Monday, August 27, 2012

Old Age, Not War, is Hell

Caribou Mahogany coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, the faint beeping of the construction vehicles backing up as they build a house next door for background music. Chan Chan by Buena Vista Social Club plays in my head. The book progresses (though slowly), the production work progresses (on schedule), and I spent the weekend learning to make paperweights in production. Making them in production is a lot harder than either making them for fun or making them for retail sale. Paperweights made for fun are always perfect, and if there is something you consider an imperfection in paperweights made for retail it doesn't matter as flaws are in the eye of the beholder so someone either buys it in spite of or because of the "flaw"--or doesn't see it as either--or doesn't buy it. But production paperweights (55 of them) made for the same client need to be perfect... and identical.

Tadashi made most of the paperweights while helping me hone my skills, and this week it's up to me to grind and polish the bottoms--not because we didn't firepolish finish the bottoms, but because I then have to sandblast the client's logo on the flat, polished bottom. It will be a full week. Oh yes--and writing, and projects to write about.

Right now I am sitting at the orthopedic (though they spell it orthopaedic) surgeon's office with my mom waiting for her to get in to see a doctor about removing the calcifications from the top of her foot that have grown into the tendon. Being old is hell. It's not so bad growing old, but I look around me at those who have arrived at old age (at least those dealing with orthopedic issues, which is probably all of them), and it doesn't look any fun at all. I want to live forever, but I don't want my body to wear out along the way (my mind either).

But growing old (heck, maybe even growing up) is for future Brenda. Present Brenda needs to get back to writing about gravity and glass.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Saddle Fits

I am back in the saddle again, so to speak. We returned from Montana a week ago now, J started school, and I filled my calendar with all the obligatory meetings, appointments, and stuff that comprise life in Atlanta. Even with a fuller schedule, the book goes well, and the orders for the studio are done and ready to ship as soon as I get stands from Bill...

In a sad bit of news, Tadashi and Corinna have decided that it's just not working for them for Tadashi to commute down to the studio from North Carolina every week or two for three days so he can teach classes and date nights. Domenick has stepped up to the plate to take over as many dates and lessons as he can for the short term, and I am looking at hiring another glass blower. I am also taking on some of the production responsibilities myself--as was the original plan when I got the equipment from Sara and David. Tadashi is coming down this weekend for one last time to work with me and to teach me how to do the production paperweights and flowers myself--and none to soon as I have an order for 55 paperweights.

Even though it's only been a week, Montana is a distant memory now. Life here is vibrant, color-saturated, full, and not unpleasant--though warm and moist it's also chicken-filled, and that's a plus. It's odd to have J back in school. I keep thinking that I hear her upstairs or that I need to take her to do something, but she's elsewhere.

The big news and project for the next couple of months is, of course, The Book. It's coming along well, but the deadline is now exactly two months from today, and I am going to meet it this time.

A book is an odd, living, thing. Like a child, it seems to come out with a mind and personality of its own. I certainly never expected to write so much (and still be writing it!) on the technical workings of a kiln, and yet today I am hoping to finish pyrometers, thermocouples and relays--after 20+ pages on insulation, elements, element placement and controllers I already wrote. The splitting headache I have from yesterday's dental ordeal is not helping, but I still plow on. Tomorrow, no later than Thursday, I need to have the tools and maintenance section finished and be on to the projects. Oh the fun I am having with the projects! I am doing things with glass that I had never seen or heard of anyone else doing before conceiving of them myself. I am messing around with ceramic powders, enamels, glass powders, and thin sheets this week--all things I do not usually incorporate into my own work. Research has, of course, turned up other people messing around with some of the same techniques, but I am studiously avoiding looking at their work or methodologies as I want to figure out how to do it on my own. These projects (and their write-ups) are the culmination of the work I started in Montana this summer, and just thinking about them gets me all enthused and excited in ways that hi-temp resistance wire properties and behavior just doesn't.

Now it's time to take the glass furnace lid up to Olympic to get it replaced and pick up the rebuilt furnace that they did over the summer. Then projects (and shipping), then writing, then sleep. Wash, rinse, and repeat the previous sentence (minus the shipping) for the next two months and, voila! book!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The End is Nigh...

Time for an uber quick post before heading to the lake for one last day. We're not starting back to Atlanta till Saturday, but tomorrow and Friday will be filled with writing and packing. Dave already flew to Austin yesterday morning--thus avoiding all the madness and chaos sure to ensue after six people spend two months in Montana and four of them prepare to drive back. I still haven't decided what of the studio I'm taking back. Definitely not the kiln. Maybe not the glass--though I brought a lot of powders out with me that I would need to replace.

Two months turns out to be the blink of an eye. I had many more projects scheduled than I was able to get to... but that is another post. Today is a look ahead to what little time remains. There will be one more lunch at the Smokehouse accompanied by girls romping with bunnies (and no bunnies making their way home with us--cute though they may be). I probably still won't get in the lake, but you never know--it's supposed to be pretty hot today and I may succumb.

Tomorrow my uncle and Susan are taking the girls into Missoula to the Missoula County Fair. They get to see all the 4-H exhibits, eat cotton candy, ride the rides--maybe even see some horse racing (though I don't know if it's still a part of the fair--it used to be when I was a kid). I envy them, and would like to go, but my editor is adamant I write instead. *sigh* crack that whip!

Kyla's parents arrive Friday night to scoop her up on their way further west to a wedding. I am supposed to be at a reunion for staff of my high school newspaper Friday night, but I'm not sure how I'm going to pull it off.

And now our friends are here and we're ready to head out! More later...