible'. Later I asked her which of the foods she had brought. 'The one you didn't like', she says. Of course it would be that one.

Anyway, when my number came up for the gift exchange and it was time for me to choose, I chose a bamboo wind chime that had already been opened by someone, snatched by someone else, and then snatched by me but I got to keep it because we put a limit on how many times an opened gift could be snatched. It was fun, fun to see what items were passed around and which ones weren't. It seemed like one woman opened at least half the gifts since whatever she currently had was usually snatched by someone else. Well, probably not half but at least a third. At one point she quipped did we all just want her to go ahead and open all the rest of them?

We had a good time at the open house last weekend, visiting with friends we only see once or twice a year now since we moved out of the city. I don't think we had nearly as many people come by this year as last but we sold more than last year. We sold four pieces, two of the new ones and two older ones plus sold one of the new ones via FB before the weekend ever got here. Now I have to get the waxes ready for the three limited edition series of small bowls that I promised a new gallery in Florida for their show coming up in March in which we are participating. I'll send the framed lizard and bee sculptures as well. I have to get these done before we start casting the last of the Botanicas.

And speaking of the last of the Botanicas, I think I'm going to do one more but this one will be large, 18” square. It won't be nearly as thick though because it would be tremendously heavy.

Oh, yeah. And the selfie (just 2 more to go).

Monday, December 8, 2014


When my son was 15, he and two of his friends went down to the park at the end of our block after dark to play war with their BB guns where they proceeded to run around, hiding behind trees, and shooting at each other. A neighbor, hearing the shots, called 911 reporting gunfire in the park. The police responded with a helicopter using its searchlights and several cars which descended on the boys and officers approached the boys with guns drawn. After the boys were questioned, the officers confiscated their BB guns, loaded them in the back of the car unhand-cuffed, and brought them home. They were released into my care and issued citations for being in the park after hours. 

My son and his friends are white.

Granted, this was 17 years ago before the NRA decided that every home in the country needed to have 10 guns, the more powerful the better, but I have no doubt that even 17 years ago if my son and his friends had been black they would have been shot first and questioned later. If they survived being shot and the questioning, they would surely have been hand-cuffed and hauled off to jail. If it happened today to my white son and his friends I feel sure that they would be brutalized and maybe shot. If they were black, they would most certainly be killed before any orders of compliance were issued and none of the cops would be charged with their murders.

Killing blacks with impunity in this country is nothing new. As slaves their owners killed them with impunity, when freed their neighbors killed them with impunity, and now the cops kill them with impunity.

Much has been said by whites shielded by their white privilege about these recent and continuing murders of black people by the cops mostly amounting to saying that if those black people had just complied with police orders, if they had just showed some respect they would still be alive. But the fact is that these victims aren't given a chance to comply, aren't treated with respect, before they are shot dead, tased into unconsciousness or death, or brutally beat up. The police have done this so often with no repercussions that they are out of control. They respond with deadly force first and ask questions later knowing that all they have to do is say they felt their lives were in danger. According to the white officer Darren Wilson who murdered a black teen, just being black makes cops feel endangered. If these cops are so fearful for their lives while they do their jobs that they shoot first and immediately, that they unload their guns into unarmed citizens, then these people need to get a different job.

We hear about how most cops are good cops, that only a small percentage of cops are racist sociopaths but when good cops won't stand against bad cops, when good cops don't stop a bad cop from being unnecessarily brutal, when good cops allow bad cops to continue, just how good can 'good' cops be? They close ranks and protect them. Grand juries refuse to indict them. They stand by and watch a fellow officer employ an illegal chokehold on an unarmed man for selling single cigarettes, a chokehold so tight that he crushed the man's trachea and killed him. Not one of the other officers on the scene tried to intervene and stop it.

More training the pundits cry. But the problem is not lack of training. The problem is extreme racism in the police forces. Ask any black cop. The problem is hiring sociopaths, the problem is not requiring a certain level of intelligence to become a police officer, a person who is supposed to protect and serve.

A bunch of white separatists can point guns at and stand off police and federal agents and they aren't even arrested. A 12 year old black boy playing with his legal toy gun is shot dead within moments of the police arriving. White guys parading around in stores or on the streets with their semi-automatic rifles aren't even approached by police. A black guy holding a toy gun in a store that sells toy guns in an open carry state is shot dead basically on sight.

The problem is not lack of training. The problem is not lack of compliance on the part of black people.

The problem is, this is a racist country with racism rampant in the police departments and in the white population. The problem is that black and brown people are targeted for search and harassment just for being out in public. Even all the protests and rioting caused by the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager among others, with all the publicity and evidence shared massively through social media, the police have not even paused.

So now the 'solution' is to have all cops wear body cameras as if that is going to make a difference. We already have plenty of video out there showing police brutality. It doesn't matter. No one will indict a cop. They don't even lose their jobs. And until they do, nothing will change.

Until this country stands up for, stands with, stands behind it's black and brown citizens, then we have no moral ground to criticize other countries for human rights violations.

I have focused on the racism in this country because most of the police brutality and murders are inflicted on people of color but the fact is, white people are also brutalized by police and in growing numbers.

Friday, December 5, 2014

around the yard and the Friday selfie

I've been wandering around in the yard this morning and the past few days looking for things to take photos of. It's pretty dismal out there and picking up the handful (or shirtfull) of pecans as I wander around the yard hinders that somewhat. Why, oh why, do I keep declaring the end of the pecan harvest? The trees are mostly bare of leaves now and looking up there still seems to be so many. Some are just empty pods but I daresay most have pecans in them. I do believe that this year's quantity has surpassed two years ago when everyone was marveling about the bountiful harvest and the quality is damn near as good.

This is what I bought with some of my pecan money, a new wind chime/yard ornament.

We went in to the city yesterday to set up our display for the open house this weekend. We'll be heading back in the late afternoon for this evening's preview and we'll stay overnight for Saturday. Since we don't have to be there til noon on Sunday, we'll come home Saturday night. I still have to figure out pricing, my least favorite part of doing these cast pieces. There is no way I can get enough to cover all the time invested in them so it's a matter of trying to figure out what the market will bear without actually giving them away. And I should come up with some sort of display describing the process so people can understand their sticker shock but I'm not really invested in that since I'm running out of time, though I did print out the three blog posts on model making, mold making, and mold filling.

Alright, on to the other photos.

The roses in the Little Back Yard are putting on their fall blooms.

And this bromeliad blooms every year at this time.

The little shrimp plant that I brought over from the old city property and which sat there and did nothing for the longest despite my exhorting it to grow and bloom, finally did start growing and blooming.

This morning, the glass in the storm door was covered with dew and this little bug made a trail across it.

We have a small dogwood tree that has never bloomed in the 7 years we have had the country property. I understand it never bloomed for the people we bought the house from either. After we lost those four big branches from the pecan tree last fall and this summer, it gets more sun than it did before. I was looking at it earlier and spied four or five little buds forming so maybe next spring we will have four or five flowers.

The framed pate de verre pieces.

And me. It's warm and sunny out, will be warm tomorrow too, cooling slightly on Sunday so I'm sporting capris and t-shirt. And breezy. Did I mention breezy?


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

finishing up

I gave my back and legs a workout Sunday and last night I was feeling it. It was warm with a nice south wind and I put on shorts and went out and cleared the rest of the gone by field sunflowers and grasses out of the wildflower spot. Now is the time to spread seeds.

I picked one of the last confederate rose blooms and brought it in.

This is a volunteer from the parent bush which has some weird thing wrong with it and it grows all deformed so I don't let it grow any longer, snapping off all the new growth sprouts that are still coming up from the root. The flowers on parent bush opened pink and got darker but the ones on the new bush open white and turn dark pink by the end of the day.

Monday morning, it was still warm so I made a small mountain in the back of the truck from the two piles I had made the day before and drove it across the street to the burn pile over there. That one is our official burn pile now. The one behind the house is on land we have poached from the 13 Acre Field. After loading it all in the back of the truck I went in and changed from my jeans into the shorts I was wearing Sunday so I was standing on the tailgate pulling and shoving dead and dried plant debris out and onto the new burn pile. It was very dark to the northeast and suddenly the air went from warm to chilly. The temperature dropped that suddenly. Guess I was a little hasty in my change of clothes and changed back into my jeans when I was done. It rained the rest of the day so I worked on the peach pit waxes, getting them ready to send off to be cast in bronze.

Today I picked up what may be the last bucket of pecans. The leaves have pretty much finished falling in the last week and the trees look pretty empty. The leaf cover was so dense on the ground, I quit looking until Marc mulched with the mower. Same for the ginkgoes and tallows. Nothing but empty branches out my window now except for the evergreens.

Standing in the street I noticed how the three trees leaves are different colors changing from brown to red to yellow to the still green grass beyond...hackberry, cypress, ginkgo.

I'm sort of goofing off today since I got all the cold work done on the cast pieces last week and I will be working all weekend at the open house. We set up on Thursday and then the preview is Friday evening and then all day Saturday and noon to 5 on Sunday. Tomorrow the frames are supposed to be ready for the lizard on the leaf and the bee on the bark so I will be busy finishing up those, getting them mounted.

Here's the finished pieces except that the two aren't finished until they are in their frames.

2” x 5”

4” x 4”

2” x 3”

2.5” x 5”

4” x 7”

2” x 5”