Thursday, March 30, 2017

party 80s style

Service over, we all mingle over lunch and catch up until time to head back to the hotel and free time until the party that evening. Marc and I went to visit the gallery there, which fortunately was in the general area, that has some of our work, Kittrell/Riffkind. They have joined forces with another fine art gallery in the area and their new space is really nice and they have some excellent work in there and we had a really nice visit with Barbara.

So this part of the family is Marc's older sister, same mother different father, Lisa and her 4 kids, twins Jeff and Greg and Andy and then Carly. Carter is Jeff's son. They are all as Jeff said, 'wannabe comedians', or something to that effect and there is always entertainment and it will always be fun. And so the 80's themed dinner deejay dance floor photo booth open bar party commenced so dinner and dancing and drinking and utilizing the photo booth and being with sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles and cousins and sons and daughters and grandchildren and friends happened.

the Bar Mitzvah boy

Cousins - Andy and my daughter Sarah. Andy went to law school, became a lawyer like his twin older brothers, and then decided he didn't want to be a lawyer and opened a very successful Vodka bar with his two partners in Tulsa OK.

a hula hoop contest

the Cagle clan

Sunday morning all the out of towners convened over at Jeff and Marianne's for brunch, swimming, and zip line.

yes, that's me

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

rite of passage

Well, it didn't take us 5 hours and 15 minutes to get to our hotel. It took over 7 hours.

Most of the approx. 250 mile drive on the state highways and county roads was pleasant enough, driving up through gentle hills of the prairie and lakes region from the gulf coast plains passing through or around the small towns between here and there. There wasn't much traffic driving through the agricultural and ranching fields up into the meadows of horse country. The roadsides and fields for much of the way were blankets of the red and blue and yellow of indian paintbrush, bluebonnets, and coreopsis, the pinks and purples of evening primrose and purple vetch. We were right on time to get there early enough to check in to our hotel and attend the early Shabbat dinner at our niece's house before everyone left for the evening service. And then we got on I35.

We had to get on an interstate so as to traverse through Dallas as quickly as possible to the suburb on the NE side where Marc's family lives and not long after we picked it up and got into Dallas, all traffic came to a complete stop. It took us an hour to get to the obstruction which the maps function on my phone said was an accident that had the left three (of four) lanes closed but what was actually the problem was that the police had closed the freeway and there was no accident in sight and we got dumped off onto the surface roads. We eventually found a way around and back on I35 which is under construction to boot and to our hotel and checked in.

So we missed dinner and although there was food left over and people there at the house, we opted for a couple of drinks at the bar and dinner at a nearby restaurant and bed.

Saturday morning we headed to the synagogue for our great-nephew Carter's Bar Mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ceremony. From this point on, Carter will be considered an adult in the eyes of the Jewish community and is now responsible for his actions as opposed to his parents. A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is not an easy thing to accomplish. These kids have to study for four years learning to read Hebrew, study the Torah and in particular their Torah portion on the day and make a speech about how it relates to their lives and the lives of the Jewish community as well as do some volunteer work for the community, Carter helped coach special needs kids in sports, before the day they stand on the bima and lead the Saturday morning services.

Carter did a fine job, as they all do, and it was so heartwarming to see his parents tear up during their own speeches to their son at the conclusion. Then the Rabbi spoke to Carter aloud and again, taking him to the back of the bima, speaking to him privately. Oh to have been a fly on the wall for that. Carter is one of those people who push their boundaries constantly, and quite creatively I might add, always questioning to find a way around.

Mazel Tov Carter!


Friday, March 24, 2017

wrapping up the week

Today we leave for Dallas. We found an alternate route that keeps us off the interstate almost the whole way and it only takes 3 minutes longer...5 hours and 15 minutes in all. I thought it would take 6 minimum. We are going to attend and celebrate our great-nephew's Bar Mitzvah. I can't believe that kid is 13 already, especially since we went to his father's Bar Mitzvah. 

While we're in Dallas I hope to be able to drop in on the gallery there that has some of our work, Kittrell/Riffkind, especially since we got a check in the mail from them this week. They sold the Wren Box.

I finally got a start on the new flower bed I've been wanting to put in towards the back of the Big Backyard but in front of the one where the poppies and banana trees are. Eventually I'll connect it with the long bed on the side. Anyway, I got the perimeter stones moved back there and put in place. And put the plants still in their pots inside the perimeter. Now I'm slowly digging up the grass, something I'm less than enthusiastic about. It will all have to wait now til we get back.

My sister and I went to another estate sale today but it was, like the last half dozen or more lately, just a bunch of junk, although I did buy one item at this one and one at the one before, both purchases setting me back $2 each. One was this little cluster of vases which I've had filled with pansies this week but forgot to take a picture when they were fresh 

and the other, a glass chimney for a lamp. I bought an antique lamp a year or so ago at one of these sales and decided it used to have a chimney that helped keep the top globe in place so I've been on the lookout for one. This sale was out in the middle of nowhere and it confused Siri as she was telling us we had reached our destination when there wasn't a house to be seen in any direction. You never know what you are going to come across driving on these county and small town back roads and so on our way back we passed this field full of plastic car bumpers. 

I suppose you could say they have a bumper crop! (OK, I stole that joke from my sister.)

So some of you might remember when I choked last summer (and all the other grisly details)? Well, I had my annual physical Tuesday and I mentioned to her about the whole spastic throat thing and the whole choking thing and the having to be heimliched three times thing and before I was through talking she was ordering an x-ray, which they did then, and now I have to go back Monday for a modified upper GI and a barium swallow on an empty stomach and my appointment isn't until almost noon and then I have to go see an ENT doctor. So, I've kept my promise and been to the doctor about it.

I meant to take a picture of the baptismal bowl slumped in the mold that our friend Gene was making here last week but I forgot (you can see a picture of the fused blank here) but this is what the finished bowl looks like.

Well, I guess I ought to get these last minute things taken care of so we can get on the road.

Monday, March 20, 2017

observations and absurdities

I make sure I stick my phone in my pocket when I leave the house so I can be in constant contact with a world I usually choose to shun. I'd post a picture except I haven't figured out how to take a picture of me putting my phone in my pocket with my phone.

These are called walking onions because the 'flower' is not really a flower at all but a cluster of small onion bulbs that start to sprout until the stalk falls over and they plant themselves in the ground. Every spring I patrol the yard pulling them off before they can plant themselves in an attempt to prevent them from spreading.

The slinky? It works! I got a slinky junior which seemed the right size for my totem feeder. I have not seen a single squirrel on it since I siliconed the slinky to the bottom of the bottle and the seed lasts much longer. I haven't seen a squirrel jump on the slinky yet but I did see one little girl clinging to the rebar just beneath the bottom of the slinky and she reached up and tested it and then jumped down browsing on the ground cause it's not as if there isn't a ton of seed on the ground from the bluejays tossing it all out looking for the peanuts. Possibly it had already shot her to the ground a few times. She sits on a low branch of the small tree outside my window and gazes at the bird feeder where she used to sit and chow down.

The still unmown meadow

 (ah, now mown around the fleabane and evening primrose and looks much tidier) that is the Big Backyard...

the fleabane is ascendant right now and smells sweetly if you bend down to sniff though the oxalis and anemone are still putting on some blooms and the evening primrose is about to go full on. I don't know how well the wildflower mini-meadow is going to do being a bit behind. The bluebonnets in the front are in full bloom, early as is everything. Some things bloomed out of season but not well. Like the red buds. They sort of came and went when in past years they were torches. And the mock dogwood is blooming but not fully. And my daffodils came up but I didn't get a single bloom.

I looked over at Frank of the Bountiful Garden's magnolia tree yesterday (yes, I know it is no longer Frank's) and it is March.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

America under Trump and this is just in the last week or so

House Republicans voted on a bill that would let employers demand genetic testing of their employees.

South Dakota Republican governor signs a bill making it legal for state agencies to discriminate against LGBT citizens on religious objection grounds.

Republicans in congress voted to shut out citizens from discussions on federal land use reversing an Obama-era rule that encouraged public debate on land use.

Trump thinks Jews are secretly committing the hate crimes against themselves to make him look bad.

Trump cut the veteran's suicide hotline funding by 40%...”makes our soldiers look weak, I'm closing that hotline down at some point. Trust me, I'm doing them a favor.”

Kellyanne Conway thinks Obama is spying on them with microwaves that he can turn into a camera.

Trump who is one of the rudest and most vindictive people around complains about the media being rude.

Trump acts to cut funding by $35 million to the NYC public housing authority in a vindictive and retaliatory move against NYC's 'sanctuary city' status, directly adversely affecting low income residents.

Complicit FBI man Comey is appointing fewer agents to investigate Trump and his minions' ties to Russia than he did to investigate Hillary Clinton's emails.

A group of 12 volunteers from a church in Canada who intended to spend spring break helping clean up after Hurricane Sandy was turned away from entering the country by border patrol because they might 'take American construction jobs'.

The Republican replacement for the ACA would throw a cumulative 28 million people off insurance, reduce care, and raise premiums for the elderly.

Trump told some Tea Party leaders he would 'punish Americans' if Trumpcare fails by letting the ACA fail and then blame the Democrats.

Trump issued an executive order inviting the head of every agency of the government to submit a plan within the next six months to eliminate part OR ALL of any executive branch agency...Energy, State, EPA, Education, Treasury, Justice, etc.

Trump advisor Roger Stone has accused the American intelligence agencies of trying to assassinate him via a hit and run accident.

Maryland governor Larry Hogan has promised to veto a bill requiring companies to offer their employees paid sick leave if it passes.

Nurses from Canada were turned away at the border when they tried to enter to go to work (the US has a shortage of nurses and has been depending on Canadian nurses to care for our sick).

Trump accused Britain of wiretapping him for Obama.

Trump refuses to shake hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of our closest allies, on camera at the Oval Office, ignoring her request. He wouldn't even look at her.

Trump's budget eliminates funding for the Meals on Wheels program, the after school meal and development program for low income students, and the home heating subsidies for poor Americans because they aren't 'successful'.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who cut short his state visit to South Korea due to 'fatigue' (fatigue? he's only held the post for a few weeks) has threatened a pre-emptive strike on North Korea because he has no concept of diplomacy.

Not happy with just killing 30 innocent people, 10 of them children, in Yemen, Trump has now bombed a crowded mosque during evening prayers turning it into rubble and killing 70+, and still counting, innocent people.

Trump's proposed budget, along with eliminating meals for the hungry, also eliminates 19 federal agencies including the NEA, NEH, PBS and NPR, the Peace Corp, and the Museum and Library Services. For the entire list go here.

The Republican Congress passed a bill that will allow mentally ill veterans to purchase guns because apparently they aren't committing suicide fast enough.

Trump, having no understanding of NATO, tweets that Germany owes us 'vast sums of money' re NATO.

House Republicans voted to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission whose job it is to make sure voting machines can't be hacked.

A Secret Service agent parked his unlocked car in front of his house leaving a laptop with sensitive information in it including the floor plans for Trump Tower which was promptly stolen.

Trump continues spending every weekend in Florida costing the taxpayers millions of dollars and has, in two months, cost us more than Obama did in a whole year.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

cat goes missing, I fall apart

My cat Emma was last seen by me early Saturday afternoon as she sauntered past me and into the house. Then the dogs showed up and by evening when they were ensconced in the garage, I knew the cat would not come in for the night that night. She's particular like that. Doesn't like strange dogs in her space. But I expected she would be waiting by the back door to the Little Backyard in the morning. She wasn't.

By 1 PM Sunday, the puppies were gone and I spent the rest of the day calling and looking for the cat. Sunday night when I was ready to close up she was still a no show so I left the garage door open and went to bed. Monday morning, still no cat.

Monday, I spent the morning calling for her and looking for her. Went over to my neighbor's house and asked Robert if they had seen Emma. Nope, but one of their cats had been mauled by a dog Sunday and was at the vet and the neighbor on the other side of Robert had one of their cats killed recently.

I spent the rest of Monday crying and looking for her body. Marc and I were both convinced that she had met a bad end. She's gone missing for a day or so before but by now it had been over 48 hours. I was imagining all sorts of terrible fates...caught and dragged off by a dog, laying somewhere suffering, trapped somewhere and couldn't get out. Was she thirsty, hungry, in pain? I looked for buzzards circling to give me a clue. Still, I left the back door open just in case.

Sad and resigned I was sitting on the couch Monday night, Minnie curled up against me, when I hear Marc, who was in the kitchen, say 'well, look who's here' I jumped up off the couch and ran into the kitchen and there was Emma finally come home. She was hungry but other than that she was none the worse for wear. She wasn't even dirty, not even any leaves caught in her fur. Cat, where the hell have you been!

Apparently she found a safe hidey hole somewhere close by. I'm thinking it must be over in my other neighbor's yard, the absent neighbor. She had to have heard me calling for her ever more frantically and she just ignored me.

Damn cat.

Monday, March 13, 2017

rescuing more dogs

Well, it's happened again. Unowned dumped dogs showed up in the yard. This time it was a brindle with some bulldog or pit bull in her with two puppies in my garage at my back door trying to get in with Minnie going nuts. They fled before her ferociousness but not far. My new neighbors on the other side of Allen, who owns the 1/2 acre between us and our new neighbors who bought Frank of the Bountiful Garden's house, do not care for the dog situation out here. They are newly transplanted from the city. I don't know if that's what accounts for some of their weirdness or not since I was once, not that long ago, newly transplanted from the city but I don't think I am fundamentally different than I was but that's beside the point. What was the point? Oh, right, weirdness and neighbors. The last time a couple of weeks ago two dogs were out running around and got into their garage, both of them were threatening to shoot them (they make no bones about being gun owners) if they came in their garage again. What the fuck is the matter with people who think killing something that annoyed you is the right and first response. My response was there are alternatives like contacting the rescue group that is very good about picking up and placing these poor animals, resources permitting. Turns out, those two dogs were the loved pets of a couple that went out of town and the dogs got out while they were gone.

So then after I closed the door to the garage and waited 10 minutes or so I crept out the back door and around to peer into the garage to see if they were still there and I saw one of my new neighbors on his back patio who yelled something at me which I didn't catch (the dogs were not in my garage) and the mother dog was running for the street and I looked around to see his counterpart holding a pipe or something with some kind of wire wrapped around it with two puppies at her feet in Allen's yard. She disentangled herself and the puppies stayed there at the back of Allen's property by his skiff on a trailer.

I contacted the the dog rescue group for the county, SPOT, and while I was corresponding with them I saw that Robert, new neighbor, had driven his truck into Allen's yard and was standing next to his truck, puppies deeper amongst the storage buildings at the back of the property. I don't know what he was doing, perhaps taking pictures because the SPOT lady told me a neighbor had also sent pictures of the puppies in. When I was ready to close up last night both puppies were in the garage sitting at the door to the house. I made Marc go run them off. The black puppy fled, the tan one did not and hunkered down over by a cabinet. Short of picking it up and removing it, it would not be dislodged.

I hate this! It pisses me off that people won't be responsible for the animals they acquire. If you can't keep them for whatever reason, man or woman up and do the right thing. Surrender them to a shelter. Dumping them 'in the country' is not a solution! It is cruel and resigns them to a life of hardship, hunger, injury, disease, parasites, and uncontrolled breeding creating feral dog packs that are dangerous if they aren't caught and placed or killed.

Last night both puppies sheltered in the garage which I left open in case mom came back looking for them but there they were this morning. I gave them some water and food and cleaned up the messes they left. One male, one female, still fairly clean and soft but bloated stomachs so wormy, friendly, desperate for human attention. One welcoming word and they were wriggling all over my feet and jumping on me.

Christine, from SPOT, finally got permission to come pick them up which she did. They will get shipped up to Washington state where there is a shortage of puppies due to their strict laws about breeding and selling. SPOT has sent hundreds of puppies to them to get adopted out and it helps with the older dogs that get turned in because they also get seen when they have puppies. Often the puppies already have homes waiting for them when they get there.

So, another happy ending for the puppies at least. Not so much for me. My cat Emma has gone missing. Haven't seen her since Saturday early afternoon before the dogs showed up. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

an idle week

I have not recovered my momentum though I have piddled around a bit. Every big task that needs doing outside I don't feel like doing. And well, the weather is not cooperating. Rained like hell last Sunday and rained again all day Friday, wet and drippy and light rain today. I guess mostly what I have been doing is reading and when I finished my book (first of a trilogy) yesterday I immediately went to the library and got the next one.

There's a number of things I need to do, places I need to go. I want to go to one of the nearby nurseries, I need to go to Rosenberg and get my pearls I had re-strung and drop off another strand that, since it wasn't knotted, I thought I would just re-string myself but if I was going to do that it would already have been done. I need to go to the feed store and get the green bean seeds I forgot to get earlier this week. I need to rummage through the dollar stores here for a slinky to try and squirrel proof the totem bird feeder.

I'll probably have to get a taller pole for the bird feeder though.

I should straighten up my workroom in the house! I should work on that model. I have several wind chimes that need repair due to the high winds we've been having. I need to clean and oil all the furniture. I doubt any of this is getting done today.

You might remember that our friend Gene got evicted from his studio last summer (the land finally became too valuable) so he brought all his studio out here til he gets re-situated. He came and spent a few days last week working on a few small commissions he has...a baptismal bowl and slumping some strips for a furniture maker and drilling some holes in some other things he had.

I've been changing out the strips and running the program for him. 

He'll be back out next week to slump the blank for the baptismal bowl.

Well, if I'm going to make a foray out today, now is the time to do it.

Monday, March 6, 2017

finally hit the wall and rain

The husband is back from his week in the Land of Ice and Snow and my week of solitude is at an end. I had to drive through torrential rain a good bit of the way to the airport Sunday to pick him up. It's an hour and a half drive from our house to the airport. It's the first rain we have had in weeks so I didn't really want to complain but...damn. Rained on the way back as well.

So Friday, I was done. Not done with the yard work or garden work, just done energy-wise and motivation-wise. I sat on the couch and read most of the day. Saturday wasn't much better. Made a foray to the Feed Store and the Hungerford Co-op. Added some dirt around the potatoes (a better estimate is that 1/3 of potatoes planted came up). Dug around to see what was up with the potatoes. Out of 6 pokes I found 4 mushy pieces and the other two were complete no shows. So I planted banana peppers in the empty spaces of the potato bed and one mound of zucchini in the new bed. And then it started to sprinkle early afternoon so I went in and sat on the couch and read the rest of the day.

My paltry number of potato plants. Probably won't plant potatoes again.

The tomatoes, on the other hand, are doing great.

And Sunday woke to rain and thunder and the dog the size of a cat was in instant panic mode. Upon our return from the airport, since it was still raining off and on, though no longer torrential, I sat on the couch the rest of the day and, you guessed it, read (I'm making great headway on my book for a change). 

It's a good thing I had no desire to get up, hemmed in by three animals as I was. The extra dog is my sister's. Dog sitting again.

Checked the neighbor's rain gauge a little bit ago and between Saturday evening and Sunday evening we got about 5” of rain. It will be several days before it's dry enough out there to do any more work in the yard and gardens so I guess I'll be back to working on my model even though the sun is shining. Well, was shining. Overcast again. And sunny again. Aaaand overcast. I guess we're going to do this all day.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

one woman, one shovel, two yards of dirt

My stab at model making lasted one day. I finally got my yard of the 'magic' caney soil on Sunday and I've been shoveling dirt every day since then.

I drove to the pit and watched as the guy scraped it off the surface, the 'surface' being 8' to 10' below the actual surface. This dirt is reddish blond unlike the expensive vegetable mix from last year, and has no organic material in it at all. Even so, the guy said I shouldn't have to add anything to it. I'm a bit skeptical though. When I got back and started shoveling it out into the raised bed I found that his idea of 'fluffy' is not the same as mine. While it most of it was crumbly, it was also very cloddy and had clay in it. So while I was shoveling I would toss out the clods if I couldn't crumble them and the clay and then when I finally emptied the truck I used the heavy rake to comb out more clods from the raised bed.

I dumped the clods and clay in a sinkhole by the fence that's been developing for the last year or so.

I finally got it all shoveled out Tuesday and it wasn't enough to fill the bed, barely 2/3s, which I knew because I had calculated I would need 1.6 yards and being the skeptic that I am, I decided to go get another yard of the expensive vegetable mix that burned everything I planted last spring. So that's what I did Tuesday afternoon. I figure if it's as hot as last year (though the lady said this was a little different mix and no they didn't have any complaints last year), mixing it in with the caney soil should make it OK.

Back to square one.

A little more than half the second yard and the new bed is finally ready to plant. I mixed the two dirts together and then topped it off with the new dirt as it had settled some during the turning. The rest will go in the big raised bed to top it off and in the other around the potatoes which are coming up but not even a fourth of what I planted.