Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In the wrong hands

As of this past weekend I have text messaging enabled on my phone.  Joel thought it would be a good idea, so I've now officially moved into the society of annoying people who walk with their heads down bumping into things in stores while staring at their phones.  Yep, I'm one of 'em.

There I am, laboriously picking out the letters on the cellphone keypad.   I can type, with varying degrees of accuracy, roughly 70 words per minute on a normal keyboard, but phones are something else again.  Just to say 'hello' is the #4 twice, wait for the letter to stop flashing, ok, #3 twice, wait, wait, ok, #5 three times and #6 three times, and voila! in about three minutes I have said 'Hello' and nothing more.  Back to the keypad for 'how r u?'  Then I forget to hit the send button.

When the boys first acquired their cellphones, Dave was the first one to have texting enabled.  About a year later, Joel joined in.  Often I felt as if we were miles apart as we sat at the same table with two boys texting away 'BRB and POS and WTF' etc.
 (1. If over age 50, see footnote for explanation of acronyms)

Wait a minute; shortening the word 'etcetera' to 'etc.' might well be the first of the acronyms in the history of communications, or was it SOS?  And I wonder if fans of proper English detested the shortcut way back in the day?  I doubt they were ROFLMAO, though some may have been.   (see footnote 2)

The thought of texting while driving and the recent news of how many accidents have been caused because of it has really hit home with me in this past week.  It takes all of my middle-aged concentration and then some, not to mention raising my eyeglasses complete with bifocals so I can look out the bottom of them (looks like I will need trifocals soon) to see the tiny letters on the keypad.  Teenagers' fingers fly effortlessly over the keys as they zing off texts without a hitch; did you ever watch them do it?  Truly amazing,  and should keep another generation of hand surgeons in business treating CTTS (Carpal Tunnel Texting Syndrome) in the future.  Don't worry, I will not be trying to text anything while engaged in piloting a motor vehicle.  You're all safe from me.

Anyway, just learning how to text is a big accomplishment for me.  I'm still having trouble setting the ringtone on my cellphone--why does it insist on changing the volume every time I touch it?  Carl and I are getting as bad as the younger generation; we were in the public library Monday night and instead of walking over to get me, Carl texted me to come to the back of the library.

The only problem was my cellphone which I thought I had switched to Silent Mode was somehow on Five Alarm Fire Bell With Siren mode.  Of course it was zipped into my jacket pocket with the sticky zipper that I cannot get open in under ten rings.  Sorry, library patrons, sorry, 52 year old woman with too much technology, take away my cell.

A few years ago, I attended a funeral for a distant relative.  The church was full and the acoustics were truly cathedral-like, just perfect for the clear-throated soprano soloist hitting her high notes right on key and her accompanying choir.   Made a person feel as if they were listening to the Angels of Heaven.  Breathtaking.

The eulogy was given, a daughter and son both gave their sad and tear-filled goodbye speeches to their father and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. 

The priest called for a moment of silence to remember our dearly departed brother.  We all bowed our heads.

Then, out of nowhere,  a sudden burst of  un-heavenly music filled the church---it was Steven Tyler of the band Aerosmith belting out:

"That Dude looks like a lady......Dude, dude, dude, dude looks like a lady................." 

Every head in the church whipped around to find the culprit.  It was easy to figure out who it was, another furiously blushing middle-aged woman frantically clawing through her purse looking for the offending cellphone.  She was trying to shut it off, but not before the clear refrain rising to the rafters of the acoustically blessed church:

"Ooh what a funky lady...............................
She like it, like it, like it, like that,
Ooh............... he was a lady"

I swear I tried not to laugh, and camouflaged behind my Kleenex, maybe it did appear I was in deep mourning.  I meant no disrespect to the deceased, truly, and I felt for the poor red-faced woman who tried to make a discreet exit out the back door.

I bet she thought she had her phone on Silent Mode too.   Modern technology in the wrong hands.....see what it leads to? 

1. BRB= Be Right Back
    POS= Parent Over Shoulder
    WTF= Ok, not for polite company and not 'Why The Face'?

2. ROFLMAO=Rolling On Floor Laughing My A.. Off

Friday, February 19, 2010

"But was there a dog?!"

One more post this evening before I retire for the night.

After Mom left this afternoon, I went back to foiling the poinsettia.  Around 5PM I noticed it was still light out and since the dogs and I had not taken our 'morning constitutional' walkies, I told Carl I was going out to get some exercise before sunset.

I took both Pudding and Teddy dogs with me and we set out walking west until we got to the snowmobile trail on the other side of my mother's house.  The last few days I've been  walking down the trail with the dogs off-leash because they love to run free and it's a delight to see them tear off like two puppies instead of the ten year old dogs they are.  (Remember, that's 70 in people years)  I always keep an eye out for snowmobilers and the dogs come running back to me so I can scoop them up when one approaches.  The trail was deserted tonight, though.

One thing I didn't reckon on was the fact that it had been rather warm today and the trail had deteriorated quite a bit with open field ( aka mud) everywhere.  The snow that was still there was crunchy underfoot.  Teddy gave up walking after the first 1 1/2 mile due to the snow hurting his paws, so I picked him up and carried him the next half mile.  Pudding was having a good time running in circles, but I did reapply her leash when we got within a quarter mile of the highway.  I called Joel and asked him to pick us up where the trail crosses the road and he obliged.

The last 50 feet to the highway was almost impassable on foot due to the mud (so squishy) and also due to the fact that I wear sandals to walk in, yes, even in winter.  Sandals with holes in them, to be more specific, the truly nerdy kind with the Swiss Cheese holes in them.  I know, I live in Wisconsin, but these shoes are SO light and comfy and as long as I stay out of deep snow, they work great (except in mud over my ankles).

I managed to get to Joel's car and sat with both rather wet doggies on my lap.  Carl instructed Joel to go to the grocery store for milk, so off we went.  Since I was rather disheveled, I asked Joel if he'd mind going in to the store without me and I'd stay with Teddy and Pudding in the parking lot.

Joel left us and I was thinking it was a shame we weren't parked in sight of the street as the dogs and I love to watch the traffic and people come and go, but I knew he wouldn't be gone long.  Joel cracked the driver's window an inch because the dogs love to sniff out the window.

A few people came out of the store and got into their cars and left and the dogs (and ok, me, too)  watched with great interest. There were two cars parked facing Joel's car in the parking lot and a few trucks.  After a few minutes, Teddy and I noticed a thirty-something man leaving the store at a smart pace with a bag of groceries in one arm and his car keys in the other.  Reaching a car parked two stalls away from us, he got in, set his groceries on the front seat next to him and appeared to put the keys in the ignition. 

Suddenly, with a ghastly roar just like in a horror movie, a very large black dog lunged out of the back seat and his jaws shut within mere fractions of an inch of the man's head.

I have NEVER seen a man get out of a car faster than he did.  It was truly gold medal Olympic-worthy speed.  He vaulted out of the car, slammed the door shut, fell down and was back up and running before both of his feet were on the ground.  He disappeared from our view for a time (my dogs were just as fascinated as I was with this show) and then cautiously returned holding one shoulder and pacing back and forth.  I was afraid he was having a heart attack.  I asked him through the crack in the window if he needed help, but he didn't hear me.  He kept pacing and looking at the car and shaking his head.

I was stumped at this point.  There were a few possibilities that came to mind right away...maybe he forgot he brought the dog along and his dog scared him (or hated him?) or maybe someone (a vengeful ex-wife) was stalking him and using the dog as ammo or to send a message (sort of like waking up with a horse's head in bed with you mafia-style); or maybe there was a crazed animal rights activist roaming the parking lot randomly dispensing stray dogs into any unlocked car in the hope they'd find a good home.

I was trying to figure out a way to ask the victim which of the above fit his predicament, but didn't want to frighten him with two more unfriendly, albeit, tiny dogs.  I figured he'd had enough canine interaction for one night.   Joel came out of the store and got into his car at just this moment, and had to move Teddy over so he could sit down.  I told him to ask the guy if he needed help.

"Sir, are you alright?" Joel asked.

Our distraught acquaintance said, "Oh, man, my car is parked right there". ( Two car spaces away sat the exact same model of car.)

"I got into this car by mistake.  I went to start the car and that dog scared the S..T out of me!!!  I got outta there as fast as I could, but now my keys and my groceries are in there.  I'll have to wait until the owner comes out, I guess."

I told him I'd seen what happened and he had a shaky laugh about it, but was still clearly agitated.  I was glad he didn't need an EMT and told him so and we bid him a good night.  (Of course, I talked Joel into moving a bit in the parking lot so we could see the 'rest of the story'.) 

Ten minutes passed and many shoppers came and went and our poor hero was still standing awkwardly outside the wrong car waiting in vain for the owner to appear.  Finally, he got into his own car to warm up until a lady came out of the store with her purchases and stopped just short of the passenger side of the car with the big black dog.

The poor guy approached her from her driver's side and apologetically told her what happened.

She said she was wondering how the groceries got into her car.

We couldn't hear the entire conversation due to traffic noise and being 'staked out' too far away, but we did hear her laugh and say, "Oh, ok, here, I'll get your stuff."

When she opened the door to give him back his belongings, her dog flew into a rage once again, causing him to take another step back. 

He must have apologized again, because she said, "That's alright.  I got into the wrong car once, too."

He said, "But was there a dog?!"

(Just when I think sitting in the grocery store parking lot is boring!)

How many more?

In case you've been wondering, yes, the poinsettia lamp is coming along.  I was going to post some pictures but it will have to wait until tomorrow. 

My mother came down here so I could give her a perm today.   We finished up around noon and then I read her the blog posting about her day of 'rest'.  She was horrified. 

"What would your father say?  It sounds like he wasn't there at all!" Mom was really flustered.

I calmed her down and told her I'd write more about Dad soon; and not to worry because:

A. Dad is no longer with us
B. Nobody reads this blog anyway
C. It was the truth.

She thought about those three facts for awhile and seemed a little relieved.  Then she chuckled a bit and said, "You know, I forgot about all that work until just now.  We did work hard, didn't we?"

I told her, yes, SHE did work harder than any of us, but she tsked-tsked that sentiment away.  "You did all the field work and barn chores, too." 

Ok, Mom, yes, I did help too, but the success of the farm rests squarely on her little shoulders.

Mom hasn't been here in a few weeks and was surprised to see the poinsettia shade laid out on an old glass patio table top on our dining room table while I've been foiling for the past seven days. 

"How many does this make, now?" she asked.

"How many lamp shades, do you mean?" I asked.  This is number six."

"Six!  Oh, my," she sighed.  "Well, they are pretty, though."

I have to back up a little and tell you that Mom is not quite sure what is wrong with us when it comes to the stained glass obsession.  One lamp was fine; two lamps were ok, three lamps were, shall we say, 'pushing it' and the fourth lamp was indicative of an underlying mental derangement in her eyes, though she has a polite way of suggesting such a thing. 

After the iris lamp (number five for those of you counting) was done this past summer, she outright asked me if we were going to quit with the lamps already. 

"You're going to run out of room to put them," she observed.

But then I pointed out the ceiling fixtures all devoid of stained glass in the kitchen, hallways, bedrooms, etc.and reminded her that Joel (and maybe even David) wants them for heirlooms.  She seemed a little doubtful of those facts, but once again, sighed and said, "Oh well, I suppose you could make a 'few' more.  I guess you could have a worse hobby."

I told her we'd like to get one more shade done before spring,  though which one we will tackle is still undecided yet.  Joel has an idea for one which promises to be a challenge.  I've yet to design my own, but do want to give it a try in the future. 

  At hearing my latest declaration of insanity, she smiled and headed out the door to her Buick, put it in reverse and skillfully manuevered out of our driveway and onto the road.  89 and still independent.  I hope to be that lucky.  Mom never fails to brighten my day.  (And she looks pretty snazzy with her new 'do, too!)

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Mother's Sunday, a Day of Rest

About three years ago my mother found an old camera which still contained some film.  This was an old 'Brownie' camera, the familiar brown box camera with the viewfinder on the top that you looked down into to take a picture.  We took a chance on the film in the camera and had it developed.  (Remember the days when you took film to the drug store to have it developed?  Seems like ages, doesn't it?)

Imagine our surprise when we saw the one and only picture of the twelve which turned out.  I was amazed to see this rare photo, actually the only one ever taken of the inside of our barn and our cows.  What is even more rare is to have a picture of my mother who is notoriously camera-shy.  If Mom sees a camera in someone's hand, she'll do her best to vanish into thin air. This picture brought back a flood of memories.

I'm fairly certain this picture was taken on a Sunday in the late 1960's because Mom is wearing a dress.  She did NOT do chores in a dress, but Sundays were different, the one day she took a break from work.  Well, I have to clarify that statement....yes, it was Sunday and we did treat Sunday as a day of rest, but when you live on a farm there is no such thing as 'rest'.

Mom woke up every day of the week at 5AM.  She proceeded to the basement where she put on her barn shoes and filled two five gallon stainless steel milk pails with blistering hot water from our kerosene water heater and then traipsed up the stairs and trudged out to the barn with the water to rinse the milking machines for the morning milking.

Then, if it was winter, my 5' tall mother climbed one of the 40' silos in the dark to pitch down frozen silage for the 30 cow herd.  She had a pickax up in the silo to chop into the frozen feed and a silage fork to throw it down the chute.  When she had enough feed for the day, she climbed down the chute again and proceeded to fill a wheelbarrow with silage and wheel the feed to the waiting cows.  The trip had to be repeated at least six times per side of the south and north side of the barn.  After the silage was fed, she went to the haymow and threw down hay for the day and also slid a 50 lb. bag of ground feed down the loft steps to the feed cart.  The cows were then given their grain for the day, which is much like frosting on a cupcake for humans.

After the feeding was done, she scraped and spread lime on the alley and scraped down the cow's stalls.   Next, she brought in the milk cans to the feed room and set up the milk strainer with its De Laval strainer pads.  Then, like as not, she would have to go back to the house to get my dad out of bed (if he'd had a late night out in the taverns) so they could get ready to milk.  He didn't always sleep later than Mom, but it wasn't uncommon if he'd had a 'large' night.

We did have an automatic milking machine, two of them in fact, with a vacuum style pump.  The resident barn cats used to sit up on top of the belt-driven milker pump to warm their feet.  This was back in the day before OSHA safety rules and regulations; consequently we lost a few young cats when they let their tails droop onto the belt.   The older cats observed this phenomenon and learned quick; keep your tailed curled up out of harm's way.

My father, however, did not believe a cow was 'milked out' by the automatic milkers.  He grew up milking cows by hand before the barn was built by chasing a cow around the cowyard and somehow getting them to stand for milking, a thing I cannot comprehend.  By the time my folks married in 1940, the barn was built and I'm not sure when the new-fangled milkers were installed, but it was before 1958, when I was born.

 After washing the cow's udder, the milking machine with its four teat cups was applied.  When it appeared a cow was done lactating,  the machine was moved to the next cow.  My father did not trust a machine to milk a cow out properly, however, so after the milker was taken off, both Mom and Dad got their milking stools and sat down to 'strip' each cow by hand.  They would invariably get another half-cup or so of milk from each cow after a few minutes of hand stripping.  

I guess it made sense, in a way, but if you've never hand-milked a cow, I have news for's brutal work.  My hands would fall asleep after five minutes of stripping.  Mom stripped cows for over 40 years.  She would end up having surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome in her 70's.  The doctor said it was the worst case he'd ever seen.  After the surgery, she did have instant relief from the nightly pain she experienced which was a wonderful thing.  I can recall her walking the floors at night because her arms ached so much.

Back to the chores.  After the milkers were partially full, the milk had to be carried by hand to the milk cans in the feed room.  We kept two five gallon milk pails in the alley for this purpose so the person carrying the precious milk would have a balanced load.  I developed tremendous upper body strength from farm work. The milk was dumped into the strainer and when a milk can was full, it was rolled out the door and into the milk-house where we hoisted it into a water tank of cold water for cooling.  Then the next can would have the strainer placed on it and so on.

After all the cows were milked and stripped, it was time to feed the calves.  This is a job too, especially if there are young calves to contend with that do not have the hang of drinking out of a pail and want to suck on your fingers.  Training a calf to drink from a pail was often my job, and it simply took patience.   We did have a new-fangled pail with a nipple on it called, appropriately enough, a nipple pail, and they work very well albeit a bit slow.  More on calf training at a later date.

After all the calves were fed, my mother would go back to the house to get another two pails of hot water (we didn't have a hot water heater in the barn) and rinse the milkers by running hot water and through them.  Then the milkers were put in a tank to soak.

Dad would back the old Chevy pickup up to the milk house to load the seven or eight cans of milk in the back and drive the three miles to the cheese factory.  I would often go along for the ride.  There we would meet all the neighbors who were doing the same thing, bringing their last evening and present morning's milk in for a paycheck.  I used to love to ride with Dad who gave the 'farmer salute' to each and every truck we met--index and middle finger raised off the steering wheel just a bit and a slight nod.  Every other farmer responded the same dignified way.  It made me proud.

While we were gone to the cheese factory, Mom headed to the house one more time (by now, around 7:30-8:00 AM) to make a large breakfast consisting of fried eggs, toast and bacon and corn flakes with a banana.  After we ate, she stacked the dishes and headed back to the basement for yet another two pails of steaming water and went out to wash the milking machines which took another hour.  Sanitation was very important, if the cheese factory detected a high bacteria count, it would come back to haunt a farmer; things had to be very clean. 

When she finished with washing the milkers, she threw down straw from the straw mow to get ready for barn cleaning.  However, on Sundays, she left Dad to his own devices with pitching cow manure by hand as she hurried to the house to wash up so she could get ready for late church at 10AM.  She would put on a dress and high heels and we'd (Mom and I, my father did not attend church) climb into the old 1964 Buick Special and try not to be noticed when we walked in just a bit late.  She did her best.

We would come home from church and Mom would immediately set in to making a huge Sunday dinner, usually roast beef or chicken or scalloped potatoes and ham.  She would have it all on the table by noon (don't ask me how) and we would eat a meal fit for a king's table, complete with a homemade cake and cookies.  After dinner, she set to washing the breakfast and dinner dishes.  By the time the dish washing was done, it was around 2:30 PM.

Remember, Sunday was a set aside as a day of REST.  She had no rest coming from me, however, as Sunday afternoon was the one day she set aside to play with me.  I was thirteen years younger than my brother and was born when my mother was 38 years old and my father was 45.  I was, I know, a pain in the butt.  My mother felt sorry for me as I had no siblings or other kids in the neighborhood to play with, so she would set aside Sunday afternoon from 3PM to 4:30PM to play with me.  We waded in the creek or sledded down the barnhill or played baseball or hide and seek.

'Baseball' consisted of me standing on the barn hill while Mom tossed me the ball and I hit it, or missed it, more likely.  When I missed, the ball rolled back down the hill to Mom who would pitch it back to me.  If I got a hit, I was so happy, and would drop the bat and run and get the ball to give it back to Mom.  I know it sounds mean of me to make my mother play with me on her day 'off' but she still claims to this day to have enjoyed it and I think she truly did.

By 4:30PM, it was time for her to make supper again so we could eat by 5 and get out to the barn at least by 6PM.  The same routine she had followed in the morning with the hot water hauled out to the barn was repeated and all the same steps for the feeding and milking were once again carried out.  By 7 or 8PM we would be done with the night chores and after pushing the hay in to the cows, we could bid them a good night until 5AM the next morning.

When she came in at night from milking on Sunday night, we always had popcorn with butter, which was a tradition.  My father was always home on Sundays, because he didn't believe in going to the tavern or doing any other work besides those chores that absolutely had to be done on Sunday.  We did virtually no field work on Sundays, short of chopping feed for the cows which is a necessity. 

On the other six days of the week, the 'down time' between morning milking and evening chores were filled with housework.  On Mondays she washed clothes with her Speed Queen wringer washer and hung the laundry to dry outside, yes, even in the winter.  I can still see all the frozen bib overalls propped up against the heat register.   She also did all the firing up of the huge octopus furnace we had in the basement.  On Tuesdays, she baked bread.  On Wednesdays, she ironed.  On Thursdays, she baked desserts.  On Fridays, she bought groceries.  On Saturdays, she cleaned house.  Of course, during the summer, she did all of the above AND had to help with the field work, baling hay, etc.

The field work was where I excelled, more about that some other time....suffice it to say, I was not much of a help to my mother in the house, I was a tomboy and my father's right-hand man. 

My mother often fell asleep stirring things on the stove.  She would lean up against the wall and I saw her slump more than once and then catch herself before she fell.  As I write this, I get teary-eyed for the woman who worked so hard, and this is only a description of one day (and a Sunday at that) in her life.

I owe my mother more than I can ever repay.  She is now 89 years old and still lives on her own with very little help from me.  The doctors say she's in such good shape because she was a farm woman.  What a price to pay for good health.   I can see my exercise program looks like a walk in the park (which it is) compared to what Mom did day in and day out for over 40 years.  She is the most amazing person I know.

Mom, I love you.

(Oh, and before I forget, the other person in the picture is yours truly.  I must have been around ten or so.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

What a difference a season makes

I haven't said much about why I named the blog Quarry Garden Stained Glass, have I?  The history is long and drawn-out, but boils down to this:  the 98 acres we live on was bought by my paternal grandfather, Jacob,  in the early 1900's.  Jacob was the last child born to a large family who had immigrated from Holland in the 1890's.  When the family arrived in America, they settled in Appleton, WI.  When Jake reached adulthood, he purchased the land we still live on which was fully wooded.   With the help of his eight kids, he set about clearing the trees (which consisted of lots of white pine) for farming.

There were no established roads in the area at the time, which made getting around a bit of a problem.  Since this farm had an abundance of sand and, underneath the sand, fine gravel, somewhere, someone got the idea to dig a sand pit/quarry.  They used the materials to build a better trail which became the road that runs by our house. The pit was quite deep after the road construction.  My father used to speak of his brothers and sisters and neighborhood kids swimming in the gravel pit, but this was all way before my time.

By the time I was born, my father had decided to work around the top of the gravel pit to close it in.  We had our farm rockpile up by the gravel pit on the fence line and I spent hours up there playing and pretending I was far from home in a rocky fortress; I have always loved rocks.  I remember ice-skating on the by-then shallow pond in the winter, but every year the pit became more of a 'dish' in the field and now it's not a problem to drive a tractor straight through the mere depression in the field.

Then, when I was a kid, my late brother (who was 13 years older than me) would take me to the local gravel pit hangout about a mile and a half from home and he'd spend the day fishing and swimming while I roamed around on the manmade sand hills, admiring the exotic views from the top.  I found the gravel pit to be the most amazing place to go and jumped at every chance to visit.  Eventually, the owner of the pit realized the problems he could face if someone drowned or was hurt, so it was locked up and the good days at the pit were over.  I've never forgotten them.

Carl, in the meantime, was growing up a mile away from me.  (We didn't meet until freshman year in high school, by the way-- after that point, we've been together ever since.)   Carl had an uncle who owned another gravel quarry about a mile north of us.  He, too, spent time in his uncle's quarry and really enjoyed it, too.  Carl's uncle sold the quarry to a sand and gravel company, so he lost his access to a quarry, too.

To cut down on a boring history lesson, we married in 1978 and built a new home down the road from my parents.  I worked full-time at an insurance company until the day before Joel was born in 1986 and have been home ever since.  After Joel and David grew up a bit, we turned our hand to gardening.  We used to drive by quarries (ok, we still do, it's an addiction) just to look into them and imagine what it would be like to own an abandoned quarry and landscape it.  That's when Carl got the idea to build a mock-quarry in our backyard starting in 2002.

Rocks, rocks and more rocks, it's such a long story about the how and the why and the where and the when; but after eight years, we're still having rocks hauled in.  We've had many visitors stop in to visit who have said they wish they were lucky enough to have an old, abandoned quarry in their I guess we've been sorta successful in making look it 'natural'. 

So, anyway, here's some pictures showing the difference in a season!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Decisions, decisions

One of the things I've learned in my experiences with  lampshade-making is the importance of background glass.  The color, texture and shading of the background makes a huge difference in the final product. 

My favorite color for backgrounds is evident in the Peony, Waterlily, Flowering Lotus and Floral Bouquet shades which have all been blue; with a touch of red, green and purple if possible..  I departed from this color scheme a bit with the petite Iris lamp; using an Oceana mottle glass in bluish purple to green and yellow tints. Both Carl and Joel feel the Iris background glass is a bit blase', but I still tend to disagree; I think it's a refreshing change from my usual repertoire.  I love Youghiogheny Wisteria C and used it in both the Peony and Floral Bouquet.  Some sheets have absolutely fantastic color combinations almost too pretty to cut! 

So, we have one repeat nearly done for the Poinsettia and I'm deciding on background.  We wanted it to be a dark lamp to fit with the winter season.  I brought the easel upstairs this afternoon to photograph it in the sunlight and am still undecided on whether I'll go with this glass or not.  I was kind of put off by how orange the flowers looked in the photographs, but came to find out since the sun was setting, it was a very yellow, intense light which may have contributed to the orange tint.  I'm going to try and photograph it tomorrow morning in the south window again. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


We heard good news, the picture we took the other night is good to go, thank goodness.  I was just going through some pictures we took that night and came across a very blurry one of the Floral Bouquet.  For a minute, I thought I forgot to put my glasses on. 
The reason I include this here is because, oddly enough, I tend to remove my glasses several times during the course of laying out glass for color selection.   Hey, there's gotta be perks to being nearly legally blind, right?   Seeing colors totally out of focus helps me figure out if the palette works or not, if that makes any sense. 

Ok, my glasses are back on, time to go to work!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I woke up Monday morning with a plan of sorts: get the laundry done, call off the 4 PM meeting with the insurance guy (who was trying to sell us on an annuity; good idea, but a costly one in the long run according to our financial guy---but that's a whole 'nother story) and go for my walk.  Did I mention I try to walk as much as possible every day, with five miles being my goal?

Back to yesterday morning, gave myself a pep talk, first things first.  First thing was my foot.  I didn't realize when I tried jogging a short distance last Wednesday (between power poles on our road, hey, I'm outta shape and I'm not trying for a marathon) that stepping in a hole in the black top and then skidding on ice would cause me long-range consequences, but it has.   By Thursday morning the pain announced itself before I got out of bed, but I thought I could simply 'walk it off'.  After some gentle stretches, it felt better.

All last week was bitterly cold with a sharp west wind, so on Thursday I dressed for the elements and had Dave drop me off two miles west of home instead of three.  I got out of the car and the pain was there right away, but I figured a slower pace would help.  I figured wrong.  At the quarter-mile point, my right foot was screaming at me with every limp.  I did my best to fake it and stride purposefully past the neighbors (never let 'em see you wince) but by the time my back door was in sight, I was hobbling.  Trying to work down in the basement stained glass studio on the concrete floor after this fiasco was also very painful, and I used a bar stool whenever possible, though perched on the bar stool in front of the grinder gave me a back and neck ache.  (Gads, I'm pathetic!)

So, the walk was out, figure I should rest the foot a bit.  I made the phone call to the insurance agent which didn't make his day; and then headed to the basement door to the laundry.  But then I spotted the dogs.  Shih Tzu's are adorable dogs and they don't shed, but those coats grow at an amazing rate.  They are truly like the commercials that used to be on TV for Chia Pets where the product was shown growing at a rapid rate due to the magic of time-lapse photography.   I swear if we put a time lapse camera on the dogs, it would look the same way.  They undergo grooming treatment at my hands every other week which involves six towels for the two and then at least an hour to groom each dog.  All over clipper cut to their coats, toenail trims, ear-plucking (the vet said it doesn't hurt them, but someone forgot to tell my two dogs that) and the dreaded trimming around their huge eyes trying not to cause them any injury as their heads go up and down like a bobble-headed statue on the dash of a car with bad shocks driving down a speed-bump infested alley.  I'm always sweating at the end of the session and when I finished there was enough hair on the floor to make yet another ten pound Shih Tzu.

Then I headed out to tend to my ten little hens in the chicken coop and feed the wild birds and the cat, but I'll spare the details in the interest of time and space.

Before heading to the laundry, I decided to check my email and discovered that Don Conti had written to say he liked the Floral Bouquet very much, but wondered if we would retake the picture because the border came out black. Don had some suggestions we could try, as he has a vast amount of experience with this.   I was so amazed they would take the time to send us an email requesting a retake; I can't even imagine how busy they must be with all of the quilt panels and the calendar submisssions coming in, not to mention the fact that Don photographs any shade that a member will send to him for the calendar, too.  How very, very nice of them to give us a second chance!

So, forget the laundry, back to the photo shoot.  Carl came home and we got the table shoved back up against the wall; all of the photo paraphernalia, tripods, cameras, filters, spotlights, fabric, alligator clips, etc. set up.  We tried Don's techniques, some new ones of our own and still not much of an improvement.  Finally I put a mirror underneath the shade and the reflection lit up the bottom border a bit better, so we covered a piece of 28" cardboard with tinfoil and set a bare 60W lightbulb on top of the tinfoil which finally lit the border a tad.  The problem was/is my selection of the border glass.  It is way too dark, just one of the things I would have done differently now that I know better. It is a beautiful cranberry-reddish purple when seen with enough light, but we don't have enough light on the borders.  Oh, well, stained glass work is a learning process.  By one in the morning, we finally had a picture to resubmit, but sure wish it could be better.  There it is below.

 The borders on the side still refuse to be lit and go to black, and I'm thinking it's a bit over-exposed, but short of replacing all the border glass, this is as good as it gets, I'm afraid.  I just hope I haven't wasted too much of the Conti's time.  Carol Conti also wrote and told me the quilt panels hadn't arrived yet, so who knows what befell them on their trip to Washington?  Procrastination is our problem.  (Why is it spelled PRO crastination, shouldn't it be CON crastination, since nothing good comes from it?)

Here it is, the 2nd of February and if the groundhog doesn't see his shadow, I'll be lucky to get the poinsettia done before seed-starting time. 

Ok, off to the laundry.....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Who'd think?

Today is February 1st, the day all quilt panels for the 2011 Quilt at ASGLA are due and also the day all pictures of any lamps hoping for inclusion in the 2011 calendar were to be sent in.   Sure seemed like a long weekend, for we shot hundreds of pictures of two of our lamps and sat through seemingly endless critiquing sessions to try and find the 'right' one.

My eyes are actually sore from staring at the computer screen trying to figure out what would make either of the lamps look their best.  "This one's too dark on top-that one has a glare on the base-this one's too washed out-that one has a shadow in the background-that piece of glass is too bright-this picture doesn't show the background well enough" on and on and on.

The "photo shoot" is a BIG deal, with the dining room table pushed up against the wall and the traditional bolt of gray fabric hung up on Carl's clock stand with alligator clips holding the fabric taut to minimize wrinkles.  There are shoplights hung at crazy angles from the top of the basement door (darn, I wish I had taken a picture of the chaos, since it would be worth a 1000 words) and even the dogs were restless and nervous about what in the world we are doing.  Pudding kept sitting right by my side, anxiously scanning my face for signs this was almost over.

So, by midnight January 31, (which was also Carl's birthday) we finally settled on two lamp pictures we think might have some merit.  One is of the 28" Flowering Bouquet (not my favorite work, there are many things I'd like to change) and the other was the 16" Iris.  Joel bought a reproduction base from Ebay and the shade seems made for the base, although it was just a happy coincidence. 

Below is a portion of the Flowering Bouquet.

There's alot of anxiety in sending in pictures for the calendar; I guess it's the hope of being validated if people like what we've done.  In a short time, the 2011 submissions will be on the ASGLA site and then I always feel another rush of anxiety because of all the dozens of submissions, how does one pick the 30-something 'best' ones?  Too bad the calendar couldn't include all of them, we know how much work went into each one! 

Pictured below are the three layouts of the iris lamp on their easels before they were soldered together.  I made each of the three repeats a little bit different on purpose as they represent the varieties of iris I have growing in the gardens.  For continuity's sake, I suppose it would be much better to have them all be pretty much the same, but this way, I can turn the lamp and see a different side any time I want. 
Below is the picture I guess we went with for the calendar:
So, now it's up to the voting process.  Like Carl said, we've done the best we could.  Who'd think it would be that big of a deal, right?