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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Looking Back, and Looking Forward

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

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

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

How could I not be flattered by the comparison?

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Viene la tormenta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Toddling Off To Bed

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

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

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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017


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

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

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

La Vie est Belle

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Water (Hail and Swimming Pools)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Is There Life After Gardening?

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Sex, Sickness, Pets, or Tragedy

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 08, 2017

Same Old, Same Old

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Sunday Ends, the Week Begins

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

Saturday, May 06, 2017

A Life Well Lived

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

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

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

Friday, May 05, 2017

A Day Without Gardening--NOT!!

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

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

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

Thursday, May 04, 2017

An Eclectic, Creative Day

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Gardening, Glass, Home Repair, and Bees

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Glass Incarnate Is About Glass Today!

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

Monday, May 01, 2017

Meh, Meh, MEH!

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

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

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