Sunday, December 16, 2012

More Guns

My father posted this entirely and horrifically inappropriate picture on Facebook the other day of a woman holding a gun with the words, "Israel armed their schoolteachers to protect their kids. Why did we disarm ours?"

I can't get over how stupid and wrong and inappropriate this is on so many levels.

First of all, we are not living in Israel. We are not under daily attack from rocket bombs and terrorists. (Although if you watch CNN and Fox on a daily basis, you would certainly get that impression.) And not like a gun is going to help you if someone drops a bomb on your house, anyway...

So, why again, do we need to have access to semi-automatic military assault guns like the ones that killed those twenty kids the other day?

Oh, right - because we want them. And because without them, we'll lose our freedom.

So, okay, we all have the right to own these instruments of death and terror. What now?

Now, we REALLY have something to protect ourselves against, so we start implementing increased security. We arm our teachers and lock down our schools and hospitals and shopping malls to protect ourselves.

No more unlocked doors.  You have to show an ID to get in and out everywhere. You can't get into the mall or a store without being buzzed through the bullet-proof glass.

You have to walk through a metal detector to get on a bus or a train. 

It's the same at your son's school. If you're not an approved list, they won't buzz you through the bullet-proof triple doors. No ID, and you don't get in, either.

Pretty soon, you can't walk out of your front door without worrying about who *might* be carrying a gun. And who knows what kind of gun they might have? Semi-automatic assault-style weapons are perfectly legal.That's what the definition of freedom is, right?

But, we still have our freedom, right? We can go wherever we want, and with all the increased security, we get the best of both worlds, right?

I don't know about you, but I think my son deserves to live in a world that's free of guns, instead of a world full of bullet-proof glass and fear.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Need vs. Want

Can't stop thinking about the twenty dead kids in Connecticut, some as young as five. Here's the deal.

There are most likely very, very few people in the United States who NEED to have a gun. It's not like we live in Somalia or the West Bank or Palestine. Last time I checked, there were not hoards of marauders prowling the streets at night looking to rape, plunder, and pillage.

Sure, once in a while, Tom runs across a particularly tasty-looking deer in the woods, and he uses his rifle to end that creature's life and put it in the freezer so that he and Colden can eat it over the winter.

But people WANT their guns.

That shooter's mother owned the guns that he used to murder all those kids. She was a schoolteacher. Did she need those guns? Was she part of a well-regulated militia? Was she under threat from career criminals every day?

So, let's just admit it: we WANT our guns. We don't need them. And as long as we want the, we have to be willing to accept the deaths of young children as part of the package.

Guns were not invented to solve problems. They were invented to kill people.

And even sadder, we value our "right" to own a gun more than we value the "rights" of those kids to grow up, and the "rights" of their parents to get to watch their children grow up.

I don't know about you, but I value my son's life way more than I value your right to own a gun.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Addendum

I have two more things to add to that last post:

1. If you want to throw that whole second amendment thing around, go ahead. But just remember that 200 years ago, it was your right to own slaves and women were considered property.

We sorta frown on that stuff these days.

2. If you still think it's do damn important to own a gun, then YOU go up to a mother whose child was shot and killed today, and you tell them, "Hey, those guns were legally owned by the guy's mother. It was her right to own the gun that her son used to shoot and kill your kid. It was all legal, so it's okay."

'Cause I sure as fuck couldn't do that.

Speechless?

This isn't exactly the post I was intending to make today, but here it is.

I saw the news about the horrific day at the elementary school in Colorado was Tom and I were leaving the doctor's office. I had an appointment today to follow up with a biopsy after an abnormal pap smear last month, and I couldn't bring myself to watch more than a few minutes of the news updates before we left.

Then, I looked at my Facebook news feed. People updating their statuses with things like, "I have no words", and "Speechless".

Well, I, for one, am not speechless.

Today is not the day to debate gun control. Yesterday was.

How many more children have to die before we get serious about regulating guns in the United States? How many more mass shootings? Isn't this like the second one this month? Where are we, Somalia?

Anyone who tells you that to debate gun control so soon after a mass shooting of children is disrespectful to the victims is full of shit. It's a complete disregard of the lives of those eighteen children and the eight adults who were killed, and their families who are left behind to pick up the pieces, if we DON'T start talking about gun control. Right fucking now.

The reports I've seen have said that the gunman had two handguns. He most likely obtained those handguns legally.

So, legal handguns are okay, right?

Of course, guns don't kill people. But people with mental health issues who can obtain handguns legally - yeah, they kill people. If we take the handguns out of the equation, what could this guy have done - bludgeon twenty children to death with a salami?

Oh, and don't forget - if all those kids and teachers had had handguns, all obtained legally, of course, then they could have stopped him.

You can't solve the problem of violence with violence.

Fuck your moments of silence, your concerts to raise money, your stupid fucking awareness t-shirts and plastic rubber made-in-China bracelets.

How about some meaningful legislation to stop this kind of thing from happening?

How about some people just shut the fuck up about their "right" to own guns and let someone else talk for a little while.

Most of all, I would like to see the lives of those eighteen children avenged with the dismantling and banishment of the NRA. Forever.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Weekly Blog?

Ugh, yes. Once again, things are just slightly above controlled chaos around here, so I haven't been able to do much on this blog. But tonight, I had the idea to try to photograph a couple of things, so here goes...

Many, many years ago, these little glass Ecospheres were popular. The Nature Company sold them, as did some other high-end specialty catalogs like Wireless. (Is Wireless even around anymore?)

Anyway, eighteen years ago, the first Christmas that Tom and I were dating, t his Ecosphere was a Christmas present to Tom from his parents. Inside was a whole little community of snails and shrimp. The idea was that when you put the sealed glass sphere in indirect sunlight, it would grow algae and thus be a self-containing ecosystem that would support these little life forms indefinitely.

Well, about three weeks in, all of the snails died, and all of the shrimp followed - except for one, tiny, bright red shrimp. Believe it or not, that last little shrimp is still alive.

After eighteen years.

It lives by itself (we can't tell if it's a he or a she), presumably living off the algae that grows on the sides of the glass sphere. Every once in a while, we give the ball a gentle turn to see if the shrimp is moving, and if it's still alive.

That little shrimp has moved with us up from New Jersey to Cadyville; from Cadyville to Lake Placid; from Lake Placid to our first house in Jay; and then, finally, to our current house in Jay, where it's been living either on top of the refrigerator or on one of the shelves near the big kitchen window.

Every once in a while, Tom looks it, gives it a gentle turn, sees the shrimp swimming around, and shakes his head. "What a lonely existence," he says.

It's true. That little shrimp has been by itself for almost two decades. Does it miss the other shrimp? Does it pine for some companionship?

On the surface, it seems like a perfectly happy little shrimp, subsisting on the algae that grows on the glass walls of the Ecosphere...

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Leap

Leap, and the net will appear - and all that jazz, right?

Most of you know that I've been an admirer and inspired by the amazing beadwork of Marcia DeCoster. Her explorations of right-angle weave and its uses in creating unique jewelry forms continually amaze me, so this morning, I decided to take the leap - and submit my application to be a student in her 2013 Bead & Button Master Class.

I've taken a lot of beading classes, and read a lot of beading books (including Marcia's fabulous Beaded Opulence), but being able to learn in-person from a master bead artist? That's just something that I think I owe myself, as an artist.

It's going to be a huge expense/investment for me and Tom. The class fee alone is over $1,000, and then I still have to come up with airfare, hotel room, meals, transportation, etc. But I can do it. I'm resourceful. And really, how often am I going to have a chance to study with someone like Marcia?

Of course, getting into the class is something else entirely. There's a huge demand for this kind of class, and only a few spots, so applicants are selected through a lottery. Still, it's worth trying. So this morning, I wrote out my application, included my deposit, and put it in the mail after dropping Colden off at school.

And now, speaking of beading, I have to go bead up a little baby spike and cylinder bead prayer vessel for next week's Beading Daily...

Monday, December 03, 2012

Attitude

We had a rough weekend. It started on Friday night when Colden just would not go to sleep, no matter what we did. I was exhausted to begin with, and it was like he just *knew* that I was running on empty. He came into our room around 10:30 and said, "Mommy, I pooped, and my butt hurts!" Tom was out like a light, so I got up and got Colden cleaned up, thinking that maybe now he would FINALLY go to sleep.

It didn't quite work. He wanted to stay up and play, and I couldn't keep him in his room for anything. Desperate to close my eyes, I told him he could play quietly with the iPad for a little while. Well, at 12:30, he came into our room and asked me to download a new game for him.

Tom got up and took the iPad away, which led to our overtired kid having a complete meltdown. While Tom stoked the fire in the wood stove, I cuddled up with my sobbing, exhausted kid and massaged his back and his feet until he fell asleep. But I was too tired to move, and I shut my eyes against his warm little body.

Next thing I know, it's 6:00 a.m., and Colden is wide awake and rarin' to go.

We went to Plattsburgh to do some shopping, and I felt awful the whole time. Lightheaded and dizzy, like I could just have tucked my head down and fallen asleep at any moment.

I had a light lunch, and then threw some soup on to cook so Colden and I could go see the tree lighting at the park in AuSable Forks.

Well, I should have had more for lunch, and a nap, because between the cold (it was only about 19 degrees), the hunger, and the lack of sleep, I found that I couldn't stand up for more than a minute or two without feeling seriously like I was going to pass out right there. I had to lean against the traffic signal post to steady myself while I tried to keep my eyes open. I tried to get Colden back to the car, but he burst out crying that he didn't want to miss the tree lighting.

So, I stayed.

They finally lit the tree - 45 minutes late - and we got to see Santa, and then we had to wait another 15 minutes just to get out of the parking lot. By then, the cold and the low blood sugar and the exhaustion led me to have a full-on panic attack in the car.

Somehow, I got us both home. Colden fell asleep in the car, and I was literally too weak to carry him inside. Tom brought him inside for me, and then I tried to get us settled down with a big bowl of homemade soup.

Colden didn't want any soup, but he certainly wanted to go to sleep. So, after a snack of peanut butter and jelly, he got into his pajamas and fell asleep almost instantly.

I went to yoga class the next afternoon. It was a little more physically intense than I had expected - I had a hard time coming out of the forward bends. I would stand up and get so dizzy that it felt as though I was going to completely lose my balance and fall sideways. Instead of feeling elated, strong, and refreshed the way I had the previous week, I came home feeling weak, shaky, and panicky.

The panicky feeling lasted all night and into the morning, even after a high-protein breakfast. (I thought that maybe I just had some low blood sugar stuff going on.) And I must have been exerting myself more than usual, because every single muscle in my body just aches today. Even the muscles in my side where we stretched them out in the side angle stretch are sore to the touch.

Today, it just felt like I couldn't do anything right. I couldn't concentrate. I had no focus. I'm amazed I managed to get myself organized enough to get to the post office after lunch.

I think I screwed something up with an old friend of mine, and it makes me feel terrible to think about it. I keep trying to not beat myself up over it, but there it is, as usual: me, screwing up again. Seriously, sometimes I think I have a social disorder or something. It makes me feel terrible, because I don't have the intention of doing these stupid things. I just lose my focus for one tiny second, and then I think, oh, man, that really wasn't a good idea... And to make me feel even worse about it, it's someone that I care deeply about.

I know that sometimes I go too far into myself, and then it's hard for me to come out and connect with people again. When someone points it out to me, I feel silly - I mean, it's just beads, right? Do I just need to lighten up a bit these days? Why am I feeling so dark? Is it the lack of sunlight?

I'm starting to think that something frivolous and self-pampering is in order this week. Like a manicure and a cupcake.

Until then, there are things to do...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Surrounded By Art

I saw this pop up in my news feed on Facebook this morning, and I just thought, yes. This is why I love being in the company of artists and beaders.

We're flawed people, just like everybody else, but in general, the company that I keep are more concerned with the bigger picture than just with how much money we can accumulate. We're concerned with how other people are being treated. We go deeper, into ourselves, and come up with these beautiful works of art that we spend hours and hours crafting...

Then I realize that I am surrounded by art. My favorite old sitcoms - yes, those are art, too. The actors and actresses have created characters that I love. (I'm sorry, but even the best episode of "reality t.v." sucks compared to the worst episode of Frasier or 3rd Rock From the Sun.)

There's the music I listen to while I write and bead. Yeah, again, some people would tell me that it's crap, but it's what moves me and inspires me, and that's what art is supposed to do, right?

Even what I see when I look out the window is art. I can capture that view with my camera and turn it into a picture.

It's all art. It's all about what you put your soul into, what moves your heart to create and sing.

And with that said, I have about a zillion little threads to weave in before my latest whopper spike necklace is finished, so, see ya later...

No Macular Degeneration!

A few weeks ago, I had a killer migraine. Nothing new there, I figured it was just my hormones trying to kill me again, but a couple of days later, I noticed a strange, grey, blurry spot in the center of my field of vision in my left eye.

Not want to mess about with something like that, and since I had been told about ten years ago that I had the beginnings of macular degeneration in my left eye, I made an appointment with the eye doctor. A scan of my retina and macular area did indeed show a buildup of fluid in that area, so the eye doctor referred me to the retina specialist for a follow up. The eye doctor kept asking me how old I was, since macular degeneration isn't something that usually shows up until you're in your 50s or 60s.

There's a history of macular degeneration in my family - my grandfather eventually lost his sight to it, and my mother was told she also had the beginnings of it in her eyes before she passed away in 2008.

The appointment with the retina specialist was today, and I was more than a little nervous. I wasn't looking forward to the tests and I was afraid that I would hear that the macular degeneration was getting worse.

Well, lo and behold: in walks this Melrose-Place-hot Bulgarian doctor (probably not a lot older than me), and he takes a good long look in both eyes with those horrible Medieval-torture-bright lights, and he shows me my scans and tells me: it's NOT macular degeneration!

I was so relieved, I almost leapt out of the chair.

The scans proved it: all the fluid that was behind my retina last time was gone. The doctor said that what I have is a central serous retinopathy, which usually has an excellent prognosis, provided that I take care to manage my stress levels. (Stress levels? Me?) The cause of the reinopathy is either idiopathic (meaning that they don't know what causes it) or from a high level of cortisol in the body, usually as a response to stress. He said there was some scar tissue back there, meaning that I've had attacks of this before, but this was just the first time that I'd ever noticed it.

So, my response to the whole thing was to go out and buy myself a brand-new yoga kit: new, extra-thick mat; two blocks; a strap; a blanket; and an embroidered cotton mat bag. Because, really, I can't let this get the better of me. If my body is trying to tell me something, I had damn best take care to listen.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Yoga

It's been a very long time since I went to a yoga class. I used to go when my friend Emily taught at the little "massage garage" down the hill from my house, but since she left and the space has been turned into a financial advisement office, I haven't been able to find anywhere nearby for yoga classes.

There were classes offered in Lake Placid and Plattsburgh, but really, I just couldn't bring myself to schlep 20+ miles at the end of a work day when chaos seems to reign supreme around here.

When I hurt my back nearly two weeks ago, I tried doing some gentle yoga stretches for my lower back to help, and my friend Emily messaged me that there were community yoga classes at Keene Arts in the old church in Keene every Sunday afternoon!

Perfect timing (on a Sunday afternoon, just when I need to get out of the house before I go completely stir crazy), perfect location (a short 15 minute drive), and what a beautiful space!

It was a packed class last night, and the only light inside the old church was from the candles that Robin, the instructor, had placed throughout the big room.

I sat quietly on my mat and followed my breathing for a little while before we got started. I was amazed at how easy the first part of the practice was - I'm really good with the standing and balance poses - but those seated/lying down poses that are supposed to stretch your hamstrings were a good reminder that, yes, I do need to continue my practice.

At one point when we were doing a side angle pose, I noticed that my feet felt strange. Sort of like they weren't attached to the rest of my body, and that I was sort of floating away. I stayed focused on my breath and brought my attention to other parts of my body, and after a few seconds like that, I was overcome with this sense of...joy. There's no other word for it.

The rest of the practice was refreshing and uplifting. I was glad that I had my traveling bracelet with me, and I took its picture in front of the candles that were at the front of the room, directly at the head of my yoga mat throughout the entire practice.

On the drive home, the nearly-full moon reflected down on the AuSable River and bounced off the trees and the light coating of new snow in the fields along route 9N. It felt like magic, and had I been able to get a picture in the dark of that beautiful scene, I would have...

Sure, this morning, my muscles feel like they're all made of rubber. But I guess that's to be expected when I sit in front of a computer all day.

I feel like I've found a wonderful new Sunday afternoon ritual for myself. I really should have written about it last night while it was fresh in my mind, but I wanted to just savor that feeling and the whole experience for a while...

I'm feeling ready to tackle the day ahead of me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Enough

As Thanksgiving nears, I see lots of activity on Facebook with messages about boycotting Black Friday.

This little eeCard seems to sum it up nicely for me. Every year for the last few years, I've been horrified to see people camping out, lining up, trampling and beating each other just to buy STUFF. Stuff that they don't even NEED. Stuff to just take up space in their home. Stuff with no soul, no life.

My senior year of college, I had to take an advanced environmental policy research class. It involved doing research on specific environmental issues and then giving presentations to the rest of the class, including leading a discussion about the issue. The first topic I was assigned was, of all things, consumption and sustainability.

It made me realize just how crazy and unsustainable our way of life is in the U.S. Shopping is considered a recreational sport. We lust and long for the latest electronic gadget, only to cast it aside in a year's time for the next model. We fill our landfills with garbage that will probably be there long after the human race has gone extinct as a species.

And why do we do this again?

A few months ago, I had to upgrade my cell phone.  According to Verizon, they no longer offered the plan we had under our contract, and if I wanted to renew my contract and keep my cell service, I had to upgrade to a plan that included an allowance for data usage. I could have kept my old plan - for an additional $75 fee per month, going month to month. Or, I could pay just $30 additional every month for a plan that includes 2G of data usage.

Since my old phone wasn't compatible with a data plan, I had to upgrade to a new smartphone. Which cost me another $30 up front, even though the phone itself was free. I chose an iPhone, mainly just to see what the fuss is all about.

So, it's a nice looking phone. It does things. It's like a mini iPad that I can use to make phone calls and take pictures.

But do I really *need* all that?

Seriously, I could have gotten by with my old phone. I don't *need* to be able to check my email and browse the web whenever I feel like it. In fact, I actually need time AWAY from the computer more than anything these days.

I think a lot of this comes back to the old questions, "Sure, we CAN do these things, but SHOULD we?"

I appreciate how hard the retail business can be. During the 2 years that I owned my shop, my take-home pay from that business was $300 a month, if I was lucky. I finally had to get a second job to supplement that so I could pay bills and not starve, even with Tom working full-time. Then, when I was staying home with Colden and relying on sales from farmer's markets and Etsy for my income, it was always a hard decision to make around the holidays: do I add to the Black Friday madness, or do I encourage people to stay away from the computer, stay away from shopping, and do some reflecting on what they should be thankful for during the holiday weekend?

When I was in high school, I remember going shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Of course, this was 20+ years ago. There were no huge lines to get into the stores. Sure, the mall was busy, because lots of people and lots of kids were off from work and school, and they figured they would get started on their Christmas shopping. But there were no stampedes, no workers killed or injured because of half-crazed shoppers looking for the best bargains.

Now, with Wal-Mart paying slave wages and forcing their full-time workers to rely on public assistance programs to feed their families, I find it more important than ever for people to stop and think about what they're doing.

What if everyone stopped to think before they crushed an employee to death on Black Friday so that they could score a flat screen t.v.? What if people stopped to think before they ran up their credit cards buying useless stuff that won't enrich their lives? What if people tried to live more thoughtful lives all year long?

Not that I sell a lot of stuff on Etsy and ArtFire, but this year, I will be closing both shops down for the holiday weekend, including Cyber Monday. If someone wants to buy something this weekend, I would encourage them to do so from their favorite locally-owned business. Not a franchise. Not a big box store. Show your favorite Etsy seller some love. Go to your favorite locally-owned cafe or book store, and show them you care by spending your hard-earned money there.

Sure, you're going to probably pay more than if you shop at a big box store. But your return on investment will be priceless.



Monday, November 19, 2012

Memories and Thanks Blog Hop

So, this morning, as I'm knocking things off my to-do list left and right, squealching down the panic at the idea that Thanksgiving is in just a few days and I have to start cooking, and trying to recover from a weekend where I threw my back out and had to play Single Mom while Tom was away, I took a few moments to sign up for Lori Anderson's Memories and Thanks Blog Hop.

Lori wanted to do something to honor the memory of a friend she had never met, and she decided to host a blog hop where participants create a piece of jewelry to tell the story of someone who inspired them or meant something to them. What a wonderful idea!

The blog hop itself isn't until after the holidays, and sign ups run until the 29th of November. Just click on the picture, read through the text, and click the link to sign up. No exchanges are necessary for this blog hop - all you have to do is create a special piece of jewelry.

For me, I'm hoping that doing this blog hop will give me something to think about when I feel like my to-do list is getting the better of me and I'm feeling overwhelmed by the holiday season. It'll give me something to do when I need to take a few minutes to step back and think about what I'm really thankful for, in the midst of the driving and cooking and wrapping...


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lonely

I'm feeling sort of lonely today. Yes, it's nice to have the place to myself sometimes, and most days, I love the solitude of the fireplace and the radio and having Moose all to myself. But today, I'm just feeling lonely, and I wish Tom could come home from work early, even if it means he's just going to sit next to me and watch movies on Netflix while I work.

We found out yesterday that his co-worker's stepdaughter, who is in her late 20s and has a daughter of her own not too much older than Colden, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lymphatic Cancer after having a lymph node removed a couple of weeks ago. We're crossing our fingers for her - after living a rather wild life for most of her teenage years, in the last few years, she has settled down, quit smoking and cut out alcohol, and has been working at being a responsible mother to her daughter.

It just gave me a chill when Tom told me on the phone. This is the second person this week that I know who has been given a diagnosis of cancer. What's going on here? Does anyone else seem to think this is a horrifying epidemic we're experiencing in this country? Why are so many young people being diagnosed with this disease?

Artistically, I'm feeling sort of stumped this week. I'm so, so close to finishing my next spike bead necklace so that I can move on and finish two more pieces before my November 30 deadline with my friend Sue, but there's just this sort of...inertia when I sit down to attach the components. It really doesn't take me too long to do each one, but I just feel as though there's something holding me back. I don't know what. Maybe it's my fear that once I complete this piece, I have soooooo many other pieces that need/want my attention. And deadlines. Lots and lots of deadlines...

Whatever it is, I need to focus this afternoon and get my act together. No sense in letting the anxiety get the best of me. I'm too busy for that shit right now. Forward.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Retreat

Yep, today, I gave up. Retreat. Backed away from what I was doing with this piece. I thought I was going to connect these spike components so that they would be vertical, but after connecting about six of them, I realized that I hated the way it looked. It wasn't comfortable. It didn't lay straight. And it was awkward when I tried to hang the pendant.

So, bah. Better to tear it apart now and come up with something else than to forge on ahead and realize that the idea should have been scrapped earlier.

Instead, I'm falling back on one of my favorite bumpy herringbone ropes, and I'll sling them over the flat, straight parts of the rope and let the bumps hold them in place. It works much better, lends itself to embellishment much easier, and makes it easier to hang the pendant.

I'm also just feeling a need to retreat from things and people today. This thing with the grey fuzzy spot in my left field of vision is driving me mad. I don't have my appointment with the retina specialist until the 27th, more than two weeks away. As always, the lack of information is causing me incredible anxiety. The eye doctor did say that there was some fluid building up in that eye where they diagnosed me with the beginnings of macular degeneration seven or eight years ago. But he didn't know if this spot was from that, or from that last whiz-bang migraine, or what. Is it weird to hope that it's "only" from the macular degeneration?

I also have not recovered from the stupid upper respiratory bug I came down with last weekend. It's gone straight to my chest, and last night, after spending the afternoon beading with my dear friend for the first time in over a year, I discovered that I had completely lost my voice. Completely. It hurt to talk. I tried to keep my speech to a minimum today, and it's a little better, but it still feels like I have to force my words out of my vocal cords. Ouchy. (Which is why Tom is reading to Colden for bedtime tonight.) When I woke up this morning, I had a wicked headache and a chest full of hot phlegm. Great way to start the day, right?

For now, it's time to get into my comfy jammies, smear some Vicks on my chest, and try to get some rest. I've got three new books on the iPad to choose from tonight, and my pillow and warm flannel sheets are calling to me...

Thursday, November 08, 2012

9 Years

Yep, that's us, nine years ago tonight. It was 19 degrees, and it snowed a bit, and there was a full eclipse of the moon that we all trudged outside to see, still in our wedding regalia.

When I reminded Tom that we have been married for nine years tonight, he couldn't believe it. "It doesn't seem like that long," he said, even though we now have a house of our own, a son, car payments, and laundry to do.

True, there are still times when we find that we have a few minutes to ourselves, and it feels like we just met. We're still finding things out about ourselves and each other. Keeps life interesting.

I suspect that tonight will be just like any other night around our house, except with an extra glass of wine or two. Colden will go to bed after dinner and a bath, and maybe Tom and I will curl up in front of the wood stove, or in front of a movie...

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Waking Up in America

This morning, it feels good to be waking up in America. Not only did women oust the misogynist GOP representatives who yammered on about "legitimate rape" and a pregnancy resulting from rape being a "gift from God", but Barack H. Obama won a second, well-deserved term as our President.

Now, don't get me wrong. If you voted for the other guy, I still love you. But if you think that Obama only won a second term because of all the "freeloaders" who voted for him, I suggest you go for a walk in the world this morning.

I live in a part of New York where there are many, many people who receive some form of government assistance through food stamps, supplemental or disability income, or housing subsidies. When I look around my community, do I see a bunch of freeloaders?

No, I most definitely do NOT.

I see men and women who work at jobs that are physically demanding, day after day. I see men and women who work to support their children and their families. I see men and women who work two and three jobs to try to make ends meet. I see men and women who do whatever they have to to keep their homes warm during the long, cold winters up here. And I see men and women who desperately want to improve their situations and not have to rely on those government "handouts". I see men and women who WANT to be self-sufficient, but who have not been provided with the necessary tools and basic human requirements (health care, living wage) to do so.

Surely, these cannot be the "freeloaders" who rely on their government assistance because they're too lazy to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. Can they?

So, America, take a deep breath. Smile at someone today, because you never know what battles that person is fighting. Go for a long, slow walk. And most of all, appreciate the fact that you are waking up in America.


Amulets

I was fascinated by this book that I saw on Amazon a few months ago. Amulets: Sacred Charms of Power and Protection is a great overview of how magical objects are used by cultures throughout history and around the world.

My first glance through this book resulted in several new ideas for beaded jewelry designs, and as I'm thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2013, I'm thinking that maybe a series of beaded jewelry or beaded objects based on the amulets in this book might be just the thing.

Fascinating to read about all the different objects, both man made and natural, that have been used throughout history as protection against the dark magic and bad luck. Beads play a prominent role in many of the amulets pictured and discussed in the book.

A quick read, inspirational, and perfect for someone looking to incorporate some magic into their beading and jewelry making projects!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Where Am I Going?

A couple of weeks ago, I finished my Artist's Way journey for something like the tenth time. I love going through the tasks and readings in The Artist's Way, because every time I do, I find something new in my creative unconscious.

This time, I woke up one morning shortly after completing the last week with this urge to create a bead embroidered doll. I've seen lovely bead embroidered art dolls everywhere in the last few years, and now I want to make one to be a companion for me during my travels and my whole beading journey in general.

I have no idea how to start, but I do have some sweet polymer clay faces that I made with Colden a few weeks ago. Those will probably be a good starting point. And I have a few pieces of Ultrasuede that will make a nice doll...and Lord knows, I have enough polyester stuffing that I've been hoarding in the basement since we moved in back in 2003...

The other adventure upon which I'm embarking is my collaborations with my insanely talented friend, Susan Tompkins. Sue is working on some paintings using Nicole's Beadbacking, my favorite bead embroidery medium, which apparently can be painted on like a canvas. When Sue is finished, she's sending me the pieces so that I can add bead embroidery, bead-weaving, and whatever else I can think of. Maybe some fringe?

It feels as though my direction for 2013 is going to be more explorations with non-wearable beaded art. Beaded dolls, wall-hangings, beaded pictures...it should be interesting. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Gorn

The other day, in honor of NaSeBeMo (National Seed Beading Month), I decided to take a little bit of a long lunch break and finish my latest bead embroidery cuff bracelet, Gorn.


For anyone who is wondering, yes, I named it after that race of green reptilian creatures from the old Star Trek episodes. Not that I'm a huge fan of Star Trek, mind you, but the bottle green of the glass in the handmade raku MAKUstudio cabochon and the mottled bottle green of the glass spikes from York Beads just called to me. I paired them with a piece of that fabulous tilapia fish leather that I got from Nature Beads at Bead Fest back in August. It just sort of came together all by itself.

This was one of those designs that I went over in my head about a million times before I just decided, to hell with it, and I pushed aside the other sixteen beading projects I have on my trays and pulled together the materials for this one.

A tip to anyone who has some of the tilapia leather but hasn't used it yet: get yourself some glover's needles before you start stitching on it. That fish leather is just as tough as regular cowhide leather, and I actually BROKE a Tulip needle trying to stitch through it.

Choosing the method for edging the cuff was hard. I had thought about doing a whip stitch with seed beads, but didn't like the way it looked. It was just too busy, and detracted from the cabochon and the spikes.

So, in the end, I decided to go with my usual brick stitch edging, and I was quite happy with the results.

Wouldn't you know it: during our trip to the thrift shop on Saturday to stock up on more little "stay in your own bed all night" toys for Colden, I just happened to find *the* perfect sweater to go with this cuff. Yes, I thought about listing it in my Etsy shop...but when I tried it on, it just fit so perfectly on my wrist that I knew there was no way I was going to part with this baby.

Now, totally inspired, I spent part of yesterday working on my next spike bead project: a necklace using double-pointed spike components with a large, beautiful, gemstone pendant. I got sidetracked, however, by a kid who needed help pooping on the potty, followed by - what else? - the second stomach virus passed on to me by my dear husband in as many weeks.

More on the next spike bead project coming soon...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mission

Today, I want all of you reading this to stop for a minute, take a deep breath, and think about what is true and beautiful.

I want you to understand that truth and beauty can only be found in you: they can't be found in a book, in a religious or political leader, or in a bank account.

We should be seeking only truth and beauty in our lives. Anything else is not worth our energy and our breath.

Don't hide behind your Bible, your Torah, or your Koran. You'll know what feels true and good and real when your heart tells you.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that someone else needs to tell you what is right. You know; you've probably known all along.

If you are afraid to share your truth, then there is a reason. Don't be afraid. Examine it more closely.

It is important that our lives be real and authentic. Don't settle for anything else. Don't be afraid to be wrong.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No Storm

Nothing. Nadda. All the predictions that Hurricane Sandy would impact the North Country just fizzled out yesterday when the storm crashed into the East coast near Manhattan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Crazy pictures from down there, water everywhere in New York City, subways flooded, boardwalks on the Jersey shore washed out to sea...

Up here, we had a dark and windy day, but nothing to write home about. The sun is peeking out from under the clouds over the mountains on the other side of the valley, and the wind kicks up now and then, but I think the rain is over for now, and it's supposed to be in the low 60s today. The only bad news is that we won't really see the sun again until Saturday, and then it will be a chilly sun - the high is only going to climb to 42. But again, that's typical for this time of year in this part of the world.

The good news is that I frantically wrote all the rest of my blogs up and through next week, so today, I will take and edit a bunch of photos, format a bunch of newsletters, and get those all put to bed so that I can spend some time planning and beading this week.

I woke up yesterday with the bee in my bonnet that made me want to make a special bead embroidered doll. Something to help me through this healing process, and something I can take with me when I travel to share my adventures in beadland. Did a little research, and ready to start gathering my supplies this week...once I finish the four projects I have sitting on my table, one of which has a deadline of December 3.

To be continued...

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Adventure of the Traveling Bracelets!

Last week was not a good week. One by one, we just dropped like flies around here, succumbing to whatever nasty stomach bug was making the rounds. By Friday, I was never so happy to get to the post office and find THIS:

The Traveling Bracelet was HERE!

Sig obviously took a lot of care to wrap this package and make it beautiful, and I intend to do the same when I send it on in a few weeks.

The bracelet itself was packed very carefully in a little container, wrapped in some bright and cheerful tissue paper.

It took me about thirty seconds to unwrap the bracelet and put it on, and I've worn it every day since then while I try to plan my schedule for the next couple of weeks.

Travels for this bracelet include going to Vermont and taking the ferry over Lake Champlain; a couple of walks in the woods in some of my favorite quiet places; a trip down to NYC (to make up for the one I missed two weekends ago), and a trip down to Glens Falls, where Sig grew up. (And where there also happens to be a pretty nifty-looking bead shop!)

Today, it's going to be a lot of sitting and waiting for the one-two punch that's going to come from both the Nor'Easter bearing down on us from the north and Hurricane Sandy (which will be a Tropical Storm by the time it gets here) coming up from the south. The day yesterday was eerily chilly and damp, and today, there's no sign of the sun beneath what is probably a very thick ceiling of clouds.

The biggest warning we're getting so far is from the winds - the forecasts are predicting sustained gusts of up to 60 mph or greater, meaning that when you have winds that high with lots of trees, chances are, we're going to be without power for a few days. So, we have bottled water, flashlights, batteries, candles, and plenty of wood for the wood stove stocked up. I'm going to try to get all my content written today for the rest of the week in case we do lose power for a few days, and Tom's mos has delayed her flight so that she'll be coming back on Saturday instead of midnight on Wednesday, when things are supposed to be their worst. It just might be a bumpy ride!






Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sick

Sunday evening, Tom wasn't feeling so well. He had made over a dozen feet of homemade sausage with some of his venison and pork, and he ate the leftover piece of pork for dinner. A few hours later, he was incredibly sick, with what he described as "power vomiting". It was uncontrollable for over 8 hours that night, and he was home from work for the next two days, recovering.

We assumed it was food poisoning from the pork, which he described as being "gamey". (Pork isn't supposed to be gamey.)

But then last night, I started feeling kinda crappy. I went to bed around 9, and by 10, I was also throwing up uncontrollably with stomach cramps so bad that it felt like I was in labor again.

All day today, I just felt weak and crappy and achy and feverish - like I had the flu really bad. Tom stayed home from work for the third day in a row because there was no way I was going to be able to get up and get Colden ready and to school.

I finally took a shower and a nap around 1, and then I woke up and started work on this piece of bead embroidery.

I actually got the idea for this one a couple of weeks ago while I was watching Erik the Viking. (An old Terry Gilliam flick with Tim Robbins and John Cleese!) One of the female characters was wearing an absolutely divine metalwork necklace, and I wanted to try to recreate the lines, shapes, and textures using bead embroidery.

So, hopefully after a good night of sleep, I'll feel better tomorrow, and then I can get back to work.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Traveling

That's what I was supposed to be doing this past weekend. I had planned on traveling down to Manhattan to see Maggie and Suzanne and Perry at York Beads and do some beading and some shopping, but my stomach made other plans. Instead, I wound up going for an acupuncture treatment and spending a lot of time feeling like I had just been kicked in the stomach.

Sunday morning, as I was putting the shampoo into my hair, the water suddenly turned stone cold. A quick check of the furnace told us that it had, for the second time in ten days, decided to crap out on us. Thankfully, Tom banged around on it for a bit and got it working so that we could have hot water again. Which was great, because...

Tom got sick with something around midnight. Not sure what it was, we're pretty sure it was food poisoning, but he spent the next nine hours vomiting every twenty minutes or so.

We had thought that since I couldn't go to the city that maybe we would go to the local apple orchard that sells utility apples (they just don't look as "pretty" as the other apples) for things like apple butter and applesauce and apple pie filling, but I was still feeling crappy and then Tom had to wait around in case the furnace repair guy showed up.

I wound up just running a couple of errands with Colden, and when I got home and sat down to do a little bit of beading and relax, I saw that Sig had chosen me to receive one of her traveling bracelets! Squeeeee! Since she already has a Ganesha bracelet traveling (which would have been my first choice) I chose the King Tut bracelet. And it should be here soon!

I've got big plans for this bracelet. I still need to use that train ticket that I bought to Penn Station, so I'm planning on making a little day trip down to the bead district in NYC. The bracelet will go with me. Colden and I can take a trip across the lake to Vermont, taking the bracelet with us. I want to take it for a walk in the woods to a couple of my favorite scenic locations, and down to Sig's hometown of Glens Falls, where I understand there is a *very* nice bead shop.

Aaaaand, in other news, my dearest friend Sue, who is a classy artist babe in her own right, sent me a link to a local arts organization up here in the Adirondacks that's looking for submissions for exhibitions for 2013. She thought it would be a great idea to do a collaborative show of our work - her paintings, my beadwork, and how they can play off each other. Of course, I jumped on it, and now I'm pumped! I've got three pieces on my table that need to be finished and photographed before November 30 so that we can submit them, and quite honestly, I'm really excited about the prospect. We also did some brainstorming about another collaborative effort that we'll be working on throughout 2013 so that we can submit it for shows in 2014.

The best part of all this artistic collaboration? She'll have to come out here for the gallery openings, and I'll have to travel to Los Angeles for the gallery openings! Twist my rubber arm, I've been seriously jonesing for another trip to Cali this last year or so...

So, anyway, hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go for the day today... Need to finish a couple of blogs, finish writing up an intro for a project, and then hoping to get to the beads for a bit this afternoon before Colden comes home.





Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fragile Soul

That's what I feel like today. A fragile soul.

I know, I know. I create these huge, ginormous, somewhat aggressive pieces of jewelry, but sometimes I don't know if they are accurately reflect me, what's in my soul.

I love the city, but I prefer the quiet life, too. I love living in the mountains, where there are cows and horses and rivers on every corner, and you can drive for dozens of miles without seeing a traffic light.

But I love to party with my friends, hanging out and talking and laughing and cracking jokes and swapping stories about crazy shit that happens in our lives.

I'm crazy about animal print anything. I found the sweetest cashmere leopard print sweater at the thrift shop last weekend, and I've just been rocking it. I love my leopard print Bead On It boards, too. And my cowboy boots with the super-pointy toes.

I'm outgoing...on the outside. Does that make any sense? But there's always this little part of me that knows I'll eventually need to retreat, to recharge.

I tried to go into town today to treat myself to a Starbucks, but the stress of, oh, I dunno, everything, just got to me, and I felt this knot in my stomach. Like someone was turning a knife in there. And I knew - I just KNEW - that if I didn't turn around and head back home, I was going to throw up right there in the car.

So, I turned around and went home. And sure enough, after I had gone maybe five or six miles, the pain eased, and I started to relax.

And the entire way home, all I could think was, what the fuck? Is it working from home that's doing this to me? Have I not been careful enough with myself? Have I let myself worry too much about things without taking action to resolve them? Am I going to, ultimately, end up like my mother, who never left the fucking house for more than an hour at a time because it was too stressful for her?

Everything finally just came pouring out, pouring over me, and I just started to cry. I don't let people see me cry most of the time, lately. Not even Tom. I mostly do it in private, mostly in the car when I'm driving and I can't stop my thoughts from overwhelming me.

And then I wondered, is it just me, or is everybody like this? Do we all just put on these brave faces and walk around like nothing's wrong when we're really all just falling apart completely inside?

And what the hell does any of this have to do with my beadwork?

All I know now is that there was a glorious sunset in the mountains across the river valley tonight, and now that my stomach has calmed down, I'm going to eat a nourishing dinner, listen to some music, do some work while Colden plays with his toy airplanes, and then treat myself to a long, hot, lavender bubble bath.

I have a lot to do before Saturday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Relief

It was a relief to get back to some beading this afternoon. I'm nearly finished with the triple-herringbone rope with the Chinese stone pendant necklace, so I set that one aside and started working on a new piece.

I've had this beautiful stone pendant for FOREVER, from a wonderful friend of mine. And then I got these huge glass spikes. I had originally thought about using the spikes in a cuff bracelet, but instead, I thought about wrapping them in peyote stitch and making a spiky collar with them.

It's gonna take a while, as my friend pointed out. Each one of those double-ended spike components takes a little over an hour, and I still have to make enough of them to go around a neck and then figure out how to use right-angle weave to connect them.

It felt good to get stuff out of the way this morning and then have the afternoon to sit and bead. I've missed the feeling of the beads between my fingers and the rhythm of the stitches...


Words

Make no mistake: your words carry power.

The other day, someone said something to me that was very funny and sweet, and it made me smile right down to my toes. I carried it with me all through the weekend.

What you say to someone can make or break their day. Choose them wisely.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Again

Thinking of you again today, thinking about how our hands, our faces, touch. The realism of it all, the warmth. It's moved beyond the beginnings now, moved into a new sort of energy.

We move together, we move apart. Sometimes I'm too far ahead, you remind me to slow down. I can tell you that I know what it's like, but I won't ever know if you really believe me.

But I do know. I know what it's like to want to move away from it all, into my own little center where everything is safe. It's exhausting, days like this. At the end of the day, there's nothing left of me, and I get ferocious with anyone who thinks that they can just have whatever they want of me.

And really, neither one of us knows why the hell we're doing this. What's in it for me, I think? Why would I do this? Why would you? There seems to be a hell of a lot to lose in this game.

And then I remember, it's the kindling of spirit that makes it worth my while. Inspiration from a similar soul who knows how to engage me, who knows how to fill me.

At the end of the day, I will smile, too.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Spirit of Bead Embroidery

One of my purchases at Bead Fest was a copy of Heidi Kummli's latest book, The Spirit of Bead Embroidery. I've been fascinated by Heidi's techniques for bead embroidery and the meanings behind her elaborate pieces of bead embroidery for years, and her book was definitely NOT a disappointment.

Heidi gives thorough instructions for all of her bead embroidery techniques, and most of these assume that you have some experience with bead embroidery. The basic techniques section at the beginning of the book is just that - very basic. But, as you work through each of the projects, you get a much clearer set of instructions.

Once you've flipped through the materials and basic techniques section, the real meat of the book is all the wonderful information about the meanings and spiritual connotations behind the gemstones, animal symbols and totems, and colors that are used in Heidi's bead embroidery projects.

Ever since my experiences with the traveling Buddhist monks earlier this year, I've been more interested in infusing some spiritual symbols into my beadwork. Heidi's book is the perfect introduction for anyone who wants their beadwork to reflect a deeper meaning.

I was so inspired by the information and projects in this book that I went out and found a couple of handmade porcelain pieces by Laura Mears that happen to be my totem animals.

The first one that I started working on was this gorgeous cougar. I wasn't expecting it to be quite so three-dimensional, but it's perfect, and I love it.

The gemstone cabochon in this piece is the one I picked up from Gary Wilson's booth at Bead Fest Philadelphia this year. Beautiful and unusual, I felt more than a little guilty smearing the back of it with glue to affix it to the Beadbacking before I started stitching. Same goes for the Laura Mears piece - I felt like I was defacing the Mona Lisa!

I can't be the only one who feels like that, right?

At any rate, I decided to come up with a different way to use the lovely little green tree frog, also by Laura Mears, so that I didn't have to glue it. Part of the reason is that the design on the tree frog goes all the way around the bead, and I think I would have beat myself up for years if I had decided to glue that one down, too. Instead, I'm using a crescent-shaped brass bead embroidery blank and will dangle the froggy down from the center of the piece, underneath a gorgeous green turquoise cabochon. (You'll just have to wait and see.)

And, since I wrote this blog really just as a way to procrastinate instead of doing what I should actually be working on this morning, it's time to sign off.

Tomorrow: Colden and I are taking some friends to meet up at the Tucker's Taters Corn Maze out in Gabriels. A sunset romp in the maze followed by a bonfire and some s'mores will be just the thing for a lovely fall evening!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Artisan Colorway Series 2012 by Eva Maria Keiser



I would have posted this yesterday, but a migraine late in the day just derailed all of my working-after-dinner plans...

Yesterday, I was thrilled and honored to be featured in Eva Maria Keiser's Artisan Colorway 2012 Series! She used my Azteca bead embroidered neckpiece as part of her series!

Eva Maria creates some pretty amazing beadwork of her own, mostly three-dimensional geometric designs and free-standing sculptural beaded boxes. Truly artistic and architectural, and it's worth it to spend some time reading her blog and checking out all of her free (for personal use only, please!) tutorials.

So, a huge thank-you to Eva Maria for featuring my work on her blog! Make sure you stop over and read some of her past posts. She's got some wonderful, inspirational posts, links to instructional videos, and loads of information about how to bead!







Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Moose


There was a moose in Wilmington Notch on Saturday. And it stayed there, until the DEC fired a couple of rubber bullets at it to see if it would move. It did move, but then came back to the same spot, and stood there for a few more days.

People were going crazy trying to see this moose. It was right smack dab in the middle of the Notch, which is, as you might be able to tell from the name, a part of Route 86 that contains a very narrow road sandwiched between two rock cliffs and a river. It's a twisty road, too, and if you're not paying attention (or even if you are) it's easy to have an accident.

So, I know it's not like we see a moose every day up here, but this moose was in a very inconvenient place if you wanted to just stop your car and take a look. In addition to being a narrow, twisty road sandwiched between two rock cliffs and a river, it also happens to be the only road between Wilmington and Lake Placid. It's not like it can be closed without having to re-route traffic an extra 20 miles or so.

On my way into Lake Placid this morning, there were DOZENS of cars parked along both sides of the road, making the road even narrower. Worse yet, people were acting like idiots and bolting across the street right in front of the oncoming traffic because they wanted to get a look at the moose. There were license plates from all over - tourists, most of them, who wanted to get a glimpse of the moose.

According to the New York State police, there was at least one car accident when someone made an illegal u-turn in the middle of said narrow, twisty road because they wanted to get a look at the moose.

For real, people? Yes, I know that Route 86 through Wilmington Notch seems like a remote, pleasant, country road. But in reality, it's a main road. The only way for people to get back and forth between Wilmington and Lake Placid without driving 20 miles out of their way through Keene Valley, and that's how commuters (like my husband, who very nearly hit someone who ran out in front of his car yesterday because they wanted to get a look at the moose) get to and from their jobs. It's how delivery vehicles bring things to the hotels and shops in Lake Placid.

It's a really freaking busy road. Even if it's sandwiched between two rock cliffs and a river.

Finally, the DEC and the Environmental Conservation Police killed the moose, stating that it had seriously injured its back legs, and removed it from the river.

Now, people are up in arms. They're planning a protest in the middle of the Notch this Saturday against the actions of the DEC.

I don't know what has me more angry: the protest or the stupid people that caused the death of the moose.

If, indeed, the moose was not injured or sick, then the DEC was wrong to kill it and remove it. But in my mind, those idiot people who blocked the road and darted out in front of cars are the ones who *really* caused that moose to be killed. THEY are the ones responsible for the death of the moose.

I'm so incensed about the stupidity. Why can't we just learn to leave nature the hell alone?

Good JuJu

It didn't necessarily start out as a good day... Colden was up way too early, around 4:30 this morning, after six weeks straight of sleeping 10+ hours a night. I was worried that he would be grouchy by the time we left for preschool at 8:30, but he ran out to the car.

I made a quick stop at the post office at the same time that the local woman who drives a Smartcar was picking up her mail. I asked her about it, and she offered to let me sit in it and see what it felt like. It's truly an amazing little vehicle, and she takes hers on road trips all over the country. She said that she averages about 48 miles to the gallon with it, and now I totally want one.

The post office run was good today: no bills, and a huge box of beads from York Beads, including:


50 hanks of cut 10/0 seed beads (which is really more than I'll ever use in a lifetime, so I'm thinking a giveaway or a big Etsy sale is in order here!);


A strand of two-hole coin beads;


A whole hank of these coppery-brassy-matte glass feather daggers, and best of all:




This crazy spikey cuff bracelet from Perry! It just made me bust out laughing, brought back memories of what we wore when we were in high school and thought we were being badass with our leather jackets and spike jewelry. (Little did we know...) Anyway, that's me doing my best (worst?) Billy Idol impression in front of the computer.

There was also a treat addressed to Master Colden from a friend in Sweden!


The customs form said it was "toys", but since Colden isn't home from preschool yet, we'll just have to wait and see what it is!


I drove into Lake Placid at lunch to pick up a couple of birthday treats for one of Colden's friends who is having a birthday party tomorrow afternoon, and as I was walking down Main Street, my friend Martha drove past in her car and said hello. Walked to the bank to get some cash for tomorrow's field trip for Colden, and as I'm walking back to the car, I hear someone yell out, "Hey, Beads!" And it's my friend Kate, driving down Main Street. How funny is that? It made me feel sorta famous.

Went home, had a yummy spanikopita wrap and some fresh fruit, and read a really, really, really funny email from another friend that just had me on the floor.

After work, we're going to go spend some time with relatives we haven't seen in a few years, and then home to relax and conjure up something for dinner...

And, of course, maybe some more time with my beads...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Baby Spikes, Vanbeads-Style

So, I've had these baby spikes for a few weeks now, and I've just been dying to figure out what to do with them. I found a little bit of inspiration the other day when I dug out some lengths of my favorite plastic tubing and started playing with them for another beaded necklace design idea.

I also had a baggie of brass toggle clasps that were in my goody bag from Bead Fest Philly last month, so I pulled out some of my favorite creamy pink luster seed beads, some tiny little size 15/0 brass seed beads, and set to stitchin'.

I worked right-angle weave around the tubing, and then finished the ends using peyote stitch. After I added the clasp, I twisted the right-angle weave around the tubing to make sure that one row was evenly on the top of the bracelet. Then I went back and added a spike in every other open "window" of right-angle weave.

After all the spikes were nestled in place, I went back and added a little ring of seed beads around each one to just hold them in place. They are slippery little buggers, that's for sure!

When I tried it on, I realized that this pattern would also make a killer bangle without a clasp, something that just slips on over your wrist. Next up on my beading tray is that version of my baby spike bracelet, but this time I'll take photos and do it as a tutorial. I'll probably offer it for free on Beading Daily, since my tutorials don't seem to sell very well. (Or maybe I just need to do more of them!)

A clear, cold, beautiful autumn day today, just ripe for writing and beading. Had some wonderful thoughts about art today as I was sitting here perusing Facebook and checking in on my Artist's Way for Beaders group, so I'll get to those in a bit...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Autumn

I realized that it was autumn today. When I closed the back of the Matrix before I headed out to run errands, I noticed that Tom's mom had sent home the swimsuits and Colden's floaties. That must mean that the pool is closed up for the winter, which means that now, no matter the calendar says, is the official start of autumn.

I wish I had a picture to show you of the way that the sky and the mountains looked as I drove into Wilmington, but I can tell you:

The clouds were gathering around Whiteface Mountain, making the sky a pearly white and grey. The leaves on the trees are starting to change now, too. Not terribly bright, though. The colors look much more muted than they have in years past, probably because of this drought we've had all year.

I wish I could describe it better: the rolling mountains covered in a green, red, yellow, and gold carpet in the background; the expanse of open fields and wetlands up against the edge of the forest with their yellowing grasses and shallow ponds; and the smell of the air as the seasons change, gently, so subtly that I won't even notice how I have to start wearing my wool socks to bed at night until we're well into November.

Some people think that warm summers make this place come alive, but really, its the autumn that makes me feel alive. A cool breeze caressing my arm is a reminder that we need to get ready for winter. Because, really, we spend all year getting ready for winter - cutting and stacking fire wood for the wood stove, growing the gardens and then harvesting and canning.

We take advantage of the nicer weather as an excuse to put off the mundane household chores - the dirty floors will still be there tomorrow. But really, we're spending as much time getting ready for the snow as we are enjoying the warm sun.

As I drove into Wilmington, I was thinking that I live here because of the beauty and the isolation and the peace. At first, I was thinking that life here was harder than it is in other places, but then I thought that I was wrong. It's not that life is more difficult here than in other places - we have the same issues with unemployment and economy and all the other things that go along with life.

I don't know if it's because we're surrounded with what other people might consider "nothing", but there's a sense of independence here that I haven't felt in other places. There's less of a "rat race" feel, even in the big cities of Plattsburgh, Burlington, and Albany.

I  know some city dwellers and some other folks who live in the suburbs and work in the city. I just don't know if I could do that anymore. There's something about the solitude and the quiet up here, of being able to look out my window and see nothing but mountains. I can't imagine living anywhere else.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award!

Well, after a frustrating day spent mostly in bed due to tummy troubles, I opened my email at the end of the day and found a lovely note from Bobbie at Beadsong Jewelry who was passing on her good karma at being nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award. She nominated my blog for the award!

In return for the award, I'm asked to do the following:

1. Thank the nominator and link back to them in the post.
2. Share 7 random facts about myself.
3. Nominate 15 (or so) bloggers that I admire. (This might be a long post, folks! Grab a cup of something to drink and a snack!)
4. Contact them to let them know that they've been nominated.

So, a few random things about myself:

1. I spent many years working as a veterinary technician, and then as a compounding pharmacy technician. For a while, I thought I was going to go to veterinary school, but I was totally intimidated by the cost of 8+ years of college and and the idea of having to take out over $100k in loans to finance it. Although I loved working as a compounding pharmacy technician, making prescription medication to doctors' specific orders, I never had the desire to become a pharmacist.

2. I started college as a music major, concentrating on piano. The idea was that I was going to study music therapy. I'd only been playing piano seriously for about two years when I was accepted, and I was never really comfortable performing with some of the heavy-hitters in my music theory classes. I always felt that they were way more talented than I, and so I dropped music therapy and dropped out of college for a while.

3. There are certain movies and television shows that I can recite by heart. A Fish Called Wanda is one, as is pretty much every episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Other movies include French Kiss (with Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan), History of the World Part I, High Anxiety, The Muppet Movie, and pretty much every episode of Andy Richter Controls the Universe. Sometimes, when I can't sleep at night, I run through these in my mind as a way of relaxing and getting to sleep.

4. I am a total Harry Potter freak. I own all of the books in first edition hardcovers, complete with dust jackets, and I attended every midnight release party except for the last. When the last book came out, I was pregnant with Colden and incredibly sick. I couldn't get to Plattsburgh to the Borders to pick up my reserved copy because I was so sick that night. But the next day, I gulped down my horrible anti-nausea meds, got into the car with Tom, and hobbled into Borders to get my copy. I stayed awake that night until 2 a.m. and finished it, even though I was sick as a dog the next day.

5. I didn't learn how to cook (properly) until I stopped eating meat. I don't know why it happened that way, but once I went vegetarian, I suddenly discovered that I LOVED to cook. Before that, I had subsisted on things like boxed pasta dishes, steamed vegetables, sauteed chicken breast, and green salad. As you might know from this blog, I enjoy spending a great deal of time in the kitchen and would love to write and publish a cookbook one day for gluten-free vegetarians!

6. Despite the fact that I love movies and certain t.v. shows, I gave up watching t.v. when Tom and I moved into our apartment in Lake Placid back in 2000. We didn't get any television reception there in that big bowl in the center of the High Peaks, and since Tom wasn't making much money and I was a full-time student, we just gave it up because we couldn't see spending the money on cable. I truthfully don't miss it and sort of enjoy being bewildered when I see celebrity photos online and wonder, "Now, who the hell is THAT?"

7. The first time I drove a four-wheeler during an ice fishing trip, I was convinced that I was going to break through the ice and drown. Our friend Tim wanted me to be "Bait Girl" one afternoon, so whenever someone was out checking the lines after the flags went up, they would signal to me, and I would hop on the four wheeler with the bait bucket between my knees and drive across the ice to wherever I was needed. It was a lot like the summer I worked at the Bergen County Zoo and drove the little Cushman around, but with the added adventure of driving over ice as it popped and cracked in the dead of the Adirondack winter.

8. And one more, just because this one is really good: I am terrified of worms. I can't stand them. If I see them in the soil while we're working in the gardens, I run. When the warm spring rains comes and the worms all come out and take up residence on our huge driveway, Tom will have to park right up next to the back door so that I can make it out of the car and onto the back stoop without having to risk squishing one of those fatties with my shoe. 

And now, for some bloggers that I admire, I present to you:

1. Kerrie Slade. Kerrie is a beader from the UK who does some absolutely fantabulous stuff with beaded flowers. Not the kind made with wire, but stitches with needle and thread. I've admired her beaded flower creations for years, both bold and delicate, and have followed her journey this year as she has set out to create using a single color palette.

2. MADDesigns (Marcia DeCoster). Marcia was one of my original inspirations for starting my own blog. She just made it look so EASY and interesting! She was also someone who contacted me after my first cover of Beadwork magazine back in 2007, and I so admire her talent and her business acumen! Her blog is highly engaging and full of absolutely amazing eye candy.

The stunning beadwork of Nancy Dale
3. NED Beads (Nancy Dale). Nancy Dale is a beader that I've "met" through Facebook. Her work just always leaves me shaking my head, thinking, "How does she COME UP with this stuff?" Her bead embroidery is flawless, as far as I can tell, and her designs for off-loom bead-weaving are both innovative and graceful. Even though Nancy is my "neighbor" from Vermont, I have yet to meet her in person. (Although I hope to make a road trip to New Hampshire one day soon to get to meet her in real life!)

4. Peter Sewell. Sadly, my nomination for Peter Sewell's blog, The BeadSage, has to be a posthumous one. Peter lost his life to cancer earlier this year, but he was such an inspiration to me. He created structurally amazing beadwork using Swarovski beads and stones as well as gemstone cabochons and beads, and his work could easily be described as "breathtaking". He proclaimed himself to be something of a curmudgeon, but we all knew better. He had a wicked sense of humor and great taste in music, and he is sorely missed by the beading community.

5. Pretty Things (Lori Anderson). Another bead blogger who inspires me on a daily basis, Lori Anderson is the brains behind the Bead Soup Blog Party, and one pretty darn talented lampwork and jewelry making artist. Her blog is full of life and love and great ideas, and her recently published eBook, Follow the Path, is a favorite resource of mine for when I get stuck and need something to blog about.

6. SandFibers (Carol Dean Sharpe). No list of my favorite blogs would be complete without including Carol Dean Sharpe. She's my hero, standing up to the copyright thieves of the world while single-handedly creating astounding charted peyote stitch patterns. Even though I've never met her in real life, Carol has talked me through some of the toughest times of my life in the last few years. She's sweet, and wonderful, and probably one of the best people I've ever come across online.

Beaded earrings by SaraBeth Cullinan
7. SaraBeth's Belly Dancing Bead Blog (SaraBeth Cullinan). Belly dancing and beading - what's not to love? I can't remember the first time I ever had contact with SaraBeth, but it was probably when I was writing for About.com. I love her sense of color, her sense of style, and the fact that she's a work-at-home mom . Her beadwork graces the pages of Margie Deeb's color reports, as well as the pages of Beadwork magazine.

8. The Beaded Carpet (Mikki Ferrugiaro). Mikki is another one of those bead artists who just make me wonder how the heck she comes up with her designs. I first saw her work in the pages of Beadwork magazine, and she has gone on to create some really knock-your-socks-off beading designs. Mikki's blog is on hiatus right now as she moves to a new state and gets set up in a real studio, but enjoy her posts meanwhile!

9. Tapestry Beads (Jill Wiseman). Jill makes me giggle. Seriously. The first time I met her was at Bead Fest Philly back in 2009, and I had such a great time chatting with her. We stayed in touch via Facebook, and then I finally got to see her again last month at Bead Fest Philly again! Jill writes a great blog, is a great person, and just has a knack for making me laugh so hard that I snort water or hot chocolate out my nose. She's also the author of the recently released and incredibly amazing Beautiful Beaded Ropes book, published by Lark. Check out her blog. It's fun.

10. The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton. Andrew is an insightful, thoughtful, and extremely talented artist who creates jewelry and handmade beads and components. His blog is a beautiful collage of both the personal and professional.

11. Beaded Bear's Nonsense and Complete Waste of Time (Sig Wynne-Evans). Okay, so this blog is definitely NOT for the faint of heart. Sig is a fabulously talented beading designer who also calls it like she sees it. This is one blog that makes me laugh out loud when I read it, regardless of where I am. Whether you're reading about her adventures at work, with her daughter and son-in-law, or on her latest quest to get fit and lose weight, Sig will have you coming back for more!

12. The Mommy Chronicles. Now, I know that this last one isn't a beading blog, but it's a blog by a friend of mine that I've known since middle school, and I love it. Melanie is a thoughtful parent trying to raise a thoughtful little girl. And that's it! Melanie lives her life with compassion, and I greatly admire her for this. It's a good blog.

So, there ya have it! Twelve bloggers that I admire, and thanks again to Bobbie for nominating me for this wonderful award!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Structure

Sometimes, you just have to set aside things like housecleaning and dishes and laundry, pick up your beads, and just CREATE.

That's the kind of mood I was in over the weekend. We had loads of housekeeping to do, but we were all still sick with this crud that Colden brought home, and really, after wiping boogers and administering cough medicine all week, the last thing that any of us wanted to do was break out the mops and the vacuum.

On top of that, I was eager to play with my new Bead On It board and try out an idea I had as I was falling asleep one night during the week.

The carved pendant was part of a purchase I made from Nancy Vogel's Etsy shop, FamilyOnBikes. It's an antique Chinese carving, very heavy, and very challenging for me to use in a piece of bead-weaving.

In her description of the piece, Nancy talked about how this was one of her finds from the Jade Market in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. She purchased it from the Chinese antique dealers that hung out towards the back of the market, where, as she puts it, the magic happened.

I stitched a right-angle weave bezel for the ginormous Swarovski crystal that I got from Beyond Beadery back in June, and then made a herringbone rope in matching seed beads. I put a piece of wire through the hole of the pendant with double-wrapped loops on either end. (I'll embellish those loops with drop beads later.)

The real challenge came when I was trying to figure out how to attach the pendant to the as-of-yet-theoretical neck strap. I have such a hard time designing the neck straps of my necklaces. I can design a focal, no problem. But the straps? Forget it. I get a creative brain freeze, and not in a good way, either.

What I finally wound up doing was going back through my old sketch books, and I found a piece that I had drawn out last winter that used three beaded ropes to support a centerpiece made up of three art beads. I haven't gotten around to picking out my art beads yet, but I can use that same basic structure to support this very heavy pendant!

Now, I just need to either find some brass end caps or cones to finish off the ropes, or get off my lazy beading butt and stitch some peyote caps/covers for the ends of the ropes. I get the feeling that I'll be doing a lot of peyote stitching over the next couple of days...