Friday, April 24, 2009

Bluebonnets, Birthdays, Balance, a Bench & Bugs

That sure is a mouthful of B's.....
The month of April is always a favorite for this double aries household. YES!! that's right two rams in the house and usually butting heads until someone gives up and decides to be the lamb. The first two weeks are birthday weeks for us and it's also that time of year when, thanks to Lady Bird Johnson, the blue begins to fringe the sides of the highways all across this great state. While this year was not expected to show as well as years past because of a lack of rain, and both early and late roadside mowing to prevent fires, it has been pleasant surprise. Some years we observe seas of blue that actually seem like lakes or ponds floating in green pastures. The blue is just the beginning of the spectacular Texas wildflower show that continues on through the summer in layers of gold and a multitude of rainbow colors. We are so blessed to live in the Texas Hill Country in Llano, Texas.

As Lou and I get older it seems our birthdays are times spent in reflection and a point in time, at which a measure can be taken. Did we reach the goals we had hoped to reach? As the time slips by we question, "Are we doing what we were meant to do?" Lou's work in Mesquite is tangible and he will leave behind a legacy of physical objects. I think that is a part of the satisfaction he finds creating this mesquite furniture. When he was building choppers with his friends in the 70's he was doing the same sort of thing - bringing something beautiful, physically into the world. Photography is not the same as producing something that can be touched, tasted, smelled or held. Photography is more about capturing time, on film in the early days and now digitally. While he still enjoys photography his heart and soul go into his mesquite pieces. He has said many times that he will not have enough time to create all the pieces he has in his head. A look into the pages of his sketch books will prove that.

So how do you find balance when you know you will not have time to get it all done before you call it quits on this earth? That my friends is the question we are currently trying to solve and may not ever really find an answer. Lou and I try to live in the moment but often find ourselves looking back at the past or forward to the future. Lou enjoys taking the break, once he finally breaks free, but it is the making a break that is so hard for him. Maybe it is because he is already living in the moment while he works on his pieces. It usually takes an ultimatum or angry outburst from me, to make him take a break and I really do hate to be that person. I often find myself jealous of a piece of mesquite furniture and have to laugh. They are his girlfriends, his babies, his creations and sometimes he has a hard time sending them to their new homes.

April brought the end to a commissioned bench project bound for Jackson Hole Wyoming allowing us to renew a relationship with Fredericksburg Shipping. If you live in the Texas Hill Country and are ever in need of top notch packing and shipping check them out. Thad and his staff are friendly, efficient and thorough. They ship everything from antiques and art to zebra taxidermy mounts and everything in between. He has also dealt with several of the large galleries in Jackson Hole. Speaking of Jackson Hole we are planning to head out to the Western Design Conference again this year. Just not totally sure of what Lou will be creating to show. Guess I need to get that whip out and crack it.

My final B is a reminder that mesquite wood is home and harbor to a few different wood boring bugs. We keep hearing horror stories of people that have brought home mesquite products and discovered bits of sawdust on and around the pieces and so they douse it in insecticide often ruining the look of the frame, furniture or sculpture. Not a good solution if it is a cooking utensil or cutting board. We have even heard of a couple in Austin that had to fumigate the whole house because the new mesquite flooring they had installed had bugs. What a nightmare! So what should you do? Does this mean you should avoid mesquite wood products? Not at all.

First know who it is that you are buying from. There are many reputable folks that use mesquite. Check to see if they are members of the Texas Mesquite Association. This is a great group of artists and craftsmen that share info, ideas and the love for mesquite. Their spring show the Spring Texas Mesquite Art Festival was held April 17-19th in San Angelo, Texas. If you missed it you can catch the Fall Texas Mesquite Art Festival in Fredericksburg, Texas October 9-11th.

Second know that some of these bugs (powder post beetles) prefer the yellow sapwood layer of the wood. Be sure that your piece contains very little or preferably none of the yellow wood. We know of a woodworker that won't allow any of the yellow wood to come onto his property let alone his workshop. While we are not that extreme we are very careful and take serious precautions when drying and choosing wood for a particular piece.

Nobody likes to deal with bugs but if you should find that your new mesquite object has an insect that is making holes and sawdust you have a few options to treat it. Environmentally safe options include drastically lowering the humidity on the piece, and if small enough microwaving, heating to 140 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven or freezing for several hours. You can also try injecting alcohol into the holes to see if that works, before breaking out the chemicals and insecticide. We really hope you won't ever need to use this information but if you do need it we hope it is helpful.