Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Jewelry Day

Today is my most creatively-focused day in recent memory. With the exception of filling out our benefits forms for the annual open enrollment, I have been working in some form or art or other all day. I started the morning with a piano lesson. I am working on a Bach prelude and it is seriously kicking my butt, but today my head broke through the clouds and I was able to catch mistakes as I made them because of sound, not sight reading.

As soon as I finished piano I hopped in the car and headed to the Creative Side Jewelry Academy for a four-hour open studio session to make up for the class I missed Monday night. Today was all about polishing and finishing. Fussy work that nonetheless has its own zen and joy. I was hoping to get the stones set in the bracelet I have been working on for a few weeks, but I still have one polish left. I am going to do the final polish first thing at tonight's class before it officially starts so I can get help from the instructor on getting the stones into the bezels. The actual setting (clamping the bezel down around the stones) I can do at home later this week as I have the tools. After I get the bracelet done, I'll do the last soldering (of the bead post and safety clasp) for the silver hollow-form ring I'm working on.

If I get those two projects done I'll be caught up and ready to start on the final project for the class: A kinetic sculptural necklace. I am going to do a large hollow pendant that has a couple of hinged doors on the front which open to reveal tube-set stones on the inside. I am thinking to use citrine and maybe some of the sapphires I had cut from our mining adventure in Montana this past summer for the stones as I would like to use real stones, and citrine is the only real faceted stone we have available in class. Coincidentally, Dave and Jessie's birthstones are citrine and sapphire so I can see a family-love-theme thing going.

One of the last projects I was working on at the Spruill Center For the Arts when I was taking jewelry classes there with Mom and Becky was a copper hollow-form heart with the first-name initials of my family members showing through swiss-cheese like holes in the front of the piece. I never did finish it, but I could see doing it now.

Now off to class to create some more!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Back To My Glass Incarnate Roots

It was a Tuesday. Tuesdays are days when I catch up from Monday. I watered the garden today (and managed to remember to turn the water off when I was done so I didn't flood the pond this time). And I took Dave to work and Jessie to school. And I designed the glass for the kitchen cabinet doors. That last one was my big accomplishment.

I started out the project absolutely certain I was doing stained glass for the cabinets. But the design I came up with is just not really feasible for stained glass. I wanted something that was a flowing river of one-inch glass squares in many colors continuing from one door to the next. But I didn't really want squares. Instead I wanted squares with rounded corners. I love the look of the design, but the rounded corners would be extraordinarily difficult--especially given the number of squares and the number of doors--and I'm not even sure I could do them so that they would come out as good as they are in my mind. Cutting the lead would be a nightmare. As I was looking at the finished design and trying to come up with a way it would work I said to Dave, "This would be easy in fused glass." And the lightbulb went off.

I guess my creative force really wanted to do these doors as individual panes of fuse glass. However there's a big difference between the clarity of antique or semi-antique glass and glass that's been fired on a kiln shelf (however non-textured). What to do to make the clear portion of the doors look textured so the contents of the cabinets can't be seen through them, and yet have the transparent colored squares be as untextured as possible? I have some ideas, which I can't wait to start on Thursday--I'm already booked all day tomorrow. The first option I'm thinking of is tack-fusing and using large frit in the clear areas. Should I not like the look of that option, I have several other texturing options available from lava cloth or fiber paper to sculpted kiln wash. Whichever option I end up going with, I have plenty of glass to make them!

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Day and a Night

Today I had my CT scan with contrast dye. Now I wait for results. Tonight Dave and I are seeing Jason Isbell at a live taping at Austin City Limits. Dinner beforehand with B & V at LaCondesa--they have a flight of guacamole on their menu. If I still have energy, I'll update this post when I get home. Otherwise this is it.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Reboot Sunday

Summer comes to an end with a lovely bee symposium the Tour de Hives (detailed here and here). Tomorrow I have the CT scan to check out my right kidney One More Time, and tomorrow night Dave and I get to see Jason Isbell being taped live at Austin City Limits (he won the tickets at work). Life is good, right? Right! And yet I flounder. Today is my 440th day in this house. I look around and much has been done, much is in the process of being done (but currently languishing as I'm not doing anything), and much is left to do. I look around, and I have no idea what to do next. I actually came to the brink of tears today as I thought of next week and what I should do. I love the classes I am taking, and I am focused, driven, energized and productive in them. But at home, I become paralyzed and spend a lot of time not doing anything. I am honestly overwhelmed by how much I have started and how I am going to finish it all before I die (not in any time soon!).

Part of my inability to move on something (anything) is because of the heat. Projects that happen outside, in the glass studio, or in the conservatory (the proto jewelry and bee products/soap studio) just can't happen right now because I have totally expended my outdoor time for the week taking care of the bees, pond, and gardens. For the rest of my time I need air conditioning.

But the bigger part of my paralysis is not attributable to any obvious root cause. Today it was so bad that I went to Dave and asked to task me with three medium-sized things that he would like me to do for the house this week--something started that he would like to see finished. He looked at me like I had lost my mind, but I figured that his request would stimulate me to doing something, and at the end of the week if I accomplished what he asked, we could celebrate the win together. Mainly I am hoping that these three things will jumpstart me into finishing other projects--be they for the house or my own creative outlets.

After a bit of hesitation he came up with something, and what he asked filled my heart with joy and my body with energy. A bit of background: I asked him right as I was about to head off and take a nap this afternoon, but I was so enthused by his response that I sat down to post several entries in both blogs. So what does he want? Me to do the measurements, design the layout, and choose the glass for the kitchen cupboard doors and backsplashes (behind the sink and next to the fridge). I got so excited that I expanded the project to putting the front door back on and doing the design for the door, sidelights and transom. And there are my three projects. My raison d'ĂȘtre, raison de respirer for the week!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Bees, Bees, Bees!

Cissus trifoliata
Today was the Tour deHives, and I met some lovely people! We had five groups (11 people in all) who came out to see the apiary, and we sat in the shade, sipped iced tea and lemonade, and talked bees and plants. I loved it, and I learned a lot. For example, I have been noticing this fleshy vine that looks a lot like a slightly succulent variety of poison ivy coming up all over the new beds and in the yard. Turns out it's not poison ivy, it's a relative of Virginia creeper call cow-itch or sorrelvine. I found two different scientific names for it: Cissus insisa from the Texas Native Plants Database from Texas A&M, and Cissus trifoliata from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center plant database. Both of them have the same common names associated with them. It's a member of the grape family, a vigorous climber, and--like Virginia creeper--is loaded with toxic levels of oxalic acid in both the leaves and the fruit. It can also cause a skin rash, which is probably why one of the landscapers swore it was poison ivy. Curiously, oxalic acid is one of the common treatments in bee hives for varroa mites. One of the people on the Tour de Hives today speculated on potential benefits from bees pollinating the Cissus and possibly introducing a natural source of oxalic acid into the hives that might affect the mite population.

I also found out today that one of the oak tree species I have growing in the garden is the Lacey oak. Someone on the tour asked me what one of the existing trees in our botanical garden was, and I didn't know. But I had all my Texas gardening and bee books out for the tour so I was able to look it right up. I only have a couple of these trees, and they are extremely slow growers so mine could be over 20 years old. As I was looking at it today, I had the thought that I might have planted the olive tree too close to it. I guess it depends how much the olive tree is going to grow.

Tomorrow is the day of bee lectures and I am signed up for the 201 class with a talk at 10:00 by Les Crowder who is one of the foremost TopBar beekeeping experts in the country. Though I would like to spend one last quiet day with the family before school starts on Monday, I can't miss the opportunity to hear Les speak. Maybe he'll tell me why my TopBar bees are so cranky...

Friday, August 18, 2017

Tour de Hives Preparation

The write-up on our apiary on the Tour de Hives map page.
I have gathered my books--both the small binders I created of the plants in the garden, and the vast collection of Texas plant books I have accumulated. I have made my shopping list (Dave is heading off early to buy ice, lemonade, iced tea and cups). At 6:15 am Zaga is going to meet me in the apiary to do inspections and feed the bees. Then I'm going to clean up contractor debris, water plants, and wait for people to come ogle my apiary. That's a less filthy activity than it sounds and not a euphemism. As I wait I'll weed. So even if no one comes by (not that I expect that outcome), I'll have a good time and get a lot done.

For the afternoon I'm supposed to head in to the rest of the TdH activities at Zilker Botanical Gardens. But it's also the last weekend of summer (how did THAT happen?!?), and so our final familial summer hurrah. I'm not sure how I want to spend it, but it would be nice to hang with Jessie.

Jessie who is NOT thrilled to be starting back to school. I always loved getting ready for school and the excitement of the first weeks and seeing my friends and starting new classes. Jessie, not so much. She likes being alone up in her rooms and occasionally coming down to forage for food. School is a just-bearable nightmare for her. So we're thinking of finding something fun to do with her this weekend. I have also registered for the Sunday 201 lecture sessions of the Tour de Hives, but, again, time with the J trumps that.

If I am going to get up joyfully (or even grudgingly) at 5:45 am, I had better toddle off to bed now.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

B12 + Caffeine and Other Things = Focus + Energy

I was amazed yesterday at the way I felt after starting the medication for diabetes and the vitamin B12 supplement the doctor put me on. I was focused, energetic--I felt like I could take on the world. I honestly also felt like I was at the midpoint of my life. You know how you have kind of a running gauge of how many grains of sand you have left in your hourglass? Well I do anyway. And lately I have been feeling in the 20-25 year grain range. Not a short life, but more behind the cart than in front. Yesterday and today I felt like I was at the halfway point. I thought, "Wow! B12! Who knew?"

Then someone on Facebook asked me what I was taking and I looked it up on the Internet. No wonder I'm feeling so good--my vitamins go under the name PepPods, and they are an energy tablet--caffeine and all. They are for hardcore rock climbers, skiers, skateboarders, triathletes, and obstacle course distance runners to take them to the next level of hydration and vitamin, energy, electrolyte balance. And, oh yes, they have 71 mg of caffeine (in my formula). Whatever they are, I'm sold. According to my doctor they are a high-quality source of B12 and other vitamins, and that's what I need.

Tonight after going out for great Mexican food with Dave, I went over to Zaga's to join her and Jessie and learn to play craps. It was so fun! I lost all my chips--as did Zaga--but Jessie managed to end the evening with $650. She didn't know how much she started with (none of us did), but she was definitely up. I had a monster streak where I just kept rolling and winning for all of us and we all had several hundred dollars, but then we had three crap-out-right-away shooters in a row, and all the money was gone. Good lesson in gambling: Just that quickly you an lose it all. But it was fun, and we listened to Frank Sinatra as we played.

Now I need to get some sleep before heading to Zilker Botanical Gardens tomorrow for a class on making products from bee stuff--lip balm, lotion and candles. I had a lot more interesting things to say in this post throughout the day, but sadly they flitted in and out of my mind and I did not capture them for regurgitation here. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I Am Not Perfect

There are days when other things are more important to me than posting. Wednesday--dealing with repairman craziness, contractor/lawyer craziness, and my class until 10:45 pm--was one of those days. It was most important to sync and snuggle with my spouse when I got home last night so I did. I am going to be kind to myself and count it not as a post missed, but a post delayed and this paragraph counts as my daily post for August 16, 2017.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Don't Be a Sucker

In my little corner of the world I got the results from my lab tests today, sent documentation to our lawyer about the contractor malfeasance, and generally moved along. I had a wonderful date night out with my spouse where we played Hive and only talked a little bit about politics. I read an article in the NY Times today about China's drive toward technological dominance and intellectual property and mentioned it to Dave, and then I headed down the Trump-Is-Evil-Scum path bringing up fracking, coal, the diminishing of solar and wind power in this country and their rise in China. That discussion was maybe 10 minutes out of the 24 hours of my day and it was the only thing I did that was not completely centered on my tiny life. No, that's not quite true. I did watch the entire anti-fascism film "Don't Be a Sucker" made by the War Department in 1947 that Bill linked to on his Facebook feed. I had previously seen the much shorter edited version that Al Jazeera English put out. It's worthwhile to watch the entire clip. Nevertheless, I didn't give a thought to Charlottesville, Trump's ongoing twit idiocy, or Heather Heyer.

When I sat down to write this post tonight I was going to delve into the intricacies of my vitamin B12 deficiency, newly diagnosed diabetes, and the news from the doctor that I have the liver of a teetotaling teenager (I wonder when she'll want it back?). I was going to mention some of the current issues with the contractor litigation, show off the progress I made on my hollow-form jewelry project last night, and ramble on a bit about the upcoming Tour de Hives. But the ugliness of current days overwhelmed me, and I couldn't continue the banal little post I had started.

There are serious things happening in our country now--more so than in a very long time. (Cynthia Morgan posted a link on Facebook to Jim Wright's post on his blog Stonekettle Station about the late '60's and George Wallace. I don't remember that time--I was too young, and I lived in Western Montana. Maybe had I lived in a city that burned or even had large populations of minorities--any minorities--I would remember more.) There is an alarming amount of hatred, bigotry, stupidity, and the rise of the lowest common denominator not only in this country but in the world. Though I can't keep up the level of moral outrage that the times deserve, every once in awhile I have to stand up and be counted as one of the outraged and to acknowledge that I am very privileged, and with great privilege comes great responsibility. I will not forsake my neighbor, I will continue to stand against injustice and prejudice, and if necessary, I will march. I don't know where I'll march to, but I'll march and I'll vote.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Day Of Completion

Today our vacation rental apartment went live on HomeAway and VRBO. This is the culmination of many months of work for me from the redesign to the remodel to the furnishing, ending with photographing and writing up the listing. It feels so good to have it DONE!

Though I have by no means completed my course of action, I decided upon one and followed it through into the in-process stage on my issues with our contractor. I am tired of thinking about the state of the place and all the things he left unfinished as I go to sleep every night. I am tired of dreaming about it and waking up feeling it looming over me. Today I got a recommendation for a good lawyer, I had my first consultation with him, and he gave me my assignment of exactly what he needs me to send him tomorrow so he can draft a letter and craft a proposal. Though we are far from done, I still feel a huge sense of relief to have made my decision and started down a path. Sometimes just starting something feels like the biggest accomplishment.

Jewelry class tonight was incredible. We started our hollow-form project and I decided to create a ring based on one I saw last year. I got all the walls for it cut and the side pieces textured so Wednesday I should be able to whip through soldering on the sides (knock wood) and get to sawing and filing. Hollow form is really cool, but there is a lot of cold work to it.

This weekend is the 5th Annual Tour de Hives and our apiary is one of the stops. Think I'll spend some time tomorrow planning what I'll have out for people to look at (books on bees and pollinator plants) and cleaning up the garden a bit. More on that tomorrow. For tonight, like Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles, I'm Tired! (Also shipped four orders today--three to Todd for him to complete and one directly to a gallery. THAT felt really good too!)