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Archive for January, 2018

“Whipsaw:  n 1. A narrow two person crosscut saw. v 1. To cut with a whipsaw, 2. To defeat in two ways at once” 

It was a lovely day today at The Havens.  Last week, after several days of pretty cold temperatures (sub zero at night), it snowed.  Then it warmed up enough to melt the thin layer of snow on the ground.  This was followed by some days around freezing accompanied by gusty winds.  Finally it warmed up and the wind blew like a wind tunnel testing a jet airplane.

This morning it dawned clear and cool and totally calm.  It would have been ideal to burn off the labyrinth right then, but we had a date at the kid’s house for home made waffles.   So we went over there (a matter of walking half a block) at the appointed time and thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast with the family.  It is really lovely to have our grandkids so close.  AND their parents…  I must not leave them out!

After our repast, we came home, got busy, and burned off the tall grass that had accumulated in the labyrinth over the last summer.  It was a perfect day for burning, and still hadn’t gotten so warm that tending the fire was onerous.  There have been times when it was sort of like an introduction to Hades, what with a warm day and a brisk breeze.  Today it was just damp enough that the grass burned well but not like an inferno.  No wind to speak of, so the flames crept their way through the paths and rocks desultorily.  We had to use the flame thrower a few times to encourage them to do a complete job.

There are lots of rags and tags of grass tops, as well as things like the stems of goldenrod, little white asters, and primroses spread in the paths.   They really need to be raked up but I decided to do something else instead.  If I leave them long enough they will blow away or compost in place, maybe.

After unhooking and draining the hoses we had deployed for fire safety reasons, we rolled them and coiled them back up on their supports.  Winter is not over yet and we have had enough of frozen pipes.

Speaking of frozen pipes, the contractor man has been here since Wednesday repairing the utility bathroom.  We picked out new floor tile for it, auditioning a style that we are considering using for the Great Bathroom Remodel, which is scheduled for a future date yet to be determined.   We LOVE the tile and lucky for us it was on sale so we bought the necessary quantity and have stashed it in the sauna dressing room.  The bathroom should become functional early next week.

Of course, there has been a daily (except for Thursday) pilgrimage to Springfield to visit the Ailing Mother.  She came through her popliteal bypass alive (barely).  There were a few rough days, and once the hospital figured out that she really needed a blood transfusion, she rallied enough to be moved to a rehabilitation hospital.  Since then she has walked as much as 70 feet during physical therapy and can get up out of her wheel chair and move to the bed “unassisted” (meaning two people stand nearby at the ready to make sure that she does not lose her balance and fall during the painstaking process).  But her appetite has returned, and her mind is once again active.  She has been working on her tatting project.  Aside from the open incision around the bypass site, she is looking fairly good.  There is still a lot of ground to cover, but we are no longer in fear of her life.

And my sister was released from the hospital today, after fighting infection from the cat bite she got while she was neutropenic from her latest chemotherapy for her leukemia.  Thank God for small favors.

With both people that were in so much danger moving towards safety, maybe I can actually get some sleep tonight.

Anyway, back to today.   Instead of raking the labyrinth, I cleared the old dry tops out of the asparagus bed.   While I was engaged in that chore, I noticed that the bees were out foraging.   Then I started wondering if they still had enough honey to keep them going through the rest of the winter.  (Despite the lovely day today, winter is FAR from over.) Presently my curiosity grew so much that I went into the house and prevailed on Jim to make a wellness check on the colony.  He suited up and opened the hive and we determined that they have LOTS of honey to eat, they seem very healthy and active.   Without disturbing them much more than that, he put the hive back together and we watched them continue about their bee business.

This activity made me wonder what on earth they could be finding to forage this time of year?  It didn’t take me long to remember that yesterday while I was walking Ruby I noticed that the witch hazel out at Bennet Spring was blooming.  I have a few witch hazel trees here at the Havens, so it wasn’t much of a leap to wonder if perhaps our bees had found them.

I went to look, and lo and behold!

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The bees have indeed discovered that there is a source of pollen out there for them.  While I was playing bee paparazzi, I saw a couple of tachnid wasps out there too. They declined to be photographed, so I can’t prove it.

Then I went out and weeded the strawberry, blueberry and raspberry cage.   It was very healing to dig out all that henbit and chickweed.  The whole cage looks great!  While I was working, I could hear the hum of the hive on the other side of the fence.

Maybe I will have some time to work on my art journal this evening.  That would be very good.

 

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hospitals are …

Well, I have been driving back and forth to Springfield this week to Mercy Hospital because my mother had a bad occlusion in the veins of her left leg, so bad that she was in danger of losing her foot.

First the surgeon tried a stent, but that opening of the veins didn’t even last all night.  So this morning they did a bypass using a vein from a cadaver.  Surgery took over 4 hours, she took over an hour in recovery.

My sister and I saw her in the ICU where she is incarcerated for the night.  She looks pretty good for someone who is 90 and just had a major surgery.

Meanwhile, back in Texas, my older sister was also in the hospital.  She is in the process of getting over an episode of leukemia.  She had extensive chemo last July and has had several rounds of consolidation chemo.  This pretty much wipes out the immune system as well as the platelets.  This last round went well, she went home and her cat got pissed off with her and bit her badly.   She has been on IV antibiotics for several days to keep the ensuing infection from becoming systemic.

So while my mother was trying to keep her foot here in Missouri, my older sister was trying to keep her life.

I’m ready to not have anyone in any hospitals for a while.

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It was a very white start to Martin Luther King Day here at the Havens.  When I awoke, it was snowing, but the precipitation has stopped for now.   There was no water aerobics this morning, and I am not really excited about getting out on the roads.  While I cut my “driving teeth” in the mountains west of Boulder, Colorado; and then developed them experiencing the roads of Alaska, I still stay off the roads if I don’t have to go out when the weather is like this.

Around here people get way excited when a couple of inches of snow fall and there is a light rime of ice on the roadways, conditions that would make a seasoned Alaskan or Colorado mountain driver simply slow down a bit.  Around here, they close school and the weather people have regular conniptions about how dangerous it all is.  I have no qualms about my ability to negotiate the highways here in the Ozarks.  It is the REST of the drivers that give me pause.  They are so unpredictable I am reluctant to put myself in their vicinity.  Many of them seem to believe that since they have four wheel drive they can still drive over the speed limit and also stop on a dime if they need to. (She shakes her head…)

So I am home, and wondering if I will have any clients this afternoon.  There are three scheduled, whether they will show up is another question entirely.  It makes earning a living very unpredictable.

Meanwhile, the view from my kitchen window is splendid.  The little birds surely did appreciate me filling the feeders this morning.  There was a huge crowd of them at breakfast time.  The hawk flew through and scattered them, afterwards the yard was devoid of birds (and squirrels) for a good half hour.   I did not go out and investigate, but usually that means that the Cooper’s hawk was able to secure her breakfast.  She seems to view the pond area as her dining room.

The petite prairie is looking quite fine, as you can see from my opening photo above.  I love to go out there and inspect the environs after a few hours of no snow fall.  That is when it becomes evident just how important that cover is to the residents of the yard.

There was a small flock of cardinals hanging around after the hawk scare ebbed.   Here is a shot of them I took from the porch.

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That is not all of them, several of them were availing themselves of the sunflower seeds while I was taking these images.

There are more of them in that bush than meets the casual eye.  Here is a closer shot of the same group.

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Aside from the trio of juncos there is one male cardinal and four females sharing this bush.

The male is very suspicious of me.  Even though I was a good 30 meters away when I took this shot, his demeanor tells me “I know you are there and you are probably up to no good.”

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“Just stay on your porch and everyone will be happy.”

 

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Every once in a while, my clients say something profound.   Actually, they say profound things on a regular basis, but I don’t always remember them when the massage is over and they have left the premises.

The other day, however, one of my clients said something that really stuck in my mind.  He is 87 years old, and a farmer.  His daughter turned him on to my services, and the work I have done has made a huge difference in his pain level and mobility.   It is really fun to see someone experience massage for the first time.

Now, I am the first to admit that perfection eludes me, even though I set a high standard for myself.  Every once in a while, I really screw up the appointment book.  I cannot blame these events on electronics, because my appointment book is a hard copy upon which I write with one of those nearly obsolete things that deliver ink to paper.

I occasionally toy with the idea that perhaps I should move into the 21st century and embrace the electronic appointment software that is out there.  I am reluctant to do this, largely because I feel like electronic doohickeys already dominate too much of our lives.  Also, I have witnessed people standing at my counter, entering their next appointment into their phone along with alarms and reminders, and still have them neglect to come.  They are frequently confused because their phone did not remind them of their upcoming appointment.   And they show me the empty date…  This is exactly what I fear would happen to me if I were so unwise as to commit my work schedule to a data base.

Besides which, I read articles over and over that tell me that in order to be successful these days I MUST have on-line appointment making available, because the millenials don’t want to deal with actually talking to real live people.   I call bullshit.  I have plenty of millenials who are my clients who have no problem making their appointments with me without using an on-line app.  Personally, I want to have more control over my schedule than a computer run appointment book would give me.   Call me old fashioned. Call me a luddite.

That all being said, I am perfectly capable of messing up the book all by myself, with no help from computers!  And I did that early this week.   I had two people scheduled at the same time for reasons that I will not go into here, but involved making an appointment for someone when I was not in the presence of my book.   Big no no.

So, when my older man showed up while I was working on the other client, Jim had the job of telling him that I was double booked.   He came for an appointment later in the week, and when he arrived I apologized profusely.  He said, “You’re fine.  Things happen, it is just fine.   I always like to say, ‘If you don’t do nothing you won’t make any mistakes.” Then he added, “I am still mad at myself for picking up your phone and walking off with it the other day just because it looked like my phone.”

If you don’t do anything, you will never make any mistakes.   The fear of making a mistake can lead us to paralysis.   Good to remember.   The corollary is a common saying in art journal circles:  There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.

Go ahead, be brave!  Act!  Do not fear your mis-steps.  They could lead you to wisdom, and possibly better art.

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This is my latest art journal page, completed this evening.

There has been some interest expressed in seeing my process, so I actually took some pictures as I created this one.  The first thing I did was cut up some left over pieces of card stock and put them onto the page using soft gel medium.

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Once the gel medium was dry, I covered the whole page with white gesso.  It looked so barren I got out my PearlX copper pigment and scattered it on the wet gesso.  Then I smooshed it around with the brush I had been using to apply the gesso.

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I let that dry, then put more texture on using modeling paste through a stencil.

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Once that was dry, I had a conversation with a client who wanted to know how I glued all those little pieces on.   I wound up demonstrating glass bead gel and fiber paste by smearing them around on the piece.  Once all that was dry, I used some paints to color the textures.  After that, I sprayed a stencil and printed it  on the page.   Once all that was dry, I covered the whole thing with clear gesso so my sprays wouldn’t move.

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Then I had to do a couple of massages.  When I was done with that, all the gesso was dry. So I got out my DalerRowney pearlescent acrylic inks and did drippage.   I experimented with some alcohol ink drops too, but didn’t really like where they were going so I wiped most of that off.   A little bit of that color remained behind, though (the blue splotches in the middle).DSCF6516

I finished off with some stamping, using stamp pad ink as well as some acrylic paint on a stamp.  Final touches were the addition of butterfly embellishments I made in November, and a simple border.

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sand

I have spent quite a bit of time in various sandy locations:  beaches and deserts.  Sand is such an amazing commodity.  Depending on the fineness of the grit, and whether it is damp, it can be an amazing record of what happened during the night.  Here is evidence that a bobcat walked up and down a beach.DSCF3793

There was a lizard here.

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And this is the den of a kangaroo rat, who has been in and out a few times.

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I also am fascinated by the patterns that grass draws on sand when the wind blows.

You can build castles with it.

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Mostly though, I think about how this…

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…can turn into this…

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…given enough time and pressure.

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We spent a few days down near Corpus Christi, Texas, visiting the Padre Island National Seashore.  It is a truly magical place, a 60 mile long beach you can drive on at low tide when the sand is packed.  This is the view looking south at about mile 15.

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It is a fantastic place to walk next to the water and pick shells up.  Unlike many of our national parks, at Padre Island you are allowed to collect shells, no more than five gallons a day.  They must not have anything living in them, including hermit crabs.

It is also an amazing place to watch birds.   While we were down there I saw a golden eagle sail over the dunes one morning.   There were many northern harriers, red tailed hawks, and peregrine falcons hanging around.  This area is one of the places they winter over.   North of the Island is the place where the whooping cranes winter over.  Many sandhill cranes are also in the area.

The week we were there it got so cold that there were a two mornings when all the shore birds had departed for warmer weather.   There were not even any sea gulls, which seemed eerie.

We did see some pelicans, however.   Mostly they were not interested in flying.  The fish had all gone very deep and it wasn’t worth the effort to try to fish.

There were also quite a few grey herons that stuck around.   One day it was quite windy, and I caught a shot of this gentleman with his feathers ruffled.

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A couple of days later, the wind had died down but it was still very cold.   One of his brethren was posed heroically against the skyline.

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My favorite thing to do was wake up just at dawn and watch the sunrise.  Then take off for a couple of miles on the beach before breakfast.   This was possible because low tide was happening right around dawn during the period we were there.   At high tide, there is no beach to walk on.

There were some grand sunrises.

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That day, when I turned around the gibbous moon was smiling at me.

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The next day we had another fine sunrise.

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That day, the sun was kissing the waves beautifully.

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I love the ocean.   Jim and I both miss living next to it.

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