Posted in Arboretum, Life, Longnecker Garden, Madison WI, My Life, Nature, Photography, Post a Week 2012, tagged Arboretum, Longnecker Garden, Madison WI, Magnolia, nature, photography, Post a Week, Sunset, two on April 14, 2012 | 2 Comments »
Magnolia Trees at sunset in the Arboretum Longnecker Garden, Madison, WI.
Flowering trees framed by crab apple blossoms arranged by gardeners in The Arboretum Longenecker Gardens in Madison, WI.
Modern sculpture from native rock Mifflin and Carroll Street, Madison, WI.
Posted in Apartment Life, Art, Crones, Madison WI, My Life, Personal, Photography, Post a Day 2012, University of Wisconsin-Madison, tagged art, Capitol Centre Apartments, college, education, glassblowing, Madison WI, University of Wisconsin-Madison on March 26, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Last week, a group of about 10 of us from The Capitol Center Apartments went on a little excursion (about 3 1/2 blocks) to visit one of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Art Department labs. TASS Matthew Piepenbrok and his students Kristine Karlen, Bao Thao, and Sean Everett gave us an exciting demonstration of glass blowing and patiently answered our questions. It was a lot of fun and very educational.
The Universtiy of Wisconsin-Madison at the behest of Harvey Littleton was the first college to establish a glass blowing lab in the United States in the ’60s. Above is a view of the furnaces in the present-day lab. There are four of them and they all have whimsical names because it is easier to tell someone to use Lucy than it is to say the second one from the left. Lucy and Joe were the ones in use while we were there.
TASS Matthew Piepenbrok (pictured left) is studying to be a professor of art and if his presentation to our group is any indication, he’s going to be an excellent one. He’s a very engaging and personable young man with a great sense of humor and seems to have a profound love of teaching others about his craft. Examples of his art work can be found at ARTQ.net
In this picture he is showing us the molten glass he has just poured into a cold mold from one of the furnaces. What a card! Wouldn’t it be fun to have a professor like this?
Here he is showing us the hollow stainless steel rod that the liquid glass will be “loaded” onto in preparation for blowing. It was very warm in this lab due to four furnaces that were keeping the molten glass at a temperature of around 2,400 to 2,000*.
The long sleeve on Matthew’s right arm is to protect him from burns as he loads up his glassblowing rod. According to Matthew and his students glassblowing is a very risky business and not a day goes by when one of them doesn’t get burned as Bao Thao kindly demonstrated for us later in the session! They were very nonchalant about it, treating it as an ordinary part of their day in the lab although you could tell it hurt.
Above Matthew and Kristine Karlen are loading a glob of molten glass onto the rod. In the picture at the right, Matthew is showing us a closer view of the glass after a small amount of air has been blown into it. At right, he is using a pad made from many layers of newspaper to begin shaping the glass. Later on he showed us how the heat from the glass had burned through several layers.
The whole time the glass is being worked the artist or glassmith must keep the rod turning in order for centrifugal force to keep the glass on the rod or gravity will take effect and the piece will slump and become disfigured. That’s not so hard at this stage but as they continued to add glass, the piece became heavier and heavier. We were given a sphere of cooled glass to examine and it is quite heavy. I’d guess between 10 and 15 pounds.
Little by little more molten glass is added to the piece and more air is blown in then more shaping is done to smooth the piece and achieve the desired size and contours. All the while the rod must be kept spinning to keep the glass attached to the rod. The work is painstaking and physically challenging.
The top picture shows Matthew blowing more air into his globe of glass. Bao Thao steps in to assist him and Matthew demonstrates other shaping tools glassmiths use to get the effects they want to produce.
Sean Everett steps in to become Matthew’s assistant and things begin to get very dramatic!
Protruberances were added to the sphere by dropping globs of glass from a rod. To keep the glass at the right temperature, a propane torch was used. Melted glass started dripping onto the cement floor!
At this point they began to let gravity take effect and elongate the round sphere in preparation for the cold mold that had cooled by now to be attached to the piece. It took 3 people to manage that task! Clearly glass art of any complexity is a collaborative effort.
Bao Thao brushes excess sand from the attached cold mold while Kristine Karlen stands by with the propane torch in case heat is needed to keep the glass at the right temperature. The glass can break or crack at any moment if the right temperature is not maintained and in fact, did during this demonstration but fortunately not badly enough to ruin the whole thing so they would have to start all over.
The cold mold has now been attached to a solid stainless steel rod and Matthew, Sean, and Kristine detach the former sphere from the hollow rod. They will begin pulling and twisting the piece into a an elongated horn shape after adding some colored pigment.
Bao and Sean hold the tip of the horn while the piece is being turned and pulled to shape it.
Kristine applies some heat to the tip to refine the shape just before it goes into the cooling tank. She looks wicked cool with that propane torch!
Posted in Apartment Life, City Life, Digital Camera, Madison WI, Photography, Post a Week 2012, tagged cityscape, Madison WI, photography, post a week challenge, spring on March 25, 2012 | 4 Comments »
Not terribly unique but I’ve been wanting to take these pictures for awhile and have been waiting for the right moment. Through the window screen on the 16th floor.
Posted in Madison Senior Center, Madison WI, Senior Citizens, South Madison Coalition of the Elderly, tagged jokes, Madison Senior Center, Madison WI, senior citizens, South Madison Colaition Nutrition Site on February 27, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
I love my friends at the Senior Center. They make me laugh every day.
I didn’t have a microphone available to do the lunch announcements at the Madison Senior Center today so I walked into the middle of all the tables rather than standing at the front of the room and started “talking big,” projecting my voice to be heard over the jangle of the conversations going on at the individual tables, trying to get everyone’s attention. Every day starts with an orientation to place and time–important stuff for a lot of Senior Citizens.
Sometimes the lady who writes these announcements throws me a curve ball and gets either the day of the week or the day of the month wrong and someone in the crowd cries out the correct information to correct me. That used to embarrass me but I’ve learned to laugh about it and will often ask in an aside if we are all on the same page on the same day.
I was going to do that today just because I was feeling silly and wanted to give the room some extra time to settle down and listen up. I looked up to see the three people I eat lunch with on a regular basis unfurling banners that proclaimed
and totally cracked up. I started blushing when the room erupted in applause. To Mark, Eugene and Barb and everyone else, thanks for making today special. Barb D, you instigator you, payback is merciless and painful, you know. Just remember that I kept your birthday a big secret.
Unfortunately I got so flustered I forgot a vital part of the set-up and flubbed the lame joke of the day. It really, really was lame. Pity that. It’s actually a good joke. So I’ll tell it here.
A string was thirsty one day and decided it wanted a beer so it walked into a bar and ordered a draft. The bartender looks at the string and sneered “Get outta here, we don’t serve your kind!” So the string left, feeling hurt and dejected.
However, the string was still thirsty and it still wanted a beer so (this is the part I forgot) it ties itself in a knot, messes up its hair and goes back into the bar and orders a beer again. The bartender looks at him with pure disdain and asks “Aren’t you the string I just threw out? I told you we don’t serve strings!”
The string draws himself up indignantly and says, “No, I’m a frayed knot.”
Posted in Adult Children, Apartment Life, Crones, HUD Housing, Madison Senior Center, Madison WI, My Life, tagged Apartment Living, Cleaning, family, Hud Housing, Madison WI, My Life on February 8, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Life at the Three Threes is ummm…interesting to say the least. I love living in downtown Madison and having the University so near. The energy of so many young people roaming the streets and patronizing the same business establishments I patronize is exhilarating. Living on the 9th floor of one of the tallest buildings in the city is excellent. I’ve got a view! Having the Senior Center where I volunteer and socialize keeps me from becoming socially isolated. As an extrovert with introvert tendencies I really need and enjoy that outlet.
And then there is the Three Threes (the building street address is 333) itself. This building is HUD Housing meaning the rent I pay is based on my income and the rest is paid by a federal program with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The residents are either senior citizens or disabled in some way. The staff here is primo! We couldn’t ask for nicer and better folks in the office or on the maintenance staff. They all have an excellent sense of humor and are kind and helpful to the inmates err…residents.
Jill, in the front office, reigns with a quiet fair-minded benevolence. Gina, the resident activities coordinator and Jill’s assistant is creative and enthusiastic as well as fun to hang with. Erica, the Services Manager (she helps us get the social services we need to stay independent and healthy) is the BEST! I want to hook her up with my son.
The building is extremely well maintained and if you ask for something or there is a problem Vern and Scott are Johnny on the spot. Eldegard (I may have misspelled that—it’s Spanish) keeps the common areas spotless. They are all pleasant and nice folks.
BUT…(you just knew there was a but in there, didn’t you?) there are some things I (and most everyone else here) don’t like about living in HUD housing. Yearly inspections are one of them. A lot of people hate it with a purple passion but I’m generally pretty stoic about it. It forces me to spring clean which is a good thing and I sort of appreciate the push to do what I should be doing anyway.
But I don’t like it. It’s stressful. It takes all the fun out of spring cleaning which is that I do it because I feel like opening and washing the windows and as long as there is fresh air let’s get rid of all those pent up winter smells that accumulate. I’m in the mood and energized. Bring on the Pine Sol!
Besides that, I don’t particularly like young, healthy, physically active people coming in and judging my housekeeping skills. It doesn’t matter how nice they are. It’s unnerving.
Inspections take that away from me for the most part but whatever… I can deal. However, this year I am in the “hating it with a purple passion” camp. I have been incredibly busy for the past 4 weeks running to the chiropractor, the vet, and today I have to go see my GP. My son’s birthday was last Sunday. That may not seem like much but for me, it’s exhausting.
When I got the notice last Friday that they were going to be doing inspections THIS Thursday (that’s tomorrow), I was horrified. I was baking a cake on Saturday. Saturday night I was going out of town until Sunday evening. I had a Chiropractor appt Monday, Bridge on Tuesday, Dr’s appt on Wednesday. I need naps every afternoon. Serious two-three hour naps or I get sick. Just when was I going to find time to clean? Especially since they want the oven, refrigerator, bathroom, and carpet looking good. Oy…
If I fail this inspection then they will put me on horror of horrors quarterly inspections. Good gawd…
Don’t get me wrong, I think I am one of the luckiest people I know to live here in affordable housing that is well taken care of. I try to remember to count my blessings and not bitch a lot. Today I’m bitching.
Bless her heart my daughter is coming over tonight to clean the oven because that always triggers an asthma attack for me and needs its own day all by itself. And I’ve taken on the attitude that what gets done gets done. If they put me on quarterly inspections I’m going straight to Erica and asking her to help me find some housekeeping help. I’ve always wanted a maid.
I’ve always wanted to do stand-up comedy so last summer I added a “Lame Joke of the Day” feature to the lunch announcements at the Madison Senior Center. They laughed. At last, I had an audience! I was hooked. I really look forward to telling the lame jokes of the day
I really do try to find lame jokes. Real groaners. But funny ones. I started out calling them the bad joke of the day but one of the little old ladies nagged me until I changed it to lame because my jokes aren’t bad. Whatever… I guess she doesn’t get irony.
Now I have hecklers in the audience. And people playing jokes on me while I’m doing the announcements. Every day I ask if anyone is having a birthday. If someone does then we all sing Happy Birthday. Lame, right? Well, most people won’t admit to having a birthday and I started making comments like I couldn’t believe no one in the audience was getting any older. One day the smarty pants people who sit at my table ALL raised their hand at the same time and cracked me up. I love the peeps who sit at my table.
You know what’s funny and totally awesome? I’m going to turn 60 this year but in my mind, I’m volunteering to help out the elderly. Me? I’m not old at all. I’m having the time of my life.
I agree with Abe Lincoln. Laughing with friends and even enemies (yeah, I have a few of those) about the absurdity of living eases the burdens of life and keeps you young. Find a friend (or an enemy) to share a laugh with today. Here’s a joke to tell them:
What did the right eye say to the left eye?
Between you and I, something smells around here.