Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Idea's Anyone?

I was blessed in on February 22nd, no doubt about it. However I have a problem that I need help in solving.

All of my 104 COE Glass survived in tact - my Gaffer Glass not so much. The reason that my 104 glass defiantly survived is because of the fact that, when I set up my storage shelves in the garage, I ran a wooden wedge underneath the bottom front of the shelves so that they leant back towards the wall. Thank goodness that I did.

The reason I did this was really just to counter balance the weight of the glass where it overhangs the front edges of the shelves being aware from past experience with any laden shelves that it can cause them to easily tip forward. I pretty much have every large piece of furniture wedged in this place, primarily because I have always found that carpet edges don't provide an even surface for furniture that is against walls to sit on & because we rent we aren't allowed to put holes in the walls....& therein lies my problem. The easy answer would be to use brackets & screws to secure shelve & cabinets making them as earthquake proof as possible.

Now that I'm as ready as I'll ever be to tackle the job of assessing the damage to the rest of my supplies in my studio area & set things up again I'm also trying to figure out how to secure the taller shelving.

Unfortunately one my taller shelves that housed my supplies of pretty much everything else glass related didn't survive the same treatment of wedging & fell over breaking & damaging a whole raft of things. I've lost frit, enamels, chemicals & bead release,  the majority of which can't be replaced locally, & even though I imagine insurance will cover most of it I'm a little reluctant to restock my shelves unless I can make things a lot more secure.
I've drawn a blank - the "no holes in the walls"policy is creating a mind blank that I can't get past as quite simply I know what I'd do if this were my house.

Does anyone have any idea's?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Something Good

Meet Levi. After much deliberation our little earthquake refugee has a name.

He's not the German Shepherd bitch I had decided would be our next dog if we ever got one & he's not the Siberian Husky that Gabriela had her heart set on when & if we ever owned a home again....which is when I told her we would be able to get a dog.

But he is ours, we love him & he rules us - well, he rules our hearts anyway. Levi is a mastiff/staffy/labrador cross - I guess that makes him a Mastador. I wouldn't mind betting that's what the pet shops would name his mix when they are justifying charging people an arm & a leg for the next in vogue accidental cross breeding anyway.
Marketing is everything ;)

In the two weeks that we've had him we have all learned how to smile again. We've also learned to put things away & out of reach. Well some of us have...
There have been casualties.

I'd forgotten how much puppies like to chew, & chew & then, for a change of pace, chew some more.
We have also learned that you could spend a small fortune on puppy chew toys - only to discover that just because it's chewable doesn't necessarily mean that puppy will like it. Nyla Bones come into this category - the maillemans trainers being far preferable. No doubt mine would be too - if I didn't put them away ;)
Plants are another favourite, especially the ornamental grasses in the garden. I'm picking that Levi doesn't like them any more than I do & just wants to help with some selective thinning.

Fortunately Levi is a bright wee boy & learning rather quickly. We've watched him blossom in many ways. He's gone from a puppy that was scared of the car & would lie flat on the ground as we approached it - to one who will willingly jump in the back seat & curl up there every time the door is open. He'll stay in the back while I'm driving & will happily wait when I pop into a shop...without chewing the seat belts. This earns him brownie points as it means that I take him everywhere, except  when I go to dancing...see, I told you he was clever!!

I know by getting him I have complicated our lives somewhat & that in doing so I have broken rules. But he needed a home & in exchange for that he's helping us heal.
I'd say that was a win/win situation.

The cats, on the other hand (paw?), would beg to differ!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Predictions & Fear

In this era of amazing technology we all have a voice. A voice that can be heard around the world if you put in the right key words, labels or tags & the right people happen to be searching for what you are talking about. Some people have an even bigger voice when they have media attention &, in my opinion, they also have a responsibility to act in an appropriate manner.

One such person resides in New Zealand, a man by the name of Ken Ring, or as he has become known “The Moon Man”. No, I’m not going to post links or add tags as the man has had far too much publicity already.... befriend google if you want to know more! In fact I don’t even know why I am writing about him other than the fact he has annoyed me so much & I need to vent.

You see this particular person is a weatherman so to speak. He predicts the weather based on the moon, moon cycles, lunar science & astronomical techniques.....well, at least that’s what he says.

He also predicted that Christchurch would have another huge (one for the history books) earthquake on March the 20th, 2011 just before mid day, right after the September 4th 2010, 7.1 earthquake. Not too surprisingly some people who had obviously been quiet terrified by the experience took notice & listened to what he was saying. Then we get the killer earthquake in February & many, many more took notice of what he was saying. Up until a couple of weeks ago I only had a vague awareness of the man & his prediction.

The build up to yesterday was quite phenomenal to watch. TV & Radio as well as social networking sites & forums within New Zealand were buzzing about it. It seemed that a lot of people were preparing to leave Christchurch for the weekend because of Mr Rings prediction. I was aware of it when we went out on Saturday – but it didn’t even occur to me until a lot later that it was the reason that everywhere was so busy. Cars queued at Petrol Stations, heavy traffic on the roads & supermarkets full of people. Call me obtuse!

Personally I think it’s a load of codswallop. I don’t dismiss the fact that the moon cycle dictates our tides or affects people’s behaviour & so on. Neither am I that clued up on geology – heck I can hardly even recall any of the geology I did at school (& I got some pretty high grades for it!). I’m not going to even pretend to be an expert or extremely well informed on any aspect of this. I don’t need to be.

The bottom line, for me, is surely if there were some tie in with the moon causing earthquakes wouldn’t scientists or astronomers have noticed this link many many years ago? Come on, people have been studying the night skies since time began – you can’t tell me that no one would have drawn the parallels between moon cycles & earthquakes in all of that time .....if one existed!

I’m saddened that the media gave this man undeserved attention which in turn caused so much fear with his scaremongering in a city where people already have so many issues to deal with. People that are already vulnerable & trying to sort out their futures in this post February 22nd world of ours.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Murchison Magic

Time for sharing something with a bit more positive in the mix. I've put together a photo essay of our time up in Murchison. The montage at the top are just photo's that give an idea of the area. & what it has to offer .The individual photo's below are of some pretty special memories I have of my time there.....with the associated descriptions & stories of course!

A moment that really made my heart happy was watching Gabriela coming back from her first horse ride of any real duration, on Dash, with a huge smile on her face.

Meeting Indie  whom I promptly fell in love with. A wonderfully well behaved girl of mixed parentage (Mastiff/Staffy cross) only a year old & so intelligent & loving.

The next photo is really special. Driving into the horse paddocks my cousin, Mike, spotted a bird in the distance. Initially we thought it might have been a native parrot - Kakapo or Kea perhaps, but as we got closer we saw that it was a raptor as it had prey in it's claws. Mike drove slowly & I took some photo's...wishing more than any other time that I had a decent zoom lens!! I eventually got out of the vehicle to see if I could get in a bit closer still - but this was as close as I could get. (Click on the photo to view at full size)
A bit of an internet search when we got home revealed that this was almost certainly a  New Zealand Falcon -Karearea ( Falco novaeseelandiae)..... a rare & threatened species on the verge of extinction. Mike submitted the photo's to the websites "Wingspan"& "New Zealand Falcon" & both confirmed that it was indeed a young Karearea & asked for the geographical co-ordinates of where it was spotted. We were so privileged to be in the right place at the right time!!

Meet the non-spitty Alpaca. Some time back I mentioned to Mike that I'd love an Alpaca. He promptly assured me they were nasty, smelly things that spat at people. After watching a grown man try to provoke this particular alpaca into spitting by making spitty noises, saying some things that I'm sure would have hurt the alpacas feelings & just behave like a mischievous kid in general - I'm not so sure that I believe him. All the alpaca deigned to do was give him "the look"!

Follyfoot Farm (that's what the neighbours call Mike & his wife's  menagerie of animals) & that is just what they looked like following me in after I'd opened the gate to one of the upper paddocks! I love this photo!

Horses are amazing animals. These three knew that their dinner was on the way, they were waiting for us at the gate when arrived & had started following the car to the back paddock knowing that Kris comes in around this time with their feed. I was on gate duty & had told Kris to go ahead & I'd walk up after shutting the gate. When I turned around & looked up I was absolutely delighted to see these 3, Dash, Starlight & Abby just standing there looking at me as if to say "well hurry up , are you coming or not" instead of having trotted off quickly after the car as they usually do!

Gabriela enjoying Gidget & Jazz. One very contented kiddo & two very happy dogs! Yep - that made my heart happy too.

My last sight of the horses just before I left to come home. I'd offered to go up & take their covers off & let them into the big paddock while Kris was at work. What a perfect scene.

It was so difficult to leave... I procrastinated for as long as I could & left mid afternoon to drive home. By way of compensation on the way home I found a place to stop & take photo's of the magnificant West Coast bush.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Not Without Guilt

Last week I did what I thought I would never do & left town for a few days. As it turns out it was the best thing I could have done as it gave me time to think without being surrounded by constant scenes of damage, devastation & sadness.
Time to try & sort out the various emotions that seem part of this mess was something that was desperately needed although at the time of making the hasty arrangements to go, after an impromptu comment posted by my cousin to my facebook page, I wasn't consciously aware that I needed time to sort my feelings - all I knew was that I had to get myself & Gabriela away for a while.
As I drove out of the city & felt the utter relief at leaving I also realised that I felt a little guilty – as if I was deserting a sinking ship. That was the first time that the word 'guilt' had come to mind.
The next few days went by all too quickly. We spent time with my cousin & his family just relaxing & exploring the countryside surrounding Murchison. We enjoyed being around the dogs & horses while breathing in the fresh air & scents of the country. I spent time outside at nights star gazing in a place where there is very little light pollution & the many more stars that were visible shone brighter than they do when viewed from the city. In the mornings we'd awake to low mist clouding the surrounding mountains & watch as it lifted to reveal their splendour bathed in sunlight.
As I cleaned my teeth or grabbed a glass of water I thought how nice it was just to be able to run water straight from the tap without boiling it first. As I showered I realised that for the first time in over a week I didn't feel guilty for actually being able to have a shower...or for having the power available to heat the water in the first place. And therein lays the problem.
Ever since the February 22nd earthquake struck I'd known how blessed we were to be just outside the area that was hit so badly. I'd known how fortunate we were to get our power back on the same day & our water restored within 36 hours - & for the life of me I couldn't figure why, yet again, we were spared most of the damage. It didn't feel right that this little area I live in was relatively unaffected while there were varying degrees of damage so very close to it on every side. I felt bad that we had what we did, when others had lost their homes. It felt selfish to be so grateful that my family were all safe when others had lost their loved ones.
After the initial stunned disbelief at what had happened started to wear off & the new reality slowly settled in it still didn't feel right to worry about small issues. I thought about filling out insurance claims – & a little voice suggested how dare I be thinking of replacing 'things'!! The thought of my 13 year old now having to attend a different venue for school which involves her travelling home by bus from the other side of town in the dark (when daylight savings finishes soon) didn't exactly thrill me, but again it felt selfish to be worrying about that.
Feelings of guilt & selfishness are bad things when they start undermining what, at any other time, are quite normal emotions & reactions when presented with a problem or concern. They colour your every thought & move, they inhibit your ability to heal, to move forward or even be able to see a future that is better than the present.
Part of the problem is that we don't see those feelings as guilt until we can distance ourselves from the situation, take stock of what we have been going through & think about those feelings we have been experiencing. After I got back & started talking to others about what was happening in their lives I've realised that I wasn't alone in the way I was feeling. I've heard people say "I feel quite guilty at how lightly I have gotten off" many times now....amazingly enough in some cases by people that have suffered through hugely traumatic experiences in the city on the day of the quake & have only just managed to get away with their lives.
The trauma counsellors that are available for people to talk to suggest that one of the best things you can do is get together with the social groups that you are involved in, carry on doing the things you have always enjoyed & talk with others sharing your experiences. As it turned out that was extremely good advice. I'm pleased that a strong desire to do something normal over ruled the feelings of guilt that arose from going out & doing something as frivolous as dancing a week after such a destructive event!
Once again I find myself working through a whole heap of feelings & emotions. Knowing that some of them are normal doesn't help a whole heap at times.
What does help is knowing that a bit of time away can give insight & in turn heal....& believe me there is no place better to do it than in a small country town surrounded by magnificent scenery, open fields, lots of animals & great human company.
When it puts a smile on your child's face that is just a huge bonus!!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Copper Verdigris

You'll remember the February Artistic Challenge that Mallory & I blogged about - "Colo(u)r Me Copper" that we announced (late) a couple of weeks ago. Well this one was most surely a case of life getting in the way of art. 
The end of the month came & went & there was no reveal from me, not because I hadn't done anything but because my mind & life was in a different space. It still is - but I have decided to show you how far I got before the earth started wreaking havoc on land & lives here. I need some 'normal'.

Mallory had discovered this fabulous free downloadable tutorial on colouring copper (or brass & bronze) with ammonia & salt using a fuming method. There are other solutions such as vinegar, lemon juice, potassium (found in a lot of garden fertilisers)  that can be used to obtain different colours. Another option is, dare I say it, urine - although I'm not in any real hurry to play with that one!! Ammonia just by itself will do the job also. There are as many methods of applying the patina as there are substances to use to create a patina. For now

Being particularly drawn to the bright turquoise verdigris finish that appears naturally on copper, brass & bronze when exposed to air or seawater over time I began my play with the ammonia & salt fuming method. It was so quick & simple to do! 
As I watched the patina develop I recalled how some years ago I used lemon juice & salt mixed to a paste to clean a large brass coal bucket. After rubbing the solution on all over with a damp cloth  to remove the tarnish I had to rinse it off well before buffing the brass up to a shine. A few days  later, in the areas where the handle joined onto the body of the bucket, verdigris developed. It was obvious that I hadn't rinsed off the lemon & salt solution well enough where it had seeped in under the riveted plates that held the handle on.

The next experiments are going to be with lemon juice & salt ....& since as there is a wealth of information out there on the internet I expect I'll find a way to speed up the process along with other methods of applying it.