Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Roll 'Em Out!

My body is old. My back is old, and my knees are old, and every muscle from my neck to my toes is old. We are all old. And sore. Yes, Dee, I took more Aleve! :-) But thanks to Becky, who moves faster than anyone I know and is uber organized, just about everything in the studio is packed. At least everything I am taking. There is only so much you can fit in a 20-ft. U-Haul, and a 26-ft. one won't fit down the drive in Austin. I have driven one in, but last time I took out a good bit of a mountain laurel and one entire corner of the fence. I don't really wish to repeat that experience. Besides, if I have a bigger truck I'll just be encouraged to take more STUFF, and I really have enough STUFF. What's that saying? If you haven't used it in six months you don't need it? With that direction I wouldn't be taking anything! I have yet to work out what I'm going to do with this load once we get there as, as I mentioned yesterday, it's not going to fit into the garage as is. But, also like yesterday, I'm going to continue to play ostrich and not worry about what I'm going to do on the Austin end of this voyage until we're at least packed and loaded here.

I was wrong the other day about the woman who walked the property when Becky was there wanting to buy it to rehab and inhabit. She is just buying it to rehab and flip. Nonetheless, I got all the doors back for her. I am not leaving the sidelights though. I don't know where they're going to go in the new house, but I am not abandoning them. Many other things are being abandoned, however, and I encourage anyone in Atlanta who wants to come pick through glass--fusible, scrap, stained, architectural clear--crates, lamp frames, molds, clamp lights, and I-Don't-Know-What-Else to drop by tomorrow. If you can't come tomorrow, you are welcome to drop by Thursday, but I won't be there. There are IKEA tables, office chairs, shelving units, refractory material, mixed frit, something for everyone!

Tonight I have curry at the Hinton's, relax and drink champagne. Tomorrow, the load out. When I was little, 2-3 years old and up till I was a teen, my mother would sometimes put on a record when I was going to sleep and I would listen until I dropped off. My favorites were Frankie Laine's "Hell Bent For Leather" and Percy Faith a"Music Of Brazil". Tonight this keeps running through my head:

"Keep rollin', rollin', rollin',
Though the streams are swollen,
Keep them dogies rollin', rawhide.
Through rain and wind and weather,
Hell bent for leather,
Wishin' my gal was by my side.
All the things I'm missin',
Good vittles, love, and kissin',
Are waiting at the end of my ride.

Move 'em out, head 'em up,
Head 'em up, move 'em on.
Move 'em out, head 'em up:
Cut 'em out, ride 'em in,
Ride 'em in, cut 'em out,
Cut 'em out, ride 'em in:
Hah! Hah!

Movin', movin', movin',
Though they're disapprovin',
Keep them dogies movin', rawhide.
                                                           Don't try to understand 'em,
                                                           Just rope an' throw an' brand 'em.
                                                           Soon we'll be living high and wide.
                                                           My heart's calculatin',
                                                           My true love will be waitin':
                                                           Waitin' at the end of my ride."

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Studio is Almost Packed!

What a great day! I have been dreading the packing of the cases of sheet glass ever since we decided to move. They are the reason I was in no hurry to put the studio on the market and finish getting everything out to Austin. The sheets of Bullseye aren't scary: They're all the same size--or at least they fit into clearly defined buckets--case, half-case, one foot square. And even the full sheets are only 20 inches X 37 inches and have rolled edges on the sides where you carry them. I would pack and unpack Bullseye glass all day long (and have). By contrast the sheets of architectural clear glass I have (and have had since the early 1990's) are very large, very heavy, very sharp-edged, and sometimes very irregular. Then there's the Fremont, the Desag, the St Gobain, the Fischer, the Oceana, Youghigheny, and Spectrum--all for stained glass work which I haven't done any of since the late '90's.

Every move with the non-Bullseye glass (and this is the sixth since Dave and I have been together) has been a nightmare--one of them I even ended up in the emergency room getting stitches in my leg (or was it my hand?). But today went silky smoothly, and except for two six-foot pieces of white Tekta that we forgot to pack (I needed to cut them first), we're golden!

Yesterday I packed the 10x10 inche sheets, tomorrow we pack the half sheets--Dan the carpenter built me seven or eight half-sheet-size boxes--and then we finish with the odds and ends left in the two sheds, the two hotshops and the studio proper. It sounds like a lot, but it should be very doable for one day. I'm lucky that the studio is selling as-is so I don't have to clean everything out. I can take what I want and leave the rest. Brian is busily packing up his torch set-up in the front room too. Bitter and sweet.

Finishing up tomorrow will allow us to load Wednesday and free me up for a day of socializing (and a pedicure) on Thursday before heading up to Marietta to spend the night with friends there. There are a lot of people I want to see while I'm here, and it's just not going to work out. As usual there are too many cherished friends (a very good problem to have), too little time, and too much work jockeying for my attention. I have been so focused on the events of the day every day that I haven't even figured out the truck unload schedule yet or hired helpers! Breathe.

So dear Atlanta friends, if I don't see you this time, YOU'LL JUST NEED TO COME TO AUSTIN TO VISIT!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

All Over But the Packing

Jessie and Gallifrey survey our lush,
verdant yard.
The studio is now closed, all sales from it over. It was a bittersweet day. The bitter started when I drove past our old house this morning to find that the new owners took down the arbor in front that had been covered with jasmine, dug up the jasmine, cut down the fragrant tea olives, the camellias, the Harry Lauder Walking Stick (contorted hazelwood tree), the dogwood, the witch hazel, the service berry, and the yellow dogwood, as well as razed any plant taller than grass to the ground including ferns, quince, and azaleas. It's not like the yard was a mess. I had it radically pruned and neatened before we moved. But there is nothing left there from us now. The crepe myrtles and the maple were planted by the builder, and they're all that remain. I'm glad I couldn't see the backyard and the pond.

It was also sad to to look around the studio with its careless piles of leavings and stuff bound for the truck, and to remember all the hopes and dreams I had for it when we bought it. I never realized many of them, and of the ones I did, most turned to ash for one reason or another.

Clockwise left to right: Half-Moon, Cookies & Cream,
Willow, Sadie, Tuxedo, Night Shadows, Sun Dust,
Creamy, and Pearl
The sweet news for the day was that I sold my mom's Honda without even trying--I even had three people contact me about it--and it looks like the person who is buying the studio might be interested in rehabbing it and living there! I didn't meet her, but my friend Becky did when she was there in my place for the inspection, and apparently the woman buying wanted to keep the woodwork and also expressed interest in keeping the chickens. We have three of our original girls left--Creamy, Cookies & Cream, and Sun Dust--and one adoptee who was nonetheless from the same hatching as our girls--Muffin. They're all getting on in years and I'm not sure how much longer they'll be laying, but they are sweet and friendly and eat bugs.

Tomorrow is the day I have been dreading ever since we decided to move: The day to pack the cases of glass. Oh I got rid of about half of my glass in the studio sales, but the hard stuff to pack--the large sheets of architectural clears and the stained glass--barely even got touched. This is glass I have moved around for over 20 years and haven't really touched in all that time, but still haven't let go. I did try. I managed to sell a good part of a case to a lovely couple at the last sale, but today we only had a few people and no really large glass purchases.

But this move I won't pack alone. I hired two men for three full days to help me pack sheet glass, and Becky has offered to come on Tuesday for a bit. I had hired a woman from Task Rabbit that packed for me a day last spring to come tomorrow too, but she had to cancel at the last minute. Maybe I'll try to find someone else. One way or another, we'll be out by Friday, and it will be all over but for the closing.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

'Twas The Night Before the Glass Sale...

Much though the current actions of those currently in charge of this country scare and appall me, I am going to remain true to the nature of this blog and post about GLASS tonight. Part of the reason for that is that every time I try to post quotes and data and outrage over some recent political idiocy, Blogger deletes my post before I can get it up. Tonight, as before, I'm taking it as a sign. So I take another--they seem to be endless these days--deep breath and I focus on tomorrow in the studio. There are plenty of other places on the Internet where you can get your political news, and frankly I need a bit of a break from it too. Note to self: No more reading the news or social media before blogging.

So tomorrow I sell the last of the glass, supplies, and furniture from my studio that is not moving to Austin. Friday of next week we are set--knock on wood--to close on the sale of the studio and pass ownership of our quirky little 1920's Craftsman bungalow and its resident chickens off to a new owner. Observations indicate that the house may be saved and rehabbed instead of torn down and McMansioned. I would be very happy if that were so as it has great charm, it just needs some TLC (and a serious influx of cash).

Tonight I rest up alone at a friend's empty house and quaff my sauvignon blanc readying myself  for tomorrow. I will get up early to stop by Kavarna for an iced mocha and a pastry, and then I'll meet our carpenter Dan at the studio where he will spend the day building me some additional glass crates for my really big and really small glass. I have plenty of Bullseye crates for my regular Bullseye glass, it's the white Tekta, architectural clear, and stained glass glasses that I'm envisioning difficulty packing. And then the half sheets and the 10 X 10's... Just come over tomorrow and buy the darn stuff! Save me! Dee, BLESS HER, is coming to help out with the sale after all which is going to be an ENORMOUS help for me. Nevermind the fact that she is the only one who knows what's going on with the imaged dichro and dichro scrap, just having two people to answer questions is going to help a lot.

Now I'm going to listen to my audiobook a bit and then drop off to sleep. I think I have figured out how to save democracy with Data.world, but that's a post for another day.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Winter Show

God Bless German Roommates With German Liqueur-Filled Chocolates To Share! Now that I have that out of the way, on with the post. It was another lovely day in spinning land filled with chatting, and laughing, and sharing, and shopping. Oh yes, and spinning.

Tonight, as I reflect on the past three days and prepare to leave in the afternoon tomorrow (early as it turns out), I remember why I did the winter wholesale craft shows for so long. It wasn't for the sales--though that's what we artist/business folk would like to tell ourselves--it was for the friendships and the art. I don't remember the big orders from the shows (not that there were all that many of them). I remember the Reading Market for lunches, the cherried chicken livers from I-Can't-Remember-Where (but Dee will know), and the annual dinners at Maggiano's. The days may have been exhausting, the sales crappy, the expenses excruciating, but seeing old friends from around the country over dinner was always wonderful.

As we artists are solitary cats in our studios, it was the only time in a year for us to get together with both other artists and with the store owners who carry our work and who have become our friends. At the show, we'd hug and laugh and be all giddy to see each other again. But nothing stands still. Some of my friends have retired. Some have died. Some have had to go on to other things because they just couldn't make a living at art--got to have a regular job with a big company for the insurance, doncha know. Some (like me) are still in the business, but looking for a way other than shows to make the annual sales numbers--shows are just too expensive for the return.

But without the shows, there are no trades or wholesale sales between artists. There are no Hulet Chocolates (glass chocolates--can you think of anything better?) or exquisite Loy Allen glass insects for me to bring home. And then there are all the new artists I would meet and whose work I would acquire, and with whom I would march out into the cold in search of dinner and lots of wine. I can't help but miss all of that.

These past few days of happy, artistic camaraderie here at the Spin-In, actually have made me a bit sad that I'm not doing the Philly show this year. Don't get me wrong--I won't miss the exhaustion of show set-up, the fear of crappy sales, or the eternally excruciating expenses. But I will miss my friends, the art, and another giddy get-together.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

There are Worse Lives

 What a fiberful day! And that was after waking and walking out onto our balcony to this gorgeous view. The pool shot I took last night was pointing down, and this one is shot looking out.

I'd like to say I sat in my chair and spun alpaca and silk roving all day, but it would be a lie. I spent a lot of time shopping today too. And talking to friends. And walking out for sandwiches. And taking pictures. And talking some more. And shopping some more. At the end of the day a few of us had wine and cheese in our condo before heading out to dinner at The Back Porch. I love Florida for Gulf seafood!!! A little sauvignon blanc and some blackened grouper followed by key lime pie... I don't have words. I also don't have any more room in my tummy.

What spinning I did was all alpaca/silk "thread". I finished the first half of the roving (it's only 4 oz.) and am now making good progress on another 1/8 of it. The shopping was much more exciting! I bought natural green cotton. The green is a very subtle sage that gets darker when you boil it. I'm going to knit another cardigan out of it--though don't be fooled by the phrasing "another cardigan". What I mean is I'm going to start another cardigan--the third one this month--that I hope to finish soon. Two of them are cotton or cotton blend, and the other one is merino wool/yak/silk. I foresee a lot of knitting in my future--and I'm even making up the pattern for the cardigan kind of as I go. I based it on an existing cardigan pattern, and the hard parts--top, arms, upper body shaping--are all provided by the pattern, and then I am just adding some swig and flourish at the bottom. Anyway, all I can say about the shopping is, it's a good thing I drove! I have no idea what I'm going to do for my Master Spinner class in Wisconsin next month as I'm flying. Maybe I'll pack my suitcase inside an empty suitcase for the trip out so I'll have tow to fill for the way home. Fiber ahoy!

A Roomful of Spinners

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fences are For Sheep, Not People

I am nestled in bed at the end of the first (half) day of the January Spin-In in Destin. This is apparently the 29th or so year of the Spin-In--a four day hand-spinning retreat that is by invitation only, and attended by women from all over the southeast. The Peachtree Handspinners Guild group is one of the larger ones there and is represented by about 23 people this year. I attended last year and had a less-than-stellar time, but a couple of friends from Atlanta pressured me to come again this year, and I'm so glad I did. It was non-stop catching up this afternoon with all of us acting like a bunch of sugared-up four year-olds at a birthday party. I feel sorry for anyone else staying at the hosting facility as this many giddy women (and a few men) are LOUD. I'd like to say it's all about the focused spinning, but one of the women near me summed it up perfectly today when someone asked her if she brought her cashmere fiber to spin and she replied, "Oh no! I only brought fiber for mindless spinning!" If you can't talk a mile a minute while spinning it, you should just turn away from your wheel and face your conversation partner. I, of course AM STILL SPINNING THREAD. I didn't mean to spin thread, but this alpaca-silk blend I am working is just perfect for a nice, fine, lace weight yarn--and I've always wanted to try to spin something this fine.

In the evenings after spinning, we go out to eat, talk some more--everything from politics to reproductive history--drink, and we knit. I forgot my knitting on the couch in Austin so I did what any red-blooded American knitter would do and bought more yarn and needles today from the vendors at the SI. I am doing the same cardigan pattern I have at home, just a different yarn.

Tomorrow will start early, another merry-go-round of color and chatter and fiber and enthusiasm. I will immerse myself in it with the knowledge that right now there is nothing I can do about the horrific things that are happening in my country, in my government. It is okay to put aside fear, anxiety, and anger until after this event is done. There are many women around me, sisters in the wool, who are on the other side of fence about all/most/many/some of the issues that bother me, but while I am here, I am focusing on the fact that they are my sisters--not the enemy--and for the next four days, there is no fence.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Passing Through Lousiana

The refineries of Louisiana
Deep breath. Let's start over. I wrote the beginnings a post after catching up a bit on the Internet, and the environmental news was so grim that it spilled over and fouled my post. So now I breathe, I delete, and I start over.

I am reaching right now, trying very hard to come up with good and happy things like unicorns farting rainbows. It was a tougher than usual drive east today, and I am now ensconced in my room at the La Quinta in Walker Louisiana. Someone from the hotel called me this morning to tell me they are starting construction on the hotel now and there are no rooms on the first floor, the elevator isn't working, and they can't serve breakfast. The news came on top of several other difficulties in my morning, and I'm afraid I was less than patient and understanding with the clerk from the hotel. I felt very bad when I got in tonight and saw that they are doing construction because of flooding, and I realized they must have been damaged during the horrible floods last year. Just a little reminder to always give the benefit of the doubt and assume that there's a good reason for someone's actions or some hardship in their lives that you don't have and so to cut them slack.

For a unicorn farting a rainbow, the studio went under contract today and is set to close next Friday. That is both a terrifying and an exhilarating development. I think I have everything set-up to pull it off--even though I will not have the help of any studio elves as Dee is getting ready for her show in Philly in three weeks, and Becky works for an accountant and this is the busy (tax) season. My current plan is to have a last sale day on Sunday--email to go out when I finish this post--and then three days of packing and one day of loading The Last UHaul. Close on the property Friday, Dave coming in Friday night, and then he will drive the U-Haul back to Austin Saturday while I drive the minivan. That's all the easy part. The had part, the part that is twisting my brain is, where am I going to put all the stuff I'm bringing back?!? The studio in Austin is FULL. But if the weather is nice, I guess I can pull everything out of it and pile it on the driveway, and then put it all back in the way it should go instead of higgledy piggledy (which it is now) and find some room that way. And I can set-up the woodworking equipment in a woodshop in the room under the master bedroom.

It's hard to believe that the last ties that bind us to Atlanta (which aren't people) are set to be severed in just over a week. I still have to sell my Mom's car. Anyone know anyone who would like a 4-door 1999 Honda Accord with 57,000 miles--yes, only 57,000, no typo--for $2500? I also need to rehome the sporadically-laying chickens--they're sweet girls, but they are getting old and we are not moving them to the sun and coyote-drenched landscape that is Austin. Anyone know anyone who would like four sweet chickens?

Now I'd better get a sale flyer out and then get to sleep, Destin and spinning tomorrow!

Monday, January 23, 2017

A-Spinning I Shall Go

Today was all about finalizing a contract on the studio property. I have two developers interested and bidding, and both of them want to close before February 10. I still haven't absolutely accepted an offer as there are things about both that bother me. Bother me to the extent that I am consulting a lawyer tomorrow. whatever way it turns out, life is going to be interesting in February.

Tomorrow, after my drawing class I hit the road for Destin and the January Spin-In--a four day spinning retreat. Then instead of coming back here Saturday, the current plan is that I drive to Atlanta for the final studio sale (this Sunday), and three days of packing before closing either Thursday or the following week. It's all still up in the air. When the dust has settled I'll recount my adventures in cash contracts with no brokers and wheeler-dealer developers. For now, I need to get to bed!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Oh My, Oh My, Oh Sunday

Other than Torchy's Tacos for breakfast and a run to IKEA, it was a pretty laid-back day. I did pick up another Bona mop for stone and tile floors--I would have just used my existing one with a new cleaner cartridge, but I couldn't find any cartridges locally. So I have a second Bona mop. Bottom line: tomorrow I mop the utility room and greenhouse floors.

IKEA has stepped up their furniture game and I found the perfect table for the utility room there. It's meant to be a kitchen cart/island, but it will make a great folding table for laundry, and laundry baskets will fit up underneath it--off the floor where the dogs won't pee on them. Welcome to my life. It's taller than it looks in the photo, and it has a really pretty bamboo butcher block edge. Well, not really bamboo butcher block, bamboo butcher block formica. In any case, it's the perfect height and width for the space, and it's stylish too.

Today, the wind blew so hard today it blew the front door open several times. It blew hard enough for us to enjoy the wind chimes in our neighbors' backyard made from oxygen tanks with the bottoms cut off (that used to be in our front yard--life is weird). It blew so hard that it blew all the haze from the air so our view of downtown from the house was crisp and clear. The wind blew signaling change, signaling clearing out and cleaning out. I am feeling pretty good about the cleansing wind, no bluster allowed.

I still have two developers pestering me about the studio property, but I ended the day by just telling them that if they're serious, send a REAL contract, (thank you Stacy Reno for telling me which contract to specify). I told them the points I wanted in the contract, and who I wanted to use for a closing attorney (thank you agin, Stacy, for the recommendation on the closing attorney). We'll see if they respond with new offers or not. If they don't, fine, I am done looking at real estate contracts with spelling and grammatical errors. If they have those kinds of errors in them, how confident can I be that they are legally correct? If those boys want to be in the big leagues, they better get real contract forms.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Today was the 2017 Austin Area Beekeeper's Association 6th Annual Seminar, and my brain is FULL!! I went with my friend and next-door neighbor Zaga who is also api-curious, and by noon, she was hooked. As you may know, I walked into the seminar already the proud owner of two complete hives, plans and parts for a third, and three nucs (nuclear colonies--one of the ways of getting new bees and a queen) on order. When we got back from lunch Zaga bit the bullet and ordered a nuc--many places around us are already sold out so she needed to move quickly if she wanted to keep bees this year. I also said, "What the heck, they're selling varroa resistant queens and nucs for a really good price."And I ordered another nuc. Now I am short a hive so I am going to need to either buy or build one more. I think I'll buy, and I think I'll go for another Langstroth hive. Zaga also chose Langstroth so we will have three Langstroth hives, one Kenyan Top-Bar, and one Honey Flow. Some of you might remember that this current bee thing originally started a couple of years ago now when I contributed to the Honey Flow Kickstarter campaign. Now look, *five hives* coming on-line this spring!

In today's seminars we learned about bee biology, essential equipment, how to set-up your apiary, month by month management, the basics of integrated pest management and queen-finding, and at the end of the day, we learned to extract honey with a live demonstration. We also learned the mating habits of bees including the fact that the drone bees explode after mating! I thought male black widows had it bad...

Along the way we also learned about Africanized bees in Texas and how to manage the genetics of your hive, nutrition management from feeding sugar syrup to making pollen patties for protein supplement, and how to sample for varroa mites. We were in the beginner track all day so we missed mead making, queen rearing, and customizing and printing your own honey labels, (among other topics) but I figure we can come back next year for those.

A honey super with 10 medium frames,
 shown on its side, ready for extraction
I end the day on a bee high, and with the memory in my mind of visiting friends Bill and Bridget in California many years ago, buying a book on beekeeping, and stating my intent then to raise bees. It has taken awhile, but the dream is coming alive. Honey anyone?

Friday, January 20, 2017

The End of One Era and the Beginning Of Another

Today marked the beginning of the end of Siyeh Studio Atlanta. I haven't finished moving the contents of the studio to Austin yet--I still have all the sheet glass, half sheets and 10X10's of fusible that haven't sold, all the sheets of glass for stained glass left, and other odds and sods left. I also haven't put it on the market because I still have stuff in it, and Brian is using it for his torch-work studio. In spite of the fact that it is not on the market, I accepted an offer on it today with a closing date of asap and definitely within 30 days.

While it makes sense to sell it, my feelings are bittersweet about the final end of 2480 Memorial Drive as my studio. When I think of it, I think of our carpenter Dan building everything from the kiln room to the hotshop to the shed to the chicken coop to the second hot shop/ceramic studio--which we never even got to use! I remember the good times in the hotshop, the sleigh rides, the date nights, the classes and the studio elves. Sure there was a lot of tension and stress with running a retail business, a hotshop, my own production glass business, and managing date nights--and I have to say I won't miss the retail, the hotshop or the date nights--but in tonight's memory (rose-tinged as it is) I feel nostalgia with a twinge of sadness. I also dread the speed up in tempo that selling the studio will require of me.

It looks like a trip to Atlanta is in my near future. It would make sense to do one more sale day for glass and fixtures, and then pack the rest up and haul it back to Texas, but time is already tight and it's going to take me a lot of work to pack everything--the architectural glass alone is going to be a ginormous pain in the patooty. So for those in Atlanta either interested in glass or in seeing me, how does the week of February 7-13 look?

The studio in Austin has big news from today too: the solar was turned on and is functional! The solar company had to turn it back off again and remove their test meter as we are now waiting for Austin Energy's inspection and new meter installation, but I am hopeful that in just over a week, Siyeh Studio will be a solar glass studio.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rode Hard and Put Away Wet...

Where does the time go? I look up and day, which spread so bountifully in front of me this morning, is almost over. I find myself cramming the things I promised myself I would do every day into the last two hours of the day. That's not exactly the spirit of the intent, and it's not working out for me. Yes, I get the post, and the photo, and the spinning done., but they aren't treasured little moments in the day that I get to enjoy. Instead, they're becoming obligations. Time to reset a bit. Yes, I am going to keep taking pictures, I'm just going to take more of them throughout the day (like I did on Tuesday when I went to my first drawing class). No, I am not going to try to add 15 minutes of drawing in every day. When it happens, it happens, no pressure, no stress. I do like the post at the end of the evening because there are lots of interesting things that happened during the day around which to build a story. If I do it first thing in the morning, it often seems to turn into a list of all the things I contemplate accomplishing in the day, and the list is a totally unrealistic nightmare that I get to report the next morning I failed to complete. No, spinning should start the day. Spinning and piano.

I will not spin tonight. I am tired to the bone after running around all day doing the program for an event put on by the Cinematic Arts Program at McCallum tonight, picking up supplies for it (a wig and make-up for Jessie's teacher to wear as part of his drag costume), attending my first KAL session (way to hell and gone north of the city in Jonestown, and then getting back to McCallum to pick up Jessie, feed her, and chauffeur her back for the event. I have had six hours of sleep a night for the last three nights, and I am normally a 9-10 hour gal. As it's almost 11:00, I'm not getting an early start on the sleep thing, but I'll take what I can get.

Oh yes, and the day ended with a bidding war on the studio by two developers. We haven't determined how we're going to proceed yet, but it looks likely that Atlanta is in my near future, to pack up the last of the studio an finally say good-bye. Good-bye later, good night now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Make Flowers Not Politics

The universe clearly doesn't want me to post anything more about the Affordable Care Act or Planned Parenthood as Blogger just deleted my entire formatted post and I can't get it back. So instead of a rant, you get flowers. Today Jessie and I started up our ikebana practice again after the holidays, and though it was difficult to get back into the rhythm, we made it. I also practiced drawing today, and in both drawing and ikebana, my head got in the way of my creativity. I think it was the same for Jessie. The last couple of days have found me still more energized than I have been for several months--which is great, but also sliding into the nervy, agitated side of energized, which is very counterproductive to creative work (and a tranquil home). Need to find my happy medium. The kitten, who keeps walking on my keyboard and putting her nose up to mine is clearly trying to help.

I didn't plan to stay up so late tonight as I have slept poorly for the past two nights, but I was unwilling to miss another Spin15 day or a post. So now I post, and when I am done, I will spin. I posted the ikebana pic at right to my 365 Project tonight. It's kind of lame, but unlike yesterday, I didn't take many pictures today--just ikebana. But the 365 Project is not meant to be 365 days of stunning, professionally composed and shot photos--it's 365 days of life. Some days my life is messy and haphazard, and some days it's breathtakingly beautiful so it's perfectly okay that my photos are the same.

I wish I'd had this little chat with myself earlier in the day instead of wasting it fretting that I wasn't going to get to everything I had scheduled, or I was going to be late for something. I spent the whole day anticipating failure and disaster. But life is quite pleasant if I let myself relax and enjoy it instead of worrying about what I won't get done. There is something peaceful about the house when everyone (except for the kitten and me) is asleep and the only sounds are the ticking of the clock, the purring of the kitten in my arms (I type one-handed and pause for frequent pets at her insistence), and the gentle snorelets of the husband. Sadly the kitten's going to be disappointed (and indignant) in a minute as there is no way I can hold and pet her and spin at the same time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Drawing Class and the Contemporary

I know I said today was going to be about ACA and Planned Parenthood, but after last night's post I was just to blue to contemplate it again this morning. Instead, my first class at The Contemporary Austin Art School! This is the most beautiful campus I have ever seen. It is on 12 acres tucked away at the end of a road, down by the river in near-north Austin. There are peacocks roaming the campus--including inside the ceramics kiln room, and lots of enormous live oaks shading the grounds. The live oaks weave through palm trees and bamboo and cast a shade surely welcome as the weather warms up. It was raining today when I arrived a little early for my class, but the rain didn't stop me from walking around and taking pictures.

My class was wonderful--I made a new friend and I really like the instructor--she even has a YouTube page. Best of all, I feel like I might actually learn to draw! Completely unexpectedly, my posture was naturally perfect, I breathed just fine (the teacher exhorted us to breathe a lot), and I serenely let the drawings flow for all three techniques we learned today: gesture drawing, scribbled gesture drawing, and blind contour drawing. Each one was a little better than the one before it. (Until we got to blind contour drawing where you don't look at the paper while you're drawing. At all. Those were... interesting. I think the sheep below was my best.

Our instructor said she has no expectation of us having any time to practice during the week, but she said we would improve much faster if we do. She said if we do opt to work outside class, she would recommend three drawings, one in each of the techniques we learned, for five minutes apiece each day. I'm going to give it a shot this week to see how it goes. Let's see, spin 15 minutes a day, practice piano 20 minutes a day, blog (about 45 min) daily, knit daily as much as possible, take pictures every day and post one to the 365 Project, and draw 15 minutes a day. And all of that is before doing any glass! My life truly has become a creative endeavor (internal little happy dance).

When I got home from class I was so energized and inspired by my experience at the school that I did one more check of their online course catalog to see if there was a pottery class I could get into. Lo and behold, there is a class starting in March on Thursday mornings that has space. (Most of their classes are filled with waiting lists. There was a one-day Watercolor class That I was interested in that had ten students signed up, and another 35 on the waiting list!) The ceramics class is wheel throwing--both beginning and intermediate--and it will start up right about when we finish our sweaters in the KAL (my Thursday afternoon knit along which begins this week). Too bad the the Contemporary doesn't offer silversmithing. However I did find one place in Austin that does, Creative Side Jewelry Academy of Austin, and I may take a class with them later this spring or next fall--two classes a week is my absolute stretched out max (not including my half-hour piano class Wednesday mornings).

I should do an ikebana or two tonight, but I'm going to wait till tomorrow morning when I'm fresh. So I'll post a few more pics from the class, the campus, the art on the grounds, and the peacocks, and then to bed!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Let Us Remember--and Wake UP!

Today, this Dr. Martin Luther King Day, is a pivotal day in a volatile country. No matter how much I try to keep my cool, love my neighbor (and Zaga, I mean that in the figurative sense--not the literal), and be kind, I keep getting slapped in the face by people I like and respect who don't seem to be able to see anything negative happening on their side of the political spectrum. When I see posts and hear comments about the hate liberals are spewing, and read derogatory remarks about the hats some women are going to wear in the March on Washington (really? you're focusing on their hats and whether they resemble vaginas or cats?!?!), it makes my heart hurt.

Don't these women get it that things are not looking good in our country for ourselves, our sisters, our friends, and our daughters--may they be straight, gay, or transgender. Intolerance and short-sightedness (or outright blinders) are becoming the norm in this country. Wake up people! Yes, Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States, but that doesn't mean we have to shut up, sit back, and watch him strip us of our rights, our values, and our freedoms.

Yes, as with every public protest, there will be those who are righteous and angry, who rail and chant and burn articles of clothing. But that's not the core of the March or the idea behind it.

This is the Mission Statement for the March:

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us - immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault - and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.
In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women's rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.
We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.

The entire mission and vision can be read here.

To put the upcoming March into historical context, a good friend's mother participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, and she wrote the following letter to her granddaughters about the experience. My friend posted it on Facebook a few years ago, and re-posted it today. I hope he doesn't mind me sharing it here.

"We had to catch the 3:00 am LIRR train from Lynbrook, especially put on to meet up with the Washington DC train from Penn Station to Union Station in DC to join whoever showed up for the March on Washington for Jobs. I had just finished my Junior year at Syracuse University and I knew when I first heard about it I would have to go. My then boyfriend XXXXXXX (later to be my husband) and my father, XXXXXXX joined me. We were told to dress well and to be orderly and polite to everyone. I wore a seersucker shirtwaist dress and loafers, my father wore a suit and tie and XXXXX wore a seersucker jacket, black slacks and a tie. This was the way the vast majority of the marchers dressed. The only exception was the enormous prevalence of beautiful Sunday hats worn by the majority of women. My Dad had printed up armbands that read, REMEMBER THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE, BIRMINGHAM. We distributed them to anyone wanting them on the ride down on the train.

I will never forget arriving in DC and not sure if anyone else was really coming - we came out of Union Station by 9:00 am and were greeted by the street filled with people and more importantly there was an endless stream of the most dilapidated buses imaginable - their windows were open and we were shouting and greeting each other and they were dressed, as ready for Church. The buses would have signs taped on saying, i.e., The Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama or another church from Mississippi, etc., etc., etc. - they seemed as thrilled to see us as we were to see them and honestly most of us were crying with the joy of the moment. Their hands and heads and hearts were out of the windows.

This was probably the most peaceful assembly of people I had ever been with and that lasted for the entire day. The DC Police were wonderful and helpful and were pointing all of us in the correct direction. They wanted us all to go where the line was starting to form. We needed to be ready once the March would begin. Everyone obeyed, followed directions and everyone was so lovingly polite. We knew our every action would reflect on Dr. King and the Movement and we needed to show how important this was.

When we first arrived, the murmur was that 25,000 were coming and we were so happy - but they just kept coming and coming in these worn out and tired buses across America to DC. We were shocked at the endless numbers of buses and people arriving. We would be marching with the giants... Dr. King, A. Philip Randolph, Mrs. Medgar Evers, John Lewis, James Farmer, Whitney Young, Jr., Roy Wilkins, Bayard Rustin (who along with Dr. King actually started this whole ball rolling for a March)... and so many more. I remember the priests, so many priests and so many nuns, marching in their heavy habits. And we were marching with all these incredible people who rode forever on these buses - how did they ever make it? What made them think these buses would make it? The whole thing started to feel surreal - some force was allowing this to happen. To happen so peacefully, so beautifully. They never stopped coming. Everyone shared any snacks, but we ate almost nothing - I do not remember having water.

Shortly before we got to the Lincoln Memorial, something exciting was rippling through the crowd and it finally got to us - President Kennedy had invited the leaders of the March to the White House for a meeting on what the marchers were demanding. This was so much more than we ever thought would happen that day. We knew we had already made a difference.

We were early and lucky to be nearer the front, which meant as we approached the Lincoln Memorial, we actually got to be under the first tree on the right, looking at the Memorial. It was the first shade of the day. We could see the podium and the speakers - far away, but there.

I can really only remember one other speech from that day, besides THE SPEECH. That was John Lewis' speech. Dr. King's speech started out slowly and he seemed to be moving slowly and then he found it. Then it happened and we all started to look at each other because we knew these words, the words he was now saying would be remembered forever."

Dr. King's speech was both strong and fiery, and peaceful and resolute:

"In the process of gaining our rightful place
we must not he guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not
seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from
the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane
of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative
protests to degenerate into physical violence. Again
and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting
physical force with soul force."

Tomorrow the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood's removal from eligible Medicaid service centers.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Little Wooly Gnome

Today is all about the floors. And the laundry. And the utility room. On the bright side, that means no housework tomorrow. On the downside, I'm still doing the annual books (it would help if I did them more than once a year, as I do for the studio, and once every five years as I'm now doing for the house), and the website still isn't done--much less the winter marketing and the contacting of all the galleries that have carried my work. But I bet if I'm diligent in the task part of what I have to do, I can allocate two hours a day _during the day_ to artistic endeavors of some kind. I had to put the caveat of 'during the day' in there as everyone should have their evenings to do family things, which for me includes spinning and knitting as I do those while watching a movie or just hanging out with my peeps.

To help ensure two hours a day I have the drawing class starting Tuesday morning, and I have joined a knitter's project group on Thursday afternoon at Happy Ewe. The knitter's group is so I can learn to modify patterns and size my knitting appropriately. Dave loves his sweater, but I can't get past feeling that it's a mite too large, and both the baby sweaters and the cardigan (the almost-finished cardigan) I knitted this fall are bigger than I planned. I only joined the group yesterday--I missed the first session so I went in, met the teacher, got the pattern, and picked my yarn yesterday--and already I want to modify the pattern. It's a fine sweater, but it's not a gorgeous sweater, and if I put all the effort into it of knitting it, then I'd like to come out of it with a gorgeous sweater. The pattern is a long cardigan, which is great, but I would also like to have the long drapey points in the front like there are on my current favorite cardigan which is industrially made and from a store instead of handknit. My cardie is getting very old (I wore it to BeCon at Bullseye in 2011) and worn out as I wear it almost everyday.

The group, it's a KAL really (knit-along), is free to join and do the project with the guidance of an instructor, but they ask that you buy the yarn for it at the sponsoring shop, Happy Ewe. Very reasonable, but it is moving me outside of my comfort zone as the yarn that works best for the project is a cotton blend DK weight (on the finer side for yarn--smaller diameter than the standard worsted weight everyone's familiar with from growing up with Red Heart yarn). I've never knitted with cotton and wasn't sure I wanted to now, but it does make sense since we'll be finishing the cardies in the spring and it will be too hot here for wool or alpaca.

I got two different yarns to try out, one is a soft heathery purple, and the other is a dark grey. The Purple is cotton and rayon, the grey is cotton, viscose, alpaca, wool and nylon. By my swatches, I am already over on the gauge--I'm supposed to get 10 stitches and 13 rows in a 2X2 inch swatch and I got 8 and 12 for the purple, and 8 and 11 for the grey. This is where the guidance with fitting from the instructor comes in, and I think it's going to mean MATH. That's okay, math doesn't scare me. You think I'm afraid of a little math? Hah, I eat math for breakfast... Okay, I married a mathematician and I solve most of my math by asking, "Honey, how do I get from x to y?"

Enough of a break. Back to work. If I get everything done, I'll call this a really good day.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Happy Anniversary Glass Incarnate!

Today marks the 11th anniversary of this blog. Eleven years. Wow. That's 73% of my child's life and 52% of my married life. I have had this day marked on my calendar for the past couple of weeks, planning to do a really splendid post and include highlights of the past 11 years. But life had other ideas. I find myself at 10:30 pm after a wonderful day with my spouse, a great family meal, and a movie all cozy with my spouse and my child, and there's a kitten in my lap. It's hard to manage the laptop around the kitten. ANd I find I care more about the kitten than the post. I care more about the present than the past. Being present in my now, hearing the faint sound of the fountain on the back deck and the soft breathing of my husband between my taps on the keyboard, that's what's real. ANd it's good. What happened in the past 11 years was life, a full life. There was "Comedy. Love. And a bit with a dog." (Just like in "Shakespeare in Love.") And there's still comedy, love, and bits of three dogs all over the house. And a kitten in my lap.

So instead of writing more about the past, I'm going to take my present, dislodge the kitten and go to bed with my spouse. I'll really blog tomorrow.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Wow Am I Glad I'm Married!

As I perused my inbox this morning I ran across this article sent to me by Knitting Daily called "Curse of the Love Sweater". It may look like a cheesy horror movie title, but apparently there is some bad mojo attached to knitting a sweater for your boyfriend. Manfriend. Womanfriend. Whatever. As I look back, I did knit a sweater for a boyfriend once, and we did break up (obviously), but I'm not convinced that the relationship was doomed by the sweater. And I do feel safe with the sweater I just knitted for Dave as it's the second one I have knitted for him and I gave him the first one over 20 years ago. Okay, bullet dodged, on with my day.

I would like to say I made something as cool as the metal clay box with a hinged lid that my friend Cynthia Morgan made, but, no. Except for my daily spinning, I seem to be on an entirely left-brain track right now. It was another day of Quicken and accounting--I even analyzed my little IRA and changed about 80% of the investments. The most creative thing I did today was take a picture 15 minutes ago for the 365 project. At first I just took a pic of Gallifrey because, hey, wolfhounds are always good for a photo op. But then I went up to J's room and took a pic of her succulent wreath inhabited by little kodama.

While we have to do a lot of cleaning and straightening tomorrow, and the administrative work for taxes and Quicken seems never-ending, there will be time not only for something creative this weekend, but also for some games of Dominion with the spouse. I love long weekends!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bookkeeping Can Make You Go Blind

I have heard stories of people going blind from drinking hi-octane homemade liquor. Spending the entirety of the afternoon on bookkeeping--installing a virgin instance of Quicken and starting from scratch because I haven't used it since my hard drive failed a year or four ago--made me want to drink lots of hi-octane homemade liquor, post hoc, ergo propter hoc, bookkeeping can make you go blind. Or insane. Or both. C'mon Intuit, it's the 21st century, can't you list *all* of the financial institutions that have on-line banking and and their web addresses in your program? *Must* you make us set them up manually and forever enter the transactions and reconcile them manually?

I have a love-hate relationship with Quicken and, to a lesser extent, Quickbooks. That greater-than-a-little-bit of my personality that wants to be organized and on top of every bit of information needs to use something to track my finances, and back in 1990 I settled on Quicken. When I got a new hard drive after a catastrophic failure sometime in the past one to four years, I moved all of files onto it and then manually installed the software instead of doing a mirror image copy of the drive. I took the drive failure as an excuse to clean up and get rid of a bunch of apps I wasn't using. I can't remember why I didn't reinstall Quicken--it was probably prompting me to upgrade.

That's the main place the hate comes into my relationship with all Intuit products: I don't like upgrading *anything* that's working for me. I kept my iPhone One until the majority of the apps didn't work anymore and there weren't new versions for them that would work on a phone that old. Then I broke down and got an iPhone 5. I replaced my first gen Kindle several years ago after it failed with a Kindle Paperwhite, and I have no intention of replacing that one until I absolutely have to. Intuit, however, made it a part of their revenue plan that you would have to buy their new release every few years. They enforced their will by making it so you couldn't download transactions from your on-line accounts with the old software anymore. I didn't want their new, bloated features. I was happy as I was. If they had released something compelling in the software that made me want to upgrade, that would be one thing, but I hate being made to do anything.

Fast forward to today when one of our contractors asked me if I could send him a record of all the checks we had written him over the past year. Because I've just been logging into individual accounts and managing our finances that way for awhile now, I had to go to our bank's on-line system with its crappy interface to slog through everything there. That experience was enough to prod me into buying and installing Quicken again. However I didn't hunt for my old data file. It's who knows how far out of date anyway, and I just didn't want to carry around 20+ years of outdated categories and data any longer. So I started from scratch. I estimate I'm about 20% through connecting my accounts and importing all the data from the arbitrary date of 1/1/14 on.

Anyone have any homemade liquor to share?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


I have come to the conclusion that I need minions. I was talking to Dee yesterday about getting the studio set up, and I realized how much faster it would be going if she were here to help. It's not that I'm averse to heavy lifting and hard work. I'm happy to just keep doing until the doing is done--when someone else is there doing too. When I'm by myself I dither... a lot. And I am very easily distracted (Squirrel!).

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time in the utility room trying to set up an area for gift wrap, bows, tissue paper, and all the paraphernalia for wrapping presents. I did get about a third of it done, but then I wandered off to buy more organizing tools to really optimize the set-up. Today as I was doing a FaceTime crafting session with Becky, I realized that I would have finished the job completely had she been here helping me with it--keeping me on task. Really, I don't need minions, I just need company--though minion is a much more fun word. Todd calls the people who help me (including himself) flying monkeys--mostly because I think he likes comparing me to the wicked witch of the west--and Judy likes the label studio elves. I like friends--or family.

Last weekend it was time to take down the Christmas tree and put away the majority of the house decorations (I decided to leave the lights around all of the windows and the red bead garland on the chandelier up till March). I wasn't exactly dreading the task, but I did figure it would easily take me all day. But Dave had other ideas: Instead of me doing it myself, we did it together, and it went so fast! Ornaments off the tree, pottery angels neatly packed away, garland, lights, stockings, advent calendars, zip, zap, zup, and away. Putting away laundry is like that too. Many hands do make light work. I almost wish I lived in a time when women from the village would get together and do their chores. But as that would entail beating clothes on rocks on the banks of a muddy creek and carrying big, heavy baskets of wet clothes back home to dry, I think I'm better off alone in the here and now.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Positive Creativity Over Negative Fear

After checking in with Facebook this morning and seeing what someone had commented on one of my posts, I was very upset and started to write a blog post about history, Donald Trump, the rise of nationalism, and the bad things that follow when someone promises to make things better for you by blaming someone else for causing your problems. And then I had to stop. I know it's true, I'm afraid worse is coming--what we've got is certainly bad enough, and my heart begins to pound and hurt at the same time. But I can't right now. I just can't.

So I choose to write about art, creation, beauty, and positive energy. Next week I start the drawing class I signed up for at the Art School at Laguna Gloria. Yesterday I bought all of my supplies for it, and I am both nervous that I'll fail--that I can't draw, and excited at the prospect of unlocking a new outlet for my internal creative voice.

While I was out running around for errands, I also did my first shopping from Facebook messenger. The messenger app on the phone has a tab for people to sell things in your area--they should call it FaceList or CraigsBook. Anyway I picked up a handmade elm bench made locally from a fallen elm tree, and cool pub table and small dishwasher that are for the apartment. I wasn't planning on getting the dishwasher, but the very nice woman from whom I purchased the table also had the dishwasher from a recent kitchen remodel, and she just wanted it out of the garage so she gave it to me.

I have to be honest: I chose both the bench and the table because of their eminent suitability for refinishing and inlay. Oh boy,  I feel the projects stacking up. We had to make a rule in the house that if you buy something for the house you have to deploy it immediately. You can't buy anything else until that thing is deployed. So, e.g., if I bought a shoe rack for the front hall that had to be assembled, it would have to be assembled and installed right away. This rule came to be because of Ikea. It's way to easy to buy stuff at Ikea and then not get it set up for months. Do you see the parallel? I am getting projects stacked up--a stash of a different sort, if you will. Now I need to start doing them. No more comes in until I do some of the ones I have. That's a good idea! New resolution: I cannot take on a new project until I complete two others. How about at least one other. Yeah, I can do that. But getting tools to do current projects, that's okay. And since I'm no longer in Atlanta and can't use Becky's, it's time to get a scroll saw.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Artistic Extensions

It's just over a week since the new year started, and I have to say the resolutions are going pretty darn well! One of the ones I contemplated but discarded was a regular zentangle practice. I decided against making it a resolution as I already had enough daily activities planned and I didn't see a way of doing it less often than daily. One of the projects I did resolve to do, however, was to extend a steer skull. I say "extend" because I think of it less as an embellishment of the skull and more as an extension of its essence. In a way, it's my own version of the Chicago cow parade.

Originally I thought to cover the surface with cut and polished stones or kiln-formed glass. But lately my vision is morphing into a zentangle skull. Don't ask. I'm not sure how my mind works some time. But I just have a picture of a series of beautiful tangles skimming across the landscape of the skull that I can't shake. I also still want to incorporate glass and stone into one or more other skulls, but I don't just want to put them on the surface. In my mind I see parts of the skull replaced by cut stone, cast glass, or even inlaid wood. And, heck, why use only technique at a time? The only medium I'm currently working in that I don't see incorporating into a skull is fiber. Maybe it's because fiber is also an animal product which makes too much similarity in theme. Whatever the reason, no wooly cow skulls.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

NaKniSweMo Finally!

Though I never got around to posting about it because it was a secret from Dave, in October for Spinzilla I spun enough alpaca silk blend yarn (from my friend Ruthann's alpaca) to knit a sweater for Dave during November for NaKniSweMo--National Knit a Sweater Month. I would have finished it in November--instead of midnight on Christmas Eve--had I been able to work on it as much as I wanted. I know this because I started two sweaters at the same time--Dave's and another one I could work on when he was home--and that one is all but done too. The sweater I knitted for Dave is the first sweater I ever knitted on circular needles, and I am not as good at staying true to gauge on circular needles. Dave is still deciding whether he wants me to try to shrink it for him. I think a little tightened up would be good, but it is super soft as it is, and nice and long and slouchy. Okay, it's enormous. I need to shrink it!

The other sweater that I started at the same time is also a gift, and it isn't done because I ran out of the exact yarn I needed. It is also my handspun alpaca, and the last ball of it I have was spun at a different time and is just enough thicker that I don't get the same gauge and thickness as the rest of the sweater. This is really a bummer because it is  the softest, lace-stitch fronted cardigan, and I was knitting for my friend Stacy in Atlanta. It was supposed to be her Christmas present, but I have been stalled for a couple of weeks now because of the yarn issue. Got to get back to it before it's too warm for her to wear it. Of course, there's always a need for a snuggly sweater on a cool evening in Beaufort, SC.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Before and After

Just finished a breakfast of scratch buttermilk pancakes and sous vide bacon, and I have to say we've reached a new breakfast height. The bacon cooked for 17 hours in the sous vide and then Dave finished it by searing it on cast iron. It didn't shrink nearly as much as it does when cooked in a pan--Dave says this is because you don't get the extreme protein bunching that you get during higher heat cooking. You also don't get any carbonization (bcb's). Instead it came out decidedly crisp and chewy at the same time.

While much of the accomplishment was due to my spouse's incomparable cooking, I am modestly pleased at my own contributions to breakfast. I buttered my pancake, then covered it with apple cider syrup (thank you Chris Hyams), topped it with whipped cream, drizzled on more syrup, and liberally garnished it with the bacon in bits. I accompanied it with some Foggie Morning Brekkie tea from T-WE. Oh Sweet Decadence! Breakfast was so good it got me thinking: Instead of just renting out our apartment, why not also offer B&B possibilities? Even full meal service! Oh not all the time, just as a special extra add-on. Dave has yet to be convinced. But I think it would be cool to offer the occasional full-on luxe experience. I also like to show off Dave's cooking. Well, even if we never end up doing it for the paying guests, friends and family who come to visit and stay in the apartment will definitely be fed!

And speaking of the apartment, it's time to get that little revenue stream on-line. The contractors are finally done in there, and it's now a two-bedroom space with hardwood floors and travertine marble throughout, new fixtures, and is fully painted. Today after putting away Christmas--except for the lights in the windows, those stay up till March, we're going to go clean the apartment, set-up the furniture that we have, and make lists of what we need to get. I love furnishing a space from the ground up--IKEA here we come! Goal: Have it on HomeAway and/or other appropriate sites by the end of next weekend. Fortunately we have some savvy connections in the VRBO (vacation rental by owner) space as three of the C's from data.world (Chief of Something Or Other) were previously at HomeAway and know how to optimize for maximum results.

Talking about getting stuff done in the house makes me itch to get out in the yard to try out my new battery-operated chainsaw, but it's only 23 degrees out there and I just don't have the clothes for it. As I'm now going to Wisconsin for my Master Spinner class next month, and the high expected there today is only 8 degrees F (with a low of -3!), as soon as I finish this post I'm going to go on-line and get another pair of Minus 33 merino long underwear. Put them on under my skirt, add some of my Dad's old wool hunting socks, top it off with the cardigan my father-in-law knitted for me and the scarf my mother-in-law knitted for me, and I'll be ready to go! Though I might want to knit myself some fingerless gloves... More on knitting tomorrow.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Where Did the Day Go?

It's 10:39 pm as I start this post, and I'm wondering where my day went! Yes, I spent a lot of time in the car today taking the dogs to and from the groomers, the child to and from school, the spouse to and from lunch, and my hair to and from the salon (I have mermaid hair! again!). I also talked my partner Todd off a ledge. I think he thinks I'm not committed to my glass work. Well I've got news for everyone: If I'm not committed, I should be... Take that however you'd like. Finally I researched and evaluated spring break vacation options and made reservations. Roatán Honduras, here we come!

On the home front it is bitterly cold (the water in the sous vide in the kitchen was 57 degrees tonight and Jessie said it was 54 up in her room). Dave and I are getting ready to snuggle under our One Dog Mr Big comforter from Three Dog Down. Even the cats are snuggling in tight tonight. Today was the second day of our solar panel installation, and I really felt sorry for the installers on the roof. If I had been home and thought of it, I would have had them inside to take a break, get warm and have some hot chocolate mid-day. If it's still cold Monday, I will.

The Siyeh Studio Website progresses apace. I hope to have the first live version up by Sunday night--complete with on-line catalog. Access to the catalog will be restricted to the store owners who carry my work. What I most like about the website design tool I'm using is that it's trivial to change the backgrounds and use my own images. Thus I have a different colorway for every page--"Iris", shown at left, is on the second page (News).

Okay, got to hit publish or I'll miss getting the post up today! Night all.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Being a Responsible Adult Sucks

I start my day with a nice cup of "Santa's Little Harlot" tea from T-WE Tea company in San Francisco. I love their teas and really wanted to gift them to my mother-in-law for Christmas, but I just couldn't see giving her "Santa's Little Harlot", "Flaming Prince Charming", "Sexpot", "Lesbi Friends", "White Girl Please", "Scandalous Manfriend", or "Boobage"--and those were some of my favorites.

It feels like only yesterday I posted, actually it feels like an hour ago which it practically was if you don't count sleep time. It's cold and grey here, and I have GOT to do something enjoyable today!!! Sadly, cleaning the utility room, sweeping and mopping the floors, and putting away Christmas don't qualify, but they're what I've got. What was I thinking last night that both sounded good and at least a little fun? Oh yeah, website development for the studio. Meh. Am I being too grown-up? What happened to the person who would say, "Screw housework, I'm going to take a day off and (insert Fun Art Recreation Time verb here) today"?

A lot of it is the sheer enormity of getting everything ready to fart. Though this house, with it's myriad spaces, will eventually be the perfect fart space, right now there isn't a single studio that doesn't need a lot of work to get usable--and that's ignoring the fact that none of them are heated. However today's the warmest it's going to get until next Tuesday so if I want fart, I had better get setting up. Meh. I can always do the utility room tomorrow when it's only going to be 41 degrees... oh, but I was going to work on *taxes* tomorrow. I hate being an adult.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Day Marches On

Five days into this whole new year resolution thing and I'm already juggling balls! No, it's not really that bad, but I do find myself at the end of a long day and just now getting to writing. My piano lesson was this morning so at least I got that out of the way, and I both did some spinning and took a picture of it--thus knocking out spin15 and the 365 project. The rest of the day was spent on bookkeeping. I hope I can squeeze something more enjoyable in tomorrow. At least we have a Japanese language/English subtitled version of Hayao Miazaki's Princess Mononoke on the big screen tomorrow night to look forward to.

Whatever I do tomorrow will be indoors. After a stunningly beautiful day yesterday, today it was FREEZING! I am back in merino wool long johns, my dad's wool hunting socks, and a comfy cardigan. One thing's for sure--it's too cold to be in the textile, jewelry (aka the greenhouse), or glass studios. Bet it'll be a a good day to finally get a website up. After an entire day spent paying bills, and fixing broken administrative processes, logins and links today, there is is no way I can face taxes tomorrow. Friday. They can wait for Friday. Now the cat is waiting for me to go to bed so he can snuggle with me.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Garden at Stone's Throw

It's a beautiful day to sit on the back deck sipping Earl Grey lavender tea and posting. Gallifrey would rather be at the dog park, but he'll get to go soon enough. Got a message from a friend in Missoula the other day saying it was 8 degrees there with a double digit below zero windchill. It's 62 degrees here now and will get up to 70. It feels warmer in the sun. Great day to do a post about gardening!

In the better-late-than-never category, I put in my wildflower seeds the other day, and at the end of it all I'm not sure why I dragged my feet so much about it. True, I didn't use the lawn roller to press them into the soil, but I did mix them with a bit of sand and then liberally tossed them about. I also strewed handfuls of seedballs--blue bonnet seeds in clay balls put out by the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. Those were supposed to be put out anytime between September and Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, New Years... So maybe I won't get as lush a bloom or maybe also as early a bloom, but surely Something will come up, and I can do better next year.

This being winter, it's the perfect time to plan next year's gardens. Over the weekend, I finished the initial design for the raised bed area of the yard which will account for about 1/3 of our property. When we moved in here, most of the yard was already done, or at least the hardscaping was in. It's true that all of the beds need to be cleaned out and replanted and everything could use use a bit of tweaking. But there was no real major design work to be done in the main yard.

Our property is odd. It's "L" shaped, or, rather, upside down "L" shaped so the short leg runs to the right on the top instead of the bottom. The house sits about 2/3 of the way down the long vertical leg. Currently there is nothing in the short leg but the well house off to the side and a large rectangular gravel patch in the middle (where there used to be a commercial greenhouse) surrounded by scrub. This is not, for the curious, where I scattered wildflower seeds yesterday. The seeds went into the only patch of lawn this property has in the very front right over the septic field.

The short leg is bounded by driveway or road on all sides: On the left is the private drive we share with two neighbors, on the top is the main street, on the right is our next-door neighbors driveway, and on the bottom is our driveway. As you can see from my sketch on the survey, the land area is about 270 feet long and 135 feet wide. My goal is to put the three beehives along the top of our property (shown on the left in the diagram because the survey is oriented to the north) screened from the private drive by ten feet of scrub, to take out everything but the live oaks, some cedar by the neighbors, the prickly pear stands, and the yucca, and to complete the gravel area with a winding path through raised beds and vertical focal points. And of course there will be a pond. The bees and other wildlife need a pond. I just hope the wildlife doesn't eat my koi.

In the raised beds will be a bee and butterfly garden, a dyer's garden, an heirloom crop garden, and an ikebana cutting garden. I'm not planning the beds to be big rectangular plots. Instead they'll be polygons that fit in between the organic meanderings of the path, and in some places they'll be layered on top of each other more a more interesting shape and even easier access.

I look forward to making a prettier and more legible plan after I've taken my drawing class! Thanks to my friend Bridget, I know I need to get ready to start planting seeds in little peat pots so I'll be ready to move them out into the garden in a month or so. Better also get the beds built...

Now off to pay bills, bring the studio books up to date and send tax info off to our accountant. Of course that all won't get done today, but I have hope for the end of the week.