Tuesday, June 29, 2021

arranging, cooking, arting

I spent Friday and Saturday setting up the table I moved over to the studio for mold making, rehydrated the clay, washed the glass pieces he uses for dams, washed the buckets, gathered the miscellaneous stuff and put it on a shelf, moved a trash bag lined can in that can be filled with water for plunging the bucket of plaster in if things go south, cleaned and brought the little table in for steaming out the wax. The work sink is just out of sight on the left.

I also worked on a wax model Saturday until it got too hot. I had been over there with the air conditioner on and turned it off when I left and then when I went back the AC wouldn't come back on. That's when I worked on the wax til it got too soft. Went back later in the day after looking at new AC units and it came on again. So yay for that but I imagine it will eventually have to be replaced. It would be nice to have one that wasn't quite so loud.

Sunday was deal with tomatoes day. Two vendors finally had more reasonable prices on their tomatoes. So, another batch of tomato sauce

and the rest I skinned, cut out the lion's share of the stink bug damage, and stewed them for freezing. I only got four cups after I drained off most of the juice which I then froze in ice cube trays for use with soups or stews or bloody marys or whatever.

And then my daughter and grandgirls Jade and Robin came by Sunday evening and set us up with a fire stick and set up our accounts so now we have 5 options (cable and 4 others) for watching TV. First up, The Mandalorian.

I spent about 3 hours in the studio yesterday (and the AC cut off twice but fortunately it was overcast and a little rainy and we didn't even break 80˚ so with a fan it was tolerable), worked on the wax model and then worked with the modeling glass to make the lichens I intend to glue on the piece once the lizard on the log is cast.

I fiddled with those a little bit then covered the model with plastic film and set the lichens in place to dry. I plan to add at least 6 more lichens, 3 at each end. It's going to be tricky to keep them curved while they dry out and then fuse together in the kiln. And they will shrink about 15% so who knows how they will fit once everything is fused and cast

This is what I'm going for. The color of the ones I made will darken after they're fired.

Not sure my first attempt will be successful at this point. While I was doing that Marc made a test mold with the old plaster and silica flour to see if it is still viable.

Then it was my half hour or so of quiet time before leaving for yoga class. And then coming back you never know what you're going to see. These two steers came wandering out of the grassy field just as we were passing by.

Today I head back over to the studio to work on the lichens again.


Friday, June 25, 2021

committing myself

Well, I've either kicked myself into gear or totally fucked up. My one remaining gallery called yesterday to see if I would participate in their annual anniversary show. Yes! I told her. Because I really want to be included but I only have a little more than two months to produce something. Not only that but I'm pretty sure all our plaster and silica flour we use to make molds is too old. And it's hot in the shop though I can make space in the air conditioned room for mold making. In fact I have a table that I can move in there for that purpose. And not to mention that grandgirl Autumn wants to come for a few days in July to make some clothes.

I can do this.

Actually, I still have the last wax model for the four big drowned feather pieces and I'm thinking of different combinations, maybe not all four, maybe just one combined with the feather on the rock piece.

Other than that I don't have much. SHARE was finally busy with 16 or 17 clients and most of those were large families so we got rid of a lot of food. At one point the guys were emptying baskets faster than I could fill them. And, of course, yoga last night.

And a few photos...

the evening sky,

new growth on the ponytail palm,

yes, another picture of the plumeria but, wow,

Minnie tucks her head under the pillow, she's done for the day but the light is still on,

and the white orchid tree has started blooming.


Tuesday, June 22, 2021


Some of you may remember I bought this little peach tree years ago, at least 5, maybe 6. When I planted it I decided I had sunk it too low and instead of digging it out and lifting it I just pulled up on the trunk and heard a distinctive pop. Well, fuck, I snapped the root. I expected it to die but it didn't, neither did it grow. For the next three years In the fall it put out a meager few new leaves and one or two blooms. Then last year in the spring it started to really grow and bloomed but none of the little fruits survived. It grew even more during the summer and this year it bloomed in the spring and put on new growth again and has given me two nice sized peaches! Maybe I'll have a peach tree after all.

I guess it had been a while since Minnie and I walked this way. This poor snake didn't make it across the road and now it's skeleton is embedded in the tar and gravel of the road surface.

Two of the 12 butternuts growing on the vines in the compost pile. Two more little fruits had open flowers on them.

Baby toads still scatter with every step. This one's a little bigger, not quite an inch.

The recent broken limb seems content to not die as it's not completely broken off and since it has developing pecans on it I'm curious to see if they will continue to grow or fall off as the summer progresses. At any rate, a dead limb is much easier to cut up than a living one so it can stay for the time being.

A couple of weeks ago I pulled out the bottom compartment on the stove to see a little mouse jump out and scurry off behind the stove. Oh great. Obviously it has been mice that knock my little bird skulls around and push things off the shelf above the kitchen sink. I have in the past tried live traps and never once been able to catch a single mouse even though they set the trap off and normally I don't kill things just because I can or because they are annoying me but I have to be able to catch them to release them and there are things I do not tolerate in the house, like mice. And so I bought a package of traps which I prefer over sticky pads, which are cruel as the mice will chew their own feet off to escape, and poison, also a cruel death. If I have to kill the mouse to get it out of the house I want it fast and as painless as possible. So I loaded two traps with peanut butter, put one next to the stove and one under the buffet. The first night, neither trap set off but all the peanut butter had been licked clean. Drat. So the next night I crammed a piece of pecan into the part that holds the bait and the next morning one of the traps had caught it's prey. Since there is never just one mouse I left the other trap in place and a few days later caught another. I've set a third trap by the stove in case there's more.

One magnolia flower declining into the previous magnolia flower.

A butterfly in the making.

Remember when I cut down and cut up the dead banana trees and threw the pieces as far as I could in the wild space/poison ivy? Now I have four banana trees growing back there.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

getting out and staying in

It is hot and humid out there (isn't that how I started out the previous post?) and it saps any motivation to get stuff done after about 15 minutes. I've managed to get some weeding done, some watering, so I should be spending my days over in the studio. I've been thinking a lot about my lack of motivation for making art, sculpture, starting to feel a little guilty after going through the expense of building that room out. I guess we'll see if that gets me over there. Maybe it was a mistake moving all my model making and mold filling stuff out of the house though I don't really think that's the problem.

Thursday was my day at SHARE and it was another slow day after the latest stimulus and enhanced unemployment. President Biden says he's cut hunger in half with his policies and if the number of people we are getting for food and other assistance is any indication, he's right. I didn't keep exact count but we only filled 8 baskets, possibly 10. Pre-covid I was told they serviced 30 – 35 people every week.

Also pre-covid I was going to yoga class three times a week, twice in El Campo with Abby who puts us through a 30 – 40 minute session of moderate to advanced asanas, and once here at Hesed House. Abby reinstated her classes over a year ago as we meet in a large metal building with three sides to roll up, a giant fan for air circulation, and plenty of space to social distance but Stephanie at Hesed House just restarted her classes a couple of weeks ago and I finally made it to one of her sessions Thursday night. It might seem like overkill, three classes a week but Stephanie's class is very different. Her hour long sessions focus on being in touch with your body and your emotions and how they express themselves through your body and strength building via asanas. It's a much gentler class but at the same time can be strenuous.

Hesed House had a fundraising garden party last week that Pam and I went to and I have plans to do a post about their garden (but here's a peek),

so life seems to be getting back to some form of pre-covid normal. I wrote previously that the HEB and Walmart removed their 'masks required' signs and now the library has as well. Not sure how I feel about it with the more highly contagious and more virulent Delta variant of covid making inroads here in the US though I'm not so worried about my vaccinated self.

I finally accumulated enough tomatoes, either given or bought from a local garden, to make a batch of tomato sauce, slow roasted with olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil leaves then pureed in the blender.

I went to the Farmer's Market here in town Saturday, hoping to get more but everyone is selling them for $5 a pound which is a bit pricey so I hope they'll be cheaper next week. And I got more peaches so I made another peach cobbler and still have about half to put up and I'm making beef stew for dinner tonight so by the end of the day I will have spent the better part of three days in a row in the kitchen.

Well, we just had a sudden intense but brief rain storm. I don't think it lasted even 10 minutes, just enough to make it more steamy out there so I guess it's just as well I'll be in the kitchen today.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

several days of brief forays in the yard and evil and despicable men

It is just too hot to be outside.

We got an unexpected 3/4" of rain Monday. I left shortly after it stopped to go to the post office and the streets were steaming. Literally. What else did I do Monday, I did the grocery shopping, I went to yoga. The grocery store has taken down it's 'masks required' banner and the employees were all mask free as were about half the customers. I still wore mine though and probably will for awhile with the more contagious and more virulent Delta variant of covid showing up in the US.

Speaking of covid, research is confirming that it was here long before it 'officially' arrived. We're pretty sure that's what my sister had in December 2019 amid reports of people being diagnosed with an unknown coronavirus with all the symptoms of covid as far back as October/November 2019. One of the blogs I read is Interim Arrangements written by Sabine who is connected to the scientific community in Germany and she translated an article by a German virologist who has been involved in covid research from the beginning. In this article he address its possible/probable origin (and no not in a lab) and also the concept of 'herd immunity' which he says does not apply to the human population. Bottom line is the only way you will get immunity to covid is through vaccination or surviving the virus and that if you don't get vaccinated you will eventually get covid. The problem with surviving the virus is that survival comes with serious other health issues later so get vaccinated. Anyway, here's a link to her post with the article.

I've only been keeping a cursory eye on the political machinations of the Republicans Party of Insurrection, you know, keeping my blood pressure down, but they are still being completely who they are. Locally, in Texas, ERCOT, who is in charge of our unregulated power grid, is asking people to conserve electricity during this heatwave...set your thermostat to 78, don't use your oven, turn off lights...because not only did it fail with extreme cold weather, it will likely fail with extreme hot weather. So is our governor concerned about that and doing something, anything, to fix the problems with our independent power grid? No, his big concern is the non-existent crisis at the border. If Biden won't continue building Trump's wall, then he will build it in Texas and he is asking Texans to pony up with the cash to do it. Nationally, McConnell has proclaimed bipartisanship dead and is still saying out loud and in public that his only focus is obstruction of any and all Biden's policies and if republicans get control of the Senate in 2022 and a seat on the Supreme court comes up in 2024 he will not allow Biden to appoint a judge even though he pushed through Barrett during the 2020 election and he probably wouldn't allow Biden to appoint a judge if a seat became available in 2023. And the #3 Senate republican Barrasso has vowed to make Biden a half term president. I take that to mean if they get control of the House and the Senate in 2022, they will impeach and convict Biden regardless of the fact there have been no impeachable offenses committed by Biden. So as usual, republicans have no intention of governing and no intention of letting the democrats govern no matter what Americans want.

Back to the fun stuff. Tuesday I took the recycling to the containers, took some of the orange cosmos over to friend, went to Walmart  the Evil Empire (which also has removed it's 'masks required' notice) because HEB didn't have two things I needed, took my youngest grandgirl to get her first vaccination shot, and we got another unexpected rain, almost 2” Tuesday night.

Did I mention I'm not getting any day lily blooms? Few and far between so that's disappointing. But other things are being beautiful out there. After those two weeks of rain every step scares up a baby toad or two, from 1/2" to 3/4".

This is the third attempt of these wasps to build a nest in that particular spot on the succulent. I spray them away with the hose and then remove the nest.

My datura (jimsonweed) in the pot bloomed. It is also called moonflower because they bloom at dusk and close up in the morning.

This plumeria has started blooming. It has 10 bloom stalks. I put it in a bigger pot this spring and fertilized it but it's a dependable bloomer anyway. I had one I finally put in the ground when I still lived in the city because it had gotten too big for me to bring in. We were going through a spell of no real winter (but it didn't get as hot as now) and it grew into a small tree that bloomed profusely all summer, survived at least 5 years in the ground, and then we had the snow and winter in the 20s for two weeks that killed it. I knew it would not survive so I made many cuttings and this is one of them. In fact all the ones like this that I have are from that one tree.

Expect a few more pictures of the red crinum lilies while they're blooming.

I know you can't see them but there are baby wrens in this birdhouse. I saw one of the parents enter and could hear the cheeping babies...feed me!

And this morning there were 6 whistling ducks in one of the pecan trees. I had seen them several times before further down the street flying into a neighbor's tree when I walk the dog but this is the first time we've seen them in our trees.

So cool, and yes they were whistling little tunes, not a quack to be heard. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

plumbing done, stubborn daylilies, and a response

Rocky showed back up Friday and replaced a leaky ball joint to what was the connection to the water heater we tossed out after Harvey and have not replaced. I have no idea if it worked since we never tried to use the hot water previous to the flood. And then he replaced the galvanized pipe that ran above the studio to the sink connections, then reattached the flexible hose from the water pipe to the sink faucet and then turned the water on again...softly, slowly...and it all held and ears to the bathroom wall listening for the sound of water leaking and nada. Phew! Then he cut out the section of ruined sheetrock in the ceiling to see why the roof repair didn't hold. Except I went over a couple of hours later just to check and discovered two very very slow drips, one from the p-trap under the work sink and one from the connection to the shut off valve to the toilet. I just put basins under each until Rocky comes back to finish repairing the roof and ceiling in the studio. It was so miserably hot over there.

It is so miserably hot outside today. It's currently, at the time of this writing, only 87˚ with 58% humidity. But here's the forecast for today...

Note the real feel is 103˚, 98˚ in the shade. In the shade!

My daylilies should be in full bloom by now. I've had 3 varieties bloom but sparser than usual, a couple of others put up only one or two flowers, and my common double orange daylilies that comprise 80% +/- of the daylily bed are not blooming at all, no bloom scapes except for one or two plants but the nile lilies surprised me with three blooms.

I didn't think they would bloom this year since they froze to the ground and took a long time to come out. Another surprise was two easter lilies since they also froze to the ground though smaller ones that were just beginning to grow survived and these flowers came from some of those.

The red crinum lilies are putting up their bloom stalks

and the yellow angel trumpet in a pot is blooming again

and even the pink one has put on a couple of buds.

The butternut squash vines growing out of the compost pile are taking over the yard. I picked four more today for a total of six and counted 14 more on the vines from 3” big to big ones.

You might remember I bought a large faceted glass ball a while back. It hangs in the window where I sit at the computer and this morning it was casting rainbow spots all over the walls and ceiling.

And finally, I did get a return email from the precinct 2 commissioner who assured me he did know how to drain water since I questioned that in my email to him and he agreed that just a scoop at each end of the culverts does not solve the problem and would get it fixed in the near future. He also said he would be by my house Thursday or Friday but if he did come by, he just drove by because nobody around here ever saw him.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

tree, plumbing, and weather woes

Back before I started to make my living as an artist I had several various jobs one of which was working in a bookstore. I held that job for a year before I quit because the boss/owner wouldn't give me the raise I felt I deserved. I liked the job but the owner was a real asshole. The manager though was really nice. One day in the middle of the work day, the owner assholed me because I started straightening up one of the book racks instead of asking him what he wanted me to do and when he finished I silently walked away, got my stuff out of the back room and walked out. The manager, Sherry I think her name was, was frantic wanting to get hold of me and talk me out of quitting because she, at least, recognized my value but this was during that period of time when I didn't have a phone as I was being incommunicado with my parents. She was relieved to see me walk in the next morning hoping I still had a job because I needed that job since my then rat bastard husband was unemployed (which he was for most of our marriage).

Anyway, Sherry would drink hot coffee all day during the summer which I thought was ridiculous since it made her sweat but she claimed drinking hot coffee kept her cooler because of the sweat evaporating. I didn't believe it then and I can tell you today that it's a bunch of hogwash. Because I'm sitting here in my air conditioned house right now (well, 78˚ of air conditioning) with a small heater in the shape of a dog laying in my lap, drinking hot coffee and sweating and I do not feel cool. I feel HOT and I wish I wasn't sweating in an air conditioned house while being still.


I finally got around to hanging the four botnica eroticas that I decided to keep for myself. Wasn't hard to decide to keep some since only one has sold in the six years since I finished this body of work so I guess, really, I'm keeping all of them, but I hung these four on the wall.

And now from the JFC Department:

We just got the last enormous branch that fell cut up and moved to the burn pile. This makes four in the last year. This one hasn't detached completely, a long not particularly stout branch that finally got too heavy at the far end.


Rocky finally had a window open to come and replace all the cracked and shattered PVC water pipes over at the shop so that's going on today and I'll be glad to have a functioning toilet over there again. The quick job it looked like, replacing all the PVC, turned into way more work. Of course. Where the water comes into the shop on the back left corner, the pipes are galvanized and the galvanized goes all the way across above my new ceiling in my new room to where it changes to PVC to the sink in there and from there the PVC goes across the big open bay to the outdoor hose bib on the front right of the shop. So when he turned on the water to test the pipes, water started spewing out of a crack in the galvanized where it first comes into the shop. Fingers crossed that the galvanized pipe that runs across my new studio room is intact when they test the pipes again.

It's brutal over there as we've been hitting mid-90s all week. I hadn't been over there in a couple of months and the dewberry vines were out of control so I cleared them out from in front of the bay doors, well, two of them anyway before the heat and humidity made me quit.



Update: at 4 PM I told Rocky don't you want to quit for the day. No, he says, been here all day and I'm gonna finish this one section and we'll be done. Famous last words. Finally turned the water back on and it all seemed to be holding, holding, holding, and then the sound of gushing water. Turn it off turn it off!!! Apparently the pressure popped the connection to the sink off. By this time, it's 5PM and Rocky just threw up his hands. I give up. We'll finish this tomorrow. More discussion and we've decided to go ahead and just replace all the galvanized pipe that crosses above the ceiling of the studio. Of course all the galvanized pipes to the toilet and sink in the half bath over there are behind the new wall so we're hoping against hope that those are intact. No way to know until the water's been on for more than a minute.