Wednesday, January 16, 2019

lethargy redux

As it turns out, I did not do any artwork on Monday, nor yesterday cold and overcast as it has been though I did spread out my color samples, 

bought a new battery for the scale, and put a fresh layer of kiln wash on the kiln shelf. Then I finished the book I was reading. Today is a little warmer but overcast and drippy, dreary and the modeling glass, while not exactly messy, does require frequent cleaning of the hands which I have to do outside as I'm not sure washing the residue down the sink is a good idea. Also yoga tonight (apparently my favorite excuse to sit around on my ass all day doing nothing), and I have to go in early to retrieve my sewing machine which is ready, so who knows what I'll get accomplished today. If anything. It's warming and the rest of the week is supposed to be very nice just before the temperature will plunge on Saturday to below freezing with nearly two weeks of winter following. I'll have to cover the ponytail palm again and maybe a few other things.

So now here it is 1 PM and so far all I've managed to accomplish besides cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast is taking a shower and cutting new insoles for my moccasins.

Some pictures though...

the maple tree is blooming, always the first tree to come out but even so, early

the wheelbarrow full of clover, weeds, and field grass

the crop duster was out yesterday though I'm not sure what he was spraying exactly since all the fields around here are currently fallow but he sure looked like he was having fun buzzing low over the houses as he banked his turns

a flock of white wing doves has been hanging out in the yard and they congregated for whatever reason on the roof this morning, there were more but my movement startled all but the most stalwart away

Well, I've managed to waste fritter away another hour and now it's time for lunch.

Monday, January 14, 2019

rain chains and yard work

I bought my sister and myself decorative rain chains for the valleys in our roof lines and then discovered that rain chains are an alternative to downspouts for gutters. Well, shucky darn. I got rid of my gutters and the one I had replaced already has downspouts. An internet search showed a way to use them nevertheless by first hanging a bucket with a hole in the bottom to catch the stream of water that pours off the valley and then hanging the chain under the bucket. 

Not very aesthetically pleasing but functional. My first foray out to find a galvanized (or copper) bucket on Friday wasn't all that successful, too big or too small. I bought an empty (not galvanized) paint can instead which was about the right size but even less aesthetically pleasing. I'll use it until I can find something I like better. Or not. I'm thinking not.

Saturday was another day of beautiful spring weather and another day spent out in the yard. I pulled up hand fulls of certain of the weeds and did my hand full of clover for the day amongst the bluebonnets growing out front and did more weeding in the front flower bed. My neighbor Gary made the mistake of saying he wouldn't mind his whole back yard being flowers so I dug up some of the woodland painted petal that spreads easily and some of the orange cosmos seedlings that also spread readily that are coming up plus the baby maple tree, a flowering senna, and a confederate rose, volunteers that I had potted up last year, in addition to the poppy and love-in-a-mist seedlings and oxblood lily bulbs I had already taken him.

the aforementioned magenta petunias he gave me some of

Yesterday, even though it was a beautiful blue sky day, was colder and windy so I satisfied myself with pulling up some of the weeds out of the yard and clover from amongst the bluebonnets and while I told myself I should get out there and dig up more of the mexican petunias, I decided to sit on the couch and read the rest of the day, well, after I took the dog for her walk where I often see hawks perched on the wires scanning the field for dinner. They're hard to get a picture of. I tried to be sly with this one but it wasn't fooled.

Our current pecan pie. This one made with honey instead of corn syrup. The previous pie used canned pumpkin in place of some of the corn syrup. That was weird. The first night you could really taste the pumpkin but it was better the second night.

It's turned cold again and though it is mostly sunny, I think I'll work on art today...inside.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

another day (or two) in the life

Our nice 'spring' weather has continued and I've been out in the yard doing some pruning and clearing out of late summer's bloomers and did some weeding in the front garden. I dug up the spiderwort and a clump of Nile lilies (agapanthus) and switched their places in one of the flower beds. My neighbor Gary gave me some heritage amaryllis bulbs and some clumps of magenta heritage petunias that grow like weeds from his garden and I gave him some of the oxblood lilies in return (will take him some of the poppies that are coming up too). Dug up hand fulls of hay grass and unwanted weeds in the Big Backyard (a drop in the bucket), raked up some of the oak leaves and spread them in the small bed with the Easter lilies.

Yesterday I headed into El Campo early (yoga at 5:15) to take my sewing machine in for repair and to get some vacuum cleaner bags, go to the HEB grocery store there to get the rice milk I like that our store never seems to have, to the Walgreens (which we don't have) to get the potato chips we like that the HEB quit carrying and the CVS we do have doesn't carry, and take the recycling to the drop off that has piled up while the container was out of service. Such is life in a dying small town, can't get what you want and no services. And it's not like the population of El Campo is way bigger, 11.69K to our 8.77K. The main difference is that the founding 5 families or so have a stranglehold on Wharton and don't want it to grow or even provide any amenities for that matter. El Campo has a 3 screen movie theater, a bowling center, an indoor aquatic center, a huge public park with a lake and sports fields among other things, they have two lumber yard/building supply stores and a real hardware store (we have one combo lumber/hardware store that never has what I go in there for), a plate glass and mirror shop, and a plant nursery among other things. Wharton is going to get a truck stop. In town. Seriously, they are letting a truck stop be built in town. At least that's what the billboard says is going on that vacant lot in town.

I haven't done anymore work with the modeling glass or even my regular work as I'm taking advantage of these blue sky days with low humidity. If this is truly spring in January, we are in for a brutal summer. I shall have to get over to the shop where my raised beds are and try to wrangle them back in shape if I plan to plant a spring garden. I saw some little birds at the tea cup that I thought were the little pale yellowish warblers that winter down here but couldn't find them in the bird guide. Realized today when I saw them that they are goldfinches that haven't got their bright color yet.

Haven't taken any pictures the last couple of days so here's another pic looking east across the fallow cotton field that I took last week.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

a few warm busy days

When we bought this place, the Big Backyard had a beautiful lawn, thick healthy grass. Today, it looks more like a meadow. About three years ago the grass started dying and we made no effort to stop it, some bug or other brought back by the lawn mower from other yards or just an invader or fungus except the lawns on either side of us are fine.

It's been sunny and warm the last couple of days and the early spring wildflowers and weeds think it's spring.

10 petal anemone and henbit

yellow and pink oxylis

woodland violet (and the bee is why these early spring wildflowers are so important)

don't know what these are and I'm too lazy to look them up but the little blue flowers are tiny, about 1/8”

chickweed and dandelions

There's more, like the noxious sow thistle and stickyweed and plantain, fleabane which blooms later. The flood brought us a flood of wildflower and weed seeds as well as hay grass like bluestem.

And today a cardinal is singing his love song and temps are in the mid-70s and someone at yoga last night said she saw a peach tree blooming. Hold up there, Hoss, it's barely January! It will get cold again.

I finally got the peas planted Sunday 

and picked up a cart load of branches from the Big Backyard. There's a pile in the Little Backyard and the side yard has yet to be gone over. Marc went over and fired up the burn pile last week and already the back of the truck is full of fallen branches.

I drove into the city yesterday to spend the day with the twins who are both back at their parent's house. Now in their second year of college, they no longer consider it home. We went to the art supply store to get Autumn her holiday gift (she wanted art supplies instead of money, being a working girl and all...a kit with 24 acrylic paints, a canvas, and a small easel), went to lunch at a vegetarian restaurant where they had vegan cheese (the one they had available yesterday was made from coconut milk and resembled mozzarella, I wasn't impressed), 

Jade took two pictures of Autumn and I and both times I had food in my mouth. When I gave her a hard time after the first pic, she took this one.

tried to go to the Menil (a museum that houses the Menil's private art collection and yes, a museum full) but they were closed, took them to the Rothko Chapel because they had never been and everyone should go at least once (I'm still not impressed by Rothko), and then I hit the road at 3 to get through the gauntlet of Fort Bend County road construction before traffic got bad and because yoga last night.

I got more samples made and added the powder to the feather form I had made weeks ago 

before firing...

and they came out of the kiln yesterday. 

after firing...

These samples and the feather came out too shiny so we'll have to tweak the firing schedule. I'm happy enough with my first attempt at the feather but next time I'll make some changes in my color choices and application. I also determined how much this stuff shrinks (17%) which will be helpful when I'm working on a real piece. Next I'm going to mix up some of the transparent fine frit and see how that fires. I'm sort of working on a composition in my head, a real piece to see how I like this modeling glass, how it is to work with it and how I like the end result. It has a completely different look than what I'm used to getting with the pate de verre. 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

easing in

I finally shrugged off my lethargy this morning and mixed up 9 more colors in the modeling glass, all half batches because I'm still just planning more samples, and now have some mixed up for every color of opaque glass powder that I have, 18 in all. Tomorrow the plan is to make samples of all the new colors and then do some color blends. I'll probably finish the first feather that I started too.

I wrote that yesterday. After the first couple, I was squishing and kneading the ball of powder with just my left hand so as to keep one hand clean for opening the door, turning on the water, and handling the sprayer as I washed off the bowl and spoon (and hand) between colors. The last one or two I had a small pain in my left pinky finger which I ignored as it wasn't so bad and then about 8 PM last night it bloomed into a pain so bad at one point I was wondering if I had broken something in there. Couldn't straighten my pinky completely or curl it completely without extreme pain all the way down to the knuckle/joint in my palm and even motionless it hurt like hell. I finally got up just after I went to bed and taped my pinky and ring finger together which seemed to help. This morning it's much better though still some painful, mostly just an ache.

there's a dog in there somewhere

The dog is still a bit jittery from New Year's. The least little 'boom' noise, and often I can't even hear it, sets her off and if we are out on our walk she's straining at the leash to go go go home.

It finally cleared up yesterday and today is gorgeous too, on a warming trend though with nights in the 30s, which is how my lizard blood finally warmed up enough for me to move around some and get something accomplished.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

a new year

the last day of 2018 looking east across the fallow cotton field

I usually look back over the previous year but it was enough to live through last year without going over all the ways Trump and his administration has diminished this country, the damage done to businesses and workers and farmers, to our standing with our allies, to our free press, to any moral imperative we ever had, plunging the government deficit into the trillions with his insane tax cut to the wealthy and corporations. He governs by tweet and whim, spouting total nonsense, attacking and sacking everyone who doesn't praise him, obsessed with the idea of a wall along our southern border. The only people he can keep in his administration are as morally bankrupt as he is with a Congress that did nothing to try and mitigate his madness.

So, Ellen, tell us how you really feel.

It wasn't all bad of course. The house got finished after the flood of 2017 and it's really pretty. I finally got back to work drawing and making art, learned a new technique. I spent 3 weeks in beautiful Portugal. And just the day to day loveliness of life...birds and beasts and flowers and trees and family and friends.

The last day of 2018 (and the first day of 2019) the Twilight Zone marathon was on all day, we listened to the less than exuberant fireworks while the dog trembled, and the gunfire which sounded very close so I assume it was 'new' neighbor R and his gun obsession jackass doesn't seem to care that those bullets don't evaporate once they leave his gun but go somewhere. We went to bed at 10, probably the first time in my life since I was grown that I didn't stay up til midnight.

Yesterday was done in the usual way...mimosas 

and brunch of bacon and eggs and sweet rolls, more Twilight Zone, took an early nap, lazed on the couch reading, and then in the evening watched two more episodes of Firefly (we have the boxed set that includes the episodes that were never aired).

While being lazy all day is part of the tradition, watching Firefly isn't. In fact we haven't watched it for years but the other night there was nothing on TV so we slipped in the first disc. I only mention Firefly because the next day and for several days after, both Marc and I had an ad pop up on our FB feeds for Firefly. We don't have a 'smart' TV, we did not post anywhere that we had watched it. We do have a fairly new DVD/Blu-Ray player. How the fuck does that happen?

Today is cold and rainy, Marc is off the the grocery store and I have a stack of dishes to wash. Last night we noticed a big puddle on the kitchen floor and under the sink was wet but couldn't locate a leak. This morning when I started the dishwasher I put a big bucket under as much of the plumbing as I could, checked on it later to find water on the kitchen floor and under the sink wet but nothing in the bucket. Just then Rocky showed up (Gunnar had put gutter screens up for us this morning).

Rocky! You're just in time. He located the problem and got us fixed up. Would that any problems encountered in this new year are so easily taken care of.

the last sunset of 2018

and then it turned into this