Saturday, June 4, 2022

Scotland: Iona

It has been awhile, a long while, since I wrote anything on my blog. I can't say exactly why since I have loved meeting and getting to know all the many people in the blogosphere. I kept telling myself that I'll feel like blogging again ... someday. But the mood just never did strike.

Occasionally I'll pop over to some of my favorite blogs to see what people are up to and to, hopefully, find a little inspiration to pull out my beads and create. Then it hit me. I was over on Sj Designs blog and saw this dreamy picture of Iona an island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Earlier that day I had been laying out a plan for a trip to Scotland that combined castles, islands and the highlands. Now I had to join in on her challenge to create something with these blues.

I actually ended up making six pairs of earrings, but thought I'd post the blue ones today. My daughter seems to have claimed the lace blue agate pair (right), and they are fun with a lot of swing to them. 

She's been talking about piercing her ears, so maybe she has a bit of incentive now. I've been enjoying the labradorite teardrops (left). They are light, easy to wear and just a bit of fun for all the zoom calls that take up my day now.

I made one other pair that are long, elegant aqua crystals. I did try those out as well, but they might be a bit more 'evening' and too much bling for my zoom calls.

So, back to Iona. The island's history goes back to the Iron Age with the word Iona meaning island in Gaelic, but it has had many names over the centuries. The island is said to be the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland and is considered a holy place. St Columba and 12 companions went to Iona from Ireland in 563 AD where they built a Celtic church and established a monastery. The monastic community is one of the most important and influential in the British Isles. Today, this tiny island, which is 1.5 miles wide and 3 miles long, has a a population of 170 people. While there may not be a lot of 'things' to do around Iona, just look at that view. Do you need more?

Friday, December 13, 2019

Around the World in 14 Days

I confess, I was prompted to write a post today after stopping off at a blog I follow, She Who Seeks. Looking at her lights on palm trees reminded me of how I spent my summer vacation ... no, no, not that way. It's about the trees people.

I was in Singapore this summer where there is a huge outdoor garden with structures called 'Supertrees' that they light up each night with a show. Ok, yes that is like Debra's post. These Supertrees are vertical gardens that generate solar power and act as air vents for the nearby biomes ... so they let off steam. Yes, again like Debra's post. But in all seriousness, the real story here is along the lines of what Greta Thunberg has been urging the UN about lately. How cool that she is Time Magazine's Person of the Year? This 16 year old already has her own Wiki page to explain her activism on climate change. You go girl! 

Singapore was the last international stop for me before heading back to NY. I started in São Paulo. As we were nearing the airport I looked out my window to see mountains coming in and out of the cloud layer. It was stunning. Bright sunlight above the clouds and deep green below; gorgeous intrigue as you fly in. We were only there for 2 days, and then we were on to our next destination. We did get a night out at a great local restaurant I would recommend for anyone visiting called Tordesilhas Cozinha Brasileira. The food was amazing, which was also paired with the typical Brazilian Cachaca (a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice) which is a must try. But not too many! It is a wicked hangover.

On to the next stop, London. I've been back and forth to London several times in the past few months as you can see on my Instagram. I had to laugh when I saw the sign 'you've arrived' as London seems to have become my home away from home this year. We were in London just 2 days, stuck in conference rooms. And after our final meeting the team I was traveling with ran back to the hotel, grabbed suitcases from the front desk, literally changed in the downstairs lobby and ran for the airport. You get to know people on a trip like this. 

Anyway, on to the next city. Each time we got on a plane the flight seemed to just keep getting longer. Nine hours to Brazil, 12 hours to London, then 13 hours to Singapore. When we arrived in Singapore we were stopped at customs. Seriously? There were questions back and forth between English, and then I think Chinese to another border guard. Then back to English asking how long we were in Brazil? How many days ago were we in Brazil? And did we get a yellow fever shot before entering Brazil? Wait, what? I'm now having visions of getting hauled off to some back room and meeting up with a masked guard holding a syringe. I explain that I'm traveling as a group who have literally gone from airport to conference room to airport. There has been no jungle hiking, and extremely low change of contacting yellow fever, oh and it's been 6 days since we were in Brazil (apparently 7 days would have been a better answer). More discussion in Chinese. And finally yes, we are waved through. 

Fairly exhausted from flight and customs, I was happy to finally get a weekend off. I should have gone straight to bed. In fact one of our team members did and we didn't hear from them for 18 hours. We thought she was out exploring on her own, but found out she'd slept her way through the weekend. Wow, just wow. Never done that before. Anyway, I took my weekend to explore a bit. The last time I was in Singapore was 20 years ago and a lot has changed. I set off to the Garden by the Bay to see the Supertrees which was a 10 min walk from the hotel, and my god it was humid. By the time I walked the garden and got back to the hotel all I could think about was stripping down and getting in to a stone cold shower. I seriously have no idea how people live in climates like this. The flight home was 18 hours, literally the longest flight available. That kind of travel messes you up. The silver lining was discovering the joys of Melatonin ... they sell some of the highest doses in Singapore. Which I brought home with me. 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Camp Life

This past year has been a blur. My day job has had me working around the clock most days, and for months on end. I finally got just a sliver of time to myself and I literally jumped off the grid with both feet.

At the beginning of August, I had just arrived home (late) from yet another long flight, and gave myself about a day to unpack it all and then turn around and pack only a few essentials for camp. I stuffed two bags full of beads, threw clothes in a duffel and grabbed some wine. Truly, that is all a girl needs for 2 weeks away. I was home for a day, but itching to get on the road and off the grid.

I walked in to our camp, did a quick 'broom sweep' just in time for my beading friend Christine to arrive. I was looking forward to a few days of beading on the screened in porch, some cheese, some wine and the quiet (with the exception of the birds and lapping water). Of course there was plenty of chatter with Christine, which just feels like home to me. Pure bliss after months on the road.

Christine stayed for only a few short days, and then I was beading solo. I shifted from simple cabochons (like the one above with a pretty little thulite stone) to a series of beaded collars. I have a pile of bead patterns I've been meaning to get to, and I finally had the chunk of time needed to dig in. I started with this sparkly one (left) using antique Turkish beads I got from a friend years ago. They have been sitting around my studio for such a long time that I figured it was time to pull them out. Then I switched to a pattern that would highlight these gold leaves (right). I can't decide if this looks Native American or Egyptian? It just felt good to have the weight of beads working in my hands again. It relaxes me beyond words. The photos aren't great, apologies. They are pictures inside the camp, which is dark. But hey, at least I did a blog post which is more than I've done since the first of the year.

I started one last project while at the camp, but didn't finish until I got home. It is an ultra soft cuff in a creamy off white with just a touch of thin leather. It started out as a choker, but the beads were so irregular that I had to do too much hunting and sorting to find normal sizes that I just couldn't deal with making this any longer than it is. C'est la vie.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Insta Blog :: New Mexico

I'm trying to figure out the balance between my love of blogging and my new favorite form of connecting online; Instagram. I do love being able to just post a picture, and walk away. But it has become more than that as the pictures become sort of an art form for me. But what I miss is the story telling that comes with a blog post. So I'm going to try out something a little different. I'm going to try picking a few of my Instagram posts for a bit more story telling. 

I was able to get a bit of beading done over the holiday (you saw my latest RBG necklace), which I finish one or two and have several in progress. It does give me a bit of anxiety having 'in progress' pieces knowing how quickly I will get pulled under once I'm back in the office. 

Anyway, for this 'in progress' piece, I pulled out a double cab set of azurite I picked up in Old Town Albuquerque from one of the many places specializing in Native American jewelry. They had a huge case of loose stones way in the back of the store. Like any self-respecting beader ... I headed straight to the back to dig. That pile of stones had me wanting to walk out with several bags, but I did show some restraint as I 'only' bought about 10 cabs. I brought in my reinforcement and had my daughter help me narrow things down.

Azurite has the look of turquoise, but for a much more affordable cost. It has intense, deep blue-green coloring and plenty of veining. So if you're in to that ... then azurite might be your stone. I prefer the veining, or inclusions, as it makes for much more interesting patterns in the stone. One thing I didn't know about azurite is that is slowly weathers to malachite (one of my all-time favorite stones). Apparently the elements, and particularly light, 'greens' the deep blue. Huh, that's cool. They say you should store azurite jewelry in darkness (a box, a drawer) away from heat. Perhaps that is why the case of azurite was in the back of the store? 

This one is still on the bead table as I decide exactly how I want to connect the stones and finish off the back strap. But it is at least some progress in a fairly long drought of beading.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Female Voices :: Women in Journalism

This Fall I attended an event for work where they were honoring female journalists from around the world. I was so impressed by these women and their ability to share with the world a truth that many governments do not want shown.

While the big draw was to promote a lifetime achievement award for Lesley Stahl, I have to say I was much more interested in hearing about some of the other women, such as Zehra Dogan, a Kurdish journalist. Zehra founded a feminist Kurdish news site called JINHA where she reported a series of articles about Yazidi women making their escape from ISIS captivity. I can't share the links as the site appears to have been taken down. Zehra is also a painter, and it was her art that landed her in jail by the Turkish government in July of 2016. The painting depicted a photograph (widely circulated on the internet) of a Turkish city bombed during a battle with Kurdish militants. What the government seemed to take issue with is her painting Turkish flags on buildings, which had been included in the photo.

What is so astounding about Zehra is her persistence to find, and tell the world the truth. From her jail cell, she founded yet another newspaper where she is reporting about the women political prisoners and human rights abuses in prison. She also continues to paint, even though the administration refuses to supply her with painting materials. She instead creates her own paint from food, drinks and menstrual blood and makes brushes from the feathers of birds that fall into the prison. Zehra's courage has inspired others to tell her story. A local New York mural in lower Manhattan, by Banksy, shows Zehra behind bars and counting days imprisoned. In the lower right are the words "Free Zehra Dogan." 

I attended the event with my daughter, who is studying communications and human rights in college. I was inspired to see how she took it all in, and encouraged that she is the next generation of female voices in the world.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Female Voices :: Ruth Bader Ginsberg

I've been absent for some time from the blogosphere, and for no better excuse than simply life taking up my time in other ways. Funny how Instagram has taken over as my typical way to stay in touch with people. It is so easy to snap a quick picture, add a few words (not even a full sentence), post and be on my way. So if you follow me on Instagram you know that there have been travels and the occasional beading project

Lately, I've had a lot on my mind about people who seem to be a beacon in the world for good. People who's voice is heard above the divisive rhetoric. During the mid-term election cycle, I heard the push from female voices. In social media, in reporting, through documentaries and in my everyday work environment. It was loud. What I kept thinking was that women are not asking to be in charge; just that they want to be heard and to feel that they are equal. What is it about winning? Does there need to be either a winner or loser? 

I recently saw the Ruth Bader Ginsberg, RBG documentaryIf you have not yet seen RBG, then do. It is both inspiring and refreshing to hear the force that is Ruth. "I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask from our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks." Well said, Ruth. A recent speech at Georgetown University, Ruth said she is inspired by the #MeToo movement and that, "women nowadays are not silent about bad behavior." She has such measured responses, and speaks with such strength. People stop and listen when Ruth has something to say. She is absolutely on my list of people I wish I could meet.

So while I was watching the RBG documentary, I was working on a beading project. Lately, I've wanted to feel something substantial in my hands while I bead, and so I've started to bead collars. Not sure exactly why, but I do love the way the beads feel in my hands as I work the project. And then I noticed that Ruth wears these, and that she has quite a collection of collars. I was thinking that I should call these my RBG series. What do you think; would Ruth wear one of mine?

Sunday, June 17, 2018


So what do you do with all those left over corks? I'd like to say that we did not drink all those bottles. But in fact we did. In fairness it was over time, but do I have to tell you over how much time? Let's not.

I have to say I never really liked wine before my late 20s, but that is likely because my exposure to it was Pinot Grigio. It has a sharp, grassy flavor and frankly just doesn't do it for me. If I'm being totally honest I recall jello shots being fairly high on my list. Clearly I did not have a very sophisticated palate at that point.

When I met my husband I was living in San Francisco. We both had roommates and we got used to getting out of the house on the weekend to find alone time together. We would drive down the California Coast for the day, perhaps a little exploring through one of the San Francisco neighborhoods, or head up to wine country. I like to joke that we dated our way through wine country, but I'm really only half joking. 

I still don't like Pinot Grigio; however, a nice crisp New Zealand Chenin Blanc is lovely on a hot summer's day. But I must confess that my favorite is a deep, buttery Chardonnay from Carneros. The day we got married we eloped to wine country. We drove up to our favorite winery, Clos du Bois, for a quick tasting then over to a B&B to meet the justice of the peace. Priorities.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day

If you haven't been online lately, or just not noticing that there are new regulations on privacy popping up all over the place ... well then you might not know about the new GDPR rules Europe has just rolled out. I did get a notice from Blogger (who's parent company is Google) stating that I must make people aware of these rules in order to blog. The thing is ... I don't have advertising on my site? I blog for my own pleasure, and if you all want to read my rambles, then enjoy.

So let's get to it shall we. Memorial day always makes me think of my Dad. My parents lived on military bases for roughly 10 years from Texas, to Nebraska to Florida. Both my brothers were born on the Lincoln Nebraska Airforce base, and this picture is of my older brother. 

I remember lots of stories from my dad about flying, in harrowing situations. One that particularly stands out in my mind is one where dad was flying in a hurricane and was literally in the eye where it was calm, but impossible to maintain altitude. So he had to push into the storm in order to stay in flight. I cannot even imagine the nerve it takes to do that.

My dad was always strict growing up, but not necessarily mean. He had a low tolerance for laziness, and people who did not roll up their sleeves and pitch in. There was no sleeping in, at least never past 8am ... ever. When dinner was being made, you got up and helped, and when dinner was over you picked up and did dishes ... even if you were not yet tall enough to reach the sink. You simply pulled a chair over and climbed up.

I remember this picture of dad taking a short nap on the base in McAllen Texas where he went to flight school. I asked dad about it, and he responded with a story. He told me how exhausting flight school was physically. And that the temperature was somewhere around 115 degrees, the flight suit was crazy hot, and then he'd climb into the cockpit of the plane where the temperature would be another +10-15 degrees. He said that running around in the heat was physically draining.

I did not grow up in an age where 'everyone gets a trophy.' If you received recognition you earned it. There are days when I wonder where the hell that work ethic has gone? 

As I said above ... if you are interested in reading my rambles, then please do and visit often. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

My Spirit Animal :: The Chicken

Drinking with Chickens
I have no idea where this particular post is going, but it has been too long since I wrote a post. So let's just roll with it for now. 

After a particularly grueling week at the office I hit the pillow hard last night looking forward to my weekly, single day that I can sleep without setting an alarm. Deep into a REM cycle my dreams suddenly took a turn for the worst with the deafening sound of chain saws coming at me from all directions. I know, I see that puzzled look on your face at this point .... as if where the #$!! is she she going with this story. But that is the exact look on my face when I realized the sound was outside my window. I had completely forgotten that my husband had scheduled the 'tree guys' for first thing Saturday morning to remove a rather large, and very old tree from the yard.

You see in that last big winter storm, at the beginning of March when the snow was so heavy, the snow pulled at the limbs of my magnolia tree and literally split it in two. Kinda like a banana if we're being honest here. Luckily the tree fell to the ground around the house instead of into one of the upstairs bedrooms. So we had that going for us. Clearly we had put off dealing with the clean up for a few weeks, saying to ourselves that perhaps we'll see one last bloom this year. 

It is lying on the ground attempting to bloom, but I'm afraid it just isn't going to give us that show this year.  I posted a glorious picture of it in full bloom last year, and it appears that it will be the tree's swan song. 

So back to chickens. These past few months have been a blur of intense time in the office, with a few periods of travel. Some for work, some for .... well chickens. We were in Bermuda in February and much to my surprise there were birds absolutely everywhere, but not tropical birds, but .. say it with me ... chickens. And a few ducks. They were on the grounds of museums, nesting in the old beautiful abandoned church grounds and well pretty much everywhere. We were woken up every day to the crowing. Honestly, someone should put that in the travel guides that there isn't a need to pack an alarm clock as it is built in to the fauna.

Two weeks ago you might have noticed posts on my Instagram feed from New Mexico. Lots of exploration on that trip with native cultures and spirit animals. I managed to find probably the most concentrated amount of beads stores EVER in my travels. Typically I'm googling like a crazy person for any trace of beads, or something that represents the local culture .... in the form of a bead. But in New Mexico I was literally stumbling on bead stores. I mean seriously. bliss. I did buy handfuls of locally carved stone beads in the form of spirit animals and arrow heads. But we'll save that for a later post.

Unfinished Church St. George, Bermuda
Now if you are still with me at this point, and you know how I post, you've got to be thinking how in the #$!! is she going to tie this all together? So back to the my grueling week, and complete disruption to my morning. I could not think straight until I had some caffeine in hand. I sit down and mindlessly scroll through my facebook feed and stumble on Schnitzel, a "chicken who is under the firm impression that she is a person." She apparently enjoys a nip of red wine with her humans. Perhaps this could be my spirit animal, I say to myself with a snort. 

Ok, now all of you who know me, know exactly what comes next. I set off for a complete list of spirit animals to find out if indeed this could be mine. All the while I'm thinking ... no way chicken is on that list. But here we are, an hour later, writing a post. Indeed chicken is on that list, well at least according to this blog that appears to be the (self proclaimed) expert on all things spirit animal and totem related. Also in the pursuit of my chicken hunt I find a blog called Drinking with Chickens. I mean what is not to love about that title. If you'd like a giggle, do have a read on the story behind this blog. 

So what is the angle on a 'spirit chicken' you may ask? Well, 'if a chicken has come to you in your dreams ...'  Clearly, you had me at hello. When there is a strong noise outside it tends to weave its way into my dreams. Remember those chickens in Bermuda? Well those chicken dreams might mean that you are responding to something in your waking life out of fear and backing down when you should be standing up for yourself. It could also mean that there is chatter and gossip in your life and you should be questioning if you are listening well enough to people to really hear what they are saying. huh. Perhaps some reflection back on my week as I finish my second cup of tea. Might be time to join Schnitzel for a little nip. It is past noon at this point.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Take Two :: Menat Necklace

I don't know what it is about this necklace that makes me want to keep beading more, but it seems to have that effect on me. 

I did a Menat style necklace a few months back, and when I found some gorgeous piccaso blue drops I knew I had to make another one of these necklaces. This Etsy shop is actually in the Czech Republic, and had such a great stash of Czech beads. Weird question. If this shop is in Prague, does that mean that any beads it sells is by definition Czech beads?

A few people asked if I would have my lovely model pose for a picture in the necklace. So without further ado, as requested she is modeling my latest necklace. 

This is a slightly different pattern from the first necklace - it is a bit shorter, and beads up faster. Not a bad thing. However, when I finished the necklace I just didn't like the alternating bead color along the bottom ... it needed more dark blue drops. So I went back through the edging and added more. I like the alternating depth of the edge; it gives it so much more character. 

The other thing I added was a thin grey leather cord along the top. The beads were a little wonky at the top edge, but the leather gives it a nice finished along the neckline. As fancy as this beading is, and could certainly be worn with a simple black dress, I actually prefer this dressed down look tucked in to a denim shirt. It gives it such a nice boho vibe.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Blog Update

Just a quick note to let you all know how much I enjoy all your comments, and found a treasure of them in my 'moderation' setting this morning. I have no idea why my blog has decided to turn this function on? Why exactly Blogger does anything is beyond me. But it was wonderful to grab a cup of tea and hear from you all. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Hunting the Beaded Medallion

Mom at Crater Lake 1954 (yes, before I was born!)
Moccasin Necklace
When I was a girl I took a trip to Crater Lake with my Grandma, mom and sister. I still remember that deep blue of the lake and the island that sits out in the middle. It is beautiful, and I'd never seen anything like it before. I was in awe and remember the trip to this day. Crater Lake is the deepest in the US and formed somewhere around 4680 BC when Mt Mazama in the Cascade range blew its top. The plumes are thought to have been some 30 miles high and the wind carried ash to Southern Canada. There are no water tributaries in or out of the lake, which makes the water some of the most pristine which preserve its clear aquamarine color.

Rim of Crater Lake
On our way out of the park, we stopped by the gift shop and my Grandma let my sister and I pick one item. We both decided to pick beaded necklaces, as did my mom. My sister picked one of an Indian doll, mine was a pair of moccasins and my mom's was a beaded medallion. My sister's necklace and mine are long gone. We wore them until they fell apart. But years ago my mom gave me her medallion necklace. Which I tucked away in a box, until a few years ago when I rediscovered it. I put it out on the bead table and proceeded to push it around the table for years thinking I would try to recreate the pattern. I finally did this past week and have been playing with the colors. I wanted to keep the stitching and the pattern true, which any of you who know me, know that I am really, really bad with following directions when I bead. But this one needed to be the same.

Mom's necklace on the right
I started my initial research on the origin of the medallion with the Klamath Indian tribe since Crater Lake is a sacred site for them. Their legend goes back to the origin of the lake and the spirit, Chief Llao, that they believed lived within Mt Mazama. The story tells of a battle between Llao, the Chief of the underworld, and Skell, the Chief of the world above. Skell had been called on by the local Klamath tribe to defend the Chief's beautiful daughter, Loha. Llao had seen Loha and fallen in love with her, but when she rejected him he threatened to destroy the tribe with the curse of fire. The tribe escaped to Mt Shasta and prayed to Skell to help fight Llao.

A horrific battle ensued with the gods hurling red hot rocks back and forth between Mt Shasta and Mt Mazama. A terrible darkness spread over the area for days, and in an attempt to calm the gods two medicine men offered themselves as a sacrifice and jumped into the spewing volcano of Mt Mazama. Skell was impressed and sent a final blow that collapsed the top of Mt Mazama pushing Llao deep within imprisoning him forever. Explorers are able to identify the existence of the Klamath tribe during the explosion as dozens of sandals were discovered under the ash thought to be from the explosion of Mt Mazama. The lake became a place to seek visions but only by those with considerable powers, like shaman and chiefs. Spirit quests would often take place at night with the seeker swimming underwater to encounter the spirits lurking in the depths of the lake.

There is so much symbolism in Native design that I didn't want to screw around with that. The first thing I did was look for the symbol, but mistakenly I thought that the pattern was a flower. The more I looked for it, the more I realized that the pattern was a star and that it was a prevalent symbol for many tribes. I found the pattern in designs for the Cherokee, Sioux and the Mochilla tribes, but then I found its perfect match; Apache. The pattern was the exact same stitching and bead count in this link from Missouri State University. It noted that there are four key identifiers for interpreting Native American beaded rosettes. In order of importance start with the symbol. The circular design depict protective spirits such as the four directions. The symbols can tell stories about the person's ancestry or the spirits that are important to the family.

Next in importance are the colors and typically provide the key to the tribe origin. For example the Lakota use black to represent the west wind, autumn and the dream world while red means the sunrise, birth and the east wind. Looking at my pattern it seems I used the Lakota colors. So I did apparently screw around with the significance of the original design. Sigh. I apparently just do not seem to be able to color within the lines. So I stopped trying and decided to finish each medallion in my own way.

The third identifier is the repetition of the pattern. Typically a pattern repeats in sets of four, seven or twelve which refer to the directions of specific spirits. Well at least here I had followed the repetition in the pattern using nine points to the star rosette. The last identifier is whether the design is something that can be described as personal or if it is significant to the tribe. 

Even with all these indicators to help trace the origin of the design it has over time become less reliable with the tribes intermixing and exchanging ideas. Perhaps that is why I found an Apache design at the site of the most sacred place of the Klamath.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Chop

Something that I've been putting off for a long time now is cleaning out my beading. I have beads everywhere and when I go looking for something I swear I know I have but can't find ... I give up and go buy more. A hardship, I know.

But enough is enough; it is time to clean. Cleaning has involved several types of activities, everything from sorting through UFOs (unfinished objects), to jewelry that has been sitting around waiting to sell for years (and I mean years) to beads I can't be bothered with because they are all mixed up. Literally they are tins of bead mixes. When I first started beading I was experimenting with color and I just kept mixing the beads to see what colors and bead sizes would go together.

I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20+ of these mixed tins, which at this point they just sit there on the shelf. And that is because when I go looking for colors to bead with I absolutely never even consider sifting through these mixes anymore. So in an effort to clean out my beads and rediscover what I actually have in the stash these mixes have hit the bead table. I have been sorting beads for weeks now, and I am only roughly half way through these tins. Each one of the tins take anywhere from 3-5 hours to sort. (sigh)  

Today I decided to take a break from bead sorting and sift through all the unsold jewelry. I was rattling around in all the cupboards going through boxes of jewelry. At one point the hubby cautiously poked his head in asking what the !#@) the noise was about. Without turning around I casually say, "its stuff heading for the chop." I didn't even have to turn around to see that confused look on his face. 

I've been trying to decide what might sell over at one of my shops, and then taking the time to either relist the item, or list it for the first time. Seriously. I have pieces that have been hanging around waiting to list for a long, long time. These are pieces I made years ago, but either just don't like them or they never sold. So there is nothing left to do but chop them up and reuse the beads. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Coming up for air

Lately, things have been a bit busy at my pesky day job, to the point where the only break I've had since the beginning of July was a few days up at our camp with some of my beady friends in early August. Other than these days I've worked non-stop (nights and weekends) for what seems like an eternity. Now you all know why I've been M.I.A. in the blogosphere lately.

All that said, my handful of days up at the camp were bliss. Christine and Amy joined me for a few days of beading, hiking, drinking some wine, birding, did I say beading? There was lot of that, which was fantastic. There was the usual bead swapping, pattern sharing a bit of tutorials and teaching. It is exactly as a bead retreat should be. It was made better by being able to bead out on the screened porch and bead to the sound of the birds and the water.

Amy brought a book of patterns she had organized for Christine and me, which included a tutorial on a bangle pattern she has designed. We all tried the pattern, then Christine did an extra for good luck. The pattern is gorgeous and the beads Amy chose gave the best sparkle to this bracelet.

There was also some birding going on. Both Christine and Amy are experienced 'birders' which I can't say I understood much of that discussion! But I did enjoy the hike looking for a few of the local birds up at the camp. We caught the Chief Birder (Amy) birding and taking pictures at the end of the lake where many of them nest. She is an experienced photographer who takes the most amazing close ups of birds! No idea how she catches them in her photos but it always takes my breath away when I see them. Seriously look at these of a snowy owl on the beach. How does she get these pics?

Hard to believe that we're heading into Fall, and somehow I seemed to have missed most of my summer. We're talking about getting another retreat set up, which I can't wait to escape again with my beady friends. Soon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Chicago :: The Cultural Mile

The Bowman
Buckingham Fountain
I've been to Chicago more times than I can count. I have always enjoyed my trips to this city, but nothing ever really tugged at me to visit on my own dime.

Oh, don't get me wrong. Miracle Mile is lovely, but honestly it is a sort of a 'mini me' to NYC. Ok, ok ... I hear you all out there shouting at me. But seriously, if I wanted to do some high-end shopping, New York will do. I'm not exactly sure why I always thought that this little section of Michigan Ave was the extent of 'downtown' Chicago, but boy was I wrong. Really, really wrong. 

Yes, and now I hear you all laughing at me. That's ok. It's justified. How is it that I never made it down the other end of Michigan Ave to what Chicago calls its Culture Mile? As crazy as it might sound, all of my trips to Chicago have been for business, even this last time. And per usual, work booked me a few paces from the office just off of ... yes, Miracle Mile.

Monroe Harbor
But this time it was different. I was in town for a conference over at Roosevelt University, which is just across the street from Grant Park, which is next to the Art Institute and across the street from the Symphony. As I jumped in my cab from the hotel over to the University I headed down the other end of Michigan Ave ... my jaw dropped as one amazing view after another was rushing by the window. Yes, I saw 'the Bean' and those water fountains that spit water out the mouth of the image (you kinda have to see it to understand it), but then there was the Art Institute, the Symphony, the University and the expanse of Grant Park. I was sitting there wondering how I had never been to this end of town? And I was rapidly trying to figure out how to cram in a few minutes of sight seeing while I was in town.

I did manage to get out of the conference and walk across the street to Grant Park, and then all the way out to the water's edge of Lake Michigan at Monroe Harbor. Wow, what a view. It always amazes me how vast the Great Lakes are with only water on the horizon. I've always felt that I needed to live by the sea, but I can see why living along the Great Lakes could feel good. 

Metra Commuter Rail
At the heart of Grant Park is a huge water fountain (Buckingham Fountain) that gives you a light spray from the breeze off the lake, and a wonderful way to cool down on a hot summer's day. As you can see from my pictures the weather was absolutely stunning.

As you walk back toward the university you pass by two huge bronze, equestrian statues that stand as gatekeepers to Congress Plaza called The Bowman and The Spearman. They were made in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia by a local sculptor, Ivan Meštrović. The original one was supposed to be a Cowboy, according to a friend who lives in Chicago. The muscular figures are eye-catching, to the point where you don't realize that their weapons are actually missing. Local stories suggest that they were taken as an elaborate prank; however that really is just lore. Meštrović omitted the weapons intentionally and left them to the imagination. In between the bronze statues is one called Daphne. I didn't realize that typically she is a trellis with flowers growing up her skirt. Since I was in between the next growth, she looked a bit bare, but if you click on the link you'll see her in all her glory.

I think the best part of my quick trip to Chicago was that I was able to slip out for an hour and meet up with a bloggy friend that I have known for years, but never met. Bobbie works at the Symphony, only a block from my conference, so it was just enough time to meet over a quick lunch. She was exactly as I imagined she would be, sweet, funny and very welcoming. She gave me a beautiful gift of earrings and some fun beads to work with. Thank you - I love them! 
This trip to Chicago was nothing like my previous ones. I will be back, this time on my own dime and hopefully doing some bead shopping with my friend Bobbie.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Life In Between

My oldest daughter started college last year in Boston. She was so excited to be out on her own exploring an amazing city like Boston. You could hear it in her voice as we skyped each weekend. For me, it was wonderful to catch up and see how she was doing as it was so hard not having her around. I would stop and just look into her empty room. I missed my girl.

She is home now for summer. In between semesters, and in between the phases of her life. She has her college stuff stored away for the summer in boxes, and she really hasn't unpacked much. She knows she's home for only a few months then back to school come August.

I remember vividly this period in my life when change just seems to endlessly come at you. Shifting from the over stimulation of school, classes and friends, to the quiet of being home for the summer. I would work two jobs to earn money for school. My day job was working in a store, and I waitressed nights. It was a time to give my mind a breather from academics as I really couldn't think of much beyond working or sleeping. 

I found Kate reading a book on Transitions the other week, which struck me as much more mature than I was at this age. She will be switching schools in the Fall to the University of Connecticut which will be a big change. A much larger school with a lot more going on around campus. 

For now, I am just enjoying the breather between semesters with her. It has been wonderful having her home, chatting and just seeing how much she has grown this past year. I can sit and bead as we chat. This one she is wearing is a simple herringbone rope, which I think she wears quite beautifully.

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