Friday, August 28, 2009

Art Surfing

Normally high energy, my little sister was exhausted last night. In town for two days, she had requested an art tour of things art/big sister related in Houston. That's a mighty task to accomplish. Originally, a one day tour was planned, but even with two days worth of time, we barely accomplished everything on the list. She said that if I had gone to San Diego and surfed (her specialty) for two days straight that I would be as exhausted as she was seeing art (my specialty) for two days straight. She said it was as if we had been catching the big waves and art surfing for two days.

The spaces we actually walked in and around included the Byzantine Chapel, the Rothko Chapel, the Cy Twombly Gallery, The Menil Collection, the MFAH, The MFAH Sculpture Garden, The MFAH Glassell School of Art, the Contemporary Arts Museum, the Beer Can House, Xnihilo Gallery, the Japanese Garden, Lawndale Art Center, Block 7 Wine Company, and the Guild Shop.

Drive by's included the Pioneer Log House Museum, Winter Street Studios, David Adickes Sculptureworx Studio, Elder Street Gallery, the former Earth Gallery, the Art Car Museum, the Rose Garden, Bering and James Gallery, and the location where Reese and I go busking. :)

We also enjoyed the food at La Guadalupana Bakery, Tacos a Go Go, and the Chocolate Bar.

Yes, there were good times, big laughs, and tired feet in the Hazel house with my sister and her husband, and the art surfing in Houston was swell.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is it?

Is it kind? Is it true? Is it timely? Is it necessary? Life is so much more pleasant when I remember to ask myself these four questions before speaking.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Inside Outside Upside Down

There's a children's book that we used to read to our daughters in the Berenstain Bears phase of childhood. It's called Inside Outside Upside Down. It's about Brother Bear playing in a cardboard box....which is an insignificant fact in and of itself. The book's simplicity and repetition is what keeps going through my head as I work at the computer. For directly above my head is this candelabra.
It is inside.
Inside the study.
On an outside wall.
Inside the study on an outside wall.
It is uncommonly hot.
In Houston.
Uncommonly hot in Houston.
The weather is overwhelmingly and uncommonly HOT in Houston this summer.
It is even hot inside my house.
It is hot inside my house in Houston this summer.
Upside down.
The candles are upside down.
It is so hot inside my house that the candles have melted.
The candles inside the study on an outside wall of our house are upside down because of the uncommonly hot Houston summer weather.
Inside outside upside down.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Little Life

As mentioned in my last post, the Western Appliance Meets Wine Warehouse art exhibit opening was last Friday afternoon. The opening was scheduled from 4 - 7pm. At 2:30, Reese called to say that his car was overheating. Less than an hour later, he had called to say that he hoped his car would make it to the new St. Arnold Brewery location downtown, where he could park it for a few hours without fear of being towed, and which so happens to be within a 5 mile radius of Block 7, and if so, would I please come retrieve him from there? (Reese had been stopping at various intervals between Baytown and downtown on account of his car overheating and to use the payphone.)

By the time Reese and I hooked up on the feeder road at I-10 and San Jacinto, it was about 5 minutes til 4. Normally, I wouldn't fret over being "late" to an event such as this, but several people had specifically communicated that they were determined to make it to the opening on my behalf, and were definitely going to be there at FOUR. So naturally, I felt an amount of pressure to arrive in a timely fashion. At 4:05, Reese and I arrived at Block 7's opening reception and were relieved to discover that we were the first humans in attendance. Sigh.

Again, it bears repeating that the owners of Block 7 are super nice, at least the ones I've met. The above photo was taken in a moment of relative tranquility opening night. Standing with me are fellow artists, Aime Krebbs and Jeanne Haner.

Many times throughout the night, as I explained the story of how the art was created, the response most often repeated was that the ukulele was George Harrison's favorite instrument. Even though I was previously unaware of this fact, apparently it's fairly common knowledge.

Little life distractions during the opening were:

1. Reese and work -- he was in the middle of delivering a bond to the downtown jail when his car overheated. He left the opening for two hours to get his innocent-until-proven-guilty client out of jail.

2. Joy driving to Austin and checking in a couple of times asking questions about speeding and tickets. Joy asked, "For instance, are both the driver and the owner of the car responsible if the driver gets a speeding ticket?"

3. Hilary flying in from Bozeman, Montana, after working in Yellowstone National Park all summer, and missing her connecting flight in Denver due to Air Force One's priority on the runway and airspace. Turns out that Obama was due in Bozeman the day and hour Hilary and James left.

4. The curating of the Ukulele Still Life series -- the three pieces are displayed in the hallway outside the restrooms. After being my own docent for three hours, and explaining the series to more people than otherwise would have seen it in the retail area, it wasn't an altogether bad thing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


The Block 7 Wine Company grand opening will be this Friday night, August 14th.

The art series I created in conjunction with the wine bar opening was started way back in the first week of January. The first opening date was supposed to be in March, then it was rescheduled for April, and then the schedule suggested that perhaps sometime in mid-May would be the opening. Honestly, I was beginning to think that all my work was for naught, so yesterday, I was delighted to get an e-mail extending an invitation to the Grand Opening. (there was much rejoicing....yaaaay.) Apparently, the art work created using the previous warehouse leftovers will actually be shown (!) and will kick off the weekend with a special exhibit reception on Friday, Aug 14th from 4-7pm. Events are free to the public all weekend, so please come enjoy wine tastings, food and live music if you are in the Houston area.

The exhibit is called Western Appliance Meets Wine Warehouse and features works (mine included) created from salvaged materials from Block 7's warehouse. According to the e-mail I received, Block 7 will have a special display set up for Friday, and the pieces will all be up at least until the end of the month.

Reese and I will be at Block 7 (720 Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX 77007) from 4-7 on Friday. Y'all come see us. (Call them for directions if you get lost on the way. :) 713 572 2565.)

Also, earlier this week a reporter with the Houston Chronicle came over to complete an interview and take a few photos. If the article is published, it will be in the Thursday's This Week section. If it's published, it will be about my cruiser bike lamp story. (We met the reporter at the bike workshop in the Third Ward a couple of months ago.) The photo at left is not the best quality, but at least there's proof that a super nice reporter named Tom Behrens was in our home. If nothing else comes of it, we had a nice little visit.

Lastly, a mother's pride swells my heart as I watch the below posted video. This is a glorious performance by my youngest, now 18 year old daughter Joy, eating a McDonald's hamburger in two bites. Such skill! Such talent! Such delight!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Skipper and the Three Hour Tour

On the way home from Mississippi, we stopped for a few days at The Antlers. The Antlers is a log cabin on Lake Cherokee that was built by Reese's great grandfather, Ewart Hoyt Lightfoot in 1948. Descendants of his son, Reese's grandfather Thomas Ewart Lightfoot have had use of the cabin in the six decades since. For a few more years, before the Antlers changes ownership, Reese and I have limited use of the cabin, and consequently the lake.

As mentioned in the last blog entry, Skipper, the petite pedigreed poodle pet of ours follows me with great devotion. He, at least with regards to me, truly is an always faithful dog as his middle names imply; Semper (always) Fido (faithful dog.) No question about it, Skipper adores me. In fact, it's fairly common knowledge that if Skipper had the strength to force Reese to walk the plank, he would, just so that he (Skipper) could have his mistress (moi) to himself.

Skipper, poor dear, is getting old. His teeth are falling out, his hair is so thin that one can see all his liver spots on his pink skin, undeniably, he has cataracts, and it appears that he may actually be blind in one eye. We had newly arrived at the Antlers, and were already on our second journey to pier's end to enjoy the view. Skipper is not new to the lake house. Skipper has walked on the pier many times. As I mentioned, he follows me everywhere, so back and forth on the pier is no exception. We heard his little clickety paws trailing behind us as we walked; and then.....the tiniest of splashes. Skipper, bless his teeny fast beating heart, pranced stage right off the pier and into the lake. Accidentally, of course. Thank God that Reese has long arms. He prostrated himself and rescued the poor pooch just before he swam out of reach. Reese gallantly took off his shirt, wrapped the pitiful sorrowful waterlogged pet in it, held him until his body heat transferred to Skipper and the shivering stopped. We were naturally distraught for Skipper and yet extremely tickled at the same time. Honestly, at random intervals throughout the evening, one or the other of us would laugh, and in the next breath say, "Oh, the poor dear."

The lake house is in possession, thanks years ago to Reese's dad, of a 1970's small fiberglass Sunfish sailboat. Some of Reese's fondest memories have been out on the lake in that little sailboat. This trip was no exception. After repairing the rudder, and re-attaching the sail, we harnessed what little wind there was and headed for a small island several miles away. Reese tacked back and forth and about 45 minutes later, we had sailed around, what is commonly referred to as Bikini Island. We paused, took a dip in the lake to cool off, refilled our water bottles, pointed north, and set sail for the cabin. Only now, there was no wind. In the space of a few minutes at the island, the lake surface had literally become as smooth as glass. It would have been perfect for water skiing had we the use of a ski boat, but it was not so great for sailing. Without wind to fill the sail, we were so still that we actually had time to become friends with a family on shore. It took us so long to "sail" past their pier that we watched a young teenage girl walk to the end of a pier, start fishing, catch a fish, the grandparents come out to congratulate the young fisherman, and us all discuss how proud we were of this young lady's accomplishment. [The fish was this big, as I hold my hands apart to demonstrate.]

Still no wind. Reese paddled. Reese jumped in the lake to push and pull us. Reese paddled some more. Every now and then I would shout, "I feel a breeze!" We would catch a wisp of air that would take us about twenty feet, and then perfect stillness again. It was a good thing that before our journey began, Reese encouraged me to bring a book and snacks. I have borderline hypoglycemic tendencies, which means that it's best for the environment at large that I eat on a regular basis. The book was Jane Eyre, which is so wordy and antiquated, that, being well fed, I was therefore quite distracted with reading. Hours passed, but many thanks to Reese's valiant efforts, by the grace of God above, we safely made it back to the Antlers. In my humble opinion, not sailing that afternoon made for an absolutely wonderfully charming memory with the most amazing Reese. And of course, our little pet couldn't have been more content. He was with me on the sailboat and he spent the entire time imagining that he was finally my Skipper, (and naturally Reese would have been his Gilligan) on our slightly more than three hour tour. Oh, the poor dear; Skipper still doesn't win.....I have always had a preference for Gilligan. :)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Amazing Grace

Last week Wednesday was another one of those days. In between cleaning and preparing to leave for a little vacation, it occurred to me that there might be a few hours that could be devoted exclusively to painting. So, I painted. But for various reasons, even after starting with brushes, I finished by using my fingers. Honestly, it's probably a cancer invoking health hazard to use one's flesh with lead based paints. If I grow a third ear, or cut off one of the ones already attached on either side of my head because of lead paint based insanity, I'll be sure to let my gentle readers know.

There was barely enough time to clean fingers and brushes before Reese and I were due at a neighbor's house to play bridge. The neighbor had knocked on the door to fetch us, but wanting to photograph the painting in good light, and knowing that we wouldn't be home before dark, and thinking there would be time to write about finger painting after bridge, I carefully yet hurriedly put the painting on the ground outside the back door to photograph it.

We have a pet. We have a five pound neurotic pedigreed out the wazoo toy poodle named Skipper Semper Fido. Skipper, with great devotion, follows me everywhere all day long. If I take three steps to the left, Skipper also travels the same distance in the same direction with the nails of his little paws clicking on the wood floors like a tap dancing lady in high heels. Add his identification tags which are a miniature version of a cow bell all day long, and please understand my immense dismay when I heard the clicking tinkling tiny cow bell at my heals. Skipper saw me in the doorway and was desperate not to be left behind. He launched himself into a stag's leap out the back door. Mid Skipper flight, it slowly began to dawn on me what was happening. That very wet painting was positioned exactly in the way of his landing. That dog must have somehow re-calculated and adjusted his flight pattern, or more accurately the landing based on the physics of everything, because those tap dancing high heeled paws of his just missed, by God's amazing grace, the wet painting on the sidewalk outside the back door by a hair's breadth. The neighbor was at the door waiting to play bridge, the dog almost gave me a freaking heart attack, and the excessively wet paint of the painting produced a big glare, as is evident in the accompanying photo.

And then, because of last minute preparations to drive to Mississippi for a Heidelberg family reunion, there still wasn't time to write a blog entry until now, now being one year exactly from our last visit here.

One year ago to the day, we were all in Jackson to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday. One year ago today, we went to church with my parents. One year ago today, I lost my glasses after leaving them in a pew at Mississippi. Today, exactly one year later to the millisecond, after church, Reese and I were pointed in the direction of the lost and found. The lost and found is in a desk drawer of the church receptionist's office. The receptionist's desk and the drawer were behind a locked door. Providentially, someone with a set of keys to the office was near by, and knew which desk drawer hosted the lost and found. Slowly, Mr. Set of Keys opened the drawer. There appeared a surprising number of lost glasses. We looked through the ones in the front. None of those were mine. What about those glasses in the back? Mr. Set of Keys said that those were the glasses that had been there the longest. Then I said that that's where we should look, as my glasses had been lost one year ago today. As I looked in the back dark corner of that office drawer, the heavens opened and the angels started to sing. What amazing grace! Exactly one year later, in the deep dusty dark bottom of a desk drawer in a church receptionist's office in Jackson, Mississippi, were my glasses. Like the old hymn Amazing Grace says, they once were lost and now are found. I was blind, but now I see.