Thursday, August 30, 2018

a hint perhaps

I have been complaining non-stop about the non-stop heat but the last several evenings have been rather pleasant and this morning, before the sun got high enough in the sky, it almost felt like perhaps fall was really going to come around. Of course that feel in the air was fleeting but it does give one hope. The forecast for the coming week shows more tolerable highs in the upper 80s to low 90s.

No such respite from the dryness though. Yesterday my oft wrong weather app said thunderstorms in Wharton all day! Well, overcast and the sound of distant rumbling but no rain. It will rain in the distance, often raining on the cotton field that I can see looking out the window where I sit but it will move around us as if in response to an invisible shield or deflector. Looking just now it says we will have thunderstorms for the next seven days. That would be awesome but I'd settle just for one day of good hard rain, the kind that soaks in.

I've written about seeing newly hatched anoles and that continues, even saw a just hatched skink scurry into the leafy debris yesterday. They are so tiny and so fully aware. 

I haven't been seeing any of the little spotted geckos that chirp in the night and wonder if they were all washed away by the flood. And not so many birds as we used to have. Where are the chickadees and titmice and wrens?

So many small signs that summer is coming to an end...the little hatchings going on, the general loss of tired foliage, the shortening days, the pampas grass starting to send up new plumes.

I've been busy, finished two more tile models after giving up on the flower for now. These two are meant to be simple and quick and relatively inexpensive and are intended to decorate a couple of boxes, testing a new way of displaying my work.

Those done, I made another trip to the paint store for more color samples for the exterior of the house and spent the rest of the day with them spread out on my desk trying out different combinations.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


My daughter picked the girls up Thursday evening and Friday I did absolutely nothing...slept late, surfed the web, read...but Saturday I got back to work on model making and finished the hummingbird tile model for my friend. Sunday I polished it up

and then decided to finish the flower with bee I had started nearly a year ago. The flower was roughed out and then I decided it was too thin in places so I beefed it up and everything was going fine until I started work on the center of the flower and getting the previously prepared bee positioned when it just all went to shit. The wax was too soft, my fingernails were too long and I kept gouging the petals of the flower, I didn't like the way anything looked, getting more and more aggravated until I finally got up and cut my nails back nearly to the quick and smushed the bee and took out the stamens and smushed them too. I got another wax bee out of the reproduction mold and started trimming it back but then it was time to go to yoga so I put it aside for later.

poor bee has no legs

What I learned, I think, is that I'm done with this design...single flower with bee on a leaf. This is the fifth time I've done this one though they are all a little different and the flowers are all different colors. I'll finish this one eventually but it will probably be the last one. Not the last bee/flower piece but the last like this. Probably. We'll see.

Trying out the color samples of paint for the outside of the house didn't help my aggravation any. I finally went and got the paint samples for the other colors yesterday and tried them out and I don't like any of them! The blue that is so blue in the little bathroom is surprisingly pale on the side of the house, the purple is too purple, and the reddish/orange is too intense. Then I tried out the other two blues from when I was trying colors for the back bedroom. Basically, I'm back to square one on colors.

I don't know, maybe some of it is growing on me

So yoga last night and I arrived highly aggravated, or 'sparky' as Abby phrased it, but by the end of the class had relaxed yay yoga and drove around looking at boring dull uninspired paint jobs on houses on my way home.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

summer's end

Summer is almost over by the calendar with Labor Day only a week away. Summer won't be over by the sun til the Autumnal Equinox on September 22. Summer probably won't be over here until mid October if we're lucky.

We had our hottest days of the season so far last week and then, as my neighbor told me, it would cool down some to the high 90s. I'm sorry laughing hysterically...what!? There is nothing 'cool' about the high 90s. It is still so hot out there that standing motionless in the shade will have you sweating in 5 minutes or less. So yeah, hot and dry. Rain showers are few and far between. So dry that the pecan trees which had stopped it's immature pecan drop by the end of July is now dropping them by the bucket fulls. You can stand anywhere in the big backyard and pick up double handfuls without taking more than a single half-step in any one direction. If this keeps up our harvest will, once again, be slim to none.

The pecan trees and the tallows and the crepe myrtles are dropping leaves fast and furious not because of any signal from nature like cool nights or shorter days, though the days are getting shorter, but because the trees can no longer support all that foliage in the heat and lack of rain. A warm breeze blows and leaves come drifting down.

The day lilies are putting up new bloom scapes. I counted 63. In August. This has never happened before.

I counted 12 new bloom scapes in this picture

A few things don't seem to mind the heat

but who can brave it long enough to enjoy the blooms?

Friday, August 24, 2018

the one and only granny camp this year

The boy is 21, working full time, and living his adult life; the twins, 20, are in college in different cities, both took classes during the summer, and are now starting their second year of college.

So, a week ago today I arrived home from the class in Austin about 8 PM and found I had a message from my youngest grandgirl asking if she could come for her visit the next day and could she bring a friend and so of course, yes, the last possible week before school starts. Robin, now 17 and starting her senior year in high school, spent the earlier part of the summer traveling with a group of Jewish teens to Poland and Israel and then had to wait til the bathroom/house was finished.

Her friend Bethany wanted to learn how to sew so off we went on Sunday to get a pattern and fabric and since the Walmart had a limited selection yes, I know, I shopped at the heinous Walmart but the alternative was an hour's driving time to go into Rosenberg and back and shop at the heinous Hobby Lobby and we were short on time she settled on shorts and spent the rest of the day laying out the pattern and cutting the fabric while Robin worked on pinning a new hem on a cut off t-shirt.

The girls wanted to make a pie and since peaches are now gone they settled on apple. I've never made an apple pie in my life. I peeled and cored the apples and Robin sliced them up while Bethany finished cutting out the fabric for the second pair of shorts and then the two girls did the rest.

Bethany is a jigsaw puzzle fan and so they spent the rest of the day engrossed in a 1,000 piece puzzle.

Tuesday, since my sewing machine has gone from balky to not working at all, we went over to my sister's house and used her machine. I walked Bethany through the first pair of shorts reading the instructions and explaining things and demonstrating and doing a few of the tricky parts while she did most the sewing on the first pair of shorts and Robin read and visited with her great aunt.

The girls finished the first puzzle sometime Tuesday night and then started a second 1,000 piece puzzle Wednesday morning. 

Then we did the shops around the square 

and after lunch Robin got her first driving lesson, driving back and forth behind the Walmart and then around the circumference of the entire parking lot over and over and then I took over til we got to the long county road where we switched again and she drove us back to the house.

I tried to teach her how to drive last year but she wasn't interested.

Thursday it was back to my sister's house to stitch up the second pair of shorts which Bethany did by herself. I sat in the room with her to answer questions but she didn't need much help. 

Robin drove us there and back both times (we came home for lunch) on real roads with real traffic (such as it is in this little town) and stop signs and stop lights, creeping along Robin, try going a little faster but she did real well.

They worked on the second puzzle until my daughter came early evening to pick them up and then it was dumped back in the box.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

I'm back and yet I'm not

I'm back from my workshop in Austin, got home about dark on Friday and yesterday my grandgirl Robin with her friend Bethany arrived to stay til Wednesday so any report of the class (which was a lot of fun and a very cool technique) is going to have to wait a few more days while I have what will probably be the last granny camp of my life.

Monday, August 13, 2018

house painting and bodily functions

My desire to wait til fall to have the house painted seems to be falling on deaf ears. Rocky's to be precise. He wants to go ahead and do it while it's hot. So to that end Gunnar and Henry showed up on Friday to clear plant foliage around the house which wasn't all that much as I told them first off they would just have to work around the mock dogwood and hummingbird bush because I was not going to allow them to mangle those and other things I would dig up and move but not until right before they were ready to power wash and bleach the outside of the house. So the two aforementioned shrubs are tied into a bundle but if they don't show up soon, like today, I'm probably going to release them. Gunnar was supposed to power wash the back side of the garage on Friday so I could test out the colors I think I've chosen but he couldn't get the power washer started. So who knows when all that will happen, especially since I'm leaving tomorrow for Austin for a three day workshop learning how to use a product that allows you to sculpt glass power like clay and won't be back til late Friday.

Also last Friday, my grandson showed up and got on the roof and brushed off the accumulation of leaves in the valleys and cut back all the tree branches that were getting close to scraping against the shingles then he went over to my sister's and changed out one of the hoses on her car before going to do what he came out here for in the first place which was changing motors out in someone's truck.

Warning...bodily functions ahead! If that grosses you out, skip this paragraph. Saturday afternoon I started having some sharp gas pains and by Saturday night it was full blown, didn't sleep hardly at all since some gremlin spent the night stabbing me in the gut amidst all the trips to the bathroom which only produced copious amounts of air. Yesterday was better, not constipated but not pooping freely either, no knife stabs in the gut but painful nonetheless. I was immobile on the couch all day with Minnie dutifully attendant curled up next to me. Today is better still but feel sore and bloated and uncomfortable as I am, apparently, constipated now. I don't know what I ate, nothing out of the ordinary, or what I was exposed to since I haven't left the house for days but damn! 

I had a friend once who swore she had never farted in her life. How can that even be possible?

So the weekend was lost with nothing done about any of the things I could have been doing. My desire/intention to work at least two hours every day on art is getting off to a rough start though I have tallied about 8 and a half hours on the first hummingbird model last week (here's my progress so far)

but I haven't done a new sketch since Sunday a week ago. This week will be a big zero since I won't get much done today as my goal is to get all the dishes and cutlery washed that I ignored all weekend. I guess the 8 hours a day for three days in the workshop counts though. My granddaughter Autumn who is between housing right now and staying with her mom's cousin til she can move into her new housing unit for next year is going to come stay with me at the hotel. She has a lot of studying to do and a couple of exams but we'll hang out after my and her classes. Guess I'll have to track Rocky down and let him know I'll be gone all week. Plus I want to take an inventory of my glass powders and frits in case I want to make a purchase before I head home.

Found these in one of the flower beds this morning

and spied this katydid earlier

and caught a glimpse of a tiny anole which couldn't have been too long out of its shell.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

a few steps behind the current reality

or straddling realities. I'm not quite fully immersed in the 'land of art' as my husband puts it. When I am, I'm not really fully present in daily life because even when I'm not physically working on a piece, mentally I'm still with it. I'm not to that point yet, I can still disconnect but a few days from now it would be harder. I've gotten four of the tiles set up and started sculpting the first hummingbird piece. 

The fifth tile I'm reconsidering the drawing, think maybe I'll do something else. Next week, though, is the three day workshop I signed up for in Austin so I don't want to get too invested in what I'm doing. I'll be leaving on Tuesday and won't get back til late Friday.

I went for my massage last Tuesday, full body concentrating on arms, neck, and shoulders, deep tissue work in those areas. It's crunchy in there, she told me, asking several times if she was going too deep. No, no, I said but Wednesday morning I was so sore and still a little residual soreness today but the pain in my biceps is much improved. I'll probably wait a couple of weeks and go back for a shorter session just on those areas.

Outside, it's nearly mid-August, the dog days of summer, so called because the hottest days of the year are associated with the rising of the star Sirius, the dog star. Sirius is also the brightest star in the sky and is called the dog star because of it's position in the constellation Canis Major. That's the historical explanation. To me it's the dog days because these are the days that are so hot that even dogs just want to lay around.

This is the time of year as well that all the foliage starts looking tired and faded and, our few brief rain showers aside, the tallows and pecans are dropping leaves and the big white crepe myrtle is shedding it's old layer of bark.

But a few things seem to like the heat like the flowering senna

and this althea

and the mexican bird of paradise

and the yellow bells

and the star of india (gardenia family).

Personally, I'll be glad when fall finally arrives sometime around October, if we're lucky, with highs in the more tolerable 80s.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

wax work and water

As mentioned previously, I spent the better part of Saturday making my wax forms and sheets to start on the model making process. Yesterday I trimmed all the blanks and started on the first tile.

the drawings

setting up the forms

pouring the wax

tile blanks and wax sheets

trimming the blanks

starting on the first hummingbird

I'm not doing a sketch a day right now, just now and then. This is Sunday's sketch...immature pecans

Changing the subject...Rocky showed up yesterday to work on the plumbing to the shop. You might remember that Marc shut the water off to the shop at the meter last winter prior to a week or so of very cold freezing weather and because we weren't working over there, being immersed in the house reconstruction, it never got turned back on until I planted the garden and needed the water for the garden. So, turning it back on at the meter months later resulted in no water at the shop. Since I was hauling buckets of water across the street to water the garden, Marc disconnected the pipe to the shop and installed a faucet at the meter, which was fine for the garden but we really need water at the shop. Hence getting Rocky to come figure out the problem. There is about 170 feet of buried water pipe from the meter to the faucet at the back corner of the shop and from there the water is piped into the shop. A couple of weeks ago when Rocky and I were over there while I explained the problem, we pulled the overgrown grass away and discovered a metal cover under the grass and dirt, which covered a shut off valve which was turned mostly to the off position. Curious. Fast forward to yesterday, Rocky had been over there for maybe an hour removing the temporary faucet and reconnecting the water pipe to the meter and then digging around the faucet on the back corner of the shop. He pokes his head in to tell me the water is on now, takes me over to the faucet in question and shows me that he found another shut off valve, also turned to the off position, at the base of the pipe after he pulled all the grass away. He turned them both to the 'on' position and voila! water in the shop. Now here's the crazy thing, neither Marc nor I had turned either valve off, we didn't even know those valves were there, or if we had known, had forgotten entirely as Marc shut the water off at the meter. Before he did that, we had water. So big mystery.

OMG! A lightbulb just went off! We basically hadn't been over at the shop for a whole year, not since Harvey and we had Rocky do the tear out over there. Part of the tear out was removing the toilet and the two sinks and the water heater, the pipes of which were capped off. His workers must have turned those valves off and then never turned them back on after they capped the pipes.

Well, no, that can't be right because I was over there doing cold work last November and I had water then and that was before Marc turned the water off at the meter.

So who the fuck knows!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

had it been a snake...

Last summer, the mulcher attachment on the riding lawnmower broke off as did one of the deck wheels while mowing over at the shop. Broken parts were put aside and not long after, Harvey happened with the resultant flood and the broken parts were not thought about again until it became necessary to use the mower this spring. Well, really, late spring, might even have been early summer, before I went to Portugal though. I think. Anyway, we looked all over for those two things so we could see about getting the wheel welded back on. I searched everywhere in that shop looking around stuff, behind stuff, every space, in cabinets, on shelves, I even emptied the huge nearly full trash bag in case it had gotten thrown in there. We finally concluded that it must have been set out on the street with all the other ruined stuff so we had to order a new very expensive deck and new mulcher and if we hadn't been spending all that money on the house would have probably just bought a new mower.

Friday evening when I was over at the shop cleaning up the wax table, filling the wax melting pot, putting the plaster bats in a pan to soak, and in general getting ready to set up my forms on Saturday morning when I walked over to another part of the shop to confirm what I already knew, that the tool box with the level was over at the house. As I glanced down at the floor where the toolbox sits I saw this on the floor next to the flat lap...

In. Plain. Sight.

Right next to where I was standing when I transferred the contents of the trash bag into another. I was basically standing right next to the thing I was looking for and never saw it.