Saturday, June 30, 2007

And that wraps up June...

I cannot believe today is the last day of the month of June... where the heck did the month go? Let's see...

It went toward Joycie's high school graduation open house last Saturday, which went very well. It was a beautiful day, so we really lucked out on the weather. Everything went smoothly. I took last week "on vacation" to get stuff done for the open house and also to get stuff done that I've just been putting off... but I ended up having to do "job work" a lot, mostly from home, which was nice, but I also had to go into the office. Didn't feel like a week off, that's for sure. *sigh* Anyway, Kevin and Joycie really did a ton of stuff to get ready for the open house, and my sister, Kathy, was a Major Help, too. (Thanks, Kathy!!!) I'll have to post some photos, though I need to get some of them from my sister, Janet. I, who has my camera almost everywhere I go, totally slipped on taking photos during the open house. Ugh.

It has went toward more baseball games for Sammy. And we have a tournament this weekend in Shepherd. Sammy's on a "new" team, all 12-year-olds, a combo team from another local Little League. Their uniform shirts are the Texas Longhorn orange, and I love that color. Yep, that's totally a girlie comment, coz yes, I do care about the color of the uniform. Anyway, Kev is working midnight-12s for the next, oh, forever and day, so it's me and Sammy traveling this weekend. (Joyce is gone for the weekend, with a friend... and the house seems oddly quiet without her. Weird.)

June has also went toward quite a few pottery sessions. Sammy and I went Wednesday evening and finished glazing our critter-shaker-balls; we made 2 each. I can't wait to see them finished. We have had so much fun together doing this. Sammy has 1 more session from the 4 I purchased for him, and he wants me to buy him another 4 for the summer. I also went to a few sessions by myself, that is, without Sammy, and I got quite a bit done. I picked up my tree face that's completed (Sammy glazed it for me), and I'll have to post a photo of that. By Wednesday evening, I had 1 large pot in the kiln getting bisque fired, and 1 pot ready for glaze firing, as well as my large pedestal ready for glaze firing. I also finished the Greenwoman for my sister... it's drying and will hopefully be bisque fired within the next week or so. I can't wait to see how all those turn out. My fingers are also itching to start my next little project, which is all planned out in my head... can't wait! I know I said that already, but it's worth repeating.

I've also been totally swamped at work... this past week flew by. That's kinda nice, of course, but it's been a difficult week. Lots of fires to put out, and not the kind, thank God, they're having out West. Also, 2nd quarter close is upon me, and I'm definitely feeling the heavy crush of work pressure.

The last part of June also included a shopping trip, where we purchased a laptop for Joyce for college; it is part of her graduation gift from us. And it also included a very cool backpack carrier, an all-in-one printer-scanner-copier, plus odds and ends for it all as well. And then we spent a couple of hours at Best Buy getting the laptop looked at because it was behaving strangely... Joyce used a USB mouse that I have, on my suggestion, but it was an old mouse and her new HP laptop (with Vista) didn't like it, so we bought her a new mouse, also. Cha-ching, baby.

The end of June contained a new battery and alternator for Joyce's Rodeo, too... and some other miscellaneous work. I hear it again, don't you???... Cha-ching.

And last, but not least, my brother, Jim, turned 50, my nephew, Michael, turned 17, and my father-in-law, Gary also had a birthday... Happy Birthday, boys!!!

And now it's almost 10am, and Sammy and I have to hit the road soon to get to his first baseball game of the day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Two constants...

Yesterday evening, Joycie's boyfriend, David, came over for a visit. I was working on my company laptop, and Sammy, Joyce & David were kinda just standing around, and we were all talking. Joyce suggested she & David go play Mario Party downstairs. David asked if it was Mario Party 8... which apparently came out recently. Through some discussion that followed, it was determined that Joyce & Sammy have Mario Party 5, and both were unaware that a 6 and 7 had come out. Then the 3 of them discussed how 8 couldn't be all that different, but that new versions of Mario Party will continue to arrive...

David said, "There are 2 constants in the world, and they are not death and taxes. Even when the atmosphere has burned away, and there are only microorganisms left on Earth, the ones in the Middle East will be fighting to the death and the rest will be playing Mario Party."

Cracked me up.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Baseball, baseball & more baseball

Sammy has played in 2 tournaments so far on the allstar team, one this past weekend and one the weekend before... and he's in a "city tournament" for his regular Little League team still, and another allstar tournament this coming weekend...

Lots and lots of baseball.

The boys won the first tournament, and they all got a nice trophy...

They won the second tournament, too, and another nice trophy...

In the 2 tournaments, they played 8 games total, and so their record is 8-0. Not too shabby. Folks will say that playing Little League is not all about winning, and I totally agree... but it sure is a heck of a lot more fun when your son's team is winning...

Daddy is happy, too...

3 generations of happy boys...

Friday, June 15, 2007

What to do, what to do...

I just deleted a bunch of typing I did that would have been a long post about my frustration with the baseball team Sammy's on... I decided eh, not worth reading. You're welcome.

Cutting to the chase, I can't decide whether or not to go watch Sammy's 2nd baseball game at 8am tomorrow morning or to go to Space Studios and work on pottery. On the one hand, I want to support Sammy and he likes it when I go to his games, but I get so tense that I end up mouthing off, and that's not good. On the other hand, I really love doing the pottery... Kev told me to go to pottery but he only said that because he didn't like what I was saying during the ride home from the 1st game this evening.

As for pottery, I have 2 large items that are done with bisque firing. One, which I call my crazy-quilt pot, I have already started glazing. On this pot I put 2 handles, and I have since decided that I truly don't like the handles. I have also decided that I'm probably not happy with the glazing I've done... so it sits on my shelf at the studio gathering dust. I would like to explore ways to get rid of the handle that remains on it and somehow make the pot work, but I think first I must wash off all the glaze I've already applied, and that seems so wasteful. But at the same time, finishing it as it is will result in something I don't like... and that also seems wasteful.

The other item is a large version of my triangle vase. I like how it has turned out after the bisque firing, but I cannot decide how to finish it, how to glaze it. I have gone through many ideas in my head, and I think that's the problem. Too many from which to choose. It also doesn't help that I recently picked up a very cool book at Barnes & Noble, in the cheap book section, called "Decorative Ornament," by Owen Jones, "more than 2,350 historic designs and patterns" and they aren't kidding. There are a lot of illustrations. This book: is a magnificant new edition of his classic "The Grammar of Ornament" that was first published in 1856. Each chapter covers different area of ornament... Ch. 1 Ornament of Savage Tribes, 2 Egyptian Ornament, 3 Assyrian & Persian, 4 Greek, 5 Pompeian, 6 Roman, 7 Byzantine, 8 Arabian, 9 Turkish, 10 Moresque, 11 Persian, 12 Indian, 13 Hindoo, 14 Chinese, 15 Celtic, 16 Medieaval, 17 Renaissance, 18 Elizabethan, 19 Italian and 20 Leaves & Flowers from Nature. Now, doesn't that list make you wish you could look at this book? So now I have even more ideas for my triangle pot. Cannot decide... so I will just have to wait... it'll come to me sometime.

I also have a very large item, that's in 2 pieces... it's a pedestal for a potted plant in my herb garden, a rose-scented geranium. The 2 pieces currently in one of the kilns drying and getting ready to be bisque fired. I still haven't decided how to glaze that yet, either.

I also finished a large coil pot, and I think I know how I would like to glaze it. Also finished a five-sided slab pot, which I'm calling my "senses" pot, and I know exactly how I want to glaze it; I can't wait until it's done with drying and bisque firing to get started on it. Fingers are itching.

I'm still working on a "greenwoman" mask that I'm making for my sister, Kathy, to go with her "greenman" mask that she has hanging on the wall of her shed, along with about 4 or 5 other masks. I'm finding this project particularly difficult, I think because I'm making it specifically for my sister, not just creating something out of the blue, so to speak. Because anything else I do, if someone doesn't like it, who cares, I'm just doing it for me... but this is for Kathy, so it's important that she likes it. (And she reads my blog, so if you end up hating it, Kathy, you HAVE to tell me.) Oh, the pressure!

Although, I did have someone who saw me working on it the other evening tell me that she liked it... and I had no idea at the time exactly who this person was, otherwise I probably would have freaked out...

The other evening, I decided on the spur of the moment to go ahead and drive over to Space Studios to see if I could work on some pottery. They close between 4pm & 6pm for the dinner break, so I couldn't call first... I just drove over and got there at 5:50pm. Mine was the only car in the parking lot, so I sat there with my windows down & looked through my "Decorative Ornament" book while I waited. A minute or so later, this really old, faded pink small compact car drove up and parked.

Out of this pink car stepped a very tanned woman. She looked to be older than me, so I was thinking around 50 or so. Long black hair, some gray in it, kinda wild. Wearing a black tank top, baggy navy blue sweat pants and a tattoo on her left shoulder, a kind of black spiral lines design. She was looking like she had already been working on pottery or some other art project. Old, stained up clothing is pretty common there, though, since once you discover red clay and some glazes don't come out in the wash, you tend to wear old clothes for pottery work. I was sitting there myself in an old shirt covered in red clay swipes from the evening before...

So anyway, this woman walks up to the door and tries to open it. It's locked, and she turns to me and asked, "aren't they open?" I replied something along the lines of how they will open again at 6pm, and someone should be arriving any minute. We talked for just a moment, then she walked over to the pines behind the building, set her stuff down on one of the picnic tables and walked the short, pretty path they have there, looking around.

In a few minutes, the owners, Kathy & Steve, drove up, and we all went inside. I started working, and learned from their conversation with the woman, whose named I learned was Lauren, that she was there to try working in clay. She hadn't done so before, so Kathy worked with her. Kathy is multi-talented... being not only an accomplished artist in drawing portraits, but also in clay, hand-building masks and making pots and other items... but also being a good teacher. Being able to do something with artistic skill like Kathy has is a God-given talent, but being able to teach someone... also a God-given talent.

I've watched Kathy work, and I am always impressed... not only with what she produces, but with how she does it. I've tried to do certain things that I've seen her do, and it's the same old story how the expert makes it look so easy, but when you try it yourself you realize that it just ain't all that easy. I think that's one of the reasons why I like working with clay so much. It's like golf to me... that one great shot is what makes you wanna play more. Finding that one thing with clay that feels good and turns out well makes me wanna try more stuff. And I like getting my hands all covered in clay. Fun, I tell ya, fun.

So anyway, Lauren begins working with red clay. Kathy is working with her, and Lauren has a plaster face mold with her. It's her face. Lauren begins making a mask. She's working at the table across from me, while Steve is working with clay at the table next to me. He is also new to clay. It was turning into a super interesting evening, with those 2 clay newbies, and with what they were each creating.

Conversation through the evening was also very interesting. Lauren is an artist, and I learn she is in town because she was awarded a fellowship. She is from Tucson, Arizona, and drove her pink car cross-country.

While we all talked, I watched her work. Watching each other do their thing with clay is what everyone does there, and folks talk with each other about their work and the work they see others doing. That is also a nice part of going to Space Studios. But watching Lauren work was different. For one thing, she was very fast, and seemed very sure. For not having worked in clay before, you would not have known. What she made was striking and beautiful and different and kind of odd, but not at all odd... it was cool. I would love to see that piece completely finished, after the firing, and to see how she glazes, or doesn't glaze it. I hope I get to see it.

Lauren and I have some very different viewpoints, which is what made the conversation interesting, but we also have some viewpoints in common. Her perspective definitely comes from a life led very differently from mine. Like I've already said, the conversation was interesting. I don't think I've met anyone quite like her before. I'm more of a practical person, and I would call myself "creative" but not "artistic"... though I could not easily explain to you what exactly I mean by that differentiation. You either know what I mean or you don't, I guess. Lauren is clearly an artist.

So interesting was the evening, that I Googled her. I knew only her first name, that she worked in leather masks and had received the Alden B. Dow fellowship. Lauren Raines was pretty easy to find on the 'net, as she's a well-known artist. She has a web site, and she mentions the fellowship and her project for it, and she's writing a blog about it. How cool is that!

And I was able to see her work for the evening and talk with her about Tucson, deserts, Wal-Mart, Nebraska, being a morning person vs. a night person, Northwood & pingpong tables, Sedona and Connecticut...

How cool is that!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

So many frogs

This is yet another post about my venture out to our old little pond the other night. I had noticed earlier last week that there are a lot more frogs at our big pond this year than there has been the last few years. Out at the small pond, there were tons of them, and these little guys just sat there and let me photograph them. They were lined up along the edge of the pond, like little well-trained greeters.

They were in various degrees of growth... I even saw a few tadpoles.

It reminded me of a poem I knew as a kid from the Childcraft set, the Poem and Rhymes book...

I loved the illustration with it:

While I was at the pond, I was looking down into it and I suddenly realized I was watching a turtle swimming upward toward the surface. The water was actually a dark brown when I looked out at it, though the photos make it look blue from the reflection of the sky... the water was murkey, but I could see the turtle quite clearly. By the time I finally remembered to take a photo, this is what I got:

The turtle came up to the surface and gulped up a bug and then went right back down. You can barely see his foot in that photo.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Beautiful Betty

When I took a walk out back to our old pond the other evening, Sammy and the 3 dogs came along. The mosquitos soon drove Sammy back to the house, and with him went Reilly and Barney. Old Betty stayed out with me and nosed around.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bumper Stickers

It's been a while since I've done a post about bumper stickers. Why you ask? Because I haven't seen very many lately. Almost none. Once in a while the usual, "You call me a BITCH like that's a bad thing." Boy, is that one getting old. *snore* And there are always a lot of NASCAR stickers to look at on the backs of vehicles. Personally, I just don't get the whole NASCAR thing. But then I never got "Days of Our Lives" or "General Hospital" either. The beer drinking part I get, but I don't need anything NASCAR to drink me some beers or 2. I also have stopped taking note of most of the political bumper stickers. You've all seen them all, too. *snore*

Then, the other day I saw this sticker on the ass of a Saturn:

If you're not OUTRAGED,
you're not paying attention.

Well, ok then, color me outraged...

Eh. *snore* Just can’t keep that outrage on track. Sorry, downer dude in the Saturn. I’m just too Happy.

Yeah, probably the beer thing.

Then a couple of days ago, I saw this oldie-but-goodie:

I don’t suffer from insanity,
I enjoy every minute of it.

Words of wisdom, Lloyd, my man. Words of wisdom.

And then this morning on my way from an early PT session, heading into work, I hit the motherload! A nice, new-looking Ford pickup with 7... count ‘em, SEVEN... bumper stickers on the back of it. I hit the brakes & grabbed my trusty Sony... they read, from right to left, capitalization realistically represented:



If You Want a Country
Run By Religion
Move to Iran


Religions are just cults
with more members

Don’t Pray in Our School
I won’t Think in Your Church


I know! Me, too... I read that first one and thought to myself, “now this is going to be entertaining...” What was especially entertaining was the old guy driving the pickup... picking his nose. Eh.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dragonflies & Damselflies

I have always liked dragonflies. I remember swimming in the river when I was a kid and watching the big, fat dragonflies over the water. Watching them and hearing the drone of their wings. Dragonflies make me think of summer.

There is a lot of info on the 'net about dragonflies. Also, there are a lot of places, businesses, books, web sites, etc. using 'dragonfly' in their name... tons of them. I found references to North American Indian folklore about the dragonfly, meanings for spring and water, and messenger, and also in stories from China and Japan. I also found out that dragonflies go by many different names, depending on where you are in the world... like darner, darning needle, devil's darning needle, ear sewer, mosquito fly, mosquito hawk, needle, skeeter hawk, snake doctor, snake feeder and spindle, just to name a few (I read there are more than 80!).

I also learned that some of the dragonflies aren't dragonflies at all... they're damselflies. Dragonflies and damselflies are similar; however, one of the main differences is that while at rest, the damselfly's wings are held along the body instead of outstretched... a dragonfly's wings are outstretched.

Both eat mosquitos and mosquito larvae. Good bugs.

Walking around our big pond, our small pond out back and around my sister, Kathy's, field, I've taken quite a few photos of these beautiful, mosquito-eating bugs.

I found the damselflies are more difficult to photograph... my camera didn't seem to want to focus on them, perhaps because they're so skinny. There were several of them near our small pond out back. On one bush along the trail near the pond, there were about twenty of these small blue damselflies, which I believe are called Blue Ringtails.

Among the weeds in the small pond, I found this pair mating...

Notice their wings are outstretched... but then, they're really not resting, are they?... I disturbed them and they flew up into a small tree near the pond, staying connected, where they lit for just a moment and then flew off, connected, into the sunset. How romantic.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Sammy's regular Little League Majors season wrapped up this week. His last year. Hard to believe. The last game was played against another team of boys from his school, most of them friends of his. It was a beautiful evening for a baseball game.

Sammy did great at bat, & he went 4 for 4. This is a shot of his triple...

That turned into a home run thanks to an error (overthrow to third). Sammy was pretty happy with it, and so was his daddy.

Sammy pitched a couple of innings, and he did a good job at that, too... except one of the first pitches he let loose was to his friend, Zack, who got an over-the-fence home run off from it. Zack loved it! Sammy not so much...

Here's the boy in action, throwing the last pitch, a 3rd strike, for the last out of the inning...

I love going through all my photos of Sammy pitching... he usually does the "tongue thing" and it's so dang cute.

Our boys lost that game, but it was close. Fun game to watch. Kev is definitely the proud papa.

The boys are out at the ballfield right now, at the first tournament game of the all star team, or as it's also being called, the travel team. Sammy was super happy to make the team this year. And it is another beautiful evening for a ballgame, sunny and breezy.

I bailed on the game tonight, though, because my neck is still so sore from the physical therapy I've been getting... it's like a big block of pain on the base of my skull with a matching headache. Sammy was so sweet right before he & Kev left, and he told me that he knew I wanted to go & watch him play but I should stay home and take care of my head. Sweet and smart!

T I triple-ger S

Last night, Kev and I were watching the Tigers kick some Texas butt Big Time... top of the 3rd, Tigers had 2 outs, score was 6 to 1... and Granderson hit another triple, 2 RBI's making it 8 to 1... a thing of beauty, truly. But my favorite part was when Rod Allen said, "Mommy, make him stop it!"

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I mentioned in my previous post that my friend, Debi, gave us some large goldfish for our pond... here's a photo of the day we let them loose into our pond.

They took a little while to adjust, but it was really cool to watch them swim out and free.

We've been feeding the new goldfish, and along with them, feeding our old fish who woke up with the spring. They're all getting along. The bluegill, perch and bass are all gobbling up the food like crazy, but the goldfish are still barely picking at it.

I just took some photos about a half hour ago, and I think the goldfish are looking bigger already.

I left work about 11:30am this morning because I couldn't stand to hold my head up any longer... I'm finally getting something done about a pinched nerve in my neck, which includes physical therapy. My 2nd PT session was yesterday afternoon, and by about 9:00am this morning, my neck was so sore... I made it home without barfing, which I thought was a major accomplishment. I spent the afternoon on the sofa, and am feeling much better now. Thank goodness for pharmaceuticals. Especially since Sammy's last regular Little League baseball game is tonight. My neck would love to stay home on the sofa, but I'm going anyway.

So a little while ago, I took a short walk around the pond to wake myself up and get some fresh air. Everywhere I went, the pond fish (that is, not including the goldfish) followed me.

I found all kinds of interesting things to photograph.

I also wanted to get a photo of at least one of the many frogs that kept jumping into the pond, but they were all way too quick for me. I was happy to see so many frogs, since we had hardly any last year.

Kev has done a good job keeping cattails out of our pond, but there is still a great deal of plant life in it. Every year, the pond gets more interesting.

There is a lot of algae in it right now, more than I realized. We had originally thought to use our pond for swimming, but I don't have those thoughts now... Weekend before last, I took an unexpected dip into it, out of our canoe. (Well, it's really not our canoe... it belongs to my sister, Joie, it just lives at our house now.) One of my first thoughts was that I was thankfully out more towards the middle of the pond, instead of near the more grossly appointed edges... but then I had to swim to the edge and walk up through the mud and guck out of the pond.

I had got into the canoe to check on a couple of lily pads that my sister, Kathy, gave to me. Kevin was out near the back pole barn somewhere, and both the kids were gone. I was just merrily paddling along when I noticed that, once again, the pond fish were following me everywhere. They would come right up to the side of the canoe. So I trailed my hand in the water, reaching forward a little bit trying to touch one of them with my forefinger. Which left my little finger hanging back... and one of the fish nibbled on it. I was concentrating on the fish in front of me and was not expecting my little finger to become some kind of appetizer for a bluegill. Scared the piss outta me, and I jerked my hand back, upsetting the balance of the canoe... and the rest is pond-stinky history. I was all sweaty and dirty anyway from gardening, so it wasn't all that much of a step down to pond-stink.