Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Happy New Year to everyone out there!  I hope you are all happy, well and warm!  Here's hoping that the coming year treats us all better than last year and that we all stay healthy so we can enjoy it together!   It's a year of hope.

Monday, December 29, 2008


 Unfired lentil-shaped pendants from today's class.

Lentils, fresh from the kiln.

Today I had a rare weekday afternoon class at Bead Haven in Cedar Rapids.  We made hollow, lentil-shaped pendants, which are one of my favorite things to make.  We had lots of fun despite the fact that the teacher was having one of those days where she dropped everything she touched!  
Thanks to Cindi, David and Rosalee!

Friday, December 26, 2008


We had a really nice Christmas with my sisters, my nephew and my parents.  We ate too much and gave and received lots of nice gifts and spent time thinking about how really grateful we are to have each other for another year.  It's really hard to think about your family being altered by time, distance or death.  I know it happens to all of us, but the thought of it makes me feel as if my feet aren't on solid ground.  So this year, I'm grateful that most of us are still here.  I hope you had a great holiday with people that you love. 

 I forgot, until I saw on CNN this morning, that today is the 4th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Four years ago today, an enormous, magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean spawned a horrible series of powerful tsunamis that devastated the coastlines of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.  The tsunamis killed more than 225,000 people, many whose bodies were never recovered.  One of the things at the time that amazed me about the tsunami was the fact that the earthquake and tsunami were of such force that the entire planet wobbled on it's axis by about a half an inch.  Islands off of the coast of Indonesia were permanently moved by 20 meters.  Amazing.  We like to believe that the ground beneath our feet is solid.  Clearly, that is not always the case.  The morning of December 26, 2004, the people who lived along these coastlines started their day just like any other and then, just like that, it was all ripped away from them.  It makes me really thankful for what I have.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Merry Christmas!  I wish you all peace in the coming year and always.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Photos from tonight's class

Thank you to all of the students that braved the frigid temperatures tonight to come to my resin class at Chameleon Cache.  It's wonderful to have students who will excitedly come to a class in freezing weather during Christmas week.  All of the students tonight have taken classes from me before, so I guess I must be doing something right!  I really do have some of the most fun people in my classes and I do appreciate the support of my students.  
We had so much fun tonight cutting out papers and embedding things in resin.  It's another case of giving a bunch of people the same supplies and the same instruction then sitting back and watching the divergent paths that they take.  I really do find that fascinating.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Send your own ElfYourself eCards


Winter Solstice in Iowa

Winter Solstice at Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain In England

Winter Solstice at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico (Sun Dagger solstice marker atop of Fajada Butte)

My homage to the Solstice, in bronze

Today is the shortest day of the year and probably more significant to the ancients, the longest night of the year.  Imagine in ancient times the long, dark nights of winter.  In bad times there wouldn't be much food stored and the fear of not knowing whether you and your family would survive the harsh winter must have been unbearable.  So it's no wonder that many civilizations marked this time on their calendars and celebrated with rituals, feasts and celebrations.  The solstice meant the return of the light, the rebirth of the sun.  It must have been a beacon of hope during the cold, dark nights.  It's funny how the tradition of celebrating rebirth during the midwinter has survived from pagan times to now.  I like the thought that we are in some ways connected to those who came so long before us.  
The word 'solstice' derives from the latin, sol (sun) and sistere (standing still).  It should serve as a reminder to take some time to be still and enjoy the season.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Beautiful Sophie wishes for porch weather

Winter view from my porch

White pines in winter

Winter doesn't even start until tomorrow morning and yet we have blizzard and wind chill warnings.  It is very cold, but I must admit I actually like winter (except for driving on ice!).  I think it's really beautiful.  I love how still it seems to be outside at night when it's snowing.  It's one of my favorite times to go for a walk.   Not tonight though.  The wind is buffeting my house and I'm happy to be inside writing this in front of the fireplace with a kitty on my feet.  
I've always loved extremes of weather.  This is a lucky thing considering that I live in Iowa where people joke that if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes.  

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I believe there could be no other choice this year for Time Magazine to have made.  For many reasons, but none as important as something as simple as hope.  Many people choose to discount or even ridicule the power of hope.  It was hope and belief in the future that pushed the early leaders of our country to greatness.  It was that same hope that spurred the industrial revolution and later that got us through the Great Depression and World War II.   Hope for a better world fueled the civil rights and women's movements.  Hopes and dreams of worlds far beyond ours, sparked our amazing trek to the moon and beyond.  Hope is what drives a single mother to get up every day to go to a dead-end job so that her kids have chance at something better than she will ever have.  Hope leads to optimism, optimism spurs on hard work, can-do spirit and the belief that anything is possible.  There is nothing more American than that belief. There is nothing ridiculous about hope.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The necklace pictured above was made by Julie Campbell and includes some of my bead caps and one of my toggles.  Julie teaches some great classes at Bead Haven in Cedar Rapids.  I'm always amazed by what people make with the parts that they buy from me.   I love it when they send me photos of their work.  They consistently come up with things that I never would have conceived of.  One of the beading magazines has a regular feature where they give several people the same supplies and then see what different things they'll make from them.  I think it's cool how differently and creatively our minds will work if we just allow them to.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


So, tonight I was supposed to teach my first resin class at Chameleon Cache.  Mother nature had other plans, though and dumped 5 or 6 inches of snow on us and we felt it was best to postpone until next Monday night.  It's going to be a fun class.   We are going to play with bottle caps as bezels and sterling silver bezels soldered by yours truly.  We will have all kinds of fun papers and transparencies and other bits to embed into the resin.  I'm really excited by this class and will eventually do a workshop employing PMC with the resin along with found objects as bezels.  

Monday, December 15, 2008


Bria toasting finals week with carrot-ginger juice, wearing one of my bronze pendants for luck!

Lately, I've been thinking about all of the friends that I've made directly and indirectly from my jewelry business.  People that I really can't imagine not being in my life.  Bria is one of those friends who lives far away but is close to my heart.  Isn't it amazing where life takes you?   I can't imagine doing anything else now, but I certainly once did.   I had a conversation a while back with my friend Gail who was sad that she didn't find her bliss sooner in life.  I said that I thought that all that other stuff that we do first is part of the journey of who we are.  I think without that we wouldn't be doing what we are now and certainly wouldn't appreciate it as much.  I know this is true for me and that I wouldn't have met all of the great people that I have in the last few years!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Last night I went out with some friends for a few adult beverages and to hear Iowa City blues, honkey tonk icon, David Zollo.  Dave is a nice guy with an incredible talent, and if you've never heard his music, I'm kind of sorry for you.  Dave formed a band in the early 90's called High and Lonesome, very coolly named after the Jimmy Reed song with the same name.  They were so amazing.  Think Rolling Stones mixed with rock/country alt thrown in for good measure.  After 3 great recordings, 200 shows a year, scary health problems and whatever other band drama that might have occurred, Hi Lo broke up and Dave went solo.  He has since recorded 3 solo albums including The Morning Is A Long Way From Home, whose title track is still one of my favorite songs, bar none.  Dave has also played on countless other's recordings, including the legendary Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey, Dave Moore and Joe Price.  Dave will be at the Mill in Iowa City on New Year's Eve and it's guaranteed to be a great time.  Do yourself a favor and go see him and buy a CD or two.  You won't be sorry.


Thank you to all of the wonderful folks that I met this weekend at Chameleon Cache.  At the end of the day I met a really nice woman named Anne who bought a gift for someone, I won't say who, in case they should read this!  She really made my day and helped me remember why I make things with my hands.  Thank you Anne, you're a sweet person!  This is a good time to say thank you to all of the people who help me do this crazy thing that I love so much.  Times are hard for all of us and I am so appreciative of the people who choose to spend their money on my jewelry.  You have no idea how much this means to me, especially now, when money is so tight for most of us.  I also want to say thanks to my wonderful friends Cindi and Erin who own the bead stores that sell my work and that I teach in.  You guys are the best and I can't thank you enough.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Yesterday, the Bush administration announced that they are overturning a 25 year old ban on carrying loaded, concealed guns in our nation's national parks and wildlife refuges.   I realize that it's a tradition for outgoing presidents to push pet projects at the end of their terms while no one is paying much attention, but can anyone other than the NRA actually think this is a good idea?  The new rule, which goes into effect in January, will allow concealed weapons even in parks that are located in states that have their own bans on concealed weapons.  The administration stresses that you still will need to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon and you will have to leave it in the car when you enter the visitor centers in the parks.  Also, gun are still banned from national treasures like Independence Hall and the Statue of Liberty.  Oh well then, I feel much better now.   I spend a lot of time every year in our national parks.  When we go on vacation there is rarely a trip that doesn't involve a national park.  I know that some of the parks have had problems with crime, mostly theft related offenses.  I have been to most of the parks in the western U.S., and I can honestly say that I have never felt unsafe.  I do not understand the rational here.  How is carrying a gun into our country's most sacred of places an essential right?  If you really feel so unsafe, why not just stay home?  I wonder how long it will take before a couple of over-stressed campers at Yosemite, one of the most overcrowded parks in the system, shoot each other in a dispute over a parking space?  Why overturn a rule that has stood and worked well for 25 years?  So that gun owners can exercise there rights?  What about my right to enjoy the parks without worrying about what some fool has hidden in his pocket?  I'm sure that I've offended some people, and that is really not my intention.  I simply feel that there are so few places in this country that are so essentially American and that truly belong to us all.  Why make them less safe for all of us?

Thursday, December 4, 2008


BRR.  It's cold here.  I actually like winter, but this is crazy.  Tonight will be our coldest yet, and man is it going to be cold.  The low for tonight is 3 degrees.  That is not nice.  Oh well, as long as there's snow for Christmas and it's gone by the end of January, I'm happy.

If you want to get out of the cold this weekend, I am having a trunk show at Chameleon Cache in Coralville, Iowa.  How was that for a segue?  I will be there tomorrow, December 5th, from 2-8pm and on Saturday, December 6th from noon-5pm.  I will have lots of finished jewelry as well as charms and toggles and other components for those who like to make their own jewelry.  I will have silver and a lot of brand new bronze pieces.  I hope to see you there!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Well, here it is, December 1st and on cue we had our first snow of the year.  It is so beautiful.  I love to go outside really late at night when it's snowing and walk around.  For some reason when it's snowing, it's so quiet outside.  I also love how bright it is late at night when it's snowing.  The low ceiling of clouds traps the light and reflects it downward making it look almost like daytime.
The best thing about this particular snow is that it's perfect snowman and snowball snow.  If it's still here tomorrow, maybe I'll get outside and build a snowperson.

Friday, November 28, 2008


The stars are aligning for a rare and beautiful show.  November 30th and December 1st, Jupiter and Venus will be only 2 degrees apart as seen from the earth.  In astronomical terms, this is teensy!  The width of your forefinger held at arms length is about 2 degrees.  Already, tonight in our beautiful, clear Iowa sky, Venus was so bright that I thought at first it was an airplane.  Over the next few nights the crescent moon will appear and with the two planets will form a celestial triangle on the night of December 2nd.  Try to check it out as it will not occur again until 2013 when the moon, Jupiter, and Venus will be just a degree apart.  The universe is really a strange and magical place.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
-John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I will be at Bead Haven in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Friday and Saturday, November 28th and 29th. I will have many new silver and bronze pieces, including new bronze toggles. pendants and many pairs of earrings perfect for Christmas presents.  I will be there 12-5 on Friday and 10-5 on Saturday.  
There will be hot cider and cookies and Cindi is offering free gift wrap through Christmas.  Please stop in and say hi!

For more information and directions to the store, click here.

Monday, November 24, 2008


My most excellent and ridiculously talented friend , Anne Mitchell, will be offering a special workshop at her Tucson, Arizona studio during the Gem and Mineral Shows in February 2009.  There are two different dates available for the workshop, either February 2nd or February 11th.  Anne will be teaching the workshop with Gail Crosman Moore, also an awesome teacher and an even nicer person.  If you will be in Tucson for the shows in February, I know you'd really enjoy a class with Anne.  She's a generous teacher who knows how to make a class fun.  Don't miss it!

For information on Anne's workshop, click here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Floyd of Rosedale, forever immortalized in bronze

Now we wait for a bowl bid

I don't usually feel stranded here in Iowa, but we were supposed to go to Minnesota this weekend with my sister to shop at the consumer Mecca of the western world, the Mall of America and to cheer for the Hawkeyes against the Golden Gophers.  Well, our bi-annual trek to the north didn't quite work out, and because of events beyond all of our control we had to stay home.  We watched on t.v. though, and I'm glad we did because our Hawks rolled, 55-0 at the last college football game ever in the Metrodome (next year Minnesota gets their own stadium).  
The rivalry between Iowa and Minnesota is intense, but from my perspective at least it remains fun and for the most part light-hearted.  It better be, my husband is from Minnesota, but is a Hawkeye through and through.  This fun rivalry wasn't always so.  In 1934 Iowa had a star running back named  Ozzie Simmons.  Simmons was one of the first black players in the Big Ten.  He was extremely talented and for this and the color of his skin, he was singled out by opposing teams for cheap shots, blatantly late hits, punches and countless racial slurs.  He was knocked unconscious in several games and so abused that he played hurt for most of his college career.  During the Iowa-Minnesota game that year, which Iowa ended up losing, he was again knocked unconscious and singled out for physical and verbal abuse and the fans were incensed.  The next year before the two teams would meet again, the Iowa governor,  Clyde Herring, further fanned the flames by making the statement that "if the officials stand for any rough tactics like Minnesota used last year, I'm sure the fans won't".  The Minnesota governor, in an attempt to make amends and ease tensions between the two schools, came up with a unique trophy for the winner of the annual game.  Governor Olsen promised a prized Minnesota hog to the people of Iowa if the Hawkeyes should win and would accept a similar Iowa prize if the Gophers should win.  The Gophers won that year and because he was an honorable man, governor Herring acquired a prize Hampshire hog from Rosedale Farms in Iowa and personally marched the pig that he named Floyd (after the Minnesota governor, of course) into the governor's carpeted office.  More importantly , the silliness between the two governors caused cooler heads to prevail and the game was clean and Simmons was not singled out for abuse.  Thus began one of the longest running and most good-natured rivalries in college football, the battle for Floyd of Rosedale.  Floyd didn't live long.  In 1936 he died of hog cholera (I had no idea there was such a thing!), but his legacy and his image live on in a 98 pound trophy that resides either in Iowa City or in Minneapolis depending upon who wins the game each year.  Ah, if only all problems could be solved with a little good natured fun.
While we have a good time with the rivalry, it doesn't mean we are above a few Minnesota jokes, so I'll leave you with this one.  Did you hear that Tim Brewster, the Minnesota football coach only dressed 22 players for the game today?  The rest were able to dress themselves.

Read more about Ozzie Simmons and the breaking of the Big Ten color barrier here.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Emeralds and pearls and gold, oh my!

This earring was recently unearthed beneath a parking lot near the ancient city of Jerusalem.   Although it was found in the ruin of a 4th-5th century Byzantine building (beneath the 21st century parking lot), the earring was much older, perhaps as much as 200 years older.  I love the thought of someone owning these beauties and handing them down until some irresponsible teenager, who I think I'll call Theodora, lost one while hanging out with her friends at what passed for a mall during the Byzantine era.  I'll bet she caught hell from her Mom when she got home.  My friend Cindi and I were sitting yesterday thinking about how the earring really got there.   Did she just lose track of it, did she give it to her lover who was going off to battle, or was it stolen from her by some jealous "friend"?  It's fun to think about how it got lost and what this woman might have been like.   What do you guys think?  I'd love to hear your story of how it got there!
Aside from my fantasy of how Theodora lost her earring, I am fascinated by it as a piece of historical decorative art.  I'm amazed by what it tells us about life back then.  For it's own sake, it's a really lovely thing.  I don't know about all of you, but I know I'd wear it.  This small, precious thing tells us some things about the owner that aren't lost to history.   She lived in an area that's been perpetually inhabited for at least 3000 years.  The city she lived in was already ancient at the time she lost her earring.  Imagine!  She was really wealthy and of high social status.  Like today, people who had to scrape to make ends meet simply didn't have money for luxuries like this.  I think all of us who earn our livings making and selling jewelry know that's true, especially in this economy!  I like thinking about the person who made these earrings too.  The methods that he used are really similar to our modern methods of construction.  It's an unexpected thing to feel a kinship with a metal smith that lived 2000 years ago.  Could one of you guys out there who own a pair of my earrings arrange to lose one so it can be found 2000 years from now?  I think it would be cool to be some one's mystery in 4008!  
To read more about Theodora's earring, click here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


My lovely friend Gail points out that I have not blogged in quite a while.  To be honest, I sort of lost heart for it.  I think the reason why is that I usually sit on the couch with my lap top to blog and when I look up I can see Maxie looking at me from his little bed by the fireplace.  When I look up now, of course, now his little bed is empty.  As I sit here writing this, it hurts a lot and I have to wipe my eyes so that I can type, but it also feels right.  My sweet little girl kitty, Sophie has taken to napping in the chair next to Maxie's bed in the evenings.  She never really did this before.  I think maybe it is her way of trying to help me not miss her brother so much.
Thanks again to all my wonderful friends, some that I've never even met before, for the kind words and thoughts.  They have helped more than you can imagine.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you to all our family and friends for all of your caring calls and emails.  You really are all the best friends.  You are all so wonderful and caring and I don't know what I would do without all of you.  I'm still in the stage where I think I hear him walking into a room or feel him jump on the bed and I didn't know a person could be so sad.  Knowing that all of you are out there thinking about us does help, so again, thank you so much.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Late last night Paul and I lost our best friend.  Our beloved kitty, Max Leonard passed away after giving us 20 years of joy and love.  We will never forget him and I think no one who ever met him will either.  People who don't love animals would never understand this, but Max was truly one of a kind.  He was a beautiful, spoiled, loving, belligerent, 14 pound ball of fur.  He was our security guard, our alarm clock, our killer of mice and the best keeper of secrets ever.  He was a supremely good judge of character and if you had the privilege of being loved by him, you were truly blessed.  He was not a creature that inspired indifference from those who met him.
He had diabetes for the last 5 years of his life and with that, he battled kidney disease.  He was only really sick for about a week of his whole life.  That's more than most of us can hope for.  He got quite sick about a month ago and our vet was concerned that he might not have much time left.  But Max, in typical fashion, decided differently.  He bounced back beautifully.  He seemed to feel better in the last month than he had in a while.  We had an extremely beautiful and warm autumn and Max enjoyed many of those days on his chair on his screened porch, his favorite spot in the world.  He had a great appetite and terrorized his little sister Sophie.  Life was good.  I think about it now, and I really believe he was giving us time to say goodbye in the best way he knew how.  Last night he let us know it was time for us to let him go.  And we did.  
The weather turned cold this weekend, the north wind came and took the last of the red and orange leaves from the trees and Maxie said goodbye to us.  
We will never forget.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Quarterback, Rick Stanzi outrunning a Penn State player

Coach Ferentz speaking earnestly to a referee

The great running back, Shonn Greene

Daniel Murray after kicking the winning field goal

The field, full of fans

The unranked Hawkeye football team upset # 3 ranked Penn State today with a last minute field goal.  It was freezing cold and really windy and one of those games that you will be glad in 20 years that you can say you were at.  Even if you aren't a football fan, if you saw it I think you'd still sense how amazing a victory it was.
I like Penn State and Joe Pa, so I'm sorry that Penn State wont be in contention for the national championship after today, but if someone was going to beat them, I'm glad it was Iowa.  Daniel Murray, who kicked the last second field goal is a local kid and a walk-on player without a scholarship.  Talk about pressure!  He might be a walk-on, but he'll never have to buy his own beer ever again in Iowa City.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


The United States of America has a new president-elect tonight and I couldn't be more proud and more pleased.  I'm happy with the outcome and I'm thrilled at the historic voter turn-out.  It was amazing to watch democracy in action.  
Now, the country can get back to the business at hand and we can all be united in an effort to fix our great nation's problems.  It will be hard and it will take all of our efforts to bring us back to where I think we all want to be.  I also know there are many people who are not happy that Senator Obama has won and their reasons are as varied as the people themselves are.  Please give him a chance, it wont happen overnight, but I truly believe he wants to try to make things better for all of us.  


Filling in that little oval or pushing that itty bitty little square on the touch screen wont give you rock hard abs or buns of steel but it's the best way to make yourself heard!  So please go if you haven't already and exercise your right to vote.  Your vote does matter, so just do it!

Monday, November 3, 2008


The first polls have opened at midnight eastern time in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire.  This little town prides it's self on being the first in the nation to open their polls in every presidential election.  Kind of like how we here in Iowa feel about the Iowa Caucus.  Dixville Notch had 22 registered voters this year.  I5 votes for Barack Obama and 6 votes for John McCain.  This little town usually votes Republican.  Interesting.  


What seemed like the longest election in the history of the world finally comes to an end tomorrow.  It's been a long road, with a lot of unpleasant bumps along the way.  Sometimes after watching the coverage (which I am of course addicted to!) I feel like I need to take a long shower with a lot of soap.  All I know is that if you and I misbehaved the way some of our politicians and political pundits have during this campaign, we'd need our mouths washed out with soap!  But now it is almost over.  Whew, we made it.  No matter who you want to be elected, I HOPE you will go and vote!  Except if you're still undecided, then please stay home because you haven't been paying attention anyway!

Friday, October 31, 2008


Have a spooky, safe and happy All Hallow's Eve!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I voted early today at the Johnson County Auditor's office.  Voting always makes me so very proud to be an American.  Where else in the world have so many fought and died for the freedoms that we enjoy?  Freedom is not free, so please get informed and get out there and cast your vote.  

Please remember when you are standing there in that booth filling out that form or pulling that lever, that we are all, every one of us, our brother's keeper.  After this election we, the people of this country, go back to being Americans, not just Democrats or Republicans.  You can choose to use your vote to better not just your life and your own family's life, but to better the lives of many Americans who are struggling.  

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I have a trunk show this weekend at Bead Haven in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  They are having an Halloween open house this weekend with lots of goodies and door prizes.  I will be there tomorrow from 10-5 along with lamp worker extraordinaire, Melissa Rediger.  Please come by and see me if you can!

Friday, October 24, 2008


In the last presidential debate, Senator McCain criticized earmarks or "pork" for pet projects of Senator Obama.  Specifically, he mentioned a "3 million dollar overhead projector" for a Chicago planetarium.  I must say that this particular statement really got under my skin.  First of all, public institutions are allowed to ask their legislature for funding for particular projects with their state's share of federal funds.  There is nothing shady about this practice.  This is how, in part, public projects get paid for.  Secondly, Senator McCain's mischaracterization of the Adler Planetarium's projection system as an "overhead projector" is at best ignorant and at worst another attack on science and intellect.  The Adler Planetarium is the oldest planetarium in the western hemisphere where many of our top astronomers and space scientists were inspired as children to look to the sky and dream of what's 'out there'.  I really don't believe that most of us want to live in a country where we don't have these great centers of education, such as planetariums and museums.  Lest you see no reason for a Chicago planetarium receiving federal funds to replace it's aged projection system, consider that 58 percent of the users of the Adler are not from Illinois.  A great country maintains it's educational and social treasures.  Shame on you Senator McCain.

To read more about this click here.