Friday, May 24, 2013


It is Friday, thank the good Lord! The long weekend is just what we all need I think.
The weather is cooler today, loads of rain all around, the lakes will surely have a bit of water now. All seems right in the world after a good rain. Spirits are brighter today, sorry I was so glum yesterday. Really, rain is such a mood lifter, the air is clearer, the gentle breeze is a bit brisker, and i swear that the leaves are a bit greener this morning.

I did my general browsing of Facebook and some blogs and I'm almost off to my son's school. Today is the last day of GT, and they are having a carnival type event for the classes. One of the projects over the past few weeks has been for the kids to make a carnival game out of a cardboard box. One that takes a little skill and will be fun. They have refreshments, though I have never been to a carnival where they serve only nutritious snacks. I sent kumquats for the kids, we happened onto them at the store and they were on sale. My son didn't want me to send anything, he doesn't like my nutritious cookies or muffins, so these were acceptable to him. He did say that no one would eat them, sigh. He's at that age it seems.

The tool box that my husband bought for me.
While looking through blogs, I came across this one at  Art Jewelry Elements , which by the way, always has great articles. Today Linda Landig wrote about keeping the jewelry elements that you have in neat and tidy order. You know, so you can find bits and pieces to actually work? Me? meh, I do sometimes and sometimes I don't. I am pretty messy, if you have looked at some of my pictures, you will see that very quickly. Well... Linda has this wonderful antique printer's cabinet, which I am so envious of, and it serves to keep her beads and baubles very neat. She writes that even her beautiful storage solution gets out of control, and she has gotten a grip with some cleaver and practical organization.

I bought some plastic drawers over the years, that serve ok, but they are not divided and things get lost. My husband gave me a couple of wooden tool chests that I used for my sewing tools, you know, extra needles, scissors, rulers, and odds and ends. The other tool box has my jewelry tools in it, well, at least a few. Files, calipers, nifty one purpose tools go in one drawer, templates go in another, and so on, but it is woefully too small to really be of use for that purpose. They are nice, but there is a lot of lost space, really. The lid opens upward and I don't have a lot of space so I stack stuff on top, which renders that space... wasted.
So a while back, I was thinking about how to remedy the problem of not being able to find things, so I bought some cheap drawer dividers at Dollar Tree. Cheap solution to the problem, but it wasn't really what I needed. I was sitting there thinking, after reading that blog, how could I create some kind of printer's box out of the drawers that I have?

drawer with divided box inside
I think I have a solution. We were at Lowe's a year or so ago, and found some divided clear plastic boxes on sale, four for $4  kind of thing. I of course bought them, thinking that they would be good when I take my little jewelry suitcase with me, the boxes stack into it like they were made specifically for it. Well, I didn't like storing beads in them when I am at home. If I leave them in the suitcase, they aren't where I can use them, and if they are on the shelf, they don't always sit still, you know, when you need something on the bottom of the stack, it is always, always, something in the bottom box that you need,  and things tend to go flying when you dig to the bottom. Well.... I had this terrific idea-- the boxes are like printer's boxes, and they fit just into the plastic drawers with just a bit on the side and the length, but there is enough room for little plastic tubs, and that is what I keep

 I cut the lid off the first one to see if I would like it, and guess what??? I do! I can stack several up and they aren't hard to lift up to see what is under. I am going to start sifting through them and do all white, all pink, all blue, etc. I think that is a good idea, and I will put the seeds back into the little containers to store. I used the baby food containers for a long time, but seem to have lost them, one by one, and have none left. I like these little containers that you can get 6 for a dollar. Perfect size, and I can slip one in my purse with my little scissors, thread and enough beads to keep me busy while I am waiting on my son or at the doctors. I keep my magnifying glasses in my purse now, I can't see to read small  fonts anymore and they come in handy for reading as well as for beadwork.

I have been struggling with my vision more and more, and I've come to the decision that I am going to not take any more orders after the end of the month, at least for anything made from seed beads. I will keep doing metal work and probably some larger necklaces and bracelets, but I have to take a break from the tedious work for at least a while, or at least cut back on the amount that I do. I still have a class later on in the Summer, I have committed to teaching and I am hoping and praying that I can keep that obligation, Summer Camps are possibly on the back burner, but I have a bit to find out if I will be able to have anything done or not. We'll see, or in my case, maybe not see. sigh.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Silver Linings

Seems like every day is filled with sorrow and pain across our country, really... around the world. The news is filled with tragedy and tears and it makes it hard to concentrate on what is real and here and now, what needs to be priority and what can go in the back of your mind.  I have had a hard time watching the news, with the bombing in Boston, the Plant fire in Lyondell, the plant explosion in West, The devastating tornadoes in Texas, Oklahoma, and crazy weather in the Northeast, and the brutal killing of the soldier in London, ju st to name a very few of the events of the past MONTH. And not long before that, there were the two Christians that were beheaded in New Jersey of all places.
It is sometimes hard to just let go of the things around you and be what you need to be. I have family (yes, they are not immediate family, but I love them the same) scattered around the country, but for the most part, we seem to be in this little region (really big region) of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona. For the most part, Texas and Oklahoma. The oilfields keep the economy going or not going, and we are all thankful for that, but it is more than work, it is the beauty of the place. So, maybe it is hard to see the beauty of the desert of Western Texas, but it is here. My brother went on a trip and I asked him if he liked it... he said no, there were too many trees, and he felt claustrophobic. I understand that. When I travel, especially in England, where hedgerows are very common, I feel kind of claustrophobic. I can't get my bearings, and I just get lost on the backroads, zigging and zagging around fields with very little to give you a hint where you are. Only the short breaks in the hedgerow where tractors come and go, give you an indication to where you might be... other than that, if there is a tree or a hill maybe.
Here, we have the wide open spaces where you can see for 10-20 miles, depending on the level of the ground, and wide open skies, usually with not a cloud in them, or those puffy clouds that are traveling fast.  I like the dry afternoons, the humid mornings with salty air,  the 300+ days of sunshine, warm temperatures, and the occasional cold spell that brings snow... it is nice to live here. That is if you can stand the dust storms that deposit neighboring counties at your doorstep, in your house, and in your lungs and eyes, makes it kind of hard to wear contacts... The occasional range fires that consume thousands of acres and anything in their path, the blistering heat of the Summer, and the freezing wind in the Winter. My grandmother used to say that there is nothing between here and the North Pole but a barbed wire fence... and some years I believe she was right.  But it is home.

The blistering heat is bearable with air conditioning, the cold with central heat, the dust storms you get used to, and air filters are wonderful. The water situation isn't so great right now. We have been in a drought for a long, long time. The water has never been that great anyway, brackish and I would suppose lethal if consumed on a regular basis, you can't water your yards with the water that comes from most of the lakes around here without it being filtered... but we have an aquifer that has the best water in the land. It is being sucked dry, though and with so many new people in the area from all over the country, it will be no time before it runs dry. So if you can get around the nasty water, or lack thereof... you can live here no problem. Green yards though are not the norm.

I guess it boils down to the people where you live, not so much the land? ah, I don't know, the land pretty much sticks on you... but the people, they are what holds your heart. We saw with the incident in West, Texas (not to be confused with West Texas,  West is not in West Texas... it is in the central part) people poured out their heart for the whole town of West, and then to Granbury and Cleburn when the tornadoes struck, followed on the heels of those disasters, the outbreak of tornadoes in Oklahoma... and even though there is that Red River Rivalry, the compassion is for our cousins across the river. People lending a hand, sending what they can, donating money to help, and it makes you proud. I am proud that we stand together no matter what. When there is a birth, death, tornado, flood, whatever it is, people come and help out their neighbor... even if that neighbor is 750 miles or more away (El Paso to Brownsville is actually 830 miles). And we do show up, we cook meals, we watch kids, we do send help, we do take care of our own. Maybe it is that rugged self reliance, that rebel kind of feeling that most people have that live here... that distance from the government that we have, and part of the reason that Texas was their own Republic at one time. It doesn't matter what color your skin is, it is that feeling in your heart. The resilience that we all share, through good times and bad, we know we can pull ourselves up and we know our neighbors will be there to help us, and us for them. We know not to rely on the government for anything, and if they help, it will be nice, but not expected.

I guess it helps that I feel strongly about Oklahoma because even though I am a Texan by birth, I lived in Tulsa for a few years when I was young, and that my father was born in a little town near Prague, right down the road from Jim Thorpe, a few years later, of course, but it was still pretty famous around that area I guess. Strong people lived there, my grandparents included. I still have cousins in that general area, though the family land has been sold long ago. It is a beautiful area, with the river running lazily along, like time could stand still and sometimes I'm sure it does.  My father loved that land, he loved the whole area and the whole state. My mother protested when we moved up to Tulsa... she had always lived in Texas and wasn't about to live off among those Okies, depending on how mad at Dad she was she might call it the boonies, but I happen to know she grew up in the Panhandle of Texas, in Mobitee and Pampa, so she didn't have a leg to stand on.
So I guess it boils down to family, friends, neighbors, the land and I think maybe to freedom, why we love where we live, or where we are from, not much thought is put into possessions if your house is blown away and you still have your family intact. I have never heard anyone on TV say after they lost a house, anything other than, We can rebuild, we are just thankful that we are all safe.  And so it goes in little towns and big cities, all across this area, they will rebuild, some maybe with a new storm shelter, but whether they have one or not, they probably know which neighbor has one, and they all huddle together, time and time again. I know, because i have shared someone else's cellar, and  I have shared my own. Somehow that in itself brings you together a little closer.

I expected to post a few pictures today, I've been working on a few clay pieces and fumbled around and spilled part of a pot of silver pigment powder (Wow! say that three times fast) all over the work table, thought the mess and the pieces I was working on were worthy of pictures,  but it seems to be one of those days that I don't really want to. This funk that I have been in is direct result of watching too much news and not concentrating on what is really important to me... my family. Oh, yes I have been thinking about my family, my cousins and second cousins and Uncle, brother, nieces and all, but it is my immediate family that needs me. I can say a prayer for my extended family, I can send them notes to let them know I am thinking of them, and I can be reached if there is need, but really, the immediate things I can do for my mother, son, daughter, grandson... those are the ones that matter the most. I need to remember that and let the rest fall where it may. I need to remember that I can't be there for everyone, and they don't need me to be. My son needs me to be here, present, with him, doing what moms do. It;s hard to change, but I am going to try. I have spent most of my whole life being here for others, being here for any of the family or friends, but it boils down to being here for my son right now, to take care of myself and heal myself, to care for the precious life that my husband left me, and to be the daughter that my mother needs right now...

Monday, May 13, 2013

After Mother's Day

Good Monday morning to everyone, hope everyone that is a mother or was born to a mother, had a nice and peaceful day yesterday. A late Happy Mother's Day to all. We had my mother for the weekend, she was delightful, if not a handful. My son came in and told me something that she was sorting through and I had to remind him that it is almost like having younger kids over. Put away the things that you don't want her to break or tear up, and don't let her fall and get hurt, make sure she has plenty to eat and drink, and keep her clean and warm.  Those are the rules with kids, and now it seems it is more and more the rule with Mom.
Saturday Morning brunch
Sunday Morning table setting, the boy did pretty good!
She enjoyed herself I think, we made doughnuts Saturday morning, and Sunday morning, my son made brunch for us. Bacon and eggs, toast and sliced watermelon. . He also brought in flowers out of the garden, which by the way is blooming like crazy since we had that late freeze. The roses might be a bit worse for the wear, but they are beautiful and full, and the prettiest red! Have I mentioned that my son is 10, almost 11? I am so proud of the way he helps out so much, and I am so glad that he at least knows how to make breakfast... and with a little urging he can make toasted cheese sandwiches and microwaveable food! If something should happen to me, I know he can at least eat! ha.

We started out today with a warm morning, dry so I didn't sit outside to drink my tea. I don't make tears anymore and I try to stay out of the dry air if possible. I do love to sit out in the morning though. On days that it is warm and humid I will take my coffee out and sit on the chair on the front porch and watch the birds and neighbors come to life. The birds are earlier risers than the neighbors, but I am getting to where I don't get up as early as I used to either.

Reworking my supply lists for Summer camp at the college this morning, the revisions should have already been made since it is such a short time until Summer is upon us. The supply lists for my regular classes are going to be posted on the website, which makes sense. I think I am going to like the new staff in this department. Really energetic, and when you have more than one or two in the department that want to suceed, it makes all the difference.   School will be out shortly and then it will be non-stop for the next three months, with camps and Summer classes and preparations for the Fall. I used to roll my eyes when my mother would say something like, I don't know where the time goes... but I know now what she was talking about.

I announced on another page about my eye situation. I have been having more and more problems with my vision, I am going to slow down on my bead work, for a while at least, until I can find out if there is a solution to the problems. I am taking orders for new work until the end of this month and then only very special orders will be taken until I find out if I can get my vision to stabilize.  I am going to try to work more and more on my metal pieces. Maybe this will be the opportunity to polish my skills in that area. I love working with metal, but I haven't gone much more beyond working with copper and brass and just a tiny bit of silver... this should be fun, finding out if I like it enough to make it my main medium.

This is a necklace that I have been working on today, I think it is sold already. I did another blue necklace before Christmas as a gift for a friend, it was Royal Blue and silver, I don't even have a picture to post of it, I had been sick and was busy and didn't take pictures at all, but this one is almost the same, only difference is the focal which was teardrop Lapis,  and the shells I had used silver beads instead.. This will have a chain connected by jump rings into eyelets in the main piece and maybe some fabric with silver wrap, something other than the silk that is used for the backing. I didn't sketch this out, it  just ended up being something that I wanted to do. I had the silk shantung in this color and found the tiles in the same shade and I thought about some shells that I had, and that is how it came to be. And the beginnings of the yellow beaded brooch,
 it will be circular with a backing of silver wire and a silver pin topped with the same type crystal and yellow seed beads. I have made a lot of these but I don't wear one. I have a brooch that is my favorite.  I got it while in Annan, Scotland, at a bagpipe competition (  Annan Riding of the Marches Pipeband Contest ) and I treasure it and wear it a lot... however I have lost a couple of stones from it, sadly not finding the stones were missing until I came home from a festival where I had bumped into the display table and knocked the brooch off and it went scooting across the floor.... stones flying I am sure, but I had a customer and didn't have time to look at it, just grabbed it up and went on until I got home and took it out of my bag.... I don't have a clue who could replace them, I could find something to put back into them, but the glass is so unique... I am really sad they are missing. I might make a brooch for myself out of amethyst  and crystals and dark purple seeds but it wouldn't be the same.
My favorite brooch from the Annan Riding of the Marches Pipeband Contest

Baby's growing quickly, this one is brave!

The good daddy! Feeding the babies that have been squawking!
Mr Finch feeding Mrs Finch???

Mr Finch looking regal this morning
Mr Finch on the nest
I am still obsessed with the Finch family that is nesting in the flower arrangement by the front door. Mr Finch has been singing and the little ones are talking back to him. I got to watch him feeding them, which is so cute. He also sat on a branch and what I first thought was a juvenile Finch came up and he fed it. After a minute or two, it looked more like Mrs. Finch. I don't know much about birds, does the male feed the female?  guess google is in order?
Babies aren't so scared now, at least two are able to look around

Hope you all have a blessed week.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Baby bird update!! I have to post a few pictures this morning of the little Finch family nesting next to our front door. They are growing by leaps and bounds, I still can't tell if there are three or four left out of the five eggs. They are such a mass of bird flesh and feathers that it is hard to tell. I know I saw three beaks but they tend to stand on each other in the little nest.
 Mom Finch must be feeding them well, they have gained a lot of weight in just a few days, and I know where she is getting her nourishment. They seem to love the hummingbird feeder and tomatoes. I normally would have been upset that the tomatoes were disappearing three or four a day, but it's ok with me if it goes to getting these birds grown. I don't eat tomatoes anyway, I'm allergic, but my son eats them, and the reason that we have a plant in the first place. Mr Finch has been on the hummingbird feeder, but I haven't seen him eating the tomato yet. Ms Finch seems to love the delicacy, I'm sure the babies do as well.  Here they are with their beeks open, I don't know if it is from hunger or the heat. We have been bouncing between the extremes of temperature the past couple of weeks, normal for this time of year, and I covered the tomato plant the other night when it froze. I wanted to put a blanket or something over the nest... but I guess they stayed warm and cozy with their mom's soft feathers.
We used the back door to keep from scaring Mom Finch while it was the coldest. I didn't want her to leave the babies. Now, i am sure they need their space to keep cool.

My son was in the PTA program last night, he actually sang when he was supposed to, and didn't have that deer in the headlights look he normally has in front of a lot of people. I was proud of him, he stayed after school to help get the props ready for the performance and goofed off a bit as well. He's getting so grown up. After the performance, he took a picture of one of the roses in the front of the house, I thought all the buds froze but this one didn't

What a glorious morning, the sun is shining but it is cool and humid so far. The smell of salt in the air, and it seems to be clean air, not dusty or smelly, just nice fresh air. I think it is a good morning to sit outside and have a cup of tea and enjoy the cool air while it lasts.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Sewing Machines, Madness?

Gack! I keep having problems with the computer, mainly being able to post pictures. I went back to my old computer and remembered why I like a larger keyboard. Hopefully I will have an easier time posting to the social medias that I use. This is going to be a change from the tiny keyboard on the other computer!
 I wanted to write about the sewing machines that I have and use. Kind of off the jewelry subject, but I saw a bunch of pictures the other day of machines that one person owned. It got me to thinking and I wanted to know if anyone else has multiple machines? Anyone else have machines that they use for one or two purposes or do you use one machine for every bit of sewing that you do?
      Me? mmmm..... I have a few. I am only posting several of the ones that I have today. I own a few more than four...I refuse to tell how many on the grounds that I might incriminate myself or be found insane. My daughter brought this problem of collecting to my attention just a couple of months ago, as a matter of fact. She said I should get rid of my machines. But.... but, but.... I can't get rid of them. At least not the White Rotary.... or the Kenmore Sensor Sew 70.... or the International..... or.... or.... OK, OK... so maybe I do have a slight problem with collecting, maybe I do go a bit overboard, like the manual sewing machine that I bought in Bristol, England, that I was not able to bring  back to the states with me, so it sits in the cottage near Silloth, waiting for me to save it. Yes, that was not a well thought out purchase, but it was calling to me... buy me, save me... bring me home.... I could have shipped it if I had a bit more time,  but I thought a week was enough time to get done with all the shipping and all the business that goes with it... well... get it done. But, finding a UPS that was even remotely close to Silloth was near impossible, and I ended up shipping my books and things with the Royal Postal Service... If I had done the shipping while in Bristol, well... it would have been easier and quicker, and a damn sight cheaper as well.... but you don't want to hear about that do you?
That machine was an emotional purchase, and granted, the White was an emotional purchase... but usually the purchases are strictly functional. OK, so the White would still be functional if I could get another belt. Now I have found a person that actually will supply me with belts, so I can get it working again,  it too will be functional all in good time. The rest of the machines usually work, or have minor problems and can be cleaned and fixed up and do serve some purpose. I teach, not full time but some classes of sewing  and quilting at the college as well as teaching the summer kids camp, and one of the activities was sewing... So normally the purchases are functional, and I don't go around looking for machines, they just kind of find me, but.... I want to find a turquoise machine so bad that I don't care if it has real problems or not. I have my Grandmother's old Kingston, which could be close to but it really isn't turquoise, more of that industrial greenish color. I think that would complete my collection, or at least make me happy!
I started out on that old Kingston, and I loved it. Straight sew and all. I loved that it was sturdy and would sew jeans or silk and it was easy to thread and easy to move, though a bit heavy. I advanced on to the Kenmore Sensor Sew 70 when I was about 23. I loved that machine as well, but was mortified when after only a month or so it fizzled out and had to go to the shop with it's computer going out. It was gone to the machine hospital for a month, and since we lived in a small town with no hope of having a local repairman, I panicked and decided that I would always have a backup machine. In this particular case it was that old standby Kingston... now I have a couple of backups...
I used the Kenmore for quite a few years, with my grandmother's as more of a backup. I used her old machine to sew jeans all the time. I love that machine. It may be really old, but it just keeps on sewing. I sewed kids clothes and my clothes, kitchen accessories, bedspreads, quilts, curtains, and just about every kind of craft I could think of. Dolls, stuffed animals, blocks, balls, purses, camping accessories. Anything that I thought about, I made it.  Now I go to the store and buy my son's clothes, but only because I know he would not wear jeans that I made... but my daughter did. she wasn't that picky, and I did a pretty darn good job making all her clothes.
I took a while off from sewing, about 3 years. I worked a lot and had gotten a divorce, remarried and had another child and decided that it was time to get the machine out of storage. When I did, I had problems with both machines and just went and bought a cheap Brother sewing machine. It is ok, don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with the way it sews that can't be fixed pretty easily, but it just isn't a machine that is sturdy. I would never work on jeans with it, but I suppose it would work ok. I got my other two working and they were now my standby machines... but I used them both a lot.  The Brother and I worked on probably 40 quilts together. It sews ok, like I say, but it is really light weight, good for taking along with you for projects, but not one that I would want to use all the time. My husband was at a garage sale looking at lawn equipment and came across the old White sewing machine. It, being a treadle, was something he knew that I wanted. I had bought an old anniversary edition Singer treadle before I divorced and really loved it, but had to get rid of it. Knowing that somewhere in my mind I was saying, it had to go, it had to go... it was still hard to part with something so pretty.
So when my husband came home with that White Rotary... I hugged him and cried. He knew it was going to be something that I would never get rid of.
Cheryl's mother's machine, International... a keeper?
Now, the one I bought from the charity shop... not so much, I could part with it when it was fixed and ready to go, I found a new home for it,  but I did love it. Then there was another from a different charity shop that was calling to me, and another, and then one from the garage sale down the street. That one had been the machine of my friend Cheryl. She didn't even know if her mother had ever used it. I think she had, but it was put away with a piece of cloth in it and the thread through the tensions and needle (something I think everyone should do). She had the instruction book and box of accessories to go with it as well. I don't know if it sews as well as the Kenmore but I like it and now it has an emotional attachment as well... I know, crazy, huh?

OK, so it is growing, this collection that I have. But, I have to say... there are machines that I have that do one job, and one job only. Like the little portable machine that I got to take to quilting club. It is fun, but I would never use it for anything else... and honestly, now I am afraid that I have forgotten how to use it.  Or that little portable that I bought when i was at Dunelm in Carlisle. I wanted to make some pillows and curtains, and maybe a quilt, but I couldn't get the old portable that was kind of a castaway, an odd one that folds up to a small case.... well, I didn't have a clue how to use it anyway, but the bobbin was missing... so I bought this one, and used it, but it runs on English current, which I think might blow up any machine that i have, and our current would never power, or blow up this machine, so I left it at the cottage as well. sigh......
Then there is the one that I bought when I decided to really work on quilts. I bought the Janome. Harmony.
It is pretty cool, does nice embroidery, and it kind of one of those machines that once you get used to it, is really a go to for all your needs. I still like the old one of my Grandmother's. I bought another Singer, this time not a treadle. I like it as well, as for an older machine, but it sits without me using it for a long time.
When I think of a real sewing machine, I think of a machine in a table. One that is permanent and a piece of furniture that you don't get rid of. Maybe that is my problem with getting rid of sewing machines. I just can't do it, I look at the machine first I guess, and try to reason that it works, and does a job that is necessary... and then I look at the table that accompanies it. Is it worth salvaging? Mostly yes. Though I have a piece of the White that has disappeared somehow and no way to replace it. .
 This is the Kenmore that I got at one of the Charity shops. I love it almost as much as I do my grandmother's old machine. It is kind of a purpley-silver, and it is pretty heavy. I love that it has a knee pedal that makes it easier on the back... or at least that is what I think. My mom had a Singer that had the cool knee lever/pedal? Kind of reminds me of it.
This machine does heavy duty clothing, but I like it for denim and canvas. Yes, I do work on a lot of canvas. I did about 50 duffel bags out of canvas and I don't know how many knapsacks. It is one of those machines that was built to last. Heavy without the cabinet, so heavy that I would rather keep it out all the time instead of closing it up in the cabinet. But I don't.
Of the machines I have shown you today, I didn't get the old Kingston out. I will try, but you know me, It isn't going to happen right away. I have it put away at the back of the workroom, with that little portable one that I have forgotten how to use. Sad. I haven't found another quilt club around here to go to... Something I need to work on.