Sunday, December 31, 2017


This last day of 2017 I went out and gathered up all the monarch caterpillars I could find on the milkweed plus stripped off handfuls of leaves and brought them in and set them up in jars because the first five days of 2018 are going to be frozen with most hours below freezing, turn the water off at the meter freezing.

So, the banana trees will freeze down to the ground as will the rangoon creeper and the purple orchid tree too so no blooms on it this spring. Yesterday I covered the hibiscus, the gardenias, the angel trumpets, the ponytail palm, the jasmine, and the satsuma with blankets and plastic or tarps, covered a few smaller things with buckets. The day before I brought in all the small and the last few big pots.

Not how I want to start out the new year.

I also gathered all the green tomatoes since they definitely won't survive. I put the biggest ones in the windowsill to see if they will ripen but most the others will go to Rocky and Melissa down the street.

On the upside, the local peach orchard ought to have a good harvest this year.

A few last pictures...

We've been dog sitting my sister's dog since before Christmas and Minnie has been making full use of Morgan's bed, blanket, and pillow while Morgan has taken over Minnie's spot on the couch.

The grass at sunset one evening

and this

Friday, December 29, 2017

and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out

I am anole. I am turtle at the bottom of the tank. I am cold and not inclined to motion, at least until the dog starts bouncing off my chest wanting her walk. 

Properly bundled and outside it's not so bad, as long as the wind doesn't blow. We walk briskly, the short walk, and even she is ready to be back inside by the time we return. Cold or not, these are the days of laying low as the last week of the year ticks by.

But it is cold...overcast, drier than the past two or three days, temperatures hovering in the low 40s, the high varying only a few degrees from the low. When it changes it will get both warmer and colder, cold enough that plants will have to come in again and others covered.

2017 has worn out its welcome and it's leaving in a wintry snit dumping feet of snow on much of the country. Good riddance I say.

Politically, it started out bad with Trump's inauguration and continued downhill from there. In one short year Trump has destroyed our standing in the world, ruined our relationships with our allies, sold off our national lands, admired our enemies, insulted our free press and intelligence agencies, rescinded decades of protective regulations for workers and the environment, gave the very rich a trillion dollar ta x cut...basically, if Obama did it then he is undoing it...and cost the taxpayers $100 million for him to play golf every weekend, Nazis actually paraded through the streets of America and Trump called them good guys.

Personally, I spent far too much time in doctor's offices and endured far too many tests. An exploration of my weird choking and throat spasms which was a colossal waste of time and money with an ENT who ignored the reason I was there and just wanted to fix my broken nose and then a stress induced 2 week period of episodes of rapid heartbeat sent me to a cardiologist who never addressed the episodes of rapid heartbeat but otherwise gave me a clean bill of health, no sign of any blockage. So, yay that!

The planet continued to produce extreme weather with a tornado that peeled off the roof of the antique store so no more Saturday job, a long hot dry summer here, drought in California, direct hits on the country from three major hurricanes in a row the first of which caused half our house to flood with us being rescued by airboat, 

record breaking wildfires in the Northwest and California, and this last month we woke up to 2” of snow one morning while the Northeast, in these last few days, is being buried by the stuff.

It wasn't all bad though. We spent a week in Hawaii with our twin granddaughters Jade and Autumn, their reward for hard work, graduating with honors and scholarships, before their first year of college. 

We had no commission work this year and with Marc's birthday this past Wednesday, he will start getting SS which will boost our income enough that we have decided to retire from the etched glass purposefully. The Wren Box and the Peach Box sold. I got my studio room remodeled from ceiling to floor.

And our spring garden produced an abundance of tomatoes and potatoes which I put up in the freezer and then lost it all when the electricity went out due to the flood. 

Three more days and I'd ask what else can possibly happen except that I know better than to invoke the gods.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

losing my religion

The year I was 16 I decided as a result of my evolving attitude towards religion that I would no longer kneel in church in subservience to god. Since we had stopped going to church on Sunday as a family, a result of the social disaster they suffered, and Christmas Eve being the only time we still went, I warned my mother beforehand and, as it turned out, we were late getting there and the only open seats were on the last row in the balcony. Soon after we slipped in and the congregation kneeled and I remained seated my mother made us all get up and leave because I had mortified her, she said, sitting quietly in the last row of the balcony behind everyone well, there was that bit about her trying to force me down by pulling on my arm and me resisting and that was the last time we went to church as a family.

The SDE (social disaster event) changed everything in my family, it was broken and while our parents never divorced, the dynamic was never put back together. My father became angry all the time, my mother depressed and slept all the time, I was not allowed to be friends with anyone unless they were in the right social strata, they became obsessed with maintaining or regaining a certain image but never recovered a large social group. As it affected Christmas dinner, Mother became maudlin and would clamp down on any spirited conversation or disagreement because she wouldn't have 'yelling' on Christmas Eve. Apparently we were just supposed to be all fake gooey lovey dovey.

Us three kids grew up, went to college, got married, had kids of our own. By the time I divorced and remarried, I had rejected Christian theology completely and having married a Jew, decided to raise our kids Jewish so that was the end of any Christmas accouterments. At least in our home. We did Hanukah instead with minimal decorating. We still attended Christmas Eve dinner, now at my sister's house when she took over the ritual as the oldest daughter (and it became a much more relaxed and fun evening), and Christmas morning at my parent's, our children in tow. Eventually the whole family scattered, my brother when he left for college and then to many points ever farther away, the parents to a small community more than an hour away, my sister to Colorado and then to Arizona and her grown daughters as well which left my parents with me and my Jewish family and that was the end of any kind of Christmas Eve family dinner though it did enjoy a brief revival when my sister and then one of her adult daughters moved back to the area. I was in my 40s I guess when the inevitable year arrived and I finally spent a quiet Christmas Eve at home and not with some part of my natal family. That first time was kind of weird.

I had moved away from Jewish theology and really all religion by then and so once the kids were older teens and I felt no pressure to compete with Christmas there was no decorating with casual celebration to minimal gift giving which gave way to a revival when my daughter had her young family who are now all but grown and so once again like a wave cresting and breaking we are back in the trough to minimal recognition, usually a gift of cash to each of the grandkids at some point during the holiday season.

So yeah, I don't do Hanukah either. I think if I was going to celebrate this season it would be for the original reason the celebration exists...the return of the sun and of light and warmth and all growing things without all the dogma. The procession of the planet around the sun is magical enough, the solstice like a release of held breath and then the next breath in.

Monday, December 25, 2017

remembering Christmas past

I don't hate Christmas just because I don't 'do' Christmas, at least not now. There was a big chunk of years where the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas were my least favorite of the year. I never hated the actual days of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, days that, these days, I consider 'free' days, days when the whole world is quiet and there is no need to go out, days when I don't have expectations of what I might or might not accomplish, days when I might just sit on the couch and read or nap or wander in the yard though the only things blooming out there now are the roses.

I used to do Christmas. I was raised Christian and Christmas was a big deal at our house growing up.

Our father would put all his change every night all year in a jar when we were very young, before they became better-to-do, to save towards Christmas presents and every December he would dump it out on their bed and we would get to help count it, separating out the coins by denomination.

Along with the big colored outdoor lights on the house, the front door would always be covered with christmas wrapping paper with ribbon and a bow as if it were a giant christmas present.

Going to get the christmas tree was always a big deal and it seems like we always went at night. We had a tall peaked ceiling and would get the biggest tree that would fit, making the attendant shake out a dozen before deciding on the one.

About two weeks before Christmas we'd put up the tree and all the other decorations, Dad stringing the lights and Mother handing out the ornaments for us kids to hang, all kinds of cookies being made, popping the corn for the snowman, me creeping into the family room in the dark after everyone was asleep and plugging in the tree.

Our Christmas dinner was on Christmas Eve and it was a formal affair, our father in a tux with his red bow tie, vest, and socks, mother in an evening gown, brother in a suit, and my sister and I in our best fancy dresses, dinner table set formally and being served by the help and then heading to late services at the church.

One year I decided to stay awake and see if this Santa thing was real. Some amount of time after we were sent to bed, my father quietly called my name. He was checking all our rooms. When I responded he went back to the family room and after another period of time he repeated it. Though I was still awake I didn't respond, having had my answer and I went to sleep having woken to the myth.

Christmas morning we kids were allowed to go immediately to our beautiful handmade felt, sequined, and beaded stockings and the unwrapped gifts left by Santa but only our father could take packages out from under the tree. He would pick them up one at a time, call out the recipient's name and then hand us our present. Mother, of course, always got the lion's share.

And then there was the year our father bought my sister and I plaid wool pantsuits that we were expected to actually wear! I don't remember what color my sister's was but mine was orange and pink. Plaid.

After the tree had been ravaged we had steak, eggs, and sweet rolls for breakfast and then we kids spent the rest of the day playing inside or out with our new stuff.

And that was how it went, growing up pre-pubescent. Christmas was fun and exciting and happy and then somewhere around the time I hit puberty, things changed. Our parents had been part of a large social group that went out ballroom dancing and gave parties and then one year my best friend's father got caught cheating and he named my mother, though she denied it, as the other woman and my parents were ostracized. Everything changed after that. We continued to go through the motions but there was always tension in the house and by the time I was an older teen Christmas Eve was an evening to be got through instead of enjoyed and Christmas morning always ended with my mother heaving big sighs and going to bed with a headache.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

cynicism ascendent

re my last post...a tweet that simply sums it up: "They didn’t save health care for 9 million kids. They didn’t save 800,000 DREAMers from being deported. They didn’t protect us from guns. They didn’t make us safer. They didn’t create any jobs. They didn’t help seniors, students or disabled. Republicans only helped themselves." - Scott Dworkin

And from Trump's own mouth to his rich friends at Mar-A-Lago...”You all just got a lot richer.”

Another 5 minute snippet heard on NPR yesterday about 'doxxing' (making someone's personal and private information public on the internet for the express purpose of intimidation via intense harassment and threats)...the backstory of this woman (whose name I did not get) is that she came out against some injustice naming a guy and putting out on social media his name and the organizations he was connected to, that he was a nazi who organizes for them and if he moves into your neighborhood just know that this is who he is and what he wants to do basically blowing this guy's cover and he moved away and the alt-right gun nut group doxxed her which led to extreme harassment for which she was prepared, she said in the interview, knew it would happen but thought it important for people to know. The interviewer was putting forth the position that men were losing their jobs because of accusations, of being a nazi, of sexual harassment, not proof of wrongdoing, and was a form of 'social justice', akin to vigilanteism, and the opposite of the rule of law which is what we are supposed to abide by. What my little brain was thinking about the interviewer's comment was that if the rule of law was actually doing it's job and protecting people, we wouldn't need social justice. She plans to continue the practice, letting people in communities know who the wolves are among them.

Yes, I know it's Christmas Eve and I should be writing about anticipation and cookies and presents and decorations and trees and food and be all smiley but I don't do Christmas. Not a believer, not in the religious part which is an attempt by one religion to wipe out it's predecessor by keeping the celebration but making it about the new god and not in the cultural part which is a totally manufactured group of 'traditions' loosely based on pre-christian celebrations for the express purpose of parting you from your cash. I suppose it's the same thing as happened before. Pagan god gave way to the christian god and the christian god gave way to the money god.

Well, since the Republicans just made the rich richer and the Christian right supports the Republicans, a worse lot of sinners according to their own theology you won't find, so I'm guessing that the transfer to the new god is near complete judging by the rise of all the born again right wing Prosperity Theology being preached.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

cashing out

I read where the rich have never before in history been this rich and that corporations have never before in history made as high profits as they make now and yet our Republican government found it necessary to lower their taxes.

Yale University conducted a survey of 110 Fortune 500 and Fortune 50 business leaders and only 14% were planning to make immediate capital investments in the US like building plants or upgrading equipment, which would lead to jobs, because they already have plenty of cash on hand to do that if they were so inclined and at the Wall Street Journal's CEO council last November only a few hands went up when asked if they planned to use this tax cut for capital investment in the US and yet the Republicans call this a tax cut and jobs bill. Wall Street expects these tax cuts to go directly to investors and buy backs of stock which is why the stock market is so high. Historically, this does not lead to higher wages but it does result in richer shareholders. The CEOs do seem to be concerned about the over a trillion dollars added to the deficit and only 55% of business leaders surveyed by Yale thought the tax cuts should be enacted. link 

I was listening to an interview with the CEO of Home Depot on NPR on my way home from yoga last night. One of the questions asked was what do you plan to do with the money you will receive from the new corporate tax cut. The answer was invest in the business, buy back their stock. What he did not say was hire more workers or give our employees a raise. So much for trickle down. And while AT&T announced they plan to give their employees a $1,000 bonus as a result of the tax cut, in truth it was an already agreed upon retroactive pay raise as part of a union negotiation. link 

Another corporation, Wells Fargo, has announced a PR minimum wage pay hike to $15.00 due to the tax cut although their minimum pay range is already $13.50 - $17.00. With 25,000 employees in that range only the ones making $13.50 - $14.99 will see an increase and if you average that range it amounts to a 25¢ raise. link 

So what is this tax reform bill that gives massive tax cuts to the rich and corporations which are permanent and paltry tax cuts to the rest of us which are temporary (and will in fact increase our taxes) and adds over a trillion dollars to the deficit and will cause tens of thousands of people to lose their health care by rescinding the ACA mandate (sneaky this as it essentially kills the ACA) that over 75% of Americans are opposed to? Why is it that our elected representatives can and do ignore the will of the people who elected them and who they are supposed to represent and who they continually throw under the bus? The reason is money because campaigns are no longer funded by the people but by the very rich and corporations who want to see return on their investments in these politicians. I can't find the bit that I read yesterday either on Twitter or FB but a behind the scenes republican when asked why the Republican party is so intent on this devastating tax reform responded that the Republicans were 'cashing out'. Those were the words he used, 'cashing out', because they know the Republican party is done, that Trump and a decade of obstruction by the Republicans has ruined this country, that they expect to lose the majority and their seats in 2018 and 2020 and that this is the pay back to their donors and themselves.

They care nothing for the citizens of this country. After the tax bill was passed, the protesters attendant were telling their stories of how this would negatively affect them while the jubilant Republican politicians laughed at them.

Let that sink in.

Monday, December 18, 2017

a couple of days of getting nothing done

I spent the day Sunday moving the two surviving bookcases and the bottom half of the buffet into my studio and cleaning them. I lost the bottom section of the antique law bookcases so now it's a stack of three. You can see a faint water mark on the solid wood bookcase but the bottom part of the antique buffet suffered quite a bit of damage visually (and the veneer bubbled up). Structurally it's still pretty solid. I think it will eventually go back in the spare bedroom but for now I'll use it in here.

Still working on the arrangement before I start putting stuff in them though my work table is doing what horizontal surfaces do and collecting all sorts of stuff. Mostly I need to sort through all the stuff beyond the door to the back bedroom and get it cleared out by New Year's so that Rocky can start back there.

Saturday I got bupkis done, well, if you don't count socializing as getting something done. I took a photograph to be restored and a small print to be reframed to the frame shop for Margaret to work her magic on and visited with her for a while, then over to my friend Caroline's across the square for a couple of hours to help her iron table cloths and chair covers for two weddings she has coming up at the Dragonfly. Wesley is in the city building out some restaurants so she is having to do it all herself. She tried to hire someone to do the ironing but in the best American crybaby 'I need money but you're only offering to pay $10 an hour' mode, she couldn't get anyone to come do the job. This right here is why this country is going down the drain especially when Trump is deporting all the people who would do it in a heartbeat while Paul Ryan is chastising American women for not having more babies to bulk up the labor force. Anyway, after I left Caroline's having been happy to help her for free I stopped at my sister's house on the way home and then walked the dog and stopped to chat with my friend and neighbor Judy. I probably stuffed a month's worth of socializing in one day.

Today is another overcast wet dreary day after several in a row already though it's not as cold as it has been and will be warmer tomorrow but still overcast and wet and overcast wet dreary weather robs me of my motivation so all I've managed to get accomplished all day is going through one box and moving the tall bookcase and the buffet to different spots in the room. And continually convince myself that I am indeed going to yoga even in the drear and light rain, which I did.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

reclaiming my space and a big decision

I did get my desk top and printer moved on Wednesday so, of course, the curse Rocky showed up on Thursday to finish up the punch list and my desk had to be moved once again for him to get the hooks in the ceiling but they put it all back for me. It's set up like before because it's a familiar configuration but I think it will evolve because...

In January, Marc will get his first SS check and combined with mine we will have a regular dependable income and health care for the first time in our working life together. We've had many years when we made more than we will be getting and many more years when we made less and years when we had hardly any income but never have we had an amount that was dependable month after month. Since moving out here or really since we sold the Houston house/shop in 2014, commissions have been few and farther apart. This year we had two small jobs in February and no other inquiries and thought we were retired by default except for one proposal that, if the art glass stays in the budget, will come up next year. And then this fall, after the flood, two more possible jobs came up. They are willing to wait til after the first of the year while we get the house and shop put back together so that we can do the work.

So what all this is leading up to is that we were talking the other night and decided that after we do these two jobs (and the third if it comes through because I have already committed us to it), we are going to purposely retire from the etched glass commission work. As of now, we are no longer going to accept new jobs. It's not that our combined SS is a huge amount but it is an amount that we can easily live on as we are used to a simple lifestyle and we are both over the etched glass work and after having no work this year I'm not really of a mind to start that whole thing up again.

Now that Rocky won't be back until after New Year's to start on the next part of the re-build I've been slowly excavating my stuff from the piles of boxes but I don't want to hang anything on the walls until I get whatever furniture I need in here. However, the kites and star lights are back up!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

a completely new room

I haven't posted about the progress on the remodel in a while. Rocky has to redo a small piece of trim and put the hooks back up in the ceiling but other than that it's done and I'm moving back into my studio room this week. Yesterday I cleaned all the windows inside and out and today I am going to set up my work table and desk and move my computer desk top multi-purpose device. Next the surviving bookcases get moved along with my new display cabinet.

a few before pictures...

what it looks like now...

Monday, December 11, 2017

post open house post

Well, the snow did what all good snow does and melted right away. By 1 PM, it was all gone. None of the flowers or plants seemed phased by the snow but the dip below freezing the next night did a number on some of them, like the volunteer tomato plants. The fruit still looks good and the thicker stems so maybe they will still grow and ripen if we don't get any more freezing temps before then.

Our annual December group open house is over for another year. We had a good turnout the Friday night and Saturday of the first weekend but it rained that Sunday so it was pretty slow. This weekend was also slow. One of the problems is parking. There is a large covered area in front of the studio which will accommodate half a dozen cars at the most but street parking is now almost non-existent due to gentrification of the neighborhood. Builders put up 2 or 3 lot line houses per 100' with the bottom level being the garage. When the street is lined on both sides with garages, there's no place to park. The other problem with turnout is that there are so many events happening now on these December weekends.

Gene Hester - fused and stained glass

Liz Conces – fused glass

Leslie Ravey – leather and wood

Barry Perez - jewelry

Bob Straight – blown glass, fused glass, wood working

Kathy Poeppel and Dick Moiel (our hosts) – blown glass

V. Chin - ceramics

(failed to take a picture of my own display but I had already shown it to you anyway)

Still, we did well but mostly because on the first Saturday, a woman came in specifically to buy a piece if we still had it that she had seen and loved and didn't buy last year. Well, I did still have it, the peach box, but had sent it to a gallery earlier this year. So a phone call and an offer of free shipping and the piece is sold. Then later we sold two other small pieces but only one of the little feathers.

Today, I'm taking the day off. I cleaned the kitchen this morning after three days of neglect and we unloaded the car and that's about all I plan to accomplish today. Except go to yoga this evening.

Bob's angel ornament...The Scream edition

Friday, December 8, 2017

tornado, hot dry fall, flood, and now this

Last night I drove to Houston to our friends' glass blowing studio where the open house is being held because some art group had arranged their meet-up for that night for a glass blowing demonstration and exposure to the other artists' work. It's a big group and Dick and Kathy would not be able to keep an eye on our stuff so I and another of the artists showed up to keep watch and interact with anyone curious about our work during the event. Or non-event as only 15 people turned out because of the weather. 

Monday this week was 80˚, hot and sunny. Tuesday a cold front started moving in dropping the lows to the 50s and then the 40s. Wednesday we woke up to cold, rainy, and windy and pretty much the same on Thursday. Even though it was only raining lightly, it never stopped. I pulled the big plants into the garage on Wednesday and threw a tarp over my brand new floor and brought in all the little plants Thursday before I left because we were expecting a drop to freezing that night and possibly sleet.

Where's Marc?” Kathy asked me.

On the couch under a blanket with the dog snugged up against him and a book.”

After the demo, I talked to a couple of people about our process then jumped in the car to get home before the sleet. Which I did.

This is what we woke up to this morning...

My poor gardens. Long hot dry summer, flood, and now snow.

The last time it snowed here was 8 years ago on Christmas Eve. Generally we get a little snow every decade or less. The first time I saw snow I was in elementary school and home sick for the day. We got 4” that day and my mother bundled me up as best she could even though I was sick and let me go out and play in it. Another memorable snow was when I was married to the rat bastard. We had been on a winter visit to his family's house and to see our friends from the year I lived in Chicago and convinced two of them to move down with us when we left and share the 3 bedroom house we were renting. The next day or so it snowed overnight. They couldn't believe we woke them up and dragged them out of bed to look at snow.

So as another friend said today, “so can go away now. We're good.”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

a baby rat is still a baby

I was working over at the shop Monday. Rocky and Gunnar had finally got over there a couple of weeks ago and done whatever they needed to do to stabilize the framing so I spent the day doing the final cleaning of the last of the torn out rooms in order to start moving all the boxes off the big work table since, apparently, we aren't completely retired after all. We have two jobs waiting for after the first of the year. I had put them off with my very appropriate excuse of still recovering from the flood and both were willing to wait til then.

I had been back in the storeroom part of the shop at least once or twice earlier but when I was getting ready to close it up I walked over there to turn off the light and saw this very small furry little creature in front of the opening to the storeroom that I am certain hadn't been there the other times I was back there. It was laying very still but on a closer look was alive.

An infant rat I surmise. This poor little thing, barely 2” excluding it's tail, was on the cold concrete, much too young, young enough to still be nursing though it's eyes were open. I looked around for a nest which I found no evidence of. It was hungry and cold and lost. I put on some gloves and picked it up, cleaned the dust and cobweb off it's little face and it started nosing for a nipple. Broke my heart which is crazy since if it had been a full grown rat I'd have wanted to kill it. What to do? I finally got a shallow box and put an old t-shirt rag in it and put it in there so at least it wouldn't be on the cold concrete and maybe the mother would come looking for it though I imagine the mother is the one that carried it out of the nest and left it to die for whatever reason wild things do that.

Went over to check on it yesterday morning and it was not in the box, had climbed out and was once again covered in dust and cobwebs. 

So I cleaned it off again and put it back in the box.  Went back about mid afternoon and it was nowhere to be found.