Monday, October 31, 2016

small animal hospital at Texas A&M

The installation for the A&M panels was Friday and it went without a hitch. I don't know why I was worried because these guys always do an excellent job.

It was impossible to get good pictures of the individual panels. The sun was so bright and completely washed out the images in the photos. This was the best one I got.

Unfortunately, it didn't go without a glitch. Turns out in one of the panels up near the top in the clear area is a flaw in the plastic interlayer of the laminated glass that escaped detection and if I had just placed the pattern on the glass differently it would have been covered up by the etching. It's not very big, maybe 1/2” x 3/8”, but in certain lighting conditions it is visible and looks like a smudge. And of course, the owner of the art consulting company was there to oversee the installation and so she is aware of it and says it could be a real problem. FUCK. Fuck fuck fuck.

I don't want any problems. I just want to get paid and be done. We're supposed to confab about it later today to see what, if anything, should be done about it. Personally, I'd rather just let it be. People aren't going to be looking that high up, they are going to be looking at the etching and they are going to get dirty so it won't be the only smudge. The staff was already wondering if they were going to be responsible for cleaning the glass or if maintenance was. I've thought of a way to disguise it using the cream etch but worst case scenario is they are going to want us to replace it. At this point that's the last thing I want to do and not just because of the expense.

And if that wasn't enough to ruin my day, plus the fact that, let's face it, once installed and the protective film removed, these panels weren't our best work, yes I know I'm my own worst critic and yes we were asked to reproduce photos instead of letting me design the panels and yes we were working under conditions where we didn't have the control we usually do but that doesn't make me feel any better about the end result, as if all that wasn't enough, I missed one of my turns on the way home and ended up about 24 miles in the wrong direction before I figured it out and had to backtrack adding another 45 minutes to an already 2 hour drive.

I managed to put it all out of my mind over the weekend but now I'm here waiting to hear from the art consultant. This is why I don't want to do etched glass anymore. I'm tired of the problems and this job has been nothing but problems from the beginning.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

flowers and flying things

Re my last post...It may have sounded like I am disappointed (I was) and unhappy (I was) with the way things turned out but I m OK with it now. In retrospect, when I was reaching for that gold ring, I was not having fun. Making the pieces had turned into work and going to the shows was extremely stressful for me, and then there was the debt we kept expecting to pay off when we finally 'made it'. I have a great life and I enjoy the work again and if I never sell another piece, well, that's not why I wanted to do this technique anyway. The whole point of doing this work was to give myself an outlet to do art for myself. I will continue to work at it and not be prolific and I guess my kids and grandkids will have to decide what to do with all the pieces I leave behind.

Last Sunday was a gorgeous day...beautiful blue sky, cool in the shade, warm in the sun, and most important, not humid...a perfect day for being outside. Which I was. All day.

The pool is now cleaned, dried, folded, and packed away where it will stay until one of the kids or grandkids decides they need an above ground pool or I decide to sell it or one of the grandkids begs me to put it up next summer.

Other fall tasks around the yard were tended to hit or miss. I have still to get anything planted for a fall garden though I did buy some broccoli and cauliflower plants and one bell pepper plant that are still in their little containers. I gathered the day's worth of pecans, cleaned out some of the gone by summer bloomers, used the trimmer around the flower beds and the Little Backyard (the mower won't fit through the gate), picked up the dead and fallen branches and threw them in the back of the truck for transport over to the burn pile, dug up the sprouting nut grass from the back bed because you know there was no way in hell I got it all the first time, and I don't know what all. Planted a few pots of stuff, taking them out of the nursery and into the real world.

The birds have vacated though. I've noticed in the last week or so that there are almost no birds around, not even the cardinals, chickadees, and titmice. Or wrens. Even though the amount of seed I put out every morning in the totem bird feeder gets eaten, I don't see them. I've had the tea cup back up for a couple of months now but I never see a bird come to it here lately so I don't know what's up with that.

Still have lots of butterflies. Saw this little hairstreak that allowed me to photograph it.

I spied this dragonfly and moth hanging out on the yellow ginger waiting for the sun to warm them up.

This scary looking guy convinced me I did not want to touch it.

I was taking pictures of the toad lilies 

when this hummingbird moth flew right in front of me, not at all bothered by me or my camera.

And the cosmos and other things are still blooming like mad.

Monday, October 24, 2016

I'm pretty sure this one will slip through my fingers as well

A little background...After years of doing the work, joining the groups, paying my dues, entering exhibitions, getting picked up by two prestigious galleries, getting shown at some of the important art exhibitions, amassing an enormous debt in a bid to attract the attention of the Collectors, it all seemed to be going my way. November 2008 was our third year at SOFA (Sculptural Objects and Functional Art), a very prestigious show. Everyone told us that the third year was the year that things would start happening, the work would start to sell. Except it was November 2008, the year that the bottom dropped out of the economy, the year that Bernie Madoff's embezzlement came to light, the year that all of a sudden lots of these collectors found themselves to have lost millions of dollars. SOFA 2008 was a bad show for just about everybody and the years that followed found galleries going out of business and artists giving it up and getting jobs.

Instead of taking off, I was sidelined. Galleries focused on the big names, the already sure sellers. I don't really blame them, they were just trying to survive but it was devastating to me, demoralizing and I didn't produce any new work for over two years. I would go in the studio and look at the wax and my tools and turn around and walk back out.

I did eventually get back in the studio but it took me three years to produce the 20 Botanicas and while I am still making new work in between commission jobs, I'm not very prolific. I no longer enter exhibitions, well, rarely (I was really disappointed that, while being on the short list for selection, none of my work was purchased for the small works collection displayed at the airport in Houston, that my piece didn't make it into the Lifeforms exhibit, and I seem to get rejected more than accepted these days when I do enter). I've given up becoming a darling of the galleries and Collectors and I'm OK with that.

Still, there are a few people out there that remember me. We were asked to participate in the Texas glass exhibition at the museum in Corpus Christi 2 years ago and Kittrell/Riffkind Gallery in Dallas always asks us for a piece for their anniversary show and most recently, like last week, I got an email from a guy who is organizing a Texas glass exhibition for the art museum in Victoria and my name was recommend to him and he asked me to call.

It didn't go very well.

After a long explanation of how the exhibit came to be and his juggling of narrative vs conceptual and his decision to focus on conceptual art, he mentioned a few Texas glass artists who I had never heard of. We had been recommended by a woman at Corning who had previously worked at the Houston Center For Contemporary Craft, he said, because he didn't have anyone in mind for pate de verre and he wanted to include all the techniques. He had been looking at my web site, he said, and after dismissing just about everything he had seen as too narrative, asked about a particular piece but not the whole piece but only one of it's components. I described it to him, what it was about.

How big is it, he asked.

5” tall, I answered.

Oh, well, what about this other piece, he asked.

6”, I answered.

Do you have anything larger, he asked. (He wanted large art pieces.)

Afraid not, I told him, all my work is small. The technique is so difficult and time consuming and detailed that if I worked large, I'd get about one piece done a year that would be so expensive I'd never sell it.

I have to give him credit for trying to include me though.

He finally asked about a vase form, which is also only 6” tall, that had sold years ago and it's about as literal and narrative as my work gets. Did I know who bought it, he wanted to know.

Maybe. So I'm supposed to be emailing the woman I think has it and see if she would be willing to loan it for this 2 or 3 month exhibition which might travel to other museums in Texas.

I told him I was working on some new pieces that might better fit but he seemed to want to select the work now, 9 months in advance. He sort of hemmed and hawed about that so I guess I'll send him some images when I get these pieces done, if I get them done in a timely manner, always dicey with me, and we left it with me contacting the woman mentioned above about the Under Foot piece.

Under Foot

So, we'll see. My work is NOT conceptual in any way or form of the idea and for the most part, conceptual art leaves me cold. I can't see him using my work just to have the technique represented, sticking out like a sore thumb amongst all the modern/contemporary/abstract work I imagine he is selecting.

Friday, October 21, 2016

two chores

Did I say that we were having what passes for fall weather around here? How silly of me. It's been in the 90s all week. And humid. It was so hot last Sunday that I got overheated and dehydrated working for a couple of hours on the ditch in front of the shop with a machete needs sharpening and long handled nippers and stump killer and poison ivy poison spray. Yes, I know I don't use poison. It goes against everything I believe in but sometimes it is necessary like when it's the only way to get rats out of the walls of your house or get rid of the poison ivy so you can use the weed eater in the ditch. I'm very judicious in it's use, targeting only the plant I need to get rid of and only if more mechanical means won't work. Just goes to show there are no absolutes though, something else I believe in.

Anyway, I hacked away at the 4' tall grasses and other lower stuff that grows in untended places with the machete because the fire hydrant was barely visible so I thought it would probably be a good idea to clear at least around it. After about an hour my neighbor whose property shares the fence around the shop property came out to do his own lawn and came over and finished it in about 5 minutes with his weed eater. I was very grateful. He even brought me out a pair of gloves to wear. 

So I loaded up all the grass I had cut down in the truck and hauled it to the burn pile. Then I cut down the dozen or so small trash trees that had grown up around the gate, against the fence. and in the ditch with the nippers and hauled those to the burn pile. It's a steep ditch so we can't use a mower and poison ivy has colonized a section of it so that has to go before I can use the new gas weed eater that our son-in-law bought and leaves here with us when he doesn't need it. Now I just have to figure out how to start it and use it later, after the poison ivy has died. The last thing I need is to have tiny wet pieces of that plant spewed all over me. Nope.

When I realized I was as hot as I have been on a trip in Big Bend when I was doing the river guide thing in the desert with no river to go dunk in to cool off before I gave out and I had been sweating buckets, I quit and came in. By evening when my face was still red I figured I must have got some sun even though I had been wearing a hat. Monday was hot and sweaty in the shop and when it was time to go to yoga I went in to change clothes and looked at my yoga pants and bent over on the bed.

"I'm tired and I don't want to sweat any more,” I told Minnie who dogs my every step. Abby challenges us and makes us sweat.

I didn't go.

Tuesday and Wednesday were equally hot and sweaty days being outside doing cold work. So I decided that my leg was healed enough that I would get in the pool Thursday and scrub it down and empty it. I haven't been in the pool once this year. I put it up at the grandboy's behest and he and his friend did use it a time or two but mostly it has sat unused with the cover on and me checking the chemicals sporadically and finally not at all.

So guess what? Yesterday it was not hot and a cold front what passes for a cold front here has started blowing in and it was overcast part of the day and I took the cover off the pool and looked at that greenish water with all the leaves and mosquito larvae that had accumulated on the cover in it and...nah, I'm not getting in there. I used the skimming net to get as many of the leaves and stuff out as I could and pulled the plug. I got the sides scrubbed by leaning over as it emptied. This afternoon when it hits the mid 70s I'll get in the ankle deep water that's left and scrub the bottom and we'll dismantle it, rinse it off, and put it away.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

done but not done done and a sudden influx

Yesterday we finished the third and last panel for this A&M job. My installers are scheduled to come pick them up on Friday but they won't be installed until the following Friday, Oct. 28th.  Because of the weight and size of the panels we weren't able to take our usual shop pics so hopefully I'll be able to get some good installation shots.

In the meantime, I'm back to working on the cast stuff, trying to get the finish work done on the castings that got done before we started on this job. Soon, I'll get out the wax for some new models since we have two weekend open houses coming up in December.

The shop is a total wreck though. You might remember that our friend Gene who does stained and fused glass got evicted after 40 years at his location. He was supposed to be out by mid-October but was given an extension til the end of the month. He's been bringing truckloads of glass and equipment here since we offered to let him store his studio in our shop til he gets settled and builds a new studio. Right now he's basically in panic mode with still so much to do to be gone. Not just his studio but his house which he had moved onto the property and now has to have it moved to another property. He's a pack rat like us and here at crunch time he's throwing away and abandoning a lot of stuff. I can relate. We did the same thing when we sold the city property during the summer of 2014 which we had also occupied for 40 years. Even now we look for things that we realize got left behind. When he left yesterday after unloading his truck he was muttering about not knowing if he even wanted to work in glass anymore and we may just be inheriting all this stuff.

I may never have to buy glass again. I will however have to get in that shop and organize and rearrange it to accommodate all the equipment, tools, tables, storage racks and shelving units, and glass that is suddenly at our disposal.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

wallowing in beauty instead of the gutter

The pecan trees have started dropping mature nuts. I've been getting about a double handful a day for the last week-ish. I don't think it's going to be a large crop because looking up in the trees I'm not seeing a lot of nuts up there and of the ones I've collected at this point most are smaller than normal though they seem to be fully mature. Any crop will be better than last year when we didn't get a single pecan, nor did anyone in the area.

The native at the back of the property has been dropping mature nuts for weeks now and I've got nearly a bucketful of them. They're too small for me to mess with shelling though they are said to have the best flavor. They're in big demand in Asia and so I will sell these.

Minnie, our dog the size of a cat, knows what I'm hunting for and hunts for them too. She'll bring them in the house as we find them all over. The other day, Marc and Minnie were out in the yard. When he came in and sat down she followed. He knew she had something in her mouth, suspected it was a pecan, and then she put this down at his feet.

A perfectly shelled pecan with only slight damage to the meat.

The cooler weather of 'fall' and by that I mean our highs are in the 80s and not the 90s has brought out the fall cycle of blooms. Some of my plantings are maturing and so this year I am having many butterflies in the yard and of various kinds. This makes me so happy as it was rare to see one when we moved out here. My yard in the city had been mature for years and I missed that. This shrub, a native sun and drought tolerant perennial that I can never remember the name of, is one of my favorites and one of my disappointments. I thought it was supposed to bloom all summer and it does send out those long bloom stalks all summer long but none of the little pink flowers ever peek out. It does bloom gloriously in the spring and fall though and the butterflies love it. I guess being planted against the west side of the concrete bunker is a little too hot for it.

I planted a native passion flower vine that has been disappointing in that I never see it bloom but it has proved a hatchery for fritillaries and something else as I've seen two kinds of caterpillars on it. 

Between the shop yard and my yard with all the bee and butterfly plantings I've been adding there, I'm seeing the aforementioned fritillaries, swallowtails, sulfurs yellow and white, long wings, monarchs, a queen, a hairstreak, a couple of crescents.

Other things blooming...rangoon creeper, 

morning glory bush, plumbago, yellow bells, 


toad lily, mistflower, 

periwinkles, the ever blooming penta, the white and purple phillipine violets, 

and the yellow trumpet flower is putting on a mass of buds.

Oh, and this was our sky the other night.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

a political PS and a progress report

I haven't been writing or reading other blogs for the past week prior to my last post. I, once again, allowed myself to get sucked into the political morass. It's like a train wreck, a horror that you can't help but watch and you keep expecting it to end but car after car just keeps on crashing. I had intended the first paragraph of my last post to be a lead-in on a piece about Hillary but it carried on with a life of it's own. I've noticed in the last several weeks that many people are coming out now to defend her, rejecting the 25 year old dialog from the Republicans about how corrupt and untrustworthy she is when what they really meant was here's a powerful woman that scares the shit out of us. I think people are becoming weary of this presidential campaign, weary of Trump's bluster, of his tendency to keep the campaign in the gutter. Early voting has started in some states and people are lining up.

One more comment about the campaign and I'll move on...a block or so from my sister's house is a family that supports Trump and they have had yard signs out. I drove by there yesterday on my way to pick her up for yoga and they are sporting two new Trump signs that appeared after his remarks bragging about engaging in the sexual assault of women...Women for Trump. I can't even imagine the mindset of the woman that lives in that house. Well, maybe two more comments. I have noticed that while signs in support of all kinds of republican candidates are sprouting around this bastion of tea party republicans, the ones in support of Trump seem to be few and far between. I even saw a Clinton/Kaine yard sign!

So, I finished my work on the job last week and the last panel is in the booth and being worked on. The installation is scheduled for the 28th, a week after we expect to be finished, so that the owner of the company that does my installations can be on site to supervise and aid in the installation. This fact fills me with relief. It's going to be a very difficult install for several reasons...the marble clad openings that have a slot in the top and one in the bottom so that the glass has to be lifted into the top slot and set in the bottom slot, the only 3” of clearance between the sides of the panels and the marble clad columns between each panel, the 3' or more height of the wall that they are being set into, and the approximate 200 pound weight of the panels. I'm not able to take the usual shop pictures of the finished cleaned off panels because we can't move them so these pics aren't the greatest but here's where we are so far.

middle panel finished

right panel finished but not cleaned or sealed

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

just grab them by the pussy

The expression on his face in this picture says all you need to know about Trump and his opinion of women in general and the one that is wiping the floor with him in particular.

Just as racism increased when a black man ran for and won the highest electoral office in the country not once but twice, now sexism and misogyny are on the rise and it will only get worse. It's already been the standard that women in positions of power are judged on their looks, their clothing, described as shrill when they speak with emphasis or ineffective if they keep their voices down, they are still treated as interlopers in the boy's club and the closer Hillary Clinton gets to winning the presidency the worse the abuse Hillary and all women will have to endure.

Rapists getting off without punishment because it would ruin their lives wasn't enough. Now we are expected to accept that it's acceptable for any man to just walk up and grab a woman by the pussy. The Republican candidate for President of the United States says it's no big deal, just one of those things. The Republican candidate for President of the United States promotes sexual assault and the women and men in this country are supposed to think that it's no big deal, just one of those things.

That this man is a sexist and misogynist has been clear from the beginning. He regularly insults women over their looks, weight, temperament. He regularly tells his managers to fire any women that aren't attractive enough. He boasted about trying to have sex with a married woman (who spurned him) while married himself. He regularly commits adultery, he would regularly walk into the women's dressing rooms unannounced and uninvited during his TV shows and Miss Universe pageants, he doesn't mind men referring to his daughter as 'a piece of ass', he would even fuck his own daughter if he thought he could get away with it. And now out of his own mouth we learn that he thinks sexual assault is just one of those things that women 'let' you do.

No, Donald, women don't 'let' you do it.

I've been groped. I was 18 in New Orleans for Mardi Gras moving through a crowd when some anonymous man reached out and grabbed me by the vagina and then was gone. It was one of the more shocking things that has happened to me. It wasn't fun, I didn't like it, and I didn't 'let' him do it. I wonder how male predators would feel if women were in the habit of grabbing men's penises when they walked by. Would they take it as an invitation or would they be shocked by the intrusion, by the uninvited sexual assault.

I watched a short video of two women who support Trump after the first debate when he went off on the Miss Universe because she gained weight after the pageant. “He's right”, they said, “she did gain a lot of weight”. And “he shouldn't even be dealing with this”. And “a god has finally come down to help us”. Yeah, one of them really said that. These women are totally clueless and they are going to vote for him. Do they not understand that Trump, if asked about these women, would call them 'fat, disgusting, ugly really', that he has never ever in his life ever helped anyone but himself.

I've already posted about why Trump is totally unqualified to be president of this country so I'm not going to go into all that again. The fact that so many people in the country still support him, even after the revelation that he thinks sexual assault is just boys being boys and us women shouldn't be getting our panties in a twist, leaves me speechless.

If Trump, a man with no respect for the constitution or the rule of law, who says he will order Hillary Clinton imprisoned if elected because that's what dictators do, if this man gets elected, he will be our Nero, fiddling, or diddling, while the country burns and a good 30% of the population will be cheering him on.

And that is fucked up.

Monday, October 3, 2016

hands in the dirt

I like to dig. It's one of my favorite parts of gardening. I like to get my hands in the dirt, get out the weeds and crumble the clods, mix in mulch. There's nothing more satisfying than preparing a flower or garden bed, just the pristine dirt at the end waiting to sustain. It's not just plants the dirt sustains. When we get our hands in the dirt we boost our immune system, we breathe in those happy making microbes, we commune with nature, we connect with our roots so to speak.

The dirt was perfect for digging. Not too wet, not too dry, crumbled easily. The day was perfect for digging. Cool, warm in the sun, low humidity with intermittent clouds. So that's what I did. It was my one Saturday a month off, my wild card day so I decided the wait was over and I tackled the end of the little garden in the Big Backyard that had poppies and evening primrose last spring and has been basically abandoned since then. Some of that, a lot of that, was due to, you know, summer. I'd been watching the nut grass slowly take over until one day it had completely colonized that end. So I've been waiting for the weather to cool down enough and Saturday was the day and Sunday as well.

I got all the nut grass out, rousted this spider out. She scurried off and buried herself in the dirt again. 

Shooed away many a toad,

and then reset the concrete blocks that line it which, having been set originally at different times, were not uniform. Now they are which added several inches to the width. Except for the end which I didn't get to. The day ran out and my hands had had enough as well. I'll just square it off next weekend and get it filled with dirt so I can get lettuce and arugula and spinach planted for the fall and winter. Carrots may go over in one of the raised beds. Eventually, hopefully, this fall, I'll get the end rounded out to match what I did this spring on the other end and then foolishly planted the three little banana trees about two feet away which have thrived on the edge of the drain field and the full sun and are now only inches away from the border. You might remember I started this bed as a 4' x 4' for strawberries back in 2011. It's grown considerably since then.

I'd spend the next several days outside if I could but alas, it's Monday and I have to get to work. I'm on the last stencil. Once I get that done, my work on the job is done besides consulting as it gets etched and then cleaning and sealing the finished panels but the bulk of my time will be freed up to work on other things like...yard work and flower beds or new waxes or cold work on the finished castings or housework.

Well, maybe not housework.