CONSTRUCTION WORKER BLUES

Or having to live by weather.com.  We have had weeks of rain.  Some days, blasts came around about every ninety minutes.  People were getting downright cranky.  We were tired of feeling limp.  Moist.

We were lucky on the fourth of July.  We were #79 in the Peach Festival parade in Gilbert, SC.

lee and glenn, virginia and ed

There was a slight sprinkle just as we pulled into line, and then nothing for about six hours.  Best day we had had in about two weeks and as it turned out, for days later as well.  The farmer on my running route cannot get all his crops in.  I asked him if he had ever had this trouble before, and he said about twenty years ago they did.  Pretty unusual weather.

Work at the pool had been suspended.  Makes no sense to lay tile, or grout already laid tile,  if rain is going to blast in and wash the work away, or worse, wash the thin set or grout into the pool itself.  The rains have been accompanied by big winds.  This has not been a fun summer weather pattern!

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Great waves of tile are now pushing towards one another, and being unified by grout.  Finally, bare sharp edges are being hidden from feet.  Now that the weather is better,  the pool is becoming a safer place.  Thank you,  Ra.

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I am excited about the crawling white line within the screen printed tile which circles at a distance the terra cotta rug.  Wish that I had more of it, but, as almost always, the tile is a remnant given to me at the end of some other project.

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Work from this morning; done well  before the predicted “isolated” thunderstorm.

AUTISM

Friends and family cannot understand how it has been lately living with a teenager who has autism.  I had an experience last night when at the pool that might explain how it is.

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As with all in life, change is inevitable.  Garrett is 16, and for all teenagers, this is a tough time.  We are struggling to keep him calm.  We walk on eggs. We are in the middle of a search to find him the correct place to go to school next year.  We are tunneling through paperwork to deal with state agencies.  Everywhere we go, we find conflicting information.  Then there are all the medical costs.  Finally, there is no appreciation of our efforts by him.

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I don’t know if we have a leak in the pool or what.  Seems it always needs to be filled, and we have had a lot of rain lately.  Looking at the hose under water whipping back and forth due to the pressure of the water coming out, this image made sense regarding what was already on my mind.

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The garden hose moves violently under the surface of the water,  responding to what seem like invisible pressures.   In the case of this water, we know about the pressure and why there is so much activity.  There is a likewise invisible pressure within our son.  He is boiling on the inside.

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Once in a while at the end of a whipping motion, the head of the hose breaks the surface and the water explodes.  It surprises you because this action is impossible to predict, even when you are watching the hose.  If you don’t want to get wet, or ruin your phone, you are never at ease on the side of this pool.  At some point, the water gets you.  You are not successful at keeping the calm.  And then the hose starts whipping under the water again.

AGAVE

I bought an agave plant about fifteen years ago at the flea market.  Knowing nothing about it, the striking traces from the edges of an old leaf embedded in the next leaf like old shadows were wonderful.  The plant has had hundreds and hundreds of babies to plant elsewhere and to give away.  The old mother is probably in too much shade and is not as big as she should be.  Many of the babies are catching up as they are in the full sun.

A construction worker once asked, “Is that a century plant?”.  He said that every time I walk by it to give it a swift kick; they love that kind of treatment.  Don’t ever water it, or treat it nice in any way, or it will die.

Agave is called “Century Plant” sometimes, implying that it blooms only once a century.  Not true.  More like once a generation, 15-20 years.  My mother plant has never bloomed.  On my road into nearby Columbia, a big one was placed in a traffic triangle; within a year it bloomed and leaned over like damaged in a  hurricane. The highway workers must have been amazed.  All that work, then the bloom, and gone!  Reading today, I learned that they die after this big bloom, but remain in all the clones of course.  And that big dead spiny thing can be a mess to remove.

They take care of themselves and propagate at a lively pace.  I have over 90 along my pool wall, and they are a little lethal looking when regarding them,  standing in your swim togs.  But then again, so is all my broken tile.

I am covering an ugly cement pool deck with tile fragments, organized to relate to a preexisting tiled wall that has functioned as something of a sketchbook for me.  This is a real challenge: the unification of these two big spaces.   Having figured out how to do this earlier (can I  blink my eyes and have it done?),  one element of continuity not thought about at first are the plants in the gardens BETWEEN the wall and the cement deck.  They are elements in the composition too, and where the work is happening now, the plants are agave.

Although contrast can be nice (think of ST. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC surrounded by sleek tall mirrored buildings), recording these live plants on the deck will provide unity and serve as a record for the plant’s history.

Realizing this, the next job was to insert the silhouette of a tiny prickly pear plant around the corner from where the work is taking place now.