Tuesday, October 31, 2017

more of the same

Y'all are probably tired of all the posts about rebuilding but, unfortunately, that's what's happening here.

Now that I have three of the four torn out room spaces over at the shop cleaned up I spent Sunday afternoon moving stuff out of the big bay and into the two farthest rooms. We are not only storing all our stuff from the two rooms that flooded in the house in the shop, but still much of our friend Gene's stuff from his old studio even though he has come and fetched some of his smaller equipment and our grandson's bedroom furniture while he tries to find a permanent home. Then I rearranged the glass and equipment in the shop and set up a new cold working station for me (I was set up in the garage before) and did the basic grinding on the 6 small feathers.

Monday morning, time for my weekly visit to FEMA. Today though I had good news! They finally accepted my identity last Friday and sent the order for disbursement of funds. I left there and went straight to the bank but no cigar. Not yet. Should only take a day or two more or I will know the reason why.

With the ongoing construction in the house and moving my stuff back over to the shop and my visit to FEMA and yoga at 5:30, I won't get started filling the next mold today (Monday) (which is not a feather piece but a moon piece, sort of a precursor) as I'll need several uninterrupted hours which I won't get til tomorrow. But first I must visit with my friend Caroline who I depended on heavily during the first month or so of this whole ordeal. Well, her and my sister.

I say I will get the uninterrupted hours tomorrow (today) but Rocky is planning on starting the paneling tomorrow (today) and I have to choose a door. Just pick the door and bite the bullet which means I will probably have to drive to Rosenberg today so I won't be making much progress on my stuff for the open house. I guess it's starting to wear on me because I have more to do to get ready for that like make a new sign, cover my display board with new fabric (which luckily I have...I think), repaint the shelves, and find a new little cabinet with a couple of drawers (all casualties of the flood). And I had an anxiety dream this morning about it all.

I dreamed that me and another person were setting up for a big art show and as we were setting up a lady came up and said she was just in love with that blue piece and wanted it and her male companion put the money on the table so I looked for the tubs with the stuff in it and realized I had forgot them so I told the guy I could go and be back in 15 minutes. OK, I'll wait he says. Then I couldn't remember where I parked the car and couldn't find it and then when I got to the house (?) I couldn't get in and had to climb a tree to get over the fence to get into the shop and there was traffic and I finally got back and stuff was spread out and I was looking for the blue penis piece (my description in the dream, it's one of the botanicas) because I didn't want to sell that one and it was still there and I woke up.

the current state of things

Saturday, October 28, 2017

cold front, dust, and errands

More cold air blowing in today (Friday). I'm wearing long jeans for the first time since early last spring. Supposed to get down to 41˚ tonight. May even have to turn on the heater! Rocky and crew are busy working in the studio room. It's a good thing I can close off the rest of the house from the back part as everything is covered in dust of one kind or another in there. Not only did the brick planters come out but after consulting with Rocky we decided to take out the short brick wall so that back corner could be squared up. I'm sacrificing a closet in the garage that was small and dark and basically unusable to that end.

Originally, there was an entertainment center built above the continuing brick from the planter to the right that we started tearing out during the demolition.

I'm having a sort of an empty day today while the guys work. Can't fill the next mold because it takes a lot of concentration and no distractions, don't feel like working outside with this cold wind and overcast sky, can't work over at the shop cleaning the last room because I want to be here in case something needs my attention. So, I went to the library and picked up the two books I requested though I didn't expect them both to come available in the same week. Guess I'll get comfortable on the couch and read.

Which I did.

Today (Saturday), while the sanding was going on, I left to run about a million errands, dragging my sister along with me, foremost of which was to the Lowe's about 45 minutes away to look at the birch bead board paneling. I had already decided against it but one look confirmed my decision. It didn't look nearly as good as the picture, not as light or light grained and they didn't have the pine (and I haven't been able to find it on their website either though Leonard tells me they do have it). I also looked at and talked to the woman at the desk about doors. Another agonizing decision I have to make. I need to replace two doors, one imminently; the other I'll probably put off forever as the problem with it is only cosmetic, some veneer coming loose on the inside. The door into the little backyard sustained more damage even though it sat in the same water as the door to the garage. Both doors are plain jane solid core slab wood doors with veneer on both sides, the kind of door no one recommends for exterior use these days. Mine seem to have functioned just fine for a long time if original, the house is about 60 years old. My other objects of acquisition were a new toilet seat, successful, and a new hand cart/dolly, unsuccessful.

We did make one stop on the way at the big garden center there in Richmond so I could get some wildflower seeds, which must be planted now, and failed in that respect so I bought some sweet pea seeds instead which also need to be planted in the fall. After Lowe's we headed for Shopping Mecca in Rosenberg which is sort of on the way back. We did have to do some backtracking but I tried to keep it at a minimum. Target for several items but only scored one out of three (warm fuzzy socks); Spec's, the liquor warehouse (stock up for Saturday margarita nights); a stop for lunch at Panera; Kroger for Rice Dream and a few other specific items; (backtrack) Penney's for long sleeve shirts (fail) and shower curtain hangers (so mundane and because I forgot them at Target); Michael's for magnets (only two on the new shower liner and I had run out of money so my sister bought them), then home.

So home, the garage door is down which I thought odd but I lifted it and opened the door into house and realized my error when I pulled down the paper they had so carefully taped up to protect stuff.


Friday, October 27, 2017

more repair/remodel underway

I had to decamp from my in-house studio again because Rocky showed up on Wednesday morning with a load of sheetrock promising to be back first thing in the morning to start. I was in the middle of filling one of the big DF (drowned feather) molds and had open dishes of crushed and powdered glass spread out on the work table (no problem, Rocky says, the guys will get all this stuff cleared out in no time, um, no, that's not happening) and so Wednesday I finished filling the mold and then emptied that room once again, setting up in the back bedroom, except for the big table and my desk. Computer is back on the dining room table.

So Thursday the styrofoam ceiling tiles came down

to be replaced with sheetrock

and the brick planters were demolished and the remains piled on Rocky's trailer

to be trundled over and tossed into the bunker on the shop grounds. It's already got concrete and brick trash in there and since we will never ever empty it we might as well fill that sucker up. As if this amount of brick and concrete will add visibly to the level.

I'm putting the bead board paneling on hold til Saturday when I can drive the 45 minutes to the closest Lowe's that has it to look at it in person. The birch bead board that I selected looks very pretty in the picture on-line but it's also $40 a sheet. If it's as pretty as the picture online indicates, I'll leave it the natural wood color. At least that's the plan. But I decided I'd best look at the actual product before I have Rocky order it. There is a pine version which I can use if I decide to paint it (and I'm sort of leaning that way as I write this because wood yellows and darkens with age and it's half what the other costs and the birch is a veneer as opposed to solid wood like the pine).

Today, tape and float.

Monday, October 23, 2017

mortal conditions

Walking over to the shop the other day I looked down in the street and there was a green snake near the edge. 

not this snake but one like it

It was motionless so I looked closer and it had been wounded, a bloody spot on its head and another small spot of blood about 3” or so down. I picked it up and held it, lamenting its injury while it quivered in my hand. It was obviously mortally wounded, dying, this beautiful green snake. This was only the third one of this kind I have come across out here. I gently put it in the grass on the side of the road and went on my way. Returning home, I stopped to check on it and it had died.

The next day, walking over to the shop I stopped to check on it's lifeless body and the ants were already at work. They had stripped the head and tail of flesh, exposed some ribs, a section of spine, 

beautiful green scales

and were building a nest around the body.

Ants are pretty amazing. I had killed a big grasshopper in my garden once and it was only a minute or so before an ant discovered it and scurried off. A few minutes later, it was back followed by a constant stream of it's fellows. It took about 15 or 20 minutes for them to completely dismember the carcass and haul it off.

Monarch caterpillars do not always choose the best place to attach themselves to make their chrysalis. They need to pick a spot that is clear of obstruction underneath for about 3 or more inches. When the butterfly emerges it hangs onto the empty chrysalis and drops and expands it's newly acquired wet wings. If there is any obstruction below when the wings expand and dry, the wing will be deformed and a monarch can't fly with deformed wings. I came across one such unlucky monarch fluttering on the ground and picked it up. It made the attempt to fly but the necessary aerodynamics weren't there. It didn't fly so much as engage in a controlled fall. A butterfly who can't fly, can't eat, can't migrate; a mortal condition. I picked it up again and placed it on the ever blooming penta and it ate. I saw it again later and once again picked it up and put it on the penta and have not seen it since.

hard to see the deformity in the pictures, the wingtips are curved down and under and one is torn

you can tell it is newly emerged by its intense colors

Saturday, October 21, 2017

have I mentioned how busy I am?

I should be writing a reply email to a man I have known for 50 years. I'm not, obviously, but I will. I'm sort of amazed that he has kept up with me all this time since he moved to Iowa and married only a few years after we met. We have had periods of time where we communicated fairly regularly to times when we communicated not at all. He was an object of romantic desire early on but that didn't pan out and yet he has not let me slip away into the past. I'm not really sure I understand why so I just accept this gift of connection and friendship. He's an interesting guy and a great story teller, a romantic whose greatest desire is to become a published writer. He visited us out here a year or so ago when he was closing up his deceased parents estate in the city and gave us an open invitation to join him and his other in Wisconsin where he now lives if we ever need a safe place. There's some real past life stuff going on here. That's the only explanation I can come up with.

Onward into the now, the second set of three drowned feathers came out much better. Well, not better in how they cast but in how they look. I used brown and gray powders in the feathers before the white and it muted the white nicely. Need to use more powder though. Learning process and all. I think these three are my favorite and I think the rock will be the best, partly because it's so dimensional.

Next up is one of the 10” x 10”s. I've never done a piece quite this big. My mind is telling me to work out the colors for the big drowned feathers and order my glass or to start on the basic cold work for the six small ones today when my desire is to just continue for the next two days and get the rest of that part of the shop cleaned and hosed.


after (you can't really see how clean it is but trust me, compared to before, it's sparkling):


Thursday, October 19, 2017

work of one kind or another for the foreseeable future

The last three small drowned feathers are in the kiln. The first three came out well though I think the white sand on one of them was a mistake as well as that pale gray for two of the rocks and for some reason I was way off on the volume measure for another one and it's not thick enough to suit me (will probably re-fire that one) and the quills are way too prominent, may have to grind those down some. 

And at first glance, I'm not wowed. The white feathers are so 'white' and dense and 'flat' that it's hard to see the detail I think. May have to reconsider my approach though I'll withhold judgement til I get the finish work done. We'll see how the next three come out. If nothing else, they're good studies for the four large panels and Marc got one of those molds done today. I have six weeks left before the first weekend open house so I think I'm going to try and get the flower/bee piece model finished and cast that I had just started on before Harvey and the ensuing upheaval hahahahahahaha, I'm such a kidder.

Since I finished those molds on Tuesday I worked outside Wednesday moving and consolidating the pile of leftover lumber from fixing the structure of the house. Some of it will be used over at the shop whenever Rocky wends his way back here but I wanted it off the grass which has not fared well under all those building materials. Then I trimmed around the raised garden beds which was in desperate need and started around the bunker when the last of the trimmer string shot out, about 18”. This trimmer has issues and I don't have enough electric cords to reach everywhere anyway so I went to look at gas powered trimmers. The lightest one was just under 10 pounds. I didn't buy it then but I think I'm going to go back before the week is out and get it.

So then I spent some time in the shop moving more stuff around and setting up my cold work station and went and got some big plastic containers to hold the pool whose boxes got turned to mush when the shop flooded. So the pool and it's cover have been sitting there for 6 weeks untouched. Oh ick. Smelly and slimy, I had to unfold both items and spread them out and hose them down. Still need to wipe them down both sides and let them dry before I can fold them back up.

Today I worked over at the shop again. During the demolition stage I had Rocky tear out the four built in rooms in the shop. I had them tear it out down to the framing because one, it was old and nasty and two, we needed to see how much rotten wood there was before we could rebuild. 

The guys did a pretty good job cleaning up after themselves considering the amount of debris they were dealing with. I filled two large bags with as much debris of small sheetrock bits, insulation, rust, and just plain dirt as I could lift and then I used the shop vac. Next was nail pulling and hosing down and vac-ing up the water off the concrete floor. Tomorrow I'll start on the next room...getting up the last bits of sheetrock and insulation, nail pulling, vac-ing, and hosing down the concrete floor. That's about all the time I can spare for that right now since I need to get back to working on the cast glass and I need to order some frit in order to do that.

These days it's just whatever is demanding the most attention every morning is what gets done cause it all needs to get done.  

Monday, October 16, 2017

another day pretty much like the previous days

I've been filling molds. Three down and in the kiln, one done and two to go. I walked the perimeter of the house fluffing up the poor crushed ferns and picking up all the trash and debris left behind after Rocky and Manuel finished the exterior of the house on Thursday. It wasn't that much really, just bits and pieces of tar paper and old siding and some metal and the occasional nail, because they did a good job cleaning up after themselves. Next project is to knock out the brick planters, sheetrock the ceiling, and put up the birch bead board paneling in my studio room. He may not start on that til next week which is fine as it gives me time to finish these molds and put away my stuff. I'll have to move back out of the room while they're working on it.

Friday I went back to the Civic Center with my list of questions to meet with Katie the FEMA agent again. The rejection letter was issued on the 7th, she says, and new supporting documents were shuttled to my file on the 11th thus opening an appeal to my application and now I have to wait til the case agent reviews my file again. In the meantime maybe more of the supporting documents will make it into my file. Apparently, the agents in the field fax all the documents at the end of the day to central command but it may take a week or longer for them to migrate into the pertinent file. Be patient, she says, it will be resolved in your favor. OK, but I'm losing faith I told her. So I guess I'll not bother them again til at least next Monday.

Another puppy hanging around Sunday. 

Waited too late in the day to take a picture and contact SPOT. By the time they got back to me willing to take the pup, it was nowhere to be found.

Beautiful weather today though. Another cool front blew in and this one is supposed to last more than two days. Perfect for working outside but my priority is to get these last three now two molds filled.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

my refusal to conform has come back to bite me in the ass

FEMA inspection was a week ago and no money in the bank. Went back to the Civic Center again, signed in, and sat across from another FEMA agent who told me that my claim had been rejected because they could not authenticate my identity.

I'm sorry, what?

They just mailed the letter today, shall I print it out for you?

Yes, fume fume fume.

The letter says that to authenticate my identity I must do one of the following:

Except that I've already given them that first dot and more. Well, the SS card was just the receipt in my name for ordering a new card. This agent didn't seem inclined to do anything besides give me the letter and send me on my way even though she saw all the documents I had already provided. So I fumed out and went back to the house to get my actual SS card, which fortunately had arrived in the mail a few days previous, and my birth certificate and last year's property tax statement and last years tax return and my marriage certificate though I was loathe to use my marriage certificate because, wouldn't you know, it has another completely different name on it. This isn't my first marriage and back when I divorced the guy after 3 1/2 years I didn't think to change my name back in the divorce decree. So my current marriage certificate says Ellen Abbott (name of the rat bastard). Because it's not already complicated enough.

Back at the Civic Center in front of another agent. He's pulled up my file, he sees all the documents and statements already submitted, he doesn't understand why they are being so stubborn. He takes my Official ID card (DL) and my SS card and my birth certificate, my property tax statement, a house document that shows us as the buyers and makes copies and adds them to the stack of documents to be faxed to FEMA central. He will make sure the documents get faxed, he will confer with the wonderful Katie tomorrow, who is the most knowledgeable and connected and has the day off today, and send an email to ? someone to see about resolving this situation and he says he will call me tomorrow with an update. In the meantime, he suggested getting my DL name changed over to match my SS card (don't want to do that) and he sent me over to the legal aid table. So I'm going to be appointed a pro bono lawyer to see what advice and/or help they can provide towards getting this straightened out.  But I'm wondering if maybe they are never going to accept it, so many disasters happening at one time, stretched, who can we kick off this runaway train kind of thing and time is running out for people to be able to apply.  Perhaps it might be better, easier to just withdraw my application and have Marc apply.

So, of course because the day wasn't going badly enough already...I stormed out of there after my first visit this morning. Got in the car and zoomed off about two blocks to the stop sign and zoomed off from the stop sign about 2 or 3 blocks when I got behind someone going soooo slow, fuming in the car when I finally looked in my rear view mirror to see those red and blue lights. Well, fuck. Apparently I zoomed right past that cop car.

I'm fishing out my insurance card and DL and tap tap tap on the window and the conversation that followed went something like this...

yes yes as I roll down the window

How are you today, ma'am, he asks me.

Not that great, it's been rather frustrating.

Why is that?

FEMA is refusing to accept that I am who I say I am even though I have submitted several documents and now I have to get more.

What seems to be the problem?

It involves this name and that name and this other name and how I use them and that's the short version of a very long story.

He wanted to know if that's where I was going and where I had met with FEMA and...

Do you know why I stopped you today? he asked.

Yes, hanging my head in shame, I was speeding. I'm sorry.

You passed me going 45 in a 35.

Yes, sorry, I know.

Well, he says, standing there holding my ID and insurance certificate looking down the road, you go on but don't speed. We want you to get there and not cause any accidents. Hands me my stuff and says again, don't speed.

No sir, I won't, I know, I'm sorry.

And he lets me go.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

finally fall, for a few days anyway

Tuesday (with edits)...There's a cool front blowing in and it's raining leaves. I had just swept the concrete apron of the driveway clear of leaves a week ago and already yesterday it was nearly covered again. Even though the days are still humid and climbing into the low 90s, the trees know when to shed their tired dingy leaves. The oaks and the maple and the crepe myrtles and the tallows have been dropping their brown and dried up finery for weeks. Now this cool dry air blowing in will encourage them to release more. The oaks are starting to drop acorns as well and the pecans, well, the pecans have been dropping in their husks for months. Though I have been picking up nuts free of their husks for about a week they are as dried up inside as the leaves falling on the ground. I doubt we'll get many good ones this year.

While the new color samples will come out of the kiln later today and I will be filling the ready molds this week, today I am going to take advantage of this cool weather blowing in to dig out all the nut grass from one of the raised beds (done!) and repair the weed cloth between the beds where the flood lifted it up and moved it around (not done), something I've been putting off because it has been so hot and humid. Not that that has kept me from working outside during this weather but I do try to work in the shade. No shade over there where the gardens are.

Rocky is still getting the hardy board up around the outside of the house. He could finish today but probably won't. He's got his crew split up working on at least one other house and maybe another (as it was, he didn't show up, had been sick all weekend and was feeling pretty terrible when he worked on Monday). My poor ginger and ferns and mock dogwood and hummingbird bush are taking a beating growing right next to the house as they are. I had to move one small azalea before he trampled it to death. It seems to be recovering in it's new location.

Today...It's so nice and cool outside, a relief from the oppressive heat and humidity of this long summer. We even pulled up the quilt and slept under it last night. I turned off the AC and opened some windows and doors yesterday and didn't even break a sweat clearing out the nut grass in the garden in which I have several volunteer tomatoes that are blooming!

Well the samples came out and I numbered them and cleaned them up and I'm pretty pleased with them. Have one more combination I want to try when the first three drowned feather molds go in the kiln later this week.

So yesterday I had just enough time to get to the library and was ready to head out the door when I couldn't find my phone. Well, poop. I put it down somewhere. “Call me” I told Marc. Silence. Hmm, it's not in the house. Walked over to the shop where I had been working earlier. Not there either. It doesn't sit very deep in the rear pocket of the shorts I had been wearing so I looked around outside trying to remember where all I had been in the yard or on the street or around the shop. Still no phone. Finally I remembered that I had been playing chase with Minnie, who was loving the cool and not humid air and was feeling very energetic all day, at the back edge of the property beyond the mini wildflower meadow (which is now just a big weedy spot) and the compost pile and there it was, laying on the ground.

Monday, October 9, 2017

more of the same

I have sort of reclaimed my studio in the house. After taking down all the old paneling and associated pieces around the doors and windows, removed all the exposed insulation, pulled all the nails, and cleaned up after myself, I have reclaimed my studio even if temporarily. I've set up my desk in a different configuration mainly because this whole situation is different and I have an auxiliary work table, also temporary since it belongs to my sister and because I need to be able to break it all down quickly when work begins in here, and moved my computer off the dining room table and back here. I'm sort of enjoying this stripped down version of my space, all the furniture that I had to make work gone, all the other stuff that I had refused to deal with for years taking up space, gone with no guilt (although plenty of that stuff is in boxes somewhere). Now I get to think how I want to make this space work best and then add in whatever furniture is needed to make that happen.

I set up 8 more color samples yesterday, all for sand. 

They're all combined colors ranging from 4 - 8 different colors and transparencies each. I've always worked with transparent colors, my objection being that opaque colors are so flat, they have no depth, and they don't really portray the reality of, well, reality hence my combining similar but different colors and different transparencies just to get something that looks like sand. We'll see. In the meantime I'm cleaning up the four molds I have ready and measuring them so I'll know how much weight of glass it takes to fill each one.

I worked out in the yard some, more cleaning up and digging up trees...pecans and hackberries mostly...pulling up tens of little yew trees and grassy weeds and the black and blue salvia which is proving to be greedy. Still finding things that didn't make it like the purple verbena. Some things are coming back like the gerber daisies and the four o'clocks, a few of the rock rose survived but you know what liked the flood? The day lilies. They haven't looked this full and lush in years. Guess I'm not watering them enough.

Friday, October 6, 2017

finally FEMA and work of one kind and another

The samples are out of the kiln, two molds are made, and Tuesday I visited FEMA to make sure that they were satisfied that I am who I say I am, and started back on demolition.

The paneling in my studio room will have to be replaced because it is so old they don't sell it anymore besides the fact that it's really ugly. 

During the initial demolition, only about 4' up was removed, enough to expose the wood so it could dry but I learned Tuesday that the county in my precinct will stop picking up flood damage and construction debris after October 26th. Hence the continued demolition. I've just about got all the paneling down. Most of it was easy enough except for two sections that I almost had to chew off and the way they encased the windows has me scratching my head. But the good news is that after consulting Rocky about the rest of the sheetrock in the back bedroom, I don't need to tear it all out up to the ceiling after all. I wanted to replace the old blown-in insulation but he said that he wouldn't, it wasn't wet, was still good so just leave it be. The repair work on the structure is done and Rocky is replacing the old siding shingles, which were brittle with age and nearly impossible to get off without breaking, with hardy board. Then we start on the inside.

The FEMA inspector finally came out yesterday morning. She took pictures, took pictures of some of my pictures, measured all the rooms and the water mark, wrote stuff down while I recited what all had been in those rooms and was lost. Now we wait and see how much money turns up in our bank account.

Later, I went to the Social Security web site to check on something and I noticed that instead of my account being listed as Ellen A Leva, it now reflects the new Social Security card with all four names and has me listed as Edith E Leva. Thanks FEMA.

After the FEMA inspector came out yesterday I engraved a number on each of the 44 color samples and added their formulas to my list of samples made which now numbers 143. That may seem like a lot but it's not really. Then I set up my little flat lap in the shop and ground the points off the edges. The first two rows are a transparent color over an opaque color. The bottom two rows are a transparent color mixed with an opaque color. These are for the rocks and sand for the drowned feathers. Not too many for the sand. May have to do more.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

this is who we are

So. Once again, for the 273rd time in 275 days in this year alone, (383 in 2016), the nature of this society called America has shown itself in spades. And it ain't pretty. But apparently no massacre is bad enough to do something about the gun violence in this country. No group of victims is too heinous to do something about the gun violence in this country. No, anything besides unfettered access to whatever and however many guns a person can have, no matter their criminal or mental or social dis-functions, is unAmerican.

Captured from FB

Hard to argue with that.

I also read an article from the Atlantic about the dark truth of this society...

No other society allows the massacres to keep happening. Everyone around the world knows this about the United States. It is the worst aspect of the American national identity.”

As long as it's white male 'lone wolfs' whatever they do is tolerable.

The other truth is that this is who we are and we know it. We know this will continue, and it will, because we do nothing to change it

No other nation that is not ruled by anarchy allows this to happen.

The 273rd mass murder, defined as four or more casualties, and the worst to date in terms of casualties inflicted, in 275 days. That's almost one a day. One mass murder a day not counting just the one or two killed. The thousands of women killed every year not by an unbalanced individual but by someone they know and possibly love. The hundreds of children killed every year, now the third leading cause of death. The thousands of people shot because someone was enraged and had a gun. The thousands of suicides every year.  Some statistics here from Newsweek.

And because the body counts aren't high enough, Congress, the lap dog of the NRA and gun lobby, wants to throw silencers into the mix.