Thursday, February 11, 2016

Who's Your Daddy?

Picasso at the MOMA.  He did really little stuff that maybe nobody noticed in the display case. These great heads are only about as big as a quarter.

At our Independent Living Retirement Community (that's marketing-speak for Old Folks' Home) we party a lot.  The proof is right here where yours truly and three other volunteers on the Bartenders Guild helped juice up the residents for our Mardi Gras party. Yessir-ee, Open Bar at all our parties! After all, none of us have to drive home.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Longhorn Red

This is Lester. He's about 3 inches high and is made from Longhorn Red clay.  Sometimes I'm using white clay, sometimes tan clay, sometimes whatever is left by other students.  Oh yeah, I claim those leftovers!  Some people might think I'm just being cheap (well, yes) but let's just consider it "repurposing".

For years and years Susan had this license plate and finally the state of Texas made her give it up for a different one.  After all, we need to have something for our prisoners to do.  Making a mold of the plate and then the plate duplicate with Longhorn Red wasn't my original idea, we saw someone else doing it.  But it was interesting to try.  I'm sure you could do it with polymer clay or with plaster.

So far she hasn't had to give up her car - it's only 16 years old this month.

Netflix gave us 5-star creeps with this great movie, with terrific acting:  The Gift. Another movie where the last 5 minutes change your mind into a totally different direction... maybe.

Monday, February 1, 2016

What's On Your Bulletin Board?

I'm back in school now, much to Susan's delight.  Where has the blog been hiding lately?  I don't even dare ask.  I can say that the computer has been cranky lately, IE has been giving her fits and we've added Chrome to the computer (and I have to have my hand held every time I try to use it).  To top it off we got new iPhones because our old ones were so old Apple wouldn't let us update the operating system. Uber was the tipping point - we couldn't get the app unless we had a more current operating system.  No, we haven't used Uber, we wanted to be prepared just in case.

The operating system trick is Apple's way of making you upgrade. Going from a 3 to a 6 means a LOT of changes and adjustments, even if you backed everything up and restored it to the new one.  And Susan is thoroughly pissed that the 6 doesn't fit easily in her pants pocket.  I once made the mistake of asking her why women don't wear cargo pants and got the mysterious response "Hips! We have hips!"

One of the best movies we've seen lately on Netflix:
The Secrets in Their Eyes

We still aren't sure if we know the exact ending, it really could have verged a different direction.  It also reminds us of another great movie: Closed Circuit.  Be sure to watch the one produced in 2009, by Juan Jose Campanella. The one in 2015, produced by an American is no, no, no, not anywhere close to acceptable.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Growing Old Gracefully

This little Birdie came to Susan for Christmas, as did the one below (two views).

We live in a retirement community that is a CCRC, which stands for Continuing Care Retirement Community. That means in our complex of 3 connected buildings we have independent living apartments (that's us), an Assisted Living floor, a Memory Care floor (dementia and Alzheimer's) and a Health Care floor (nursing home/care).  

Often people say they'll "age" into an Assisted Living facility but what they don't understand is that it never includes the nursing care part unless it's part of a designated CCRC. For example, if Susan had a bad fall and broke her hip, after a few days in a hospital she would come back to our Health Care floor until she was fully recovered. I would be able to take an elevator down to her floor to see her every day and she would have therapy right there on that floor. Very convenient. If we were in an independent  Assisted Living facility she would go from the hospital to a hospital-like rehabilitation facility and I'd have to drive over to see her every day.

As we all age here we like to party hearty and I'm part of the volunteer Bartenders' Guild.  We have a Social Hour every Wednesday - free snacks, beer and wine - and about 30-40 residents take advantage of it.  A few weeks ago I had an interesting conversation with Lucy, who came up to the table where I was pouring wine:

Don:  Lucy, can I pour you a glass of wine?
Lucy:  That would be great. 
Don:  Red or white?
Lucy: I really like white but my doctor said I should drink red.
Don:  Lucy, how old are you?
Lucy: 97.
Don:...........Lucy, drink what you want!

We were in Washington DC over Thanksgiving and once again we timed it perfectly to see the ginko leaves drop.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

High Line and Calder

You previously saw Frank Stella's Black Star (below the shadow area of this picture), here's the other star on one of the open roof areas of the Whitney. That's the High Line below it, and looking up toward the north is another view of it (below).  We had good weather when we were there (Thanksgiving time) and the trees were just beginning to drop their leaves.

Nothing like a huge Calder mobile to make me feel really small (East Wing, National Gallery, Washington DC):

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Elsa and Anna and Me and Merry Christmas

You'll get this only if you know little girls.  If you don't, here's a clue:  Frozen. For the record, here in Austin, TX, we hit 80 degrees yesterday.

Blogging has been non-existent lately because my Blog Wrangler had to make a bunch of promised baby quilts for Christmas babies.  A lot of cursing and rattling and cursing and ripping and strange sewing machine noises came from her area.  For my part I cooked meals, did dishes and stayed way the hell out of the way.  Maybe some pictures later but some went out without being photographed.

Between the last few blog entries and this one we did manage to make a very short visit to New York City (high hotel rates made us think twice) with a longer visit to Washington DC (low hotel rates as our government got lazy).  Some pics later but in the meantime we really loved the new Whitney Museum.  Frank Stella's Black Star, viewed from the outside balcony,looking down:

A really, really nice and thoughtful gesture from the Whitney:  Military, active duty and retired and family members get in free.  Thank you, Whitney.  When less than 1% of the American population has served in the military in the last 20 years, this seems like a no-brainer.  Too bad other museums don't get it.

It's a special time of year and regardless of your political correctness and beliefs, let's just tell it like it is, take your choice:  Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Season's Greetings or Shop Till You Drop or Don't Blame Me 'Cause I Didn't Vote For Them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Student Holiday Art Sale

Tomorrow is the Austin Community College Student Holiday Art Sale.  I'll be selling lots of birdies and pots - over 70 pieces.  Stop by if you are in Austin:  Rio Grande Student Lounge, 1212 Rio Grande Ave, Austin, TX, Thursday, December 3, from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

I'll also be selling some of the jewelry pendants I've made.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Juice Box Boys

Juice Box Boys, one of whom wants to be a Train Boy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving and Thanks for Giving

Yes, tomorrow at this time, this could be you! 

No matter where Americans are, they find time to give traditional thanks for the harvest they just had (Oh, sure! Like shopping counts) by eating too much food, surrounded by relatives, some they like, some they tolerate, and some they can't stand but won't say so until they've had too much wine. We're just nuts that way, but it's the American thing to do and we do it well. The Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving also but I don't think they eat as much as we do.

Thanks to our armed forces for giving us the freedom to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Khowst Province, Afghanistan



Saturday, November 21, 2015

Art Everywhere

Another Spiderman.  Susan really likes these little pieces, which are only about 4" high.  I just can't get excited about them although I love the magic of how the glaze changes.

Everywhere you look you can find art, even on the walls of buildings.

Sometimes, when I'm not paying attention, Susan finds time to make her own art.

Unfortunately, she doesn't find enough time - the newspapers, books, KenKen, other blogs, my blog - all get in the way. She finds it very hard to understand why anyone would want to keep on working instead of retiring with whole days to waste delightfully while doing nothing productive.  As we put it, we get up in the morning and have nothing to do. When we go to bed at night we've only done half of it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Flower Power

I put these flowers up in late June. Amazingly enough, they are still there! That's my old-man bike in the picture. It's so lame looking it will never be stolen.

Sometimes I just draw, sort of zentangle-like.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


 I can't think of any worthwhile title for this blog entry.

Bruce Plante, Tulsa World
 The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France to the United States in 1886.

Steve Sack, Star Tribune
Just two nights ago we watched our Netflix movie, Diplomacy, and gave it 5 stars.. It was a heavily fictionalized but fascinating account of how, during World War II, Raoul Nordling, a Swedish diplomat, helped convince German General Choltitz that bombing Paris would be a horrific abuse of power. Part of his argument was the everlasting beauty of Paris.

We've been to Paris. It's beautiful and magic. Our hotel was just 2 blocks away from the Bataclan Concert Hall.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remember: Veterans Day, November 11, 2015

To our oldest generation:
Thank you for believing that freedom was worth fighting for.
To our youngest generation:
Thank you for volunteering to serve to protect our freedom.

Today, as was true last Veterans Day,  less than 0.5% of the American population serves in our military armed forces. Here's hoping that today, Veterans Day, the other 99.5 % of Americans will take the time to thank a veteran and to thank an active duty service member. They've earned your respect and your thanks. 

How about a little historical context?

In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy authorized sending an addition 500 Special Forces troops and military advisers to assist the pro-Western government of South Vietnam.  This increased the total there to nearly 3,200 by the end of 1961.  By the end of 1962 there were approximately 11,000 military advisers in South Vietnam. By the end of 1964, the numbers had risen to 16,000.

On October 30, 2015, President Obama authorized the deployment of military advisers into Syria.

Don Madden, Da Nang, Vietnam, 1969

Friday, November 6, 2015


Little birdies, just a little bigger than an inch.

Leviathan? Just about one of the best movies I've ever seen.  Why is it that Hollywood has to make unrealistic James Bond movies when skillful artists can make movies that pose morality questions that are never answered. Or even could be.  The Felony is another close-to-perfect movie.  Neither one of these movies starts out strong but they slowly reel you in and end with a twist in the last minute.

Train Children, maybe heading your way.

It's been raining a lot lately so I haven't had much of a chance to send off Train Children, Train Toys or Train Flowers.  But stay tuned, they may show up in your town someday.

My neighbor, Loma, has a green thumb and can grow anything.  Our apartment balcony is one floor up and one apartment over from hers so we can look down at her balcony full of plants.  I made this pot for her because she took a plant from me that was in an emergency crisis situation -- Susan was going to touch it.  No, no, no! Susan is the kiss-of-death for plants so Loma did the Rescue Plant adoption.

The glaze on the pot is from a soda firing which gave it the blue-to-green appearance (it's not the lighting, its the pot colors).  My friend Yetta made the saucer for the pot because she's a thrower. Me, I'm a hand builder, as you can see from the pot.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween

Trick or Treat! Give me candy and give it to me now.  OK, I'll settle for a rum and coke.

Another Train Traveler: