Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Only In Austin

The double rainbow tonight from Jessie's room.
It was another exciting day here at Stone's Throw which began with running out of water. Again. This time for real (if temporary). Our water system is complicated. We have a well, and it has a pump way down in the ground that pumps into a 1,250 gallon tank. Then there is another pump that pumps the water from that tank through our reverse osmosis system and then into another 1,250 gallon tank. When we turn on the water in the house, there is yet another pump that sends water from the RO tank out to the house or the garden or wherever we need it. Right now all of our hose bibs use the RO water. The only way to get straight well water is from a faucet on the pipe that feeds the RO system. Bear with me. I know this is boring stuff, but it is the basis for my tale of woe, hair pulling and teeth gnashing.

Back when we bought the house I had the whole system inspected and overhauled where necessary (same with the septic system). One of the things that made me nervous was the possibility of running completely out of processed water and not knowing about it until it was too late. While the well has good head pressure (I think it's like 9 gallons per minute, but I can't remember for sure), the RO system only processes about 1.5 gallons per minute which means that if you run out of water it could be hours before you have enough to use again. So one of the modifications I had made to the system was the installation of a float switch that would turn off the pump to the house--effectively turning off the water--when the RO tank went below 700 gallons. This configuration gives us enough warning that we can moderate our water usage so we don't run out.

However the reserve system can be overridden by flipping a switch in the pump house--that's how you get to keep on using water after you've found out you're running low. I managed to forget that I had switched the system from normal to reserve last week when the contractors were going through a lot of water, and I had never switched it back. Then to compound my error, the lightning knocked out the RO system on Saturday requiring a system reboot that I didn't know about until we ran out of water today. So I rebooted the RO filter and it started working again (and that was about 10:00 this morning). We finally had water again this evening at 9:00. I'm not sure what took so long to get us any at all, but it was grim times today. Now the system is back in Normal mode, and everything seems to be working fine. Dave got to experience all of this excitement himself as he took the day off today and so was also without water all day. Tonight was better, and was the source for the title of this post.

Ever since we got married, Dave and I have taken a game when we go out to dinner for date night. Over the years we have played many different games in restaurants and even convinced Jessie to play with us once or twice. Tonight we experienced Vigilante, a local gaming bar and restaurant. It was So Cool! I don't know if it started as a kickstarter project or just went there for more funds, but the founders really put together a cool place. I could go on and on about the features they put into it--custom gaming tables, awesome selection of games, a button at each seat to call your server, electrical and usb outlets at each seat, and a button at each table announcing that you are interested in other patrons joining in on your game. Top it all off with infused-sake boilermakers (called drops) and good food and you have an amazing place for an evening. But don't take my word for it--look at the website or Facebook page for pity's sake!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Another Day Ends

Today saw another long post about the bees so I'm about blogged out. It feels like everything is coming to an end right now. Only natural I suppose as we prepare for the great migration to Montana and Jessie finishes up her first year in high school. Some projects here at Stone's Throw are winding down while others wait in the wings ready to be spun up--weather, time and my energy level permitting.

My big accomplishment today was getting the cactus and succulent garden half planted. I'll finish it tomorrow and post pics. I'm planting the cacti in pockets of a big, flat, limestone rock that makes up one corner of our drive. I have to be careful not to put the plants too close to the edge of the drive as everyone misses that corner and drives a bit into the bed. The propane delivery truck misses it more than a little so I out some extra big spiky rocks closer to the curve to encourage the driver to turn a bit more carefully.

Now off to join the spouse who is already long asleep and (not-so-)gently snoring. I'll have to wrest my pillow from him as he curls around it until I get to bed and can take its place. It's not a bad life at all.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fish, Bees, and News

I went out on the deck to feed the fish in my two holding ponds this morning and it looks like lightning didn't just fry my router... Ten of the twelve fish were floating belly up and they had been all fine with fresh food and water on Friday. One fish was barely moving a flipper, and one fish looked fine. I moved the two live ones to the other pond--which also had a water change and a feeding Friday and there were no dead fish in it. I suppose something else could have killed them, but since both ponds were treated exactly the same and I lost that many fish in one day, I'm thinking lighting. Now it's time to check on the bees.

Okay, hives look fine, details coming tomorrow in the Day 29 post. I got all hi-tech for my inspection today and recorded the whole thing in a voice memo so I could make sure to capture all the data, and put the salient points into the post (how many frames in each hive are being built out, what are they being used for--brood, nectar or pollen, etc.). Unfortunately I was out there for an hour and ten minutes, and even though I didn't talk the whole time--or necessarily say only important things while I was talking--I still have to listen to the whole thing again to record the important bits. I don't have the energy for it tonight--especially since I have to wait for my phone to finish updating before I can even begin.

Tonight I will post a great pic for the 365 project that I took in one of the hives. In order to take photos while in bee garb, I cut a slit in my right glove on the inside of the index finger just in front of the second knuckle (and covered it with duct tape so the bees couldn't get in). This way I can get my finger out through the slit to control my phone. Stupid iPhone needs to read the conductivity from your finger to make the touch screen work. I thought it needed a thermal reading, but Dave just reminded me that styluses work and it's because of the conductivity thing...  Oh damn. I could just have purchased a stylus and left my leather beekeeping gloves intact--and also never had to risk getting stung while getting a finger in or out of the glove. Ah well, live and learn. I can still get a stylus and just leave the tape on the glove.

Besides messing with fish and bees, I pretty much sat around and read the news. Bill asked me why I chose to get a subscription to Esquire and it turns out to have been a mistake--I meant to get one for the Atlantic. I wanted to pick two publications known for being slightly left and slightly right and very in-depth. I also added on Aljazeera for a final perspective. After a couple of hours I remembered why I stopped reading the news: Bleak, dark, grim, horrifying. Still, I can't have my child knowing more about what's going on in the world than I do. That would be Bad Parenting.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na...

Today was all about art. We started and ended with the Cinematic Arts Program at McCallum, and squeezed in the Dirt Dauber Festival in the middle. In the morning we went to a fundraising garage sale put on by the students in the CA program at which they raised $1,000. The funds are desperately needed because the school district has decided to stop paying for the film editing software used in the program because only one school uses it. So now the kids and parents in the program need to come up with another $1,500 a year. That's on top of the new equipment they need. Tonight was a pizza banquet and film screening of the best films from each class, then in different categories (music video, documentary, etc.), then the senior films. They were all good, but the senior films were amazing.

In between film things, Dave and I went down to San Marcos to the Dirt Dauber Festival at Eye of the Dog Art Center. They were really lucky at the festival because it rained all last night in Austin, let up for a little bit this morning (just enough time for us to get into the car) and then it poured again most of the way to San Marcos. Not too long after we left the house Jessie called to say lightning had either struck the house or very close by. So far the only casualty has been our router, and I got a new one this afternoon from Amazon Now (free delivery in a few hours for those of you not familiar with it--it's part of the Amazon Prime service). I kept the same network name and password, but the thermostats and all the Alexa's--probably anything that connects with wireless including the tv and the printer--all need to be set-up again. *Sigh*. I have to turn the lights on and off manually tonight. I can't even remember where some of the switches are.

They'd clearly had some rain down at the festival too, but it had stopped awhile before we got there, and turned into a beautiful day. As we were walking around, Dave was a little worried they were going to sell us for parts (or use our bones--or maybe our teeth--for grog). I think it's because the art center is out in the country, and the band that was playing for the festival had a banjo player. I think that's just a holdover from our Deliverance days in Georgia.

We both picked out some really nice pottery from six of the different artists selling there--including my instructor at the Art School at Laguna Gloria. I picked up my favorite teapot ever--it looks like something that would have won a Niche Award back in the day--and three matching cups, among other things. Dave went Big with a serving platter, huge bowl and a tortilla/covered side dish container.


Friday, May 19, 2017

And Now... Ceramics!

I awoke this morning very unsettled. I have had strange and/or bad dreams on and off (mostly on) for weeks--as has Dave. But I went about my morning routine--got dressed, fed the cats, cleaned the cat box, washed-up, brushed teeth, took pills, brushed hair, topped off fish ponds, fed the fish, cleaned up where Baxter peed by the front door... and then it all went pear-shaped. Then I picked myself up out of my puddle with serious help from my spouse who took me out for a taco breakfast--which is different than breakfast tacos. I did not have a breakfast taco, I had a trashy trailer park taco on corn. I realized that, for whatever reason, it was a big-girl panty day and I just need to pull them up.

The afternoon went much better with a run to Armadillo Clay to get some mold making materials for casting glass (#1 pottery plaster and 325 mesh silica sand). While I was there I looked at wheels, and I must confess I succumbed to one. Before you think I've lost my mind...

Right before class at Laguna Gloria ended, I threw my first perfect bowl. It was a perfect shape, perfect thickness, perfect texture, and had a perfect foot... Like I said, it was perfect. Now I don't want to wait two months to do more--I want to continue to practice while the muscles have memory. Thus answers the question of what craft I will do in Montana this summer. Lucky for me I already have a duel-media kiln there big enough to do a few pieces at a time. At Armadillo I also got some cone 5 clay and some glazes. Finally I looked through their book shelf again to see if they carried either of my books. Last time I was in I did not see them. This time I saw multiple copies of them both! I was so excited I asked to sign them. They couldn't stop me.

Now the day is done and I chill at home after seeing Alien Covenant with Dave. I really liked it. I want to see Prometheus--Dave saw it without me. Dave wasn't so enraptured. Actually, he wasn't enraptured at all. But I think he grudgingly admitted that it was okay. (Prometheus is the Alien movie that came before this one)

Tomorrow sees us doing cinematic arts program stuff--fundraising garage sale and then end-of-the year pizza banquet and film showings. I am hoping to get together with a friend on Sunday to do some suminagashi. Somewhere in all of that I want to fit in the clay sculptural part of a glass casting project I want to do. I don't think I'll throw any clay this weekend, but I have a feeling it will be a very creative time nonetheless.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Apis Restaurant

Entryway wall
Good day today: The solar inspection passed! Now if we can just get our meter installed quickly... The stream in the backyard is also finally patched and holding water. Things at Stone's Throw feel like they're finally coming together.

Tonight, for a mini celebration Dave took me to a restaurant called Apis in a little township northwest of Austin. You guessed it, they have bees. They also partner with a farm just down the road for meats and veggies. The meal is prix fixe only--you choose one appetizer, one entrée and one dessert from the list. It was truly the best meal I have had in the past couple of years.

It wasn't just exquisite food that made the experience memorable, it was also great service, good drinks, and the beautiful environs. The bee theme was everywhere from the glass and wood on the walls to the beautifully inlaid bar and dining room tables.

I end the post with the menu we chose from: (Here's the original page on the restaurant site if you want to see what else they have.)

Bar

CHOICE OF APPETIZER 

“CANNOLICCHI ALLA CAMPIDANESE”
cooked into a ragout made with pig’s head, chili, preserved tomato and the brides dowry of saffron / seasoned with preserved meyer lemon and 'fiore sardo" cheese
CHARRED SPANISH OCTOPUS
salad of fresh snow peas and meyer lemon / our house cured olives and Zach Hunter's carrot - fermented chili "gochujang" and various vinegars

LOUISIANA CRAWFISH AND SPRINGDALE “ALLIUMS”
crawfish, royal red shrimp, veal sweetbreads, and spring onions glazed with crawfish head "Américaine" sauce / spring garlic custard and crispy tapioca dusted with burnt onion powder / charred young onions / caramelized leek "whey" broth seasoned with citron vinegar
FIRST OF THE SEASON HEIRLOOM CHEROKEE TOMATOES AND MAINE LOBSTER (SUPP  6)
slightly dried and lacquered with a Manilla clam and lobster jus / tomato - seaweed tea "granité" and marinated sweet 100 sungold tomatoes / blooms, blossoms and herbs from the farm and pistachio oil - strawberry vinegar dressing

CHOICE OF ENTRÉE 

BEN MCBRIDE’S SCAMP GROUPER
scaled with first of the season summer squash in the style of "Eleven Madison Park" / stew of heirloom shelling beans cooked in a seaweed - mussel broth seasoned with grilled squash and smoked fish bones / our "nduja" sausage seasoned with smoked paprika and a sauce of fermented yellow squash, saffron, and dried castelvetrano olives 
PAINTED HILLS NY STRIP   OR   60 DAY AGED PRIME NIMAN RANCH RIBEYE (SUPP 4 PER OZ)
potato and spring garlic terrine and Montessori nasturtium / creamed spinach and smoked black garlic - pecan miso from last February
TINA AND ORION’S CHICKEN STUFFED WITH FOIE GRAS MOUSSELINE 
Sacramento delta asparagus glazed with spring garlic and Charleston gold rice enriched with ramp - walnut pesto / morel mushroom "l'crème" seasoned with peanut miso - XO butter / yellow wine sauce from 1995
OUR INAUGURAL RED WATTLE PORK TASTING FROM TINA AND ORION
loin glazed in red pepper juice, smoked belly, rillette and "ras el hanout" spiced sausage / ember roasted eggplant seasoned with black olive oil and "tarhana" wheat / preserved orange and lots of herbs with tomato raisins and Persian cucumber
 

CHOICE OF DESSERT 

VALRHONNA “EQUITORIALE” CHOCOLATE “TORTE”
ember roasted mango - passion fruit sorbet / lime scented champagne mango and mesquite bean / fresh "myoga" and candied macadamia nuts
HAZELNUT CUSTARD AND APPLE ICE (2016)
a very rich steamed custard made with Italian hazelnut paste and Tina's eggs / green apple granite, lemon leaf meringue and olive oil  
CHEESE AND OUR HONEYCOMB (SUPP  4)
Wrångebäck, St Agur blue, and Kunik / served with our red wheat sourdough and preserved orange marmalade
 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Looking Back, and Looking Forward

RH McKay with his camera and tripod,
date and location unknown.
Started watching "Deadwood" with the spouse tonight. After the episode he posted on Facebook and compared me to Calamity Jane. I take that as a high compliment. As I was reading through the Wikipedia entry on her tonight, my attention was caught by this paragraph:

"Calamity Jane was a frequent visitor to and sometimes resident of Livingston, Montana and towns in the Paradise Valley, Montana.

She came up from a very hardscrabble life, unacquainted with bourgeois notions of decorum; she probably never knew financial security, but even in poverty she was known for her helpfulness, generosity, and willingness to undertake demanding and even dangerous tasks to help others. She was afflicted with alcoholism and wanderlust (and, perhaps, promiscuity) but, as someone remembered her, "Her vices were the wide-open sins of a wide-open country – the sort that never carried a hurt". "

How could I not be flattered by the comparison?

My wanderings into the history of Calamity Jane that I was able to find on the Internet brought me to looking up my own illustrious ancestor, my great grandfather RH McKay who was the preeminent photographer in Missoula and western Montana in the first half of the 20th century. His photos--most of which are in the archives at the University of Montana are showing up in many more places on the net than they did when last I looked. I was thrilled to find a couple of good ones of him (I never met him--he died the year before I was born) and someone who has access to some of the photos and uses his name as a twitter handle! There are pictures on that page of my dad--and maybe even one or two of my mom in McKay Studio employee photos.

It was a lovely, sad, nostalgic, wishes-were-horses perambulation, but now I need to do my post, upload my photo and get to bed so I can be well-rested when the solar inspector shows up. I will be in Montana again soon enough, and this year I'm going to see if I can see the photos myself in the archive.

Today was a wonderful day of being feted for me (notice I said feted, not fetid). Zaga took me to lunch and then for super facials, and she gave me early birthday presents--a cookbook, a bee journal, and a Kate Spade beehive purse!!!! She'll be gone for the actual day (not for a a couple of weeks yet) and she wanted to get a jump on celebrating. After all of our pamperings I toddled (there has been a lot of toddling lately... really) home and was finally able to eat again about 8:30 when Dave and I shared the caked she got me from the local Korean bakery. I am still beached.

John Swann of Wicked Bee Apiary also delivered my TopBar hive today so I can paint it in prep for getting the bees (fingers crossed) Friday. I'll be off to Home Depot or Sherwin Williams for some of their mistake or partial or whatever they call their super cheap paints tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Viene la tormenta

The wind is picking up. I not only hear the wind chimes, but I hear the wind howling too. We're supposed to get a big storm tonight, I hope it brings rain for the garden.

It's been four and a half months since I started posting and taking a picture every day for a photographic journal (the 365 project). There are days it's tough, and it feels more like a chore than an experience. But in spite of those days I have to say that I feel so much more creative in both word and picture now than I did when the year started. I have so much creative juice I almost feel like writing a book... (fiction, of course).

But before I go off and start another project/career, I need to finish up a bunch of things I have going right now--foremost among them, the solar installation and the new garden. They are so close to done I can almost taste them! The final solar inspection is scheduled for 8:30 am tomorrow. The solar company was out again today checking and rechecking--for the fifth time--the wire sizes, breakers, anything and everything the inspector might question. I actually had to write a letter to the inspector today putting in writing that I understand that I can't use all my appliances at the same time (including kilns) because they pull more amperage than my system is rated for. If I do try to run that much at once, I will blow the house breaker. Really? I have had to do many asinine things in my life in the name of bureaucracy, but this may have been the most spectacularly stupid. Whatever. It's done.

The pond liner is going in tomorrow and I am going to need to schedule a water truck to deliver the water for the pond on Thursday or Friday. But, wait, you say. Don't you have a well? Why yes we do! And though it pumps lots of gallons a minute from the aquifer, the reverse osmosis system only purifies around a gallon and a half a minute. The pond is about 6,500 gallons which would take... six days of non-stop running of the RO system to process, and we would just about blow through an RO filter doing it. The filters cost $600 each so it's better to just do a one-time water buy.

New beehive tomorrow too (if I'm lucky). I need to paint it before the bees come and they're tentatively scheduled for Friday. Have I mentioned how much I love my bees? I LOVE MY BEES!!! I'd love them if I didn't get a lick of honey or a smidgen of wax. I love that they are.

Zaga is beginning my birthday celebrations early and taking me for a deluxe facial tomorrow afternoon. I feel so pampered! Pedicure yesterday, facial tomorrow, legwax Thursday... is that TMI? I never know. I look at it like I'm taking the car in for a tune-up and detailing. Dave did have my car detailed last week and it's so clean it feels brand new again. That's quite an accomplishment after I've been hauling muddy dogs, bees, uncounted plants, a McNugget begrimed child, and assorted other stickiness--not to mention schlepping all kinds of stuff from Atlanta--over the past several months. I am hyper-aware of how clean it is and I'm being very careful not to let so much as as French fry fall between the seats.

This is one of those stream-of-consciousness posts. Sometimes they can be good, but sometimes they can go horribly wrong so I'm just going to wrap it up now and hope for the best. It was a Good Day. I'd like more of these please.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Toddling Off To Bed

I hear the wind howling outside and the wind chimes bonging madly. I hope my new arbors don't blow over. I stood them up today even though the rebar supports in the ground to keep them up haven't gone in yet. I just wanted to see the garden closer to done! It's been a really long slog and on days like today I feel like it will never end.

I only had two workers show up today, and they did the best they could to move a few tons of sand to the bottom of the pond, but there were only two of them, and it was 90 degrees. So the garden languished. The solar didn't get inspected either. I am ready to go postal on the city inspectors if they don't stop focusing on how many appliances I have and pay attention to whether all the wiring and breakers are in code (they are).

Now I'm tired. I did a long post on the bees, and that's going to have to do for tonight. I'm going to take a page from the cat in my lap and go catch some ZZZ's.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

A cat on my lap displacing the laptop and making typing difficult, some night creature making a sound like nothing so much as "weeterwhit", and the windchimes in the light breeze, all set the mood for my post tonight. It was a lovely Mother's Day at Stone's Throw where I did some some needed to's, some had to's, but quite a few wanted to's. First and foremost I took a nap. Two straight hours of solid sleep and no guilt. Ahhhhh. I also played a couple of hours of Witcher. It was fun, I don't regret it, and I won't play anymore tonight. Dave plied me with food from the moment I got up (scratch pancakes and sous vide bacon for breakfast, burgers and "mango chunks poached in cardamom syrup with chai whip cream on cinnamon shortcakes"--from Dave's Facebook entry) for dinner. I am well sated.

Though I watered 1/3 of the new garden today (I have got to get the soaker system and the rest of the irrigation in!), I did not do anything with the bees. John Swann of Wicked Bees recommended doing the maintenance in the morning so most of the foragers will be out doing their thing and I have a better chance of seeing the queen and not being harassed by cranky bees. Regardless of the time of day I do it tomorrow, I will be wearing my full suit. That one cranky hive is seriously damaging my calm!

So back to Mother's Day. My child is a freshman in high school. In just over three years she will be off to college or film school or somewhere. Three years! The last fifteen don't seem like any time at all, the last one was a blink of an eye. (Didn't school just start a month or so ago?)

Another blink of an eye was the time I have been sitting here with this post open and unfinished. I started it at 9:30 pm, and it is now 1:11 am. What have I been doing, you might ask. Well, I fell down the rabbit hole that is iPhoto. I went looking for a few photos of Jessie through the years to commemorate the day, and next thing I know I have 216 photos and a slideshow. Good thing the spouse said he wouldn't be grumbly no matter what time I came to bed! Now we'll see if YouTube will actually upload the slideshow so I can embed it here. It's over 200 mgs in size (I remember my computer in 1991 had a 200 mg hard drive which was extremely large--and expensive--at the time) and it's going to take over 15 minutes to upload. Plenty of time to finish my solitaire game. Good thing almost all of the early photos of Jessie (the whole first year) are on film and I haven't scanned them yet, or this slideshow could have been an hour long. It's worth watching with the sound on...


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Breathe

The past few days I've been dragging my feet about our departure for Montana and secretly relieved it's been delayed a couple of weeks by Jessie's upcoming trip to Atlanta. But that was before today. Today I worked in the studio most of the day, and all I got through was unpacking the stringer and rod. It was a bit discouraging to see so little accomplished, but it was a difficult organizational task to complete in a small space, and I'm not ashamed of my performance. The problem I had was not even with the quantity of what I did or even the quality. It was the temperature at which I had to do it. I like to have died out there! I am not meant to work in the heat. It upsets my tummy something fierce and just drains my will to live.

I meant to work on the computer stuff for the studio--website and newsletter--when I came inside, but it was all I could do to sit and play "Witcher" for a couple of hours till dinner. I blame Glenn Marsh who just visited from Chicago. He introduced me to the gog.com online computer game site for computer games old and new that will work on your current computer system. Sadly, though all the Might and Magic games are available, they're only for Windows.

Do I really have time to play computer games for a couple of hours? Sure. I'm not dead yet, and my inbox will be full when I am so I'm not going to sweat taking a little time out to do something engrossingly, mindlessly fun now. Speaking of which, I think I'll go play just a wee bit more before bed. Pictures tomorrow (of the studio--not my game).

Friday, May 12, 2017

La Vie est Belle

I noticed this morning that I have written more posts so far this year than I have in the past five years combined. Blogging is an extension of creativity for me so clearly Austin is very good for me creatively. Today was also a creative day in the studio. Though I only got my orders fired, I did straighten a rug. I know, you're scratching your head and thinking, "What the heck is she nattering on about a rug for?" The rug is both physical and metaphorical. It has physically been cockeyed, folded, and hanging over the edge of the step for months. I have walked over it every day--along with all the wadded up papers, boxes and crap on the floor--ignoring its state. But today, I picked up papers, threw out boxes, and straightened the rug. Had it not been so hot and late this afternoon when I finished getting the kiln load in, I would have put away stringer, rod, the last of the 5 oz jars of frit, and half sheets of glass. If I'd started really early and felt really spunky, I have unpacked the finished work and arranged it on shelves. Tomorrow morning I am going to try for that level of spunk. (Motto of the weekend: Spunk, not Funk!)

Debbie went back to Dallas this morning after a very exciting Summer Tanager sighting--both male and female!. Bird geeks and their books and binoculars are so cute. It was a good visit and I feel more energized towards glass than I have in awhile (and, hey, website almost done!). I'm so energized I pulled out the old steel butterfly wings that I have from a metal artist I used to work with and started planning to cast the glass insets for the wings. I might even get that project done this weekend so Jay can mount them in the garden.

Lots of work happened in the garden today too. Some trees and the rest of the perennials were planted. I hope the cement reinforcement in the pond walls was poured today so the liner can go in Monday, but I haven't been out to look. By Monday the arbors will all be up, the vines and roses will be placed, the rest of the trees and shrubs will be placed (I place, I do not plant--I have people for that), and the soaker hose will be placed. Next week the brass bed will be delivered and I want to get it in too. We did get one big delivery today--the new additional rainwater collection tanks for under the deck. I'm not sure how they're going to get them under there as they are 1500 gallon capacity each (thereby tripling our rainwater storage), but I have faith in Jay.

While I was in the studio today the dogs hung out with me--as did Kaiju who wanted to show his dog spirit. But when the dogs came in he decided to stay outside and be a cat for awhile. Dave looked out the window and saw him playing with a little brown mouse, and when he commented on it to Jessie and me, Jessie was out the door like a shot to save the mouse. She was successful--Kaiju apparently wasn't hungry--and the mouse (with no apparent injuries) sat for awhile in her hands and then scampered off to freedom. Now Kaiju sleeps in my lap, probably dreaming of the one that got away. I think I'll go sleep too.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Water (Hail and Swimming Pools)

Hail!
What a storm we had this evening! All afternoon it just kept getting hotter and more muggy, and we all kept getting crankier and moister--and not in a good way. Finally it broke loose, and the first thing that happened was I got a call from Dave that he was not stopping at the grocery store for scallops on his way home because he didn't want to have hail damage on his new car. In the meantime, it was pouring rain up at the house, and then  the rain turned to hail. I haven't seen much hail in my life and this was a spectacular storm!

Debbie and I are both exhausted tonight--what I wouldn't give to sleep in tomorrow morning! But I bet I can get some good chillin' time  tomorrow as long as I give Debbie ap  ...? (note from the next morning: Debbie just pointed this sentence out to me and though I puzzled and puzzled, I couldn't figure out what I meant to say before I fell asleep mid-post. I fell asleep mid-post at least four times. Like I said, exhausted.)

Kaiju, our tabby cat, had decided he absolutely positively HAD to go outside about an hour earlier so he was MIA in the storm, and Jessie walked in the door after getting off the school bus minutes before the sky opened up. Debbie, Jessie, and I watched in amazement as hail and rain and god knows what else came out of the sky and slid down our roof to the deck and the ground below. At least I didn't need to worry about watering the plants today!

Today was my last ceramics class at the Art School at Laguna Gloria at The Contemporary for the quarter. Now I have to wait till next fall to throw more pieces. I did trim a bowl, and I did glaze two pieces which I then brought home as I was worried about timing for picking them up and the next class starting. I should be able to finish all the glazing next fall before my next class starts.

After ceramics, Debbie and I went back to Barton Springs Nursery where we picked up the last arbor I bought--I swear it reminds me of nothing so much as the elephant in Moulin Rouge. I have my very own Elephant Love Medley going into my backyard... Hope Dave likes it.

In the afternoon Debbie took me up to her cousin's in-laws house where they have a super cool sun-dial built into in the backyard. This evening I told Dave all about the sundial, but I didn't mention their equally cool swimming pool to him... I was truly tempted. But since Dave is getting through the whole "botanical garden" project with the mantra, "At least it's not a pool", I haven't the heart to introduce the prospect of a pool in our current design. But the coolest thing about this pool--since they were also on solid limestone like us--was that it was cleverly cut into the slope in the backyard in a way that maximized the use of the slope and minimized the need for cutting out a lot more rock and dirt.

So the question of the day is, how do I get Dave to buy into the idea of a pool?


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Is There Life After Gardening?

Another day ends, and it was wonderfully full. I have finally found thrift shopping that I like to do. I don't like to go to malls. I don't like to clothes shop. But send me off to the Habitat ReStore or a thrift store or antique mall or 2nd hand store for yard art... Bliss. Pure bliss. Top it all off with a stop at Barton Springs Nursery for yet more yard art (two arbors and an obelisk) and my day is complete. Actually my day was completed with a walk through the hives with Debbie and the dogs. And Kaiju. Kaiju thinks he is a dog and should therefore go out for a walk when Gallifrey and Jig do so he joined us in perusing the hives tonight. I don't think he even likes honey.

Some of today's thrifty finds include a big metal-framed mirror for $12.99--I gave away the mirror part in the parking lot to a woman in the car next to me (she just out-of-the blue knocked on my car door as we were getting ready to pull out and offered me a padded bag because she saw the stuff I had packed into the car and she thought I could use it so I asked her if she'd like the beveled mirror out of teh frame). We both left happy. I also got a vintage (aka "old") mint green screen door frame with no hardware that I'll put wire on for plants to grow up. The big find of the day, however, was a beautiful old brass bed headboard and footboard. They, too, are going into the garden (not the new garden, but an area off the sunroom/textile studio) for a garden bed like the one below (though I like my bed better). Debbie also spotted an old plow that will be perfect in the front yard where the native grasses and wildflowers are growing. I wouldn't have bought it if she hadn't suggested such a perfect spot.


I'd like to say I did more today--wrangled contractors, eviscerated city solar inspectors, finished the website, cured cancer of some form. But all I excelled at today was shopping.

Tomorrow I'll try to excel at glass. And maybe pottery as I glaze my penultimate pot and trim the ultimate one. Oh and Debbie is going to take me to see a friend of hers' garden where they have a sundial made from plants...

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Sex, Sickness, Pets, or Tragedy


I don't really have anything to say about any of the words in the title of this blog, but I noticed a curious trend in my blog stats tonight: The blogs that have those themes in them are read more than the others. So I just want to experiment a bit to see if there is a big response to this title. (Although at this point I'm asking myself: 1) What am I doing thinking I have time to be looking at stats, and 2) What do I care anyway?)

So here it is the end of the evening, I'm sitting down to blog, and--miracle of miracles--I'm not exhausted! Maybe it's because I had Prosecco with lunch, and then wine and cheese for a late dinner. It's certainly not that I got a lot of sleep last night because, hey, pets. But my friend Debbie is here from Dallas, we have talked gardening, business and glass all afternoon (after the prosecco lunch at Chez Zee) , and I even got another page and a half done on my website. Check out the colorways page! Isn't it cool that it looks like the comb in a beehive?

Not too much happened on the contracting front today. The pond moved forward a bit, but that was about it. It rained. The solar guys didn't show, nor did the inspector, nor did anyone call to give me an update. Jessie came home sick from school. The cleaning women came after saying they weren't going to come so I hadn't cleaned in advance for them. (Yes, I finally succumbed--I can't clean AND garden.) Debbie came for a three-day visit.

But I'm not exhausted, and I think it's because I finally checked something off my list that has been hanging on there for weeks. Or maybe it's because it wasn't blazingly hot today... Nope. I'm going with the euphoria of getting something DONE. FINITO. Archived from Trello. And even though I'm not exhausted, I am going to quit here (after babbling on about nothing much in particular) so I can show Debbie the apartment and then spend some time with my spouse when we are both awake. That will be a nice change. Unless he's already asleep...

Monday, May 08, 2017

Same Old, Same Old

There's a road runner in this photo. Really.
The week began with a text from our solar company at 7:30 am to let me know that the inspector is dicking us around again and cancelled today's scheduled inspection because he didn't have time to review the documents he asked for. He got them Thursday at 4:00 pm. Even if he doesn't work at all on weekends, he had all day Friday and at this point (four months after the solar system was installed and it's still not operational) he should have made time. I had enough and called him, the chief inspector for the city and the inspector scheduler. Now the inspector wants something in conduit instead of in a gutter... Frankly, I think he's just being an ass. Rant over.

Shipped a big glass order today, but didn't get thing one done on the website or the newsletter. Shame on me, must get to that tomorrow. Because I was dealing with bees today, I let the contractors be (hah! a pun!), and I think I'm going to have to light a fire under tails tomorrow again. I was really expecting a lot more accomplished today than happened.

Jessie got 100 on her Japanese test today and I wish I could include a picture of it here. Her writing is so beautiful! It is as delicate and precise as the instructor's (or the instructor's computer's--it's hard to tell whether he wrote the test out or typed it).

Now it's time for bed. I'm all restless, frustrated, pissy, and exhausted--and I don't have a picture for the 365 project for today. However the chicken carcass from dinner will make a good subject and fit my mood just fine...

Oh, speaking of birds, I saw a road runner in the front yard again today! Wily little thing, I can never get close enough for a good picture of it. (It's in the center of the picture in front of the minivan.)

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Sunday Ends, the Week Begins

My bees hate me. But that's a story for another blog. There were two shining spots in the day today (besides Negronis with Zaga): 1) French toast with the family while playing Tsuro (I won) this morning, and 2) the Data.World family picnic at the Jacob's this afternoon. The rest of the day consisted of not getting through things on my list while attempting things that are not on my list yet but soon will be (like finding a new bathtub and bidet--it's harder than you would think). Now I go into Monday with about 85% of the things I planned to have done by the end of the day today not done. And it makes me tired. I'm going to bed. You go read about bees.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

A Life Well Lived

Summer is here when you have friends over for the first grilled meats and corn of the season. And let's not forget the buttermilk pie! Had a friend in from Chicago come over for dinner with his sister tonight and we played Tsuro and Takenomo both for the first time after dinner. I got both games for Jessie more than two Christmases ago and we finally got them out of their shrink wrap tonight. Thank you Glenn for teaching us to play!

We also took Glenn to free comic book day at Dragon's Lair, and it was my first one ever. The line was amazingly long and no one even blinked. For comic books. Free comic books, but still! They even had a bouncy castle outside the store, a snow cone stand with free snow cones, and waiters from HopDoddy walking up and down the line with free samples of different kinds of fries. Harley Quinn was handing out water up and down the line. What a wild experience. It was so fun I had to go home and nap. Actually I sat down to read the new Patricia Briggs novel and fell asleep. Quel scandale!

Now, even though I had a nap and it's only 11:33, my eyes are closing again. Tomorrow I get to look in the hives and see about the beeeez! Now I get to sleep.

Friday, May 05, 2017

A Day Without Gardening--NOT!!

Today marked the last plant shopping. I ended up getting very few plants for the garden, but I got another arbor, a couple of bright spinny things, and a whole bunch of orchids and a few cacti. I had to call Zaga from the nursery where I found the arbor as it was nine feet tall and I couldn't fit it in the back of the car. Zaga has a pick-up so she came and brought it home for me.

Today marked another bit of monumentousnous: I decided not to do a major remodel of the bathroom. Yes, there are things that need changed--the carpet must go and we need a taller toilet as my knees can't take the current one. But the layout really isn't that bad! Sure, we need new fixtures through out. And, sure, the yellow faux marble everywhere must go, but the the changes are really minor.

Tomorrow I have a friend in from Chicago and we're going to free comic book day and out for tacos for breakfast. It is going to be a relaxed and casual day if I have to kill someone...

Thursday, May 04, 2017

An Eclectic, Creative Day

Today's kiln load
Today was my penultimate pottery class till (at least) fall. I had such high hopes for it! I arrived early--as I like to do--and got started right away throwing a piece. My goal for the day was a mug and a handleless Japanese-style tea cup. I threw the cup first and it came out beautifully. I had set out two 1.5 lb balls of clay so after I put the cup up on my board to start drying, I threw the second ball. It did not cooperate with a mug shape, but I got a nice bowl out of it (not as nice as the mug, but still) so I put it on the board too. I was on a roll! At that point I had delusions of multiple finished pieces on my last day of throwing. I needed more clay! I started rummaging in my bag of clay for two more pieces... and I accidentally squashed my mug. I was so thrown (hah, I just got that) by the destruction that the next four pieces I threw all failed spectacularly. So I ended the day with a bowl that I will trim next week. I have one piece left from last week to glaze, and that will be it. Much as I am tempted, I am not buying a wheel and taking it to Montana. This summer I am going to cast glass.

It was also a glass day here today with another kiln load going in. Tomorrow I'll ship it, and then I'll finish the website and the newsletter.

The solar company did not manage to get my system inspected by the city inspector today, I hear now it's going to be Monday. I'll believe it when I see it.

Lastly, it was another big day in the garden. I have been concerned with getting my plants in the ground as it is getting super hot during the day and it is getting harder to keep the plants watered and alive in their plastic pots./In addition, the pond walls climb higher, the path gets thicker, the stone on the beds gets higher, and the plants just keep getting planted. Jay and I also talked about putting a concrete floored pergola in by the pond with some lounging furniture. I'll think more on that tomorrow. Today I even started planting the roses and am having Devon put in an old Texas climbing blush rose over an arbor in the new area. This is going to be the coolest garden!! Maybe one last nursery stop tomorrow, and the plants will be done this year. I would like a few more lantana and Turk's Cap--and you can never have too many salvia.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Gardening, Glass, Home Repair, and Bees

The title of this post pretty much says it all. I gardened today--there were ups and downs. Up: Some of the waterlilies bloomed and they are gorgeous. Down: One of the workers the contractor brought in yesterday or today pulled two of my rare native shrubs as weeds. It was extremely difficult to find them and everywhere I called today didn't have them.

 The electricity was off all morning and there were solar guys in the kiln room in the studio so I didn't get in there till afternoon, and by then it was 92 degrees and too hot to do anything but flee. I'd say tomorrow morning, but I have pottery class and then it'll be too hot again. Friday morning for sure.

The solar was tweaked today so it should pass inspection tomorrow morning and be up and running early next week (next we have to wait for the city to install a meter). Then the well-water tank ran dry again so I had to call the well company. The float switch on the top of the tank was busted, and the one on the bottom was cracked so we had to have them both replaced. Fortunately we have great well and water service people and they came out today, replaced both, and we have water again.

It was an apiarily active day (yes, I just made that word up) so the bees got their own post. Thanks to the garden and the bees and other life things, I didn't get back to the website today either. I'm feeling behind and stressed and like I have too many balls in the air. Big, heavy, steel balls that are going to crush me alike a bug when they come tumbling down. Sigh. I think I need a Negroni.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Glass Incarnate Is About Glass Today!

Tonight will be another quickie, but not because it was a meh day or because I'm tired... well, I AM tired, but today was fantastic! I spent almost the entire day working on the email I am sending out to my galleries tomorrow (that took about 15-20 minutes) and on the Siyeh Studio website (that took several hours). I have been picking up and putting down the website project for months now, and it looks like I'm finally going to go live tomorrow. Oh I don't have the online catalog with the password protected ordering area for galleries ready, but at least I have a brand spanking new site that is only for my studio work--no materials sales, no classes, nothing but my actual work. And it's pretty (at least I think so).

Monday, May 01, 2017

Meh, Meh, MEH!


The area where it looks like there is a white line on the
bumper is where the "damage" is.
Some days I just have to say MEH! I started the day with two contractors and went down to one by the end of the day. Devon is wonderful, but there's only so much he can do. Beyond the contractor issues, I had a very unfortunate encounter at Barton Springs Nursery today. As I was leaving, I got in line (in my minivan) behind a woman in a little sport utility vehicle (turns out it was a BMW). We were cars three and four in line to pull out of the parking lot, and we inched slowly towards the street. At one point in the inching, I glanced down as she she stopped and I tapped her rear bumper. We were going 1-2 mph when it happened--I didn't even have my foot on the gas. Because I am a responsible person I immediately put my vehicle in park and hopped out to inspect the non-existent damage. She got out too, looked at the bumper and said I cracked it. I said, here's my insurance card.

Close-up of where the screw head from my license plate
indented her bumper. It's 1/4" in diameter.
Then we moved our cars so the people behind us could get out of the parking lot. Then she asked for my driver's license--I gave it to her. I asked her for her phone number and called her (mobile) so we both have each other's contact info and I showed her how to enter me as a contact into her iPhone. Then I took a couple of pictures of the bumper and said, the bumper isn't cracked, there is a scratch from where the screw head on my license plate pressed into it. Mind you, this isn't one of the hard plastic bumpers that show every little nick. This is a sport utility vehicle with a rugged bumper. Plastic, but rugged. She says she has to take it in anyway. I say fine, and off we go. Later this afternoon I get a notice from State Farm that she has filed a claim! I call and am told it depends on how much they have to pay her out that will determine how much my rates go up. I say it was a scratch! But it doesn't matter because I am the one who was at fault.

Had the situation been reversed, I wouldn't have even taken her info--much less made a claim. There is no damage at all to my car. The whole incident tainted what was already an only okay day. Here's hoping tomorrow looks better, and the car inspector laughs her out of the garage (or she comes to her senses). I don't think that'll be my luck, however.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sleepy


The day is winding to a close as they all seem to do. I spent a bit of time in the studio today and emptied out a few more boxes. It was a cool beautiful day so it was easy to be out there even without air conditioning. That's one thing about our house: As it's perched on top of a hill there is no shortage of wind. I left a few windows and a screened patio door open last night and woke up to a house that was 60 degrees this morning! Needless to say 'twas a bit chilly for just one cotton quilt. Around here we call that enforced spooning temps.

But now the cats are sleeping, the dogs are sleeping (one in my sight, the others not) and it's time for me to join them. Much posting was done today on The Bees At Stone's Throw with Days 3 and 8 making it out into the world. I did so much writing there that I'm too beat to continue here. G'Night All!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

And Now the Pond!

The incredible spouse got up early with me this morning and we arrived at Hill Country Water Gardens 20 minutes before they opened. I brought my plant cart as I heard they often run out, and we were third through the gate. Just as I came through I spotted Jared from yesterday, he spotted me, he took one list, I took the other, and we started pulling plants. I was briefly distracted by their fine cedar furniture--it gave me some great ideas for what we'll do here--but I quickly came back to point.

HCWG had very kindly set up an empty pond for my use so instead of filling three carts, we just dropped the plants into a pond marked Not For Sale! with big red tape as we pulled them. We blew through the list and I got everything I wanted, then I snagged a couple of succulents on the way to the fish area while Dave trudged next door to WalMart to get a rigid plastic swimming pool to serve as a temporary holding pond. I picked out 10 small American koi and 10 small (American) butterfly koi. While I was there I overheard the girl at the tank explain to a customer the difference between American koi. She said when you pick a small American koi based on its color you may be disappointed because it can change color (even drastically) as it matures. But Japanese koi, she said, remain the same colors their whole lives. That would indicate to me that Japanese koi are not koi that come from Japan, but a whole different variety. Not sure if it's true, haven't had a chance to check yet.

When we got home I filled the little pink plastic wading pool and loaded it up with bog plants. We didn't have nearly enough space for everything! Fortunately, Dan and Zaga next door had a couple of big pond tanks that they weren't using, and with a little help from the spouse (who ran to Home Depot and got a missing plug for one of them) I got them both filled with water and lilies. The fish were a bit more problematic. First off, one of the butterfly koi was floating in the bag when we took them out of the car. Jessie unloaded the bags and asked, "Hey Mom, why'd you buy a dead fish?". Teenagers. I put the remaining 19 fish in with the three big ones I brought from Atlanta and added an extra bubbler to their tank. Jay thinks the pond will be done by the end of the week so they won't have to live there long.

The only negative thing that happened today was that as I was filling the second lily tank, my body betrayed me. If it's doing this now when I'm only in my fifties, what does it have in store for when I'm in my eighties? I guess it was mostly my fault as I had just slipped my shoes on and not secured them so they were flopping around at the heels, and somehow my feet, my shoes, the rocks, and the brush around the pond all got tangled up together and I took a tumble. I landed half on one of the holding ponds--and got soaked in the process--and banged up an arm and a shin. Glad it wasn't worse. Second tumble in the new garden--hit my head last time.

Tonight I had a girls' night over at Zaga's. We had burgers and champagne, talked and talked, and hot tubbed. Yes, up here on the hill where the wind howls is a perfect place for a hot tub! It was 91 degrees this afternoon, but tonight it was 68 and windy--perfect tubbing weather. And did I mention we had such a good time?

Tomorrow: French toast, sous vide bacon, and the new MST3K. Could life get better? Oh yeah, it could: I have a snuggly spouse waiting for me in bed. G'Night! :-)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Squinting

What a difference a day makes! Came in from watering (in the dark by the light of my iPhone) to find the Sprout and Dave (sort of) watching music videos. I was handed the remote and am now watching/listening to "No More Words" by Berlin... nope, nope, now it's "Smoke On the Water" by Deep Purple. That one's less of a music video and more of a live concert recording. And now the music is off and Dave and I are out on the deck having a slice of strawberry peach pie from the Grand Traverse Pie Company thanks to Ed and Susan. They gave me a pie subscription for my birthday last year, and periodically I get a delicious fresh pie in the mail. That's how the day went too--every time I turned around something else was going on.

So why was today different? Well I still don't have any of my administration tasks done, but the guys made tremendous headway in the garden. The topsoil, river rock and decomposed granite were all wheelbarrowed into place. The stream in the backyard has been patched and it is almost completed. Everything to do with well water is working again (yay! Showers for everyone!). I can actually squint and see it all done. I have to squint pretty hard, but it's nonetheless visible.

Tomorrow is the big annual sale at Hill Country Water Gardens, and I went out there today with Zaga to make a list of all the plants I want--both lilies and marginals--and I also made myself a little map to go along with my list telling me where they all are. I even  got the name of one of the guys who works there and he walked through with me today looking at everything on my list. Tomorrow I'm going to get there about 8:30 (if it's a nice day) so I'm ready when they open at 9:00. I'm going to find Jared, give him my list and map, and I hope to be out of there by 10:00-10:30. The spouse is even going to Igor for me.

I'm also picking up another brood box from Laura and Danny Weaver of Bee Weaver Apiaries tomorrow, and on Sunday when I get to look at the hives again, I'll move the frames from the box I borrowed from Zaga to the new one. Her bees are coming next week and we'll have five hives set up. Then I just have one more nuc and hive coming from John Swan of Wicked Apiary in a couple of weeks. But more about bees in the bee blog!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Genghis Khan Friday

At many points today I had something I really wanted to write here. I finished my pottery class this morning and had a burning desire to write about how it went (meh). The new water pump for the RO system was installed and we have water again, a truckload of decomposed granite,  a truckload of river rock, and a truckload of topsoil all got delivered--and no workers were on hand to spread them. I should have written earlier because at the end of it all it was just a meh day, and I am tired again tonight. So instead of whining, I am going to go to bed and get a good night's sleep so that I can go out and conquer tomorrow. Conquer more plants--both land and water, conquer fish, just conquer. That sounds like a good activity, I think I'll call it Genghis Khan Friday.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Countdown Ticks On, the Work Less So

So the week has had its difficulties. The inspector from Austin Energy did not come out today to inspect our solar, even though he was scheduled. He seems to be in a pissing contest with the solar company and right now he wants a load assessment for our electrical system before he will approve the solar. So let me get this straight, I says, you want to know what appliances I have and what they draw in order to approve our solar? You don't have the right to tell me what devices I can or cannot have. You can tell me what kind of wire I have to have for what devices, you can tell me the total amperage I can draw at a time, but you absolutely, positively, cannot tell me what toys I may or may not have. This is NOT something you should even be considering during an inspection! He tries to tell me he's asking the solar company for all of this information for my own good... That didn't go very far with me. Then he says they wouldn't be so strict if I wasn't in the rebate program, i.e., asking for a rebate on our solar install... REALLY?!?!? I let that one go. He was pedantic enough in his defense of his requests to the solar company that I didn't have the heart to eviscerate him for the rebate statement.

Tomorrow, if I don't hear good things from the solar company regarding my inspection schedule, I am calling the chief inspector for Austin Energy and asking him to explain to me why they think they need to know all about my kilns, sous vide units, vibrator rechargers, etc. My loins are girded.

The pump on our RO system went out yesterday morning so we are not making any fresh water. What we have is what we have. Unfortunately the water from our well is so bad we can't drink it without RO processing (salt, sulphur, fluoride, among other nasties--not bacterial contaminants). Last night through this morning we weren't even able to pump the treated water that we had in the tank to the house. We had a trickle because the booster pump was not working. I looked at everything this morning, and it turned out the electrician yesterday knocked loose the breaker for the pump. Of course I didn't find the breaker--that was done by our sweet neighbor Dan who reseated the breaker and baths were saved for everyone. At that point we had 900 gallons of water to get us through till tomorrow night when the new pump is (hopefully) installed. Little did I know that Jessie had left her sink faucet wide open this morning so when the water came back on it gushed out. Two hours later I went in the house and heard what sounded like water running somewhere. By that time we were down to 450 gallons. Drink wine, save water. Ah.

I continue the countdown till the annual migration and I have serious concerns about the contractors finishing the landscaping projects--forget about the bathroom remodel, it's going to have to wait till fall. But I supposedly have truckloads of three different materials ordered for tomorrow morning, I have extra workers scheduled, and the plan will go forth. I have ceramics till 12:30, we'll see what it looks like when I get home.

So like I said: Drink wine. It saves water and, coincidentally, blood pressure and sanity!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I Love You, Tomorrow

It was a day of frustrations, and a day of accomplishments. Sadly, more frustrations than accomplishments. On the plus side, I did get the glass for four lg kites, five med kites, 60 people, and 30 sm kites sent to Todd today--65 lbs total. I also finished the first post in the new bees blog. On the minus side, I didn't get any administrative/financial work done, nor did I get the letter written that I need to send out to my gallery clients apprising them of the studio closure for all of June, half of July, and half of August. Little Orphan Annie needs to come sing "Tomorrow" for me.

Tomorrow morning: the solar inspection. FINALLY! Now let's hope we pass.  And that's enough writing for me today. If you want to know more about the beeez, check out The Bees At Stone's Throw.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Another Week, Another Adventure

This week it really feels like everything is coming together--which is good because it's almost summer with the annual pilgrimage to Montana coming up, and I want everything done before we go.  It was another big day in the garden with the paths beginning to be laid and two more nucs of bees being hived. But I'm not going to say anything about the bees here anymore. Nope. The bees now have their own blog, The Bees At Stone's Throw. I'm not putting the url up yet as I am still working on the first post. It's long and detailed and will be done tomorrow. This will be where the hard-core bee people can go for a fix on hive activity (I want a bee cam). Glass Incarnate needs to get back to a more rounded blog that, if it's skewed at all, is skewed towards glass.

Speaking of glass I did another full kiln load today, and in spite of the warm temps outside, with the people door and one of the big roll-up doors open it was not too hot in the studio thanks to the breeze. Before I go to bed I need to schedule the UPS pick-up for tomorrow so I can get all the glass to Todd for him to work his wore magic. I am still waiting on Bill for metal stands for a couple of other orders, but those should come soon.

As I mentioned before, we are off to Montana soon. While we will be back mid-summer for a week or two, I still need to send out an email to all of our clients giving them the ship dates and order deadlines for summer so everyone can get work if they want it. Between the letter and a few other tasks I have scheduled, it looks like tomorrow is going to be a predominantly computer day. That's okay. After two days in a row on my feet in a bee suit (bee suits are toasty!), I'm ready for a day tapping my fingers (and packing and shipping glass).

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Today, Beeeeez!

Baby bee emerging chewing its way out of the cell.
Today was all about the road trip down to B Weaver Apiary and BeeGoods Mercantile in Navasota where Zaga and I took a two-hour class on bee husbandry (a funny term since all the workers and the queen are female as are Zaga and I, and our mates have no intention of coming anywhere near the bees!) and then we shopped. I ended up getting another hive as they had a cool one that is a hybrid between a Langstroth and a Top Bar, and Zaga got a Langstroth because it was pretty--green components and yellow components. I picked up the two nucs I had already paid for and then ended up getting another nuc and a package! We drove home with the hives, suits, tools and bees all int eh car, and only the bees flew around... The nucs were all supposed to be sealed, but there was a leak somewhere as between 50-100 bees escaped and were flying around the car during the 2+ hour drive home. I pretty much let them be till them came to the front of the car, but if they did, then I had to open a window on them and free them to the bee afterlife.

Examining a frame with NO GLOVES!
During our class Zaga and I were in full bee suits, socks, shoes, hats, veils, gloves... and our instructor was in a hat and veil. About 30 minutes into the class I got tired of feeling hampered and fat-fingered because of the gloves and I took them off. It was WONDERFUL, and I never felt threatened by the bees. Our instructor got stung a couple of times, but that was because she accidentally got them between her hands and the hive frames. Squeeze a bee and it will sting--motto of the day. She was very casual about it and just brushed the stinger out. It's important to remove the stinger right away as it is usually still attached to the venom sac which keeps pumping the toxin into you after the bee is already gone. When I do get stung for the first time, I hope to remain calm enough to remember that fact and act accordingly.

Zaga happy with the bee frame
When we got home, I emptied the package into one of my Langstroth hives and went to install the older nuc (the one that was prepared for me a few days ago) in the other one--only to discover I didn't have a deep brood box, I had two shallow boxes so the feeder and the frames of bees in the nuc wouldn't fit into either of them. Luckily, we had Zaga's new hive handy (I haven't unloaded the hybrid from the minivan yet) and it had a deep brood box on it so I went ahead and set it up. Tomorrow morning I'll set up the remaining two nucs in the Flow and hybrid hives. I have one more Top Bar nuc  and hive I ordered from someone locally (John Swann of Wicked Bee Apiary) coming mid-May, and Zaga has a nuc coming soon, so we'll be sitting on (obviously not literally!) six hives by the start of summer. Wheee! Honey and wax galore.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Today Butterflies Tomorrow Bees

Monarch caterpillar on the purple milkweed vine
If you build it they will come! Walking through the new garden with the spouse tonight (it's our path to the mailbox) and saw two (two!) monarch caterpillars decimating my milkweed! It's too bad I just planted it because I think a lot of the plants won't make it through the monarch larval stage as they haven't built up enough leaf reserves. In other garden news, the bee hives are all set up on stands which are on new concrete pads, the concrete footing around the pond was poured and the frames cleaned up today, and it rained all last night so I didn't have to water today (yay!).

I've still got it! Kite for On The Main
While I worked in the studio this afternoon, Dave worked in the apartment. The bookcases have now all been set up and filled with books. I made a list of the last few things we need so that Tuesday evening--barring all the photos, and registering, and setting up on-line with Home Away and/or Air B&B--the apartment will be ready to rent out. Friends and family, you always have first dibs (to stay, not to rent) except for during SXSW. :-)

In the studio I fired three full kiln loads and did a little unpacking/organizing, but I swear it's going to take more effort than I have in me to get it all unpacked and set up. At one box/container a day it would take well over a month. Then there's the textile studio and the wet studio (which also serves as the work area for jewelry, soap, torch-worked glass, and paper. I need fewer hobbies.

I have a studio cat--Kaiju rules supreme
Tomorrow morning Zaga and I are heading down to Navasota to take a two-hour beekeeping lesson and to pick up three hives worth of bees--two nucs and a package. Nucs, short for nuclear hives, have a queen, workers, and frames already started with brood, nectar (proto-honey) and bee bread (pollen for protein). All you do with them is take the wooden frames out of the cardboard box you bring them home in and install the frames in your existing hive. A package is just three pounds of bees scooped into a box with a new (to them) queen in a little matchbox looking contraption hanging it it with them. Eventually the workers will chew through the candy end on the so named queen cage, releasing her into the hive. She is initially put in the queen cage to keep the other bees from killing her. She needs a couple of days with her pheromones pervading the hive before the workers will accept her. To install the package of bees in your hive you take out the queen cage, open your hive, and shake the 10,000 bees  in the box into your hive. Doesn't that just sound fun? I think everyone should pick up a box with 10,000 bees in it and shake them out! Maybe I'll ask Zaga to video the procedure for tomorrow's post.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Living Off the Land

Let's actually do a post before 10:30 at night to see if I can stay awake for it...

Update on the garden: The concrete footing for the pond and for the first three beehives was poured today. Stripping of the bark off all the juniper cedar limbs that will be used for the garden furniture and structures continues apace with the stripped bark being used as a large-format ground cover in the cacti and on the back sides of the beds, and the outlining branches for the paths were all laid today. In general the week felt slow, like very little was accomplished, but in reality what got done was seed work for the next stages that is going to make the next parts go quickly. That's the hope anyway.

Sunday the bees come home to roost (like chickens, but smaller), and beginning Monday--except for the stream in the backyard, work is going to go from top to bottom of the property from now forward. We got a little off course by having live projects all over the yard. In some ways it made sense--work by task rather than by area so that, e.g., all of the weeding that needed to be done was done at once--front and back. But now we are moving into quantities of materials that make having all of them delivered at once for the entire yard impractical so we are going to go from man-to-man defense to playing the zone, as Dave used to say to describe alternative parenting strategies.

In the new garden--the top of the world--the pond walls will be set Monday, poly-vinyl will go down on the path areas, the irrigation pipe will be put down on top of it running to each of the new beds, and then the decomposed granite will be laid on all the paths. Those steps right there are going to make everything feel so much more done! Then it's just getting the rest of the pond and bog pond put together and beginning on the furniture. The furniture for that area is going to take some time as it's going to be made from the reclaimed limbs of juniper cedar and so will be a little more free-form and artistic and a little less quick. There are a couple of benches, a swing stand, trellis arches, obelisks for vines, and other cool wooden art pieces that will be designed as we go.

As they're finishing in the top of the world, the dirt for the front beds will be delivered and all the existing front beds needing it will be topped off, then covered with weed cloth, and mulched. Then we're getting several loads of river rock delivered. The existing river rock areas will be raked clear, weed cloth laid, the rock raked back over the top, and the new rock added to freshen and fill it up. The rain garden in the front is being held for later, and we're not even going around to the garage side of the front yard (where the deck in front of the sunroom is going to be replaced) for now.

A planter inspiration for the herb garden
After the front is done, we'll run decomposed granite down the north side of the house, and another boatload of topsoil will be delivered  for the backyard beds. Wash, rinse, repeat on filling the beds with new dirt, weed cloth, and mulch. Put mulch in the area under the live oaks, add some new yellow jasmine to the white jasmine growing up the deck, and the basic gardening is done back there. I will add a few more shrubs, plants and trees, but most of the hernage is done. Fun, creative touches to the back include tumbling recycled glass in a cement mixer to make into mulch for a couple of bed/walkways,  and building vertical, staggered-height boxes on the stone patio for herb garden.

The electrician is coming Monday to rewire the stream with 220, and to put switches for the pumps in the rain barrels up by where I turn on the hose, and revamping the existing hard-wired lighting. With the new wiring for the rain barrel pumps, I can easily switch from purified well water going through the hoses to water from the rain barrels when I'm watering in the backyard. Replacing the irrigation system is up in the air, and I haven't given up on finding a way to distill and use the waste water from our reverse osmosis system on the well. Jay has been working on designing a distiller cannibalized from a solar hot water heater that looks like it will process about 4-6 gallons of usable water an hour from any water source without breaking the bank...

...And with one thing and another (dinner and Serenity for two) it's now 10:00. If I really want to finish before 10:30, I should stop now. More garden news (and an update on the solar system approval) as it happens.