Wednesday, January 31, 2018

good guy with a gun?

I had an encounter with my 'new' neighbor, R, yesterday. They've lived in Frank of the Bountiful Garden's house for about two, two and a half years now (and that property is way more than they can manage). They moved from Katy, a 'small city' engulfed by the big city. This is the guy who's first response to stray or loose dogs in his yard is to shoot them. He's a bit disabled, suffers from lymphedema, can't move very fast and uses a fancy walker so apparently he keeps a gun by his side at all times (but I kinda think he probably did already before moving out here), on disability, wife still works and commutes to the city. He's also one of those people who wears a big cross and tells you to have a 'blessed' day. After the third time he shot at some poor dog I told him don't shoot my dog. Fortunately, so far, he hasn't hit or killed one. Unfortunately those bullets still keep going. I'm glad there is a vacant half acre between us.

There are two reasons dogs (or raccoons or possums or cats feral and otherwise) come into his yard. They have two outdoor cats and so they feed them outdoors in their garage which they keep open so the cats have access which also gives dogs and other critters access and sometimes those critters beat up on his cats. The other reason dogs (and raccoons and possums and hawks) come into their unfenced yard is that last spring they acquired a baker's dozen of baby chicks which have grown into mature egg laying chickens that they do not restrain at all during the day (they do lock them up in a coop at night) so these chickens wander all over the place...into the vacant half acre (I've chased them home more than once from the edge of my property plus trying to train Minnie not to chase them) and into the neighbor's yard on the other side and across the street. At one point during last summer he put up plastic orange mesh fencing, the kind contractors use to cordon off areas, on two sides of the side and the back, the other side neighbor has a fence around his back yard...leaving the front open so the chickens were still able to roam out of their yard.

So yesterday, I took Minnie out so she could run around some in the empty half acre and R was taking down the orange fencing in order to use it to cordon off a large area around the old greenhouse coop for the chickens so he wouldn't have another “butt-hurt neighbor”.

Oh, yeah?, what happened?” I asked.

The neighbor on the other side took issue with R shooting at his dog that had escaped the fenced yard and I guess was chasing some chickens.

I didn't know it was his dog”. Really. He didn't recognize the dog he has lived next door to for two years?

Anyway, I supported my other neighbor and told R that guns were not always the solution (something I repeated at least twice more before the conversation ended).

I have a right to defend my property”, R says a little tightly. And, true, when he first started encountering dogs in his yard (at this time going after the cats) he called the sheriff to ask what his options were and so since there is no animal control in the county, the sheriff told R to just shoot them if they were being a nuisance. I wonder if R told the sheriff he lives in a residential neighborhood and not isolated out in the country. I wonder if it would have mattered to the sheriff).

I agreed, he did, but there were other ways to do that. I also told him this was the country and everybody in this neighborhood probably owned guns but the only time they shot them off was when they were hunting.

I'm not going argue with you about defending my property,” all up about his 'rights'.

Told him again there were other ways to do that. like fence your fucking yard

I'm glad I missed,” R said.

So am I,” I told him, “but that bullet kept going,” something I've said to him in the past when he has told me about shooting at and missing some poor dog that was probably abandoned out here.

After once again telling him guns weren't always the answer I told him I just hoped he never hurt anyone then I paused and told him I wanted to be a good neighbor so I was going in and I scooped up my dog and headed back to the house.

Have a blessed day”, he says as I walked off.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

minor chores, stats, and the further destruction of this nation

Sunday I repaired 3 plate flowers, two totems, and restrung a wind chime. Apparently that took me just about all day. Oh, and I hung one of the paintings back up in my studio.

Yesterday morning when I logged on I had less than 100 views of my last blog post. Then I visited FB and commented on an NPR post about whether or not smoking pot during pregnancy harms the fetus (my personal and boy did that get a lot of attention and replies all day, pro and con, some supportive, some judgmental, some rude, you know how that goes. I replied to a few of them but I only have so much time to waste on FB and so I quit even looking at the replies. Happened to check my blog stats a couple of hours later and 485 page views and by the end of the day 743, and the previous post 344. This morning 910 and 408 respectively. Wow. I guess people went to my page to see who was this person with this opinion and then went to my blog. Doesn't mean, of course, that they actually read it.

Anyway, the main thing I accomplished yesterday was I finished cleaning the chandelier. Yay me! Now if Rocky and Gunnar would show up I could get it hung. What I didn't do yesterday was start on the model for the auction piece, well, not physically. I did think about what I was going to do, visualizing it in my head. Guess I'll try and get started on it today.

And that's about all I've got unless I want to point out how feckless Trump is (in general), who has no intention of imposing the bipartisan sanctions passed by Congress against Russia for election interference and Congress is letting him get away with it that he already signed into law (because, you know, he thinks he is above the law) and the Republican party (in particular) in Congress are in voting to release a memo which is just Nunes' uninformed opinion of some intelligence concerning the FISA warrant against Carter Page while voting to block the Democrats' memo on the same intelligence (they're not releasing the actual intelligence, just a biased guy's opinion whose background is in agriculture and not in intelligence) and by so doing are actively working to undermine the investigation into Russian election tampering which the CIA says they fully expect more of during the midterm elections. Just try diagraming that sentence! Meanwhile Trump plans to take credit for Obama's economy that's he's been coasting on as it takes about a year for a new administration's policies to take real effect and his plans for improving the infrastructure center around privatizing which means every fucking national highway and bridge will now become toll roads transferring even more money from the 98% to the 2%. So, yay and MAGA!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

picking up the pieces

Overcast and wet on Saturday with temperatures in the mid-60s. I noticed Friday evening that the last chrysalis had turned black so I put it outside away from the tea cup and the next morning a monarch was hanging from the end of the stick. 

So three butterflies out of 6 caterpillars. Should have been four or even five if I had gone to get the superglue before the fallen chrysalis disappeared from the pot I had placed it in. I assume it became a meal for a bird like the one the other day.

And my attempt at hanging the antique glass shade from the light fixture was successful and while it doesn't cover the fixture it does cover the bulb and it looks much better than the wood and wicker shade it had previously.

Yesterday I finally altered the other art light fixture that I bought an embarrassingly long time ago, as in a couple of years, and never hung because once it arrived I realized it was unsuitable, for reasons I won't go into, for where I had planned to hang it. Well, I finally decided to hang it in the dining area since I conceded that there was no way to hang the chandelier there. The other thing about it is that it only hung down about 11” which I felt would make it hard to see how pretty it is. So I got new fittings and a 6” section of copper pipe and added it between the lamp and the ceiling plate.

Now to finish cleaning the chandelier and I still have two birdhouses and a wind chime that I need to find permanent places for and several plate flowers and totems to repair so I can get started on that auction piece on Monday.

Friday, January 26, 2018

getting back in the mood

We've warmed up to more normal winter temperatures and I'm finally emerging from my state of lethargy. This week I have actually accomplished a few things, mostly minor but at least I'm ticking some things off...made more progress on the chandelier, finally got the piece of copper tubing I need to hang my other art light fixture, filled and hung the big bird feeder back up, took the recycling to the center and the newspaper to the vet, returned the tile samples and had lunch with a friend, got my prayer flags back up (and I do wish the Dalai Lama would send me some new ones, these are looking a little tattered), 

a few other things that I can't recall right now. Not yard work though. I've stood out there on these beautiful blue sky days this week looking at the flood and then freeze damaged flower beds which are pretty pathetic right now 

thinking I should be working in the yard and even though the birds and the 10 petal anemones seem to think it's spring,  

I'm just not feeling the urge yet.

My goal for today, however, is to jerry-rig one of the antique glass shades from the light fixtures from the old city house. When I bought that 100+/- year old house in the mid-70s, one of the first things we did was to take them down and put up ceiling fans in those three rooms. As I recall, there was a pink one, a clear frosted one, and a blue one. I don't know what happened to the blue one, it disappeared many many years ago and since the clear frosted one needs a completely different fixture from the one I'm working with, I think the pink one will go well in my room.

Rocky stopped last Sunday while I was out pulling up my hand-full-of-clover-a-day from amongst the bluebonnets (if I don't pull the clover up it will quickly overwhelm the bluebonnets) to let me know he thought he would be able to get started on the rest of the house one day this week which I mentally amended to next week because that seems to be how it goes. In any case, since I was reminded yesterday that I promised to donate a piece to a silent auction for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo financial aid fund from which my granddaughter Autumn was the recipient of a grant last year, I need to start on a piece specifically for that whether Rocky starts next week or not.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

two surprises

Way back right after the flood when I was pulling things out of the house and reported losing all my art and design books (but not my glass art/technique books which were on a higher shelf which was fortunate because more than one of those is out of print now), I received a message from a FB 'friend', a man I have never met but who comments on my posts now and then. He had been following my tale of woe and asked about the art books and for my address, a message I never replied to because I was kind of overwhelmed at the time and it just slipped past me. Eight days ago he inquired again whether I had lost all or most my art books. To which I replied yes, but that I was not that upset about it and planned to donate the survivors to the library, only a few that I really cared about and I listed about 5 titles and I gave him my address. Yesterday, the mail carrier came up the driveway and handed me a box. When I opened it, this was inside.

This is not an inexpensive book. So, John Fletcher who lives in Michigan and whom I have never met or spoken to except to exchange a comment now and then, you have a beautiful and generous heart. Thank you for your thoughtful gift.

So because the universe wasn't through showing me that there is still beauty in the world, when I checked on the four chrysalises I saw one monarch had emerged and two others had turned black indicating that emergence was nigh (within 24 hours). 

When I saw it flex its wings, I gently lifted it out and put it on one of the plants I had brought inside. The next morning it was still there still exercising its wings slowly so I gently lifted it up and transferred it to the rose bush in full sun. The next time I went to check on it, it was gone. 

I had also taken the two chrysalises out and put them on the plant stand 

and by early afternoon, another had emerged. 

Just now, when I checked again it had also flown off but the third chrysalis was gone, not even the empty shell left behind. I sifted through the dried up leaves below and found it with a jagged hole in the side, victim I suppose of a bird. 

I guess I should have considered that when I placed them so near the tea cup.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

anxious days and sleepless nights

I've been sleepless for two nights. Or mostly sleepless. Probably around four hours or less a night, if someone was paying attention which this someone is not. I only know that I wake up at some point and then am mostly awake until dawn when, sometimes, I can grab a couple more hours. I've been pretty good lately about getting myself back to sleep after I wake up but not so the last two nights if I managed to sleep at all. My body has been on alert, mind whirling, adrenaline coursing amid fight or flight.

Sounds like something serious is going on, right? Nope, just faced with putting my money where my mouth is.

Last late October I got an email from a friend about spending the month of May in Portugal with another friend and some assorted strangers and did I want to join in, to which I replied with an enthusiastic yes, I could do two weeks in Portugal, which grew to three weeks in my mind as time progressed. Three weeks away from home on the other side of half the country and the Atlantic Ocean with friends. Well, two days ago I got the information, two weeks in Porto and two weeks in Lisbon, and it was time to fully commit to days I will be there and buy my tickets. You'd think that would be easy, right?, especially since I had every intention of going; that I wouldn't suffer two days of anxiety before I could commit to dates and buy the fucking tickets. But I did, and I did, finally, and I will leave on May 1st and return on May 23th. Fourteen nights in Porto and 7 nights in Lisbon.

I know where some of the anxiety stemmed from but now I think a lot of it was the thought of being gone for three weeks, away from my nest where everything is comfy and reliable and I speak the language. I could barely choke down half a hamburger for lunch yesterday so I finally sat down and selected dates and found the flights and bought the tickets. Within 30 minutes I was already more relaxed. It helped that as luck would have it I will be taking the same flight out of Toronto as my friend and we will be arriving together.

And now committed, I slept well last night.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

still fucking winter

I wish I had something to talk about besides how fucking cold it's been but because it's been so cold and icy life has come pretty much to a standstill around here. 

The dog waits till she can't wait another second before going outside and taking care of her business. Well, last night was the last night of below freezing temperatures for the foreseeable future, in this case, a week. We're on a warming trend now with a predicted high of 72˚ for Sunday. Like I said before, a yoyo.

I could talk about Game Of Thrones. We started the 6th season yesterday. We are now beyond the published books (which the series does not follow exactly...they've cut out the resurrection of Caitlan and the continued activities of the Brotherhood and so far no mention of the unknown Targaryen male heir that was being secretly taken from Dorne to Easteros) but unless you have read the books or watched the series it would be meaningless.

Out of sheer boredom I finally vacuumed the house yesterday and started cleaning the stuff on the long altar in front of the windows behind the sink. Got about a third of that done.

We don't usually start watching the show till about mid-afternoon so I have half a day to kill. Guess I'll go back to cleaning the things on the shelf above the sink.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I've had just about enough of this

We woke up to sleet and 27˚. That's the warmest it's been all day. At least the sleet stopped. 

It's 25˚ now with a predicted low of 18˚ tonight. On my few quick forays out, the ground is crunchy and the dog has refused to do anything outside except run back to the door. Everything is encased in ice. 

I put up blankets across the big bay window in the living room. On the TV it's non-stop weather reporting, all regular broadcasting cast aside. 

When I get up to move around the dog follows dragging the blanket like a cloak.

I'm over winter now. It can go away.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

cold and unmotivated

Damn damn and damn. Yesterday was the Fort Bend County Master Gardeners' fruit tree sale. My sister and I talked on Wednesday about going. We planned to go. I wanted a ruby red grapefruit tree and a peach tree and I completely forgot! And I guess she forgot because I didn't get a call yesterday morning asking where was I, we need to get on the road. It's not like I did anything yesterday besides get some of my hooks on the wall 

and watch Game Of Thrones. Well, had we gone we would have been standing outside in line for 45 minutes in 30˚ weather. 30˚ windy weather. I'm feeling better about it already since I can still get my trees from one of the more or less local nurseries later in the spring.

I'm finding myself to be singularly unmotivated these days, unable to make any decisions or even get out my model making stuff. I blame it on the cold weather. The days end and I'm wondering what the hell I did all day besides watch the cardinals, chickadees, titmice, and yellow warblers come and go from the tea cup. Mid-January and the cardinals are engaging in mating behavior, the males taking little tidbits to feed the females. On our warmest day last week Big Mama emerged and sunned herself for a few hours. I'd been keeping watch for her, locating her as she hunkered down in different parts of her pond. I was a little worried when it iced over during the last freezing spell.

The dog has dragged me outside and now that the wind has died down it's really nice out, sun shining in the winter blue sky. I was standing out there thinking about all the things I could and should be doing outside on this pretty day. Eh. Well, I did go out front and pulled another large handful clover from amongst the bluebonnets, an annual task since the clover, left alone, will quickly overwhelm the bluebonnets.

Feeling guilty about being a lazy slug, I got the Dresden china chandelier outside and hosed off all the dust from the remodeling of my studio room. You might remember it from a year or so (or longer) ago. It hung in the city house and has been hanging from a ladder since we sold that house. It was really dirty and I set about to clean it and got about 3/4 of the way done and then abandoned it. So close! So, hosed down, I identified where I had left off and cleaned one more arm. Two more arms to go and then the cluster underneath. 

I haven't felt compelled to finish cleaning it because I didn't know what I was going to do with it when I did finish. It's too long, 3', to hang in a house with 8' ceilings, so I'm going to hang it from the hook in the ceiling in one of the corners of my studio after I check with Rocky to make sure it will support the weight.

Guilt assuaged, I'm ready to plant myself on the couch and dive back into Game Of Thrones. After I walk the dog.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Don the clueless and boring remodeling and weather stuff

Every time I think Trump in the White House can't get any more pathetic or despicable he dumbfounds me anew though I read today or maybe it was yesterday that we should stop calling him by his last name, stop giving his brand vocalization. So he's Donny from now on, or some version of Donald, or maybe Don the Con. In his latest round of bigotry and racism, he's decided that the 200,000 Salvadorans we gave sanctuary to have to leave, complained about protections for immigrants, and complained about immigrants from shithole nations referring to Haiti and Africa completely ignorant of the fact that this country was populated and built by the shithole dregs of society from every nation because who else except those that had nothing left to lose (or those kidnapped and sold into slavery) would try and make that journey. And to top it all off, he bragged about the delivery of F-52 fighter planes to Norway, planes that do not exist and are, in fact, a fictional part of a video game. And in case you haven't heard, there was no collusion.

Back to my more immediate concerns, another visit to look at tile on Tuesday, taking back the samples I had previously brought home. 

just one of several sections

Another session with the very helpful Julie. I showed her the elevations and floor plan for the bathroom and in a discussion of possible combinations of tile for the shower she made some comment about when I use it. I had a burst of ironic laughter when I told her I will probably never use that shower, and, I'm agonizing over a shower I will probably never use. So that was sort of a big wake up. Of course, there is a possibility of using it if for some reason the shower in the main bathroom becomes disabled or if I'm so feeble in the future I can't step into the tub to use it.

With use in mind, I'm scaling back the degree of fancy for the little bathroom, using bead board wainscoting on the walls, continuing the look from my studio room especially since I was planning on doing wainscoting in the back bedroom as well, tile floor, and tile shower. I'll use the hex tile on the floor of the shower for sure. The rest I'm still contemplating and will require at least one more trip to look at tile for the shower.

And I drew up the elevation for the windows in the end wall of the back bedroom so Rocky will know where and how big to cut the holes in the wall when he finishes up with the house at the other end of the street. 

We had been on a warming trend since our week of really cold weather but another cold front blew in yesterday which entailed covering the sensitive plants once again and bringing in all the small pots I had taken back outside. I waited a little late in the day, until the front started blowing in, and trying to wrap and cover the little satsuma was a comedy of errors. I'd get it secured in one spot and the tarp would flap up and blow around on another, got it wrapped, so I thought, and one big gust blew it all apart. I finally went and got some straps and cinched it all together. It was really howling out there last night but sunny today and for the next few with cold nights.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

planning the bathroom

It's supposed to get up to 71˚ today. Four days ago our low was in the 20˚s. Today I have the doors open. The weather here this winter has been like a yoyo, up down up down.

Of the six monarch caterpillars I collected before the deep freeze, one died, four made chrysalises though one of those stupidly attached itself to a thread of the cheesecloth instead of the stick I so helpfully provided and the thread pulled loose and it fell to the bottom of the jar. I tried tying a piece of thread around the little stump but it slipped off so I guess this one dies from stupidity as there is no way to hang it. The last caterpillar has attached itself to its stick and is hanging in its 'J' shape so if it makes the transition I will have 4 chrysalises to keep an eye on. When they turn transparent in about two weeks, I'll take the sticks outside to hatch.

I finally went Friday to look at tile starting from ground zero with no idea what I wanted or how much I wanted besides white or off white. They were very helpful though, walking me through some ideas. They have a huge display of all kinds of tile. I took pictures of some of the ones I like and came home with several sets of samples. I wish I had taken pictures of the whole display. I'm not kidding when I tell you they had at least a thousand choices. It was pretty overwhelming.

Yesterday I drew up elevations of both the bathroom and the shower so I can work out some ideas. This bathroom is tiny, basically 5' x 5'

Right away I discarded all but two of the samples I brought home and have switched from white in my thinking to a sort of pale warm gray. I love these hex tiles, 1.75" x 1.5". 

Have I mentioned how crazy this house is built? The detached garage was not built at right angles to the house so when the little bathroom was added against my studio room and the back bedroom against the back wall of the garage it created a triangle of dead space between the opposite bathroom wall and the bedroom wall in order for both rooms to have square corners. The original shower extended into this space somewhat. 

My plan is to extend the back corner of the shower all the way making it a trapezoid instead of the square it was originally. In this way I can enlarge the shower somewhat without tearing up the slab and moving plumbing. Here's the new floor plan.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

feeble attempt to actually do something

We've had our last night below freezing, for now anyway. I uncovered everything. Some things went ahead and froze but will come back, I'm sure, in the spring and some things look good with only minor damage. My sister is back and the extra dog has gone home. I should be driving out to Bay City to return the flooring sample I borrowed before christmas (in my defense, they have been closed most of this time) and look at tile but I'm not. I'm easing into this new year so I'll do that tomorrow. That way I can truthfully say that I wasn't a complete slug the first week of the new year. Instead I think I'll work on the elevations for the back bedroom since the plan is to take out the wall at the end that makes the closet (there is another smaller closet across from the little bathroom) 

and put the etched glass from the entry of our old shop in the city in that end wall as windows. 

Right now there is only one window in that room at the other end of the long wall 

(on the other side of the other long wall is the garage). I had also thought about adding a door from that room to the little backyard on the long side wall but I'm not sure about that.

I did get over to the shop and sort through that last bag of about 50 full size drawings, looking for the ones I would need for one of these jobs I had put off, which turned out to be all very old and all contemporary or traditional and not the florals I was hoping. Well, I thought, at least I still have the scale drawing I did for that customer so I looked through my design book and guess what, it's not in there. I remember the job (unlike many of the drawings in that bag), I can visualize the scale drawing but I looked through that book twice and it's not there. The full size drawings could still be in one of the 32 tubes in which 40+ years of etched and carved glass are stored but I have poured over the listings in each tube and there is nothing by name or description that is close enough for me to want to dig through any of them. I suppose they must have been in the bag of drawings that got wet that I disposed of without even looking through it so the only proof I ever did this job is three photographs (they want the transom design on another window for a new house) 

and because I don't really want to try and recreate the drawing from a not so great picture I've decided to ignore it and wait and see if they contact me again. Same with the other little job.

An update on the monarchs...this morning 4 of the 6 caterpillars had attached themselves to the stick at the top of the jars. I checked just now and I have one chrysalis, two still in the 'J' shape and one hanging loosely so I assume it died.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

facing forward

I did one other thing on the last day of the old year besides cover things and gather all the green tomatoes. I pulled up half my lettuce and half of what I pulled up I put in glasses of water and the other half broke off the roots, washed it, and put it in the refrigerator. 

Then I covered what was still in the ground. I'm thinking I might replant the lettuce in water in pots and keep it in the house for easy access but it is cold cold cold today. Weather service says 30˚ but the water in the bird bath isn't frozen.

Yesterday was mimosas and blueberry pancakes for breakfast and binge watching Game of Thrones all day with one dog on each side. Now, all the holidays are done and a new year is ahead, a year to gird our loins for the upcoming fight for our country.  Everything could change next November and of course, there is Mueller who knows way more than he is letting on. 

Country aside, as soon as Rocky can work me back in his schedule he will start on the little bathroom and then the back bedroom. I'm hoping it will all be done by the end of March if not before. I need to start looking at tile and deciding on how I want the bathroom. The shower will have to be replaced with another tiled shower because none of the preformed units are small enough. It's a tiny bathroom, basically 5' x 5', and we can't really enlarge it without moving walls and tearing up the slab and moving the plumbing including for the toilet. What I had before was a tiled shower, formica on the bottom half of the walls and sheetrock on the top half, and linoleum floor tiles. So, tiled shower for sure as it's the only option and maybe a tiled floor and not sure about the walls or the bottom half of the walls tiled and vinyl on the floor.

I also need to decide what I am going to do about these two little etched glass jobs. Mostly deciding do I want to do them. Still need to sort through the last bag of full size drawings and see if I can find the ones I might need. They don't seem to be listed in the full size art archive, at least not by client name. With my luck, they would have been in the bag that got soaked and I threw out without even looking through it.

On the other 'work' front, I declined to be part of a show in February at the gallery. Ordinarily I would have jumped at the chance to be part of 'Myth, Religion, and Tall Tales' but I only had six weeks from the time I was notified til they wanted the work and the holidays were part of that six weeks and with construction starting up again this month there was just no way I could have gotten something done without being totally stressed out and I'm just not doing stress this year. When I do get back to work on the pate de verre I'll be casting the large drowned feather pieces and starting on a special order for a friend, a hummingbird. She wanted to send me money after the flood and I wouldn't let her so we're compromising.

Well, I was going to go out and look at tile today but it's just too damn cold out there so I think I'll stay home and make potato leek soup instead if I can pry Minnie off my lap.