Monday, February 29, 2016

dog story, part whatever

Well, life is back to normal here...almost. I enjoyed my four days of solitude. I got most of the tomato plants planted and a purple orchid tree planted (but not the peach tree yet), I made headway in the 850 page book I'm reading, I cooked a little bit, I finally got the magnolia leaves all put together (no picture yet). Mostly though I didn't do diddly squat.

The quiet ended Friday evening when I drove to the city to pick up grandgirl Jade who wanted to come spend the weekend. Saturday morning, I was standing out in the Little Backyard and saw the two big dogs trotting along the edge of the Wild Space toward the road and cast my gaze to my own Big Backyard and there was the puppy, at the back edge of my property out in the open, big dogs a good distance away. I opened the gate and ran towards the puppy who saw me and started trotting towards the Wild Space and it and I reached the edge at about the same time. It cowered under some scrub and started yipping and when I reached for it it started crying. Took me a few tries before I could grab it by the scruff of it's neck (didn't want to get bit), at which point it started shrieking and I took off running back to the Little Backyard and the safety of the fence. I didn't look to see if the adults were coming after me, just hoped I got there first. You would have thought I was torturing that puppy from the sounds it was making. Pulled Jade right out of bed to see what was going on.

As soon as I put it down it ran behind the turtle pond which is snug up against the fence in the corner. Jade started trying to coax it out when I went in to get it some food and water.

It wasn't long before it's hunger overcame it's fear.

SPOT (Stray Pet Outreach Team) was having an adoption event that morning at the Junior College so we shut the puppy up in the little bathroom

and went to see what they wanted me to do with it, where to take it. We did see four of the other puppies. One has already been adopted out and another had just left with someone who is fostering it until it gets adopted. They asked me if I would please keep it over the weekend as the vet was about to close for the day but if I ran by there right away they would give me some flea and tick repellent/killer which we did.

We came home and I gave that dirty smelly dog a bath and Jade took him outside to dry in the sun before I put the flea stuff on him.

It didn't take that little dog long to decide that being around humans inside with food and water and affection was far better than the life he had been living. Later in the afternoon, he was exploring around the house and climbed in the box for paper recycling and took a nap.

Minnie spent most of the day Saturday either barking at the puppy or being annoyed when he would take her toys and chew sticks.

I let him use Minnie's little bed which she never gets in anymore but he ended up sleeping with Jade Saturday night. Sunday morning, her dad showed up, who is a sucker for puppies, to go work on their property and within 10 minutes he's got Sarah on the phone telling her about the new dog. I could hear her on the phone...NO NO NO NO NO. They already have two dogs and two cats and are getting ready to move this summer and, as she says, she's having a hard enough time finding a place with the animals they already have. A few hours later, after I returned from picking Marc up from the airport, my daughter showed up with the other two grandgirls and one of their friends and that puppy's butt did not touch the ground again until they all left.

Last night I closed him up in the little bathroom when I went to bed and of course he started crying and then Minnie started barking because his crying upset her so I ended up opening the door and sleeping in the back bedroom where I could talk to him until he settled down.

He's a smart little dog and except for a couple of instances right at first, he does his business on newspaper during the night and outdoors during the day as long as he has access to it so I am keeping the screen door propped open. Good thing the weather is nice.

And he and Minnie are getting along. She wants to play and he does in his clumsy puppy way while she bounces all around him.

The cat, however, is not amused.

I'm taking him to the vet today and dropping him off. The people at SPOT have asked me if I would consider fostering him until he gets adopted out, about 4 – 6 weeks currently she said as puppies adopt out faster. I have considered it and as long as I had a house full of teenage girls to deal with him I thought I would but cooler heads have prevailed and to tell the truth, I don't think I'm up to house training and socializing another puppy. We're going to be starting that big job soon that I keep talking about as we have received our purchase order and are just waiting on the deposit check and when we do, I really won't have the time or attention for a puppy.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

dog pack update

I called the county sheriff's department earlier this week just to confirm what I already knew, that there is no animal control in the county. My only option, they said, was to call WCSPOT (Wharton County Stray Pet Outreach Team). I didn't do that right away because the last time I called them about five chihuahuas, one with puppies, they wouldn't help out because they were at capacity. Fortunately, my sheriff deputy neighbor found homes for them all, or perhaps he got SPOT to help out after all. Anyway, I finally called them yesterday.

I hadn't seen the dogs since Monday (been raining), and haven't seen the mother for days before that, and I walked along the edge of the Wild Space looking for them and about halfway between my property and the road, I saw the male that's been getting in my pond and tearing things up and one puppy so I tossed a few firecrackers in their direction (they were easily 20 yards away from me). A car with two women pulled up on the road and yelled at me was I shooting those dogs? That pissed me off. What was it to her? No, I hollered back, I'm trying to scare them away with firecrackers, you want them, you get them. She turned and spoke to the driver who said something I could hear but not understand. I just shrugged and eventually they drove on down the road and out of sight. A few minutes later I saw them coming back in the direction they had come.

So I called SPOT and was describing the dogs and their location and she told me that they had picked up 6 puppies yesterday on Walter Rd. that sounded like the dogs I was talking about. Sure enough, they are those puppies so I told her they missed one. She said they would see what they could do to get the last puppy and the adults and might be calling me today about it. But not so far. I haven't seen the puppy today but I did see both adults out in my absentee neighbor's yard.

Anyway, the 6 puppies are at the local vet that works with SPOT getting evaluated and their shots and will be available for adoption. They do look healthy.

For those of you who may have thought that my attitude and response to the dogs was less than compassionate, let me just say that I have seen what a feral dog pack can do. When we first moved out here there were a couple of feral dogs in this same area. The female had two litters one after the other and she tried to move them into my absent neighbor's backyard and under the house which I went to great lengths to prevent them getting in there. Eventually the pack consisted of about 6 adults and another litter of puppies. They became bolder and more aggressive and I eventually had to rescue another neighbor's terrified and screaming goat from being killed that they had cornered and had already bitten several times. You can read that story here.

I'm glad that the puppies were caught and hope they get the last one and the adults as well. A much better solution to someone finally having enough and shooting them.

Monday, February 22, 2016

home alone

Saturday morning we were up at 4 AM so that the husband could make his 7:30 AM flight to Vail, Colorado. It's an hour and a half drive to the airport in Houston so we left the house at 4:30. Marc is spending a week with my brother at his timeshare. My brother skis. My husband does not so he plans to hang out or go visit his brother in Denver while my brother is swishing down snowy mountainsides. I had no interest in going and after 40 some years of being together 24/7 as working partners, having the house to myself for a week sounded much better than freezing my ass off in the snow. So I dropped him off and headed back home where I needed to get ready for my day at the antique store.

Saturday evening, my grandson called. He would be out either late that night or early Sunday to spend a couple of days and work on his car. I had already gone to bed when I heard him come in with my youngest grandgirl, Robin, in tow. And yesterday, my daughter and son-in-law came out to work on their property and brought out twin Jade.

Sunday, I had planned to plant my newly acquired peach tree and tomatoes from the trip to the nursery last Thursday so after fixing eggs and pancakes for breakfast I headed outside. I didn't actually get anything planted as I got sidetracked by having Mikey move the arbor to it's new location for me so I set about to secure it in place with stakes and getting it leveled and plumb and then cleaning out some of the dead canes and dead branches that have fallen in the climbing roses.

Next, I set about constructing a crude fence around my two tubs of water plants because the black dog, foiled from getting into the small pond or filter, thrashed around in the two tubs tearing up those plants. And I think there are 6 puppies, not four. 

I tossed a couple of firecrackers (courtesy of my neighbor) their way yesterday afternoon when they were on the edge of the Wild Space. The problem with that is that Minnie freaks out too and she was nervous all the rest of the day.

Late afternoon, The Girl and SIL came by to pick up Jade and Robin (Mikey stayed overnight again to work on his car today which is his day off work and to help me unload another yard of dirt if I went and fetched it, none of which is going to happen as we woke up to a slow gentle rain). She was telling me that Mikey told her he was coming out this weekend because 'Granny's going to be alone with Grandpa gone and she'll get lonely'. Nice that the grandkids are looking out for me.

I am a lucky girl.

Friday, February 19, 2016

stray dogs and lily ponds

Last summer a couple of stray dogs showed up, dumped I suppose by those who, instead of giving their pets up to a shelter, drive them out to the country and abandon them. I'd say the pets are better off without those owners except they aren't. They were pretty harmless until about the first of the year. The two moved into the far end of the Wild Space by the road that my street dead ends into and have had a litter of puppies, four of them.

Now they are running at and barking at people who walk past there on the road and they hang out in my absentee neighbor's yard driving Minnie nuts. She does her job, barking like mad and chasing after them to run them off.

Recently, though, they have discovered my water lily pond which is outside the fence around the Little Backyard. I can see it from where I sit if the back door is open and the other day I looked up to see the big black dog frolicking IN the pond. I chased it off and looked to see what damage and the pot of horsetail was knocked over as well as the two pots of water lilies. I righted all the pots and for the next few days kept finding the pots knocked over and the water level decreasing.

Earlier this week, I repotted a few cuttings into bigger pots and set the pink Turk's Cap on the ground next to the water lily pond where it would get more sun. The next morning, the pot was knocked over and emptied of all the dirt and the little plant was no where to be found and the horsetail was once again knocked off the little shelf and into the deeper part of the pond.

Yesterday, after spending a fun morning in the shop with my new friend and fellow artist Kathleen playing around with making molds out of silicone caulk, I walked around the back to find that those dogs had not only knocked over all the water plants again but had gotten into the natural filter for the pond which is sort of like a miniature pond where another pretty little flowering water plant grows and torn them to shreds and dug around in it.

Well, I needed to clean that out but it wasn't how I had planned to spend the rest of my day. The plants will recover once I get them planted in there again as they are almost like weeds but I had to completely empty the filter, rinse it all out and off, and relayer the volcanic rocks and pebbles.

I'm really pissed off now so when I had finished doing that and dredging all the leaves and crap out of the pond, I got some hardware cloth and chickenwire out of the barn and covered both the pond and the filter, leaving the pot of horsetail on the little shelf at the narrow end. This morning, I checked it out to see if they had tried to get in it again (the chickenwire and hardware cloth were still in place) and the pot of horsetail was missing. 

not so pretty now

I looked around to see the now empty pot about 30 feet from the pond in my neighbor's yard and not one sign of the horsetail.

Vindictive little bastards.

I don't know what to do about the dogs as they are getting braver (though they still run from me when I yell at them) and when those puppies grow up it's going to be a 6 member feral pack and that's if the female doesn't have another litter. There is no county dog catcher, they will tell you to catch the dogs for pick up. There was a feral dog pack here when we first moved here but my neighbor Jimmy, who is a deputy with the sheriff's department and who lives across the road, 'took care of them'. By that I mean I think he shot them though I neither witnessed it nor heard it but one day they were here and the next they weren't.

Wish I had some firecrackers. It's what I used the last time to keep them out of my yard.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

foiled and foiled again

Why is it that I am always busy but I don't seem to be getting anything accomplished!

I finally decided what to do with the magnolia leaves, paring it all down to the basics, and got the wood cut and sanded so the metal plate will 'float' away from the wall and the hangers and was ready to put it all together and the last bit of the adhesive would NOT come out of the tube. So, now, I'm waiting for new adhesive to arrive.

Drove out to the nursery Sunday, about a 30 minute drive, to find they were closed. Closed on Sunday. You know, that day when people are off work and have time to work in the yard and garden, but that's what they do out here in the country. As if that's not bad enough, the feed store and the hardware store here both close at noon on Saturday. About the only thing open on Sunday is the grocery store, the pharmacy, and the gas stations. So, no, I did NOT get my tomatoes and peach tree. And I still need to get the last yard of dirt.

I did finally get the cast glass chicken head glued to the can to slip force over the neck that originally held a gazing ball (I'm guessing) in this iron sun stand that I picked up at an estate sale. My little piece of country folk art. I had wanted to glue it onto the hood of the truck for a hood ornament but the husband wouldn't let me.

And finally got an email from the art consultant yesterday asking if us vendors had received our purchase orders from A & M and if so did we have trouble logging into the link provided. Still no PO for me. As I said before, I am hesitant to get out the model making stuff even though I did for the leaf that failed so spectacularly, because I may be having to start on the art work for the small animal hospital job but I'm anxious to start on some new panels and spring being here is also calling me outdoors and every project outdoors is major so consequently I'm just piddling around trying to do small things to fill the time.

That may be why I feel like I'm wasting my major progress to be seen on any front.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Because getting an iPhone for the first time wasn't challenging enough, I decided to upgrade my Snow Leopard OS to the current El Capitan, something I had avoided doing before because I had heard and read all sorts of horror stories about switching over but so far, it's been unproblematic. It took a while to locate my folder of pictures that didn't automatically reappear but it was there and I needed only customize the sidebar on the finder. And my JEdit app for working on my website was disabled and so far I haven't been able to get it reinstalled but I have gotten two recommendations for a text editor so I think that will be resolved with no problem. The biggest thing I'm having to adjust to is my 'smart' mouse. Before, if I wanted to scroll up, I would slide my finger from the bottom to the top of the mouse; if I want to scroll down, I would slide my finger from the top to the bottom. Now, it's exactly opposite. I will get used to it but for now I'm having to be conscious of how I stroke the mouse.

The iPhone is not so much of an adjustment as my husband has had one for years. Once I upgraded my OS, moving all the, music, my phone was simple. The biggest problem is having to re-enter all my phone contacts by hand as there is no way to transfer from flip phone to iPhone. I suppose they could do it at the Verizon store but that would entail a trip to there.

And I opened an Instagram account. It seemed pointless before though I had the app on my iPad but I don't carry my iPad around with me all the time. It's what I use instead of a laptop when I'm away from home.

OK, boring. All this tech talk.

It's spring here, though we will have more cold weather before winter is completely gone. Today, I'm going to the nursery to get tomato plants and whatever else for the new raised bed and at least one peach tree to plant over in the shop yard. My friend Wesley asked why when there was a peach orchard just down the road, and true, I will buy peaches from them, but I still want one.

early blooming peach tree in my neighbor's yard

Friday, February 12, 2016

time to get with the program

Well, it's happening again. I'm being dragged kicking and screaming from my little cave into the modern world. Marc finally followed up on his threats of getting me an iPhone. I was happy with my little flip phone. It was uncomplicated and did what I needed it to do...make phone calls, text, and tell me what time it is. Plus, it fit nicely in any of my pockets. And since I don't carry a purse, and we all know how mostly useless pockets are in women's pants, this is a big deal.

I haven't activated it yet. Right now I'm making a list of all the phone contacts in my old phone since I may have to enter them all in by hand on the new phone. But even if there is a way to magically transfer my contact list, it's not a bad idea to have a list of phone numbers elsewhere other than the phone.

I'm guessing hoping that I can transfer all my data from the iPad to the iPhone via my iMac. iYiyiyiyi!

So long little purple Lazer. It was a good run.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

magnolia leaves and garden beds

I had decided that I was going to get these magnolia leaves mounted and done last week and this. I've been bouncing ideas off several of my artist friends hoping that their thoughts and opinions would help me solidify my own vision of the piece. About the only decision I've made thus far is that I am not going to mount the three on a single back board but each piece will hang individually and the steel needs to be more rusty.

My trouble is, I can't decide between two options. Some days I like it with an additional piece of wood behind the metal and other days I like it like this, just the leaf on the metal and this is the original concept.

I'm rapidly reaching the point where I am tired of deliberating about it and am ready to be done with it. When that happens I usually fall back to my original position.

I've been given advice on several ways to get the steel rusty quickly but so far I'm just leaving it out in the open and spraying it with water now and then so that I can control just how much it rusts. Of course, now we are having dry windy spring days and it's not happening as fast as I would like it. And some twiddling needs to be done with the length and position of the sticks.

The other thing we almost have accomplished is getting the first raised garden bed actually done. The pieces have been put together for a 4' x 16' bed and I went and got the first of 3 yards of dirt needed to fill it. It ain't well built or pretty, but it's progress and we will have a garden again for the first time in almost two years.

the dirt yard

Fortunately, our grandson was out working on one of his trucks and when he saw us shoveling dirt, came over just after I took this picture and did it for us and faster than we would have done.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

when things go terribly, horribly wrong

You might remember I posted about carving the rose leaflet out of wax for a platform for the small pink flower to sit on. 

Well, I finished it and Marc made the mold and I filled it and it went straightaway into the kiln late afternoon on Wednesday. Marc set the schedule for drying the mold overnight and then moving on up to casting temperature on Thursday. So he went over to the shop Thursday morning to check on it and the kiln had malfunctioned and it was glowing red hot at nearly 2300˚, hot enough to melt batch for glassblowing. Casting temperature for our work is generally around 1500˚, sometimes hotter depending on how deep and narrow some of the elements of the piece are.

He shut the kiln off and cracked the door and by afternoon, while it was still too hot to take the mold out of the kiln, it wasn't too hot to take a picture or two.

So here's what a closed mold looks like when you get it hot enough to boil the glass and mold material and fuse the plaster and silica flour to the glass. (For you glass people out there I used Bullseye transparent lt. green, olive, and grass green in equal parts, all fine frit.)

The kiln shelf is toast, ruined as the glass and plaster at the bottom fused to the ceramic shelf.

It blasted two holes through the mold at the point of the leaf tips and the mold, which is usually soft as chalk after firing, was pretty damn hard and I needed a hammer and a putty knife to chisel and break it off.

I got as much of the mold off as I could and then soaked the piece in vinegar for an hour or so and then used a metal brush to get as much of the mold material off that was going to come off. What remains is hard even though it looks friable.

So instead of a nice rose leaflet, I have an alien geode.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

it's spring! no, it's winter. it's spring! no, it's winter

And so it goes here on the Gulf Coast Plains in February. The finches of both types are still here and also an occasional brown headed cowbird and a robin. We don't usually see too many robins out here though they were plentiful when we lived in the city. All the usual suspects are here as well...sparrows, bluejays, cardinals, titmice, chickadees, wrens, doves, warblers...and they would empty the totem bird feeder four times a day if I would fill it that often. Regardless of the temperature outside, the birds are convinced it's spring.

a bad picture of the brown headed cowbird

As is the 10 petal anemone, usually the first wildflower to make its appearance.

And I finally caught the squirrel climbing the rebar up to the totem bird feeder.

Other activities...

I am far behind in reading blogs and I appreciate that y'all still read and comment on me. And speaking of blogs, I lost about 20 followers overnight a couple of weeks ago because Google has decided not to count those that don't have Google/Blogger accounts. If I was up on this stuff I could have alerted those of you that got cut so if you are still here, I have added a 'notify by email' link on my sidebar so you can continue to keep up with fascinating me.

I've been trying to take advantage of the nice days to get some work done in the yard but really all I have managed to do so far is move the two stunted blueberry bushes and pull up some of the clover around the bluebonnets that are growing in the yard.

Beyond that, I have been working on the mounting for the magnolia leaves trying to decide what it is I want to do with them. I have several configurations going...all mounted on individual pieces of steel on a piece of stained interior grade plywood and framed with the narrow black frame I've been using (to hide the edges of the plywood), the previous with a stick from the magnolia tree worked through the leaves, or just the leaves on their pieces of steel and hung separately. It would probably help me decide if I would just go down and get the piece of plywood and stain it instead of using foam core board in a mock-up. Guess I'll do that tomorrow.

Monday, February 1, 2016

well, cry me a river

So the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is finally over, or nearly, except for the remaining 4 patriots terrorists. They want to leave but they don't want to go to jail and they don't want the FBI looking over, checking (or confiscating) their guns. Apparently they think the only option is to die in a gunfight with the FBI which they expect to storm the place guns blazing. They were still posting their 'come join us and get some guvment blood, there are no laws left in this land' scree and demanding the release of all participants, still vowing to fight to the death several days ago, or they were until the FBI has apparently finally cut off their cell phones and their internet connection. Mostly though, they are just scared little boys who want to go home but don't want to face the consequences of their actions.

You'll have to forgive me for not having any sympathy for these knuckleheads. They'll find out pretty quick that there are still quite a lot of laws in this land. I think the FBI and other law enforcement is being pretty damn lenient letting any of these armed wannabes go without charges after occupying and damaging the Preserve by bulldozing roads, rifling through artifacts, tearing down fences, terrorizing the community, and in general, being belligerent assholes.

Somehow they failed to understand that the land they are trying to liberate for 'the people' is already owned and operated by and for 'the people'. And, in truth, they were not doing this for the people but for themselves. They wanted the land turned over to the ranchers so that they could overgraze it, log it, and mine it for their own profit. Apparently the subsidies, the agricultural exemptions, the pittance they pay for grazing on public land as compared to what they would pay for privately owned land, the cheap loans, all provided by the government that they were up in arms against, all of which they enjoy, weren't enough. To hell with having conservation that protects the land from the activities of humans, that protects the land for the survival of the other creatures that call this planet home, that allows part of this country to remain a wilderness.

Now that the leaders are arrested and one of their number is shot and killed (who got exactly what he wanted, told us all he would rather be killed than go to jail and so he resisted arrest, ran from the law nearly running a man over, and reached for his loaded gun) they're all, we didn't want violence, we are a peaceful group, after a month of being armed to the teeth, publicly declaring that they would fight to the death if law enforcement tried to remove them, almost begging the FBI to come and take it.

What they don't seem to realize is that waving their pocket constitutions around (of which they have no clear understanding, along with their ignorance of history) and flag flying while engaging in armed insurrection against the duly elected government by the people does not make them patriots. A patriot fights for the country of which the government is the legal representative.

What they are, in the end, is just a bunch of selfish entitled religious right wingers who decided to take by force what they had no right to.