Sunday, July 28, 2019

going off the rails on the crazy train

I initially wrote this up right after the incident with the sheriff but I decided ultimately not to publish it, to just move on and I hoped she would too but apparently not...

You might remember I reported last January that my neighbor who owns the empty lot next to me with the storage buildings and container at the back, after a year and a half of friendly contact and conversation trying to support her in her grief after her husband died suddenly and her complaints about how her son and grandsons were treating her she suddenly accused me of stealing her tomato cages, her bricks, and her mortar blocks which I denied because I didn't take any of her stuff. I thought that was the end of it and that was the last time I have spoken with her.

So last February when I was working on clearing weeds and johnson grass out of one of the raised beds over at the shop I noticed that she and her son were over at her property. A few minutes later a sheriff's deputy drove up and they talked for a while and then the deputy headed over to our house. Marc came out and he and the deputy talked for a while and then headed back towards the big backyard and after another little while the deputy went back over to my neighbor, they talked some more and then everyone got in their cars and left.

I'm on the phone to the husband...”What?”

She's still accusing me (us) of stealing her tomato cages, her (40 or so) 'mexican' bricks, and her mortar blocks and has now added the charge of prowling around on her property which we also don't do.

According to the deputy she was ready to press charges. So Marc showed him around our property, showed him all our paver bricks, the ones we hauled from Houston, lining all my flower beds, showed him our mortar blocks that line another garden that we also brought from Houston and it's obvious these bricks and blocks have been in place for years, long before any of her stuff supposedly disappeared, showed him our two brick piles why would we take hers when we have bricks of our own we haven't used yet?, explained that we have tomato cages of our own and yes we did borrow three cages from her husband two years ago with permission and returned them after the spring garden was done. The deputy kept saying if we were going over on her property to please stop to which Marc kept replying we don't go over there. Apparently satisfied that we didn't have any of her stuff he asked us to be good neighbors if we see anyone over there and report it. The high road and all.

I called my sister to vent and I imagine her ears were bleeding by the time I was through.

A few days later I saw my retired deputy neighbor in his yard and went over to talk to him to see if I should be worried about this not particularly only to learn that she had stopped to talk to him Friday on her way here bending his ear about my thievery and wanting to know if he had ever seen me over there no and tells him that I'm trying to take over her property. When I was never served I thought, once again, that that was the end of it.

Then last Friday morning, five months later, she shows up with some guy, stays for a half hour or so and leaves. This is what I saw when I went out in the big backyard...

with exclamation points and underlined

Nice, right? Because my view wasn't bad enough I guess. I have no idea what brought this on. The woman has gone bat shit crazy. She even painted the mortar blocks in front of the container red so as to put identifying marks on them? Who knows.

I've been contemplating a response the past few days...

a 10' high fence that would completely hide the container (but cost me too much money)

plant some tall fast growing shrubs along the property line there

lots of colorful streamers on tall poles

my own sign on my little wrought iron fence sections facing her container, options including but not limited to...
     fuck you
     what the fuck is wrong with you
     well, bless your little heart
     do us both a favor and get some therapy

I am going to put up my last two strands of the Tibetan prayer flags between us  that Joanne sent me but I figure the best response is no response. Just continue to ignore her and whatever she does over there.

Friday, July 26, 2019

a break from work stuff

Oh, these past few days have been glorious. Blue sky, low humidity, tolerable temperatures, pleasant enough in the morning to open the door.

After my terrible horrible no good day Tuesday I did nothing on Wednesday, tidied up a bit, turned a few more pages of my soaked notebook to dry out, read. Figured I had done enough damage the day before to last a week. Didn't do much yesterday either besides continue to clean up both my work tables and set the Mooka on it's rounds, got out the mold for the sticks but haven't filled it yet, picked a few zinnias.

Out of all those zinnia seeds I planted in three different locations I got mostly different shades of pink, some white, and one each of yellow, orange, and red.

Some pictures of what else is blooming...

A third banana tree has put out a bloom stalk,

My night blooming cereus bloomed one night last week with 12 flowers. It's never had that many before and the air smelled so sweet. I didn't have a flashlight to take good photos so this is just with the flash on my phone. There's 10 in the first picture if you know where to look.

This is from the last time they bloomed and I remembered to go out and look. The flowers only last one night.

Plumerias are still blooming their little hearts out, the Mexican bird of paradise/dwarf poinciana is twice as big as last year, the daturas open an occasional flower also at night that last only the one night, yellow bells, althea/rose of sharon, and flowering senna are all putting forth.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

if it could go wrong...

It's been more of the same. Hot, humid, dry. Though a 'cool' front came in heralded by the 5/8” of rain we finally got Monday night. What that means is the high temp will only be 89˚ - 91˚ for the next week and last night (it did) and the next two nights will get down in the 60˚s! Unheard of this time of year. It was 71˚ when I ventured out at 8:30 this morning, cool and dry as in not humid. Very pleasant out.

There was a time when I sat down to fill a mold I would do it in one sitting, usually about 5 or 6 hours. It was really necessary when I was doing all those small bowls since I was working on a slope. These days it takes me days to fill a mold, work a couple of hours and that's enough for today, day after day. It's easy to walk away from filling an open face mold (of which the heron head inlay is an example) because there's nowhere for the glass to fall down to. This one took me four days. 

The main image I'm working from.

First find the most round correct size chunk of black glass for the pupil of the eye;

mix a little med amber and light amber for the eye and pack that in, a little midnight blue beneath and between the eye and the beak, a little spot of lt amber, a little bit of translucent white above the eye, a bit of pale yellow on the cheek, cover the eye and cheek with translucent white, add the black for the crown;

marigold yellow and medium amber in the beak, build up more of the trans white;

paint a little black powder in stripes on the outside edge of the neck and cover with white powder, sift in lt. sky blue powder, some lt. bronze powder in spots on top of that, lt. silver gray powder over all on top of that, then because I wasn't sure if I had enough silver gray powder I sprinkled in a layer of silver frit (and in this picture it came out so dark that now I'm afraid I put in too much and it will be too dark), build up more amber in the beak, black in the crown, trans white on the cheek;

build up more amber in the beak, black in the crown, and cover everything else with trans white;

mound up translucent white over the whole mess, worry about the silver gray being too dark, uncover a portion of neck and try to do a depth assessment of the colors underneath, decide that maybe it's OK and cover it back up;

and now it's in the kiln.

Then I moved on to the disaster part of the day yesterday...the mold for the box.

My first mistake was thinking I could make (I did) and use a cardboard box for pouring the mold even though I used thick cardboard. We have used these successfully for small castings. This was not small, this would need over 6 pounds of glass. The second mistake was not rigging up a support system for the sides of the cardboard box so when Marc poured the plaster/silica mix in the cardboard got soggy fast and bulged out on all sides so that the amount mixed did not adequately cover the entire wax box model. Well, fuck.

 Bad but not unfixable so he topped it off with a small second pour which resulted in a bulgy convoluted weak at the bottom mold but he got it steamed out and if I had left well enough alone, all would have been fine. But me, who can't leave well enough alone, I decided I would try and carve off some of the excess plaster on the sides of the mold and to do that it had to be very wet so the third mistake was I rehydrated the mold, carved away, got it to a more uniform shape and somewhat thickness, took it outside, rinsed it off, turned it over to pour the water out, aaaand the core fell out. Well, fuck fuck. 

OK, I can deal with this, just set it back in and it's weight will hold it in place. Next was to do the volume measure which as I have explained previously entails filling the mold with water and doing some math. I did this without the core in place because reasons figuring I could do a separate but similar process to determine the volume of the core, do a little math and voila, I would have my volume measure only when I went to pick up the mold and pour out the water, the second small pour of plaster/silica separated from the rest of the mold and over half a gallon of water was released all over me, the table, and the floor and now my mold was in three pieces and I still did not have my volume measure. Well, fuck fuck fuck.

Marc suggested reassembling the mold in a basin with the core in place, pouring the water in which would immediately begin to leak out, remove the pieces of mold from the basin and then weigh the water in the basin. OK, that will work and it did only now not only is my mold in three pieces but all the water and messing around has made the inside of the mold start to deteriorate. Well, fuck fuck fuck fuck. 

So now I'm ready to weigh the water and my digital scale that got doused from the previous minor flood is muerta (dead for those who don't know any Spanish) godammitall  so off I went to the Evil Empire to get a new scale and finally weigh the damn water and get my damn volume measure. I'm not touching it again until it is completely dry and I'm ready to reassemble it,  fill it, and fire it.

I think I can redeem the whole thing with a lot a lot! of grinding and cold work but if I manage to pull this rabbit out of the hat it will be a fucking miracle.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

slow progress but new gutters

Well, I thought we would do the egg and the sticks first but I decided to do a color sample for the egg before we do those so I've filled the mold for the top and have spent several hours looking at pictures of blue herons and listing the colors that I think I'll need and getting everything accumulated. And as long as I'm doing one color sample, I might as well do a few more. As mentioned, looking at all the pictures, I had thought that the inlay would be a difficult one but maybe not. Doing the hummingbird twice gave me some valuable experience that I think/hope will translate into the heron and future birds.

Also as mentioned, I led the yoga class Wednesday night. I did, in fact, jot down a list of asanas beforehand and it was much easier. I didn't have to think on the spot, just look at my list...seated, hands and knees, stomach, standing, back...and it went very well I think. Still, I'll be glad when Abby comes back but I won't be so resistant next time she asks me to cover for her.

I was planning to get the mold for the inlay of the heron head filled today but so far all I've managed is to do is grind off the points on a tiny chunk of glass for the iris of the eye and place it in the mold. 

The fact that Rocky and another son, Manny, are here to finally get my gutters replaced isn't helping. Well, if not today, then tomorrow. In the meantime I'm mentally going over how I'm going to blend the colors.


So I did start on the heron head inlay yesterday and so much for it not being as difficult as I thought it would be since it took me several hours and lots of cursing to get this far which is not very far at all. 

Now I'm just waiting for Rocky to finish getting the downspouts in place today to get it finished. Too hard to concentrate when I get interrupted off and on.

While I'm waiting on that I went ahead and poured melted wax into the mold of the small log I've been working on. The plaster impregnated bandages arrived the other day and I had applied two layers of strips over the 12 coats of latex. I didn't want it too stiff, just enough to support the outside so that I could pop the wax replica out easily.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

more shop talk - molds and volume measures and colors

The first four molds for the heron box...the head inlay, the sticks, the egg, and the top...are done 

and I did all the volume measures yesterday. The way I do that is I fill a container with water, weigh it in grams, pour the appropriate amount of water into the mold, weigh the container again and subtract the second number from the first and then multiply the difference by 2.5 which is the specific gravity of the glass I use to get the weight of glass I need to accurately fill the mold.

The first two to go in the kiln will be the sticks and the egg. I've decided on colors for the egg, sort of a by-the-seat-of-my-pants decision. I have two color samples,

one is a little too green (combo of two colors), the other a little too blue (also a combo of two colors with one color common to both) so I'm going to try to hit the middle by using all three colors and then just to make it a little more iffy I'm going to mix that with a translucent white to try and get the right tint...maybe. Still need to pick my color for the sticks and hopefully I'll get the molds filled today, but maybe not since it's a yoga day and I've agreed to lead the class this evening since Abby won't be able to come so I want to jot down a sequence this time instead of trying to think what to do on the spot.

Nothing else happening. Still hot though yesterday was more tolerable (notice I didn't say 'cooler' because that won't enter the equation for at least 2 1/2 more months). I'm still watering every morning. I ordered the plaster impregnated gauze and it should be here Friday. I still have one more casting box to make for the piece that will be the reservoir for the heron box. I need reservoirs to hold all the glass frit since it takes up about twice as much space unfired as it does fired. 

Once I get the heron box done I want to try a combination of my regular process and the modeling glass, create some elements with the modeling glass and then add them as an inclusion on a wax model.

Monday, July 15, 2019

have I mentioned how hot and dry it is here and progress on many fronts

Almost noon and it's 88˚ with 63% humidity, real feel 98˚. I spent the past two and a half days deep watering, moving the hose every half hour or so. Did some hand watering this morning while it was overcast which gave way to partly sunny, spread the last bag of mulch around the rest of the azaleas, something I should have done months ago, picked up the last couple of plies of deadheaded purple coneflowers and trundled the garden cart over to the burn pile and dumped it all on the still smoldering mound of ash left from when Marc torched it early last week after that huge branch fell off the native pecan tree. It wouldn't surprise me if the next time I went over there the new debris had caught fire. And that was enough of doing outside. 

Marc is in Hell aka the shop starting to make the molds for the heron box.

I have 10 coats of latex on the split log, 2 more to go at least. 

This one will be hard to support for pouring the wax into so I think I will probably get some of that plaster coated gauze bandage stuff and cut it into strips, soak it in water, and apply it to the outside of the latex mold to give it some support and strength, like a cradle. I don't have high hopes of finding it here in this little town so I'll probably have my daughter pick some up for me and bring it when they come out next weekend.

They've been out pretty regularly lately as they are buying a manufactured home to be put on their unimproved 5 acres on the other side of town so they're clearing more of the land and building up the pad for the house to be put on. 

They had the well drilled a couple of years ago but still need a septic system and electricity brought in but they're ready to move out of the city and especially ready to move out of the house they are renting and stop paying that high rent.

I got a surprise package yesterday. My brother who lives in Washington state bought and set up some beehives a couple of years ago, the fancy kind where once the bees have made enough honey you just turn on the spigot and the honey flows out. He's never gotten any honey because the bees he buys have never survived the winter so he buys new bees in the  spring but this year a wild colony moved into one of the empty beehives bringing their honey with them so for the first time he got to turn that spigot and he sent some to Pam and I. I poured it out of the cute little jar he sent it in into something more user friendly. It's lighter in color and has a different flavor than the local honey I buy here.

Joanne asked me about the flowers in the last pic on my previous post. It's a bridal bouquet plumeria. The leaves are shaped differently, sort of spade shaped and the branches grow straight up. I have several but this particular one just shoots up getting really tall before it blooms. I've cut this one back more than once in an attempt to get it to be shorter. It was already scraping the ceiling of the garage when I brought it in for the winter last fall. I don't know what I'm going to do about it this year. Pull it out of the pot and lay it down I guess. It will have to go in the ground next spring. Just to give you an idea how tall it is, the shorter crown of foliage is 3 or 4 inches taller than I am and I'm 5'4".


Saturday, July 13, 2019

still summer, still hot, still watering, and the skin is still wrinkled

After I quit trimming and no I didn't finish yesterday because I finally went and got my annual hair cut (the last one was end of April right before I went to Portugal for the month of May so it's been over a year), shorter than what I've been getting the last two years and what I had in mind but this has been my summer cut for many years before so that's what I got. You want your summer cut, right, she asked when I told her I didn't want it too short and it was too late by then anyway and it will grow out to what I wanted

I may not feel old but the skin says different

...after I quit trimming, I didn't get much else accomplished that day and I even took a nap! I never take naps, or very rarely.

Yesterday I watered, got my hair cut, cut back the done purple coneflowers, and made a peach pie. I've given up hand watering certain areas. I just can't water enough in the morning for them not to be droopy and the ground dry by late afternoon so I've shifted to deep watering with the hose running on low, timer set, and when it goes off I'll move it over a couple of feet and start it again (I don't water grass ever, it can dry up).

Today my main goal is to make the casting box for the heron box and set up a small log that I cut in half lengthwise for a reproduction mold and get the first couple of layers of latex on. Usually when I buy the latex mold builder I use it for the one or two things I got it for specifically and then the rest of it dries up and I have to toss it. I'm determined to use most of this container up!

All the different gingers are starting to bloom. 

Last year only one stalk of the yellow butterfly ginger bloomed but this year I've counted 11 stalks so far putting out buds and the night blooming cereus has 13 buds on it. Six or seven is the most I've ever gotten in the past and it's usually late August when it  blooms.

The yard is full of tiny toads. This one was about 1/2”

and this anole keeps showing up and peering inside.

Other things blooming...

Friday, July 12, 2019

we are all frogs in a kettle

We have our second named storm of the year swirling around in the Gulf but it appears that it will come ashore well east of us perhaps this weekend. We could use a little rain but it only seems to be torrential these days.

It's hot outside. I got up earlier than usual yesterday, went out and watered a section of yard. It's dry so this is my morning routine. Raking and sweeping the concrete apron in front of the garage before noon was my other yard chore and that was enough for the day so I took my sweat soaked body inside. In my defense, it was a lot of leaves and accumulated debris some of which had composted down and I moved it all into a low spot under the magnolia tree. After that I worked in the house all day cutting glass and getting the models ready to have the molds made. So this is how it goes, glue the model onto a piece of styrofoam and glue that to a base (I happen to use glass because that's what I have handy) an inch bigger all the way around and then build a cardboard box it will fit in.

I've finished all the separate models for the heron box and everything but the box itself and the piece of styrofoam that will become the reservoir for the box is set up and ready for molds. Marc will mix up the plaster and silica and pour it around and over the models and then steam out the wax. Five separate pieces not counting the feather and the feet (6 molds as the reservoir for the box itself will be made separately). Once they're all cast, there will be plenty of grinding off of excess glass and fine tuning the heron head inlay to get it to fit.

It was cooler this morning, only about 76˚ when I went out about 8 to water but it didn't last long. My outdoor chore for today was to use the gas trimmer around all the flower beds and the culvert on either side of the driveway. I almost finished but then I ran out of string. It was a toss up whether I'd run out of string or gas first but whichever I would be done for the day. So string it was at 12:15. I was soaked, had to peel my undies off. I'll finish tomorrow.

Did I say it was hot? Last night after yoga so it was about 6:30 I took the dog out for her walk. She likes to trot out ahead a lot or two before I put her on the leash and so she did, down the driveway, turned left, pranced across the space of one lot and stopped and looked down the street that was in full sun and she turned and looked at me and then looked down the street again and then turned around and pranced right back to the driveway and into the house.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

short forays and model making

It's a little after 9 AM and it's already 81˚ and 83% humidity. Gonna be a hot one. Just another summer day in the Gulf Coast Plains.

The cicadas finally hatched out adding their song to the summer landscape and one of the banana spiders snagged one.

I've seen more banana spiders this year, three or four, than ever except for when we first came out to look at this house which had been vacant for a year and they were everywhere. The next year just a few and then none at all until last year I saw one. They don't seem to last long, just a couple of weeks and then they are just gone. The one that got the cicada was gone just a few days later but the husk of the cicada is still hanging in the tattered remains of the web.

You know what I haven't seen this year? June bugs. One, I've seen one when I fished it out of one of the birdbaths the other day. They usually hatch early in May and bumble around and get in the house. They are such clumsy fliers.

The baby anoles are starting to hatch and the toad that lives in the bromeliad was at home.

In between short forays into the yard to pull a handful of weeds or pull out the leftover gone by dead spring bloomers or to water the flower beds I've been working on the heron box, specifically the sculpture that will adorn the top.

I had loosely arranged the sticks to suggest a nest so the next thing was to make the egg and to do that I had to make a mold of a stone egg I had which was smaller than I wanted but the next one up was bigger than I wanted. I used liquid latex and over the course of a few days I applied 10 coats and then peeled it off the egg.

Once I had my mold I took it over to the shop/hell because it was hot as hell over there and when I finally was done mid-afternoon it was so hot that the fan blew hot air and standing there doing nothing sweat rolled off me and plugged in the wax pot and poured the first of 3 eggs. Once the wax had hardened I peeled the mold off 

and shaped it a bit and then because it was smaller than I wanted I dipped it in the melted wax until it was about the size I wanted and then shaped it again. So now I have two eggs though I'll only use one but I have an extra ready in case the first one doesn't cast well. The third egg I left in the mold to help it keep its shape while not in use.

Next is to finish attaching the sticks and cleaning it up and polish everything and then it all gets glued down to styrofoam which is what I use to make the reservoir that holds the glass while it casts. I think I'll be doing that today which means another trip over to hell.

There's a feather that goes with this arrangement that I made earlier in the year with the modeling glass. It's flat right now but I might slump it for a more natural look. I sent off the second best feather to a friend to slump it for me so I can compare.