Wednesday, November 29, 2017

doors, floors, and butterflies

Work stopped on my studio room last week and it was kind of nice to have a little respite from all the carpentrying going on. The Monday before Thanksgiving, Rocky showed up to touch up the paint and start on the flooring but I thought it would be better to wait until the door to the Little Backyard came in and he agreed so off he went to work on the next house in the queue. The door came in Saturday and Rocky was back on Monday 

my man Rocky on the left

and the new back door is in and the paint has been touched up, mostly, and yesterday they started on the flooring with much cursing, crying, and gnashing of teeth. The concrete step up to the rest of the house was giving them fits and finally they had to take it all up and start over but today it's going in like wildfire, 

sitting here listening to Rocky's constant stream of commentary and instructions to his helpers. He'll have it in today and maybe the base trim too at the rate they're going. After that, it's the punch list.

I'm happy with my display 

so today I'll dismantle everything and start packing stuff up. Set up is tomorrow. I have requested dinner before the evening hours on Friday this year to the provider of such instead of trying to find something quick at 9:30 PM or later as usual. Still have to sit down and price the new stuff, make the little signs that give additional info, and pack up some model making stuff to work on during the slow times. I got the new sign and 'instructional' poster re-made. I've never been so prepared with so little new stuff, but, Harvey...

On another note, the butterflies are migrating through. For the past week the yard has been full of monarchs, queens, fritillaries, sulfurs, skippers, longwings, unless it's the same crowd hanging around for a rest stop. Also saw a swallowtail or two and a rare painted lady. Out there this morning I bet there were 20 or more butterflies on the cosmos and penta and butterfly weed.

swallowtail and sulfur

queen and monarch


Saturday, November 25, 2017

what I'm doing this week

Every year we have participated in this open house and it has been very many, I have arrived for set-up with no idea of how I wanted to set things up. I have my shelving units and I get to use one of the tables but other than that I am at a loss as to how to best set it up and what to put where and I am indecisive, probably leaning on the others too much, and it takes me far too long.

I'm not going to do that this year. This year I'm setting it all up in advance in the gutted part of the shop. Basically I'll set it up like it was last year, that worked really well I think, but this year I'm going to know before I get there how I want the stands set up...where exactly the shelves will be and what I am going to put on them and on the board for the hanging pieces and what goes on the table and where. 

I'm much further along than this picture suggests

Unfortunately, I don't have the little 'two drawer and a cubby' cabinet anymore it being a victim of the flooded house. Last year was the first time to use that and it was so convenient, so of course... Now I just have to dig around in all the boxes here at the house and over at the shop to find the stuff that was in those drawers and cubby.

We met our friends Dick and Kathy, at whose glass blowing studio the open house is at, when they came by to visit our studio one day. They had retired and decided they wanted to take up glass blowing and were visiting the different glass artists' studios.

I used to tell people that Dick and Kathy dragged us kicking and screaming out of our cave and into the light. It was their support and friendship to a certain degree, along with our local gallery, that started getting our pate de verre work noticed. They weren't just some glassblowers trying to get it out there, Dick, an ex-neurosurgeon and Kathy, his ex-surgical assistant, were big supporters of the art community, knew the gallery owners and artists and entertained and put up visiting artists at their home and have an amazing art collection and not just glass. I say dragged us out of our cave because we basically shunned the art community, busy running our etched glass studio and raising our kids, we didn't go to openings or galleries in general, didn't really know any other artists beyond a handful of other etched or stained glass artists. A few years after they started their studio, they invited a handful of local glass artists to set up with them for their annual open house. During our SOFA/delusions of grandeur years, we didn't participate because everything we had was at one gallery or another. But then the economy crashed in '08.

The first 5 or 6 years we got pretty good crowds. Dick and Kathy were still very active in the art scene and what we all were doing was pretty new and unique and we were basically the only event that weekend. As the years have passed more and more events have been scheduled for the same weekend and Dick and Kathy became less active in the art world as other parts of life needed tending to. The crowds have diminished over the years and we've added a second weekend with other craft mediums, not just glass, to try and draw in a more diverse crowd. Sometimes we, personally, sell stuff and sometimes we don't which is OK. It's about selling some stuff, but it's also about spending time with friends we don't see very often now that we moved out of the city and if it weren't for that, I might have passed on participating this year even though we committed ourselves before the house flooded.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving past and present

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and today I'll be preparing the one item I am responsible for this year...the dressing. It was the dressing and a pie but my sister is joining us this year and she has volunteered to bring the pie. I set the bread out to get stale day before yesterday and cubed it last night and made the cornbread last night and set it out which I had forgotten about until Marc asked me wasn't the cornbread supposed to be stale too? Oh shit. I swear this happens every year. Anyway, it will probably take me all day. It usually does but at least I have a head start on the bread already being cubed and all.

We'll be going to our daughter's house as we have for the last three years. Before that they would all come to our house but now our son and daughter-in-law refuse to come out here. There's always a reason they decline the invitations, and not just Thanksgiving. It's easier to just accept the reason on face value than to delve into the murky underbelly which will only make everyone unhappy and so we travel in.

Growing up, my family didn't do Thanksgiving. Mother's position was we're just going to do the whole turkey dinner thing over again in a month for Christmas and she wasn't of a mind to go through the trouble twice though it's not as if she did the cooking for Christmas. We had a maid/cook and another couple who would come in to serve the dinner and clean up after Leila left. Instead we would spend Thanksgiving weekend at the beach house that our parents had built when I was about 13. Sometimes I think, surely we did Thanksgiving at some point before that but I don't have a single memory of it but then I don't have a great memory. There's lots of things I don't remember about growing up that my sister does and lots of things in my adult life that Marc does.

Thanksgiving didn't become something until I had my own family. When the kids were small more often than not we went to my mother-in-law's house and as they got older we would host dinner now and then.  I remember one Thanksgiving we were having the family to our house and I was sweeping the front steps when a car drove up and a group of people from a local church got out with a big bag of food. I was a little dumbfounded since, one, we weren't/aren't christians and two, I'd never even been to that church, and three, we had a houseful of food and were expecting a houseful of people. As it turned out, our daughter had gone with her friend with whom she had spent the night to some sort of church function (there's that bad memory again) and she somehow gave them the impression that we were broke, poor, and hungry and they put us on their needy families list. Well, we were poor but we weren't broke or hungry and the kids never went without anything they needed just some things they wanted. I thanked them very kindly, refused the food, and suggested they divide my portion up between the remaining deliveries.

I guess I'd best get in there and get started.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

new normals?

It's November 17th was and I'm sitting here in a tank top and summer shorts, barefoot because it's been in the mid-80s all week, the doors and windows open. I heard and saw a huge flock of geese overhead flying north. Many of the spring weeds have already sprouted like the sow thistle and the clover and the stickyweed and the 10 petal anemone 

but oddly, no dandelions. The bluebonnets are growing, not sprouting, growing

as are the little red lilies that generally don't start to appear until late December. 

The baby blue eyes are sprouting and there's a single clasping leaved coneflower blooming in the mini-wildflower meadow. It's November. We haven't even had winter yet. I mean, it's not unusual to be in t-shirt and shorts or jeans and barefoot in November or even December, but not in the 80s. I have volunteer tomatoes growing lushly and putting on fruit. That's not normal. Yesterday, the 18th, the high was 84˚ but a front was blowing in all day and the predicted low was a 40 degree plunge to 45˚. That's actually kinda normal.

You might remember way back when this started as a single 4' x 4' bed for strawberries (dismal failure) and has grown over the years into what it looks like now. I planted those three little banana trees April 2016, 

this is what they look like in November 2017...

totally barging their way through the nice neat border I spent days creating, tossing concrete landscape blocks and brick pavers aside as if they were cardboard. Marc says we'll as in me need to move those banana trees. Yeah, no way those banana trees are going to be moved. Easier to change the shape of that bed to accommodate the trees and their expansion.

So, studio is painted but hasn't been inspected for touch ups yet so everything is still covered over and taped off. Waiting on the last door to arrive to be installed, base moulding still needs to go on, and the floor installed. Then put the fan back together and get the light fixtures and the duct grates and my hooks back up. 

I like the color, I do, it's just that everything is the same color and it's all so...white! We're practically snow blind when we go in there so definitely the molding will get another coat of paint to add some color and definition for the windows and doors and, of course, when I get all my stuff in there it will look very different.


Friday, November 17, 2017

how this past week went

OK, I said to myself Friday evening, it's nearly mid-November and you have three weeks til the first weekend of the open house and one of those is Thanksgiving week and you need to get in there and get that finish work done on the castings. So Saturday morning I got up and drove to El Campo instead to see what they offered in vinyl floating plank flooring, which they had but more than I wanted to pay. Next stop, Lowe's (further in the opposite direction) which didn't really have much selection and the stuff in my price range was really thin. Onwards to Home Depot (even further but not by much) which is where my neighbor Gary got his flooring and sold me on the product. They had one selection in that brand which was a light color wood look and they had enough boxes and it was on sale as a close-out for $1.99 sq. ft. Sold!

I did get a few hours in that day and all day Sunday. I got all the work done on the 6 small feather pieces (bird's eye view) 

and the one moon piece (which I showed you here). Now I have to decide how to present them...wall mounted or as is.

So, the first new door to the garage, basically a plain rectangle 32” x 80” x 1 3/4” no bore holes no hinges no casing no threshold to replace exactly the door I had (except the old one was 1 3/8” thick), didn't work out. They did well enough preparing the door with bore holes and hinges but it got a little mangled trying to hang it in the old out of whack casing. Tuesday I went and bought the exterior door I had been rejecting complete with casing and bore holes and threshold. This room is going to be completely unrecognizable from before...planters and brick walls gone, new ceiling, new walls, new doors, new floor. The ceiling fan is the same. My art light fixture will be. The pocket door between that part of the house and the kitchen. Everything else is new. And I'm losing my screen door to the garage. Not too happy about that but we're coming on winter and I won't be wanting to keep it open anyway. I say garage. It's a garage in name only as we do not put the cars in there. It's really another work/storage space that is open to the outdoors. 

So, Tuesday I drove the 20 minutes or so to Lowe's and bought the door and primer since I finally succumbed to having Rocky paint the room as well (any other point in time I would have had the time to do it myself). Wednesday morning I woke up thinking I should go buy the flooring for the back bedroom now since the product is a close-out and probably won't be available when I'm ready. I once again drove into the Rosenberg area and bought the flooring and looked at paint colors (no success). I looked at paint colors at the place here and yesterday, three samples later, watching them throughout the day, I made my selection and bought the paint early evening. In the meantime, Rocky and Gunnar have hung the door, primed the ceiling and walls, attended to details, taken down the rotten gutters on the house, and did some work over at the shop. Still waiting on the new door to the Little Backyard and we are going to replace the molding around the door to the garage with something a little fancier, same for the other exterior door when it gets here. 

Progress as of Thursday evening...

Monday, November 13, 2017

not politics and the moon

You might have noticed I haven't been writing about the travesty that has befallen this country in the form of it's present president (and the GOP in general) lately. Several reasons for that, the most obvious the flooding from Hurricane Harvey at the end of August and the demolition and continuing reconstruction that has followed. Another reason is that it's time consuming to collect one horrible incident or appointment or tweet after another and write them down and right now my time is divided between the remodeling going on and trying to get the 7 pieces we did manage to get cast finished in time for the open house the first and second weekends in December and time is running short. Probably the real reason is that for the first time in my life I've had high blood pressure recorded at all the doctor office visits this year and had a freaky bout of rapid heartbeat that spanned two weeks and to tell the truth it's just getting more and more depressing to keep up with it. This country is going to hell in a hand basket and while I will continue to vote and voice my opinion that's pretty much all I can do so I've succumbed to cynicism and accepted the fact that I'm living in the end times of this country. Once I get my house put back together I'm going to work on getting the shop fixed up and then my gardens or maybe my gardens and then the shop and I'm going to just make stuff whether anyone wants to buy it or not.

Like this one. I'm almost finished with the edge work on this one and I've been pondering how to present it, either on a stand or mounted for hanging on a wall and I finally decided to have a stand made for it. Unfortunately, Chuck, the metal artist that creates my stands, is also consumed with work and the aftermath of Harvey and though his house didn't flood, his shop did and no way he can make it for me in time for the open house. So I will still show it with a sign that the stand is forthcoming. This is a stand for something else (Chuck did not make this one) but I can gerryrig it a little better to at least display this piece.

When it first came out of the kiln and was de-molded, with all the plaster chunks and residue still on it, it looked as if the piece had failed, that the amber was too dark and it didn't glow. It's always a crap shoot since I only do one of a kind pieces these days.

One more decision to make re my studio in the house...paint.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

I know, more boring remodeling stuff but some bugs at the end

Rocky finally got around to the brick wall that separates this room from the garage. 

We had already taken out the short 2' or so wide perpendicular brick wall to the left of the old entertainment center that was built on the bricks that further to the right became one of the planters and pushed the wall all the way back which is why that opening into the garage in the picture exists (I have a before picture but I'm saving that for later). He had saved that section for the last because figuring out how to trim around it was being troublesome as the face of the bricks protruded out unevenly beyond the plane of the paneling. We ought to just take it out, Rocky says, we can get it done and reframed and paneled in one day. Since that brick wall was always going to be the sore thumb in an otherwise new room, I agreed.

He's just about done in there, plans to show up today and get it all finished except for the new back door which hasn't arrived yet and the base molding which can't go on til I get the flooring in and that might not be til January unless I switch to a different flooring that Rocky can install. And I ought to get it painted before the flooring goes in but there's no time for that until January.

I'm still leaning towards this sheet vinyl for the floor 

but my neighbor Gary was showing me the interlocking vinyl planks he is using for about the same price or less and easy to install, that are waterproof and can be easily taken up, washed off, and reinstalled if it floods again. Problem is, all I see online is wood patterns and that's not what I want in there. So I guess I'm heading out to the Lowe's again to see what all they have in that product.

I do manage to sneak an hour here or there to get some of the cold work done on the pieces we've managed to get cast. Here's a peek at the moon piece which is going to take some considerable time getting in all those nooks and crannies.

And finally the promised bugs...

This bee was so covered in pollen it looked like it had landed in someone's flour. Well, I guess it did in a way.

And this grasshopper was determined I would not take his picture. Every time I closed in with the camera, it would scoot around to the other side of the stem.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

more progress

My undisturbed weekend was so nice. I got that mold filled 

and it will probably be the last one we fire before the open house. If I get the finish work done and the display stuff done before the open house it will be a fucking miracle.

Monday I cleaned up my mess over at the shop and then went to the local frame shop for some foam core board for the new sign and then after lunch Rocky's asking about the last door (which is solid enough and undamaged on the garage side from the flood but the inside has the veneer coming loose some at the bottom and I was thinking I would just live with it but what the hell, everything else in the room will be new so might as well replace that one too) and also about the flooring which I had already decided to do in vinyl but have to pick an actual product. So I've been back on-line and on the phone looking for a door just like the one I have...solid core slab door wood veneer no panels.

Yesterday I drove to El Campo which is closer than Rosenberg and the Lowe's to look at the door at McCoy's, damaged at the bottom, they'll probably give you some off the guy says (no, not replacing a damaged door with another damaged door no matter how minor) and to the flooring place where I got there basically in time for her to close for the lunch hour (small town) and for her to tell me she couldn't identify the flooring in my bathroom from a picture (what?). So since my call to the Wharton flooring shop who did the bathroom has gone unreturned and they are NEVER open, not, at least, the few times I've tried in the middle of a weekday, I will probably have to start over and pick a new a vinyl that is as close to what I have as possible. Anyway, I headed back and then drove in the opposite direction to Lowe's to buy the door. Which I did.

Progress as of end of day yesterday...

Getting there.

Now something totally unrelated to work or reconstruction, wandering around the yard yesterday some fluttering on the yellow ginger caught my eye 

and another hummingbird moth had it's tongue stuck in a wilted flower and was struggling to get loose so I gently pulled it off and away it flew. Then I noticed a second moth on the same cluster of flowers but this one was not so lucky and had already died. 

That's the second one (found one earlier this summer that was stuck and had died) so I guess I need to check those clusters every morning as long as they are blooming.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

yay! not about construction!

Here it is Friday evening and I still haven't started much for my three uninterrupted days. That's not exactly true, I got six shelves painted and then decided to paint the last four but I'd already put the paint away. I've also made a list of things to find like dig out my letter stencils and markers and the fabric to re-cover the display board but no progress on any actual molds or castings.

But I had slept late and had a leisurely morning, then one last trip down to the Convention Center to FEMA. We were funded last Tuesday yay! almost twice what I was thinking but a bit less than other neighbors whose whole houses were affected and on one of my many previous visits Katie told me that FEMA would pay for three years of flood insurance but I had to wait til my grant came through to apply for it. The agent just had to fill out a form and I signed and dated it and they will get in touch but I'm covered from the date of the application. After the three years we will be responsible for keeping it up. If we don't we won't be eligible for any future help from FEMA if we flood again. So when I got back I strolled down the street to make sure certain of my neighbors knew about it they didn't and then I took the recycling (mostly bottles from all the bottled water) to the now re-opened recycling center here in town. Managed to piddle the rest of the day away as well.

So now it is Saturday evening, the last day of that extra hour of daylight. It already gets dark so early. Today I painted the last four shelves 

and finally started on filling a mold. It's the odd man out, not a feather but a moon. It was nearly 2 PM before I got started good as I had to make several trips back and forth to get all the stuff I needed to get set up. I didn't finish but I did get the touchy part done and packed in and protected. The rest is just measuring out the rest of the black around the amber and then the clear and then finally, the white layer. 

'The rest', it will still take me a couple of hours.

Well, my flower beds here at the house are having issues but the wildness over at the shop is happy enough.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

running out of clever ways to say construction continues

OK, I bought a door. Or more correctly, I ordered a door because Lowe's does not stock plain and simple. I settled for a fiberglass solid core half light with clear glass, two panels (wanted only one but the only option for that cost well over double than the one I ordered), textured with wood grain on both sides that I will stain on the inside and paint on the outside. I hope I like it.

The ceiling is done, lightly textured, and the bead board is going up today while Rocky figures out how to work with the weird way they built the windows and doors in this part of the house. What I want to end up with on the windows is a sill and molding like the windows in the rest of the house and molding around the 4 doors in this room. Seems like it ought to be easy but let me just say that it's kind of tricky as there was no sill before on the windows. Well, there was a sill but it was brick and that's gone now.

So that was yesterday. When I got back from Lowe's I realized I needed another door as well, the one that leads to the back bedroom and little bathroom and it was an immediate need so back I went today to get that (as they do stock hollow core plain jane interior slab doors) and also some different baseboard molding because remember, 'weird way they built this part of the house'. Turns out the walls are not 8' but 8'4” which means I need extra wide base molding to cover up that extra 4 inches. 

the plan is to do the step in mosaic

Since my grandson still has my truck, I put it all in 'will call' and Rocky is going to go fetch it for me and so he did pulling up earlier with the door and molding. No other progress today as they finished up a neighbor's house today.

On a related note, while I haven't been working on the cast glass this week, I did finally get the driveway completely cleared off except for the bags of dirt but they were there before.

I think I'll actually be able to get some work done on the castings and preparations the next three days as tomorrow is Rocky's birthday and he's taking that day off which means no construction til Monday.

So that's my goal.