Friday, June 30, 2017

I Have Project ADD

I said to Dave this morning as I was sitting at the kitchen table debating what to do today that I have craft ADD. He snorted and said, "It has been widely commented upon". I asked, "What, you mean everyone else has noticed this before me?". Answer: "Yup". Nonetheless, I am paralyzed by the decision between woodworking (designing and lumber list for the bed, the desk, and a worktable I would like to build), glass (making sample tiles with the glow-in-the-dark powder I got), or spinning (I have the fleece for the Master Spinner course to sort and wash and the fiber for the combo mash-up to spin). For some of those nifty crafting activities there are prerequisite home activities that need to be performed. For glass I need to set up the studio. For preparing the fleece I need to clean off the back porch area and set-up the fiber sorting and washing area. And there are other house activities I would like to/need to do like gardening (weeding the perennials, or pruning and deadheading the roses) and cleaning (vacuuming, dusting, changing the beds, cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, washing the windows). Yet I sit unable to focus on one of the aforementioned options as the right choice for today!

Okay, breathe. Here's what we can do. I'll make my lumber list for the bed and the workbench. I'll see about renting a trailer from U-Haul to bring to the wood back to Austin. I'll make a list of cleaning supplies I need for the house. Then I'll pick up the cleaning supplies and stop at the lumber yard on the way out to the lake. I'll take the girls there for the afternoon, and while we're there I'll spend an hour or two cleaning out the metal building and then I'll spin for a bit.

Normally this is the place in the post where I would list what I'll do tomorrow to continue this line of activity, but I know better than that! No, tomorrow morning I'll get up, have coffee, and sit paralyzed for awhile again until the day comes clear.

Whew! I can move again!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

What Do People Do Here?

The girls are gearing up to race on the indoor track at the Hub in Missoula and I am stuck on a conversation we had in the car on the way in from Polson this morning. As we drove down to Missoula, Jessie looked out the window at the little towns, rolling fields, and mountains and asked, "What do people who live here do?". Her question made me remember back to when I was her age and growing up in Missoula. I would have rather died than live in or outside one of the little towns between Missoula and Kalispell. Even Kalispell would have been too small for me. My feelings were based on what I had to do at the time and what I liked to do at the time. I had to go to school, and high school with its greater density of people was much more enjoyable to me than was grade school. I liked to do social things--like dance and party with large groups of people. I dreamed of traveling, going anywhere. I loved meeting new people. Living in one house my whole life (till I was 17) gave me itchy feet.

That's a nice reminiscence, but I don't think it was really what she was asking. She was honestly curious about what people would do for a living and for enjoyment in the apparent middle of nowhere. The short answer to her question is that people here, as everywhere, do what they have to do (work, school), and in their free time they do what they like to do. For many people in Montana, what they like to do takes place outdoors. They hike, bike, kayak, ski, boat, snowboard, run around on ATV's or snowmobiles, raft, hunt, fish, etc. They live here for the proximity to those activities, and for the slower lifestyle you get in a more rural area. Even cities in Montana aren't very big. Billings, the largest (and in my opinion least pleasant) had only 104K people in the 2010 census. Missoula was second largest with 67K, and Bozeman and Helena (the capital) had 37K and 28K respectively. Polson, where we live in the summer, only has 4K people. All together the entire state--the fourth largest state in the union just behind California) holds 990K people. There are half again as many people in Hawaii, and California has 39 million...

So what do people in Polson do? What do people do anywhere? They live. They laugh, cry, fall in love, pay taxes, die. Some of them go to church (yet another social opportunity) or belong to fraternal organizations (Elk, Moose, Kiwanas). They own or work in retail businesses. They work in infrastructure support (for the utility providers). They work for the government or the banks or the grocery stores. They are electricians, plumbers, carpenters. They work at the hospital or in one of the private medical or dental offices. Some of them are teachers, some are mathematicians, some are carpenters' wives. For entertainment they go to the movies, go out for meals, do the outdoor things aforementioned. They (like me) craft, make, build and garden. Like Dave they code, cook, play video or computer games. They read, write, paint, compose poetry, swim. In short, they live.

Living here is not for everybody. Life is best spent where you find your passion and your muse. If you wake up, look around you and are uplifted by the world around you, you're in the right place. If the things you like to do are regularly available to you--you don't have to wait for vacation to do them--you're in the right place. Of course you have to be able to make a living there too. If you hate where you live, it's hard to like life.

When I was younger, meeting and interacting with people was everything to me. Now, I couldn't care less. I can go most days without talking to another being. If I am inspired by my surroundings I'll create. If I create, I'll lose myself in it. I also lose myself in books--and I can do that whether I am inspired by my surroundings or not. Beauty, cool weather, and lack of traffic (people) are now the markers of a good place for me.

The Bed

The night winds down and I listen to the sound of two girls giggling and the fan running in our room for white noise. Dave has already retired for the evening and I need to do the same, but I was lost in the bed project all evening and didn't get to my post till now. I am happy to say that after many days of practicing Sketch-up, studying woodworking techniques, watching innumerable YouTube videos on woodworking, and pouring over pictures of beds on Pinterest and Houzz, I have finally put together a solid rough out for the new bed. It's big, heavy, and will be unique in both its quirky design and asymmetrical flow. I made a list on Trello of all the elements we want in it: lights, built-in charging stations on both sides, electrical outlets on both sides, beverage nooks for his diet coke and my water, a small jewelry catch-all, places for Kleenex and lotion, support for sitting up, small night tables, a big shelf, and a drawer or two.

The construction will include mortise and tenon joints with drawbore pegs in ebony or another dark hardwood, and a drawer with dovetail through joints and ebony sides. Further design elements that I am considering are ebony inlay and glass cutouts.

But for the rest of tonight, my designing will be done behind my eyelids. G'Night from Montana!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Time To Make More Shirts

Another day in the summer paradise comes to an end. It's still beautiful, and it's still relaxing, but the day was less than optimal as I spent the morning getting fitted for a crown on the tooth I broke before coming up here, and I spent the afternoon increasingly aching as the anesthetic wore off. I did no gardening, nor spinning, nor cleaning. I didn't even start working on the bed again until about an hour ago. Instead I read all day, finishing the second book in a steampunk magic series by Devon Monk (Age of Steam). I started book three tonight, and even though the plot line is set out for eight books, the series is stalled after #3 while the author writes in her other series. It's a pity as I love these books.  I like all of her books, and I especially appreciate the distinct voice these have from her other work. The first one reminds me a lot of Deadwood, and the second one has a very Firefly vibe. Steampunk in the old west that never was kind of thing with magic and the Strange.

It's the second week of our time here and so far I think I have a good balance of things occupying my time. I feel a bit unsettled by not going full out on have to's every day, but I am doing my best to relax and enjoy it. Now that the girls are here I have put myself at their disposal to take them out to the lake or wherever else they want to go. I'm spinning, planning woodworking projects, and soon will be fusing the very cool glow-in-the-dark pigment I got into glass for tiles and path pebbles. I'll also get the big garden completely weeded. Next year I'll have to have the house either painted or sided (it's cedar and not in the best of shape), and I'll finally put in the rock garden in the front where the old porch used to be. But for this year, I am not doing any major projects here. The most I think I'll do is re-stain the deck floor because I can do that with a roller in a couple of hours.

While I'm thinking of things to do, I found the box of shirt fabric for Dave's Hawaiian shirts that I left here two years ago and I have a pattern, a rotary cutter and a cutting mat. Think I'll get some shirts cut out and ready to sew up when we get home. I haven't made shirts for Dave since we last lived in Austin. I made him 38 shirts for his 38th birthday. I won't be making 51 this year, but I bet I can whip up a dozen or so. For each one I make, I can retire one from his closet and turn it into material for a quilt (yet another project I'd like to get to). All this talk of projects has made me sleepy. Off to bed!

Monday, June 26, 2017

First Day At the Lake

Dave gently woke me this morning, pulling me from the wildest and most vivid dream. He was interested in breakfast at Mrs. Wonderful's Marmalade Cafe. I, of course, had to detail my dream for him before I would consider the idea. But of course the the prospect of Mrs. Wonderful's got me right up and ready to head out the door. There have been a lot of days like this recently (where I pop up and out the door without so much as a by your leave), and I really must start making time to shower. Everyone would appreciate it.

So a blueberry scone and an iced coffee for me and a breakfast sandwich for Dave at Mrs. Wonderful's, and then it was back home to spin! After yesterday's marathon design day for the bed on the computer, I determined to stay off the computer as much as possible today, and not to work on the bed at all. The creative part of my brain needed a break. Spinning is great when you want to turn your brain off.

This afternoon I took the girls out to the family property on Finley Point. This is the first time we've been there since I sold my half of it to my uncle, and it felt very odd. As we were going down the drive to the cabin I spotted the pine tree where the ashes of everyone in the family who has died have been spread. Even our beloved pet's ashes have been laid to rest there. This summer I will place my mother's ashes there, and I will have no more claim to the place. It is unsettling to have severed my connection to my Mom's final home.

My grandparents bought the lake property in 1965. Originally they had a mobil home there, and later Grandpa built a cabin next to it that they planned to use for guests and laundry. The laundry part never got hooked up (there was a washer but either never a dryer or never a dryer that was hooked up). Some time after they both died and my parents took over stewardship of and a half interest in the property. The mobil home was eventually hauled off leaving just the cabin. After Mom died, I held onto my share of it for just over a year, and then I decided to let go. My uncle fiercely loves that property, and his memories of it growing up are much more vivid than mine. He is eight years older than I am, and he was already a teenager when his parents bought it. He went there every weekend while I spent a lot of my formative weekends camping on the side of the Loch Sa river just over the border in Idaho.

Even so, it was hard for me there today realizing I had no more connection to it. It is not my place anymore--as it was when my mother owned half of it or after she died and I owned half of it. It is not mine, nor will it ever be my child's. It is Ed's and will be his children's. It was a bittersweet day for all of that. I hope subsequent visits will be less emotional for me--especially since I need to clear out the metal storage building on the property where my parents stored a lot of their things.

* I realized as I went to add the photos I took today to this post that I had a bunch of Gallifrey, and none of the girls! I'll work on that for later in the week. For now, It's time to head exhausted to bed, ready to rise in the morning and get my tooth fixed!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

There Would Be a Post Tonight...

...But I left it till the very last minute as I worked in Sketch-up all day (except for the lovely lunch with Diane and Francie after a quick trip to WalMart with Jessie and Kyla), and now I have to go see if I can find Kaiju. He got in a fight with a neighbor cat and hasn't been seen since. More tomorrow. (My shoulder hurts from being on the computer for the past 14 hours...)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Road Less Traveled and a Musician On Every Corner

Snow on the Missions from the dusty rise
Jessie and Kyla are coming in from Atlanta tonight--flying into Missoula--and I wanted to go to the farmer's market there this morning too so we came in early-ish. Oh I woke at 7:30, but then the eyelids took pity on the eyeballs and closed again till 8:30. After seeing to the pets, showering, and a bit of desultory cleaning, we hit the road.

Another vista on the road less taken
As usual we took the back trail (literally), and as we were in no hurry and it was such a beautiful day, we stopped for me to take many pictures. I was chasing down my favorite vista of the Mission Mountains and saw a dusty rise on the dirt road off to our right through the Pablo National Wildlife Refuge. It looked to offer the perfect capture point for a picture. Dave was amenable so off off-road we went. Oh we were still on a road as we were in the mini van, not an ATV, but it was a narrow dirt road, and a couple of old (old) pickups were the only vehicles we saw the entire time we were on it. We saw cows. Lots and lots of cows. We saw some deer--including a doe with a little fawn almost lost in the high grass--and ducks and geese. And I got my vista shot.

We got to Missoula in plenty of time to park and take a stroll through downtown to the farmer's market. Unlike the Polson market yesterday, the Missoula farmer's market is all produce, meat, honey, plants and foodstuffs. There is another market, the People's Market, a block away where you can find handcrafts, crystals with special powers, hand-tied flies for fly fishing, healing oils and unguents, and anything else you might expect in the city that is the last bastion of the time of peace and love in Montana.

At the first booth in the farmer's market, run by one of the many Hmong families that sell there, we found beautiful fresh morel mushrooms and grabbed a couple of bags. It was too early for huckleberries--the Hmong will have those come later in the summer. The Amish and Mennonites were also well-represented as market vendors as were the occasional Russian or Eastern European babushkas selling pickling cucs. While we didn't get any cucs today, I have a hankering to make pickles this summer so I will be picking up some nice little ones for baby dills later on.

More farmer's market bounty
We skipped the People's Market today in favor of the street musicians, and I was absolutely blown away by Jesse Davis and William Cook of TopHouse. They were gracious enough to let me video them playing a song so I could post it here, and I was gracious enough to give them (literally again) a fistful of money. Okay, it was mostly ones, but it was all Dave would let me have. I can get a bit... carried away in my enthusiasms. I also liked the woman playing banjo and the guy in a kilt and a baseball cap singing Livin' On a Prayer. Music on every corner. Literally.

Whenever we come to Missoula I make it a point to go the 4 Ravens Gallery. My first artistic mentor, Katie Patten of Mercurial Art and Glass Concepts is one of the owner/partners, and I always find gorgeous work there to keep and to gift. Today I fell in love with a couple of watercolors, one of shallots and one of onions. I may have to purchase one of them before the summer is over. For today we acquired pottery--an olive oil cruet and a coffee mug to add to my handmade mugs collection.

Livin' On a Prayer
(in a kilt)
Butterfly Herbs, seductively beguiling the passers-by with scents of patchouli, ambergris, frankincense, myrrh and musk--eau de 1960's in a gem of an old building on Higgins Avenue--was our next stop. Dave shopped for spices, and I just had a coffee and drank in the atmosphere. Flower children of every age and degree of personal hygiene abounded with dreads, tats, and piercings the norm rather than the exception. I could have sat there all day. But Dave had a hankering for empanadas at the little storefront empanaderia in front of where we parked. Sadly, upon closer inspection there wasn't an onionless empanada to be had so we had to do without.

She could play that banjo...
The afternoon was spent reliving Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I have to admit that Kurt Russell as a younger Ego was much less creeptastic this time through. Maybe because I was prepared for him. Now we relax at Liquid Planet back downtown until it's time to go to the airport. A coffeeshop is not a popular hangout on a summer evening in Missoula so we are enjoying having the comfy leather couches all to ourselves. I think I'll get a kombucha (I'm sure they have it here) now and go back to designing our bed. I leave you with... TopHouse!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Okay, Enough Sleeping, Time To Make

Sunset over the lake at 10:00 pm!
After bouncing out of bed this morning... Oh I can't lie, there was less bounce and more stumble. But I thought about bouncing because today was our first day of the summer going to the Polson Farmer's Market! This early in the season there is less farmer and more crafter/baker, but it is always fun to peruse the all the wares from bullet keychains to cheese curds to fresh apple pie, scones and jam. There was even a guy selling Lichtenberg burned wood objects. He made his Lichtenberg machine from a microwave transformer. It's clearly more powerful than the Calistoga one I purchased (deeper longer burns), but I'm betting less safe.

moving slabs of blue pine
After we got home (Dave, Gallifrey, and I all went in the Mini Cooper--Gallifrey was the hit of the market), I started spinning the fiber for my combination/mash-up sweater coat. That is going to be one fun project--though I'm still unsure about using merino in a coat. A little spinning, a little reading, and it was time to head out to the Dupuis lumber mill for my first foray buying raw wood for furniture building. I have my heart set on a blue pine desk and bed frame/headboard for Austin. Blue pine is so named because it is pine that was killed by mountain pine beetles and then infected with a fungus that caused dark staining in the sapwood. I have been wanting to make this bed for three years, and this summer I finally hit the tipping point for seeing what wood is available and what the cost is.

The first slabs I picked out for a desk and
maybe a dining table...
Out at Dupuis, the owner, Daylen, took me to the back metal shed and we went through the dried cut slabs they already have. They have logs too, but those take a long time to dry after they're cut into slabs--even with a kiln. Picking out this wood is not like picking through a bin of fiber or a case of glass. The slabs were stacked with little spacers in between, and they were 3-4 inches thick, 20-27 inches wide and 10-12 feet long. Of course the ones that initially caught my eye were on the bottom of the pile so Daylen went out and got the biggest forklift I have ever seen and moved everything around so I could get all the way to the bottom ones. I fell in love with four 3-inch thick 12-foot long pieces of varying widths and headed home after purchasing them. Dupuis is going to plane them for me and there's no way I could have carried them in the Mini Cooper anyway. As it is, I'm going to have to figure out how to get them back to Texas... But, as Dave likes to say, that's a problem for future Brenda.

Rough sketch of bed--headboard detail not started
mortise and tenon joints
Back at the homestead I watched a bunch of YouTube videos by the Wood Whisperer, downloaded a copy of Google Sketch-up and started designing. Here is what I have come up with so far. It took quite a bit of time to get proficient enough with Sketch-up to be able to get the detail I wanted in the mortise and tenon joints for the frame pieces and the footboard so I haven't even started on the headboard part. I also didn't even try to show the natural edges that the footboard will have (I'm using a 20 inch wide, 3 inch thick slab for it).

Tomorrow we go to Missoula to pick up Jessie and Kyla at the airport (after a day roaming the Missoula Farmer's Market, taking in an afternoon movie and an early dinner) so I won't get to work on my designs again till then. Oh it's hard to wait!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Life Slows Its Pace Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Dog's Purpose

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


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


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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Let the Summer Begin

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017


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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

In the Motel With Three Dogs and Two Cats

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

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

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

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

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Another Penultimate Day

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

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Brenda of the 600 Days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Pond Goes On

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

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

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Stupidity Runs Rampant

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Superheroes and the Summer Blockbusters

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Something's Coming

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 09, 2017

Still 56

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

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

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Another Year Opens

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Too Late to Call It the Antepenultimate Day

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Another Day, Another Lollygag

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

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

Monday, June 05, 2017


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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Short and Sweet

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

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

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Temporary Empty Nest and Furniture

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

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

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

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

Blue pine

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

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

Friday, June 02, 2017


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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Mid-Year Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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