Monday, August 25, 2014

Hot Mess

And I don't mean that in a good way!.....Haha!  Well, within hours of posting my last scathing rant I was drenched and wracked in the feverish throes of some GawdAwful sickness.  I don't know if it was a food-borne illness or a virus (I suspect the latter) but it was horrible and lasted until the early morning hours of Sunday when I awoke to feel my fever had finally broke.  I guess that's what I get for my rampage.

And at the same time the awful, relentless heat and dryness continued on outside.  It was good we got so much rain early in the spring because we are way short now.  Dry as cracker juice.  The poor chickens have dug fox holes under the deck and just lay there most of the day trying to stay cool.  They do come out for treats of watermelon and such, as we do try to come up with things that might help them through the heat.  I tried putting ice in the water trough but they were scared of it.  And it melted immediately anyway.  Tried a fan for them but I guess they don't like air blowing right on them, so we just try to keep plenty of water and some treats out for them.  As you can see, they really enjoy the watermelon.

This is little Tilly!  Or, the Big T. They get watermelon juice all over their head and then all kind of dirt and such sticks to them.  Makes me want to get after them with a washrag.

Till' is still sweet as a bug though.  Still loves to snuggle in my lap for a snooze.  Still doesn't understand what the little box is I point at them or why I want him to stand on the bucket but he goes along with all of it.  I just hope he and George remain so sweet.

And George is getting to be quite the fellow.  His crowing is slowly improving but he really doesn't practise that much.  I only hear him every once in a while.  I hope that continues also.  He loves to get in your lap too for some petting.  Very sweet and calm.  The only problem is with all 3 of them trying to get in your lap at one time, as they are getting so big!  Somebody inevitably ends up stepping on somebody else, or just trying to stand on them, and then it all erupts in screaming and squawking.  I try not to do much screaming but if one of them jumps up on my jumblies with those sharp claws, well, it's hard to contain yourself.
I say all 3 because we found Elenore dead the other morning in their little apartment.  Not really sure what happened there.  She was a good size/ weight and seemed healthy.  Good appetite or so it seemed. 

The garden is a dry, creaking mess.  I've just let everything go at this point, especially after getting this virus.  I hope to get it cleaned up a little at least and maybe plant a few fall crops but I'm not sure how much of that is going to happen.  I still have some pumpkins coming on though!  Up to three now!  And I discovered I have a very large sweet potatoes crop waiting to be dug.  I pulled up a good many in one hill but need to do the rest.  First year I ever planted those also so I was happy they did so well.  If hot weather makes a good sweet potato then we should have some good ones.  I can't really complain though; we haven't even broke 100 F this year.  We did have a good run of 90s this past week but I've seen it much hotter for much longer.  'Course, the summer ain't over yet.  I remember the year we worked at the railroad it was over 100F for 10 days straight in September. 

I've got some cool stuff to show ya'll and really meant to post before now but was too sick to sit up much or too drugged to write anything comprehensible.  Or at least, close to what I normally do.  So, I hope to be back sooner this time with a good post, or at least something a little more interesting.  And it's about building!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Crabsody In Blue

   I'll warn you straight off the bat that this is going to be a rant.  And it will probably contain some ugly language.  You know, I realize I get cranky sometimes when I'm hurting but if one more person tells me that I'll just feel all better when I "go back to work", I'm gonna knock the livin' shit out of them.  You'll feel better when you go back to just need to work.....when are you going back to work?....  No, I'll feel better when I knock the livin' shit out of you.
   First off, this is one of the most idiotic statements I've ever heard.  If you feel bad due to injury or illness, rest is what makes you feel better.  Right?  Not driving almost an hour one way to some town job when your ass hurts so bad you can't stand to sit for long periods, "working" some job and then driving that hour home.  Of course, I know activity does often help, as does getting out a bit, but it implies that I feel bad because I've apparently become so depressed and lazy laying around all day.  I feel bad in my mind, not in my body because you know, if it was my body actually the problem, well then rest would help.. 
   As many of ya'll know I've been working on a restoration job lately, which I'm really enjoying and happy to be doing, but has it made me all bouncy and pain free??  Hell no.  I hurt like shit sometimes.  Still.

Secondly, it implies that I've been laying on my ass the past 2 1/2 years, not working.  You know, I don't know what it is about people that they want to insist if you work at home you are not really working.  I suspect it has a lot to do with jealousy that they don't have the back bone to work a job that makes them happy or they let somebody ruin their life by bullying them out of a job they really wanted.  Gotta conform!!!  Gotta do work like everybody else where you hate your job and can't wait for the weekend!!  Yes, the truth is out...I've laid on my ass this whole time.  I have no idea how two loads of pottery makes it into Birmingham every 30 days about and the garden gets planted and worked and harvested and the animals looked after.  And if people don't think that's work then they need to come spend a couple days with me, especially in this summer heat.  They'll be running back to those weeny office jobs in no time.  Granted, I do not work like I used to.  I used to do 3 loads of pottery a month or more.  At times the garden gets let go a little and I've not put up as much food as I would have liked to, so I'll be the first to admit I'm not as productive as I would like.  But I thought a job was something you made money from and I get 1-3 checks a month from my sales.  But it's apparently not a "real" job.  It's not work, because hey!!  work makes you feel good!!  It miraculously unfuses the vertebrae in your neck.  Well, that or it makes you vomit from your head hurting so bad because you worked on something overhead for just a little too long. 

I'm not really sure where it comes from or when it started but our society has a real problem when it comes to people who have physical issues or maybe need a little assistance and I have often found that the people that claim to be the most compassionate are actually the most mean-spirited.  Of course, all of my good readers are kind, caring folks but I wanted to include a link to a great article I read that explains a lot of how I feel but in a polite manner.  Here is the article.  It's very interesting because they include a small bit of an interview with Kevin Sorbo (played Hercules) and his health struggles and how people so unfairly judge younger folks especially who struggle physically.  People seem to think that if they have never heard of a condition or if "you don't look sick", well, then by God, you're lying and just want attention!!  Well, I think if that was the case we would figure out pretty quickly that once almost everyone immediately abandons you when you feel bad, then ooh.... hey, we're not getting attention so we'll go back to being normal.

I also love it when they try to tell you why you feel bad.  It's especially maddening considering my past employment.  "Well, you just breathed some fumes when you used to work construction".  Yes, I breathed fumes and it fused my neck bones together.  I'll be sure to tell my doctor that one next time I go in.  Oh, oh, oh!!! and then they say, "well, you just worked too hard when you were younger!" and then in the next breath tell you how you apparently need to go back to doing that kind of work because, you guessed it!!... "you'll feel better!!"

I know that I actually have a mild case of Klippel-Feil and I really feel for those that are worse off than me.  Some of those poor people, I don't see how they even get around, but then they do have the advantage of having such deformities that people don't question whether they feel bad.  'Course, that doesn't help their pain.  I also feel for the ones who have no family or friends that support them and you'd be surprised at the number of them that don't.  I have found out first hand, if you can't do for people any more, you are quickly forgotten.  I'm fortunate to have a couple of great friends who are very helpful to me.

So please, if you know someone who suffers from an invisible illness or disability, please cut 'em a little slack.  You don't have to understand their condition or have even ever heard of it before.  Invite them out to lunch or take them lunch one day.  Just sit and have a cup of tea or offer to stop by the grocery store for them.  I KNOW they would appreciate it.

And here's a picture of a nosy little chicken because I like it and I'm cultivating that same expression for the next time somebody says something stupid to me about my health!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Art Of Falling Apart

 Although it may certainly sound like it, the title of this post is not about me!  This is the new restoration job I have in Birmingham.  And yes, these are some peculiar sculptures at first glance but I think with a little knowledge of their history they make more sense.  These are two (see below also), wall-hanging sculptures that were created by Southern artist Frank Fleming for a particular private school in Birmingham.  If you check out the link you can see much more of Mr. Fleming's work and the wonderful animals and iconic southern imagery that runs through all his work.  You an also get the idea that his work is quite pricey, and you'd be correct.  Most of his work is cast bronze but he does do some work in clay and these are made of a mid-range, white stoneware.  So, how did a school come up with the funds to purchase work of this nature?  Well, basically, it's a private school for rich folk to send their kids to and the campus and buildings are full of sculptures and paintings, mostly by Southern artists.

I have long been a fan of Mr. Fleming's work and, if you once again check out where and who collects his work, you can guess that this is an honor and a privilege for me to be able to restore these pieces.  I really enjoy doing this kind of work and always feel great satisfaction in completing a job where you can no longer tell there is anything wrong with the piece.  I've joked around that I have always thought I would have made a great counterfeiter, because I can usually replicate the style of anything I repair, but since I don't really want to go to prison I'll stick with this.  I would really love to expand and do more work like this, maybe even outside of Alabama, but it's not every day that somebody busts a big sculpture, thank goodness.

The school recently did a large remodel/ addition and during the transition of moving these pieces were damaged.  As you may be able to see, they are rather delicate in construction, extremely heavy and awkward to move, so it's not surprising to me that this happened.  And when you throw in some construction workers that are not used to dealing with such it can end badly.  Having been both an artist and construction worker I can see both sides and understand the issues involved.  And I have sympathy for both sides involved. 

When I work on things like this I also have to laugh a little at all the times I was ridiculed for getting a degree in art and for working in construction.  "What can you do with an art degree?"  "You ain't got any business working in construction"  Blah, blah, blah.  Then all the people that laughed at me go on to complain about how they hate their jobs but can't quit because they owe so much money and don't have time for this or that.  And I just laugh as I enjoy my day and the satisfaction of doing a good job and then I go home to my paid-for home that I built.  Haha!  When I was graduating from high school I would have never, ever thought I would have ended up in the careers that I did but it's been almost magical how things have worked out for me once I decided to follow my heart and not what other people said I should do. 

I have found all the connections to this job interesting also.  Most of you all know that the construction firm I used to work for went completely out of business.  Well, a few people such as myself, just retired from the business but most of the others went to work for other companies or in related fields and one superintendent that I worked for several times is now this school's head of maintenance and construction.  I had done one large restoration project on one of his jobs for Brice and so he knew I could do the work.  He told the school officials, you need to get this lady to do the repairs and so they contacted me.  It's also another great example of how the men I worked with have always helped and promoted me.  If you always really try to do your best and produce a good product I believe people will notice and they will remember.

So, the first thing on a  project like this is to clean everything well.  I also requested that they go ahead and install the pieces in their new location so that I could do my repairs in place.  That way there would be no chance of things being broken again when they were moving them to install.  And as it turned out, there were a couple of new, small breaks in the moving. 

After cleaning the puzzle work begins.  Mr. Fleming requested a certain type glue to be used and turns out it was what I use anyway.  The trick to putting something like this back together is that you use very little glue.  If it squishes out when you put the two pieces back together then you used too much and not only is it messy but the volume of glue will keep the pieces from fitting as tightly as they should.  Sometimes the crack is going to be visible and sometimes it will virtually disappear.  There is also the inevitable chunks that end up missing on a project like this.  I use a two-part paste epoxy to fill in these areas and the cracks.  Works great and you can usually never see the finished repair.  Well, if you know how to work it that is!

After the broken pieces were reassembled I then started reattaching the pieces to the main structure.  That is painter's tape you see holding pieces on until the glue sets.  The glue is also a fairly quick setting type but I like for something to be holding it until it is completely cured.  Now, the epoxy paste never quite matches the color of the clay or material so I use a color matched paint to hide the repairs.  I hate to use paint on a piece but that is usually all you can do.

Oh, there was one other fun fact of this job:  If you have read my blog from almost the beginning, you may remember when I worked on The Big House.  I did a number of fun restoration projects on that job and it is just down the road a piece from the school I am working at now.  (That'll give you an idea of just how wealthy this area is) In fact, the man that owns that house now went to this school and as he used to walk by the Big House on his way to class he would tell himself that he would own that house one day.  Or so the story goes anyway.  When I was browsing through Mr. Fleming's website I looked at the "news" section and recognized The Big House from several photos showing some large, outdoor bronzes he has done on commission recently.  I have also done work at several other houses in this area over the years and it's kinda funny how I keep getting work to come back to this particular area.  I am as poor as a church mouse compared to these people and it's an interesting world to occasionally work in.  I'll try to get a few photos of the surrounding area next time I'm over there.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Summer Day

I should be down in my studio glazing and getting the kiln ready to fire tomorrow morning but I am just pooped out.  I feel okay in the mornings but by about 6:00 pm I am just worn slap out.  That's an old southern saying for those of ya'll not familiar; "slap out".  Why, there's even a town in Alabama called SlapOut.  I think it's down below Birmingham or some such.
Anyway, I have an appointment Wednesday with a new cardiologist so we'll see what he has to say.  The one I used to see retired a couple years ago and I just put off finding a new one.  In some ways I feel better but the fatigue is just overwhelming at times.

I think the peas have done about all they are going to do this year and I picked and shelled until I had a enough to finally can and it be worth the trouble.  I still only got 5 pints but we may buy some from a local farmer, if they still have any, so I can put up a few more pints.  The girls helped me shell peas too.  Well, I throw them the dried up ones and they can easily crack those open to eat the peas.  It's funny, the Ameracaunas, the Hamps and the Partridge Rocks just love the peas and know how to shell them.  The rest of the girls are just like, meh....even if I shell them for them they are just not too crazy about peas.  They all love the oats though and every day I'll throw them a handful of the oat sheaves.  They go through them and pick out the oats.  It's kinda like the peas; it gives them something to pick through and work on with a reward at the end.

Couldn't resist getting a shot of Missy's bloomers while they were all working over some culled tomatoes.  Missy is always so prim and neat.  She keeps herself very clean.

I've been making a list and trying to think of some interesting things to write about here but when it comes time to post I just lose interest.  I think it is just complete lack of energy.  Still having the foggy-headedness and such.  Posting in the morning might help but I feel like I need to use my energy then, because it's so precious, to do things around here, rather than just write a blog post, which does not pay me.  I guess that's kinda blunt and callous but that's the way it goes right now.  I know I've said it before but I appreciate ya'll who still come here to read.  I guess I've been kinda sad and maybe even a little hurt at how many have dropped me since I became sick and the blog changing slightly because of that.  But, from what I've been told by others who have gone through, or still deal with, long or unexplained illnesses, it's pretty common for folks to wander off and leave in real life too.  Funny how that is.  Even in my family, my Mom is the only one that ever asks how I'm doing or anything.  Of course, over the last 20 years I've come to realize just how dysfunctional my family is, but it's still kinda sad.  I know some of you also have health problems so you know what I mean.
At any rate, I'm doing the best I can at the moment and I'm working on getting better.  I will get back to building eventually.  I have to.