Thursday, January 31, 2019

medical shit and another firing

Monday morning I woke up with a couple of itchy spots on my jaw line near my chin on the left side of my face making me think a mosquito or spider chowed down on me during the night. By mid-day it had become a larger patch of rash. By evening a line of rash had appeared on the right side of my face from cheekbone to jaw line and Tuesday it had spread into a patch of rash, itchy or tingly off and on. Yesterday during lunch Marc says that's how shingles starts which resulted in a frantic internet search on shingles. Nope, not shingles which starts with severe pain and then a rash develops several days later which become little blisters. So far, no pain, just itchy which I'm treating with cortisone itchy cream. Wednesday morning a small patch on my hairline appeared and by Wednesday night the back of my left ear broke out. Today a small eruption on my right thumb and wrist and my left pinky finger have appeared. I have no idea what this is or what is causing it. Marc suggested poison ivy but I know poison ivy and stay far away from it, don't think I was exposed to any, and besides it's all dormant right now, no leaves, though it does seem like poison ivy and some blisters have formed. Sunday I had been pulling weeds, the same weeds and grass I've been pulling up for weeks, and the tall dead cosmos stalks which are rough and a bit prickly and probably brushed against my face (but the back of my ear?) but then why not my hands and exposed arms?  (well, now my hands.) Not to mention I've been pulling up those stalks and weeds for years and never had a reaction.

In other news, the goldfinches are mobbing the bird feeder and tea cup, the red shouldered hawks are doing their mating flights and calls, the cardinals are singing their love songs. The love-in-a-mist have put out a few first tentative blooms, 

the poppies are growing big, and the woodlands painted petal are beginning to put up bloom stalks.

a chilly sulfur butterfly waiting for the day to warm up

I've been working with the modeling glass and have a kiln shelf full to go in the kiln, most of which are experiments to see how different glass...transparent vs opal, frit vs powder...fires.

And finally, I've almost got my referral for the cardiologist. I have to say that Memorial Hermann is not instilling me with confidence. First of all, they have my husband's phone number as the primary number and mine as secondary totally ignoring what I wrote on the info sheet and despite me telling them over and over of their error. Second, my primary care doctor told the desk worker she was referring me to cardiologist NP Mazel but failed to submit whatever written form which I learned last Thursday when I called the Patient Concierge Services for Memorial Hermann which sets up the referrals and so had to call the doctor's office to get that remedied. When I still hadn't heard anything by last Tuesday, I called the PCS again and they told me they had the referral and were processing it. Today, they called me, again on Marc's phone, to tell me my referral with Dr. XXX was set up and to call them for an appointment. Dr. XXX is not the doctor I want to see and not who my referral was supposed to be to. So, now waiting once again. I asked the woman at PCS if this was going to take another week since it had already been nearly two weeks since I was supposed to be referred. No, she said, she'd try and get it taken care of today.

Monday, January 28, 2019

dividing my time

Sunny days, cold nights. I wander about in the yard off and on during the day pulling up weeds and field grass, filling the wheelbarrow to overflowing and now the garden cart and looking out at the yard which holds not the slightest effect of my efforts. Out front pulling up the clover from amongst the growing bluebonnets my neighbor Leonard drives by and stops beside me. It will all come back, he tells me. I know, next year I'll be out here doing the same but if I don't pull it up it will smother the bluebonnets. Leonard asks me if I'm getting ready to plant my spring garden. No, I'm just not feeling it yet. Me neither, he says. I finally pulled out all the dead stalks of the orange cosmos over at the shop, two wheelbarrow loads dumped on the burn pile, and eyed the three raised garden beds so overgrown with johnson grass and other weeds that I feel it would just be easier to start over in a different spot. It rained Friday, 1/2”, and so the ground is too wet to dig as has been the norm all fall and winter. This seems to be the new normal, rainy winter, drought summer.

When I'm not wandering the yard I'm working with the modeling glass. I've done the base with the quill for another heron feather, this time using a dark brown and white for the quill instead of black and white, and the hibiscus flower and a leaf which I sculpted pretty much like I would have done if I'd been working in wax and it was so much easier and faster! I dried the three pieces yesterday and started cleaning and refining with sandpaper, the leaf and feather done, the flower still to do. 

The kiln shelf has a fresh layer of kiln wash but I won't fire these until I do several more leaves trying a different approach and also making up a few colors in transparent glass powder and maybe one in the fine frit, all for comparison, to see where I might go with this.

Friday, January 25, 2019

just more of the same

Thursday morning I woke up to frost on the ground 


and a layer of ice on the birdbath. Uh oh. Some of the foliage on the angel trumpets and most on the morning glory bush is shriveled but not all and the little jasmine buds seem OK so that's good but I think I lost the porterweed. It might come back from the roots, maybe. The ponytail palm looks unscathed. 

It was a beautiful day out there today, mostly sunny, with a predicted mid-60s high and mid-40s low. My kind of winter weather. The turtle was out on her sunning board and the dog was going berserk.

you can't tell from the picture but Minnie is barking hysterically

The goldfinches got over whatever shyness they started with and have been mobbing the tea cup and bird feeder the last several days.

crappy picture through the window on zoom, two goldfinches and a cardinal, the cardinal got tired of waiting and ran the goldfinches off

I've been working on a hibiscus flower in the modeling glass the last two days. The flower, about 5 1/2" wet, is done, 

now needs to be dried out before firing. I'm thinking of expanding the piece, adding leaves on a rolled out square with the intent of using it on the other hinged box from last December that I never used but first I need to draw out the composition which is proving to be elusive because I can't decide if I'm trying to do it for the box or maybe a piece not constrained by a square border or just an exercise with no final intent for its use. I should probably go with that last though, otherwise this could balloon into a BIG PRODUCTION, especially since I made no progress today. So, tomorrow I'll just do a single leaf shape and another try at the heron feather.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

yo-yo weather and another feather

Yesterday it was 71˚ and then plunged to 30˚ during the night with a light rain, currently 38˚. Such is our yo-yo winter weather. Once again I gambled and didn't cover anything though I don't generally worry about quick dips between 32˚ and 30˚. I haven't been out yet but the foliage on one of the angel trumpets and the jasmine that I can see from here look fine.

Here's the new heron feather, 7 1/2". Eventually they'll be slumped to have some curve to them.

Overall it came out better than the first one but a little too blue I think. Still shiny even though Marc adjusted the firing schedule so I think that's a function of using transparent powder over the base rather than opaque powder but since I haven't done one with opaque powder I don't know for sure. I'm using the transparent powder for the blue heron feather because I don't have the right blue color in the opaque glass powders and I think I can mitigate the shininess with my finishing process buffing it down. I have two more feathers I want to try which will be done in opaques which is what many of the samples are about, trying to get the right browns.

I had an appointment with the GP Monday. I finally broke down and made the appointment as I've been having almost daily episodes of irregular heartbeat of varying intensity and varying lengths of time, usually minor lasting only an hour or so but it's been going on for a couple of months now. The good news is my blood pressure was fine and while I was talking to the doctor it started up so she was able to hear it...three beats, drop the third beat, skip a beat...she sent me down immediately for an EKG but as usually happens, by the time I was hooked up and relaxed on the table, the little pumper was beating along on a happy rhythm so she referred me to a cardiologist to wear the 24 hour monitor. Still waiting to set the appointment.

It's still raining lightly out there but should stop soon and clear up some this afternoon and then off to yoga this evening.

I'm not even going to comment on the state of the government, the Republican traitors in charge of the continuing shut down and the 30% of the population that still supports them, or the smug little MAGA hat wearing bastard whose rich family hired a PR firm to spin his smirk and of course the MAGAts were invited to the White House or that his school sent a bunch of privileged white boys to protest women's reproductive rights or that Trump's main WH lawyer graduated from Covington. What is there to say that hasn't been said ad infinitum by better writers than me. At this rate there won't be much left of this country by 2020 which is exactly what they want. Putin is celebrating our demise.

Monday, January 21, 2019

short stories number whatever

I've been relatively busy the past three days making more samples though not as many as previous firings, about half of which are transparent powders over white, and another blue heron feather. In true Ellen fashion, I did not take a picture of the kiln shelf before it went in the kiln with a slightly altered firing schedule. This week I'm going to try a hibiscus flower.

Back in the days before digital photography, we took slides of our work. I have four binders of slides of old work, stuff we don't do anymore, so I took four of the slide pages and dumped the slides in a paper bag and used plastic sleeves to hold my samples. Much better than the jar I had been keeping them in. I should probably do that with the samples I have of different transparent frit combinations.

I finally got a halfway decent picture of the goldfinch. This one got over its fright and perched on the tea cup and chowed down but the lighting wasn't great and mostly it showed me it's belly perched as it was on the hanger.

The last weather forecast on Saturday had the temperature dipping down to 30˚. Hmmm, 32˚ I don't worry so I checked to see how long it would be below freezing. About 4 or 5 hours. It was so windy Saturday and cold, low 50s, which make it an unpleasant and difficult struggle to get the ponytail palm covered, I rolled the dice gambling that it would not get cold enough to do damage and did not cover a damn thing, not the angel trumpets or porterweed coming out nicely after our first dip into freezing weather, not the little jasmine which is already putting on buds and hasn't bloomed for the last two springs because of freezing weather. Sunday morning, this time the House paid me. Not a single ruined leaf or bud.

Speaking of windy, I've written about the howling wind which before the house reconstruction I never seem to remember hearing. You can stand at the door to the garage and hear it wail, open the door and nothing. Very peculiar. As it turns out, there is a 1/4” gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold on one side tapering to none on the other side and cold air was pouring through the gap. A well placed hand towel stopped both the cold air and the howling. I'll have to see about a more permanent fix for that.

I set my alarm for 11 PM last night as I nodded off trying to stay awake. At 11:15 I stepped out the back door to gaze up at the Blood Wolf Moon almost directly overhead and the blazing stars, at 11:40 a bright thin crescent of white light was edging it and off I went to bed.

Photo credit: Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station

Friday, January 18, 2019

from the WTF Department and other miscellaneous goings on

Well, that was fun. Last week I was accused by my neighbor, the one of container fame, of taking her tomato cages, her concrete blocks, and her bricks. I told her she was mistaken and the cages, bricks, and mortar blocks she saw on my property were mine.

She also complained about me writing about her and her family. I have only referred to her as 'my neighbor' the one or two times I've mentioned her and have never mentioned her family. I didn't argue with her, just said OK, as I was a little dumbfounded and I just wanted to go back to what I was doing. I stormed around here for the next two days though working it out of my system.

Very foggy this morning and I'm happy to see the forecast has been revised to a light freeze instead of a hard freeze when the front comes barreling in tomorrow so I shouldn't have to cover anything. 

Walking the dog yesterday I noticed that not only is the maple tree blooming but the sycamores at the other end of the street are also coming out. And there was a big flock of birds in the hackberry in my other neighbor's yard and the birds were flitting back and forth from it to the small tree full of red berries that they were devouring. 

Being underneath I could only see their yellowish undersides but one or two glimpses make me think they were cedar waxwings as I caught sight of a crest or two and I know they migrate through here as I've seen them before. I've been trying to get a picture of the goldfinches when they visit the bird feeder but they are too shy and too fast. Just now the big bird feeder is being mobbed by sparrows and the cardinals and chickadees have been coming to the teacup. I hear the titmice in the trees but don't see them.

I never made it to yoga Wednesday evening as early in the day there was a fatality accident on the northbound lanes of 59 between here and El Campo that completely blocked the freeway when a car going south bound crossed the median and hit or got hit by an 18 wheeler. 

image via Wharton County Office Of Emergency Management's FB page

By mid-afternoon both sides of 59 were completely closed and traffic was backed up 24 miles according to my neighbor Leonard and the lanes weren't cleared until after class time.

Well, I know I've said this every day this week so far but today I am going to work with the modeling glass some more. I have a new batch of samples I want to make plus two more feathers and a hibiscus flower I want to try, now that it's warmed up and my blood is moving faster than sludge.

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.