Thursday, June 22, 2017

Life Slows Its Pace Again

Starting the morning in the garden
I would highly recommend that everyone split their time between two households. I hadn't realized what an incredible break moving from one place to another--even for just a couple of months--gives one's brain. I cannot stress what a great life-resetter it is! I remember feeling vastly relieved and unencumbered when I moved to Austin last June. Yes, I had a ton of unpacking and organizing to do, but any bad cycle or habits of time that I had in Atlanta were broken. Every day dawned fresh with things to do, but no chains already set. I had choices, and I didn't feel overwhelmed.

Gallifrey helps separate the roving
Montana this summer feels like that too. I get up in the morning and I garden--or not, I work on my spinning project--or not, I have an appointment or lesson--or not. There is no drive, only flow. Life stretches out in front of me with endless possibilities and refreshingly few obligations. Sure there is some maintenance (it wouldn't be a home of it didn't require time for upkeep), but it doesn't swamp me.

Before we left Austin I cleaned out the refrigerator and threw away old bottles, jars, and packages of things that would be out of date before we got back from the summer. It felt liberating, and I reveled in the knowledge that I will return home to a clean (and mostly empty) fridge. I wish I had done the same thing here. I really looked at the contents of the door of the refrigerator here today and I was horrified. There was mayonnaise from our last stay here... two years ago. The door was crammed with things I know house science projects or alien lifeforms waiting to eat our brains while we sleep. Looks like I do have one upcoming obligation here...

Kaiju guards the roving I decided not to use
It's so quiet in this house that, when I am not typing on the keyboard, I can hear my heart beating in my ears, and the occasional squeak of Dave's chair upstairs. The pets aren't even snoring right now. It's putting me to sleep, but before I head off for a nap, I'm going to write about a project I have begun. It's a SAL/KAL (spin along, knit along) that I am starting now and will continue in conjunction with the Tour de Fleece. (More on that another day.)

The project is designed to help use up beautiful but random (not matched to a color or project) 4 oz skeins of hand dyed roving. Every spinner buys them, luscious little braids of scrumptious color that we have no idea what we're going to do with but which we absolutely, positively must have. Then they languish in our stashes because there's not all that much you can do with 4 oz of yarn--no matter what the One Skein Wonder books tell you. But for this project, it doesn't matter if you only have one skein of any given colorway as long as you have eight skeins that you can see going together in a glorious technicolor project. Eight skeins (11 for me--I don't want to run short) are enough to knit a sweater. I'm going to knit a sweater coat!

Look at the lovely crossover cable in the back!
I really hope a little over 3-1/2 lbs of yarn will be enough to make this pattern. Maybe I should do more than guess and actually take some measurements because once I have started spinning, it will be hard to add more roving into the mix and I have my heart set on this pattern.

When I was in high school I found a thick red mohair and wool sweater coat knit in a thick cable pattern by my mother. It was enormous--I don't think she ever wore it. She said I could have it and I wore it everywhere, whenever it was cold enough (and in Montana that meant I had plenty of opportunity). I wore it through college and brought it to graduate school in Chicago. Somewhere there I lost it, as often happens with things one loves and drags around the world. I have thought of it many times in the 30 years since it disappeared, and wished I still had it. Now I am taking roving of every color in Merino, Polworth, and other blends of wool and I'm going to spin a light yarn for a lightweight sweater coat that I can wear in Austin. Merino is not the most durable of wools. It is the softest, but I have some reservations about its appropriateness for this coat. I guess I'll have to wait for the final evaluation and choice when I finish the yarn.

Pavlova sleeps on the discarded alpaca roving
The pets all helped in the preparation of the fiber--mostly by napping on or near it. Pavlova took a brief, but more intense roll by chasing and pouncing on bits as I pulled them apart. She was eventually dissuaded.

And then it was time for a late lunch, some reading in the Sky chair, followed by a two-hour nap. Dave napped too as it was after 5:00 in Austin and the work day was done. He is convinced that we are sleeping so much because of the lack of oxygen in the air (we are at about 3,000 ft being at the top of the hill in Polson). I think it's just been a hard couple of years.

Now the evening stretches lazily ahead. Maybe some spinning, maybe some reading. There'll be enough time tomorrow or next week for more serious endeavors.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Dog's Purpose

I have posted with a cat in my lap. I have posted with two cats in my lap. This is the first time I have attempted a post with a cat and a dog. But I am not going to dislodge anyone. We all just watched A Dog's Purpose. Gallifrey was fascinated at the beginning, and then went to sleep. Jig stayed agitated for the entire movie and kept pressing up against my seat staring at me. Finally I let him up next to me, and he curled into a ball huddled against my leg with his nose tucked to his tail and to my thigh. Then Kaiju wanted some lap time for the first time since we got here. And so there were two.

The movie is over, the tears are dried, and the animals remain nestled. All I need now is Pavlova deciding to join us. I was disappointed that the critics panned the movie (it only got 30% Rotten Tomatoes on Netflix), but I was encouraged by the audience reviews (4.5 stars from 511 reviews). Even Dave liked it--while saying it was the most manipulative movie since ET (and, yes, he cried too). All that remains for me is this post and the inside of my eyelids--oh yes, and some soppy snuggling with my spouse.

We started the evening by going to the East Shore Smokehouse for dinner, then home for wine, chocolate chip cookies (Dave is the cookie god), and a wonderfully sappy movie (made a change from our usual fare of Deadwood Season 2). Now it's 10:00 pm and it's still light out. I love summer in Montana!

The time zone is a bit problematic as my piano lesson is at 8:00 am Wednesday morning for the rest of the summer (9:00 in Austin and 10:00 in Atlanta where my teacher is), but I got up at 7:00 (it gets light about 5:30 am) to practice, had my lesson, and then went out to the garden for a couple of hours. I don't remember all I did this afternoon. I know I worked on my upcoming spinning project (a fascinating piece I will describe on Friday) and read, and I didn't nap. Well, I didn't really nap. I did lie down for half an hour before going to dinner but the J called from Atlanta halfway through and we talked for a good long while. I have missed her and am really looking forward to seeing both her and Kyla on Saturday!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


I told myself (and my spouse) that I would rest and relax this first week. Yesterday I didn't really follow through on that plan, but I'm all behind it today. So far I've read email, signed up for the Tour de Fleece (similar to Spinzilla only linked to the Tour de France and our teams spin as theirs do), planned my project (based on the random stash basket of hand dyed rovings I brought with me to Montana), and had breakfast. I've also lazed in the Sky Chair and done a bit of reading. Now I'm contemplating a nap.


Nap over, dinner over, a ride with Gallifrey in the Mini Cooper with the top down over. It's only 9:15, but bed is calling me again. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll wake up and get back into the groove. As soon as I get all the pets (including the kitten) back in, I'll wrap up for the night.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Let the Summer Begin

That ribbon of highway
Somehow the night before last when I got online to post, I didn't notice that my post from Friday on Glass Incarnate was missing. However tonight I noticed that both of the posts from the past three days that I did on my phone ended up on the misbeehiving blog! Apparently when I post from my phone it goes there by default. Who knew. So I moved the posts over tomnight, and sadly lost the comments (sorry Bill!) Ididn't want to lose my streak of posting every day since December 27, 2016. Now I'm ready for today's.

I am very relaxed right now--a super-sized Negroni will do that for you, even if you had it over four hours ago--and I still don't feel up to a long post. I think the idea of posting earlier in the day is a good one. Today I managed to get up by 9:00 am (I heard Dave on his conference call on the deck above me and that was enough to get my bones moving out of bed). Dave took a short break from work--sadly no day off--and we went to Pop's Grill for an enormous breakfast, and when we got home, I decided to give myself a treat and I weeded in the garden for an hour. There were many other things I could have done--maybe even should have done--but I chose to clear my mind and zen out in the dirt.

They don't call it Big Sky Country for nothing
The garden at my mom's house used to seem so big and overwhelming to me! I used to look at it and I couldn't imagine getting it all weeded. Today I parceled it out into a week's work, and I determined a good treat for weeding would be to go buy some perennials to take the place of the weeds I pulled. Expanding your projects makes you grow, and the experience of putting in the botanical garden in Austin makes this entire yard look small. Most of the weeds in the bed are grasses--though there is a dandelion or two in the bunch--so weeding goes fast and I feel no angst about pulling up wild flowers. Tomorrow I'll plant the perennials I got at the nursery this afternoon, and then I'll weed the next strip in the garden. I should have taken pictures today, but I'll do it tomorrow.

Plants here are very expensive. Next year it might be a good idea to grow seedlings in Texas and then bring them up here to plant in the garden. I still have a big bed in front that I covered in plastic three years ago in preparation for turning it into a a large raised bed and it's going to need a lot of plants. Pete from two doors down offered me some irises and poppies when he splits his this week, but they'll just make a dent. Or I could just continue to support the small local nursery which has to provide a living for its owners in an inhospitable climate in a very small town.

The view of the lake from dinner last night
But enough of plans. This summer is all about relaxing and recharging my batteries. Sure I'll source some blue pine to make our bed and my desk, and maybe I'll design the mosaic for the front hall and fuse some experimental glow in the dark tile for our master bath remodel (the powder came Friday!).l But, really, relaxation and recharge are the watchwords. Pictures of the lovely lake and garden tomorrow.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


After a brutal two days in the car, we have arrived in Polson. All the animals were fed and watered, and we established a connection to the Internet. The rest can wait till tomorrow. Shortest blog post ever.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

In the Motel With Three Dogs and Two Cats

Everyone is on edge and testy tonight after 14 hours in the car. Well, everyone who was in the minivan anyway. Dave, who drove the Mini Cooper alone without even any music to keep him company, is the most sanguine of all of us. Kaiju doesn't deal with stress well--he lashes out at everyone with wicked teeth and wickedly fast claws. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to towel him to get him into the carrier tomorrow. Today, after a brief foray around the car, he went back into his carrier (each cat has to have their own because Kaiju is vicious when he gets put into it) and slept there all day. Pavlova slept in my lap and the days were good in the back (Gallifrey gets the back bench seat and Jig and Baxter took turns on the other backseat).

All went well until Baxter managed to slip off the seat on the door side and get himself wedged. He cried and carried on and just got himself more and more stuck. There we were doing 75 mph going through somewhere near Denver and I had to pull off onto the shoulder and get out to help Baxter. But it got worse. When I opened the side (powered) door, Baxter slid and his head went through the bottom of the door mechanism. The doors are meant to open if you close them on something, but apparently there is no safety mechanism if something falls through to the back. I was hauling on the door trying to stop it from closing on his neck as it was opening and the cars on the highway (thankfully on the other side of the car) were zipping by at a bezillion mph. I ended up grabbing his collar and pulling him out by his neck. We were both shaking by then, but he was okay.

Now we're settled into a La Quinta, Dave went out for a bottle of wine while I ordered pizza to be delivered. Everyone has eaten, and we're ready to sleep. Tomorrow, Montana.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Pond is Done, I'm Not Packed, I'm Going To Bed Anyway

I thought I'd have the time and energy to do a good post today about the garden and Montana and the upcoming summer. Clearly I wasn't thinking. I'll probably be in Polson before I can do another good long post. Till then, stay sane.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Another Penultimate Day

The bog pond gets planted
Tomorrow is our last day in Austin for awhile, and it's my last intensive day of contractors. Today... was a pretty great day! The contractors stayed last last night and tonight and they will finish the cosmetic parts of the pond by tomorrow--that is to say all the rock work and the waterfalls. There is still a lot of plumbing and filtering infrastructure to get in--and heaven knows when they're going to work on that as they are moving on to their next job on Saturday. I just hope they get to most of it before I come back in July.

Tomorrow night I'll do the final reveal with pictures, but for tonight I'm just going to watch another episode of Deadwood with the spouse and go to bed early. I was out in the sun all day again today watching the pond construction and putting in the bog plants. I am sunburned, and my eyes are burning from the sunscreen running into them. Maybe a gin and tonic will help...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Brenda of the 600 Days

Unlike Anne of the 1000 days, I do not expect to be beheaded any time soon. The law and my aversion to prison being what they are, I'm not expecting to behead any contractors any time soon either. *sigh*. Nevertheless, when we leave for Montana, Stone's Throw will have been under renovation and/or construction for 600 days, and the projects that are all in progress in one stage of completion or another won't be finished. The exterior painting won't be done. The paths in the Botanical Garden own't be done. The front door won't be replaced. The pond won't be done. The stream in the back won't be done. The rainwater collection system won't be done. The painting was only half finished when the painters vanished so now there is plastic sheeting masking off huge swathes of decking and stairs, just flapping in the breeze. At least they took the plastic off the windows before they left so we could see out.

Today my glass is definitely half empty, and I have no one to blame but myself. I believed all the assurances that things would be done by a certain date on *every* project because I wanted to, and because the contractors were earnest, and sincere, and seemed to just be having a run of bad luck with weather and staff and vendors and life. I should never have let my current contractor start so many simultaneous projects as he has going. I should have insisted that he have all the materials and workers for the project underway rather than starting the next one because he was missing something for the first one. But I didn't want to waste time and I figured keeping them moving forward was better than having them not work and wait. Maybe if I had said, "You don't have the materials here for the job we had scheduled? Fine. Everybody go home until you have them." instead of paying them to do something else. Today for me was the last straw.

Last night he told me they would be done with the capstone around the pond today, the pea gravel would be delivered and the guys would get it in first thing, and he would set the stone for the three waterfalls himself. Then his main worker called in sick today, (he went home sick yesterday afternoon), the third guy he was going to get to haul pea gravel couldn't come, the pea gravel delivery was delayed until 2:00 (it still isn't here yet), and he didn't show up himself to start laying the capstone till 11:30.  At one point when they started working on the capstone, he was talking to me and letting one of his workers--a really good guy, but no experience in laying stone--do the capstone. When I questioned the contractor on it, he said he was teaching him how to do it and it was the only way he was going to learn. I politely lost my shit. I said I didn't think it was appropriate for him to be learning on my time when we are this far behind the schedule, and I would really like to see them both working. I said that I understood that I wasn't going to be able to see the skimmer set-up, or the float set-up, or the plumbing finished before I left for Montana, but I absolutely had to see the capstone all around the pond and the waterfalls done. I was pissy, he was annoyed, he stomped off, and I went back to the house leaving them to do whatever they were going to do.

I feel really bad when I crack the whip. Whoever I crack it over invariably looks at me like I'm nuts and as if all I'm doing by pestering them about when they are going to get done is slowing them down. But from my perspective, I don't pester until they are already seriously late, or they look like they're going to be late and I need to know in advance to change things down the line that are contingent upon their progress.

Lack of realistic time table seems to be endemic with many contractors. The kitchen remodel was a mess both for lack of adherence to schedule and crappy work. The roof took three months instead of three weeks. The walk through on the botanical gardens and the rest of the landscaping was February 13, it was supposed to be done by the end of March. It's still a ways from being completely done. Admittedly, there has been more than a little mission creep on my part, but dammit part of managing a schedule is managing customers' expectations. "Yes, we can add that in but it will add one week to the schedule" instead of "Sure we can do that" with never a mention of schedule or cost and nothing but assurances that it would be finished on time when pressed.

At least the solar guys hopped right on it and threw more people at the project--without asking for more money--when they dropped the ball. They even went threw all the last minute hoops the city threw at them with nary a hint of we can't do that today because we're busy with something else. They were very much a how-high-would-you-like-us-to-jump organization when they screwed up--which made me feel like it was less common for them.

Do I sound bitter? I feel burned out. I need the break I will get this summer from contractors. Now it's time for one last progress check for the day. I will stay away from sharp implements while I am out there.

NOTE: They're about where I expected they'd be. They'll finish the capstone on the lower pond by 5:00 and the pea gravel is about 20% in (if that). That leaves tomorrow to finish the pea gravel so I can plant the bog plants on Friday, and tomorrow and Friday for the entire upper capstone and the waterfalls. As Miracle Max would say, "It would take a miracle".

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Pond Goes On

Today saw another delivery of 2,000 gallons of water for the pond, and the acquisition (and release into it) of two dozen minnows and 11-1/2 dozen goldfish. I ended the day by putting the water lilies in the lower pond. Tomorrow we'll get the pea gravel so Thursday I'll be able to plant all the bog plants in the top.

I was hoping the pond would be completely done before we left for Montana, but it is not to be. It should look pretty close to finished, but the skimmer won't be in, the float ball for maintaining the water level won't be in, and the backflow preventer won't be in. My big fish fountain won't be repaired and installed either. But I'll be back in July (mainly so Jessie can get her braces off) and by then it really should be done. I think I want to make a platform in the middle of the pond for frogs to sit on. I fished a frog out yesterday and put him in the tank with the water lilies because he couldn't get out on his own. Maybe if I have a sunning platform for frogs in there (maybe even as a stand for the fish fountain), frogs will be able to get out. Our pond in Atlanta had a sloping entrance so things that fell in could get out. I need to do something similar in this pond in a way that won't encourage herons...

Tomorrow I'll have better pics. For today, here are a couple of shots of the guys trying out one of the rocks for a waterfall slab.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Stupidity Runs Rampant

Yesterday was Sunday. Kind of an obvious statement, but it serves to anchor the coming post. On Sunday we do laundry. Laundry uses a relatively large amount of water. We also, more likely than not, run the dishwasher. The dishwasher doesn't use a huge amount of water, but it adds to the consumption nonetheless. Sunday is also a great day to start the morning sharing a bath, lounging and reading our books in the sun amongst the orchids (and right now tomatoes). The bathtub--seating two, as it does--does use a lot of water, especially when one of the participants (the stupid one to be named later) chooses to top it off with hot water and stay a bit longer after the other one leaves. All in all, given that our system only produces 1.5 gallons of filtered water a minute, it was not a good day to decide to run a test of the entire soaker irrigation system in the botanical garden.

I had good intentions (obviously). We are getting ready to leave for Montana and I didn't want the house sitter to have to muck around with watering a solid half acre of new plants. But I failed when I bought the timers for the hoses and didn't get the kind where you can specify the day(s) of the week you want the system to run. Mine just have intervals so logic (which I applied only sparingly) dictates that if you program them all on the same day, they will all start on the same day and run on the same day thereafter. I also set each hose to run for an hour. Finally, to make sure each hose had sufficient pressure, I set them to run in sequence rather than in parallel. Let's do the math. We have six raised beds. All but two of them have two hoses each for a total of ten hoses. That means running our water for ten hours straight. On Sunday. On top of everything else.

The tip of the iceberg of my stupidity was discovered by the spouse on Monday morning when he went to brush his teeth and found there was no water. I blithely reassured him that it was just because I had watered the night before and all I had to do was go flip the reserve switch on the tank and we'd have water. The true magnitude of my stupidity was subsequently discovered when I arrived at the well house to find we were already in reserve mode. I had run our tank dry--and it started the day almost full. The coup de grâce was delivered by the new meter I had installed which told me we (and I use that pronoun very loosely) had managed to use 1,750 gallons of water on Sunday. Average consumption for a family of two is 160-200 gallons for a day.

Back to the drawing board for an automated system for watering the botanical gardens (thank god I put in native plants which only need water to get established and then sparingly thereafter).

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Superheroes and the Summer Blockbusters

The summer blockbuster season has begun, and I was lucky enough this week to see both The Mummy and Wonder Woman. I saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean the days they came out.

As I am guessing is the same with most other people who have seen the first two movies, Wonder Woman is by far and away my favorite. I would go so far as to say that it is easily as good as the first Star Trek (thanks to Chris Pine) and it holds its own with  Guardians 2. I am really looking forward to the upcoming League of Justice film in November.

So the studios that own what superheroes: Disney owns Marvel Studios. Warner Brothers owns DC. Universal is hoping to get into the game with the Dark Universe, of which the Mummy is the flagship film. 20th Century Fox has all the X-Men movies--including Logan, and they also have Deadpool. Paramount has the Star Trek franchise, which I shouldn't mention because it isn't any kind of super hero series, but, hey, Chris Pine. It's very interesting to see what different studios are doing to get into the game since the take-off of The Avengers.

Marvel continues to be consistently strong in Guardians as in their individual character movies and the Avengers films. Warner Brothers has mostly bombed trying to do as well with the DC characters, but I really think they hit it out of the park with Wonder Woman. What's so great about this triumph is that it is a movie with a female protagonist played by an unknown, non-American actress. She is supported by a well put together cast of quirky sidekicks (the staple of any successful action movie), and I think the future looks bright for WB. They are pulling together a powerhouse cast for the League of Justice (I can't tell you how long I've been waiting for Jason Momoa--Kal Drogo--to play Aquaman). Now if they can keep the humor balance and not let Ben Affleck bring it down (Tom Cruise 2)...

Universal should really have picked someone other than Tom Cruise for The Mummy. I am not wild about him, but I respect his rendition of Jack Reacher and his run as Ethan Hunt. But in the Mummy he never found his stride and his attempts at humor and showing a warm side were (not) laughable. Russell Crowe portrayed a credible Dr. Jekyll and even gave us a glimpse of a well-realized Mr. Hyde. But Tom Cruise's character (I can't even remember his name) fell flat in the comedy arena, and lacked good side kicks. Annabelle Wallis set a strong foundation for a continuation of the Jenny Halsey character, but, again, there was no comic relief (sidekicks, minions, whatever) in the movie leading one to believe it took itself (as did its leading man) too seriously.

Now since I don't take myself too seriously, I am off to bed! I'll finish the posts
about the bees tomorrow.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Something's Coming

I love the blank, bottomless rectangle that is a fresh Blogger post screen! Like the day that the post will chronicle, it begins with infinite possibility. I can hear Tony singing "Something's Coming" from West Side Story as I write this post. Of course by the time I write the post the day is over, but what spills from my fingers to the screen is anybody's guess--I don't even know what I'm going to write about until the first sentence forms. Spontaneity, that's what makes bouncing out of bed in the morning worth it. Oh sure, life is worth getting out of bed for, but spontaneity makes you bounce.

Today was a good spontaneous day. We could have (arguably should have) spent it checking things off lists and getting ready for the great summer migration, but it wasn't really necessary. It was much more fun to go for a walk this morning, and then go for a late lunch/early dinner at Roaring Fork this afternoon. There we sat out on their deck playing Tsuro, munching on appetizers, and sipping frufty cocktails. What made it even better is that we followed it up by going home and taking a nap, only getting up to water Zaga's tomatoes (for me) and to craft some code (for Dave) before heading to Bryon and Vanessa's for a late evening playing Takenoko. I feel so wonderfully, exuberantly carefree. (I almost wrote irresponsible, but responsibility didn't raise its ugly head today.)

Tomorrow, Sunday, will be a good day for responsibility, planning, organizing, and packing. After breakfast--or maybe brunch. Food has taken on a whole new aspect with Jessie gone. eating out has been easier than eating in, and Dave and I both like the same things so deciding where to go isn't the struggle it is when the three of us have to come to a consensus. Soon, however, all choices will be removed as the watering holes we frequent in Polson are The Smokehouse and McKenzie River Pizza for dinner, and Pop's Grill and Mrs. Wonderful's Marmalade Cafe for breakfast or lunch. I guess there are a couple more places we'd do lunch--even very generic Mexican and Thai places. But we mainly stick to the first four. We'll be back in a town with one, tiny, two-screen movie theatre and two restaurants we'd dine at.

That's what's coming--and I can't wait.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Still 56

After the big birthday celebration yesterday, today was a lot of same old, same old. The contractors are still behind, but I still love them. I didn't get to everything on my list, but I got half way through. Mostly I'm just content. Lots of lovely Facebook birthday wishes, a few phone calls, and a perfect evening with the spouse. But today... just was! I did get Zaga's bees and set them up this morning, but I'll write about that tomorrow in Misbeehiving. Today's post on yesterday's affair of the varroa mites (gack!) was long enough. I hope Dave isn't too annoyed about his kitchen strainer...

For now I'm going to put away the Chinese takeout (we had Vietnamese for lunch) and settle in to read my book a bit. I might also stew a bit more about where the cardigan I'm knitting has disappeared to, but maybe I'll drown those sorrows in another glass of wine and my book. I love well-crafted stories where people do heroic feats of daring do (magical, in the case of the book I am reading now) to help other people and triumph over evil. Okay, enough writing. Time to READ!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Another Year Opens

I took my first step  onto the road called 56 today and it is a fine road! There are many horrible things happening in our country and in the world right now, but today, in my little slice of Austin, the day was perfect. I missed my daughter who is in Atlanta visiting friends, but I was snuggled awake by my spouse who then plied me with fresh, hot coffee, pastries and flowers. It was sunny and hot all day--and there's a full moon tonight.

I even zipped through my bee maintenance in record time. The only blot on my day was a spot, well it was more like a lot of spots with six little legs waving madly in the air as I poked them to see if they were smutz or varroa mites (smutz doesn't wave its legs around). But even the mites turned into an opportunity to learn more about bees and to get more in tune with my hives. There'll be a Misbeehiving post tomorrow that will go into varroa mites in depth for those who are not like my husband (whose eyes tend to glaze over when I start in talking about mites and mite treatments).

To celebrate the day, I was pampered. I was scrubbed, exfoliated, pummeled and oiled from head to toe. I drank champagne (and lots of water) throughout and just reveled in the bliss of a guilt-free day being glad to be alive. In the evening, Dave took me to the Alamo Drafthouse to see the new Mummy movie. I liked it, I didn't love it. I might have loved it had they chosen someone other than Tom Cruise for the lead and had significantly fewer screen writers. Sadly... But I'm looking forward to Wonder Woman on Sunday.

Back to the concept of birthdays. In the US we start our new year on January 1. The change from the old to the new gives us a chance to reflect on our lives and adjust our course if we think we're heading into undesirable waters. Birthdays are somewhat the same, especially for me as mine falls almost in the middle of the regular year. I almost get to start over on my birthday with a new evaluation of life and what tweaks need to be made to improve it. Today I am happy to say I don't feel the need for any tweaks. Oh some of the things I planned to do at the beginning of the year have fallen by the wayside (spinning 15 minutes a day, making bread and pasta on a regular basis, keeping up with ikebana). But some things are going strong. I have posted every day since the end of December. This might not be such a an accomplishment to everyone else, but for me, at the end of the year I will have a journal of every day of my life for one year. I have also kept up with the 365 Project and taken and posted a picture a day every day this year. From this project I'll have a visual journal of the year. Finally, I have kept up with playing piano. I take lessons (through Facetime) every week, and I practice regularly and intensively. In short, life is good. I can ask for nothing more.

Now it's time for the wheel to turn. I will end my day as I began it: by snuggling my spouse.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Too Late to Call It the Antepenultimate Day

Today is the last day I'm only 55 years old. Tomorrow I'll still be 55, I'll just be 55 + 1. If I had thought of this a few days ago I could have posted that it was the antepenultimate day before I turned 56, but I snoozed, I lost. I love the word "antepenultimate". It means the next to the next to the last. Last = ultimate, next to the last = penultimate. I learned the word my freshman year of high school when I got the chicken pox and spent a lot of time laid up in bed reading the Penrod books by Booth Tarkington. I've never read the Magnificent Ambersons--also written by Tarkington--and he won a Pulitzer for it. That might be a good read for this summer.

I celebrated the last of my 50 hump year by doing not much. Oh I planned to do a bunch of stuff with the bees, and I planned to put the last plants (vines and a couple of shrubs) where I would like them planted so Devon can get them in. I also planned to make appointments to have both the cars serviced before Montana. Well I didn't get those appointments made, but I did get an appointment for a mani/pedi today and a mini spa day tomorrow. A girl's got to have her priorities and I plan to ride into the last half of my fifties with style and well-sanded, well-oiled skin from head to toe. I think they're even going to use some hot stones on me tomorrow!

Of course before I get the whole pampering thing done I do have to see to the bees. I have my plan of attack all set out: First I'll slip the paper into the bottom of the hives and then I'll dust all the little critters with powdered sugar. I'll collect the powdered sugar on the paper and then pour it into an empty plastic frit jar--I have one jar for each hive. Then I'll put the new brood boxes on two of the hives with the feeders (filled today) in them. For the nasty hive that already has the second brood box on, I'll just take out two of the frames in the top box and put in the feeder. The hybrid hive will get a closed-top ladder deep division feeder, and the TopBar won't get anything at all. As soon as I'm done feeding and putting on new brood boxes, I'll slip off my very hot bee suit and take the jars of powdered sugar into the house to do my mite count in cool air-conditioned comfort. There is no way in hell I'm going to swelter out in the sun in my full bee suit trying to count little black specs with wavy legs. That's how you tell a varroa mite from a regular black spec: When you poke a mite it waves its legs around. When you poke a spec it just sits there because, hey, no legs! I have to get this all done by 9:20 am so I can take a shower and hit the road by 9:30 to be at the Spa by 10:00.

For my spa treat (I am using the gift card Dave and Jessie got me last year for Mother's Day), I'm taking a bottle of champagne. I won't finish it, but I have a time where I need to sit and wait between services as they couldn't get them all in one after the other. But I don't care. I'll sit in their comfy lounging area in a fluffly white spa robe reading my book and drinking champagne. Then tomorrow night, The Mummy! I just wish Jessie were home to share the day.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Another Day, Another Lollygag

I am not a hot weather person. Much as I like the sun and baking in it, I don't like working in it. I get sick to my stomach if I work for long in the heat, and Austin right now is nothing if not hot. The studio is hot, the garden is hot. It's hard to find a place that's not hot except for the couch. Needless to say I'm not getting much done. As usual there are dozens of things on my list that I need to get done before going to Montana--some of them I need to get done to take to Montana. But the heat is just sapping my will to live.

Some posts area litany of things accomplished in the day. If I were to do a post like that today it would be things not done. Tomorrow I need to get up and make sugar syrup for the bees, and swap out the bottom board on one of the hives so I can at least test three of them for varroa mites. I need to do this while it is as cool as it's going to get for the day as I have to fully suit up for Hive #4. I'm tempted not to feed them when they're so cranky, but that wouldn't bee nice!

Monday, June 05, 2017


My Lichtenberg machine came today and I had a great time playing with it! I stood on a rubber mat, I wore rubber soled shoes, I worked on a wooden table with no metal or other conductive material around, and I kept my phone and electronics on another table. I even took off the silver pendant I always wear and I didn't have any other jewelry on except my wedding ring. The LM has two probes that conduct the electricity, and it doesn't have an on/off switch. Instead it has a foot pedal that you must depress in order to have current. The second you take your foot off the pedal, the power is cut. This post shows three quick tiles I did before dinner.

As has been the case for me lately (I swear I am having more and more senior moments!), the first baking soda and water solution I mixed up (it's the electrolyte solution that facilitates the arcing of the electricity) had the wrong proportions of baking soda to water. It still worked, but not as well as it did with more baking soda in it. I worked primarily in pine today though I also tried a hardwood piece (birch, I think), and I experimented using both one probe or both at a time. I can definitely see the potential of this tool for making some very cool art, though it doesn't seem to create as dramatic pieces (deeper wider burns) as the homemade, microwave transformer-based LB's. But my spouse is already dubious about me using this one, there's no way on earth he'd go for one of those.

Today was also a bee day so I'd better mosey on over to the bee blog--which, by the way, is getting a new name: Misbeehiving. Thanks, Uncle Ed, for the great name.

I'm saving the best photo for today's 365 Project image.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Short and Sweet

Today was supposed to be a big post for bees as I went to the Ask a Beekeeper informal meeting yesterday and had a lot of my questions answered. Unfortunately the answers are different than the other information I have been getting, and I really respect the sources of both sets of answers, so now I'm in a quandary as to what I should actually do. But more about that in the actual bee post. As I didn't go into the hives today there won't be a bee post--there'll be a long one tomorrow.

As for today, it was a good day brunching with the spouse and unpacking/organizing the studio. I even got a small kiln load in. Otherwise it was a pretty uneventful day not deserving of a post. So I'm going to stop now. I figure I'll have plenty to post about tomorrow between contractors, bees, Montana, and glass. G'Night!

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Temporary Empty Nest and Furniture

The oak floor throughout the first floor
except for the master bedroom and
bathroom which are carpeted.
I helped Jessie pack last night till 1:00 am, and then we got up at 5:00 to go to the airport. I am too old for this--I need more sleep. After putting her on the plane for Atlanta, Dave and I stopped for breakfast at Kerbey Lane. When we got home (7:30 am) we fell back into bed, and I didn't get up till after 11:00. Dave had to shake me awake even then. I think I could seriously have slept all day. I'm ready for bed now and it's only 9:30! In spite of my sloth, I did a lot of creative thinking today. While visions of glass and other media did dart in and out, I must admit that today's main focus was again wood.

Our ceilings are all wood
As I was dozing this morning I was thinking about the frame (mostly the headboard) I'm going to build for our bed. I was running through the qualities of different kinds of wood in my mind, and I was also considering the enormous pile of stripped juniper cedar logs and limbs that is building up in the front yard to see if there was a way to use them.

Driftwood bed
But the bed won't exist in a vacuum, it will have to fit in with the existing base elements of the room. Right now our bedroom has a 30 year-old teal wool plush carpet. We are going to replace it with wood when we redo the bathroom. Initially we thought we might do a bamboo floor since the flooring we have in the rest of the main floor isn't available anymore (you can see it under the dog), but then we decided that something that radically different, combined with the layout of our house, would make the bedroom and bathroom look like an add-on instead of an integrated part of the house.

Upcycled pallets
So we'll probably go with a similar style of varying widths in an oak for the floor--maybe one that's even a bit darker than the one shown. We also have to consider the pine ceilings in every room on the first floor including the bedroom (the dining room ceiling is shown above). The windows also have wide pine trim and decoration around them,
and I don't see replacing it or changing the color on it.

Blue pine

Much as I like the stripped cedar, that rustic look just doesn't feel right. Maybe for Montana, but not this house. Likewise the cool beds people are making out of upcycled pallets really don't fit in with the armoire and the style of desk I would like to add in there. Another thought I had was blue pine which is wood from beetle-killed pine that we have a lot of in Montana. But though I love it, its predominantly grey cast would not go with ANYTHING we already have.

Luckily there is a reclaimed wood place in Missoula that I will visit to see what I can scrounge and possibly have cut. Maybe I should see what's available first and design around that.

Friday, June 02, 2017


I can't believe I actually made it to the end of the week! I am ready to drop right now, but I still have to help Jessie pack when she gets home from the anime movie and pizza party she's attending at a new friend's house. She leaves for Atlanta tomorrow morning at, gulp, 7:05 am (what was I thinking when I chose that departure time?!?!?). We need to leave for the airport about 5:30 am. I swear I'm coming right home and sleeping after we drop her off.

Work at Stone's Throw has been challenging this week. Materials haven't shown up or the wrong materials have shown up. The workers are blocked because they don't have the tools, the materials, or both to do their jobs. I am seriously losing my calm! The latest snafu was the second round of rock delivered for the top edge of the pond. First the stone was 4X4X10" block. I rejected that before they even got it off the truck. Then they brought the flagstone shown above. I thought that was going to be okay, but as soon as they got it laid out, it's obvious it doesn't fit in at all with the tidiness and regularity of the rest of the stone. Today I went out to the stone yard and picked the stone I wanted (that was three hours out of my day I didn't really have to spare), and Monday it will be delivered.

The liner and washed river rock for the bog pond should also come Monday. I forgot to ask about the scaffolding for the painters, but I will send the contractor a text and remind him about it for Monday too. Maybe the electrician will even show up Monday and we'll have a fully productive team! Considering I had planned to have all of the gardens including the pond done by the end of March--at the latest--I am way past needing it to be done. I am so glad we don't have any kind of renovation project in Montana this summer... Though I do need to clear my parents' stuff out of the metal building on the lake property. I sold my share in it to my uncle last year and now I need to get all the stuff out so he can set up a workshop. Maybe he'll even let me use some of his tools!

Okay, it's still 82 degrees here in Austin. The last time I looked this afternoon it was 92. I am sticky with dried sweat and have a burning desire to wash my hair so I'm going to go shower and rest a little before helping the J pack.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Mid-Year Crisis

What is it about the end of December/beginning of January and the end of May/beginning of June that makes me go non-linear in project space? My brain has been in overdrive with ideas for glow-in-the-dark in glass and resin, glass in metal and wood, glass as tile and cast sculpture, welding metal for sculpture for the garden (and with glass). So far I have purchased 2 kgs of strontium aluminate in blue-green and green, and as a birthday present to myself I got a Lichtenberg figure wood burner. It's a lot safer than the microwave transformer and produces the same effects on wood. Of course I look at the fractal-like design and I think of filling it--maybe with glow-in-the-dark resin, or maybe casting glass to fill the void.

I have a lot of cedar (juniper) from cutting down all of the cedars to make room for the garden and other trees. Most of it isn't of any significant diameter. It will make good, rough garden furniture, but it's too small to mill into boards. But there are a couple of pieces that I can see making a split live edge table and casting glass for the middle cavity between the two live edges. Something like the piece below left, but with straight edges on the outside.

Then there are the welding ideas. We got a couple of the tomato cages shown below right for vines in the new garden, and I couldn't help thinking I could make some really cool pieces like this if only I could bend, cut, and weld steel--I could use my own glass in them.

I just have this intense creative drive to do one of a kind pieces right now. And I am trying to get away from the mentality that what I make I sell, and I have to be able to make it in a way that is cost efficient for production and making a living. Honestly, art to me anymore isn't about making a living. If I find myself needing to "make a living" again (i.e., pay the mortgage), I'll go back to software.

I'm not sorry I decided to have a career as a glass artist, but I am under no illusions that the business of producing, marketing, and selling a production line of glass work exists in the same creative universe as making something for its own sake. Making something because the drive to do it is there from the moment you wake up till you drop asleep exhausted, and then goes on in your dreams is about passion, obsession. Sadly, production art is like production anything else after awhile: A job. And not one that pays very well.

But had I not made the change from software to glass, I never would have become an artist. I started as someone with a passion for glass, but lacked the technical expertise and a personal artistic vision. Like many hobbyists, the first thing I picked up were the technical skills. Developing my own style took much longer, and it took longer still to be comfortable in the skin of an artist and to extend my confidence into other media than glass. Being an artist is about the way that you see and portray. If you are a technician, all the better as you have the skill to produce your inner vision, which makes you a good artist.

I'm also really glad that Dave loves what he does for a living as much as I love creating for the sake of creating and learning for the sake of learning, because it means we won't starve. It doesn't hurt that he is an artist too, and a Mæstro at that. Passion and production, he is one lucky man.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Endings and New Journeys

The botanical garden showing about 2/3 of the total size.
It was a day of planning, juggling, fits and starts, project dreaming, and the end of Jessie's freshman year in high school. Whew! We made it through! The work on he pond chugged along--with the exception of a delivery of the wrong stone for the cap around the edges. I found the workers in the midst of unloading and just said, "Oh no, that's not the material I agreed too. No, we are not going to just cut it down. By the time I have paid for the labor to cut it and the rental of the saw, I will have paid more than I would have for the right material, and it will take three times as long." I hope the correct material gets delivered tomorrow and the capstone can go around the rim of both the bog area and the main pond.

It was also a day of new beeeez, and there is a non-eyeglazing post on them here.

In the meantime I dream of mosaic shower stalls and entry floors, glow-in-the-dark applications, a wood table inlaid with a cast glass river (anybody can do it with resin!), the bed headboard and desk I want to make for our room. More pragmatically I scope out everything I have to get done before we leave for Montana. I need everything to be ready for the house sitter, and I need to make a final decision on my summer project. I'm leaning towards the bathroom mosaic. Oh yes, I have to decide what else to pack too. (To take my orchids to Montana, or not to take them. That is the question...)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Mad Scientist Comes Out to Play

My inner mad scientist has been getting quite the workout over the past couple of days. I have become obsessed with strontium aluminate and the potential of adding it to fused glass--specifically tile for the bathroom, and glass pebbles for the garden paths. In case you're unfamiliar with strontium aluminate, (and really, unless you're a chemist, why would you be familiar with it?) strontium aluminate is an inert, non-toxic chemical use as glow-in-the-dark pigment powder. I have a suspicion that it's what was in the glow-in-the-dark glass frit I bought many years ago. I made Jessie a cast starfish out of the frit and it still glows almost all night.

Oh sure, you're thinking why don't I just buy glow-in-the-dark tile and pebbles for the garden? Because I am itching to play with the powder myself! I want to see what I can do with it as an added element in mosaics and castings, in fused pieces and combined with dichro! And with the global market what it is today, I can order it from a vast array of sources at very good prices. Heck, I can even buy it on Amazon. I also see the possibilities for glow in the dark and thermoreactive (or thermochromic) glass and resin pieces for inlay in wood or setting in metal--or in ceramic glaze. Oh the possibilities! Now I'm sort of wishing I kept one of the crucible kilns...

Monday, May 29, 2017

Scammers and Phishers In My Internet!

As is the case lately, I post with a cat in my lap. It is fraught  in terms of juggling the keyboard and balancing while hitting the keys, but it is becoming the new black. At least this cat is a bit smaller than the other one so I can put my legs a bit closer together, put the laptop over the cat, and support it on both my knees. Better stability.

Today there was also a bee post so the bulk of my brain and energy went there, but I have a small bit left for here. Tomorrow we go into the final week of school for the J with two finals tomorrow and one on Wednesday. She will be done by 11:00 on Wednesday and will officially be a sophomore. Her friends are all learning to drive this summer, but she is remaining adamant that she has no interest in driving now. Polson this summer would be the perfect place to teach her as the speed limit is a strictly observed 25 mph, Ah well, maybe she'll change her mind.

Now I'm shopping for clothes with her. It's always an experience as her modus operandi for shopping is so much different than mine. She likes TopShop, Rita Ora Dragon Adidas (shoes and clothes), and Air Jordans in burgundy velvet. She also has no problem shopping for them in Asian and UK stores--some of which don't even ship to the US. Ebay and Etsy are also good sources, but the sizing is so limited there. She hates the mall so Macy's and Nordstrom's are out. Target has nothing. We're doomed. Oh yes, and she won't wear white after Labor Day. I think she got that one from my mother. But it's Memorial Day now so white is in again! Maybe she'll wear the white shorts with the blue whales again that she insisted on getting last summer. Teenagers make me tired.

My shopping trip on the Internet ended on a fraudulent site created to mimic Solestruck shoes which I learned is out of business (the fake is at Before I figured out it was a fraudulent site, I entered all of my personal and credit card information and also Jessie's debit card number. I cancelled both cards and requested replacements within 10 minutes, but the fraudulent site had already posted a $75 charge to my credit card! Luckily I am a suspicious person (though not suspicious enough as they caught me) and figured it out before more damage was done. Chase didn't seem too interested in the site I was on, but I filed a report with Google. I thought their reply was pretty funny.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

I had hard day today. It started well enough with tacos and Hive at Torchy's with Dave followed by a run to IKEA, and I did finally get the rest of the metal yard art I bought for the garden delivered. But then it devolved for me. Maybe it was the oppressive heat and humidity that have been building for the past few days (and which finally broke into a major storm tonight). Maybe it was the walk around the yard and garden noticing all of the things almost done, mostly done, or not done at all. Maybe I just got overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of poop I have to cleanup tomorrow since I didn't get to it today. Whatever it was, I had no bounce in my bungee and was not capable of doing anything new and productive. So I didn't! I took a day off. Tomorrow, bees. Tomorrow the rest of the plants get planted (vines and trees). Tomorrow I hope for a bounce bungee. Tonight I give up and go to bed early. Although how bad can the night be with a lapful of cats?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Did It!

After Dave's and my date night at Vigilante the other night I have been very much back into playing board or card games of an evening--or of a morning. Today we went to breakfast at Waterloo Ice House (the teenager slept in) and we played a new game called Hive. It's easy to learn (though hard to master--it's very much like chess in my mind), quick to play, takes no set-up, and uses very little table space. Dave won one real game and I won one real game. We also each won a flawed game. And then we let the game at the restaurant and Dave had to go back for it after we got home. Wacky times.

Now the workday is done, dinner is over, and I accomplished my one task of the day. It took six straight hours of work, but I got it done. I have completely unpacked the sunroom/textile studio and put almost everything away. I ran out of storage boxes and baskets so I'll have to run to IKEA and the Container Store tomorrow, but I deserve the reward as I used a bunch of the cool boxes I bought on sale at JoAnne's earlier this spring that have been waiting in the pantry for a purpose.

The big difference today in my modus operandi was that I kept working and unpacking boxes even after I ran out of optimal storage containers for the stuff in them--and long past when I wanted to quit. Now I am left with four piles of yarn and three piles of fabric, and I know exactly what I need to buy for them so finishing will be quick tomorrow. Then the only thing I'll need to do will be get rid of the 60" LeClerc Nilus loom in there and the room will be done!

I'm glad I didn't set any loftier goals for today as I would have been disappointed and frustrated at not getting through them. Now I have one goal--and one day--done, time to look toward tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm going to clear off the things on the old classroom table in the studio and set up a beehive box and frame assembly and painting area. Then I'll start making hive bodies and frames. Monday might be a day in the greenhouse studio getting everything in there put away. But I'm getting ahead of myself. One day, one goal.

Friday, May 26, 2017


I find myself staring down the barrel of a three-day weekend and the beginning the prep for Montana in a bit of a funk. There are any number of unfinished projects surrounding me--most of them still having to do with unpacking and organizing my STUFF. Oh I've (mostly) unpacked my clothes, and I've (sort of) unpacked my shoes, but the textile studio (weaving and sewing supplies and yarn) is a mess. The greenhouse (jewelry/soap/paper studio) is a mess. The glass studio is (still) a mess. I feel like I am in Limbo...

Oh dear, this is shaping up to be one of those posts where I flagellate myself for everything I have in the air, catalog it all, and assert with enthusiasm my devout intentions to do something BIG about it tomorrow. Then tomorrow I'll disappear down a rabbit hole and end the day with nothing more accomplished than was done when I began it. Alternatively, I can see myself getting up with enthusiasm tomorrow, surveying the spaces, and deciding the best way to handle everything is to go to Target or The Container Store to acquire more vessels in which to organize and store everything. The acquiring will take most of the day and I will end with even more stuff (in the form of totes or boxes or bins) languishing in stacks waiting to be purposed.

Groan. How about I nip all the angst and self-whipping in the bud and set myself one task for tomorrow. Just one. Maybe that would break my paralysis in the aforementioned areas and set the stage for more accomplishments. So tomorrow I will... Unpack and put away all the yarn! Oh this is harder than I thought it would be. I feel myself straining to add more to the "tomorrow I wills". Just one more thing, I think. I could... But no. But yes. Okay, compromise: Most of the boxes left in the textile studio are yarn. There are also one or two with other textile craft stuff in them. Tomorrow I will unpack and put away the contents in all of those boxes. Whew! No I can go to bed in peace. Maybe after a little nip of peach moonshine.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lights, Camera, Solar!

After months (truly months, not feels like months) of waiting and yelling and occasionally tears (me, not Dave), the City of Austin installed the meter on our solar installation today, and we started producing energy! Happy little Type A me: We not only have solar panels, but we also have the Solaredge system which means I can got on my phone and monitor the output of every one of the panels individually and the entire system together. It's not quite realtime--it only updates every four hours--but it has a cool feature on the dashboard that tells you the equivalent number of trees planted for the system's production, how many lbs of CO2 emissions you saved, and how many lightbulbs you could have powered for a day with the energy you have produced. I'm just happy it's DONE!!!

Between 4:15 pm when the system went live and 8:00 pm when the sun stopped hitting the panels, we produced 20.13 kWh! It's a 23kWh system, it'll be interesting to see how many hours the system is active tomorrow and how much we actually produce in a day. Sadly it's supposed to be partly cloudy tomorrow. I want a completely sunny day!

Most of the posting today was all about the bees. Now it's time for bed.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Checking Things Off the List

What a fruitful day! The rain is over and the hot sunny days are back. I used this one to paint and stain bee hives and frames, to plant cactus, and to fire a kiln load. Well that last one didn't require a sunny day as I did it inside the studio, but I've got to say the sunshine made me a whole lot perkier! So did the bottle of Campari from 1959 that Zaga brought over for cocktails at the end of the afternoon. Yummy! Not at all like current Campari in flavor, it was strong and sweet with what I thought was a distinct honey note. The pic is courtesy of Zaga.

The first load of water was delivered for the pond today--about 2,400 gallons. I can't use the water from the well as it would likely kill the fish, and if I wanted to use water from the RO system it would take.... a very long time at 1.5 gallons per minute to produce 6,100 gallons. Today's load was just to verify the watertightness of all the drains and to situate the liner before putting the capstone around the pond and the next rows of blocks up the face of the bog pond (where the waterfall will spill naturally filtered water from the bog pond into the main pond).

The painters continue pressure washing, scraping and caulking to prepare the exterior of the house for painting. This morning was almost a repeat of the roofers on the ladder outside the bathroom window while I was in flagrante, but I was ready for them and quickly put on clothes at the first sight of guys wandering around the yard.

I finished the evening by working on the studio books. I have a lot of invoices outstanding for as far back as last August. Time to get those settled up. Tomorrow I WILL finish my website and newsletter. Now I'm tired (not as tired as I was a couple of weeks ago, but still snoozy) so it's time to go to bed.

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.)



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
salad of fresh snow peas and meyer lemon / our house cured olives and Zach Hunter's carrot - fermented chili "gochujang" and various vinegars

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
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


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 
potato and spring garlic terrine and Montessori nasturtium / creamed spinach and smoked black garlic - pecan miso from last February
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
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


ember roasted mango - passion fruit sorbet / lime scented champagne mango and mesquite bean / fresh "myoga" and candied macadamia nuts
a very rich steamed custard made with Italian hazelnut paste and Tina's eggs / green apple granite, lemon leaf meringue and olive oil  
Wrångebäck, St Agur blue, and Kunik / served with our red wheat sourdough and preserved orange marmalade