Wonders in Glass

We have made several interesting discoveries while walking the dogs and exploring the Salado Creek Greenway (which is eventually intended to provide a long, green pocket wilderness park all across suburban San Antonio) but I think the very most interesting was nothing to do with the park at all. A particular stretch of the greenway parallels Holbrook Road; just where the road crosses over Salado Creek, there is a low hill with an enormous Southern mansion sitting on the top, white pillars, galleries, ancient oak trees and all. The mansion is called Victoria’s Black Swan Inn; now it’s a wedding and event venue, but originally it was a private home, built just after the Civil War, and on the site of the 1842 Salado Creek Fight. They say it is one of the most haunted places in the United States – which it might very well be – but that’s not the discovery that my daughter and I made.
That would be what is around in back of the Black Swan; when we noticed a long graveled driveway at the side of the property, and a little sign that said “Glass Studio.”

My mother has tinkered with making stained glass for years, even attempting to teach my daughter some skills in that direction, so we both have an appreciation for it. My daughter said, “Let’s go and see?” so we wandered up the hill, past some extremely eccentric and enormous wind chimes hanging from trees … which seemed to lead nowhere but into a tangle of sheds, aging automobiles and assorted intriguing junk – pretty much your basic funky rural collection on stereoids.

At the top of the hill, the driveway curved around, underneath a tall pecan tree and a huge old wooden water-tank elevated on tall posts – and there was the glass studio, housed in a tidy little shed about the size of a suburban bedroom and spilling over onto a couple of tables and an outside wall, in the back-forty of the Black Swan. Mr. Howard Redman the glass artist was there, as he usually is on weekends, and was happy enough to show us his glass creations, his workspace, and his scrapbooks of previous commissions and projects, allowing us to tromp through it all with the dogs and poke into just about everything.

It’s a darned odd place to find a glass gallery, let me tell you: his work is substantial, beautifully done, colorful – everything from fused ‘jewels’ made of four separate layers of glass, to bowls on metal stands, platters, replica Tiffany and Frank Lloyd Wright style lamp-shades, hanging window panels and odd little tschockes – sun-catchers, votive candle holders and paperweights. But Howard Redmond is in his eighties, and this is semi-retirement and he can do as he damn well pleases, after a whole career working in specialty glass. I looked at some of the panels in his scrapbooks – and oh, my; original installations eight feet square, with four of five thousand individual pieces; that is some serious window-glazing, let me tell you.

Much of his professional work was done in Chicago, over the last thirty or forty years; I think his output now is more for fun, although he had many of his pieces in local galleries, and he does the occasional craft show. And nope, doesn’t even have a website, or an email address. Either catch him at a one of those shows, or come to San Antonio and search out the Black Swan Inn. Up to the top of the graveled drive, and around past the 1940s ambulance, the rusting restaurant stove, and the fallen-down bottle tree; next to a tall pecan tree and an old wooden water-tank on stilts: He’ll be at work in the little shed under the tree, with two rows of glass platters adorning the side.

The Sentiments of Mr. Charles James Napier

The sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier on multicultural understanding and tolerance:

Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.

The sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier on effective government:

The best way to quiet a country is a good thrashing, followed by great kindness afterwards. Even the wildest chaps are thus tamed.

The sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier on how to win friends and influence people:

The human mind is never better disposed to gratitude and attachment than when softened by fear.

The sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier on colonialism:

So perverse is mankind that every nationality prefers to be misgoverned by its own people than to be well ruled by another.

The sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier on self-improvement:

Success is like war and like charity in religion, it covers a multitude of sins.

The sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier on life’s little setbacks:

Honorable retreats are no ways inferior to brave charges, as having less fortune, more of discipline, and as much valor.

Not a sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier regarding south Pakistani tourism:

Peccavi.

Of Anwar al-Awlaki and Bold Christian Clothing

[ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]

I am, admittedly, very interested in religion, and Christianity has been the mother-lode for me of the imagery, gestures and profound words that can move heart, soul, mind and imagination into a greater depth.

Advertising, on the other hand… well, let’s just say that the best of it plays on imagination, too, but it is generally more of an intrusion upon – via billboards on landscapes, via commercials in movies, or via irritating jingles and catch phrases that subvert my best attempts at quieting the mind – than an experience of the kind of depth that religion at its best can offer.

But if you are interested in religion, and click online in enough of the right places, advertising that has “religious” content will be targeted to you.

*

And so it is that I went online this morning to check out something about al-Awlaki on Islamic Awakening, an American jihadist forum, and found myself invited to consider, instead, wearing some “bold Christian clothing”.

This was while I was researching al-Awlaki, right? the Muslim jihadist preacher?

at:

a site with its own curious graphics…

And looking closer at that logo, isn’t that some sort of triumphalist armored vehicle I see?

*

Well, never averse to a pretty girl, and noticing the one in the Bold Christian ad, I thought I’d taker a look at Bold Christian Clothing to find out what sort of fashion sense was popular among the younger Christian set just now, and found I could obtain t-shirts with such comforting images as these…

— this one’s symbolic of our relatively new century, I guess…

or this:

which I am praeternaturally fond of since my online moniker is hipbone, with its veiled reference to the Valley of the Dry Bones in that very same chapter 37 of Ezekiel…

and then there’s this masterfully supremacist rendering of a part of the Lord’s Prayer:

which I must admit isn’t the image of Thy Kingdom Come that springs to mind when I personally hope and pray for heaven on earth.

What exactly is it, you may ask? According to the manufacturer, it’s

The Lord’s Prayer — “Thy Kingdom Come” with an Angel holding the cross, Horses, skulls under the horses, and palm trees (with Shield and Pacific Oracle cross logo added)

It’s also “the softest, smoothest shirt we sell” … “made from combed cotton for your added comfort” and gives “a flattering and stylish fit to virtually any body type”.

I on the other hand think it looks more like a photoshopped variant of the Quadringa statue in London that celebrates Wellington’s victory over Napoleon at Waterloo:

*

In light of all this, I do believe I’ll just wear white – although even that could be misinterpreted, I guess.