Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Theatre Is Dark

There are days when one posts, and there are days when one remains silent. Apparently my three days of difficulties do not end with three. The week ends tomorrow and it will be a better day.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Train Wreck That is My Week Continues On

I'm baring my soul. I started to feel out of touch several months ago when I just could not make a mental connection to the definition of the word "meme". I would hear the word, know it meant something that everyone around me (namely Dave and Jessie) understood, but it felt like it was from a foreign language to me. It took about three months before I *finally* got it and felt comfortable using the word in a sentence. Looking back I blamed my inability to grasp the meaning on my B12 deficiency. In honor of how far I've come, I start this post with a meme. Of course, given how my week has been going, I won't be surprised if I get that wrong too and what follows isn't really a meme.

"I can only please one person a day and today is not your day... Tomorrow isn't looking good either." For a snapshot of my week thus far, switch it around a bit to "The universe only lets a few people triumph per day and the past two days were not my days... and today isn't looking good either". I started on Monday with the debacle of the bees--two more sting casualties added to the count since I posted the details. The latest victims were both neighbors. One was a man who was power-walking by the garden as part of his morning workout. He's prepping to do a trek in the Himalayas with his son (not sure if it's Everest, but it's still a BIG DEAL). He got stung five times--thank heaven he's not allergic! The second (I heard from another neighbor this morning) was the man who lives across the street from the gardens who was in his yard and got stung on his hand. He's the man who lives behind the big wall who was mentioned in the post This Whole Thing Could Have Ended Very Badly. So not a great start to the week.

Then yesterday I was crushed by my lack of savvy regarding "throwing shade". Even my friend the professor (who is my age) threw shade at me for my ignorance. Enough said on that low spot. In my defense, and in spite of the data points of my performance this week, I have felt more on top of things and aware since I started on blood pressure, B12, and diabetes meds. I find a good gauge of mental acuity is how well I do at Sudoku on hard, spider solitaire with four suits, and Words with Friends. Lately I have been kicking it on all of them so I've been a bit smug about my focus.

Fast forward to this morning. My schedule was pretty tight: Piano lesson 9-9:30, car in for service 10-11:30, Dr's appt 12-12:15, lunch with the child 12:35-1:16, break for a few hours and then off to the last jewelry class from 5-10:30. The piano lesson went great. I still can't play Bach's "Prelude in C" with any skill, but I did pretty well on "Rock Around the Clock" and had great first read-throughs on both "You Really Got Me" and "Amazing Grace". I was doing so well (having so much fun at piano) that I actually ran a bit late. I think my teacher also appreciates having such an enthusiastic student who really loves to practice and looks forward to her lessons so I don't think she minded the few extra minutes either.

I grabbed my laptop and my bag with my knitting and I was out the door. The minivan, though pretty new, has been badly treated over the past few months with two drives between Austin and Montana, and hauling a trailer load of wood and woodworking tools over the Rocky Mountains on the way back. It's been a bit hesitant to start and was overdue for service so I wasn't entirely surprised when I got in it today and it wouldn't start. The lights came on an it beeped at me, but the console lights wouldn't come on and the engine wouldn't turn over. I called Greg at Friendly Car Care to tell him I wasn't going to be able to make my appointment. He said that sometimes the push-button-start cars need you to press really hard on the brake before pushing the start button, or there can be an issue if it's not all the way in Park. I pushed really, really hard on the brake, and nothing. I tried to move the gearshift around, and it was firmly in Park. Then he said to call Honda because the battery should still be under warranty. I called and sure enough it was so I said I would bring it in today.

Next I needed to call AAA to get a jump. I reached across the seat for my bag and rummaged through it for my wallet to get the AAA card for the phone number and my member number. No wallet. In fact, no purse. I had left it in the house. Therefore no car "keys". My car wouldn't start because I didn't have the keys. Even technology is getting the best of me this week!

I got the car in, and while I was waiting for it to be serviced I casually watched the Wendy Williams Show. Her guest today was Yvette Nicole who gave a frankly wonderful interview about comfort with yourself and your body and being strong in your goals--all kinds of great things. Then she mentioned meeting the new Spiderman Tom Holland and she said "I think he gave me rhythm", and I was back to yesterday with absolutely no clue what she meant. At least this time I got to salvage my pride because when I told Jessie about the comment at lunch she also did not know what "giving rhythm" meant. When I told her the definition (as provided by the Urban Dictionary: "Verb. To engage in flirtatious actions between two people.") she said it sounded stupid. I said it probably sounded stupid because I said it.

Now I'm back home and I'm going to go work on my jewelry projects for awhile before class so I might have a chance at finishing one of them tonight. I need something to go right this week.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How Do Vampires Manage?

I have been feeling good for the past couple of weeks. I even mentioned awhile ago that I felt like I had half of my life in front of me rather than just 10-20 years. In the space of five minutes in the car today with my fifteen year-old daughter, I was relegated to the status of the bewildered 80 year-old grandparent wondering how I was going to navigate the rest of my life in the linguistic chaos of the world.

I have noticed before that I felt out of step with the larvae of our species. I lost interest in youth culture about the time hip-hop came in, but never before have I had so many difficulties all at once as I did today. We were listening to the radio on the way home from school and the dj said something about Taylor Swift's latest song. Jessie commented that the video was really funny as she (Taylor) ?????? ????? ??? ????. First problem: I couldn't hear what she said--my hearing is not what it used to be. So I asked her to repeat it. She instead defined what she said for me, "It's like mocking someone, but it's not." We entered the Marx Brothers portion of the dialogue with me asking , "What was?". She said, "Shade."

At this point I was completely mystified and not a little frustrated. Enunciating carefully and slowly, I asked her to use "shade" in a sentence for me so I could understand it by context. She replied, "Taylor threw shade at Kimye." (The entity formerly known as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.) I not only had never heard this phrase, but I would have had no idea what it meant had J not told me. Tonight I Googled Taylor Swift throwing shade at Kanye and I got a whole page of results. I was instantly thrown back to my youth when I looked with pity at the old fogies who were out of step with life and the current generation. How did I wake up as the old fogey? When did this happen? I listen to current music. (Sometimes. When Jessie switches the car radio from the 80's channel or Classic Rewind to Hits.) I see the latest movies and would have said that I am au courant with the world and its people (though not its fashions--I sacrificed form for function long ago). But this afternoon I was cut adrift.

Vampires go through time the same age and having to move from identity to identity to keep people from suspecting that they never grow old or die. How do they do it? With a few minor tweaks (like my hearing) I still feel inside like I did when I was 27. Unlike a vampire I have aged and I may not look 27 anymore, but I still have (almost) the same joie de vivre and spirit of adventure. But here I am getting caught by someone "throwing shade" at a Westashian. If I with my very limited life span can't keep up with language's fluidity, how do vampires who can live for hundreds of years manage it? It's a mystery.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Story Of the Angry Bees

My feet look like sausages tonight--the left one so much so that  I don't think it could swell any more without bursting the skin. On the scale of my less stellar decision-making days, today is right up there on the top. The morning dawned cloudy--not actively raining for the first time in days, cool, and only a little windy. I know you're not supposed to open your beehives when it's windy or raining, but I didn't get a chance to feed them before Harvey hit and I was worried that between the dearth of August (it's a tough time for bees in Texas because it's so hot and dry that there aren't a lot of nectar flowers for them so we have to supplement the nectar with sugar water) and the storm they would need some extra vittles.

I knew enough not to attempt a full hive inspection today. All I planned to do was open the hives and pour in a quart or two of sugar syrup in each. I suited up in a full suit and my Keene sandals as I don't have any work boots and I didn't figure sneakers would protect me either because the bees would sting me right through my socks if they felt like stinging. Choice of footgear was my first mistake.

Zaga suited up too and filled the smoker for me, but as damp as everything was (even using dry paper and leaves), I could not get it to stay lit. I tried and tried and finally decided to forgo the smoker as a) I was just doing a quick feeding, and 2) I only had 45 minutes to feed everyone before I had to get to a doctor's appointment and drop Jessie at school on the way. Forgoing the smoker was my second, and arguably biggest mistake.

As it was the first nice weather for them too, the dogs were out frolicking in the botanical garden as I went into the apiary to do the bees. Having the dogs out was the error that made the whole event a perfect swarm, er, storm.

The first hive I fed was my golden girls and they were their usual sweet selves as I filled up their feeder. The next couple of hives the bees got a bit more agitated, but nothing worrying. Then I went to the Topbar hive. As soon as I pried the bars off the box (four--not just one as I needed to get to the feeder in the bottom of the box) the bees got really testy. They buzzed angrily around me, and when Gallifrey came to see what was up with them, for the first time they went after him. He got stung twice in quick succession and Zaga and I picked bees out of his fur as we headed him towards the house. The bees instantly burrowed into his fur to get to his skin when they landed on him and with his coat they immediately disappeared. Zaga took him in the house while I finished up the Topbar hive, and she pulled another 6-8 bees off of him.

Meanwhile I got the Topbar hive fed and put back together and headed for the Lang/Topbar hybrid. As soon as I took the cover off, the buzz ratcheted up. Those bees were riled up already--probably because of the alarm pheromones in the air from the Topbar bees stinging Gallifrey. By the time I got the inner cover off (another 30 seconds tops) they were out and swarming me in my suit. Even though I was covered it was still very scary--and then they discovered my sandaled feet. As soon as the first one stung my foot and released the alarm pheromone down there I was a goner.

There were bees all over my sandals, legs and exposed feet. I was shrieking like the girl I am, Zaga was trying to figure out how to help me, I said "Water!" and ran towards the hose but quickly realized I wasn't going to be able to wait as long as it took her to get the sprayer and to turn it on, so I turned and ran for the pond instead. When I got there I swung my legs over the edge and plunged my feet into the water. Then I sat for a few minutes with my feet in the water up to my knees gasping and shaking from shock. The bees were everywhere and in their frenzy kept falling into the pond, whereupon I reached down with my gloved hands and helped them out of the water. I like to think that most of the ones I saved were shocked back to their senses and flew off back to the hive leaving me in peace.

As I sat there, I felt two bees inside my suit climbing up each of my legs. They must have been near my pant cuffs and got swept up the inside of the legs when I entered the water. I couldn't bring myself to squish them, but I was terrified they were going to sting me. They climbed higher. I got up and waded to the middle of the pond, still swarmed by bees. They were on my gloves stinging them, attacking my veil around my face, and landing all over my arms and torso. I could feel the one on the right side of my body inside my suit on my hipbone moving in towards other more tender areas. I pressed my suit flat against my body so it couldn't go that way and I started to hyperventilate. I couldn't see Zaga, I didn't know what had happened to her, I called out and she didn't answer and I started to whimper and cry in panic thinking I was all alone stuck in the pond and I didn't know what to do. Then I pulled myself together. If there's no one there to save you, you have to save yourself.

I tried tipping my head back to let the carbon dioxide and fear smell out through my veil, and slowed my breathing. It didn't help. I even tried holding my breath thinking they were attracted to the CO2 so I'd just not breathe and release any, and they'd begin to go away. Zip, zilch, nada. None of it worked and I was still being swarmed. I decided my only hope was to get out of the pond and run for the house. I sat on the edge of the pond again, this time with my legs on the inside to start, and then I swung them over and out and leapt up and ran for the house. I heard Zaga call from somewhere behind me as I ran, but I couldn't stop.

As I approached the house I heard a new tenor of buzzing--the sound of a bee inside the veil. A bee had managed to get inside my suit somehow and was angrily zipping around my head. I should have mentioned earlier that I made another sloppy mistake as I was suiting up and did not tie my hair back. By the time I made my mad dash to the house my hair was all over inside the veil and I could barely see a thing through it.

When I got to the house I had a little bit of luck: I couldn't hear any bees buzzing around me (outside my suit) and I didn't see any obvious ones on me. So I ran inside and frantically started taking off the suit before someone inside it stung me. It was soaking wet from the knees down and hard to get off. But I managed, and as I pulled my bare legs out of the suit, I saw five bees crawling around on the inside. Two of them had obviously stung me (poor bees have their stingers ripped right out of their abdomens when they sting which is why they die--their insides trail outside...), but I didn't take time to check the others. I opened the door and shooed them out while not letting any more in.

I could go on about getting Jessie to school, missing my doctor's appointment, soaking my feet in ice water as I watched them swell, and eventually suiting up again (this time with knee-high leather boots un the suit) to put the lid back on the beehive... But you get the point. It was a crazy day.

At the end of it all, my feet are--as I mentioned before--like sausages, but I still love my bees.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Jewelry Studio and Rainy Bees

A yard art casualty of the wind--no glass broke though
We stayed housebound today as Harvey rained on. No hardship as we all had things we wanted to do in the house. There were a couple of times when the wind and the rain let up enough to walk around the garden a bit. Much of my yard art was blown over or blown down--including the wire man I had hung over the path into the botanical garden. But the glass didn't break--unlike the large metal bell on a plant stand that I hadn't moved off the driveway into the yard yet. It fell over and cracked right in half. I doubt I can, but maybe I can place it so only the front of the bell is visible and the back is hidden by foliage. It's not like I was actually going to ring it or anything. Jessie even gets a bonus for tomorrow as school is starting two hours late on account of the weather. I hear the rain still coming down out there and we have been very lucky that it has been moderate and steady and not an unrelenting, overwhelming deluge.

Organization has come to the jewelry studio
My day was, for the second day in a row, all about the jewelry studio. Since the temps stayed in the low to mid seventies all day it was easy to stay in there working and I got everything sorted and put away. This is a never-before-done accomplishment. The best I've managed previously is to get everything co-located in the same room or area. Now I not only have a drawer or shelf designated for all tools and materials and everything unpacked and in said drawers or on said shelves, but I also have labels on all the drawers! Dave is beside himself at the sight of more empty boxes indicating more progress on being totally moved in forever.

The cat on the mat
The torch isn't hooked up yet, but I got the Foredom hung and powered up. I also have a studio cat mat as both Kaiju and Pavlova like to
hang in there--though not on the same mat at the same time. Kaiju is more possessive of me so I have a feeling when I am in the studio, he will be too. He's the one who likes to escape out the front door when I am working in the garden just to hang out and watch me weed, or tend bees, or whatever. I think he thinks he's a smart dog (as opposed to the other dogs we have who are clearly idiots: They have collars to keep them in and out of areas, they don't get to sleep on the bed or wherever they choose, and they only get dry kibble not wet food too).

My jeweler's (watchmaker's) bench
And speaking of bees, tomorrow I have got to feed the bees and at least peek into the hives to make sure they're okay. Zaga is convinced her bees are dead. There are definitely dead bees on the front of the some of the hives--these last couple of days have got to have been hard on them. While the plants (especially the trees) have been all about the rain, the wind has taken a toll on the bees. But tomorrow morning they all get big bottles of sugar syrup as soon as there is a break in the rain. It would be the height of rudeness to open up the hive and let in the rain on top of everything else so the inspection is going to be cursory (if at all). It will also probably still be windy and inspecting when it's windy is a great way (not just good but great) to get stung. Needless to say, I'll suit up as the suit will keep me away from both bee stings and rain.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Day In the Rain

Do I have time to post tonight? Not really. We are heading out into the storm to meet with some friends and play geek games. Fortunately they live just around the corner from us (by car) so we don't have to go far. As we have already braved the storm this afternoon to go see Logan Lucky--the new Soderbergh film--at the Drafthouse, we are not too concerned. Yes the wind is still howling, yes the rain is still coming down. But we're up high, if not dry, so we don't have to worry about flash flooding.

The wind was pretty fierce last night--fierce enough to tear the metal well-house door off its top and bottom hinges. It was left hanging from the middle hinge. When I looked at it this morning I saw that the wood of the door jamb was rotten so I'll need to remove the door, replace the rotted wood, paint it, and hang the door back up. If I still had contractors, this would all be easy. For now I have the door wedged shut so the beekeeping supplies stay dry. When it dries up a bit, I'll tackle it. Or I'll try to find a new handyman to help with some of my incomplete projects.

The jewelry tools and supplies are all but deployed in the jewelry studio. Tomorrow I'll hang the Foredom, and maybe even set up the torch. A girl can dream. Though I was planning on working in the glass studio tomorrow...

Some day I might clean, or do laundry, or something housewifely, but frankly I don't think I'm that kind of girl.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hunkering Down For Harvey

I hear a bit of music from the wind chimes, and then they pick up and the wind rumbles a deeper note. Harvey is coming and we are going to get pounded with rain. When to feed the bees is my biggest issue right now--and hoping we have enough candles when the power goes out as it probably will. We aren't worried about flooding or rock slides where we are. Trees blowing over could be an issue, but mostly we're going to hunker down and wait it out. Jessie's school is a refugee center for the storm and there will be a lot of people sleeping in the gym there probably into the week next week if the rain and flooding follow through. The storm is going to be bad enough, but the massive influx of rain over the next week is what's really going to kill us.

The day was spent in the jewelry studio--still without AC as the quote I got on replacing the broken unit today was waaaay out of our current budget. I started with big swooshes of organization--unpacking all the various tools into the cabinet--and by the end of the day I was separating out two colors of 11/0 seed beads--beads so tiny I can barely see them in two different shades of medium blue... Okay so maybe I went a bit overboard on the whole organization thing, but I am looking forward to hanging in their tomorrow and finishing up. As the jewelry studio is a glass greenhouse, 2/3 of the walls and all of the roof are glass. It'll be a cool place to hang in during a driving rain storm.

Hope Ellen and Marc are safe down in Wharton, and if the water level rises too high, hope they bring their cat and come hang out here in our apartment.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

More Studio Set Up

It's a good thing I have the liver of a teetotaling teenager (according to my doctor) as I had more than two glasses of wine tonight to relax after moving three metal cabinets into the conservatory/jewelry studio/wet studio and rearranging all the furniture in there. I don't know what to call that room. It's a little glass greenhouse added onto the side of the house, and it has a tile floor with a drain in the middle of it (and a sink on one wall) so I can refer to it as the wet studio. It's also where I set up my jewelry bench and torch. Oh and my soap making and bookbinding materials. And ikebana tools and books. And all the tools I don't have a workbench or a shop for yet (they're still in boxes until I get the inside tool room and the wood shop set up).

Today I unpacked three or four boxes, cleared some of the floor off, and got ready to think about making jewelry in there. I say thinking about as last night jewelry class did not go very well and I am still feeling a bit beaten up from it. I posted a picture yesterday afternoon of the bracelet I have been working on and it was at the first level of polish. I took it all the way to final polish and started to set the stones when I ran into a problem: The bezel settings were too work-hardened to bend so I had to hammer the bezels around the stones. Unfortunately, hammering caused the big bezel to break away from the cuff in two places and I had to start all over again with the soldering, stone-setting and polishing. This time I will polish the silver after the stones are set so the metal doesn't get to hard to bend.

No glass was done today. I hold out hope for tomorrow--especially as the woman in China who sold me the glow-in-the-dark mineral pigment in June keeps prodding me to tell her how it fired. I need to get on that so I have a result for her--and for me too (though it doesn't look like we'll be remodeling our bathroom anytime soon).

Now it's time to head off to drink a lot of water, take my diabetes med, and get some sleep. Good night moon.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Jewelry Day

Today is my most creatively-focused day in recent memory. With the exception of filling out our benefits forms for the annual open enrollment, I have been working in some form or art or other all day. I started the morning with a piano lesson. I am working on a Bach prelude and it is seriously kicking my butt, but today my head broke through the clouds and I was able to catch mistakes as I made them because of sound, not sight reading.

As soon as I finished piano I hopped in the car and headed to the Creative Side Jewelry Academy for a four-hour open studio session to make up for the class I missed Monday night. Today was all about polishing and finishing. Fussy work that nonetheless has its own zen and joy. I was hoping to get the stones set in the bracelet I have been working on for a few weeks, but I still have one polish left. I am going to do the final polish first thing at tonight's class before it officially starts so I can get help from the instructor on getting the stones into the bezels. The actual setting (clamping the bezel down around the stones) I can do at home later this week as I have the tools. After I get the bracelet done, I'll do the last soldering (of the bead post and safety clasp) for the silver hollow-form ring I'm working on.

If I get those two projects done I'll be caught up and ready to start on the final project for the class: A kinetic sculptural necklace. I am going to do a large hollow pendant that has a couple of hinged doors on the front which open to reveal tube-set stones on the inside. I am thinking to use citrine and maybe some of the sapphires I had cut from our mining adventure in Montana this past summer for the stones as I would like to use real stones, and citrine is the only real faceted stone we have available in class. Coincidentally, Dave and Jessie's birthstones are citrine and sapphire so I can see a family-love-theme thing going.

One of the last projects I was working on at the Spruill Center For the Arts when I was taking jewelry classes there with Mom and Becky was a copper hollow-form heart with the first-name initials of my family members showing through swiss-cheese like holes in the front of the piece. I never did finish it, but I could see doing it now.

Now off to class to create some more!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Back To My Glass Incarnate Roots

It was a Tuesday. Tuesdays are days when I catch up from Monday. I watered the garden today (and managed to remember to turn the water off when I was done so I didn't flood the pond this time). And I took Dave to work and Jessie to school. And I designed the glass for the kitchen cabinet doors. That last one was my big accomplishment.

I started out the project absolutely certain I was doing stained glass for the cabinets. But the design I came up with is just not really feasible for stained glass. I wanted something that was a flowing river of one-inch glass squares in many colors continuing from one door to the next. But I didn't really want squares. Instead I wanted squares with rounded corners. I love the look of the design, but the rounded corners would be extraordinarily difficult--especially given the number of squares and the number of doors--and I'm not even sure I could do them so that they would come out as good as they are in my mind. Cutting the lead would be a nightmare. As I was looking at the finished design and trying to come up with a way it would work I said to Dave, "This would be easy in fused glass." And the lightbulb went off.

I guess my creative force really wanted to do these doors as individual panes of fuse glass. However there's a big difference between the clarity of antique or semi-antique glass and glass that's been fired on a kiln shelf (however non-textured). What to do to make the clear portion of the doors look textured so the contents of the cabinets can't be seen through them, and yet have the transparent colored squares be as untextured as possible? I have some ideas, which I can't wait to start on Thursday--I'm already booked all day tomorrow. The first option I'm thinking of is tack-fusing and using large frit in the clear areas. Should I not like the look of that option, I have several other texturing options available from lava cloth or fiber paper to sculpted kiln wash. Whichever option I end up going with, I have plenty of glass to make them!

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Day and a Night

Today I had my CT scan with contrast dye. Now I wait for results. Tonight Dave and I are seeing Jason Isbell at a live taping at Austin City Limits. Dinner beforehand with B & V at LaCondesa--they have a flight of guacamole on their menu. If I still have energy, I'll update this post when I get home. Otherwise this is it.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Reboot Sunday

Summer comes to an end with a lovely bee symposium the Tour de Hives (detailed here and here). Tomorrow I have the CT scan to check out my right kidney One More Time, and tomorrow night Dave and I get to see Jason Isbell being taped live at Austin City Limits (he won the tickets at work). Life is good, right? Right! And yet I flounder. Today is my 440th day in this house. I look around and much has been done, much is in the process of being done (but currently languishing as I'm not doing anything), and much is left to do. I look around, and I have no idea what to do next. I actually came to the brink of tears today as I thought of next week and what I should do. I love the classes I am taking, and I am focused, driven, energized and productive in them. But at home, I become paralyzed and spend a lot of time not doing anything. I am honestly overwhelmed by how much I have started and how I am going to finish it all before I die (not in any time soon!).

Part of my inability to move on something (anything) is because of the heat. Projects that happen outside, in the glass studio, or in the conservatory (the proto jewelry and bee products/soap studio) just can't happen right now because I have totally expended my outdoor time for the week taking care of the bees, pond, and gardens. For the rest of my time I need air conditioning.

But the bigger part of my paralysis is not attributable to any obvious root cause. Today it was so bad that I went to Dave and asked to task me with three medium-sized things that he would like me to do for the house this week--something started that he would like to see finished. He looked at me like I had lost my mind, but I figured that his request would stimulate me to doing something, and at the end of the week if I accomplished what he asked, we could celebrate the win together. Mainly I am hoping that these three things will jumpstart me into finishing other projects--be they for the house or my own creative outlets.

After a bit of hesitation he came up with something, and what he asked filled my heart with joy and my body with energy. A bit of background: I asked him right as I was about to head off and take a nap this afternoon, but I was so enthused by his response that I sat down to post several entries in both blogs. So what does he want? Me to do the measurements, design the layout, and choose the glass for the kitchen cupboard doors and backsplashes (behind the sink and next to the fridge). I got so excited that I expanded the project to putting the front door back on and doing the design for the door, sidelights and transom. And there are my three projects. My raison d'être, raison de respirer for the week!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Bees, Bees, Bees!

Cissus trifoliata
Today was the Tour deHives, and I met some lovely people! We had five groups (11 people in all) who came out to see the apiary, and we sat in the shade, sipped iced tea and lemonade, and talked bees and plants. I loved it, and I learned a lot. For example, I have been noticing this fleshy vine that looks a lot like a slightly succulent variety of poison ivy coming up all over the new beds and in the yard. Turns out it's not poison ivy, it's a relative of Virginia creeper call cow-itch or sorrelvine. I found two different scientific names for it: Cissus insisa from the Texas Native Plants Database from Texas A&M, and Cissus trifoliata from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center plant database. Both of them have the same common names associated with them. It's a member of the grape family, a vigorous climber, and--like Virginia creeper--is loaded with toxic levels of oxalic acid in both the leaves and the fruit. It can also cause a skin rash, which is probably why one of the landscapers swore it was poison ivy. Curiously, oxalic acid is one of the common treatments in bee hives for varroa mites. One of the people on the Tour de Hives today speculated on potential benefits from bees pollinating the Cissus and possibly introducing a natural source of oxalic acid into the hives that might affect the mite population.

I also found out today that one of the oak tree species I have growing in the garden is the Lacey oak. Someone on the tour asked me what one of the existing trees in our botanical garden was, and I didn't know. But I had all my Texas gardening and bee books out for the tour so I was able to look it right up. I only have a couple of these trees, and they are extremely slow growers so mine could be over 20 years old. As I was looking at it today, I had the thought that I might have planted the olive tree too close to it. I guess it depends how much the olive tree is going to grow.

Tomorrow is the day of bee lectures and I am signed up for the 201 class with a talk at 10:00 by Les Crowder who is one of the foremost TopBar beekeeping experts in the country. Though I would like to spend one last quiet day with the family before school starts on Monday, I can't miss the opportunity to hear Les speak. Maybe he'll tell me why my TopBar bees are so cranky...

Friday, August 18, 2017

Tour de Hives Preparation

The write-up on our apiary on the Tour de Hives map page.
I have gathered my books--both the small binders I created of the plants in the garden, and the vast collection of Texas plant books I have accumulated. I have made my shopping list (Dave is heading off early to buy ice, lemonade, iced tea and cups). At 6:15 am Zaga is going to meet me in the apiary to do inspections and feed the bees. Then I'm going to clean up contractor debris, water plants, and wait for people to come ogle my apiary. That's a less filthy activity than it sounds and not a euphemism. As I wait I'll weed. So even if no one comes by (not that I expect that outcome), I'll have a good time and get a lot done.

For the afternoon I'm supposed to head in to the rest of the TdH activities at Zilker Botanical Gardens. But it's also the last weekend of summer (how did THAT happen?!?), and so our final familial summer hurrah. I'm not sure how I want to spend it, but it would be nice to hang with Jessie.

Jessie who is NOT thrilled to be starting back to school. I always loved getting ready for school and the excitement of the first weeks and seeing my friends and starting new classes. Jessie, not so much. She likes being alone up in her rooms and occasionally coming down to forage for food. School is a just-bearable nightmare for her. So we're thinking of finding something fun to do with her this weekend. I have also registered for the Sunday 201 lecture sessions of the Tour de Hives, but, again, time with the J trumps that.

If I am going to get up joyfully (or even grudgingly) at 5:45 am, I had better toddle off to bed now.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

B12 + Caffeine and Other Things = Focus + Energy

I was amazed yesterday at the way I felt after starting the medication for diabetes and the vitamin B12 supplement the doctor put me on. I was focused, energetic--I felt like I could take on the world. I honestly also felt like I was at the midpoint of my life. You know how you have kind of a running gauge of how many grains of sand you have left in your hourglass? Well I do anyway. And lately I have been feeling in the 20-25 year grain range. Not a short life, but more behind the cart than in front. Yesterday and today I felt like I was at the halfway point. I thought, "Wow! B12! Who knew?"

Then someone on Facebook asked me what I was taking and I looked it up on the Internet. No wonder I'm feeling so good--my vitamins go under the name PepPods, and they are an energy tablet--caffeine and all. They are for hardcore rock climbers, skiers, skateboarders, triathletes, and obstacle course distance runners to take them to the next level of hydration and vitamin, energy, electrolyte balance. And, oh yes, they have 71 mg of caffeine (in my formula). Whatever they are, I'm sold. According to my doctor they are a high-quality source of B12 and other vitamins, and that's what I need.

Tonight after going out for great Mexican food with Dave, I went over to Zaga's to join her and Jessie and learn to play craps. It was so fun! I lost all my chips--as did Zaga--but Jessie managed to end the evening with $650. She didn't know how much she started with (none of us did), but she was definitely up. I had a monster streak where I just kept rolling and winning for all of us and we all had several hundred dollars, but then we had three crap-out-right-away shooters in a row, and all the money was gone. Good lesson in gambling: Just that quickly you an lose it all. But it was fun, and we listened to Frank Sinatra as we played.

Now I need to get some sleep before heading to Zilker Botanical Gardens tomorrow for a class on making products from bee stuff--lip balm, lotion and candles. I had a lot more interesting things to say in this post throughout the day, but sadly they flitted in and out of my mind and I did not capture them for regurgitation here. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I Am Not Perfect

There are days when other things are more important to me than posting. Wednesday--dealing with repairman craziness, contractor/lawyer craziness, and my class until 10:45 pm--was one of those days. It was most important to sync and snuggle with my spouse when I got home last night so I did. I am going to be kind to myself and count it not as a post missed, but a post delayed and this paragraph counts as my daily post for August 16, 2017.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Don't Be a Sucker

In my little corner of the world I got the results from my lab tests today, sent documentation to our lawyer about the contractor malfeasance, and generally moved along. I had a wonderful date night out with my spouse where we played Hive and only talked a little bit about politics. I read an article in the NY Times today about China's drive toward technological dominance and intellectual property and mentioned it to Dave, and then I headed down the Trump-Is-Evil-Scum path bringing up fracking, coal, the diminishing of solar and wind power in this country and their rise in China. That discussion was maybe 10 minutes out of the 24 hours of my day and it was the only thing I did that was not completely centered on my tiny life. No, that's not quite true. I did watch the entire anti-fascism film "Don't Be a Sucker" made by the War Department in 1947 that Bill linked to on his Facebook feed. I had previously seen the much shorter edited version that Al Jazeera English put out. It's worthwhile to watch the entire clip. Nevertheless, I didn't give a thought to Charlottesville, Trump's ongoing twit idiocy, or Heather Heyer.

When I sat down to write this post tonight I was going to delve into the intricacies of my vitamin B12 deficiency, newly diagnosed diabetes, and the news from the doctor that I have the liver of a teetotaling teenager (I wonder when she'll want it back?). I was going to mention some of the current issues with the contractor litigation, show off the progress I made on my hollow-form jewelry project last night, and ramble on a bit about the upcoming Tour de Hives. But the ugliness of current days overwhelmed me, and I couldn't continue the banal little post I had started.

There are serious things happening in our country now--more so than in a very long time. (Cynthia Morgan posted a link on Facebook to Jim Wright's post on his blog Stonekettle Station about the late '60's and George Wallace. I don't remember that time--I was too young, and I lived in Western Montana. Maybe had I lived in a city that burned or even had large populations of minorities--any minorities--I would remember more.) There is an alarming amount of hatred, bigotry, stupidity, and the rise of the lowest common denominator not only in this country but in the world. Though I can't keep up the level of moral outrage that the times deserve, every once in awhile I have to stand up and be counted as one of the outraged and to acknowledge that I am very privileged, and with great privilege comes great responsibility. I will not forsake my neighbor, I will continue to stand against injustice and prejudice, and if necessary, I will march. I don't know where I'll march to, but I'll march and I'll vote.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Day Of Completion

Today our vacation rental apartment went live on HomeAway and VRBO. This is the culmination of many months of work for me from the redesign to the remodel to the furnishing, ending with photographing and writing up the listing. It feels so good to have it DONE!

Though I have by no means completed my course of action, I decided upon one and followed it through into the in-process stage on my issues with our contractor. I am tired of thinking about the state of the place and all the things he left unfinished as I go to sleep every night. I am tired of dreaming about it and waking up feeling it looming over me. Today I got a recommendation for a good lawyer, I had my first consultation with him, and he gave me my assignment of exactly what he needs me to send him tomorrow so he can draft a letter and craft a proposal. Though we are far from done, I still feel a huge sense of relief to have made my decision and started down a path. Sometimes just starting something feels like the biggest accomplishment.

Jewelry class tonight was incredible. We started our hollow-form project and I decided to create a ring based on one I saw last year. I got all the walls for it cut and the side pieces textured so Wednesday I should be able to whip through soldering on the sides (knock wood) and get to sawing and filing. Hollow form is really cool, but there is a lot of cold work to it.

This weekend is the 5th Annual Tour de Hives and our apiary is one of the stops. Think I'll spend some time tomorrow planning what I'll have out for people to look at (books on bees and pollinator plants) and cleaning up the garden a bit. More on that tomorrow. For tonight, like Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles, I'm Tired! (Also shipped four orders today--three to Todd for him to complete and one directly to a gallery. THAT felt really good too!)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Let the Litigation Begin

Living room
The good part of the day was that we finished the last work and cleaning in the apartment, and I got all the information uploaded to HomeAway so we can start renting it out to vacationers and business travelers. My new hat: rental property manager. Here are some ready-to-rent photos.

The drudge part of the day was preparing all of my documentation on our contractor's lack of completion on all the projects here (projects for which he has already been paid). I need all the documentation and photos (not the nice photos of the apartment shown here but other, bad photos of shame and neglect) as support for the succinct statement I am writing up to tell the lawyer what I paid, what the contractor did (and did not do), what he said he'd do, and what I want from him now. I also have to find the right lawyer. I thought looking on AVVO would be an good idea, but Dave looked at me in horror when I said that's where I was looking, and immediately sent me a link to Ken White's blog post on Popehat "How To Cold-Call A Lawyer: A Potential Client's Guide". My favorite highlights are below, but it's well-worth reading the whole post.

Living room, breakfast nook, kitchen
"However, on occasion, you'll need a lawyer with an obscure specialty, or in a remote area where you don't know anyone, or you won't have time to seek a recommendation, or you'll be a reclusive misfit with no friends like me, and you'll not be able to six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon your way into a connection with the sort of lawyer you need. In these circumstances, you might find one online, through a Google search or a lawyer search site or in the Yellow Pages. You might even call the local Bar Association — though in my experience you might as well ask the cat."

"Prepare for the call: Oh, sweet Jesus, please prepare for the call."

"Especially if you are calling a lawyer to talk about suing someone rather than facing criminal charges or a lawsuit against you, think about how to explain what you want. If you can't summarize what the problem is and what you want in four sentences, keep thinking until you can. This is especially a problem if you are one of those people, bless their hearts, who cannot explain a straightforward situation in less time it would take James Joyce fully to explore the tension between autonomy and religion."

Master bedroom
"So: prepare for the call the way you would for a wedding toast at a wedding where the mother of the bride is sitting next to you and is notoriously violent and has personally informed you that if you speak for more than forty-five seconds she will be jabbing you in the crotch with an oyster fork."

"A lawyer is not there to tell you what you want to hear. If you insist on a lawyer who will only tell you what you want to hear, you will eventually wind up with one who is (1) meek, and therefore a shitty lawyer, (2) dishonest, and therefore a shitty lawyer, or (3) so desperate for work that they will put up with your bullshit, and therefore a shitty lawyer."

Second bedroom
"And lawyers are human, at least in the bundle-of-flaws sense. So if you are curt and abrupt, if you are openly incredulous at what the lawyer says, if you treat the lawyer openly like someone who is out to cheat you (as opposed to doing so subtly, which is perfectly sensible), if you can't let the lawyer speak a complete sentence without interrupting, if you negotiate in a contemptuous manner as if you are buying a fake Rolex off a guy in an alley, then the lawyer is not going to be enthused about you, and his vestigial humanity is going to lead him to turn you down or charge you more or resent you and work less hard for you. He can't spit in your food the way waiters will if you act like bad consumers, but he can do stuff that's far, far worse. Pretend that the lawyer is a human being with feelings, and things will go much smoother."

It felt a bit like cheating to quote so much of his post instead of writing my own, but it was so damn good I just couldn't resist. And if you liked that one, you'll also like his "So You've Been Threatened With A Defamation Suit". This one came to mind in part because I do blog about my experiences, I am considering leaving really shitty (completely honest) reviews for the contractor as part of my process, and I just read the cautionary tale of the Dallas couple who social-mediaed their wedding photographer right out of business and she just won a million dollar defamation suit against them. And the infamy begins.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Is Killing an Appliance Repairman Murder?

Sung to the tune of Oh Christmas Tree:

Oh Thermador Oh Thermador,
Your products are so crappy.
Oh Thermador, oh Thermador,
Why can't you make me happy?

Your dishwasher, it came all sad.
It took two months before we had
A dishwasher, a dishwasher
That really cleaned our dishes.

And with your range, I can't bake bread.
For the right temp is never said.
I just gave up, your tech he sucked,
No calibration offered.

And now our freezer won't make ice,
The tech he came, he was not nice.
The breaker switch you must go flip,
That does not solve our problem.

A day later, it's broke again,
I called support and asked them when
Oh Thermador, Oh Thermador
Why can't you make me happy?

As an alternate last line I had "Why can't you fix your products?". Which one do you think is better? I'm taking a poll. Dave and I couldn't decide, and I'd really like to get it right as I want to post it (maybe as a video!) on Thermador's Facebook page. I am so tired of being taken for granted, taken advantage of, and screwed over!!! People contract to do work, take the money, and blow me off. Companies sell outrageously expensive products that are defective or flimsy and then don't provide any kind of good customer support.

I waited a week for the repairman to come for the fridge not making ice, and when he arrived he said, "Oh, you have an E30. It's an error where the part of the icemaker that twists to release the cubes gets jammed. Did you have your ice scoop in the ice bin?"

No. Never.

"Well it was probably in there sometime and it caused the error."

Really, no.

"Or you had a power surge or lost power. That happens in the Hill Country a lot. You can Google it."

Uh huh. So how do you fix it?

"I'll call and get the reset sequence from tech support, I can't remember which buttons to push."

A phone call, a few buttons pushed, and then:

"There all set."

But what if it happens again?

"If it happens again, you can reset it by flipping the breaker."

This was the same solution he gave me on his last service call when the range locked up... Really Thermador? Your solution for problems with your Pro series appliances is to have the customer flip their breaker?!? I asked why I couldn't use the same reset sequence he had.

"The reset sequence is just for service technicians, customers are supposed to flip the breaker."

I don't want to flip the breaker. We had our breaker box replaced this year when we got solar and it isn't relabeled yet. I have no idea which breaker is for the fridge.

"That's not Thermador's problem."

It's not rocket science to use the reset button. I do it on my laptop, my router, my cell phone, why can't I do it for the fridge?

"I can't tell you the reset sequence because if you used it and screwed up the refrigerator settings, I would have to come out again and you would have to pay for the service call because you aren't supposed to use the reset buttons. Anyway, I fixed the same problem for another woman over a year ago and it hasn't happened again. If it does happen again you might need a software update, or we'll have to replace the icemaker."

Why can't you do the software update while you're here?

He looked appalled that I had even asked and replied, "I can't do the software update because I'd have to do it for all of your appliances."

Okay, my bad here because I let him get away with saying that as if it were reasonable instead of saying, okay, update all the software. But when the E30 error came up again tonight--just over 24 hours since the technician "fixed it"--I called customer service and a very nice woman took down my issue--both with the fridge and with the tech--and said, "I will pass it on to the appropriate people".

So the appropriate people will call me Monday"

"Monday or Tuesday."

Sigh. Here we go again. I thought I posted the saga of the Thermador dishwasher on Blogger with how long it took to get it replaced (also Thermador) after it arrived and was installed broken. But apparently I just fumed to myself. It was a couple of months to get a replacement and took the intervention of a VP from corporate who called me after I left a scathing review on their Facebook page. Let's hope the icemaker problem is resolved easier.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Thamnophis Proximus Rubrilineatus aka Phil

A Thamnophis proximus rubrilineatus has taken up residence in our pond. I am going to call him Phil--or Philomena if she starts carrying her babies around on her back which I have heard the moms do. Phil is a redstripe ribbon snake. He has been in the pond for at least a couple of days now and I don't think he can get out. Dan and Zaga are convinced he can, but every time I see him he is on the same lily pad. These garter snakes do live by permanent bodies of water, are excellent swimmers, and eat mostly frogs so I am not surprised to see one by the pond. I am just surprised to see one so consistently IN the pond. Although as Dave said, why not? It's an all you can eat buffet for him.

And I added lots more food today. Dan drained his pond to clear out the algae, and there were hundreds of tiny tadpoles in the skimmer box. They would have boiled in there had I left them so I scooped the water--leaves, tadpoles, and all--into a bucket and carried it (one bucket at a time) over to my pond and dumped it in. I was raining sweat by the time I finished (and I'll admit, somewhat dizzy from the heat), but I think I got every last one of the tadpoles. Now we'll see how many of them can evade the fish, the snake, and the other frogs who would probably eat them, and grow up into fat frogs.

Speaking of frogs, there were a lot fewer of them in the pond today then there have been. There were a few hiding in the leaves of the lilies, and a few more nestled into the algae on the bottom, but there was definitely not a frog on every pad as there was a week ago. I wonder if it's Phil or his cousins who a making them wary. Well, if I need more frogs, there are two basins in the back yard that are part of the non-working stream that have water in them and which are also full of tadpoles. The water is totally disgusting, but apparently the frogs like it anyway.

Now it's time for me to toddle off to bed as my right hand is still terribly swollen from yesterday's beestings and it hurts to do just about everything (including type) with it.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Life's Wisdom

I learned a new lesson today when I was working with the bees. Actually I learned two: 1) When examining the hives, be 100% present. Don't get distracted, and don't talk. 2) Don't exert an area after it's been stung. The first of those bits of sagacity probably doesn't need any explanation, but the second might be a bit more obscure.

I got stung four times in rapid succession today. The first sting was from a random bee that flew out of nowhere and maybe didn't even mean to sting me but collided with the index finger on my left hand and ended up stinging me on the underside below the first knuckle. If she didn't mean to sting me it was a tragic accident for her as he lost her life. I quickly scratched the stinger out and then went over and rubbed my hand in the dirt of the garden thinking that would take care of any residual attack pheromones from the sting. Apparently the dirt didn't work as I got stung right away three more times, twice on my right hand and once on my stomach through my clothes. These stings all hurt significantly more than the ones I've had previously, but the pain stopped pretty soon and I snagged the stingers out of all of them right after I got them. I also stopped doing hive inspections as I wasn't up to either more pheromone-driven bee frenzy with the rest of the hives or putting on a full bee suit and gloves to continue.

All was fine--minimal swelling, a bit of tingling itch--until I decided to weed a garden bed. John from Wicked Bee Apiary fortuitously came by to do hive inspections for me today as I was supposed to be in Montana and had forgotten to tell him I wasn't. So  hung out and pulled weeds with my right hand for a good 45 minutes. By the time I finished my hand was all swollen on top and very painful from the venom being moving around from the exertion. Stupid move. The left hand--which I didn't use to weed--didn't swell. Now several hours later the right is still very swollen and very painful.  We don't have Benadryl, but I did take another antihistamine earlier. Don't think it did diddly squat.

While I am sharing life's wisdom learned, I have another tidbit: don't drink coconut water from Thailand--even in aseptic containers--if it is six months out of date. So a miserable evening all around. But like Annie and Scarlett O'Hara, I look to tomorrow as a better day. A day when I might be able to use my right hand again. Glad I didn't have jewelry class tonight!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Accepting Limitations

For the chronically overextended and project-driven, it can be difficult to strike a balance between accomplishing your goals and getting things done, and pushing yourself so hard that you break. I mused as I was posting last night that the list of things I had down for today was not reasonable, and if I pushed to do them all I would not only not enjoy any of them, but I would also probably fail. Since the jewelry class is the last project of the day--and the one requiring the most focus, energy and stamina--that's the one at which I would likely fail. As I am also looking forward to it the most, I really don't want to poop out before it's done. The conundrum raised by the timing of the activities of today has pushed me to a conclusion: I can only do three things a day.

Another way of looking at it is that I can (should) not schedule more than 6-7 hours a day. Three of today's projects (piano, blood work done at the lab, and jewelry class) take up 7-1/2 hours including driving, and two of them require total continuous focus. That's enough. I am not going to get the pictures of the contractor's unfinished work taken today. I am not going to work in the apartment getting it ready to rent. I am not going to spend three hours in the studio working on orders. I am not going to do my hive inspections in the apiary. I am not going to talk to a lawyer about my options with the contractor. All of those things are going to need to be parceled out over the rest of the week. Probably in groups of three.

The upshot of deciding to go about life this way is that I know and acknowledge going into a day that there are projects that will not progress at all that day. Heretofore I have always started each day holding a shining ideal of progress on everything I have in the air. As the day went on I would let things drop as they would, and I'd let all the balls fall at the end of the day with a "Whew!" and a recap of the many things I did get done. Then I'd philosophically assign the didn't-get-to's to the next day... and the next... and the next. But now I have to squarely face, first thing in the morning, that there are projects I am not even going to try to touch. As they sit they will stay until the day arrives that is their day to be one of the three. Their day may not be tomorrow or the next day either, and I am going to have to be good with letting them languish. How odd to have reached my mid-fifties without accepting this reality. But I can't recover from overdoing like I used to. A good night's sleep used to set me to rights and I could wade into the deep end again the day after a long, hard day of work. Now I have to plan a little more carefully because my supply of energy isn't inexhaustible, and it takes sometimes a full day or more to bounce back after really pushing hard. I am no longer the hare, I have become the tortoise. Sigh.

On the plus side, this kind of a schedule allows for naps, and I am proactively going to nap this afternoon to prepare for tonight's class so I can hit the ground running at 5:30 and not look up until 10:30. Tomorrow the bees, the photos, and working in the glass studio. Friday the lawyer, the apartment, more studio time, and lining up new contractors to finish the open projects. Or maybe that fourth one will wait till Monday and Friday I will act upon the information I get from the lawyer as to my options. Now off to nap.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Ups and Downs

Nothing like a sleeping kitten to make
you feel better
Listening to the frogs and toads courting in the yard accompanied by the susurration of a cricket serenade. The day winds down. Today's primary accomplishment was having a physical and arranging to have a full panel of blood work done tomorrow. The upshot so far is that I do have higher blood pressure than I should, and I have been put on a low dose of blood pressure medication. After the labs tomorrow I'll have to wait a week for the results (cholesterol, thyroid, diabetes, anything else weird going on) and then another week to have the CT scan and x-ray of the kidney (again). Life goes on.

Even Kaiju is napping with his peeps
Since my contractor let me down so badly I have to do a reconciliation tomorrow of everything I paid him, and then I have to take pictures of everything that is not done so I can follow up with legal action. Sigh. I am not looking forward to it--it's just that much more to do and all of it entailing negative energy. There will be no creative joy associated with going after him financially. It will be disheartening, tiring, and drudgery. But it's my job as household manager--and also as the person who mistakenly trusted him so thoroughly and paid him in advance.

But I will start the day with a piano lesson which gives me joy, then the medical lab work (considerably less joy), a couple of kiln loads (the joy meter rises), photographing the contractor negligence (all the joy sucked right out of me) a nap (add 10 joy points if I'm joined by a cat, 20 points for two), and then another marathon jewelry class (exhausting joy). I am proactively planning the nap because the instructor for the jewelry class has offered the opportunity to start 30 minutes early and end 30 minutes late, and I'm not going to turn that down, so I know I have an intense five hours to end the day tomorrow.

Monday, August 07, 2017

A Full Day

Harvesting cochineal in the rain
 So much for a lovely relaxing last half day at the Hill Country Hyatt! The day started about 6 am with a loud thunderstorm right on top of the hotel. Dave said there was a half straight of lightning show. I mostly slept through it. Now almost four hours later it's still pouring. NOT good weather in which to harvest cochineal! But I will persevere. I just hope is stops raining before we go so I can do it. Even for a good natural dyestuff I am not going to sit out in the rain and scrape bugs off of a plant.


My bench in jewelry class
Okay I lied. I stood out in the rain and collected bugs from cacti for dye. It was the experience points that made me do it. It rained all the way home and when we arrived we found the pond so full it had clearly overflowed a bit. At least I get out of watering the garden for the next couple of days. The drive was tough so when we got home I napped. I was supposed to get a kiln load in, but I was still lethargic from the weekend.

And it was a good thing I napped or I never would have made it through my first Jewelry 201 class tonight. Wow. It's billed as a four hour class, but it's really more like five and we really move through the material. The first two classes (today and Wednesday) we are to design a bezel-set piece with corners, make our own bezel wire from sheet with shears and the the rolling mill, and completely solder the bezel for the stone (in my case two stones). I made it, but I am wrung out.

Now it's time to sleep. I finally have my physical and meet my primary care physician tomorrow.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

What a Sybaritic Day

Something else to build
I am pretty sure napping until 8 pm is not going to turn out to have been a very good idea. Dave also napped until after 7:30 and Jessie has been immersed in a 3-D rendering engine plug-in to a piece of video-editing software she likes to use so there was no one to put the sleep brakes on. Dave, good hunter gather that he is, is off to scope out the restaurants and grounds to see what dinner options exist. No, he is not checking out the population of massive black squirrels that roam the property for possible entrée options, he is looking to see if they have a BBQ going on the lawn tonight. Turns out there is no BBQ tonight, but there are both buffet and menu dining options in the cafe, and a pared-down version of the same menu in the pub.
Even the squirrels lounge here

I spent the day today carrying an unopened bottle of champagne around the resort from lounging pleasure spot to eating place to lounging pleasure spot, never quite feeling like opening it. I know! How did that happen?! First there was the hanging lounger outside the spa (the hanging bed was taken). Then there was the hanging bed. Then there was lunch. Then there was the lazy river in tubes. Then there was the epic nap. Now stirrings of appetite awaken and it might be time to go find food again. I'll probably be up till after midnight since I just finished sleeping for three hours (!), but who cares? This is vacation. The pets are all being lovingly spoiled by Zaga so there is no guilt, and I have a night and half a day left before I have to care about anything again. The effortless ballet of familial enjoyment goes on.

My first roost of the day
Oh, and tomorrow I'm going to harvest the cochineal bugs off of the cactus outside of our room here so I can make red dye out of them when we get home. I do not think, however, that I will try to raise them myself and start propagating my own cochineal. The amount of red dyestuff I will get tomorrow will probably be enough to dye one skein of embroidery-floss-sized yarn.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

I Soak Up Relaxation and Energy Reserves

Life has been complicated for the past couple of years. Mom died, we moved to Texas, I sold my studio building and have restructured my business, we have been in non-stop renovation mode for over a year, Dave started a new job, Jessie started high school, and I am now having health issues exacerbated by age. Complicated. And difficult. Even Montana was, well I won't say ruined because it wasn't that bad, but it was definitely sub-optimal this summer due to life's difficulties.

This weekend we are stepping out of time and obligation and chaos for a three-day family vacation at the Hill Country Hyatt Resort and Spa outside of San Antonio. We are all hanging out together, and yet we're also doing the individual things we each want to do. Today was the first day and it was amazing. In order to get us here early I made a spa appointment for a pedicure at 9:00 at the Windflower Spa. That meant we had to get up at 6:30 to be out the door by 7:15. While I had a pedicure, Dave had breakfast and Jessie hung with me in the spa. Then Jessie and I had breakfast while Dave checked into our room and got into his swimsuit for a day in the water. It was like a well-choreographed ballet with each of us swimming in and out of the others' orbits, and it happened effortlessly. There were no long discussions about who wanted to do what where when. We just did our thing(s) and the day flowed on. There was floating in inner tubes on the lazy river, there were massages, there was a nice dinner, and now there is lazy lounging in the room.

I can feel my body recharging and filling with the energy I am going to need for fall. Dave had the I'm-on-vacation-so-I'm-not-coding creative burst which resulted in him coding a surprising amount of cool new functionality for his company. I didn't begrudge him at all because that's how creativity manifests: You empty your mind and all the wonderful ideas just flow in to fill it up. I dream in glass, wood, silver, clay, wool, and home design. Dave dreams in code. I'm not sure what Jessie dreams in--I didn't ask her what she was working on today. Maybe she was just relaxing. (And freezing--right now she has a knitted hat on and is huddled under a blanket on the couch because it's so cold to her. I'm hot-flashing. Guess who got to set the thermostat.)

Tomorrow will be filled with more of the same as will half the day Monday. Monday afternoon we'll finally wend our way back to Austin, but until then I'm a creative energy sponge.

Friday, August 04, 2017

All About Photography and Line Cutters

There's hardly anything you can do as an entrepreneur that doesn't require photography. As a glass artist I need photos of my work. As the owner of a rental property, I need pictures of the property. Heck, even as a blogger I need photos because nothing but words, words, words would get really boring! So today I spent a lot of time on photography. Oh I didn't take any pictures of the apartment, nor did I take any pictures of my work. But I got out the new camera and shot a few pictures in the garden, and then I spent an hour trying to get them off of the camera... Yet a few more things that are still in Montana (card reader, charge card, camera usb cable). But that's okay, replacements for these are quick and cheap from Amazon, and will be here Monday.

Photography also came up earlier in the day when I asked Zaga to do a walk through of the apartment and she said I needed art on the walls. I didn't want to go buy something generic from a chain, I don't have any extra work that we are not displaying in the house, and I can't afford to just go out and buy all new one-of-a-kind work or even prints. But what I do have are a lot of good photos, and I was lucky enough to find a Groupon for a company that prints photos onto canvas and I got three 30X20 canvas prints for $29 each and two 16X20's for $17 each. That is a SUPER deal, and I had three large landscapes from Glacier National Park printed on the 30X20's and a deer at the National Bison Range and a mountain goat from the Park printed on the 16X20's. Supposedly I will have them in 7-10 days. I'm not going to wait that long to do the initial photography of the apartment, but I'll keep updating the marketing photos as I have new, cute things to add.

And that's the happy part of the post. For the rest, I would love it if I never drove out shopping again. As I was getting into line at CostCo a woman walked in front of my cart and pointed for her partner (who had their cart) to get in line. In front of me. She saw I was getting my cart to the line, she didn't have their cart (and was therefore more maneuverable) so she cut in, and looked at me flatly, daring me to say anything. I didn't make a fuss, but I fumed. As they were finishing checkout and my stuff came up the conveyor belt, a plant I had tipped over and spilled little pebbles all over their package of steak. The clerk laughed nervously and said something about sorry for any pebbles on the steak (package). I commented under my breath that that's what happens when you cut in line. My aggression was passive.

Then I went to Home Depot looking for new knobs for the cabinets in the apartment. It sounds petty, but they were white plastic and are now all yellowed and gross so I decided to replace them. I found some nice black ceramic ones for 97¢ each, but they only had 20 and I needed 34. So I asked an employee if he could help me, and he said no but took me over to a man working in that department so he could assist. That man was cutting a key for a woman so I stood there patiently waiting and the other employee stood with me too. Just as the man handed the woman her cut key another man walked up, handed him a key and said, "I need three of these." The man I was waiting for calmly took the key and started to duplicate it--saying nothing to me. The new customer also ignored me. I said, "Excuse me, I've been waiting and I would like help with these knobs." The employee said nothing to me just went on calmly cutting the keys, and the customer went on calmly waiting for the keys as if I hadn't said anything, as if I weren't there. Then the guy took his keys and left, the employee walked me over to the knobs, fiddled around with his inventory device a bit and told me there were no more. I calmly said thank you, put all the other  knobs back in the bin, put the empty shopping bucket on the floor, and walked out. As I headed to the exit I had to pass by the man who cut in front of me for keys and I walked up to him at the self-checkout and said, "I have to know, did you intentionally cut in front of me to get your keys or did you just not see me?" He said he didn't see me, he had been painting all day, and whatever. I said, "Huh. This is the third time I was cut off today and I'm beginning to feel invisible", and I walked away. (The first time I was cut-off was driving to the store.)

As I drove home there arose another moment when someone didn't want to wait through the line going straight at an intersection and so got in the lane that had to turn left and then tried to cut over. Actually there were two cars who tried to cut over, both of them tried to cut in front of me but the first one didn't push it. The second one did and started to come over into the lane while I was still there and I moved slightly out of the way and kept going, forcing him to drop back. He was very pissed and kept trying to get in a position where he could cut in front of me, but it didn't happen. That's it. I'm done driving and shopping. I can get everything I want on-line--especially since I was only able to find about 50% of what I needed in the actual stores. I was told at the stores that the other things I needed were available in their on-line stores.

Tomorrow we're off to San Antonio to stay the Hill Country Resort for a long weekend. I think I'll let Dave drive. Zaga is pet and house sitting again--I really won the friend lottery with that one!!

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Fine Woodworkers of Austin Association

Tonight was the first meeting I attended of the Fine Woodworkers of Austin Association. The presentation was on hand planes--a tool that I knew I needed to get, but was unclear about exactly which one to start with. Tonight cleared that up nicely for me--and there's even a hand planing class coming up the end of the month! I don't know if I'll take it--I'm kind of class-heavy right now--but I am looking forward to getting my hands on one and trying it out.

Today was (relatively) cool and overcast in Austin, and I didn't have to water any garden beds as we got good rain last night. I should've used the extra time this morning to set up the wood shop and unload the trailer, but I frittered. So tomorrow will be spent both in the glass studio on kiln loads--four orders to get out--and on wood shop set-up. Jessie worked in the apartment for me today getting the new beds made up and the dishes all washed and put away. We'll do pictures and make the listing live tomorrow.

Dave added to his t-shirt collection today and I am afraid to admit it, but I really like the new one. It has a picture of Josef Stalin and reads: Dark humor is like food, not everyone gets it. Oh that's so wrong and so good at the same time.

Now the coyotes are singing out back, and I need to chill after a long day. Maybe I'll have a snack (dinner was a rushed bowl of tortellini with a bit of olive oil and parmesan several hours ago).

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Tour de Hives!

After my whiny rant and my failure to either clean the kitchen or do laundry last night, I am almost ashamed to post tonight as I, in gluttonous fashion, added several longish-term things to my plate today. In my defense, I did make it through my list today and I am feeling good about tomorrow. I also cleaned the kitchen and made progress on the laundry.

The Art School at The Contemporary opened class registration today for members so to be sure I could get the classes I wanted, I registered for two sessions of pottery (running in succession) and a class in wood and metal with Zaga. The first pottery session and the wood and metal class start in September. I also signed up for an intermediate level jewelry making (silver smithing) class at the Creative Side starting next Monday and going Monday and Wednesday nights for four hours until the end of August. It's my end of summer hurrah and will, I hope, springboard me to finish setting up my own jewelry studio.

In addition to art classes, I signed up for a couple of days of classes in beekeeping and beeswax products the weekend of the 18th, and my apiary is one of the stops on the Tour de Hives this year on August 19 (the classes are the 18th and the 20th)! While I am excited to be on the tour, I hope I haven't bitten off too much of an obligation. The tour hours are only 9-12, but I should probably have some info prepared about the apiary, what books I like, plant lists from the garden, etc.

Lest it be thought that I am disregarding glass, I ordered stands from Bill and shipped two orders today with more firings and a shipment planned for tomorrow. Still haven't put in time on the glass website, but did finally kickstart an entirely new business endeavor today with the creation of a listing for our guest house (The Roost At Stone's Throw) on HomeAway. Tomorrow J and I will finish setting everything up in it and deploying the linens and furnishings we got today at Target. Then we (I hope Jessie) will take pictures and the listing will go live. Next stop: vacation rental manager! I am a woman of many hats. Oh, and this is a good time to mention that if you are planning to come visit you had better get me your dates soon so I can take the dates down from HomeAway.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Life Speeds Up

The fabled Blue Pine Dave brought back from MT for me.
When I first got back from the hospital, I had trouble settling in and finding things to do. Later in the week I had settled in, but the days were still slow enough that I could do something in the morning, then rest, then maybe do something else and be done for the day, and rest some more. There was a lovely balance between the things I needed to get done and the amount of time in a day. Sadly that time has passed and I am right back to the speeded up version of life I experienced back in the spring before going to Montana.

I get up early in the morning and go, go, go until evening. There is no time to nap or relax, and it's getting harder to get through everything on my list. Yesterday I made it through by the skin of my teeth, but today I didn't. So tomorrow I start the day finishing everything I didn't get to today--beginning with watering the garden which I only got half done today--and then I move onto tomorrow's tasks. How did this happen? Is it just because the entire family is back home? Do the pets and the spouse add that much more to my day? I don't think so. So what's going on? No idea so I just have to move on.

The child is definitely helping lift my load. She has a lot of clothes that she wants to buy that aren't in the 'need' category and which are designer-ish and cost more than I would pay (a Rita Oro jacket from Adidas, for example) so she is working for money to get them. The other day she vacuumed and mopped the wood floors, today she unloaded the trailer and the mini-van, tomorrow she will dust the house and clean the apartment. Even so, I still feel inundated by all this stuff I have on my plate. Where did it all come from? Some of it is from the round of appointments I had to make for both Jessie and me to get ready for fall (doctor, dentist, etc.) and some of it is from the new round of home improvements and contractors I have started. Maybe everything will slow back down soon... but I doubt it.

Part of making my life fuller comes with the fall round of classes at the Art School Laguna Gloria of the Contemporary. Registration for members (that's me!) begins tomorrow and I know pottery is in my future as is a wood and metal class with Zaga. Now I just have to decide about intro to watercolors. The drawing class I attempted last winter was less than successful as I missed the last third of the classes due to travel and other commitments. Maybe I should just stick with the two other classes for now and take up watercolors when I'm older.

In the meantime there are still the shirts I planned to make for Dave this summer, the spinning project I started for the Tour de Fleece, the sweater coat I am knitting from the Tour de Fleece wool, the blue pine bed and desk project, the glass orders which have been coming in, caring for the botanical garden apiary and pond, getting the apartment finished and on the market for vacation rental, harvesting the prickly pear fruit for dye jelly and syrup, and finishing the homework for the Master Spinner level one. Oh yes, and beginning to work out regularly in an effort to improve my health.

I am tired just thinking about all of it. Time to put in a load of laundry, clean up the kitchen and go to bed!