Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And now, for something

completely different.

I had a small epiphany yesterday; I wanted to make a very simple looking pair of earrings using some gorgeous little lampwork beads from Melissa at Inner Realm Creations. Nothing complicated; just the bead sitting on top of a ball of silver, and a small coil of silver above the bead to keep it on the over sized ear wire.

I wasn't happy with the first way I tried it; it was the obvious way to make it, but it just didn't work up to the look I wanted. The silver ball wasn't big enough, and the bead was floppy on the 20 gauge wire required for the ear wire. So I mucked about, made a bigger ball, soldered thicker wire to the smaller ear wire, and was really unhappy with the results.

I set the beads aside.

And then it happened. Serendipity. A whole new way to look at the problem dawned on me; it was easy, and, better yet: it gave me exactly the look I was going for. I just had to be open to doing things differently.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Playing with fire

What is it about fire? Even making a couple of head pins is fun! I had an idea for some earrings, so I just nipped off to the kitchen, fired up my torch, and made a couple; and I'll be switched if I don't feel better. There is something wonderful about melting metal; no matter how often I do it, it always fills me with awe. I am always inspired by the way the molecules pull together into a spherical shape under heat.

Draw your own metaphors from this one, I'm keeping mine close today!

Monday, October 29, 2007


Yes, I'm playing with fibers again. I found some antique linens a week or two ago, and they gave me an idea for making jewelry. So I have been pleating and embroidering with threads, pearls and crystals; making needle lace edgings on the pleats and around the pearls; I am making a very baroque and very bridal cuff. A pair of these would be stunning on a long sleeved, winter wedding dress. It would also make a beautiful headpiece for a veil.

But I am making it to soothe my soul. Yes, it's all in the details. Those tiny stitches comfort me and ease my mind. Creating something beautiful, stitch by stitch, gives me strength and courage. It will take many hours to finish; and that is comforting right now. I can see my progress, and that is reassuring right now. I'm moving forward.

Time is on my side.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thank you

I was very touched yesterday to discover that I had been given an honorable mention by Copywrite, Ink for my Bloggers Against Abuse post, Heart's Ease. This means more to me than any other mention I've received, mostly because it was a very difficult thing for me to do. When I first heard about the Blogger's Against Abuse project, I knew I would have to join in; it was time to tell my story.

I'm not a statistic; I'm alive. I made it out, and I made a good life. Yes, I still have challenges, and life is not always easy; (as the past week or two has certainly proved!) but I know now that I do not have to suffer abuse ever again. I wanted to share my story in the hope that it might give someone else a chance to learn that, too. I faltered many times along the way; I wrote, erased, rewrote, and quit many times before September 27th. I didn't really finish writing it; I simply ran out of time.

The bead that I used in the necklace was a very strong factor in my decision to persevere; it was listed on ebay shortly after I made the decision to go public, and I could not get it out of my mind. It said everything that was in my heart, and, although the bidding was fierce, I knew I had to have it. At the very end of the auction, there was somewhere else I had to be, and I could not stay to make sure I was the winner. I put in a final bid, and left. No one else bid after me.

After that, there was no turning back.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

New beads!

I love having new beads to look at and think about. I don't always manage to use up the old ones before I'm itching to acquire new ones, but it is such fun to order them, to wait impatiently for them to arrive, and then to tear off the packaging and hold them in my hands. They always live on my desk for awhile; usually to the left of my computer where I can glance over at them and pick them up from time to time.

Sometimes I use them immediately; other times they sit for quite awhile. Some lampwork artists only sell in large lots, so after I've used a few from the string, they end up in a sectioned drawer with my pliers; if I'm between projects, I pull them out and think about them. Sometimes I even use one or two. A few of them have been in there for so long, they've actually surprised me into almost regarding them as new again.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Hope is a beautiful thing, and I feel some growing in me today. I will nurture it and feed it and perhaps it will grow.

I can feel it shining down on me and warming me; what a wonderful feeling.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's morning

And no, not any brighter than last night. So I won't be writing today -

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hard times

I won't bore you with the details, but things are not going well. I'm trying to keep positive, and keep going, but I'm not always succeeding. Sometimes I just want to quit, y'know?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Run river run

I took this picture yesterday, and when I got home I finished a bracelet using Ocean Jasper discs. Although these discs were cut and polished by a lapidary, stone is polished every day without human hands or intervention. Captured here is a moment in time, water blurred and frozen over stone. In reality it is moving still, and the stone is wearing away, infinitesimally, with every drop that passes over it. It will not disappear in my lifetime, but it is changing every day.

It's hard not to think about how things are formed while making jewelry; every day I'm shaping and filing and sanding and polishing; wearing away the scratches and deposits that my work puts into metal, doing my best to smooth out the damage that is an inevitable effect of shaping it to my vision.

I am made of softer stuff; I wear faster than stone or metal. But even my changes, which seem to happen so quickly to me, become invisible in the trajectory of smaller creatures.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Autumn Splendor

It is so beautiful here right now; the leaves are all shades of red and yellow and we are having unseasonably warm weather. So this morning my husband and I took off for Harriman State Park and we went on a hike. I took lots and lots of pictures, and had a wonderful time. So I'll just stop writing, and leave you with a picture:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The call of the outdoors

It's a beautiful fall day here, and I'm itching to go outside and play! It's time to soak up as much sunshine as I can; fall days have that effect on me. I feel as though I must store up the last of the sun, even as the warmth is vanishing, in order to last me through winter.

So no more staying inside, I'm outta here!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bragging rights

Today my middle son will be granted his second degree black belt in Karate, and he has earned it. He's been studying Karate for more than ten years, and, in his system, second black is the highest student rank. The next rank is that of teacher. I am so happy for him! He has learned so much, and has become such a wonderful young man. This is a big accomplishment, and one he has worked very hard to attain.

Can you say proud mom?

It hardly seems possible that he's almost 17 years old. I can still see that wiggly, talkative, full-of-ideas 6 year old (and I know Sensei can, too!) and, although the evidence of that little boy is not always visible in the square-jawed, muscular young man he has become, he still has the capacity for pure joy and unadulterated fun. Today we will celebrate ten years of karate lessons, and we will recognize that all of us have learned more than kata and kumite.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What a difference a day makes

24 little hours...! Yup, I am well rested today and feeling much better. I found my sense of humor yesterday afternoon; I'd lost it awhile ago, and it took its own sweet time turning up. I'll have to remember where I set it down from now on.

So today, I'm expecting a friend to drive up, and from here we'll go up to Cold Spring. It is a lovely old town, named by George Washington, who noted on his map that there was - you guessed it - a cold spring of water there. Cold Spring is now known for its antique shops, but it should be known for Momminia, a darling bead, gemstone and jewelry store. It's one of my favorite places.

So we'll head up there, and hopefully the rain that is threatening will hold off!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is it morning?

Oh, my, another night of not enough sleep! This is not good! So I'm kind of foggy today, actually having trouble focusing my eyes. Perhaps I will take a little nap; maybe I will rewrite this entry later, or perhaps it will stand as is. Time will tell!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More powerful than a locomotive

Today, I am determined to cut steel and weave rings. I have been wanting to make a pair of earrings to go with my Allyson Rules bracelet for a long time, but just haven't gotten to it. Today, I am determined!

Yes, the Robert Burns lines did spring, unbidden, into my head just now,
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley

from To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough, and yes, my nest has been very recently turned up! But we have not given up making plans, we just make new ones; we build our nests again and again.

But enough of nest building. Today I will be invincible; I will bend steel to my will!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

and so it goes

Time is a very strange thing. You would think it would march forth in an orderly manner; we have numbered and cataloged it, but we have not tamed it. It's been at least a week since Sunday night, I know it has; but in reality only two days (36 hours, actually!) have passed. Time folded on me, and I went the long way around instead of skipping across the wrinkles. Thank you for your prayers yesterday; they held me up and kept me going.

So now we've settled in to walking this new road; the unpleasant will become ordinary; the unthinkable will become routine. We will live with what we never imagined we could bear, we always do. Our resilience is astonishing. What is it that we need to learn this time? I don't have any answers yet, but I am very grateful for the overwhelming urge I had a few weeks ago to clear the decks and get myself extricated from unnecessary activities and responsibilities. The Lord was looking out for me and preparing me for what I need to do now.

For that, I am very grateful.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Not today

I warned you that somedays I might only tell you what I'm not going to do, and today here it is. I'm not going to write about what is happening in my life today.

Just send prayers, ok?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The means of doing this

Yesterday we went to a home show; my husband is interested in renewable energy, and he wanted to see what was being offered to the remodeling population. There were a few representatives from solar companies, and some insulation dealers, but most of the displays were more geared toward looks than toward performance. And since I am someone who spends a lot of time making things just because I think they're pretty, I understand that.

Beauty is functional.

Oh, not at the expense of food, or a roof over one's head; there are issues of subsistence that must be addressed before the aesthetic can be admitted; but, to risk cliche, a thing of beauty is a joy forever.

After the home show, we stopped at a local bookstore for a cup of tea and a browse, and I found myself looking through the art books. It's something I do a lot of, actually, and yesterday I was very aware of how lucky I am to live in an age of print. I don't have to own beauty to enjoy it.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Learning from experiments

I was experimenting yesterday. More or less successfully; not the outcome I was hoping for, but not a total failure, either. And therein lies the problem. Resounding successes are wonderful. I get to do the happy dance, I know when they're done, and I'm thrilled and excited. Failures aren't bad, either; they go off quickly to the scrap pile, and I've learned something valuable.

It's the not-quite-but-almost ones that give me fits.

That's when I discover that sometimes it's better to just leave well enough alone. For example, the ring I made yesterday was an experiment, and, as experiments go, it was a good one. I learned a lot; both what to do, and what not to do. I'm not quite happy with it, but I don't hate it, either; and that makes it very hard to set down. This morning I woke up with a few ideas for "fixing" it; and yes, you guessed it, no matter what I tried, it just didn't work. It's gone right back to where it was yesterday, and this time, it's going to stay that way.

The weaknesses in the project could not be turned into strengths. And covering them up only made them look, well, covered up. It's not a bad ring. It's not a good ring. It is what it is: a lesson learned.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Letting go

"...the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world."


Remember the old philosophical discussions we used to have in our late teens and early twenties? The ones that started out assuming that we were dreaming a world that was dreaming us, and what about that tree falling in the forest?

The center of the universe, we were; our perceptions defined everything. Infinity plus one; the eternal conundrum. How heroic Rick was to give up Ilsa: we all knew that he knew that their problems were bigger than the rest of the world, but he gave her up anyway. We wondered if we could be as selfless; we liked to think we could, but secretly, we had our doubts.

Fast forward to today. No beans. Really. Not a one, much less a hill. Rick was a realist, after all.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Important, not urgent

The telephone is ringing. I need it by tomorrow, Mom! 50 new emails overnight. We need your decision today. You promised! If you don't act quickly, this opportunity will be lost. They won't be kids forever. Make sure they do their homework every day. What are we having for dinner? I don't have any clean clothes! I can't find my (fill in the blank). If you don't do something, it's only going to get worse! Act NOW!

I've turned into a reactive automaton. Answer the phone. I'll go to the store right now. Delete, delete, quick answer. Yes! No! I'm sorry! Uh, what was I supposed to do? Did you do your homework? Pot roast! They're in the drier! It's in the car. Worse than this?

Act how?

And yes, this is the point where I stop. These things won't go away, even if I deal with them all today, they'll all come back tomorrow with the same urgency; the same shouting, touting, self-importance. But when will I have the chance to tell my son how pleased I am with the young man he's become? Where will I find the time to build a relationship with my daughter-in-law? Do I have enough love to let my daughter choose her own way? Those are the things of consequence; they wait patiently for me, they do not tug at my hem or shout.

But they will not come back if I let them go away unanswered; they are important, but not urgent.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Depending on peyote

It's so relaxing, so comforting, so trustworthy and reliable. Pick up a bead, take a stitch, and watch it slowly grow into a beautiful fabric of colors under my hands. It's like relaxing into the embrace of an old friend; a friend I haven't seen in years, but whose arms still know how to make me feel safe and loved.

I've been spending too much time on the high wire lately; pushing myself, feeling the pressure of time and wanting to do so very much. More, really, than is possible for me. Perhaps others can do it; but I just can't. Not and stay sane, and sanity is a very good thing.

So it is time for me to weave a cocoon; to wrap myself in the quiet, slow, and steady march of tiny beads.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

9,000 calories

Yup, that's how many are in the bag of candy that I bought yesterday to give out for trick-or-treating. 9,000 calories. Who would have thought that those little packages packed such a big punch? Not me! But I did the math (a couple of times, actually, since I could not believe it on the first go) and there it is. About four days worth of calories in one bag. So I will not be nipping a few of those before the big day, oh, no; now I know how dangerous they are, and I'll have to resist.


Counting calories is still not part of my mindset. I spent too many years burning them as fast as I ingested them; I still expect my body to work that way, though it has been awhile since it did. How many other things do I expect to continue forever, just as they once did? Erm, too many. I like consistency. I like knowing that if I do x, then y will follow. I'm not thrilled about the fact that z has taken over from y and given me a whole new paradigm to understand.

Odd how I love to learn some new things, but not others.

Monday, October 8, 2007

One bead at a time

It has occurred to me that many of the things I like to do involve small, repetitious actions; in fact, they are often described as tedious by those who watch me slowly wend my way toward completion.
Tedious: too long, slow, or dull: tiresome or monotonous : a tedious journey.

Erm, that's housework. Not making lace. Not embroidery. Not quilting. Not making jewelry, for goodness sake!

I'll concede too long, slow, and even monotonous moments. Dull? Uh, sometimes. But never tiresome. Oh, no; quite the opposite. The process of making things, those small, repetitious movements, serves to quiet the turmoil in my soul and concentrate my energy. Why this, and not other, equally small and equally repetitious movements, like washing windows? I wonder.

It isn't because of the end product; no, I am notorious for putting the things I make away and forgetting about them. I actually spend a lot more time appreciating the results of my housework. But the process of cleaning does not have the same effect on me. I rush through it, intent on the goal of finishing, seeing only the results, which never last long enough. Spiders are even more industrious than I, and I see defeat on a daily basis. That's tedium in my eyes.

Hmmmmm. Perhaps I need to live my life as I create: one bead at a time, put the results away quickly, and welcome the chance to make something new.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

3:00 a.m. and all's well!

Well, other than the being awake part. What is it with 3:00 in the morning? Yup, I was wide awake for a couple of hours; no particular reason, my body just got a wee bit confused and thought it was time to get up. In vain did I point out that it was dark outside, that five hours is not enough sleep for me, that it was very clearly not breakfast time; I was awake, and apparently I was going to stay that way for awhile.

Nope, no big problems or concerns to resolve; nothing that needed my immediate and undivided attention; things are going as well as can be expected in a house with two teenagers and a retired husband. I'm even caught up on the laundry and the visible cleaning; those dust bunnies under the couch can breed for another day or two without running out of room under there! So I gave in, and let my mind wander. A few new designs came of it; I don't know if I will make them or not. I am terribly wasteful of designs; so many times I am entirely finished with something immediately after visualizing it. The path between imagining and creating is not always a straight one; quite often it veers suddenly.

I don't know how long I stayed awake; I don't remember falling back to sleep. But suddenly, it was light out there, and there was no more arguing with my stomach: it was breakfast time.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Jens Pind again?

I'm not sure if it's going to take hold of me this time, but it's tickling the back of my mind again. Yeah, I'm thinking a graduated chain, and I'm already working out the math in my head. Jens Pind isn't very forgiving; the rings have to be the right size or it just won't hold its shape. And if I'm going to make it, I want it to be smooth; there is nothing worse than a graduated chain that jumps from size to size! They only work when they increase so gradually that it actually surprises you to realize that the center is that much larger around than the ends.

I don't know if this will be something that reaches fruition soon, or if it will go back into the recesses of my mind to perk again. It's been up here before, but thinking about the mathematics of it is new. All I know is that today it's so close that I can almost see it. Not quite clearly enough to take out paper and pencil and make the calculations, but just there enough to make me want to figure out the formulas I'll need to use.

If I make it, that is.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Breathing is good

I've been fighting a cold for about a week and a half now, and this morning I woke up, able to breathe pretty much normally. What a great feeling! Amazing how, in the space of a week, I could forget how wonderful breathing normally is. Actually, that's probably backwards; when I couldn't breathe properly, I was very much aware of how wonderful it was, I just couldn't experience it. But today, I can. Deeeep breath in, and allll the way out. Oh, yeah, that's good! I will, no doubt, take it entirely for granted in a little while, but for now, I'm very appreciative.

But it's not just my lungs that can breathe again; over the past few months, I had gotten myself in over my head on a project that didn't turn out the way I'd expected it to; in fact, it had begun pulling me in a direction that I didn't want to go. It seemed like a good idea when I started, but it just got to be more than I could handle. I was making compromises that were not comfortable for me, and I was getting pretty cranky about it! I finally had to admit that I just couldn't breathe, and I took on a more manageable role. Others will pick up where I left off, and they will be more capable than I of seeing it through.

Breathing is good on all counts.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Maille me

So last night I combined two things I've been wanting to do:
- making a maille ring
- learning euro 4-in-1
into one project.

It was a very cool project, actually. I did the weave the way one would for a maille shirt, instead of the way it is usually done for jewelry, and I really like the way it looks and feels. It sort of hugs my finger, and stretches and contracts as I move. It's not the least bit rigid, like other rings; and done this way, it really looks more like a knit than anything else. I added some labradorite dangles to it which give it sort of a funky medieval look. If it were oxidized, it might look goth, but it's shiny bright, so it looks like me!

If you want to see, click here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Kiss, kiss

"Keep it simple, silly!"

Every once in awhile, I have to just stop and remind myself of that. I can easily give into the temptation to make things too ornate, to hide behind a very decorative facade. I like pretty things, and I like to make them. But when they begin to take on a life of their own...when they pull my life out of balance...then it's time to knock them back to their very foundations.

What is important to me?
People, not popularity. I don't need to be well known or important in my community; I need the loving fellowship of my friends and family.

Making, not validation. I can't please everyone, and if I try to, I'll please no one.

Honesty and loving kindness.

It's reality check time. This is who I am, and this is what I do.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A special story

My most recent Jewelry Tales bracelet, Greta Sails, has a very special story behind it; the black walnut bead used as the focal arrived with its own story for me to elaborate on. Thank you, Joan Jensen of Tazwood Creations! I hope you like where I've taken Greta; I am so pleased that you introduced me to her. As I use more of your beads, Greta and her family will appear in more of my tales.

I wanted to use this very unusual bead to begin telling Greta's story; I wanted to use it to express her hope, loneliness and anticipation of a new and better life with this bracelet. It's always hard to leave behind the people and places that we know well; it often takes something out of the ordinary to make us begin.

Greta's journey has begun; where will she take me next?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Drawing it out

Sometimes I go to the library with a sketchpad and a bunch of nice sharp pencils and spend a few hours just making lines and shapes; sketching ideas and making notes; poring over the pictures in the nice big art books that live there. It's a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, especially on a rainy or snowy day; our library has big floor to ceiling windows, and it's the perfect place to hole up in bad weather.

Yeah, a few hours spent sketching is a really good time.

But here's the kicker: I never refer back to the sketches and notes I've made. Once I've made them, I'm done with them. And here's a secret: I've made the same sketches over and over again, I know I have. I stick with the same book for several visits, dipping in and out of a few favorites on a regular basis. My eye often goes to the same thing I sketched the last time I was there; and as I start drawing, my motor memory kicks in and I feel the lines etching their way deeper and deeper into my mind with every repetition.

When they've cut deep enough, then I can use them.