Tuesday, November 29, 2016

fall reading list

Another short list. I find it hard to believe that at one time I was reading 10 – 12 books every quarter. Who has time to read these days? I'm currently trying to get ahead of the game and get my display fixed up and the pieces priced before I set up on Thursday for the first weekend Open House.

In The Company Of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith - I'm back to this series, number six. Mma Ramotse surprises an intruder in her home, helps a good man just released from prison gain employment, and is faced with her first husband who threatens to tell her secret if she doesn't pay him off. In the meantime Mma Makutsi decides to take dance lessons and is pared with the worst of the men in the class or so it seems, helps Mr. Matekoni discover what his house that he rented out after moving in with Mma Ramotse is being used for, and accepts a proposal.

The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick - on the one year anniversary of his wife's death, Arthur discovers a charm bracelet that belonged to his wife of 40 years, a bracelet that he had no knowledge of, and discovers that his wife had quite an adventurous life before they met. He sets out to discover the stories represented by the charms. Each charm he learned about only sent him off into doubting his relationship with his wife and blah blah. That got tiresome as if because she had some excitement in her life prior to their very staid life together it cast doubt on the nature of their love. It was OK but not very well written. The book is less about the stories than Arthur's journey from stagnating grieving widower to a man starting out fresh.

Beasts & Children by Amy Parker – a series of short stories about three families or rather the children of three families...Carline and Cissy Bowman and their cousin Danny who grow up in a family of declining gentry; Jill and Maisie Foster, the neglected children of diplomats stationed in Indonesia; and Manny and Gracie Guzman, immigrants from Colombia though their stories are as much about their parents as the children. They are young when first introduced but each story takes a big leap in time and as they age, their lives intertwine. The stories center around their ability or inability to change their lives. I haven't read a collection of short stories for some time but I enjoyed these. It was nice to be able to sit and finish a story in the short time I have to read these days instead of trying to remember who and what in whatever novel I am currently trying to get through.

Troublemaker by Linda Howard - I read two pages and had to go back and re-read the synopsis on the jacket. I checked this out? "One of the most recognized and lauded names in romantic suspense" Well, OK, but what the hell was I thinking? I don't read romance though I did spend a number of years reading Nora Roberts. Anyway, Morgan, a special OPs team leader is the object of an assassination attempt which very nearly succeeds. His boss sends him in hiding to recuperate with his ex-stepsister while they try to catch the person responsible, or would if they could figure out who was responsible. Bo is the chief of police in this small town of about 3,000 or 4,000 people who is fiercely independent and lives alone with her dog who is a major presence. She takes in the extremely weak Morgan and nurses him back to health and giving him shelter and a cover story to the town and of course they fall in love and have lots of fantastic and orgasmic sex and they figure out the who and why of his assassination attempt and catch the bad guys and they get married, the end.

Ink And Bone by Lisa Unger – a story of psychic gifts, abductions, and a mounting evil. Wolf and Merri and their two kids, Jackson and Abbey, rent a cabin in The Hollows, a small town in NY state. Wolf takes the kids on a hike and because he is distracted by his extra-marital affair girlfriend on the phone he lets the kids get too far ahead. Shots ring out and Wolf and Jackson are hit and Abbey is abducted. Finley 'shines'. She hears thing others can't hear and sees the dead. In an attempt to get hold of her life, she leaves the west coast and goes to live with her grandmother, who also shines, in The Hollows in the hope that she can understand what she is supposed to do with these visions. Her grandmother works with a private detective to help solve cases that have run into dead ends. After over a year, a desperate Merri contacts the detective after learning that others have gone missing in The Hollows and Finley and her grandmother are drawn into the investigation but it is Finley who is having the visions and it is she who is tasked with finding the girl before it's too late. This was a good one and I actually read it in a decent amount of time.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

because I can't think of a catchy title

I trust everyone had a good Thanksgiving Day with family and friends and no mention of the horrendous future of our federal government. We went into the city to our daughter's house...us, the kids, the grandkids...and had a fine time. Not everyone is in the picture, the other two men, Mike and Mikey, were in the living room.

Friday, my sister and I went to see Fantastic Beasts which we enjoyed very much except for me in the last 20 minutes or so when I really really really had to pee. I was out of that theater the moment the first credit popped up.

This is the time of year when the sun comes blasting in right in my face through the leafless tallow tree in the mornings as it rises. The weather here has been getting down in the 50s/60s at night and 70s/80s during the day. I'm happy to report that in the last week I've seen some chickadees and titmice and even a little warbler and a white wing dove and a cardinal was just on the totem bird feeder but they are still scarce. Just about everything has stopped blooming, even the orange cosmos almost which are looking very scraggly, except the roses and the morning glory bush and the shrimp plant and the milkweed.

Pecans have been falling steadily, still, not nearly as many as the year before last when I shelled until I was sick of it, sold over three hundred pounds of unshelled nuts, and still had a box of nuts left over.

Very windy out there today. Not sure what I want to get accomplished today. Usually I'd be out in the yard but I still have to finish the leaf plaque and revamp my display before next weekend. Or maybe I won't do anything but sit on the couch and read.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

getting ready

Wednesday. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. My contribution is the dressing and cranberry sauce. I made the cornbread yesterday and set it and the white bread out to get stale. I'm going to get up in a minute and cook the bacon and start chopping stuff and cook down the cranberries but I probably won't make the dressing till tomorrow morning. Getting all the prep work done today will save a lot of time tomorrow.

I'm also going to try and get some more work done on the leaf plaque and the moonflower. It still isn't finished but I did go talk to a metal artist I just discovered in one of the next little towns over about making the stand for it for me and he's going to have it ready for the Open House, which means that I have to get busy and finish the cold work and get it glued together. He's also making a stand for me for an older piece that I had initially hung on the wall. I'm thrilled to find this guy and he's so very close, 10, 15 minutes tops.

As for the wider country and world out there, I'm trying to keep informed but keep it at bay for a few days and since I have a lot to do still before the first weekend of December. I'm going to focus on that.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

rain and cold and recycling and art

We had our first real cold front blow in this weekend, preceded by a most welcome rainy day on Friday, after weeks and weeks of temps in the mid-80s. It was supposed to get down to 38˚ in the wee hours of this morning. Don't know if it actually did but it was cold enough in the house when we got up to turn on the heater which we did for the first time since we turned it off last spring.

Today would be a good day to work in the yard especially since I didn't get out there last Sunday but instead I'm driving to the city to take a truck load of recyclables (remember all those boxes of glass?) to a collection center and then head over to my daughter's house to help her get ready for Thanksgiving which we have been having at her house so the son and daughter-in-law will come.

I have all but finished all the little pieces I was working on for the two weekends in December, even got them photographed. I spent that rainy Friday making a photo box and then tried it out and it worked great! Better pictures than I had been getting and I didn't need to tweak them much if at all. Now I have time to work on my display which is pretty amateurish compared to the more sleek set-ups of some of the other participants.

After the open houses, I'll be starting in earnest on my next body of work...groupings of larger wall hung pieces that are variations on a theme. The first two are feathers on the beach and the moon. They're going to very different, I think, than what I have been doing. I'm also going to do some smaller framed pieces at the request of a gallery in Dallas that has three shows next year that they want to include our work in. I have 5 leftover frames from the Botanicas so I'm going to do pieces that will fit in them.

Well, I need to get on the road, the day is wasting. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

this and that

I'm not talking about politics today even though the situation is just as heinous as it was two days ago. Well, one thing, Hillary has now won the popular vote not by a few hundred or even a few thousand but by over a million votes. The electoral college that was founded for the purpose of preventing the people from electing someone who was completely unqualified or dangerous could end this nightmare but they won't have the courage. The patriarchy will not allow a woman to be president even though she clearly won the election. Not this time, not this woman.

OK, on to other stuff.

Where are the birds? I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the birds seem to have all gone. I had run out of bird seed but that has never run them off before. Now the seed I have in the totem bird feeder is still mostly there after 3 days. In the past three days I have seen one cardinal, one bluejay, and one little warbler (I think). No doves, no titmice, no chickadees, no wrens, no mockingbirds, no sparrows even. We usually have a large population of birds that winter over, others that never leave, but gone they are. Now that I write that I just saw a couple of bluejays and can hear some other bird out in the Wild Space but still, a dearth of birds.

I did have a red shouldered hawk come visit the other day. It sat on the gate to the Little Backyard casting it's eye over the turtle pond and Big Mama's posse of goldfish. I took this picture from where I sit through the screen door on high magnification. 

A few days later I was working in the garage/shop when I heard a sudden loud flapping noise and a strangled sort of squeaky cheep and went out on the drive to see a red shouldered hawk up in one of the oaks. As I moved around to try and get a better look, it flew off with something big and black in it's talons. A bird, obviously (so I know where at least one of my birds has gone), but I couldn't tell what kind. Black. Could have been a crow I guess or a grackle or a cowbird but I haven't seen any of those around either.

And speaking of Big Mama's posse, one of the gold fish has turned a very pale orange.

The cosmos and plumbago are still blooming but just about everything else has finished up. Most of the butterflies have migrated through but I'm still seeing monarchs.

And then there was this guy.

And this sky.

I've been dog-sitting the past two weeks for my sister while she has been out of town. Between the two dogs and the cat, I'm pretty much pinned down in the evenings.

And very last, I finally heard from the art consultant about the A&M job...three weeks later! The client is very happy with the work. The art consultant did mention the flaw but the client was unconcerned and so they told me to go ahead and submit my invoice which I did one week after the install. Now I'm just waiting for the check.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

two reports...one progress, the other not...guess which is which

I'm still spending too much time on politics and I imagine most people have hidden me from their newsfeed on FB by now but this train wreck just keeps on crashing. By all accounts team Trump is in chaos, they seem totally unprepared to make the transition much less govern. Stories of back-biting and jockeying for position and infighting and fawning and sending people packing. Apparently the main (and only) requirement for a position in his government is complete and total agreement with all things Trump. They were shocked to find out they have to replace the West Wing staff and they are having a terrible time finding people willing to work for them and on top of that Trump doesn't seem to understand why he has to live at the White House instead of his gold plated NY apartment. In the meantime, he's giving his children who have never engaged in public service or served in the military important positions and wants top secret security clearance for them and the people he has announced so far are all virulent racists, bigots, and misogynists and the hate and verbal and physical violence against blacks, latinos, muslims (and while I have not seen any reports about vandalism and violence against jews, it won't be long), other gendered, and women have exploded across the country while the media attempts to normalize this man and his racism and his admitted sexual predation. On top of all that, his daughter seems to think that presidential interviews and press conferences are the proper venue for hawking her products.

And it's only been a week.

However I have also been spending a lot of time in the shop working on small castings for the upcoming two weekends in December while actively avoiding all my neighbors and town folk. I did venture out yesterday though, went to the library and visited with the neighbors at the other end of the street while walking the dog. To my great relief no one mentioned the election because if they had I would have to tell them what I think and it wouldn't be pretty.

So here's what I've been doing...

I got all the finish work done on the heart-weights and face-weights and the small ring dish (for lack of a better descriptor),

I filled the molds for the small bee sculpture, the platform, and another heart-weight which came out of the kiln yesterday,

I've ground most of the excess glass off the bird skull and feather,

and today I'm going to start on the finish work for the last three castings...the bee/flower sculpture, the heart-weight, and the platform for the bird skull et al.

4”l x 3”w x 2.5”h

Monday, November 14, 2016

heart to heart

Last Thursday I made the 2 and a half hour drive to Austin to meet up with my friend and spirit sister Reya who lives in Washington DC. Reya, massage therapist, reiki master, shaman, was in Austin for a workshop on bones to further her education and ability to help her clients. I drove to the little 'carriage house' as she called it what we call garage apartments where we came face to face for the first time, both of us wearing pants, t-shirts, and canvas shoes, wild haired and no make-up.

Reya”, I told her, “you are so much bigger than your pictures”. I wasn't referring to her physical size. We hugged hard and long and started in as if we had known each other all our lives. Maybe we have, this life, past lives, we knew each other.

The neighborhood where she was staying reminded me a lot of my old city neighborhood before the gentrification, only more affluent. The house had pecan trees front and back and a fabulous crop of nuts lay on the ground. I couldn't believe it that they weren't collecting them. It was all I could do to not start picking them up myself.

It was lunch time when I arrived so we walked a short seven blocks or so, stopping repeatedly to take pictures, talk, hold hands. Of course we talked about the election but we didn't dwell on it as we had so many other things to say and stories to tell.

After lunch we had coffee at the carriage house where she reikied the mark of the chicken though she said it didn't need it as the energy was moving off to other parts of my body, though I swear that last hard numb part really feels much better, and continued to talk until it was time for her to prepare for and walk to her class.

It was tough to leave the warmth of her energy and the pool of serenity that we found in the midst of all the angst of this election.

edit: I guess I neglected to say that I met Reya through blogging and while she doesn't blog anymore we remain connected via FB.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

making stuff

I thought about deleting my last post coming so soon on the heels of the previous one but I am still deeply ashamed of those of my fellow citizens that voted for Trump, actually more like 25% of the population since about half of us didn't vote which makes the ones that didn't vote, not culpable exactly, but untrustworthy when push comes to shove. I won't be expecting any of them to come to my aid if need be.

But, until he actually takes office and we see what his picks are for his government so far the names floating around are a continuation of this nightmare...Sarah Palin?, I'll focus on the work at hand.

So here's the post I had prepared before the shit hit the fan:

Since I finished the A&M panels, I've been working on things for the upcoming open houses the first two weekends of December. While I was cleaning out and straightening up the garage in an effort to give myself table space to work...garage is sort of a misnomer as we don't put any cars in it. It's basically a workroom for messy stuff like the cold work I do on the glass or outdoor oriented stuff and it's where the bottles were collecting that we had a grand vision of building a bottle wall or arch or something with but I have decided that we are probably never going to actually do that and so I have sorted all the bottles by color ready to take for recycling...

But I digress.

While doing all that I came across a half dozen or so or very very old molds, 10 years at least, maybe older, probably older, that just never got pitched out. What the hell. I cut chunks of solid color glass in some (the hearts) and did pate de verre in others (the faces) and we cast them.

Then I worked on a few quick waxes, a bird skull and a feather and a platform all to go with some broken egg shell pieces I already have and I found two very very old waxes, very early stuff, at least 15 years old, just sitting in a box, waiting. What the hell. We are going to cast them too.

I wanted one more really nice but simple small sculpture, a bee piece so I started on one. Simple, right? One bee, one flower. Hahahahahahaha. I crack myself up sometimes. After spending the better part of a Tuesday working on a wax the whole time thinking this is going to be impossible to fill this mold, the next day I dismantled it throwing away everything but the flower. I spent the next three days on it.

I'm done with wax work for now and am waiting for the finished molds. Hopefully, by the time these pieces are ready for cold work, I'll be done with all the other stuff.

Friday, November 11, 2016

never my president

Well, here it is a few days later and overt racism, bigotry, and hatred has exploded across the nation via graffiti, verbal attacks, and actual physical violence and, most troubling, a lot of it in our schools. The reports showing up on FB and Twitter are endless.

I did not like George W. Bush. He indebted this nation for his illegal war, created worldwide terrorism, took money from SS to pay for his folly and then claimed SS was no longer viable, he plunged this country into a severe recession through republican policies but still I accepted him as president. I will never accept the racist bigoted misogynist fascist admitted sexual predator Donald Trump who has encouraged violence, citizen against citizen, as president. Never. I won't go low with disgusting memes like the republicans have done for 8 years with President Obama, but I will never ever give him the title of President.

I find it amusing that he is calling for us all to come together. Who exactly is he talking to? The blacks he calls thugs, the latinos he calls rapists and murderers, the muslims and other non-christians he calls terrorists, the women he calls disgusting and thinks he can just sexually assault because he's rich, the other gendered he intends to let people discriminate against? What a fucking joke. Has he condemned any of the violence against these people that he has demonized for a year that has exploded since he was elected? No, he has not. But he has tweeted that he thinks the protests against his election are 'unfair' even though he planned to do the exact same thing if he lost..

And his repeated pledge to curtail lobbyists and rid the government of special interests, he didn't want them, wouldn't use them? His transition team is full of lobbyists, his financial advisory team is full of veteran Wall Streeters, and bankers are in the mix to be Treasury Secretary.

Get ready because Mitch McConnell has already said repealing the ACA will be their first act of Trump's presidency. They have nothing to replace it with of course because they don't really care how many Americans will once again die from treatable illnesses. You think your premiums for shit policy were too high under the ACA? They will skyrocket now under an unrestrained for profit health insurance industry. And that's just the beginning. Good job Trumpers.

Well, you people who voted for him, you got what you wanted. You swallowed a big turd and it's going to be stuck in your throat for 4 years.  Congress will now go after every social program that you depend on.  Food and housing assistance?  Gone.  Social Security and Medicare?  Slashed at best. Disability?  Go get a fucking job. The first amendment?  Go directly to jail. The EPA?  I hope you like your water and air poisonous.  Our national parks and preserves?  Sold to the highest bidder.  That heinous peaceful nuclear restraint with Iran?  Get ready for war.

You know, the worst part of this is not that all the liberal compassionate advances we have made that will be rolled back, it's the loss of any moral character that this nation had. It was a grand experiment, this melting pot, this democratic endeavor, but it's gone now. The constitution means nothing to them.

RIP America.  It was nice knowing ya.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

un fucking believable

Well, I had a completely different post planned for today. Not political, just about some of the work I've been doing since I finished the A&M job.

I didn't watch the election returns which is my usual. I prefer just to find out the next day. When I woke up this morning, dread came over me and I just knew.

I am gut punched, shell shocked, disgusted and ashamed that the people of this country voted to put that hateful bigoted ignorant racist admitted sexual assaulter...a man who is totally incompetent, who for all his inherited wealth has a string of bankruptcies and failed businesses, who is indebted for millions to Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia, who has zero qualifications, a man who never served in the armed forces but thinks he is smarter than the generals, a man who has a trial for rape and one for fraud coming up in the next two months, oh shit, this list is endless...in the highest office in this country.

Just what the fucking fuck America?

Are you really that small, your heart that black and shriveled, that you only feel safe and good and happy when surrounded by white straight male christians that are so filled with hate and fear that they might just as well be spitting in your savior's eyes? Because that's exactly what you just did.

This is not the country I was taught about in school.

Well, all you people who voted for this disaster of a man are about to find out just how little he cares about you. You think he cares about the working class? He eats people like you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You are about to find out just how incompetent he is and when the stock market crashes and our allies abandon us, when Russia grabs Eastern Europe, when we are at war with Iran, it will be your fault OK, maybe that last part was a little over dramatic but if he follows through on his rhetoric, it is all very possible.

Oh, and if you voted for Trump and are on Social Security, when he takes that away from you I want you to remember that you voted for that, when our women start dying in droves Texas closed 80% of the health care clinics in an attempt to stop abortions and the maternal deaths increased by over 200% in two years, when our water and air becomes polluted and poisonous, when you lose your affordable health insurance and your premiums skyrocket and they start denying care again, remember, you voted for that. When people start being imprisoned without due process, you voted for that. When free speech and the right to protest is gone, you voted for that.

So what do we do? What can we do?

We can stand up against hate and bigotry and racism every time we see it happening. We go stand with and for the target of their hate. We get between them and their abuser, we stand next to them, we hold their hand, and we resist. When someone in the grocery line gets berated for using food assistance if food and housing assistance survive, we come to their defense. When someone on public transport starts being verbally attacked, we go stand with them and record the attack. When we see injustice anywhere we step in to stop it. When we hear hateful bigoted racist speech we speak out against it. We resist the destruction of all the progress we have made as a people and as a nation. We work to make this a one term presidency.

Now, get to work. Tomorrow. Today we grieve.

Monday, November 7, 2016

yesterday and today

First thing this morning I kicked the door jamb. I think I broke my toe. OK, not really but it hurts like hell. Still. We're dog sitting my sister's dog while she is in London for two weeks and as soon as I got out of bed I let them out in the Little Backyard. It had rained last night so the ground was wet and Minnie's first reaction was to head back in the door. I didn't mean to kick the door jamb. I meant to impede her progress back into the house. This was after she decided we had slept long enough and was doing her fake sneeze thing she does to get attention when bouncing around us on the bed doesn't work.

Yesterday was another day spent out in the yard. I did some pruning on an althea and cut more gone by ginger stalks and pulled out the mistflower that was taking over a spot where I didn't want it as well as the wild petunias that were crowding my rosemary bush that doesn't look so great.

I did fire ant remediation with the soapy/orange oil water and I used the trimmer around the culverts and the beds in the front yard. I planted a flat of pansies and moved the buddha forward and added another row of bricks to his platform since the wandering jew with the little white flowers was starting to overcome him. 

I finally spread out the sandstone slabs that formed a walkway through the yard to the driveway at the old city house that have been waiting, stacked up for me to lay them out here but I decided that was a project for another day.

Since it was supposed to be a rainy day today it wasn't we decided to go to the movie to see Dr. Strange which was really good and definitely worth the extra for 3-D. In fact if you don't see it in 3-D then you are missing some really great effects. If you are a Marvel fan then you probably already know this but Marvel adds scenes during and at the end of the credits so it's usually worth sitting through them even if you have to pee really really bad like I did. And, there is going to be a new Guardians Of The Galaxy movie coming out next summer which explains why the first one showed up on TV the other night.  And a new Wolverine movie coming next year as well!

OK, I'm off to yoga.

Friday, November 4, 2016

the mark of the chicken

I know y'all have been just waiting with baited breath to get the last update on my wound.

Six weeks to the day after the incident, what was left of the big black thick gnarly scab over the entry point came off.

It was still a little moist there so a normal scab formed and it came off exactly 2 weeks later.

About a week after that it looked even better.

So, 9 weeks from injury to scar though it may take another six months or so for all the redness to away.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

in support of Hillary Clinton

Last Monday week early voting started in Texas. It was the first thing I did that day after coffee and breakfast. I voted FOR Hillary Clinton. I was probably the only one in the room at the time that did but I could be mistaken. I think there were about 20 people ahead of me, another half dozen in the room waiting and 4 booths. The line was a little longer when I left.

The conventional wisdom out there is that this election features the two most corrupt people possible but that is not true. One is accused of being a crook and a murderer by the other who is actually a crook with a thick trail of lawsuits and penalties trailing behind him and two very serious court cases, one for rape and one for fraud, coming up in the next two months and while he may not be a murderer, he uses the courts to ruin anyone who opposes him.  Most recently his ties, political and financial, to Russia have come to light. 

Hilary Clinton may not have the charisma that some would like, she isn't a perfect human being and that is no more and no less than any other human being but she has devoted her life to public service helping women and the underprivileged and has faced such monstrous opposition that I have to believe that she is in fact devoted to public service because why else would anyone put up with the sexism and misogyny and investigations and examinations and accusations and the absurdity of spending millions of dollars to bring her down for 30 years. For money? For power? Well, she has achieved both money and power in her lifetime but that wouldn't even be an issue if she were a man. They have hounded her for 30 years and have not ever once had evidence for a single indictment. She hasn't even been elected yet and already the Republicans are threatening to stonewall her the way they did President Obama and promising years of investigations against her. They have been afraid of this woman for 30 years. That right there is reason enough to vote for her but, of course, I do have other reasons. Will she support things I do not? I'm sure she will. So does Obama and I have nothing but admiration and respect for him.

During this election cycle, every item that has come to light about Trump has been projected onto Hillary. When the proof of Trump's crudity and sexually predatory behavior came to light, they gleefully attacked her for her husband's infidelities as if it was he and not she who was running for president. Now, their newest outrage is, of course, the new emails and, having been cheated once again when the FBI investigation closed without pressing charges and cleared her of wrongdoing, though Comey couldn't resist chastising her in the press conference by offering his irrelevant opinion of her behavior, they are desperate for this to be real except these emails, the ones the FBI director felt it so important to apprise congress of right now right before the election, have nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. They are not from her, they are not to her, they are not on her server, and they are not on a device she used but that didn't stop them from trying to link them to her and, of course, the media is playing it up.

Hillary Clinton is probably the most qualified candidate for the presidency than any candidate ever in the history of this country. As a woman, to be taken with any seriousness, this is a must. All women know this. We have to be better at something to be equal. She will not do all the things I would like, no candidate would, but she will do a good job.

Two well written essays on the demonization of Hillary: