Saturday, September 28, 2019

still summer

The mosquitos are so bad out there you just can't be outside for more than about 5 minutes. Nevertheless, we got out there Thursday and Marc cut up the five fallen limbs of the pecan tree while I loaded them in the garden cart and picked up the hundred other small to medium dead branches scattered about the yard (three mature pecan trees drop a lot of branches especially when someones us just lets them accumulate), then into the truck and drove it over to the burn pile and tossed it out. Three loads. 

A very big chunk of the biggest limb is still lodged in the crook of the tree. We're not sure quite how to get it down without it crushing the azaleas which I would not like at all.

The impetus to finally deal with the branches is because the backyard needs to be mowed and not just to help cut down on the mosquitoes but also because the mature pecans are starting to fall and I can't see them in the tall grasses and weeds.

The heat is stubbornly refusing to go away, the humidity is fierce, and the weather peeps say it may be the second or third week of October before we get anything even resembling a cool front and by that they mean highs in the 80˚s.

Year before last I think, one of the members of the garden club brought a box of mixed and unlabeled bulbs for the taking. I selected five and put them in pots so I could keep track of them. Early last spring one of them bloomed and it was a jonquil. Two others have grown enough that I'm pretty sure they are crinum lilies but they're still too young to bloom so I have no idea what color or kind they are. A couple of days ago the last two with no foliage evident started sending up bloom stalks.

More pics from the yard...

one of the fringe flower trees decided to bloom

a daylily at the end of September

oh those late summer lazy days either that or it's even too damn hot for  grasshoppers

the porterweed finally sent up a couple of bloom stalks

and, not in the yard because she's smarter than that, the mosquitos just swarm her when she goes out, one of Minnie

her work here is done saving us all from small stuffed toys.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

one tooth shy of a full set

I finally bit the bullet and went in and had my relatively healthy loose tooth with it's gold crown pulled, fourth tooth from the center upper left (this is the tooth that would glint when I smiled for pictures). It's been loose for years, at least a decade, maybe even 15, maybe even longer. It's been loose but stable in that it never bothered me, never the source of pain so I ignored it. Long about last May though it became unstable, shifting around and if I wasn't careful when I ate it would become misaligned and then I would bite down on it and oh man, that was like an electric shock to my brain. Then it would firm up some, then get even looser, then firm up some, over and over but the last month or so the firm up stages shortened from a couple of weeks to a couple of days and finally it was impacting my ability to eat and I was afraid it was either going to come out while I was eating or in my sleep and I would choke to death on it. I mean this baby was loose. I could waggle it all around and up and down. I could have pulled it myself if I wasn't such a coward so I checked out my insurance which only covers an exam, x-rays, and a cleaning every six months and that's it. Any work that has to be done, I pay. And what's up with that? Why doesn't health insurance cover dental work when bad teeth can affect your heart. Why do we have to get separate insurance to cover restorative work. OK, rhetorical Isn't that the reason for everything here in this country?

Anyway, I went in yesterday morning, they took x-rays, the dentist numbed me up, wiggled it once, wiggled it again, gave a little pull and it slipped right out. 

The only thing holding it in was the gum, he said, and showed me the x-rays...all the bone had disintegrated, and because it was spreading to the two teeth on either side, a bridge is not an option as it would cause those two teeth to become loose as well. After the extraction the assistant took a full set of x-rays and I went back this morning for the cleaning and exam. I have two teeth that need immediate attention, two new crowns if the decay under the two damaged old ones (and I mean old) hasn't gone into the root. Only one of them bothers me so I'm getting that one taken care of next week and I'll address the other one in a month or two. And since I now have insurance that will pay for cleaning twice a year hopefully that will keep the periodontitis from getting worse.

Now that it's not raining every day the road crew is back at work. Monday they used the big heavy roller vehicle to flatten out the worst of the washboard and ruts and today they were dumping bank sand on top of the previous layer and grading and flattening it.

Besides the mosquitoes which are horrendous out there, the white ginger really liked all that rain. This is the fullest bloom I've had all year on it.

I don't know if the rain brought these on or if it's just their time of year to bloom but the bromeliads I took when our stained and fused glass artist friend Gene lost his studio several years ago and was given 2 months to vacate the property and he was just going to abandon them because he had far too much other stuff to deal with are blooming. They're all crowded in two pots (he had them in the ground) and when I get around to repotting them, I'll separate out several to give back to him.

I also dug up his bird of paradise which is sending out three bloom stalks right now and I took a big staghorn fern (he was giving away all his tropicals and orchids as well). I split the separate staghorn plants and once he was settled returned one to him as well as one of the bridal bouquet plumerias as it was his that I took my cutting from. He finally got his new shop/studio building up and is in the process of getting the bathroom in and all the electrical, thinks he might be ready to come get all his equipment and supplies we've been storing for him by the end of the year. Once all his stuff is back where it belongs maybe I can get the three shop bays cleaned up and reorganized after Harvey since I haven't so much as hosed down the floor since it flooded.

OK, I'm off to yoga!

Monday, September 23, 2019

birds and frogs and feathers and flowers

Blogger was being a pill Sunday morning being too slow to respond and the spammers were busy Saturday evening while we were at the party. Came home to find three sets of spam comments on 7 different posts which I deleted and almost immediately another set of 7 spam comments appeared which I deleted and then Sunday morning another set of 7 spam comments which I also deleted. I wonder, just how much response do these spammers get with their multiple spam comments, especially ones they put on old posts that probably no one is ever going to ever read again.

Ah, well, I solved the Blogger problem. It was not Blogger but my wifi. We have two modems, I forget why we have the second newer one, each with its own password. Well the new one has a password, the old one is unlocked due to our little protest against corporate greed. If neighbors want to piggyback on us, we don't care, but I don't think anyone does since all the neighbors have their own locked wifi. Anyway, back to Blogger not responding, for some reason the new locked modem does not function well on my computer and sometimes when I turn it on it will select the new modem so I have to switch it to the old unlocked modem.

I refreshed the hummingbird feeders yesterday morning but we still only have the two hummers that we have had while my friends at the other end of the block have them swarming their feeders. Leonard says he has to refill his feeders a couple of times a day. We have a variety of small flowers in the yard though, penta, hummingbird bush, zinnia, indigofera, plumbago, and he says the hummers will go to the flowers before they will go to a feeder.The red wasps like the one in back and when I cleaned out the one in front and it must have had 3 dozen tree ants in it. I was teasing Leonard about hogging all the hummingbirds . 'Take some with you when you leave', he says, 'they're eating me out of house and home.' I can just see me walking down the street like the Pied Piper followed by a stream of hummingbirds only instead of playing a flute, I'll be holding aloft a feeder.

I have a lot of bird houses scattered around that I've acquired at various estate sales and while the birds don't seem to care too much for them, the tree frogs and wasps make themselves at home. It would help considerably if I would clean them out every fall but some of them have no easy access and are pretty much just decorative. In fact I only know for certain that two of them have been utilized at least once and those by wrens.

look close to see the tree frog peeking out

I have another picture of a different birdhouse with a tree frog sitting in the opening with a wasp sitting on it's head as it entered but it's on high magnification and the light isn't good and so I opted not to post it, being all dark and blurry. I can tell what it is but not sure anyone else would. The little frog was completely unfazed by the wasp sitting on its head. Oh, what the hell, here it is.

I did get a little bit accomplished yesterday, constructed the base for a flicker feather. Might work on a blue jay feather today.

I've been collecting the gone by zinnias for seeds for next year. Even in decay they are they have a certain beauty.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

falling limbs and mixed results

Another limb has broken off the same pecan tree. It's hanging down to the ground as it has not completely detached yet. This makes #5 in the last six weeks or so. You can't see the first limb down as it is on the other side of the tree from this view. It's a little bigger than #3 and #4.

More rain yesterday Friday. Another inch combined Thursday and Friday. It was coming down pretty hard for a while and this one section of the roof diverts just a ton of water to the same spot and of course it's right next to the slab so I was out there with the hoe sort of clutching the umbrella between my shoulder and neck and basically resting it on my head, which of course causes the water to seep through the fabric, hoeing channels for the water to drain away into the low spot in the yard. I have a new gutter there that's supposed to catch this water and channel it away but Rocky only put a downspout at one end and the other end just gets overwhelmed and it doesn't help that it is already full of leaves because we haven't got the screens on yet. We're going to remedy the situation with another downspout but can't until it stops raining. Hence my activity during the rain with the hoe. I get very nervous now when water is up against the slab. I don't know why I even bothered with the umbrella. The only thing it kept dry was the back of my shirt.

Something else the rain has brought...mosquitos!

Well, my snowflakes are pretty much a disaster. I used clear powder because I don't have very much white and even though I never made a sample I thought it would be OK. Wrong! They all came out dark gray. Even the five I did with the opaque white powder (top right) came out light gray though I think they are passable especially if I use white powder and a blue color on top.

sizes after firing: 4 7/8”, 3 7/8”, 2 1/4”, 1 1/4”

My little experiment for the fungus came out encouragingly though the color I blended is not quite pink enough. 

I'll try a more complicated test with two of the shapes next. And Thursday I worked on the base for an owl feather 

and I have another feather I'm going to work on today. That is if I get myself motivated. Which I did not and got nothing accomplished besides going to the store for baked beans.

The new road surface, or under layer, dried out fast yesterday considering the day's rain but it's already getting washboarded and developing ruts and puddles.

Saturday today is our 2nd annual I Survived Harvey Block Party. I signed up to bring the baked beans, something I have never made in my life, but the only other thing on the list was the hamburgers. And no, I'm not making baked beans from scratch, I'm taking gussied up canned baked beans.

Here's a picture that has absolutely nothing to do with anything in this post.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Imelda and points east

I've been getting a lot of inquiries about our well being what with Imelda beating up on the Texas Gulf Coast and while I am in the same general area and we are getting some much needed rain, 2” yesterday but only 1/2” today, all the flooding is happening to the south and east of us...the coast, Houston, and communities east of Houston. Some of them are getting hammered with over 40” of rain, worse than Harvey in some areas. Houston is horrible. I am glad I no longer live in the city. My daughter has been stranded at her work, can't leave til the water recedes and she was lucky this time. This time for her the water only came up to the sidewalk at far. I'd like to say that this is a rare occurrence but coupled with the unrestricted and unregulated growth with no real plan or thought about drainage that has been Houston coupled with climate change and these tremendous storms that sit on you and drop unimaginable amounts of water, there is no system or infrastructure that can accommodate that. All our coastal communities are doomed to abandonment and those populations are going to be displaced. It's already happening. How many times do you fix up your house after it floods before you just let it go? How many times can you fix up your house before you have to let it go?

Wharton has a flood plan that they are supposed to be implementing that's been years in the developing as I understand it and it will probably be years before anything tangible is done at this rate since I have seen nothing especially since Harvey but perhaps actual physical progress is being made elsewhere. At any rate, if we flood again I'm going to see how much it would cost to raise the house. I'm sure it will be prohibitive especially as we are on pier and beam and slab. But I would like to know. I think about our high and dry nearly 150 year old (would be) house on pier and beam in the Heights part of Houston so called because it was the highest area and we were in a high part of that, no worries about our house ever flooding, hell, the neighborhood didn't even flood even when the rest of the city did. We'd be like a little island but then even the Heights finally started flooding when these events happened. I loved that house but it had some serious problems of its own not the least of which was it was being devoured by termites due to my aversion towards poisoning my environment, also it's ancient plumbing and it's ancient wiring and the fact that we would have had to sell it to have the money to fix it up. See the problem? As it is, that house did us one last mitzvah, it gave us the resources to be able to recover completely from Harvey and in an improved way.

I no longer have hope that this trend in climate change can be reversed. It was probably too late even before Trump who has torpedoed any regulation aimed at restraining global warming. I've looked at the projections and where we are will still be above water and not even on the actual coast when all the ice melts but I think we will be in danger of constant flooding. If I was a 20 something at this point and I cared about the continuation of the species in general and my particular gene pool specifically, I'd research the hell out of projected changes in the shapes of our continents and hoof it to someplace I thought I would have the greatest chance of survival, this country or some other. Because now is the time to do that. Fortunately for me, my time on this planet is running out. I can stay put and not suffer too much and I think my children will be mostly OK. I can't even imagine the world my grandchildren will be dealing with.

Anyway, what I meant to say is thank you to all who have checked in with me and inquired about my safety.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

rain, roads, and those pesky homeless

Once it decided to rain again it seems to be making up for lost time. Flash flood warning from the county for today (Tuesday) through Thursday. We got about a quarter inch of rain yesterday and so far today it's just sprinkled or 'light rain' as the weather app called it but big thunder storms are threatening, apparently from tropical storm Imelda which is bashing Houston and to the east. All we're getting out of it is light rain off and on but all day and all night and it looks to be the same all day today (Wednesday). That's good, better than a torrential downpour although at some point during the early morning hours there was a lightning display but no thunder and still just the very light rain.

So of course precinct 2 of our county has decided to finally repave/resurface our part of one county road and the road that our street ends at last week and this. These two roads have needed serious repair since we've been here and that's 11 years. The SOP during that time has been to fill potholes and eroded sections with gravel that has about one tablespoon of tar per bucket of gravel. The first time we get a good rain it becomes loose gravel and washes out and the flood water from Harvey just made it all even worse.

Last week they started scraping the roads down, scraping up all the grass and weeds that have grown over the edges and some of the old road surface. This week they started laying down...something. Not sure what it's called, looks like a combination of bank sand, gravel, rocks, bits of crushed oyster shell, bits of old asphalt, clay, dirt, who the fuck knows whatall but it sure doesn't look stable, I don't care how many times they drive that big roller thing over it to compact it down. 

It looks like it will wash away or become full of runnels by any major thunderstorm. Marc thinks this is just an under layer and they're going to pave over it.

I got the snowflake shapes gussied up, kind of overdid it on some of them, I'm thinking now that 'less is more' but we'll see how they all compare when they come out of the kiln. I also molded the first little experiment for the piece in my head using the half log that I made a while back (remember I showed the process of making the reproduction latex mold with the plaster bandages for support and then poured a wax of it). My plan is to sculpt these little fungus shapes,

fire them, and then (probably) glue them to the finished cast piece and no I didn't get a picture before it went in the kiln.

In the meantime our democracy is dying a slow painful death. Trump, not satisfied with caging would be immigrants and getting his Supreme Court to back him up on limiting the number of asylum cases allowed has now decided that homelessness is a big problem. Oh, no, wait, homelessness isn't the problem, it's the homeless. They are the problem, camping in our best highways, our best streets, the best entrances to prestigious buildings. Foreign investors in his properties are wanting to leave the country! He's going to do something about it. And by that he means he is looking for a place to put them after he rounds them all up. Several people from his administration were in California looking at an abandoned military property to see if it would make an adequate concentration camp 'shelter' for those pesky homeless that are bringing our property values down. And boy does he have a hard on for California. Pissed that California is able to require and maintain clean air and auto emission standards and regulations that he rescinded for the rest of the country, Trump has revoked the waiver that gave them the legal right to do so. So much for Republicans being for state's rights. Meanwhile the Democratic House is letting everyone in Trump's administration refuse to abide by the subpoenas issued to them without consequences. Why are they not all in jail!

And so as not to end on such a downer note, here are some pictures of flowers.

The white rain lilies yesterday,

the yellow rain lilies today,

the swamp lily yesterday,

the surprise lilies (or as some people call them, hurricane lilies) today.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

the wheel slowly turns

More rain on Friday, almost 1/2”! and we're supposed to get even more Monday through Wednesday. The rain lilies responded.

I should get out there and pull weeds now that the ground is soft from all the rain. I did work on cutting out a lot of the dead canes from the climbing roses that go up into the crepe myrtle and the oak on Friday before that fierce furious little storm passed through. I got as much as I could reach with the long handled nippers. There is still a lot of dead wood up there but I'll need a ladder to reach it.

this isn't even all of it, there's another smaller pile

The oaks are starting to drop a few acorns 

and a friend that lives down the highway in Boling told my sister Thursday that he is already getting ripe pecans falling. Seems a little early to me but what do I know. My trees aren't there yet.

I've been working on snowflake ornaments with the modeling glass for the December open house. I've rolled out and cut and dried 23 of various sizes so far. 

these will shrink about 15% during firing

I still have to sift and sprinkle the powder and frit on the base shapes. This first batch will be testing different combinations, then I'll settle on three or four and just go with those since these are supposed to be easy mindless quickies. And then I have some feathers I want to do. Which I was going to start on yesterday but I needed to print out some stuff first and my printer rudely informed me that if I wanted to print anything I needed to replace the ink cartridge. Crap.

I haven't left the property except for going to yoga or over to the shop for weeks. I can't remember the last time I went out. To the feed store maybe or the library. So, grumble grumble, I got in the car and went to the Evil Empire (though I may have to rethink my opinion since after the mass murder at the Walmart in El Paso they have barred open carry at all their stores and apparently are enforcing it) to get ink and of course they didn't have what my printer uses. So back home and log on to the other Evil Empire to have it delivered to me. It's that or drive the half hour through the gauntlet to the shopping mecca in Rosenberg.

I can tell the wheel is turning even though it's still in the 90s here...the pampas grass is sending up it's plumes, the rain trees are putting on buds, the oxblood lilies popped up literally overnight no doubt triggered by the rain we've finally been getting, 

and it's cotton harvest time.

our version of snow

Thursday, September 12, 2019

trying to catch the wind

It rained again yesterday, an additional inch+ so almost 2” total over two days. Such a relief. It didn't start til late afternoon, had stopped by the time I was ready to drive to El Campo for yoga, got all the way there with just a few sprinkles until I exited into a gray curtain of rain. The deeper I got into town the harder it rained, wipers on high, 30 miles an hour and I could not see past about 20 feet or so. It rained that hard all the way to class, at class, during class finally letting up in time for us to get to our cars and then I drove into it again on the way home but not all the way and it rained more at home after I arrived where I was met with a panicked trembling panting little dog.

Sections of the new gutters are not functioning very well so I need to get Rocky back here to figure out what the problem is.

So I did nothing yesterday in response to the disaster on Tuesday which took the wind out of my sails. Got some feedback from fellow casters, probably cooled down too fast in the kiln and letting it soak in the medium hot water was a bad idea. The peeps think it's fixable though. Just reinvest and recast with a longer anneal and a slower cool down.

I think maybe I'll start on snowflake ornaments today. Something easy and mindless while I decide what I want to do next but first I'm boiling up some new hummingbird syrup. Marc saw five around one of the feeders yesterday so they are definitely starting to migrate through.

Some random photos though it's been so miserable out there and I've been so single minded the last two months that there's nothing much of interest. The yard is pretty tired. Still have zinnias though after this rain they're all laying down, altheas still putting on a few flowers, plumerias are winding down, flowering senna has more developing seed pods than blooms, the yellow bells and ruellia are holding their own, the orange cosmos that usually bloom all summer have not been blooming, and most disappointing of all is the porterweed that I had to order online this year because I couldn't find it locally has not put on a single bloom stalk.

saw this little lady several weeks ago on my poor struggling peach tree

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

close...but no cigar

Yesterday...I'm done with all the grinding! Yay for that. Took longer Monday than I thought and I worked til almost 2PM but I got as much of the rocker out as I think I can. Not perfect but really close. Fortunately it was mostly cloudy yesterday, cooler, and it wasn't even in the 90s yet when I quit. Tomorrow I think I can get all the polishing done and then I want to use etching cream on the feather and the egg and then everything will be ready to be assembled.

I enjoyed my day of relaxation Sunday but I can only sit for just so long unless I don't feel well or am completely exhausted so I'd read for a while, get up and move the hose, pick up some green pecans, surf the web for a while then get up and move the hose, read, snooze a little, get up move the hose, picked up more green pecans, watered the azaleas around the pecan tree until it was finally time to walk the dog.

Today...I unintentionally slept late. I startled awake to see Marc looming over me like a vulture.

Just checking to see if you were still alive,” he says. It was 8:15 and he knew I meant to be up and over at the shop by 8.

And so I managed to get over by a little after 10, worked til 1PM, came home, cooled off, filled the sink with warm soapy water (hotter side of warm but not so hot I couldn't put my hands in it and in retrospect probably too hot anyway but the thing had been at 1650˚ in the kiln), washed all the small pieces and then put the box in and let it soak while I had lunch, scrubbed it with a toothbrush to get all the last bits of plaster and glass dust out of the tiny crevices of the texture, rinsed it off was cracked.

And you know the whole time I was working on it today I was super careful in my handling of all the pieces (and I did do some more grinding to fit the heron head as what seemed good enough yesterday seemed too much today but I was taking off miniscule amounts and it really fits good now) because back in the back of my mind was a fear I'd chip something.

I'll try one more time to salvage it. We can reinvest it and re-fire it and anneal it for longer. Might work, ought to work, might not work, but, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Won't be doing it this week and maybe not even next week. I need to get some distance from it but I'd like to try it before the open house.

Well, one good thing is that it cracked here before I glued it all together and sent it off. At least I still have all the other pieces that I can think about other ways to use them if the blue box becomes a total waste.

But damn. All that work.

In a way I'm kind of relieved. The intense push is over and I can do the rest at my leisure, depending of course on how the recasting goes.

Another good thing that happened today is that it rained! Not for very long but fairly hard and we got 3/4” and I can't tell you what a relief that is and the forecast is good for more tomorrow.

I'll be grateful for that.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

the body says it's time to take a break

Yesterday evening: OK, I'm tired now. Today was the 7th day in a row that I have gotten up earlier than usual and have been working in the shop grinding mostly, some polishing, in one fashion or another, quitting for the day about 1:30. Truth to tell, I was tired Friday and was dragging butt this morning. My arms are tired, my thighs are killing me from doing squats yesterday working on the four little feet...grind a little squat down check for vertical symmetry stand up check for height with the calipers, grind a little squat check for vertical symmetry stand up check height grind a little etc etc. But! With the exception of the little bit of work still to do on the heron head I am through with the grinding and can move on to the polishing and then assembly.

Today I checked that all my flat surfaces were flat and ground the ends of the two gray slabs into a curve and then tended to the edges and smoothed the sides and got about half the polishing done. 

About noon Minnie, who goes where I go even if she doesn't like it, got up and stood next to me looking at me imploringly. No, Minnie, it's not time yet, go lay down and she hung her head and trudged over to her shop bed. Twenty minutes later she's back. Nope, not yet. About one o'clock I relented. I'd done enough and so we quit for the day. Done enough that I'm taking the day off tomorrow. It's a good thing too since I had a beer with lunch and I've been laid out on the couch the rest of the day dozing in between alarms to move the hose which was a real effort as the soreness in my thighs continued to get worse. Between my thighs and the fallen green pecans that I haven't picked up for the past week, I was fairly hobbling around out there.

Late afternoon last Thursday I could not look at the suffering pink angel trumpet and the zinnias any longer, and yes I water them every day, and I dug out the shade cloth and two stakes and erected it to give them a little relief from that intense late afternoon sun. 

I have one more fence section I could put up and grow vines on and maybe I will but the immediate plan is to dig up and move the pink angel trumpet as soon as weather allows. I'll probably put it in a pot and bring it in for the winter and then find another spot outside in the spring.

Today: I didn't roll out of bed til 8:30 this morning. So far I've done nothing but start one of the hoses though I need to get out there and do some watering where it's not practical to just let the hose run in one spot. Also today I plan to make a dent in the green pecans littering the big backyard since my legs are less sore today and it's easier to move around. Tomorrow though I'll be back at it over at the shop doing the final adjustments getting the heron head fitted and getting the final polishing done while I try to remember what kind of glue I used in the past to put these boxes together.

I was just scrolling through my pictures trying to see when I finished the last box, the Ode To The Peach. 2015! Four years ago. Wow. And I made the original models for the heron box the month before Harvey and the house getting flooded so that's been two years since I first started on it. When I got back to work I started on the drowned feather pieces which I still have one of the big ones to cast. That's just ridiculous, that it takes me years to finish a piece or a series, although I did get a lot of other work done in the interim. Once I get the heron box put together it will be time, past time, to start some new models for the upcoming open house in December.

But today, today I'm just relaxing.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

more of the same

It's hot. In fact I think we are having some of our hottest weather so far this year, at least equally September. And it's only getting hotter as the week goes on. My oft wrong weather app says 98˚ by Saturday but all the other predictors are saying 102˚. Plus even though the wind yesterday was out of the east it was hot and dry and you could almost see things getting desiccated. And still no rain. We've had three little pisses of rain all summer. Huge swaths of grass in people's yards are brown and dead if they are in the sun all day or even half a day. I'm back to leaving the hose on and moving it every 30 minutes or so all day. That week of cool mornings, and by that I mean in the mid-70s, is over. It was still hot, getting into the mid 90s during the day but the first several hours of the day were so nice while I've been working in the shop and I could hold out til about 1:30 or so.

I got the heron head fitted Tuesday. It sits in the recess but has a little bit of rocker to it which is bad as it could set up enough stress after I glue it in to cause it to crack and while I can locate the pivot point, nothing I seems to do makes it go away so I put it aside in frustration for now.

Most of the day yesterday I was back to grinding grinding grinding as the two gray slabs were out of the kiln and the mold was not level on one of them so it was thicker at one end than the other. I've about got it to a uniform thickness so now I just need to take it down a little more and then start on the second one which I'm working on today.

You might remember I reported that a huge limb broke off one of the pecan trees but hadn't disconnected completely being supported by a lower branch as it was. Well, Monday, it broke the rest of the way off and the heavy end has fallen into the crook of the trunk for which I am grateful as my azaleas could have been crushed. No damage to them but oh so bummed out to see that the fallen limb was loaded with nuts. Loaded.

And the rangoon creeper is doing its best to creep over to the cedar tree.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

summer reading list

Before I get to the book reviews, here's a progress report on the heron box: I'm right on schedule, got all the excess off the bottom, flattened and cleaned up the top rim, cleaned up the edge of the recess, and I'm working on fitting the heron head piece.

Save Me From Dangerous Men by S. A. Lelchuk – when Nikki Griffin was 12 she and her younger brother suffered a tragedy when both their parents were killed during a home robbery. Split up and sent to different foster homes, Nikki was helped to restrain and train her anger and tendency to violence by her foster father when he taught her to box but her brother Brandon didn't fare as well and he turned to heroin. After Nikki graduated from college she bought a building to store her accumulation of books which eventually morphed into a bookstore and she hired Jess to run it because Nikki's real job is private investigator and her other job was convincer of abusive men not to abuse their victims any longer. Nikki kicked ass and then explained why. She could be very persuasive. She is hired by the CEO of a big tech firm to follow an employee suspected of selling company secrets and so begins her involvement in an investigation that turns out to be not what it was represented as and when the employee turns up dead and the murder pinned on her, she ends up in a race against time to derail an internet program before it goes 'live', battling 3 goons determined to make her death look like a suicide, in order to save the lives of hundreds of people.

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield – along the Thames are many inns, each having its, gambling, brawling, tobacco aficionados...but the one at Radcot was all about storytelling and one winter's solstice there began the story of the girl who died and lived when toward the evening's end the door opened and a monster carrying the body of a child stumbled in and collapsed. The inn's owner's only son and youngest child caught the child while the innkeeper and patrons discovered that the monster wasn't a monster but the local photographer whose face is smashed and broken. The local healer/midwife is called and after she does what she can for Daunt she turns her attention to the body of the little girl which has been placed in the summer room. After examining the body and sure that there is not the least flicker of life but still hesitant to leave for some reason, the impossible happens and the child's pulse returns, she breathes, and lives. When the story travels, three people come to claim the child but all three know in their hearts that the child isn't theirs. This is a wonderful story and told as if someone is telling the story as opposed to writing a book. Five story lines or streams intertwined with the river and each other all centered around the girl who died and lived. That's all I'll say. It's definitely worth the read if you come across it.

Seeker by Jack McDevitt – 7 pages in I was sure I had read this before and yes, I had. Still enjoyed it though. Science fiction far in the future...Alex and his pilot/assistant Chase are antiquities dealers in a future where humans have colonized 100 planets and one day a woman calls wanting to know the value of a cup she came into possession of with an unknown language and symbols on it. Modern technology confirms that the language is 22nd century English and this cup is 9,000 years old and from a famous, mythical even, interstellar ship that set out to found a new colony to escape the religious authoritarian culture of Earth's North America (the prediction is chillingly accurate to what's going on today and if not right on the nose it's where we are headed if current tendencies continue). The Margolians kept their destination a secret and were never heard from again. Alex and Chase set out to trace ownership of the cup, prior to offering it for sale, which eventually turns into a search for the interstellar itself, the Seeker. With help from friends Chase made while she was a pilot for Survey, the organization whose job it is to map the galaxy, and clues they pick up by other means including a trip to one of the worlds of the only other intelligent and space faring life forms, escaping several attempts on their lives by persons unknown, they find the Seeker in a system with no habitable worlds. From there they set out to discover where Margolia was and what happened and eventually, against all odds, the survivors of the catastrophe that threw their world out of the system.

The Tale Teller by Anne Hillerman – if you enjoyed the Tony Hillerman books about law enforcement in the Navajo Nation, the tales with Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee, and Bernie Manualito, don't bother with these. Her writing isn't terrible but she's no Tony Hillerman. Joe Leaphorn, mostly recovered from the bullet in the head that ended his career with the Navajo tribal police force and who works now and then as a consultant and private detective, is asked by his housemate Louisa to help out a friend of hers who directs the Navajo Nation Museum. An anonymous donation arrived at the museum and two of the items on the list included in the box , a dress woven and worn by an important tribal historical figure during the Trail Of Tears and the later repatriation of the Navajos to their ancestral lands as well as a bracelet, are missing. Joe begins his investigation, Bernie finds a dead body and while that investigation is handed over to the FBI, she continues her own inquiries, and Jim investigates a string of burglaries. Unknown to them, all three investigations are linked to the disappearance of the dress and bracelet. Between the three of them, all three cases are solved.

The Night Window by Dean Koontz – it's been a while since I read one of his novels since the last one I read had all this character development and then the story ended abruptly and unsatisfactorily in the last few pages as if he didn't know how to end it. This is a Jane Hawk novel, the fifth and I think the conclusion of the story started in the first. I enjoyed this one and didn't really realize it was a continuation until several references were made to things that happened in previous books so I don't think you need to read the others first to enjoy this one and now that I know how it ended and can surmise some of the action in the previous books, I don't think I'll be backing up. Essentially, Jane Hawk, an ex-FBI agent extraordinaire, has uncovered a secret plot to take over the US and eventually the world by using nanotech and turning people into slaves or 'adjusted' people who will follow orders even to the point of murder and suicide and with the help of her friend, computer hacker genius Vikram, also late of the FBI, they set out to identify all 5,260 Arcadians, those unadjusted members of the cabal led by and financed by the richest man in the world, and the nearly 17,000 'adjusted' in all levels of government, police, media, and intelligence agencies. It's a race against time for Jane and Vikram to get the information and put their plan in place before they themselves are captured and adjusted.

Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet Evanovich – more Stephanie Plum bounty hunter, more Lula, more Morelli, more Ranger. This one made me chuckle more than a few times.

The Night Before by Wendy Walker – Laura, younger sister to Rosie, thinks she is broken, impossible to love. Her mother even said she was hard to love, that she had fists for hands. She spent her childhood wanting nothing more than her father's love but that love was reserved only for Rosie. At 17, her first real boyfriend was brutally murdered right in front of her and while the police accepted her story of what happened that night no one who actually knew her was certain that she was telling the truth. Laura left her hometown for college, changed her name, and never returned making a life in New York City until once again the man who said he loved her breaks up with her via text. Devastated, she returns home and moves in with her sister and her sister's husband Joe. Five months later she makes a date with a man on an internet dating site and never returns home. Thus starts the search by Rosie, Joe, and Gabe,  a family friend who she and Rosie grew up with,  to find Laura before she is killed or kills. Secrets are revealed and not everyone is who they seem.

Conviction by Denise Mina – Anna likes to get up early and have the house to herself before her husband and daughters get up. This particular morning Anna started listening to a podcast about a sailing yacht that motored out to sea, suffered an explosion, and drowned a man, Leon, and his two children and she was surprised to hear that it was a man she knew in her past. The doorbell rings after the rest of her family is up. It's her best friend with a suitcase and her husband comes downstairs with a suitcase. Surprise!He's leaving her, the best friend is leaving her husband and they are running off together and want to take the girls on a 3 week vacation while Anna finds a new place to live and gets settled and here's a wad of cash. The ex-best friend's husband, Fin Cohen, a famous musician/celebrity with a large internet following, shows up. A passing neighbor recognizes Fin and takes his and Anna's picture while they are standing in front of Anna's house and posts it on the internet. Anna is immediately recognized, her past and the people who tried to kill her that she's tried so hard to hide from is exposed, and she goes on the run taking Fin with her. Neither Fin nor Anna believe that the woman convicted of sinking the yacht nor the podcast's conclusion that Leon committed murder/suicide and they set out to solve the mystery while doing their own podcasts and trying to stay one step ahead of the people trying to kill them until they finally confront the one person responsible not only for the original attempt on Anna's life but also the sinking of the yacht. It turned out to be a much better book than I thought it would be at first. It's a stupid title though that has very little to do with the story.