Monday, September 19, 2016

Life Should Always Be Wabi Sabi



A quick post then off to a ferocious penultimate day before heading to Atlanta on Wednesday. The house is so still and quiet with all the people gone. I can almost hear the clock ticking from the other room in time with the kitten's softly jingling collar-bell. There may be no other humans here with me, but I am surrounded by all the animals. When I looked down at them I had to spend several minutes trying to get a good pano shot of them with the phone. I had to rule out the kitten right away as she is surveying us all from the top of the cat tower, but everyone else is on the floor surrounding my chair.

The day started with a beautiful sky that will have to be preserved by my imperfect memory as the photo I took, while lovely, doesn't do it justice. It was the latest in a weekend filled with lovely things. On Saturday, the spouse came home with four different kinds of flowers from HEB that he thought I might like to make into an ikebana. It was a lovely coincidence as on Friday I had looked up local ikebana chapters and was crushed to find that not only is there no Ichiyo ikebana in Austin, but the closest organization of any kind is in San Antonio and I can't see making that trip weekly even if they did have weekly activities. It has been a long time since I studied Ichiyo ikebana under Grand Master Elaine Jo in Atlanta, but I do not make any excuses for my first creation in  several years.

I whimsically called it wabi sabi ikebana--beauty in imperfection. But just making it was enough impetus for me to get out my ikebana books and start reviewing the principles of design and form again. While I am in Atlanta later this week and next, I hope to connect with Elaine to discuss other options for me to continue my study.

Oh dear, it's already 11:30. So though I would like to stay and let my fingers muse the day away, it's time to get a couple of kiln loads in and orders packed to ship before it gets too hot!



Friday, September 16, 2016

My FedEx Driver Is Going To Get Spanked

I made another couple of batches of killer smoothie yesterday and indulged to my heart's content (is there a limit to how much kale and spinach you should drink?), and as a result was awake and perky till after midnight. Presumably it wouldn't have such a stimulating effect without the cold brewed coffee. Dave made banana bread last weekend and he made a loaf for me with walnuts instead of chocolate chips--what can I say, I'm a purist. So this morning I sit to post, and as I look at my desk I realize what a wonderful encapsulation of my life it is: the smoothie, the bread, the family photo, the lovely view, the new Siyeh Studio website (in progress, not yet live) and the complete and utter, wanton chaos of the surface. I couldn't be happier. Even fiber is represented by the weaving pattern to the right of the laptop. No, I did not stage this photo. I plopped my breakfast down, opened the laptop (okay, I did switch to the screen with the website open on it instead of the login screen), and took the shot.

The past couple of days I spent solely doing things instead of trying to do them and write about them--it's all about the balance. Today it's Friday, I'm almost completely through the months-long backlog of drudgery on my to-to list, the kilns are cooling so I'm in no rush to fire, and my laurels feel pretty comfie for a bit of indulgent lounging and posting. To put the cherry on top of my morning, I just glanced over my right shoulder and said, "Alexa, set entryway Nest to 74 degrees", and the Amazon Echo Dot on my nightstand replied, "Setting entryway Nest AC to 74 degrees."

The one bit of potential strife looming on my list is a call to FedEx to ask why they keep leaving our packages (one of the ones yesterday weighed 40 lbs) on the street by our mailbox instead of delivering them to the porch. Not safe, bad if it rains (which it has been doing a lot), and inconvenient as dammit as we have to drive up to get the packages instead of just walking for the mail. (We're not talking a fifty-foot driveway here: we have to go the other end of the back 40 to get out mail.)

Next week I'm in Atlanta for what I hope will be the final studio sale and clean-out, but I'm not counting on it. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to make another trip out to load the last of the glass some time later this year. Between the big kiln, the kitchen sink (literally), two pieces of furniture I purchased from friends in the past couple of weeks, the last wire shelving, and the cases and cases of glass, this truck is going to be full to bursting.

Okay, off to Dirty Dog to (finally) bathe Baxter. I don't have the drain catchers to deal with all the fur he sheds, and I also don't have a way to tie him up while he's in the tub to keep him from jumping out. I'm going to take my own shampoo and rubber apron, and I am going to get him sparkly clean! Later today when he's dry, I'll clip his coat and his nails. Thanks Melinda for showing me how to clip him like a pro! Then it's time to do Gallifrey. Forget the tub: I'll just tie him up outside and use the hose...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Transpecos: Do Yourself a Favor and See It

The little cat has decided to help me post this morning. Joy. In all of my focused list-making there has been one thing that consistently failed to get added: Make coffee! I'm going on three days in a row with a craving for bean water, and no bean water to be had. Oh, sure, I could've pulled the drip coffee maker out of the back pantry and brewed some up, but that felt too much like failure, so I'm drinking diet Coke and eating blueberry PopTarts (we are also out of milk so I couldn't have cereal). First thing I did before sitting down to post: Set up the Toddy cold brew coffee maker so I will have coffee tomorrow. It takes 12-24 hours to brew--a difficult concept for an instant-gratification girl like me--but it is hands down the best coffee I've ever had and the concentrate makes a perfect Thai iced coffee.


Ah, lists. I need to get off of them and all the have-to-do's on them soon or I'm going to be finding myself in a "Meh" day again. You'd think at my age I'd know better, but I still see-saw between too much and too little in EVERYTHING. Today I will finish shopping for gifts for the teachers and staff at McCallum to whom I have chosen to be a secret pal this year, and I will deliver them. I will also fire two kiln loads. At long last I will finish our taxes for 2015 (I have never taken so long, and the end of the extension period is October 15). Everything on my list that is NOT one of those things can go hang itself and will be pushed off to another day. I have simply got to do something creative or I'll explode (you would think the kiln loads would count, but no). Of course what's probably going to happen is I'll get hijacked by a bunch of little things, and the three big things will stretch out, and before I know it the day will be over. Gah.

On a happier note, Dave and I went to see Transpecos at the Violet Crown Cinema last night and Greg Kwedar, the Austin area writer/director was there and gave a talk with a Q&A session afterward. I didn't even know it was a special showing when I bought tickets and it was so cool! What I liked most about the movie was the role choice played in it It started with the random flow of daily life, people and events pinging off of each other like atoms in a warm room. Every minute bringing an opportunity to make a decision until one choice is made. That choice cut down the available next choices, and each subsequent choice kept cutting down the characters options. It was like a net tightened around them, pulling them closer and closer into a place where there were no more choices, just one way to go.

The acting was incredible, and the cinematography was breathtaking. Kwedar said the entire movie was filmed in 16 days last June in the Chihuahuan Desert--the largest North  American desert covering over 140,000 square miles in New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico. Can you imagine 18-hour days filming in 120 degree weather? I thought the film was superb before I heard his talk, but I was especially impressed with the way they filmed. I talked with him for a few minutes afterward to get tips for Jessie on pursuing her dream of being a Director of Photography. He was very open, sharing, and encouraging. I wish I had known he was going to be there as I would have encouraged her to come with us instead of making it a date night.

Monday, September 12, 2016

They're At the Gate... My Daily Horserace Begins

Never in my wildest dreams--and some of my dreams lately have been pretty wild--did I think that at age 55 I would be looking up best practices for diaper pails on the Interweb. Unfortunately, an incontinent senior cocker spaniel has driven me to it. Welcome to my Monday.

On a happier, less smelly, note: Peyton and Lynne's tutelage last year on continental knitting has finally taken hold! I struggled and struggled with it last year and never quite got it. Last week I picked up the needles for a new project, pulled up the YouTube videos I had bookmarked on continental knitting for a refresher, and it just happened! I am now blissfully, speedily, knitting away on a gift with an upcoming deadline. Who knows? Maybe I'll actually finish this one!

I spent Sunday unpacking fabric and tools into the textile studio and as I was working, I made a vow: From now on, every other project that I work on in each technique must be a UUFO (most people have UFO's or Un-Finished Objects in their stashes. I have Ubiquitous Un-Finished Objects because they're, well, everywhere). So one new knitting project, finish one already on the needles. If I want, I can do two UUFO's in a row, but never two new. Same for crochet.

Today I'm all about the To Do list. I almost got through yesterday's tasks yesterday (for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long--I'm a bit over-scheduled) and I am determined to knock the rest of them out today along with today's. If I make it, there must be celebrating. One thing that might help me make this goal is if I STOP ADDING THINGS TO THE LIST! At some point the new things that pop into my brain need to go on tomorrow's list, or Wednesday's list, or some-day-other-than-today's list. On your marks, get set....

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mrs. Peacock in the Greenhouse With a Box Cutter

In a surprising twist, the first obscure room in our Clue game of a house that is ready for the depredations of Colonel Mustard is the greenhouse---aka the third studio. All of the boxes of tools and supplies that will eventually live there have not yet been unearthed from the garage, but the furniture is set up, the first round of boxes has been unpacked, the surfaces have been dusted, and (gasp) the floor has been mopped! Planned activities for that space include glass bead making/torchwork, silversmithing, jewelry making, textile dyeing, and soapmaking. It is the best space for all wet crafts as there is a tile floor with a drain in the middle of it, and it has a good deep sink with ample countertops on either side. It's also good for torch work as it is already equipped with an exhaust fan.

Unfortunately the motorized shades for it aren't currently working, nor is the exhaust fan so unless you get in there first thing in the morning and turn on the little AC unit asap, it rapidly gets to over 110 degrees and is unusable for anything but taking a sauna. In the winter it'll probably be a different story, but until I get the electrician to fix the broken systems, I won't be making soap, dyeing roving, or working on the torch!

This weekend is dedicated to yet more unpacking and settling in. As soon as I finish this post I am off to the newly renamed sunroom (it's now the fiber studio :-) to finish unpacking yarn, fabric, tools and books. That room is much more temperate (and pleasant) now that we have had motorized shades installed on the east wall (which is all windows) that block 95% of the UV rays and a significant amount of the heat. The fabric is surprisingly see-through making it enjoyable to be in that room and not too dark even when the shades are all the way down. We are putting the same shades outside the two upstairs rooms (Jessie's bedroom and workroom) to help with the cooling up there, and I will eventually put them on the west side of the fiber studio too to both help with temperature and to protect the textiles from fading.

Another improvement on the cooling front will be the installation of a couple of mini-split AC/heating units in the garage (glass studio). We already have one in the fiber studio and one in the third studio that the original owners of the house put in, and they turn out to be a great, economical, low-impact solution to cooling and heating ductless spaces. Sadly that project will have to wait until the garage doors have been replaced either with glass (my first choice for light and an open feeling to the studio, but more expensive and not really a good fit for the exterior style of the house) or new metal ones that are well-insulated.

Now off to the fiber studio to unpack more STUFF!

Thursday, September 08, 2016

It's a Wonderful Life

I'm enjoying a late lunch/meal of the day at Manuel's on the patio in what has turned out to be an incredibly wonderful day! After I dropped J off at school I stopped at Thunderbird Coffee and Taproom for the most incredible honey nut latte. and a jalapeƱo bagel with cream cheese. Replete and joyous, I then took in a two-hour presentation put on by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service called To Bee, or Not to Bee. It was a great introduction to beekeeping in this area not only from a climate and horticultural perspective, but also because of the issue of Africanization of hives in this area and how to deal with more aggressive bees. At the presentation I made friends with the woman sitting next to me who raises chickens, whose father has bees, who is considering getting alpaca or goats, who wants to do the master gardener training, and who loves fiber... Kindred spirits! We talked about doing some shopping together at the Best Little Yarn Crawl in Texas and exchanged contact info. The only disappointing aspect of the experience was the absolute abhorrence of the representatives of the local apiary groups to Flow hives, which is what I have (and which I am very excited about). In fact as I read more, a lot of experienced beekeepers went up in arms when the Flow came out. I'm going to just keep my head down (which I am sooo good at), absorb info like a sponge, and make up my own mind.

Yesterday was pretty great too as I stopped off at Helios Fused Glass Studio to return the diamond hand pads Paul Tarlow so kindly had lent me and had a lovely long chat with him. I am very much looking forward to hanging out there and bonding with the others in the local Austin glass fusing community. Fusing Fridays, here I come!

And if all that friendly interaction wasn't enough, I have a FaceTime crafting session set up with Becky tomorrow morning. We're going to see if we can replicate something like our former weekly crafting sessions in Atlanta. I already do my weekly piano lessons through FaceTime and that's going well, so why not the ubiquitous Stitch & Bitch too? Daily, I feel more like a pioneer woman out in my little patch of rural wildness and I embrace the modern version of the quilting or sewing circle. Us pioneers have to take our socialization how we can get it.

Tonight is my first meeting with the Austin Weaver's and Spinner's Society. They seem to be a very active, friendly group with twice monthly meetings--one a program (tonight) and one a social spin (or whatever project you want to work on--they even have a weaving study group that starts meeting on September 22). I am glad to be joining this group because in addition to the super social and educational opportunities, I need a new outlet for all my alpaca roving, and I also have a 60" LeClerc loom I need to sell now that I picked up Martha this summer (the 60" 16-harness AVL production compu-dobby loom).

Now I'm off to have the blueprints for our house scanned and put into pdf for the landscaper who might be putting a green roof over the textile studio. Since we are having our roof replaced this fall we need to know if this is an option first. Wouldn't want to do it twice!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Settling In

It was a wonderful Labor Day weekend here in Austin, although we obviated the spirit of Labor Day by working hard unpacking all three days. Saturday, we hired a Task Rabbit worker and the three of us (Dave, the worker, and I) unpacked all the boxes of 5-lb frit jars. Sunday, Dave moved all of the boxes containing non-textile items out of the sunroom and into their proper location for eventual unpacking. Then we set-up the furniture in the sunroom and unpacked all the yarn. Monday, Dave got all the boxes of fabric out of the closet and into the sunroom, and we also unpacked all the 5-lb jars of glass powder in the studio. Dave finished by breaking down all the boxes and hauling them off to the side porch. In all he said we emptied over 100 boxes, moved 40 more, and the glass alone was just under 4,000 lbs... I can really see the textile studio and the glass studio coming together. (The former sunroom is so professionally laid out now that it has been renamed the textile studio.)

After all the lifting and moving and unpacking, yesterday I took it easy. Took Jessie to school, got a driver's license, had the dogs' invisible fence collars adjusted, talked to Bill at Elliott Metal about some new designs, and met a friend for lunch. It was a perfect morning! Then Jessie texted me, sick at school and needing to go home. After getting her tucked into bed with cold water and fresh sheets, I spent the rest of the afternoon quietly signing up for groups and organizations, scheduling their meetings and gatherings on my calendar, and generally expanding my local network. That was great too.

Today I started by making to-do lists and planning next steps for all my various undertakings, and in hindsight, I'm not sure forward-thinking is a good thing! Time seems to stretch on boundless and forever in front of me until I break it down into it's discrete units and pair those units with tasks. Then it all goes to hell. Putting all the different pieces of life and work that I am juggling into slots labeled days just doesn't work--they don't fit. It's like discovering outer space and instead of thinking of going to the moon, I am trying to plan (and schedule) the moon, mars, the next solar system, and a universe on the other side of the cosmos: The scope of the projects doesn't fit the tools I'm using to schedule them. The obvious answer is to put some things off for the distant, unscheduled future. In the past, the things put off would be the fun and exciting things. And then I would find myself hating my life as I trudged from have-to-get done to have-to-get done. This time I am going to take a suggestion from my friend Alyssa to heart: Instead of spending all of my time on drudgery until the drudgery is done, I am going to schedule two hours of fun project a day. That leaves seven hours of chores, and that's enough.

With that plan in mind I am off to get some chores done and then end the day with a little knitting or crochet!

Friday, September 02, 2016

That's Right, I'm Not From Texas

Though I'm not sure but that Lyle Lovett didn't mean Austin when he wrote that song. I am now an Austinite, or whatever you call us, too as I have registered my car here and will have a new Texas driver's license Tuesday. Austin: It's not in Texas, it's surrounded by Texas. I had thought to maintain my Montana registration and get a Montana license in assertion of my rootedness (and legally because I own a residence there). But I love Austin. This was a good move--for all that moving and unpacking are a royal pain in my ass. I am... happy.

It's a late post today because I wanted to write about my surprise for Dave (and I needed to make sure I could pull it off). Right now I'm listening to Paula Cole, "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" and gleefully awaiting Dave's return to the family manse. You wouldn't think registering the cars in Texas with its attendant mandatory two-hour wait at the DMV (with another abortive hour and a half trying to get a Texas driver's license--but that's another story) would be a source of joy and glee, but there you are.

Dave's vehicular pride and joy is his mini cooper convertible. As a surprise for him for his birthday, I got him custom Texas plates. He used to have sticker on the window with the same phrase, but it faded and fell off. The plates are of a more permanent nature. I also got customized plates for the mini van as I got "Siyeh" (which I couldn't do in Montana--someone already has it on a permanent plate there).

Tomorrow Dave is gifting me with his time and focus, and we are going to slay a significant number of boxes and move the sunroom (fiber place) and the garage (glass studio) to the next level. We are also task rabbiting someone to help with the hundred 35-lb boxes of frit. I have till 11:00 am to finally figure out where they are going to go so our task rabbit can move and unload them all.

In the meantime I await the nightly return of the spouse with the family chalkboard all prepped.


Thursday, September 01, 2016

Pop-Tarts and Piano

Started my day with blueberry Pop-tarts and practicing piano. Hope I didn't get the Pop-tarts in the piano. The day actually started with an extra hour in bed as McCallum has a late start day today which means buses pick up an hour later, and classes start an hour later but finish at the usual time. Interesting way of managing school hours. I would think this would be a great strategy for school districts that need to make up snow days.

I also started the day feeling loved. I was a bit ashamed about my pity party yesterday, but I was amazed at the response to it! My next door neighbor--maybe coincidentally or maybe in response to my Facebook post--messaged me and asked me if I wanted to get lunch at an Indian buffet, and another friend texted to ask if I wanted to go for a pedicure this morning. I missed the lunch as I had bento with Dave, and I can't do the pedi as her schedule is very tightly tied into little ones' school and pre-school times and I have the Thermador tech coming to fix our oven this morning at the time she can go. But more important than participating in the activities was being asked. Now the next time I feel a bit cabin feverish, I know two people I can call about going out to do something.

So today I sit at my desk, it's covered with papers, the sun is shining, I haven't yet bathed the dog, and it's going to be a great day. Doesn't matter what I get done, it's going to be great.